The Schelling Point for being on the #slatestarcodex IRC channel (see sidebar) is Wednesdays at 10 PM EST

Open Thread 65.25

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

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

639 Responses to Open Thread 65.25

  1. bean says:

    As I promised HBC in the last OT, the continued discussion about YECs. Why is this a big deal? Even if it’s 40% of the country (and I doubt that it’s that high), why is that more than an interesting sociological curiosity?

    • rlms says:

      Not HBC, but given the assumptions that YEC is factually incorrect (specifically on the issues of when the Earth was created and how large a role God played in it), and that 40% of Americans believe in it, the possible implications are either that 40% of Americans very heavily compartmentalise their beliefs, or that 40% of Americans probably believe a whole host of other untrue things (some of which might be more relevant to the world we live in).

      Of course, this is totally irrelevant to the previous argument, where the only relevance of 40% of Americans taking Genesis literally is that it provides evidence for the idea that ~40% might also take “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” literally too.

      • bean says:

        the possible implications are either that 40% of Americans very heavily compartmentalise their beliefs

        I’d suggest that something more like 100% of Americans heavily compartmentalize beliefs. Cognitive dissonance is hardly limited to the religious.

        or that 40% of Americans probably believe a whole host of other untrue things (some of which might be more relevant to the world we live in).

        Such as? AGW is the only thing I can think of which might be influenced directly by YEC.

        Of course, this is totally irrelevant to the previous argument, where the only relevance of 40% of Americans taking Genesis literally is that it provides evidence for the idea that ~40% might also take “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” literally too.

        Again, so? I’m not sure exactly how literally I should take those verses, but I do believe that hell literally exists and that unbelievers will be sent there for all eternity. Why does this matter?
        Edit:
        Besides the whole religion and self-hatred thing, that is. I’m not going to go there again on a philosophical level, because I can’t and won’t argue that believing in hell/sin is a good thing if they don’t exist. On an empirical level, studies show that religion has lots of benefits.

        • RDNinja says:

          It’s not relevant, outside of serving as ammunition for culture warring. 99.999% of people will never have to make a decision that hinges on their personal beliefs about origins. The only exceptions are scientists who actually have “evolutionary” in their job title.

        • Iain says:

          On an empirical level, studies show that religion has lots of benefits.

          My girlfriend is doing her PhD in social psychology. If I remember correctly, her stance on the research into religious belief and happiness is that it is largely overblown; most of the effect has to do with churches as social support networks, rather than the religious beliefs themselves. You’re not wrong, but the research isn’t as conclusive as you seem to think.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I have seen that possibility mooted many times. What I have never seen is any attempt to back it up; it is always deployed to hand-wave away the many clear benefits associated with religious belief instead of being dug into like it deserves. We have data on the benefits of social support networks; this shouldn’t be that hard to untangle. How does church stack up against bowling leagues?

            (Not that I think “oh it’s not that the religion is beneficial, it’s just the things the religion makes you do that are beneficial” is really that strong an argument anyway.)

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Also, there’s something about religion which makes it reasonably easy to organize social networks.

          • Adam says:

            What I don’t really get is why it would be brought up at all in a discussion about what people should believe. If you showed me research demonstrating the flat-earthers lived 10 years longer and had 50% fewer documented cases of depressive disorders, great, but how is this supposed to help me believe the earth is flat? That isn’t how belief works. I’m not a hypnotist. If I look at a body of evidence and don’t find it convincing, I don’t have the ability to just force myself into belief anyway.

            This is, incidentally, my biggest gripe with the whole salvation doctrine, the notion that you’re saved for believing. I have never felt like belief is a choice. Either you find the evidence convincing, you don’t, or you were simply raised in a culture of belief and never questioned it to begin with. None of those things is a virtue, and neither is believing something in spite of not finding the evidence for it convincing.

          • Randy M says:

            What I don’t really get is why it would be brought up at all in a discussion about what people should believe.

            Was that the discussion? I thought it was, “given people do believe this, what are the harms?”

          • bean says:

            @Iain

            If I remember correctly, her stance on the research into religious belief and happiness is that it is largely overblown; most of the effect has to do with churches as social support networks, rather than the religious beliefs themselves. You’re not wrong, but the research isn’t as conclusive as you seem to think.

            We actually did this down-thread. The article I was linked said that when the social effects were dialed out, religion itself didn’t seem to do much one way or the other. Granting that, it still seems in favor of my position on this, which is that the empirical evidence shows that at minimum religion is not itself harmful.

            @Nancy Lebovitz:

            Also, there’s something about religion which makes it reasonably easy to organize social networks.

            This is a very important point. Even if the effects of religion are entirely due to the social networks it gives, setting up the appropriate social networks outside of religion is hard to impossible. It seems fair to me to credit religion as a causative agent there.

            @Adam

            What I don’t really get is why it would be brought up at all in a discussion about what people should believe.

            Randy is right on this one. This all started on the last OT with a discussion about Christianity promoting self-hatred. I will absolutely agree that if Christianity is not true, believing in it anyway is stupid.

          • Adam says:

            Oh yeah, I saw that. It still seems to get brought up all the time as an argument for belief, but sure.

            I’d say Christianity certainly encourages self-hatred in homosexuals or anyone else labeled sexually miscreant in some way that forces them to be closeted or be ostracized. That’s hardly unique to Christianity, though. Most societies have norms that promote self-hatred in people who deviate from them.

          • onyomi says:

            If you showed me research demonstrating the flat-earthers lived 10 years longer and had 50% fewer documented cases of depressive disorders, great, but how is this supposed to help me believe the earth is flat?

            What if (as seems plausible to me) it’s not so much the belief itself that has the beneficial effects, but the way the belief makes you act?

            For example, if an atheist were simply to decide to become an active participant in a church, pray daily, read the bible, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if most, if not all, the same health benefits accrue. I’d also expect that, if you experimented with this, you’d find a large-ish percentage of former atheists had become actual believers after a significant period of “acting the part.”

            Which I don’t think proves anything about the empirical claims of religion, but does prove something (assuming I’m right about this guess) about how human belief really works, as well as what matters when examining results of belief (the actions the beliefs lead to, not the abstract holding of them).

          • Anonymous says:

            That’s hardly unique to Christianity, though. Most societies have norms that promote self-hatred in people who deviate from them.

            Yeah.

            Another way to put it is that it is adaptive that societies tend to have norms against activities that are socially harmful. Societies that don’t inflict opprobrium on perpetrators (including measures such as promoting self-repression on those wired that way) of anti-social acts tend to be outcompeted by societies which do.

          • Adam says:

            Does it have to be a lifetime? I did that in high school. It doesn’t seem to have had the effect of making me a believer, but I guess it’d be nice to live 0.53 years longer or whatever it’s supposed to do for me. Or can I just use it to offset the desire to eat ice cream more often than is healthy?

          • bean says:

            @Adam:

            Oh yeah, I saw that. It still seems to get brought up all the time as an argument for belief, but sure.

            I know it does show up, but I believe that arguments that you should convert because of benefits in this life are unbiblical. 1 Cor 15:19.

            I’d say Christianity certainly encourages self-hatred in homosexuals or anyone else labeled sexually miscreant in some way that forces them to be closeted or be ostracized.

            I’ll agree that the way this is implemented leaves a tremendous amount to be desired, and have done what I can to fight for better treatment of homosexuals in the church.

            That’s hardly unique to Christianity, though. Most societies have norms that promote self-hatred in people who deviate from them.

            To some extent, I think those norms are necessary to have a functioning society. You want to promote self-hatred in, say, people who abandon or mistreat their children.

          • If you showed me research demonstrating the flat-earthers lived 10 years longer and had 50% fewer documented cases of depressive disorders, great, but how is this supposed to help me believe the earth is flat?

            It isn’t. But it might make you happy that other people believed it.

          • Iain says:

            @bean:

            We actually did this down-thread. The article I was linked said that when the social effects were dialed out, religion itself didn’t seem to do much one way or the other. Granting that, it still seems in favor of my position on this, which is that the empirical evidence shows that at minimum religion is not itself harmful.

            Sure. You will note that I didn’t really take part in that thread. I think it is obvious that there are some people for whom religion is a positive psychological factor, and obvious that there are some people for whom religion is a negative psychological factor, and I don’t think it’s particularly interesting to argue about whether the latter group justifies a claim of teaching self-hatred. I will simply point out that it is very possible for religion to be beneficial on average while still instilling self-hatred in some religious people.

          • bean says:

            @ Iain
            I think we’re in agreement on this. On net, religion doesn’t seem to be bad for people, and I don’t deny that some fall into error and get self-hatred out. But to quote myself from elsewhere, “self-hate can come from almost any idea more complicated than ‘love yourself for who you are’, and it can probably come from that, too.”. The best empirical tests I can find (which, admittedly, are not very good) suggest that religion is probably not a net cause of self-hatred.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I think you’re really overestimating the amount of compartmentalization needed to believe in YEC. The age of the Earth has basically no impact on anything anybody deals with outside of a few specialized disciplines.

    • Spookykou says:

      So, apparently belief in ghosts has gone down around 10% in the last 10 years, from 50% in 2003 to 40% in 2013, which I would take as a good sign.

      In general I think Sam Harris or someone similar has in the past made a decent case for the potential dangers of wanton belief in the irrational. If you buy into this idea, then any time you can confirm that a large number of people hold irrational beliefs it is like confirming that a large number of people are potential more dangerous in very particular ways.

      If you don’t buy into the idea that belief in the irrational is implicitly dangerous, it can still be concerning that a large number of people are YECs.

      If you think that YEC is a ludicrous position that you can’t even imagine holding, then knowing that 40% of Americans hold a ludicrous position that you can’t even imagine holding, is probably troubling in terms of coalition building and future compromise. You can work with an enemy when you at least understand their motivations, but when they are incomprehensible, what kind of compromise can be brokered?

      I imagine it is also potentially scarier to have an enemy who is incomprehensible.

      A serious problem in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine

      • Protagoras says:

        I suppose this is the reason I don’t post more. Do I have anything to say about this that W.K. Clifford didn’t say[1] (or, heck, Socrates)? Probably not. And I understand that there are some people who need to have those points explained to them, but can I really not expect more from people in a community that espouses rationalism? That the answer might be no is just too depressing to contemplate. But for the record, I think there are excellent reasons to conclude that wanton belief in the irrational is a problem.

        1: “The Ethics of Belief,” the essay to which the better known William James essay “The Will to Believe” is a reply. In fairness to James, I think he understands Clifford rather well, well enough that reading James as well will probably give one a clearer understanding of Clifford than you could get by reading Clifford alone. But somehow that doesn’t translate into James providing convincing answers to the challenge Clifford presents. Perhaps because there are no such answers; Clifford is right, and James is wrong.

        • Spookykou says:

          I am trying really hard to parse what you are saying and worried that I might have failed, but I am sorry if my comment, or comments like my comment are the reason you don’t post here as much.

          And if I need something explained to me that you think I should know, all I can say is that I am here on SSC for my personal edification. I am a high school graduate who works in an auto shop, and I enjoy having the opportunity that SSC provides me, to talk with so many clever people.

          • Protagoras says:

            Clearly I was unclear. I definitely didn’t mean to say people like you were the reason I don’t post more. I meant that the tolerance for irrationalism you describe (provided it’s the right kind of irrationalism, of course) was the reason I didn’t post more; it is too tiring and unproductive to even try to respond to that sort of thing.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Protagoras is speaking of inferential distance. So many things he takes for granted must be explained before he can have a conversation of value in the comments.

            Specifically in this case the idea that YEC is bad and should be eradicated. That so many here oppose that idea is a reason to believe that talking to them is pointless because it says something about them in general.

          • Spookykou says:

            I am overly worried about putting my foot in my mouth, I am sure for the vast majority of people you were clear enough. 🙂

          • On the general issue of whether false beliefs are always bad …

            One obvious counterargument is that some false beliefs may help solve problems of market failure, situations where individual rationality produces group irrationality. In an environment where lying, cheating and stealing are individually profitable, we may all be better off is everyone believes that such behavior is punished by God, even if it is not true.

            Or consider the argument that causes a certain amount of mutual irritation between economists and everyone else. The economist points out that one person’s vote is unlikely to affect the outcome of a national election, so there is no rational reason to spend time and effort deciding who is the better candidate and voting for him. The non-economist responds “but what if everyone did that?” The economist responds “what does that have to do with the question? You aren’t everyone and don’t control everyone.”

            The same logic comes up in lots of other contexts, such as the individual doing things to reduce CO2 output. The “what if everyone did that” argument pretty clearly has a lot of force for a lot of people. It’s arguably entirely irrational, even if some philosopher try to defend it. Also arguably useful.

            I expect there are lots of other examples. It is almost always in my interest for me to be rational. It may not always be in our interest for all of us to be rational.

          • Aapje says:

            Another argument for false beliefs is that some people may not have the ability to grasp reality. So it’s better if they have a semi-consistent and usable false belief that makes them generally do the right thing, rather than a random assortment of facts that they cannot relate to each other and where they will just rationalize their selfish desires as right by cherry picking and misrepresenting a truth.

            But this is quite elitist (truth for me, a lie for the fools) and runs into the problem that intellect is a spectrum, not a binary.

          • Spookykou says:

            @David

            You two box Omega huh

          • James Miller says:

            “You two box Omega huh”

            While it’s always in my interest to be rational, it’s sometimes in my interest for others to think I am irrational. If the only way that someone could think me irrational would be by my doing something irrational, it might be in my interest to take this irrational act.

          • bean says:

            @axiomsofdominion

            Specifically in this case the idea that YEC is bad and should be eradicated. That so many here oppose that idea is a reason to believe that talking to them is pointless because it says something about them in general.

            You know, I’m starting to understand why people get so worried about ‘cultural genocide’. Because it seems a tiny step from ‘we should eradicate YEC’ to ‘we should eradicate the culture which spawned YEC’. Which is literally where I grew up. Everyone has beliefs they cannot defend to the ‘rational’ level. If I took a good creationist/ID advocate, and put them in a room with a typical believer in evolution, or even (probably, assuming you aren’t a biologist or a hobbyist in the subject) with you, they’d win the ‘rational’ argument. I’ll freely grant that a decent biology professor could out-argue a typical YEC, too. So who is irrational here, and why is YEC irrationality worse than, say, anti-vaxxers?

          • Spookykou says:

            @Bean

            I think that all irrationality is not created equal, and the metric I used to determine ‘wanton irrationality’ is mostly a feeling.

            YEC seems particularly bad because it seems like that special kind of problem, where people who believe in YEC probably also trust elements of science that disprove YEC, because the implication of YEC are so widely spread.

            Antivaxxers are IMO worse in that the particulars of their beliefs encourages VERY dangerous behavior, but I would actually consider them more rational less irrational in as much as medical science is hardly as robust as all the things you have to break for YEC to be true.

          • bean says:

            @Spookykou:

            I think that all irrationality is not created equal, and the metric I used to determine ‘wanton irrationality’ is mostly a feeling.

            But in that case, defining ‘wanton irrationality’ isn’t really rational, is it?
            (No, I don’t think you should be banned for that.)

            YEC seems particularly bad because it seems like that special kind of problem, where people who believe in YEC probably also trust elements of science that disprove YEC, because the implication of YEC are so widely spread.

            Could you expand on this? Most people who believe in YEC have heard about it in Sunday School from someone who didn’t understand evolution or creationism very well. (I stopped attending the last one my church did because of how bad it was.) They got through whatever biology class they had to take by sticking their fingers in their ears and regurgitating material on the tests, assuming that they took biology after they stopped teaching creationism. They haven’t thought about the knock-on effects of disbelieving evolution, because they’re not the sort of people who think about that sort of thing.
            The only potential direct effect I can see is on AGW belief, and that’s mostly because the two pattern-match really, really well. Liberal Elites are condescendingly telling you that Science Says You’re Wrong.

            Antivaxxers are IMO worse in that the particulars of their beliefs encourages VERY dangerous behavior, but I would actually consider them more rational less irrational in as much as medical science is hardly as robust as all the things you have to break for YEC to be true.

            I think you’re sort of projecting here. Very few YECs understand how much damage they’re doing to science (and those that do have generally thought of ways around the problem.)

          • Protagoras says:

            Of course there are many well-known examples of allegedly useful false beliefs. While I am sure the category contains genuine instances, I think its significance is wildly overblown. To take one obvious problem, defending a false belief on the basis of its usefulness is only legitimate if it is true that the false belief is in fact useful. If you are going around believing false things because you think they’re useful, though, on what basis can you be so confident that your belief in their usefulness is not just another false thing you’re believing because you think that’s useful? It would be possible to build an entire house of cards of delusion on that basis, and in practice that does seem to be something people have actually done, not a purely hypothetical danger. Missing out on the usefulness of some false beliefs seems to me to be a cost worth paying to avoid what seem to me to be the higher costs of taking a tolerant attitude toward falsehood.

          • Spookykou says:

            @bean

            I am far from as rational as I would like to be!

            This has actually gotten me to question my own beliefs, thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that most of what I think of as rational or logical is somewhat subjective.

            If you were born and raised by wolves in the woods today and never had interaction with other humans, it wouldn’t be totally irrational to think we lived in a geocentric universe based on your observations. Logic and reasoning as applied to the external universe, seems to rely to some extent on observations of the external universe. There is a limit to how much I can observe on my own, and so beyond that I rely on the observations of others, and trust their observations. In theory I could go out and test a great many of my beliefs if I wanted to, point lasers at the moon and what not.

            So when I said feeling, that was the wrong word. My opinion on what is more or less irrational isn’t baseless, it is just heavily subjective. I assume some amount of basic knowledge that the person has, then the more that their belief requires them to reject that basic knowledge, the more, maybe irrational is the wrong word? Willfully ignorant? This of course relies on my assumption of basic knowledge being accurate, which as you point out, it may not be.

            With this as my model, YEC seems to reject considerably more basic knowledge than Anti-vaxers. But Anti-vax is probably the more dangerous of the two beliefs.

            In particular I imagine that YEC is more likely to, as a theory, reject elements of basic knowledge that the YECs in question, would believe in isolation of the broader question of YEC. As an example, if you were to talk to a YEC about how fission works to create the heavier elements and the relative life times of stars they would nod along up until the point when you explained how that contradicts YEC. This kind of, selective rejection of science is what I find particularly striking. Sure we went to the moon, sure we have functioning GPS, but no, the science that those things are all built on is wrong in this one particular case. By comparison, the anti-vaxer just has to have a general mistrust of medical science/statistics(every other person in my life will gladly explain to you why statistics are meaningless *rolls eyes*) to hold their position.

            I am half explaining this to myself as I write this, so sorry if it is rambling or nonsensical.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @spookykou:
            I am just going to copy what Jiro said below, as I think it applies very much to YEC (and also applies to anti-vaxxers, but les so).

            If someone believes in YEC, their belief implies that scientists (who don’t believe in YEC) are deluded or lying. And that will lead them not to trust the scientists about all sort of things, and *that* does have big implications for our society.

          • bean says:

            @Spookykou

            This has actually gotten me to question my own beliefs, thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that most of what I think of as rational or logical is somewhat subjective.

            And now you are enlightened. Seriously, a very good post.

            So when I said feeling, that was the wrong word. My opinion on what is more or less irrational isn’t baseless, it is just heavily subjective. I assume some amount of basic knowledge that the person has, then the more that their belief requires them to reject that basic knowledge, the more, maybe irrational is the wrong word? Willfully ignorant? This of course relies on my assumption of basic knowledge being accurate, which as you point out, it may not be.

            While I can see where you’re coming from, you’re still overestimating just how much a typical YEC actually knows about the implications of their beliefs. Yes, science is deeply interlinked, but that’s not obvious on the surface, and it’s particularly not obvious if science is not something you really care about.

            With this as my model, YEC seems to reject considerably more basic knowledge than Anti-vaxers. But Anti-vax is probably the more dangerous of the two beliefs.

            Granted, although I would urge you to prioritize danger over weirdness.

            In particular I imagine that YEC is more likely to, as a theory, reject elements of basic knowledge that the YECs in question, would believe in isolation of the broader question of YEC. As an example, if you were to talk to a YEC about how fission works to create the heavier elements and the relative life times of stars they would nod along up until the point when you explained how that contradicts YEC.

            There are three types of YECs:
            1. People who are rationally ignorant about science, and believe YEC because it’s what their church teaches and because they have no reason not to. They don’t care about the broader implications, and want you to stop talking about evolution, because the upcoming kids choir is much more important than the origin of life to them.
            2. People who are, for some reason, fascinated by creationism, but are doing it really, really poorly. These people do exist, and I dislike them more than anyone else here, because they look exactly like the atheist straw-man of creationists. The Sunday school class I’ve mentioned was taught by one, and he drove my whole family (and I think they’d all still identify as YECs) out because of how bad he was. They’re basically the Christian equivalent of anti-vaxers.
            3. The people who apparently sincerely believe it, look very smart, and don’t suffer from obvious cognitive defects. I’m not sure what to make of them. The Creation Museum was very convincing to me when I was in 10th grade. I’m sure that Richard Dawkins could argue that it’s all wrong in certain specific ways, and he might well be right, but I genuinely don’t see how a typical person could tell that Ken Ham is wrong and Dawkins is right.
            This is a really important insight, which took me quite a while to make. To someone who isn’t a professional biologist, both theories can look really convincing if given a serious chance. The bit where you look at creationist stuff and it looks silly and unconvincing is exactly mirrored on the other side. If you’re raised creationist, then evolution, when presented either as a strawman in a church class or by someone who you know is the enemy, looks absurd and obviously untrue. But when I read about evolution on my own, on Thursday afternoon instead of in a class on Sunday morning, it looked really convincing.

            By comparison, the anti-vaxer just has to have a general mistrust of medical science/statistics(every other person in my life will gladly explain to you why statistics are meaningless) to hold their position.

            But I think there’s a sharp distinction between holding beliefs that have no impact on your life beyond their signalling value (YEC) and holding ones that are increasing actual, concrete risks.

            I am half explaining this to myself as I write this, so sorry if it is rambling or nonsensical.

            It’s OK. I’m probably rambling, too.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bean:
            You say that type-1 YECs just want to be left alone, but they also oppose various policies on fundamentalist grounds, and vote for representatives who actually vote against those policies. As a voting-bloc, they aren’t nearly so benign, I don’t think.

            Of course, it’s not just YEC that is doing the work there, but still …

          • “I think that all irrationality is not created equal”

            I can see two quite different measures of how bad a particular irrationality is. One is how stupid you have to be to believe it, the other is how bad the consequences of believing it are.

            YEC doesn’t strike me as very bad in either direction. The evidence and arguments against it are not things that most people encounter in their ordinary lives, so all it takes to believe in it is trusting other people who tell you it is true–the same basis on which many of the people who believe in evolution hold that belief.

            If I thought global warming was a really serious threat I might rate YEC at a more negative level on the second measure, since someone who believes in YEC should reject large parts of the relevant evidence, as well as distrusting what he is told science says more generally. But, for reasons I have discussed in the past, I don’t view AGW as likely to have catastrophic consequences. And, given how poor the quality is of public information on what science implies, I am not sure that skepticism about what one is told science implies is a bad thing.

            Consider a different view I consider irrational, one associated with (parts of) the other side of the political spectrum, the belief that there are no significant innate differences between men and women other than those directly linked to reproduction.

            That strikes me as worse by both criteria. It contradicts lots of evidence that most of us see in our daily lives and then has to be explained away. It contradicts what we would expect from the relevant science, since evolution implies that we are as if designed for reproductive success, men and women differ precisely in their role in reproduction, and it would be surprising if the same distribution of characteristics was optimal for both.

            And it has negative consequences, both at the individual level and at the political level, the latter since it implies that differences in outcome must be due to discrimination and could, arguably should, be eliminated.

            For a third example, take the usual set of beliefs on trade, according to which a positive balance of trade is good, a negative bad. I don’t think one has to be very irrational to believe it, the correct analysis having been worked out only two hundred years ago and by an extraordinarily brilliant theorist. But it can have unfortunate political consequences.

          • bean says:

            @HBC:

            You say that type-1 YECs just want to be left alone, but they also oppose various policies on fundamentalist grounds, and vote for representatives who actually vote against those policies. As a voting-bloc, they aren’t nearly so benign, I don’t think.

            Of course, it’s not just YEC that is doing the work there, but still …

            This is exactly the sort of thing which makes me defend YEC even though I’m not one any more. YEC is doing basically none of the work in your logical argument. It’s just loading my tribe with bad affect. If we could magically convert every single YEC to some form of theistic evolution and leave all of the rest of their beliefs intact, I expect that it would make essentially no difference at all in the volume of bashing of my tribe.
            (Type 1 YECs don’t care about science, and want you to stop talking to them about it. This is very different from believing that politics are unimportant.)

          • Jiro says:

            you’re still overestimating just how much a typical YEC actually knows about the implications of their beliefs.

            It doesn’t have to be that kind of implication. It can be “those scientists say men came from monkeys. I know men didn’t come from monkeys. Since the scientists don’t know what they are talking about, I should ignore everything they say”.

          • bean says:

            It doesn’t have to be that kind of implication. It can be “those scientists say men came from monkeys. I know men didn’t come from monkeys. Since the scientists don’t know what they are talking about, I should ignore everything they say”.

            Yes, but that’s not how any of them think. They instead say “yes, those scientists say that men evolved from monkeys, but other scientists say that men didn’t. Science works, the first group is just doing it wrong.” Even the wackiest creationists pay at least lip service to science. I was once given a magazine about various scientific discoveries proving YEC. I investigated one (something to do with decay of Mercury’s magnetic field) and discovered that they’d left off the error bars on the Mariner 10 magnetometer reading, which covered the MESSENGER readings. It was incredibly stupid, but it wasn’t invented out of thin air, and they were pretty careful to cloak themselves in “SCIENCE!”

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Very few YECs understand how much damage they’re doing to science….

            The threat to science must be from:

            young-earth creationists, or climate lukewarmers, or genetical food modifiers,

            because otherwise it might be from:

            government takeover of basic science funding, or easily-gamed publish-or-perish statistics, or “softer” sciences gaining unearned credence, or the now-obvious-to-everyone macro-flip-flopping in nutrition recommendations, or the I-F***ing-heart-Science crowd.

            (Not picking on anyone in particular here; just pattern-matching to a pattern someone brought up here a while back.)

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ bean
            Everyone has beliefs they cannot defend to the ‘rational’ level. If I took a good creationist/ID advocate, and put them in a room with a typical believer in evolution, or even (probably, assuming you aren’t a biologist or a hobbyist in the subject) with you, they’d win the ‘rational’ argument. I’ll freely grant that a decent biology professor could out-argue a typical YEC, too.

            You have got me imagining putting your professor in a room with Lady Violet of Downton Abbey, Ma Kettle, and my own great grandmother. They’d put up with him for a while, and then start saying things like…

            “Young man, it is turtles all the way down.”

            and

            “If they don’t have 37 words for snow, they ought to.”

            …for the purpose of signalling “In the real world, I am the one with the social standing and social skills to make people laugh at you. I know how to compartmentalize, nya nya!”

            /over-simplification

            I apologize for stepping on geeky toes. I really am getting at something relevant here, and will continue if allowed.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      First off, I believe ~40% is the number that consistently pops up when surveys are done. It may be signalling more than “actual” belief, but given that signalling requires acting in accordance with the signal, I don’t think that is really a distinction.

      My point in that sub-thread was that if you signal belief in a literal interpretation of the Bible, you probably will have absorbed a belief in a literal hell with flames and brimstone. At some level if you believe in a 6-10,000 year old world, you believe in hell as punishment for the wicked that lasts forever.

      I think that will do damage to many of those who absorb that belief. They will believe themselves to be worthy of or deserving of being sent to hell. Probably not most people who hear the message, but the “sensitive” ones. I think those people are taught a certain form of self-hatred.

      • Nornagest says:

        signalling requires acting in accordance with the signal

        Not in any kind of consistent cross-domain way, it doesn’t.

        • Spookykou says:

          To what extent can YEC take meaningful actions based on their beliefs?

          The only thing I can think of is that they tend to deny climate change, which might influence the extent to which they engage in personal methods to reduce environmental impact, recycling, driving a hybrid, etc.

          • bean says:

            The only thing I can think of is that they tend to deny climate change, which might influence the extent to which they engage in personal methods to reduce environmental impact, recycling, driving a hybrid, etc.

            But even then, I’m not sure that’s a necessary feature of YEC. They’re likely to be linked, both because of political tribes and because when you’re hectored and belittled by one field of science, another field of science behaving in largely the same way pattern-matches pretty well.
            If the narrative had been framed differently from the start (Scott did a good example of this a while ago) then they could probably have been brought into the fold.

          • Spookykou says:

            My Aunt is a YECs, and while I have never really engaged her on the topic, as I understand it she thinks it is functionally impossible for man made climate change to happen, I am not clear on what the biblical support is for this position though.

            That being said, I imagine you are correct and if the branding for climate change had been different she would just ignore or never even be introduced to the particular line of biblical reasoning that provided her with the position she now holds on climate change.

          • Nornagest says:

            The only thing I can think of is that they tend to deny climate change, which might influence the extent to which they engage in personal methods to reduce environmental impact, recycling, driving a hybrid, etc.

            That’s probably more important, but the usual complaint I remember hearing is that they try to deny others the chance to be educated outside of a creationist framework. Creation in textbooks, etc.

            I basically agree with you, though — young-earth creationism strikes me as dumb but mostly harmless. Even in places where the high-school biology classes teach what is euphemistically called “intelligent design” and nothing else, and I don’t know how many of those there are, AP biology scores might be marginally lower but the objection smells to me more like an ideological purity issue than a utilitarian one.

          • Jiro says:

            If someone believes in YEC, their belief implies that scientists (who don’t believe in YEC) are deluded or lying. And that will lead them not to trust the scientists about all sort of things, and *that* does have big implications for our society.

          • bean says:

            If someone believes in YEC, their belief implies that scientists (who don’t believe in YEC) are deluded or lying. And that will lead them not to trust the scientists about all sort of things, and *that* does have big implications for our society.

            I’ve met some Christian Whole Foodies, but they matched pretty well to Whole Foodies in the general population, and I’m not sure what their thoughts on YEC were. You vastly overrate the impact of this stuff on most people’s lives.
            (In fairness, there was the one guy who was the worst Type 2 I’ve ever seen, and very into natural cures. But he was just dumb, and would have been dumb anywhere.)

          • Nornagest says:

            If someone believes in YEC, their belief implies that scientists (who don’t believe in YEC) are deluded or lying. And that will lead them not to trust the scientists about all sort of things, and *that* does have big implications for our society

            Outside of maybe a certain strain of economically neoliberal center-leftists, pretty much everyone believes that some big chunk of academia is badly mistaken — and even economically neoliberal center-leftists believe that about smaller chunks. I don’t see much evidence that YECs are uniquely bad because the group they demonize happens to have PhDs in evolutionary biology rather than, say, economics or sociology.

          • CatCube says:

            I remember a while back a discussion (I feel like it was here, but maybe I’m mistaken?) talking about farmers who absolutely reject evolutionary origins for species but have zero difficulty accepting that weeds will develop resistance to Round-Up or that bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance.

            This could lead at least some credence to both “Young Earth Creationism” as tribal signaling, and that people can believe inconsistent things simultaneously.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @CatCube:
            To me that maps as:

            “Applied science is fine. It’s that university science which is awful.”

            See Sarah Palin, who has a child with a genetic condition, mocking fruit fly research.

            Was that directly inspired by a belief in YEC? No. Is part of a package? I would say yes.

          • bean says:

            @CatCube

            I remember a while back a discussion (I feel like it was here, but maybe I’m mistaken?) talking about farmers who absolutely reject evolutionary origins for species but have zero difficulty accepting that weeds will develop resistance to Round-Up or that bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance.

            The usual answer to that is to divide evolution into ‘microevolution’ and ‘macroevolution’. Microevolution is what happens to weeds with pesticides and moths when all the trees get coal soot on them. Nobody questions that being a thing. Macroevolution is things like gross speciation.

            @HeelBearCub

            “Applied science is fine. It’s that university science which is awful.”

            Yes and no. It’s not just university science these people object to. There are lots of other things on campus that are seen as just as bad, if not worse.

            See Sarah Palin, who has a child with a genetic condition, mocking fruit fly research.

            Actually, it appears that she was objecting to a study on olive fruit flies as agricultural pests in France. It may have been a stupid objection (at least half of all Stupid Government Waste reports are factually wrong), but it wasn’t related to creationism.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bean:
            My mistake and you are correct. Although, the attack was still poor on her part, I am mis-characterizing her remarks.

      • bean says:

        I think that will do damage to many of those who absorb that belief. They will believe themselves to be worthy of or deserving of being sent to hell.

        I think I’ve made my position on this pretty clear. Yes, there are certain schools of Christian theology which teach that. They have very few adherents, outside of maybe the Church of Christ. Everyone else has a view which says that if you feel this way and are saved, you’re wrong and should pray about it. If you feel this way and aren’t saved, get saved.

        Probably not most people who hear the message, but the “sensitive” ones. I think those people are taught a certain form of self-hatred.

        Again, so? I can’t think of any doctrine/ideology which can’t be taken too far in a way that will have bad consequences. Half of the Epistles is Paul and co telling churches off for abusing various doctrines, and I’m willing to provide you a list of modern liberal ideas which can cause problems when followed off a cliff. It’s not a necessary part of those ideas, any more than self-hatred is a necessary part of belief in Hell.
        (As for belief in Hell, why not simply go to a poll on that instead of trying to approximate on YEC numbers?)
        And I will again point out that religion does not seem to have a detrimental effect in practice, as shown by the well-known fact that the religious are mentally healthier than the non-religious.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          That the religious are mentally healthier than the non-religious and thus that religion adds to health is a leap too far. There are many other explanations. I hope you don’t believe that ice cream causes rape. For instance there’s no evidence in majority non-religious countries that the religious are significantly healthier.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201212/are-religious-people-happier-non-religious-people

          Here we see some reasons why religious people might be happier.

          However there is another obvious reason. The same reason straight people might be happier. The structure of society is already more friendly to them by default.

          • bean says:

            That the religious are mentally healthier than the non-religious and thus that religion adds to health is a leap too far.

            Maybe, but it’s certainly a reasonable counterpoint to ‘religion makes you self-hate, and is thus bad’.

            Here we see some reasons why religious people might be happier.

            I’ll agree that the social effects have been, for me at least, really, really nice. But notice that the article says that controlling for social engagement, religion has no effect. So even if we chalk all of the benefits up to social factors (which seems a bit unfair, in that we do religion because of religion, not because we want the social benefits, and attempts to recapture the social benefits without the religion have not been terribly successful) it’s not actually causing self-hatred on the net.

            However there is another obvious reason. The same reason straight people might be happier. The structure of society is already more friendly to them by default.

            It’s not the 1950s any more. I’m not going to claim that Christians are seriously oppressed, but I’m just not seeing it as being a huge social benefit, either.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Do you spend a lot of time on atheist forums? Its quite common to see younger atheists discuss how religious people, parents and community often, treated them horribly. Most of the more rabid anti-theists are people who were previously religious, especially catholic or evangelical.

          • John Schilling says:

            Do you spend a lot of time on atheist forums?

            You don’t think there might be a pretty strong selection bias there?

          • bean says:

            axiomsofdominion

            Do you spend a lot of time on atheist forums?

            Oddly enough, I don’t. Do you spend a lot of time in churches?
            (I’d be willing to bet that I have more atheist friends than you have seriously religious friends, although to be fair none of them were raised religious.)

            Its quite common to see younger atheists discuss how religious people, parents and community often, treated them horribly. Most of the more rabid anti-theists are people who were previously religious, especially catholic or evangelical.

            I’m not defending everything anyone who ever called themselves Christian ever did. But the plural of anecdote is not data (particularly not when you have an obvious selection bias) and the data that we do have suggests that overall, religion is somewhere between neutral and good for people.
            (Think of it like a drug, if you will. Most people benefit, some have harmful side effects. The existence of the side effects doesn’t mean that the drug should be banned.)

          • Jaskologist says:

            Its quite common to see younger atheists discuss how religious people, parents and community often, treated them horribly.

            Selection bias, for starters. There will always be bad apples, which is why we need to try to focus on statistics over anecdotes.

            But also, somebody recently reminded me that people can lie on the internet. I think in a lot of those cases, they lie to themselves. I have seen this first-hand. I have read coming-out-of-Christianity testimonies by people I knew personally which told how they had been shunned by everybody at their old church. There was no shunning involved, indeed, it was the complainant who had ghosted everyone else. But I’m sure he believed that it was the other way around, because he had embedded himself in a community which demanded such stories, and so those are the stories they got.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @axiomsofdominion,

            Thanks for the link! This is the first time I’ve seen someone try to tease the two apart.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Well, that particular poll doesn’t say anything much about the nature of hell.

          As to the other stuff, it was brought up (not even by me) in relation to self-hate and the left. Such an argument would need to pass a barrier that showed there was substantive difference in regards self-hate from teachings on the right.

          In other words, it’s not sufficient to simply “I perceive a message of self-hate coming from the left, therefore the left engages in self-hate”. It is facile to show the same kind of argument about teachings on the right.

          In fact, some of the most ardent people on the left who espouse the kinds of messages the could be interpreted as teaching self-hate on the left received a message they felt promoted self-hate when growing up conservative and religious.

          As I said previously, I don’t think there is any “there” there.

          • bean says:

            Well, that particular poll doesn’t say anything much about the nature of hell.

            Not true, actually. The poll defined Hell as a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”
            The obvious degree of freedom that the poll didn’t cover is how bad you have to be to go to Hell. I’ll grant that if you’re looking at that, you’ll need to dig more. Unfortunately, a google shows no polling on the doctrine of original sin, which would be the best proxy I can think of.

            As to the other stuff, it was brought up (not even by me) in relation to self-hate and the left. Such an argument would need to pass a barrier that showed there was substantive difference in regards self-hate from teachings on the right.

            I think you misunderstand me here. I’m not suggesting that my side is totally clean and your side is the dirty one. I’m claiming that self-hate can come from almost any idea more complicated than ‘love yourself for who you are’, and it can probably come from that, too. I was bringing up leftist examples to point out that both sides do this.

            As I said previously, I don’t think there is any “there” there.

            We may be in agreement on this one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bean:

            If you will recall, the argument was about whether hell (as imagined by the standard Christian) was “separation from God” vs. “torment in the lake of fire”. The poll you are referencing does not seem to answer that question.

          • bean says:

            If you will recall, the argument was about whether hell (as imagined by the standard Christian) was “separation from God” vs. “torment in the lake of fire”. The poll you are referencing does not seem to answer that question.

            Yes, that did come up at one point. But why is that relevant to anything other than theologians and sociologists?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bean:
            Because there was a contention that the number of US Christians who believe in literal fire and brimstone hell are an irrelevantly small part of the coalition on the right.

            I was using support for biblical literalism as a proxy for minimum percentage of believers in fire-and-brimstone hell. People who have absorbed “the earth is only 6000 years old” should also have absorbed “hell is a place of eternal torture”.

            The whole argument started because someone said that a central tenet of (many) Christian faith traditions is belief in eternal torture of the damned.

          • bean says:

            Because there was a contention that the number of US Christians who believe in literal fire and brimstone hell are an irrelevantly small part of the coalition on the right.

            That wasn’t my contention, and even if it was, why does belief in ‘literal fire and brimstone’ actually matter on a practical level? Assuming that this still ties into the whole self-hatred thing (if we’re not in agreement on that, that is), which is worse:
            1. A church which teaches that Hell is absolute separation from God, but that absolute separation is absolutely horrible, and that anyone who isn’t a born-again Christian is going to Hell.
            2. A church which teaches that Hell is a real place full of fire and brimstone, but that only really bad people go there.

            I was using support for biblical literalism as a proxy for minimum percentage of believers in fire-and-brimstone hell. People who have absorbed “the earth is only 6000 years old” should also have absorbed “hell is a place of eternal torture”.

            The poll specifically said that hell was a place of eternal punishment, which is close enough to eternal torture for government work.

            The whole argument started because someone said that a central tenet of (many) Christian faith traditions is belief in eternal torture of the damned.

            I would suggest that the nature of the damned is also rather important to whatever point you’re trying to make.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            In April, there was a big survey of Americans, looking specifically at Christians and then at Evangelicals that looked at 50 topics.

            https://thestateoftheology.com/data-explorer/

            Question 15 and 17 seem intended to be a proxy for original sin, “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.” and “Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.”

            Question 27 is hits beliefs on hell, “Hell is an eternal place of judgment where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ.”

            Sadly their viewer doesn’t allow crossing denominations/demographics and multiple questions results to see how correlated the answers to these three questions were (you can see all the group results for one question though).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bean:

            That wasn’t my contention,

            I didn’t say that it was. I think you may be misinterpreting what I am saying because you are simply ignoring what others on the “believer” side of the equation were saying.

            The poll specifically said that hell was a place of eternal punishment, which is close enough to eternal torture for government work.

            This is a great example of the previous point, because, my original contention was that Christians believe in eternal torture for the damned which got immediate pushback that modern Christians did not believe this and I was cherry-picking.

          • bean says:

            @HBC:

            I didn’t say that it was. I think you may be misinterpreting what I am saying because you are simply ignoring what others on the “believer” side of the equation were saying.

            Fair enough. Reading over that thread again, I think that the claim John and others made was wrong in at least two ways. First, yes, the central example of Hell for a typical Christian is in fact a physical place of eternal torment full of hot things. Second, it ignores the more important distinction for the debate you were having, which is how good a person you have to be to go to heaven.
            The use of the term fire-and-brimstone confuses things badly. It’s usually used to describe the likes of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, which is a far cry from the position of most modern Christians, regardless of whether they think that Hell is a physical place or a state where you are separated from God.

            This is a great example of the previous point, because, my original contention was that Christians believe in eternal torture for the damned which got immediate pushback that modern Christians did not believe this and I was cherry-picking.

            I didn’t get involved in that until an exchange or two later, so I’m innocent of that.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “As I said previously, I don’t think there is any “there” there.”

            Following this conversation, I’ve found myself fairly mystified. It seems to me that you are pretty obviously correct on the particulars, and the counterarguments you’ve been getting seem bizarre.

            Self-hate is an obvious failure mode of Christianity, probably the most common failure mode, certainly in the top three. Self-hate is a possible failure mode of leftist thought, but it seems laughably obvious that it is not remotely the most common.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          My impression is that the fear of hell is more a problem for individuals than something that exists in whole sects. The people who are most vulnerable to the fear of hell are the geekish folks who take words literally.

          As I understand it (and I’m middling geekish), most people take words in a rather more or less sort of way, and will modify their understanding of words so as to avoid damaging their quality of life too much, at least a lot o the time.

          • bean says:

            There are definitely some denominations that are worse than others. From what I remember of CoC teachings (family left a very long time ago) they were a lot more hellfire-and-brimstone (in the Johnathan Edwards “you are damned!” mold, not the existence or nature of hell) than any of the churches I’ve attended since.
            That said, not everyone in the CoC is driven to self-hatred by said theology, and self-hatred appears elsewhere. I think we’re reduced to trying to put numbers on it, and what numbers we have suggest that at very worst, it’s a wash.

      • John Schilling says:

        First off, I believe ~40% is the number that consistently pops up when surveys are done.

        I believe you are very wrong about the “consistently” part of that. People aren’t consistent even within the same survey on that one. 39% of people surveyed believe that “God created the universe, the Earth [etc] within the past 10,000 years”. Of the same people, only 18% believe that “The Earth is less than 10,000 years old”. And note here, ~20% of the population consistently agrees that “The continents on which we live have been moving for millions of years”.

        Whether or not people claim to believe in YEC, depends quite a bit on exactly how the question is phrased.

        It may be signalling more than “actual” belief, but given that signalling requires acting in accordance with the signal…

        It does not require consistent action. Peacocks mostly just spread their feathers when they are playing for a peahen.

        The observed polling behavior is that ~20% of Americans consistently claim YEC beliefs. Another 20% will claim YEC beliefs if and only if they feel like they are really being asked to signal their commitment to Christianity, but do not integrate those beliefs into e.g. their understanding of science.

        As I noted 0.25 open threads ago, ~10% of Americans are members of major Christian churches that preach YEC. Plus some unknown number in sub-1% YEC denominations, plus dissenting members of OEC denominations, plus lizardman’s constant, seems consistent with a 20% number for real, consistent YEC belief in the United States.

      • “At some level if you believe in a 6-10,000 year old world”

        Are there heretics who push it to 10,000 years? I thought Bishop Usher established a starting date of 4004 B.C.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I have always seen 10K as the top end (see Wikipedia). Perhaps this simply because while various faith traditions come up with different numbers, none of them come up with more than 10K, and 10K is a nice round number.

          I’d imagine the standard polling question worked off that kind of logic, and probably influenced my choice of 10K as well.

    • onyomi says:

      Would this imply that >40% believe in intelligent design/do not accept the theory of evolution? Because I can imagine some who do not believe in a young earth, yet who still believe in intelligent design, but the reverse, I imagine, would be quite rare. Or do these two groups just overlap nearly completely?

      • Spookykou says:

        It does seem like YEC is more extreme than intelligent design, mostly because at least some adherents of intelligent design can kind of skirt the ‘my view is in serious conflict with science’ by saying God designed life such that it would eventual produce humans, or some such. It seems much harder to fudge YEC to kind of fit in with modern scientific consensus.

      • rlms says:

        I feel like intelligent design is more of a sliding scale than YEC, in that you can go smoothly from literalism to a much more defensible (or at least less falsifiable) “God designed the original primordial ooze and it evolved to produce today’s creatures under his guidance”.

        • Randy M says:

          Yeah, I think ID does utilize the motte and baille pretty well.

          • carvenvisage says:

            Are you saying the latter is not a reasonable perspective, given religious belief?

          • Randy M says:

            Well… I haven’t followed the debate for a decade or so. I think that some ID defenders have at times retreated to “We don’t know, the whole of the evolutionary theory could be true except that here and there it wasn’t 100% random” from a more expansive position of “There are several specific, scientific reasons why natural selection & random mutation are insufficient.”

          • carvenvisage says:

            yeah I hadn’t heard that apparently ‘intelligent design’ is often taken to mean ‘intelligent design, specifically not via evolution’

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “God designed the original primordial ooze and it evolved to produce today’s creatures under his guidance”.

          This isn’t ID. ID specifically purports to refute the idea of evolution from the so called primordial ooze.

          • Spookykou says:

            My personal experience is that some form of the above is far more common with modern Christians, and that many would describe it as ID even if that is technically incorrect.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Practically speaking ID isn’t really a thing other than a stalking horse for YEC. Only once a) YEC became once again a politically live football because people really did not want their kids taught evolution, and b) teaching YEC was ruled out by the courts, did c) ID begin to get pushed by the same people who pushed teaching YEC.

        I mean, there are those who think “God created the universe and evolution is what accomplished it” but that isn’t ID (as you said). I suppose that once the YEC people started pushing ID, you’ll get some group that actually believes their own propaganda, but …

        Obviously, I’m sure there are [insert religion or spiritual belief here] who think that there is a creator, but that the earth is billions of years old, but I don’t think they are really engaged in the US.

        • rlms says:

          Couldn’t the blank in your last paragraph be filled in with “mainstream US Christians”?

          • Spookykou says:

            That is my view of mainstream US Christians as well.

            Edit as for Catholics: As I understand it the Church is officially ambiguous on evolution and the age of the earth, but many prominent church leaders encourage and embrace the scientific interpretations. Catholic schools, I believe, teach evolution and old universe.

          • bean says:

            The official Catholic position seems to be more or less theistic evolution, although they only demand that you believe the soul was created independently of material forces. So they’d probably be a good choice to put there.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sorry, I was unclear.

            The ID argument proposes that we can discern that evolution must be false because it is impossible for evolution to have produced certain features of life that we see on earth today. ID is not an argument for a deist wind it up and let it run clockmaker.

            To the extent that views are coherent in the US, that isn’t really an argument that you see anyone making other than certain fundamentalists.

            I mean the average US citizen (let along religiously observant US ciitzen) probably doesn’t have a coherent picture of how both monkeys and humans both evolved from a common ancestor, and wouldn’t be able to explain why monkeys exist now if we evolved from them, but that doesn’t mean they think the earth is billions of years old and humans were around back then, or popped into existence.

            So, either, in the US, you accept YEC, or evolution, but I don’t see any arguments for humans being popped into existence a million years ago.

          • bean says:

            To the extent that views are coherent in the US, that isn’t really an argument that you see anyone making other than certain fundamentalists.

            What? The Deist Watchmaker? That’s a pretty common view.

          • Nornagest says:

            The ID argument proposes that we can discern that evolution must be false because it is impossible for evolution to have produced certain features of life that we see on earth today. ID is not an argument for a deist wind it up and let it run clockmaker.

            I’ll grant that views tend to be less consistent outside of fundamentalists and the secular sphere, but I’ve run into a number of Christians who held old-earth views but believed that God had stepped in to do speciation or abiogenesis or some of the other hard bits, and who pointed to watchmaker arguments in support of this position. Some of them even think of themselves as biblical literalists, with various justifications.

            There’s a lot of daylight between deism and young-earth creationism.

          • Randy M says:

            Has anyone else here read Gerald Schroeder? For example He has some interesting speculation from a Jewish/Physicist point of view.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            God had stepped in to do speciation or abiogenesis

            Note that evolution doesn’t say anything about the abiogenesis part. If you think there is a coherent set of people who just say God is responsible for speciation, I guess I’d like to see some examples.

            My contention is that there isn’t really any sort of coherent pushing of a narrative that rejects evolution that isn’t YEC/ID.

        • carvenvisage says:

          Except that ID is extremely reasonable, -given preexisting belief in a deity. Equating a reasonable religious belief and a crazy one is bad, especially as Religious belief isn’t just going to go away.

          edit: oh I though you literally meant ‘intelligent design’, but it seems those words have been appropriated for something else- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design.

          Though still, I don’t think a movement is entitled to monopolise such a term. Belief in ‘Intelligent design’ as in the view that evolution was a process planned or mediated by god is not a fringe view as far as I know. (though I suppose I could be wrong, as I’ve never been to america)

          • Spookykou says:

            Thank you for this link, your understanding is the same as my own and I was a bit confused.

            As an American raised Catholic I can say that in my personal experience the planned or mediated understanding was common among the Christians I knew. Although I actually first heard the idea from my best friend who was Jewish(was my best friend, as far as I know he is still Jewish).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “Intelligent Design (TM)” is different than any deist-watchmaker arguments, yes.

            I think it is going to be very hard to understand than battles in the US around teaching of creationism if you are from a country outside the US that has made the switch to mostly “apAtheist/a-religious”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @spookykou:
            Catholic church teachings are not fundamentalist Christian teachings. You can’t derive any specific knowledge about fundamentalist teachings out of Catholic theology.

    • carvenvisage says:

      Well, for one thing (if true) it means that 40% of the country believe the same one thing which has been conclusively disproved. That would say a lot about the strength of (literalist) religious influence in the country, no?

      It would also imply that somewhere on the order of 40% of the children in the country are being raised by people they probably can’t ask questions about the most important things. That’s probably true for people on the other side as well, with their own ridiculous dogmas, but (again, if true), the possible fact this side believes in such numbers in such a ridiculous dogma is a bad prognosis for their children’s oppurtunities to discuss things with parents who aren’t something like slaves to a particular belief system, -which I think is quite important.

      Lastly, presumably people that believe in YEC are much more likely to believe in other things. I happen to think the YECs are liable to be right about the obvious and controversial ones, and as such I’m glad that there’s a big block of people opposed to things which I think are majorly wrong, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. But that’s significant either way.

    • keranih says:

      It’s not clear to me that whether the earth goes round the sun or the moon or round and round the garden like a teddy bear is particularly relevant to how most people live their lives. It seems like something that we find to fight over when it’s not football season.

      • bean says:

        It seems like something that we find to fight over when it’s not football season.

        It’s something that people who don’t find football interesting find to fight over, but yes, I’m sort of with you on this.

      • Spookykou says:

        Some people have always valued the ability to explain things like natural phenomenon, if I remember correctly that was an important part of early religions.

      • “It seems like something that we find to fight over when it’s not football season.”

        Good line.

        I was thinking of a less elegant way to put it–that the fight over evolution in the schools may be more a symbolic issue of red tribe resenting blue tribe imposing its culture on red tribe than an issue important for itself.

        • bean says:

          I was thinking of a less elegant way to put it–that the fight over evolution in the schools may be more a symbolic issue of red tribe resenting blue tribe imposing its culture on red tribe than an issue important for itself.

          I will absolutely endorse this. Frankly, I think that red tribe has the facts of the argument wrong (teaching creationism in schools would probably be a net gain for the evolutionist side), but I can see why they’re doing it, particularly after the talk about eradication of YEC.

    • Adam says:

      I’m a pretty unabashed capitalist and would love for my country to have an economically sane, business friendly government that was also generally sane and evidence-driven in whatever other domains it is charged with overseeing. But thanks to the Nixon strategy, Pat Buchanan’s influence in the Reagan revolution, whatever other random historical contingencies, the capitalism-friendly party in my country does shit like this because they have no choice but to throw out tribe markers to convince the rurals that they aren’t those decadent liberal city folk with their fancy learning. Somehow, lack of education was the single best predictor of voting for the GOP candidate for president this time around.

      Mostly, I’d like that to not be the case, and if such a huge percentage of Americans didn’t hold anti-intellectual positions for the main reason that they choose what to believe based on tribalism rather than evidence, I don’t think this would be the case, and we’d get much better leadership and policies out of it. A Republican party that didn’t feel the need to spend so much of its political capital opposing abortion and gay marriage and climate science, that wanted local control of schools because that’s the appropriate level of oversight given where the funding is coming from, and not so they can suppress science inconvenient to their religion, would damn near be a party of heaven. Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger if he hadn’t had to deal with the insane California legislature.

      • bean says:

        I’m broadly in agreement with you on the object-level problems that the religious right is causing the GOP (I vote defense/economics, not religion), but I do have to point out that we gain from the religious voters as well as losing to them. The GOP is a coalition, and most of the religious voters don’t actually care that much about free markets. They’re kept in the coalition and vote for free markets because they also get the religious bits they want.

        • Adam says:

          Oh, sure. It’s a marriage of convenience that worked out pretty well for a few decades, but Trump with his economic populism and appeals to anti-elitism scares me just as much as Bernie Sanders, frankly. And having to deal with Pence being a heartbeat away because Trump had to convince the religious faction that no, this time he really does care about abortion, is just as bad.

          Then again, it still seems like France, with its cherished tradition of secularism, has still been much worse the past decade. So I don’t know what to do, but I’d like to bank on something better than keeping the crazies in line because they hate the Yankees so much they’ll vote for pretty much anything that signals that. Like you said, they don’t actually care about free markets. On the other hand, a huge Democrat block, all of Clinton and Obama’s Wall Street support, does, and they’d be much more natural allies like they were prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

          • bean says:

            On the other hand, a huge Democrat block, all of Clinton and Obama’s Wall Street support, does, and they’d be much more natural allies like they were prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

            I’m not sure that’s a huge Democratic block, except financially. And one of the top lessons we’ve learned this year is that money doesn’t win elections. We’d be stealing a few votes in New York and California, but losing a lot more in Texas.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I agree, and I wish that more people had been listening to Barry Goldwater when he was criticizing the rise of the Religious Right inside the GOP. That said, two questions:

        1) Doesn’t the selection of Trump, who has espoused socially liberal positions on things like Gay Marriage, indicate that it is possible for a GOP candidate to run successfully on a platform that doesn’t include a social conservative agenda? At least, if they’re willing to push other points more strongly.

        1.5) How big/powerful IS the religious right as a power bloc within the GOP base anyway? My perception and what I’ve taken away from reading news and poli sci articles was that its power had waned substantially from its height in the 90s, and that as others have said, most of the major campaigns of the Culture War are over, and the Social Conservatives -lost-.

        2) On the flip side, if that perception is wrong, and the religious right still has veto power over GOP candidates, then given how unpopular free market and principled limited government (as opposed to “Cut programs I don’t benefit from” fiscal conservatism-in-name-only) seems to be with the GOP base (again, see Trump)…

        …what prospect IS there?

        To be honest, I’d probably rather vote for Barry Goldwater than Gary Johnson or Bob Barr, but I don’t think we’re getting any more Barry Goldwaters out of the Right any time soon…

        • Adam says:

          You’re probably right. It does seem that, post-Bush, the religious faction has decreased in power. And I think it’s somewhat inevitable that this continues. Not that Christianity in general in going anywhere, but the totally insane after effects of all the American great awakenings is maybe finally wearing off.

          Trumpism does indicate an existing alliance of people who largely don’t give a shit about religion, but I don’t think it’s the correct one. I don’t consider trade protectionism and immigrant-bashing to be inherently conservative positions. I don’t really know who it could have been. I prefer the Rockefeller types mostly because I hate Dixieland identity politics as much as any other identity politics, but Romney already lost, Bloomberg doesn’t seem interested and turned me off with the sugar ban bullshit anyway. The Governator isn’t eligible. Rand Paul would probably have been my top choice, but he lasted like a week.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Adam – “And I think it’s somewhat inevitable that this continues. Not that Christianity in general in going anywhere, but the totally insane after effects of all the American great awakenings is maybe finally wearing off.”

            Was there a better one realistically achievable this cycle? Cruz, Perry and Bush seem like they all would have signaled support for the Moral Majority. Not sure about Rubio, but my suspicion is that he would have been much the same.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        A Republican party that didn’t feel the need to spend so much of its political capital opposing abortion…

        …would be a Republican party that I wouldn’t support, and might actively oppose.

        I like free trade, I like free markets, I like federalism. But some things are more important. (Wasn’t the Republican party more or less founded on a moralist stance about the most controversial issue of the day?)

        In fact, I might not like free markets, or free trade, or care about federalism, but for the half of my college pro-life group that was Republican and willing to argue politics civilly (unlike the Review crowd). Social issues can bring people into the party, or at least (as in the case of my wife) get people to vote for it.

  2. TK-421 says:

    This may be old news, but is raikoth.net down? I tried sending someone a link to the non-Libertarian FAQ but it wasn’t working.

  3. Odovacer says:

    Fake News and Science

    I can’t recall who posted something that science articles may be considered “fake news”, but I wonder are many news articles about new science publications (psychology/sociology/etc) fake news? I’m very harsh on science writing in general, and I’ve been thinking about the connection between fake news and science reporting off and on over the past few weeks. Oftentimes when there’s a new “sexy” scientific finding or something that confirms the bias of a writer/group, news organizations will write up a glowing article about it accepting it as gospel. The writers of these news articles will often try to link social or governmental policy to the science. They are also very credulous, like to extrapolate and overstate the research findings to a ridiculous degree. When in fact new findings are frequently modest and can be incomplete or downright wrong.

    An example is in this article about women doctors being superior. Hamblin writes when talking about supposed justifications of physician pay for men vs women:

    But no. Female physicians actually tend to provide higher-quality medical care than males, according to research released today. If male physicians were as adept as females, some 32,000 fewer Americans would die every year—among Medicare patients alone.

    This is an estimate from the paper itself. And again, it only applies to internists seeing elderly hospitalized patients, which Hamblin does partially mention later in this article.

    From the actual paper:

    Elderly hospitalized patients treated by female internists have lower [30-day] mortality and readmissions compared with those cared for by male internists. These findings suggest that the differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians, as suggested in previous studies, may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes.

    The authors also note that these findings contradict a previous paper and support two other ones about diabetes treatment*:

    We are aware of only 1 other study examining the association between physician sex and patient mortality. Jerant and colleagues analyzed a small cohort of relatively healthy outpatients (who are, in general, healthier than hospitalized patients) and found no associations between physician sex and patient mortality. However, several analyses investigating differences in processes of care between male and female physicians have yielded results that align with our findings. For instance, Kim et al. and Berthold et al both found that female physicians outperform male physicians on process measures for patients with diabetes.

    *well the Kim paper concludes:

    Patients of female physicians received similar quality of care compared with patients of male physicians.

    .
    tl;dr: this article is red meat to the audience of a publication like The Atlantic. A modest claim is exaggerated, it ties into female superiority, discrimination and it involves SCIENCE. Both red and blue tribes love arguing about this stuff.

    • Randy M says:

      Anything with “according to research released today” is highly suspect. All the perils of “Beware the man of one study”, plus the likelihood that they had a story just waiting for confirmation or else quickly skimmed it and grabbed the relevant bits to publish first without including the full picture.

      In general, science reports seem to be the anti Beyes. “Here’s a new study! Throw out everything else!”

    • Rusty says:

      I feel like someone who has hit himself on the same low doorway for the fiftieth time. I noticed the article, gave it some vague credibility and now I find it is utter tosh. Why am I surprised? Again.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      among Medicare patients

      Elderly hospitalized patients treated by female internists have lower [30-day] mortality and readmissions compared with those cared for by male internists.

      Assuming that the “among Medicare patients” is actually the only cohort they studied, that could simply reflect discrimination of some sort against female internists or selection by female internists. Medicare patients are less profitable, therefore, less desirable. We could simply be seeing an effect limited to that cohort (internists weighted by the amount of work they do with Medicare patients).

      • AnarchyDice says:

        Reading parts of the abstract, it’s worse than that. They openly acknowledge that among the doctors they studied, men make up about 2/3s of the doctors and women only 1/3. Also, the men are older and work longer hours/see more patients. I couldn’t find any mention of how they control for those confounders outside of categorizing patients by 5 year age groupings and similar severity of illness.

        Off the top of my head, confounders I don’t see them address:
        -Difference in work scheduling between men and women (women less likely to work around child-rearing times like right after school, for example? Are illnesses worse or better during those times of the day?)
        -Do grumpy, older patients pick male doctors more but are also the ones more likely to die? They say the choice of doctor/patient is basically random, but it seems like a handwave that is only checked against a broad type of illness category.
        -What is the male to female doctor performance adjusted for total workload? Are male or female doctors getting more non-patient work on average that distracts them? Maybe female doctors are better doctors than this study shows because they also get saddled with receptionist/nurse work but men get less non-doctor work and still perform poorly?
        -How does the performance adjust for age of doctor? Wouldn’t older doctors be more likely to get the tougher cases due to experience, and thus be more likely to lose more patients even though older doctors are better/worse? (I can’t remember the name of this paradox)
        -Are there any selection effects for the fact that it is not an even sex-split? Are the women better because the 1/3 female doctors are a smaller subset of the wider population than the 2/3 male doctors? Have they adjusted for any skill/GRE/IQ/GPA levels?

        • Scott Alexander says:

          They control for all of these things. They also use hospitals that randomly assign patients to doctors.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      It seems to me that science news is a lot worse lately, though it’s possible that I’ve gotten pickier.

      The story about female doctors is actually *better* than some of what I’ve been seeing– it’s just overestimating the importance of a small and probably dubious effect. It’s almost a relief compared to the articles about noticing something which might be weird and then making up a theory about it.

      Half heard on the radio, so take this for what it’s worth– a claim that the important thing is a willingness to listen and think (traits which are more common among women) and what you want is a doctor like that, not necessarily a woman.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Clickbait effect, I would posit.

        All news is going through this, not just science news.

        I mean, when I was in HS there was “The Grapefruit Diet”, which is laregly an example of just this same phenomenon. Take a study, ignore all confounders and caveats, make the conclusion incredible and wondrous and surprising, trumpet results, ????, profit.

    • Adam says:

      No, this isn’t fake news. A report really was released. They’re misrepresenting the findings, apparently, and they probably don’t mean much anyway, and you can argue it isn’t newsworthy, but that’s just bog-standard normal reporting. They’re not flat-out making shit up.

      • Randy M says:

        What’s the salient difference between flat-out making things up and misrepresenting to the point of causing belief in falsehoods?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Randy M:

          I think, if we put in one-to-one terms, the intuition is that there is a substantive difference.

          There is an expectation of certain kinds of slight misrepresentations. I never expect a job candidate to be completely, totally and brutally honest, for instance. But if the claim that they have worked with Java using Eclipse for the last 2 years, and they have never even used Java …

          I always expect that there is a considerable possibility that any news article will a) have a headline that is awful and sensationalist, and b) make attempts to highlight the most interesting parts of a story.

          Frankly, I think headlines have actually gotten into the territory of outright falsehoods. Except that I think headlines have had a long term average of hovering around that territory, so it’s not exactly new.

          • Randy M says:

            “Received glowing remarks on previous performance review”
            (well, the boss’s face was sure red)

            I never expect a job candidate to be completely, totally and brutally honest, for instance.

            This is why I have a hard time on performance reviews. The explanation for “meets expectations” says “constantly strives to improve.” Well… there were a few days I was kinda out of it… so I guess I have to give myself failing marks there.

            Back to news, when you are starting with something, then of course there is a sliding scale from giving precisely the correct details on all point, to outright lying about what the correct impression would be. At some point you are giving just as much false information as if you had made it up out of whole cloth.

            Now, which is easier to disprove? I guess it depends on how accessible (in both senses of the word) the original source materials were. If I’m reporting on a topic that is abstract and the actual results are in some journal not released yet or something, the average reader might not only have trouble finding out the accuracy of my reporting, but the fact that they can determine that some study was done will bolster the idea that something newsworthy happened, versus if a bald assertion is made, it’s perhaps harder to disprove the existence of evidence but also harder to flim-flam with something that seems to have been discovered.

            At that point, it’s probably a wash and comes down to motivated reasoning as to whether you believe or not (or, to be fair, Beyes).

            Of course, a lot of science reporting is probably breathless reporting by a writer who misunderstands the subtleties and background and misleads by mistake–or am I naive?

        • Spookykou says:

          One is considerably more dangerous than the other.

      • Randy M says:

        Hmm, interesting npr article I just came upon about the source for some admittedly fake news.

        “The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction,” Coler says.

        I love people who burn down forests to demonstrate the need for fire safety.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Meh.

          I listened to that (or at least some version of it). One of the things that struck me about it was that there was essentially no sourcing of Coler’s story other than Coler himself.

          As a small window into what a purveyor of fake news says about himself, it’s interesting. But given that Coler self admits to creating completely fake narratives because people like to hear them, I am disinclined to place much faith that he is telling the truth to the reporter.

          • Randy M says:

            True, I had considered it was even more meta than that. It seems a bit more plausible that this version is true, given that he seems to have morphed some sites into simple satire and he started with a name like “letTexasSecede”

    • Reasoner says:

      My heuristic is: if I can easily imagine the result being shelved if the conclusion were reversed, I don’t take it very seriously.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I didn’t find the paper or the coverage too bad. Yes, it’s true that they only studied one subset of patients, but it wasn’t an unreasonable subset. The lack of results in the other study is unsurprising since healthy patients tend to create a ceiling effect and make it hard for differences in care to appear significant (imagine a sample of perfectly healthy 20 year olds followed for ten years during which none of them got disease; there would be no difference in mortality between good and bad doctors). The study itself seemed relatively solid as far as I can tell. Overall in the top 10% of reporting of these kinds of things.

  4. Garrett says:

    Occasionally I encounter a freak-out about the possibility of oil not being valued in dollars. My vague understanding is that the fear is that valuation in another currency would result in drastically higher costs for the US or a drastic drop in the buying power of the US dollar. However:
    1) Aren’t currencies basically goods which themselves can be traded and exchanged? Given that, I’d expect a very minor transaction/overhead cost for US buyers when buying oil. At scale it would be, perhaps, a fraction of a percentage of cost.
    2) Wouldn’t any loss of value be temporary while trade patterns adjust to sop up the extra currency in circulation?
    3) If the US price of oil would be dependent on the value of the US dollar, wouldn’t that currently be priced in by the price in US dollars altering based on the value of the US dollar?

    I guess I read this as “everybody panic!” instead of “well, we might face increased costs for oil, around 1%, and because of reduced usage tourists might have less access to US currency at 3rd tier banks in 4th tier cities”.

    • onyomi says:

      My impression is that countries choosing to buy and sell oil without dollars is only freakout-worthy insofar is it might be a symptom of broader loss of faith in/need for the dollar as a “reserve currency.” Japan and China dumping all their treasuries, for example, would be disastrous for the value of the dollar. If other countries stop caring about the dollar, pegging to it, or otherwise treating it as a kind of “global gold standard,” it will surely lose a lot of value, perhaps disastrously so.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        it will surely lose a lot of value, perhaps disastrously so.

        That is probably overstated.

        More likely, if the US dollar loses lots of value, it will cease to the the reserve currency. The choice of the dollar as the/a reserve currency reflects the relative strength and stability of the US Market, not vice-vera.

        • onyomi says:

          I think this is kind of chicken/egg or virtuous/vicious cycle. People currently use the dollar as a “reserve currency” because it is believed to be a stable store of value. Part of the reason it is perceived as a stable store of value is because so many people use it as a reserve currency. The perception could change because the US economy looks weak, but it could also change because better alternatives exist (Euro, RMB, gold, Bitcoin…).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The thing is that all of those (accept for bitcoin, which … I’m going to ignore because including it is silly) depend on their value partially in comparison to the US economy.

            Given that the US economy is the dominant economy how will the RMB or Euro maintain their purchasing power if the US economy takes a dip? Or falls completely?

            The US Dollar is stable in relation to the rest of the world because our economy is.

            Gold, has some value as a hedge vs. inflation and some other instability, but it has no intrinsic value that any other non-perishable commodity would not have. Long term its value just depends on the world economy as well. Try and make it the default currency and you just end up with delfation, which is bad.

        • Adam says:

          It happened to the UK. It was a pretty big deal and they definitely took a hit, but I mean, it’s still here and from what I’ve heard, a pretty decent place to live. It didn’t turn into Zimbabwe.

    • cassander says:

      I generally refer the kind of freak outs you’re talking about as petro-dollar conspiracy theories. They typically massively exaggerate the importance of oil being traded in dollars and completely misunderstand the reason why oil is traded in dollars.

      Say you’re an arab sheik. You have a billion dollars worth of oil and you want to sell it. You could take payment in whatever your local currency is, but why would you? there’s nothing you can buy in your local currency, you import virtually all of your goods. your customers don’t have that local currency, they have dollars or euros, or whatever, so forcing them to switch to dinars would add transaction costs. And the truth is you don’t even really want to spend that money, you want to invest it. but you can’t invest in local currency, the only business in your country worth investing in is oil, which you already own.

      oil is traded in dollars because the dollar economy is the only economy large enough to absorb the return flows of petro-dollar investments without distorting prices enough, and attractive enough for people to want to invest there. for oil to stop being traded in dollars you would need to have another currency that was more desireable than dollars, and such a thing does not exist, no matter what Saddam or Qaddaffi want to threaten to do.

  5. Garrett says:

    The description “on the wrong side of history” has occurred to me as much more in common usage in the past few years. I’ve mostly heard it from politicians on the left, namely President Obama, as well as others. Does anyone have suggestions as to why this has been cropping up? I usually associate people with a background in history as being on the political right, so it strikes me as a bit disjoint.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      I felt like it grew in usage during the early 2010’s, but has been recently left behind. Nowadays, I mostly only see it used ironically/to troll people…. Or maybe my bubble just got way tighter during that period, either way I’m thankful, because it’s a terrible phrase, though I hope it’s the former for irony purposes.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Usually that phrase is employed around questions of civil rights (but not always).

      For example, there were those arguing vociferously against various rights for gay people. The phrase was a way of predicting how history would come to judge the stance that was being taken. Although, it actually is still something of a live question, the popular opinion on those rights has turned fairly quickly.

      Compare this to opinions on Jim Crow laws, and other explicit segregationist stances, which were taken as necessary and good by a large majority in the 40s, and were seen as backwards by many by the 60s (but still the majority opinion in much of the south). By the 80s, if one had ever actually supported Jim Crow, it was not talked about.

      Jim Crow, slavery, women’s suffrage, etc. Those are all issues where you can be seen as on the wrong side of history.

      • onyomi says:

        Yeah, I think it is a kind of call on political opponents to sort of “recognize the inevitable.” To accept that the debate over e. g. gay marriage is over, and that even if it hadn’t been for a particular Supreme Court decision, it would only have been a matter of time before it was legal in all 50 states. Given this, it’s not surprising that liberals and progressives would use it more often.

        I would say, for example, that drug prohibitionists are “on the wrong side of history” and that it’s already clear to me that it’s only a matter of time before marijuana is legal in all 50 states (I’d have a harder time making the case that legalization of harder drugs is also inevitable, though I still think it’s the where we’re ultimately headed).

        Of course, one can be very wrong about what seems inevitable: many probably have assumed at various points in the past 50 years that nationalized healthcare, widespread acceptance of abortion, and tough gun control were inevitable in the US, and they’ve thus far been proven wrong. But I think these examples also indicate another reason why the left wing in America is more likely to use this idea: the left wing in America is usually more in favor of moving us in the direction of Europe and other liberal democracies, whereas the right wing is more about “American exceptionalism” and more likely to say “who cares what the French do?” Hence, “wrong side of history” can be used to say “look, everybody else is already doing x, therefore it must be a good idea, so it’s inevitable that we should follow suit.”

      • Randy M says:

        Also used by Reagan to refer to the soviet Union, wasn’t it? “Communism belongs in the dustbin of history” or something like that.

        Basically saying “your ideas are in the process of being rejected by the people.”

        Found one:

        I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I don’t think it’s merely being rejected by the people. It’s stronger than that.

          Expanding the franchise of voting past landowners was a rejection of the old idea, but I don’t think people would particularly think of saying it was on the wrong side of history. Slavery, on the other hand, definitely was.

          There are other ideas that are far more anodyne that would probably make me point more clearly.
          Four way stop signs vs. roundabouts. Even if 4-way stops become a thing of the past, it would be fairly hyperbolic to say they were on the wrong side of history.

          • Randy M says:

            You wouldn’t expect to hear “ending the aristocratic privileges the wealthy granted to themselves was the first sign that history was on the move; the trumpet call to the march for justice and equality that we hear resounding ever clearer today”? I mean, if people largely knew about that particular change.

            The phrase does have a gravity to it, I agree it won’t be used for roundabouts or the like. Maybe the metric system, though. 😉

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:
            Yeah, I was sort of anticipating that take.

            Obviously the end of restricting enfranchisement to landowners was a long time ago, and it really doesn’t come up now. Perhaps it was perceived as a bigger deal at the time, but it happened piecemeal, state by state, and relatively rapidly. By 1856 every state allowed non-landowners to vote. There was no one big push for it, do dam breaking, so to speak.

          • Rob K says:

            Yeah, I think it’s a shorthand for “in the moral universe of 50 years from now, these ideas will be seen as not just wrong but horrible”.

            I still don’t like the phrase, because it seems to me to encourage laziness. History’s “moral arc” has no intrinsic direction; humans bend it, and I’d prefer that we not let historicism foster a cavalier approach to that task.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Also used by Reagan to refer to the soviet Union, wasn’t it? “Communism belongs in the dustbin of history” or something like that.

          Some relevant links on the history of that phrase:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_heap_of_history
          http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3654

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      On the wrong side of history means that at a major inflection/decision point, someone or a group of someones picked the wrong(generally synonymous with losing) side.

      Obama specifically was probably talking about things like the Iraq war if recently, or something the pre-Civil Rights Democrats did if more distant.

      Also considering that in many cases the moderate European/non-USA right is lefter than the US moderate left, it seems kinda USA-centric to refer to people with a background in history as being on the left. I personally wouldn’t even associate that with the right in the USA.

    • carvenvisage says:

      It’s useful because it allows a person to equivocate between calling their opponent’s weak and immoral. It can be taken as saying ‘you’re losing’, or as saying ‘you are in the wrong’ (and therefore history will condemn you). So if trends are moving against some opinion, you can say it’s on the wrong side of history and try to steal from a clear moral wrong like slavery for your pet issue.

      It obviously has a legitimate use as well, but I think that’s why the phrase gets thrown around.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I think of saying that your opponents are on the wrong side of history is a way of not having to bother with proving your point.

        In general, I try to notice when people try to recruit the future onto their side. The future can’t defend itself from being mischaracterized.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      It’s a meta-induction used to defend the expansion of equal rights to new classes of people. Roughly, “In the past, people who have opposed civil rights for group x (where x is defined by some morally arbitrary characteristic) have proven, in retrospect, to be ignorant bigots; therefore, probably those who currently oppose civil rights for group x (where x is defined by some morally arbitrary characteristic) will prove, in retrospect, to be ignorant bigots.” When used appropriately, it’s not a bad argument.

  6. axiomsofdominion says:

    After reading the long post about not enough left wing comments in the worm thread I had a couple thoughts related to the issue of identity politics/SJWs etc and why as a very economically leftist and most social leftist I am concerned about identity politics. I feel like any sort of rule, and laws are just rule utilitarianism generally, tends not to necessarily improve the overall outcome but merely to shift the “privilege” as identity politics advocates like to use that word. For instance laws or even social norms about believing people who claim to be victims of sexual assault or harassment don’t necessarily have the intended effect. They can drastically shift the % of false vs real rape accusations but they can’t really alter the number of false results, only shift the sign.

    So our social/legal system currently has a large number of “false negatives” to borrow a term from cancer/general disease screening. Essentially we have a system where more real crimes are not punished than false crimes are punished. This is based on a majority but not ubiquitous social norm of requiring strong evidence to shape beliefs about cases where we don’t personally know either party. Or at least aspiring to that. If we were to do, as many identity politics advocates suggest, create a norm of believing the victim as our prior, we would likely end up with a system which created many “false positives”. That is we would probably almost eliminate the false negative cases, the part of the result many identity politics advocates focus on, but we would drastically increase both the number of false accusations and the number of false accusations which result on prosecution, which identity politics advocates completely ignore.

    This is part of their ideological structure whereby they believe straight white men abuse privilege due to their identity rather than because, as my personal ideology suggests, all humans WOULD and in our current society its merely that straight white men are the ones who most easily CAN.

    This theory of false negatives vs false positives totally explains the gender variance in the sides of the argument. I am discounting for a second the issue of men who are assaulted, which I don’t like but I need to try and keep my topic specific. Women in general, and feminists especially, focus on false negatives, while men in general, and MRAs especially, are more concerned about false positives. This is understandable because clearly false negatives are more detrimental to women while false positives are more detrimental to men. This pattern obviously repeats in discussions about black crime rates and other similar issues.

    I will personally admit that I would prefer a world, much like or perhaps even more extreme than our current one, where men, white people, middle class people, nerds, etc get the benefit of the doubt over the reverse of those categories. I would of course equally be willing to accept a perfect world where false negatives/positives are almost non-existent but that is the ideal while I must live in reality where shit is messy and shitty.

    This whole issue is why I tend to, in cases where I perceive the limitations of rule utilitarianism to be expansive, verses something like pot legalization where its strikingly clear that legality or decriminalization is absolutely the most beneficial choice, prefer non legal solutions. Like how instead of cracking down on crime or fiddling with sentencing rules we should try to reduce the incentives for crime. Sanders style politics basically where he talks about economics and pisses off the people who want to focus on “black issues” or w/e.

    This also slightly relates to the proposed solution to the shortage of lefties proposed in the comment thread. Much like banning righties from open threads till we buff our lefty numbers, how can we be sure that when public perception is equalized by something like a believing the victim social norm we will then disassemble the norm which we used to shift the popular consensus? Because the results over not doing so would be just as bad, given you accept my analogy to false negatives/positives in cancer tests, as what we put the social norm in place to try and cleanse.

    • Skivverus says:

      To provide a bit of pushback on this, with the disclaimer that your position seems mostly reasonable to me:

      They can drastically shift the % of false vs real rape accusations but they can’t really alter the number of false results, only shift the sign.

      Number of false results is absolutely alterable, as well as the sign – the worry is that interventions may (drastically) increase the total rather than decrease it. I’m pretty sure the best of social justice aims to reduce that total in addition to balancing the ratio of false positives to false negatives. The sort of social justice (warrior or ideology) that gets objected to here, at least as I understand it, is unaware of – or worse, uncaring of – the potential tradeoff.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        I mean perhaps in theory if the incentives are reasonably balanced you could get a reduction. I’ve never seen a convincing way to do that. I feel like a relatively equal number of both genders are defectors with a moderately even spread of extremity. Basically as you make trying to press charges more likely to result in success you’d get less men sexually assaulting/harassing women but more women seeing the incentive to make, or even just threaten to make, false accusations.

        • Skivverus says:

          I envision it as the usual statistical exercise of trying to fit a line (the law/norm) to a scatterplot (reality), and then trying to minimize the squared error distances: there is, presumably, an orientation of the line that will minimize the total error.
          The conservative-as-in-status-quo position is that the line’s pretty close to that ideal position; the progressive one, that we know which way to push to get (closer) to the ideal position.
          (Note that on this interpretation, conservative and progressive are not strictly opposites)

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            My personal feeling is that moving these sorts of social norm lines is not likely to significantly shift the the total number of false positive/negative results but just the split.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Number of false results is absolutely alterable,

        I am trying to understand what you are saying here. I think your point is that social justice done right would decrease false convictions by decreasing the crimes themselves? Could you be more specific? I admit I am skeptical of social justice at all, not just SJW’s, because I don’t see how adding the word “social” does any work. But I am open to new ideas.

        • bean says:

          I think his point is that depending on how you set up the system, the number of false results, positive or negative, can be changed to some extent. Examples:
          1. If we remove rape from the books entirely, you suddenly get a 100% false negative rate. (I suppose you could argue that this isn’t really false negative because it’s no longer a crime, but let’s say that you set the burden of proof absurdly high.)
          2. You immediately lock up anyone accused of rape without a trial. Your false positive rate is very high, probably higher than the false negative rate earlier, while your false negative rate is going to be close to zero.

        • Skivverus says:

          No, my point is much simpler: just that changes in the laws/norms aren’t necessarily going to keep the sum (false-positives + false-negatives) constant. Good changes are those that reduce this sum, bad ones, those that increase it.
          axioms’ argument, I think, was that identity politics is in a bit of a buffer zone where the changes they’re effecting affect the ratio of error types but not their sum (or at least, not appreciably).
          I objected to what I perceived as a conflation of the buffer zone with the entirety of the space.

          Edit: bean’s got it right here.

    • onyomi says:

      I will just say that, in general, as I have said at more length previously, I think one should “cultivate the norms of the society one wants, not the norms one thinks will instrumentally bring that society about.” I can’t think of a single example where an instrumental overshoot was successfully dropped once a goal was achieved (because pushing for “progress” on a particular issue becomes part of people’s identities and yesterday’s overshoot becomes today’s status quo), but I can think of many examples where such ideas have gone disastrously wrong (the Marxist notion that the state will “wither away,” but only after it has successfully reshaped all aspects of society, for example).

    • carvenvisage says:

      prefer non legal solutions

      One borderline legal solution is jury nulliification and variable sentences for crimes against suspected rapists. This creates some bad incentives but overall I think it’s a good thing, and would be much better if trying to exploit this was punished extremely harshly when discovered and proven.

    • DrBeat says:

      “Believe the victim” is no more new an idea than “Won’t somebody think of the children?”

      Taking a posture of victimhood is an incredibly effective way to get people to do things you want, especially when you are a woman, especially when what you want to do is hurt other people. The lynchings in the Jim Crow South tended to happen on suspicion of black men raping white women, or planning to (regardless of evidence). Hell, the number one argument racists have gone to for why the race they hate is threatening, for as long as we have written them down, is “Those people rape our women!” All throughout human history, we motivate our armies to go to war by telling them that their enemy threatens to victimize women. ISIS is recruiting people to-fucking-day by telling them the decadent West is degrading, defiling, and victimizing women.

      Every bully who ever lived believed he or she was “punching up” and every single bigot who ever lived believed they were only defending themselves against a wicked malicious group who sought to victimize them. Sociopaths and abusers assume victimhood in order to have power to hurt people; what they do is not possible without the power of victimhood. People screaming “We have to believe the victim! Women are constantly being threatened and men don’t do enough to protect and believe them!” are not trying to push society’s values in the other direction and overshooting; they are pushing in the same direction society has always pushed for the entire history of human civilization.

      Men are raped as often as women, and women are as likely to be rapists as men; the only reason you think that false negatives are inherently going to harm women and false positive inherently going to harm men is because you have bought into the biases of a system that was knowingly, deliberately, and maliciously constructed to maximize harm to men. There is no other way to describe the feminist influence on criminal justice and the popular perception of rape. What you think you know is wrong. It is a falsehood. It is a lie that is told in order to cause harm. Feminists want to maximize the false negatives when it is female rapists at issue; the people who ensured that this would become law were feminists, all of them were feminists, none of them were not feminists, they used the power of feminism to accomplish their goal, they did this goal in the name of feminism, they were not opposed by feminists, and people who opposed them were attacked by feminists as being anti-feminist. There is no possible way to interpret it other than that feminism is responsible for it.

      There is no happy medium between “the justice system should not be able to be used as a tool of malice to punish the unpopular for being alive” and “but we really want to be able to use the justice system as a tool of malice to punish the unpopular for being alive”.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        Yeah but if you read my post you would note that I specifically said I was putting aside the rape of men thing to have a tighter discussion.

        Regarding pretty much everything else you said this is why lefties don’t comment here. Because this utter nonsense gets posted. Actually centrists don’t even like to post here because of this ranty garbage.

        • “Actually centrists don’t even like to post here because of this ranty garbage.”

          Do you think Jill/Moon’s posts drove conservatives out of the group?

          I can’t see why what one perceives as bad arguments passionately made for views you disagree with would be a strong reason to leave the group where they are made. You have the option of either ignoring them or pointing out reasons they are demonstrably wrong, assuming that they are. If anything, they help one side by making the other side look bad.

        • Mark says:

          I’m not too sure how far that particular comment is relevant to the discussion, but as a lefty, I’d rather have the possibility of reading comments like it, than not.

          In fact, I think there is something wrong (not medically or morally, behaviourally) with people who read a comment like that and then fly off in a huff, never to read or comment again.
          It suggests to me that they are somewhat thin-skinned, perhaps a bit too far up their own orifice.

        • DrBeat says:

          The fact that you put aside the rape of men to have a tighter discussion is part of the problem. You are part of the problem. You think that it is okay and fair and sensible to have a discussion about rape, while ignoring half of the victims of rape, because you do not believe them to “really” be victims. Because you are sexist. If you had said “I only want to talk about the rape of white women by black men in order to have a tighter discussion”, everyone would call you a racist, and they would be one hundred percent right to do so, because this would show that you were a racist. You thinking it makes for a “tighter discussion” to ignore half of rape victims, instead of a useless one, means you are a sexist.

          I also like how you just assert what I said was garbage, without backing it up at all. Because, and I cannot stress this enough, you are sexist. Your actions and perceptions are all deeply colored by your sexism. You may think that your sexism is good and righteous and noble and fair, but so has literally every single bigot who has ever lived, ever.

          • 1soru1 says:

            When you are the majority, you have the responsibility to act as the sensible ones, saying things that are widely believed to be true. Is it really too much to ask to see some people who consider themselves rational rightists to make a post along the lines of:


            1. the only way you can say men are raped as often as women is if you include prison rape.

            2. the only way you can say women rape as often as men is if you use the ludicrous ‘had sex after a glass of wine’ definition that you occasionally see out there.

            #1 is perhaps arguable, #2 is point-scoring that only makes sense in your own head, tying them together is incoherent.

            As a leftist, people who could say some variety of that, and vote Trump, are worth debating to. People competing for red-flavoured outrage points are not.

          • DrBeat says:

            0: No, I am not a rightist. And no, MRAs/anti-feminists are not the majority. Feminism, because it is sexism and is congruent to sexism and has all of the goals of sexism and has all of the biases of sexism but also allows people to feel as though they are fighting sexism, is the most powerful and popular social movement in the Western world by a WIDE margin.

            1: No, the only way you can count men as being raped as often as women is not by including prison rape. You just have to count the rape of men as being rape. The CDC, in the first time they ever even bothered to gather data on men being sexually violated, classified it as “Made to Penetrate” and explicitly excluded it from all of their calculations about rape, even though it is rape and shows the rate of rape is equal for men and women. They did this because of feminism’s demands that they do this in order to serve the narrative of feminism, under the leadership of feminists, using the power of feminism, who were not opposed by feminists. If you count prison rape, men are the overwhelming majority of rape victims, because men are the overwhelming majority of prisoners, even though women in prison rape each other at higher rates.

            2: No, you do not have to use the “had sex after a glass of wine” as the definition of rape to say women are as likely to be rapists as men. You just have to actually gather information on male victimization by women, something that — due to the efforts of feminism and nobody else, under feminist leaders who got their power because they are feminist, using the power of feminism and respect of feminism in accordance with the goals of feminism and with no opposition from feminism — public researchers have either refused to do or actively been prevented from doing. When you look at the CDC’s data for men being raped that they refused to classify as rape, 40% of rapes that happen are a man being raped by a woman. Other research elsewhere suggests that female rapists are more numerous because they are less pathologized and each one commits fewer rapes (you have to be more severely broken to rape women because that requires you to push against a much stronger message from society, whereas men are always assumed to be consenting and not to have the right to say no).

            If you are immersed in feminism, you can’t notice these things. They can’t find purchase in your brain. They slide away, to be replaced by The Gender Narrative. Because feminism is sexism, and being immersed in it is like being the fish who doesn’t know it is wet.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            You just have to actually gather information on male victimization by women, something that — due to the efforts of feminism and nobody else,

            Was anyone collecting statistics on how many men were being forced to penetrate women before the feminists were around? I agree with much of what you say, but I think you are letting many other guilty parties off the hook with your single-minded focus on the mistakes feminists have made.

          • Anonymous says:

            Was anyone collecting statistics on how many men were being forced to penetrate women before the feminists were around?

            Back then, it wouldn’t have remotely counted as rape, so probably not. Our conception of rape is to the 1700s conception of rape as the TWC conception of rape is to ours.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I meant before contemporary feminism came around (i.e. the early 1960s), not before the suffragettes.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Earthly Knight –

            I feel it is fair to hold people more morally culpable when they have better reason to know better, however.

            And men’s rights activists have been around for a while – since at least the 1920s – it isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, nor one that feminism made possible.

          • Garrett says:

            “The fact that you put aside the rape of men to have a tighter discussion is part of the problem.”

            Though I agree that categorically ignoring the rape of men doesn’t get a complete resolution, picking off a section of the problem and working is still worthy, especially if it is more likely to get to a useful conclusion.

            Telling the local food bank that their activities are worthless because they don’t help hunger in central Africa resolves nothing.

          • DavidS says:

            @Thegnskeld: 1920s MRA? I’m intrigued. Who were they and what were they campaigning for?

          • “When you look at the CDC’s data for men being raped that they refused to classify as rape, 40% of rapes that happen are a man being raped by a woman”

            Can you point us at that data, preferably webbed? It strikes me as unlikely, but I could be wrong.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidS

            The history of men’s rights is linked to feminism, since there was only reason to say: ‘we focus on men’s rights, not women’s rights’ once women’s rights came up in a significant way (before, people would just focus on labor rights, voting rights for all men, etc; which had a gender component, but this was not explicitly addressed in relation to female rights).

            The initial 1920’s movement was very much traditionalist and based on a belief in large biological differences between the sexes. It died out before WW II.

            Then in the 1970s, men’s rights sprung up again, but now with traditionalist and progressive branches.

            @Friedman

            79.2% of made to penetrate perpetrators are women. 98.1% of rape perpetrators (with female victims) are men.

            The CDC survey shows almost exactly the same number of made to penetrate male victims as female rape victims for the 12 month preceding period (1,267,000 vs 1,270,000), which means that you can do a simple calculation:

            ( 100 – 79.2 + 98.1 ) / 2 = 59.45 percent of perpetrators of both crimes combined are men, so 100 – 59.45 = 40.55% are women.

            PS. You can find these percentages on page 24 of NISVS 2011.

            PS2. NISVS shows inconsistency between the lifetime and 12 month figures. I have a theory why this is the case and believe that the 12 month figures are likely to be far less unreliable.

          • DavidS says:

            @aapje: I can definitely imagine anti-suffrage types. But were they arguing for men’s rights as opposed to arguing for people to be required to follow traditional roles etc?

            Was assuming MRA wasn’t just being used to mean anti-feminism!

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidS

            I can definitely imagine anti-suffrage types. But were they arguing for men’s rights as opposed to arguing for people to be required to follow traditional roles etc?

            I looked into it a bit more and have to withdraw my earlier statement. It appears that even at that time, men’s rights advocates were quite diverse.

            You had people like Otto Weininger, who argued that people had masculine and female sides; where only masculine women had the attributes for emancipation. This is quite traditionalist.

            But you also had people like Sigurd Hoeberth, who seems very close to modern anti-marriage beliefs (marriage is unfair to men, because the law no longer requires that women uphold their traditional role, but it requires that men do). As he didn’t argue that women should be forced into their traditional role, but that men should be freed from it, he was not traditionalist.

            In any case, this seems to have been rather marginalized and splintered, mostly centered around individuals and dying with them.

            Was assuming MRA wasn’t just being used to mean anti-feminism!

            That is a rather complex issue. Many MRAs believe that mainstream feminist theory is biased/sexist and/or that they actively fight against MRAs gaining a platform & thus, that feminism doesn’t actually work to achieve equality.

            Of course, the hostility between feminists and MRAs is a bit of a chicken and egg situation: do feminists oppose MRAs so fiercely because MRAs oppose feminism or is it the other way around? Or both? Whatever the truth, currently it is very common for feminists to seek out MRAs and try to prevent them from from having conferences, discussion groups, giving speeches, etc. I think that it is completely logical that MRAs oppose a group who spend a lot of effort to suppress them.

            I don’t think that this means that MRA is the same as anti-feminism, but merely that most of them hold that position. Then again, a lot of them are also fiercely anti-traditionalist, so it’s not that they want to reverse feminism.

            A common criticism of feminism by MRAs is actually to accuse them of being traditionalist.

        • Barely matters says:

          Specifically made an account to post now that the right wingers are backing off.

          I don’t think you’re going to like it though, because despite being firmly left wing, I largely agree with what Dr beat is saying here.

          It’s important that we recognize when we’re making mistakes and make efforts to do better, because that’s the very premise of progressive thought.

          Essentially, *you* might not like to post because of posts like this, but that doesn’t generalize to others on the left. I’d like to see more of it.

      • DavidS says:

        You’re making some surprising claims here and need to back them up. Obviously the rape numbers one but also the idea that every bully thinks they’re punching up. I’ve talked to ex bullies who are fairly open they picked on the weak for fun and the dynamic of schoolyard bullying is in my experience mostly the sort of strong picking on outsiders, weak people,, ‘weird’ people rather than bullies thinking they’re fighting the man.

        On the numbers surely the official figures on this far precede feminism as a significant force, even if we assume it’s now dominant?

        You may have some good points but I’m not sure anyone who didn’t already agree with you would be at all pursuaded by this or by your post below where you just call your interlocutor sexist

        • Thegnskald says:

          The CDC crime victimization survey backs his statements about the number of male rape victims up, less so the number of female rapists. Men and women rape each other in approximately equal number, but as a result of prison rape, men are more likely to rape other men than women are to rape other women.

          I have had conversations with male rape victims, and at least one I have spoken to was raped by being threatened with a rape accusation if he didn’t accede to sex. This sharply underlines that male rape victims cannot be ignored in the conversation, regardless of how well-meaning the intent, because it amounts to institutional sexism even if not deliberate.

          • DavidS says:

            Can you link to the evidence you’re referring to?

            The context for ‘ignoring’ in this post was very explicitly to consider another angle of the debate not to sideline make victims. I agree there’s an issue with them getting sidelined – whatever the numbers – but the ones about the worst example to pick on.

          • Thegnskald says:

            The CDC crime victimization survey. It will be the first link in Google, unless rankings have changed.

            And if “institutional bias” doesn’t describe the fact that male victims are consistently and systematically ignored in all conversations, it doesn’t mean anything at all. Saying “Yes I am aware they exist” doesn’t really serve any purpose but to justify ignoring them, a placatory gesture which only serves the purpose of setting aside a group which is consistently and universally set aside.

            I brought up the case of the rape-by-threat-of-rape-accusation for a reason, moreover. It demonstrates the major problem with the topic as raised; rather than “Believe victims” addressing a power imbalance, it exaggerates one. Ignoring male victims erases critical information about relative power in our society, which, with regard to a crime often treated as proof of systematic power imbalances in our society, renders discussion ignorant.

          • DavidS says:

            OK, found first link. Got to a webpage that links to a factsheet. Factsheet starts:
            “In a nationally representative survey of adults nearly 1 in 5 (18.3%) women and 1 in 71 men
            (1.4%) reported experiencing rape at some time in
            their lives.”
            https://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/SV-DataSheet-a.pdf

            This seems to contradict what you said? So is this a different source, or is there some different analysis being applied to the underlying stats (e.g. different definition of rape)

            I don’t think explicitly mentioning an issue to say you’re focusing on a different one is ignoring. OP was talking about the cultural issues around rape perceived as an issue where men are accused and women are potential victims. He explicitly recognise that this in itself ignored another important issue of men as victims, and was obviously not thrilled to be doing so. This sort of forum is good because people try to approach things rationally rather than just as political slug-fests, and you need to be able to separate issues in that way to do so effectively.

            I’m not arguing about your final para. I think the ‘believe victims’ mantra is a response to the tendency not long ago for people reporting rape to be pretty much ignored in many cases. But obviously as a credo it has the fairly gaping issue of ‘what if they’re not victims’ and ‘how can we believe them without reversing presumption of innocence’.

          • Thegnskald says:

            I am on a cell phone; I have given you the information you need to find the report, and you can do so far more easily than I can.

            But this argument is going in circles. I feel you are ignoring the substantive point I am making, so let me phrase it differently:

            This is not a natural point to divide categories. The categories are muddled, the issue is complex, and the simplification at work here erases critical information. In a universe where the threat of false rape accusations have been used to rape, the question of balancing false positives against false negatives is a useless level of oversimplification.

            I have personally deployed that argument in the past, and recognize how enticing it is; it is an excellent rebuttal against a flawed proposal. But this defense of it isn’t a principled defense of a well grounded argument, it is the defense of a useful soldier in an ideological war.

            I would rather correct society’s problems than correct feminism’s mistaken beliefs.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidS: the CDC categorizes (I’m not sure what the legal definitions are) rape as something where the victim is penetrated. A situation where a woman has sex with a man who does not provide legally acceptable consent, if he is the penetrating partner, is thus not counted as rape. I believe the CDC’s counting also does not include stuff that goes on in prison – if you include prison, men raped by the official definition significantly increase in number.

            If you fold in the “made to penetrate” stat into rape – if you say “having sex with someone who is not consenting is rape, regardless of who’s Tab A and who’s Slot B” – the numbers are different. If you’re counting reported lifetime incidence, it becomes about 18% of women and about 6% of men. For reported last-year incidence, they both sit around 1%.

          • DavidS says:

            @Thegn: sorry, just don’t follow that. We may not even disagree but I don’t know what the ‘this’ is that isn’t a natural place to divide categories.

            You and DrBeat said as many women rape men as vice versa. I thought this was a surprising and thefore interesting stat. The report you suggested says the opposite. If you use a different definition to that in the report (which would be helpful to mention!) then it gets a bit closer at 18:6 as dndnrsn says (the ‘last year’ stat sounds interesting but isn’t on the thing I looked at and (‘about 1% covers quite a large potential variance of approx 0.5%-1.5%). Also not sure how that stat includes other things: the main fact sheet talks about women and men having approximately equal % of ‘non-rape sexual assault’ which include being made to penetrate, so not sure if there are other things we should also be rolling into the overall stat if we’re including that.

            As a general rule if you’re making a claim which will surprise people, which some people will be suspicious of, and which is very interesting if true, I think it’s really worth being clear about the source, what your terms mean etc. Otherwise it’s likely that people inclined to agree with you will go away thinking their side has science on its side, those who aren’t will ignore you entirely and it doesn’t really move on the debate at all.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidS:

            The statistic from the 2010 NISVS (see Table 2.1 and 2.2) is 1.1% for women, rape, 12 month, and 1.1 for men, made to penetrate, 12 month.

            I imagine there are various different interpretations of the discrepancy between the lifetime and 12-month.

            A 3:1 female/male rape victim ratio (taking a genital-neutral definition of rape, and taking the lifetime prevalence over the 12-month) is, interestingly, the inverse of the roughly 3:1 male/female murder victim ratio (although, with regard to murder, men are unquestionably the majority of offenders – 90% of murderers are men, vs just over 75% of victims).

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Most likely, the main reason for the discrepancy between the past-year and lifetime statistics is that the NISVS only surveys adults. Other sources (e.g. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance) suggest that underage girls are forced to have sex far more commonly than underage boys. So while it is technically true to say that men are raped just as often as women, it turns out to be fairly misleading.

            The point is still not widely known and so is well-worth repeating, but I encourage you all to phrase it more precisely: adult men are just as likely to be raped as adult women (counting being forced to penetrate as rape and excluding prison populations).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Earthly Knight:

            Interesting – if that’s the case, that could explain the discrepancy, or a big chunk of it. The NISVS has some statistics about age, but it’s presented in such a way that one can’t do an easy comparison.

            However: does one count “boys” as a subset of “men”? I don’t. If I say “I saw some men having lunch, and they were all drinking beer” that does not include the 14-year-old along for lunch who is drinking soda – I’m not saying he wasn’t present, or that he was drinking beer, but he’s not a man, he’s a boy. “Adult men” is like “canine dogs” – is there any other kind?

          • stevenj says:

            Here’s the link to the full report:
            https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf
            Look at tables 2.1 and 2.2.
            Annual rape victimization rate of 1.1% for women.
            Annual made-to-penetrate victemization rate of 1.1% for men.
            This is limited to non-institutionalized English and Spanish speakers age 18+ in the US. I.e., it excludes everyone in jail or prison.
            So it does support DrBeat’s basic claim.
            Other data items in that table are less supportive.
            (E.g., the lifetime victimization rates)

          • Thegnskald says:

            dnd –

            Last time I looked into the discrepancy, studies suggested men stop reporting in their lifetime rates after 2-5 years, whereas women tend to continue to report (I think women’s rates of self reporting drop off somewhere around the ten or twenty year mark, but I’m going on hazy memories here).

            I’ve encountered other explanations which also seem viable, such as that it tends to be a smaller population of men who are more frequently victimized (the same phenomenon happens with women – having been victimized is a decent predictor of being victimized in the future – so it wouldn’t surprise me if this were also part of it).

            DavidS – I observe your reaction to the data with amusement. Just compare raped women to made-to-penetrate men, in absolute numbers. The difference is negligible in the one-year stats. You can investigate the discrepancy between one year and lifetime rates if you want, or you could just assume they’re correct, but the conclusion you should be coming away with, at the very least, is that in our modern culture, men are as likely to be raped as women. Whether or not this was true thirty years ago doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this discussion.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ dndnrsn

            Like I said, the sentence “men are just as likely to be raped as women” is technically true, but people are unlikely to interpret it as restricted to adults. Sometimes redundancy is called for to ensure that the right message gets through.

            Here’s the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for 2015. As you can see from Table 20 on page 70, 10.4% of girls and 4.8% of boys answered yes to the question “Have you ever been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?”

          • Thegnskald says:

            Earthly Knight –

            It has been a while since I have researched the topic, for reasons of personal sanity, but I seem to recall that adult-child sexual activity was roughly equal, although men were more likely to characterize underaged sexual experiences with adults as voluntary. (Actually, IIRC, boys were more likely to have sexual encounters with adult women than vice versa,, but only because they are overrepresented in juvenile detention centers, where that sort of activity seems to happen at a disproportionate rate)

            (Edit: Cecking your source, boys generally, including under the age of twelve, report higher rates of sexual activity. To me, at least, this implies higher rates of statutory rape is at least a strong possibility, with a culture that promotes sexuality in men as success being a good candidate for why males would be less likely to report it as compulsory)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The straightforward hypothesis that boys are raped less often than girls should probably be preferred to the epicycle-rich hypothesis that rapes transform into consensual encounters in men’s memories but not in women’s after a two-year period has elapsed. At least until you can produce specific evidence supporting the latter.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Earthly Knight –

            Except that some studies have been performed to exactly that conclusion. That there is more information available on the subject isn’t a slam dunk argument, granted, but you might be better served investigating the matter in more detail than assuming that gender stereotypes hold.

          • DavidS says:

            Thanks for links/references! In terms of the lifetime/year discrepancy, do they survey under-18s? Because if not a large chunk could be that more women are raped under-18 than men are forced to penetrate under-18. But in general, it’s such a big gap that I’d think we need more info rather than just choosing one or the other and quoting it as the only stat.

            I’d also want to look at the methodology, specifically whether they describe things as ‘rape’ that the victim does not describe as rape. I imagine they do, but if they don’t then that skews the figures, as people might not be willing to use the word themselves whereas other forms of sexual assault are less loaded.

            Weirdest thing from skimming that report is that they don’t have any reportable level of men saying they’ve been raped by intimate partners (while that’s the most common perpetrator for women and equally most common for men being ‘made to penetrate’.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Thegnskald

            some studies have been performed to exactly that conclusion.

            Okay, but you will need to produce those studies so that they can be appropriately scrutinized. Until then, the simple hypothesis that girls report being raped more than boys because they are raped more than boys should remain the preferred one.

            @ DavidS

            In terms of the lifetime/year discrepancy, do they survey under-18s? Because if not a large chunk could be that more women are raped under-18 than men are forced to penetrate under-18.

            The answer to your question is no. From page 1 of the 2010 NISVS dndnrsn linked to:

            The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey is an ongoing, nationally representative random digit dial (RDD) telephone survey that collects information about experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among non-institutionalized English and/or Spanish-speaking women and men aged 18 or older in the United States.

            The explanation you advance for the discrepancy is most likely the correct one, for the reasons I gave above.

          • DavidS says:

            @Thegnskeld: is telling people they amuse you your way of getting them to listen sympathetically to your arguments?

            I’m leery of drawing many strong conclusions when there’s a statistic that seems contradictory unless I understood the reasons for that and more generally understood the survey better. It’s definitely something worth thinking about, but the approach of the people strongly advocating it on this thread (not including dndnrsn who seems to be more detached) doesn’t fill me with confidence that those reporting it to me are looking at it very objectively: the leap to accusations of sexism from DrBeat , plus the claim that a survey shows rape is equally women on man as man on woman without mentioning this isn’t true by the definition used by said survey, nor mentioning the discrepancy between ‘last year’ and lifetime etc.) So short of dedicating a fair bit of time to looking at the data, methodology etc. I’m not sure who I can rely on for a reasonably fair/objective reading.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidS:

            This is one of those subjects where finding fair analysis and explanation is often harder than doing some primary-source reading and so on.

          • DavidS says:

            @dndnrsn: I’m getting that impression! Cheers for your helpfulness though.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Thanks.

            There’s one or two other useful big surveys but I need to take a look at them again before I say anything about them.

            Overall this is a subject where, even leaving aside people’s biases, the data itself is really tricky (and of course data collection is affected by biases).

          • “plus the claim that a survey shows rape is equally women on man as man on woman without mentioning this isn’t true by the definition used by said survey”

            Perhaps I’m confusing two different posters, but I thought the claim was that being forced to penetrate didn’t get classified as rape, that it should be, that if it was rape rates would be about the same in both directions, and that that was evidence of the bias in the culture doing the classification.

            So it was mentioned, unless I’m confused.

          • DavidS says:

            @DavidF: DrBeat just flatly said as many men are raped by women as vice versa. Thegnskald said the survey confirmed this. Only when I went and dug out the survey did dndnrsn step in to explain the reasoning they were using. He also addressed the year/lifetime discrepancy, which is huge but which the posters making the original unreferenced claim were just silent about.

            If they have strong arguments to make, this way of communicating is a dreadful way to go about it. More honest and more compelling to start with the argument that ‘made to penetrate’ should count as rape, then set out what this does to the figures, and acknowledge and ideally address the lifetime discrepancy head on.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidS

            IMO, DrBeat overstates his position, but the basic criticism is valid.

            The common MRA position that I’ve seen is that the scientific data is severely compromised by bias (in researchers), as well as gender norms that make men prone to under report. As such, they are in the unenviable position that they feel forced to cherry pick the bits from research that do not suffer too much from these problems.

            It is inherently a weak position, because it requires dismissing some research as inaccurate, while accepting other bits. In the case of NISVS, this even means that part of the low level data is dismissed (the life time data) and much of the spin that the summary places on the data (the NISVS summary cherry picks by only focusing on the lifetime data, for example).

            However, I would argue that the common MRA interpretation of the data is more accurate than the commonly reported summary figures, which ignores the valid MRA criticism and greatly overstates the confidence.

            However, the confidence level of the MRA interpretation is still compromised by a lack of research that takes their criticisms more into account. Hopefully their criticism will help to improve the research, which did happen a bit with the NISVS report. The relatively recent change to include ‘made to penetrate’ provided us with data that simply was never collected before. Hopefully, no longer ignoring this category of sexual abuse will lead to more and better research.

            PS. I hadn’t considered that a difference in under-18 victimization could be an explanation of the discrepancy between the 12 month and lifetime figures, which is a very interesting possibility, although the question still remains whether it is a difference in experiences or a difference in how experiences are interpreted (you see the same thing in over-18 rape research, asking people whether they were raped (a classification) gives you far different outcomes than if you ask about specific experiences)

          • DavidS says:

            @aapje: thanks. I’m inclined to think there’s something important here, just obfuscated by some of its advocates.

            On your final point I take it that nisvs records e G too drunk to consent as rape even if the victim doesn’t? Otherwise the stats aren’t really comparable at all.

          • DrBeat says:

            Any conclusion that points to men being victims is an “epicycle-rich hypothesis” even if we know exactly and specifically how men’s victimization is minimized at every stage. Any conclusion that points to women being victims is the obvious truth and only Bad Sexists disagree with it, and they should be punished for being alive.

            Everyone in this field who is not currently speaking about this exact chart knows that lifetime recall numbers are absolutely worthless and the only value they have is in seeing how people’s memories are biased, because the biases of memory completely overwhelm any other factor in the data like “actual occurrence rate”.

            If we were talking about the victimization of women, this would be obvious, it would be pointed out immediately, and it would be LAUGHABLE that people did not account for this. At every point in time other than when we are talking about the victimization of men, this would be obvious, it would be pointed out immediately, and it would be LAUGHABLE that people did not account for this. Because it would show that men are victimized, this knowledge disappears. It is unable to find purchase in the brain. It is obliterated by the Gender Narrative wherein women are inherently powerless and threatened victims who are acted upon and men are inherently powerful and threatening victimizers who act upon others.

            16% of men with documented cases of sexual abuse considered their early childhood experiences sexual abuse, compared with 64% of women with documented cases of sexual abuse. These gender differences may reflect inadequate measurement techniques or an unwillingness on the part of men to disclose this information (Widom and Morris 1997).

            Because we are talking about men being victimized, this is incredibly tenuous, not worth considering, probably will never replicate, social science is without value. It can’t be considered because not enough other research has been done on it, and the incontrovertible fact that this lack of research is due to knowing and malicious action on the part of feminists becomes impossible to notice. (The pattern is identical to the knowing and malicious action taken to conceal the symmetry of domestic violence perpetration. Every single person responsible for this is a feminist. None of them were not feminists. All of them had access to the power of feminism. They used the power of feminism freely. No feminists attempted to stop them. These facts cannot be noticed and cannot find purchase in the brain, by this point the first few sentences have already vanished from the mind forever.)

            If we were talking about women being victimized, it would be horrifying and irresponsible and proof of Bad Sexism to not bring this up. When we are talking about women being victimized, if someone attempts to use rates of reported rape for any purpose other than to talk about how victimized and terrified and powerless women are, we all have to be reminded that it’s horrifying and irresponsible and proof of Bad Sexism not to take into account that women underreport, and to do so by assuming the underreporting rate is infinite, based on zero bits of information other than the Gender Narrative.

            Because we are talking about men being victimized, this information cannot be noticed. It cannot find purchase in the brain. It slides away, to be replaced by Gender Narrative. No standard of evidence is too low to prove women are victims, and no standard of evidence is high enough to prove men are victims. The Gender Narrative consumes all. All is lost. It will never end. Death is the only escape.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidS

            It is a more general issue that for many categorizations, people don’t use the same definitions. For one person, it is perfectly acceptable for a person in a relationship to have sex with their partner while they are still sleeping, for another, it is a severe violation.

            If you survey people by asking whether they were raped, they will use their own definition of rape, which can be very different from the legal definition. It’s also extremely susceptible to societal narratives/concerns/delusions, so you can find far higher self-reported rates in places where people care more about consent, than in places where victims are blamed. In short, the results often tell you more about the traits of the people you survey, than how often the crimes happen and to whom.

            If you avoid the term rape and ask whether a person experienced an act that conforms to the legal definition, you get much more more consistent and comparable results, but you run into other issues. One issue is that legal definitions often somewhat vague or go further than what judges actually convict people for. This is intentional, as we want the judge/jury to look at the context and decide whether the accused acted reasonably where they is some leeway for non-perfect/stupid behavior that was not intentionally malicious. Surveys cannot really account for this and then you get the issue that you talk about: respondents may answer yes if they ever had drunken sex.

            This is a popular example for criticism because:
            A. In some (or most?) surveys, a very high percentage of ‘yes’ answers are of this type
            B. Drunken sex clearly involves a spectrum of ability to give consent. It is possible (or likely?) that people fairly easily answer ‘yes’ in surveys if they had sex when their ability to consent was somewhat compromised, than that they actually feel that their ability to give consent was so much reduced that it is rape. If so, it is possible that a fairly high percentage of the the ‘yes’ answers are cases where people willingly had drunken sex with a relatively high ability to consent.
            C. It seemingly leads to a paradox: if both people are drunk and both escalate a situation into sex, then did both people rape each other?
            D. It can feel like a kafkaesk trap: men and women drink alcohol for the express purpose of reducing their inhibitions, yet when this achieves the logical end result of uninhibited behavior, it gets called a crime. As it is often assumed that men initiate all sex (regardless of whether this is true in a specific case, where it is often assumed), it feels like criminalization of the male role in an otherwise accepted cultural mating ritual.

            Another issue that I have with these surveys is that they often include ‘attempted’ rapes, which seems to include cases where one person made a move, the other person resisted and where the first person then willingly stopped (without being forced to do that by violence or anything like that). This seems like criminalization of cases where there is miscommunication, but no actual intent to rape.

            Although I would argue that a far greater issue is how the results are presented (‘rape happens to 1 in X women’) without mentioning any of these issues.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Dr Beat

            Everyone in this field who is not currently speaking about this exact chart knows that lifetime recall numbers are absolutely worthless and the only value they have is in seeing how people’s memories are biased, because the biases of memory completely overwhelm any other factor in the data like “actual occurrence rate”.

            What is your evidence for saying this? I think several of the assumptions you are making here are pretty dodgy, so let me try to set them out explicitly:

            A1. Most adults have reliable memories about rapes that occurred in the past year.
            –This is needed to establish your original claim about parity between the sexes, in conjunction with the NISVS data showing that men and women report being raped in the past year in equal numbers.

            A2. Most people have unreliable memories about rapes which took place more than a year in the past.
            –This is needed to establish your current claim that the NISVS data showing that women report a higher lifetime rate of being raped than men can’t be trusted.

            A3. Women’s memories and men’s memories of rapes which took place more than a year in the past are unreliable in different ways; either women (but not men) tend to confabulate phony memories of having been raped, or men (but not women) who have been raped tend to forget that they have been raped.
            –This is needed to explain why women report a higher lifetime victimization rate than men in the NISVS, given your claim that this does not reflect an actual difference in victimization rates.

            A1 and A2 are fine individually but suspicious together (is there really a sharp decline in the accuracy of memory after exactly a year has elapsed?), while A3 strikes me as fairly ad hoc in the absence of corroborating evidence.

            The explanation of the discrepancy between the past-year and lifetime rates that I’ve been defending, on the other hand, looks a lot more straightforward. All of the data from the surveys are basically accurate; equal numbers of adult women and adult men are raped in any given year, while girls are much more frequently victimized than boys. The YRBS data I cited above also supports this hypothesis.

            16% of men with documented cases of sexual abuse considered their early childhood experiences sexual abuse, compared with 64% of women with documented cases of sexual abuse. These gender differences may reflect inadequate measurement techniques or an unwillingness on the part of men to disclose this information (Widom and Morris 1997).

            I’ll try to track down a copy of this when I get a chance, but this concerns childhood sexual abuse more generally, not rape, and there’s a lot of residual weirdness here. For starters, the YRBS data tells us that around 5% of high-school age boys and around 10% of high-school age girls report having been forced to have sex, so if we take these underreporting rates at face value, we’re led to the somewhat preposterous conclusion that around 30% of boys and 17% of girls are raped before leaving childhood. It’s also hard to see how this can be squared with A1, above– if 84% of men who were sexually abused as children did not conceptualize their experiences as sexual abuse, how can we trust that adult men reliably report how often they were forced to penetrate someone in the past year?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidS and Aaapje:

            The NISVS says “drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent” in its definitions of the acts relevant to discussion. The third and fourth both refer to things that are unquestionably illegal (drugged implies someone else slipped them one, and passed out is obvious). However, in criminal law the bar tends to be much higher for nonconsent due to intoxication. I don’t know about the various jurisdictions in the US, but in Canada the line is fairly high – it’s a level of drunkenness usually only reached by inexperienced drinkers who drink a lot quickly (which is the case in the case law).

          • Protagoras says:

            @DrBeat, I’m with you up to the point where you blame everything on feminists. Feminists are human, and take the path of least resistance, and of course they are interested in women’s issues, not men’s issues. I’m sure you can find some feminists arguing against the idea that men are sometimes victims of women. But they’re far from being the main reason that that narrative doesn’t get much attention. Surely that has a lot more to do with ideas about masculinity (which feminists criticize, of course). How many of the people challenging your statistics in this thread have been feminists, vs. how many conservatives?

          • DavidS says:

            @DrBeat: if you have good points to make (as the comments of aapje and dndnrsn suggest you might), please stop hiding them under these rants about how everyone else is brainwashed by Capitalised Conspiracies etc. It really doesn’t help. At the moment, you are the last person I’d believe about what the normal protocols are in terms of looking at lifetime vs. last year (besides the fact that your arguments is implausible and seems paranoid on its own merits: from what I can see, the survey asked about lifetime experiences and reported on them as the main stat before people looked at their report and madethe argument that we should read ‘made to penetrate’ as rape and therefore started comparing the annual figure for that with the annual figure for rape).

            You seem to assume the reason your arguments don’t make much purchase is because of the power of some shadowy ‘Gender Narrative’. I suspect it’s just that your posts assume you’re right and everyone else is stupid, indoctrinated and/or acting in bad faith. Please try more charitable assumptions!

            @aapje: I think I generally agree, although in this survey the ‘rape in form of being intoxicated’ was a surprisingly low proportion as it happens. In general, I think we run into a ‘rape is rape’ narrative that is a justified attempt not to minimise but also might cloud boundaries between different actions it’s worth distinguishing between. Especially the ‘not fully able to consent due to drink etc.’ issue which is amongst other things fairly obvious to what I call the ‘Meatloaf problem’ (i.e. someone swearing that two people who had sex both got raped which is at least at surface implausible).

            @dndnrsn: from that phrasing we’re presumably relying a lot on individual’s readings of ‘unable to consent’. Does that mean ‘literally cannot say yes or no’ or ‘decision isn’t representative of what I’d do sober’, or somewhere in-between? Suspect it depends on the person.

          • @Dr. Beat:

            Possibly relevant.

            My first reaction to your claims was that they were probably false. The reason was the combination of two facts. The first was that the mechanics of intercourse make a man physically forcing it on a woman much more practical than the other way around. The second was that a background assumption of our culture is that men are much more likely to want sex, at least with a random not unattractive partner, than women are. I think that assumption is consistent with what one would expect from evolutionary biology.

            I am not a feminist, but absent evidence it still sounded to me like a wildly implausible claim.

            You pointed me at evidence, I looked at some of it and others here at other parts, and it looks as though your claim is at least approximately correct, certainly there is evidence to support it. Posters also gave two plausible examples of how intercourse could happen without male consent.

            Possibly relevant … . When I hear a story about how an attractive female teacher in her twenties has had sex with a high school student, my automatic reaction is that the correct description is not “she abused him” but “he got lucky.”

            I don’t think any of that set of attitudes on my part are due to feminism. It’s some combination of looking at m/f differences from an evolutionary point of view and taking for granted background assumptions of the culture that long predate the modern feminist movement.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidS: the questions are given in Appendix C and they don’t go into any details about what “drunk” or “high” means so that’s a major area of subjectivity. The relatively low rate you point out could mean that people are taking it to mean “really, really wasted”, beyond just “decision-making impaired”.

            Vaguely related: have we lost some of the language to describe stuff that is generally agreed to be morally wrong or at least questionable, but not a crime?

            @David Friedman: you’re right that this isn’t something new, or something that can be blamed on feminists or feminism. Cultures ranging from the traditional to the modern tend to be down on male expressions of vulnerability – which stating victimhood, in this case, is. Few to no cultures like men who are vulnerable/weak. Even people whose politics should lead them to try and buck this often don’t, because thousands of years (or longer) of conditioning (and for all we know biology) are hard to break.

          • DrBeat says:

            @Earthly Knight: The apparent contradiction between A1 and A2 is obviously untrue. You cannot notice it because it would cause you to notice male victimization. The narrative is invincible. All is lost.

            Recall of events is less accurate the further back in time the event is. This is completely uncontroversially true and agreed on by every person in the entire world who is not currently speaking about that exact chart. You cannot remember that. There is no magic line at 1 year; recall of events at 1 year is much less accurate than recall of events at 3 months (which is apparently what you’re actually supposed to use for accurate reporting). But it is more accurate than recall of events that happened 5, 10, or 20 years ago, and so a category that incorporates only recall of events 1 year ago is more accurate than a category that incorporates recall of events 5, 10, or 20 years ago. Not only do you know all these things, not only is this conclusion obvious, but already you believe all these things to be true at every moment in time that you are not actually discussing that chart. That chart renders you incapable of remembering things you know. The narrative is invincible. All is lost.

            @Protagoras: Feminists actively work to minimize recognition of male victimhood. They do it, we can see them do it, all of them are feminists, none of them are not feminists, they do it with the power of feminism, nobody attempts to deny them this power. Feminists in India and Israel actively and successfully lobbied to prevent the definition of “rape” from becoming gender-neutral, because they said that if men could be raped they would victimize women by claiming to be raped. Feminists never spoke up against this, and spoke up in support of this, while speaking at great length to decry things in the same areas of the world that they think are worthy of redress. You cannot notice that this would allow you to draw a conclusion about what things a group supports if that group was anything else in the entire world, because this group claims the mantle of Women. The narrative is invincible. All is lost.

            Some of you, when you read that, will already start arguing that is an appropriate thing to do because it was somehow necessary for “where those countries were at” because even though the thing at discussion right now is how men and women are raped at the same rate, you instantly and automatically assume that of course men are Those Who Victimize and women are Those Who Are Victimized. The narrative is invincible. All is lost.

            Mary Koss, one of the most powerful and respected feminists upon this planet Earth, whose power is entirely derived from the fact she is a feminist, who is accepted as a feminist and is given the power of feminism freely, advises governments and the UN that men cannot be raped by women, it is “inappropriate” to classify it as rape because, at most, it was “a man who was ambivalent about his desires”. Under her guidance, in accordance with her stated beliefs, in serving her ideology, governments and the UN systematically erase male rape and present rape as something inflicted by agentic men on helpless women. Funding is given exclusively and explicitly to help victims or to research or to prevent the rape of women, and organizations that actually help in a gender-neutral way are explicitly told they must stop helping male victims or they will be shut down. You cannot notice this. You cannot remember this. The narrative is invincible. All is lost.

            Feminists, all of whom were feminists and none of whom were not feminists, who had free access to the power of feminism and were not prevented or opposed by feminists, whose opponents were opposed by feminists and accused of hating feminism, get their hatred of men enshrined in law. You are incapable of noticing this. We knew domestic abuse was gender-neutral when the Violence Against Women Act was written, explicitly protecting women at the expense of men. No, it is not “gender-neutral” today. Due to the actions of feminists, all of whom were feminists and none of whom were not feminists and all of whom had free access to the power of feminism and none of whom were opposed by feminists, colleges today establish kangaroo courts designed at every stage to convict men of rape in the belief that men are rapists and women are rape victims, and explicitly judge their success by the number of men convicted. You cannot notice this. Anyone else, on the subject of anything else, this would prove both that they had power and were using it maliciously. You cannot notice this. The narrative is invincible. All is lost.

            Death is the only escape. The world will continue to become less tolerable. The people destroying it will all be convinced they are noble and righteous and good. They will be incapable of noticing anything else.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            @DrBeat

            I know this is only one data point, but for whatever it is worth: I, a woman, first ran into serious discussion of female-on-male rape (and potential severe underreporting of men getting raped in general) as a Major Issue That Should Have More Attention Paid To It on a feminist blog. Since then, the only people I have heard discussing it – in that context – were feminists and occasionally people in this comments section. Those were certainly not mainstream feminists; I am very uncomfortable with some elements of mainstream feminism and this is reading for fun, so it tends to be limited to authors who don’t hold (or don’t emphasize) those beliefs, which would tend to select for the kind of people who would get upset about this. But for whatever comfort it may be, at least a few non-mainstream feminists do think this is a major problem, and talk about it, and try to spread the word – at least successfully enough that I was familiar with the issue, even if my father wasn’t. For whatever comfort it may be, not all feminists do embrace that Men Are Always Perpetrators, Women Are Always Victims narrative.

            Sorry for butting in, everyone else. I just thought that data point might be relevant.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            DrBeat, get lost.

            Get out. Fuck off. Go jump in the lake. Remove yourself. Vanish. Disappear. Be banished.

            These are not the feminists you’re looking for. Your feminist is in another castle. Nobody here is fond of contemporary feminists. Nobody. Scott has been critical of it for a decade now; whatever mainstream feminists might have commented here have left years ago. The people left are those on any side of the political spectrum who think title IX and Andrea Marcotte are not very praiseworthy.

            Go away. Leave. Do not return. You’re not helping your cause. You’re not being convincing. You’re not making some brave stand. You’re being a nuisance. I am in no way qualified to think of the truth in your post, but it is so far away from either being kind or necessary that I would urge Scott to enshrine your comments as examples of those that aren’t. You have no place or purpose here. There is nothing you’re adding to the discussion. You thought you’d fight the wicked, and lashed out at a bystander.

            Just go away. Get lost. It is of no use to fight Moloch, but become Mephistopheles. You didn’t convince a soul of your point. You didn’t make a person think better of your ideas. You have only served to make a great many readers roll their eyes and move on, and there are no people I know of whose time I’d rather you didn’t waste. Just. Stop. Posting.

          • Protagoras says:

            @DrBeat, you don’t provide a lot of citations, just a lot of ranting, and the situations you vaguely describe generally involve organizations not run by feminists. I do not dispute that there were feminists supporting some of these awful decisions (your vagueness does make me worry that you’re misrepresenting some of them, but it’s plausible enough that many of them are more less as you describe). But they would not have been made if the actual decision makers hadn’t taken that side, and there’s almost certainly an element of choosing to support a position they think is more likely to be accepted involved in which positions the feminist activists have chosen to support. And I have to second Rebecca’s anecdata; I’ve also seen rape of males discussed as a problem among feminists, much more than I’ve seen it being dismissed by feminists.

          • DrBeat says:

            @Stefan Drinic:

            You believe that ideas unquestionably held by almost everyone, repeatedly exhibited in the very conversations we are having right now, must be only the province of one specific type of Bad Wrong Feminist. Even though feminism is sexism, and feminism is congruent with sexism, and all of the goals and biases of feminism are all of the goals and biases of sexism, you must believe that someone pointing to widely-held unexamined sexist assumptions must refer exclusively to one specific strain of Bad Wrong Feminist, because to do otherwise would cause you to notice how, just as feminists do not oppose sexism, sexism does not oppose feminism, because they are the same thing. To do otherwise would cause you to notice male victimhood. You cannot notice this. You will never notice this. As long as you live, you will lose the ability to notice what people are talking about when noticing that would cause you to see how the Bad Wrong Feminists are not a separate and distinct group that is far away, but are an instantiation of the sexism that utterly consumes how everyone sees gender, scourging their ability to ever notice true things if gender is involved. The fish will never realize it is wet, and will always think of water as something that must be very far away. It will never have to do otherwise. Everyone it meets with any social or political power, whatever side they place themselves on, will all believe identical things and have identical goals because the narrative consumes them as well. And they will endlessly shower the fish with praise and emotional rewards for saying water is very far away, no matter which of the two sides that believe identical things and have identical goals they blame for having the water.

            The narrative is invincible.

            All is lost.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Dr Beat

            But it is more accurate than recall of events that happened 5, 10, or 20 years ago, and so a category that incorporates only recall of events 1 year ago is more accurate than a category that incorporates recall of events 5, 10, or 20 years ago.

            The YRBS data I cited above suggests that the gender gap in reports of lifetime incidence of rape shows up even among 14-year-olds, very few of whom will be recalling events which occurred 10-20 years prior. This means your hypothesis requires that memory be reasonably accurate up to around one year but fall off pretty substantially soon thereafter. Obviously memory is going to decay as a function of time, but there are a lot of curves fitting that description that you’re foreclosing on here, which is a mark against the hypothesis.

          • @Stefan:

            I disagree with your suggestion to Dr. Beat that he leave. His attitude is passionate and greatly exaggerated but I, at least, know more about the issue he raised than I did before he raised it. That isn’t true of most posts here, although it is of some.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            @Protagoras:

            Prominence matters, though, and while I’m sure ozy (to name a (not-so-)random feminist blogger who has a strong position on male rape) is great, he sure as hell isn’t as prominent or as influential as Mary Koss. I think it’s something about central and non-central examples.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        the biases of a system that was knowingly, deliberately, and maliciously constructed to maximize harm to men.

        I don’t disagree with everything you said, but this in particular seems particularly silly, at least make up a more defensible “pervasive but uncoordinated mechanisms” like The Cathedral or The Patriarchy.

        And ease up on the Bulversim, please.

      • Aapje says:

        @DrBeat

        the only reason you think that false negatives are inherently going to harm women and false positive inherently going to harm men is

        The evidence suggests that men are far less likely to seek legal remedies if they are sexually abused and in fact, are far less likely to identify experiences as sexual abuse than women with similar experiences. None of this is the fault of feminists, although I see little interest by feminists to change it.

        The logical consequence is that currently, defendants in sexual assault cases are overwhelmingly men and victims overwhelmingly women. So any changes that harm the defense in sexual assault cases will de facto overwhelmingly harm men (in the defense role) and help women (in the accuser role).

        This is why education about sexual abuse of men (by women) is so important as well as reducing the stigma, because if men start going to the police more, people with gender biases will automatically be forced to deal with the other type of error, when they reflexively choose a side based on the gender of the person.

        If they reflexively choose the side of women and the accused is a woman, they will be forced to consider things like false accusations to rationalize their support. If they reflexively choose the side of men and the accuser is a man, they will be forced to consider things like the difficulty of proving the case.

        you have bought into the biases of a system that was knowingly, deliberately, and maliciously constructed to maximize harm to men.

        I think that pretty much every feminist honestly believes that the system is set up to benefit men and harm women & that their remedies will result in an more egalitarian society.

        Now, I think that their understanding of reality is usually severely biased, in no small part because most of feminism is built on false premises and favors bad methodology. However, this merely results in people honestly believing in and acting on a very, very wrong model of reality. It doesn’t make them people who seek to harm men.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          This is why education about sexual abuse of men (by women) is so important as well as reducing the stigma, because if men start going to the police more, people with gender biases will automatically be forced to deal with the other type of error, when they reflexively choose a side based on the gender of the person.

          Do we really want this? I mean, we obviously want people who feel abused to have the tools to remedy it and prevent further instances. However, if a great deal of men don’t “feel” that this thing we have classified as abuse is a traumatic experience, isn’t that a good thing? To the extent that people’s reaction to these events is manipulable, don’t we want them to feel less victimized and damaged, instead of more?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            As I understand it, men *do* get traumatized, they’re just not apt to have words for what happened to them.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            How many of them, though? I really don’t mean to erase the people who really do suffer abuse, but given that so many men don’t report it as traumatic, or report it as not traumatic, maybe there’s something else going on there.

            This is a genuine request for data (if it exists), by the way, I have no idea if studies about this have been done, and what results they show.

          • Adam says:

            I’ve been raped and was not traumatized. A woman aroused me and had sex with me while I was asleep, and I was sufficiently drunk that this did not wake me up. I only know it happened because of third-party witnesses who told me it happened. Reasons I was not traumatized:

            -I don’t remember it and it’s hard to be traumatized by something you don’t remember
            -We were friends, she is plenty attractive, and, all things being equal, I’d have sex with her consciously
            -She didn’t give me a disease and I’m infertile and couldn’t get her pregnant

          • Thegnskald says:

            Men don’t automatically consider rape to be a violation. Adam’s reply neatly demonstrates this.

            Women are taught that rape is violatory, on the other hand. I suspect there is some amount of truth to the idea that much if not most of the harm of rape originates in social attitudes towards rape.

            Personally I remember my immediate reaction being annoyed that my wishes weren’t respected, and gave the individual responsible a talking-to about consent. The visceral reaction happened as a result of a related pregnancy scare, which turned out to be nothing, but the prospect of which felt acutely violatory.

          • Randy M says:

            The word traumatized seems to have some variance here. I would only consider trauma to be the recurring emotions stemming from the event itself, which is of course impossible if not remembered; but trauma isn’t the only harm from “forced to penetrate”; Adam’s third qualifier wouldn’t apply to everyone. Especially since he might well be on the hook for child support if he had been more fertile than he realized.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Rape covers a wide range– there’s the minimal case of lack of consent with a desired person while drunk/asleep and little or no physical risk, but there are other possibilities involving a detested person, physical risk, financial risk, threats, and/or physical force. It isn’t suprising if those can cause trauma.

          • Anonymous says:

            Men don’t automatically consider rape to be a violation. Adam’s reply neatly demonstrates this.

            Indeed! That’s a valuable insight.

            Also, consider that the definition of “rape” that this subthread is using here is roughly “sex with someone without that other party’s consent”. This is actually pretty far from the definition of rape used even 50-100 years ago in the West, which was arguably more in line with people’s intuitions of what rape is and isn’t. What happened to Adam simply wouldn’t count.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that male trauma is suppressed more than is reasonable.

            I think that female trauma is ‘mandatory’ more than is reasonable.

            I would suggest that we need to find a medium between the two states, where we don’t assume that men should be happy with whatever happens to them sexually (by women) & give consent by default and where we don’t assume that a violated woman necessarily suffers from horrible trauma (and if she doesn’t, that something is wrong with her).

            I would argue that people should be taught that violated people of either gender can have a range of trauma and that we should respect that and not judge them negatively for the level of trauma they feel they suffered.

        • Thegnskald says:

          I suspect the individual in question has a personal stake in the issue and substantive anger about it. Having been through that particular ringer myself, it does quite hostile from the inside; it took a couple years for me to let go of the anger.

          That said, Feminism, with emphasis on the capital letter, has spent a lot of collective effort undermining the people attempting to fight sexism against men. When the men’s rights movement is treated as a right-wing attempt to destroy feminism, rather than a left-wing effort to bring justice to a largely ignored group in society, it is difficult not to fight back. I have never met a men’s rights activist who didn’t try feminism first, only to find it a largely hostile ideology to any attempts to resolve cissexual men’s social issues; it practically demands a renunciation of masculinity as an evil social construction in order to participate. (Even most of the nominally pro-male feminists seem to treat the solution to all problems to make men less like men.)

          The algorithm looks quite different from the outside than the inside.

  7. Patrick Merchant says:

    So, I’ve decided to donate 10% of my income every year to charity. I was considering donating to Against Malaria (or something similar), but my brother made the following argument against it:

    “You are contributing to a dependency relationship which has created conditions for a gigantic African population that can’t be cared for. Since the continent exists in a condition of scarcity, they butcher one another. You know the demographic transition, right? It’s the thing where you have a population explosion as death rate drops but birth rate doesn’t, and then birth rate comes down to match and the population stabilizes. They are not doing that. They are trapped in a massive population growth.”

    I vaguely remember Scott speaking positively about the usefulness of donating money to fight malaria in Africa, but I suspect that I might be thoroughly out of my depth here. What do you guys think? Is Against Malaria worth it, or should I donate the money elsewhere? I’d prefer it if my act of charity didn’t backfire and contribute to an orgy of violence, if at all possible.

    • keranih says:

      I think your brother’s argument is factually incorrect, as the data indicates that across Africa birth rates are falling. Granted – as that article points out – the change is *different* than other parts of the world, but the drop is still there.

      Anti-Malaria work most directly impacts productivity, not population – malaria sickens and incapacitates far, *far* more people than it kills. Part of the scarcity of resources in Africa is organic to the country, the mineral make up, the land-locked nature of several countries, the history of resisting outside influence, and the people. But a non-trival portion of Africa’s “backwardness” is because sick people are a drag on a community, and so is not using a resource (land, a lake, a riverside) because of concerns of catching a disease there.

      Malaria isn’t at all the only serious disease leaning against the success of people and nations in Africa, but it’s a big one.

      This is a useful thing. I would say donate there with an easy heart.

      • Reasoner says:

        Your link is more optimistic than other links like these. But it sounds to me like even your link thinks there is plenty of room for more funding: “most countries have four or more children per woman”, “[Malawi] is sitting on a time bomb”, “Meeting all unmet demand would have major implications for fertility decline in Africa”, ‘If [everyone works really hard], then the fertility decline in Africa will come of age, and the narrative will change from “not possible” to “it’s happening!”’

        Malaria rates are falling too, by the way.

        • keranih says:

          Well, yes, they are certain there is much more work to do, and that they need more money to do it!

          Which work is, largely, telling people they are wrong to want many children, encouraging the widespread use of hormonal contraception, and supporting the facilitation of abortion. Which I’m not down with myself.

          The decline in malaria rates has been sharply increasing lately, directly linked to increased funding and attention. In other words, working on malaria does have an impact. The same amount of money poured into population control –

          – sans methods which have been largely rejected as inhumane –

          – would not have as much effect as fast, because population curves are slow to shift.

    • Spookykou says:

      Global Malaria deaths have been cut in half over the past 15 years, from 800,000ish down to 400,000ish.

      Given that Africa’s population increased by something like 30 Million over the last year.

      It seems unlikely that saving people from Malaria is going to seriously impact population growth in Africa.

      While I personally find your brothers appeal to hunting permit logic with regard to Africans rather … unpleasant, but if you agree with it, then obviously you should not be trying to save lives in Africa, you should be advocating for some sort of culling of the population.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      I don’t know anything about this particular group, but I think working to stop malaria in Africa has almost all upsides and little downsides. I have become convinced that most development aid to underdeveloped countries does result in a net downside. Most people have heard of the resource curse, where countries with lots of natural resources tend to have worse government and worse long-term development chances, because the royalties to government from these resources gives government too much incentive to maintain corruption and discourage development outside those resources. Many underdeveloped countries have a large proportion of their budget being aid from other countries, and this works the same way as the resource curse, making development less likely.

      But stopping malaria has little of this problem, because it is only for medical aid, not for aid that is easier to feed corruption and power. I assume there will be some corruption of those inside developing countries where officials steal medical supplies for sale on the market, but there is less chance of this than with cash aid or food aid. And my understanding is that malaria greatly decreases productivity in Africa at least. And of course it saves lives, which is good in itself. No charity is perfect, but this is better than most.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        Most people have heard of the resource curse, where countries with lots of natural resources tend to have worse government and worse long-term development chances, because the royalties to government from these resources gives government too much incentive to maintain corruption and discourage development outside those resources.

        This came up here once before, and it turned out that several of the core papers on the subject were irreparably flawed because they failed to reckon natural resources per capita. Can you cite some research which doesn’t make this mistake but reaches the same conclusions?

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          I’m sorry that I don’t have any data on the resource curse. I have been convinced of this partly because I’ve read it so many times (wow, that’s a bad reason), but also because it makes sense. Decades ago, one often heard of the advantages of those countries that had a lot of natural resources, but somehow not one of those countries were able to turn that “advantage” into economic development outside of the resource. Instead one heard of those countries that developed despite the “disadvantage” of having few resources, like Japan. Which countries are known for having many resources: Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezeula, Congo (not oil but lots of other). What would be the economic state of any of these countries if they lost their resources? They’d be at the very bottom of poor countries (well Congo is anyway). Norway has done okay, but only because they were developed first. And I suspect that even Norway will be cursed in the long run, as they are finding it too easy to remain one of the richest countries.

          This is the first I have heard that there have been actual studies on this issue. Mostly I’ve read people opining on why certain countries are doing so badly.

    • Reasoner says:

      Yes, I highly recommend donating to family planning charities like Population Services International:

      http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21679781-fertility-rates-falling-more-slowly-anywhere-else-africa-faces-population

  8. Brad says:

    Legal types:

    I came across this Supreme Court case from a prawfsblawg post: Testa v. Katt, 330 U.S. 386 (1947). It stands for the proposition that state courts must enforce federal penal laws. I don’t remember reading this case or any that cited in law school — though that was many years back by now. I find it rather astonishing and contrary to my understanding of federalism.

    • Jordan D. says:

      I don’t think it’s that surprising, although I admit that if you’d asked me about it before you linked that I wouldn’t have been confident about the outcome.

      If you look at the way that case has been interpreted in later cases (especially Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)), the apparent lesson is that courts (and depending on if you buy Frank v. United States, 860 F. Supp. 1030 (D. Vt. 1994)’s interpretation of FERC v. Miss., 456 U.S. 742 (1982), other ‘state adjudicators’) are compelled by the Supremacy Clause to consider federal law, while executive and legislative bodies cannot be so compelled. That makes some sense, from a practical standpoint, but you’re right that the rationale adopted under the Supremacy Clause in Testa sure looks a lot like the reasoning rejected in attempts to force state executives and legislatures to act.

      If I were to guess at a splitting rationale, I’d say it’s that state governors and legislatures have primarily discretionary powers. If Congress adopts a law requiring that all crocs be hunted down and destroyed (under the Commerce Clause, natch), it’s a valid law which is binding on all citizens of the United States, and if an action is brought under the Crocs Are Dumb Law of 2017, courts don’t have the power to ignore that valid law any more than they’re permitted to ignore state laws they don’t like. On the other hand, the executive branch of the state is entitled to ignore croc-related violations in the same way that they are entitled to ignore any other state crime, and state legislatures only need to worry about such laws to the extent that their Let’s All Wear Crocs Forever Act of 2017 would conflict with them.

      I think that’s the best explanation, especially if Frank is right about FERC, and primarily-executive quasi-judicial tribunals are also bound to follow Federal law in issuing decisions.

      ~

      This actually reminds me of an (obviously different in many ways) power-struggle which has been going on in my state for a few years. We have a few large cities which would like to restrict handgun ownership as much as possible, and a state legislature which is very against restrictions. While the state legislature can obviously bind municipalities with laws that restrict the viability of anti-gun ordinances, both the state Attorney General and the DAs of those cities are Democrats, so it becomes hard to challenge those ordinances.

      So what the legislature has been trying to do is get through legislation authorizing qui tam actions which would both give citizens standing to sue municipalities and reward them for doing so. I’ve often wondered if Congress, faced with hostile states, could route around uncooperative executive branches by offering individuals standing and incentive for suit. I can’t imagine that’d be constitutional for criminal matters, but you can do a lot of damage with a civil suit.

      • Brad says:

        I understand that the supremacy clause means that state courts need to apply federal law, but I guess the distinction I would have drawn would be between applying federal law when it comes up versus having to entertain a federal cause of action.

        While there’s some sense to your discretionary / mandatory division between state legislatures and governors on one hand and state courts on the other, it doesn’t strike me as the sort of distinction that the US Supreme Court should be making. The internal details of a state government are fundamentally matters of state constitutional law.

        It is true that even under this decision state prosecutors retain discretion to bring or not bring these cases, but I don’t see why the US Congress should be able to ally with state prosecutors against the wishes of the state legislature and the state judiciary to hijack the machinery of the state legal system for purely federal ends. That makes no more sense than allowing the federal government to co-opt state police forces.

        • Jordan D. says:

          I recognize how weird it is to have a state supreme court told that it is wrong about where state court jurisdiction lies, but I wonder if the case would have come out differently if the state legislature had, for example, passed a law depriving all state courts of jurisdiction under a federal act, as opposed to a state tribunal saying ‘well, technically the US is a foreign sovereign, so…’. I get the feeling that the posture of this case was very much informed by what the US Supreme Court saw as an incorrect interpretation of the relationship between states and the federal government.

          I mean, as far as I know, there’s no explicit requirement that states have courts anyway, is there? So while I can see a requirement that state tribunals consider federal law, where would a requirement that they must accept federal cases come from? Surely a state can do away with unlimited original jurisdiction?

  9. keranih says:

    Seeing as it has already been brought up –

    I really, really hate the suggestion of “temp banning” right-wing voices in order to “correct” the comment balance. Really really *hate* this. Viscerally and profanely.

    Plus, I think that rejecting voices/comments on the grounds of anything other than rationality is counter to the proposed purpose of the blog/community. I mean, seriously, we’re trying to make a better world, but only if the ideas that are accepted as “better” come from left-wingers?

    In the spirit of not just shooting down what I think are terrible, horrible, counter productive ideas, but also offering improvements, I’d like to steal from a leadership-management book I was reading, and propose a different solution:

    Designated dissenters/defectors.

    When a left-leaning person makes a post they think is going to get a pile-on, or when a pile-on happens, they can tag a couple three ‘known red tribers’ to post supporting the left-leaning person. The ‘defectors’ would then make arguments from the left, to the best of their ability.

    In my head, this advantages the designated defectors, because they get (more) practice speaking from the opposition. It helps the left leaners, because they’re not out there all alone, and they even have support from ‘the enemy’.

    One objection might be that the designated defectors might feel like they were being forced to “lie”, but I feel that an upfront statement of defection, plus the attitude of “this is a mental exercise” would avoid that.

    I think that someone alluded to this earlier, but speaking as a redtribe sort who has been exposed to way too many of the wrong sort of ctrl-L, I have a really negative reaction to the “shut up, we don’t want to hear you” kind of censorship. I think it’s really not a good idea. So this is my suggestion for an alternative way to fix what others are seeing as a problem.

    • bean says:

      When a left-leaning person makes a post they think is going to get a pile-on, or when a pile-on happens, they can tag a couple three ‘known red tribers’ to post supporting the left-leaning person. The ‘defectors’ would then make arguments from the left, to the best of their ability.

      That’s a very interesting idea, but I see practical problems. First, you’re imposing an obligation on the defectors to participate, which they may not want to do that day. Second, you’re giving the person who started it carte blanche to take people out of the other side, and it would be only human to take the person who was most annoying last time this came up. Third, how long do the defectors have to participate as defectors? What’s to stop the originator dumping the bulk of the work on to them?
      This seems like a really good idea when everyone’s in the same room, but I’m not sure it generalizes online.

    • carvenvisage says:

      Given that Scott’s most popular posts are exposes of leftist bullying (I think?), and there were left wing commenters at the time who came out and said they’d be dropping this blog as a result, my view is that the comment balance is a result of people being touchy about it being pointed out that people in their group are evil. Maybe this is just to be expected?

      That said, my suggestion to ensure left wingers get a fair hearing, etc, (I’m not trying to minimise this just, acknowledging that I would have a hard time delineate it more specifically than ‘stuff like getting a fair hearing)(if they’re not), is to just to be be harsher on everybody, which should benefit the minority faction. as they have less numbers and thus less weight to jostle around with.

      e.g. in this thread

      1. my last post,

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/21/open-thread-65-25/#comment-446335

      outlines a ‘bailey’, for a particular phrase, but then is dismissive about possible legitimate uses

      2. HBC’s post in the same thread

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/21/open-thread-65-25/#comment-446248

      does the opposite, completely obviating the phrase’s natural potential for abuse and mentioning slavery, jim crow, and woman’s suffrage, while leaving out transgender bathrooms, gay marriage and abortion, actual live topics of the day. (this explanation is longer than the one for my post because I don’t need a long explanation to prove something I admit)

      3. probably a better example, (though perhaps with less culpability) this post by RDninja

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/21/open-thread-65-25/#comment-446261

      reads to me like pure amplification and agreement, which I think is unhealthy on political topics.

       

      I think if things like these (or rather what I view these as, maybe my interpretation is wrong, or my sensitivity is too high, but they should illustrate the idea of minor needless partisan-ness) would catch warnings (or maybe just informings), it might make the atmosphere better for left wingers in particular as the minority party but also everybody.

      • Protagoras says:

        Which left-wing commenters said they’d drop this blog because of Scott’s discussions of leftist bullying? I always think of Scott as more of a leftist than he seems comfortable admitting, largely on the basis that his criticisms of leftism sound more like the internal criticisms I hear leftists make of one another than they do like the criticisms I hear from conservatives. And I had gotten the impression that my view of Scott was not atypical among my fellow left-wing peeps.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          scott’s criticisms do seem rather internal but if you observe the political slant of his comments section and also look at what parts of the blogosphere spread his criticism around, as well as his lack of similar criticism of certain other political orientations, you might feel that his choice to keep discussing this stuff was likely to corrode the value of SSC for you.

          certain posters here took his criticisms as a tool to be used against lefties and they used them gleefully. and because of the lack of balance that is an implicit if perhaps unintentional sanction of the behavior by scott.

          • carvenvisage says:

            and because of the lack of balance

            The lack of balance in the comment section, or in moderation, or what?

            that is an implicit if perhaps unintentional sanction of the behavior by scott.

            There’s a huge difference between sort-of sanctioning something , effectively sanctioning something, and literally sanctioning something, and it’s not clear to me what you mean, which isn’t greate because there’s such a vast difference between the first and the last.

             

            >and also look at what parts of the blogosphere spread his criticism around

            Whose fault is that though? Obviously a strong critique towards the left is going to be a delight for a lot of right wingers, but there should be more left wingers sharing this kind of thing and saying ‘we have to be less tolerant of this kind of behaviour’, it makes us look really bad. Instead there seems to have been a whole lot of contemptuous dismissal and personal attacks, (or maybe I’m wrong?) which is (if true) unfortunately a sign that at least those bloggers view those bullying tactics and indulgences as a core part of their identity, not as something they weren’t really aware of, or were less worried than they should have been about that other people were doing.

            I mean, I think the left has to have the moral highground if it wants to get things done and avoid backlash: because if I see two amoral or immoral groups, one advocating that things stay the same, seemingly full of malice, and one advocating we change things, seemingly also full of malice, the former are WAY less scary. I can’t emphasise that enough. An asshole who wants things to stay the same is just a curmudgeon, an asshole who will change everything according to their ideas looks like a dangerous lunatic, even if those ideas are good.

            __

            This post is probably overly critical. Sorry if so. Those were just the things that popped out at me.

        • carvenvisage says:

          Looking over the comments to ‘untitled’, I didn’t find anyone saying precisely that, though I distinctly remember reading that in at least one top level thread on the topic. -Now I know it must have been elsewhere. I did come across two things quite like that though:

          1. a denunciation of Scott and his motives

          http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/#comment-169873

          which is kind of equivalent to dropping the blog

          2. And a seemingly well intentioned PSA describing Scott Aaronson’s post as, ‘signalling assholery’, -and thus likely or liable to instantly and permanently close the minds of this poster’s feminist compatriots to anything he (Aaronson) might have to say.

          http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/#comment-169886

          Presented imo in the broader thread as if launching into fits of histrionics when not handled with highest care and deference to one’s preferred ways, -lest one become incensed and have you flogged and/or form a mob.. -wasn’t a sure sign of the highest privelege.

          -Which isn’t saying the person will leave the blog, but is reporting that their compatriots won’t engage with anything which makes them uncomfortable/doesn’t mouth their shibboleths, and further, implicitly that this state of affairs isn’t up for questioning or change.

          there’s also whole lot of commenters enthusiastically agreeing with this sentiment, as well as one or two agreeing with the notion in the first rant that vehemently criticising a group is the same as denouncing each member individually and personally

          __

          To be fair though there’s a whole lot of rubbish in that comment section from all directions (not to say there isn’t also some great stuff).

    • Skivverus says:

      I think I share bean’s objections, but I also think they can be mitigated by limiting it to pile-ons in progress rather than prospective ones, and also limiting it to people who are already participants in the thread. (So, people who are already paying attention and thus probably have time)
      Lastly, or as an extension of the previous limitation, no more than half the other participants in the thread can be picked.
      Could try this.

      • bean says:

        That would help, although you’re still going to run into definitional issues (we’d have a dogpile about how to define dogpiles, which seems very appropriate for this blog, not to mention the fact that you get different threads drifting all over the place), and the fact that the person who’s picking who defects is the one who benefits by the defection.
        A better option might be to allow the person being dogpiled to say “I’m being dogpiled, and I can’t deal with all of you. X (and maybe Y) seem to be doing a good job of representing your side, so I’m only going to respond to them now.” This has some of the same failure modes (picking the easy target) but it’s more transparent and easier to enforce. Someone who uses it a lot and/or frivolously loses status in the eyes of the community, and stops being taken seriously.

        • Skivverus says:

          I’m using a heap-style definition of “dogpile” for this: one grain of rice is not a heap; a hundred grains of rice is a heap; somewhere in between it gets fuzzy. The no-more-than-half limit is to make sure there’s at least someone not playing devil’s advocate, but beyond that the same discretion applies as with your alternative.
          I think having both as options could be useful in filling out the nuances of larger debates. After all, the aim is truth, not (necessarily) equality.

          • bean says:

            I’ll grant that the definitions might not be that bad in practice, but I’m still really concerned about the conflict of interest that picking the defectors causes. Let’s say we’re doing something about nuclear weapons. The most knowledgeable people here are John and me, in that order, and I don’t see what’s stopping the other side from picking us as their two people, provided there are at least two other active participants on our side. It would be obviously petty on the picker, but then I’d be left with the choice of either violating discussion norms, or having to leave my side a great deal weaker than it otherwise would be. Asking for a few opponents would allow the person to pick those other two as their chosen opponents, but the obvious solution is to allow the chosen opponents to pass the baton to someone else.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @bean

            I think there are enough long-time posters here who will point out if that strategy is tried to minimize its effectiveness. That said, I like this idea enough that I’m going to try and remind myself to attempt to jump in on the left side of arguments more often when I can.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      You are totally mis-representing to suggestion, not that I agreed with it. Its like you are purposefully doing the reverse of the principle of charity. Perhaps your post is evidence that some right wing voices DO need to be temp banned, or perma banned in your case. Not for being right wing but for utterly and totally defecting from rationality. No rational person could possibly read the suggestion thread the way you did.

      • Skivverus says:

        …or perma banned in your case.

        …is this going to be dogpiled? Yeah, probably. Sorry for contributing to it, but seriously: not cool.

        Saying the equivalent of “I disagree with the implementation of the suggestion, but agree with the desired end result, and here is a possible alternative implementation” seems plenty charitable to me.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          Except I’m talking about the first 3 sentences/paragraphs. OP is completely and utterly misrepresenting the intent of the suggestion in a way that can only be read as malicious.

          Its the reason that more leftists posters refuse to engage here, because of the kind of behavior OP exhibits.

          • Skivverus says:

            Intent of the suggestion: “make left-leaning/wing posters more willing to post”.
            Implementation of the suggestion: “(temporarily) ban right-wing comments”.
            Objection: “banning right-wing voices is censorship”. Possible mix-up of “comments” with “commenters”, but hardly requiring malice.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            “I really, really hate the suggestion of “temp banning” right-wing voices in order to “correct” the comment balance. Really really *hate* this. Viscerally and profanely.

            Plus, I think that rejecting voices/comments on the grounds of anything other than rationality is counter to the proposed purpose of the blog/community. I mean, seriously, we’re trying to make a better world, but only if the ideas that are accepted as “better” come from left-wingers?”

            “Hate.” “Correct.” “Anything other than rationality.” “”Better” come from left wingers?”

            OP is trying to pretend that the comment section has the political lean it does for rationality reasons. That people are saying that right wing voices are bad and inferior and many other things and his emotional description provides emphasis for this belief.

            The truth is that certain specific posts made by Scott were broadcast through rightist blogs and those people flooded the site and many of them defected in a way that bolstered their numerical superiority in a way that made SSC somewhere you don’t want to post with any sort of leftist view.

            The comment section and open threads are ALREADY selecting for comments/commenters in an utterly non-rational way. OP is attempting to portray a mere suggestion for how to recover balance, through a temporary measure, granted the specific idea was shitty, as a hostile leftist takeover. Although I may be being a bit unfair, perhaps his emotional reaction, as described, indicates that he truly believes that to be the case in which case he’s just dumb and not malicious.

          • keranih says:

            “She”, speaking of unfair, emotional & dumb things.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Assuming you are referring to your own gender, I had attempted to replace gendered pronouns with “OP”/”OP’s” but I got distracted by something else near the end and some slipped in.

          • keranih says:

            Right. No way that any malice was involved with that. None at all. No way that any malice or ill will could be read into that.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @axiomsofdominon:
            As an old hand round these parts, I think you are a) reading Kerinah uncharitably, and b) also wrong on the actual intent (based on my familiarity with her general posting).

            The only thing I would take exception to is the idea that Tekhno’s proposal was in any way an endorsement that only left wing ideas can be right. But I don’t think Kerinah was doing much more than describing her instantaneous reaction, so I would take it with a grain of salt.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            “Right. No way that any malice was involved with that. None at all. No way that any malice or ill will could be read into that.”-Keranih

            Since this comment section is shit as far as what posts are responses to what and you didn’t quote anything I can’t tell what the comment I have quoted is referring to.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @kerinah:
            Might I suggest not contributing to the issue?

          • Skivverus says:

            You’re reading that very differently than I am, except for the fact that emotional response is involved.

            …rejecting voices/comments on the grounds of anything other than rationality is counter to the proposed purpose of the blog/community.

            My interpretation is: the goal is adding voices to form a more complete picture of reality, not removing voices to form a more comfortable one. Banning posts for being right-wing (or left-wing, but that’s not currently being discussed) is pretty obviously in the latter category.

            …certain specific posts made by Scott were broadcast through rightist blogs and those people flooded the site…

            Perhaps so, but is the solution to cover your ears or to open your mouth? Empirically this has not stopped everyone identifying as left-leaning from posting here.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            “@axiomsofdominon:
            As an old hand round these parts, I think you are a) reading Kerinah uncharitably, and b) also wrong on the actual intent (based on my familiarity with her general posting).

            The only thing I would take exception to is the idea that Tekhno’s proposal was in any way an endorsement that only left wing ideas can be right. But I don’t think Kerinah was doing much more than describing her instantaneous reaction, so I would take it with a grain of salt.”-HBC

            So you take exception to the same thing but assume there is no malice.

            Okay well I also discussed the second part I objected to in more specifics down below but we’ll stick to the first thing since you agreed with me about it. Principal of charity is not compatible with keranih’s interpretation of Tekhno’s comment. No rational person could think that it was. Now, most people aren’t perfectly rational and certainly keranih isn’t.

            But since, and now I can’t avoid referring to the second matter I took exception to, keranih made such a big deal about how this plan somehow magically forces us to set aside rationality as the sole criteria for the value of “voices” on this blog, she should in fact agree to my suggestion that she should be permabanned from SSC. Indeed by assuming that their rationality is the sole determinant of their place here, no one who asserts that rationality is the sole determinant of who should post at SSC should post at SSC. Quite the paradox keranih has gotten themselves into.

            Now I don’t hold that rationality is the sole determinant so even if I am less rational than keranih, I’m not though, but even if I am/was, I can still post here. But she can’t. Hence I suggested a permaban for her. I’m merely assisting her in carrying out part of her coherent extrapolated volition which, being irrational as she is, she is unable to carry out for herself.

          • Skivverus says:

            No rational person could think that it was.

            This is an unusual, possibly begging-the-question definition of ‘rational’. Expand please?

            Not all mathematical truths are obvious.

          • bean says:

            axiomsofdominion:
            You’re new here. A word of advice. Don’t suddenly launch into attacks on established members, and call for them to be permabanned, particularly when you then go on to immediately run up the left-wing flag, which is what we had just been discussing. It doesn’t help at all. If I was being uncharitable, I could do all sorts of stuff to “prove” just how bad left-wing posters are from what you’ve done.

          • Spookykou says:

            Saying that this is a rational blog and we shouldn’t be banning comments for reasons other than their rationality, is not actually an endorsement of banning all non-rational comments. It is just an appeal to the idea that only non-rational comments should be banned.

            I still think it is wrong though.

            It just doesn’t jive with Scott’s banning practices, which mostly have to do with being unnecessarily mean, obviously being mean does not preclude one from being rational, but I think that being mean tends to lower the overall productivity so I am happy with Scott banning it.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            …My interpretation is: the goal is adding voices to form a more complete picture of reality, not removing voices to form a more comfortable one. Banning posts for being right-wing (or left-wing, but that’s not currently being discussed) is pretty obviously in the latter category.…

            In communities where lefties emerged as the power group, rightists are difficult to get involved for the same reason lefties don’t like to comment here. So its one thing to say you should add voices rather than remove them. Its another to get around the fact that adding is significantly harder than removing.

            …Perhaps so, but is the solution to cover your ears or to open your mouth? Empirically this has not stopped everyone identifying as left-leaning from posting here.…

            I propose that discussions on the comments of Scott’s posts are unlikely to be valuable for a purpose aside from if you enjoy signalling or arguing. There are lefties like that and some of them, like Jill, post/ed here. Some black people were okay with slavery. I am not trying to equate the severity of “oppression” on SSC with slavery. It merely illustrates that just because some small proportion is not put off, or perhaps is put off but has stronger pressure to post here than the negativity of the rightist takeover, the situation is optimal.

            There are two choices to get people to participate in something. You can create a forum they want to participate in or you can make it a problem for them not to participate. The latter is generally only an option in real life. In discussion forums/blogs as in MMOs, you can always just not come back if you face a difficult situation. You are stuck with the former here.

            We know that we cannot rely on individuals to stop themselves from dogpiling in order to secure more leftie participation or they already would have done it.

            You can either enforce social norms that provide at least slightly more comfort for lefties or you can give up on attracting lefties.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Depending on your definition of the word new, I’m not new here at all. I rarely post and only started posting on this name a couple months before the log in system was added but I’ve followed Scott since before this site went up and have been reading the posts, with occasional breaks, the whole time.

            As far as your other points? I didn’t call for a permaban. Although in this case, unlike the case of the OP, I can see how a rational person could come to that conclusion. Also beyond the initial response to OP I only suggested that keranih should be permabanned based on her own criteria about what determines who should comment here.

            Keranih’s initial post is a striking example of why lefties don’t post here. If you either don’t care whether lefties post here or think anyone put off by a continuous stream of the type of post Keranih made have no place here, that’s your choice.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            @skivvy, no rational person could think that tekhno was implying that only left wing ideas can be good, while operating under the principle of charity. yet keranih implied that she thought that. granted she could have been ignoring the principle of charity, but that seems like it would violate an SSC social norm and would also double as another reason lefties don’t want to post here.

          • bean says:

            Depending on your definition of the word new, I’m not new here at all.

            I don’t recognize your handle, and a search through the last few threads turned up that you’d only started commenting today. And I think there’s a fairly obvious distinction between having read the main posts and understanding the norms in the comments. Which you still don’t.

            As far as your other points? I didn’t call for a permaban. Although in this case, unlike the case of the OP, I can see how a rational person could come to that conclusion.

            You came close enough that I don’t feel bad about saying what I did.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            I’m fairly certain that I’ve commented on this handle before today. And with it before that prior to the log ins. As far as the norms I understand them well enough. I merely disagree with the way they are applied.

          • hlynkacg says:

            In the spirit of Tekhno’s suggestion I will be limiting my participation and resist the urge to argue.

            That said, while I sympathise with keranih on a gut level, I also think that the concerns of Tekhno (and others) are valid and ought to be addressed. I think it would do everyone on this thread some good to take a step back and cool off.

            Edit:
            As an aside I know I’ve seen axiomsofdominion in an earlier open thread so while not an established personality they have been around for at least a few weeks. However that does not absolve one from community norms so I will urge everyone to listen to HBC.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ axiomsofdominion
            You can either enforce social norms that provide at least slightly more comfort for lefties or you can give up on attracting lefties.

            Enforce? Better with carrots than with sticks.

            Like, by prefacing your comment with “Ob: Devil’s Advocate”. Or, better imo, a leftish paragraph or two in a comment that’s mostly on the rightie side. Or complimenting someone else’s “Good Ob Devil’s Advocate” or “Good ODA”.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Your comment right here perfectly encapsulates why many of us on the right think this proposal is a terrible idea. It’s a short step from “promote ideological balance” to “ban the irrational and by the way, it sure seems to me that people who disagree with me are more irrational”.

        In the spirit of what Keranih has suggested, I’ll make my own proposal: a sub thread for each political ideology in an open thread. Leftists get one, conservatives get one and anyone else too. We can try to self-police ourselves to prevent from interfering in another ideology and maybe appeal to Scott if it doesn’t work. No one has to get banned and we can all have our own safe space. Anyone agree?

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          People who have a similar interpretation to keranih about what was proposed are irrational on that issue. Period. The original post had a terrible implementation, but it never suggested the things keranih attributed to it. Also keranih was the one who brought up how rationality should be the only criteria, so you’ll have to blame that on your side, not on me.

          Your suggestion is much better than tekhno’s. Of course all the suggestions are limited by how worthless the comments section is. A proper forum, even one with only a single forum thread for each open thread post would be vastly superior. Open threads in general on wordpress are a kludge for the fact that the comments section isn’t conducive to useful discussion. The best you can say is that at least it’s not twitter.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          I’ll make my own proposal: a sub thread for each political ideology in an open thread. Leftists get one, conservatives get one and anyone else too.

          Ach, terrible! Are you suggesting leftists talk amongst themselves, and rightists do the same? I was on board with the whole idea of encouraging more leftists because one gets better discussions when a broader spectrum of thought is included. I have visited blogs devoted to particular world views and they are deadly boring.

          By the way, it is my impression that the dearth of leftist comment that I think really did exist a few months ago is no longer true. Plenty of leftist comments here now.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I don’t see the problem. The rest of the thread is still open game. Maybe these sub threads will parasitically take potential comments from the rest of the thread but I don’t think that will be a significant problem. I think the main effect would be a net gain in comments, especially from people who belong to actual unrepresented minorities. And you’re right. The complaining about the “dearth of leftism” on this blog is only happening because they are increasingly visible over the last few months. If they were nearly nonexistent, then there would be no one to complain.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Even if you push each political cohort to its own subthread on political issues and allow them to mingle on non-political issues, what you end up with, assuming everyone adheres to that, is still a constellation of subthreads where only one ideology is dominant. In other words, a lot of smaller echo chambers. I don’t mind the non-political echo chamber where the dominant ideology is “rationalism”, but I mind the extent to which the dominant ideology in the political subthreads would not be that.

            I think a much better approach would be to give rationalism its due, and go through the effort of pushing it into the political subthreads, hard as that will be. To my mind, that will involve working out shared premises, even if it’s “we agree that $set is the set of premises under primary disagreement so far”; common definitions; overcoming triggers; and so on.

            I still believe my proposals to steelman the other side periodically or try to deliver an objective take on a given issue to be worthwhile pursuits in this direction.

        • Spookykou says:

          I think a slight variation on this could be + threads, like RPGnet used to do for 4th edition. Just add Left/Liberal + or Libertarian + or w/e to the opening blurb on the thread, and any comments that are just bashing on the ideology should get heavily reported and removed?

          In theory every thread should be a + thread for all ideologies but obviously that doesn’t happen, so maybe calling it out expressly would help people self police?

          I like the idea of the + thread because it is topic/content free, instead of having expressly left threads, we just pay attention and try to make Left + threads more friendly for leftist views.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      @kerinah – “I really, really hate the suggestion of “temp banning” right-wing voices in order to “correct” the comment balance. Really really *hate* this. Viscerally and profanely.”

      For what it’s worthy, I don’t. I think banning right-wing people here is probably a good idea. The toxicity here is getting worse over time, and I don’t think there’s a way to fix that without changing the mix of personal histories present in the forum. There are people here I like and people here I don’t like. That shapes how I comment decisively, and I think it does much the same for everyone else. Changing rules or trying different methods of peacemaking is only going to stress and annoy people, which feeds straight back into the like/dislike personal history.

      The key conservative insight is that sometimes, there isn’t a cheap, easy solution, right?

      • eh says:

        What exactly about right wing people do you want to ban? Specific behaviours that are obviously bad and not solely restricted to the right, like “targeting a single commenter instead of a public figure or a broad archetype” or “strawmanning an argument then using highly personal and emotional language to attack said strawman in an attempt paint your opponents as villains”, are probably easier to argue for.

        I’m not comfortable with a system that allows me to say “automation is an attack on the rights of the working class and must be approached with a view to helping the underprivileged” but bans me for “automation is necessary for humanity to operate a growing economy and recognise its manifest destiny among the stars”, since it takes two genuine beliefs of mine and makes me choose which to support, instead of finding a synthesis.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @eh – “What exactly about right wing people do you want to ban?”

          Nothing. My argument is that the current group of right-wing posters, of which I am one, creates a lot of friction with the current group of left-wing posters, and that banning some of the right-wing posters would probably reduce the number of long-standing feuds, even if other right-wing posters replace them over time.

          • keranih says:

            Okay, well, if the problem is mostly personal animosity, why not fix it by banning some of those long standing left wingers instead (or, as well?)

            And, ok, I really do appreciate the input from this side of the aisle. But it’s doing less to reconcile me to the idea than it is making me wonder if there is a pod under your bed.

            Circling back around to first principles – is the issue that “some red and some blue people just are Not Getting Along” or is it that “there are Not Enough blue people who Feel Safe commenting”?

            Because I can see banning some redtribers working for the first issue, but not for the second. Vacuums don’t get filled by the hesitant.

    • WashedOut says:

      I think the doctoring of comments in order to achieve some mythical “balance” is a horrible idea. This is the politics of hurt feelings and has no place in any honest debate forum.

      I oppose the “designated roles” suggestion on the grounds that it apparently seeks to manufacture an unstable equilibrium, rather than sincere and rigorous debate. It also coarse-grains the debate down to “Red s. Blue”-style dichotomies which may not need to exist.

      Forgive me if the following is an oversimplification, but from my point of view the majority of the grievances in public forums (including SSC) arise because people on are typically very quick to take offense and are more prone to poisoning the well rather than putting their views out there in earnest and thrashing them out.

      My proposed solution therefore is to take the following vows:

      1. I will attack/endorse specific arguments based on their substance, not based on my perception of the person posting them.

      2. I will express my views with the intention of having them picked apart by fellow well-meaning, intellectually honest people, and this process will result a net surplus of creative thought.

      3. Occasionally vows 1 and 2 will be broken inadvertently, and in these circumstances I will not resort to
      indecency.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      I suggest discouraging dog-piling per se. When I’m doing it, I’d appreciate a polite heads-up (from any side) — preferably within my edit window.

      This came up elsewhere and upset the pile-ees (usually newbies) till vigilantes started explaining that in a big fast-action forum that spans 24+ time zones and various transmission paths (RSS, email, etc), there’s a lot of unintended ninja-ing.

      • hlynkacg says:

        This is a good point

        I have edited/deleted posts after realizing that I had unintentionally been the third or fourth person to jump into a particular thread.

    • Reasoner says:

      I’m not sure any specific policy is necessary, I think if we all just collectively acknowledged that SSC leans right and we should work extra hard to understand left-wing perspectives that would go a long way. Just imagine whatever you would like a liberal student at Berkeley to think about conservatives (“people outside my bubble, they might have important things to say I’m not hearing”) and then import some of that reasoning.

      • keranih says:

        I think if we all just collectively acknowledged that SSC leans right and we should work extra hard to understand left-wing perspectives

        Should we still collectively acknowledge those two things if they are not so?

        • rlms says:

          Regarding the second of those things: as I understand it, part of the “SSC commentariat ethos” is “try to understand things from other perspectives”. A special case of that is “if you are right-leaning, try to understand things from left-leaning perspectives”. Maybe you reject that idea, but I think if everyone does then the quality of comments will greatly decrease.

          • keranih says:

            Holding that “we” ‘should work extra hard to understand left-wing perspectives’ is what was stated.

            Not “all of us try to understand the pov of people who are not us.” This isn’t about “there are a bunch of people who are intolerant of each other” – it’s straight up “those evil repressive right wingers.”

            If you *don’t* mean to say “just right wingers” and do mean to say “everyone”, then say that thing.

            In addition, I also strongly question the need for “right wingers” to understand “left wingers”. You’re assuming a bubble/echo chamber on the right – specifically of the SSC commentariant – of equal or greater strength than that on the left. This is not correct.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @kerinah:
            C’mon. Reasoner is clearly self identifying as right wing and making a statement that makes sense only if viewed from that perspective. Hence the “we” their isn’t “SSC” but “people who are right wing in SSC”.

            It’s not a statement that should be interpreted as saying anything like your interpretation.

          • Iain says:

            @HBC: I don’t know whether keranih doesn’t care, hasn’t noticed, or is just too polite to point it out, but you seem to regularly get the vowels backwards in her name (keranih vs kerinah).

            If this is some sort of longstanding inside joke, ignore this comment.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Iain/@keranih:

            Not intentional, not a joke, just (I imagine) me being horrid at spelling in general. Something to do with learning to read phonetically I imagine.

            Thank you for pointing it out and my apologies.

            Note: In the post above I substituted “their” for “there”. Sigh.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            HBC:

            In the post above I substituted “their” for “there”. Sigh.

            Luckily, there’s now a fully general compromise position.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          If they aren’t so then you don’t have a problem and you shouldn’t do anything. I mean if you see no value from including people with different political views in your community then just don’t include them.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Leans right” compared to what standard, exactly?

        • Barely matters says:

          Honestly, I’m quite far left of center, have lurked on this board for over 3 years, and I still don’t think the commentariat is terribly right skewed.

          At very worst, I think this might be the identitarian left targeted equivalent of “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”.

          • Anonymous says:

            My impression was that this place was mostly liberal left-wingers, with some socialist left-wingers and lukewarm right-wingers salted and peppered to taste.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Did you arrive after the start of the reign of terror? There used to be a lot more Death Eaters around here.

          • Anonymous says:

            Nah, I’ve been here before, during and after. It feels like I’m the last remaining, unbanned Death Eater.

  10. keranih says:

    And another on tribalism, because this has been bugging me for a while:

    Can we drill down a little on the differences between “Christian charity” and “social justice”? Why is one accepted/encouraged by the American right, but not the left, and vice versa? Is Altruism completely different?

    Under the guidance of the better angels of our nature, I think that many people on all sides don’t see a lot of difference between the activities in theory, but practice appears to be different.

    • Brad says:

      Let’s drill down to a specific example and see if it sheds any light.

      There are food pantries run by conservative churches and there are food pantries run by fancy urban organic food coops. There are some differences — they probably have somewhat different food that they give out, maybe they each bundle different messages along with the free food — but are there any really essential differences?

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Can you give other examples of social justice charities? I don’t doubt they exist, I just don’t live where they operate.

        Honestly, as an atheist type, albeit one who has softened and hopefully gotten wiser compared to my teenaged days, I am sometimes bothered by just how much of a monopoly churches seem to have on good works at the ground level inside the US.

        IS there an attempt to set-up an alternative structure to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and various local church equivalents?

        • keranih says:

          IS there an attempt to set-up an alternative structure to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and various local church equivalents?

          There was a bit of a dust up, back in the Bush II era, when a top coordinator was quoted as saying (I paraphrase) “There really aren’t that many pagan/non-Jeudo-Christian charitable organizations in the USA – certainly I haven’t heard of any.”

          There were many infuriated people on behalf on charitable pagan organizations…who, as it turned out, had been more or less just local self-help organizations who hadn’t even filed as charitable organizations and (as an example) were not listed on the Combined Federal Campaign.

          Long term sustainable (ie, enduring) charity is largely the province of the long term organic faith of the nation, which is overwhelmingly Christian.

          If what you are wishing is that people who feel strongly Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or atheist would give food, shelter, and human companionship to the homeless and impoverished to a degree to be noticed nationally…yes, I also wish this.

          But I’m not Buddhist nor Hindu nor Muslim nor atheist. And my faith is already fairly well recognized as giving without regards to the worthiness (or co-religious nature) of the recipient. So all my wishing is pretty much *pifft*.

          • skef says:

            The kind of charity you’re talking about is ameliorative; it doesn’t take changing laws or even social norms as a goal. There’s no obvious reason for such charities to have a national identity. In fact, a shift to a larger organization would likely mean a shift towards putting a lower percentage of contributions towards the problem in question.

            (As a separate issue, the other long-term sustainable way of addressing these problems is through government services, which since the 30s have had a greater impact than charities in the U.S. In some ways that approach is very different, and in others it isn’t.)

          • quanta413 says:

            If what you are wishing is that people who feel strongly Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or atheist would give food, shelter, and human companionship to the homeless and impoverished to a degree to be noticed nationally…yes, I also wish this.

            I think that’s at least partly just a numbers game. A lot more Christians than the other groups. Muslims at least have religious duties to charity like Christians; I’m not familiar enough with Hinduism or Buddhism to have an even vague idea of their religious duties to charity and those are pretty rare religions in the the U.S.

            And speaking as an atheist, I don’t even buy into an atheism+stuff creed where it would make sense to have atheist charities. I would prefer secular pluralistic charities (which we already have).

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          I’m thinking more of secular (political or apolitical) competitors than competing faiths, but yes.

          It seems to me that there’s been sort of a division of market share, with the religious institutions dominating domestically, and secular taking dominance (Now) internationally, though even there religious groups have a big presence, if not AS big as they used to.

        • Brad says:

          I don’t know that food coops are social justice organization. Indeed I don’t know what social justice is supposed to mean in the first place. So let’s instead talk about organizations staffed and funded by people on that are secular “left wing”. There are many such charities, but to pick a category dominated by them, how about almost every legal aid organization–criminal and civil? The only major exceptions I can think of are those dedicated to specifically conservative legal causes (e.g. religious liberty). But if a city has an organization that provides free legal counsel for those e.g. facing eviction it’s probably staffed by self identified progressives.

          • bean says:

            But that seems to leave a substantial gap in the type of charity that the two sides support. While I’m not necessarily trying to minimize the work done by legal aid foundations, they don’t seem like a particularly good card to play when you point out that most food banks and such are church-affiliated.

          • Brad says:

            I agree that the two sides *tend* to support different types of charities, I’m pushing back against (at least the implication) that only one side has any charities at all that focus on the needs of the domestic poor.

            Why it is that one side is more likely to offer them food and the other free professional services, I don’t know exactly.

            What lesson or conclusion do you draw from it?

          • bean says:

            What lesson or conclusion do you draw from it?

            I don’t necessarily draw any conclusion from it. It does seem an interesting window into the priorities of the two sides, but I could easily be reading too much into it.

        • Adam says:

          I’ve been involved with a few charities in the past. In one case, I volunteered as a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster care system, an organization that pairs a mentor/advocate with a specific child for at least two years to aid them in making the transition to adulthood and navigating school and court appointments and what not, since their social workers and attorneys have too big of a case load to give any individual attention. That was a national organization and I was in the Orange County chapter in California. The other was a smaller, local organization called Operation Jumpstart that paired mentors mostly with immigrants and refugees in Long Beach, through their time in high school, attempting to provide the necessary guidance to make sure they graduate high school and get into college, which was otherwise rare in the community because their parents were so undereducated and without any social capital. Basically a redistribution of the support structure of privilege, if you will.

          The latter program actually worked tremendously well, but it’s hard to scale a one-to-one mentoring program. You can only get so many people to make a four-year commitment. The other was, well, tougher. Most of those kids are so far gone by the time they’re in their tenth group home that, try as you might, it’s just too hard to reach them. The former organization’s success was somewhat confounded by selection effects, though. It’s not like the program took anyone. We selected kids with obvious aptitude for education to mentor.

          Neither had any religious affiliation at all. I wouldn’t call it social justice, though, at least not in the way that’s a loaded term. These weren’t political activities. Just about everybody believes in helping kids and these were about as disadvantaged as you can get in a first world country, through no fault of their own.

          I never worked for any other kind of charity, but this did give me to the opportunity to meet many others at summits and conferences and what not. I’d say most of the ones like this, that consist of decently well-off professionals trying to give free services, as well as pro-bono legal organizations, especially immigrant and refugee assistance, which was huge in the LA area, were all not religious. Food banks were a good mix. Direct poverty assistance like homeless shelters or something were more often religious, but not always.

          It did seem that religious organizations were predominately Christian, but I’m not sure other religions have the same tithing tradition that would provide them the money in the first place. Most charities have no religious affiliation, but then again most charities aren’t doing poverty assistance. Universities and museums are probably the largest as a proportion of total giving. The clientele for Operation Jumpstart was largely Buddhist, just because Long Beach’s refugee population is predominately Cambodian.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            It may simply be a function of regional religiosity then (is that a word?).

          • keranih says:

            Most charities have no religious affiliation, but then again most charities aren’t doing poverty assistance. Universities and museums are probably the largest as a proportion of total giving.

            I am pretty sure this is not correct. Here is Forbes’ list of the top/largest US charities – it’s United Way, Task Force For Global Health, Feeding America, The Salvation Army, and the YMCA for the top five.

            (I am still looking for a better breakdown by category. But I suspect that “universities and museums are larger than churches” is a highly regional thing.

        • eh says:

          One vaguely social-justice-ish charity which comes to mind is Food Not Bombs.

        • Zeno of Citium says:

          On the off chance anyone who likes the idea of more excellent secular (not antireligious! Just not explicitly religious) charities hasn’t heard of it, GiveWell and all its recommended charities aren’t religious. They do extensive research on their charities – they are, to a real extent, “rationalist” charitable giving. http://www.givewell.org

          Does anyone have data on how much charitable giving is to religious organization and how much to secular? I bet the numbers don’t favor religion as much as this thread suggests, and also that most religious giving goes to local churches (etc.).

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Define your specific use of “Christian charity”? You mean church stuff?

      • Jaskologist says:

        I think defining “social justice” will be way more key here.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          No because he could mean individual christian charity, church charity, church charity with religious requirements attached, or many other things.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Just jumping in to point out that I’m pretty sure Keranih is a lady-type-person 🙂

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Winter Shaker
            Just jumping in to point out that I’m pretty sure Keranih is a lady-type-person.

            I agree. But it’s puzzling that the life path she advocates for young women, conflicts with the path she herself has apparently followed.

    • Spookykou says:

      I have a hard time thinking of those two things as similar enough for the purpose of this comparison.

      • Nornagest says:

        “Social justice” was actually coined in a Catholic context. It’s mutated quite a bit since then, of course.

        • Spookykou says:

          Social justice as I understand it is about addressing issues of wealth and opportunity distribution in a society.

          Christian Charity as I understand it is charitable efforts carried out by Christian groups.

          I can see links between these two things, but they don’t feel directly comparable.

          Christian charities are ‘things’ and Social Justice is an ‘idea’ to my mind.

          • 1soru1 says:

            It makes sense if you consider both ‘charity’ and ‘social justice’ as competing Christian doctrines that take different forms and priorities over time.

            There’s a difference between preventing a war, and having the war but being kind to the refugees.

          • Spookykou says:

            If the intention was to compare the concept of Charity versus the concept of Social justice then the OP threw me off.

            Why is one accepted/encouraged by the American right, but not the left, and vice versa?

            Would imply that the left does not accept or encourage ‘charity’ right? Also the Right hardly has a blanket endorsement of charity, hand up not hand out or some such.

    • Adam says:

      Much of the activity of social justice advocates consists of the whole “punching up” idea, agitating, marching in the streets, organizing righteous Twitter mobs, to exact justice when the legitimate justice system won’t do it. Right or not, it’s effectively vigilantism, and it seems obvious why it gets push back. Nobody but the mob is ever a fan of mob justice.

      Christian charity, on the other hand, I’m not even sure where you see there being push back. All I’ve observed is a push back against the Bush-era attempts to replace government services with faith-based charitable efforts. On the general idea of giving to churches, mostly that too much seems to consist of making televangelists extremely rich and allowing them to erect totally tax-free castles, but I don’t see too many people objecting to the YMCA.

      • DavidS says:

        Yeah the Christian version of social justice is probably more the methodists 100 years ago campaigning for outdoor to live more responsible lives with I think both positive and negative positions and results.

        Btw there are definitely people outside the mob who approve of it. Being in the mob takes a certain personaliyy, maybe professionally difficult for some etc. I doubt there have been many activist movements who don’t have a wider base of support to those on the streets

    • skef says:

      If you’re asking about actual charitable activities, rather than attitudes about charity, I think it’s hard to generalize. There are some statistics, and those tend to point to Christians (and more generally the religious — the Jewish social safety net is better than average) putting more resources towards charity, but with some controversy about how much of that money goes to facilities, etc.

      My stepmother-without-portfolio has been the main meal coordinator (including cooking most days) of a group that provides meals and other services to the homeless in West Philadelphia. The group has no political or religious affiliations. People who stay involved beyond the very short term generally do so out of a sense of obligation for reducing suffering — there aren’t a lot of “movie moments” of redemption/abject gratitude/etc. They have no facilities of their own and rotate through those of a changing set of charities and churches. Over the long haul, they’ve gotten tossed out by more churches, but there’s plenty of push-back against having actual homeless people being served in the big room downstairs to go around.

      I think more charity is like this than people realize. Whatever reason gets you started, your reason for continuing is often as simple as “whatever else is going on, this is a problem I can help make better, so I’ll stick with it.” In that respect, the EA movement is the least aligned with traditional charity because it takes the “whatever else is going on” clause as a fundamental mistake.

    • eh says:

      Many seem to think that SJ or Christian charity is conditional, in that they might turn away recipients who e.g. are uncomfortable with homosexuality / are Muslim, either directly or by branding their charitable efforts with rainbow flags and priuses / crucifixes and sticker-laden fords.

      Everyone seems to HATE it when charity is given conditionally, and it’s easier to see signalling from other tribes than from one’s own, so my theory is that ingroup charity is seen as universal, outgroup charity as unjust favouritism.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t hate conditional charity. I think it is pretty much the only kind of charity that’s good for anything.

  11. James Miller says:

    Is it logically inconsistent to be an atheist and yet still think that there is a non-trivial chance that you live in a computer simulation?

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      No.

    • Skivverus says:

      Depends on how you define ‘atheist’ (usually contrasted with ‘agnostic’, or more recently ‘anti-theist’).
      But if we’re going down that road, it also depends on how you define ‘logically inconsistent’, ‘non-trivial’, and ‘deity’.
      So… probably not?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It’s logically inconsistent to think you could be in a computer simulation and think there is no possibility of a deity.

      It’s not logically inconsistent to think that the available evidence is that religions are wrong about the nature of any diety that does exist. They have a good track record of making poor predictions.

    • Adam says:

      No. It’s just a flaw of our language in describing probabilistic beliefs. I’d call myself both an atheist and an asimulationist, but that doesn’t mean 0% chance either is true.

      On the other hand, it seems poorly thought out to believe in simulation and take any theological positions at all, given you don’t even have sensory access to the real physical universe. Still not logically inconsistent, but the idea that everything else is simulated, but the experiences of the Gautama Buddha or the Apostles of Jesus was real, seems tough to justify.

    • Nornagest says:

      Only if you’re denying the possibility of a creator, or otherwise really powerful entities. Abrahamic conceptions of divinity are supernatural in a stronger sense — the Matrix Lords would not necessarily be omniscient, for example. I am capable of reading every memory address inside my computer but that doesn’t mean I know everything it’s doing.

      You can consistently think a Matrix Lord is possible but also think that more strongly supernatural entities aren’t. Believing in the former probably implies the possibility of entities on the level of e.g. Thor, but really, who reads “theist” these days and thinks of Thor?

    • johnjohn says:

      If I live inside a simulation, I occupy the same universe as the creator of the simulation

    • Yes, but this is a battle over words and definitions.

  12. Mark says:

    I think we should have a wing ranking system.

    A list of right/left wing people is all well and good, but really, we need to have it ordered. Clearly, the best way to achieve this is to give ourselves political top-trumps style ratings on various positions and then battle it out against the person directly next to us on our respective lists.
    So here is me:

    Redistribution: 45
    Identity politics: 3
    Immigration: 7
    Star Trek: 60
    Clinton: 5

    You work your way up the left-wing totem by getting a higher score than your opponent, get more right by getting a lower score.

    • Protagoras says:

      How do I compute my scores? I’m guessing I’m not as Star Trek as you, and I may be more Clinton than you, but that’s just a WAG based on some numbers being sort of subjectively large and some being subjectively smaller.

    • onyomi says:

      My desired future is 40% Star Trek, 30% Fifth Element, 20% Snow Crash, 10% Gattaca.

    • Spookykou says:

      Going to need considerably more details about the rating system.

      • Mark says:

        Funnily enough, I have found that if I play “guess who” with entirely subjective questions, like “does your character enjoy anal sex” you still have a pretty high likelihood of getting the right person.

        Maybe this could double as a kind of Voight-Kampf test – if you are unable to give yourself a Star Trek rating without clearly defined rules, you are a potential replicant… 😉

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        Having the rating system knowable in advance is contrary to the spirit of Top Trumps.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        Google Top Trumps.

    • Urstoff says:

      DS9: 15
      VOY: -05
      ESB: 25
      BHO: 05
      GWB: 04
      ATT: 35

    • keranih says:

      (Assuming an arbitary score of 100-0 – seriously, what is with the giving of scores w/o a reference range?)

      Redistribution: 0
      Identity politics: 25
      Immigration: 25
      Star Trek: -10
      Firefly: 35
      BSG: 30
      Clinton: -2
      B5 – burrito

    • Spookykou says:

      The Culture: 100

    • Jordan D. says:

      Redistribution: Half of Mark’s points
      Identity Politics: 1
      Immigration: 27
      Stargate (SG-1): 99
      Stargate (Atlantis): 32
      Babylon 5: 100
      Clinton: 45
      Secret Belief In The Predestined Evolution Of Society While Outwardly Denying Any Directionality To History: 33
      Jurisdictional Arguments: 88

    • Anonymous says:

      Redistribution: 5
      Identity Politics: -5
      Immigration: 1
      Deep Space Nine: 20
      Grand Duchess of Arkansas: 5
      Legal Systems Very Different From Ours: 75
      Corinthians: 1433
      Ephesians: 522

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Firefly: All the points but we still won’t get any more episodes

      • the anonymouse says:

        Remember when, for April Fools’, Netflix put the little “New Episodes” tag on Firefly?

        Yeah. Fuckers.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I did not know that.

          They probably think telling you your cancer is in remission is great April Fools’ joke, too.

          • Randy M says:

            Doctor: He’s going to be all right.
            Mother: Oh, thank God!
            Doctor: That’s not the response I expected for amputating his left hand…

  13. Wrong Species says:

    Been reading Reformation: The Early Modern World by Carlos M.N Eire and it has been fairly interesting. Thoughts below:

    • Wrong Species says:

      Only tangentially related to the book and probably only interesting to me, but the author keeps using the word “reify”. I had never heard this word before so I look it up and it means “make (something abstract) more concrete or real.” Interesting word, I wonder what the opposite is so I look it up and it’s the word “disembody”, which means to make something more abstract. I thought it amusing that the word for “make more concrete” had an abstract etymology going back to the latin word “res”, mean “thing” while the word for “to make abstract” is based on the concrete idea of taking someone’s head off. Anyways…

      • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

        Discussions of Epistemology commonly juxtapose Reification with Abstraction. Abstraction makes a subject “less real” by discarding irrelevant details; Reification makes a subject “more real” by adding details.

        I’ve never seen Reification juxtaposed with Disembodiment. To me, Disembodiment connotes souls, ghosts, astral-projections, etc. The dictionary/thesaurus is giving you the wrong impression, imho.

        (“Abstract” can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective.)

        • Wrong Species says:

          Abstract is a clumsy verb though. Compare:

          “Scholastics would abstract the Bible for their own purposes”

          “The Catholic Church worked to reify its doctrines to the laity”

    • Wrong Species says:

      Eire makes the point that Calvin was very modern in his thinking. For most of Christian history, people would accuse their opponents of being controlled by the devil. However, he had the radical notion that people were not influenced by the devil but simply wrong. He put it better than I can:

      By objectifying false religion(Catholicism) as a purely natural, socially constructed figment of the human imagination, Calvin began to divorce ritual from the supernatural, and to cast doubt on the possibility that religion, per se, always connects human beings to some numinous dimension. Banning the devil from the scene heightened human responsibility, too and made religion seem even more illusory and less connected to the world of spirit, even a mere figment of the darkest recesses of the human mind and heart. Further steps would have to be take to dismiss all religion as some false figment or delusion, along with the very idea of God, but it could be argued that Calvin was something of a pioneer on that steep trail of doubt. Two centuries later, thinker such as Giambattista Vico, David Hume, the Baron d’Holbach and Julien Offray de la Mettrie would follow that same route to the summit and dispense with God altogether.

      Not sure what to think of that but it does seem to follow the general progression of humanity to abstract ideas. Isn’t that what civilization is, abstraction on top of more abstractions?

      • rahien.din says:

        Maybe de-reification on top of more de-reification?

        I agree that this aspect of Calvin’s doctrine is very compatible with modern thinking. Moreso, his doctrine of predestination. Taken together they produce the conclusion that reality is self-sufficient. They effectively excise belief in the supernatural from belief in God.

        One might trace that idea back (in some part) to Aquinas’s doctrine of creation ex nihilo.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        For most of Christian history, people would accuse their opponents of being controlled by the devil. However, he had the radical notion that people were not influenced by the devil but simply wrong.

        If this is what Eire says, he’s being very silly. People were perfectly well aware of ordinary human error before the sixteenth century.

        Plus, Calvin rather famously believed in an extremely strong form of predestination, whereby literally everything that happens is under the control of God. It’s not entirely clear how one could think of “false religion as a purely natural… figment of the human imagination” when the only reason people believe in it is because God made them.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Many people seem to believe that the specifics of religion don’t actually matter, they are just weapons used to get what they really want. Tell that to Felix Mantz, the first Protestant to be killed by other Protestants. He believed in rebaptizing people, and was ironically killed by drowning. One of the leaders of the Reformed Church at the time had this to say afterwards:

      His mother and brother came to him, and exhorted him to be steadfast and he persevered in his folly, even to the end. When he was bound upon the pole and was about to be thrown into the river by the executioner, he sang with a loud voice, “Into thy hands, O lord, I commend my spirit”

      If Mantz didn’t die for his specific religious beliefs, then what exactly did he die for?

      • DavidS says:

        Presumably challenging authority. People can not care what you believe but still take an open and explicit pushing of a different belief to theirs as a challenge.

        If the church gives a date for easter on a fairly arbitrary basis the Bishop might still excommunication insisting on another one as they’re clearly not accepting authority

        • Wrong Species says:

          And Mantz was perfectly willing to die for something that he thought arbitrary? If you asked him right before he died what he was willing to die for, he would probably tell you it’s because of rebaptism. How could you know that he’s not being sincere? If dying for a very specific belief is not evidence of those beliefs actually mattering, then what is?

          • DavidS says:

            Sorry, I thought you were talking about the motives of the killers.

            For what it’s worth I think that people both kill and court death because of very specific beliefs. But the status contest against authority thing can cut both ways. Some people will get themselves killed for views because they will not concede under pressure even though they may not have actually thought about it much and might well change their mind if left alone. People die for really weird reasons, like avoiding embarassment. It’s weird.

          • carvenvisage says:

            I don’t think it’s weird. Choosing to die rather than ‘KNEEL BEFORE ZODD” (or whatever the particular injunction in question is) is something everyone understands intuitively: threatening someone with death when they’ve done nothing wrong is wrong, so acquiescing to it can feel like a betrayal of your values, and not wanting to die is a strong force in most people, but so is not wanting to betray yourself (and in such cases, arguably others). And these both vary. There are a few complications, but the basic principle is very very simple.

            Complications

            1. It’s not always the tactically/strategically right choice

            2. It’s difficult.

            3. Worst of all, if the zeitgeist is evil enough, someone resisting tyranny even unto death can be spun as a victory for that tyranny, rather than a wake up call to cast it from the throne.

      • Spookykou says:

        I assumed it was more of a modern complaint growing out of the more relaxed practice of modern religions. If you have a list of rules and you follow all of them, then the list of rules is important, if you have a list of rules and you pick and choose which to follow, start rewriting the rules, then it seems to me that which rules you want to follow is now more important.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Let’s rephrase the question: what would prove this idea wrong?

          • Spookykou says:

            I think it is kind of like being rational? I think of religions as having ‘core beliefs’ that are similar to or exactly, axioms, from which they derive their particular beliefs on any given issues. If you follow this system, then your beliefs on an issue are informed by the core beliefs of your religion. However, like a rationalist, if somebody who accepts your axioms, works from them to explain why you should have a different belief, then you should at least follow their logic and reasoning, and in theory update your beliefs if their argument is valid.

            This is how I imagine many classic theological scholars thought about religion, it seems like they try to build a structural understanding of religion in this way. I imagine this would also apply to many religious people today, but not all.

            I would accept that the tenants of the religion were important for any person that operated in a similar fashion, my personal experience with American Christians is that they do not.

          • Wrong Species says:

            We can’t look in to the recesses of people’s mind and figure out their thought process so it’s easy for you to say that anyone who claims to care about religious specifics is simply irrational and doesn’t. What specific actions could we observe that you would consider evidence against this belief?

          • Spookykou says:

            I think I have failed to grok your question, I have just been explaining why, based on my personal experiences, I am inclined to assume that modern american Christians use their religion to support their positions rather than to inform them. This is just a heuristic for me, like assuming prince Solomon isn’t actually going to give a million dollars after I help him transfer money through my account. I don’t think it is a strong position and my arguments for it were not intended to be generalizable, I was simply explaining my thinking and experience.

            I think I get your question now, and will try to respond to it more directly.

            I think the key here is to look for issues that are contained in a religion but cross political or tribal affiliations. These seem like they would be the best support for the idea that the impetus for the belief is religious and not tribal.

            Catholics being pro life and apposed to the death penalty.

            Mormons being pro immigration.

            However, I would need considerable more examples like this to disabuse me of my existing bias I think, I imagine that these are the rare cases and most Christians being, at best agnostic, on the death penalty and immigration, for example. But I will also admit that it would be considerably harder to convince me to trust Solomon, then it would for me to change my view here.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Fair enough. I can’t argue with your experience although I will say to check for confirmation bias. I don’t think everyone who claims to be religious is sincere but it seems far too often that people take the strong version of the opposite claim seriously, which is completely contrary to my own experience.

            Also, just because you might see someone as being hypocritical doesn’t mean that they are. Many atheists(not saying you) like to pretend they understand Christianity better than Christians and make nonsensical arguments to “prove” their political points. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear atheists claim that Christians are supposed to accept homosexuality because Jesus loves everyone, failing to separate the sin from the sinner. I can the see the Christian argument for being open borders but I don’t think it necessitates accepting that political stance and I don’t think it’s fair to accuse someone of being a hypocrite or being insincere in their religious beliefs because they disagree with you on what their beliefs imply. Again, I’m not saying you’re doing that here but it’s a common sentiment.

          • carvenvisage says:

            Also, just because you might see someone as being hypocritical doesn’t mean that they are.

            Thanks Descartes

          • Spookykou says:

            All I can say to my position/experience with Christians is that it all occurred while I was still nominally a member of the church, at Sunday school, bible camp, and talking to my family. The best explanation for the results I saw being particularly biased that I can think of, is that I was Catholic. Most of the problems that I would point out to people was when they held or expressed heretic positions that were not supported by the Catholic church. However, I think it is fair to say that Catholics living in America are more susceptible to having their religious understanding corrupted by heretic positions, than the reverse, so it is probably safe to assume that most American Christians are not as bad about following their faith as the people I interacted with.

            Thinking about this, I was really torn on what my default assumption should be for all people.

            1.) Assume that people are telling the truth about their stated motives unless there is convincing evidence otherwise.

            2.) Assume that people are lying about their stated motives unless there is convincing evidence otherwise.

            This seems to dig deep into how I think about people in general. I tend to view humans as Savannah apes who are trying very hard to solve problems they are not great at solving. I tend to think that people are very bad at understanding themselves (myself included) and that we work very hard to justify ourselves. We hate looking like bad guys, and we spend a lot of time retroactively explaining our actions to ourselves.

            Option one is born of the idea that I can’t trust my own heuristics, and just because it feels like somebody is a hypocrite I shouldn’t assume they are, I might be engaging in motivated reasoning.

            But, do you see how that feeds back into option two?

            If it is so hard for me to disentangle my own biases, if I am so likely to by lying about the motives for the positions I hold, that I need to have a rule of not trusting myself, then why am I trusting other people to be so much better than me?

            I guess I should just lean towards the outside view so that I don’t have to spend so much time thinking about it.

          • ChetC3 says:

            I think of religions as having ‘core beliefs’ that are similar to or exactly, axioms, from which they derive their particular beliefs on any given issues. If you follow this system, then your beliefs on an issue are informed by the core beliefs of your religion. However, like a rationalist, if somebody who accepts your axioms, works from them to explain why you should have a different belief, then you should at least follow their logic and reasoning, and in theory update your beliefs if their argument is valid.

            What non-imaginary evidence do you have to support this theory?

          • Spookykou says:

            I must confess some confusion, rereading the quoted section I do not see anything that calls for evidence, nor anywhere that I provide evidence for anything, imaginary or otherwise. I am not sure what, in particular you want evidence of or for.

            I think I might be able to condense my point a bit, maybe this will clarify things for both of us.

            ‘Is religion the impetus for behavior or the justification’

            Is [insert set of rules] the impetus for behavior or the justification.

            I will believe that [insert set of rules] is the impetus if and when people behavior in a principled fashion with regard to those rules and apply them evenly to all situations.

            If you use [insert set of rules] to justify hurting me, but by [insert set of rules] you should also give me money as compensation, and you refuse to give me money, then I am going to assume that you just wanted to hurt me, and that [insert set of rules] is the justification for your actions and not the impetus for your actions.

            I am not sure what in my personal system for evaluating if somebody is behaving in a principled way or not, would or should need ‘evidence’.

          • ChetC3 says:

            You’re right, the imagination stuff was in the next paragraph, quote fail on my part. What I was trying to suggest was that you should probably hold off on forming a grand unified theory of religion until you have more sources than 1) your limited personal experiences, and 2) how you imagine things ought to work. Your model is *maybe* accurate for some kinds of fundamentalist Protestantism, but not much past that.

          • Jiro says:

            I will believe that [insert set of rules] is the impetus if and when people behavior in a principled fashion with regard to those rules and apply them evenly to all situations.

            This leaves out the case where X is the impetus to some degree less than 100%.

          • Spookykou says:

            ChetC3

            on forming a grand unified theory of religion

            I feel like I have tried, multiple times, to explain that my heuristic is not a grand unified theory of anything, that I don’t think it applies to any religions as a general rule, and it is just my personal heuristic for dealing with Modern American Christians only, I even went on to explain why I myself think I might be biased in my evaluation of even this limited area of religious inquiry.

            I don’t have many(any) opportunities to engage in conversations on these topics in my day to day, and so my posts are often ‘learning posts’ that are as much for stating my opinion as formalizing it to myself, so I can understand if my actual position is confusing, I will try to add more qualifying statements in the future.

            Jiro

            I agree, and I am willing to allow for wiggly room on principles normally. I think that people might legitimately act on their principles and still allow for mitigating circumstance, but the framing of that particular idea was ‘observation that works as proof’ and so to meet the burden of ‘proof’ I feel it needs to be pretty all or nothing, otherwise we are just back into ‘well I can’t read minds so fuck it’ territory. Honestly I am pretty amenable to the outside view though, so that position is acceptable to me.

            More importantly, if you can recommend a better system or method for evaluating if or when you think people are behaving in a principled fashion, I would be very interested, thanks.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            More importantly, if you can recommend a better system or method for evaluating if or when you think people are behaving in a principled

            fashion, I would be very interested, thanks.

            When the object level dispute has been settled to (almost) everyone’s satisfaction, the principled go on fighting.

            I feel like I have tried, multiple times, to explain that my heuristic is not a grand unified theory of anything, that I don’t think it applies to any

            religions as a general rule, and it is just my personal heuristic for dealing with Modern American Christians only, I even went on to explain why I

            myself think I might be biased in my evaluation of even this limited area of religious inquiry.

            I don’t have many(any) opportunities to engage in conversations on these topics in my day to day, and so my posts are often ‘learning posts’ that

            are as much for stating my opinion as formalizing it to myself, so I can understand if my actual position is confusing, I will try to add more qualifying statements in the future.

            Posts like yours were quite common, and quite appreciated, before the politics.

      • rlms says:

        I think the belief is that the specifics of religion don’t matter other that they mark people as members of different groups. Felix Mantz didn’t die because he believed in rebaptism, but because he held the opposite beliefs to a powerful group that opposed them. It is equally plausible that he might have opposed rebaptism and been killed for that by a powerful group that supported it.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Mantz was all for the Reformed Church until the Second Disputation of 1523. Knowing that rebaptism would get him in to trouble, why would he go out of his way to mark himself as different if he didn’t actually care about these beliefs?

          • rlms says:

            I’m not saying that he wasn’t sincere in is beliefs. I’m saying that the specifics of those beliefs weren’t relevant to the events that occurred, the only important thing was that they were different to the beliefs of the Reformed Church. Contrast this with political beliefs — the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis targeted different groups because of the specifics of their belief systems.

          • Wrong Species says:

            By admitting that Mantz could have been sincere you’re conceding my point. If Mantz wasn’t sincere in his beliefs, it’s doubtful that he would have been willing to die for them. Furthermore, if the Reformed Church didn’t actually care about the specifics then why did they feel the need to make such specific stands against theological disputes that we would consider trivial? If they didn’t care about rebaptism, then why bother having a debate about it? Why not just be neutral? I’m not seeing this distinction you’re making between religious and political dissent. It sure looks the same to the guy being executed.

          • rlms says:

            I think I may have misunderstood what you were arguing for. I’m not doubting the sincerity of anyone involved; it seems likely that most of the time people do genuinely believe what they say they believe. The exceptions are usually when people don’t actually know their professed beliefs, e.g. a Catholic who claims to believe in the Immaculate Conception, but thinks it refers to the conception of Jesus (and this case is clearly not one of those).

            I’m arguing that religious beliefs (in the context of conflict) don’t matter, or are arbitrary, in that we could swap them round between the parties involved and the same events would still occur. E.g. if the Reformed Church were rebaptists and Mantz was not, they would have still executed him for disagreeing with them. In comparison, if German Jews in the 1940s believed they were an evil conspiracy and the Nazis believed they were harmless then events would have been very different. In fact, that hypothetical doesn’t really make sense (there is no obvious sense in which the Nazis in it are like the real Nazis). This is because the beliefs of the Nazis did matter.

            Edit: actually, I think that Mantz and the Church might have had some insincere beliefs. I agree that their first order beliefs about rebaptism were sincere, but I’m not sure about their second order beliefs that were the root of the conflict. Presumably the Church justified killing Mantz by appealing to some law about heresy. However, I suspect that belief in that law wasn’t the only reason they killed him, I imagine general outgroup antipathy and a desire to crush opposition also played a role. So they would’ve probably acted similarly to someone who opposed them even without professing heretical beliefs, and they might not have drowned someone who professed heretical beliefs in a more ingroupy way. Hence their belief in heresy law was somewhat insincere (and probably the same applies to Mantz).

          • Wrong Species says:

            If religious differences were arbitrary then we should not expect to see any significant differences between catholic and Protestant communities following the Reformation. But we do. Sola fide(justification by faith alone) changed the nature of how people viewed the afterlife, which is why Protestants stopped doing indulgences and going to regular Priest confessions. Calvin had his view on predestination which led to great anxiety among some as they were concerned about being among the elect. The more radical reformed churches were diligent about enforcing laws against sin and there were even drops in the rates of children born outside of wedlock. Puritans went to America over theological disputes! Luther would have no reason to start a new church if he didn’t have specific theological issues he had a problem with. Believing that none of this is relevant to the Reformation is truly mind-boggling. Why is so hard to admit that religious people can take their specific beliefs seriously?

          • rlms says:

            I kind of feel like you didn’t read my last comment, so I’m going to repost the important paragraph:

            I’m arguing that religious beliefs (in the context of conflict) don’t matter, or are arbitrary, in that we could swap them round between the parties involved and the same events would still occur. E.g. if the Reformed Church were rebaptists and Mantz was not, they would have still executed him for disagreeing with them. In comparison, if German Jews in the 1940s believed they were an evil conspiracy and the Nazis believed they were harmless then events would have been very different. In fact, that hypothetical doesn’t really make sense (there is no obvious sense in which the Nazis in it are like the real Nazis). This is because the beliefs of the Nazis did matter.

            Religious beliefs do matter outside the context of conflict in that they affect which arbitrary rituals people perform (to take your example of Protestant lack of confession). Doubting that means doubting that organised religion is a thing that exists at all, which is a pretty silly thing to do. I accept that some rituals, most notably ideas about missionary work, do have a real impact. But in the example of Mantz and the Puritans going to America the arbitrary rituals are arbitrary (see paragraph 2).

          • Wrong Species says:

            Did you see my part on the differences between births out of wedlock? That’s not an arbitrary difference. We could keep going back and forth where I present some evidence that I feel supports my statement while you spin it in favor of your beliefs but it’s not going anywhere. I wonder what exactly you would consider evidence against your belief because it’s easy for you call it arbitrary and meaningless even though it felt pretty damn important to the people at the time. And you seem pretty confident about a counter factual that we can’t prove.

          • rlms says:

            Quoting my original comment: “(in the context of conflict)”.

            I am happy to acknowledge differences in out-of-wedlock births; in my previous comment I acknowledged the impact of beliefs on determining attitudes towards missionary work. It would be somewhat illogical to argue that religious beliefs can’t have an effect on how frequently people have sex outside of marriage, when I admit that they can have an effect on whether or not you colonise South America.

            “I wonder what exactly you would consider evidence against your belief”
            In a hypothetical universe where theological beliefs did impact actions, and where it would be absurd to imagine Mantz as an antirebaptist, or the Mayflower pilgrims as Catholics, or the largest Islamic sect as followers of Ali etc., I would not hold this belief. But as it is, it is easy to imagine Mantz as an antirebaptist, the Mayflower pilgrims as Catholics etc.

          • “I’m arguing that religious beliefs (in the context of conflict) don’t matter, or are arbitrary, in that we could swap them round between the parties involved and the same events would still occur.”

            I wonder if the conflict between the Mutazilites and Ashari in ninth and tenth century Islam is a counterexample. One part of the disagreement was on whether it was possible to know anything about right and wrong by human reason or only through divine revelation–the latter side won.

            It’s at least argued that one result was to lower the status of scientific work in the Islamic world.

      • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

        “All religions are merely tools of post-hoc rationalization” is how bravery debates begin. It’s clearly an over-generalization. A more accurate depiction is “sometimes people rationalize post-hoc, and sometimes people’s reasons are genuine.” Also, atheism was historically unheard of. So I’d be surprised if religion was not among the many topics which people use to rationalize their behavior.

        This reminds me of an old LW post, Reason as Memetic Immune Disorder. tl’dr Certain religious memes aren’t intended to be taken literally. Each populace develops “immunity” to unproductive memes. But when a foreign populace is introduced to new religious memes, it has zero immunity. So its members start applying “rationality” and “logic” to its religious corpus and go off the deep end. E.g. Islamic Fundamentalism is a culture that’s been stripped of its own antibodies by the Western Enlightenment.

        This also reminds me of a hypothesis that a tribe behaves most belligerently when it feels threatened by an outgroup [0]. E.g. when Copernicus posited Heliocentrism he dedicated his work to the Church. And the Church gladly accepted because at the time, its authority was unchallenged. But when Galileo posited Heliocentrism the Church punished him. Notice that Galileo’s squabble occurred about a century after Luther published his 95 Theses.

        Regarding Mantz. The Protestant Reformation’s intention was to disavow itself of the corrupt Vatican. If we frame the Reformation as forsaking 1.5 millennia’s worth of cultural baggage, the only sensible thing left for a Protestant to do is: A) read the Bible; B) interpret each chapter as literally as possible; C) ignore everything else. What a coincidence. This is the type of algorithm that would lead someone to not only endorse Rebaptism, but also get martyred on by teammates. Given the context I laid out above, are you surprised that a Protestant got nerd-sniped? (channels G. K. Chesterton) Mantz didn’t die for his specific religious beliefs, he died for his rationalism.

        [0] I can’t remember source. I’m familiar with Scott’s infamous Outgroups post, but the Ur-meme predates SSC.

        • Wrong Species says:

          That’s not how it went down with Copernicus. He didn’t even publish his theory until the end of his lifetime and when it was published, it was slow to catch on. That was why it took so long for it to be banned. And regardless of its dedication it was still censored before Galileo.

          How can you so be certain that Mantz died for rationalism rather than his beliefs? How do you differentiate the two? What evidence do you have against the proposition that he died for his specific beliefs?

          • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

            Many people seem to believe that the specifics of religion don’t matter

            I think everyone is misinterpreting your original comment. That particular fragment (for whatever reason) imputes intergroup conflict. But I think you wanted to know whether Mantz had ulterior motives. As in “… don’t matter wrt terminal values“. I don’t think anyone doubts the sincerity of Mantz.

        • Anonymous says:

          This also reminds me of a hypothesis that a tribe behaves most belligerently when it feels threatened by an outgroup [0]. E.g. when Copernicus posited Heliocentrism he dedicated his work to the Church. And the Church gladly accepted because at the time, its authority was unchallenged. But when Galileo posited Heliocentrism the Church punished him. Notice that Galileo’s squabble occurred about a century after Luther published his 95 Theses.

          That’s unusually accurate for a truncated version of the events. For the non-truncated version, go here: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-great-ptolemaic-smackdown-table-of.html

  14. Mark V Anderson says:

    I finally was able to log in again. I sure hope this whole logging in thing goes away sometime. I never log out, but the system seems to log me out about once a week. I have forgotten my password by then, so I go look it up on my file of passwords (maybe 100 or so). Quite often that password doesn’t work, I don’ t know why. So I have to go to the forgotten password route and wait for the e-mail to reset the password. IT seems that more often than not even that doesn’t work, so I have to do it again. Usually that works the second or third time, although this last time it took a half dozen times. I may be just not very good at this process. It makes me long for the days when I simply posted a comment when I wanted to. It is similar to my nostalgia about flying in the days before TSA. Was it really that easy to fly back then as my memory tells me?

    • Loquat says:

      I don’t log out either, but like you I periodically get logged out for no apparent reason. Now that I’m logged in again… I don’t have clear memories of the boarding process, but I do miss the days when the people you were coming to visit could meet you at the gate, rather than having to wait for you in the baggage claim.

    • roystgnr says:

      I periodically get logged out, and have to hit a “reconnect to WordPress” button (which appears to merely slowly return me to the same reconnection screen, but then the next time I hit SSC I’m logged in) each time to fix it.

      I actually kind of like the trivial inconvenience. 20 seconds of annoying hassle often turns out to be just long enough for me to remember that “Someone is wrong on the internet!” is usually not as great a crisis as it initially feels.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        So maybe SSC should impose a 30-second delay between when you hit “Reply” and when you can actually type in the comment box?

  15. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    There might be a market for more flexible HR software that looks for good approximations rather than fitting the requirements perfectly. Plausible?

    That notion came out of this discussion of the trap men get into when they’re unemployed but have professional qualifications. A controversial statement was made that it’s good to have empathy for those men.

    https://www.facebook.com/harold.feld/posts/10154587406971293

    In case you aren’t doing facebook, here’s the link that started the OP:

    http://www.vox.com/first-person/2016/12/19/13956666/unemployment-men-prime-working-age

    • Brad says:

      I think the software that exists meets the desires of the customers that are using it. That is, I don’t think this is a software issue.

      When a job notice goes out that insists on a masters degree in computer science, 7 years experience working with DB2, 5 years experience with Objective C, and a graphic design portfolio that’s not an accident. There may or may not be a *good* reason for it, but someone deliberately wrote those requirements knowing that they were unlikely to be met by anyone — or maybe one particular person.

      I can’t read the facebook post, but I think the vox article does point out a real problem. I don’t know whether it is best to frame it as age discrimination or something else, but it is highly unfortunate that entry level jobs white collar jobs — i.e. those with relatively few requirements and the possibility of upward progress — are only practically available to twenty-somethings in many many industries.

      Although there would of course be some difficulties and awkwardness I think it would be better for all involved if it were possible to slide down the ladder and start climbing back up. At least better than the status quo where once you’ve fallen off the path your only chance is to get someone to give you a job at the same level as the one you lost — which becomes a longer and longer shot the more time goes on. Part of that is surely on the people who think they are above starting over, but part is on the companies that won’t even consider giving someone a shot.

      • Reasoner says:

        Business prof argues that employers are irrationally obsessed with qualifications: http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0113/feature2_1.html

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        In my part of the economy, I can confirm that qualification lists are treated as wishlists. Customers openly admit this. They purposefully go for something theoretical, but only just. And they sometimes make mistakes, leading to comical examples such as job offers from 1997 looking for someone with “10+ years of Java experience” (Java came out in 1995). General skill requirements read like a child’s Christmas list.

        Meanwhile, when you see a very specific requirement, that’s a strong sign that the customer had a specific person in mind, they know that person has that skill, and is trying to avoid having to hire someone with the skills the job actually needs, who might not be “as good a fit with the team”. This has some subtle, depressing implications for the job discrimination issue.

    • Mark says:

      If companies were interested in that, wouldn’t they just change (lower) the requirements?

      It’s really difficult to get a job working in a supermarket/ fast food restaurant/ cleaning – I’ve applied for those jobs and I heard nothing back. I’d love to get a job stacking a shelf or something, but I guess there are far more people applying for them than they need?

      That’s probably the major problem with applying for jobs on the internet – there will always be about a thousand other people doing the minimum effort job hunt thing and clicking to apply. That’s thousands of people wasting their time.

      I guess the answer here is that if the employers aren’t reading your application, you shouldn’t read their adverts.
      Automate the applications.

    • Adam says:

      I doubt that guy has very good professional qualifications. His story indicated he’d been scooped up out of a liberal arts degree into the dot com boom and spent the next two decades jumping between low-level tech support jobs while getting laid off all the time. That is low-value labor and easily automatable. There simply aren’t as many people doing it as there were in 1998 and there never will be. And the ones who are doing it are largely in India.

    • At a considerable tangent … . The argument against giving an entry level job to someone who is forty is that in another twenty-five years, just when he is becoming really useful to the firm, he’ll retire.

      Suppose we solve the aging problem. The pattern might change.

      • Montfort says:

        Do people actually stay at the same firm for 25 years these days? Separation rates seem to suggest not (by my reading), but they might be misleading since certain employees probably churn more than others.

  16. HeelBearCub says:

    Alright, here is a question that I don’t think has been asked, or at least not in this way.

    What actions that Trump has taken since the election concern you, why, and how much?

    I ask because much of the discussion has centered around defending Trump against various outside charges (and then reaction to that defense). I have also seen it posited that it is a given here that Trump won’t be good, so we don’t discuss the negatives. That seems to me to be a way to potentially miss the forest for the trees.

    A preference would be for top replies to be specifically limited to concerns. Defenses underneath. Steelmanning or epistemic humility encouraged, but not to the extent that it leads one to say “We can’t know what he is likely to do”.

    • Brad says:

      I have concerns with many of his announced subordinates.

      – I don’t think Carson or Perry are at all qualified for the roles it is announced they will be given. Perry in particular makes me wonder if the Trump team realizes that the bulk of what Energy does has to do with nuclear weapons.

      – I find the choice of David Friedman to both an extremely poor one from a substantive point of view and extremely offensive personally. It is the equivalent to Obama having nominated someone that said and stood by a statement that all Black Republicans are worse than house n*ggers. Malcom X may have said something similar but no one ever appointed him to anything.

      – As for Puzder, Pruitt, DeVos, Price, Sessions, and so on, I think they are bad choices, but more ‘ordinary’ bad choices. You can’t really expect a person you didn’t vote for to appoint cabinet secretaries you’d love.

      – For completeness sake, I have a wide open mind about Tillerson and Mattis. They may turn out to be relatively good picks from my PoV. Or not.

    • Rob K says:

      I’m quite worried by the degree of conflict of interest with several key appointees.

      Specifically,:
      – Tillerson, through his Exxon holdings, has clear financial interests in US policy towards countries in which Exxon has business relationships.
      – Icahn, as an active investor, has substantial exposure to the impacts of regulation, and will apparently be principally involved in changing regulations. Don’t think it’s appropriate to hold both of those roles.

      Separately, Sessions strikes me as an extremely bad nominee for the Justice Department, given that that’s the department charged with defending voting rights. His prosecution of three civil rights activists on voter fraud charges in 1985 was quickly rejected by the jury, which supports the argument that the charges were tenuous. That being the case, it appears likely to have been straightforward intimidation of black voters in a county where the black majority of the population was just then becoming an effective voting majority.

      The justice department is a key player in enforcing the Voting Rights Act; under Sessions I’m concerned we’ll see more of the sort of behavior that led to the US Attorney scandal over Bush (insisting on prioritizing weakly supported voter fraud claims over civil rights enforcement).

      • Brad says:

        Should we withhold judgment on Tillerson until we find out what he is willing to do to avoid conflicts of interest? Unlike Trump’s holdings his are extremely liquid–I think he could sell all his XOM before January 20th without moving the price much.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Can he? Many of his options aren’t vested, IIRC.

          • Brad says:

            I haven’t read anything either way, but a vesting schedule after leaving is unusual. Generally options are lost when you leave the company and in situations where they aren’t (e.g. if you are laid off) they vest immediately.

            The whole idea of a vesting schedule is to act as golden handcuffs.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @brad:
            It looks like it’s not that simple.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      What actions that Trump has taken since the election concern you, why, and how much?

      Before this morning I probably would’ve had a bulleted list. But this Tweet is now Nos. 1-100.

      The rest of the world has come to its senses regarding nukes. Only the US and Russia have enough nukes to be considered an existential risk to humanity. Given that the big upside of a Trump administration was supposed to be rapproachment with Russia, expanding our nuclear weapons stockpile would seem to be the absolute most dangerously irrational thing to do.

      • bean says:

        Thank you for bringing that to my attention. That’s by far the best thing he’s done.
        No, I’m not joking. The current state of our nuclear arsenal is shameful, and until we can convince people that we’ve fixed it, the world will be more dangerous.
        (Of course, this assumes he’s serious, and not just bloviating, as he often seems to.)

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          Thank you for bringing that to my attention. That’s by far the best thing he’s done. No, I’m not joking. The current state of our nuclear arsenal is shameful, and until we can convince people that we’ve fixed it, the world will be more dangerous.

          I’m gonna need you to spin this out for me because it sounds a lot like a contrarian troll. What country is currently or potentially misbehaving under threat of “7,000 warheads on old ICBMs and B-52s” that will suddenly come to heel under threat of “7,000 + N warheads on new ICBMs and B-21s”?

          • bean says:

            7,000 warheads? New START limits us to 1,550 deployed. Which, when you dig deeply into the actual mechanics of targeting, is just not enough. Missiles fail or miss their targets, so if it absolutely has to die, it gets more than one. And nuclear weapons are just not as powerful as you think they are, so we need more of them to kill whatever it is we’re aiming at than you think. Then you get into reductions due to enemy action, like them shooting first, or whatever ABM systems they have. Total, we can kill maybe 500 targets. While that’s probably enough, adding more warheads makes it more certain that nobody will attack us, and doesn’t really make the world more dangerous.
            The other issue is that the actual operation of the nuclear arsenal has suffered greatly. SAC was legendary for being intolerant of failure. Global Strike Command, or whatever they’re called this month, has had a series of scandals, warheads left on missiles, cheating on tests, and so on. And the systems involved are getting older and less reliable, which means that potential opponents are more likely to try things.
            The downside of all of this is that the US nuclear umbrella is incredibly important. Nuclear weapons are hard to handle well, particularly if you’re a small country close to your enemy and you want a credible deterrent. SSBNs, in particular, are fantastically expensive, and about the only credible option for anyone but the US, Russia, and China to maintain a good deterrent. So if you’re, say, Germany or Japan, it makes sense to essentially outsource your nuclear deterrent to the US. But if the US stops being reliable, then Germany and Japan will start looking for their own nukes, as will South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and goodness knows who else. And the chances of one of them having accidents or letting their bombs fall into hostile hands is vastly higher than the chances of the US doing the same.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @bean

            Do you mean that we need to modernize our delivery systems, or that we need to expand our nuclear arsenal?

            If you mean the former rather then the latter; the Minutemen III, and Trident II missiles that form the core of our deterrent are proven highly reliable technology. The US has committed to spending tens of billions of dollars a year to maintain, upgrade, and eventually replace these systems.

            If you mean that our current arsenal is insufficient; then it’s worth taking a measure of it’s sheer scale.

            Each of the US navy’s 14 Ohio class submarines carries
            24 Trident II missiles, each of which is equipped with eight independent warheads roughly five times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Combine this with 400 ground based Minuteman III’s, each carrying one warhead about twenty times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and you have a total of 736 missiles delivering 3088 warheads.

            And I’m not even counting any our nuclear capable cruse missiles or gravity bombs.

            If the ability to inflict twenty thousand Hiroshimas on our enemies is not a sufficient deterrent, what is?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Do you mean that we need to modernize our delivery systems, or that we need to expand our nuclear arsenal?

            Trump’s Tweet very clearly reads “strengthen and expand” so I don’t think this interpretation is very tenable.

            Which, when you dig deeply into the actual mechanics of targeting, is just not enough.

            Not enough for what? Is total annihilation of every square inch of a country necessary for deterrence?

            And the systems involved are getting older and less reliable, which means that potential opponents are more likely to try things.

            Who is or will be doing what things? Again, I repeat my question: what actor do you perceive to be thinking “heh, the American paper tiger can only glass 500 of our major population centers and military installations” that will be scared straight under some escalation of the current regime?

            SSBNs, in particular, are fantastically expensive, and about the only credible option for anyone but the US, Russia, and China to maintain a good deterrent. So if you’re, say, Germany or Japan, it makes sense to essentially outsource your nuclear deterrent to the US. But if the US stops being reliable, then Germany and Japan will start looking for their own nukes, as will South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and goodness knows who else.

            You can’t be making this argument with a straight face in defense of Trump. No.

            Now you might be making the argument that modernizing our nuclear umbrella is an independently good thing, and that doesn’t mean you agree with Trump’s other views on proliferation, which would be fine if those positions could be truly independent. But ceteris non paribus, expanding our arsenal while openly encouraging other countries to do the same represents the worst of both worlds.

          • bean says:

            hyperboloid:

            Do you mean that we need to modernize our delivery systems, or that we need to expand our nuclear arsenal?

            Both.

            If you mean the former rather then the latter; the Minutemen III, and Trident II missiles that form the core of our deterrent are proven highly reliable technology. The US has committed to spending tens of billions of dollars a year to maintain, upgrade, and eventually replace these systems.

            They’re reliable because of all the money we spend, but the amount of money needed to keep them reliable is set to grow exponentially over the next few decades.

            If you mean that our current arsenal is insufficient; then it’s worth taking a measure of it’s sheer scale.

            Yes, I’m aware of the size of our current arsenal.

            Each of the US navy’s 14 Ohio class submarines carries
            24 Trident II missiles, each of which is equipped with eight independent warheads roughly five times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Combine this with 400 ground based Minuteman III’s, each carrying one warhead about twenty times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and you have a total of 736 missiles delivering 3088 warheads.

            They don’t load each Trident with 8 warheads, and I believe each SSBN is down to 20 tubes. Numbers are obviously difficult to come by, but New START limits our total warheads to 1,550, and our total deployed missiles+bombers to 700. The latest good numbers have us under those thresholds.

            If the ability to inflict twenty thousand Hiroshimas on our enemies is not a sufficient deterrent, what is?

            Those Hiroshimas go away very quickly when you start trying to actually destroy things. Japanese cities of the 40s were in a lot of ways best-case targets for nuclear weapons. I’d be tempted to shoot for 10,000 deployed warheads if I was president.

            @Anonymous Bosch

            Not enough for what? Is total annihilation of every square inch of a country necessary for deterrence?

            What country would I be able to deter to that standard? Let’s assume that we have 1,500 300kt weapons (this is a pretty good average for current US strategic weapons). I’ll take 20 psi overpressure as the threshold for ‘total annihilation’, even though it isn’t that, and set the weapon for airburst. Nukemap says the radius of that is 1.89 km, for an ‘annihilated’ area of 11.2 km2. Now, that means I can annihilate a country with a total land area of 16,833 km2 (note that I’m ignoring packing efficiency here). The largest country I can “annihilate every square inch of”?
            East Timor, at 14,874 km2. Kuwait and Swaziland are too big for me to nuke that thoroughly. These are not large countries, and you should look at how lethal nuclear weapons actually are.

            Who is or will be doing what things? Again, I repeat my question: what actor do you perceive to be thinking “heh, the American paper tiger can only glass 500 of our major population centers and military installations” that will be scared straight under some escalation of the current regime?

            Two reasons why 500 targets isn’t enough:
            1. You overestimate how powerful the weapons are. Each ICBM silo is a target. A major military base would have two or three separate targets. A large city might have a dozen.
            1. We have to deal with the possibility of shooting at more than one country at a time. You seriously don’t think that we can’t manage to find 1000 things to shoot at in Russia alone?

            You can’t be making this argument with a straight face in defense of Trump. No.

            In the same article, Trump explicitly ruled out expanding the US nuclear arsenal. Maybe he’s gotten a clue in the past 9 months. I find most of his national security views at a minimum wrong and at best terrifying, but if the tweet is an accurate statement of his current thoughts, it’s a good sign.

            Now you might be making the argument that modernizing our nuclear umbrella is an independently good thing, and that doesn’t mean you agree with Trump’s views here, which would be fine if those positions could be truly independent.

            Why couldn’t they be independent? I didn’t even vote for Trump, and that is the first thing he’s said ever that I can unambiguously say is a good thing.

          • Spookykou says:

            Bean could you lay out specifically what you are worried about?

            Is it a conflict where America loses, or just one where America doesn’t win by enough to defer the conflict in the first place, but still ‘wins’?

            Which countries are you worried about in this situation?

          • bean says:

            @Spookykou:

            Is it a conflict where America loses, or just one where America doesn’t win by enough to defer the conflict in the first place, but still ‘wins’?

            The latter, mostly. We need to be able to win convincingly enough that nobody doubts we’ll win, and thus doesn’t try to fight.

            Which countries are you worried about in this situation?

            I’m worried that if we keep going down the current road, we’ll get to the point where we can’t do enough damage to everyone to be able to deter them. One of the less-discussed aspects of nuclear command and control is that if one missile flies, all of them will. And if our arsenal gets low enough, maybe the Iranians or Norks decide that they can get away with sparking a nuclear war, because the US won’t have any weapons left after we get done with Russia and China. (This is why ABM systems are important. They dramatically reduce the chances of a single missile causing a war.)
            I also just don’t see much downside, beyond the fiscal cost, which is surprisingly small compared to the cost of maintaining the infrastructure we already have.

      • Randy M says:

        Reading twitter makes me worry much less about existential threats to mankind.

      • Group intelligence is a good predictor of how well a group functions. And he has not paid enough attention to meritocracy.

        Rick Perry is the obvious example.

        Scott Pruitt is both an example, and a horrid pick for the head of the EPA.

      • cassander says:

        Trump is likely referring to the proposed modernization of the US nuclear arsenal, something that is entirely necessary. current plans to not involves building new warheads, because treaties disallow that. I doubt trump will change that, the current plans are already extremely expensive.

        • bean says:

          What treaty bans that? So far as I know, there isn’t one. In fact, we recently resumed W88 production in small numbers at Los Alamos, even with Rocky Flats shut down.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Would this be another one of those treaties that the United States is obligated to obey to the letter until the end of time while the other parties to the treaty can do whatever they want? We do seem to end up in a lot of those for some reason.

        • cassander says:

          @bean

          the treaties technically limit the number of delivery vehicles, not warheads, but the effect is much the same. warheads without delivery vehicles aren’t much use. there are several arms limitation treaties

          @thirteenthletter

          yep, the russians cheat pretty badly, but not enough to disrupt the actual nuclear balance. carrying 16 missiles instead of 6 on their bears doesn’t make them stop being massive, slow targets.

          • bean says:

            the treaties technically limit the number of delivery vehicles, not warheads, but the effect is much the same. warheads without delivery vehicles aren’t much use. there are several arms limitation treaties

            No, the treaties limit both delivery vehicles and deployed warheads. The New START limits are discussed in some detail above. AFAIK, there’s no limits on actually building new warheads, and a book I have suggest that at least limited construction of new warheads is happening.

            yep, the russians cheat pretty badly, but not enough to disrupt the actual nuclear balance. carrying 16 missiles instead of 6 on their bears doesn’t make them stop being massive, slow targets.

            Uhh…
            What are you talking about? The nuclear arms treaties are pretty carefully enforced and verified, and negotiated at exactly the levels that Russia could sustain anyway, so they drag us down to their level. (Just to be clear, ending that parity would be one of my first acts if I was to become President.)
            Specifically, what missile are they hanging 16 of from the Bear? I don’t think the payload is high enough to carry 16 of anything very dangerous very far. Also, New START doesn’t limit missiles per bomber.

          • cassander says:

            >No, the treaties limit both delivery vehicles and deployed warheads.

            That’s what I meant. You can build all the non-deployed warheads you want.

            >What are you talking about? The nuclear arms treaties are pretty carefully enforced and verified, and negotiated at exactly the levels that Russia could sustain anyway, so they drag us down to their level.

            Not quite. The treaties are carefully monitored, but the russians try to fudge as much as possible and we tend to let them get away with it.

            >Specifically, what missile are they hanging 16 of from the Bear?

            These things. At one point, they were designed for 16 missiles, 6 internally and 10 externally. One of the treaties, I forget which, required them to modify most of them to carry 6 instead of 16, similar to how we’ve modified the B-1 to not carry external stores. The haven’t really done that. I forget if they claim they’ve done it or not, I’d have to check.

            As for ending parity, the last thing I want to do is make the russians even more paranoid than they are. I’d be harder on them about treaty violations, but I wouldn’t abandon the idea of parity. I’m much more interested in consolidating the number of nuclear platforms the US has to operate to save money. Were it up to me, the new ICBM would be a modified trident, the money to be spent on the ALCM and B61 upgrades would go to buying more B-21s, and all three services can damn well share one, or at most two, warheads, not 5.

          • bean says:

            I’d forgotten about their games with the INF. I’m skeptical of stories based on the Russians spending lots of money on new nuclear forces.

            Re the Bear, with 16 on board, the action radius would be approximately equal to the takeoff run. My guess is that they’d rarely carry more than 8.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Calling out companies individually and embracing protectionism, like in the Caterpillar deal. Worrisome both because I think it’s bad policy and because it’s probably very good politics, so not likely to decrease.

      I’m not sure how much it worries me. It already felt baked into the cake for me, so less worrisome than if I’d had higher hopes.

    • Adam says:

      Appointments, but Brad pretty much covered it. I like Mattis a lot actually, and know next to nothing about Tillerson, but every other one seems pretty bad. Granted, Defense and State are far and away the most important two. Then there’s the Carrier deal and the Boeing call out. I keep linking to my own Quora answers, but you can read my own breakdown of that here. Impulsively taking to Twitter without bothering to educate yourself on anything is pretty stupid in and of itself, but can lead to disaster if he starts seriously interfering in the economy sticking to his folk non-understanding of how things work. He comes across like some unemployed dude shaking his beer at the television screaming to throw the bums out and he can do a better job and we seriously put him in there to see how well he can actually do. I hate Twitter and reality television enough to begin with. Seeing my supreme national leader governing via it is pretty disheartening.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        I hate Twitter and reality television enough to begin with. Seeing my supreme national leader governing via it is pretty disheartening.

        I agree with you that those things are the worst products of modern civilization and we really, really need a boring president who gives boring speeches and doesn’t go around appearing on talk shows… but we spent the last eight years watching the supreme national leader troll the GOP on Twitter and give interviews to some YouTube lady who sits in a bathtub full of cereal, so I think we’ll survive another four-to-eight of that stuff.

        • Iain says:

          This is a weird false equivalency that you are trying to set up. Adam criticized Trump for impulsively taking to Twitter without bothering to educate himself. Would you care to point out, say, three tweets that could be fairly summarized as Obama either: a) “trolling the GOP on Twitter”, or b) spouting off about a topic he knows nothing about? Or even one?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Trolling the GOP on Twitter is an easy one.

            As far as spouting off about a topic he knows nothing about, I’ll be fair and grant that’s more Trump’s schtick. What Obama does is spout off about a topic he knows lots about, and get it horribly, destructively, and stubbornly wrong, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of lives. “Red line,” for example.

          • Iain says:

            That tweet seems innocuous to me, but I will take your word that you feel trolled. More importantly, the probability that Obama personally wrote that tweet rounds down to 0.

            It is one thing for a president to consider a situation carefully and then make a mistake. It is another thing entirely for the president to casually toss off a tweet with potentially severe geopolitical consequences.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The context was the budgetary fights in 2013 over Republican attempts to defund the Affordable Care Act, which would culminate in the government shutdown fight later that year. So yes, that was straight up taunting the opposition.

            More importantly, the probability that Obama personally wrote that tweet rounds down to 0.

            Why should it matter whether the President dashed off the tweet himself or had his staff do it? Frankly, I’d be more insulted if it was the latter, given that it would require much more effort among many more people.

            It is one thing for a president to consider a situation carefully and then make a mistake. It is another thing entirely for the president to casually toss off a tweet with potentially severe geopolitical consequences.

            Dead is dead, either way.

          • Iain says:

            Again: the criticism is that Donald Trump seems to be unusually prone to making important decisions impulsively on Twitter. Your reply was that this should not be concerning, because Obama was just as bad. This is, by any reasonable metric, false. Obama does not, for example, have a habit of revenge-tweeting at 3 AM. You may disagree with Obama’s decisions, but at the very least you can be certain that he and his administration put a lot of thought into them.

            Why should it matter whether the President dashed off the tweet himself or had his staff do it? Frankly, I’d be more insulted if it was the latter, given that it would require much more effort among many more people.

            Are you interested in communicating a coherent argument, or are you just interested in trying to say how bad Obama is in a bunch of different ways? This response is completely irrelevant to the discussion. We are talking about what we can glean about a president’s approach to important decisions by looking at Twitter habits. I don’t care whether you can invent some tendentious reason to feel “insulted” by a tweet from an Obama intern. That has nothing to do with whether Obama’s decision making is as impetuous as Trump’s.

            You are starting with a conclusion — “Obama bad” — and then throwing shit at the wall in an attempt to justify it. Perhaps you should consider your reasons for posting, and whether your current tactics are achieving your goals.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Again: the criticism is that Donald Trump seems to be unusually prone to making important decisions impulsively on Twitter.

            He certainly is unusually prone to posting random flaming on Twitter, often contradicting what he himself posted on Twitter the previous week, but that’s not the same thing as making a decision like, with policy and bureaucratic directives and legislation and so on. I suspect that we’re going to have to get used to ignoring Trump’s Twitter account as it’s going to be no closer to his actual policy than flipping a coin. (And I’m not necessarily saying that’s good or bad, either. Sometimes angry populism is wrong, but sometimes it’s right. I’d love to think the UN is going to get heavily punished on January 20th as one of his recent tweets suggested, but I’d bet 80% odds that this time next year we’ll still be sending hundreds of millions to UN agencies to launder to terror organizations.)

            Are you interested in communicating a coherent argument, or are you just interested in trying to say how bad Obama is in a bunch of different ways?

            I’ll happily agree with you that Obama is bad in a bunch of different ways — we’ve seen something like five of them just this week! But to be clear, my argument is that when one complains about how we (will shortly) have a President who childishly attacks his opposition on Twitter or acts like he’s a reality TV star instead of an elected official, one has to remember that the current guy did exactly the same things, just with better grammar. Trump is barging through the door that Obama propped open for him.

          • Aapje says:

            My current theories (with relatively low confidence):

            Obama’s main failure modes are that is stuck in a bubble where some things seem obvious to him & a messiah complex

            Trump’s main failure modes are that he has no real bubble that steers him, nor an interconnected internal model of reality (leading him to often reason from scratch based on whatever premises come to mind) & a messiah complex

          • Iain says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:

            But to be clear, my argument is that when one complains about how we (will shortly) have a President who childishly attacks his opposition on Twitter or acts like he’s a reality TV star instead of an elected official, one has to remember that the current guy did exactly the same things, just with better grammar. Trump is barging through the door that Obama propped open for him.

            You have made this claim multiple times. You have yet to actually provide evidence for it. I suggest that you do so.

            @Aapje:
            Unpack “messiah complex”, please. Here’s Obama himself on the issue; search for “please stop”. (I’m also unconvinced that it is a useful descriptor for Trump, although I’m willing to listen to your case.)

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Delusions of grandeur.

            In the context of the presidency: doing things that are counter-productive, but that feel ‘right’.

            In the case of Obama, telling the British people to vote against Brexit or the recent decision to not veto the Israel resolution are examples.

            You probably don’t need examples for Trump 🙂

            To be honest, I think that such a delusion is pretty much a requirement for the job.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Iain: You already granted me the “trolling his opponents on Twitter” part, and then started making excuses for why it technically wasn’t so bad somehow because he got his staff to do it for him. You can’t just back up now and pretend that didn’t happen.

            @Aapje: That’s not a bad summary above. With Trump it’s what he doesn’t know (or can’t be bothered to know), with Obama it’s what he knows that isn’t so. Hard to say which is more destructive in the medium term, but I suppose we’re about to learn.

          • Iain says:

            @ThirteenthLetter: I am starting to get seriously concerned about your reading comprehension. This is what I wrote:

            That tweet seems innocuous to me, but I will take your word that you feel trolled. More importantly, the probability that Obama personally wrote that tweet rounds down to 0.

            If you think that counts as granting your entire argument, I don’t know what to tell you.

            @Aapje: “Delusions of grandeur” seems to consist of making political choices you disagree with, or that turned out to be ill-advised with 20/20 hindsight. Presidents are necessarily going to make mistakes and/or decisions you disagree with; if that’s all it takes to earn “messiah complex” from you, no wonder you think it’s a prerequisite for the presidency. Forgive me if I do not find your analysis particularly useful.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            More importantly, the probability that Obama personally wrote that tweet rounds down to 0.

            How on Earth is this hairsplitting meaningful? If Obama having his staff write a tweet doesn’t count as “Obama tweeted,” then Obama has probably never proposed legislation or written an executive order, either, because he undoubtedly had his staff do those things too.

          • Iain says:

            A: Trump really does write many of his own tweets, while it’s quite likely that Obama himself has never actually tweeted. Obviously, then, tweets provide more insight into Trump’s decision-making process than Obama’s, especially because Trump makes much more important statements on Twitter than Obama ever did.
            B: Obama may not do all the grunt work to write his executive orders, but he certainly goes over them in detail and approves them before he signs. Are you under the impression that he personally reviews everything going out on the White House twitter account? Here’s a tweet about diapers. Do you think Obama personally signed off on that one, too?

            This is not a complicated distinction. I don’t understand why you’re having so much trouble with it.

          • “the criticism is that Donald Trump seems to be unusually prone to making important decisions impulsively on Twitter.”

            This assumes that that is really what is happening. It’s certainly possible.

            The alternative is that Trump believes that what he is doing is an effective way of achieving his objectives. The argument for that is that lots of people interpreted his behavior during the campaign is evidence of acting without thought and concluded the result would be his losing. He won.

            How does one distinguish between the two interpretations?

            Note that the interpretation being offered of Obama’s tweets is essentially the one I am offering as a possiblity for Trump’s–that the are a calculated tactic designed to look spontaneous.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            This assumes that that is really what is happening. It’s certainly possible.

            The alternative is that Trump believes that what he is doing is an effective way of achieving his objectives. The argument for that is that lots of people interpreted his behavior during the campaign is evidence of acting without thought and concluded the result would be his losing. He won.

            How does one distinguish between the two interpretations?

            Note that the interpretation being offered of Obama’s tweets is essentially the one I am offering as a possiblity for Trump’s–that the are a calculated tactic designed to look spontaneous.

            Trump won by a fairly narrow margin, and there are explanations for why he won better than “his every seeming misstep was actually a cunning strategem in a game of 4D chess”. He could certainly have won despite making various thoughtless mistakes.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            This is not a complicated distinction. I don’t understand why you’re having so much trouble with it.

            Hey, join the club! I, in turn, don’t understand why you’re having so much trouble with the concept that someone being insulted and taunted by the President of the United States is not going to particularly care whether the President himself did it or had his staff do it.

            Oh well. The chasm between human hearts was ever thus.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ ThirteenthLetter
            Trump is barging through the door that Obama propped open for him.

            It’s different doors. Obama’s door let in the young lefties; Trump’s let in the old righties.

          • Iain says:

            Note that the interpretation being offered of Obama’s tweets is essentially the one I am offering as a possiblity for Trump’s–that the are a calculated tactic designed to look spontaneous.

            If you want to explain things this way, you also have to claim that the spectacle of Trump’s aides frantically walking back his more outrageous comments is also planned.

            The idea that Trump’s administration-in-waiting is deliberately feigning disorganization is far from the most parsimonious explanation here.

    • keranih says:

      What actions that Trump has taken since the election concern you, why, and how much?

      Is there room in the “concern” pile for “well, I might be concerned when he does something, but he really hasn’t, yknow?”

      I mean, he won the election. He isn’t Hillary, and he’s not Obama, which ain’t nuthin’, true. But that’s not really all that much of an accomplishment.

      (Please to note that I am not trying to convince people that there is not the potential for concern, because 1) that would be a complete waste of time and effort and 2) IMO, as Trump was only the second worst candidate running this year, concern is appropriate. I do think being concerned about (like being congratulatory for) actions taken should come *after* the actions, not before. (Temporally rigid, I know.))

      • Randy M says:

        This was my first thought, but his announced choices for cabinet positions and his discussions with corporations are fair game for critique.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        There are actions he is taking in transition, and also actions he is not taking.

        For example, he stated that a sitting president can’t be guilty of conflict of interest under the law, and is acting in a way that is consistent with viewing it as unimportant to avoid conflict of interest.

        Announced cabinet appointments are things being done.

        Statements of position on policy are actually a step in the dance of “doing things”.

        Holding victory/thank you rallies are things being done.

        Etc.

        • keranih says:

          I can see where you’re coming from re: policy statements and cabinet picks – but I disagree.

          (Leaving aside the legalities of ‘conflict of interest’ – and the various other crooked people who have been in/run for office…I don’t get the “coi” drama related to Trump. What outcome are people concerned about? He makes the WH kitchen stock Trump steaks? NYC lobbyists have to move into Trump Towers? For reals, what’s the concern?)

          I think it is an error to mistake speeches for actions, and initial intent for eventual effect. I think getting worked up now, in the pre-inauguration days, is a sub-optimal use of effort.

          Free country, of course, you do what you like.

          • Matt M says:

            One of the insights from Scott Adams that I kind of liked was that the best way for Trump to use the Presidency to enrich himself would be to do a really great job. That would be pretty good for his brand, in which his name is literally displayed in giant letters on top of his hotel locations.

            On the other hand, doing a bad job would tank his brand and would destroy his wealth. He is highly incentivized to be a good President. Being known for being corrupt would destroy far more of his wealth than whatever incremental gain you think he can siphon away by directing foreign diplomats to stay at his properties or whatever.

            Consider – would a Richard Nixon branded hotel chain have been a smash hit in the 1970s/80s?

          • Rob K says:

            @Matt M

            Quickly glancing at things, Ferdinand Marcos appears to have embezzled something in the range of 5% of the total GDP of the Phillipines during the time he was president. (That sounds shitbananas, but I can’t make the math work out otherwise.) Even adjusting that way down to account for stronger institutions etc (100 times harder?) and giving Trump credit for the $362m in income he claimed in 2014 vs the $160m the WSJ found, you’d be talking about $40b embezzlable over 4 years vs maybe $1.4b/yr to be gained from the branding business if it quadrupled in value after a successful term and zeroed out in the embezzlement case.

            Those numbers are rough as hell, but at minimum it’s not straightforwardly obvious that corruption doesn’t pay when you’re talking about the potential corruption cash flow of the world’s largest and most powerful country.

    • onyomi says:

      Appointment of Jeff Sessions makes me pessimistic about progress on the war on drugs. I think drug warriors are “on the wrong side of history,” as stated above (yes that phrase here stands in lieu of an actual argument), but that doesn’t mean someone “on the wrong side” can’t significantly slow or even reverse progress in some places.

      Most of his other appointments for me fall in the category of “could be better, but could be worse.”

    • Spookykou says:

      My most emotional fear is actually really silly, but I am worried about what he will do to the ‘American brand’ which I know isn’t exactly amazing internationally anyways, but I feel like there is at least a sort of grudging respect for America, that I am worried we will lose, coincidentally, many Trump supports seem to think the opposite.

      More practically his appointments, Mattis is ok with me, everyone else falls somewhere on the scale of not good to really bad.

      His behavior really pattern matches with ‘over confident and out of his depth’ for me.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Are you worried about -specific- partners like Poland, Japan, South Korea, the Commonwealth countries? Or the “international community”?

        Because not to be overly negative or anything, but I don’t know that the American brand HAS a future with the international community anyway. That grudging respect seems to me to be mostly predicated on the efforts to make ourselves LESS like America.

        • onyomi says:

          If successful, I think Trump might paradoxically have more potential do good for “the American brand,” on a certain definition, than most other hypothetical presidents. The reason being he is a very “American” figure, and electing a loudmouth real estate tycoon with crazy hair is a very American (as opposed to Canadian or French or Italian) thing to do. Electing a president Europeans will automatically love and accept, arguably, is doing good for “the European brand,” because implicitly accepting them as the arbiters of enlightened democratic decision making.

          If unsuccessful, however, he may, in fact, have more potential to hurt “the American brand,” by the same logic.

          But generally, I agree: it’s not much of a brand if others only like it to the extent it tries to be more like them. We’re Americans! We make universal culture, not conform to it! *cue bald eagle cry, etc.*

        • Spookykou says:

          The specific partners you listed.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Appointments look to be mostly shitty with a few good ones (Mattis is great, I think worst case would be if the people who argue that a Good military General != a Good Bureaucratic SecDef have a point. OTOH he held major and joint commands and those ARE bureaucratic).

      Protectionism.

      Everything else is “Watch this space, more news soon!”

    • I assume by “concerns” you mean negative concerns. He appointed an economist I don’t know to be chief of the trade council and it sounds from news stories as if he is opposed to free trade, at least with China. That isn’t surprising, given Trump’s past statements and the general public mood, but it’s unfortunate.

      Also, Trump seems to have recently suggested that we need more nuclear weapons, which seems an odd and disturbing idea.

    • Well... says:

      The frame in which other commenters have responded seems to be “Picks that concern me because I’m worried about the safety/stability of the US.”

      But I think Trump’s current line-up of cabinet picks amounts to a kind of “anchoring”, intended more to produce a public impression than to affect the way our country is governed. I predict that a lot of Trump’s current picks will be replaced within a year, before they can get much done, in order to achieve the response Trump wants.

      I bother mentioning this only because I think ultimately Trump wants to lead an extremely safe/moderate/centrist* administration–a kind of stable platform from which he can focus on the one or two things he seems to genuinely care about (renegotiating trade deals and such).

      *Though I will say the ever-public-conscious Trump may be renovating “centrist” to mean an area approximately halfway between the average American conservative and the average American liberal, rather than the current territory which is an area halfway between the average congress Democrat and the average congress Republican, or if you like, between the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

      • Iain says:

        I bother mentioning this only because I think ultimately Trump wants to lead an extremely safe/moderate/centrist* administration–a kind of stable platform from which he can focus on the one or two things he seems to genuinely care about (renegotiating trade deals and such).

        What is your evidence for this belief? What evidence would you require to change it?

        • Well... says:

          My evidence is Trump’s very moderate political history and pre-campaign statements about trade deals.

          • Iain says:

            Trump does not have a record of behaviour in elected office, so I assume you are relying on his public statements. For most political questions, you can find a Trump statement on either side. Why are you convinced that the more moderate statements represent Trump’s actual beliefs? Why do you assign higher weight to Trump’s past words than to his present actions?

          • DrBeat says:

            This is not about believing words vs believing actions; all of them are words, and all of them have no meaning. The only question is what set of words will a given speaker decide suits their narrative best, and so pretend those words were actions.

          • Well... says:

            I’m relying on his public statements, the fact that he and Bill Clinton are golf buddies, and my keen intuition about him, which has so far helped me correctly predict over a year ago that Trump would win the election and then renege on building the wall (though I thought he would wait until closer to his first day in office to go back on that promise).

          • Iain says:

            You do realize that predicting Trump’s victory and predicting Trump’s behaviour are two different beasts, right? One requires insight into Trump himself, and the other requires insight into the voting public.

            So your entire argument boils down to a prediction about Trump backtracking on his ridiculous and implausible wall, and the fact that he enjoyed golfing with Bill Clinton. Good luck with that.

          • Well... says:

            I have a lot of confidence in my intuition about Trump.

            Earlier you asked what evidence I would need to change my belief/confidence in my intuition. The evidence I’d need is a bunch of my predictions not coming true. For my current batch of predictions, we have to wait until Trump’s presidency is over.

            By the way I think you owe me more credit than you’re giving. It wasn’t necessarily obvious to everyone a year or more ago that Trump would backtrack on the wall, even to those (like you apparently) who considered the wall unfeasible. Trump could have kept up with the wall rhetoric and blamed congress (or the media or Mexico or something) for failing to let him build it. In fact I remember seeing a few people claim that’s what he’d do. In contrast, I specifically predicted that he would not even make it look like he was trying to build the wall. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person on Earth who made that specific prediction (maybe you made it too?) but I don’t remember seeing it many other places, and it certainly wasn’t what most people seemed to think would happen.

            The golfing with Bill Clinton thing was something I just didn’t see many people talking about (Steve Sailer mentioned it way early in the campaign, but there came a point where Sailer didn’t mention it anymore and then maybe around a year ago I stopped reading Sailer), and I saw it as pretty significant. Do you think it wasn’t?

          • Iain says:

            The golf thing is irrelevant. It is entirely possible for two people to disagree on politics and still enjoy each other’s company. Scalia and Ginsburg were good friends outside of the courtroom.

            You are giving yourself too much credit on the wall. It is not even clear right now whether or not Trump is planning on building it. You seem to be confident that he is not. Can you cite your source? This NYT article, which is only two days old, does not seem to think that the wall is definitely cancelled.

            I always thought the wall was a stupid idea. I thought it was quite unlikely that it would ever get fully implemented, especially if you include Trump’s more extravagant promises (“and Mexico will pay for it!”). I would characterize the current mess as Trump deliberately confusing the issue and keeping things ambiguous until he can work out how little he can do without angering his supporters. I do not believe I wrote down any predictions anywhere. If you would like me to make one now, I would predict that Republican approval of Trump’s handling of the wall will fairly closely track Republican approval of Trump: that is to say, I think Trump will do just enough to keep the wall from being a negative for him, but if Republicans turn against him for other reasons, then they may retroactively decide that they also wanted more wall.

          • Well... says:

            Trump confirmed my prediction only a few days after winning the election. That NYT article from two days ago doesn’t refute my prediction. It says the “Trump team” is looking into where they can put a barrier, probably a fence. Characteristically, the NYT isn’t reporting news either: Trump already said, a month or more ago, that he had gotten “new information” that caused him to decide it wasn’t worthwhile to build a barrier along the whole border, and instead he would look into putting fence up at a few places here and there. (Again, “look into.”)

            I didn’t think the wall was a stupid idea (Israel’s system of walls and fences seems to work quite well; we require more in length but the cost to build and man it would not be big by government standards), but I knew it was a lie. I knew this because of my strong intuitive sense of Trump, his very centrist political history, and because Bill Clinton is his golf buddy, and remained his golf buddy into the election (if they’re no longer golf buddies, I haven’t heard about it—I would expect “Bill Clinton cancels membership at Trump golf club” to have been a news item during the campaign, but it wasn’t).

            You’re right, by the way, that ordinary people such as supreme court judges, or me and most of my friends & family can disagree vehemently on politics and still enjoy each other’s company. But the Clintons and Trump are not ordinary rational people.

          • Iain says:

            Here is a google search for articles containing “Trump wall ‘new information'” in the two weeks after election day. I do not see anything that matches your description. I think you might be referring to this Sixty Minutes interview? It fits your timeframe, but it does not fit your narrative:

            Lesley Stahl: So let’s go through very quickly some of the promises you made and tell us if you’re going to do what you said or you’re going to change it in any way. Are you really going to build a wall?
            Donald Trump: Yes.
            Lesley Stahl: They’re talking about a fence in the Republican Congress, would you accept a fence?
            Donald Trump: For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.
            Lesley Stahl: So part wall, part fence?
            Donald Trump: Yeah, it could be – it could be some fencing.

            Seriously, which is more likely?
            a) Trump explicitly cancelled the wall, but it wasn’t written down anywhere and the media agreed to pretend it never happened; or
            b) Your memory is fallible.

            Similarly, you are more than a little overconfident in your ability to distinguish between “regular” people, like Supreme Court justices, and whatever category you are putting Trump/Clinton in. For example, Clinton and Bush are friendly.

          • Well... says:

            Not sure what your point is about Clinton and Bush being friendly. In fact it kind of supports what I said about Trump being a moderate/centrist–just like Clinton and Bush.

            I should have recorded where I saw Trump renege on the wall. I didn’t, because I’m an idiot whose brain has been jellied from too much time in front of the computer. I might go look it up later. I do remember it being something that a couple of talk radio hosts kept having to answer calls about on my drive home from work in the weeks after the election.

            Is your contention that Trump will try to get the wall built?

          • Iain says:

            My contention is that your degree of confidence that Trump has scrapped his plans for the wall is way too high (and, consequently, your confidence in your ability to predict Trump is also too high). Trump is commonly in the habit of saying things that contradict each other. You are falling prey to confirmation bias: you heard Trump say a thing once that justifies your prior conception of him, so you are taking it as proof that you were right, while ignoring contradictory evidence.

            Your golf argument remains absurd. If Bush vs Clinton doesn’t count as a sufficient level of disagreement, what possible evidence would you accept to disprove your claim? (Hint: if you don’t start by assuming that Trump is a moderate, the obvious answer is “Trump and Clinton golfing together”.)

          • Well... says:

            @Iain:

            You misunderstand. I don’t believe Trump is scrapping any plans. I believe he never planned to build the wall in the first place. What moderate/centrist would?

            Trump does say things that contradict each other, but it’s not because he’s haphazard or impulsive. It’s because doing that makes it easier for him to be a moderate/centrist while retaining the ability to have most of the country think he’s some kind of far right populist. (Either Jesus or Hitler, depending on who you ask.)

            Bush, Trump, Clinton, Giuliani, Kerry, Romney…who can tell these people’s politics apart in a world that includes Dennis Kucinich and Jeff Sessions—not to mention David D. Friedman? You might respond by pontificating on differences between the policies of Bush and Clinton, but remember that Trump somehow got everyone to think that he was way, way more different than that.

            Do you want to pick this up over at the new OT? Just put “@well…” somewhere in your comment and I’ll find it. Here’s a link to this comment in case you want to include it: http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/21/open-thread-65-25/#comment-447770

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      I didn’t have any particular opinion on Jeff Sessions at AG other than if the media is upset about him he must be all right, but word on the street is that he’s a big fan of civil forfeiture, and that makes me sad.

  17. onyomi says:

    Somewhat related to the above “concerns about Trump” question, but different enough as to be a separate question, I think:

    Is it possible to steelman Trump’s seemingly implausible claim that our military is “badly depleted”?

    I mean, I believe we spend more on our military than the next several biggest militaries combined, right? I tend to read Trump’s complaints about a “depleted” military as Red tribe signalling analogous to Blue tribe signalling about education: for Red tribe, military is the thing for which more spending always=applause lights, cuts always=boo lights.

    That said, as with education, it is also very conceivable to me that we are not getting a lot of “bang” (feels an unfortunate choice of words here…) for our military buck. That is, maybe “we spend a ton on the military” and “but our military equipment is outdated and our military isn’t run efficiently” aren’t mutually exclusive claims? This relates also, of course, to the above question about our nuclear arsenal.

    Superficially it seems to me ridiculous to claim that we don’t already have enough nuclear weapons, but is there a case to be made that our current arsenal needs to be upgraded, modernized, etc.? Then again, I kind of like the idea of nuclear arsenals being very analog and stone age in a way nobody can conceivably hack?

    My prior is that we already spend way, way, way more on the military than is necessary to actually protect America. Is there any sense, then, that Trump’s claims about a “badly depleted” military are anything more than Red tribe signalling (which he’s very good at, even when he probably doesn’t mean it)?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      To steelman, I don’t think we need to go much deeper than the fact the Pentagon ended their “two major war” imperative under Obama. If you believe that we should be able to fight a major conventional war against (say) Russia and China at the same time, we are depleted relative to that.

      However, I think part of this was retooling to fight non-state asymmetric warfare, so I’m not sure if steelman Trump is saying he wants to fight Russia, China, Isis and AQ all at the same time or what.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I think the efficiency argument and the depletion argument are two separate things, although solving one could allow you to address the other. From an efficiency standpoint our military certainly spends way more money than it needs to. Reforms wouldn’t be easy to push through given that Congress treats it as a jobs program, but Trump could conceivably marshal his base in favor of them. But so far it looks like Trump’s idea of draining the swamp will be publicly summoning a contractor for a dressing-down, after which they make some minor concession he can take credit for, without any serious change to the underlying system.

      I’m not so sure that our military is “depleted.” We can pretty much do whatever we want from a pure military standpoint. As a democracy, our limits are mostly political, not economic or technological. We could’ve occupied Iraq and kept a lid on AQI/ISIS indefinitely, it just wouldn’t have been cheap in terms of lives or money and Americans eventually started rejecting the price at the ballot box.

    • keranih says:

      I think that there is a lot of room to logically argue either way on this, and that yes, a great number of people are going to argue on tribal grounds, and most of the rest of them on pocketbook grounds.

      To try to explain how some see it –

      I believe we spend more on our military than the next several biggest militaries combined

      Yes, yes we do – but not always as a product of GDP, and this is mostly true because 1) the USSR collapsed so utterly and 2) the most militant countries are mostly impoverished developing nations and the wealthiest nations are highly (but not exclusively) concentrated in Europe and so skating on what’s left of Pax Americana.

      Other issues: cost is driven by quantity and quality. It’s pretty cheap to outfit five guys with a mortar and half a dozen AKs. Designing, building, and supporting a Blackhawk gunship with the optic capability of observing those guys in the dark from half a mile away and then killing them all in under a minute at next to no risk(*) to the aircrew is a lot more expensive.

      An airbase here, a tank brigade there, a carrier group over here – esp if we have an expectation for our airplanes to not fall down, our tanks to run, and our ships to not sink – and pretty quick we’re talking about real money. Add into this the safety, quality, and contracting requirements, plus higher pay for people in a pretty expensive labor market, and things add up.

      We could go to cheaper, less rigorous materials and equipment – but not without dismantling the contracting system that a lot of people depend on for work.

      We could also make the military smaller…but that will come with a lower capability to deal effective, coercive violence across the globe. Which reduction some people think is appropriate. I myself think there are too many people who don’t listen to much below “credible threat of violence” to discard this as a method for safeguarding the nation (and the peaceful people of the world.)

      I do NOT think it’s appropriate to think that America can go on doing what we are doing militarily with less people/equipment/bases. We may choose to do less, which would allow us to downsize further (in personnel, +/- discarding equipment upgrades).

      A thing to consider in costs – and I think this applies to cities and governments as well – if we were to decide to, oh, get rid of a few Navy ships – the savings would not be equal to the whole cost of building and running those ships. There are/were docks that need to be manned and kept up – will we stop maintaining those docks if fewer ships are stopping there? The ships may not be able to be sold – and if they *are* sold, it’s not clear that we can sell the maintenance contract on those ships with it. Plus we already paid the shipbuilder for designing and building the ship – which had an estimated lifetime of X, and now we’re junking them at X-n.

      maybe “we spend a ton on the military” and “but our military equipment is outdated and our military isn’t run efficiently” aren’t mutually exclusive claims?

      I agree with you, but as I hinted above, the military has drawn down quite a bit in the last eight years. (The AF has attempted to upgrade a lot of equipment in the same time, with variable success.) There is rather little fat left, and not a lot of muscle either. More cuts are going to result in amputation, not trimming.

      is there a case to be made that our current arsenal needs to be upgraded, modernized, etc.?

      Yes. Not my field, but all the people who are that I have listened to say yes.

      (*)We could argue that we should give the guys with the AKs a more sporting chance. I don’t agree.

      • Brad says:

        We could go to cheaper, less rigorous materials and equipment – but not without dismantling the contracting system that a lot of people depend on for work.

        This seems like a totally crazy argument to me. Sure, really inefficient spending programs can act as a kind of welfare program but it is a completely haphazard welfare program. Why would you pay LM execs millions for the privilege of paying LM line workers tens of thousands?

      • bean says:

        We could go to cheaper, less rigorous materials and equipment – but not without dismantling the contracting system that a lot of people depend on for work.

        In a lot of cases, the reason for the equipment being that rigorous is not just protection of the pocketbook. Take the infamous expensive hammer. It turned out that it was a non-sparking, non-magnetic model for working in fuel tanks. When you need the equipment to work anywhere in the world and in circumstances that a typical civilian doesn’t even think about, and lives depend on it working the first time, then you often don’t have a lot of choice but to pony up.
        This is actually one of the biggest distinctions between professional and amateur militaries. The pros buy the stuff that will work, even in combat, while the amateurs buy stuff that works most of the time on exercises.

        • keranih says:

          When you need the equipment to work anywhere in the world and in circumstances that a typical civilian doesn’t even think about, and lives depend on it working the first time, then you often don’t have a lot of choice but to pony up.

          …it is my understanding that the last decade of military uniform contracts are an object lesson in how much ponying up is done for things which don’t work at all, anywhere, despite people’s lives depending on them.

          But more seriously, yes – so long as potential hot spots include the Afghan mountains (where the air is too thin to fly choppers) and the Arabian Peninsula (where the summer temps on the tarmac reach 120*F + – and jet fuel spontaneously sparks at 145*) and the Russian/Chinese border (aka Siberia) and dank, sopping fetid jungles all over the place, the demands for US military equipment are going to be expensive.

          As will the training to prep people to use that equipment in those environments.

          (I still think the appropriations system is deeply messed up.)

          • bean says:

            …it is my understanding that the last decade of military uniform contracts are an object lesson in how much ponying up is done for things which don’t work at all, anywhere, despite people’s lives depending on them.

            Military uniforms are hard. If all you want is something comfortable and reasonably durable, then you can get it from REI. When it has to be fire-resistant and not release toxic fumes, provide IR camouflage, and resist chemical weapons, things get a lot harder. Hence, MIL-STD-810.
            Also, half of the uniform problems seem to come from brass who seem to think that redesigning the uniforms is a good thing, and have no aesthetic sense. The NWU is the best example of this.

            (I still think the appropriations system is deeply messed up.)

            Agreed, but it’s a different kind of messed up. I work on the civilian side of the aerospace industry, and I see a lot of the same stuff that seems to be screwing up defense. When lives are at stake, it takes more discipline than most people have to do tradeoffs instead of adding more bureaucracy.

    • bean says:

      Is it possible to steelman Trump’s seemingly implausible claim that our military is “badly depleted”?

      Yes. They’ve been running down spares budgets for years now, to the point where salvaging from museum aircraft is way up. I’ve heard some say that the situation there is worse than the late 70s, which were famously horrible.
      (This is a steelmanning, and other sources report that we’re doing OK, though not great.)

    • Controls Freak says:

      Pretty much what HBC said – it depends on what you’re trying to do, what you want your military to be capable of accomplishing. Under Obama, we kind of shifted from sizing according to winning two major regional wars to “one-and-a-half”, which is somewhere along the lines of “winning one major regional war and holding in another” to “winning one major regional war and performing smaller operations elsewhere (like non-state asymmetric warfare)”. If we wanted to draw this all the way back to, “Just defend the homeland,” we could manage to have a much smaller force. That being said, there would be global ramifications to this – if our allies’ enemies see that we’re not protecting them… and if our allies see that we’re not protecting them, then they will start developing additional capabilities of their own. Right now, the dominant thinking is, “How much is enough to still be a superpower?”

      Alongside this is a common understanding that we’re in the twilight phase of the second offset strategy. Within this category, our near-peers have built capabilities that come closer to matching our own or countering them. And frankly, while we tend to think of our military as sooo much bigger and better and badder than anyone else, there are sub-domains in which we are simply behind. We know the gap is narrowing, but estimating exactly how much is hard.

      Maybe the reduction in goal is simply an accurate accounting of this gap narrowing. I’m not sure. I certainly don’t have access to the necessary information to make such a judgment. That being said, (depending on your goals) these are both measures which could be concerning.

    • Incurian says:

      They’re fucking tired and the talent is leaving in droves.

      • onyomi says:

        Why? Other than, it’s a tiring job? Is talent leaving because they don’t get paid well enough, or some other reason?

        • keranih says:

          Some theories:

          Many of the people who came into the military a decade ago were – either by training or temperament – better battle soldiers than garrison soldiers. (*) As the military isn’t actually using their experience and talents, they’re frustrated and annoyed.

          The military support for the mission in Iraq & Afghanistan remained high for longer than did support by the American people. The reversals in those countries are frustrating for most, heartbreaking for those who lost comrades to make gains that have since been negated.

          America has lost face and standing internationally under Obama. It is not as heartening to serve during such times.

          There has been a non-trivial amount of social change over the last ten years in the military (role of women, sexual orientation, transgender, millennials in general) and for many of a more traditional culture, this is a Thing Not Wanted.

          Downsizing and rifts are emotionally hard even on the people who don’t get fired.

          And while the pace of deployments has drastically gone down, there are still units deploying all the time, which is wearing.

          There are other theories, but these are the larger ones I’ve heard.

          (*)…sailors, airmen, Marines, etc

        • CatCube says:

          We’re just completing a massive reduction in force. We’re currently at the smallest active duty Army since 1940.

          They’re trying to avoid the mistakes of the 90s where the good people have options outside the military so they leave first, but it’s always a tough balancing act.

          The drawdown is responsible for me heading for the door, though I’m not really one of the “talent” that Incurian is referring to. A fair assessment of my skills would be a solid “not awful, I guess.” The risk of getting nailed by up-or-out prior to hitting 20 years wasn’t worth trying to continue, especially since my last assignment was as a structural engineer, and I discovered that I’m much better at that than as an officer, so I slid over into a civilian position.

          There are probably some actual rock stars who didn’t want to risk spending another 10 years in uniform and then getting caught out before making the 20 years necessary for retirement. (The system is you get half-pay for life at 20 years of service, and nothing for 19 years 364 days. In a shrinking Army, it can start to look like a bad risk to try for the brass ring when you can get a job in the private sector that pays a lot more.)

        • Sfoil says:

          Part of it is the war/garrison divide keranih pointed out, but concretely even though Iraqistan is basically over as far as the conventional army is concerned, the tempo of deployments has stayed the same. Right now, we’re continually doing 18 months in the US followed by 9 months deployed forward, which is similar to the wartime scheduling except…there’s no war, no sense of purpose. And the “peacetime” rotations forward are weirdly locked-down for reasons I can only speculate about. Going to Germany shouldn’t be an individual hardship — and it previously never was — but commanders now go out of their way to try to make it rough on soldiers by keeping them confined to their barracks, disallowing visitors, etc.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Editing this because a full response to your question requires more than I have time for ATM, so I’m going to try and find some links from people with more insight who’ve already explained some of the dynamics.

        Part of it is the emotional stress and fatigue of deployment: sustaining a military of a given size when it’s being actively used for combat operations always requires more effort and money than doing so for one in peacetime.

        The other part is that there is a difficult-to-quantify, but not difficult-to-explain, difference between the qualities that make a good career soldier in peacetime, and a good career soldier in combat.

        Between war leaders and peace managers, if you will. As I said, I’m going to try and offer some links.

        • onyomi says:

          The idea that different types of people make better war leaders and peace managers seems plausible; I have a more basic question: what do we have now and what do we need more of? Are you saying we have too many “peace manager” types tired of fighting terrorists, or that we have too many “war leader” types tired of managing Iraq?

          • Incurian says:

            It depends who you ask. I am gathering my thoughts to respond to this and your other questions. The two above replies don’t seem wrong though.

            An easy answer for now: it’s not about the money. The pay and benefits are great, but you don’t do that sort of job [very long] for the money, or rather you shouldn’t. It’s too easy for people to coast along, collect pay, get promoted, and leave people who care wondering why they try so hard to carry their buddies’ rucks for them if the only reward is more weight. The good ones who carry their buddies with alacrity and ask for more do exist, but they are very few, and the young ones with potential see what’s in store for them and bail.

            It’s tiring to go over there every other year, leaving behind your family and culture etc., to work your ass off and fight, and if you’re lucky seeing death only rarely – even if thigh his shadow looms large. Then you go home and things are different, it’s hard to adjust. The unit who took over down range is doing a shit job, reversing your gains; your government does the same thing at the strategic level. If you’re lucky you spend your time at home doing good hard training for next time, but probably you spend your time doing asinine congress mandated equal opportunity training. Sexual harassment training. Information assurance training. Don’t kill yourself training. Don’t let your buddy kill himself training. Then you start again because its quarterly. Then a rushed half assed train up before the next deployment. Repeat two or five or seven or ten times. You get tired.

          • Incurian says:

            Oh, and the fuckers who specialize in the bullshit training get praise and accolades for their fucking sinecures while their buddies cover down.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          There are two separate personnel retention problems here. One is the one CatCube is talking about, where you have the professional skills to find a safer career path in the civilian sector.

          The other one Incurian is mentioning to some extent, but I’m having trouble finding a link I like so let me take a stab at it. At this point, you’ve probably heard a LOT about General Mattis.

          Half the shit he is famous for saying, like:

          You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

          That quote? In the peacetime army, for a more junior and less well seasoned and decorated officer with less of an iron-clad reputation? It would be a career killer.

          A lot of the same guys who have that “warrior spirit” , who are willing to take charge and lead the way when under fire and show intelligent initiative? They’re also the ones who are impolitic. Who aren’t good at checking the bureaucratic checkboxes for their next OER or NCOER. Who roll their eyes at “bullshit” CO2 and EEOC training. And who are not necessarily popular in garrison environments.

          In fact, they’re not even always guys.

          EDIT: The NYT spin on this story is fascinating, BTW, since it runs very differently from other reporting.

    • cassander says:

      >Is it possible to steelman Trump’s seemingly implausible claim that our military is “badly depleted”?

      Very easily:

      https://news.usni.org/2016/05/26/as-navy-faces-848m-om-shortfall-picking-what-maintenance-to-skip-is-full-of-risk

      >Superficially it seems to me ridiculous to claim that we don’t already have enough nuclear weapons, but is there a case to be made that our current arsenal needs to be upgraded, modernized, etc.?

      our current arsenal was built mostly in the early 80s. the equipment is getting old and needs replacing. I’m actually quite critical of the current plans for that process, but some sort of modernization is unquestionably necessary.

      >My prior is that we already spend way, way, way more on the military than is necessary to actually protect America

      the purpose of the US military is not to protect america, it’s to protect the liberal international order by playing hegemon. whether or not the US benefits from this on the whole is debatable, but the world as a whole certainly does.

      • onyomi says:

        “the purpose of the US military is not to protect america, it’s to protect the liberal international order by playing hegemon.”

        Why should we/do we have to do that? At best, it’s a very expensive and seemingly largely thankless thank. At worst, makes us less safe.

        • cassander says:

          the purely selfish argument in favor is that free global flow of goods and capital and the absence of great power war benefits the US more than the 600 billion dollars a year we spend on defense. You also get whatever psychic benefits come from getting to make the rest of the world become more like us, rather than the other way around. Of course, it’s impossible to prove or disprove either assertion.

          • keranih says:

            And seeing as we’d likely spend some money on defense, even if we didn’t have the amount we have, it’s more like the marginal cost of (superpower defense spending) minus (bog standard nation defense spending).

            And if we weren’t the big boys on the block, someone else would be. The likely candidates are not all that attractive, stability of liberty wise.

            Not having a big boy at all would probably be even more expensive.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      HBC and others have already pointed out the big picture capabilities questions.

      Let me amplify the point about spares/logistics.

      Managing Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines and managing complex mechanical and electronic systems has something in common: they both have readiness and maintenance cycles and require logistical support.

      With equipment, it has to be regularly taken out of service for maintenance. At periodic intervals more major servicing and repair and parts replacement may be necessary. So when it’s something that you absolutely need to have ready to go on zero notice 24-7-365 (and again, once you’re actually in combat, EVERYTHING absolutely needs to be ready to go on zero notice 24-7-365), that means you needs a backup. And maybe a back-up for the back-up. And the support system to get spare parts forward and broke-ass equipment/vehicles to the rear for depot-level maintenance.

      As a ferinstance, since it’s one I know, let’s look at the RQ-7 Shadow UAV. By the book capability for a platoon in the US Army is to provide:

      -Normal operations: One mission up, providing 12 hours on station per 24 hour period.

      -Surge operations: One mission up, providing 18 hours on station per 24 hour period, for up to 72 days, followed by a maintenance standdown because you’ve run the systems as hard as you can for as long as you can without running serious risk of mechanical failure, operator error, etc.

      I say “one mission up” because sometimes that might be 2 birds in the air at the same time so there’s no gap in coverage (Bird B flies out to the mission area, switch control, fly bird A back for recovery).

      How many airframes does the UAV platoon require in order to maintain that temp immediately on-hand? four. And more available on short notice from contractor and depot-level support.

      This is something that I get the impression european militaries cut to the bone or past it…which is why they often run into issues when they have to operate more intensively than a 3-5 day on-post training exercise.

      Which brings me to TRAINING. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines cannot simply be trained up and then used in combat indefinitely. I don’t have to explain the need for R&R time, leave, medical leave, and so on, but a counter-intuitive truth is that a unit that’s deployed on mission for too long may actually be WORSE, skills-wise, than someone fresh out of their pre-deployment training.

      Blooded veterans are all well and good, but there’s an analogy to be made between people and equipment in that there can be a fine line between “Broken-in” and “Broken-down”. Cycling units to the rear for rest and refit followed by training allows the people to recover physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It lets them take experience and integrate that into systematic knowledge and training. And it allows the training to put the edge on things that get dulled or forgotten entirely due to repetition.

      Which means that, much like the UAVs mentioned above, for every company of riflemen you deploy, you need one company on block leave and reconsolidation, and one company training up to get ready to replace that deployed unit. In the army, they call that Red-Amber-Green (Green for Deployable, Amber in pre-deployment work-up/training, Red for down for block leave, schooling, maintenance, etc)

      And last point: Good training is EXPENSIVE. really, really expensive. As in, almost as expensive as actual combat expensive…

      …which is why that’s another area that separates the US military from its European counterparts.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Almost any given statement can be argued well as long as you stick to ambiguous unfalsifiable claims rather than actually considering some kind of objective standard of proof. So yes, every Trump statement, no matter how ridiculous it seems, can be steel manned by someone sufficiently smart. I would like to see the opposite claim, has Trump ever said anything that absolutely no one is willing to defend? If not, what’s the closest?

  18. Why is the national focus on Flint’s water supply, when a clear precursor to the city’s lack of competent officials is its horrifyingly high murder and violent crime rates?

    No matter what measures are passed, competent people won’t want to live in the city unless the crime rate is low.

    What about solving *that*, instead of the outcomes of the poor decisions that follow?

    • Rob K says:

      yeah, what the hell could lead in the water have to do with violent crime?

      • Anonymous says:

        There is this theory that lead in the water lowers IQ, and that low IQ causes poverty, and that poverty causes violent crime. 😉

        • sweetcandyskulls says:

          I’m 99% Rob was being sarcastic

        • The water problem originated in 2014. Not much time for lead–>Lower IQ–>poverty–>crime to explain the current crime rate, let alone the crime rate in 2012.

          • Anonymous says:

            (I’m being facetious too.)

          • keranih says:

            Emm.

            Kevin Drum did some good work putting out a larger perspective on the Flint crisis.

            The 2014 crisis resulting in a doubling of the % of children with elevated lead blood levels. This brought the percent of children with elevated lead all the way back to numbers not seen since…2010.

            The contamination in the water has evidently been both incredibly high and long standing.

      • Flint had the highest national murder rate in 2012, before the water crisis.

        Will talented people actually want to work in such a place? If someone has job options, why work in the city of Flint?

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Environmental issues are a left-wing narrative, crime is a right-wing narrative, the news media is left-wing. There’s your answer.

      • Montfort says:

        The news media loves reporting about crime, try scrolling through Flint’s local news. Also, “Chemicals in my water” in this case is not an environmental story but instead a government malfeasance story.

        Even if the “real story” behind Flint’s water crisis is bad government caused indirectly by the crime rate, news media is bad at writing stories about complicated longterm causes of the immediate crisis. They prefer the immediate cause, or at least something you can explain in one sentence to a middle schooler.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          The news media loves reporting about crime, try scrolling through Flint’s local news.

          Crime in Flint stays local news and does not become part of a national narrative.

          • Montfort says:

            That’s true in this case, but what is your point?

            We have very prominent national narratives about crime – the BLM stuff, the targeted cop killings, mass shootings. Every now and then someone decides we have a new drug epidemic (I think the most recent was meth in the midwest? Or maybe opiate abuse again). We used to have a big narrative about crime in urban housing developments. If the crime rates in Flint were easily tied to a sensationalist story like “lead in all the water” they’d talk about it. But that’s complicated, so the narrative about Flint is about how bad the Flint officials are and will probably follow their civil suits/trials until people get bored.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Those aren’t framed as being about crime. BLM is framed as being about racism, and mass shootings are about the need for gun control.

            Targeted cop killings are framed as let’s-move-on-to-other-stories-and-get-this-out-of-the-headlines. I don’t see many attempts to build a larger narrative out of those, at least in the MSM.

          • Montfort says:

            If reporting on the subject of crimes isn’t “about” crime, then what is? Are you conceding that drug stories are, or ignoring them for length/time reasons? What about gang violence narratives?

            Can you give me an example of a story the news could run that’s about crime that doesn’t fail the “explain it to a middle schooler” test?

            (On a side note, this looks like a narrative to me.)

    • Reasoner says:

      Competent people leaving cities like Flint is a structural problem. I fear trying to fix Flint’s violent crime rate addresses effects without addressing causes. Check out the book Coming Apart.

    • BBA says:

      Well, I think we can call this experimental “left-wing safe space” a failure. Any left-winger worth their salt would have noted the racial demographics of those who have left Flint since its decline began vs those who stuck around and concluded that the word “competent” in the parent post has, at best, unfortunate implications.

      Not that I’d use apophasis, of course.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Daisy!

    Does this guy here present a solid overview of the Ulster Plantation? Since you’re Irish and all.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Assuming you meant to notify Deiseach, that’s one hell of an overzealous autocorrector you’ve got there 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m just being silly, mangling the name into something I can write without double-checking like a historian or explorer detailing some native tribe somewhere. 😉

        (Yes, it’s Deiseach I mean.)

      • onyomi says:

        While we’re at this, can someone tell me the correct pronunciation of Deiseach? Because I’m sure whatever is in my head has too many consonants for an Irish word.

        • CatCube says:

          I recall her saying it was “Day-shock”

        • rlms says:

          I think it’s something like day-shock. Hopefully she will be willing to break the 3-thread self-ban in order to answer herself.

        • onyomi says:

          I think I started out somewhere around there, then kind of shifted to “day-shuh,” on the theory that Irish words tend to end in unpronounced consonants. But that was just me guessing, of course.

          I didn’t know she had imposed a self-ban.

          • keranih says:

            D’s on the list of repressive right-wingers and non-left wingers who agreed to not post for the next three (including this one) open threads, in order to allow left wingers a chance to come out of the woodwork.

            [snips commentary]

          • Anonymous says:

            I see. I was not aware of this self-censorship.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            To be fair, Tekhno proposed it as a temporary measure. And it’s not a list of “repressive” right-wingers. Just people who have explicitly self-identified as right-wing by American or SSC standards.

            For my part, I am waiting to see if it is picked up “officially” rather than volunteering the way D did, though aside from a bit of quibbling with EK I think I’ve spent as much or more time arguing with non-left wing types (Aapje, David) than left wing types (HBC) since I started posting here 🙂

          • “I think I’ve spent as much or more time arguing with non-left wing types (Aapje, David)”

            I’m not very good at paying attention to who is who. I first noticed Aapje as a distinct person at a point when I was arguing against him, was then amused and mildly surprised to notice several threads where he was arguing for what I thought was the right side of the relevant question.

            I think I have figured out what country he is from but I don’t have a very clear idea of his underlying system of beliefs, just that he fairly often seems to be saying sensible things.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that trying to force people in a left/right dichotomy is rather absurd and adopting such a model improves your ability to understand the world about the same as drinking 5 beers does.

            Some of my strong beliefs:

            – I think that we rapidly need to move to a more sustainable economy and favor a mix of measures to do so, including laws, start-up subsidies, taxes and tariffs on goods produced in countries that fail to do enough.
            – I believe that Western nations are unwilling to comply with the refugee treaties that they signed and for good reason, because the treaties have absurd and very destructive outcomes if actually observed. I would prefer if we make much lesser commitments that we actually uphold and demand more agency and taking responsibility from people in other countries, rather than have a one-sided obligation.
            – I favor a rather high level of taxation and state services (I expect that approximately 92.643%* of Americans will puke if they hear my favored tax rates).
            – I favor foreign aid that removes barriers in people’s lives (like fighting malaria, ebola, leprosy, etc) and co-funding local initiatives that are favorable; over trying to build up a society for people, where Western people come in and build the things they think should exist (I favor agency and responsibility for people in that society)
            – I strongly oppose laws that favor multinational companies and ‘big business’ over medium/small companies
            – I strongly oppose ‘equality of outcome’ solutions to fix perceived discrimination and favor ‘equality of opportunity’ solutions (individualist over collectivist)
            – I am opposed to most military-based nation building and big interventions (but support peace keeping missions which have realistic aims & rules of engagement)
            – Etc.

            Perhaps the most accurate way to describe me is a ‘socialist libertarian green nationalist,’ when using American terms.

            * Failed attempt at humor, not a serious percentage

            PS. Last elections I voted for this party. I lean to voting for them again for the next election.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Aapje

            I agree with you on the left/right division, though I am willing to use the terms in an attempt to communicate with the majority who DO see things in that sense. You’ll note I used “Non-left” rather than Right precisely because I don’t think America’s “left-right” maps all that well even inside the US, much less outside it.

            And given that you’re Dutch, I suspect your puking percentage is too low. 😉

            The only thing that really surprises me there is the individualism/equality of opportunity prioritization over equality of outcome. Would you say that’s common in the Dutch political sphere?

            I’m also curious how you reconcile support for peacekeeping missions with low military spending and homeland defense-focused militaries. To my mind, they’re mutually exclusive on purely logistical/practical terms (if everyone out there is maintaining the minimal military forces required to deter invasions, who has the ability to project power abroad for a peacekeeping mission without compromising that defense, and the logistical infrastructure to keep it supplied?), to say nothing of philosophical ones, but that’s maybe better taken to a top level reply 🙂

          • Aapje says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            The only thing that really surprises me there is the individualism/equality of opportunity prioritization over equality of outcome. Would you say that’s common in the Dutch political sphere?

            Until WW II the country was highly segregated into Protestant, Catholic, Socialist pillars and a group who refused this (but who in practice formed a weak pillar). So Protestants would go to Protestant schools, shop at Protestant shops, listen to Protestant radio, etc, etc. This was a highly non-individualist society and somewhat similar to a tribal society (where you get help from tribe members and get discriminated against by the other tribes).

            Then after WW II this started breaking down due to various reasons and a very liberal culture developed, especially among the elite/upper class. However, they still believed in elements of segregation, more specifically that groups emancipate from a position of segregation. So this led to strong support for multiculturalism. That didn’t work so well for some immigrant groups (primarily Moroccans and to a lesser extent Turks and Surinamese). The elite went into denial mode, while the commoners starting started noticing the negative parts of these cultures more and more (crime, often marrying people from the home country rather than more assimilated people in their group or marrying natives, etc). At the same time, most politicians were adopting neoliberalism more and more and abandoning the welfare state.

            So there was a (mainly) worker class revolt.

            At this point, the elite starting abandoning their multiculturalism, but some parts started to look to the US for inspiration and adopted Social Justice/equality of outcome. Other parts chose the other side, but kept neoliberalism. Yet other parts dismiss neoliberalism and SJ. Etc. A lot of variety right now.

            I’m also curious how you reconcile support for peacekeeping missions with low military spending and homeland defense-focused militaries.

            I favor higher military spending. I also think that so far, we’ve been a little overzealous with peace-keeping missions where that couldn’t really work (Srebrenica is the worst example of this).

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Interesting, Aapje, thanks for your response. Though if you want to keep a robust european style social safety net (TBH I don’t know how the Netherlands compares with the Nordic Model, but it sounds like you want something at least that all-encompassing if not stronger), then you must want VERY high taxes indeed, because I don’t think you can get that capability without at least doubling current military spending and more likely tripling it to US or near-US levels as a % of GDP.

            I’ll try to post something to an OT to continue the question of a Dutch or EU-led rather than US-led peacekeeping military and what that would look like if you’re interested, though it may be after New Year’s. New Year’s Eve and Day is my RL Job’s annual equivalent of Black Friday.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Jeez … that guy has some points I can sympathise with, but when someone starts triple-bracketing people, I find it very hard to muster much epistemic charity for them. If you think there is a Jewish-led cabal conspiring against your people, fine, you can make that argument, but using this weird orthographic tic to draw attention to someone’s Jewish origins? Why would you do that unless you were trying to get everyone who doesn’t already agree with you to dismiss you as a crank?

      (for the avoidance of doubt, generic ‘you’, not blue diamonds anonymous in particular)

      • skef says:

        *sigh*

        That’s a standard anti-Semitic notation now, standard enough that I’m sure the author doesn’t feel the need to defend it’s use.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you think there is a Jewish-led cabal conspiring against your people, fine, you can make that argument, but using this weird orthographic tic to draw attention to someone’s Jewish origins?

        I don’t think there’s a Jewish cabal or any wide-ranging conspiracy, nor do I think the author thinks so. Just the natural inclination of high IQ, highly tribal people to get into positions of power and use that power to help their tribe, and work to the detriment of the competition.

        Why would you do that unless you were trying to get everyone who doesn’t already agree with you to dismiss you as a crank?

        Near as I can tell, the purpose of the notation is to draw attention that someone who is acting against the interests of the Anglo-Americans is of Jewish descent, not just some random self-hating Anglo-American. To point out that these people are extremely overrepresented* in the industry of damaging the Anglo-American society, because it’s not obvious – Jews look white, and after the waves of European immigration, they’re even harder to distinguish from the wider group of American whites which now include lots of Poles and Germans and Italians and Irish.

        * Something like 20-30% of the American elite are of Jewish descent, according to La Griffe du Lion, with only like 2-3% of all American residents being of Jewish descent.

        • keranih says:

          To me, the hardest part about the (((echoes))) campaign is trying to object to it on rational grounds.

          Like nearly everyone else in America of my generation, I got taught that segregating out people by race & religion and such was *wrong* because Hitler & death camps.

          But that sort of “raceblindness” has fallen out of favor, and it’s expected that everyone will cleave to their own kind. Minority people are expected to look out for their own kind, in particular. So it’s really not hard at all to look at over represented groups in certain (high impact, high income) fields and go, wait, doesn’t that look sketchy?

          And yet, Hitler & death camps! Which is no less crap an answer than it is in any other place where Hitler is evoked.

          This is why I think identity politics should be kept at the geographic national/state level, and not allowed to build among religious & ethnic lines.

          • Anonymous says:

            I hear you.

            I was very lucky to be born without original sin white guilt. Living in a non-colonial-power, post-ethnic-cleansing, nearly hundred percent white country does that.

          • keranih says:

            And the obvious reply to that is – well, if your nation is already (mostly) one ethnicity (and if European, probably mostly secularist-post-Christian, too) then you’re not having to fight much pull of dividing along ethnic/culture(*)/religion lines.

            (*) regional BBQ note here

          • Anonymous says:

            You’d think so, but for some reason, a democratic system tends to divide people into 2+ camps. Let the people be almost identical, they’ll still sort out into two opposing teams – often based on some quirk of geography – and despise each other severely despite the differences between them being of epsilon magnitudes.

          • beleester says:

            This is why I think identity politics should be kept at the geographic national/state level, and not allowed to build among religious & ethnic lines.

            “Don’t build identity politics along religious lines, but going around pointing out Jewish people as (((The Other))) is just fine!”

          • keranih says:

            *head desk*

            That is not what I said.

          • beleester says:

            Then please explain yourself, because that’s what I heard. I am trying really hard to think of reasons why pointing out Jewish people is not religious identity politics, and coming up empty.

          • Anonymous says:

            Then please explain yourself, because that’s what I heard. I am trying really hard to think of reasons why pointing out Jewish people is not religious identity politics, and coming up empty.

            You’ve got “identity politics” right, but the “religious” part wrong.

            Black suit-clad, besidelocked orthodox Jews are not the target here. The anti-Semites probably couldn’t care less about them, since these Jews self-suppress themselves and don’t take part in mainstream white culture; they don’t hold public office, they don’t make movies, they don’t write news articles – they basically put the triple parens around themselves in real life. Short of someone still believing in Jewish magic and blood libel, they’re entirely harmless.

            Like I said hereabouts, the point is to point out the “hidden” Jews – the actual ones who hold prominent positions, who influence culture and policy. Approximately none of those are orthodox, and if I were to guess, I’d say that in most cases their commitment to reform Judaism would be rather flaky as well.

          • Aapje says:

            @beleester

            I am trying really hard to think of reasons why pointing out Jewish people is not religious identity politics, and coming up empty.

            Perhaps it is a drinking game 😛

        • beleester says:

          Near as I can tell, the purpose of the notation is to draw attention that someone who is acting against the interests of the Anglo-Americans is of Jewish descent, not just some random self-hating Anglo-American.

          Why is that relevant? If you think that a person is acting against the interests of Anglo-Americans, then that is your problem with them, not the fact that they’re Jewish. Calling them out for being Jewish is pointless unless you’re trying to stir up prejudice against Jews as a whole.

          • Anonymous says:

            People who use echoes believe that it’s a strong predictor. If Jewish and member of establishment, then probably working against the interests of Anglo-Americans.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Is the writer trying to limit their audience to only neo-Nazis? Because that’s what using the parentheses does. Even if he was totally innocent (he’s not) that’s not how it’s going to be taken by everyone else who knows what they mean.

          Imagine you wanted to talk about race relations, and were saying absolutely decent, good, and true things in favor of respect and equality under the law, but every time you would have written “black people” or “African-Americans” you wrote “coloreds” instead for some reason. Bam: credibility gone. This is the same situation.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t know about your last paragraph. There isn’t anything inherently wrong about the term “coloreds”, so I might charitably assume that the writer is very old and out of touch with modern terminology, rather than racist. There are no such possible exceptions for )))people who use triple parentheses(((.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Thirteenth Letter

            I don’t think equating the Alt-Righters with neo-Nazis is correct.

            I also don’t think that throwing out an argument because the terminology offends you is correct.

            @rlms

            I don’t know about your last paragraph. There isn’t anything inherently wrong about the term “coloreds”, so I might charitably assume that the writer is very old and out of touch with modern terminology, rather than racist.

            I wonder how many years will pass until terms like “black person” and “African-American” become regarded as slurs.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I don’t think equating the Alt-Righters with neo-Nazis is correct.

            I don’t equate alt-righters with neo-Nazis. I do equate people who go out of their way to call out Jews with neo-Nazis.

            I also don’t think that throwing out an argument because the terminology offends you is correct.

            It really doesn’t matter what you claim to think on this matter, because this is how human minds operate and if you want to persuade human beings you will have to take that into account. If you go out of your way to use the terminology of an extremist group, people are going to pigeonhole you with the extremist group and not bother to read your argument. You can pick between signalling your allegiance with anti-Semites, or actually persuading people of stuff, but it’s one or the other, not both.

          • “I do equate people who go out of their way to call out Jews with neo-Nazis.”

            I don’t think neo-Nazis are the only anti-semites at present, although it’s possible that the particular convention being discussed is limited to them.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I don’t think neo-Nazis are the only anti-semites at present, although it’s possible that the particular convention being discussed is limited to them.

            Oh, absolutely. But pointing at alleged Jewish dominance of whatever industry and muttering dark conspiracies about it tends to be a specifically neo-Nazi thing. Islamist anti-Semites usually don’t bother with elaborate justifications and just go straight to the mass murder, while college campus anti-Semites generally do it because the news media has been telling them how racist and oppressive the Israelis are for decades.

          • Anonymous says:

            It really doesn’t matter what you claim to think on this matter, because this is how human minds operate and if you want to persuade human beings you will have to take that into account. If you go out of your way to use the terminology of an extremist group, people are going to pigeonhole you with the extremist group and not bother to read your argument. You can pick between signalling your allegiance with anti-Semites, or actually persuading people of stuff, but it’s one or the other, not both.

            Fair enough. But is there much utility in persuading people whose minds immediately go DEFCON-1 on spotting a shibboleth of the enemy?

            Oh, absolutely. But pointing at alleged Jewish dominance of whatever industry and muttering dark conspiracies about it tends to be a specifically neo-Nazi thing. Islamist anti-Semites usually don’t bother with elaborate justifications and just go straight to the mass murder, while college campus anti-Semites generally do it because the news media has been telling them how racist and oppressive the Israelis are for decades.

            Consider that there is another large bloc of people who are anti-Semitic, but aren’t neo-Nazis – the proletarians of many countries. The working classes of Eastern Europe tend to be highly anti-Semitic, but also anti-Nazi. I think the same thing is happening with the Alt-Right, their thinkers claiming to represent the long-suffering lower classes; anti-Semitism just goes with that. (Not sure how prevalent anti-Semitism is among the American proles, though.)

          • Brad says:

            Somehow I can’t get worked up by the inaccuracy of lumping the wellspring of hundreds of bloody pogroms with actual nazis.

          • Anonymous says:

            Somehow I can’t get worked up by the inaccuracy of lumping the wellspring of hundreds of bloody pogroms with actual nazis.

            And how much of that treatment are they going to take before they throw their hands up and say that they might as well become nazis, since they’re being treated as if they were anyway?

          • 1soru1 says:

            > since they’re being treated as if they were Nazis anyway?

            I am a quite a fan of tank battles. Seems like I missed one. Can you report back from your timeline on the new variant Leopard IIs performed in combat?

          • Anonymous says:

            I am a quite a fan of tank battles. Seems like I missed one. Can you report back from your timeline on the new variant Leopard IIs performed in combat?

            I couldn’t begin to guess. My timeline diverges sometime around the 1770s, when the American rebellion was crushed and the rebel leaders rightly hanged.

          • Brad says:

            And how much of that treatment are they going to take before they throw their hands up and say that they might as well become nazis, since they’re being treated as if they were anyway?

            Between pograms, the actual nazis, and Stalin it’s mostly a moot question at this point.

          • “Somehow I can’t get worked up by the inaccuracy of lumping the wellspring of hundreds of bloody pogroms with actual nazis.”

            That sounds as though you think the defining feature of Nazis is anti-semitism, which looks wrong to me in both directions. Anti-semitism long predates National Socialism and one can easily enough imagine a variant of National Socialism that targeted some group other than Jews.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Anonymous
            I wonder how many years will pass until terms like “black person” and “African-American” become regarded as slurs.

            They seem to be getting a bit shop-worn and stretched to absurdity, when some famous South African statesman got referred to as an ‘African-American’.

            Avast keeps telling me that Google’s certificate has expired, so I can’t look up the dates, but ‘colored people’ was fashionable in the 1960s when Martin Luther King founded the NAACP.

            Now the treadmill has come round to POC=People of Color; but using ‘Colored People’ is still condemned because readers might associate you with Mr. King.

          • Anonymous says:

            @houseboat

            I’m fascinated by this phenomenon, and people’s insistence that “this time it’ll work for sure!” in a vain attempt to obtain different outcomes from the same action repeated over and over.

          • Brad says:

            “Somehow I can’t get worked up by the inaccuracy of lumping the wellspring of hundreds of bloody pogroms with actual nazis.”

            That sounds as though you think the defining feature of Nazis is anti-semitism, which looks wrong to me in both directions. Anti-semitism long predates National Socialism and one can easily enough imagine a variant of National Socialism that targeted some group other than Jews.

            There’s a big difference between “I’m ignorant of X” and “I don’t care if others are ignorant about X”. The fact that nazi has become a epithet connotating pure evil and that epithet is now used for East European anti-semities is perfectly fine with me despite being inaccurate.

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh, you’re using it as an insult. OK, carry on.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @houseboatonstyxb

            when Martin Luther King founded the NAACP

            Its a testament to the deep and subtle grasp of African American history held by the average SSCer that not only did you say that, but that nobody other then me challenged it.

            Negro and colored were never slurs, in fact when they were in common usage they were considered much more polite than “black”.

            This only changed in the 60s and 70s, when
            many blacks came to view this kind of euphemistic language as implying inferiority. If we call white people white, why tip toe around calling black folks black, is it something to be ashamed of? So the thinking went.

            Thus we get black pride, black power, black is beautiful, ext.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @David Friedman

            one can easily enough imagine a variant of National Socialism that targeted some group other than Jews.

            Not in 1930s Germany one can’t. The NSDAP arouse directly out of the volkish movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

            To understand the Nazis it’s best to look at who their enemies were; Socialists, Communists, Roma gypsies, international capitalists (but not the leaders of good patriotic German industry), and liberals. The defining trait that linked these groups was cosmopolitanism. Given the social values of the Jewish diaspora it’s very hard to imagine a non anti-Semitic Nazism.

          • CatCube says:

            @hyperboloid

            I’m amused that you’re bragging about knowing more than everybody else and being the only one to correct houseboatonstyx about the use of “colored” and “Negro” but didn’t bother to point out that the NAACP was founded in the early 20th century by W.E.B. DuBois, and not Martin Luther King, Jr.

          • Iain says:

            @CatCube: Read hyperboloid’s post again. The correction you seek is, though not explicit, clearly already there.

      • Mark says:

        I’m kind of torn when I read things like this. On the one hand, I was always brought up to believe that anti-semitism was the preserve of the *real* hardcore, probably mentally ill, racist. Don’t waste your time with it.
        On the other, it’s increasingly looking like a brutally rational extension of mainstream thought.

        I think that, actually, even for anti-anti-semites, anti-semitism is becoming a useful tactical weapon against the liberal racial narrative. The idea that the poverty of blacks is evidence of discrimination, but that noticing that Jewish people are richer is also discrimination doesn’t really stand up, at least not for normal people.
        So, drawing attention to anti-semitism is kind of like a cultural reductio ad absurdum.

        It might also be useful as a way of reminding one third of the elites, or whatever, that they could be the first ones thrown under the bus if the current narrative continues to dominate.

  20. mundo says:

    Some of you may find this interesting: Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People

    This is a lecture by Maciej Cegłowski, a computer scientist most well-known for creating Pinboard (a bookmarking tool), for being a prolific and well-respected commenter at Hacker News, and for producing essays and talks on a variety of topics. This one is against AI Risk. a lot of it is dedicated to presenting an overview of the points in Bostrom’s “Superintelligence” followed by counter-arguments.

    I don’t have a great deal to add as I was already an AI Risk skeptic, but thought I’d post it. The HN comment thread is here (includes many critiques of the essay, some followed by counterpoints from the author)

  21. Here is a question I have.

    How has icing injuries taken off in the sporting community so much? The evidence it actually helps any recovery rate is horrible, with the occasional stories of minor frostbite occurring on athletes (and body temperatures lowering dangerous amounts in ice baths)

    If I had to take a guess why its useful, its due to a secondary reason. Namely, if some sports coach sees that someone is icing an injury, he/she is less likely to press the person to use that muscle heavily that day. If someone merely states that their bodypart is hurt, its more likely viewed as just complaining. (And reasons similar to that)

    -(Note, the case is different for certain types of cryotherapy for major injuries, which is totally different then icing typical injuries)

    • Montfort says:

      Maybe because it feels good, so people assume it must be helping?

    • onyomi says:

      I have read people complaining that it’s unscientific and counterproductive.

      I think people do it because, like massage, it works, even if there’s no evidence it does.

      My best guess about why it works is most people are chronically over-inflamed, perhaps due to overuse, perhaps use to dietary and other lifestyle factors.

      Also, like massage, icing causes temporary ischemia followed by compensatory perfusion. This may show up on tests as “no net increase of blood flow,” or what have you, but the results are different.

  22. –global warming post–

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/All_palaeotemps.svg

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_sensitivity#Radiative_forcing_due_to_doubled_CO2

    So, its not absolute temperature people are worried about. Its rate of changes and adaption by evolution for temperature changes, correct?

    I dislike seemingly including only including positive feedbacks in warming calculations, and not including any possible positive effects.

    I wonder if the scientific community exaggerates the threat to the planet by CO2 due to the fact that 1. Were running out, so something will eventually change and 2. What exists to produce it are dirty fuels, so virtually every environmentalist cause benefits from reducing the byproducts of the products.

    • 1soru1 says:

      There is a certain Biblical narrative that says global warming is literally the Apocalypse. Obviously God would never let anything like that happen by accident, so anything that is merely a risk can be ruled out as impossible. 99% likelihood means ‘won’t happen’, even if it literally would take a miracle.

      So proof of extermination is needed.

      You points seem aimed at countering that; if some people survive, then can hardly be God’s work because he is not limited in power, and promised never to do another half-hearted extermination job.

      Thing is, just maybe, scientists are not working to that logic. Those I know are more receptive to the idea that it would be a bad thing for the human population to suffer an enforced 5 to 50% population drop. Hitler didn’t kill anything close to the lower end of that range, nevertheless he is conventionally seen as a bad man.

      • “Those I know are more receptive to the idea that it would be a bad thing for the human population to suffer an enforced 5 to 50% population drop.”

        I think most people, with the exception of some extreme environmentalists, would agree. On the other hand, arguing that a set of changes equivalent to reducing the income of the world by a few percent in a century is a catastrophe on that scale is difficult. See Figure 10.1 from the latest IPCC report.

        I don’t think it’s the skeptical position on climate change that reflects an apocalyptic view.

      • Seems you think that every person who is skeptical of some of what is pushed by certain climatologists is some fundamentalist religious kook who believes that Armageddon can only be caused by god and something something something fox news.

        Somehow, the growth of the rate base food source of the ocean cripples the environment and kills everything, like an increased rate of growth for the vast majority of plant life kills everything too I guess.*

        I still think that non-renewable dirty energy sources should be taxed more heavily then they are now, since its dumb for civilization to base itself on a substance that will probably run out before the end of this century. I’m not sure why that isn’t enough to convince people to tax non-renewable energy, but that’s just me.

        *While that link didn’t push the “increased plant growth kills ev