SELF-RECOMMENDING!

OT60: Openitentiary

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. There are hidden threads every few days here. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:

1. I went through some of the reported comments and banned the appropriate people. If you can’t post, check the Register of Bans to see if you’re on it. Note that I was also kind of a jerk in a few places and in order to avoid accusations of bias I have banned myself for one week (commenting only; I can still post). TheWorst, you are not yet banned but are on your final warning. Jill, you are not yet banned, but you are forbidden to reference Ayn Rand, accuse other people of worshipping Ayn Rand, attribute everything you dislike to a conspiracy centered around Ayn Rand, or use Ayn Rand as a metonymy for any view you disagree with. I will lift this restriction if you read and post a book report on Atlas Shrugged.

2. Comment of the week is Azure on linguistics.

3. Book II of Unsong is finished. If you’ve been waiting to read it until there was a big chunk you could read all at once, now’s your chance.

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

1,447 Responses to OT60: Openitentiary

  1. Dell says:

    Question: there is rare condition which appears to have no name, and endocrinologist have been useless at treating it, based on a number of health site chat rooms. Afflicted males lose all their libido despite having virtually all hormone readings in their age-appropriate ranges. Testosterone gels have near-zero effect. It’s not related to stress, trauma, and (presumably) not a pituitary tumour. Is there a name for this syndrome? It appears to be untreatable

  2. John Foss says:

    Are there any Trump Trade voters here who will be in the bay area in the week leading up to the election and would be willing to give a radio interview?

    There’s a reporter on the #NeverTrump app looking for volunteers. She’s not having any luck there yet, so I thought I’d check here to help her out.

  3. Broggly says:

    A conservative scholar makes the case that Trump is the disruptive force America needs

    Intellectuals are supposed to understand that history works on a deeper level than what day-to-day events show. We can look back on the past and see trends and truths underway that people at the time didn’t recognize. The philosopher G.W.F. Hegel terms it “the cunning of Reason,” the advance of certain ideals and values, the spirit of the age, running beneath or through particular actions and individuals.

    When one stage of history begins to run down, Hegel says, a “World-historical individual” often arises, a willful, single-minded strong man who disrupts the status quo and embodies everyone’s profoundest hopes and fears. He needn’t be bright or virtuous, just in perfect tune with the moment. Sometimes he is creative, sometimes destructive, but he is inevitable.

  4. Kevin C. says:

    Came to this bit of discussion a bit late, so I’m setting it out separately here.

    @Lumifer

    Anyone here wants to propose that the drug war is a good thing and we need more of that? That we should apply more law enforcement resources to stamping out prostitution? That churches (but not mosques, of course) should be granted a role in, say, writing legislation?

    Anyone? Anyone..?

    Let me step up on a few of these.

    For the drug war, I actually have a couple of arguments. First, I know that I come from a much lower socioeconomic background and environment than most people here. Who else here has spent any time in the waiting rooms of a state welfare office? Or a state-funded community mental health clinic? Or people in vocational rehabilitation? (I’ve been in all of those… as a client.) Spending time around people who are poor and have substance abuse issues, one finds that there are plenty of people who are fundamentally pretty lousy at managing their own lives, and most of the illegal substances tend to straight-up wreck what little they have. This is why I’m not a libertarian (and why libertarians skew massively white, male, and middle-or-higher-class); a sizeable chunck of society really do need a fair bit of paternalism.

    The second drug war argument is that, as Stuntz’s “Collapse of American Criminal Justice” points out (my copy is presently loaned out to a friend, or else I’d give a more specific cite), the enforcement level of both drug laws and gun laws correlate, both in time and space, less with use and more with overall violent crime. Given the over-reliance on eyewitness testimony in our legal system due to the US Constitution enshrining 18th Century rules of evidence, and the “no snitching” atmosphere of many neighborhoods, and the view in those problem neighborhoods of the police as essentially invading agents of an oppressive outside power, actually punishing the violent behavior is incredibly difficult; drug laws serve as a necessary “patch”, a proxy tool for getting violent, predatory thugs locked up when witnesses can’t or won’t testify.

    As for prostitution, I’m not as solid here, save as part of a general case against sex outside monogamous marriage in general. Namely, the issues of venereal diseases, bastards, and the general importance of stable, long-term monogamy to the order and prosperity of civilization.

    For churches having “a role in writing legislation”, I’d say that one religion already does have a massive role in legislation in this country. It’s just a non-theistic religion, the religion of which Harvard and Yale are seminaries. (And note that even people like Jonathan Haidt agree it’s an orthodoxy of religious character.) Freedom of religion in the sense of tolerance for Nonconformist churches to exist and practice so long as they are barred from positions of official power and prestige (see Restoration England) is possible. The American myth of total absense of religious establisment is not. See also the work of Winnifred Sullivan, author of “The Impossibility of Religious Freedom” (Razib Khan summarizes here).

    @green Anonymous

    Enforcing how? By specific performance?

    I’m going to to be dangerously edgy here and say that I would not entirely rule it out a priori.

    @IrishDude,

    As a firm, Xunzi-reading member of the Civilization-Barbarism axis view, let me second this.

    @John Schilling

    Was much easier when there was a dowry the aggrieved groom could keep or the aggrieved bride’s family demand be returned, but I don’t think even the Death Eaters want to turn the clock that far back.

    Let me, as a very much Death-Eaterish invidual, say that not only would I want the clock turned that far back, I have, elsewhere argued (mainly citing Chinese and Japanese thinkers and sources) in favor of arranged marriage as superior to “love marriage”, to the return of marriage being an agreement/transaction between two families, not two individuals, concernedd first and foremost to the production of offspring to continue the family line. “First comes love, then comes marriage” has it exactly backwards.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Oh, and on alcohol prohibition, as a comparison to the drug wars, I’d also point out that I live in a state with plenty of “dry” villages, which exist for good reason.

    • a non mouse says:

      Well said.

      Expect a ban on some pretext in the near future.

      • John Schilling says:

        This is not likely, not helpful, and not really distinguishable from a snide personal attack on our host. Please knock it off, already.

        • Jiro says:

          Scott runs this blog, and thus does all the bans. If a complaint about banning policy counts as a personal attack merely because it casts aspersions on Scott, that is equivalent to saying that nobody should ever complain about banning policy at all.

          • Psmith says:

            nobody should ever complain about banning policy at all.

            I pretty much agree with this.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            I disagree with Psmith, but also with you.

            There are complaints about banning policies. Then there are snide personal attacks which implies a complaint about banning policies without actually specifying it.

            This is the latter, not the former.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Could you expand on “the over-reliance on eyewitness testimony in our legal system due to the US Constitution enshrining 18th Century rules of evidence”? I’m aware this could happen (e.g. pre-1945 British law on treason), but AFAIK that isn’t currently the case in the United States. Courts admit physical evidence; courts admit (with far too much lenience, IMO) expert testimony to interpret that evidence; courts have no inherent requirement for corroboration.

      And regarding marriage contracts, enforcing “to have and to hold… as long as you both shall live…” by specific performance seems dangerously close to enforcing a slavery contract. I’m definitely open to enforcing damages, and I might – might – be able to be convinced to forbid a divorcee from marrying someone else as long as their previous spouse was alive, but I wouldn’t go any further.

      • David Friedman says:

        “and I might – might – be able to be convinced to forbid a divorcee from marrying someone else as long as their previous spouse was alive”

        As a practical matter, I think that is the sense in which the marriage contract usually was enforced prior to the shift to easy divorce.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Remember, though, that communication between parishes was difficult back then; if you married someone in Plymouth and then ten years later tried to marry someone else in a country parish in Essex, you would probably succeed. The constraining factor, besides public sentiment, was the risk. Just as much as you risked prosecution for bigamy, you risked prosecution for adultery even if you didn’t have a second wedding, and (if a wife) you risked your husband finding you and seizing your property under coverture. I’m not aware of how substantial each of those risks was, but I wouldn’t think bigamy was any easier to enforce.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Could you expand on “the over-reliance on eyewitness testimony in our legal system due to the US Constitution enshrining 18th Century rules of evidence”?

        Again, I don’t have my copy of “The Collapse of American Criminal Justice” at the moment; Stuntz had a fair bit on this. In particular, consider the way the right to “confront one’s accuser” leads juries to focus more on the forensic technician presenting the evidence from the witness stand than the evidence itself; especially in comparison to the presentation of physical evidence in European courts operating on the inquisitorial, rather than the confrontational, system. To quote from The New York Review of Books‘s review,

        Stuntz also comments in this chapter on the very live debate among the current members of the Supreme Court about the extent to which the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment—the right of the accused “to be confronted with the witnesses against him”—requires the exclusion of certain evidence obtained from witnesses who are unavailable at the time of trial. He is critical of two recent decisions that—like both Miranda and Mapp—require exclusion of probative evidence. I think Justice Anthony Kennedy, who dissented in both of those cases, might well have written the comments Stuntz offers. Stuntz argues that while “live witness testimony may have been the best possible means of proving guilt…when the confrontation clause was written and ratified,” “it hardly follows that it is the best possible means today” now that forensic and scientific analysis of physical evidence are more accurate. And he claims that “forcing crime laboratory technicians to double as courtroom witnesses raises the cost to the laboratories of performing the technical analysis,” which “mean[s] less analysis, and hence a less accurate adjudication system,” rather than one that reflects contemporary needs and capacities.

      • Lumifer says:

        If you treat the marriage as a contract, can a bride and a groom agree to a contract which says “to have and to hold… until we change our mind”? Why not?

        I think a lot of confusion comes about because in civil law a marriage is just a contract approved by society, but in Christianity marriage is a sacrament and so has a lot of religious implications which are embedded in Western culture.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          A contract that’s just “until we change our mind” isn’t really much of a contract, is it? Unless you mean “until we *both* change our mind”, I suppose.

          • brad says:

            I’ve seen plenty of contracts which allow either side to terminate without a breach. Generally just some advance notice is required.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            What brad says. I believe that’s a fairly standard clause in lots of contracts the setup a relationship of some sort between two parties.

        • John Schilling says:

          I doubt anyone here would consider a couple entering into such a contract controversial, though some would ask why it needs to be called “marriage”.

          And not necessarily on religious/sacramental grounds, either. If there is legitimate demand for both “…until we change our mind” domestic partnerships and “…until death do us part”, the latter is harder to achieve through civil contract law but exactly what centuries of marriage law have been optimized for. Why break one tool just so you can use it for a job you’ve already got another tool suited for?

        • Evan Þ says:

          Yes, if we let people choose the terms of their marriage contracts, there can be all sorts of things! Fixed-term marriages! Marriages that say “You can divorce but not remarry”! Marriages that say “All bank accounts need to be joint”!

          I enthusiastically support this effort… but I think it’d be really tough to get through and get the courts to honor. Look at how often prenups are thrown out, or at the dubious fate of “covenant marriage” even in the states where it’s legal.

          • brad says:

            Look at how often prenups are thrown out

            How often is that?

          • Lumifer says:

            Fixed-term marriages exist in some versions of Islam : -)

            As to getting the courts to enforce, it works just like any other contract: if the court is really unhappy with it, the court will call it non-equitable and refuse to enforce. That’s how contracts have been treated in courts of law since forever.

    • IrishDude says:

      Xunzi-reading member

      Never heard of that, would you mind explaining?

      • Kevin C. says:

        Xunzi (“Master Xun”) was a Confucian philosopher of the Warring States Era:

        Xunzi witnessed the chaos surrounding the fall of the Zhou dynasty and rise of the Qin state – which upheld legalistic doctrines focusing on state control, by means of law and penalties.[2] Xunzi’s variety of Confucianism therefore has a darker, more pragmatic flavour than the optimistic Confucianism of Mencius, who tended to view humans as innately good. Like Shang Yang, Xunzi believed that humanity’s inborn tendencies were evil and that ethical norms had been invented to rectify people. Xunzi was educated in the state of Qi and taught proponents of legalism, including the Qin Chancellor Li Si and Han Feizi. Because of this, he is sometimes associated with legalism. But like most Confucians, he believed that people could be refined through education and ritual.

        I’ve heard some describe him as “the Hobbes to Mencius’s Rousseau”, but this perhaps exaggerates the gap between Xunzi and Mencius. Xunzi is also usually classed as an atheist (though there is some debate there), but emphasizes adherence to rites and traditions not merely despite, but to some extent because he classes them not as handed down from Tian, but as inventions of the ancient Sage Kings (to whom are also attributed the invention of such things as writing, agriculture, etc…), in short, as a kind of “social technology”. I could go on at length about the insights taken from multiple readings of his work, and various points of interest. In short, definitely my favorite Chinese philosopher, possibly my favorite philosopher period, and someone I’d consider a “must-read” for any secular/non-theist rightist.

    • Lumifer says:

      a sizeable chunck of society really do need a fair bit of paternalism

      We have a baseline value-level disagreement here.

      Other than that, sure, a lot of people suck at managing their lives. But I am not convinced that having other people manage their lives is better — that’s usually called “totalitarianism” and history suggests it… has downsides. Besides, we are talking about the War on Drugs and it’s pretty clear that it did nothing to stop the flow of drugs into the neighborhoods you’re concerned about. It does make the drugs more expensive and it does make the locals dislike and distrust LEOs — neither outcome is helpful.

      drug laws serve as a necessary “patch”, a proxy tool for getting violent, predatory thugs locked up

      I am strongly opposed to this approach. Let me throw in a quote from Ayn Rand (yo, Jill, take notes!):

      “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

      Do you need reasons as why this is a bad thing, or just “hell, no” will suffice?

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Other than that, sure, a lot of people suck at managing their lives. But I am not convinced that having other people manage their lives is better — that’s usually called “totalitarianism” and history suggests it… has downsides.

        Political rhetoric notwithstanding, there’s a pretty big gap between libertarianism and totalitarianism. It’s quite possible — and, indeed, normal — for the state to discourage some behaviours, without going into full-on 1984 territory.

        There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

        Arresting violent gangsters for drug offences isn’t really like what Rand’s describing here, since the gangsters are legitimately guilty of a pre-existing crime. A better analogy would be arresting Al Capone over tax evasion because the FBI couldn’t make the other charges stick.

        • Lumifer says:

          Arresting violent gangsters for drug offences isn’t really like what Rand’s describing here

          You’re missing the point. What happens to a society where everyone is a criminal, out of jail only at the discretion of law enforcement? What happens to law enforcement when it has so much power?

          • a non mouse says:

            You’re also missing the point.

            What happens to a society where there is no law enforcement for actual natural law crimes like murder, robbery, burglary, etc.?

            That’s what the drug war patch is there to fix.

            Yes, it’s an imperfect solution but (obviously better) alternative to go back to early 1960s style law enforcement (with modern technology) has been so relentlessly propagandized against that most people can’t even conceive of it. At the same time, people can’t live in constant fear so something has to give.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ a non mouse

            A society with non-functioning law enforcement develops, basically, private alternatives (warlords, mafia, gangs, etc.)

            That’s what the drug war patch is there to fix.

            How will additional laws fix the problem of enforcement? I already expressed my opinion about making everyone guilty by default.

            Besides, how would you evaluate the effectiveness of the “drug war patch” in reality? Did it actually do much good for the purpose of prosecuting robbery and murder? Or did it just make gangs rich?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @a non mouse:

            What do you mean by “early 1960s style law enforcement”?

          • a non mouse says:

            How will additional laws fix the problem of enforcement?

            The new laws are easier to enforce for the reasons described above – no one is intimidating police chemists but they sure are willing to intimidate witnesses to violent crimes.

            Besides, how would you evaluate the effectiveness of the “drug war patch” in reality? Did it actually do much good for the purpose of prosecuting robbery and murder?

            For prosecuting? No. For imprisoning violent offenders – moderately effective.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ a non mouse

            Do you happen to have any estimates of the number of people who were convicted of drug offenses when their real offense was murder and the police knows it but is unable to prove it?

          • a non mouse says:

            Do you happen to have any estimates of the number of people who were convicted of drug offenses when their real offense was murder and the police knows it but is unable to prove it?

            I think you’re entirely missing the point.

            Crimes aren’t committed randomly – they’re committed by low impulse control, violent men who generally escalate the severity of the crimes they commit. The escalation is an important point.

            Most of the time someone committing a murder is already a failure of the criminal justice system because that same man has given plenty of indications that he’s unfit to live in civilized society. Locking him up until he’s age 50+ after his second violent assault before he commits a murder is preferable to locking him up for life after he has. Locking him up for possession of crack is a next best alternative.

            The evidence for the relative efficacy of this approach is the reduction in violent crime that accompanied the increase in the prison population.

            The simple fact is that people aren’t going to put up with 1970s levels of crime – it’s intolerable. The drug war isn’t my preferred approach to solving this problem but it does function moderately well as a hacked together patch to route around the damage that progressives have done to the law.

          • Anonymous says:

            @dndnrsn
            The cops decide who they think is guilty based on who looks at them wrong first, bring him down the station house and beat the shit out of him until he decides to confess. He gets taken to court where he doesn’t get a lawyer and a judge asks him if he wants to plead guilty or risk going to trial and ending up hanged, especially seeing as how he has already confessed.

            Truly it must be pervasive propaganda that causes people to reject a return to those halcyon days.

          • Lumifer says:

            Ah, I see. So you basically want to get rid of a substantial part of the population, the undesirables, your own basket of deplorables. But then why do you want to bother with prisons? If you intend to lock somebody up for life because of “low impulse control”, why don’t you just hang him? Prisons are expensive and there doesn’t seem to be any point in keeping the guy alive.

            By the way, once cops get such powers as you desire and send all the “violent criminals” away, why won’t they start going down the list? This guy looked at a cop’s girlfriend in a wrong way, that guy has a boat that’s too good for him, this girl doesn’t want to date my buddy — OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

          • IrishDude says:

            @a non mouse
            That’s a novel way to analyze the drug war, using drug use as a proxy for violent people, and then locking away drug users/dealers to get violent people off the street. What do you think the false positive rate is though, where non-violent people use drugs and get locked up? Also, how much additional violence is introduced with the black market in drugs and inner-city turf wars over drugs?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ IrishDude

            using drug use as a proxy for violent people

            That’s not what a non mouse means. He is basically saying that the judicial system has difficulties in prosecuting bad guys because it can be hard to assemble enough evidence to satisfy the usual requirements. His solution is to make everyone guilty (see the Ayn Rand quote upthread) and in this way allow law enforcement to put away whoever they consider to be the bad guy without having to bother about such burdensome things as proof of guilt.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Lumifer

            I interpreted this passage “Most of the time someone committing a murder is already a failure of the criminal justice system because that same man has given plenty of indications that he’s unfit to live in civilized society. Locking him up until he’s age 50+ after his second violent assault before he commits a murder is preferable to locking him up for life after he has. Locking him up for possession of crack is a next best alternative.” as saying that let’s lock the crack user up before he inevitably robs/murders/harms someone in the future due to low impulse control. Let’s not wait before it’s too late. I could be misinterpreting, so it would be good for a non mouse to clarify.

          • a non mouse says:

            But then why do you want to bother with prisons? If you intend to lock somebody up for life because of “low impulse control”, why don’t you just hang him? Prisons are expensive and there doesn’t seem to be any point in keeping the guy alive.

            My preferred law enforcement approach only has 3 punishments:

            Fines / Restitution
            Public Flogging
            Execution

            …but this discussion isn’t about my preferences. You want to say the drug war is bad – I don’t disagree that strongly – it’s sub-optimal but it does exist for a very specific reason – namely that people aren’t willing to live in anarchy. Progs got rid of the old approach of law enforcement which was to trust cops with authority enough to police the communities (so they know who the potential criminals are) and issue beatings to troublemakers in a pro-active way if necessary – that approach isn’t perfect either.

            One way or another people are going to deal with crime because you can’t live in 1970s American cities.

            IrishDude

            That’s a novel way to analyze the drug war, using drug use as a proxy for violent people, and then locking away drug users/dealers to get violent people off the street. What do you think the false positive rate is though, where non-violent people use drugs and get locked up? Also, how much additional violence is introduced with the black market in drugs and inner-city turf wars over drugs?

            False positive rate – my estimate is that it’s probably very very low because the amount of background violence and disorder is so high.

            Additional violence due to drug black markets – some but not that much. High level players aren’t into retail violence and low level players who shoot each other over corners are men who enjoy territorial struggles and would do it for free. Crack deal A shoots crack dealer B because of a thousand reasons but the main reason is because both of them are violent hotheads who live in anarchy and who escalate arguments to deadly violence for no rational reason.

          • a non mouse says:

            as saying that let’s lock the crack user up before he inevitably robs/murders/harms someone in the future due to low impulse control. Let’s not wait before it’s too late.

            Not in the Gattaca sense or the Minority Report “pre-crime” sense but in the “by the time you get locked up for crack possession you’ve already committed lots of assaults” sense. I know that this is a difference in worldviews here but I don’t view it as plausible that cops just go out and randomly find drug users and arrest them for no reason then have DAs spend time prosecuting them. Yes, I’m 100% sure that it does happen. I’m also sure that DAs and cops don’t get up in the morning and go to work just to screw with people and if they did act that way your society has already fallen apart.

          • “(obviously better) alternative to go back to early 1960s style law enforcement ”

            Homicide rate 1960: 5.1/100,000
            Homicide rate 2014: 4.5/100,000

          • a non mouse says:

            That really more makes my point than any you would like to make David. Here are two dates you left out that give a clearer picture –

            Homicide rate 1955 – 4.1
            Homicide rate 1973 – 9.8

            Get rid of old style law enforcement, murder rate more than doubles. People adapt both by moving out of certain cities and changing their patterns of behavior. Socially they adapt by enforcing drug laws on otherwise difficult to prosecute violent offenders. All the while trauma treatment technology advances tremendously in the wake of 3 major wars.

            All that to barely undo the damage of the change in law enforcement which started in the late 1950s / early 1960s and peaked in the early 1970s.

          • John Schilling says:

            I know that this is a difference in worldviews here but I don’t view it as plausible that cops just go out and randomly find drug users and arrest them for no reason then have DAs spend time prosecuting them.

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting the cops’ selection of targets is random. It is your assumption that selective prosecution highly correlated with actual wrongdoing, as opposed to mere suspicion, disgust, or perceived insubordination, that is at issue here.

            Giving anyone, even Hero Cops Stalwart and True, license to lock up whoever they please, and assuming they will only use it against people who actually deserve to be locked up by your standards, seems ill-advised.

          • Aapje says:

            @a non mouse

            Your arguments are based on a false dichotomy between criminals and non-criminals.

            Some criminals fit the stereotype that you offered up, but many don’t. For example, the recidivism rate of murderers is extremely low, compared to other crimes.

  5. Hwold says:

    I’m trying to find a blog post which I pretty sure was posted on SSC. It was about the cofounding on a a proxy of the dependent variable. Does this rings a bell to someone ?

  6. Tekhno says:

    Does anyone know where that recent paper on nuclear winter we were ripping apart a while back is? The one that IIRC made the mistake of scaling firestorm area linearly to yield?

    Thanks.

  7. Snodgrass says:

    If you are a misanthrope, and you feel the world is becoming too cosmopolitan, there are still a lot of Welsh hill-farmers who’d be willing to let you be a Welsh hill-farmer for a moderate sum.

    If you are a cosmopolitan, and you feel the world is becoming too misanthropic and separatist, what’s the equivalent thing to do? Almost by definition, in that case the big diverse cities elsewhere in the world won’t let you in.

    • Psmith says:

      in that case the big diverse cities elsewhere in the world won’t let you in.

      I don’t know how extreme a hypothetical scenario you’re envisioning. Certainly places like Singapore and Dubai will let you in now if you have a job lined up and not too much of a criminal record, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

  8. David Friedman says:

    I have not figured out why I couldn’t post, but I have found a workaround. It looks as though what caused the problem was my website URL in either my email address or the Website in the reply form. If I use a different email and do not give my website, I can post.

    As I am now doing.

    • Theo Jones says:

      In previous threads Scott said he bans people not by account, but by keywords in the username. Maybe there is overlap between something in your email/url and one of the banned usernames?

      Also akismet/spam filter plugins sound like candidates.

      I wonder what would happen if you put the url/email in the body of a comment? Would a filter eat it?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Here’s how to test whether it’s a manual ban or whether it’s the spam filter: post the same comment twice. If it silently fails twice, it’s a manual ban. If only the first time is silent, but the second time it complains that the comment was a duplicate, it’s the spam filter.

      • David Friedman says:

        I’ll try the experiment.

        My web site URL is http://www.daviddfriedman.com

  9. David Friedman says:

    Testing

  10. I am trying to post, this time using my gmail address.

  11. Hello, this is a message for anyone who has been arguing with my father. David Friedman has been quiet not because anything major is wrong or because he doesn’t want to argue (this is, after all, my father we’re talking about) – however at the moment he can’t post, and neither he nor Scott have any idea why. He’ll be back when he works that out. In the meantime, I’m letting people know what’s up.

  12. Anatoly says:

    Scott, today’s Yom Kippur. I’ve seen some bloggers use this day as a thematically appropriate occasion to clear the list of bans, giving everyone a chance to start over. I liked the idea enough to adopt it myself. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether it’d be good if you did that, but wanted to throw the idea out there for you to be aware of.

    • anon says:

      I don’t know that that’s appropriate for short bans… or spambots.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this is very fair, assuming the banned posters publicly confess their sins (while hitting themselves in the chest) and fast for 25 hours.

    • Manya says:

      Heh. I’ve seen this in exactly one blog, and it’s always struck me as a little… idk, arrogant. Kind of like… “look at how magnanimous I am! I even forgive those that I was going to ban forever!”

      On the other hand, how would not unbanning people be any better?

  13. TMB says:

    So, one of the criticisms of Kant’s metaphysics is that the interaction of sensibility with understanding represents a form of dualism, with all of the interaction problems that that implies. How can timeless understanding interact with temporal sensibility?
    I find it quite difficult to understand this critique. From what I understand, one suggestion, as presented by Fichte, is that the object is the subject.
    But, I always took that to be the point of the distinction between noumenon and phenomenon. Phenomena are part of your consciousness. So when we think about phenomena, we are thinking about an aspect of ourselves. We cannot say anything about anything that isn’t a phenomena of one sort or another.

    It’s really strange, I read Kant once while sitting in a bathtub had a eureka moment, and try as I might, I’ve never really been able to understand any of the criticisms of his (basic/as I understand it) position.

    [Does anyone have any suggestions for really straightforward, easy to understand books on German idealism?]

    • Urstoff says:

      I’ve never heard that particular criticism of Kant. From what I gather (although most of what I know about Kant comes from analytic commentary on him, not the 19th century German Idealist commentary), the criticism in that area is that Kant is basically a full-blown idealist without admitting it. If all we have are phenomena, even if the understanding cognizes via the categories the raw data provided by the sensibility, we still have no evidence of noumena; all we have are concepts applied to phenomena. No amount of congnizing/categorizing phenomena will lead us to knowledge of noumena (as noumena are literally inconceivable). Kant knew that, of course, but subsequent German philosophers ditched the “transcendental” part of transcendental idealism, as they viewed it as a distinction without a difference. I’m not quite sure how this lead to the fairly bizarre speculative metaphysics of the German idealists, but I think that’s the gist of their critique of Kant.

      As for books, Beiser is a major scholar in this area, so his “German Idealism” might be helpful, as well as the Cambridge Companion to German Idealism.

  14. TMB says:

    @Lumifer – drug war

    Let’s assume that people drink alcohol because they have a good understanding of the costs and benefits of drinking, and find it to be a net positive.
    The fact that rates of alcohol consumption, and consumption patterns, differ so much depending on area suggests that a large part of the utility/disutility comes from the culture of the drinker.
    It’s impossible to talk of preference in this matter without reference to the surrounding culture, therefore influencing that culture through punishment isn’t an attack on individual choice – it’s just altering the social context that (to a large extent) determines the decision.

    Culture can be changed, but individuals rarely have the power or inclination to change it. If we look at drink driving – there used to be a culture of drink driving. When the law was changed to severely punish those who drunk drove, the culture changed. The same is true of smoking indoors – when the law changes, the culture changes.

    I would say that the culture of drug taking (other than alcohol), is a very recent introduction – it has no deep roots and therefore it would be really easy to undermine that culture by a change in law.

    So, how should we determine what our culture should be? I think, to a large extent, it’s about the story we tell ourselves. When we’re in the business of determining which culture we should live in, we’re looking for an appealing story. In my opinion, the hedonistic society fails even on it’s own terms, since there isn’t much joy to be had in the the selfish pursuit of short-term pleasure. Mileage may vary.

    So… promote sobriety and selflessness, stick middle class drug users in prison for a few months with hard labour, and undermine the hedonistic justification for selfish drug use. Seems like a winner to me.

    • Lumifer says:

      It’s impossible to talk of preference in this matter without reference to the surrounding culture, therefore influencing that culture through punishment isn’t an attack on individual choice – it’s just altering the social context that (to a large extent) determines the decision.

      Sorry, given any meaningful levels of enforcement that’s nonsense. You are not punishing the culture, you’re punishing individuals and moreover, individuals who made a particular choice. Sure, the culture will change but only as a consequence of you forcing a particular choice on specific individuals.

      And since we are talking about alcohol, how good was the Prohibition (and a variety of similar measures elsewhere) at “changing the culture” of drinking? At what cost?

      I would say that the culture of drug taking (other than alcohol), is a very recent introduction – it has no deep roots

      Boggle. Humans have been taking psychoactive chemicals since time immemorial. To quote Wikipedia, “Psychoactive drug use can be traced to prehistory. There is archaeological evidence of the use of psychoactive substances (mostly plants) dating back at least 10,000 years, and historical evidence of cultural use over the past 5,000 years. The chewing of coca leaves, for example, dates back over 8,000 years ago in Peruvian society”.

      Pretty much all human societies use psychoactives, the only difference is which particular ones.

      So… promote sobriety and selflessness, stick middle class drug users in prison for a few months with hard labour, and undermine the hedonistic justification for selfish drug use.

      That’s more or less straightforward Puritanism. Didn’t it already fail badly? And I’ve mentioned the Prohibition — it didn’t each you anything?

      • Psmith says:

        In re Prohibition, see 1, 2, and linked sources therein. Not definitive, of course, but more arguable than you think.

        Historic rates of drug use: some discussion here, not much hard evidence one way or the other, but I suspect there’s room for contrarian perspectives here, too.

        Historical Puritanism gave us Massachussetts. Not a bad result on many axes of interest.

        • Fahundo says:

          Historical Puritanism gave us Massachussetts.

          Counterpoint: Massachusetts gave us Boston.

        • Lumifer says:

          more arguable than you think

          I am not quite sure of the point you’re making. Are you saying that the Prohibition succeeded? was a good idea? we should try again?

          Historical Puritanism gave us Massachussetts.

          Failed Puritanism gave us Massachusetts. To borrow a quote from Scott’s review of Albion’s Seed, “The underlying foundation of life in New England was one of profound, unutterable, and therefore unuttered melancholy, which regarded human existence itself as a ghastly risk, and, in the case of the vast majority of human beings, an inconceivable misfortune.”

        • Salem says:

          Prohibition was a great success in reducing drinking, and people underrate its effect in that regard. Similarly, the War on Drugs is a great success in reducing drug usage rates, and the Pollyannas who think everything will be fine as it ends are in for a rude awakening.

          But Prohibition was nevertheless a disaster, because of the collateral effects.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            And as someone who is in favour ending the War on Drugs (in a cautious, phased-out manner, with strong provisions to redirect a lot of the money currently spent on enforcement into public health / harm mitigation interventions), I suspect, and certainly hope that the pollyannas are a minority – as far as I can see, the collateral effects of prohibiting other drugs are about as disastrous as the collateral effects of prohibiting alcohol, and it should be possible to engineer a system of legal regulation which does away with the majority of prohibition-caused harms without letting in even greater directly drug-caused harms.

          • Salem says:

            Sure, the War on Drugs is a disaster.

      • TMB says:

        “You are not punishing the culture, you’re punishing individuals and moreover, individuals who made a particular choice.”

        And saving those who haven’t had a choice. If people make a choice because they live in a certain culture, and will make a different choice if they live in a different culture, if the utility derived from alcohol consumption is largely cultural, in the long term, cultural change in the form of punishment is neutral.

        So, my reference to alcohol at the top there, was to support my point that people aren’t making their decisions about drug consumption in a cultural vacuum.
        Of course, if something has deeper cultural roots, the effort needed to counteract it, to undermine it, is going to be greater. You bring up prohibition. You bring up psychoactive chemical use. Fair enough.
        Question – What percentage of people do you think had tried cannabis in France in 1958? How about alcohol? How about now?
        I’m sure that if we were to travel back in time, it would take some extreme measures to persuade the Inca to lower their coca consumption – but, we aren’t the Inca.
        I can imagine that eliminating alcohol from our culture would be a completely different proposition from eliminating any other drug, because no other drug has the deep cultural roots of alcohol.
        Having said that:
        http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/pubs-vs-first-world-war/
        maybe not so different.

        So… my inclination is to think that in most western countries, even where, officially, possession of drugs is still a criminal offence, there has been a de-facto decriminalisation. (Given my experience in the UK where this is the case.) Rates of drug use exploded with (de-facto) decriminalisation. Drug habits have been changed by changes in the law (drink driving, smoking.) Those countries that still seriously pursue drug possession (for example, Japan) have far lower levels of drug use.

        And… we’re all puritans in some respects. I don’t think extreme restriction of drug consumption has been shown to be a failure, though.

        • Lumifer says:

          And saving those who haven’t had a choice.

          Save? In which way are you saving me by preventing me from drinking?

          You seem to view people as passive, lacking agency. Moreover, you assume the right to shape their lives as you see fit, based on vague ideas of “for their own good”.

          Attempts at social engineering usually fail, sometimes they fail badly, and occasionally they fail horribly. The XX century is full of examples.

          What percentage of people do you think had tried cannabis in France in 1958? How about alcohol? How about now?

          And what difference does it make? People use and have always used psychoactives. Which particular psychoactives they used, depended on time and place.

          If you want to get rid of all psychoactives (see e.g. Mormons), I don’t think you’ll be able to. If you want to get rid of some, then why do you have strong feelings about which ones to get rid of? In which way marijuana is so much worse than alcohol so that one is fine but the other is illegal?

          What you basically have is a substitution effect, you suppress the usage of something and people shift to use equivalents and analogues.

          there has been a de-facto decriminalisation

          To some degree, yes. I see it as a good thing. I think it should be followed by de-jure decriminalisation as well.

          we’re all puritans in some respects.

          Speak for yourself : -P

          • TMB says:

            Save? In which way are you saving me by preventing me from drinking?

            I was thinking of the children. And the families, friends, neighbours, more generally. (I’m not sure whether we can get a measure of how annoying people find drug users? Set up a crack den next to a house and see how it affects property prices? I’m certainly cheesed off the the wafts of cannabis stink that drift into my home from next door – and I’d certainly pay *something* to be rid of it)

            You seem to view people as passive, lacking agency. Moreover, you assume the right to shape their lives as you see fit, based on vague ideas of “for their own good”.

            I think people respond to incentives.
            I would guess that you think that drug use has inherent benefits to individuals (feels good, man). There is an individual and drugs feel good, so he takes them. Then society says, hang on, that’s not good for the rest of us, stop it.

            I’m saying society might have an *even* better case for changing the incentives it provides, if the benefits of drug use largely take the form of social incentives in the first place.
            This is certainly true in my experience – I have never taken any drug (with the exception of chocolate) because of the intrinsic tingles it gives me – it’s always been because I was in some social situation where drug use was normal.
            So – it’s like a win-win. We could get most of the same benefits that come with drinking drugs together just by drinking a cup of tea or something, with none of the (other) negative stuff added on top.

            In which way marijuana is so much worse than alcohol so that one is fine but the other is illegal?

            I think marijuana might be as bad as alcohol – but if we have some really bad habit that is deeply ingrained in our culture and hard to get rid of, it doesn’t seem like an especially good argument for creating another deeply ingrained habit that will be hard to get rid of.

            What you basically have is a substitution effect, you suppress the usage of something and people shift to use equivalents and analogues

            I think that what people do is determined by the culture they live in, and that one of the tools for shaping culture, is law and punishment.
            Maybe you’re right, and people have some fundamental desire for psychoactives that just doesn’t change. I suspect, that for most people this isn’t the case. They take drugs because they are in a culture in which drug taking is normal.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ TMB

            I was thinking of the children.

            Besides the obvious : -/ I’ve me a guy in his 20s whose father ran a pot farm. He’s been smoking weed since he was about 10 or so. A cool guy, very relaxed, without obvious problems. Had a job, a girlfriend, etc.

            I also know a whole bunch of people who are occasional-to-regular drug users. They have their shit together, some have families and kids, and I don’t see why their habits represent a problem for their kids.

            Sure, some people screw up their own life and life of everyone around them, but that’s a function of these people, not a function of which chemicals they have access to. If they have to, they’ll sniff glue and drink mouthwash.

            Running a social policy on the “affects property prices” basis sounds like a really bad idea to me.

            if the benefits of drug use largely take the form of social incentives in the first place

            I don’t understand this. How do incentives replace benefits?

            We could get most of the same benefits that come with drinking drugs together just by drinking a cup of tea or something, with none of the (other) negative stuff added on top.

            I don’t think this is possible. Again, people have been actively using psychoactives throughout the entire human history. You don’t think there are good reasons for that?

            what people do is determined by the culture they live in

            To some degree, yes, but only to some degree. Cultures are not arbitrary, they grow out of what people want and do. Attempts to enforce an artificial culture that someone, basically, made up to be “better” don’t have a good track record.

            However I think we have a deeper disagreement, on the values level. You want to have a culture where everyone does what the society expects him to do, does not take any psychoactives and generally doesn’t behave in any weird way.

            I don’t want such a culture at all.

        • Jiro says:

          Attempts at social engineering usually fail, sometimes they fail badly, and occasionally they fail horribly.

          Social engineering to discourage smoking has been slow, but ultimately successful.

          Also, there is availability bias here; you’re a lot less lijkely to vividly remember the cases where social engineering has succeeded.

      • Anonymous says:

        how good was the Prohibition (and a variety of similar measures elsewhere) at “changing the culture” of drinking?

        I highly recommend Ken Burns’ Prohibition miniseries. He claims that it did substantially change the culture of drinking – bringing women into the fold and making it more social than just ‘men get drunk at the bar, pass out in the gutter, and stop fulfilling their responsibilities’. The other reason I like to recommend it is because the political issues at play simply do not match any political divide that exists today. Pretty much no matter where you stand on prohibition today, you’ll find that ‘your team’ from that time held some positions that you really don’t like.

    • IrishDude says:

      When the law was changed to severely punish those who drunk drove, the culture changed.

      Evidence? I could see that going the other way, with the law following cultural changes.

    • jlow says:

      >In my opinion, the hedonistic society fails even on it’s own terms, since there isn’t much joy to be had in the the selfish pursuit of short-term pleasure. Mileage may vary.

      That’s your terms, not its terms.

      The reasoning used here and below could justify doing anything to anyone: “sure, executing individuals for skiing harms innocent individuals, but it will change the culture and save others who might have died in ski accidents.”

      So the question becomes: how much harm does US- or Japan-style drug-related punishment, of individually innocent people, cause? Is it more than the drugs?

      I think that, apart from the distasteful idea of harming someone for a purely personal choice, because the Greater Good demands it, the answer is clearly “yes”; drugs saw more use in 1900 than you might realize, and were later banned less because they were causing problems than because alcohol prohibition was a lost cause and some victory was needed for the temperance movement. Even now, we can compare countries like Portugal or Uruguay to the US, compare Texas to Colorado, or simply look at maintenance programs to see how drugs-without-criminalization look.

      • TMB says:

        I don’t know – in a sense, maybe I’m cheating. A set of rules can’t be it’s own meta ruleset, so of course hedonism couldn’t be justified by hedonism.

        So the question becomes: how much harm does US- or Japan-style drug-related punishment, of individually innocent people, cause? Is it more than the drugs?

        I think the question is what kind of world do we want to live in, and is our society providing the correct incentives to make that world a reality?

  15. Aido says:

    Anyone have recommendations for which works of Robert Anton Wilson to start with?

    • Urstoff says:

      Just read the Principia Discordia instead.

    • Anon. says:

      Illuminatus! is great. Prometheus Rising/Cosmic Trigger are tinfoil hat-tier, highly recommend against them except as a curiosity.

    • maas says:

      If you have no exposure, watch some videos of him on youtube.

      If you know a bit of his schtick, I would start with Illuminatus! It’s a little long, and takes time to get to the good drugs and fucking parts, but feel free to skim if you feel like you’re giving up.

      Unlike Urstoff, I prefer RAW to Principia Discordia. But since we disagree, I guess you’ll have to try both.

  16. TMB says:

    Discussing tribes/right-wing/left-wing etc. etc. is just a way for people who like talking about people to pretend they are discussing ideas.

  17. Orphan Wilde says:

    The difference between a libertarian and a stereotypical Republican, condensed neatly:

    The stereotypical Republican doesn’t want you to get a sex change operation. The libertarian doesn’t want government to force other people to use your preferred pronouns.

    The Republican doesn’t want no-fault divorce. The libertarian doesn’t want government making decisions about what marriage is and what it is not in the first place – but we’re also, broadly, against sweeping changes to millions of what are, effectively, contracts, and would like people to be able to sign the contract they want to sign rather than the contract society says they should sign.

    The Republican wants a tax code and regulatory structure which encourages business development. The libertarian wants a transparent and limited tax code and regulatory structure. (The difference is that the Republicans are broadly going to approve of regulations, say, like limited liability for corporations who accidentally murder a bunch of people, whereas the libertarians are never going to actually pass the law because they’ll be too busy arguing about principles.)

    Roughly, if you think libertarians are right-wing, it’s only because the left wing is currently in power and we’re opposing what you’re trying to get done. During the Bush era we were generally regarded as left-wing, and that abruptly reversed when Obama was elected, because we oppose the shit that the people in power are doing.

    The younger libertarians, who don’t remember the Republicans behaving the same way the Democrats are behaving now, will tend to be right-wing leaning just because they’ve never seen the right wing misbehave in the way the left wing is misbehaving today.

    I regard with amusement the claim that libertarians are right-wing. It is essentially an admission to statist impulses. It’s the same shit with either party – you’re all for the kind of liberty you approve of, which is to say, you approve of people’s abilities to make the decisions you agree with.

    • Zombielicious says:

      This seems like you’re affirming the consequent.

      All Republicans are right-wing.
      Libertarians are not Republicans.
      Therefore libertarians are not right-wing.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Agreed.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        This seems like you’re deliberately misrepresenting rhetoric as a logical construct in order to score points in a competitive game I have no interest in beating you soundly at.

        See, a key word in the second paragraph is “stereotypical” – I opted not to repeat it in every subsequent paragraph because it got clunky, but it is in fact implied by rhetorical convention. It’s a word which, deliberately invoked like that, denotes that the categories being referenced are fuzzy.

        • Zombielicious says:

          [removed]

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            No, you were erecting and beating a strawman in an attempt to score debate points, as you’re doing again with your thinly-veiled insult here.

            See, if your shoddy strawman were the argument I were attempting to make, I wouldn’t immediately contradict myself by talking about right-wing-leaning libertarians in the same bloody comment.

          • Zombielicious says:

            This is getting out of hand. My point was that it completely defeats the point you seemed to be making, to list a bunch of ways Republicans and libertarians are different, when no one (I think) is claiming Republicans == libertarians, and then to move on to saying “therefore libertarians aren’t right-wing”, when right-wing is a superset of Republicans. My reply seemed to be the most concise way of pointing out the error, and I didn’t know you were going to take it as me trying to “score debate points” or playing some game with you. It seemed better than writing 1,000 words trying to vaguely infer the disagreement when the mistake seemed pretty obvious.

            Accusing me of deliberately misrepresenting you to play some signaling game isn’t exactly polite either, and your response seemed to be that you were just making a rhetorical case rather than actual argument. So directly pointing out why the entire post seemed (and I was already trying to be polite with “seems” rather than just “your argument is invalid,” assuming I might have made the mistake myself) invalid isn’t a “shoddy strawman,” while your response came off as an irrelevant ad hominem about my ulterior motives just to defend yourself.

            This is clearly going nowhere productive though, so I can’t see any good in continuing. Sorry if I offended you, and I’ll edit to remove my last comment.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      During the Bush era we were generally regarded as left-wing, and that abruptly reversed when Obama was elected, because we oppose the shit that the people in power are doing.

      I was a libertarian during the Bush era (much more staunchly than I am now) and I never had an issue with being considered left-wing. Who considered libertarians left-wing?

      • Anonymous says:

        No one said “libertarians are left-wing,” but lots of people said “war protestors are left-wing.” People got judged on a single issue then as now, but no one was proud of this method of judgement.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Yep there were always isolationists in the Republican party. Even non-libertarian isolationists. And the lines between hawks and doves have only gotten blurrier since then between the two parties now with Trump.

          So if someone was ascribing (anti-war=left-wing) that was their categorical error. And I do not recall at any time in my lifetime when libertarians were not considered an apostate wing of the GOP by non-libertarians.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I think Libertarian opposition to the wars post 9/11 did have them being treated to a certain extent as apostates.

        But I don’t recall any major Libertarian figures throwing in with the liberal anti-war movement and protests either.

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          Libertarians don’t tend to “throw in” with other people, of either flavor. Hell, we can barely be convinced to vote for other libertarians, because they’re not exactly the right shade of libertarian.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I think it’s a little pat to say that libertarians don’t throw in with other people like fusionism wasn’t a thing for 40 years. Libertarianism may be a distinct tradition, but ever since the term first came into use there has been far more cross-pollination to the right than there was to the left. The Kochs are libertarian but spent 98% of their political capital electing Republicans (I said 98%, don’t @ me about the ACLU). The LP has nominated former Republicans at the top two spots of the ticket every cycle since 2008, and several libertarian stalwarts like Ron Paul and Roger MacBride drifted back and forth multiple times.

            Even Trump, who has strained fusionism to its absolute limits, still finds some of his most strident cheerleaders among the the libertarians of the Austrian clique, who apparently remember an alternate version of the 1990s where the paleo strategy accomplished something besides selling a lot of newsletter subscriptions.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Except that libertarians do “throw-in” with Republicans on lots of things.

            Ron and Rand are Republicans. The Koch Brothers support lots of Republican candidates*. Reason argues in favor of lots of Republican positions and actors.

            *No, this isn’t a boo light. I’m not making out-sized claims about the Koch’s just pointing out who the actually put money behind (and assuming that you can’t “No True Scotsman” the Kochs as non-Libertarians).

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Reason argues in favor of lots of Republican positions and actors.

            It does?

          • dragnubbit says:

            @bosch

            Using the Libertarian Party as an exemplar of libertarian thinking is not very fair.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Whatever Happened to Anonymous:
            So, I perhaps should retract that point slightly, as I’m going off of my remembered perception of Nick Gillespie from appearances on Bill Maher.

            That said, if you look at Gillespie’s Bio at reason.com you see this which they themselves included:

            The Daily Beast, where he now writes a column, named Gillespie one of “The Right’s Top 25 Journalists,” …

            If they are self-including that nugget… I think they agree that they are on the right.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            If they are self-including that nugget… I think they agree that they are on the right.

            For sure, I don’t even know what’s the big deal about being “right-wing” like it’s evil or something.

            I would reject the conservative label, even if individual libertarians may be conservative in their beliefs and/or behaviour.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Whatever Happened To Anonymous

            As gbdub pointed out:

            So when “right” is used to mean “the board has a lot of libertarians, therefore its right-wing, therefore I can deploy general purpose anti-Republican insults” then that’s a problem.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Yeah, but you should, like, ignore those people anyway, so what gives?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @whatever:
            Right wing means that, as conservatives are also right-wing, libertarians are in general coalition with conservatives. It does not make them conservatives.

            I think the “big deal” with acknowledging being right wing (here) is: a) libertarians aren’t conservatives, but nuance is not necessarily a speciality of the human race, and b) that XKCD comic that I won’t link, but something something feel superior to both.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @HeelBearCub – “I think Libertarian opposition to the wars post 9/11 did have them being treated to a certain extent as apostates.”

          Also being anti-patriot act, anti-torture, anti-spying, pro-gay-marriage, pro-choice, anti-war-on-drugs…

          “But I don’t recall any major Libertarian figures throwing in with the liberal anti-war movement and protests either.”

          Ron Paul?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            To be clear, I’m not saying that Libertarians didn’t express opposition to the war, I’m saying that I don’t remember them doing so in coalition with the left.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            yeah, apologies, I probably should have picked that up.

            I remember early on seeing a lot of common ground between the Tea party and Occupy Wall Street, and feeling intensely frustrated when (from my perspective) the former was co-opted by the Republican establishment while the latter was stonewalled into irrelevance.

          • onyomi says:

            I think libertarians are justified in claiming not to really fit into either the mainstream “right wing” or the mainstream “left wing” today, though we sympathize with elements of both. I think this presentation by Roderick Long, for example, does a good job chronicling Rothbard’s own struggles to find a home for libertarianism, first more on the left, and then more the Pat Buchanan-style right. Though Rothbard was ultimately disappointed in the latter as well, I think the conditions that obtained when he died still largely obtain, especially with Trump now reviving, in a certain sense, the paleo-conservative strain.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            As I think I have mentioned, I have a friend who has definitely circled all around the fringe right. Prepper, gold, guns, militia movement, a little sovereign citizen, etc. I think his basic sensibilities are libertarian, but that he also really likes to do the “dive into the minutiae of a law or statute and find the one sentence that contains the hidden meaning” which isn’t particularly libertarian and is just conspiratorial. Also he has gone sort of hard-core Catholic.

            He was really interested in OWS for a while, right up until he decided they were hippy freaks. I think what pushed him over the final edge was seeing a video of the group communication methods they were using, which involved the crowd repeating each sentence of a speaker and certain hand signals. He and another of my friends just absolutely loved mocking that. It was too “weird”.

            I feel like there is something there about expected conformity to standard social norms, where even as a libertarian you are using words like “disgusting freak” about people just because they are different and have gauges and black fingernails. I can’t quite express what I mean there, but some part of the libertarian movement wants the freedom to go back to openly expressing that disgust, which somehow they think the government is preventing.

            Again, I’m not sure I’m quite being accurate (or charitable).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HBC – “He was really interested in OWS for a while, right up until he decided they were hippy freaks. I think what pushed him over the final edge was seeing a video of the group communication methods they were using, which involved the crowd repeating each sentence of a speaker and certain hand signals. He and another of my friends just absolutely loved mocking that. It was too “weird”.”

            Yeah, I’ve seen those vids. I think OWS was my introduction to the concept of the “progressive stack”, in fact. There’s a visceral sense that this is not what confronting The Man looks like, that nothing good can possibly come from this, like glancing over at the soldier beside you in the trench just before you go over the top to see that he’s dropped his rifle and is making daisy chains.

            “I feel like there is something there about expected conformity to standard social norms, where even as a libertarian you are using words like “disgusting freak” about people just because they are different and have gauges and black fingernails. I can’t quite express what I mean there, but some part of the libertarian movement wants the freedom to go back to openly expressing that disgust, which somehow they think the government is preventing.”

            I can’t speak for your friend, obviously, but for me it was never a right wing thing, and it was never about “disgusting freaks”. There’s an old military saw that goes, “you can’t stiffen a pitcher of spit with a handful of buckshot.” Those people seem obviously ineffectual, and I saw a lot of the same frustration from other elements of the left as well.

            Even so, despite the hippies and the weirdos, I admired them a lot and thought they were doing good work.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            He was really interested in OWS for a while, right up until he decided they were hippy freaks. I think what pushed him over the final edge was seeing a video of the group communication methods they were using, which involved the crowd repeating each sentence of a speaker and certain hand signals. He and another of my friends just absolutely loved mocking that. It was too “weird”.

            Oh, yeah, this video. Weird indeed.

        • David Friedman says:

          “But I don’t recall any major Libertarian figures throwing in with the liberal anti-war movement and protests either.”

          I don’t know about examples in the post 9/11 period. I’m pretty sure that back when Rothbard was pushing alliance with the left he and his faction were doing that, and Justin Raimundo, who was part of that, is currently the editorial director of antiwar.com. On the other hand, he self-describes as a “conservative paleo-libertarian.”

          Also, of course, the event that catalyzed the libertarian/traditionalist split within Young Americans for Freedom was one of the libertarians at the St. Louis convention publicly burning his draft card, or at least what appeared to be his draft card.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        The right-wing, back when we spent most of our time campaigning against the actions of Republicans; at the time we were popularly regarded as the anti-Patriot-Act, pro-marijuana party. Then-prominent leftists of the time such as Bill Maher frequently called us out as allies.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          The right-wing, back when we spent most of our time campaigning against the actions of Republicans; at the time we were popularly regarded as the anti-Patriot-Act, pro-marijuana party.

          The Internet was a thing back then; show me the receipts. I recall a lot of issue-specific pushback about how Libertarians were naive about “Islamofascism” or whatever clash-of-civilizations buzzwords the neocons were pushing at the time, but “generally regarded as left-wing” is a much stronger claim.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Oh, so you were only anti-Patriot-Act during the Bush administration? Proof that libertarians are a bunch of leftists!

    • Chalid says:

      I feel like the natural use of “right” and “left” in US politics is defined by the two-party system. Whatever Republicans believe is “right,” whatever Democrats support is “left,” and to the extent you support one party over the other you’re basically pushing the country back and forth along that axis. (And the direction of that axis shifts over time as the parties shift positions.) To a first approximation, you might have all kinds of idiosyncratic views, but to the extent that you support a Democrat you’re making the country more “left” and to the extent that you support a Republican you’re making the country more “right.” I would claim that this is the main way right and left are used in the context of US politics today.

      This means “left” and “right” are philosophically incoherent, of course, but that just properly reflects the incoherence of the coalitions involved. And it really does put a lot of libertarians on the right – if you do some sort of handwavy preference-intensity-weighted projection of libertarian views onto the Democratic-Republican axis you’ll usually land on the Republican side of things.

      Remember that non-libertarian Republicans are hardly homogeneous either – it’s not clear to me that there’s less distance between a big business conservative and a Christian fundamentalist anti-abortion crusader than there is between either of those and most libertarians. But we put the business conservative and the abortion activist on the “right” because their strongest preferences align with the Republican party.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        if you do some sort of handwavy preference-intensity-weighted projection of libertarian views onto the Democratic-Republican axis you’ll usually land on the Republican side of things.

        Eh. It varies with who is in charge. We tend to side with the minority party, because the party in control tends to try to use their power to achieve their ends.

        Again, during the Bush administration, we were mostly busy fighting the Patriot Act, and dozens of internet regulation schemes, and also religious-freedom-in-schools. During the Obama administration, we’ve been busy fighting the PPACA, and dozens of internet regulation schemes, and also gun regulation. People have short memories.

        • Chalid says:

          My impression is that libertarians tilt rather strongly Republican when Democrats are in charge, and weakly Republican when Republicans are in charge.

          But anyway what this conversation really needs is data and I don’t have time to find it.

          • Iain says:

            This seems reasonable to me.

            Out-group homogeneity is naturally going to make libertarians look right-wing from the point of view of those on the left. The interesting question is whether libertarians look left-wing from the point of view of those on the right. My impression is that, at least in the comments here, they largely don’t: there seem to be more instances in which a left-wing commenter perceives a (self-identified) libertarian as right-wing than instances in which a right-wing commenter perceives a libertarian as left-wing. I am open to counter-examples.

          • Fahundo says:

            Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there are no non-libertarian right-wingers, and you declare that the libertarians are on the right, of course the right-leaning (read: libertarian) commenters aren’t going to make posts about how all the libertarians seem left-leaning to them.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Iain

            I’m pretty sure the cultural conservatives have always considered libertarians as left-wing and continue to do so. Granted, some of them get confused between libertarians and libertines : -/

          • Iain says:

            @Fahundo: Is somebody saying that all right-wingers are libertarian? That is definitely not what I said.

            @Lumifer: Do you have an example of cultural conservatives doing so in the comments here? Or intelligent cultural conservatives (definition: smart enough to know the difference between libertarians and libertines) who understand the basics of the libertarian position and nevertheless declare libertarianism to be a leftist ideology?

          • a non mouse says:

            I am on the right and consider libertarians to be on the left while believing that an ideal government will be much more libertarian than what we have now.

            I am not a “cultural conservative” because conservatives are merely losers who would like to preserve whatever progressive ideas were fashionable x years ago.

          • Fahundo says:

            Is somebody saying that all right-wingers are libertarian? That is definitely not what I said.

            Paul Brinkley’s numbers above had 69 libertarians and one right-winger.

          • Randy M says:

            I’m comfortable with “cultural conservative” in general; I think things are a little more complex than left and right or else you have people who are basically social democrats but oppose abortion in the same camp with people who oppose any government action up to and including enforcing borders.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      I don’t think it is symmetrical like that. Libertarian economic policies were adopted Reagan (amongst others), but not by any left-wing politicians I’m aware of. In any case, it is perfectly possible for libertarians and Republicans to disagree on many things, but still both be right-wing (unless you claim that because Emma Goldman disagreed with Soviet Russia’s policies, one of the two is not left-wing).

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Bill Clinton probably pursued the most aggressively libertarian economic policies since Calvin Coolidge – which is to say, not terribly libertarian at all, but the bar there is really bloody low. Government spending increased under Reagan, revamped income taxes so that businesses had to collect them for the government, and engaged in money supply manipulation. He wasn’t as interventionist as, say, Carter, but he was about as interventionist as Clinton.

        Right-wing is of course a meaningless phrase, but the thing is, Republicans and libertarians are a distinct cluster.

        But if your lot are determined to convince me that voting for Republicans is in my best political interests because they’re the same thing as me, by all means, go ahead.

        If, on the other hand, you have an ounce of political sense to you, maybe you shouldn’t be making that argument.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Orphan Wilde:
          If you find Democratic policies or representation more to your liking than whatever is on offer from Republicans, I heartily endorse you voting Democratic.

          But you aren’t really the focus of this conversation.

          The question is, what does the over all territory actually look like?

    • Nyx says:

      > The younger libertarians, who don’t remember the Republicans behaving the same way the Democrats are behaving now, will tend to be right-wing leaning just because they’ve never seen the right wing misbehave in the way the left wing is misbehaving today.

      Like notorious whippersnapper Ron Paul?

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      During the Bush era we were generally regarded as left-wing, and that abruptly reversed when Obama was elected, because we oppose the shit that the people in power are doing.

      Please don’t take this the wrong way — I consider myself highly sympathetic to Libertarianism — but this feels like wishcasting to me: kind of like how Reason magazine aggressively and, slightly desperately, calls out people like Todd Akin, but never gets credit for it from the left.

      Libertarians do indeed hold many positions that would never overlap with oldschool Christian Coalition types, but the broad smaller-government ideology is popularly identified with Reagan and the GOP and has been pretty much since 1980, and there have always been lots of secular small-government types in the GOP during this era. Meanwhile, any small-government tendency in the Democratic Party that Bill Clinton might have endorsed ended the day Bush v. Gore was decided. There were occasional wishful mumblings about “liberaltarians” during the Bush years but the liberals tended to respond by throwing rotten fruit. Sorry, guys, but you’re stuck on the right.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Again, if the defining characteristic of “the right” is smaller government, then “the left” gets all the totalitarians.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          C’mon, man.

          “Smaller” government isn’t the defining characteristic on the right, and no one is saying it is. There are plenty of conservatives who want to expand the scope of government. Look at the concept of theocracy, for instance.

          “The right” is a coalition of multiple ideologies, just like “the left” is. Coalitions also change over time, reacting to changing concerns and differing circumstances. Libertarians and conservatives don’t have to be in coalition together for all time, but they are right now.

          However, “small/less government” is an idea that is firmly established as a right wing idea, even though not every right-singer shares this as a terminal value.

          • The Nybbler says:

            And you’re claiming that wanting smaller government is sufficient to put libertarians on the right.

            You claimed elsewhere that while many libertarians were anti-war, they weren’t in coalition with the left in being anti-war. Well, libertarians are for smaller government, but they’re not in coalition with the right in being for smaller government. To most of the right, it’s just a talking point anyway.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Again, I gave other examples of how Libertarians actually are in coalition with the Republicans specifically and the right in general. Ron, Rand, the Kochs.

            And Reason magazine is willing to describe its most well known editor-in-chief as “one of the top-25 right wing writers in America”.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @TheNybbler
            But libertarians blatantly are in coalition with the right, as they run for election as Republican candidates (the Pauls, Gary Johnson when he was actually in a position of power etc.).

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            “small/less government” is an idea that is firmly established as a right wing idea

            No. I assume you’re not a libertarian; “small/less government” isn’t our terminal value. It’s a side-effect at best of our terminal value, which is negative rights, which is to say, liberty.

            Small-government Republicans just want to pay less taxes. That’s something I can get behind – the freedom to spend the money I make in the way I deem best is a freedom I value – but it’s not the only value in my bucket. There’s a lot of overlap between small-government Republicans and libertarians, largely because it’s a policy approach we agree on. What makes these Republicans uniquely suitable for libertarian crossover is that they tend to basically be single-issue voters: Does this increase government spending?

            So we’re in broad agreement with that contingent of Republicans. This isn’t because they’re “basically libertarians”, however, it’s because their specific terminal value is roughly compatible with ours, and they tend to be uniquely situated to only have the one terminal value with regard to government.

            But they’re about as libertarian as the Russian selloff of government goods to connected political insiders for pennies on the dollar was a free market restructuring of their economy.

          • Randy M says:

            Some “conservative” advocates call for less government taxing as a way to get less government and more liberty in general.
            Or did, before this was shown to be somewhat of a farcical notion. But the argument was made.
            People who would not fully take the Libertarian label often argue for less government in areas beyond simply taxation, see Obamacare. Beyond the practicalities and financial impact on the middle class, there were principled objections that the government had no right to control individual spending choices and that it was taking responsibility away from the citizens.

          • Tekhno says:

            Small government is an ideal of the liberal-right, which is almost the only popular form of right which exists in America (Trump is moving things a little away though). Libertarians are largely just liberals of the extreme center.

            The USA doesn’t utilize this terminology broadly however, and the only liberals are left-liberals in popular understanding.

      • David Friedman says:

        “Meanwhile, any small-government tendency in the Democratic Party that Bill Clinton might have endorsed ended the day Bush v. Gore was decided.”

        Does Cass Sunstein count? He self-describes as a libertarian paternalist and is part of a small group of intellectuals–Larry Lessig is another–who think of themselves as left but have substantial libertarian sympathies.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        the broad smaller-government ideology is popularly identified with Reagan and the GOP and has been pretty much since 1980

        Smaller-government is just government -spending-. Libertarians, as the name should imply, prioritize liberty, not just the amount of government spending.

        • Randy M says:

          Disagree, see comment I made just above, but for another example, who is more likely to oppose seat-belt laws? Government imposed (as opposed to private establishment) smoking restrictions? Plastic bag bans?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Who is more likely to oppose drug laws, flag-burning laws, and laws against the wrong kind of sex?

          • Randy M says:

            Let me know with a recent survey the levels of support for those among self-identified groups. I suspect it is spotty at best, especially among more “mainstream” Republicans.

          • Eccdogg says:

            Drug laws not so sure there is a big difference, the other two the left was generally on the libertarian side and the right was not. BUT those issues have long been decided and there are essentially no conservatives calling for any change. And both those were decided in part by SC judges on the right in coalition with those on the left. So even there there was some sympathy on the right.

            Do you think you would get any SC justices appointed by Democrats who would say that seat belt law or smoking restrictions were unconstitutional or even any current Democrats speaking out about them? Or look at the Kelo ruling why was there no one on the left that opposed? Or Obamacare mandates for that matter.

            I think there used to be a left that was a strong defender of freedom*. Today I don’t see a left that holds freedom as one of its core values. The right is not a reliable champion of freedom either, but it is one of their core values.

            *I know freedom is a term that some interpret differently. Here I am using it the way libertarians use it. Negative liberty or freedom from coercion. I know under different definition the left may be seen as having freedom as a core value.

          • brad says:

            The ACLU is still out there doing a lot of pro-freedom work. I’d bet their donor base is overwhelmingly left of center.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Or look at the Kelo ruling why was there no one on the left that opposed?

            The decision was criticized by Bernie Sanders. It was criticized by Ralph Nader. It’s been criticized by the ACS (left-wing equivalent to the Federalist Society). The NAACP filed a fucking amicus brief for the petitioners! Can you either exit your info bubble or at least run a basic Google search before saying shit like this?

          • Eccdogg says:

            ^ I should have been more clear. I was referring to the members of the supreme court.

            In both the Sodomy case and the Flag burning case. Republican appointed justices sided with the more libertarian position. In neither the Kelo case or the Obamacare case did you see liberal dissenters.

            Looking back at what I wrote I see that it could have come across that no one on the left opposed. As you have pointed out correctly that was not the case.

            And probably my last paragraph was too strong as you and brad point out there are elements of the left that are strong on some freedom issues.

          • Randy M says:

            To clarify, in my first comment here, I wasn’t trying to imply that there are no freedoms liberals will support, but that there are at least some non-financial areas where conservatives push for smaller government, contra Orphan’s assertion.

    • David Friedman says:

      ” During the Bush era we were generally regarded as left-wing, and that abruptly reversed when Obama was elected, because we oppose the shit that the people in power are doing.”

      I think you are exaggerating. There was a point at which Rothbard was pushing an alliance with the left, but that was earlier. A lot of us were critical of Bush but I don’t remember any point during that administration where libertarians were routinely described as on the left.

      I did comment, back when Bush was still in office:

      “That’s why, on the whole, I thought it would be better if Bush had lost the most recent election–not that his opponent would have been any better but that at least we wouldn’t have gotten blamed for what he did.”

      And in partial support of HBC’s argument against me, an old blog post on the subject, distinguishing between emotional and intellectual alliance.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @David Friedman:
        As I don’t think I have mentioned you in this OT, can you expand on what argument you mean?

        Edit: After reading the post, I think I understand it’s about our argument about whether you are “on the right” from the previous OT.

        • David Friedman says:

          Correct.

          I concede that we may have had one or two other arguments in the past.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Maybe. 😉

            I have to say, I’m struck by that post. I’m not actually sure it would be productive to say more.

            But yes, it is a good illustration of what my point was.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        A lot of us were critical of Bush but I don’t remember any point during that administration where libertarians were routinely described as on the left.

        I lived in a rural heavily Southern-Baptist town at the time. Libertarians were definitely regarded as “on the left.”

        Was your bubble predominantly leftist, or predominantly rightist?

        • David Friedman says:

          My bubble was primarily leftist, which may explain the difference between my perception and yours.

          I’ve been in the academic world for almost my entire life.

      • Eccdogg says:

        David Friedman good post. I have similar feelings

        I don’t know if Libertarians are right or not, but I do think they are willing to ally with the right but are not likely to ally with the left. At least as far as left and right are mostly understood in a US context.

        I usually vote libertarian, but sometimes vote republican I never vote democrat (at least at the national level I do at the state and local level). I also generally feel more emotional sympathy to republicans. I think it is because the right at least pays lip service to some core libertarian ideas. Even when the left’s policies are more libertarian the arguments they use to get there often put me off.

    • ChetC3 says:

      Roughly, if you think libertarians are right-wing, it’s only because the left wing is currently in power and we’re opposing what you’re trying to get done. During the Bush era we were generally regarded as left-wing, and that abruptly reversed when Obama was elected, because we oppose the shit that the people in power are doing.

      My experience was that the self-described libertarians I encountered online during the Bush era were regarded as right-wing, in essentially in the same way libertarians are considered right-wing in the Obama era. The only people I could see describing libertarians as left-wing in the Bush era would be hardline social conservatives, and people who hadn’t had much exposure to libertarians.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        The only people I could see describing libertarians as left-wing in the Bush era would be hardline social conservatives, and people who hadn’t had much exposure to libertarians.

        So… most Republicans?

        The Internet is bizarre. Libertarians are severely, SEVERELY overrepresented on most non-social-network internet communities. We also tend to be prolific and relatively skilled persuasive writers, and also, for some reason, technical.

        In meatspace, however, we tend to be underrepresented, so a given individual’s understanding of what libertarianism is, is whatever the libertarian they happen to know tells them it is. (Because we’re all, every one of us, the holders of the sacred True Libertarianism, of course, and all the others are heretics and sell-outs.)

      • Tekhno says:

        In meatspace, however, we tend to be underrepresented

        Because libertarianism is embarrassing.

    • TheAncientGeek says:

      People think libertarians are right wing because making property rights paramount favours the wealthy and employers over the poor and employees.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Historically, movements to reduce property right importance always increase the concentration of power, rather than spread it around. The original (true?) left was in favor of strong property rights for a reason.

      • IrishDude says:

        Hernando De Soto is an economist who believes one of the primary causes of 3rd world poverty is the lack of property rights, which contrasts with your statement. Here’s a nice summary write-up on his ideas:

        “Informality is a central concept in de Soto’s work on poverty. It describes the realm to which the Third World’s poorest are relegated — banished from their nations’ official economies to what he has called “the grubby basement of the precapitalist world.”

        He argues that their exclusion — the product of a lack of enforceable property rights — holds back them and the entire world economy. It’s why capitalism, despite its triumph over communism and its wealth generation in America and Western Europe, has failed elsewhere.

        Nicholas Eberstadt, an American Enterprise Institute expert on economic development, lauds de Soto for demonstrating how property rights — often disparaged by left-leaning intellectuals as an instrument of the privileged — help the poor: “He has helped explain to convincible readers how radically egalitarian the rule of law and property rights are. Plutocrats, strongmen — they have their muscle. They can take what they choose in lawless situations. But the poor and weak are protected by the rule of law and property rights.

        Americans struggle to understand the plight of the Third World’s poor, de Soto says, because they take for granted the robust U.S. legal system that makes their prosperity possible.

        The anarchic Wild West America of squatters and gold rushers gave way long ago to a nation where:

        • Ownership is uniformly documented and insured.
        • Trustworthy records of transactions are easily accessible.
        • People have fixed addresses and recorded credit histories.
        • Property titles are sacrosanct.
        • Convenient legal instruments exist to limit business liability.”

        http://www.investors.com/news/management/leaders-and-success/hernando-de-soto-revolutionized-world-thinking-poverty/

  18. AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

    How impressive was Nate Silvers correctly calling all 50 states?

    I thought there were only ever about 6 states in an election that are so called *swing* states, and just looking at some polls a month before will cover half of them.

    • pku says:

      Well, telling which states are swing states in the first place can be tough. And polls often disagree (right now they range from Trump+2 to Hillary+12), so you have to consolidate them somehow. You can just average the pollsters, and you’d get pretty close to Nate Silver’s model – and he puts in some more math to take in the average and trend lines.

      So he has significantly better than others. If you know just the right polls to look at you can get most of the way there (but with a slightly higher error margin), but that assumes you have polls in the first place, which is already a lot of the work.

      • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

        Well, he adds a bit more then polls to the models. He factors in demographics quite a bit, and who is likely to vote and note vote from the polls.

        It seems heavily poll based, plus trying to find which groups of people are not counted by the polls as much, and which are more counted. Correcting for demographics per town is big.

    • Chalid says:

      My impression is that Nate Silver (and other forecasters) are smart and are generally doing the right kinds of analysis, but they aren’t really adding that much value over basic simple polling averages, which already predict the election pretty well. They could be doing all their adjustments incorrectly and it probably wouldn’t make much difference. Certainly calling all 50 states correctly on the election eve is no big deal.

      The thing that Nate Silver did that was really genuinely impressive, I think, was declaring the 2008 primary a lock for Obama *way* before anyone else did, based on a really nice analysis of delegate math and of Democratic demographics back when he was a random diarist on Daily Kos. That’s what got him his reputation in the first place and allowed him to launch 538.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        My impression is that Nate Silver (and other forecasters) are smart and are generally doing the right kinds of analysis, but they aren’t really adding that much value over basic simple polling averages, which already predict the election pretty well.

        I think the value demonstrated in 2012 was pretty impressive. The RCP average on election night in 2012 was Obama +0.9, with two polls showing Romney leads and three showing ties. This led to a lot of hopeful wishcasting among conservatives while Silver’s model had it as a reasonable (>90%) lock and predicted a +2.5 popular vote advantage. This still turned out to be an underestimate but generally someone viewing the election through 538 was both more accurate and more confident than someone looking at poll averaging. Even betting markets only had Obama at -400, and if you’d taken some of the more aggressive wagers (e.g., Obama by >100 EVs) you could’ve made substantial money.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        but they aren’t really adding that much value over basic simple polling averages

        I think the concept of understanding an individual polling firms “lean” is a pretty valuable add. Yeah, that basically washes out in averages, but it really helps to put each new data point in perspective.

        If your polling average is HRC +2 and a new poll comes out that is DT +1, does it actually represent a true shift in the average? Or will it come out in the wash as we add all the other polls?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      He didn’t call them all. In many places he said “there is a 51% chance that this state goes X” and it did go X. This attempt to force him into this “master predictor” box that he doesn’t even want to be in is misguided.

      • Gbdub says:

        If that’s how he did it (assigned a probability to each state) then how likely would it be, using his own probabilities, that he got all 50 states “right”? E.g if 5 states were predicted “60% likely to Obama” then you’d expect 2 of them to go to Romney, meaning Silver’s model was actually under confident.

        Though actually I suppose it’s more complicated than that, states or events could be correlated (maybe “unemployment percentage of X is worth Y to Obama”, and that applies nationwide). Point is you’d have to dig deeper than “he correctly picked all 50 states!” and into the assumptions and models to find out how good of a prdiction it really was.

  19. sconzey says:

    I have some concerns about Nate Silver giving an 80 pct likelihood of Clinton winning in November. His predicted outcome is very sensitive to his assumptions.

    In 2012 polls were showing a 1-3 point lead for Obama with 1-3 pct undecided. Polls today show Clinton with a 1-5 point lead in key states with 10pct undecided and another 7-9pct voting third party. Silver assumes that the undecideds will break 50/50 in all states, and there will be a small amount of defection from third party voters to a mainstream party, which is also split 50/50.

    Small changes in how the undecideds split can completely wash out clinton’s lead in key battlegrounds, and Silver doesn’t take into account this uncertainty in his model.

    I’m curious if anyone else has noticed this. I’d feel better if there were someone else replicating Silver’s result.

    Especially as this is what caught people out about the Brexit vote and the Scottish Independence referendum– a large number of undecideds splitting disproportionately for the politically incorrect answer.

    • Deiseach says:

      Now you make me wonder: if the latest Trump scandal makes everyone assume that’s it, Hillary has it in the bag, is there a likelihood some who aren’t so enthused about her (from Berniebros to “eh, I don’t like her, but she’s our party candidate”) might decide they can afford to vote for Jill Stein or any of the other third-party/write-in candidates?

      I know Sanders’ candidacy was being blamed for potentially splitting the Democrat vote so that they’d hand the victory to whoever the Republican was. Could something like this happen – the undecideds deciding Hillary has enough votes to win so they’ll vote for the candidate they really like instead?

      • sconzey says:

        It’s a concern. There seems to be a big enthusiasm gap between Clintons and Trumps supporters– compare rally attendance.

        Clinton’s strategy seems to be to present herself as the low variance low risk candidate and hope people will put more minor policy disagreements aside to stop Trump.

        Good poll results for Clinton will demoralise Trump supporters, but they will also make Clinton’s more grudging supporters complacent about her victory. Silver adjusts polls to take account of differential turnout to give a 0.3 pct advantage to Trump. I would be surprised if the difference is that small.

        The was the other thing with Brexit– a lot of people who had never voted or don’t normally vote turned out to vote Leave, but how pollsters come up with their lists of Likely Voters is by asking ‘did you vote last time?’

        You can make an argument for this effect for both Clinton and Trump supporters but no one seems to be trying to measure it.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      538 is modeling “if the election were held today”. They aren’t trying to model what will happen to undecideds in the next month. That is a key distinction.

      • Johnjohn says:

        They make three predictions, only one of them is “if the election were held today”. One is “based on the polls, what will happen in novemenber?” and the last one is “based on the polls, and economic data, what will happen in november?”

      • sconzey says:

        I don’t think that’s right. In the polls-plus model that I refer to above Silver uses demographic data and looks at the polling trend to attempt to forecast forward to Election Day.

        He has a specific ‘now cast’ for if the election were held today.

        The other thing is that the undecideds are still likely voters. They will probably still vote even if they’ve not made up their mind at the time the poll is done.

        With the brexit polls the pollsters included ‘nudge’ questions in an attempt to measure how the undecideds were leaning. If any US pollsters do that, Silver isn’t obviously using the data.

        (Actually with Brexit the nudge questions were worse than useless. They tended to ask about risks associated with Brexit, failing to notice that both Leave and Remain voters agreed Brexit was the riskier option, only disagreed on whether the risk was worth it)

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Here is what the site says about polls-plus and polls-only:

          Polls-plus: Combines polls with an economic index. Since the economic index implies that this election should be a tossup, it assumes the race will tighten somewhat.

          Polls-only: A simpler, what-you-see-is-what-you-get version of the model. It assumes current polls reflect the best forecast for November, although with a lot of uncertainty.

          So, it assumes that the current polls are what they are, but uncertain. That isn’t really an assumption or model of how undecided’s will break. Polls plus does assume, because of fundamentals, that the race should be tighter than it is in the current polls.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I’m curious if anyone else has noticed this. I’d feel better if there were someone else replicating Silver’s result.

      Sam Wang and Nate Cohn both run data models of their own that are actually more bullish on Hillary than 538. You also have prediction markets and pundit surveys, but those probably aren’t like-to-like.

    • Chalid says:

      I haven’t really dug into the details of all the various polling models out there (PEC, Upshot, Linzer/dKos, etc) but I am under the impression that 538 actually assumes *more* uncertainty about the undecided vote than the other modellers do – which is a big part of why 538 is consistently less bullish on Clinton than everyone else.

      Here Harry Enten at 538 discusses undecided voters and you can see he definitely thinks about the issues you’re concerned with. “A 5-percentage-point lead with about 15 percent of the electorate undecided or voting for a third-party candidate (about where the race currently stands) is far better than a 5-point lead with over 20 percent of the electorate undecided or voting for a third-party candidate.”

      • sconzey says:

        It’s good to see people at least mentioning the undecideds… Perhaps it’s a US-centric perspective. In the UK we’ve long had a so-called “shy Tory” effect where a lot of Tory voters tell pollsters they’re undecided. It’s what was responsible for swinging the last UK general election from Labour minority coalition which is what the polls predicted to a Tory majority. I had wondered if they might be a similar ‘shy Trumper’ effect.

        On the other hand that link says that in the US undecided voters have split evenly historically.

        • The Nybbler says:

          With the huge shame “argument” against Trump, being pushed strongly by the media (which also does the polls), I suspect there is a relatively large “shy Trumper” effect and that the latest controversy pushed it higher. Whether it is enough for him to win, I don’t know. The latest controversy pushed me from being a reluctant supporter of Trump to a somewhat less reluctant supporter of Trump; I’m tired of the shame “argument”.

          • Iain says:

            Conversely: 33% of married men say their spouse will vote for Clinton. 45% of married women say they will vote for Clinton. The shy voter argument works both ways. (source)

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Based on observed behavior this election cycle I have a very hard time believing that “shy Trumper” is a thing.

          • sconzey says:

            Iain: um. you know women can marry women right?

            Anonymous Bosch: that’s fair. Trump rallies seem to be a lot livelier than Tory hustings, but I don’t expect every Trump supporter goes to Trump rallies. (I certainly hope not every Clinton supporter goes to a Clinton rally or she’s shafted)

            I’d like to see a poll done with nudge questions like: “Which is a greater threat to US interests, radical Islam or Russia?” or “Which is a more important quality in selecting a president: picking a strong leader, or sending a message about the kind of country we are?”

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            That’s just selection bias; the Trumpers you see aren’t the shy ones.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Iain: um. you know women can marry women right?

            I don’t think those cases would move the needle that much.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I’d like to see a poll done with nudge questions like: “Which is a greater threat to US interests, radical Islam or Russia?” or “Which is a more important quality in selecting a president: picking a strong leader, or sending a message about the kind of country we are?”

            Breitbart/Gravis has been doing some fairly explicit push polling of late (see Wisconsin, Florida). Of course, being Breitbart, they put the post-push margins in the headline and bury the topline halfway down the article.

          • pku says:

            But you would also expect it in the primaries, and we didn’t see that.

          • Iain says:

            @sconzey: I am quite aware. There are 60 million married couples in the US. Of those, about 170,000 were same-sex couples in 2013, which is the most recent data I can find. Even if we say that number has quintupled post-Obergefell, you’re still looking at less than 1% of married women who are in same-sex relationships.

            Even beyond that: are you seriously trying to argue that there are a bunch of lesbians out there who believe that their wives will vote for Donald Trump?

  20. God Damn John Jay says:

    Question for people who are experts in this: how scientific is textual analysis? I am thinking of the Bart Ehrman style examination of biblical texts (but other examples would work too), where someone would read a passage and argue that based on the fact that something was inconvenient to the reader it was probably historical or passages that are too convenient were likely added in post hoc.

    I am wondering if these methods have ever been able to advance a new paradigm which was later verified by evidence, or if it is it just a matter of argument.

    • Gazeboist says:

      I think the argument would usually go that because some passage or stricture was inconvenient to or anachronistic for the alleged writer that it must have been added later. There’s also a substantial amount of “these passages just straight up contradict each other if taken literally” and “this chapter describes fundamentally the same events as the one before it; it was probably a separate legend later compiled” to go around.

      I don’t actually know of any verified predictions; one to check for would be the historicity of the “two kingdoms of Israel” narrative. I know one of them is generally not believed to have actually been a united kingdom, but I forget which one.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Textual analysis of the bible is basically a weird sort of algebra, when you get down to it. It isn’t scientific, because you can’t do the sort of testing that is the core of the scientific method.

      The “this is inconvenient therefore it is true” thing isn’t just for the bible; you’ll see it in court also – “I saw the accused doing the crime while I was getting super high on coke in an orgy with a dozen prostitutes” is more credible than “I saw the accused do the crime while I was walking a senior citizen across the street”.

      If we’re actually talking about the bible, a new historic discovery would be far more valuable than any amount of scholars poking about.

      • LHN says:

        One thing I’ve wondered is why they can’t at least apply the methods to modern documents and see if they work. E.g., have two or more people write documents and edit them together, and see if different (blinded) teams can a) separate them out to (more or less) the same number and content of proposed source documents and b) if the resultant documents match reasonably closely to what was edited together. That would at least be a pointer to whether the method works in principle.

        (Or has this been done? When I asked someone who worked in the field, I was told not, but that was a while back.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          I think a lot of scholars would probably not want to do this sort of thing, because it might embarrass them. The most solid textual study of the Bible is fairly boring and uncontroversial, and was largely complete by the mid 20th century, but due to the way academia works a lot of really speculative stuff gets presented as fact. There’s any number of people who will tell you they’ve figured out what was in Q… a document the existence of which is hypothetical, after all. But hey if they can move a few copies of their book…

    • M.C. Escherichia says:

      I’m not sure how many experts you’ll find here. But it’s fascinating how textual criticism lines up with evolutionary biology. You have the original source text (common ancestor) that went through a process of copying (reproduction, speciation), and alterations (mutations, selection). Mutations can be “random” (though a scribe is more likely to make certain types of mistake) or intelligently designed. Various selection pressures exist. We occasionally discover old manuscripts (fossils). And the job of the critic is to reconstruct the ancestor, via a sort of maximum parsimony approach — what sequence of events makes the most sense to explain the data?

      Since in biology we can in fact know things about what old organisms were like millions of years ago, I don’t see any fundamental impossibility in textual criticism. The sort of argument you mention is analogous to discussion of what sorts of mutations are common.

      • Randy M says:

        Since in biology we can in fact know things about what old organisms were like millions of years ago

        How do you mean? Like, find organisms that haven’t changed since then, or find fossils to examine?

        • M.C. Escherichia says:

          As well as fossils, we can also directly infer things about the common ancestors of current species, e.g. from morphology (and possibly from genetics?)… the book The Ancestor’s Tale goes into this.

          For example, it seems highly likely that the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all mammals laid eggs; our most distant mammal cousins, the echidna and platypus, still do this, and the likely explanation is that the placental mode of doing things evolved after the platypus and echidna had separated from the lineage that gave rise to everything else.

          More generally, the MRCA of current species surely had all the features that are common to all the modern species (e.g. the MRCA of all insects had 6 legs, we may suppose). When a feature is absent from a few members of a group, the situation depends on exactly what the relationships are (DNA analysis helps greatly with this); the evidence may support multiple independent losses, or a single loss that gave rise to multiple species, or the feature being absent in the MRCA, depending.

          The original insect was probably wingless, for instance. While there are many wingless insects today, the important fact is that the earliest-diverging insects, e.g. jumping bristletails and silverfish, are wingless. So wings evolved later, then the winged insects speciated like crazy, and then some of those species, e.g. fleas, lost them again.

          For the Bible, one wrinkle is that we’re not interested in the most recent common ancestor but the actual first organism; the text as originally written. If someone immediately came and altered it, and then every copy we had was made from that altered text, a feature shared in all later texts might still have been absent in the true original… still there’s nothing magical we can do about that.

  21. pku says:

    So, I think part of the disagreement about the Trump tape is that everyone imagines people try to signal one way: Feminists think everyone wants to signal respect for consent ideals, so they assume anyone who says something like what Trump says would only say it if it were true – after all, from that perspective, he can’t get signalling benefits from it. And the people who say “it’s locker room talk” assume people often want to signal power and influence, so they believe Trump has motivation to exaggerate how easily he’d grab a woman, because that signals strength.

    In principle, I’d be sympathetic to the second argument, except there’s enough evidence of Trump harassing women that I think that, in this specific case, he might have been both signalling and being honest about what he was doing. (Whether a candidate’s sex scandals/alleged private crimes should affect his electability is a separate conversation).

    • Philosophisticat says:

      I don’t think that makes much sense. If everyone wants to signal respect for consent ideals, why would they say what Trump says if it were true? It would be the sort of thing you would hide, rather than brag about. In fact, feminists don’t think that Trump wants to signal respect for consent ideals (or at least that he has a horrifying view of what consent ideals amount to). And feminists will be the first to point out the existence of masculine norms of sexual aggressiveness and dominance that affect how men present themselves.

      Also, you seem to think that the big dispute is over whether Trump was lying or telling the truth in making those remarks. But the more important disagreement is over whether the remarks show something reprehensible about Trump’s character. Of course, if they’re true, that’s one way they show something reprehensible. But most feminists think that it shows something bad about his character and his attitudes towards women even if he were lying in order to signal strength. Probably most of them think he is exaggerating.

      The people who say “it’s (just) locker room talk” are saying more than “he was lying when he said it” – they want to suggest that it’s a relatively normal way of talking in private between men in casual settings and shows nothing unusually bad about Trump’s character.

      • gbdub says:

        I don’t think “it’s just locker room talk”, in that it’s worse than what I’d normally expect (but men really are more crude about women in male-only settings, and I suspect women are about men as well).

        At the same time, “he’s literally admitting to sexual assault” is an overreach to me. It’s clearly a boast, and it’s clearly meant as “these women are so into power/fame that they’ll let me do anything, because they want to be with power/fame” rather than a statement that he makes a habit of randomly groping women.

        Trump exaggerates plenty. Adding hyperbole on top of that is not likely to steer you toward the truth (but it sure fires up the base I guess).

        • Iain says:

          To be fair, there have been persistent allegations that he does make a habit of persistently groping women: see, for example, this case.

          • gbdub says:

            Fair enough. And certainly, someone who assumes women are going to fall all over him (even if he’s usually right) is more likely to overstep against someone who doesn’t feel that way. Still, most critiques are focusing on the language it seems, and my objection is limited to the parsing of the quote itself.

            And anyway, if this is such a huge, disqualifying issue – why the hell is Hillary Clinton the other option? This election has been unusually bad for political consistency (on both sides).

      • pku says:

        > Probably most of them think he is exaggerating.

        I agree, but there’s a surprising number who seem like they genuinely don’t. For them, Trump would only say things like that if he was guilty.

        To clarify: I’m saying Trump values signalling other things, like strength and influence (“I can just grab women” does signal those), but doesn’t much care about signaling “consent culture”, even if he and most of his followers do agree that rape is bad. And I’m not sure feminists realize how much of what he says is the fact that he’s trying to signal in a different direction.
        To reverse the example, think of a BLM activist signalling he hates cops/the prison system. He might well say things that can be interpreted as “shooting cops is good”, especially by people opposed to his positions in the first place, because they come from a culture that values cops and don’t realize the degree to which signalling cop-hatred is a thing in some places.

        > Also, you seem to think that the big dispute is over whether Trump was lying or telling the truth in making those remarks. But the more important disagreement is over whether the remarks show something reprehensible about Trump’s character.

        I agree with this part – I should have explicitly mentioned that this is also part of the debate that is filed under a separate conversation.

        • William O. B'Livion says:

          Of course Trump is reprehensible.

          But so is Hillary.

          But which one will get away with more reprehensible behavior in office?

          • Brad (The Other One) says:

            Trump would do something stupid and maybe even a few things that aren’t and get yelled at by pop culture and the press, as was George W. Bush – and then nothing else happens.

            Hilary would get away with stuff, but no one would yell at her (beyond the usual right wrong people who are always yelling at her anyways) because we’d never find out about half of it, and the other half will have evidence tied to people who either die unexpectedly or are suddenly massively discredited.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Hillary, clearly, because she has backers in Congress and in the majority of the press. Trump is pretty much on his own.

  22. Jill says:

    I wonder what Trump will do at the next debate– punch Hillary in the face? And what excuses will Trump’s supporters give for that behavior? And what will the media then do? Get all giddy and happy because that will mean more viewers/listeners/readers of media, and thus more advertising revenue?

    • TheWorst says:

      And what will the media then do?

      Remember that the media’s incentive is always for a close race. This means that under normal circumstances they benefit from ignoring any too-inappropriate behavior on the part of whichever candidate isn’t the favorite. When doing so conflicts with their actual preferences as to the outcome of the race, their behavior sometimes gets weird. But their personal outcome is best if their disfavored candidate loses by a little.

    • Elephant says:

      All of these are good questions. (Punching: probably not, but I was genuinely creeped out by Trump closely-following-behing Clinton.) I wonder, too, about the media, which seems remarkably spineless. I don’t think it’s a conscious aim to make the race close for ratings purposes — that would take much more thought and coordination than I think is likely. Rather, I think it’s a consequence of a belief that all behaviors are ok, and that each “side” of a story gets equal weight; this is mistaken for being ethical or principled.

  23. Alex S says:

    I think Trump’s stance on ending alliances is not a reason to oppose him. There were many alliances before WWI, and we know how that turned out. One of the costs that the US pays for defending allies is the risk of being targeted in a nuclear war. As long as the US is committed to many allies, the total risk of nuclear war somewhere in the world is probably lowered by having one superpower (or not), but the chance that the US in particular goes to war seems higher because we might get dragged into defending an ally. So fewer alliances is safer for us.

    • Maven says:

      But we should definitely maintain our alliance with Japan as-is because super kawaii anime.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        It’s the only sensible course of action.

        • Maven says:

          In all seriousness, I would absolutely love to study if and how Japanese pop culture has influenced young Americans’ geopolitical views towards Japan. It could make an excellent case study in the importance of art and culture (contrary to what “le STEM is le best” types say…).

          • Lumifer says:

            young Americans’ geopolitical views towards Japan

            Direct quote from a young American on a Narita – Tokyo train: “So this is the land where schoolgirls battle invisible robots…”

          • dndnrsn says:

            Japan has a wildly outsized presence on the world stage so far as pop culture is concerned, even though the version of Japanese pop culture that most non-Japanese get is wildly different from actual Japanese pop culture.

            This is really really cool when you think about it.

          • arbitrary_greay says:

            All countries’ exported pop culture is wildly different from their actual pop culture. I love seeing the bits of “this is what they think America is like” in foreign media. Cool Japan has NOTHING on South Korea’s support of Hallyu, but there are still all sorts of articles about disdain for Koreaboos and how swathes of Korean culture are being lost in the promotion of Hallyu.

            But I would be really interested in someone documenting the rise and fall of Japanese influence on video games in America.

            Le STEM still has the most widespread influence, but its invisibility is what contributes to that. Sony and Toyota…

    • Nyx says:

      > I think Trump’s stance on ending alliances is not a reason to oppose him. There were many alliances before WWI, and we know how that turned out.

      WWII was fought for the sake of Britain’s alliance with Poland, and I think that was a worthwhile endeavour.

      • Alex S says:

        I agree WWII was worthwhile but I doubt Trump would actually end NATO. With the NATO expansions after 2000, we’re more extended than ever before.

      • Gazeboist says:

        WWII was fought for a lot of things. Poland was the proximate cause, but Austria, Czechoslovakia and direct but not strictly military conflicts with France were important as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        WWII wouldn’t have happened if WWI hadn’t.

      • TMB says:

        Was it worthwhile?

        What happened to Poland in the end?

        The only good thing to come from WW2 was the idea that we fought off the world’s worst super-baddies, and saved the world.

        It’s a really compelling idea – not a reality.

        • Montfort says:

          Really, the only good thing? There’s certainly a lot of death, destruction, pain, despair, and waste to tally up against the good, but to claim there was no good at all seems absurd. A number of certain ethnic and sexual minorities were saved from death (maybe on net, maybe not, depending on what you think happens without WW2, but still some individuals). West Germans and Italians got new governments they probably liked a little better. The UK managed to retain some diplomatic credibility. There were significant technological advances in many fields. There’s been peace in Western Europe ever since. Countries like India and Australia got their independence. It inspired tons of great wargames.

          This is a point of view that requires an actual argument, not just a bare assertion optimized for provocation.

          • TMB says:

            “A number of certain ethnic and sexual minorities were saved from death (maybe on net, maybe not, depending on what you think happens without WW2, but still some individuals).”

            This is only true in the sense that, in some hypothetical alternative reality, some of those who survived the war may well have been hit by a bus, or something.

            I can’t see how the alliance with Poland or the declaration of war did anything to help the persecuted minorities of Europe – unless we speculate that delaying a declaration of war, or avoiding it, would have somehow led to an even faster collapse of the allied powers on the continent.
            I don’t think that is likely.

            As for diplomatic credibility – the Second World War was the absolute end of Britain as even a second-rate world power. They called when they were bluffing.
            So, yes, I suppose that might be the one advantage of the Second World War, depending on your perspective – American destruction of British Imperial power. The end of independent European power.

            But, if the solution was the most destructive war ever, it makes you wonder what the problem was.

          • Montfort says:

            This is only true in the sense that in some hypothetical alternative reality, some of those who survived the war may well have been hit by a bus, or something.

            You will need to expand on this. Presumably some of the many potential victims of Nazi concentration camps were saved by the collapse of the Nazi regime, as some were still living in the camps at that time, and others were still hiding in Germany but could have been discovered. Or are you of the opinion that without WWII these organized killings don’t happen?

            I can’t see how the alliance with Poland or the declaration of war did anything to help the persecuted minorities of Europe

            This statement looks quite a bit more narrow than your original post! If you meant to say before “The only good thing about declaring WWII specifically in response to the invasion of Poland and not later was the idea that we fought off the world’s worst super-baddies, and saved the world,” then 1) it didn’t even give us that story, we would’ve come up with it anyway with a later start, and 2) I’d have to rewrite my response but their are still benefits and the destruction specifically caused by this is much lower.

            If you mean WWII didn’t help any individual potential victim of T4/Holocaust, see my response above.

            As for diplomatic credibility – the Second World War was the absolute end of Britain as even a second-rate world power. They called when they were bluffing.

            WWII did mark the end of the UK as a major power, yes, but that’s not the same as destroying their credibility. Major powers can be regarded as credible or not credible, and the same with minor powers and even third world nations. What I’m saying there is that the UK at least preserved the perception that their word was worth something.

            But, if the treatment was the most destructive war ever, it makes you wonder what the problem was.

            Yes, that’s a good question. There are many books dealing with the causes of WWII and what the various allied leaders thought they stood to gain by declaring war, and many books dealing with the legacy of WWII, so perhaps some of those would give you an idea. I’m quite confident you’ve read something on the subject, but generally it begins with the idea that it would be nice if people stopped trying to annex other people and/or destructively reorganize their economies and governments – eastern europe ended up that way anyway, but at least it didn’t last in the west.

          • TMB says:

            “Or are you of the opinion that without WWII these organized killings don’t happen?”

            I would say, that the genocide couldn’t have happened (at least on the scale it did) without war. Whether war was an excuse, or a pretext, or an actual cause of the genocide, I don’t know.

            There were also things that the Western powers could have done to save the persecuted that would have been far more effective than declaring war.

            It’s like, if there is a madman outside my house and maybe he’s got a knife and he could break in and kill my family, and I decide to pre-empt him by throwing a knife at him, and I miss, and then he uses that knife to kill half of my family before I manage to subdue him – well, in that case, I’d say the whole “throwing the knife” thing didn’t have a good outcome. And, I’d find it hard to say that subduing him after he’d killed half my family made throwing the knife a good idea.

            But maybe it’d be a good story. Especially if we assume that he already had his own knife (but we can’t really know that.)

            But, yes, I suppose the war between Russia and Germany was quite likely – but to me that’s more of your traditional pointless war. Two competing evils crushing the lives of ordinary good people. It’s “World War One, Two: This time it’s evil.”

            ” it begins with the idea that it would be nice if people stopped trying to annex other people and/or destructively reorganize their economies and governments ”

            It depends on your government. The whole destructive reorganisation worked quite well for Japan. End of Imperialism worked out badly in Africa.

            “What I’m saying there is that the UK at least preserved the perception that their word was worth something.”

            Yeah, maybe.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I would say, that the genocide couldn’t have happened (at least on the scale it did) without war. Whether war was an excuse, or a pretext, or an actual cause of the genocide, I don’t know.

            Hitler had been quite exercised over the Jewish Menace since before he became Fuehrer. Obviously we can’t know for certain what would have happened absent WW2, but it’s certainly plausible that he’d have launched a Holocaust-like genocide anyway.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Relitigating the justness of WWII seems so far out there that it is impossible to argue on an internet message board (and therefore ideally suited for the medium). Maybe you could recommend some books that share your particular viewpoints to speed the process up.

        • William O. B'Livion says:

          So you’re saying we should have just let Japan continue to rape and pillage it’s way across Asia?

          I realize that most leftists and alt-right types are all like “F*k the Jews”, but Germany wasn’t only gassing them, they were doing a pretty good job on the Gypsies, Homosexuals (the ones that Goring wasn’t goring anyway), blacks (but then the left doesn’t really care about THEM either apparently), Communists (well, one good thing doesn’t undo a lot of bad) and generally anyone else that got on the wrong side of the government.

          Look, warfare is a time honored way of increasing the size of one’s estate. That’s fine.

          But at some point civilized people really have to put their foot down (collectively, and with an atom-bomb if need be) and insist that what you take by conquest you TREAT HUMANELY.

          I’m pretty much a battered old man (relatively), but I’d go out the back of a C130 with a rifle strapped to my back in about the time it took me to get my boots on to stop the sort of shit that was happening in Europe and Asia during WWII. Oh, and I’ve been in the US Military, worked with them or for them across 4 decades and three continents including one more-or-less war zone, so I’m not Walter Mittying. Well, not much given the state of my feet and eyes. I can carry the rifle but without a good scope I can’t *HIT* anything with it 🙂

          I think it’s a *stain* on the UN and the US that the Rwandan genocide wasn’t stopped earlier. And frankly the behavior of the UN peacekeepers alone is a reason to disband the UN, blow up the buildings, melt down that dumb ass sculpture and make the whole property an parking garage.

    • The Most Conservative says:

      Eliezer Yudkowsky says the issue is he makes it ambiguous what countries we’ll defend

      https://www.facebook.com/yudkowsky/posts/10154650743819228

      • Alex S says:

        That was a fun read. I’m not convinced some risky ambiguity for a time is worse than a permanently flawed situation.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Only if you are equally happy with both outcomes and poised to take advantage of either.

          When it comes to the Baltics, the only good thing that could come from some probes of LGM (followed by separatist freedom fighters that are surprisingly well armed) would be a reinforcement of the ideals of NATO as Europe pulls together to respond in unison. But if you are worried the Euros might go wobbly if winter is coming and they need cheap heating oil to keep a lid on their own nationalists, then an unambiguous message to Russia is best.

          I am convinced myself of the evidence that the Kuwait invasion was a similar problem. No way Saddam does it if he knew the response was going to be Desert Storm. And the echos of consequences from that act reverberate today.

          • Alex S says:

            The ambiguity is probably bad, but if Trump’s position is that he wants to reassess NATO and for some reason add some stupid ambiguity on the Baltic states, I’m not sure the ambiguity is so high a cost that we should object. Lately the trend with NATO has been unsustainable expansion. People who want to reassess NATO and defy the “institutional inertia” leading to expansion don’t seem to come along too often. We may need to take what we can get.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        If I were to try summarize very briefly why Trump’s remarks on NATO crossed a HOLY SHIT line, it’d be along the lines of: “If you read the history books, you realize that it is REALLY REALLY bad to have any ambiguity about which minor powers the major powers will defend; that is how World War I *and* World War II both started.”

        I wish Eliezer would stop placing his key insights past thousands of words of unnecessary context-setting and jargon-defining. It’s a very salient point and one the “Hillary will start WW3” crowd seems to miss.

        • gbdub says:

          Not sure I buy that that’s how World War II started – the ambiguity was obviously bad for the first couple countries the Nazis absorbed, but it’s pretty clear Hitler was planning to start the war regardless. Sure, he was willing to take what the appeasers gave in the meantime, but I don’t think Poland was an “oh shit, now they’re serious” mistake.

          Hell, even WWI, was that really “ambiguity” so much as a complex (but known) web of alliances combined with some leaders itching for a fight on any pretext?

          • cassander says:

            the ambiguity in ww1 was almost entirely on britain’s end. there a foreign minister who considered it a good thing and he allowed everyone to assume what they desired, the germans that they wouldn’t come in and the french that they would. Some very firm commitments might not have stopped the war, but this policy definitely made it more likely.

        • John Schilling says:

          Hitler pretty clearly wasn’t expecting to fight a war with England and France over Poland, and I don’t think he was planning to start a war with them ever. IIRC, he assumed such a war would likely happen in 1945 or so, but I think it far more likely that the war which actually happened would have been Germany v. Russia with the western allies being pretty cool with letting those two go at it.

          The world where the western allies decide to cede Poland to the Nazis might or might not have a World War II in it, but I’m pretty sure it’s not just a slightly-modified version of our WWII delayed six months or so.

        • Lysenko says:

          The “let’s not be ambiguous about how much we’ll defend which countries” ship sailed in 2008 with regards to Russia. Possibly prior to 2008.

          We’re already in “But THIS country is different and THIS time we mean it!” territory for whatever region is the next locus of Russian hegemony-flexing.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The “let’s not be ambiguous about how much we’ll defend which countries” ship sailed in 2008 with regards to Russia. Possibly prior to 2008.

            Did we have a mutual defense treaty with Georgia?

          • Lysenko says:

            We had at that point an ongoing history of military cooperation, training, and aid, and they were on the road to exactly such a treaty, which is about 75% of the reason that the Georgian-Russian war happened. South Ossetia and Abkhazia were and are fig leafs, and the decision to draw up and execute a plan for military operations against Georgia was finalized when they continued to seek (and appeared to make headway on) NATO membership.

            It was a deliberate pre-emption of any such treaty, and established that as far as Russia is concerned, they have veto power over US or NATO-led defense agreements anywhere Russia considers to be its sphere of influence. Add to that the way the security guarantees to Ukraine have worked out in practice, and you’ve got a very stark situation.

            If you aren’t already in NATO, Russia can have a high degree of confidence that it is free to act militarily and politically as it sees fit.

            In several cases, even if you ARE in NATO (I’m looking at you, Estonia and Latvia), I am by no means confident that at some point over the next 20 years a Russian leader won’t just decide that NATO and/or EUFOR will not seriously contest measures taken to, say, “protect the lives and livelihood of endangered ethnic Russians” in those countries, and decide do a bit of client state building and ‘regime change’.

            Article 5 has been invoked exactly once (by the US for OEF and the GWOT) and the result was, frankly, mostly lackluster. The countries that responded strongly and with serious commitments did so out of longstanding bilateral ties to the country doing the invocation. Even then, it was arguably a best case scenario: a country with the -most- political leverage at the time to get the rest of NATO onboard.

            Point blank: If in 10-20 years there is a flare up of Russian-Latvian or Russian-Estonian tensions and a Russian force punches out of Kaliningrad to cut off that chunk of the baltic NATO states from the rest of Europe while they scream about Article 5 at the top of their lungs…do you really think anyone except America is going to commit to go to the mat with Russia over it?

            Hell, given the way things are going, in 10-20 years do you think -America- will be willing to?

          • John Schilling says:

            We had at that point an ongoing history of military cooperation, training, and aid, and they were on the road to exactly such a treaty,

            But if the key issue is avoiding ambiguity in who we are going to defend, isn’t “we actually have a treaty” vs. “we don’t actually have a treaty” the critical distinction?

          • latetotheparty says:

            I’m sorry, but what business does the U.S. have in making any sort of commitment to Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state)? Thank goodness it wasn’t an overt military guarantee! Talk about world police! We sure are far away from “peaceful trade with all; entangling alliances with none.”

          • Lysenko says:

            John, you really think that Russian political and military leaders looked at NATO response to OEF and the GWOT, US response to Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, and then went:

            “Nope, this tells us absolutely NOTHING about our forecasts and prior probabilities vis a vis US and/or NATO response to our actions in the Baltic or other regions.”

            ? I doubt it.

            And Late, my point is independant of my views on whether or not our recent actions were wise or not. For my part, I would prefer to see a repudiation of NATO and other collective security agreements in favor of bi-lateral alliances with minimum commitment requirements (% of budget and minimum deployable capability requirements, etc), but that’s neither here nor there. We’re stuck with the history we’ve got and our current policy stances and have to work from there.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Guess what? NATO already has a minimum commitment requirement, expressed as a percentage of GDP. I don’t think any European state’s come close to it since 1991 or so. Trump could go a long way just by declaring he’s going to enforce that.

          • Lysenko says:

            Yeah, except it’s A) a flat 2% of GDP, B) as you noted, pretty much ignored, and C) doesn’t capture the really godawful spending priorities and actual readiness levels of several member countries.

            To be more explicit, by “spending commitment” I mean “Match the partner’s spending levels”, although I could be persuaded that a per capita or per capita GDP capability requirement was acceptable.

            For example “for every X million population or Y Billion GDP, you maintain at least Z much of a military with all necessary munitions stockpiles and other logistical supports to conduct high intensity combat operations for one year from the start of hostility.”

            No battalions or squadrons with 1/2 of their vehicles and only a 1/3rd of those not deadlined or stripped for parts, but with triple or quadruple the amount of field grade officers and senior enlisted.

            For the record, the countries that currently meet the NATO spending requirements last I checked are the US, the UK, Poland, Estonia, and I think maybe Greece. Of those, I think Poland may already meet those sorts of terms, and I think the UK -could- meet those sorts of terms without too much pain (they did so prior to the 90s).

            In other words aside from Greece the same NATO members we’ve been able to rely upon -anyway-.

            France -probably- could in pure spending terms, but I’ve heard a lot of very mixed things about their real-world capabilities and readiness. Ditto Germany.

          • John Schilling says:

            “Nope, this tells us absolutely NOTHING about our forecasts and prior probabilities vis a vis US and/or NATO response to our actions in the Baltic or other regions.”

            It tells them LESS than an explicit treaty commitment would, and in the case of the Baltic states, does. If the consequences of miscommunication are a war between nuclear powers, I want the communication to be as unambiguous as possible.

            And, Evan Þ, several European states have not only come close to but exceeded the 2% requirement in recent years. The United Kingdom, because Brits just get it. Greece, because Turkey. And conspicuously present on the list are Poland and Estonia. Latvia and Lithuania are close but won’t quite reach 2% this year. If you want to argue that, on account of non-payment, the United States is not presently obligated to defend Belgium in the event of Russian invasion, OK, but the nations that are likely to actually invoke Article 5 are pretty solid.

          • Alex S says:

            Apparently Russia has been lowering the bar for its use of nuclear weapons because it thinks NATO being in the Baltic states makes it possible to invade Russia and quickly take Moscow. Trump’s language is vague. Maybe he’s talking only about ambiguity with the Baltic states, or maybe he would just boot them out of NATO. If it’s the boot, then we are better off.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      As I understand it, there’s a lot more subtlety to Trump’s position, particularly vis a vis Russia, than is being credited.

      Specifically the issue is Ukraine, which has caused increasingly heated tensions between NATO and Russia, and which REALLY isn’t as clear-cut as “Russian aggression against Ukraine” – it was mostly down to disputes about oil pipelines Russia had treaties with Ukraine to run through the country. There are other subtleties to the whole affair, but, like most politics, it’s quite messy.

      On top of this, NATO has been expanding operations in Eastern Europe over the past few years, increasing tensions.

      Trump’s policies in that regard look more like “Re-normalize relationships with Russia” than “Screw NATO, we’re getting a bad deal”. But he’s selling the latter idea to the US public, not the former.

      • dragnubbit says:

        Attributing subtlety to Trump on foreign policy is assuming far too much. I will say it is more likely he is just applying sales-positioning techniques to world geopolitics like a neophyte, and when his short-term behavior (appease Russia) matches that of some wing of wonks they are just happy to have someone finally agree with them, even though the foundations of his analysis are no deeper than trying to win at mind games.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        it was mostly down to disputes about oil pipelines Russia had treaties with Ukraine to run through the country.

        Once you’re sending in the little green men and shooting down civilian airliners, arguments about oil pipelines become a lot less relevant. I can see arguments that America should or should not be getting deeply involved, but come on, let’s call a spade a spade here.

  24. Christopher says:

    I’m sorry but there is NOTHING wrong with the sentence “This is what I was just about to ask you where to find.”

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I made the point that, if it was spoken by Meg Ryan in one of her rom-com’s, the intonation and stresses would do,the work of parsing the sentence.

      Especially on paper, it doesn’t really scan correctly. Compare it to “I was just about to ask you where to find this.”

      I always sub-vocalize when I read, so that might be why I found it easier to parse than some.

  25. null says:

    Is the report button gone?

  26. Carinthium says:

    Hi. I’m trying to get up to date on what was happening r.e. Jill Stein, the reasons behind her ban, and the posts being made. Could somebody give me a little help finding the correct references please? If so, thanks.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Er, have you confused Jill Stein, the presidential candidate, with Jill, the commenter here?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Huh?

      @Jill is not banned, only warned. Also she is not Jill Stein (unless she has said something about herself that I am unaware of).

      EDIT: Tooo slow.

      • Carinthium says:

        Oops. My mistake. I apologise. I was in kind of a rush.

        And I meant Jill the commenter. I’m reading parts of the site trying to catch up on what happened there.

        • Randy M says:

          Jill at times accuses others of being in thrall to Objectivism; Scott is trying to curb this, or at least have her justify herself in doing so.
          Her assertions often read to me as if she is attempting to redefine the Overton window by fiat, without realizing that just labeling something far-right doesn’t make everyone here look away.

          • Carinthium says:

            Thanks for this and other views. I’m also looking for Jill’s posts, but I take these kind of summary comments into account. I’ve already seen some of her references to “Saint Ayn” and her belief that it doesn’t matter what the actual Ayn Rand said because these beliefs are ultimately rooted in Ayn Rand.

            EDIT: In particular, I got and was curious about this post.
            Rand is dead and objectivists are not a powerful force in our economy or our government. I am interested in what affects all of us in huge ways every minute of our lives, in our economy and government. And the fine points of Rand’s philosophy, and the current beliefs of a tiny group of people who currently call themselves objectivists, are not that.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Carinthium:
            That’s a reference to, or pointing at, things like Paul Ryan’s treatment of Atlas Shrugged sort of like it is a bible or a touchstone. Ryan himself doesn’t qualify as an Objectivist, so the nuances of Objectivism don’t really apply.

            The critique is more one of what I would call “bumper sticker” politics.

          • Carinthium says:

            Okay then. Thanks. Noted.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      If it helps, my comment above might provide one answer you’re looking for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why exactly are you trying to catch up on what’s been happening with Jill, if you can’t even tell her from presidential candidate Jill Stein, and couldn’t tell that she isn’t banned?

      I confess this is a course of action which excites my curiosity.

      • Carinthium says:

        Because the idea of a commenter being outright banned seems interesting to me, especially given I know I have a problem with not knowing enough about sophisticated leftist opinions. Without seeing for myself I can’t tell one way or the other.

        EDIT: One was me not paying enough attention, the other leaves me still interested.

        • Anonymous says:

          But there are a ton of other people who were banned at the same time, including, for one week, Scott Alexander, who runs the blog. How’d you come upon the idea to ask specifically about the one who wasn’t banned?

          • Carinthium says:

            Because of the other stuff related to it. Admittedly I’m typing very quickly right now so I apologise for any imprecision, but Jill caught my attention because of the Rand references and me wondering what was going on with it.

          • Anonymous says:

            …like a character out of alice in wonderland….

  27. TMB says:

    In my opinion there aren’t enough distributionists on this forum.

    I also feel rather put-out that I’m the only serious disciple of Major C.H. Douglas, here.

    Come on, people! “He who calls for Full-Employment calls for War!… Every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”

    • Randy M says:

      I miss Irenicus.

    • “I also feel rather put-out that I’m the only serious disciple of Major C.H. Douglas, here.”

      Possibly the only currency crank to generate a successful political party?

      Was Heinlein a believer in Douglas Credit? I remember bits of Beyond This Horizon that suggested it.

      • Furslid says:

        Probably for the duration of one book. Heinlein didn’t really stay consistent. I love his work for introducing various nonconformist philosophies, but it was never the same philosophy.

        He either switched his beliefs really quickly or was very good at emulating philosophies to write fiction supporting them. I enjoyed Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land. I can’t fit them in as the same philosophy. Without the byline, I’d have a hard time believing the same man wrote them.

        • LHN says:

          He either switched his beliefs really quickly or was very good at emulating philosophies to write fiction

          While his beliefs certainly evolved dramatically over his life, the latter was a big part of it.

          It’s a pretty well-known anecdote that when Ted Sturgeon was suffering writers block, Heinlein helped him out by sending him a letter full of story ideas. The letter was published online a few years back, and one thing I found striking was his description of a local figure whose political philosophy is pretty much Prof’s in Moon (I’d be very surprised if he weren’t a direct inspiration), with Heinlein taking a rather jaundiced view of it:

          We have an anarchist running a newspaper in this town, who is opposed to public roads, public schools, public anything—he maintains that it is not ethical for a majority to do anything collectively which each individual did not already have the right to do as an individual. This is an explosive notion; a corollary is that all taxation is wrong, all zoning laws are wrong, all compulsory education is wrong, all punishment by courts is wrong. In the mean time he lives in a well-policed society, his own considerable wealth protected by all these things he deplores.

          (ISTR that Heinlein may have taken Social Credit more seriously when he wrote his first unpublished novel, For Us, the Living, but was pretty well over it by the time he did Beyond This Horizon. But it’s been a while since I read his biography, and I may be misremembering.)

      • cassander says:

        the georgists count as currency cranks, don’t they?

  28. Paul Brinkley says:

    In the Voxsplaining thread, David Friedman asked:
    “Perhaps some enterprising person could try running down one or two comment threads, classifying posters as libertarian, not libertarian, or cannot tell. Ideally the result would be reported along with the list of names and classifications, so that anyone who thought he was misclassified could say so.”

    So, I had some time to kill. I grabbed that thread, put it in a text buffer. Trimmed out every line that didn’t end in “says:”. Sorted, deduped. Then for each name, I searched for their comments and attempted to assess their attitude toward libertarianism. Some self-identified; some seemed sympathetic; some I knew from other threads; some I couldn’t tell from the text.

    Disclosure: libertarianism is probably the best one-word approximation of my political views, but I feel cheerful questioning it. I chose to err on the side of classifying as many users as libertarian as I could. If I didn’t know the user by reputation, I went by the comment content, on the premise that this would address an earlier implied claim about learning the overall bias more accurately than carefully tracking each user. Some comments were brief, and very obviously impossible to infer politics from; some were long enough that I think some people might read in a different view than I did.

    I have the data in a text file, but given the way the last two political posts went, I’m loathe, but not 100% opposed, to share it. If I did share it, it would show each poster prefixed by a letter:

    upper case = self-idenfitied
    lower case = apparently sympathetic
    L=libertarian
    R=right
    F=left
    M=free-market
    O=other (I think)
    -=can’t tell
    X=unsure, but not libertarian

    I tried to distinguish users with the same name but different gravatars. (These were typically some variation on “anonymous”.)

    There may have been an error in parsing, causing some user names to be missing. There were still over 240, making 745 comments total, so I assumed this was a reasonable slice.

    If I were to do this for other threads, I would want to improve the process – faster, more accurate. Pulling out the user names is easy; classifying them is hard, but arguably improves as a database of user names is populated, particularly by sources other than my personal estimation. More ideally, there would be two classifications: one chosen by that user, one chosen by other users assessing the former.

    Total numbers in that thread:
    135 couldn’t tell
    10 left
    1 right
    69 libertarian or free-market
    25 unknown, but not libertarian
    3 other (I think)

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I honestly don’t know whether you should or should not make the data available.

      The summary data does fit neatly into my biases without causing any cognitive dissonance.

      Except … I think 1 right can’t possibly be enough, depending on what your definition is…

      • Gazeboist says:

        Deliberately erring towards classing people as “libertarian” might be eating a whole bunch of more typical left- and right-wing posters. That particular thread was unusually high in self-identified leftists.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        That deliberate reading in of libertarianism is but one of several possible failure modes that had occurred to me while I was reading comments. Others I thought of:

        * The obvious one is that this is me making my best guess, which is still necessarily subjective, no matter how honest I tried to be.
        * Some comments I could comfortably say were non-indicative (e.g. less than 10 words, asked a non-leading question, etc.). Others might be indicative to another reader. I didn’t distinguish these.
        * Some commenters might have a reputation from other threads that wasn’t apparent in that specific thread.
        * Partway through, I realized I wasn’t disciplined to my satisfaction in distinguishing between “free-market” and “libertarian”, so some I may have sorted another way if I re-read everything. (Edit: this is why I lumped them together in my summary above.)
        * I might have different definitions for “left” and “right” than others. In a US context, they’re squishy anyway. If we define “right” as free-market + Christian family values + pro-military, then virtually no one exhibited enough of the latter two for me to say definitively, hence only one commenter getting an “r” – and a re-think leads me to re-sort them as an “other”.
        * I have had enough exposure to intra-Republican policy differences to be reluctant to sort any one with Republican sympathies as “right”, whereas my exposure to Democratic supporters, while greater, reveals only one policy disagreement (some on the left are pro-gun rights, some are not). That means I’m more confident in sorting people as “left”. However, I still distinguished between “left” and “not-libertarian”, FWIW.

        About the only reason I’d share the data is to (1) explain the numbers I ultimately arrived at and (2) give readers a chance to amend, if they care. The results above are arguably interesting in a ballpark-y way, but the failure modes I mentioned still apply, and could make a critical difference here or there.

    • Gazeboist says:

      I’d bet that the only way to classify people is to go for either self-assessment or other-human-assessment, ideally both. It would be interesting to have a quiz service that let people categorize anonymized comments. With infinite time, I’d combine that with a system for people to box recognized usernames, and claim usernames (based on being able to summon the same gravatar). That wouldn’t get you speed, though, and it would be hard to implement.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        This seems about fair.

        The obvious question for me is the value of doing this. The comment was in response to an assertion that SSC is mostly right-wingers – itself a very subjective assertion. The strongest opposing argument I could make in terms of the numbers is that that assertion was an example of confirmation bias, at least as far as that thread goes. It seemed much more likely that most commenters were nondescript.

        One strong supporting argument I could see for that assertion is that most of the views expressed were right-wing, but again, most of the IP packets seemed to be simply libertarian or free-market, not right-wing.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          For the moment, except for the very rare left-libertarian, libertarians are right wing (and bear in mind that this is a coalitional and relative term). Libertarians frequently object to this, but the hatred for government built into libertarian thought matches current right-wing thought too well for it not to be the case.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Hrmmm. Well, if libertarian=right wing, then yes, my numbers suggest it was about 2-1 right-left, as advertised.

            But as you note, libertarians frequently object to this, and I’ll add that it’s a fair objection. Libertarians don’t argue with the left about how important civil rights are, because there’s no argument there. They largely argue about economic issues, which strikes me as selection bias at work.

            And I personally think this distinction is important. If an argument is about civil rights and a liberal laments that the forum is full of right-wingers, I feel a lot more sympathetic than if the argument is about affirmative action or price controls. A complaint about right-wingers bears a wholly different tenor (to me, at least).

          • The Nybbler says:

            but the hatred for government built into libertarian thought matches current right-wing thought too well for it not to be the case.

            I think you just signed up all the totalitarians to the left.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Nybbler

            I think we both know what HBC meant.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @hlynkacg

            Unless it was “here’s a convenient criterion I can use to sort libertarians into the right”, I really don’t.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            “Current right wing thought”

            The word current is doing a lot of work there. Also “for the moment”. Also “coalitional” and “relative”.

            I perhaps should add “in the US” to the list of caveats as well. The coalitions in other Western first world democracies I think are fairly similar, but once you get out of the first world I don’t believe the coalitions line up in the same way.

            You, perhaps, are miffed that I used the word “hatred” because it is too pejorative. I’m amenable to that objection, but I also think the use of the word hatred is quite defendable.

            The overall RW hatred isn’t particularly logical or coherent, but it definitely exists. And Liberterians literally refer to government action as theft and enslavement. It’s hard to argue that they do not harbor enimity towards government.

          • Sandy says:

            The third world democracy I come from has coalitional arrangements quite similar in broad strokes to those in major first world democracies; there is nothing quite like libertarianism (but then libertarianism is mostly just a white American thing), but the major right-wing party is pro-free market and privatization and the major left-wing party is pro-income redistribution and government control/mediation for utilities and services. The right-wingers are nationalists and leitkultur advocates; the left-wingers are multiculturalists and diversity advocates. On the fringes (and sometimes not so fringe) you also have fascists and communists whose politics echo fascists and communists elsewhere.

            But this is a former British colony we’re talking about, so it makes sense that political alignments there would resemble those in Anglo countries. It might be worthwhile to look at political coalitions in someplace like Japan that was never colonized, but I don’t know enough to comment on the matter.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Sandy:
            If I came off as saying you don’t ever see this latter outside the US and Europe, that was may being unclear.

            I’m thinking more of places where the factions are secular/ethnic in nature or where there is mostly single-party autocratic rule, etc.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC

            My objection isn’t to claiming libertarians have a ‘hatred’ of government; I could quibble over the word but that’s not the point. My objection is to making ‘hatred’ of government sufficient to being on the ‘right’.

            Coalitionally, this characteristic of libertarians means they’ll tend to align with whoever is not in power at the moment.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @TheNybbler:
            Has that actually happened? When have the libertarians been aligned with the party that favors social-welfare?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC

            When the drug war was in full swing and it was the right wing that was the main threat to civil liberties.

          • gbdub says:

            If we’re limiting ourselves to economic policy and general “how powerful should the Feds be”, then I can live with putting libertarians on the right, and in a discussion on those issues classing libertarians as rightist might be useful. But is that really the motive of most people who want to lump libertarians into the right-wing?

            “The Right” in American politics is often/usually shorthand for “the Republicans and associated allies”, and that includes social conservatives, fundamentalist Christians, neocons, pro-militarists, pro-lifers, closed-borderers, nationalists (both ethnic and otherwise), etc. – all of which are things either not central to or directly opposed by libertarianism.

            So when “right” is used to mean “the board has a lot of libertarians, therefore its right-wing, therefore I can deploy general purpose anti-Republican insults” then that’s a problem. Now HeelBearCub, you don’t do this, but others have here and elsewhere so I can see why libertarian-sympathetic posters would be sensitive about it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Do our self declared libertarians spill much ink on positions where libertarians differ from conservatives?

            I don’t see many posts in the SSC comments about the drug war, prostitution, separation of church and state, or the fourth amendment. I see plenty of posts on trade and immigration, but not much full throated support for the ostensible libertarian positions on them.

            I put a similar question to David Friedman and he had a very gracious reply where he acknowledged that there was some merit to what I was saying. He also pointed at that there was a certain amount of dog that didn’t bark — while he might not post much from the libertarian perspective where the conservative and libertarians disagree, he doesn’t post at all on the conservative side of those disagreements. It was a fair point, but nonetheless, inasmuch as a given poster rarely or never disagrees with right wing positions and often agrees with some of them, I think it is quite fair to bucket them as right wing.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t see many posts in the SSC comments about the drug war, prostitution, separation of church and state, or the fourth amendment.

            I also don’t see many posts in the SSC comments about the virtues of college education, first-wave feminism, or breathing. If a thing is in no way controversial, there’s not much to talk about. Your list of civil-liberties issues contains nothing controversial here, even if it would in other forums, and holding one political faction to the standard of “..and you guys must constantly reaffirm your belief in our common shared values or be cast into the Outer Darkness as Unbelievers” seems unhelpful.

          • Lumifer says:

            I don’t see many posts in the SSC comments about the drug war, prostitution, separation of church and state, or the fourth amendment.

            That’s because SSC generally lacks full-blooded conservatives so there no one to argue against.

            Anyone here wants to propose that the drug war is a good thing and we need more of that? That we should apply more law enforcement resources to stamping out prostitution? That churches (but not mosques, of course) should be granted a role in, say, writing legislation?

            Anyone? Anyone..?

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t think those topics would be nearly as uncontroversial as you claim. We have posters that think that no-fault divorce should be repealed, I very much doubt they support legalized prostitution. We have people that condemn BLM as terrorists, somehow I doubt they are also Balko fans.

            I noticed you didn’t say anything about free trade or immigration.

            Rather than there being nothing to debate, I think the self professed libertarians don’t want to debate conservatives. They’d rather join with the conservatives to talk about where they both disagree with liberals. Which makes the original grouping quite fair.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Well I could if I really wanted to but I don’t.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ anon

            I notice that the call “Anyone?” remained unanswered. I’m perfectly willing to argue with drug warriors or people who think that a divorce should be the matter of “who do I have to fuck to make it happen?”.

          • TMB says:

            Yes, I think a drug war would be a good thing… but only if it concentrates mainly on punishing middle class drug users.

            Should the church have more of a say in legislation…? Hmmmm… no… I’m not a church-person, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing to make divorce harder.

            Prostitution – hmmm… I really don’t know. I can imagine it being quite a repellent institution, but I can also imagine it as something quite positive.

            I guess if you’re going to have sex without love, then you can’t really object to prostitution too strongly.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Every time this conversation comes up, it makes me think of that Dune quote: “What do you despise? By this you are truly known.”

            If you spend most of your time hating on the left, liberals, social justice, BLM, “tumblr communists,” “statists,” whatever, you can’t really be that surprised at people for thinking you’re a conservative or “red tribe” and grouping you as such. I find it really kind of fascinating that so many people fall into that group, but apparently feel at least somewhat slighted by then being accused of being conservatives, as opposed to libertarians or whatever. Not intended as a slight either – it’s really an interesting fact about people that took me by surprise.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t think those topics would be nearly as uncontroversial as you claim. We have posters that think that no-fault divorce should be repealed, I very much doubt they support legalized prostitution

            That’s precisely the sort of outgroup homogeneity bias some of us are complaining about; “X holds a particular Stereotypically Right-Wing Belief, therefore X is Right-Wing and can be presumed to hold all related Right-Wing Beliefs”.

            Taking off the blinders, cultural conservative are likely to oppose both divorce and prostitution, whereas libertarians are likely to favor the government enforcing contracts whether those are “$250 for one hour” or “till death do us part”. If you know someone’s view on divorce and want to know their view on prostitution, or vice versa, you have to ask.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:

            virtues of college education

            Well, that is an interesting thing to put on your list.

            The fact that the most vocal on this issue are not for, but actively against the proposition that their are virtues to a college education is one of the things that pattern maps strongly to “right-wing”.

            Edit: I mean those who are most vocal on educational issues at SSC (not generally).

          • Anonymous says:

            whereas libertarians are likely to favor the government enforcing contracts whether those are “$250 for one hour” or “till death do us part”.

            Interesting.

            Enforcing how? By specific performance? Penalizing what would otherwise be efficient breach?

          • IrishDude says:

            Do our self declared libertarians spill much ink on positions where libertarians differ from conservatives?

            I don’t see many posts in the SSC comments about the drug war,

            My post from the latest links thread, where I self-declare as libertarian, addresses the drug war as government harming poor people: https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/10/04/links-1016-new-urleans/#comment-422073

            So that’s one data point.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            If you spend most of your time hating on the left, liberals, social justice, BLM, “tumblr communists,” “statists,” whatever, you can’t really be that surprised at people for thinking you’re a conservative or “red tribe” and grouping you as such.

            It doesn’t seem to me like these things are as clustered as you present them, nor that it’s the same people complaining about all of them.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Whatever Happened to Anonymous:
            Yeah, if someone just has one or two issues they dwell on, they have a much better case for saying “I’m not an X, you’ve just mistaken me for one.” I mean I’ve been called a conservative several times, for defending various things, and it’s kind of laughable. It’s only when the issues that you spend all your time ranting about do cluster together, and are all issues associated with a certain side, that your official ideology starts to seem like little more than a technicality.

            Just to clarify, I’m not going to disagree that libertarianism as a philosophy is it’s own thing that doesn’t fit well into traditional “left-wing” or “right-wing” (in the sense of U.S. politics). It just seems that most of the people who currently call themselves libertarian lean strongly to the right, and the ones who don’t seem to go by “left-libertarian” a lot instead, so that for practical purposes most U.S. libertarians can be considered right-wing. If people disagree I’m not sure it’s even worth arguing about – they clearly see themselves differently than (some) others do, so maybe it’s impolite to call them that to their faces, but it’s not really convincing enough to change my opinion over.

          • dragnubbit says:

            Since libertarians do not even agree on what libertarians believe, it is no surprise to me they must hate being lumped in with ‘the right’ (as they would if it were ‘the left’). But speaking as an outsider and from a sufficiently distant remove (say one that encompasses most strands of self-identified libertarians), it is the hatred and distrust of government that seems more unifying than a dedication to protecting individual rights (because generally when those two ideals come into conflict, such as in civil rights, consumer protection or environmental legislation, libertarians seem to break to the right).

            Sure internet libs want to fight conservatives over the drug war and liberals over speech codes. Sounds fun but for some reason the punching bag doesn’t want to play.

          • Garrett says:

            Do our self declared libertarians spill much ink on positions where libertarians differ from conservatives?

            If they came up for discussion on this board we probably would. But I think that drug deregulation/legalization/whatever is more-or-less accepted here. Scott’s commented (lightly seriously) about putting antidepressants in vending machines, so it strikes me that’s already part of the core of the board.

            Several posters have come out in favor of open immigration, though that’s been a split and a much smaller topic of discussion.

            “Family Values” – not a topic of conversation here much.
            Role of the military – not a topic of conversation much here either.

            If anything, that’s a much better argument that there aren’t any posters on the Right here, now that I think about it.

          • Psmith says:

            We’ve had a fair share of honest-to-God social conservatives of one stripe or another, but they tend to insult our host or his friends at some point and catch the banhammer.

          • IrishDude says:

            One way to differentiate libertarians and conservatives is an idea put forward by Arnold Kling, that liberals, conservatives, and libertarians speak in different languages with different axes of importance:

            The idea that different political groups are speaking past each other—in different languages, even—isn’t a new one. What’s refreshing in Three Languages is that the author actually tries to identify what those languages are. However, Kling prefers to call them “axes,” bringing to mind the image of a Cartesian coordinate system with its X, Y, and Z axes which all count the same numbers but never intersect except at the origin. Kling identifies axes of interpretation for the three dominant strains of political affiliation in America today:

            For liberals, it’s the oppressor vs. oppressed axis. They’re most interested in identifying who is abusing power (bonus points if it’s undeserved), and who are the victims of that abuse.

            Conservatives align along the civilization vs. barbarism axis. They seek to identify who is defending what our forebears built, and who are the rebels trying to tear it down.

            And for libertarians, it’s about freedom vs. coercion. In other words, who is being forced to do what they’d rather not, or being prevented from doing what they’d like, by whom.

            As an example of how this can manifest itself:

            If you identify as one of those groups, Kling argues, your tend to frame issues in terms of your preferred axis. Take for example the legalization of marijuana. I can imagine a kind of dialogue:

            Liberal: The government’s War on Drugs has devastated urban poor communities. This is clearly an issue of oppression, and and if you disagree you must just be okay with oppression.

            Conservative: I don’t know what you’re talking about. This is clearly an issue about maintaining order, and if you disagree then you’re arguing for anarchy.

            Libertarian: You’re both wrong! This is about defending one’s sacred freedom to smoke whatever one likes as long as it’s not hurting anyone else. If you disagree, you must hate freedom.

            The three languages often leads to people of different political persuasions speaking past each other.

            Source for the above quotes: http://www.stevegrossi.com/on/the-three-languages-of-politics

            Edit: A nice EconTalk episode with Arnold Kling on this topic: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/06/kling_on_the_th.html

          • John Schilling says:

            Enforcing how? By specific performance? Penalizing what would otherwise be efficient breach?

            For the contract with the specific monetary value, the obvious enforcement mechanism is for the court to collect the disputed sum and award it to the aggrieved party. That’s obviously an imperfect solution for a faltering marriage, but alimony and child support at least ought to factor in to the analysis.

            Was much easier when there was a dowry the aggrieved groom could keep or the aggrieved bride’s family demand be returned, but I don’t think even the Death Eaters want to turn the clock that far back.

          • IrishDude says:

            @dragnubbit

            it is the hatred and distrust of government that seems more unifying than a dedication to protecting individual rights (because generally when those two ideals come into conflict, such as in civil rights, consumer protection or environmental legislation, libertarians seem to break to the right).

            It’s not always clear how best to protect individual rights given that business owners are individuals with rights too. For example, supporting business owners’ right to discriminate, in my opinion, is consistent with support for individual rights.

          • a non mouse says:

            Anyone here wants to propose that the drug war is a good thing and we need more of that? That we should apply more law enforcement resources to stamping out prostitution? That churches (but not mosques, of course) should be granted a role in, say, writing legislation?

            I would defend all of those propositions (some more seriously than others) but as this is almost exactly the one year anniversary of the reign of terror which began by banning someone who did exactly that I’ll decline.

            The reason there is no one on the right here outside of libertarians (who are only considered “on the right” in the world view of progressives who see all non-progressives as evil fascists) is because Scott keeps banning them.

            There are reasonable, well thought-out arguments in favor of each of those propositions – but you can’t read them here.

          • caethan says:

            I’m 3 for 4 on your “conservative vs. libertarian” issues.

            Yes on the drug war, yes on prosecuting prostitution, yes on church-state separation is overly stringent, no on… whatever you think conservatives think about the 4th amendment.

            I’d be happy to argue the conservative side on any of those, and I’d bet you $50 David Friedman or any other libertarian on the board would be on the other side.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @ irishdude

            I agree there is an individual rights interpretation (e.g. the right for one individual to deny services to another might exceed the right of the second individual to receive said services). But it generally comes off as motivated reasoning to me because it hides the societal component (enabling and protecting of modern markets is not achievable by individuals) when it is inconvenient to admit there might be a social contract involved, and that the cost being asked of one side of the social contract (equal treatment of all customers) is quite reasonable in context of the harm being contemplated (potential division of society along ethnic or other boundaries). But trying to argue the validity of that social contract, or any obligation a seller owes to the society at large that protects his market is an argument that cuts to the heart of libertarian philosophy so is a hard place to enter. I find it is more convenient for libs to ignore that no-go zone and pretend it is just a disinterested transaction between equal parties with no broader harms involved.

            Thus bringing the lib who defends discrimination into the same mode of thinking as conservatives seeking to preserve class/gender/whatever distinctions and privileges – that there is no valid obligation on their part on behalf of the larger society, and thus government should not aim to create one.

            PS I should get some libertarian extra credit for not invoking natural rights!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            (who are only considered “on the right” in the world view of progressives who see all non-progressives as evil fascists)

            ….

          • William O. B'Livion says:

            To the extent that Libertarians object to being labeled “right wing”, they do so for one of three reasons:

            * Generally the “Left” assumes that Fascism/Nazis are the “other extreme”, and calling Libertarians “right wingers” equates them with Nazis and Fascists. To Libertarians (to the extent that I can speak for them) Nazis and Fascists are essentially kissing cousins to Socialism and Communism (giving the latter a bit of tongue for it’s record on killing undesireables) and they really want nothing to do with either Nazis/Fascists or Socialists/Communists. I get not wanting to be associated with Nazis or Communists.

            * Some Libertarians object purely on the philosophical grounds of being stuck on a 1 dimensional axis and INSIST on that diamond shaped thingy.

            * This is Libertarians we’re talking about. Whenever you try to divide them binarialy one INSISTS he’s not in either of those buckets and makes up some crazy shit to prove you wrong. So you must include at least one bucket labeled ‘other’. This is that bucket.

            Now, I’m not officially a Libertarian at the moment, but I pretty much agree ideologically with them on most issues if you include the time axis (for example, I’m perfectly willing to stop enforcing borders IN TIME once every government big enough to do me any damage has fallen to libertarian brethren. Until then I’d prefer people who want to vote for my government to give them my money be forced to wait in line to come here, and jump through hoops to live here, and THEN have to put out effort to vote here. And that go for mexicans just as much as those border jumping Canadians).

          • David Friedman says:

            “Yes on the drug war, yes on prosecuting prostitution, yes on church-state separation is overly stringent, no on… whatever you think conservatives think about the 4th amendment.

            I’d be happy to argue the conservative side on any of those, and I’d bet you $50 David Friedman or any other libertarian on the board would be on the other side.”

            Risky. I don’t have strong views on just how stringently the church/state division should be interpreted.

            I have occasionally argued that a consistent application of current standards would make separation of church and state inconsistent with the existence of a system of public schools.

            Which, I concede, is an argument for interpreting it stringently.

          • Anonymous says:

            Was much easier when there was a dowry the aggrieved groom could keep or the aggrieved bride’s family demand be returned, but I don’t think even the Death Eaters want to turn the clock that far back.

            Why would you think so? That seems like something the Death Eaters would support – treating marriage like a serious transaction with duties and restrictions on both sides, rather than a generic, “official lovers” status.

            Hell, for some, this might be too degenerate, for its deviation from for-life-we-mean-it, with the legal option of forcing compliance on pain of jailtime/whipping/what-have-you.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I have occasionally argued that a consistent application of current standards would make separation of church and state inconsistent with the existence of a system of public schools.

            I’d be interested in reading that argument, if you have a link.

          • David Friedman says:

            My argument on the inconsistency between public schooling and a strong reading of church/state separation is at:

            http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2010/10/separation-of-church-and-state-or.html

          • IrishDude says:

            @dragnubbit

            But it generally comes off as motivated reasoning to me because it hides the societal component (enabling and protecting of modern markets is not achievable by individuals)

            Individuals each with their own set of rights can come together voluntarily in groups to ‘enable’ and ‘protect’ markets.

            when it is inconvenient to admit there might be a social contract involved

            Is there a social contract or isn’t there? If it exists, can you describe how it was agreed to and what the parameters of the contract are?

          • “but the hatred for government built into libertarian thought …”

            I don’t know if it is evidence for or against the claim, but Murray Rothbard did complain, in print, about my failure to hate government.

            My (much later) response.

        • Gazeboist says:

          I’m just kind of intrigued by the big pile of data you could get: how people view each other, how people view themselves, how they sort into clusters of agreement (or don’t!), …

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Oh, that. Hmm. I admit, the data collector in me would enjoy that. Pragmatically, though, I can’t help but think such an effort would be so fraught with measurement error that I wouldn’t be able to infer anything meaningful from it.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I’m somewhere in that fuzzy pragmatic area between neoliberal and libertarian. I’ve experienced libertarian tribalism firsthand and while it’s smaller than blue-red tribalism it’s every bit as destructive to reason so I probably spend an inordinate amount of time criticizing libertarians for someone who wouldn’t object to being identified as one.

      • William O. B'Livion says:

        Anybody capable of looking in the mirror can criticize their own image far better than a stranger could.

  29. onyomi says:

    I had forgotten about this reason to vote for Johnson, even if you are less than impressed by his foreign policy knowledge. Arguably even Democrats might desire this outcome if it turns out to be true that a stronger LP comes more at the expense of the GOP.

    • LHN says:

      If nothing else, the entertainment value of Libertarians arguing over/having to justify to themselves taking federal campaign funds should be worth it.

      (I’m voting for Johnson and would be happy to see a stronger libertarian presence in politics. But the irony is hard to escape, no matter how easy it may be to justify on pragmatic grounds.)

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Ayn Rand effectively addressed this decades ago: There’s nothing inconsistent about libertarians availing themselves of the same benefits the rest of society gets, given that they’re having to pay for them anyways. To demand that libertarians both pay for social benefit X, and then deny themselves the same, is demanding that libertarians punish themselves for their ideology.

        It’s fully ideologically consistent to take advantage of social benefit X while demanding that it no longer be offered. Indeed, demanding a benefit you never utilize be taken away from other people who do utilize it is a weak moral position, relative to demanding a benefit you yourself enjoy be ended for society’s greater good.

  30. onyomi says:

    Are there any good arguments for the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics?

    • BeefSnakStikR says:

      I’ve never heard of this before, so I’m going from this definition:

      The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can be blamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more. Even if you don’t make the problem worse, even if you make it slightly better, the ethical burden of the problem falls on you as soon as you observe it. In particular, if you interact with a problem and benefit from it, you are a complete monster.

      Source

      Well, if it’s purely descriptive, it seems half right. People will receive blame if they observe or participate in a situation, and won’t receive attention if they don’t observe or participate. It seems shortsighted in that people obviously receive praise–not just blame–all the time for noticing or participating in a situation.

      As something to inform your choices, I can’t imagine how that would even work. If your maxim is to achieve ignorance, people can inform you of (or show you) a situation–that’s not your choice. If your maxim is to defend yourself against blame, people can still blame you–that’s not your choice.

      At best, you could choose your social circles for what ethical demands they put on you, I guess, and that would affect your ethical decisions.

      But why would you do that unless you already knew what you wanted not to be blamed for?

      eg. Why would you avoid talking to MADD activists unless you already believed or knew (ie. observed) that they would blame you for drunk driving?

      • onyomi says:

        I mean, a prescriptive argument for why it may be good in some cases.

        To elaborate somewhat, as a libertarian, some variation on Copenhagen-style ethics seems to always pop up as the reason Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. In the discussion of immigration above, for example, people who are content with immigration and labor policies which prevent e. g. poor Haitians from coming to the US for work would no doubt be horrified and full of opprobrium if we allowed them to come here and live among us, essentially, as second-class citizens with no right to vote, receive government benefits, and able to work, e. g. at below the minimum wage (though that is actually a right they’d gain, in a sense).

        But I’m sure there are plenty of Haitians who would be thrilled to take that deal. But no, because Copenhagen ethics. Once we get involved and let them in we have to treat them with all the dignity and respect we accord our own, but if we just keep them away and don’t get involved we’re pretty much fine with them eating dirt.*

        There are many other examples: no one blames you for not starting a company or not hiring new employees, but once you start a company and hire people you have to pay them a “living wage,” etc. No doubt this is descriptively true of many, maybe most people, but I’m asking whether it is ethically defensible.

        Of course, one can’t be held morally responsible over situations where, due to lack of knowledge or ability, it was impossible to help: you might be culpable for failing to rescue a drowning child right in front of your face while not responsible at all for failing to rescue a drowning child on the other side of town. You are, of course, extra culpable if you pushed the child into a lake.

        Maybe the pro-Copenhagen argument would be that, by allowing e. g. the Haitians to come here, we are, in essence “pushing them into the lake.” We weren’t involved, but now that we got involved, we have to take responsibility for the consequences. Ditto Wal Mart or whoever it is we’re demanding pay a “living wage.” They didn’t have to hire, but once they did, they were responsible for upholding certain standards in employer-employee relations.

        The difference in my view, though, is that assuming Wal Mart isn’t holding anyone hostage and the Haitians can, if they decide they’ve made a mistake, go back to Haiti (a bigger “if,” admittedly), then there is no sense in which the employee or the immigrant is a “victim,” since they still are better off than otherwise, even if not as well off as we like to see people being in our backyard. And, of course, no one “pushes” them, either, assuming they chose to immigrate or take a job.

        There are many other areas I’m sure this applies to–“price gouging” for example, so I made the original post a bit vague, as I was hoping not to narrow the discussion just to a few areas. The above are just examples; what I want to know is, are there good arguments in favor for Copenhagen prescriptivism, if not in the above cases, then in any cases? There may well be, though not so much off the top of my head.

        *In looking for a link to a story I had previously read about Haitians being so poor they resort to eating “cookies” made primarily of dirt, I found this video claiming it is actually viewed as a kind of health food which people eat even when not desperate. Which is not to say poverty in Haiti is not a severe problem, of course.

        • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

          The last time we discussed Price Gouging, David Friedman linked to his paper Economics and Evolutionary Psychology, which included an explanation of Just Prices.

          My first reaction is “this is a solved problem, so idk why this is relevant to Copenhagen Ethics.” My second reaction is “Maybe there’s a common thread between the two, and I haven’t thought of it yet.”

        • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

          The last time we discussed Price Gouging, David Friedman linked to his paper Economics and Evolutionary Psychology which includes a section on Just Prices.

          My first reaction is “Price Gouging is a solved question, why is this relevant to Copenhagen Ethics?” My second reaction is “Perhaps the two share a common thread, and I haven’t thought of it yet.”

        • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

          The last time we discussed Price Gouging, David Friedman linked to his paper Economics and Evolutionary Psychology [0] which includes a passage on Just Prices.

          My first reaction is “Price Gouging is a solved question, why is this relevant to Copenhagen Ethics?” My second reaction is “Perhaps the two share a common thread, and I haven’t thought of it yet.”

          [0] The spam filter rejected the link. Here’s the ROT13. uggc://qnivqqsevrqzna.pbz/Npnqrzvp/rpba_naq_riby_cflpu/rpbabzvpf_naq_riby_cflpu.ugzy

          • roystgnr says:

            Price gouging is absolutely an application of Copenhagen Ethics. The price I would charge to bring generators to hurricane victims is much higher than they would be willing to pay even during the state of emergency, so I don’t bother to fill a truck full of generators to resell and “price gougers” do, so they go to jail and I don’t. Price gouging laws purport to condemn high prices, but the effect is exactly the opposite. People with low enough sell prices that they could find buyers go to jail, because at that point they’re interacting with the ethical dilemma. People with even higher sell prices, like me, aren’t tempted to interact with the problem, do nothing helpful, and so stay home scot-free.

          • Jiro says:

            That just means that the price gouging limit is set too low. If it takes 10x normal price to induce people to bring generators to a disaster area, but it doesn’t take $10000-plus-a-slavery-contract to induce people to bring generators to a disaster area, then set the gouging limit so that 10x normal price is okay, but slavery contracts aren’t.

            (And if your reply is “in that case, people selling them for slavery contracts would be outcompeted by people selling them for 10x normal price, then gouging laws shouldn’t concern you in the first place since if properly designed they shouldn’t harm anyone. Also, you’re forgetting risk aversion: the two generator salesman may not be present everywhere at exactly the same time and someone who meets one won’t know how long it will be before the other comes around, or even if there will be another.)

          • onyomi says:

            And just set minimum wage low enough that it doesn’t cause any unemployment. At which point the law is pointless.

          • Jiro says:

            People in a disaster area really aren’t in a position to be doing comparison shopping unless the dealers are all right next to each other. And unless there are so many generator sellers that they can’t each get a separate sales area, they won’t be right next to each other.

          • onyomi says:

            People making laws about what constitutes an acceptable level of “surge” pricing and what constitutes evil “price gouging” will also not be in a position to know what price level will be enough to ensure demand is met. If they set it too low, it’s harmful. Too high and, again, pointless.

          • William O. B'Livion says:

            @Jiro:
            > People in a disaster area really aren’t in a position to be
            > doing comparison shopping unless the dealers are all right next
            > to each other

            Sure they are. Up to about 24 hours before the disaster hits.

            Most of the “disaster areas” in the US are *statistically* predictable. If you live along the coast from NYC to Houston you will, every X years get it with SOME sort of hurricane or other ocean induced heavy weather.

            If you live between San Diego and the Aleutian Islands you really ought to expect the occasional hurricane.

            If you don’t expect these sorts of things, and you don’t prepare for these sorts of things you’re that limping antelope that the herd is always in front of.

            I’m not talking about being a gold hoarding prepper, just realizing that sometimes your car winds up in a ditch and you should have both health and car insurance.

          • Jiro says:

            People making laws about what constitutes an acceptable level of “surge” pricing and what constitutes evil “price gouging” will also not be in a position to know what price level will be enough to ensure demand is met.

            They can adjust the gouging law based on past disasters.

            If they set it too low, it’s harmful. Too high and, again, pointless.

            But “too low” and “too high” doesn’t cover the entire spectrum.

            If you don’t expect these sorts of things, and you don’t prepare for these sorts of things you’re that limping antelope that the herd is always in front of.

            Protecting human limping antelopes is almost the entire point of anti-gouging laws. It’s an observed fact that people act in irrational ways, and end up needing protection.

            Also, there may be cases where people need to make decisions like “should I eat today and gamble on there not being a disaster, or should I insure myself against a disaster by buying disaster insurance, and not eat?” (Note that the insurance will total to more than the non-gouge price of the generator, so it isn’t correct to say “if they can’t afford insurance they can’t afford a generator anyway”.)

          • onyomi says:

            Because past disasters are always a perfect indicator of what future disasters will be like?

            How are “too high” and “too low” not the entirety of the spectrum for a price gouging law? There’s only three possibilities: you set the limit exactly right or too high and it is pointless, you set it too low and it prevents some demand being fully met. “Protecting” people from voluntary transactions during disasters doesn’t sound like the kind of “protection” I’d want–and I have been in a disaster situation.

            You’re “double counting” the fact that people are more desperate and have less ability to comparison shop during a disaster. That’s why they’re willing to pay more than usual. Which is the incentive for producers to bring in more than usual/deal with the challenges inherent in providing something under disaster conditions.

          • Jiro says:

            How are “too high” and “too low” not the entirety of the spectrum for a price gouging law?

            They are the entirety if the world is full of rational people who all bought generator-in-disaster insurance. That is not what the world is actually like.

            You’re “double counting” the fact that people are more desperate and have less ability to comparison shop during a disaster. That’s why they’re willing to pay more than usual.

            No, I’m not. The problem is that being unable to comparison shop means that the market won’t work–you have to either accept the offer from the guy selling you water/a generator for a slavery contract, or you die. Competition won’t drive the price down if there is no ability to comparison shop.

          • onyomi says:

            “They are the entirety if the world is full of rational people who all bought generator-in-disaster insurance. That is not what the world is actually like.”

            What is the fourth possibility?

            “The problem is that being unable to comparison shop means that the market won’t work.”

            If a single seller is enticed to make goods available by the prospect of being able to charge exorbitant prices for them due to the fact that there are no other sellers, then that is an example of a market working. Having some of x available at an exorbitant price is a market improvement over having none of x available at any price.

          • Jiro says:

            Having some of x available at an exorbitant price is a market improvement over having none of x available at any price.

            That’s not true because it ignores the impact of incentives. If it is illegal to sell generators for slavery contracts but legal to sell them for 10x normal price, the person who is the sole provider of generators to the area in an emergency will be incentivized to sell them at 10x price rather than for slavery contracts.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Eh. Incentives work both ways.

            The nice thing about “price gouging” is that it prevents stockpiling. Rations are a largely ineffectual runner up there.

          • Skeltering Lead says:

            @Jiro:
            It sounds like you’re assuming a monopoly – if I can be confident no one else will show up to my local disaster area and I own all the generators, then yes I may charge inefficiently high prices for them (e.g. the slave contracts). However, if the price gets high enough, onyomi is going to load a U-haul full of generators, come into town and undercut me by only charging only 10x the normal price.

          • Jiro says:

            It sounds like you’re assuming a monopoly

            Correct, because onyomi thought that the inability to comparison shop wouldn’t matter, so my answer was conditional on being unable to comparison shop.

          • onyomi says:

            @Jiro

            I didn’t say inability to comparison shop doesn’t matter. But being able to choose between one greedy supplier and not buying is still more of an ability to compare than having no choice at all. From the perspective of the buyer 2 suppliers>1 supplier, but 1 supplier>0 suppliers. If crazy prices are what is necessary to attract 1 supplier when there would have been zero, then market incentives are still functioning.

            Supply increases to meet demand. The fact that demand is higher due to desperation doesn’t change that fact, and to the extent consumers are desperate, the profit incentive for suppliers will be that much higher, meaning it’s that much less likely there will be one or zero providers to choose from. Price ceilings create shortages, not only because there’s less incentive to supply, but also because there’s less incentive for consumers to economize, conserve, and substitute.

            If there is a price ceiling but no shortage that means it had no effect because supply was enough without exceeding it. If there is a price ceiling and a shortage it means some people who would have been willing to pay go without. Being in favor of any price ceiling amounts to preferring that some people willing to pay go without sooner than some people pay more than you think is reasonable. It’s substituting your judgment of how much a reasonable price is for that of a buyer who may be in desperation.

          • Jiro says:

            But being able to choose between one greedy supplier and not buying is still more of an ability to compare than having no choice at all.

            Choosing between a greedy supplier and not buying is better than having no choice, but because of incentives, banning the greedy supplier won’t lead to no choice. He’ll still come, he’ll just lower his price to something less greedy.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            How do you know he will still come? If the normal price for a generator is 100 quatloos and he figures he will come down and sell them for 110 quatloos, which we would say is entirely reasonable and not gouging at all, how does he know he won’t get arrested anyway?

          • onyomi says:

            @Jiro

            Saying that there won’t be a shortage despite a price ceiling is just to assume that you won’t set the price ceiling too low. Which you can’t be sure of in advance, because every disaster is different.

            You can guess based on previous disasters, but if you guess too low the result will be shortages. Having any ceiling whatsoever, therefore, is precisely equivalent to saying “we’d rather people willing to buy go without sooner than allow them to pay more than x.” What you are saying is not that consumers need to be protected from greedy providers under disaster circumstances, but that they need to be protected from themselves.

            And this is why I say price gouging laws, like minimum wage laws, are an example of Copenhagen ethics: the provider who never comes, because the possibility of profit wasn’t high enough to entice him, never gets blamed, but the person who gets involved and does help, but in a way we don’t approve of, is blamed, with the result that many possible win-win voluntary transactions are prevented from happening.

            Saying “people will still supply all that is needed during a disaster despite the price ceiling; they just won’t make such an undue profit” is precisely equivalent to saying “employers will still hire just as many people if we [raise the minimum wage, mandate paid family leave…], they just won’t make as much profit.” And incorrect, factually, and, in my view, ethically, for the same reason: it gives people who aren’t involved a pass while holding those who do help, but, in our opinion, not enough, to an unfair standard, resulting in preclusion of voluntary, win-win interactions.

            Another example: laws against selling organs. The only good argument I can think of here is the possibility of scary unintended consequences, like an increase in people being mugged and waking up in a bathtub of ice, or an increase in unjust application of the death penalty (as, I think, has happened in China already, to some extent). But that’s not the usual argument against it: the usual argument against it amounts to “we have to protect poor people from making deals we don’t think they should make. i. e. protect them from themselves.”

          • Jiro says:

            Saying that there won’t be a shortage despite a price ceiling is just to assume that you won’t set the price ceiling too low.

            Remember, this is conditional on the customer not being able to comparison shop. If there isn’t a price ceiling, there’s nothing to keep the seller from raising his price to 10 times the price that would incentivize him to bring in the generators, or 100X, or whatever multiplier a slavery contract is, as long as it’s something that the customer can pay at all. So you’ve got a really wide range of values in which to put your price ceiling–“1x incentivizing price” and “slavery contract” are pretty far apart.

            Having any ceiling whatsoever, therefore, is precisely equivalent to saying “we’d rather people willing to buy go without sooner than allow them to pay more than x.”

            It is a common libertarian fallacy to insist that if X is better than no-X, banning X makes people worse off. Banning X will make people worse off in the scenario where they are offered X, but it can also create incentives that reduce the frequency of that scenario in the first place.

            precisely equivalent to saying “employers will still hire just as many people if we [raise the minimum wage

            People can comparison shop for jobs. Furthermore, wages are often a significant percentage of the employer’s cash inflow, in which case the curve balancing the wage and the number of employees hired is relatively steep. The curve between how many sellers you’d get if they could just charge 10x normal price, and how many you’d get if they could charge slavery contracts is not going to be very steep.

          • onyomi says:

            @Jiro

            Slavery is already illegal in all cases independent of price gouging laws and, like the organ selling case, there are many arguments unrelated to Copenhagen ethics against it. So to keep bringing it up when I never mentioned it is muddying the waters.

            If we replace “slavery” in your example with “really, really high prices,” which is what is at issue in discussion of price gouging, there is no reason to expect a steep curve at some particular point, or that you could accurately predict where it will be.

            Where there is a very steep drop off, of course, is wherever one puts a price ceiling or floor. And the ones who fall on the wrong side of that cliff are likely to be the most needy, unfortunate, or desperate. The rest of the curve might shift up slightly due to this cutoff, but at the expense of the most desperate and probably not in the long run, since e. g. more labor regulations discourages future employers and more price ceilings discourages future suppliers.

          • Jiro says:

            Slavery is already illegal in all cases independent of price gouging laws

            That’s a matter of semantics. You could just as well describe the anti-slavery law as a price gouging law that applies both in and out of disasters.

            there are many arguments unrelated to Copenhagen ethics against it

            Copenhagen applies to slavery just as to high prices: as long as you only allow slavery when the contract is voluntarily signed, someone would only sign the contract if he would be worse off without it than with it. Objecting to this is Copenhagen ethics.

            there is no reason to expect a steep curve at some particular point, or that you could accurately predict where it will be.

            Yes, there is. In the minimum wage case, the wages are often a substantial portion of the employer’s budget. So having to pay higher wages drastically affects the relative desirability of situations that contain different numbers of employees. In the disaster scenario, you’re only going from “very very profitable” to “very profitable”. which does not drastically affect the relative desirability (to the salesmen) of situations that contain different numbers of sales. I find it implausible that in a realistic situation selling some generators at 1000x price (or slavery contracts) are much better to the salesman than selling nothing, but selling the generators at 10x price is much worse than selling nothing.

          • onyomi says:

            I agree there are Copenhagen grounds to objecting to voluntary slavery contracts, but there are also lots of other, unrelated grounds as well, which is why it confuses the issue.

            If you’d like to discuss whether or not it should be legal or ethically permissible to voluntarily sell oneself into slavery, which is an interesting but more complicated question, I’d suggest starting a new thread in a newer OT.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            @Jiro-

            But, can’t you see: The possibility that he might be able to get 100X is exactly what causes there to be more than one vendor who loads up his stuff and tries to make a killing, which is precisely what keeps the actual price closer to 10X.

            When you insist that the hypothetical is that “there is no price ceiling” but “the consumer cannot comparison shop”, you might as well be saying “the price is odd” but “the price is even”.

        • BeefSnakStikR says:

          what I want to know is, are there good arguments in favor for Copenhagen prescriptivism, if not in the above cases, then in any cases? There may well be, though not so much off the top of my head.

          I still hold that it’s impossible to choose to ignore having knowledge of things, but that it’s possible to choose to gain knowledge.

          The best a Copenhagen could hope for, I’d say, would be to choose situations that allow you to ignore things. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but I could see it being useful.

          Say someone asks you to smuggle a vial of something across a border. If you don’t know whether you’re smuggling illegal drugs or a government-suppressed cancer cure, then (A) not smuggling it is equally as moral as (B) smuggling it.

          If it’s impossible to gain more knowledge, then Copenhagen is a pretty useful justification for either action–A or B–even if it doesn’t prescribe either action.

          That’s assuming your concern is with interfering. A totally separate question whether having knowledge is ethical:

          (C) Knowing whether the vial is a drug or medicine is better than not knowing
          (D) Not knowing whether the vial is a drug or medicine is better than knowing
          (E) Knowing it’s either a drug or medicine is better than knowing which one
          (F) Knowing it’s neither a drug or medicine is better than knowing which one

          I’d say D, E, and F, contain variants of the Copenhagen interpretation. Even if common sense says C is the best, then you can still argue than one of D, E, or F is second-best. That counts for something.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      I hypothesize that it’s an extension of “With great power comes great responsibility.” If I see Alice interact with Problem_X, this proves to me that Alice has power over Problem_X. Therefore she is responsible for solving Problem_X. If I don’t see Alice interact with Problem_X, then Plausible Deniability acquits her of the suspicion that she might be deliberately ignoring Problem_X.

      Perhaps it makes Tragedies Of The Commons more soluble. E.g. I remember some news article which was surprised that the Japanese section of the (idk, FIFA World Cup?) stadium was uniquely devoid of litter. Like, maybe the threat of blame (or sense of duty) motivated them to pick up the litter in their vicinity.

      The downside is that individuals are more likely to ignore a problem entirely, if they can get away with it. I bet it’s one of those things that worked well in forager bands, but doesn’t scale as well in today’s world. Because “problems” were more obvious and tangible in those days, and therefore more difficult to plausibly ignore.

      But since the modern world’s problems are often abstract, false-negatives (wrt “dereliction detection”) occur with increased frequency and therefore bear a larger societal-cost (e.g. the costs of our immigration policy to Haitians), which might warrant a more fit ethical-strategy.

      • Jiro says:

        One rebuttal to the Copenhagen Interpretation of ethics

        (Also note that he doesn’t say this, but this is equivalent to precommitment.)

        • Anonymous says:

          just to be clear: this is a rebuttal to the essay by that title, not to CI itself; rather it is a defense of the CI.

        • Held in Escrow says:

          That’s not a particularly good argument; he’s got the seeds of one (ish) but goes off on a tangent and only returns to this at the very end. There are two main issues; first, that moral approval is binary. It’s not; people care less if you help one person tab if you help 10 than if you help 10000.

          Second, the idea that this is an ultimatum game is wrong. It feels like this should be the right metaphor, as people are rejecting Pareto Improvements, but the comparison doesn’t hold up. The offerer doesn’t get either their offer accepted or nothing because they can choose not to play and keep the money they would have invested.

          Rather, in defense of CI, let’s move from the bargaining chip idea into having this be a full trade metaphor. Public society puts a price on moral approval. You must pay us at least X, to make up for what are effectively transaction costs, before we give you approval. Attempts to make an end run around this are met with automatic disapproval, such as PETA’s where they weren’t actually bargaining for moral approval but trying to skip right past it to getting their result. A poison pill strategy.

          This still doesn’t actually explain the other examples. In fact the “market structure” argument falls flat against the Uber surge pricing because that’s a case where market structures are actually being used to close the gap.

          The simple explaination is that people dislike those who see slimy and willing to obviously take advantage of bad situations because it’s defecting in the collective action problem called life. If they’re willing to be so obviously self centered in a crisis (as people don’t think about those that don’t get involved) as to spin the crisis to being about them then they probably act terribly outside of crisis.

        • onyomi says:

          That rebuttal actually just made me more anti-Copenhagen because it spent most of the time describing a good reason why it exists, but not why it should exist (though the author promises more; has that been written yet?).

          It may be true in some evolutionary sense that people give out moral approval and disapproval like bargaining chips in a game designed to incentivize altruistic behavior. But there’s also a good evolutionary reason to expect this mechanism to have a huge blindspot for people not in our own “tribe.”

          In the evolutionary past, the heuristic for who counts as “tribe” or “band,” probably went something like “anyone you interact with on a cooperative basis.” It was good to be very helpful without strings attached to such people, but probably useless, if not harmful to be altruistic toward non-tribe members, who would probably just as soon take your head as a war trophy. (Note how most hunter-gatherer tribes’ word for themselves just means “people.” People outside the tribe are not really people at all).

          In other words, hunter gatherer morality only has two settings: 0 and 100. This is not appropriate for the modern world, where almost everyone has many concentric circles of association. While it does make sense that we owe more to our family and close friends than to total strangers, it doesn’t make sense to categorize everyone as either “family” or “non-person.”

          The failure mode which seems to be most common is treating total strangers in one’s home country, especially if you have any sort of business deal with them, as if they were family (too high a standard) and foreigners and people with which you have no business interaction as if they were non-persons (too low a standard). Allowing foreigners to come here, or hiring someone puts them prematurely in the “family” circle, causing an inappropriately high expectation to apply to interactions with them; the result is many potential win-win interactions are avoided altogether. I wonder if Jesus realized that one solution to “love your neighbor as yourself” is to avoid having many neighbors.

          Interestingly, I think this applies whether one is a utilitarian, deontologist, or virtue ethicist.

          • Aapje says:

            @onyomi

            I think that this is also a major reason for the disconnect between the tribes. You get advocates of refugees claiming that the country should let them in to assure their safety, but once they are in, that tribe argues that they must immediately get equal (or even greater) rights than native citizens. After all, then they are ‘family.’

            In the eyes of the other tribe, they aren’t family yet at that point. So they feel like they are lied to, where the argument is helping people, but the actual goal is to help strangers more than family.

            The problem is that you can’t really fix this, because the gap between family and stranger is too big, so you can’t find a compromise that is (grudgingly) acceptable for everyone.

          • IrishDude says:

            The failure mode which seems to be most common is treating total strangers in one’s home country, especially if you have any sort of business deal with them, as if they were family (too high a standard) and foreigners and people with which you have no business interaction as if they were non-persons (too low a standard).

            Astute observation. I was discussing my charitable giving in the links thread, noting a significant chunk goes to 3rd world poor, and one poster lamented this by characterizing my policy as “Charity begins not at home but in some far away Third World country.”

            Home for me means family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and charity does begin there, but I don’t characterize the other 300 million American strangers as part of my home. There’s a certain affinity for them to the extent we might have similar cultural values, but I also have an affinity for foreigners who laugh, cry, play, and work hard as well.

  31. AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

    Thoughts on some of the heuristics of religion, or at least commonly disliked conservatism.

    I was thinking on some of the *benefits* of extreme gender segregation in a pre-pill/contraceptive environment, and how it may have been impossible to have effective gender integration before that time period, and perhaps it would be irrational.

    Namely, how rational was it for such segregation to exist before the time of contraceptives? Would somebody want their daughter to work under a male boss before those and DNA testing? Or learn and socialize with other men?

    Second, on the topic of divorce, what about the Cinderella effect?

    • Maven says:

      >Would somebody want their daughter to work under a male boss before those and DNA testing?

      Of course they would! Paternity is a social construct. 😉

    • LHN says:

      I’m pretty sure most women who worked outside the home (or inside the home, for that matter, in the case of household servants) did work under a male boss. Secretaries, obviously. Teachers generally reported to male principals, nurses to doctors. Given that higher echelons were generally limited to men, it’s hard to see how it could be otherwise.

  32. Maven says:

    Could the alt right ever become an influential force in mainstream American politics? If so, will they? How would a Trump win or loss affect them?

    I think that some alt right-ish ideas are going to become more and more prominent in mainstream right wing politics, but I’m not sure if The Alt Right qua movement could ever go mainstream unless it was in the context of significant economic upheaval and civil unrest. Some more mainstream
    Conservative sources are getting more comfortable with talking about race (I’m thinking of Breitbart and fellow travelers), but the people in the far alt right seem like they’re just too extreme to ever find a big following.

    • The Nybbler says:

      There is no single movement covered under the label “the alt-right”. Which ones do you mean? Moldbug’s group? The “green frog nazis”? Stormfront? American Rennaissance? The HBDers (which have overlap with the others)?

      • Maven says:

        Ok, I think I figured out why some of my comments were getting deleted. I was referencing The Ideology Which Must Not Be Named. I wonder if the alt right will soon achieve a similar status on Scott’s blog? 🙂

        So I typed this out several times and it’s lost now, so I’ll give you the condensed version. The alt right is more unified than it appears from the outside. It’s a white nationalist movement based on a belief in biological racial differences, suffused with culture from 4chan and initiated by certain key figures like Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer. There’s pretty widespread agreement within the community over who is alt right and who is not.

        Moldbug has explicitly said he is not alt right, I believe. Green frog nazis often are. Stormfront is divided from what I understand, although many of them would be comfortable in the movement. AmRen yes, that’s Jared Taylor’s website. HBDers can be found in many ideologies, not just the alt right.

        • dndnrsn says:

          But is being able to identify who’s in and who’s out and what the central ideas they share, the same as a group being unified?

        • The Nybbler says:

          Moldbug claims not to be alt-right, but to those opposed to the movement using the term, he’s a central example for some reason.

          The group you’re talking about probably has too much of the stink of old-fashioned racism about it to become mainstream (without, as you say significant upheavall), but a Trump win would make it more acceptable for them to be heard, so it would increase their influence.

          The main way I can see the AmRen-centered group becoming mainstream is if BLM radicals get their way and actually do manage to ignite a race war, with widespread instances of blacks attacking random whites just because they’re white. I don’t see this as likely at all, however.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Moldbug claims not to be alt-right, but to those opposed to the movement using the term, he’s a central example for some reason

            Is he?

            At some point alt-right seems to have morphed from “grab bag of non-mainstream conservative viewpoints” (compare alt-right to “fringe right-wing movements“) to something more coherent that involved some self-appellation.

            If you take that presentation as true, then Moldbug could have been fairly characterized as part of the old alt-right and not the new alt-right.

          • Maven says:

            The group you’re talking about probably has too much of the stink of old-fashioned racism about it to become mainstream (without, as you say significant upheavall)

            I think you’re underestimating the amount of racism that still exists, both explicit and latent. Racism is the least of their problems.

            I think all the stuff they believe about Jews would be a barrier to it going mainstream. I feel like there must be some sort of theorem that says that a conspiracy theory can never spread throughout a sufficiently large group. Their attitude towards women is also a major hurdle. A political movement can’t survive today without large amounts of voluntary female participation.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Maven:

            Their attitude to women is probably the number one problem, more than anti-Semitism (consider the degree to which anti-Zionist sentiment shades into anti-Semitism on college campuses – some of it is really just a refurbished version of the old right-wing conspiracy theories) but attracting more women would probably require more than just dropping the whole Redpill shtick.

            For instance: “Women tend to express more favorable opinions of both gay men and lesbians…” So the anti-gay stuff is a factor. I would also guess that, while TERFs are the most “systematic” of transphobes, women in general have a better view of trans people than men do. Women also probably react worse to general mean-spiritedness than men do.

            Really, has any far-right movement been able to attract women since the end of WWII?

    • Vaniver says:

      Could the alt right ever become an influential force in mainstream American politics? If so, will they? How would a Trump win or loss affect them?

      I think both a Trump win and a Trump loss will cause a continuation of the current level of hatred towards the alt-right from its enemies, instead of a relaxation. If Trump loses, this is seen as a mandate to finish the job; if Trump wins, this is seen as a need to try harder and win back America.

      I think the main question with the alt-right is whether or not they’re able to create a sufficient group of intellectuals whose careers can be based on thinking alt-right thoughts. It seems to me like a Trump presidency makes that more likely, but not obviously so; Trump doesn’t seem to be a HBDer. That these people don’t already exist means that they can’t be sucked into a Trump administration from day one; one can expect that it’ll be build more by the likes of Chris Christie and Mike Pence.

      • Maven says:

        >I think the main question with the alt-right is whether or not they’re able to create a sufficient group of intellectuals whose careers can be based on thinking alt-right thoughts.

        Very fascinating point. Could the academy, or even a significant movement in the academy, ever return to an HBD view of race? It feels completely impossible right now. Doubly so if HBD actually turns out to be false. None of us want to see science move backwards, regardless of our political views.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          Depends on what you mean by “the academy,” and a bit on what you mean by HBD.

          If you mean science, as your last paragraph implies, in a certain sense it already has. A lot of the sillier bits of 60’s fluff in anthropology, for example, are slowly being discarded as genetic tools make them untennable. I expect most of the “social sciences” will be folded into biology eventually.

          Of course that’s more of a “ethnicity exists and correlates with certain measurable traits” HBD and less of a “Deutschland Über Alles.” More like HBD bloggers than their comment sections.

          The rest of “the academy” doesn’t have any connection to reality, so I don’t see why they would ever change their opinions.

          • Maven says:

            >If you mean science, as your last paragraph implies, in a certain sense it already has. A lot of the sillier bits of 60’s fluff in anthropology, for example, are slowly being discarded as genetic tools make them untennable.

            Sure. It’s uncontroversial, for example, to say that different races have different genetic predispositions to different diseases. But when I say “an HBD view of race”, I’m really going for the big huge toxic elephants in the room: IQ, aggression, and other assorted personality traits like impulse control and time-preference. Could a psychologist or biologist hold that there are racial differences in IQ without getting chased out of the room? (So long as we understand that “racial differences” means differences in group averages and that these averages do not causally determine the IQ of any given individual.) If they can’t, will they be able to at some point in the future?

            >Of course that’s more of a “ethnicity exists and correlates with certain measurable traits” HBD and less of a “Deutschland Über Alles.” More like HBD bloggers than their comment sections.

            Yes, of course. Assuming HBD has any merit at all, one of the hurdles that needs to be overcome before it becomes a mainstream view is the need to show that HBD does not have to lead to ethnic violence.

            >The rest of “the academy” doesn’t have any connection to reality, so I don’t see why they would ever change their opinions.

            Well, let’s be charitable here. Social scientists are generally open to empirical evidence. They just wear their ideological biases on their sleeves (and, frustratingly, refuse to admit this, unless they know they’re in friendly company…)

            Certain other departments like English are purely factories for implements of ideology, so they might be said to be disconnected from reality. But I can’t say this really bothers me. They’re free to do their own thing.

          • Cheese says:

            @Maven.

            Probably a bit late to reply but you may see this.

            In my experience in academic research (Neuroscience and more generally molecular biology) if you sat down with someone in-field an had that discussion re: things like IQ and personality traits then no one would really bat much of an eyelid. As long as you qualified everything correctly and drew on various pieces of evidence to back you up.

            If you start proposing what we could probably say would be discriminatory, in the strict dictionary sense of the word rather than it’s colloquial meaning, social policy as a result of it… well that’s where you’re going to get into trouble. As you say. Outside of a few select blogs and discussions in scientific articles i’ve not really seen a lot of discussion of it that hasn’t strayed into those territories. Anyway that’s by the by to what you’re asking. Edit- actually no it’s not. It’s probably the reason behind why one would get chased out of a room.

            My feeling is that this might be different if you strayed into a Psych department. I don’t know though. My limited contact with psych academics has suggested to me that they are mostly pretty reasonable and open minded people but as to the specific topic I can’t say. But in the areas of I guess ‘harder’ biology i’ve worked in it’d not really be amazingly controversial in the way you define it (i.e. qualified correctly).

            Another area that strikes me that you’d find a pretty welcoming reception would be in diet/weight loss research – especially anyone who studies molecular genetics in that field. A couple i’ve encountered have been very much on the HBD train as it were.

          • David Friedman says:

            “If you start proposing what we could probably say would be discriminatory, in the strict dictionary sense of the word rather than it’s colloquial meaning, social policy as a result of it… well that’s where you’re going to get into trouble. ”

            What if you criticize interpretations of statistical evidence that depend on assuming the absence of biological diversity? The argument from the existence of outcomes that are on average different by race or gender to the existence of discrimination depends on the unstated and implausible assumption that there are no differences in the distribution of relevant innate characteristics.

            Someone takes the shortage of female math professors at Harvard or the lower average wage of blacks as proof of discrimination. You point out the error in the argument. Do you get into trouble?

          • Anonymous says:

            Do you get into trouble?

            Summers got into trouble for calling for research to be done.

          • Vaniver says:

            The argument from the existence of outcomes that are on average different by race or gender to the existence of discrimination depends on the unstated and implausible assumption that there are no differences in the distribution of relevant innate characteristics.

            I have read a number of judicial opinions where the judge explicitly states this assumption.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Maven

            Yes, of course. Assuming HBD has any merit at all, one of the hurdles that needs to be overcome before it becomes a mainstream view is the need to show that HBD does not have to lead to ethnic violence.

            The interesting thing to consider here, though, is the position like that taken by Rod Dreher. Which is to say, what if:
            1. HBD is true, and is likely to become more obviously so as genetic science improves
            2. HBD, or, that is to say, widespread acceptance of HBD, does “have to lead to ethnic violence”.

            In short, what if humanity, in the words of Colonel Jessup, “can’t handle the truth”? Do you say “fiat veritas ruat caelum”? Or do you defend the “noble lie”?

        • dndnrsn says:

          Back in the days when racism was the popular view in the universities, was “HBD” the norm? You’ll find HBD types claiming that the Ashkenazim have an average IQ of 115, or that East Asians have an average IQ of 105, versus the European average of 100.

          You do indeed have Death Eater types welcoming our future Jewish-Chinese overlords (all hail Sophia and Louisa Chua-Rubenfeld!) but I think few old-school 19th century racists would support that view.

          Hell, you’ll even find HBD’ers putting the Igbo at a 103 IQ, a few points ahead the average of any European nation, so…

        • Butler says:

          > None of us want to see science move backwards, regardless of our political views.

          I do.
          In the sense that science textbooks are the first thing I’d throw onto the book bonfire in a desperate attempt to avoid the creation of unfriendly AI.

          But I don’t post very often, so I can see how you would fail to notice my strand of thought.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            name checks out.

          • Matt C says:

            I haven’t before now, but I’m glad to see it.

            This seems like an obvious position for people genuinely worried about AI risk. But I don’t see many of them acknowledging it, much less taking it up. I draw somewhat cynical conclusions from this. Nice to see an exception.

          • Butler says:

            @FacelessCraven
            You have identified the eponymy correctly!

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      A year ago, I would have confidently said no. I still think the answer is no but I’m much less confident.

      Trump himself has done little for the AltRight. His positions aren’t actually that outré, just conspiciously “white trash.” But since the media has been throwing everything against the Wall and seeing what sticks, the AltRight got a huge bump.

      My guess is that what happens next will depend how how the media responds to Trump’s loss in November. If they go full No Platform and memory hole the AltRight then they’ll go back to relative internet obscurity. On the other hand, Pepe might be too attractive of a boogeyman to ignore in which case the genie is out of the bottle.

      Any attention is good news for the AltRight right now. That’s doubly true if they can continue to position themselves opposite highly disliked people and institutions: drawing sustained fire from the media, Hillary and congress would make them look a lot better by comparison.

    • Nyx says:

      In the short term, if Trump were to win, it would prove one thing; the electoral viability of candidates that play to the alt-right. As a result, there could be more such candidates emerging in the Republican party at the state and local level. This could gradually result in a party more sympathetic to the alt-right and more alt-right policies being implemented. This might result in long-term payoff since the Republican Party is holding the right edge of the Overton Window. But while holding the presidency offers opportunities (people like winners better than losers), but also presents challenges, because holding such a position opens you up to scrutiny and criticism. Since Americans seem to be, broadly speaking, very pessimistic and contentious, this might lead to a weaker right-wing in the medium term. Reference Obama’s victory in 2008 leading to huge defeats for Democrats in mid-term elections. If Trump manages to actually implement alt-right policies, this will likely just lead to renewed challenge of those positions when they fail to cure cancer, resolve the Israel-Palestine crisis and reduce entropy in a closed system. Even now, Trump is viewed very unfavorably. That is sure to intensify once he is actually in power and his ambiguity about his policies will end.

      But I don’t know much about the alt-right, their preferred policies, if they even have preferred policies, or if Trump agrees with them on a lot. My inclination is that although Trump is happy to cultivate alt-right support, he wouldn’t actually implement alt-right policies, and that left and right alike are projecting their atavistic fears and desires on to him. If this happens, it might “defuse” the alt-right by turning them away from mainstream politics, just as many on the far left are disenchanted by Democratic centrism.

      If Trump loses, mainstream Republicans will reassert their control of the party and likely erect barriers to prevent another such debacle. And even if he wins, alt-right hopes rest on a guy that strikes me as erratic and incompetent and is deeply unpopular even within his own party. At best, the alt-right might achieve greater influence within the GOP. But I don’t think they could without making the GOP unelectable. So things don’t look good for the alt-right.

      (I’d point out, as well, that the “alt-right” has a lot of internal variation from sedevacantists to monarchists to ancaps. I don’t know if it’s even that meaningful to talk about the possibility of the alt-right having political influence; would that mean a monarchy, or the abolition of universities, or the repeal of the 14th Amendment? Certainly, they seem to think that Trump aligns with their values, but they seem to be more united by their distaste for the left than by any coherent programme.)

      • Maven says:

        I tried to write a similar comment higher up in the thread but it didn’t go through, let’s see if this works better…

        A lot of people are lumping various new-right groups under the heading “alt-right”, but there’s actually relatively little disagreement within the alt-right and around its borders over who is alt-right and who is not, so the movement is more unified right now than one might think. It’s a white nationalist movement based on a belief in biological racial differences. Garden-variety Trump supporters do not qualify. Policy positions beyond that are sketchy, though they all tend to lean authoritarian on whatever question you could care to pose. Ancaps would almost certainly not feel welcome in the alt right, because the alt right is rather concerned with policing social “degeneracy”. Monarchists might feel more comfortable, as long as they’re white, but then someone would have to work out exactly what the differences between monarchism and fascism are. I would be very interested in seeing such a conversation, because I think a lot of these people haven’t given much thought to the political ideologies they claim to endorse…

        • dndnrsn says:

          One of the basic differences between monarchy and fascism is very easy to see: fascism has popular sovereignty. Monarchy doesn’t. Plenty of European monarchies were multicultural, multiethnic, etc. Look at the Austro-Hungarians. They weren’t united by a common ethnicity, race, culture, language, or whatever. They were united by whoever ruled them. Plenty of rulers have spoken different languages than their subjects.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I think – and I believe we’ve discussed this before, if I’m remembering your avatar right – that there are some “BernieBros” who will stumble into the alt-right.

      To me, the core of the alt-right is this: most people, right or left, when accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc (I would say transphobia, but sadly trans people still get shit on most anywhere that isn’t a left-wing university campus) will either back down, or try to defend themselves (which is often followed by backing down). The alt-right says, to quote noted right-winger Zack de la Rocha, “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me”. Other than this, the “alt-right” is so diffuse as to be nonexistent. What does it have to hold it together? Pictures of a frog? Feels Man? Greentexting?

      So, you’ve got economic left-wingers, who didn’t care so much for social left issues, who got slammed with the charge that they were a bunch of privileged cishet white boys trying to bamboozle everyone else into thinking that economic issues were the only important thing. The “BernieBros”. Even though plenty of them were neither male nor white (Bernie was a youth candidate, not a young-white-man candidate), the image stuck.

      Some percentage of the “BernieBros” actually are cishet white boys. Some percentage of those are going to react to the attacks against them by refusing to grant their accusers jurisdiction, so to speak. And, once they’ve done that, the alt-right is a hop, skip, and a jump away. Just one lily pad over.

      • Maven says:

        Yes, you are remembering my avatar correctly!

        >To me, the core of the alt-right is this: most people, right or left, when accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc (I would say transphobia, but sadly trans people still get shit on most anywhere that isn’t a left-wing university campus) will either back down, or try to defend themselves (which is often followed by backing down).

        Yes, I would definitely agree that this is one of the main impetuses behind it.

        >Other than this, the “alt-right” is so diffuse as to be nonexistent.

        It’s only diffuse if you lump various new right groups under the heading of “alt-right”: NRx, ancaps, garden-variety anti-SJWs like Milo, etc. But none of these people consider themselves alt right and the alt right doesn’t consider them alt right. The alt right is a white nationalist movement based on a belief in biological racial differences, roughly organized around sites like The Daily Stormer, The Right Stuff, Radix Journal, and American Renaissance. Most of the people who use the term to mean something different than that are mainstream media journalists who are just stumbling into the whole thing for the first time. You could argue over whether those guys “really” deserve a monopoly on the term “alt right”, but no one else really wants it and they’re very concerned with keeping the term as pure as possible, so why not let them have it? The probability of internal fractures as the movement grows is high, but right now it’s relatively unified.

        >Some percentage of the “BernieBros” actually are cishet white boys. Some percentage of those are going to react to the attacks against them by refusing to grant their accusers jurisdiction, so to speak. And, once they’ve done that, the alt-right is a hop, skip, and a jump away. Just one lily pad over.

        See, I’m a cishet white guy who’s broadly sympathetic with the alt right’s views on race, but I’ll never consider myself a part of that ideology and they would never accept me, since I’m a social libertarian and they are decidedly not. Disillusioned leftists will have their own challenges as they wander rightward. The average Bernie Bro would have a tough time integrating into alt right circles once he realized that he had to be comfortable with people saying the word “faggot” every other sentence.

        Will there be a broad coalition of whites who move to defend themselves against (or happily accept) accusations of racism? Possibly. Will it take the form of The Alt Right as we know it? Probably not, it’s just too niche.

        I do understand that your comment was probably based on a separate definition of “alt right” though.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Yeah, but how many of them will stick there? And what will their beliefs be when they do?

        Doing what you have been accused of to “show them” certainly happens, but that can’t constitute any sort of coherent movement. To the extent that the so called alt-right becomes more coherent, it will do so around some set of beliefs. Trump has shown there is a rump in the Republican Party that is white, xenophobic, and populist, so if the alt-right truly coalesces on something, I think it is likely to be that.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Oh, I agree that it’s not a huge number of people who will fall to that – but there’s a chance that there’s a decent chunk of people on the left side of the Democrats who might get horseshoe-theoried into being on the right. If the only people who care about poor white people are crypto-fascists, then only crypto-fascists care about poor white people.

          Plus – I don’t think the alt-right is a coherent movement.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I was agreeing with you (or attempting to without being very clear) that some disaffected Bernie voters will end up interested in and perhaps promoting the ideas and orgs that are floating around under the alt-right banner. I also agree that this the horshoe-theory in action.

            I was then “going on” (although this is where I started) to ask the next question, the one I think is truly relevant, what would it take for significant numbers to stay there? Basically I’m begging the question of whether it’s currently coherent, and asking, instead, what it look like if it becomes coherent and a new identified base of power inside the GOP?

          • Maven says:

            Plus – I don’t think the alt-right is a coherent movement

            It’s actually quite coherent from the inside. It’s a white nationalist movement based on a belief in HBD that’s currently organized around a few central hubs like Daily Stormer, The Right Stuff, and Radix Journal. It only looks like a fractured, amorphous movement if you read about it in the mainstream media. Some people think that Milo Yiannopolous qualifies as alt right, for example, but he has never called himself alt right and the broader community is quite hostile to him.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub: I probably wasn’t being very clear either, looking back.

            What would it take for them to stay there? Either them being willing to put up with outright bigotry – likely adjusting their views bit by bit rather than just swallowing it all at once – or them joining it and changing it entryist style (of course, new people joining something almost always changes it), or some combination of the two.

            Or, they might hover around long enough to pick up the ideas that are tolerable to them, then go and do their own thing. That could be as simple as a switch from a stance on the economic left from “the economic left is the real left and people are just mistaken to dissipate their energies elsewhere” to a more aggressive accusation of that energy being intentionally redirected and siphoned off – a more conspiratorial way of looking at things, perhaps.

            @Maven: I’ll adjust my statement – coherent, maybe, but not unified. The mainstream media would probably like to represent the alt-right as a unified group – it’s a more dramatic story, and actual Nazis are scarier than Milo Yiannopoulos. What does it say that outsiders trying to find a movement’s spokesperson or leader usually identify people who are considered to be neither by members of that movement, and often do not present themselves as being members, let alone spokespeople or leaders?

      • pku says:

        I agree with the actual content of what you said, but Bernie supporters actually were very disproportionately white, not just disproportionately young (and as young people are more diverse than general, if Bernie supporters were as diverse as general democrats they’d still be disproportionately white after adjusting for their youth).

        • dndnrsn says:

          Were they disproportionately white, or otherwise? I haven’t seen any accurate statistics, one way or the other.

          • pku says:

            Yeah, see for example this. More generally, she won states with a significant minority vote and lost or tied states that were disproportionately white (like Iowa or NH).

        • Aapje says:

          @pku

          but Bernie supporters actually were very disproportionately white

          Or Clinton supporters were disproportionately black. You can’t judge whether black voters pulled to Clinton or were pushed away from Sanders, merely based on the voting statistics.

      • Aapje says:

        @dndnrsn

        I would say transphobia, but sadly trans people still get shit on most anywhere that isn’t a left-wing university campus

        Not even there, as I’m sure that any left-wing university campus will include some TERFs.

      • Maven says:

        You are remembering my avatar correctly!

        > To me, the core of the alt-right is this: most people, right or left, when accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc (I would say transphobia, but sadly trans people still get shit on most anywhere that isn’t a left-wing university campus) will either back down, or try to defend themselves (which is often followed by backing down).

        Yes, this is definitely one of the major impetuses behind it.

        > Some percentage of the “BernieBros” actually are cishet white boys. Some percentage of those are going to react to the attacks against them by refusing to grant their accusers jurisdiction, so to speak. And, once they’ve done that, the alt-right is a hop, skip, and a jump away.

        I know you’re probably using a very broad definition of “alt right” here, but I just wanted to try and clarify things a bit. The core alt right currently holds very conservative and authoritarian social views, so it would be hard for Bernie Bros and libertarians to wander into the alt right just because they’re looking for a response to white privilege. I’m a social libertarian, for example, and I could never truly be a part of their movement and they would never accept me, even though I’m broadly sympathetic with their views on race. Disillusioned leftists will have their own challenges as they wander rightwards. It’s hard to imagine a Bernie Bro being comfortable in alt right circles once he realizes that he has to deal with people saying the word “faggot” every other sentence.

        Alt right-ish ideas could become appealing to a broad coalition of whites, but The Alt Right itself will probably remain quite niche.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I am probably using a broad definition, and additionally I think that the diffusion of ideas out from a group is a success for that group. Maybe not the same level of success as people actually joining them. To give an example from the other side of the political spectrum: the Fabian Society only has 7,000 members, but much of what they wanted has come to pass.

          I also think that people can kind of drift into things, political ideologies, hobbies, whatever. I can see someone telling themselves “oh they’re just being edgy, and most of them don’t really believe xyz”. To give a nonpolitical example – far more people start out lifting a bit of weight to stay in shape, and then bit by bit turn into someone who keeps a protein shake next to their bed for when they wake up to go to the washroom at night, than go from zero to a hundred quickly.

          I think that some of the ideas that are associated with the alt-right are hardly limited to appeal to white people. I could see, for instance, East Asians embracing HBD ideas about IQ, and Chinese Christians tend to be fairly socially conservative by North American standards. I could see Indians of old stock high-caste backgrounds embracing Computer Programmers for Monarchy ideas. Etc.

          • Maven says:

            Oh, yes, certainly HBD can be appealing to non-whites. In fact I would love it if more non-whites started to openly discuss HBD, both inside the US and outside, since that would do a faster job of moving it back into the Overton Window.

      • Lumifer says:

        the core of the alt-right is this: most people, right or left, when accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc … will either back down, or try to defend themselves. The alt-right says … “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me”

        I am a big fan of the fuck-YOU response to accusations of wrongthink, but I don’t fit into alt-right at all.

    • cassander says:

      While I agree with what The Nybbler says about alt right not being a lot of different things, HBD is a pretty big part of most of those strains. responses to HBD vary wildly, but it’s as close to universal as you get (which is not to claim that the alt-right is racist or motivated by racism, just that it is made up, in large part, by people who accept HBD)

      As genetics gets better, a lot of what currently passes for publically acceptable positions (which is way to the left of current mainstream biology and psychology) on race and biology is going to get empirically disproven in ways that are basically inarguable, e.g., “Intelligence isn’t heritable you say? Well all these genetically engineered kids are 3 grade levels ahead of yours….” The extent to and speed at which this happens are going to have vastly greater impacts on mainstreaming of the alt-right than anything any politician does between now and then. I don’t claim to have any ability to proclaim how this conflict will play out, but it’s going to get very ugly.

  33. Scott says:

    Reposting from the last open thread since I got in at the very tail end:

    I’m looking for a post in the wider lesswrong-blog-o-sphere that I remember reading a while ago and would appreciate any help in tracking it down.

    The gist of it was that the bar for people to receive government grants to conduct various experiments and projects in education/healthcare/social services/etc. was very low. For example, many educational grants measure the success of their computer-upgrade program not by positive effect on the students, but just by whether they actually bought computers at all and brought them into schools.

    It then urged members of the wider rationality community to look into this as an alternative to a standard job, because (a) the government wants to give out this money for use, (b) you don’t have to sacrifice and can pay yourself an upper-middle class salary, and (c) pretty much anything can do good better than most of what’s going on right now.

    Does this ring a bell to anyone? Douglas Knight suggested this post, but that wasn’t it. I remember it was on a 3rd party blog.

  34. Perpetually Inquisitive says:

    Without wanting to sound to negative, is the site (in particular the comments section) previously unusable on mobile for other people? I’m using Chrome on Android.

    • Perpetually Inquisitive says:

      Err…can’t seem to edit my typos on mobile. Apologies for the reply post instead.

      *too
      ** practically [unusable]

    • Aegeus says:

      Chrome on Android is usable for me, although the margins go unreadably narrow for a while until it’s finished loading.

      My only complaint is that the formatting buttons get hidden or cover the comment field when the field resizes. So typing out long comments is a bit awkward.

      • Perpetually Inquisitive says:

        Yeah, I’ve had the margins go narrow as the page is loading.

        The problem for me though is that the page seems to take forever to load, and a lot of the comments section isn’t even rendered, and I can’t scroll around to see different comments. They just kinda half-load.

        Seems like an issue with memory being used up or the Javascript thread locking up the UI thread or something. /shrug

    • brad says:

      In IOS (mobile safari) any post that has an embedded video crashes the browser when I click the comments link. Other than that, if there are a lot of unread comments it is pretty hard to use the unread comments widget, but the site is otherwise usable.

  35. Jill says:

    I didn’t know there were Libertarian Social Justice Warriors.

    We’re all stressed because of this crazy election. Maybe that’s what it took to give birth to the Libertarian Social Justice Warrior movement.

    • sards says:

      I must be out of the loop. Who are the Libertarian Social Justice Warriors?

      • Fahundo says:

        I think it roughly translates to “Libertarians who don’t want non-libertarians to enter their safe space and disparage or fail to pay proper respects to Ayn Rand”

      • Sniffnoy says:

        I have no idea who Jill might be referring to, but Ozy at least is a libertarian SJer.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      …what…?

      OK, firstly, there is no “Social Justice Warrior movement”, because “Social Justice Warrior” is a disparaging term, so for the most part they don’t call themselves that (some do in a “reclamatory” sense).

      Secondly, while I’m not going to go to the trouble of finding explicit earlier examples of libertarian SJers (perhaps one might call on Ozy for that, if they’re willing to show up here), like… left-libertarianism goes back quite a ways, as does libertarian feminism, as do general libertarian arguments for why libertarianism will in fact help the poor or marginalized. It would be quite surprising if none of that yielded libertarian SJ prior to now.

      (On that note, here’s a good essay on libertarian feminism from 2005, H/T Ozy)

      And like… why would “the stress of because of this crazy election” be at all relevant? This sounds like Bulverism, where you’re just trying to say that such a political position is clearly crazy and thereby dismiss it.

      I am really getting the feeling here that you’re not familiar with any politics outside the mainstream and that can’t be fit into a “left/right” (whatever that means) axis.

      • I’m trying to think about whether there have been patterns in the libertarian movement that it would make sense to describe as SJW within that movement, as opposed to someone who is both an SJW in the normal sense and a libertarian.

        Nozick got a little flack within the movement for something he wrote, I think saying that under some circumstances he could favor a draft, but not a lot. I’ve been attacked by Rothbard and, more recently, some of his followers for my failure to hate the state. But I can’t think of any case within the movement of some libertarians trying to raise serious social pressure against other libertarians in response to the latter holding heretical views.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Right, this is where the “what do we mean by SJW” question comes in. Do we mean the, y’know, illiberal equivocating guiltmongers? Or do we just mean the SJers more broadly? The latter certainly exist. The former existing in any substantial numbers would be more surprising. I assumed Jill meant the latter, but I’ll admit I don’t know.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Who are the “SJers” more broadly? I know of the academics, who write papers full of what I consider to be nonsense, and the SJWs (including the “allies”), who take those papers and weaponize them using motte-and-bailey and other tactics. I guess there are other people who just kind of nod along and agree but don’t go on the offensive themselves, but they’re harder to notice.

            There are certainly other fights involving the same kind of tactics the SJWs use (they’re often specifically compared to the worst of the religious right by their opponents, after all), but calling those other people SJWs is, IMO, a misnomer, and often an attempt to muddle the issue.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            I mean, there are people who agree with object-level SJ positions, and may refer to themselves as being on the side of Social Justice, but stay away from the awful meta-level illiberalism and destructiveness we normally associate with people who do the first two; Ozy would be an example here.

            It would be nice if we could just use “SJW” to refer to the people who do do such things, but as Ozy points out, the term is used too variously for that to be generally understood.

            It would be nice to have a new, unambiguous term for such people — ideally one that gets more directly at the problem — but I don’t know of one. People talk about the “illiberal left”, and that’s a good term, but it’s a little broader, I think. I like to talk about “illiberal equivocating guiltmongers” to directly point out what is wrong with them, but that’s not very catchy. Perhaps one could simply say “illiberal SJ” or “motte-and-bailey SJ”. Or perhaps “illiberal left” suffices despite the lack of specificity. I dunno.

          • onyomi says:

            “PC Police”? I feel like that’s what people often mean when they use SJW too broadly.

          • Fahundo says:

            How about “racists disguised as progressives”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            … and now we have jumped the shark.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Fahundo: No, because that completely fails to get at the point here — that they destroy civil discussion wherein people might actually attempt to get at the right answer (which they do by means of social pressure and motte-and-bailey tactics). Again, the point here is not their object-level positions; I disagree with those too, but those can be debated in the ordinary way when sensible norms of discourse are present.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Onyomi: I was asking about terms for the narrow sense of “SJW”.

          • onyomi says:

            “Onyomi: I was asking about terms for the narrow sense of “SJW”.”

            Well, if you had a different term for the overly broad way in which SJW has come to be used, you could call the people to whom the narrow definition applies “SJWs” with less confusion.

          • Going back to the question of social justice and libertarians, the Bleeding Heart Libertarians (Zwolinski et. al.) say positive things about social justice.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Going back to the question of social justice and libertarians, the Bleeding Heart Libertarians (Zwolinski et. al.) say positive things about social justice.

            That’s the older social justice, though, not the current one.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Why do you think this is helpful? You come into this community with a chip on your shoulder, demonstrate little but antagonism toward its members, refuse to engage with them in good faith… and are then confused and hurt when people don’t fall in line with your crusade to convert them to the Correct of Center Tribe?

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Why do you think this sort of response will be helpful? No offense meant, this is the first time I’ve ever seen you post, and I hope you hang around, but there are already more than a dozen posts in the last hour or so attempting to make this point to Jill. What does this one add?

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Fair point. I forgot to refresh before posting so didn’t realize Sniffnoy had already done it better. I’ve been lurking here for a couple years now but have only posted occasionally partially because usually (as in this case) someone else will make the point I agree with better than I could. With an unfortunate side-effect of when I *do* post, it has a higher probability of me being rather frustrated…

          Honestly, I’ve learned to just minimize most Jill threads now since goodwill from all sides of those conversations has been running pretty low. This post was just a particularly poor-sporting snipe, and before Sniffnoy posted it had gone unchallenged. Apologies for any dogpiling.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Huh, commendable. Much respect.

  36. Anthony says:

    Jill, you are not yet banned, but you are forbidden to reference Ayn Rand, accuse other people of worshipping Ayn Rand, attribute everything you dislike to a conspiracy centered around Ayn Rand, or use Ayn Rand as a metonymy for any view you disagree with. I will lift this restriction if you read and post a book report on Atlas Shrugged.

    Reading Scott Alexander makes me understand how a guy like Jesus could come along and just have such consistently solid and context-appropriate advice that an entire people would attempt to record and standardize every punishment they’d ever meted. It’s also obvious why that attempt would fail, miserably, but Hey! It’s great when the charismatic leader is alive, anyways!

  37. Deiseach says:

    I will lift this restriction if you read and post a book report on Atlas Shrugged.

    Now, that is cruel and unusual punishment! 🙂

    (I can’t read Rand. I’ve tried, and every time I want to set fire to the character who is soliloquising – you can’t call it ‘talking’, they don’t converse, they lecture at one another).

    • Julian says:

      You could try “We the Living”. It quite different from Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. This is her first Novel length work. She wrote it very shortly after coming to America and was writing in her second language. In that light the writing quality is quite an accomplishment. Its set in post revolution Russia and is much more character driven.

      There arent long monologues (that I can remember), but you may have other problems with it (as much as I agree with her, I understand her writing is not the best). Its much more of a romance, so that may not interest you.

      Also its not 800 pages! Only about 300, much more of a normal novel length.

    • Autolykos says:

      Yup, her writing is legitimately horrible, and she really seems to like beating very thoroughly dead horses. OTOH, for some of these horses, you’d have to take off and nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      What I find most ironic about her books is how many of her prominent admirers are a lot more similar to her villains than to her heroes. If you have read Atlas Shrugged and are still a Neocon, you did not understand it.

      • Jill says:

        And if you have read it, and are not then converted to becoming Libertarian or otherwise Right of Center, then Right of Center people will assume that you must not have read it. This just happened to me.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Ooh. The book report is due soon, I take it?

        • Fahundo says:

          Right of Center people

          Such as Scott?

          • Jill says:

            Yes.

            He is what people refer to as Left Libertarian. But that looks to be Right of Center to me.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Jill, when dealing with a view like left-libertarianism, why would you think it at all helpful to try to fit it onto a one-dimensional axis?

            (Edit: Although I’m not sure you’re using “left-libertarian” in the standard sense. Also, repeat my above comment for basically every political philosophy that’s discussed here, including libertarianism in general; with I guess the exception of Democrat-ism and Republican-ism, both of which are not exactly coherent.)

          • @ Sniffnoy:

            “Left-libertarian” actually has a number of different meanings, which I discussed in an old blog post. One (left anarchist) is conventionally thought of as left. The other two combine elements favored by people on left and right.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Interesting, thanks! #2 that you discuss I’ve heard referred to as “libertarian socialism”, though I don’t know how standard that term is.

          • “Geolibertarianism” is the term I’m familiar with for it, from Henry George.

            Calling it libertarian socialism seems a bit odd, since all means of production other than the land are still privately owned and the land is privately owned but with site value taxed away.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Sorry, to be clear, I didn’t mean geolibertarianism specifically; rather I meant the more general position of “The government should be doing very little — except redistributing wealth”. But yeah, I guess that name doesn’t make a lot of sense regardless.

      • Jill says:

        And if you have read it, and you’re a crony capitalist welfare queen, or a supporter of such, well then you are the typical reader of it in the U.S. today. And you are like anyone who has read any popular religious or ideological text, and who sees how it could be used as a tool for your cause. The fact that you are far more similar to the villains in the story than to the heroes is not going to matter to you in the least. If it works to get you what you want, you don’t fix it.

        • Jill says:

          To me, it’s as if I disagreed with the Christian Right on various issues, and commented on some of the ways in which they use the Bible and Jesus and religion, to justify their political beliefs. And then someone demanded that I read the entire Bible (as if I had no familiarity with it to begin with, even though I have read it) and give a book report on it. That person being quite sure that if I HAD read it, I would certainly have adopted most or all of the political beliefs of the Christian Right.

          When the actual case is that the fact that I HAVE read the Bible is part of why I disagree with the Christian Right.

          Politics is very tribal nowadays. Everyone is sure that “If only the other side read what I read, experienced what I experienced, then they would totally agree with me.”

          When Will The Idiots On The Other End Of The Political Spectrum Wake Up And Have Every One Of My Life Circumstances, Daily Interactions, And Upbringing?
          http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/when-will-idiots-other-end-political-spectrum-wake-53482

          • LHN says:

            I’d say it would be more like that if the other people here frequently quoted or referenced the Bible, or in this case Rand, in support of their arguments or positions. If that’s been happening here, I haven’t seen it. Of course it’s possible I’ve missed posts.

            Personally I ran aground during the long radio speech in Atlas Shrugged, which is the only Rand work I ever tried.

            (Well, I saw the Gary Cooper film adaptation of “The Fountainhead”, but that’s because I’m a Turner Classic Movies fan. ISTR she wasn’t particularly fond of the adaptation in any case.)

          • Skef says:

            Jill –

            The difference is that to the extent anyone takes arguments made by Rand as justifying their political or ethical beliefs they also take those arguments as standing on their own. Newton put lots of clever stuff into his writings but his points can be made without any appeal to those writings. Christianity is grounded in part in certain historical facts that the new testament is taken to record, with other records being spotty at best.

            Your continuing references to Rand as opposed to Libertarian or Objectivist theory suggest there’s something about all this you’re not groking.

          • caethan says:

            It feels a lot more to me as if you were arguing with a Muslim while convinced based on a reading of the Bible that he was a Christian. One God, there’s this Jesus guy, lots of laws, blah blah blah. Same thing, right? The guy you’re arguing with doesn’t think you’re going to be an Objectivist if only you read the book, he’s sick of you pretending he’s an Objectivist when it’s obvious to anyone who’s read the damn book that he’s not.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I interpreted Scott’s homework assignment as more likely a response to comments like this one, in which Jill misinterprets Objectivism, mocks them on the basis of her misinterpretation, and then resists active correction.

            The analogy here would be closer to Jill having read the Bible and then declaring that one of her disagreements with Christians is that they think human sacrifice is a virtue. And when someone tries to correct that, she dismisses their correction as being ultimately rooted in tribalism.

            Jill, I don’t like attacking people by default, but this is a specific mistake I see you making here.

          • “That person being quite sure that if I HAD read it, I would certainly have adopted most or all of the political beliefs of the Christian Right. ”

            Since Scott is obviously not an Objectivist, I don’t think the analogy works.

            It’s more as if you blamed everything you didn’t like, from Islamic terrorism to Objectivism, on the Bible and showed no evidence of knowing what it said. Even an atheist might suggest that you either read the book or stop blaming it for things.

          • Aapje says:

            @LHN

            I also saw the “The Fountainhead” movie and apparently, the horrible plot was faithful to the book:

            It’s OK to be a terrorist and destroy another person’s property that didn’t follow the design faithfully, despite the fact that the builder never actually dealt with the designer, nor had a contract with him to be faithful to the design. Also, after arguing that common people never respect geniuses and always prosecute them, the terrorist is promptly let go by a jury of common people, which undermines the argument put forward.

            So it makes zero sense from a libertarian or a propaganda point of view.

          • onyomi says:

            @Aapje

            One of Rand’s arguably less libertarian positions was being an intellectual property extremist. She not only believed in intellectual property, which many libertarians do not, she actually believed it was more central to the notion of property than tangible land and goods (perhaps uncoincidentally, her intellectual property was by far the most valuable thing she owned).

            I do, however, always bring up The Fountainhead in response to the common strawman of Rand suggesting that making money by whatever means possible is the highest virtue. Her protagonist in that book continually turns down money-making opportunities, even destroying property, for the sake of some notion of artistic integrity.

            I think it makes sense in that she arrives at her libertarianism in a different way than most; most libertarians come to it through having strong assumptions about the importance or sanctity of private property, in tangible property and in one’s person.

            But Rand is coming at instead from a perspective where the product of one’s mind is even more important than any tangible good or instance of a service. On her view everyone has an absolute right to the fruits of his or her ideas.

          • Aapje says:

            @onyomi

            Yeah, but it doesn’t even make sense from a pro-intellectual property point of view. Roarke doesn’t publicly claim ownership of the design and instead engages an agent to represent him covertly. When the agent refuses to translate his agreement with Roarke to a solid contract with the builder, Roarke legally merely has a beef with his agent, but instead he goes after a builder, who has no legal obligation to Roarke or even knows that it was his design. This fundamentally goes against contract law (being held to rules that you never agreed to with a party that you don’t know you had any obligation to), so I don’t see how this is consistent with libertarianism.

            Her defense of artistic integrity is also deeply hypocritical. The agent and builder created a derived work (where the builder didn’t know that the agent wasn’t the designer of the original plan), so the attack on the final building is an attack on the artistic integrity of the builder + agent.

            So her plot depends on the idea that her protagonist deserves artistic integrity, yet it is fine to deny the same to the antagonist.

          • Virbie says:

            You’re consistent enough that I’m pretty sure you’re not a troll account, but occasionally you say something that strains credulity: you can’t possibly think that Scott wants you to read Atlas Shrugged because he thinks it’s actually useful. Not everyone takes such a dull, humorless approach to every comment. He wants you to read it because “derp everyone who agrees with me is a randtard” stops being cute and starts being wearying, and he was poking gentle fun at you with something he knows would be annoying for you (most of the libertarian friends I have don’t think very highly of AS or even Rand). The fact that he’d probably honor his promise if you posted a book report only makes the joke funnier.

      • William O. B'Livion says:

        A lot of business books are like this.

        A lot of books for people in the middle to the left of the bell curve are like this.

        A lot of books for people who aren’t intellectuals are like this.

        Edited to add: I’m responding to the first paragraph. To respond adequately to the second I’d have to know what the poster means by “NeoCon”.

    • Matt M says:

      I’m a huge fan of Rand, love Atlas Shrugged, and consider reading it to have been a pivotal moment in my life.

      But even I think this is too much. It’s fine to suggest people read something from their ideological opponents – but 1,000 pages? Come on!

      • LHN says:

        I’d strongly guess that the underlying goal is deterrence– though I’d be interested in seeing the book report if those frequent Rand references really are that important.

        If anything, the restriction is less comprehensive than most of the tabooed terms here, where a similar alternative isn’t offered. (Not that there are any I can think of that I’d personally read a thousand pages to be able to use the term.)

      • Jill says:

        I suspect this might not have been Scott’s idea, but the idea of someone else who was offended by something I said– unless Scott is more a fan of the author than I thought he was. I don’t know how long ago it was, that I mentioned this TABOO FOR ME ONLY author, but it wasn’t on Scott’s last post. I don’t think it was on the one before either. Perhaps some friend of Scott’s here, was stewing over some comment I made a week or 2 ago, and those stewed thoughts finally reached the emotional eruption point.

        Anyway, I thought before that this board had the potential for being inclusive of more varied points of view than it currently has. I no longer think so. I now see more clearly the reasons what it is what it is.

        • Julian says:

          As Scott said, he was going through old reported comments.

          I believe his point in having your prove you have read the book is not for you to change your opinion in some miraculous flip flop, but to have you demonstrate that you have understood Rand’s arguments and can debate them in good faith.

          • Jill says:

            I’m not actually interested in that author in particular, but only as a symbol and a tool of modern propagandists and politicians. I can use other terms to communicate what I mean, so I will, if I do continue to post here.

            Right now I’m in the position Scott would be in, if his Freudian supervisor assigned him and only him 1000 extra pages of readings of Freud’s work, plus a book report on that– after he’d already read numerous works by Freud plus commentaries by other authors about them. It’s the supervisor’s practicum class, so it’s within his rights. Just like it’s Scott’s board. He can manage it as he likes.

            It’s an excessive demand. But I am certainly used to people on this board making excessive demands on me, which I am not willing to accede to, because there is no point for me in doing so.

            I’m not usually necessarily interested in proving to anyone that I understand things that they want me to prove I understand, unless there is some point, for me, in doing so. I’m not a college student any more and don’t intend to act like one.

            People misunderstand each other constantly. I sometimes care if someone understands me, or can see what I know or understand. And sometimes it just doesn’t matter to me. I don’t spend a lot of time dancing for other people’s entertainment– at least not when it isn’t enjoyable for me, but rather would be a great deal of pointless work for me.

            Some of the “dialogue” I’ve been invited into on this board has been good. Other instances of it fall into a category that I mentioned once before.

            “For me, it’s like arguing with the Bible toting missionaries at my door who have come to convert me. No one would expect me to waste my time in discussions with those people, in person. But on the Internet, when the fundamentalism is political rather than religious, many people think this is different. It’s not.”

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not usually necessarily interested in proving to anyone that I understand things that they want me to prove I understand, unless there is some point, for me, in doing so.

            The point, for you, in doing so is to show that you do understand the 101’s of the topic. This should be really easy if, for example, the following sentence is true:

            Right now I’m in the position Scott would be in, if his Freudian supervisor assigned him and only him 1000 extra pages of readings of Freud’s work, plus a book report on that– after he’d already read numerous works by Freud plus commentaries by other authors about them

            In my dealings with you, you’ve claimed to have read “hundreds of pages” on how our foreign signals intelligence authorities work. I asked you a basic question that is easily answerable by anyone who has done even a small portion of that legwork. The fact that you disappeared and are now retreating to positions like, “I’m just not interested,” is evidence that you’re flatly lying about your knowledge base. Please stop complaining that everyone else is delusional due to propaganda when you literally cannot show basic knowledge of 101s.

          • Jill says:

            Anoonymous, you are one of the rudest commenters on the board. I am not under any obligation to engage with a person as rude as you are. And I do do not care in the least what the rudest most insulting commenters on the board think of me.

            I must say, I am astounded that you have no awareness of how rude and insulting you are. Some people don’t care when people are rude, but many people find it irritating. Demanding that people engage and dialogue with you after you have insulted them and irritated them– well, I guess some people must give in to such demands, or else you wouldn’t have gotten in the habit of doing this. But I certainly never will.

          • Anonymous says:

            I will refrain from linking a whole bunch of my comments that aren’t the least bit insulting and which have been genuinely positively received (I think I’ve done this before for you when you recklessly insulted me). I understand that no one tracks Anon gravitars.

            That said, I consider a person incredibly rude when they barrel into a conversation, accusing everyone of being a brainwashed partisan at the mercy of propaganda, while demonstrating not even a 101-level understanding of basic issues. I respond to these people in kind. I engage very differently when I feel they are entering the conversation honestly. You have literally all of the power to change this. If you show a basic level of competence when people challenge your experience with a particular subject, I guarantee the tenor of the conversation will change. It certainly will with me.

          • Jill says:

            Well, perhaps you have behaved in a civil manner towards some people, but you have not towards me.

            Anonymous thinks: Why won’t Jill dialogue with me? I’ve gone to great efforts to insult and irritate her. What could the problem possibly be?

          • Anonymous says:

            Anonymous thinks: Why won’t Jill dialogue with me? I’ve gone to great efforts to insult and irritate her. What could the problem possibly be?

            Look, I never go out of my way to be insulting… but if you’re going to make my mental state the focus of the inquiry, I’ll give it to you unfiltered. “Ohhh, a response to my comment! Goody! Oh. Jill thinks I’ve been tricked by right-wing propaganda. And then she… what the what. That doesn’t even make sense! Doesn’t she know the first thing abo… IT GOT WORSE! AHHHH!!!!! Ok, Mr. Anon… how are you going to respond? I mean, you can’t just let such a ridiculous statement just stand there. But it’s sooooo outside of the realm of any serious discourse… how?! I mean, maybe she’s trying to tap into a complaint that is legitimate… but it’s just shrouded in soo much nonsense. Ok. I guess we’ll see if we can walk her through 101. Maybe she’ll actually read [a statute; an opinion; an academic article; …], and we could have an interesting, productive conversation. Let’s see if she’s willing to at least try.”

            If you then state that you’re not interested in trying, a lot of us are going to give up on you. We’ll ignore you, or we’ll just insult your lack of effort and move on to serious interlocutors. For me, this is not a “Jill on SSC”-specific situation. I argue for pro-government positions wrt SIGINT on r/tech. People there are soooo into Greenwald/EFF/Schneier/Wyden-land that they can’t hardly comprehend my perspective. The problem is that I’ve read most of the relevant documents about the issue, while they haven’t the faintest clue. I see the same five talking points every other week. My goal is not always to engage in a conversation, anymore. Often times, my goal is just to get people to go read the documents! If I can get them to try to prove me wrong from the relevant documents, it’s a win! That’s about where I am with you. If I can get you to even read [a statute; an opinion; an academic article; …], I’d consider that a successful conversation. Otherwise, I think it’s mostly pointless. Honestly, being rude and pissing people off seems more likely to cause them to go try to prove me wrong from the relevant documents…

          • Gazeboist says:

            @anon:

            Could you post a top-level comment on SIGINT at some point? That sounds like an interesting conversation. For reference, I’m pretty pro-privacy and therefore not of the “information wants to be free” set, but I’m also not especially inclined to be charitable towards most government defenses of secrecy, and while I accept the claim that there at least might exist some secrets that ought to stay so, it seems to me that the government is usually excessive in its secrecy.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Anon: Ditto what Gazeboist said, I’d really enjoy hearing a different approach to the topic.

          • Lysenko says:

            @GreenAnon

            I’d also like that discussion, and if time allows I may try to get it started on this OT Post or the next.

            The last time I stated my personal feelings on Manning and Snowden, I lost some acquaintances.

          • AnonBosch says:

            It seems patently obvious to me that Snowden is currently an FSB asset. I think he started out as a genuine whistleblower, and I definitely think some of the programs he exposed were excessive. They were probably “legal” in the sense that some NSA lawyer wrote some memo with a tortured interpretation of a secret FISC precedent, and so I can respect that he felt the need to go outside the system.

            But regardless of what intentions he started with, I’m not so naive as to think those weeks he spent holed up at Sheremetyevo were spent watching pay-per-view movies, and his appearance as a live prop in a Putin “town hall” sealed it. Russians likely don’t have compunctions about rubber hose cryptography. I find the theory that Wikileaks sold him out to be persuasive, since he seems like the kind of naive libertarian who might genuinely buy into the Assange myth.

          • hlynkacg says:

            ^ Pretty much

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you want to get information out of Snowden, why use a rubber hose when you’ve got hot, hot agents with cold, cold eyes? You can attract more files with honeys than you can with an inquisitor…

          • John Schilling says:

            If you want to get information out of Snowden, why use a rubber hose when you’ve got hot, hot agents with cold, cold eyes?

            Unfortunately, Scarlet Johansson defected to SHIELD years ago, leaving the KGB retreads with nothing better than… Oh God No. Rule 34 escapes the internet.

          • Lumifer says:

            It seems patently obvious to me that Snowden is currently an FSB asset.

            In the same way that Soviet defectors during the cold war were CIA assets?

          • CatCube says:

            @Lumifer

            In the same way that Soviet defectors during the cold war were CIA assets?

            …Yes? How is that in question?

          • Anonymous says:

            @Gazeboist et al.

            I will put together a thorough comment. It won’t be on the currently new open thread (60.25), because I am traveling, but I will do it.

        • Zombielicious says:

          Well, one month prior to a presidential election is kind of Peak Flamewar for the entire U.S. internet demographic. I’ve seen people stop talking to each other completely over it. Plus it looks like a few of the most consistently offensive partisan commenters have recently been given the boot, so hopefully things will cool down a bit soon (starting mid-to-late November, if not sooner).

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          “I thought before that this board had the potential for being inclusive of more varied points of view than it currently has. I no longer think so.”

          I think it largely is.* More to the point, there are several commenters here, such as Earthly Knight and HeelBearCub and herbert herbertson, who not only share many of your views, but they get actively engaged and discussed by people who disagree, when they express them.

          *Technically, there exists a banned viewpoint, but the only one I know of to receive that treatment is a view on the right, not the left.

      • Matt M says:

        BTW Jill, if you’re curious, I offer you a more reasonable compromise. This is a pretty brief excerpt from my personal favorite speech in Atlas Shrugged. And this one is the second. Maybe at least read them 🙂

        Note that the term “brief” is incredibly relative!

        • cassander says:

          if you like that, you’ll like my favorite spech from neal stephenson’s baroque cycle. It espouses the opposite view, from the mouth of a fanatical jesuit no less, and in doing so perfectly sums up what rand loved about money.

          “Money, and all that comes with it, disgusts me.” said Father Edouard de Gex … “Within living memory, men and women of noble birth did not even have to think about it. Oh, there were rich nobles and poor, just as there were tall and short, beautiful and ugly. But it would never have entered the mind of even a peasant to phant’sy that a penniless Duke was any less a Duke, or that a rich whore ought to be made a Duchess. … To nobles, clerics, and peasants–the only people needed or wanted in a decent Christian Realm–coins were as alien, eldritch, inexplicable as communion wafers to a Hindoo. … But what has happened of late is monstrous. The money-cult has spread faster across what used to be Christendom than the faith of Mahomet did across Araby. I did not grasp the enormity of it until you came to Versailles as an infamous Dutch whore, a plaything of diseased bankers, and shortly were ennobled–made into a Countess, complete with a fabricated pedigree–and why? Because you had noble qualities? No. Only because you were Good with Money–a high sorceress of the coin-cult–and so were adored by the same sort of degraded Versailles court-fops who would gather in abandoned churches at midnight to recite the Black Mass.”

          there is more here:

  38. Anonymous says:

    I read these statistics and I’d like to discuss them, but I’m worried it would violate the Open Thread topic injunctions. Can someone help me out with that meta question? Don’t touch the actual topic until that’s sorted, I beg.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      You’re fine, topic-wise, as long as you can manage to stay charitable.

    • Lambert says:

      Can Scott ban people whilst he himself is banned? He can’t comment answer that meta-meta question, though.

    • Aapje says:

      My take on those statistics:
      – Studies tend to find a considerable gap between ‘identifying as LGB’ vs having had same-gender sex, suggesting quite a bit of experimenting and/or bisexual people not identifying as such because they have a dominant attraction and/or repressed sexuality
      – The difference in age suggest that young people are either very uncertain and/or their sexuality has not stabilized
      – Even the region with the highest percentage of LGB has only 2.6%. Despite this, I’ve frequently heard it claimed that 10% of people are LGB.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even the region with the highest percentage of LGB has only 2.6%. Despite this, I’ve frequently heard it claimed that 10% of people are LGB.

        This specifically is what I wanted to discuss – I’ve been fed the 10% line my entire life, including in school, and now it turns out that 2%’s probably pushing it? (Notably, “the region with the highest percentage” is London, and the writiers of the report are trying really hard to not just say “it’s because gay people move there”, even though that trend’s pretty much SF-level and clearly responsible for the inflation.)

        Where did the 10% estimate even come from? Were people just pushing a benignant lie to make us friendlier toward GLB people? I mean, on the one hand I think that’s really shady, but on the other hand I have to admit that if authority figures had told my generation that GLB incidence was about 2%, we might (as a group) never have been persuaded to care about their rights or acceptance or anything. But then on the third hand, maybe that means we shouldn’t have?

        I don’t know, the whole thing troubles me. In any case, I was also surprised to find the percentage was so low! That was my main takeaway.

        • radm says:

          10% comes from Kinsey’s survey of behaviors in 1947, covering the last few years. A similar survey of diet in Europe at that time would have found a lot of vegetarians.

        • Mazirian says:

          Some early work by Kinsey and others suggested a high prevalence because of sampling bias, but 2-4% is a pretty typical result in modern surveys in different countries. There are some studies suggesting higher figures though.

        • Skef says:

          The numbers jump to around 10% when actors in lesbian porn scenes are included.

          • Fahundo says:

            Why wouldn’t that count? Based on random polling of my heterosexual friends, I conclude that not even a million dollars is sufficient payment to engage in sex acts that go against one’s preferences.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I conclude that not even a million dollars is sufficient payment to engage in sex acts that go against one’s preferences

            Okay, but the demographic of ‘people who are already having sex on camera for money’ is likely to be quite different from your sample.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Fahundo

            You can’t tell about the million dollars unless you make a credible offer.

          • Fahundo says:

            It was a joke, but the point is, I suspect at least, if he said gay porn instead of lesbian, the assertion that they aren’t really gay would be far more controversial.

            And also people in my bubble place way too much value on their straightness.

          • John Schilling says:

            On the off chance that this is in any way serious, A: the market for actors in porn is I believe almost entirely demand-driven, with no shortage of willing sellers for any combination of gender and orientation, and B: the demand for girl-on-girl porn is a combination of actual lesbians and straight men who don’t want to see other men’s penises anywhere in their erotic fantasies.

          • Fahundo says:

            Yes, a joke.

            The humor (to me anyway) comes from the fact that there is no shortage of straight guys who claim they wouldn’t go near a penis for even a million dollars, and anyone who would is totally gay; juxtaposed with the fact that there are indeed people working in porn who engage in sex outside their own preferences for a lot less than a million dollars.

          • Anon. says:

            >I suspect at least, if he said gay porn instead of lesbian, the assertion that they aren’t really gay would be far more controversial.

            There’s even a wikipedia article on it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay-for-pay

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Fahundo/Anon.

            I’ve sometimes wondered if there actually are a significant number of gay porn performers who are heterosexual, or if it’s (as the article notes) something marketed towards gay men who find straight men attractive for one reason or another (usually in the same way that some straight/bi men find the idea of “converting” a lesbian appealing).

          • Aapje says:

            @Fahundo

            Research shows pretty conclusively that women are far more open to same-gender sex than men, although it’s not really possible to determine the reason (biological differences or conditioning or both).

        • Aapje says:

          Were people just pushing a benignant lie to make us friendlier toward GLB people?

          It’s probably more a combination of echo chambers, outlier research that fits the group bias & thus is valued over other evidence and a small group of actual liars for whom the ends justify the means.

          But as we all know, we only use 10% of our brains, so I might be wrong about this. 🙂

          I mean, on the one hand I think that’s really shady, but on the other hand I have to admit that if authority figures had told my generation that GLB incidence was about 2%, we might (as a group) never have been persuaded to care about their rights or acceptance or anything.

          No. LGB rights didn’t forge a breakthrough because people realized (or misunderstood) how prevalent they are, but rather, that they realized that LGBs can be respectable people.

          In repressive societies, the most ‘normal’ people will hide their status, so the common person will mainly see the excesses and little evidence that most of these people are respectable and not actually that weird. For people who perceive gay people as pedophiles, being told that 10% of the population is LGB, rather than 2-5% will just make them more upset, not more sympathetic to LGB people.

          The trick is to change this perception. I believe that the main breakthrough was that LGB people formed communities in places like SF and NY & demonstrated that they could be respectable (through people like Harvey Milk).

          • Anonymous says:

            No. LGB rights didn’t forge a breakthrough because people realized (or misunderstood) how prevalent they are, but rather, that they realized that LGBs can be respectable people.

            My personal experience does not match this; especially from school. It was very much the case that teachers and others sought to convince, and it seemed to me did convince, mainly using the argument “there are lots of gay people, one of your friends is probably gay, if you have ten friends it’s basically guaranteed, would you really hate one of your friends?”

            Especially to a school child at the impressionable age, I don’t think “respectable” is even an operative category, and the closest thing to respectable is “non-deviator from the norm”, thus pretty much definitionally disqualifying all GLB people.

          • Matt M says:

            I had the same experience as Anon. At least once in school I was specifically told that 10% of people are gay, and there were 30 of us in the class (high school health I believe) so statistically we probably had three gay students who were horribly oppressed and forced to remain closeted because bigotry.

            That anecdote probably has a lot less power if the teacher says 2% of people are gay and therefore it is more likely than not that there isn’t a single gay person in the room.

          • Anonymous says:

            No. LGB rights didn’t forge a breakthrough because . . .

            Just in case you are trying to model the causes for increased LGB support in the last few decades . . . for me, it had to do with neither respectability nor numbers. If anything, it was that I came to find anti-LGB positions unjustifiable. This was in the early 1990s, before it was cool (and contra “The Cathedral”).

          • Aapje says:

            Anon & Matt,

            My argument is more historical, before it became popular on the left.

            The ‘they could be your X’ argument only works if you don’t already regard them as evil. Imagine someone arguing: “there are lots of terrorists, your neighbor could be one” That doesn’t work, because there is not a belief that these people won’t hurt you.

            So that wouldn’t work.

            Don’t forget that even in 1977 anti-gay activists scored a great victory in Miami-Dade. During the last presidential elections they voted 2/3s for Obama. So even in a fairly lefty area (unless the demographics changed a lot), a scare campaign worked not so long ago.

          • Matt M says:

            You’re correct that it won’t work for a group you already hate – but I could see it being effective on bringing someone from “neutral” to “approval.”

            The average non-churchgoing pre-teen probably hasn’t given a whole lot of thought as to whether or not homosexuality is good or bad or what have you. I could see the “one of your friends is probably secretly gay and you don’t even know it” argument influencing someone to think positively about a group they otherwise wouldn’t care about either way.

        • Nyx says:

          Well, when people first started trying to figure out exactly what proportion of the population was gay, it was obviously pretty difficult given that so many people were closeted, and most of the estimates had to rely on assumptions and guesses and surveys, which introduces lots of potential for misleading statistics.

          Of course, I think it’s always unfair to blame scientists too much for this sort of thing when it is almost always the media that cherry picks the largest and most exciting number and repeats it ad nauseum. Likely, you did not hear “10%” from a researcher directly; you read it in a newspaper or on the internet, or heard it from some other secondary source.

          • Anonymous says:

            Of course, I think it’s always unfair to blame scientists too much for this sort of thing when it is almost always the media that cherry picks the largest and most exciting number and repeats it ad nauseum. Likely, you did not hear “10%” from a researcher directly; you read it in a newspaper or on the internet, or heard it from some other secondary source.

            To be clear, I’ve never blamed scientists (although I’m prepared to blame Kinsey if it’s true that he’s the ultimate origin of the figure, because his methods were truly terrible), and I’m sorry if it came off that way.

            What troubles me is that during my upbringing the 10% figure was quoted by the media, by “informative speakers” from foundations for tolerance, by teachers – in short, by everyone trying to teach us kids to be okay with GLB people – not as a possible figure, not as an estimate, but as a settled fact. Now it turns out to have been off by an order of magnitude.

            That’s something that makes me very uncomfortable, even if it was done for the very best of ideological reasons.

          • “That’s something that makes me very uncomfortable, even if it was done for the very best of ideological reasons.”

            It is something that ought to make you generally suspicious of orthodox factoids.

          • Deiseach says:

            What troubles me is that during my upbringing the 10% figure was quoted by the media, by “informative speakers” from foundations for tolerance, by teachers – in short, by everyone trying to teach us kids to be okay with GLB people – not as a possible figure, not as an estimate, but as a settled fact.

            Well, yeah. Politics and making it personal to get people to be sympathetic and thinking about “gay rights for my family and friends”, not “some small crowd living in the big city down south/out east that have nothing to do with me or mine”. Nobody is going to be too bothered about being a sympathetic ally if there are only the likelihood of a few people that you’re hardly likely to meet in that category; make it 10% and shove figures at people that say “So that means if you know fifty people, at least X of them are gay, even if you don’t know it – and if those X people are your family, your friends, your co-workers? Then won’t you change your mind?” Activist groups put out the 10% figure in educational and promotional materials, question their numbers and you’re one of the homophobic persecutors, so teachers etc. just regurgitate the publicity material they’ve been given.

            I also always thought there was some conflating going on, as in “If 1.6% are gay men and 1.4% are lesbians and this many are bi and those many are trans, add it all up and round it off and we can say at least 10% of the population are LGBT”.

          • Aapje says:

            @Anonymous

            What troubles me is that during my upbringing the 10% figure was quoted by the media, by “informative speakers” from foundations for tolerance, by teachers – in short, by everyone trying to teach us kids to be okay with GLB people – not as a possible figure, not as an estimate, but as a settled fact. Now it turns out to have been off by an order of magnitude.

            My current assumption is that any advocacy group will pick the most charitable statistic, which is usually an outlier. They can’t help themselves.

            If other people use the same number, this is then an indication of lack of critical thinking. Especially in culture war issues, the media & teachers tend to pick a side, rather than figure out the truth (which is usually not where either part of the culture war claims it is). Teachers are usually not equipped for critical thinking and the media tends to consists of people too dumb for a proper job (aside from a small minority) and thus easily manipulated.

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            I’ve also wondered if there is some bad math in there. If they take the ‘had same-gender sex’ figures you get to roughly 5% of men and 5% of women. Perhaps they just assumed 5% gays + 5% lesbians = 10%.

          • lvlln says:

            To me, this phenomenon looks so similar to the 1-in-5 or 1-in-4 rape victimization rate that get thrown out whenever people talk about rape in colleges (to the point that there’s even an organization called One In Four). I imagine the original stat from which the shockingly high number came is just as inapplicable to current reality. And I imagine the stat persists in popular culture for similar reasons, mainly that people aren’t incentivized to scrutinize it, since coming up with a lower, but more accurate, number is considered indicative of being bigoted or against acknowledging the problem.

          • Aapje says:

            In that case it is more a matter of just expanding the definition until many of the women about whom the researcher claimed that they were raped, refused that labeling themselves.

            That particular researcher also happens to be a huge bigot who refuses to ever call it rape if a woman has intercourse with a men who doesn’t want that or cannot give consent.

        • Skef says:

          The .1 figure has played a rhetorical role. UW Madison’s group is still called the “Ten Percent Society”. But as noted it was come by honestly, if mistakenly, by way of Kinsey.

          The change in statistics may (ironically?) partly reflect the loss of taboo status. People in earlier times may have used an equivalent of the one-drop rule, where doing something out of boredom or desperation with a friend would push you a column over.

        • Nicholas says:

          How did Kinsey operationalize queerness in his studies? Because if you said something like “We’re going to call every person who’s ever had even a single sexual observation about a member of their gender queer” then I can imagine you might find something approaching 10%.

        • TheAncientGeek says:

          I’ve never really got the idea that a minority has t reach a certain thresshold to get rights.

      • vV_Vv says:

        Despite this, I’ve frequently heard it claimed that 10% of people are LGB.

        I’ve always heard it was 2-3%, 5% max.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’d always heard 4-2%. (I’d also come across the 10% figure occasionally, but it seemed obviously unreliable.)

        • Zombielicious says:

          That explains a lot. I’d always heard 10% as well, and it seemed too high, unless I’ve either known a lot of people keeping it a secret, or they’re counting everyone remotely bisexual, down to every pair of girls who ever made out in a bar. I’d guessed it was more of the latter, though.

      • Nyx says:

        > Even the region with the highest percentage of LGB has only 2.6%. Despite this, I’ve frequently heard it claimed that 10% of people are LGB.

        That’s a pretty absurd claim and always has been. My inclination is that the true value is somewhere around 3% or 4% at most, which assumes that some proportion of “don’t knows” or “refused to answers” is LGB.

      • Bassicallyboss says:

        One thing you missed mentioning which I usually consider for statistics like these: This is a survey about identity, not about behavior or experience. The generational difference may affect how people choose to identify identical feelings. For example, I expect that young people who experience attraction to both sexes are more likely to identify as bisexual than older people.

    • Lambert says:

      I don’t think you can infer much when LGB makes 1.7% and refused to say / unknown makes 4.6%. The data will be measuring how many people are willing to positively state they are LGB as much as the distribution of the underlying LGB population. (And that’s ignoring Lizardman’s constant)

      • eyeballfrog says:

        Even so, it strongly suggests the population of LGB people is a single-digit percentage, and probably not larger than 5%. This is significantly lower than public perception, which tends to be more like 10-15%.

        • Anon. says:

          >This is significantly lower than public perception, which tends to be more like 10-15%.

          Actually over 20%: http://www.gallup.com/poll/183383/americans-greatly-overestimate-percent-gay-lesbian.aspx

          • eyeballfrog says:

            It’s weird, because it seems obvious that must be false. In the US, for example, there are clearly more black people than gay people. But blacks are only 12% of the population, and for it to be clear that there are fewer gays it would require their frequency to be significantly less. So logically the frequency of gays must be in the single digits (and, as it turns out, it is).

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Maybe people also overestimate the % of black people in the US?

          • Anonymous says:

            Maybe because gays and lesbians are overrepresented in entertainment?

          • Vaniver says:

            eyeballfrog, when you ask people in surveys like the above, they typically estimate that about a third of the US is black.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            People can and do overestimate the amount of X minorities a country has, just as Vaniver states. My country had a survey taken where people estimated the % of people who were muslim; the end result came out with an average of 25%, where the real amount is somewhere between 4 and 5.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, over-representation in the media (both of real life celebrities and fictional characters) probably has a huge impact on this. Same with estimates of Jewish populations. I’ve always heard that most people over-estimate the Jewish population of America by a factor of 10.

            I assume that a lot of people would under-shoot estimates of Asian and possibly Hispanic populations though.

          • Nicholas says:

            I saw a study once that suggested that if more than 1/5th of a group of people were women, people would remember the group as “about half female” even though 30% is nowhere near half. It’s possible that there’s some sort of salience bias where people assume that any group they know actual members of must be some huge proportion.

        • TheWorst says:

          I saw a study once that suggested that if more than 1/5th of a group of people were women, people would remember the group as “about half female” even though 30% is nowhere near half. It’s possible that there’s some sort of salience bias where people assume that any group they know actual members of must be some huge proportion.

          That same study struck me as being proof of something I’d long suspected, but I think I heard (on this blog, maybe?) that it’d failed to replicate.

          Edit: Wrong place.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think you can infer much when LGB makes 1.7% and refused to say / unknown makes 4.6%.

        On the contrary, I think you can infer a great deal. Not only can you infer an absolute max at 6.3% (much as eyeballfrog said) if every person who refuses to say is GLB, but you can also make some fairly simple estimations of what proportion of those 4.6% are likely to be GLB, with reference to a few other statistics.

        For instance, last I saw about 18% of all British people identify as feminists of some stripe (almost all who do so are women, incidentally). That’s almost exactly an order of magnitude more than the number of “out” GLB people; if we assume that the gender doctrine that it’s wrong to label sexuality is proportionately widespread among both groups, that implies that ninety per cent of those who refuse to say are just feminist ideologues, and ten per cent of refusers, or an additional .46% of people, are GLB. This is simplified, of course; but it gestures at a proportion, namely, that any trend against disclosure among straights will rapidly overwhelm any genuine closeting among GLB individuals.

        I think we can also infer that the real figure is very unlikely to be above 3% for the simple reason that, to anyone who actually lives in the UK, the idea that even as much as half of all homo- and bisexual persons are afraid to tell anybody, let alone a (surely anonymized!) statistical survey, seems fully ridiculous. They’ve had the right to marry for over six years, for Pete’s sake. When the law was changed the feeling that it was high time was so unanimous that it was the Conservative party that legalized it. There’s just no blinking way that a mere quarter of all homosexuals are out.

        • Aapje says:

          I assume that there are some people who are LGB but deny it (sometimes even to themselves) and would identify as hetero.

          You’d expect that more among conservatives. The last big study (2006) in the Netherlands found 7.1% of GB and 5.9% of LB. That is very high compared to other countries which indicates a lot of acceptance (and also probably some migration from less accepting places). Fairly few Dutch people are conservative, so I’d expect no more than 1% to consist of denialist. So that gives an upper bound of 7-8%.

          That is actually much close to 10% then I expected when I started to research this comment.

          But again, I expect that the gay-friendly of Amsterdam has resulted in a decent amount of LGB immigration.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          You seem to be taking the fact that since all the non-closeted gay people you know are non-closeted, all gay people must be non-closeted. Do you not see a flaw in that? Regarding your penultimate sentence, about 50% of Conservative MPs voted against the Marriage Act, a figure which roughly reflected public opinion at the time. The balance has changed somewhat since then, but gay marriage is still opposed by 25% or so of the population.

    • JayT says:

      One thing that I find interesting is that it was always assumed that being gay would be under-reported due to social stigma, but as being gay has become more and more acceptable it seems like the percentages haven’t really changed. I wonder why that is.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Kind of related:

      I figure you can define sexuality in three ways: inclination, experience, and identity. Let’s take bisexual men as an example. There are more men who are bisexual in the sense that they are attracted to both men and women (in whatever “ratio”) than there are men who have had sexual experiences with both sexes than there are men who will identify themselves as bisexual.

      That we describe all three as someone’s sexuality just confuses things terribly.

      • Randy M says:

        There are more men who are bisexual in the sense that they are attracted to both men and women (in whatever “ratio”) than there are men who have had sexual experiences with both sexes

        Though likely true, this is not a logical certainty unless perhaps you add willing, and even then prison might make it kind of questionable.

    • James says:

      What sort of education did you receive that propagated 10%?

      I have spread the 2% number around as trivia and most people are shocked. Is the 10% a product of public education?

      Edit: oh media, got it.

  39. Forlorn Hopes says:

    I found and enjoyed this article about the realignment of politics (Brexit, Trump, Corbyn, etc) yesterday.

    It’s central thesis is that Theresa May is the first truly post-Thatcher Prime Minister in the United Kingdom because she has realized that the last few years of economic uncertainty means the public want to have a stronger state.

  40. Richard says:

    An outsiders one-paragraph summary of the current election:

    If you think the United States and the world in general is heading vaguely in the right direction, you vote Clinton. If you think the USA and the entire western civilisation is hanging on to the precipice by it’s metaphorical fingernails, you vote Trump.

    This explains a lot of things, among others why Clinton supporters seem lukewarm and Trumpers to be rather rabid.

    It also implies that the thing to worry about is not who wins the election, but why almost half the country seem willing to prefer Trump to the abyss and what can and should be done to fix this.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It also implies that the thing to worry about is not who wins the election, but why almost half the country seem willing to prefer Trump to the abyss and what can and should be done to fix this.

      It goes back to the same refrain we’ve heard all along. The problems of that half of the country have been ignored and the people with the problems denigrated for some time. Case in point: Hillary supporters like to boast that not a single major newspaper has endorsed Trump. But isn’t that extraordinary? Why is it that 40+% of the country has no representation on newspaper editorial boards?

      • Alejandro says:

        I don’t think “40+% of the country has no representation on newspaper editorial boards” is the right way to describe the situation. A lot of those 40% are conventional Republicans who are supporting Trump out of conventional Republican reasons (e.g. lower taxes or pro-life judges), and these voters found themselves represented in newspaper endorsements when Romney, McCain or Bush were running.

        Consider the following ultra-simplified model: Politics is a single axis from 0 to 100 (Right to Left), and newspapers are clustered at the middle, say from 40 to 60. When both candidates nominate centrist-ish candidates, the newspaper opinion is divided as well. Now the Dems have nominated a 60 candidate and the GOP a 20 candidate. This makes all the newpapers endorse the former while 40% of the country supports the latter. The situation would be reversed if the candidates were, say, Jill Stein and Huntsman.

        Of course, there are multiple axes to consider (as well as non-ideological stuff like “temperament” and “experience”), and even on a single axis model I agree that neewspaper opinion skews left relative to the country – but not by as much as your argument implies.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          “newspapers are clustered at the middle, say from 40 to 60.”

          They aren’t, though. They’re clustered between 60 and 80.

          • Alejandro says:

            I conceded in the end that the left skew exists, but it can’t be that much or Romney, Bush, etc wouldn’t have had any endorsements.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            This is one of those cases where you should wait for actual data rather than trusting your hunches.

            –In 2008, newspapers overwhelmingly favored Obama, 64% to 36%
            –In 2004, newspapers were almost evenly split between Kerry and Bush, 51% to 49%
            –In 2000, newspapers favored Bush over Gore by a large margin, 61% to 39%

            It is true, however, that newspapers with larger circulations tend to favor democrats while newspapers with smaller circulations tend to favor republicans.

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            If you’re going to be an asshole like that, it might be a better idea to make sure there isn’t any data the other person could possibly have used to come to their conclusion first. For example: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/GrosecloseMilyo.pdf

            From the conclusion, “Most of the mainstream media outlets that we examined (ie all those besides Drudge Report and Fox News’ Special Report) were closer to the average Democrat in Congress than they were to the median member of the House. ”

            Looking at the tables and charts near the end, most of the outlets other than Fox and Drudge were > 60. None were near 80 (so I was wrong there) but basically none were < 55.

            I'll wait over here for the apology.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            We were discussing the ideological bent of newspaper editorial boards. The study you link to deals with the ideological bent of news reports from various media outlets (it includes only three newspapers).

            The study’s methodology is also kind of nuts. It yields the conclusions that the ACLU is conservative, and the Drudge Report left-of-center!

      • Buckyballas says:

        Here’s the updated list of newspaper endorsements on wiki, in case anyone’s interested. The comments in the “Notes” column are pretty interesting. For example, “The Enquirer had not endorsed a Democrat for president since 1916 (Woodrow Wilson)”, “This was the first time in the Republic’s 126-year history that the paper had endorsed a Democrat for president”, and “This is The Atlantic’s third presidential endorsement in the magazine’s 159-year history. Their two previous endorsements were for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.”

        Conor Friedersdorf had a nice article 2 weeks ago about distinguishing between the “liberal mainstream media” and local newspapers.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        How many of Trump’s 40+% are strong supporters, and how many are lukewarm ones whose preference for a Republican president barely overcomes their dislike of Trump? The second group might hold similar views to the papers that endorsed Romney, but dislike Trump slightly more than Hillary.

        • Richard says:

          The point that I was trying to make seems not to have been picked up on, so I’ll try again.

          – From the outside, Trump seems like an extreme candidate
          – If you’re lukewarm republican you do like Bush and vote Clinton
          – Unless you think the Nation is in dire enough straits that any change, even Trump, is bound to be for the better.

          Therefore my estimate is that ALL the 40% believes America is headed for some version of the apocalypse.

          The fact that such a large number is that worried should raise a bigger alarm than who will sit in the oval office for the next 4 year.

          I hope that was clearer.

          EDIT; also, it doesn’t really matter if it’s 30 or 40%, it’s far too large in any case.

          • Sly says:

            It is nowhere near 40%. Large portions of that 40% are just tribal affiliation.

          • Buckyballas says:

            Maybe consider that you might be setting up a false dichotomy between apocalyptic and non-apocalyptic. Opposition to Hillary does not necessarily have to stem from a concern that America is headed towards the apocalypse. Consider the following:

            “The Supreme Court Argument”: This argument is advanced by both evangelical Christians and strict-Constitutionalists. There are a large number of potential vacancies which will be filled this term. Trump is more likely than Hillary to nominate judges who advance my beliefs about what is best for the country. Therefore, I will vote for Trump.

            “The Hillary is Bad at Foreign Affairs Argument”: Hillary has a track record of misadventures in Libya and a more-hawkish-than-Obama stance on arming Syrian rebels. Trump is less likely than Hillary to get into messy foreign conflicts. Therefore, I will vote for Trump.

            “The Anti-Big-Government Argument”: More regulations = bad for America. Trump is less likely to increase regulations and more likely to reduce regulations than Hillary. Therefore, I will vote for Trump.

            These are just 3 examples. I am sure there are more, some of which have been posted in this comment space. As you can see, none of them are the “America is about to fall off a cliff” argument you are attributing to all Trump supporters. It is clear that a vocal fraction of his supporters agree with it, but I am not clear on if it is a sizable fraction or not.

            I am voting for Hillary, but I am sympathetic to the Supreme Court argument (not so much the other 2).

          • Kevin C. says:

            The fact that such a large number is that worried should raise a bigger alarm than who will sit in the oval office for the next 4 year.

            I hope that was clearer.

            EDIT; also, it doesn’t really matter if it’s 30 or 40%, it’s far too large in any case.

            Why should it “raise an alarm”? And why are the numbers “too large”? After all, if we’re right about that whole “apocalypse/abyss” thing, 30-40% is too low.

          • Skef says:

            Kevin C. –

            If 30% of the population mistakenly thinks the end is nigh, that’s cause for alarm. People who feel they have nothing to lose are prone to rash acts.

            If the end is actually nigh, that’s cause for alarm. It prompts goodbyes to loved-ones and other end-appropriate acts.

          • Fahundo says:

            After all, if we’re right

            If the doomsayers are right, it should be raising even more alarms.

          • Richard says:

            Exactly what skef said.

          • dragnubbit says:

            But it likely is nowhere near 30% once you factor in loyalty to party/tribe, rationalizing that Trump will let Ryan/Pence run things while he watches himself on TV, and general belief that one’s vote does not really matter so why not have fun with it.

            People that are ‘rationally’ choosing Trump to avert an apocalypse are a small minority of his support. There are plenty of other more accessible rationalizations to vote for him.

      • Anonymous says:

        It goes back to the same refrain we’ve heard all along. The problems of that half of the country have been ignored and the people with the problems denigrated for some time.

        There are worse things than being ignored. After watching 30-40% of the country loudly denigrate me and mine and trying to burn down the country out of spite, I’m going all in on trying to destroy their culture so they can never come this close again.

        The AWB is a dumb law that doesn’t save any lives. Doesn’t matter, I’m all for it now. I had nothing in particular against RFRA and the mini-RFRAs, if bakers don’t want to cater a wedding, what do I care? Now I am going to support all those laws, let those Trump supporting bakers lose their life savings and go out of business. Don’t want transgender people in your bathrooms — too bad, sucks to be you.

        I wonder if we can get a law passed to ban high school football, given the manifest harm those concussions are causing to those precious children …

        • baconbacon says:

          So in return for Trump supporters trying to burn down the country, you are out of spite going to support burning down the country?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            It’s a win/win, as both sides get what they want.

          • hlynkacg says:

            It would seem so.

          • Anonymous says:

            I very much expect us to win and there to be very little collateral damage against people that haven’t come out and very vocally claimed to hate me and mine. I very much don’t want to burn down the country, much of it is quite nice.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Ahh. I remember the days when I was young, cocky, and utterly convinced of my own infallibility. Feels good man.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anonymous – “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed, but no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops! -uh depending on the breaks.”

          • Anonymous says:

            We’ll see won’t we? My money is on internet tough guys staying that way.

          • hlynkacg says:

            My money is on internet tough guys staying that way.

            What a coincidence, that’s exactly where my money is. 😉

          • Zombielicious says:

            I didn’t see anything in the items listed that qualified as “burn down the country” level, so much as “really piss off a certain demographic” level.

            It gets back to another point though, which is that if you see your country as gradually being “taken over” by immigrants, and becoming non-white, non-religious, non-1950’s-Idyllic-whatever, and recognize to some extent that this is basically inevitable… is fighting tooth and nail to the last man really the best strategy? Do you really want the soon-to-be-majority to remember your soon-to-be-minority for the worst sorts of attacks on them? Do you want the same attacks you level at them to one day be leveled against you? It makes a lot of the alt-right rhetoric extra annoying, especially if you think there’s a chance that stuff will one day be held against a much broader group than the ones who actually participated in it, not unsimilar to blaming all Muslims for terrorism, all blacks for inner city crime, or all men for rape, sexism, and domestic abuse.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Zombielicious

            I think you misunderstand. It’s not so much see your country gradually ‘taken over’ (though it certainly plays a part) its the sense that that there is no longer a common American culture / identity.

            You see, in the absence of that shared culture / identity a question must be asked. What allegiance (if any) do rural, socially conservative folk, owe the rest of the country?

            Progressives like to talk about how toxic nationalism is but they don’t seem to have given much thought to how ugly things were before it, or what will happen after it’s gone.

          • Fahundo says:

            You see, in the absence of that shared culture / identity the question must be asked. What allegiance, if any, do rural social conservatives owe the rest of the country?

            Maybe I’m just too naïve.

            I’d like to believe that people can empathize with their neighbors without feeling they owe anyone any allegiance.

            is but they don’t seem to have given much thought to how ugly things were before it or what will happen after it’s gone.

            Before nationalism existed, the world was a lot different from today in more ways than just the one.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’d like to believe that people can empathize with their neighbors without feeling they owe anyone any allegiance.

            Empathy is easy. Sacrifice? not so much.

          • Fahundo says:

            If the cause you’re sacrificing for is worth more than the sacrifice itself, it shouldn’t matter which group demanded the sacrifice, should it?

            And if it’s not worth more, I’d rather not feel pressured to make needless sacrifices due to group affiliation.

          • hlynkacg says:

            First off you’re assuming that everyone is a strict utilitarian. Secondly you’re assuming the presence of a distinct cause.

            I don’t think that either of these assumptions are justified.

          • Anonymous says:

            Who is asking rural social conservatives to sacrifice anything? On the contrary they are always demanding things from the rest of us. (Like subsidized telephony — somehow that didn’t get a pithy name like Obamaphones.)

          • Zombielicious says:

            @hlynkacg:
            I’m kind of not seeing how it’s reasonable to claim there’ll be no common American culture or identity, so much as that it won’t be exactly the one they desire. This may be rehashing old debates that have been had here before, and I can’t remember exactly how they turned out, but the U.S. has a ridiculously long history of immigration and demographic change, with the cultural identity of the U.S. undergoing continual change the entire time – most of it opposed by social conservatives at some time or another. See the scares around communists, beatniks, hippies, etc – yet here we are.

            The rhetoric on both sides is frequently literally stated as “we need to take our country back.” From who? The other 200 million people who live here? I guess I fail to understand how I can even charitably take it that they’re concerned about the need for a unified national identity, rather than not wanting any outside influences modifying that identity.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Usually when I hear someone say “We need to take our country back,” my mind fills in the continuation, “…and demand a refund.”

          • Jill says:

            How could there be any common American culture or identity when people don’t even agree on basic facts about our government and our leaders, like where our president was born, whether he started ISIS, what the unemployment rate is, whether Russia is our friend, our enemy, or our frenemy, whether Hillary Clinton had almost 100 people murdered etc. People are not just fed different opinions by their “news sources.” They are fed totally different “facts.”

          • Fahundo says:

            First off you’re assuming that everyone is a strict utilitarian.

            I don’t think it requires strict utilitarianism. I’m fine with the cause being based on preferences and not justified by trying to measure how many stubbed toes are worth one leg amputation or some such. And I’m not even saying anything about whether you should place the same amount of importance on every single individual on the planet. I just don’t see why I, or anyone, should feel pressured to align those preferences to match those of a group that was chosen for me. I don’t consider myself utilitarian, at any rate.

            Secondly you’re assuming the presence of a distinct cause.

            If there’s no distinct cause, why make a sacrifice at all? I don’t want to be routinely pressured to make sacrifices for no reason by the group I owe allegiance to.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Anonymous

            Call me when the I-95 corridor starts growing it’s own food, generating it’s own electricity, and seeing to it’s own defense.

            In the mean time, try Googling Obamaphone.

            @ Zombielicious

            I’m saying that the common culture is already fading, hence the fractured state of the electorate. There is a comment below asking whether or not the US government should privilege the interests of US citizens over non-citizens? I think the fact that this is even a question ought to be illustrative. At the very least Trump’s primary success showed us that the Red and Blue tribes are far closer to true status independence than anyone had previously recognized.

            @ Fahundo

            I’m confused by your response “why make a sacrifice at all?” Is the question I ought to be asking you. IE why should someone in Missouri for instance accept a decrease in their quality of life to help someone from New York or Dubai? Why care about people you will never meet never mind enduring hardships on their behalf. Is the fireman who runs into a burning building to save a child not his own a “sucker” in your eyes?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Fahundo

            I’d like to believe that people can empathize with their neighbors

            Neighbors? Sure. That’s something on the order of Dunbar’s number, so we’re talking about hundreds of people at most.

          • Fahundo says:

            @hlynkacg

            Eh, I was more arguing against being too loyal to cultural groups rather than regional ones. Actually, not even that, I was more arguing against feeling compelled to be loyal to the cultural group you happened to be born into. If you like your group and want to support them, fine, but your “shared culture/identity” sounds to me like coerced conformity.

            Is the fireman who runs into a burning building to save a child not his own a “sucker”

            No

            @ Lumifer:

            There are two Lumifer posts with that gravatar, and about 4 others with a different one. What are you trying to pull?

            Even hundreds of people sounds like too many to me, honestly.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Fahundo

            It’s my evil twin : -P

          • hlynkacg says:

            One man’s coerced conformity is another man’s social capital. My point is that once you remove regional and cultural affiliations from the equation, as many people seem to be advocating, how do you organize any group larger than immediate acquaintances?

            I still find it incredibly weird that you seem to lack an instinctual sense of teamwork / tribal loyalty.

            No

            Why not? At the very least they are making an extremely poor decision.

          • Fahundo says:

            There are a lot of things that can only be accomplished through cooperation. If you want to accomplish one of those things, you have to. If you don’t, don’t, I guess.

            And I do value teamwork; I just don’t see it as intrinsically tied to tribal loyalty.

          • hlynkacg says:

            That just brings us back to my earlier question,

            Why would you expect someone in Missouri to endure hardship to improve the lot of someone in New York or Dubai?

            Why do you think people do stupid shit like “risk orphaning their own kids” for someone they’ve never met if not out of some sort of tribal or cultural affinity? They sure as hell aren’t doing it out of rational self interest.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @hlynkacg:

            This is something I’ve been pondering lately, largely because I have nothing better to do. Civic nationalism needs some sort of struggle to authenticate itself.

            Ethnic and cultural nationalism get condemned – but those condemning them usually provide no better alternative.

            This is somewhere where the communists are ahead – they provide something to rally around.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I don’t think it has to be a struggle, but I defiantly think you need some sort of common goal, religion, or something.

            My chief grievance with modern liberalism / convention wisdom is that they spend so much time undermining or dismissing these common threads, sports promote violence, nationalism is toxic, X Y and Z are cultural appropriation, and the constitution was written for dead white guys, etc.. For good measure they then go one to point out that the various ethnicities and sub tribes have legitimate reasons to hate each other…

            …and people are shocked, shocked to find ethnic strife in their neighborhoods. Well no shit guys what did you expect?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @hlynkacg:

            I don’t know how you can have anything “common” without some kind of struggle to hold it together. Not “let’s go out and conquer the world” but even “oh no Professor Smith gave me a B fuck that guy”. Adversity ties people together in a way prosperity doesn’t.

          • a non mouse says:

            …and people are shocked, SHOCKED to find ethnic strife in their neighborhoods. Well no shit guys what did you expect?

            They expected that they could keep the hate focused on one group – white men – until their coalition was big enough that the fighting within it wouldn’t matter. They might still be right.

            Lack of ethnic strife was never in the plans.

          • Fahundo says:

            Why would you expect someone in Missouri to endure hardship to improve the lot of someone in New York or Dubai?

            I really don’t get why this question comes up. I’m not telling you that you have to give up everything to support someone in New York. Why might it happen? I dunno, lots of reasons. Maybe the guy in Missouri really liked a book written by a guy in Dubai so he bought 10 copies and started passing them out.

            Why do you think people do stupid shit like “risk orphaning their own kids” for someone they’ve never met if not out of some sort of tribal or cultural affinity? They sure as hell aren’t doing it out of rational self interest.

            Why are tribal loyalty and rational self interest treated as the only two options? He could be some kind of narcissist who craves the attention. Or maybe, he just decided rescuing children is worth more to him than the relative safety of doing nothing.

            Do you think the Good Samaritan made the wrong choice in his story?

          • Anonymous says:

            @hlynkacg
            It must really get your goat that diamonds are more valuable than water. Don’t worry, I’m sure any day now the world as we know it is going to end and the effete elitists will get what’s coming to them. In the meanwhile you can continue to whine for crop subsidies and lie to yourself that isn’t welfare.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ hlynkacg:

            I still find it incredibly weird that you seem to lack an instinctual sense of teamwork / tribal loyalty.

            In my experience, everybody has a tribe, even if they don’t consciously recognise it. Generally speaking, people who think that national identity is silly tend to form a tribe based on common political views. Hence, for example, the phenomenon of bien pensants who imagine themselves to be open-minded “global citizens”, and then turn around and talk about their compatriots like a Victorian explorer describing some weird tribe of barbarians off in darkest Africa.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Fahundo

            No you’re not telling any one that, but that wasn’t the question either. The question was why would you expect people to cooperate in the first place if the current incentives and motivation were removed? What allegiance (if any) do rural, socially conservative folk, owe the rest of the country, if the rest of the country is not going to look out for their interests?

            @ Anon

            It actually doesn’t “get my goat” at all. You see water does this weird thing where it occasionally falls from the sky, crazy no? That said, it’s always fun watching ya’ll scramble in the face of inclement weather. Meanwhile in Florida

            @ The original Mr. X

            Same here. That’s why I find Fahundo’s prior assertions to this effect, and answers that appear to be consistent with such, to so weird.

          • Fahundo says:

            The question was why would you expect people to cooperate in the first place if the current incentives and motivation were removed?

            “Current incentives” being cultural unity? That was never my experience growing up in America. I don’t see them as the current incentives.

            What allegiance (if any) do rural, socially conservative folk, owe the rest of the country, if the rest of the country is not going to look out for their interests?

            No one owes anyone any allegiance. All people, all institutions, all governments, and all communities will let you down.

            Generally speaking, people who think that national identity is silly tend to form a tribe based on common political views.

            A tribe that you get to choose is automatically superior to one that was chosen for you, in my view.

        • At a slight tangent …

          I wonder how much of the effect being described is due to people being badly off and feeling the elite ignore their problems and how much to people who are not particularly badly off feeling that the elite despises them? Status is an important human motivator.

          I take the emotional punch of “flyover country” to be not that the relevant areas can or cannot be neglected by policy but that they don’t matter.

          It reminds me of an old song about little houses made of ticky tacky.

          • Anonymous says:

            The point is that the elites don’t despise them. People you despise aren’t the butt of mean-spirited but ultimately lighthearted jokes and are actively harmed rather than just have their interests ignored.

            We coastal types don’t have very much respect for them. Respect is earned, not given, and from our perspective they haven’t earned it. For that slight we get back hate. Well fuck it, it is time to return hate for hate.

          • Jiro says:

            “I don’t despise you. It’s just that I don’t respect you.” is indistinguishable from actually despising someone and having other things to do than immediately stomping on them.

            mean-spirited but ultimately lighthearted joke

            Is that like “quickly but slowly”?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Respect is earned, not given, and from our perspective they haven’t earned it.

            The same could be said of loyalty, and in either case that knife cuts both ways. Aside from making mean-spirited jokes what have you done to earn your opposite number’s respect?

            @ Jiro

            Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

          • Anonymous says:

            “I don’t despise you. It’s just that I don’t respect you.” is indistinguishable from actually despising someone and having other things to do than immediately stomping on them.

            Do you think you are entitled to our respect? Our love?

            People like you have been despising city slickers for a very long time and in all that time we haven’t managed to find the time to go from lack of respect to despise. You all should have left well enough alone.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Odd, I definitely seem to recall the “coastal elite” types imposing abortion and gay marriage on the country as a whole, and deliberately making it harder for people to avoid helping/participating in such things. So no, I don’t really buy this whole “But we’ve done nothing to hurt your culture!” BS Anon is currently spouting.

            Even setting this aside, though, culpable neglect is still a thing. If somebody’s bleeding to death on your doorstep and you don’t care enough to do anything, you’re a selfish a-hole, and “I’m not actively trying to hurt him, I just don’t give a sh*t about his problems” isn’t an adequate defence. Similarly, if large stretches of your country are suffering due to persistent poverty and lack of jobs and you as the political elite don’t do anything to alleviate that, you aren’t doing your job as a political elite, and it’s quite reasonable for the people you’re neglecting to want new rulers, regardless of whether your neglect is based on malice or selfishness.

          • Anonymous says:

            Similarly, if large stretches of your country are suffering due to persistent poverty and lack of jobs and you as the political elite don’t do anything to alleviate that

            This is such bullshit. First of all they aren’t suffering. In the ranks of all those human beings alive right no with no competitive advantage* they are right near the top in terms of income.

            There are some in that category that are doing better — they are in countries, mostly in Europe, that have the policies those dastardly elitists want to bring here but are blocked from doing so by the very politicians elected by these allegedly suffering people.

            What they really want isn’t more goods and services from the rest of us — that’s on offer and they reject it over and over again. What they want is something that is impossible — for someone to wave a magic wand and for the world to change into one where the meager skills and talents they possess are highly valued. Building a wall, pulling out of NAFTA, none of that is going to change the fact that we don’t have a huge need for manual or very low skilled labor.

            How are we possibly going to respect people mewling all the time about “good jobs” when what that means is that want everyone to pretend that their make-work is really terrible valuable and a huge contribution to society?

            *i.e. the ability to produce goods or services their fellow human being want in an efficient manner

          • a non mouse says:

            Building a wall, pulling out of NAFTA, none of that is going to change the fact that we don’t have a huge need for manual or very low skilled labor.

            So by all means keep importing millions of third worlders who can only perform manual or low skilled labor … why again? Just to spite the people who can’t afford to move away from them? Oh, and to make sure that those inbred hicks can never win another election again! Right?

          • Jiro says:

            First of all they aren’t suffering. In the ranks of all those human beings alive right no with no competitive advantage* they are right near the top in terms of income.

            Most people are not utilitarians or EAs and don’t consider themselves to have equal responsibility towards people in all countries. Their own country is in a special position. And these people are suffering compared to others in the country, even if they are doing better than other living human beings in third world countries.

          • hlynkacg says:

            First of all they aren’t suffering…

            Tell that to the city fathers of Carthage

          • Anonymous says:

            And these people are suffering compared to others in the country, even if they are doing better than other living human beings in third world countries.

            By that metric someone is always going to be suffering. I didn’t take you for a communist.

            In any event, as I pointed out but you conveniently failed to address, the people that want to give them more goods and services, despite the fact they have so little to offer the world, are the very people they despise. The people blocking that are their own politicians.

          • Anonymous says:

            So by all means keep importing millions of third worlders who can only perform manual or low skilled labor … why again?

            Unfortunately for the coherence of Trump supporters this hasn’t actually been happening. Mexican immigrants are on net leaving the country because there isn’t much demand for their labor here.

          • “If somebody’s bleeding to death on your doorstep and you don’t care enough to do anything, you’re a selfish a-hole, and “I’m not actively trying to hurt him, I just don’t give a sh*t about his problems” isn’t an adequate defence.”

            Doesn’t that cut the wrong way for the immigration arguments associated with the position you appear to be arguing? Mexico is on our doorstep. Should we give substantial weight to the welfare of Mexicans–who are on average considerably poorer than rural Americans?

            And why does the doorstep matter anyway? Following your line of argument, isn’t failing to help people who are in desperate circumstances when you could do so at some cost to yourself the sort of thing you think makes someone a selfish A-hole? Why does it only count if they are inside the same national boundary?

          • Jiro says:

            Multiple person reply:

            By that metric someone is always going to be suffering.

            No, you can be concerned with suffering that is more than a certain distance below the median. It may be possible for few people to be below that distance. (Note that a small number of rich people don’t affect the median by much.)

            Another possibility is being concerned with how groups are treated. If the number of people whose concerns are ignored stays the same, but the distribution of such people is evenly distributed and not skewed towards flyover country, there would be less resentment.

            Mexican immigrants are on net leaving the country because there isn’t much demand for their labor here.

            Immigrants have children who are citizens, so a net immigration of zero Mexicans means that the number of people who are of Mexican origin is actually going up.

            Mexico is on our doorstep. Should we give substantial weight to the welfare of Mexicans–who are on average considerably poorer than rural Americans?

            Your neighbor is not on your doorstep, even if the two properties are adjoining, because your neighbor’s house is not owned by you and you have no control over conditions in it. “On your doorstep” implies “in a position where you ultimately control what happens to them”; if your neighbor’s kids are starving, that’s your neighbor’s responsibility, not yours.

            And most people who are kind to people on their doorstep would not take well to attempts to take advantage of this by repeatedly moving needy people to their doorstep just to trigger the obligation to take care of them.

          • Anonymous says:

            Original quote:

            Building a wall, pulling out of NAFTA, none of that is going to change the fact that we don’t have a huge need for manual or very low skilled labor.

            Reply:

            So by all means keep importing millions of third worlders who can only perform manual or low skilled labor … why again? Just to spite the people who can’t afford to move away from them? Oh, and to make sure that those inbred hicks can never win another election again! Right?

            re-reply:

            Unfortunately for the coherence of Trump supporters this hasn’t actually been happening. Mexican immigrants are on net leaving the country because there isn’t much demand for their labor here.

            Then comes your non sequitur about Americans of Mexican decent.

            Immigrants have children who are citizens, so a net immigration of zero Mexicans means that the number of people who are of Mexican origin is actually going up.

            It has fuck-all to do with the conversation at hand. It seems to be yet another insertion of your bigotry against hispanics, whom you hate because they don’t vote in sufficient numbers for your beloved GOP.

            You like to go on and on about how the government should only be for citizens and about how “most people” (by which you mean yourself and only yourself) care so much about their fellow citizens. But it seems that in your mind certain citizens are more equal than others.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            And why does the doorstep matter anyway?

            It doesn’t. I could equally have said “Say you’re out driving and you pass the site of a car crash” or “Say you’re out jogging and you come across a guy bleeding to death in the middle of the path” or “Say you’re at the pub and the guy sitting next to you suddenly collapses.”

            Following your line of argument, isn’t failing to help people who are in desperate circumstances when you could do so at some cost to yourself the sort of thing you think makes someone a selfish A-hole? Why does it only count if they are inside the same national boundary?

            The purpose of a government is to govern a particular territory, and not to govern the whole world. Accordingly, yes, I do think that governments have duties to their citizens that they don’t have towards citizens of other countries, and that governing elites, qua governing elites, ought to help their own citizens, and not foreigners.

          • Jiro says:

            It has fuck-all to do with the conversation at hand.

            It certainly does. If you’re going to point to Mexican immigrants “on net leaving the country”, then I can point out that “on net leaving the country” really isn’t on net leaving the country unless you account for birthright citizenship.

          • Anonymous says:

            I pointed that out as part of a discussion on how much demand there was for manual and low skilled labor. Infants aren’t participating in the labor market.

            I guess it must have triggered you and you couldn’t help but blurt out your bigoted views regarding US citizens of Mexican decent, even though they had nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

            Sorry, next time I’ll try to remember to put in a trigger warning.

            Apropos nothing, weren’t you the guy that was complaining about “internet aspergers”?

          • Fahundo says:

            Infants aren’t participating in the labor market.

            And what a lazy, entitled, ambitionless generation it is.

          • Jiro says:

            People at age X participate in the labor market. A portion of the children of immigrants transition from age X-1 to age X each year.

          • Anonymous says:

            And therefore? Do they all or most grow up to have few or no marketable skills?

            If not, then again this is totally irrelevant.

          • a non mouse says:

            And therefore? Do they all or most grow up to have few or no marketable skills?

            Orwell would be proud Anonymous.

            Borderers – useless low skill, low intelligence eaters who inherit this genetic and cultural disposition from their parents.

            Imported Mexicans – low skill immigrants whose children can be and do anything because they’re humans and all humans have unlimited potential!

          • BLA says:

            The children of people that undertook difficult and uncertain travel from their homelands to a foreign land where they didn’t speak the language and faced social and legal restrictions. All to make a better life for themselves and their posterity.

            versus

            The heirs to 200 years of degeneracy in the hills and hollows of Appalachia, whose chief industry today is government benefit fraud, and heretofore was bootleg whiskey.

            My money is on the Mexican-American kids.

          • cassander says:

            >The children of people that undertook difficult and uncertain travel from their homelands to a foreign land where they didn’t speak the language and faced social and legal restrictions. All to make a better life for themselves and their posterity.

            In what world do you live in where immigrants face legal and social restrictions in the US?

          • BLA says:

            Planet Earth. I suggest you leave Planet Fox News and visit some time.

          • David Friedman says:

            You are talking about legal immigrants?

            What legal restrictions do they face?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @David Friedman
            The relevant legal restrictions legal immigrants face are the ones they overcome to get into a country (showing some degree of skill at penetrating bureaucracy, not committing crimes etc.). Any legal restrictions they may face inside their new country are a point against them from the perspective of expecting them to do better than natives.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are talking about legal immigrants?

            Not exclusively.

            What legal restrictions do they face?

            Even if we limit ourselves to legal immigrants, H4s for example, can’t work.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          That kind of attitude is fine, if you want to start a civil war. Not so much if you want to live in a peaceful, reasonably-well-functioning country.

        • The Nybbler says:

          There are worse things than being ignored. After watching 30-40% of the country loudly denigrate me and mine and trying to burn down the country out of spite, I’m going all in on trying to destroy their culture so they can never come this close again.

          You and yours were doing that _anyway_.

          I wonder if we can get a law passed to ban high school football, given the manifest harm those concussions are causing to those precious children …

          And now we’re into Poe’s Law territory, since of course this idea has already been floated.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          So are you actually like, Obama or something, or is this a context appropriate version of a “What the fuck did you just fucking say about me” pasta?

    • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

      A significant amount of the American Religious right, while disliking trump, believes that the Clintons are basically spawn of satan tier, while Trump is a more recognizable money-power figure that dosen’t try and deceive people.

  41. fly on the wall says:

    Jill, you are not yet banned, but you are forbidden to reference Ayn Rand, accuse other people of worshipping Ayn Rand, attribute everything you dislike to a conspiracy centered around Ayn Rand, or use Ayn Rand as a metonymy for any view you disagree with. I will lift this restriction if you read and post a book report on Atlas Shrugged.

    This is p rabbinical, 10/10

  42. Levantine says:

    I’ve come here just after leaving my e-mail account, where I see my mother … _completely_ ignoring the question I put to her, viz, what are her impressions of a certain person. Instead of that, she talked exclusively about the minutiae of the meaning of what that person said, a topic apparently without any immediate connection to our lives, and I can’t think of how it could become relevant to me or her.

    And that made me recall one thing about her: she has always shown signs of autism in some mild form.

    And then I turned to myself: What a curse is this, that I’m both living in a socioeconomic system that disregards / marginalizes human beings, and have a close one that does the same. [Edit: come to think of it, it’s not just her]
    Is that a pure coincidence?

    Could the epidemic of autism be a response – an *indirect* response – to the circumstances of modern life (e.g. urbanization, dominance of employers over employees…)?

    Just a thought.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      Are you sure there even is an autism epidemic?

    • Lambert says:

      Employers were a lot more dominant back when they literally owned you.

    • Fahundo says:

      So your evidence that your mother has autism…is that, when asked what she thinks of someone, she considers what the person said? Or is it because instead of just spitting out an answer, she tried explaining how she arrived at the answer? Is listening to what people say rather than making snap judgments the same as marginalizing them?

      Also, what Stefan said. It’s my understanding that the term “autism” was redefined to cover a wider range of disorders, and that’s where the supposed epidemic comes from.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Actually the autism “epidemic” is due to more carefully examining children who would previously have been labeled “retarded” and now labeling them “autistic and retarded.” The total number labeled either autistic or retarded did not change. It is true that some statistics include asperger’s, but most of the time (until very recently) people making secular claims usually made apples-to-apples comparisons.

    • Aapje says:

      Could the epidemic of autism be a response – an *indirect* response – to the circumstances of modern life (e.g. urbanization, dominance of employers over employees…)?

      I’d argue that modern people are more likely to mate with psychologically similar people than in the past, which probably increases the prevalence of genetic issues that express themselves psychologically, like autism.

      I’d also argue that we are increasingly creating a single track for people to (semi-succeed) in life, where everyone needs a lot of formal education and plenty of people skills. This leads us to pathologize and try to fix everything that makes people fail at these things, where in the past, there were often more options to live a sheltered life. If Bob could not deal with a lot of strangers and wanted to do the same thing again and again, they would find him a quiet job where he could do the same thing again and again.

    • Deiseach says:

      Levantine, you sound as if you and your mother have two different ways of interacting with people, and to be blunt, I don’t understand what you are getting at. When you asked for “impressions”, what do you mean? Did you want her to say “I like this person/I don’t like this person/they seem really nice/they seem like they’d cut your throat for a sixpence” – what? If your mother is explaining to you “I think this based upon my understanding of what they meant when they said that”, I think that’s pretty normal, to be honest.

      As for an “epidemic” of autism, I think in large part it’s just that there are better diagnostics and more knowledge of the possiblity nowadays. In my day, a child who was perceived to be backwards or odd was considered exactly that, or mentally retarded, depending on severity of symptoms – today, we have evaluations for children who are not hitting developmental milestones and early intervention services to help them.

      It’s not that there’s an epidemic, it’s that we’re now realising “Oh hey, when little Johnny or Susie does that, we should send them for a psychological assessment instead of writing them off as stupid!”

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if there really was more autism these days, for demographic reasons if nothing else.

        Autism has a paternal age effect. Older fathers are much more likely to contribute rare de novo mutations that are linked to autism, for reasons that are interesting but not extremely important.

        Given that people are having kids much later it makes sense that we would see a real increase in autism frequency even after taking better diagnoses into account.

    • maas says:

      I think Scott has posted about this a little before. In a links thread. About De-institutionalization?

      This is/was a somewhat popular view, among anti-psychiatry folk, and among some leftists. (i.e. mental illness is a result of capitalism) I don’t know much about the topic, but I believe treatment based on this idea has largely been a failure.

      You might like “Madness and Civilization” by Focault. Some sections that claim to be history may not be factual. Still a very influential book.

  43. Fate Amenable To Change says:

    Would a convinced many-worlder even have a problem with your solution? Try this solution here, that solution over there, let the Many Worlds find the best universe (which by definition will have an immortal Yudowski running it.)

  44. Anon for the obvious reasons says:

    Would love to hear the host give post ssri sexual dysfunction some thoughts…

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you mean by “post”? post-discontinuation, ie, permanent? he has mentioned it a few times… he definitely believes that it happens to some people…

      • Anon for the obvious reasons says:

        Yes as in months / years after last ssri dose.

        Would in particular be interested in views on treating it…

        • Anonymous says:

          If he had anything to say about treatment, he probably would have said it here, but he didn’t. btw, asking during his ban is probably a bad tactic.

    • pku says:

      There was a links post sometime where he linked something about a treatment that involves shooting lasers at your penis, but I don’t remember when that was from.

      • Anonymous says:

        Here is where Scott linked it. I don’t think he meant as a very serious link, let alone an endorsement. The article itself doesn’t propose it as a treatment, but as an experiment down the long road to understanding, which will yield future treatments.