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Predictions For 2017

At the beginning of every year, I make predictions. At the end of every year, I score them. So here are a hundred more for 2017.

WORLD EVENTS
1. US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 100 US soldiers: 60%
2. North Korea’s government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 95%
3. No terrorist attack in the USA will kill > 100 people: 90%
4. …in any First World country: 80%
5. Assad will remain President of Syria: 80%
6. Israel will not get in a large-scale war (ie >100 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 90%
7. No major intifada in Israel this year (ie > 250 Israeli deaths, but not in Cast Lead style war): 80%
8. No interesting progress with Gaza or peace negotiations in general this year: 90%
9. No Cast Lead style bombing/invasion of Gaza this year: 90%
10. Situation in Israel looks more worse than better: 70%
11. Syria’s civil war will not end this year: 60%
12. ISIS will control less territory than it does right now: 90%
13. ISIS will not continue to exist as a state entity in Iraq/Syria: 50%
14. No major civil war in Middle Eastern country not currently experiencing a major civil war: 90%
15. Libya to remain a mess: 80%
16. Ukraine will neither break into all-out war or get neatly resolved: 80%
17. No major revolt (greater than or equal to Tiananmen Square) against Chinese Communist Party: 95%
18. No major war in Asia (with >100 Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and American deaths combined) over tiny stupid islands: 99%
19. No exchange of fire over tiny stupid islands: 90%
20. No announcement of genetically engineered human baby or credible plan for such: 90%
21. EMDrive is launched into space and testing is successfully begun: 70%
22. A significant number of skeptics will not become convinced EMDrive works: 80%
23. A significant number of believers will not become convinced EMDrive doesn’t work: 60%
24. No major earthquake (>100 deaths) in US: 99%
25. No major earthquake (>10000 deaths) in the world: 60%
26. Keith Ellison chosen as new DNC chair: 70%

EUROPE
27. No country currently in Euro or EU announces new plan to leave: 80%
28. France does not declare plan to leave EU: 95%
29. Germany does not declare plan to leave EU: 99%
30. No agreement reached on “two-speed EU”: 80%
31. The UK triggers Article 50: 90%
32. Marine Le Pen is not elected President of France: 60%
33. Angela Merkel is re-elected Chancellor of Germany: 60%
34. Theresa May remains PM of Britain: 80%
35. Fewer refugees admitted 2017 than 2016: 95%

ECONOMICS
36. Bitcoin will end the year higher than $1000: 60%
37. Oil will end the year higher than $50 a barrel: 60%
38. …but lower than $60 a barrel: 60%
39. Dow Jones will not fall > 10% this year: 50%
40. Shanghai index will not fall > 10% this year: 50%

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
41. Donald Trump remains President at the end of 2017: 90%
42. No serious impeachment proceedings are active against Trump: 80%
43. Construction on Mexican border wall (beyond existing barriers) begins: 80%
44. Trump administration does not initiate extra prosecution of Hillary Clinton: 90%
45. US GDP growth lower than in 2016: 60%
46. US unemployment to be higher at end of year than beginning: 60%
47. US does not withdraw from large trade org like WTO or NAFTA: 90%
48. US does not publicly and explicitly disavow One China policy: 95%
49. No race riot killing > 5 people: 95%
50. US lifts at least half of existing sanctions on Russia: 70%
51. Donald Trump’s approval rating at the end of 2017 is lower than fifty percent: 80%
52. …lower than forty percent: 60%

COMMUNITIES
53. SSC will remain active: 95%
54. SSC will get fewer hits than in 2016: 60%
55. At least one SSC post > 100,000 hits: 70%
56. I will complete an LW/SSC survey: 80%
57. I will finish a long FAQ this year: 60%
58. Shireroth will remain active: 70%
59. No co-bloggers (with more than 5 posts) on SSC by the end of this year: 80%
60. Less Wrong renaissance attempt will seem less (rather than more) successful by end of this year: 90%
61. > 15,000 Twitter followers by end of this year: 80%
62. I won’t stop using Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook: 90%
63. I will attend the Bay Area Solstice next year: 90%
64. …some other Solstice: 60%
65. …not the New York Solstice: 60%

WORK
66. I will take the job I am currently expecting to take: 90%
67. …at the time I am expecting to take it, without any delays: 80%
68. I will like the job and plan to continue doing it for a while: 70%
69. I will pass my Boards: 90%
70. I will be involved in at least one published/accepted-to-publish research paper by the end of 2017: 50%
71. I will present a research paper at the regional conference: 80%
72. I will attend the APA national meeting in San Diego: 90%
73. None of my outpatients to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons during the first half of 2017: 50%
74. None of my outpatients to be involuntarily committed to psych hospital by me during the first half of 2017: 70%
75. None of my outpatients to attempt suicide during the first half of 2017: 90%
76. I will not have scored 95th percentile or above when I get this year’s PRITE scores back: 60%

PERSONAL
77. Amazon will not harass me to get the $40,000 they gave me back: 80%
78. …or at least will not be successful: 90%
79. I will drive cross-country in 2017: 70%
80. I will travel outside the US in 2017: 70%
81. …to Europe: 50%
82. I will not officially break up with any of my current girlfriends: 60%
83. K will spend at least three months total in Michigan this year: 70%
84. I will get at least one new girlfriend: 70%
85. I will not get engaged: 90%
86. I will visit the Bay in May 2017: 60%
87. I will have moved to the Bay Area: 99%
88. I won’t live in Godric’s Hollow for at least two weeks continuous: 70%
89. I won’t live in Volterra for at least two weeks continuous: 70%
90. I won’t live in the Bailey for at least two weeks continuous: 95%
91. I won’t live in some other rationalist group home for at least two weeks continuous: 90%
92. I will be living in a house (incl group house) and not apartment building at the end of 2017: 60%
93. I will still not have gotten my elective surgery: 90%
94. I will not have been hospitalized (excluding ER) for any other reason: 95%
95. I will make my savings target at the end of 2017: 60%
96. I will not be taking any nootropic (except ZMA) daily or near-daily during any 2-month period this year: 90%
97. I won’t publicly and drastically change highest-level political/religious/philosophical positions (eg become a Muslim or Republican): 90%
98. I will not get drunk this year: 80%
99. I get at least one article published on a major site like Huffington Post or Vox or New Statesman or something: 50%
100. I attend at least one wedding this year: 50%
101. Still driving my current car at the end of 2017: 90%
102. Car is not stuck in shop for repairs for >1 day during 2017: 60%
103. I will use Lyft at least once in 2017: 60%
104. I weight > 185 pounds at the end of 2017: 60%
105. I weight < 195 pounds at the end of 2017: 70%

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421 Responses to Predictions For 2017

  1. shakeddown says:

    A lot of these seem correlated (in particular, with Trump not turning out too bad). If you’re wrong about that, you’ll probably look overconfient (and conversely, you may look underconfident if you’re right).

    • Matt M says:

      41. Donald Trump remains President at the end of 2017: 90%
      42. No serious impeachment proceedings are active against Trump: 80%

      Really? Because these strike me as fairly pessimistic. A 10% chance for a President to die/quit/be impeached in his first year of office seems excessively high. A 20% chance of impeachment proceedings in year one?

      • Deiseach says:

        A 10% chance for a President to die/quit/be impeached in his first year of office seems excessively high. A 20% chance of impeachment proceedings in year one?

        Depends how seriously you take all the huffing and puffing about the threats to impeach Trump. I know (via my Tumblr) that there has been a concerted letter/email/phone campaign to local representatives complaining about Trump and his administration before he’s even been inaugurated (they had a whole “this is who you talk to, this is what you say” list of talking points).

        Given that Jill Stein not alone hopped aboard the vote recount bandwagon but decided she wanted to drive it, it’s not impossible some loo-lah will seriously try to mount impeachment proceedings against Trump, particularly in light of the “Russians hacked the election” brouhaha, which apparently a chunk of people take to mean “Russians hacked the voting machines and gave Trump fraudulent votes so he’d win”.

        On the other hand, given how both the vote recount and appeal to faithless electors campaigns blew up in their faces, I can’t see the Democratic Party wanting to back somebody trying to impeach Trump on the grounds that he’s a Manchurian Candidate – not unless they really enjoy the taste of egg on their face.

        So it’s up to everyone to decide and weight how they think such an attempt might go.

        • Matt M says:

          Keep in mind, Scott said “serious” proceedings, which to me counts as a little more than “some whacko from a 90% blue district initiates proceedings to get attention but they clearly aren’t going anywhere” (i.e. the Jill Stein model)

        • mtraven says:

          He’s going to be in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution from day one. Which doesn’t mean he will be impeached, but it means there are clear and obvious grounds for impeachment to go forward.

          • Deiseach says:

            He’s going to be in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution from day one.

            How so? I looked that up quickly and it says:

            No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

            That sounds like a “no double-jobbing” clause, and given that Trump has not been a professional politician and was not elected to any office prior to this, nor held any office (like judge or something), how is he in breach of it? I know this is why Hillary had to resign from being Senator in order to run for president, but Trump has – as we’ve all been told over and over – never held public or elected office before.

            If you’re going to say he can’t have investments or something that would be a conflict of interest (e.g. he owns a big aerospace company that gets contracts from the Department of Defence), then that’s a different matter – is this clause taken to mean “no elected official can have income outside of their salary”? Because that is a different matter.

          • mtraven says:

            Wrong clause, you want:

            No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

            See here for analysis.

            By way of illustration, consider these examples of all the ways in which Mr. Trump’s global business empire creates the conditions for his ongoing violation of the Emoluments Clause to surface in obviously dubious transactions—transactions casting doubt on the ability and inclination of a President Trump to conduct himself with a singular focus on the Nation’s interests and of foreign leaders dealing with him to treat his motives as public-spirited:

            – Since Mr. Trump’s election, long-delayed Trump projects have suddenly jump-started around the world, including in Argentina and Georgia. This may be especially noteworthy in light of Mr. Trump’s acknowledgment that he has raised business issues on calls with foreign officials

            – Shortly before the election, President Duterte of the Philippines named Jose E.B. Antonio, a business partner of Mr. Trump and founder of a company behind Trump Tower Manila, as a special envoy to the United States.

            – After Mr. Trump spoke of banning Muslim immigrants, President Erdoğan of Turkey demanded that Mr. Trump’s name be removed from Trump Towers in Istanbul; but that demand abruptly ceased after Mr. Trump defended President Erdoğan’s brutal crackdown on Turkish dissidents.

            – Mr. Trump’s businesses owe hundreds of millions to Deutsche Bank, which is currently negotiating a multi-billion-dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, a settlement that will now be overseen by an Attorney General and many other appointees selected by and serving at the pleasure of Mr. Trump

          • albertborrow says:

            @mtraven:

            That sounds more like an artifact of the sentiment and suspicion that the early United States had against alliances with foreign countries. They were used to nobility from England going to some minor country in the mainland to marry more nobility, in exchange for family favors. (or worse, initiating a merger between two countries, like the one that formed Great Britain) Or they’re used to small gifts drastically changing the official foreign policy of the nation. But in all of the examples listed, we are not so off course – not that I condone Trump using the Presidency for profit, but simply using Presidential resources for his own goals is no case for impeachment. (unless I’ve gotten my history wrong)

            In any case, it is not like there are gifts showing up on the doorstep to the White House. Best I can tell, everything he is doing is something he would have done, Presidency or not (and in the case of Erdogan, an irregularity caused by the Office itself). Endorsing Turkey’s corrupt government is exactly in line with every other President’s policies, no matter how gross they are. That’s why we ignore Taiwan; that’s why we ignore other sensitive political situations for our own gain.

            The man appointed in the Philippines is not even worth discussing seriously. It is independent of any of Trump’s major projects, and nothing more than an underhanded method of currying favor – there is no way that Congress could stop the Philippines from appointing that man, nor is there any way Trump could refuse to accept it.

          • mtraven says:

            there is no way that Congress could stop the Philippines from appointing that man, nor is there any way Trump could refuse to accept it.

            Yes, this is why normal presidents divest themselves of personal financial interests or puts them in a blind trust.

            Carter sold the peanut farm he built himself, to comply with this long-standing informal rule. That had a hell of a lot less potential for corruption than Trump’s international holdings.

            You don’t seem to grasp the basic concept of how this is supposed to work, which is kind of alarming.

          • JayT says:

            Of course, Obama was in violation of the emoluments clause (on a much smaller scale, but still) when he took office (a quarter of his 2008 income was due to international book sales, including sales to foreign governments), and he also didn’t keep his money in a blind trust. I think people tend to care less about this kind of thing than some people would like.

          • The Nybbler says:

            This is getting into conspiracy-theory territory. Trump cannot have violated that clause yet, because he does not yet hold office. When he takes office, no past action will put him in violation; the clause is not retroactive.

            Furthermore, the Trump Organization is not a sole proprietorship; it is an LLC, a separate entity from Trump himself. It’s not quite as clean a separation as a corporation, but it’s probably enough for that clause to allow the business to continue operating, provided Trump himself is not involved in any specific deals which could be considered as a violation.

          • mtraven says:

            me:

            He’s going to be in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution from day one

            Nybbler:

            Trump cannot have violated that clause yet, because he does not yet hold office.

            You do know what “day one” means, I trust? Assuming you do, then why are you are spewing irrelevant chaff?

          • quanta413 says:

            You do know what “day one” means, I trust? Assuming you do, then why are you are spewing irrelevant chaff?

            You should probably respond to what your opponent said in full rather than just cut away most of his argument when quoting. He said

            Trump cannot have violated that clause yet, because he does not yet hold office. When he takes office, no past action will put him in violation; the clause is not retroactive.

            Furthermore, the Trump Organization is not a sole proprietorship; it is an LLC, a separate entity from Trump himself. It’s not quite as clean a separation as a corporation, but it’s probably enough for that clause to allow the business to continue operating, provided Trump himself is not involved in any specific deals which could be considered as a violation.

            Emphasis mine.

            I’m pretty sure that’s where he is making his relevant argument. I don’t really care to either defend it or attack it personally.

          • Brad says:

            Furthermore, the Trump Organization is not a sole proprietorship; it is an LLC, a separate entity from Trump himself. It’s not quite as clean a separation as a corporation, but it’s probably enough for that clause to allow the business to continue operating, provided Trump himself is not involved in any specific deals which could be considered as a violation.

            I don’t think it’s quite as open and shut as that. If a single-member LLC were to receive an outright present from a foreign prince, and the member held any Office of Profit or Trust under the United States, I think that’d be a pretty clear violation of the clause. The clause doesn’t forbid a quid pro quo, it forbids accepting any quids regardless of whether or not you intend to quo.

            The complications here are 1) that the entities probably aren’t receiving any outright presents from foreign states. Instead you have allegations of favorable treatment which is a lot grayer. And 2) these are probably not single member LLC. Once you add other members the question becomes trickier. It certainly wouldn’t violate the emoluments clause for a federal official to own stock in a publicly traded company which in turn received a present from a foreign state. Even if it is only Trump and his family, that’s still a significant step away from a single member LLC.

          • The Nybbler says:

            “Day one” makes it sounds like his accession to office results in a violation; it does not, even were there no legal distinction between the Trump Organization and Trump. There would have to be an “emolument” accepted after that point.

            I don’t know if the Trump Organization is a single owner LLC. Wikipedia says it is, but it appears this isn’t actually public information, so Wikipedia could well be wrong.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yes, this is why normal presidents divest themselves of personal financial interests or puts them in a blind trust.

            Nobody swears an oath of poverty on taking the Oval Office, I don’t think any of them have converted their entire personal net worth to cash, and the Emoluments Clause says nothing about whether the President is aware of having received a payment from a foreign government. I would wager pretty much every president of the modern era has during their tenure in office held a beneficial interest in some corporation that has done business with a foreign government in some profitable way.

            If you are going to define emoluments the way Justice Stewart defined pornography, that was a bad enough standard when it was applied to something the average person didn’t need to first look up in a dictionary. If you’re proposing to impeach someone because they held stock in a company that sold goods or services to a foreign government at a fair price in the normal course of business, that’s going to bring new meaning to the concept of “Trumped-up charges”.

            No, wait, that’s actually the classic old meaning of “trumped-up charges”. And it would make indicting Julian Assange on rape charges look like the height of prosecutorial integrity. Nobody with a serious interest in the continued legitimacy of the United States Government (i.e. essentially all congressmen and senators) is going to impeach on those grounds, for anything less blatant than Hillary-Clinton-cattle-futures-level shady dealing.

          • mtraven says:

            All these efforts at fine-grained legal reasoning strike me as disingenuous at best. Avoiding financial conflict of interests is a principle, not a law, in most cases, and Trump is clearly poised to massively violate the principle whether or not he is shielded in law by the exact nature of his holdings.

            I’m not interested in debating the above, if you want further argument for the point you can go to the Brookings paper I linked to earlier.

            I am interested in knowing why people here seem so eager to defend this kind of corruption, who seem so eager to having a president who is a transparent grifter poised to use the office to enrich himself at the expense of the public good. What’s the appeal?

          • Matt M says:

            “I am interested in knowing why people here seem so eager to defend this kind of corruption, who seem so eager to having a president who is a transparent grifter poised to use the office to enrich himself at the expense of the public good. What’s the appeal?”

            A general belief that the harm he can do through grifting is significantly less than the harm a politician can do through various harmful policies.

            I assume every politician will use public office to enrich themselves in some way or another. Trump may be better positioned than most to do so. He may be marginally more effective in doing so. But on my list of things to care about involving politicians, this is way way down in priorities…

          • StellaAthena says:

            What the does “Hillary-Clinton-cattle-futures-level shady dealing” mean? I have trouble keeping all the groundless conspiracy theories about her straight.

            This kind of behavior is problematic too, morally if not legally. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/2016/11/18/9da9c572-ad18-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html

          • Protagoras says:

            @Matt M, Grifters in government tend to cover for one another, as they are often able to detect one another’s activities and so often have blackmail material on one another. A grifter at the top is of course especially well placed to protect others and spread the rot. And a whole government of grifters can do a lot of damage. I think you are insufficiently concerned about this danger.

          • mtraven says:

            I assume every politician will use public office to enrich themselves in some way or another. Trump may be better positioned than most to do so. He may be marginally more effective in doing so But on my list of things to care about involving politicians, this is way way down in priorities.

            The harm is not the Trump might enrich himself, it is that he is in a position to warp policy in such a way as to favor his own interests over those of the country. And given his character, that is almost certain to happen. For fucks sake, he even admitted openly that he has a potential conflict of interest in Turkey due to his properties there.

          • Matt M says:

            Protagoras,

            And I think you’re being naieve about the reasons people in general seek political office. How many people leave political office poorer than when they entered it? They all, in the most literal definition of the term, “use the office to enrich themselves.”

            You seem to be making this a binary: Trump is a grifter but other politicians are not. And yet, anyone involved in politics for any length of time has some fairly plausible charges of corruption floating around their name. The way I see it is – they’re all grifters. Trump may be slightly more likely to grift in more extreme manners than his relative competition, but I’m willing to accept that in exchange for his being slightly less likely to start World War III (in my opinion, if you want to debate that particular point that’s fine, but now it is outside the issue of grifting, and I believe I’ve met the requirement of explaining why I’m “okay” with his tendency towards grift).

          • Protagoras says:

            I do not view it as a binary; obviously corruption is more vs. less. But all the evidence suggests that differences in levels of government corruption can make a huge difference, and Trump represents a considerable jump in presidential corruption compared to the recent average.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            One way to avoid having future discussions sidetracked into legal arguments might be to not lead off with a legal argument.

            One possible reason to want a president who’s a transparent grifter: he’ll fit in better.

          • Matt M says:

            “I do not view it as a binary; obviously corruption is more vs. less. ”

            Okay, so at this point, corruption is just one more attribute by which we can compare various politicians.

            Even if I concede that Trump is more likely to be corrupt in worse ways that opposing politician X (Hillary, Cruz, whoever), it does not logically follow that I must oppose Trump. I may value him more highly on other various attributes that are more important to me.

            Trump can use his position to siphon an extra billion dollars to his hotels for all I care, so long as he keeps us out of unnecessary wars.

          • “What the does “Hillary-Clinton-cattle-futures-level shady dealing” mean?”

            I doubt it’s relevant to the current discussion, but since you asked…

            Back when Bill Clinton was becoming governor of Arkansas, Hillary made about a hundred thousand dollars speculating in the cattle future’s market. She had no expertise, was risking the couple’s entire assets, and her broker was one sanctioned for violations of the rules on record keeping.

            The most plausible explanation is that the money was a bribe from a firm doing business in Arkansas, one of whose people had an account with the same broker. The conjecture is that when a transaction made money it was credited to her account, when it lost money to his.

            If you want more details, I expect you can find them online. It’s hard to see a more plausible explanation.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            It might be worth considering that even if it was a bribe (which seems plausible), the Clintons didn’t seem to make a habit of doing that sort ot thing.

      • Placid Platypus says:

        No comment on impeachment, but remember that Trump is older and probably in worse health than the vast majority of presidents. 10% chance in the first year seems high but I’d definitely give at least 10% he doesn’t complete his first term.

        • shakeddown says:

          I’d give it about 5% of losing office due to legal trouble (impeachment/Nixon-style resignation), and 5% of losing office for medical reasons.

          • Aapje says:

            I’d say that there is about 1-2% chance that Trump is assassinated (although you might include that under medical reasons). Historically, more presidents have been killed than died by natural causes, while in office (although Trump is obviously more at risk due to his age).

            4/45 presidents have been assassinated, so almost a 1 in 11 chance. Assuming that the average term length is about 6 years, that means that an average president has a 1 in 66 chance to die during a given year, which is 1.5% chance.

            I would argue that given the polarized climate, the actual chance is probably relatively high, so probably closer to 2%.

            Historically, the chance to die of natural causes would be 3/4th of this, although I would expect the additional assassination risk due to polarization to be less than the additional risk due to age, so I’d put it about even. So 2% + 2% = 4% chance to die in office.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          He’s obviously older than average, but I wouldn’t be so sure about the in-worse-health angle. Trump is a lifetime teetotaler and nonsmoker, for example, and his father lived to the age of 93.

      • neonwattagelimit says:

        A 10% chance for a President to die/quit/be impeached in his first year of office seems excessively high.

        We can actually look at history to establish a baseline for this (albeit with a very small sample size). Trump will be the 45th President. Of past Presidents, two – W.H. Harrison and Garfield – didn’t make it past their first years. So that’s 2 out of 44, which works out to around 4.5%.

        Now, they were both 19th century Presidents, and modern presidents have much more stringent security and access to the best modern healthcare. So you can probably knock a couple of points off that 4.5% today.

        However, Trump probably gives those couple of points back and then some, because:

        -He is older than any previous President, and likely in poorer health.
        -He probably has more serious skeletons in his closet than your average past President.
        -While his party does control Congress, their support for him is lukewarm and the public doesn’t like him all that much. His political position is more tenuous than it currently appears.

        Conclusion: 10% is probably a little high, but not outrageously so.

        • baconbacon says:

          -He probably has more serious skeletons in his closet than your average past President.

          I don’t know about this, Trump has been high profile for years and just underwent an intense amount of scrutiny. The odds of uncovering a major issue within a year seem pretty low to me.

          Then he has a republican legislature, making it even less likely that Trump will actually face impeachment. Even if someone found something, outside of a slam dunk case are the Dems going to push it now? Better to wait until mid term elections (either before to take back some seats or after you have taken them back).

          • neonwattagelimit says:

            I don’t know about this, Trump has been high profile for years and just underwent an intense amount of scrutiny.

            Disagree, sort of. He did undergo a lot of scrutiny in the election But:

            A) It seems to me that – probably due to the generally outrageous nature of his candidacy – he was scrutinized somewhat less than the average major-party Presidential nominee. (This is more of a half-formed observation than a strongly-held belief, though.)

            More importantly….

            B) While he has been high-profile for years, he wasn’t the sort of high-profile person who gets scrutinized closely about the sort of things that would bring down a President. He was, basically, a celebrity. You might hear about a celebrity’s sex life or taste in consumption. How much do you know about the business dealings or legal machinations of, say, the Kardashians? Basically nothing.

            Most importantly…

            C) Trump is a shady guy. He made his name in NYC real estate, which is a distinctly unsavory business. International real estate isn’t much better. You think everything involved in building casinos in Atlantic City is totally above-board? Then you add in his weird, at-times scammy, ventures like Trump University or Trump steaks and whatnot, plus his seeming connections to Russia, plus his general unwillingness to totally divest himself of his business interests (or even fully disclose what those interests are)…this isn’t Michael Bloomberg or Larry Page or even Rex Tillerson we’re talking about here. He’s not a normal businessman, and he hasn’t abided by the normal rules separating business interests from political interests. I’m not saying he’s involved in some grand conspiracy, but he’s kinda shady, and there is an above-normal chance that he is involved in something that could get him into legal trouble.

            Then he has a republican legislature, making it even less likely that Trump will actually face impeachment. Even if someone found something, outside of a slam dunk case are the Dems going to push it now? Better to wait until mid term elections (either before to take back some seats or after you have taken them back).

            I agree with you here. Really, we’re talking about the difference between maybe a 5% chance and 8%-10% chance. It’s splitting hairs.

          • tscharf says:

            I think the press likely scrubbed Trump harder than any candidate ever. The WP had at at least 10 reporters on it as I understand. I think the chances they will find anything major are pretty low.

            They will find some things that will likely be minor, but will be reported as nuclear holocaust level events.

            It’s much more likely he just does something immensely impulsive and leaves an opening for some sort of technical violation impeachment (such as…ahem…cigars). The witch hunt will commence and it will be drama, drama, drama. It’s going to be much harder to do this if the right keeps control of Congress.

          • baconbacon says:

            C) Trump is a shady guy. He made his name in NYC real estate, which is a distinctly unsavory business. International real estate isn’t much better. You think everything involved in building casinos in Atlantic City is totally above-board? Then you add in his weird, at-times scammy, ventures like Trump University or Trump steaks and whatnot, plus his seeming connections to Russia, plus his general unwillingness to totally divest himself of his business interests (or even fully disclose what those interests are)…this isn’t Michael Bloomberg or Larry Page or even Rex Tillerson we’re talking about here. He’s not a normal businessman, and he hasn’t abided by the normal rules separating business interests from political interests

            Anyone who got screwed from a previous dealing and who had evidence already had a large incentive to speak up. That incentive is less now (Trump has more power to squash it as president) in general (I guess you could have gotten screwed, stayed quiet and then tried to ruin his presidency for revenge, but why not during the election? Why not after it happened?).

            Anyone involved in a shady business deal that benefitted them both now has more incentive to be quiet now that Trump is more powerful.

            The tricky part is that this has to come to light in the near future, despite dozens of people digging during the election. Clinton and Nixon were hauled before congress for things that happened while in office, who is the example of a secret coming to light years after it happened for a president?

            While he has been high-profile for years, he wasn’t the sort of high-profile person who gets scrutinized closely about the sort of things that would bring down a President. He was, basically, a celebrity. You might hear about a celebrity’s sex life or taste in consumption. How much do you know about the business dealings or legal machinations of, say, the Kardashians? Basically nothing.

            What things would get him impeached? Generally things that either there is almost no evidence for 20 years later or things that would have motivated someone to sue him at the time it happened.

          • Moon says:

            “It’s going to be much harder to do this if the right keeps control of Congress.”

            –unless Trump insults, discredits, and thwarts the plans of Congress enough that they realize that they would rather have Pence as president. In fact, they probably would rather have Pence already, as he is more in alignment with Congress on issues, and he also does not tweet insults to foreign leaders at 3 a.m.

      • shakeddown says:

        I was thinking more about things like
        18. No major war in Asia (with >100 Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and American deaths combined) over tiny stupid islands: 99%
        19. No exchange of fire over tiny stupid islands: 90%
        47. US does not withdraw from large trade org like WTO or NAFTA: 90%
        48. US does not publicly and explicitly disavow One China policy: 95%
        51. Donald Trump’s approval rating at the end of 2017 is lower than fifty percent: 80%
        52. …lower than forty percent: 60%

        which seem to assume Trump won’t overturn the status quo too far, and will probably be unpopular but not crazy unpopular. I think Scott’s more-or-less right about these probabilities (within 10% of what I’d guess), but since they’re correlated, they could throw off his accuracy results, in the same way that making the same prediction twenty times would (even if he got its probability exactly right).

      • MugaSofer says:

        Scott’s 20% is pretty close to my pre-election probability of impeachment contingent on Trump getting elected.

        Dude has alienated a lot of establishment Republicans, and his Vice-President is an establishment Republican. Also, establishment Republicans control every branch of government.

        Also, he’s a compulsive liar (Bill Clinton) who’s arguably broken/breaking a bunch of minor laws (Andrew Johnson), making him literally the combination of the two Presidents who have been impeached.

        There’s means, motive, and opportunity to impeach Trump. We’ll just have to see if he screws up and annoys the Republicans enough.

        • Deiseach says:

          Would the Democrats agree, though, if impeaching Trump means they get President Pence instead? The screeching I’ve seen from (okay, the dreaded acronym starting with “S” and ending with “W” does apply in this case) about Pence and his gay torture forced conversion therapy camps, though I don’t believe it, makes me think that the prospect of Pence may be even less welcome to a section of the left.

          Maybe they might think Trump is bad but he would be better than Pence who is conventional Republican and so might have a good chance of not being as unpopular as Trump and so capable of winning a second term, as well as working more smoothly with a Republican-dominated Congress?

          • BBA says:

            From the left-wing perspective, Pence has worse policy goals but is also less capable of achieving them. It would be like trading Chavez for Maduro, which has been hell for Venezuela but also made the opposition much stronger.

          • PDV says:

            Yes. Democrats would rather run against Pence running for re-election than Trump.

          • Deiseach says:

            Pence has worse policy goals but is also less capable of achieving them

            How so? If the argument is (a) the Republicans dominate Congress plus state governments (b) Obama couldn’t do anything because Republican Congress blocked him (c) Pence is an establishment Republican (d) a Republican Congress is less likely to block and more likely to work with an establishment Republican like Pence than an outsider like Trump, then how would he be less able to achieve his goals?

          • Adam says:

            The same way as Obama. Pence would lead to midterm congressional losses and likely would lose reelection, certainly more likely than Trump. He’d have a shorter span of time in which to achieve anything, so would be less likely than Trump to do so.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      This is a good point, in fact is probably true for a lot of other calibration exercises Scott did. I am actually not sure how to figure out calibration in that case, anyone else know?

      • Matt M says:

        I mean, I think the most basic core idea that correlates with almost everything he predicts is something like “the media grossly exaggerates the risk of extreme outcomes and most people believe them”

        A theory that the status-quo bias is significantly stronger than most people believe largely explains a whole lot of his positions about geopolitical events.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          I just mean, if events are correlated, you have to treat what actually happened as a single sample from some joint distribution over events. I am asking a specific technical question: given this one sample, how do you tell how well you did?

          Maybe I am missing something obvious, though.

          • Matt M says:

            I suppose you could individually assign each prediction a value of “how much does this correlate with the general idea of ‘Trump won’t be a disaster'” and then analyze how well you did on predictions that correlate highly with Trump as compared to predictions that do not correlate with Trump.

            If the results show that you did very well in Trump-related predictions and very poorly in all others, that would indicate that really, the only thing you correctly predicted was Trump.

            There’s probably a statistical term and methodology to this concept but I’m not sure what it is.

  2. spN44p8 says:

    39. Dow Jones will not fall > 10% this year: 50%
    40. Shanghai index will not fall > 10% this year: 50%

    Does that mean comparing 1/1/17 to 12/31/17 or comparing 1/1/17 to the lowest point in 2017, or the greatest drop between any two days in 2017?

  3. Jack Lecter says:

    A lot of these are similar to the 2016 ones, so:
    For the second time, I skim over the words “No announcement of genetically engineered human baby or crocodile plan,” and have moved to the next one before it registers and I do a double take.
    Top-down processing. It’s a b!tch.

    • wintermute92 says:

      So excluding the human, is the parse here “No announcement of genetically engineered crocodile plan” or “No announcement of crocodile plan”?

      Because I’ll bet the odds on those two are very different.

  4. seladore says:

    27. No country currently in Euro or EU announces new plan to leave: 80%
    32. Marine Le Pen is not elected President of France: 60%

    These seem a little contradictory. I would say that if Le Pen is elected president, she has a very high probability of announcing plans to leave the EU. Leaving the EU seems to be her entire raison d’etre at the moment.

    If you’re giving Le Pen a 40% chance of being elected president, and putting the probability of ANY country announcing plans to leave the EU at 20%, you’re claiming that if elected president, Le Pen would have a <50% chance of announcing plans to leave. Which has to be wrong, surely?

    • Forlorn Hopes says:

      50% sounds about right. Le Pen would like to leave, but her promise is to hold a referendum. 50% odds sounds right, and maybe even a little generous to leaving. Though there’s also the plan she breaks her promise and unanimously triggers article 50.

      And she’s more likely to leave the Euro than the EU, so I odds that a country in the Euro leaves should be a bit higher.

    • Subb4k says:

      It’s a bit more complicated than that, as MLP without a governing majority would probably not be able to do that much. Also it depends on what you count as “announcing plans”. Does announcing a referendum (with a likely “Leave” result) count?

      Anyway, if MLP wins, it means she defeated one of Fillon, Macron, the currently unkown socialist candidate, or Mélenchon in the second round (anyone else making it to the second round is science fiction). If she wins against a right-wing or centrist (like Fillon, Macron, and possibly the PS candidate if it’s Valls or Peillon), because of the way legislative elections work in France, it’s very unlikely she can’t leverage the same advantage to get a majority in the assembly. If she wins against a left-wing socialist or Mélenchon, things would be different. But if she wins against Mélenchon, then we had to eurosceptic candidates in the second round (MLP more than Mélenchon, but both want to get rid of the Euro for example). She would probably be able to leverage that into getting a referendum even without a governing majority.

      So the only scenario in which MLP is president but no plans for leaving the EU are made is the one where she wins against Montebourg or Hamon, which implies that one of them wins the primary and then makes it to the second round. Unlikely.

      So either that 60% is way too low (much more likely IMHO), or the 95% chance of France not announcing any plans to leave Europe is too high.

    • John Schilling says:

      …you’re claiming that if elected president, Le Pen would have a <50% chance of announcing plans to leave.

      <50% chance of announcing plans to leave, in her first six months in office. From a minimally-informed outsiders’ point of view, I’d give Le Pen roughly equal odds of, A: wimping out on her plans/desires to leave the EU, B: announcing on day one that she is setting the Frexit in motion, and C: taking some time to properly set the stage before making any explicit move.

      Unless you count “announce plan to hold a referendum on leaving” as “announce plan to leave”, I think this one looks pretty reasonable. But perhaps Scott would chime in on what he would specifically count as “announcing a new plan…”

    • Deiseach says:

      (Y)ou’re claiming that if elected president, Le Pen would have a <50% chance of announcing plans to leave. Which has to be wrong, surely?

      The way Brexit went, there is nothing to say that even if Le Pen gets elected, she’ll be able to trigger Article 50. I mean, the main push for Brexit was from UKIP, and the leader (former leader? current leader? I can’t keep up with it) of that party, Nigel Farage, got nothing out of the Leave victory by way of reward with high office or taken on as an advisor or anything; the putative Prime Minister in Waiting, Boris Johnson, got neatly stabbed in the back by his partner and just when Boris looked to be wandering the political wilderness in disgrace, Gove who double-crossed him in hopes of getting the Premiership (no, not that one) instead has been booted out to wander the desert while BoJo is now Foreign Secretary.

      In the meanwhile, there has been the cake memo and the resignation of the UK ambassador to the EU. if anybody know what the hell is going on, now would be a good time to explain it all 🙂

    • neonwattagelimit says:

      No, not really. It’s pretty simple: The French presidential election is in May, the new President takes office in, I think, June or July. Le Pen has not promised to leave the EU, per se, but to schedule a referendum on France’s membership in the EU.

      Scott is basically saying that, if Le Pen wins, there is a <50% chance of her scheduling a referendum, and winning it, by the end of 2017. This seems reasonable to me. These things take time.

      • Subb4k says:

        There is no way a referendum would be organized in France before the end of 2017. The new president takes office a few days after being elected in early May, but for a whole month they’re basically powerless because of the legislative elections that happen in June and will elect the new Assembly (which has to approve of the new government). The practice is that they nominate a government of their own party (even if the current leaving Assembly would never confirm them) so they can start working on policy, but they can’t begin passing laws (and a referendum has to be a law).

        Then almost immediately after the new Assembly takes office on June 19, they go into recess on June 30 until October. Even with article 49-3 of the constitution, a law can’t be passed this fast. There can be extraordinary sessions in the summer (a useful way for governments to pass laws while everyone is on holiday and can’t really go on strike, as they’re already not working), but I can’t think of any time where a government coming in rushed a law this way. And the Senate is unlikely to let this through without a fight (because they’re not changing this year), so this will require a complete back and forth. It’s also unlikely MLP (or rather, her prime minister) wants to spend her 49-3 on this, as it would make the referendum very unpopular and make it more likely that it doesn’t go her way.

        So realistically, the referendum is not a law until late October. It would need at the very least one month of campaign + organization. So the absolute earliest is December 2017. And that’s not very likely. Few elections have ever been held in December in recent history, for that matter (December 2015 regionals were an exception because of the region reform, they had to be delayed by several months). The tradition in France is to have elections in the spring.

        So unless Scott thinks announcing a referendum counts as a plan to leave (which it should, IMHO), that 95% is way too low and it should be >99%.

    • cassander says:

      You can’t leave the Euro. Any country that tried to leave the euro would experience the largest capital flight in history as everyone liquidated whatever they could in order to acquire euro denominated assets. Greece took absolutely brutal economic hits to stay on the euro despite the repeated election of parties that promised the opposite because the alternative was so much worse.

      • Tibor says:

        Syriza never wanted to leave the Euro. They simply didn’t want to pay the debts while keeping it… Having the cake and eating it too. The main reason they managed that (for now) is that the EU politicians such as Merkel and Juckner didn’t want to step back in the “integration”. A side effect was that a much bigger, richer and more important county left the EU itself. Returning to the Drachma would allow the Greeks to have a weaker currency and so it’d exports would be cheaper which could actually reduce the horrible unemployment rate (around 25 % right now)

      • Cliff says:

        Isn’t that true of any currency devaluation ever? You just freeze all accounts overnight and change the balances over, right?

      • Rusty says:

        I guess Germany could. That would be the obvious way to an orderly break up. Well I say ‘orderly’ . . .

        • The Nybbler says:

          The way things are going, Germany can just change the name of the “Euro” to the “Mark” after everyone else leaves.

  5. Haukur says:

    40% chance of Le Pen is far too high. Betfair currently has her at 23% which I also think is too high, to the point that I’ve placed some money against her. She’s way way behind in the two-way polls – farther than Donald Trump ever was. And Trump lost the popular vote by 2 points, Le Pen needs to win it. And she’s not some new exciting option who just needs to get her message out – she’s run before without coming at all close to winning. France is divided into 577 constituencies and the Front National only holds 2 of them. Getting a majority countrywide is just going to be extremely difficult this year. It’s not impossible – the opponent in the second round might melt down in scandal – but I’d place the odds at less than 10%. Marine Le Pen might eventually become president – or perhaps her niece will – but it is unlikely to happen this year.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I agree it’s high. I’m artificially inflating my estimate because I missed Trump and Brexit and am worried I have a consistent bias towards underestimating the chances of far-right victories.

      • akarlin says:

        That said PredictIt gives her 35%.

        However, they also give Frauke Petry a 22% chance of becoming German Chancellor, even though as far as I can see is exceedingly unlikely, so take that for what it’s worth.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Betfair gives her 22%.

          Don’t quote Predictit. It is tiny. Betfair has had about 10x as much money traded on this questions. It limits the amount individuals can bet and it limits the number of individuals who can bet on a particular market. The only thing good about Predictit is that it is open to Americans, but for the French election, who needs Americans?

      • Tibor says:

        I think Le Pen is a different animal than Brexit. She is indeed far right (socialist far right by the way), whereas at least Brexit was more complicated than “conservative countryside vs ‘progressive’ cities” (it was a part of the story, sure). Trump might be closer to her. But she is quite likely to have François Fillon as her opponent – he seems to be a kind of a French Thatcher in pants. He can play the nationalist tone, even though it is far from Le Pen’s radicalism. The FN has been gaining support not because they are becoming more radical, but because they are becoming more mainstream (with Le Pen’s father, it was a literally antisemitic party, the old Le Pen has repeatedly questioned the holocaust for example). So Fillon, as a “moderate nationalist” might be a more attractive option.

        Assuming that they will run against each other, it basically boils down to Thatcherism (Fillon) vs. socialism (Le Pen). The French are very socialist but I think that most of the socialists there are not nationalists and see the FN as a racist party (which it still probably is to some extent, even though much less so than when Le Pen’s father was party leader).

        Also, and perhaps more importantly, there seems to be this mechanism in France where everyone (else) unites against the FN if it looks like they might win. In the last departmental elections, they had very good results in the first round but then the 2nd round turned into Le Pen vs. Not-Le Pen, the socialists actually supported the Republicans against Le Pen (by withdrawing their candidates and endorsing the Republicans where it helped). I think it is a bad strategy in the long run, because it seems to lead the voters to frustration and feeling of not having any real choice – both of which make the FN stronger. But I doubt that she can get an absolute majority support right now – almost everyone who is not outright for Le Pen will vote against her in the second round, she is probably nobody’s second best candidate.

        Also, apart from France, you have the Netherlands where Geert Wilders has very good chances of being the next prime minister and also Austria where the FPÖ is also very likely to be the strongest party (and unlike with the AfD in Germany, Austrians do not shun away from forming governments with the FPÖ, they’ve already been in one, which resulted in EU sanctions against Austria, albeit as junior partners only…on the other hand one condition of the ÖVP to form a government with the FPÖ might be that the country won’t leave the Eurozone). And the head of the FPÖ is Hans-Christian Strache, who is definitely a lot more radical than the relatively moderate Hofer (the FPÖ presidential candidate who eventually lost – keep in mind that the president is not all that important post in Austria, the chancellor has far more power).

        Italy is also unclear. It has not had a directly elected PM in more than 6 years now (there keep having crises and the PMs change based on some insider deals which resolve the crises for a few months) and the 5 star movement is quite strong right now. They want to leave the Eurozone (as does Lega Nord, the separatist-ish northern Italian party) too. Italian banks seem to have big problems and the country’s debt is huge. Greece is also far from stabilized, the country still lives off EU “loans” and is always one step away from being bankrupt. Merkel seems to be fine with bending the EU rules (well, ignoring them, really) and supporting Greece, but this has never been popular and another “loan” would probably not be politically feasible, especially as she is now already politically weakened by a raising opposition towards her refugee policy (she’s actually changed that substantially already, without admitting it or making it very visible, but she can’t go much further without losing face whereas most people in Germany seem to want a lot more restrictions now). There are parliament elections next year in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Austria. And possibly Italy, it is not clear what happens there. Mateo Renzi is no longer the prime minister but instead of new elections they now have yet another un-elected PM.

        I think the only countries where leaving the Eurozone is extremely unlikely (I’d say 95% conditioned on other countries not leaving first) are Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. Spain is not very likely to leave, although I think that the radical-left Podemos (something like the Greek Syriza), who have a fairly strong support, are against Euro as well. Of the countries which are in the EU but not in the Eurozone, Estonia might actually join, but probably not if it looks like it is falling apart. Others either don’t meet the criteria (Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia) or the majority of the population does not want the Euro (Sweden, Denmark, Czech republic).

        So I think that 80% confidence of no country announcing leaving Euro is way too high. I would agree if the question was leaving the EU, but while I think it is still more likely than the opposite, I would not go above 70% confidence that no country leaves the Eurozone.

        • rlms says:

          But how plausible is it that Sweden, Denmark, or the Czech Republic could leave the Euro but not the EU? It seems unlikely to me, I can’t picture leaving the Euro being an issue people are passionate about.

          • Tibor says:

            I think you misread my post (I might have written it confusingly) – these three countries don’t want Euro but they haven’t ever introduced it in the first place. Coincidentally, the currency of all these countries would in English called (in English ) “[country’s denonym] crown”. Krone in Danish, Krona in Swedish and Koruna in Czech. The name probably makes more sense in Denmark and Sweden, since they are kingdoms.

            Also, I think that your assertion is wrong. There are many people who want to stay in the EU but don’t want the Euro, even in Eurozone countries I think. But definitely the majority of the population of the three “crown countries” above (by the way Norway also has a crown but Norway is not in the EU, the same holds for Iceland…I think there are no other countries which have a currency called “crown”, at least not in Europe).

          • rlms says:

            Yes, I didn’t realise that the countries you mentioned aren’t in the Eurozone (rereading, it is fairly clear that you were referring to them as the “countries which are in the EU but not in the Eurozone”).

            My assertion (changed to be about some other countries that do have the Euro) isn’t that it is impossible to want the EU but not the Euro (I’m from the UK where that is a pretty popular opinion) but that it’s not the kind of thing that people care enough about to demand a referendum for. A similar opinion would be support for the death penalty in the UK; up until recently there was a high majority of support in favour of the death penalty, but no supporters seemed to care enough about it to launch a campaign to reintroduce it.

          • Tibor says:

            @rlms: I think that you’re right to some extent. It’s much less emotional than EU or not. The German AfD started as a right-liberal party whose main goal was to leave the Euro. However, since then the party has been overtaken by the more nationalist and conservative wing (unlike Le Pen they are also not socialist or protectionist, they’ve retained some of their former economic liberalism). An economic objection to the Euro is not as good a rallying flag as the refugee crisis or the culture wars (which is not as big a deal as in the US here but still)

        • Subb4k says:

          Calling Le Pen socialist is misleading as her program does not really call for additional worker protection, higher minimum wage, or any similar measure. Yes she is trying to appeal to working classes by saying that globalization and immigrants are the reason they feel left out, but in that respect she’s no different from Trump, or Farage, or really any other populist.

          Bepe Grillo (although not necessarily the rest of M5S, which if I understand correctly is pretty divided) might be a better example of someone with both nationalist and socialist policy proposals.

          Also, your point about the departmental elections of March 2015 is correct but I’m surprised you did’nt bring up the regional elections of December 2015 instead. Socialists withdrawing from PACA (South-East) and Hauts-de-France (North) was a much bigger deal, as regions have more power and that meant zero left-wing members of the regional council in two relatively big regions.

          • Tibor says:

            She is very protectionist and anti-free trade (I think Trump is in many ways this kind of a socialist as well – although some things, such as the support of school choice do not quite fit that pattern). That makes her socialist in my eyes, although you’re right that this right-wing socialism is partly distinct from the left-wing socialism.

          • Matt M says:

            “but in that respect she’s no different from Trump, or Farage, or really any other populist.”

            Eh, I’ve heard plenty of Trump critics call him a socialist. Not in the “yeah and isn’t that awesome” way but in the “ha ha you stupid right wingers claim to hate socialism but you’re voting for one, you got conned you dumb hypocrites” way.

          • Subb4k says:

            She is very protectionist and anti-free trade (I think Trump is in many ways this kind of a socialist as well – although some things, such as the support of school choice do not quite fit that pattern). That makes her socialist in my eyes, although you’re right that this right-wing socialism is partly distinct from the left-wing socialism.

            I don’t really care to argue about the definition (no, it does not match the historic definition of socialism, but neither do the policies of any of the parties with “socialist” in their name in Europe, so what are we going to do about that?). But I feel that if you want to call that brand of populism socialism (or nationalist socialism) the way you phrased it was confusing. I read it as “unlike Farage/Trump, she’s a socialist on top of being a nationalist”, which I now see was not what you were saying.

            IMHO, on top of it being confusing with the name for left-wing policies that are very different, it’s a bad idea to call right-wing populist “socialists” because it’s waaaay to easy to go “nationalist and socialist -> national-socialist -> literal actual nazi”. Which would probably count as Crying Wolf.

          • Tibor says:

            @Subb4k: I think my definition of a socialist party would be “supporting state involvement in the economy more than the average party”. This covers both fascists and the communists, albeit each do it in a slightly different way.

            Of course, it is ridiculous to call Trump a Nazi, even Le Pen, whose party is closer to that than Trump is, is not a Nazi (although her father pretty much is one and at least some members of FN probably are as well). It is equally ridiculous as calling Bernie Sanders a communist (on the other hand calling for example the German Die Linke communists is perfectly accurate, they came to existence by a merger between a west german radical leftists and post-DDR eastern German communists).

            In short, not every socialist is a communist and not every nationalist is a Nazi. However, Le Pen is definitely on the socialist side economically, whereas for example the AfD, albeit also nationalist, seems to be relatively supportive of the free market (after all, the party used to be much less conservative and more economically liberal – in the European sense of the word).

          • Subb4k says:

            @Tibor:

            I think my definition of a socialist party would be “supporting state involvement in the economy more than the average party”

            … why? Like, I understand how you would want to divorce the term from marxism, but unless you add a component about wanting to intervene in favor of workers, your definition describes crony capitalism as well as socialism. These days we get a lot of crony capitalism pretending to be about empowering workers, so I get how there might be a confusion here (should we label parties based on what they say they want to do, or based on what policies they effectively champion?). But if your definition of socialism is so wide that it includes basically anyone who is not a partisan of laissez-faire, you have a problem.

            Your choice of definition is made even worse in that, despite all their flaws, socialist parties all across Europe have unifying features that these populist nationalist movements definitely do not have. Even re: economy, as they generally support a higher number if civil servants (not only in the police/army), unionization, and so on. Instead of hijacking an established term I suggest you use things like “populist” or “sovereignist” or even plain old “protectionist” which better describe their economic policy (the latter being admittedly a partial description).

          • Tibor says:

            @Subb4k: Well, I’ve never understood why it is “crony capitalism” per se, it might as well be called crony socialism (corporatism is the best term IMO). But I might be falling into the libertarian mindset of calling socialism everything that is not free market capitalist(ish). While that makes sense to me, it is not quite the most widespread nomenclature, so I probably should not do that either. On the other hand, most people might not even know what I mean when I say something like corporatist protectionist. On yet another hand (I have three hands), maybe the fact that most people won’t know what I mean does not matter here, where people more likely will understand it.

          • Moon says:

            “@Subb4k: Well, I’ve never understood why it is “crony capitalism” per se, it might as well be called crony socialism (corporatism is the best term IMO). But I might be falling into the libertarian mindset of calling socialism everything that is not free market capitalist(ish). ”

            The reason it is called crony capitalism, is that it is the inevitable result of laissez faire capitalism, given a bit of time. If there are no or very few regulations on capitalism, then there is no longer a level playing field, because eventually the larger players have monopolies or monopsonies, and thus have the power to make the rules, whether market rules or government rules. Thus they make the rules so that “Them that has, gits.” E.g. they erect large barriers to new would be players who might like to enter their same sector of the market.

            Just one of many examples of this is where you have little or no estate tax. So people with huge amounts of unearned wealth and perhaps little or no work ethic, do what these sorts of people usually do.

            The term crony capitalism, basically comes from using history, and inevitability of real world outcomes, rather than ideological purity, as a basis for coming up with the name of the condition.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Moon, that’s not it at all. “Crony capitalism” describes the condition where an apparent free market exists, but the government picks winners and losers by making or enforcing rules which assist those who do favors for those in government or harm those who refuse to.

          • Tibor says:

            @Moon: Basically what The Nybbler said. I don’t want to get into the discussion of validity of your claim that laissez faire leads to monopolies. I don’t agree with that at, but you are an extremely partisan commenter who thinks her positions are obviously true, so I don’t think it would be fery productive.

            But Nybbler kind of answer why the name makes more sense. It is apparent (free market) capitalism, it is crony in that it is not real – it is really corporate socialism. But crony socialism would then probably be something that looks like socialism but isn’t really socialism.

          • Art Vandelay says:

            The thing is, there’s never been an economy that is completely free of government regulation and intervention, so if your definition of capitalism is a completely free market then capitalism has never existed and will never exist.

            The key element of capitalism a comparatively free market in land and, more crucially, labour. Capitalism contrasts with other systems where it is uncommon/unheard of to sell your capacity to produce in return for a wage, and to have few restrictions on who you sell it to. This fact points to one of the most glaring flaws in free-market fundamentalism: government, by enacting policies to force the peasantry out of the countryside and into cities, was a key player in creating a large pool of people willing to sell their labour for a wage. So-called laissez-faire economics was a product of government intervention in the economy.

          • The thing is, there’s never been an economy that is completely free of government regulation and intervention

            ???

            There have been lots of stateless societies in the past. They had economies, hence whether or not they were capitalist they were completely free of government regulation and intervention.

        • Jules says:

          “[the FN is] still probably [racist] to some extent, even though much less so than when Le Pen’s father was party leader”

          Marine Le Pen has worked very hard to clean up their act on the surface, but whenever a journalist takes a peek inside you can see that their active base is as racist as ever.

          It’s almost funny seeing the party people explaining to them how “they agree, but you can’t say that in public anymore”.

          • Tibor says:

            I wouldn’t be surprised if this was true, especially with the older members who have been in the party since old Le Pen’s time. On the other hand, Le Pen seems to actually good a grudge against his daughter for how she’s changed the party. He said she should marry soon so she wouldn’t carry his name any more. It could just be for a show, but things like this are usually not said lightly.

          • Aapje says:

            Jean-Marie Le Pen was expelled by the party by Marine, which is also something that you don’t do for show, IMO.

            Jean-Marie strikes me as one of those people who has a hard time giving over the reigns and would rather blow up the party than lose control.

      • Rusty says:

        Yikes. Brexit was ‘far right’? Seems like that phrase covers a lot of ground these days.

        • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

          I mean, to be fair, describing the comparatively squishy Trump as ‘far right’ has always been weird to me, too.

    • akarlin says:

      As someone who was considerably more optimistic on both Brexit and Trump than average I agree with this.

      The French political system is much less favorable to a nationalist candidate than the American one.

      It might have been just about doable if some banal establishment figure like Juppé had been nominated as the Republican candidate but instead it was Fillon who is based and the worst person for Le Pen to run against.

      • Haukur says:

        Yeah, I was bullish on Brexit and Trump as well – when the betting markets had Trump at 17% he was a definite buy. But I don’t feel Scott really “missed Trump” – he was posting before the election that he had a real chance to win and that the 2% estimates going around were ridiculous. That was correct and important. But I don’t think it was reasonable based on information available at the time to conclude that Trump was the favorite.

      • Forlorn Hopes says:

        Fillon is an interesting oppoennt. He borrows most of Le Pen’s nationalism but is a thatherite.

        Rather than the expected battle over nationalism we’ll get one over economics.

    • Subb4k says:

      France is divided into 577 constituencies and the Front National only holds 2 of them.

      Also, legislative elections don’t work the same way than presidential ones. Even with the same demographics (obviously not true, far right votes are concentrated in the South-East, the North, and the East), it’s easier for the FN to win a three-way or four-way contest, which routinely happen in legislative elections but can’t in presidential ones.

    • Deiseach says:

      I’d be inclined to think the French might go for boring but safe centre-right e.g. François Fillon, but who the heck knows what way the French may vote?

      The only thing is that M. Fillon’s party changed its name to The Republicans in 2015, so are we all willing to bet that the Republicans will win another presidential election? 🙂

      • Subb4k says:

        Fillon is not “center-right”. Fillon is on the right of the right-wing party, the Republicans (les Républicains). It’s not a “center-right” party either, although some of its prominent members, like Nathalie Kociusko-Morizet, could be considered to be center-right. But no one in French media would ever consider calling Fillon centrist, especially not after the campaign he ran in the primaries where he went to the right of Sarkozy.

        There are two center-right parties in France (UDI and Nouveau Centre), and it’s a bit confusing because both are sattelite parties of the Republicans. Modem would also be considered center-right by some, although it’s probably more dead center. Also, dead period as no one votes for them.

        • BBA says:

          If Fillon is on the right of the right-wing, then how do you describe Le Pen?

          • Subb4k says:

            The right of the (main) right-wing party. Le Pen is the head of the (main) far-right party.

            Whether Fillon individually is part of the far right is debatable, but I would say “no”. If you were to lump the republicans and FN in one big party, Fillon would probably be close to the center of that. But “center of the right” is not “center-right” (or if it is, that’s one hell of a confusing term). “center-right” means “centrist, but leaning right”.

    • tscharf says:

      Beware Frenchmen peddling poll data.

      “The mainstream conservative candidate for president won huge in the primary in November. He got 66 percent of the vote, yet polls consistently had him in a distant third. So it was so bad that one major newspaper has renounced to doing any more polls. They say they’re just not going to take them anymore.”

      http://www.npr.org/2017/01/05/508319026/le-pen-lays-out-plans-for-france

      • Subb4k says:

        The primaries are a new thing in France. This was the second open primary, and the third with any kind of media attention. Both previous ones had been run by the socialists, so this was also the first one on the right.

        Participation is very low compared to the US. Therefore it’s very hard for polling companies to reach likely voters, and their models are super-crappy because it’s all new. It was a mistake of them to believe they could poll the primary at all, but it does not necessarily mean anything for the general election. Although obviously the polls for the socialist primary this month should be entirely ignored.

  6. Jack Lecter says:

    Also:
    I notice some of the predictions from the end of “You Are Still Crying Wolf” are missing. Should we read anything into that?
    Serious question. I know sometimes, when I’m talking with someone, I’ll think of some opinion I formed years ago but haven’t thought about in forever, and I won’t know if I’d still believe it if I took the time to think about it.

    • psychorecycled says:

      Serious question. I know sometimes, when I’m talking with someone, I’ll think of some opinion I formed years ago but haven’t thought about in forever, and I won’t know if I’d still believe it if I took the time to think about it.

      Extreme example: within the past three years, I realized that my henceforth-unquestioned assumption that your birthmark was the last part of you to leave your mother was obviously NOT CORRECT, for…so many reasons. But I’d been thinking that was the mechanism which determined where your birthmark was for…a while. I have no idea why I formed that opinion.

      I’m pretty sure there is a name for this, or if there isn’t, there should be – the unquestioned assumption fallacy?

      • shakeddown says:

        This reminds me of the guy I know who, until he was seventeen, thought the luggage belt in airports just takes your stuff directly to your destination airport.

  7. Fossegrimen says:

    I think you overestimate how big impact a president/prime minister/whatever has on economic matters. I think economics run mostly on emotions and as far approval ratings follow economics, it’s because they have the same cause.

    US economics seems to have gotten a bit of a boost after the election (though it seems to have started in August, so possibly nothing to do with the actual election.) These optimism rallies tend to last longer than six months.

    Therefore:

    45. US GDP growth lower higher than in 2016: 60% 70%
    46. US unemployment labour participation to be higher at end of year than beginning: 60% 70%

    And since a lot of people will think this is because of Trump and not optimism:

    51. Donald Trump’s approval rating at the end of 2017 is lower higher than fifty percent: 80% 70%

    • HappyIdiotTalk says:

      I think Trump being that popular is going be a hard sell. A lot of people in the States would still disapprove of Trump for other reasons even if he does hit a consistent 4% GDP growth for a variety of other reasons (foreign policy concerns, hacking denial-ism, perceived racism, just being kind of a jerk).

      Also, that 4% number is going to be really hard to hit with the economy at pretty close to full employment and the Fed’s current inflation target being 2%. If Trump does get an infrastructure bill then it’s likely that the Fed will just boost interest rates to keep inflation in ‘check’ which will severely blunt the effect.

      • Matt M says:

        “I think Trump being that popular is going be a hard sell. A lot of people in the States would still disapprove of Trump for other reasons even if he does hit a consistent 4% GDP growth for a variety of other reasons (foreign policy concerns, hacking denial-ism, perceived racism, just being kind of a jerk).”

        This is probably understating it. GDP growth could hit 20% and you’d still see a good 30% of the country loudly claim he was rigging the numbers, it was only happening because of greed, we’d be doing even better under Hillary, whatever.

        I literally cannot imagine a single outcome, even a fantastical/unrealistic one, that would cause, say, Paul Krugman to write a column saying “I was wrong about Trump, his economic plan has worked very well.”

        Partisans gonna partisan.

        • HappyIdiotTalk says:

          I know that you’re using it as a rhetorical point but 20% is pretty insane levels of growth. Even the height of WW2 never saw year over year growth above 20% and that was during a war where mobilization of every resource was the goal and we were recovering from the Great Depression. No way the Fed lets inflation hit 10% for any reason these days.

          Re: Krugman, I think if you see 3.5% GDP growth for a couple of years with inflation below 2%, he would say Trump’s economic plan worked well. I think he would still be negative Trump for a number of other reasons and might think he’s a bad president still but he would concede the economic point. I could be wrong and tribalism might just reign supreme.

          • Cliff says:

            Remember, this is the guy who explicitly stated that 2013 would be a test for monetarism and austerity, and then after he didn’t get the results he expected, he changed his mind and said it wasn’t a test after all. Has he ever conceded anything to anyone, ever?

          • Matt M says:

            And to not pick on one side or the other, there are PLENTY of right-wing commentators who dismiss the economy of the Clinton years as “not a real surplus”, or “various budget trickery” or “only because the GOP congress forced him into welfare reform” or “got lucky because of the Internet” or what have you.

            I don’t think those criticisms exist because we had 3.5% growth and wouldn’t exist if we had 6.5% instead (I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but you get my meaning).

          • tscharf says:

            Krugman will never, never ever, unequivocally praise Trump (>100%).

          • shakeddown says:

            @Cliff: He conceded to being wrong on the initial Trump economic shock lasting (though he still gets half credit for that, since he conceded it before it was completely obvious he’d been wrong). I haven’t seen him concede a lot of other things, mostly because I haven’t seen him be wrong on a lot of other things (He had no problem calling out other economists for being overly pessimistic on Brexit, for example, even though pessimism on it would suit his tribal leanings).

          • Moon says:

            “Krugman will never, never ever, unequivocally praise Trump (>100%).”

            Trump will never do anything worthy of unequivocal praise from people who are opposed to allowing crony capitalists to gorge themselves freely at the public trough, and who are opposed to the shredding of the social safety net. 100%

          • Spookykou says:

            @moon

            I think part of the assumption in this hypothetical is that Trump’s actions could be 100% divested from anything we currently know about Trump.

            Basically the point is that if, through magic, Trump ended up enacting literally the exact same policies that Hillary would have enacted, people would still denounce Trump because their current bias towards him is so strong that it would be impossible for them to reconcile reality with their perceptions.

        • shakeddown says:

          Krugman probably would, he’d generally pretty open to admitting mistakes. If we did somehow magically get unrealistic economic performance in a way that was due to Trump, the people who still hate him would probably do so based on something else, like his foreign policy.

          • Matt M says:

            I suspect that no matter how good the economic performance is, Krugman (and others) will be able to find some caveat as to why it is not, in fact, “due to Trump.”

            I’m not saying Krugman will dispute the GDP data, but he will say some combination of:

            This is happening in spite of him, it’d be even better if Democrats were in charge

            OR

            This looks all well and good for now but will actually be really bad in the long term because reasons

          • tscharf says:

            Krugman admitted his mistake with the stimulus not working, because it wasn’t big enough of course. Not sure I put that in an admission of fault category.

          • Matt M says:

            It’s actually the opposite. It’s the exact sort of “refusing to bend on partisan issues no matter what the data says” thing I’m predicting he would do with Trump.

          • lvlln says:

            I recall, when the stimulus was being put forward but before it was implemented, Krugman complaining very specifically that it wasn’t nearly big enough (IIRC, it was something like $700bill, when he claimed it needed to be around $2.1trill) and that it was likely to accomplish the worst of both worlds where it’s not big enough to have enough noticeable positive impact, but since it passed, the ones who were against it could then claim, “See, the stimulus didn’t work!”

            I also recall that this was pretty much exactly what happened.

            That said, I also figure, unless there’s some specific economic policy Trump implements that has a clear causal chain that leads to insane economic growth, he would claim to his last breath that it was in spite of Trump and/or it would have been better under Clinton.

          • Iain says:

            In my experience, Krugman has a pretty good track record: both of making accurate economic predictions, and of admitting when he’s wrong. He’s not perfect, but he’s well above average for a pundit.

      • samsondale says:

        Can it truly be said that the economy is at ‘pretty close to full employment’ when the labor participation rate has remained below 63% for the past three years (it was 65.7% in January 2009)? This reflects (if my back of the envelope math is somewhat accurate) a decrease of around 5,000,000 people participating in the labor market. Presumably, a significant proportion of these are long-term unemployed who are no longer counted when calculating the unemployment rate.

        • shakeddown says:

          I’m tempted to explain this away by baby boomer retirement and people going back to school, but those numbers still seem wrong – going by this, it seems like we have more jobs now than in January 2009.

          • samsondale says:

            The numbers I cited come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data tools page.

          • HappyIdiotTalk says:

            I think it’s mostly long term trends that have affected the participation rate. I found this:

            CBO, November 2014: Of the 3 percentage-point decline in participation between the end of 2007 and the end of 2013, CBO estimates, about 1½ percentage points was the result of long-term trends, about 1 percentage point arose from temporary weakness in employment prospects and wages, and about one-half of a percentage point was attributable to unusual aspects of the slow recovery.

            My general understanding was that the labor force participation drop in 2007/8 wasn’t structural but the failure to rise back to where it was in 2006 is due to structural trends catching up.

        • Wrong Species says:

          The labor force participation rate was lower in the 50’s than it is today, does that mean that the labor markets were worse back then? You can’t really judge full employment by looking at the lfpr because it doesn’t tell you why these people lack employment. The regular unemployment is back to normal and wage growth has picked up. If these people are just waiting for the labor markets to pick up before applying for a job, what are they waiting for? If the lfpr continues to stay low for for prime age workers while economic growth is positive, then at some point we have to admit that it can’t be blamed on the recession.

          • samsondale says:

            That is true but it was a different country 65 years ago. It is possible that the drop in lfpr reflects a return to the single breadwinner paradigm but, given the coincidence of the drop with the economic events of 2007 and 2008, I am not so sure. My sense (I haven’t looked too deeply into this, I admit) is that jobs added in recent years have been more of the arubaito nature. If true, it is possible that, as has been suggested, other reasons exist for the unemployed to remain so while there is room for those counted as employed to obtain non-arubaito work.

          • Wrong Species says:

            There are plenty of benign reasons why the lfpr could be lower. The high number of baby boomers retiring and more people going to college are an important part of the puzzle. Again, you can’t look at the lfpr in isolation to determine the health of the labor market. You need to look at other factors. Bloomberg has a pretty good list here.

            To summarize, out of 12 measures of the labor market, six of them are back to “normal”, defined as the average of the four years leading up to the downturn. Out of the remaining six, four are more than halfway back to normal levels, while two are less than halfway. One of those in the latter category is the lfpr, which is the only measure that has not made any notable progress. I’m also underselling it because because two of those measures that are more than halfway are really close to hitting their goals. The U6 unemployment rate, at it’s highest was 17.2% and is now at 9.2. Wage growth at its lowest was 1.6% and is now at 2.9.

            The economy isn’t perfect and there are still problems. To a certain extent, that is probably part of why the lfpr is lower. But as time goes on, it’s getting more and difficult to argue that it is a significant part.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If these people are just waiting for the labor markets to pick up before applying for a job, what are they waiting for?

            Perhaps they’re structurally unemployed; there are jobs, but not for them. This has been a subject of discussion in many previous OTs.

          • The Obsolete Man says:

            Here is an interesting discussion of an updated metric for the employment to population ratio:
            http://macroblog.typepad.com/macroblog/2015/09/the-zpop-ratio-a-simple-take-on-a-complicated-labor-market.html

          • Brad says:

            @obsolete man
            Isn’t that just (1 – U6)?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Nybbler

            We’re talking about cyclical, not structural unemployment. If there are jobs, but people don’t want them, that’s a problem but a different one.

            @Obsolete

            That’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking for. Thanks for linking.

            @Brad

            It says it includes people who are not in the labor force but say they want a job. If you haven’t looked for a job in the last year, you aren’t in the labor force and wouldn’t be considered in the u6 metric. Unfortunately they don’t tell us how they came up with that number. As far as I know, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does ask those not in the lfpr why they haven’t look for a job but they don’t ask that specific question. You can see the survey graph here.

            Personally, I think they should ask them how intensely they want a job because some of those answers could be misleading. Classic example is someone under the age of 65 who gets laid off and “retires”. They may still want a job but they feel like at their age, no one wants to hire them. So if the BLS constructed a survey asking about “job desire intensity”, on a scale of 1-5 or whatever, they might be able to do a more rigorous quantitative measurement of labor underutilization.

          • Brad says:

            @Wrong Species
            There seems to be more details here: https://www.frbatlanta.org/chcs/human-capital-currents/2015/0612-measuring-labor-market-status-using-basic-data.aspx

            It’s something of a struggle to figure out, but looking at the numbers I don’t think ZPOP is far away from (1-U6) though it isn’t precisely identical.

            In terms of intensity of desire to work, it seems to me that looking for work once in a twelve month period is not a high bar to meet. The question for how the respondent looked for work includes some pretty low effort answers:
            “LKM
            What are all the things (you/he/she) (have/has) done to find work during the last 4 weeks?
            Do not read answer categories
            Enter (0) for no additional answer
            1 Contact employer directly/interview
            2 Contacted public employment agency
            3 Contacted private employment agency
            4 Contacted friends or relatives
            5 Contacted school/university employment center
            6 Sent out resumes/filled out applications
            7 Checked union/professional registers
            8 Placed or answered ads
            9 Other active
            10 Looked at ads
            11 Attended job training programs/courses
            12 Other passive
            13 Nothing ”

            Ref: http://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/questionnaires/Labor%20Force.pdf

            If someone hasn’t even looked at the classified ads for a full year, just how much do they want to work? I don’t see why we need a category for people that would work if and only if their dream job, at their dream pay, fell into their lap from heaven.

          • Wrong Species says:

            That’s true. But it’s not hard to imagine that during the recession, some people were so despondent that they didn’t even take a cursory glance for a year. At the same time, they would have jumped at the chance to take a job if someone offered it, even if it involved a pay cut. It seems really hard to believe that’s the case now, with an average of 150-200k jobs being created a month, the regular unemployment rate being what is it, and the return of wage growth. My guess is that right now, it’s basically 1-u6 but would include more of those not in the labor force during a recession.

            There’s a lot of room between “haven’t looked for a job for the past year” and “won’t take a job unless it is my dream job”. I think a job intensity survey could further clarify that point.

            Edit: It looks like they are using what they call the “shadow labor force”.

            The following is perspective through the lens of the reasons people give for not participating in the labor force. Perhaps the component most responsive to changes in labor market conditions is what I will refer to as the “shadow labor force,” which is made up of people who are not in the official labor force and are not actively seeking employment, but who say they want a job. (This group includes people discouraged over job prospects.) During tough times, the share of the population in the shadows rises, and during good times it falls. In the third quarter of 2016, about 2.3 percent of the population fell into this category—down from a high of 2.8 percent but still a bit above prerecession levels (see the chart).

            Here’s the graph.

      • shakeddown says:

        Trump being more popular than he is now is incredibly unlikely – this is the honeymoon period, which is generally when presidents have their highest favourability by far. If Trump performs as well as an ordinary president, I’d expect him to drop to about 35% by the end of the year. If he performs as badly as I expect him to, he could go much lower. If he performs as badly as I’d expect him to if I didn’t have status quo bias, he’ll probably hit all-time lows by the end of the year.

        • Matt M says:

          “this is the honeymoon period, which is generally when presidents have their highest favourability by far.”

          Very few generalities about politicians have applied to Trump so far.

        • Deiseach says:

          On the other hand, if we take the popular vote figure of 46%, by the end of 2017 when the apocalypse has not happened, some people might figure he’s not actually as bad as they were expecting and his favourability rating could go up.

          I know there are definitely some who wouldn’t care if he had a change of heart due to the Archangel Gabriel appearing to him in the middle of the night and he brought about world peace, personally set up puppy and kitten rescue shelters and single-handedly stopped global warming, they’d still say he was worse than the love child of Stalin and Satan, but there could be a few who think “Well, he didn’t round up all the gays into death camps after all, who knew?”

        • What if Trump remains friendly towards Russia and nothing bad happens as a result–no invasion of the Baltics, no increased pressure on the Ukraine? Would that make him significantly more popular? A sort of junior league “ended the Cold War” effect.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Probably not. Americans just don’t care about foreign policy that much, unless it’s obviously bad. The Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union vanished under a one-term president.

          • Murphy says:

            Well given that most people weren’t talking about there still being a cold war and most people weren’t too worried about nuclear war until lately and now russia and the US seem to be looking like they might get into another arms race… *ending* a cold war isn’t likely to be something trump gets remembered for.

  8. cactus head says:

    37. Oil will end the year higher than $50 a barrel: 60%
    38. …but lower than $60 a barrel: 60%

    Is number 38 conditional on 37? I.e. if oil ends at $49, do you count both as incorrect?

    • Placid Platypus says:

      Given they have the same probability that seems very unlikely. I don’t think Scott would make such a trivial mistake.

  9. NoahSD says:

    I’m really surprised by how unlikely you think major terrorist attacks are, given that the Paris attacks in 2015 killed 100+ people and that there were multiple attacks in Western countries in 2016 that killed dozens of people (though not 100+). For example, the Pulse nightclub attack killed 49 (and injured an additional 53), so presumably you either think that this was roughly a once-per-decade event or that ~50 deaths is somehow much more likely than 100.

    Edit: I wonder if maybe you’re overcompensating for the fact that terrorist attacks get outsized attention.

    • akarlin says:

      Well, statistically, it’s an entirely legitimate prediction. The last terrorist attack that killed >100 people in the US was in 2001. There were only four such cases in the entirety of US history.

      Terrorist attacks with >100 deaths take place once every three to four years in Europe. So the First World terrorist attacks prediction is also perfectly logical.

    • ashlael says:

      A terrorist attack that kills 50 really IS much more likely than one that kills a hundred though.

      I think it’s more likely than not there will not be a single terrorist attack in the west with a triple-digit bodycount, but I also expect around ten double-digit attacks.

    • Deiseach says:

      What about the situation in Turkey? The New Year’s Eve nightclub attack by ISIS which killed 39, the car bombing yesterday in Izmir which is being blamed on Kurdish militants – post-coup attempt, the situation does not seem stable (particularly with Turkey’s involvement in Syria).

      I don’t know if there will be a single event that kills more than 100 (had the nightclub attack been bombs rather than a gunman, it would have had a good chance of getting up into that range), and do we class Turkey as a First World country (it’s certainly very eager to get into the EU), but there seems to be no reason that the Kurdish separatists, IS, or the resurgent Islamist movement are going to cool off in 2017.

    • tscharf says:

      I think ISIS will do something major when things really start to collapse. I don’t think they will go out with a whimper. It only take a few people with AK-47’s to get a count >100. I’d put this chance closer to 50%.

      • NoahSD says:

        It only take a few people with AK-47’s to get a count >100.

        It’s really amazing to me how rare terrorist attacks are, given this. I think intelligence agencies/law enforcement are way way better than people think.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          >I think intelligence agencies/law enforcement are way way better than people think.

          I’ve been thinking that it’s harder to recruit for that sort of thing than I thought, but your theory is also plausible.

          • Matt M says:

            I used to try to have this debate with my friends. After 9/11, tons of people expected more attacks to follow. There weren’t any of any significant degree. Therefore, either…

            1) Nobody tried
            2) The government stopped them all

            Surely one of the two HAS to be true, right?

          • Montfort says:

            Nancy’s post suggests a third possibility –
            3) people tried but they failed for reasons which don’t have to do with the government

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I would think Richard Reid would be instructive.

            On the one hand, the only actual reason he didn’t succeed in detonating a bomb on the plane was “dumb luck” that some delay caused too much moisture to build up to allow the fuse to ignite.

            On the other hand, it’s not like he was making it hard to catch him.

            I’m guessing that there isn’t any one factor that lead to the lack of many successful follow up attacks. But one of the big ones is simply that they were always aiming for hard targets and mostly failing. Remember there had already been attempts to being the Twin Towers, including one that actually came quite close in 1993.

            The reason we didn’t see mass attacks on small, easy targets speaks to AQ not being organized to carry out those attacks. AQ is a little like the dog that catches the car, in that sense.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I have a notion that the reason there hasn’t been a follow-up to 9/11 is “what can you do for an ancore?” You’d probably need a nuke, though maybe a dirty bomb would be enough.

            Alternatively, 9/11 is somewhat reasonably viewed as collateral damage in a conflict that’s really between Muslims.

            I suspect that one of the most annoying things about being a terrorist is that everyone thinks they’re an expert.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nancy:
            Isn’t the most parsimonious explaination that really large, successful terrorist events are quite rare, and that even many of the ones that get to the execution stage often fail to generate the large numbers that might be expected for an optimum execution.

            It just seems to make more sense to think of events like 9/11 or the Oklahoma City Federal Bulding truck bombing as stochastic in nature.

            Many potential terrorists would be happy to do the same thing as before, they just don’t succeed

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            There ought to be some reason why large terrorist attacks are rare. Maybe it’s hard to recruit people to do them, maybe it’s relatively easy for the authorities to stop them, maybe it’s just physically difficult to do a lot of damage unless you’ve got a government backing it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz:
            I agree that there are reasons.

            I don’t think “well why even try, we can’t follow that up” is one of them. Which is how I read your “what can we do for an encore”/”we’d have to make a dirty bomb” comment.

            Unless we are dealing with asymmetric warfare against an occupyer (or perhaps neighbor) , my sense is that most terror acts aren’t part of any real coordinated campaign. Each is a one off.

            Part of that seems like it might be that terrorist organizations don’t coordinate because coordination makes them more vulnerable.

          • Matt M says:

            “Part of that seems like it might be that terrorist organizations don’t coordinate because coordination makes them more vulnerable.”

            If I’m to believe Major Kira, this is the reason the Bajoran resistance ultimately survived and succeeded…

          • tscharf says:

            Reason 4: Do the terrorists accomplish a useful objective in a large scale attack?

            One shouldn’t just assume big body counts are super great for a terror cause. They aren’t blood thirsty zombies, they want to achieve their goals.

            9/11 was a fantastic success body count and attention wise. Useful? I would argue a huge tactical mistake they wouldn’t want to do again. They got kicked out of Afghanistan, they have been mercilessly hunted for 15 years. Bin Laden is dead at US hands. The US is still in Afghanistan. AQ is now a minor player in global terrorism. Muslims are fighting Muslims. Muslims are migrating to Europe because conditions are so bad. There are certainly counter arguments here that we could go on all day with.

            The point is that a high profile attack will invite a large response that is very unlikely to propel the current terror leaders to global domination and instead doom their effort. I would also argue that ISIS seems to be very careful about the scope of their planned attacks as to not cause a massive backlash that would end their cause. Wisely scoped international terrorism? My guess is they could drop 6 armed guys off in a rubber boat in Miami that would cause considerable carnage. They have 100’s of people driving car bombs around. They choose not to do this, and that is because it won’t help them to achieve their goals to have the US really mad and lose sympathy of their locals. This isn’t the “good fight”.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Large attacks with high bodycounts are not necessarily hard. The trickier part is doing so in a way that is emotionally and symbolically satisfying to the terrorists as well. If all they cared about was effectiveness at hurting their targets, you’d have a lot more people running around the US with a CARVER matrix and less focus on big buildings.

            Hell, except that I don’t want to be dogpiled or disciplined by Scott, I could list out several plausible and -relatively- (key word is relatively) easy-to-execute plans that should generate high bodycount AND high media impact. But they’re not the sort of thing that are going to be high on any actual terrorists’ lists because they’re not the right KIND of flashy.

            Satisfying that goal narrows the target list substantially and tends to make even organized groups focus on hard targets, which both decreases the odds of defeating the day-to-day security measures, and increases the chances of detection and neutralization by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

            Add to that the fact that skill and intelligence are negatively correlated with willingness to martyr. Smart, dedicated, savvy fighters don’t want to win their war by dying for their cause. They want to win it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for it. This specific factor is what makes something like 9/11 really rare. Finding a guy willing to die, and then able to blow himself up or shoot up an airport terminal or a gay nightclub or drive a truck into a crowd is relatively easy.

            Finding 10-20 guys willing to die, but ALSO smart and dedicated and self-disciplined enough to complete an extended period of schooling, mission prep, reconnaissance, etc etc etc, all without breaking their cover, losing interest, chickening out…

            The low-hanging fruit of the discontented/alienated and/or impoverished youth are much more ready building material for either direct recruitment or self-radicalization via propaganda/social media. And if you have the demographics to support it you can get a decent drumroll of attacks that way without much in the way of central planning. Even now, Europe and the US haven’t really dealt with that problem in the way that the Middle East, SE Asia, and parts of Africa have because even with the influx of refugees and ‘refugees’ there still isn’t that pool of no-hopers to draw from due to a combination of better assimilation, economic opportunity, and so on. Even if we opened the refugee floodgates wide, demographic, cultural, and economic factors mean we can probably absorb the increase and still won’t see as MUCH of an increase in terrorist attacks as those other regions have.

            Something like the Mumbai attacks are a much better bet for high body count, but again require more well-trained and well-disciplined fighters, and those are often the ones who want at least the possibility of survival and escape. Which is hard to offer for an attack someplace like the US.

            I said I could come up with attacks, and have. Getting back out of the country -Afterwards- alive? THAT would be FAR more tricky.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’ve been thinking that it’s harder to recruit for that sort of thing than I thought, but your theory is also plausible.

            It is hard to recruit, in places like e.g. Yemen, people who can move freely in first-world nations without the figurative equivalent of a neon sign saying “I am a terrorist”. Does happen from time to time, e.g. the 9/11 hijackers, but for the most part these people are the cosmopolitan elite of the places Al Qaeda and ISIS operate, and the elite usually have better things to do with their lives.

            It is also hard to recruit locally, in first-world countries, organized groups of terrorists. Every recruit you approach is a chance to lose your entire network if they have second thoughts and go to the police. Unlike e.g. Yemen, they won’t be afraid that the terrorists are in a position to kill their family in retaliation, or that they have bribed the police for protection.

            Again, it sometimes happens, but given even modest competence on the government (basically not blowing off people who come in saying “I think a terrorist just tried to recruit me”, plus a smattering of sting operations and drone strikes), it’s going to be rare. So we mostly get the organized terrorist attacks killing dozens of people on AQ/ISIS’s home ground, and lone-wolf attacks in the West. Lone wolves are constrained by the fact that almost no single individual has all the skills, resources, and temperament to pull off a mass casualty attack, so they top out at one-man shooting sprees or now truck attacks.

          • John Schilling says:

            My guess is they could drop 6 armed guys off in a rubber boat in Miami that would cause considerable carnage.

            If Cuba were a major terrorist haven, yes, or some other nation within rubber-boat-range. But this isn’t the twentieth century; you can’t just buy oceangoing ships for cash and sail them wherever you want any more.

            Just about every ship that approaches rubber-boat range of the US coast will be tracked and identified by satellite. Those that don’t have known, trustworthy owners will likely be less numerous at any given time than are otherwise-idle Coast Guard patrol craft. Even drug cartels now find the cigarette-boat-from-offshore-freighter technique problematic, and they have the local expertise and networks that terrorist groups lack.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            It is hard to recruit, in places like e.g. Yemen, people who can move freely in first-world nations without the figurative equivalent of a neon sign saying “I am a terrorist”. Does happen from time to time, e.g. the 9/11 hijackers, but for the most part these people are the cosmopolitan elite of the places Al Qaeda and ISIS operate, and the elite usually have better things to do with their lives.

            It is also hard to recruit locally, in first-world countries, organized groups of terrorists. Every recruit you approach is a chance to lose your entire network if they have second thoughts and go to the police. Unlike e.g. Yemen, they won’t be afraid that the terrorists are in a position to kill their family in retaliation, or that they have bribed the police for protection.

            Again, it sometimes happens, but given even modest competence on the government (basically not blowing off people who come in saying “I think a terrorist just tried to recruit me”, plus a smattering of sting operations and drone strikes), it’s going to be rare. So we mostly get the organized terrorist attacks killing dozens of people on AQ/ISIS’s home ground, and lone-wolf attacks in the West. Lone wolves are constrained by the fact that almost no single individual has all the skills, resources, and temperament to pull off a mass casualty attack, so they top out at one-man shooting sprees or now truck attacks.

            How do you reconcile this with how badly authorities in more than one European country dropped the ball with regard to the Christmas market attacker? From what I’ve read, it seems like actual policies rather than mere screwups were a major factor. He was a lone-wolf attacker, it would appear, but he did not come out of nowhere.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            And also, how apparently the Fort Lauderdale shooter told the FBI that ISIS had taken control of his mind?

            Though come to think, Europe has had some bad incidents already, which does fit into the narrative of “as long as law enforcement does their job large-scale attacks won’t happen” – they’re not and there you go. Actually, Pulse Nightclub and San Bernardino were both detectable in a lot of ways – the FBI had kept tabs on the Pulse guy for a while, and the female terrorist in San Bernardino came into this country with a fake address on her visa, and there’s probably more stuff I don’t even know about.

          • Subb4k says:

            @dndnrsn:

            How do you reconcile this with how badly authorities in more than one European country dropped the ball with regard to the Christmas market attacker?

            I’m not sure about the attacker in Berlin (not so much is known yet), but I know that at least in France the authorities have shown massive incompetence in that regard. Basically the problem is that if someone is involved in a terrorist act while under any kind of watchlist, there are calls everywhere that the watchlist is not under enough surveillance. But those watchlists can get really broad.
            So the dumb reaction from the administration is to tell intelligence agencies to increase surveillance on everyone on the watchlist. Which results a) in a bunch of people losing out on privacy and being under surveillance for no real good reason, without knowing it and b) in the human resources of those agencies being spread thinner, increasing the probability that they miss something crucial on someone they’re supposed to be watching. The thing is, people listed as “most dangerous” rarely commit terrorist acts because they’re being watched more intensely (and are often caught while plotting). If the agencies have to relax their surveillance to worry about environmentalist protesters and whatnot, this can change.

          • Aapje says:

            It’s always fairly easy to reason back from the attack and see all the obvious signs, but going the other way, there are a ton of people with those signs who never do anything. So I tend to cut the agencies some slack in not reacting to some of the more subtle signs.

            However, in some of the cases the agencies seem to have been very lax.

          • John Schilling says:

            How do you reconcile this with how badly authorities in more than one European country dropped the ball with regard to the Christmas market attacker?

            [and Fort Lauderdale, San Bernardino, etc]

            What is there to reconcile? I made no claim that it was impossible or impractical for terrorists to attack Western nations unless the police “drop the ball”. I made three very specific assertions, which I will now repeat in brief:

            1. That, given competent police and intelligence work, it is impractical to recruit organized groups of terrorists in Western nations.

            2. That it is impractical to recruit in ISIS-land agents who would be able, given competent police and intelligence work, to reliably infiltrate Western nations.

            3. That, on account of 1 and 2, terrorism against western nations with competent police and intelligence forces would consist mainly of native lone-wolf attackers.

            Whereupon people start bringing up examples of lone-wolf terrorists in western nations and asking, “how you you reconcile that?”. Isn’t that exactly what I explained the first time? Lone-wolf terrorist attacks are the sort of thing that can happen in spite of competent police work, so that’s what we get.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I misread what you posted, now that I look at it again.

            I wouldn’t say, though, that some of these lone-wolf attacks happened in spite of competent police work – they were enabled by incompetent police work, or policies that are just bizarre (by some accounts, German authorities can’t deport or detain someone if they don’t have the right documents?)

        • HappyIdiotTalk says:

          I agree to some extent but I’ve always felt like general morality against just killing a bunch of people and risk aversion also make mass terrorism incidents a lot less likely.

        • akarlin says:

          I would say its more the case that terrorists are way way stupider than people think.

          Seriously, tons of plots get foiled by very basic oversights and mistakes. In contrast, Breivik with a ~110-120 IQ was able to plan out and execute a very successful terrorist attack, even though he was just one person. Osama bin Laden was also undoubtedly very bright, as could be gleaned from his public statements; I was especially impressed by his acute perception of the Arab world’s weaknesses vis-a-vis the West.

          Success at terrorism, just like success in life in general, loads strongly on g.

  10. Alraune says:

    5. Assad will remain President of Syria: 80%
    35. Fewer refugees admitted 2017 than 2016: 95%

    One of these is not your true prediction.

    • phi-of-two says:

      Seems perfectly consistent to me – Assad continuing to be president may create a lot of refugees, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Europe will let all of them in.

      • Alraune says:

        No, it’s the other side that’s the problem: for both those probabilities to hold at once requires asserting that the number of refugees entering Europe decreases in 75% of scenarios that result in Assad’s death or deposition.

        • US says:

          It might be linked to a hypothesis that if Assad falls, European leaders will be much more likely to take the issue seriously and do something about it than in the scenarios where he does not, so that even if more people are fleeing in those scenarios than in the Assad-stays scenarios, they won’t be allowed entry(?)

        • sflicht says:

          You’re right that seems strange, but (a) most refugees don’t go to Europe, and (b) it seems like a correct reading of the political winds that a large increase in the volume of displaced people (likely to take place if Assad falls) will not be sufficient humanitarian motivation for European leaders to allow increased flows.

        • birdboy2000 says:

          The scenario where Assad’s death or deposition leads to a massive increase in refugee flow is the scenario where salafi rebels win the war and get to work on sectarian cleansing the rest of Syria; looking at the situation on the battlefield, this is highly, highly unlikely.

          The scenario where Assad leaves as part of a peace deal is also unlikely – it was a sticking point in negotiations when the regime was doing much, much worse on the battlefield than it is now, and when the rebels had far more international support. He certainly won’t concede it now and it’s hard to imagine what kind of realistic international circumstances would lead to him doing so within a year.

          I’d think at least 90% of the scenarios where Assad ceases to be president involve militants linked to JFS or IS pulling off a successful assassination, and the war continuing with favorable results for the regime and no substantially increased refugee flow under a new president/dictator from Assad’s inner circle.

  11. Perfume And Cortisol says:

    Why the pessimism re: LessWrong?

    • Spookykou says:

      Scott is the captain now

    • kaminiwa says:

      I mean, would YOU flock to a new community hub, when none other than Slate Star Codex said it had maybe a 10% chance to thrive? Self reinforcing predicts are the best 🙂

      (Being less snarky, I haven’t really seen anyone in the Rationalist Diaspora that was particularly eager about or pushing it. It needs someone with the charisma to pull people in, and the free time to actually curate the community. Tumblr and WordPress only require the charisma) (And most of the charismatic people in the community seem deeply lacking in free time…) (But this is all just from my little slice of the world :))

  12. akarlin says:

    Here are mine: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/new-year-predictions-for-2017/

    Thanks once again to S.A. for introducing me to this method.

    • phil says:

      from your list:

      •The Alt Right acrimoniously splits into Trumpists and anti-Trumpists: 70%. ◦This prediction actually dates back to May 2016.
      ◦Incidentally, this is yet another fascinating Putin/Trump parallel – Putin’s Solovyev/Starikov are Trump’s Milo/Cernovich, while the ethnats have at best a “mixed” relationship with them.

      •The “Ferguson Effect” reverses or at least stabilizes (homicides in major urban areas peak off): 60%.

      —————-

      I think both of those are really interesting

      the first one seems like a pretty inevitable consequence of winning, some faction will become disillusioned by what President Trump as a non-hypothetical entity actually does (and that the Alt-Right has always been more defined by what they’re not, than what they actually are), I’m having a little trouble visualizing what that will concretely look like

      The second one might be even more interesting to think about – if that does happen, what will be the story behind it, and what should be the story behind it, if that does happen, will Trump get the sort of credit for it that Guiliani got for NYC’s crime drop? Will the revisionist history cast Obama and Holder in Dinkin’s role if that happens? Should it? Will that happen just out of regression to the mean? How low hanging fruit is that to accomplish? If it doesn’t happen, what will the story be? Will it absolve Obama/Holder? Should it?

      Those are interesting predictions to consider

  13. akarlin says:

    5. Assad will remain President of Syria: 80%

    I suspect this would have been too low last year and it’s almost certainly too low now. The war is now going decidedly in Syria’s favor and Hillary “NFZ” Clinton is not in the White House, as was widely expected.

    11. Syria’s civil war will not end this year: 60%

    Extremely optimistic.

    The only way this could realistically happen if Assad is successful beyond all expectations and basically wipes out both the rebels – including taking back the single most antagonistic province to Assad, Idlib – and Islamic State. (Due to their maximalist demands and lack of top down control, all ceasefires with the rebels have proved unsustainable). Then there could be a sort of “cold peace” between Syria, Rojava, with the directly Turkish-supported rebel enclave in the north.

    However, since S.A. only gives Assad an 80% chance of staying President of Syria this year, I think it’s safe to say he doesn’t expect him to be particularly successful.

    16. Ukraine will neither break into all-out war or get neatly resolved: 80%

    I think that’s correct.

    32. Marine Le Pen is not elected President of France: 60%

    Probably considerably higher (see above). Otherwise I agree with the Europe predictions, and agree with most of the Trump/US predictions.

    • Deiseach says:

      Does anyone know if there are any chances someone on the government side will bop Assad over the head/displace him in an internal coup and try taking over, if/when things look like settling down, the rebels are pushed back, the Russians are pulling out and the government side (for lack of a better term) has the upper hand?

      This seems like the perfect time to get rid of Assad if you’re an ambitious rival who has built up support for regime change. The West, it seems to me, would be more than glad to see the back of Assad and would hail any successor as the dawn of new promise for peace’n’love (regardless of the facts) as it would be face-saving all round. Are there any such?

      • Matt M says:

        “The West, it seems to me, would be more than glad to see the back of Assad and would hail any successor as the dawn of new promise for peace’n’love (regardless of the facts) as it would be face-saving all round. Are there any such?”

        If not, I’m sure the CIA will find/create one!

        • Deiseach says:

          Or a Russian puppet. Putin might consider Assad is more trouble than he’s worth, and a fresh face that isn’t overtly linked with the Russians might be a better bet.

          Any likely candidates? I’m sure somebody must be willing to stab Assad in the back (metaphorically or otherwise)!

  14. cpcallen says:

    > 77. Amazon will not harass me to get the $40,000 they gave me back: 80%

    It seems that signing up for the Amazon Affiliate program has been a bit more successful than expected! There must be a good story here; I hope you will share it with us.

    • Subb4k says:

      He talked about it on Slate Star Scratchpad. Basically they sent him money for no reason that he could discern, he told them about it, and then they sent him 10 times as much money. For no discernible reason either. And then they shut down his account.

  15. sconzey says:

    I would quibble with this wording:

    44. Trump administration does not initiate extra prosecution of Hillary Clinton

    The FBI is still investigating the contents of the email server, but they themselves cannot prosecute, only advise the AG, but if they advise the AG to prosecute and the AG follows FBI advice, does this count? Or does this prediction refer specifically to Trump’s campaign trail threat of appointing a Special Prosecutor?

  16. Sandy says:

    I think Geert Wilders has a better chance of victory in the Dutch elections that Le Pen or Frauke Petry do in France and Germany, and he’ll almost certainly call for a referendum to leave the EU if that happens.

    • Tibor says:

      Are you sure about leaving the EU? He has very good chances to become the next PM of the Netherlands, unless there’s some kind of a “everyone against the PVV” government (which would probably only increase his support in the next elections though). But I think that while he might want to leave the EU, he also realizes that this is not politically feasible now. Leaving the Eurozone might be though, so I’d expect him to call for a referendum on that.

  17. Edmund Nelson says:

    39. Dow Jones will not fall > 10% this year: 50%

    I argue there is about an 80% chance that the Dow will not fall >10% this year.

    Any takers on this bet? I’ll take anyone who offers a house advantage of 10% or more, my max bet size will be proportional to the Kelly Criterion at $300 bankroll.

    • AnonEEmous says:

      how would you evaluate victory?

      i’m not even taking the bet, just totally curious

      • Edmund Nelson says:

        if the dow is 17909.36 or less when the market closes on December 31st 2017 then the prediction is False. If it is 17909.37 or more then the prediction is true.

    • HappyIdiotTalk says:

      Edmund, any chance you could reveal why you feel so strongly that the Dow won’t fall that much? Historical precedent?

  18. AnonEEmous says:

    So, every so often my profile seems to get flagged and my comments stop going through; I fix this by altering the E-mail that this account uses, though I think that also alters the gravatar. Scott, can you please figure this out? I hear I’m not alone in this issue either.

    As to the comment I wanted to send, but got swallowed:

    “27. No country currently in Euro or EU announces new plan to leave: 80%”

    I don’t know precisely the situation in Italy, because most of the sources that tell me things about Italian politics are alt-right or just regular-right biased and are interested in pushing a certain narrative. But given that they recently did have some political upheaval, (failed reform referendum, pro-eu president resigned after failure, apparent surge of anti-EU party) it seems like there’s something there, albeit not fully related. Anyhow, have you factored Italy into the equation?

    37. Oil will end the year higher than $50 a barrel: 60%

    I recently checked oil prices for your other predictions post, and they’re about $53 a barrel. Why wouldn’t a Republican administration with a Secretary of State that used to be an Exxon CEO, who might lower sanctions on Russia (and by extension its oil), manage to get that below $50? I think even a neutral observer would agree that this is fairly likely. Maybe I got the wrong barrel price?

    p.s. don’t feel obligated to answer these just because I submitted a site problem, you can ignore them if you want and I will not feel slighted

    • Sandy says:

      In the event that Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement gain more power in Italy, I don’t think they’ll push to leave the EU until Britain begins her exit; they’ll probably want to wait and see how it goes. They’re left-populists, not right-populists, mostly driven by economic malaise in Southern Europe rather than Muslim migration, although the Italians are pushing harder for mass deportations now.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        Well, I guess you mean until Britain actually start leaving, right? Because if “begins her exit” means

        31. The UK triggers Article 50: 90%

        then they would probably announce a plan by the end of this year, leaving Scott in a bit of a pickle vis-a-vis his predictions (though you of course might disagree with his Article 50 prediction). In any case, by the way, thanks for that info, and if it’s not too much trouble – what’s the meaning of their movement name “Five Star Movement”? Does each star mean something, or does it just sound cool? (Because it does kind of sound cool, though that might be a DBZ thing in my mind.)

        • Sandy says:

          Yeah, I mean until the logistics of the exit start becoming clear so anyone considering it can see how it might play out for them in real time.

          I googled it, and the five stars “represent the five issues it cares most about: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, the right to internet access and environmentalism”. Like Mustafa Kemal’s Six Arrows.

      • Tibor says:

        Yes, this is why they have an overwhelmingly stronger support in southern Italy (Napoli and everything south of that, including Sicily). Southern Italy’s purchasing power is comparable to that of Poland, whereas Northern Italy’s PP is similar to Austrian, making Italy the country with the highest income inequality (geographically) in Europe. This is also one of the reasons that Lega Nord wants the North to leave Italy (they feel like they’re being milked on their taxes which are then used to subsidize the poor south). But at least on immigration and general attitude towards the EU, the Movimento 5 Stelle seems to be aligned witht the LN, although they have very little in common otherwise.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’d rewrite that to “In the event that Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement last longer than ten minutes”. Italy changes governments and prime ministers the way ordinary people change their underwear.

    • Tibor says:

      I think you mean a pro-EU prime minister? Mateo Renzi said before the referendum he’d resign if he lost and he did.

    • shakeddown says:

      Doesn’t Exxon gain money if oil prices are high? A former Exxon Mobil CEO might be motivated to pursue policies that do that.

    • Rusty says:

      I wish people would stop using the term ‘alt right’. There seems to be very little agreement on what it means. Has it just become an insult, a bit like ‘fascist’?

    • So, every so often my profile seems to get flagged and my comments stop going through; I fix this by altering the E-mail that this account uses, though I think that also alters the gravatar. Scott, can you please figure this out? I hear I’m not alone in this issue either.

      Just so this is a little bit in one place in case someone does end up investigating this on a technical level and wants to know who to potentially talk to about it, this happened to me, though I didn’t fix it – Scott very kindly fixed it for me after I asked him if I missed getting banned. Apparently SSC got convinced I was a spambot. Might be the “wildcard” in my URL (I could see that term getting blacklisted to stop gambling-related spam), but I haven’t tried changing my profile, so that’s just speculation.

      (Also, to confirm: Gravatars are based on email hashes, yes.)

  19. mr_capybara says:

    Donald Trump remains President at the end of 2017: 90%

    Wow, that seems exceptionally low to me. I’d put it at more like 95% but I’m probably not as well calibrated as you. What are you thinking here? Medical death? Assassination? Impeachment? The last one seems impossible given Republican congress.

    • HappyIdiotTalk says:

      It’s possible that if Trump does enough damage (and that the GOP has gotten a certain amount of their agenda passed) that a Republican congress could vote to impeach Trump since he doesn’t share a lot of the (previous to this election) core beliefs of the Republican party.

      It’s also possible that he blocks some legislation that the Republican’s want to pass and they use the Emoluments clause to impeach him so that Pence can pass some things they want.

      All of this is really unlikely, but the general weirdness of a Trump presidency when the country (in general) doesn’t like him, the GOP (in general) doesn’t agree with him and that he’s just generally hard to predict seem to up the chance that he gets impeached.

      • Moon says:

        Yes, I’ll bet most Republicans in Congress would be happier with Pence as president than Trump. And they’d get Pence if Trump were impeached. Pence is a predictable establishment Republican who would likely give Congress a blank check and everything else they want too– and without ever tweeting insults that antagonize foreign leaders at 3 a.m.

      • baconbacon says:

        It still has to happen within a year to count making it even less likely.

      • Heresiarch says:

        Impeachment is actually just putting him on trial, and it only requires a simple majority in the House, which is very possible. Convicting him, on the other hand, would be the sticking point, as it requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate. The Dems would be foolish to try it unless and until they had some pretty powerful Trumpian transgression to get 20 Senate Republicans on their side. (Which may well happen!)

    • US says:

      FWIW, a simple life table approach yields something in the order of a ~2% probability of death within the next year for an individual at the age of 70 (Trump’s age). Of course the president’s situation is a bit different from that of the rest of the population, but I have no idea if the differences will increase or decrease the risk of medical death (increased stress, but also better doctors). Anyway that number is of course a lower bound for this type of cause; medical causes could also disqualify him without killing him (e.g. a stroke with long-term neurological sequelae).

      • Moon says:

        Trump’s health report from his doctor was obviously bs. So there’s no telling what Trump’s health is like. Also, it would seem that anyone as thin skinned as he is, might be pretty stressed from the job of president, which could have a negative effect on his health.

        • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

          Being thin-skinned and being stressed is not the same thing. Maybe he’d enjoy the job like nothing he did before instead, with his gigantic ego and all the possibilities the job affords for exercising it. Judging by how often he does it, it is plausible that he actually likes getting into shouting matches and twitter fights with people. So I wouldn’t over-estimate the health toll the job would take. Especially when we’re talking about a year. The 2% figure above includes people that are *already* gravely ill, and people that live in bad neighborhoods and don’t have adequate protection from incidents, etc. I’m pretty sure the chance is much lower for the President of the US, living in the White House and travelling by Air Force One.

          • Spookykou says:

            Judging by how often he does it, it is plausible that he actually likes getting into shouting matches and twitter fights with people.

            The way Trump comports himself in these situations, does not lend itself to this explanation, he seems genuinely flustered to me.

      • baconbacon says:

        Trump doesn’t drink or smoke, which probably goes in his favor. I doubt his doctors are notably better as president than as someone worth as much as he is though.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Shouldn’t Trump’s risk of death be adjusted for him being reasonably healthy? There might be some hidden problem, but being in good enough shape for a presidential campaign is no small thing.

        • US says:

          If I had to assume something, I’d assume he’s probably in better health than many 70-year-olds, but I really know absolutely nothing about any of the many important variables that one needs to include in an assessment like this; his BMI, his smoking history, alcohol consumption patterns over time, family history of e.g. cardiovascular disease or cancer, whether he has type 2 diabetes (and if so, is he on metformin or insulin? How long has he had it? What’s his Hba1c?), blood pressure (is he on anti-hypertensive agents? Is it well-controlled?), lipid profile (statins?), physical exercise, etc., etc. With so little information available (well, I don’t know if this information is available somewhere but I’ve never seen it…) I figured the life table data was a reasonable place to start. The extent to which the job will contribute to faster aging and increased risk of death on account of a stressful lifestyle etc. is as far as I can see almost impossible to estimate because of problems such as sample size issues (and you can’t extrapolate based on historical data on US presidents anyway, because medical technology has developed much too rapidly for this to make any sense) so this is all pure guesswork anyway. Him being healthy enough to campaign successfully is an argument for assuming he’s low risk for his age group, but if he has had T2DM for a decade (~25% of Americans above the age of 60 had T2DM in 2007, and that proportion is increasing over time) his risk of a cardiovascular event will be roughly equivalent to that of someone who’s already survived a heart attack. Stroke risk is closely linked to BP. The ‘hidden variables’ are really important, regardless of how healthy he looks and seems.

          • dndnrsn says:

            His BMI is 29.3, he doesn’t drink or smoke, and to some extent you can piece together family history from Wikipedia. The Trumps mostly seem long-lived.

          • US says:

            ” to some extent you can piece together family history from Wikipedia”

            I probably could, just as I could have looked up the data you found (more data is always nice, so incidentally thanks for providing that data..). Perhaps my above comment gave a faulty impression of my interest in these matters due to the specific nature of the discussion; my main argument was intended to be that ‘he looks/seems healthy’ or something along those lines is not a strong signal in the case of someone (…anyone, also people not named Donald Trump) that age, as there may be a lot of things going on that’s not easily observable at a distance and you really need quite a lot of information to do a semi-proper risk assessment. Whether Trump is in good health or not isn’t really something I care all that much about – I don’t know the guy, and I don’t even live in the same country he does (…and regardless of whether or not the state of his health may be of political importance, me caring about it isn’t going to make any difference one way or the other).

    • tscharf says:

      Attempted assassination of Trump is 10% if you ask me. Way too many people convinced Trump is an existential threat to the universe.

      • Moon says:

        And the number of such people keeps increasing, as he keeps pointlessly insulting and trying to discredit people and groups of people– many of them powerful and just as used to having their way as he is.

        • tscharf says:

          Want to make a wager on death camps, end of democracy, nuclear war, repeal of the civil rights amendment, elimination of social security, elimination of medicare, or internment camps?

      • Matt M says:

        Yes, but my guess is that such people are also unlikely to be the right mix of smart, measured, calculated, resource-rich, etc. to be able to pull off a successful assassination plan that overcomes secret service protection. Yeah yeah, Reagan I know, but presumably they’ve gotten better since then.

        • tscharf says:

          I doubt they will succeed as well. It was probably more likely before the election anyway when he was much more accessible and the insanity levels were markedly higher.

          • Matt M says:

            There was one before the election. The media mostly ignored it, presumably because the “plan” was so ill-conceived and unlikely to work that they probably don’t consider it a sufficient threat to justify the term.

          • quanta413 says:

            There was one before the election. The media mostly ignored it, presumably because the “plan” was so ill-conceived and unlikely to work that they probably don’t consider it a sufficient threat to justify the term.

            Although it’s probably correct to ignore it, I can’t help but think if the same thing had happened to Hillary it would have been more broadly publicized in the mainstream media.

        • John Schilling says:

          Not sure that “smart” belongs on that list, at least in the conventional and generic sense. Nobody is smart enough to reliably get away with assassinating a sitting US president. So there is a huge cost to making the attempt. If it is clearly the “smart” move to make the attempt anyway, then it is just as clearly the “smart+” move to sit back and let one of the world’s many other “smart” people make the attempt while you collect the benefit at no cost or risk.

          You need a particular brand of clever stupidity to make this happen, or a greater commitment to Kantian ethics than has ever been seen in the wild.

          • Matt M says:

            Sure. I was just trying to make the point that there is probably a negative correlation between “people who seriously believe Trump will destroy humanity” and “people who are capable of carrying out a presidential assassination”

      • Aapje says:

        @tscharf

        How do you define an attempt? Does it count when people run across the white house lawn with a weapon? When they shoot at the white house from afar? Or does it have to be a credible attempt?

        It’s very subjective where you draw the line. At the most expansive end, I’d put the chance at no less than 50%.

        • CatCube says:

          It’s rather astonishing the way the President can be a lightning rod for madness. From http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1160188.html:

          On January 11, 1994, suffering from severe depression, Barbour attempted suicide at his apartment in Florida.   Before his attempt, he had written a suicide note.   After the attempt failed, he put his gun and clothes in his car and drove toward West Virginia, where he again intended to commit suicide.   Barbour missed his exit, however, and decided instead to drive to Washington, D.C. to assassinate President Clinton.

          The guy never made the attempt, because he stayed in Washington for seven days, going to Clinton’s jogging route every morning until he finally realized that the President was on a state visit to Russia.

          But, yeah, where do you start to call it an “attempt?” Barbour spent 4 years in prison for that one.

    • BBA says:

      One bizarre possibility is that the Cabinet declares Trump incompetent under section 4 of the 25th Amendment, Acting President Pence assumes all the powers of the office, but Trump doesn’t resign or challenge the declaration. This way he still gets to be President without having to do any of the work. Sounds like a win-win to me.

      What I don’t know is whether just being really irritating is sufficient grounds for invoking the 25th amendment.

      • Moon says:

        Trump has very little impulse control, has numerous conflicts of interest, and shows signs of mental instability– at the very least perhaps something like untreated attention deficit disorder. He exhibits intransigent stubborn ignorance of the truth in general, and of government in particular. He will likely do things that are impeachable during his very first week in office.

        And he continues to pointlessly antagonize and discredit individuals and groups constantly– including 5 U.S. intelligence agencies and various foreign government leaders. There are powerful people and groups, who are at least as used to getting their way as Trump is, who would like to deactivate him already, and he hasn’t even taken office yet.

        And in the case of intelligence agencies, they have a point. For the president to ignore all 5 intelligence agencies, in order to be loyal to Putin and Assange instead, just because what they say makes him look good? Well, if Obama had done that, I can imagine the uproar. But Dems are not good at uproar, so external uproar is not going to happen in this case.

        Anyway, I would be very surprised if none of these discredited intelligence agencies, found a way to deactivate him within his very first year in office. Some of these people are spies and undercover people who constantly risk their lives to keep us safe. I can understand their outrage about some clown who is having a bromance with Putin getting elected as president with Putin’s help, and then trying to discredit their whole agency. And there certainly are national security issues here, and issues with DT’s loyalty to Putin and disloyalty to the U.S.

        If Putin is indeed taking control of the U.S. through Trump, wouldn’t discrediting of all our intelligence agencies be one of the first things on his agenda?

        They would probably like to do that in a way that would not disrupt the functioning of the government and economy much. Finding a way to use Section 4 of the 25th sounds like it would be less disruptive than assassination or impeachment. That would be why they might choose it– not because of technical considerations of whether it actually applies or not. When people have enough power, they can bend laws a lot.

      • Moon says:

        Here is a quote from a wikipedia summary of a book about Russian goals and strategy.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics?wprov=sfla1
        permalinkembedsaveparentreportgive goldreply

        “The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia is a geopolitical book by Alexander Dugin. The book has had a large influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites[1] and was allegedly used as a textbook in the General Staff Academy of Russian military….

        “…Russia should use its special forces within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”[

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Moon: I’m answering both.

          Trump is trying to deny that Russian intelligence has been involved in the hacking. I would be extremely unsurprised if they were, but it hasn’t been proven that they are – have any of the intelligence agencies “shown their work”? I had also thought that the general left-wing tendency was to distrust American intelligence services, especially the CIA.

          Also, there seems to be plenty of external uproar – not coming from the Democrats, but uproar nonetheless. I can go to any left-of-centre or more leftward source and find any number of anti-Trump articles on any number of topics (although, interesting to note, the leftists seem to be freaking out less about Trump than the liberals). Not just American sources either – I’m a Canadian and flipping through the Star (caters to people who vote Liberal or NDP, the former being left-of-centre neoliberals and the latter being social democrats, more or less) and the Globe (caters to people who vote Liberal or maybe Conservative) and there were at least half a dozen opinion pieces about how Trump is horrible. That Trump is arguably playing into the hands of a dictator, and ignoring his own intelligence people, is not being ignored.

          As for Dugin’s book – it is in Russia’s interests that American domestic politics become increasingly unstable and divided, and it is in Russia’s interests that America become more isolationist. It does not follow that American domestic politics are being manipulated by Russia, nor does it follow that the Russians have a hand in American foreign policy. Or, should we go back and take seriously right-wing claims from the Cold War that the anti-war movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the civil rights movement, were all catspaws of the Soviets? Should we today assume that the FSB is somehow behind every movement that divides the US against itself, from the left to the right?

          In Russia, I’m told by someone who was involved in NGO work over there, it is a common belief that any group pushing for free speech rights, political freedom, LGBT rights, etc is manipulated or outright run by the West, in an attempt to undermine Russian society. Asking “qui bono” and running with it without evidence is standard-issue conspiratorial thinking. Example: It would benefit the United States if Russian men were to die young from drinking too much, and it would benefit the US if China were to suffer a sub-replacement birth rate and male-female imbalance; therefore, the CIA must have a hand in Russian alcoholism and the one child policy. Is this a reasonable thing to think?

          Within the last year, I was reading stuff to the tune of “Russia is collapsing upon itself and Putin is a tinpot dictator trying to keep his hold on power by stirring up his people against real or supposed foreign threats and acting aggressively in the borderlands to the West”. Now all of a sudden he’s behind massive manipulation of American public life and politics.

          • Moon says:

            TO dndnrsn

            “Have any of the intelligence agencies “shown their work”?

            No. But to show their work may get their spies and other employees killed.

            “Also, there seems to be plenty of external uproar”

            By external uproar, I did not mean writing articles. Dems and other Left of Center people write articles. The GOP takes political actions. This is the thing I like least about progressives. Most are wimps.

            “As for Dugin’s book – it is in Russia’s interests that American domestic politics become increasingly unstable and divided, and it is in Russia’s interests that America become more isolationist. It does not follow that American domestic politics are being manipulated by Russia, nor does it follow that the Russians have a hand in American foreign policy. ”

            That’s true. It doesn’t prove anything. It is something to be aware of though, as it is pretty much what Trump’s policies are all about. It doesn’t mean that Putin directed Trump to be in favor of such policies. Putin may have selected Trump after Trump was already well on his way to further dividing and polarizing the U.S.– and after having financial ties with Trump or whatever else may be going on between the two of them.

            “Within the last year, I was reading stuff to the tune of “Russia is collapsing upon itself and Putin is a tinpot dictator trying to keep his hold on power by stirring up his people against real or supposed foreign threats and acting aggressively in the borderlands to the West”. Now all of a sudden he’s behind massive manipulation of American public life and politics”

            I believe that both are true. But the U.S. is very weak politically and socio-politically. We’ve had the GOP and Right Wing news polarizing us for decades, as documented by conservative political scientist Norm Ornstein.

            The political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
            Norm Ornstein on why the Republican Party was ripe for a takeover, what the media missed, and whether Trump could win the presidency.
            by Andrew Prokop on May 6, 2016

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

            Russia has few strengths, but one of those few strengths is propaganda.

            In fact, a lot of Right Wing political propaganda and political marketing originated straight from Russia. Someone who grew up in Russia, came to the U.S. and wrote the original laissez- faire economic and political propaganda books that are still firmly believed in, by Paul Ryan and Alan Greenspan and other powerful people to this day. She simply took Communist propaganda techniques and used them to promote capitalism instead. l am barred from mentioning that propaganda writer’s name, under penalty of banning, but you probably know who I mean.

            So although Russia is weak, propaganda is their forte. Why wouldn’t they used one of their very few strengths against us? Especially if they can get Trump to passively allow Russia to act aggressively in the lands bordering them to the West, when Trump ignores NATO commitments, or even dissolves NATO? As you mention, Putin is being aggressive toward those lands to build himself up with his own people. Having the U.S. stand by passively while he does it, which it seems that Trump is likely to do, would be ideal for him.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Or, should we go back and take seriously right-wing claims from the Cold War that the anti-war movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the civil rights movement, were all catspaws of the Soviets?

            We don’t even have to go back. The very intelligence report which is now the centerpiece of the New Red Scare tells us (Annex A) that Russian-controlled media have been propagandizing on behalf of the Occupy and anti-fracking movements.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m not sure if, say, the CIA is an organization I would buy “just trust us” from. Their history is not one that inspires confidence – not malice so much as incompetence (took them over 6 years to catch Aldrich Ames, trusted a source on Iraqi WMDs when there were indicators he was making stuff up and warnings from the Germans, to give two examples of pretty clear incompetence). They also stand to lose out if American foreign policy becomes more isolationist – they have a clear motivation, maybe not to outright lie, but certainly for motivated reasoning.

            I agree that in the US the GOP plays the game better, by and large. I would link this to a combination of demographic factors (adding a billion D votes in California wouldn’t get the Democrats elected; about 100k votes in a few states decided the last election) and some really bad trends on the left (becoming the de facto ideology of academia was really, really bad for the left, for a whole bunch of reasons – one is that large parts of the left have absorbed some really wacky ideas about the relationship between language and reality).

            I agree the GOP establishment dropped the ball and Trump ate their lunch. Their 2012 postmortem did not at all predict what got Trump the victory. I worry that the Democratic establishment is likewise going to drop the ball for this election’s postmortem. Blame Russia and double down on the stuff that got them into this mess.

            What does it say, though, about the American public that Russia is able to do this – presuming that Russia did do this? They didn’t hack the election. Let’s assume that they were behind the email leaks and so forth – enough American voters in the right places still voted for Trump. They made a choice. The right has had a role in the polarization, but so has the left – the transformation of many university campuses into echo chambers, for instance.

            As for US foreign policy … it would be stupid to draw back into isolationism. Can’t really do that in today’s world. However, I don’t think that chronically getting involved in other people’s messes, and starting messes overseas, has helped them – the US’ actions in the Middle East and North Africa over the past 15 or so years have not made the US or the world safer, and far too many NATO members spend less than the target commitment because they can rely on the US to pick up the slack. However, the US has had a pattern of “we need to act or the bad guys win” followed by acting in a way that helps the real or supposed bad guys; making the Russians the new bad guys doesn’t help (have US actions in Syria hurt, or helped, the Russians?)

          • Matt M says:

            “that Russian-controlled media have been propagandizing on behalf of the Occupy and anti-fracking movements.”

            True, although the anti-fracking stuff isn’t really political. That’s just a simple matter of “we have and sell a lot of oil and it would be great if we can convince everyone else to not bother getting their own oil out of the ground”

            Their primary targets for this are European nations, more likely to be their direct customers. They’ve been very, very successful at it.

          • Moon says:

            Dndnrsn

            “I’m not sure if, say, the CIA is an organization I would buy “just trust us” from. Their history is not one that inspires confidence – not malice so much as incompetence (took them over 6 years to catch Aldrich Ames, trusted a source on Iraqi WMDs when there were indicators he was making stuff up and warnings from the Germans, to give two examples of pretty clear incompetence). ”

            If those are the 2 best examples you can give, I’d say that overall they do a pretty good job. The WMD thing was from outside pressure, from Cheney and Bush, who kept heavily pressuring the intelligence community to find evidence of WMD, because they were determined to find an excuse to invade Iraq. The problem there was not internal to the intelligence agencies.

            As far as their taking 6 years to catch a guy, it’s difficult to know if some maximally competent intelligence agency could have done any better.

            I’m not sure if, say, the CIA is an organization I would buy “just trust us” either– but I would think that far far more of the CIA and other intelligence agencies than I would of Donald Trump or Putin. It’s extremely obvious that Trump judges everything by the question “Do I look good in this?” And he doesn’t look good in a narrative that says Russia helped him to win the election. Therefore Trump would deny such a story, even if it had all the evidence in the world to support it.

            I agree that the Left’s tendencies toward letting academia decide many things has been really bad for the Left, mainly because Ivory Tower types can be very impractical and extremely out of touch with important realities.

            “I worry that the Democratic establishment is likewise going to drop the ball for this election’s postmortem. Blame Russia and double down on the stuff that got them into this mess.”

            I think that the Dem establishment may drop the ball on this election’s postmortem too, although I probably think that the reasons for the loss are different from what you think they are. I think we should blame Russia for harm that Russia has done. And I think that the major problem that lost Dems the election is Right Wing propaganda and the Left’s failure to respond to it and to promote its own message through effective channels.

            What do you think the reason for the Dems losing to a clown are?

            “What does it say, though, about the American public that Russia is able to do this – presuming that Russia did do this? They didn’t hack the election. Let’s assume that they were behind the email leaks and so forth – enough American voters in the right places still voted for Trump. They made a choice. The right has had a role in the polarization, but so has the left – the transformation of many university campuses into echo chambers, for instance.”

            I would term that a false equivalence, to say that the Left has also had a role in polarization. It has, but that role is tiny, compared to what the Right has done.

            The role of propaganda– mainly misinterpretations of the leaked emails– was immense in this election. What it says about the U.S. is that we are really weakened substantially by polarization that has been going on for decades, by the Right Wing, for the purpose of winning elections, as described in the article below. It is easy to attack us and weaken us further by more propaganda, because such a large percentage of the population believes falsehoods easily.

            The political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
            Norm Ornstein on why the Republican Party was ripe for a takeover, what the media missed, and whether Trump could win the presidency.
            by Andrew Prokop on May 6, 2016
            On Vox web site

            I think electronic voting machine fraud may have had something to do with Trump’s win. A very easy thing to carry out, and voting machine companies tend to be owned by people who contribute big bucks to the GOP.

            “I don’t think that chronically getting involved in other people’s messes, and starting messes overseas, has helped them.”

            I agree. I don’t think we should be getting into the middle of any more people’s messes in the Middle East, as nothing constructive has been accomplished by our having done that in the past. Obama was going to aid the Syrian rebels but then got wishy washy because he could see that the GOP Congress was not going to support him on that and would even sabotage his efforts. But overall that made the problems for Syria worse. That doesn’t mean that if we HAD gone in to take out Assad and to whole heartedly support the rebels that that would have worked out either. Who knows what would have filled up the power vacuum that would have been left by Assad? Could have been a repeat of the Saddam thing.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There are various other examples of the CIA screwing up – those are just two recent big ones. The Ames case reads like slapstick – double agents start getting caught, the guy who has info about double agents suddenly is living a lavish lifestyle beyond his salary, we’re not talking rocket science here.

            I agree that Trump and Putin are not more trustworthy than the CIA – but “these untrustworthy people are opposed to those untrustworthy people” doesn’t imply you must trust one side.

            I would say that, ultimately, the reason Trump took this race is that the Democrats ran an establishment candidate when there was an anti-establishment mood. The DNC wanted Hillary, not Sanders, to win. I think Sanders would have won. Once the campaign proper was under way, you’ve got all sorts of stories of lower-level organizers (at the state level) saying “hey, we’re seeing some problems” and national HQ shutting them down. There was a faith that demographics were on the side of Clinton – but this is ignorant of how the US electoral system actually works. Too much rhetoric that upset the rust belt folks, who gave the election to Trump. Etc.

            As for who to blame for polarization – I think that the general atmosphere of disdain and contempt for less-well-educated, less-well-off white people in academic settings really helped Trump. I come from an affluent, academic background, and I hear a lot of stuff said about the sort of people who made up Trump’s base that was really, really ugly.

            US foreign policy over the last 15 years has often fallen into the trap of trying to fit the middle. Had the US gone into Syria hard and heavy, or had the US done nothing, the situation would likely be better for everyone involved. In Iraq, the US went in hoping to minimize the amount of resources put in at the beginning – with the result that they could not control the country in the occupation, they had to put in more resources over time, and did not get a good result in the end.

          • StellaAthena says:

            Here’s an important thing to remember about the CIA: The CIA always looks bad, because often when the CIA does it’s job, you don’t hear about it. For all we know, the CIA’s biggest accomplishments of the decade could be orchestrating the defection of 3 nuclear scientists from the DPRK, killing a Russian asset Germany, and stealing Chinese plans for a weaponized space shuttle. Unless you’re TS/SCI and need to know, I’m pretty sure a world in which those things happens looks pretty much like a world in which they don’t.

          • Protagoras says:

            But what we know about the historical record of intelligence agencies in the past, whose activities are no longer classified and so about which a considerable amount is known by historians, does not seem promising. The ability of intelligence services to keep things secret hides many of both their successes and their failures. Unfortunately, when people are not particularly accountable, their performance tends not to be particularly impressive.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            The CIA always looks bad, because often when the CIA does it’s job, you don’t hear about it. For all we know, […]

            I hear this lament a lot, not just from CIA, but from any intelligence organization, and it rings true. Selection bias can be a real bear here.

            Intel wonks often refer to “sources and methods” – people and means by which they find out stuff. This means they can’t even tell you “well, we arranged these three defections from NK” or “we prevented that attack” because the only way they were able to was by tending to trees that are still bearing fruit. The bad guys know this; if they find out that a plan failed because of CIA activity, they might then infer that it was because of some leak in their organization – they “disappear” that tree, and now they’ll get away with the next thing. For this reason, even when the CIA gets one right, they often have to keep their mouths shut about it anyway.

            Such trees might bear fruit for a very long time. I can’t even begin to guess at an average, but I do know that the VENONA project went on for decades.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Good point with Venona—another failure of the CIA.

          • dndnrsn says:

            So, it’s all true that secret intelligence work is secret. But it’s also true that when an intelligence agency says “trust us!” it’s impossible to know if it’s:

            A) competent spies who can’t reveal their sources because then their sources get killed
            B) incompetent spies who are absolutely sure that so-and-so couldn’t be a Soviet spy, after all, he went to Eton!
            C) massaging the facts because of internal pressures, or
            D) massaging the facts because of external pressures.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            It’s been interesting watching the narratives swap sides on this specific question. Though I am curious:

            Doug, in what way to do you see Venona as a failure? I’m not going to quibble about the fact that it wasn’t so much a CIA project, the basic argument applies equally well to every agency in the Intelligence Community.

            My understanding is that while it was compromised within a few years (largely because the Soviets were actually pretty damn good at recruiting spies in the UK and US), it still provided us with some fairly valuable intel and insight.

            I wouldn’t call it a stunning success, but “failure” seems strong.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The Venona project was a success of the NSA and a failure of the KGB/CIA.

        • Moon says:

          “As for who to blame for polarization – I think that the general atmosphere of disdain and contempt for less-well-educated, less-well-off white people in academic settings really helped Trump. I come from an affluent, academic background, and I hear a lot of stuff said about the sort of people who made up Trump’s base that was really, really ugly.”

          I think that may be a minor factor. But if disdain and contempt for one’s political enemies made you lose elections in the present day U.S., there is no way Trump could have won. He had the pedal to the metal there. And, no matter how many redneck jokes or deplorables comments you heard from your Left of Center relatives, the Right had us outdone by light years there— and has, for some time, with the Obama birth certificate conspiracy and numerous others. And for them, it’s not a case of grumbling among relatives, but of chanting in public “Lock her up” at a major party presidential candidate who has not been proven guilty of anything illegal.

          I think the biggest problem with the Left is being an abused enabler or aggressive and corrupt political actions by people on the Right. If anything good comes of Trump’s presidency, I hope perhaps that many people on the Left will get over that. If he starts WWIII, AKA the War of the Small Hands, perhaps finally a lot of people on the Left will get past their thinking that their whole problem is that they aren’t kind enough to Republicans.

          • shakeddown says:

            And, no matter how many redneck jokes or deplorables comments you heard from your Left of Center relatives, the Right had us outdone by light years there

            Yeah, this feels like something important that gets undermentioned. There’s no equivalent on the left for things like Ted Cruz’s talk about “New York Values”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Moon:

            The American left – really, the mainstream left; actual leftists have little power – manages to shit all over Republican voters while being stunningly ineffectual at opposing Republican officials. I don’t think it’s even a lack of disdain and contempt for the latter, but just being crappier at playing the game.

            It’s not the fault of Fox News that the Democrats suck at gerrymandering compared to the Republicans, or that the Republicans seem better at grassroots engagement with the political process.

            @shakeddown:

            This does not accord with my experience. The equivalent to “New York Values” is talking about how Republican voters are a bunch of uneducated rednecks. My right-wing friends are far more respectful of my left-wing friends than vice versa, and far more respectful of left-wing voters than vice versa. Admittedly, not representative – university pals in Canada – but the fact that I see the former (of whom they are fewer) insult Justin Trudeau and Hillary Clinton, while the tendency of my left-wing friends is to talk about people who vote Conservative or Republican as though they’re practically subhuman…

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            My impression is that the left has enough status that its insults towards low status southerners, mid-westerners, etc. sting a lot more than right wing insults about New York values and such.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            dndnrsn,

            Speaking of the Democrats being bad at playing the game, Republicans promote laws they like to multiple local governments.

            This strikes me as a powerful strategy, and it isn’t unethical– all the ethical issues that I can see relate to the content of the laws, not whether they’re proposed in more than one place. Still, I gather that the Democrats aren’t doing this simple, plausible thing.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz:

            That’s the sort of thing I mean. The Republicans appear to be better at the nitty-gritty of politics at multiple levels, better at some stuff that is sketchy (gerrymandering, voter suppression), and given a boost at the national level by the way the EC breaks.

          • Brad says:

            My impression is that the left has enough status that its insults towards low status southerners, mid-westerners, etc. sting a lot more than right wing insults about New York values and such.

            Is it just me, or does this sound an awful lot like “men are part of the patriarchy and so misandry isn’t a real problem like misogyny”?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Nancy,
            do you have particular examples in mind? It seems to me that the Democrats put forward laws to a diversity of governments. There is a lot of conflict between Democratic cities and Republican states.

            dndnsrn,
            do you mean something specific? Do you mean that Democrats are particularly bad at the step of gerrymandering, or do you just mean that it is an important steps and somewhere upstream of there the Democrats failed, perhaps at something non-specific, like winning in 2010?

            I can imagine ways in which the Democrats are bad at gerrymandering. Perhaps they unilaterally disarmed, or failed to foresee a breakdown of detente. They do things like create majority-minority districts, which is gerrymandering against themselves. But they have reasons for doing this, both electoral and otherwise, so I wouldn’t call this bad at gerrymandering. Surely Democrats are no worse than Republicans at hiring map-making consultants?

          • Moon says:

            I agree that the Left is terrible at practical skills. But they are also less likely to insult or offend people. Your Canadian friends would not be representative at all. Canadians are pretty much uniformly reluctant to insult other people.

            Just look at this board as an example. Apparently most readers are Left of Center, I’ve heard someone say. But very few Left of Center people dare to comment. They don’t feel “confident” enough to comment, someone mentioned. I think there’s a reason for that.

          • Moon says:

            Dndnrsn “My impression is that the left has enough status that its insults towards low status southerners, mid-westerners, etc. sting a lot more than right wing insults about New York values and such.”

            Brad “Is it just me, or does this sound an awful lot like “men are part of the patriarchy and so misandry isn’t a real problem like misogyny”?”

            Not sure where you are going with that. But it does sound similar to me too. But it’s interesting in that the Left has no power any more– in Congress, the presidency, or SCOTUS. And yet the Left still expects itself to be ever so kind to these poor dear Right of Center people– the poor little people who only control absolutely everything in the entire government.

          • tscharf says:

            I think an inflection point in the election was when the media started openly criticizing Trump voters with the ‘ism’s and ic’s we are all familiar with. It was open hostility and name calling of the electorate by the media. Ten years from now the only quote anyone will remember from this election is “basket of deplorables” (well maybe “grabbing them by the…” will rate here as well).

            In my view, Trump was a target rich environment and there was no need to attack his supporters. This was counterproductive when trying to win an election no matter how true one may find the accusations.

            It is pretty easy to understand why someone would vote HRC even if they believe she is untrustworthy or has other apparent character defects. The media tried to sell a story that the reverse was not possible. When a group you hold in contempt (media) oversells their preference, insults you for possibly thinking different, it tends to polarize the electorate to the point where debates and alleged disqualifying events no longer matter. “We think you are evil, vote for our side!”. Perhaps they should consult academia on whether this is effective communication.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “Is it just me, or does this sound an awful lot like “men are part of the patriarchy and so misandry isn’t a real problem like misogyny”?”

            I admit that I’m somewhat generalizing from one example, but I’ve seen a lot from people from the south and midwest who feel hurt by “flyover country”, jokes about inbreeding, having their accents mocked, etc.

            If someone says “New York values”, I think they’re a fool. If they say “libtard”, I think they’re too hostile to be worth talking to.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Douglas Knight,

            I don’t have specific examples in mind of Republicans mass-promoting laws and Democrats not, just that I hear Democrats complain about Republicans doing it, and I haven’t heard of Democrats doing it. Perhaps Democrats actually do that somewhat, but don’t have a formal organization for the purpose?

          • Brad says:

            @tscharf
            I’ve seen about a dozen different confidently stated explanations about “why Trump won”. What does it even really mean in an election involving so many people, won by so relatively little, to say that “Trump won because X”?

            @Nancy Lebovitz
            That may well say more about your own surroundings and values than it does about the nation at large.

          • tscharf says:

            Flyover country is also openly stereotyped by Hollywood. I can’t remember seeing a representation of a person from Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, etc. as being very intelligent and sophisticated. When the presentations are positive, they are almost always shown as lovable country hicks. Basically Mater from Cars.

            Flyover country feels disrespected and there is a lot of evidence to support this lack of respect. Feelings of moral superiority don’t help win elections as it turns out.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            How about just an example of Republicans mass-promoting laws? What, specifically, do Democrats complain about?

          • tscharf says:

            @Brad,

            The election was so close that most of the explanations of why one side won or lost are probably all true. This explanation is just my opinion and was the primary reason I ended up voting for Trump instead of “None of the above”. It was a very close call on my part.

            This was one of the most easily avoidable errors though, and it seems to be all downside, and no upside.

          • Brad says:

            What exactly is the big difference between “You can’t say retard, you need to say developmentally disabled” which is political correctness run amok, ruining our country and “You can’t say hick, you need to say rural american” which is just showing some basic respect?

            Are the developmentally disabled “high status”?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Douglas Knight:

            With regard to gerrymandering, Democrats are either less willing or less able to redistrict in a way that benefits them. This has been my impression, at least; I may be mistaken. As a Canadian, I have little personal interaction with gerrymandering in elections – provincial and federal ridings are drawn by independent outfits, and so do not reach anywhere near the level you see in the US.

            @Moon:

            Why are you quoting Nancy and putting my name on it?

            And, again, you can draw a line between Republican officials, and Republican voters. I don’t see a shortage of hostility towards either among liberals – leftists seem to be more hostile to the former, considerably less to the latter. However, the Democrats seem to be piss-poor at actually taking on Republican elected officials, hence losing so badly at so many levels.

            I have no idea where you are getting this idea that there is some kind of rule about being nice to Republican voters. Non-college educated whites – the Republican voter base – are not the ones who hold power; the people who they voted in are the ones who hold power. Nor to Republican officials, either. Fire up Slate, as an example – where is all this deference to the feelings of Republicans about which you speak?

            Every party I went to before the election would feature at least one circle of people talking about what ignorant, racist morons Trump supporters were – if Canadians are less likely to insult people, I would hate to think what the American equivalent is like.

            I would prefer to live in a world where the US is ruled by Democrats over ones where it is ruled by Republicans – 80% of Canadians would; even our Conservatives prefer the Democrats, for the most part. Democrats are doing a really bad job at getting into power. That they are failing to do so is not because they are too nice to Republicans.

          • Brad says:

            @dndnrsn

            With regard to gerrymandering, Democrats are either less willing or less able to redistrict in a way that benefits them.

            In the mid to late aughts a group of Republican strategists and donors explicitly decided to target redistricting around the 2010 census cycle. That in turn involved putting more effort into state legislative election. The plan was very successful.

            We will have another round of redistricting after the 2020 census. Democrats are aware that they lost the last round and will at least try to do better in this next one. Whether or not they’ll succeed remains to be seen. They start with a disadvantage because they need to run in districts created by the Republicans in the last go round.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think there’s multiple levels of insult we’re talking about here. There’s the low level “bunch of provincial redneck hayseeds in flyover country” versus “bunch of out of touch fancy-schmancy fart-smelling lib-er-als in Noo York City (get a rope)”. These are extremely common on both sides.

            Then you’ve got the stuff like the “deplorables” or this. On the right you’ll find that sort of thing with screeds peppered with the word “traitor”. My impression is that the more severe forms are far more common in the mainstream left than the mainstream right. That is, those in the mainstream left have more severe personal contempt towards those on the mainstream right than those on the mainstream right do towards those on the mainstream left.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Brad:

            Thanks. That’s exactly what I mean when I say “better at playing the game”. The Republicans focused on gerrymandering, and the Democrats didn’t, and so the Republicans got an advantage.

            Were the Democrats to push for an independent elections commission in charge of districting like Canada has, that would be to their advantage – after all, the Democrats have the demographic advantage, and gerrymandering is usually a way of winning in the face of demographics – and would be ethically far less sketchy than gerrymandering. So the choice isn’t even “do we become better at being sketchy?”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Douglas Knight,

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

            This is the conservative organization which works on mass-produced (but customizable) law.

            I’m faintly surprised that no one else brought up– I don’t think of myself as especially well-informed by the standards of this group.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The Nybbler

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone on the left express feeling hurt by insults from the right– frightened and/or angry, yes, but not hurt.

            What I take from this is that the left has some sort of status high ground, even if it doesn’t necessarily get translated into political power.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Nancy, thanks.

          • Brad says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz
            I’m not sure why “hurt feelings” matter more than “frightened” if the claim is even accurate beyond personal anecdote.

          • Nornagest says:

            @Brad — I wouldn’t say they matter more or less, but they do seem to point to a different social dynamic. Not sure status is the right word to use for it, though: one disadvantage of thinking of things in Hansonian status terms is that we lose context and dimensionality, and those seem important here.

          • shakeddown says:

            To put personal anecdote aside (mine is that the right is a lot more hostile than the left, but that also may be unreliable), most of the proxies I’ve seen for the hostility question (e.g. “would you be okay with your child marrying a member of the opposite party?” or “do you consider members of the other party evil”) have the right about 60% more hostile. So it’s a worse problem on the right, (which is what we would expect, since by the thrive/survive split, right-wing ideology should lean more tribal and more easily hostile), but not unique to it.

          • Moon says:

            Shakedown said:

            “To put personal anecdote aside (mine is that the right is a lot more hostile than the left, but that also may be unreliable), most of the proxies I’ve seen for the hostility question (e.g. “would you be okay with your child marrying a member of the opposite party?” or “do you consider members of the other party evil”) have the right about 60% more hostile. So it’s a worse problem on the right, (which is what we would expect, since by the thrive/survive split, right-wing ideology should lean more tribal and more easily hostile), but not unique to it.”

            Of course it’s a worse problem on the Right than on the Left. Why else would so few Left of Center people feel comfortable commenting here on this board? And there are tons of boards on the Internet like this, where Left of Center people get treated in ways that cause the majority of them to stop posting on those forums. A number of us have repeatedly mentioned this. But there is a disapproval here of evening mentioning it. Everyone wants to be in denial of it happening. So carry on that way, since you all insist and I certainly can’t stop you.

            BTW, to Nancy, I’ve complained repeatedly on this board about being hurt by insults from Right of Center people, and also by being stalked by them from one thread to the next.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @dndnrsn

            I think you’ve been oversold on the gerrymandering thing a bit. It’s not Democrats are worse at it in principle. It’s just that redrawing districts happens in census years, and is done by state governments; the last census was 2010, when Obamacare gave control of a lot of state governments to Republicans, so the Democrats simply didn’t get to do the gerrymandering.

            Gerrymandering helps, but it’s not generally decisive. Senate seats, governorships, and presidential votes are all unaffected.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Moon:

            The underrepresentation of the left here has been a topic that has been coming up a fair bit here recently. It is a problem, but it’s not a problem that everybody is whistling past (any more, at least). For what it’s worth, I have been trying to push back more lately, and it is good that you are here pushing back.

            @shakedown:

            Interesting. Do you have any sources? I would wager that on the left there’s a difference between “real life” and academia – in the case of the latter, Haidt has written some stuff about, say, left-wing profs being quite forthcoming about being willing to discriminate against right-wingers seeking jobs, etc.

            I would be unsurprised if “real life” left wingers are nicer than their right-wing counterparts – I agree with Moon about the media in part; right-wing media has been nasty longer than left-wing media. However, I think some people are trying really hard to play catch-up. “The left is as nasty as the right” would have been completely false equivalence 20, 15, 10, maybe 5 years ago, but I don’t know if it’s false now.

            As far as personal perception goes, I remember a very different atmosphere in the mid 2000s, when I became aware of politics in a remotely informed way. Anti-right books, as an example, from the more serious (Thomas Frank, let’s say) to the less serious (Al Franken) went after public, big-name Republicans but not anyone else, for the most part. There was a sort of a thread of “Republican voters are mostly good people who have been snookered” (basically the thesis of What’s the Matter with Kansas?). Meanwhile, at the same time, Republican media was going after “no-name” Democrats with far more vitriol. I think that left-wing media now is a lot less willing than it was 10 years ago to extend charity to “no-name” Republicans.

            For something somewhat parallel – consider how conspiracy theories became mainstream on the right in 2008, and it’s only 2016 that they’ve become mainstream on the left. After the 2008 election, you had 50-60% or so Republicans saying they thought Obama wasn’t born in the US – now you’ve got half of Democrats saying they think the Russians hacked the vote itself.

            My view is, we used to be better than them, dammit!

            @Jaskologist:

            This might be one of those things where that old Canadian smugness is clouding my vision. “We, the noble Canadians, do things so much [nicer/fairer/better] than those benighted Americans” is a view that will get you far up here.

          • What exactly is the big difference between “You can’t say retard, you need to say developmentally disabled” which is political correctness run amok, ruining our country and “You can’t say hick, you need to say rural american” which is just showing some basic respect?

            The difference is that everyone agrees that being retarded is a bad thing, so “developmentally disabled” is a euphemism.

            Not everyone agrees that Americans from the South, Midwest, and Mountain states are hicks, so calling them hicks is an insult.

            To put the point differently, you might consider what it says about your attitudes that you think describing someone as rural is in the same category as describing someone as retarded.

          • shakeddown says:

            @dndnrsn:

            Here’s what I found when I tried looking for it again.

            A pair of surveys asked Americans a more concrete question: in 1960, whether they would be “displeased” if their child married someone outside their political party, and, in 2010, would be “upset” if their child married someone of the other party. In 1960, about 5 percent of Americans expressed a negative reaction to party intermarriage; in 2010, about 40 percent did (Republicans about 50 percent, Democrats about 30 percent).

            Similar questions seem to find a gap of roughly the same size (usually anywhere in the 20%-80% range gap) when I run into them (but I haven’t kept track of them, and can’t remember the link right now).

            Regarding college professors – colleges tend to be on the left anyway, so you’d expect most of the people there who are politically intolerant to be intolerant of the right. Anecdotally, this often isn’t quite as bad as it’s made out to be, at least in STEM fields – for example, quite a lot of Yale professors spoke up against the Christakis Halloween complainers last year.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Substitute “black” and “Person of Color” then.

          • Brad says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Are you really claiming that ‘retard’ isn’t an insult in standard American English?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @shakedown:

            Neither Christakis is a right-winger, though. They’re left-wingers who wandered into a minefield by holding opinions that turned out to be out-of-date. The whole “students going after profs” thing is mostly an intra-left knife-fight.

          • tscharf says:

            Who is meaner is a pointless exercise. The meanness quotient is likely highly correlated with who is out of power.

            One can dial in a meanness survey to get any answer you want, and to pretend academia social sciences should be considered a fair and impartial judge on culture issues is….ummmmm….arguable, ha ha. Pardon me if I don’t recognize their authority on this subject. The media and academia should be taking their perceived loss of authority a bit more seriously, but that is another discussion.

            It is standard issue partisanship to believe your side’s meanness is valid and the other side deserves this valid criticism, so a free pass should be awarded, after all 50% of Trumps supporters are actually deplorable, see this racial sensitivity survey! Yawn. One only needs to go back to the right’s moral majority days to see similar “leadership”. I don’t think either side likes getting preached to.

          • Nornagest says:

            The media and academia should be taking their perceived loss of authority a bit more seriously, but that is another discussion.

            If you’re an authority, and some people below you stop respecting your authority, showing too much interest in their complaints too soon generally makes more people stop respecting it. You do want to take action, but you also want to make it look like it was your idea; and I think we’re still at a stage where any obvious moves would look reactionary.

            That’s a bit of an oversimplification, since what certain people call the Cathedral is anything but a monolith, but I’d still expect the people on e.g. the Times editorial board to have this principle somewhere in the backs of their minds.

          • Moon says:

            Who is meaner? Which side of the political spectrum rarely comments on this board, many from that side having complained about numerous instances of meanness and abuse from the other side?

            And this was true both when the political side that has felt the need to make itself scarce here, held the presidency, as well as now that it does not.

            Everything is not always equal on both sides of the political spectrum. There is such a thing as objective reality.

            I wonder if during all the worst governments on earth people did the false equivalency exercise there too. “Well, our leader chops off the heads of everyone who disagrees with him. But the other party is just as bad, because someone in it said that our leader had small hands.”

          • dndnrsn says:

            If this board was representative of American political discourse … well, ancaps would actually exist in real life.

          • Cypren says:

            One thing I see very consistently in these sorts of “which side is objectively more evil” arguments is that people love to pick the most innocuous, mainstream examples of their own side and compare them against the most extreme fringe of the opposition.

            If you’re a leftist, that means arguing that Vox is representative of all “left wing media” and Stormfront is emblematic of “right wing media”. If you’re rightist, that means finding the most insane “fuck all white people” editorial in a college newspaper and comparing it to an essay by Eugene Volokh.

            What constitutes “mainstream” versus “fringe” to both sides is radically different from what their opposition would like to imagine, and it is very, very hard to accurately make the assessment of how influential a media source is to the opposition from the outside because of bias. We all want to believe our tribe is noble and pure and the enemy tribe is evil and despicable, so we will always undervalue the importance of radical, toxic behavior on our ownside and overvalue it on the opposing side.

            That said, I’d like to offer my (somewhat right-biased) perspective on this discussion: mainstream left-wing sources (like the NY Times) have traditionally been more polite than, say, Breitbart because they speak from a position of power and authority. This isn’t a radical right-wing concept, it’s a left-wing concept: privilege theory. The Left has held a lock grip on the institutional sources of cultural status, in the form of academia, the news media and popular culture, for several decades now. From that position of privilege, it’s easy to feign magnanimity and dispassionate calm when punching down at your opponents, because you hold the power to define what constitutes acceptable discourse in polite society. Right-wing media, culturally marginalized by the major institutional power sources of the Left, reacts with the anger and rage of the disempowered.

            This is a very similar scenario to the behavior of, say, the Black Lives Matter movement, although I’m quite certain that both BLM and Trump supporters would be horrifically offended by the comparison. (And I’m sure I would be excoriated by people furious that I dare make the comparison between the obviously righteous and oppressed and the barbarians at the gates. From both sides.)

            With the ascendancy of Trump and the continuing dissolution of the cultural power of the traditional media, I expect to see those media sources become less polite, more angry and shrill, and less distinguishable from the rage and venom that has traditionally characterized right-wing talk radio and similar sources. Meanwhile, I expect the Right to become more polite and moderate as it now enjoys more power.

            All of this is really just a long-winded reformulation of Galt’s Law: “the party in power is smug. The party out of power is crazy.”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            There’s such a thing as objective reality, and one thing it hasn’t got is an objective insult-o-meter.

          • Brad says:

            The everything is about status analysis has never seemed particularly persuasive to me. When the right wing has had the money locked up, and often enough the government, it seems quite rich to complain about “cultural power”.

            The police officers BLM complains about can kill them with impunity. That’s power, not some vague business about “controlling the cultural narrative”.

            Yes I understand that it is a variation on what crits have been saying in university salons for decades, rooted in Sartre or something, but I didn’t find it persuasive from them either.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            When the right wing has had the money locked up

            Oh right, every left wing person is a beggar in the street. I forgot to look out of the window today, so I forgot about this obvious truth.

          • Brad says:

            @Aapje

            Oh right, every left wing person is a beggar in the street. I forgot to look out of the window today, so I forgot about this obvious truth.

            A typical example of your hostile readings, I’m sorry to say.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            Perhaps you can explain what you meant then?

          • Cypren says:

            The everything is about status analysis has never seemed particularly persuasive to me. When the right wing has had the money locked up, and often enough the government, it seems quite rich to complain about “cultural power”.

            @Brad: In my mind this only seems obvious to you because it’s hard to objectively evaluate your own tribe’s power, partly because it’s just taken a severe setback in the last election, but also because you see the stronger internal distinctions that outsiders don’t. For example, my gut guess would be that you don’t see Wall Street bankers and Silicon Valley CEOs as leftists, because while they may have some social liberal views, they’re obviously the titans and prime beneficiaries of the laissez-faire capitalist system. But to a Republican, they are reliable and powerful supporters of the Democratic Party, and therefore a power component of the Left.

            My argument would be that if we look at the Overton Window over the last 50 years, the Left has won nearly every social battle they’ve set out upon while losing most of the economic ones. (From my perspective, of course, they lost the economic battles not to the Right, but to mathematics, but that’s somewhat beside the point.) What were moderate to far left-wing positions in 1960: racial desegregation, affirmative action, gay rights, abortion (just to name some of the most visible) are now mainstream to the point where the modern battle of the left is no longer about how to make these things culturally acceptable but how much state coercion to apply to people who still consider them unacceptable.

            From a right-wing point of view, that’s a total rout. We’re not even talking about terms of surrender anymore; we’re talking about whether people who dissent from the left-wing orthodoxy are allowed to operate businesses and hold jobs.

            That’s cultural power in a nutshell. And if you can step back and look at it from that lens, it should not be a surprise to see why the right wing considers themselves under siege in hostile territory despite their significant victories in largely discrediting Marxism and promoting laissez-faire capitalism.

            After all, how would you feel about living in a country where the economy was socialist but a powerful Church controlled the government and banned abortion, extra-marital sex and homosexuality? Probably not like you were living in a victorious paradise of Left-wing triumph.

            I would suggest that the reason these victories don’t feel significant to the average leftist is that they seem like foregone conclusions. Of course people became more tolerant (in a very specific, Left-wing sense of the word) because tolerance is an unambiguous good thing and Good wins over Evil. But to people on the other side, Evil won. You may disagree with them vehemently, but that doesn’t change their emotions or how they react to the victory.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Wall Street bankers are reliable supporters of the left?

            Not hardly.

            Peter Thiel is left wing? I did not know that.

            Broadly and on average, concentrated wealth votes for and supports Republicans, but that doesn’t mean that Soros and Buffet don’t exist. It’s also the case that the wealth tend to contribute to both sides, because money really does help smooth the way to access, even while tending to identify as Republicans.

            “Black people support Democrats” or “White people support Republicans” doesn’t mean there aren’t any black Republicans or white Democrats. It’s a statement about percentages of support from a cohort.

          • rlms says:

            @Cypren
            I think most people would agree that most (although not all) tech CEOs are left-wing. But why do you think Wall Street bankers are? In terms of lobbying, their preferred candidate was Jeb!. Additionally, I think most other wealthy businessmen strongly lean Republican.

          • Nornagest says:

            Unfortunately this is nearly impossible to research without getting bogged down in rank demagoguery. But Polifact says that billionaires went weakly left in 2014 and weakly right in 2012, to the extent that they can tell (the sample sizes are small, and a lot of the money floating around is hard to track), and I’m inclined to trust that at least to a first approximation.

            Of course, there’s more to wealth than a list of billionaires, but if that’s how it looks at the top end, I don’t think it’s going to be much clearer on the bottom. Old money seems to skew Republican, but I don’t think you can make any strong statements about “concentrated wealth” more generally. Particularly now that so much of that wealth is in California and Seattle — media and tech are very very blue, Peter Thiel aside.

          • Cypren says:

            @rlms: Correction accepted with regard to Wall Street, and thank you. I should have looked up the numbers; my own views are probably heavily skewed from most of my contact with bankers being younger, late-20s/early-30s bankers who are culturally far more left-wing than their older peers. My impression from dealing with this cohort has been that they’re as reliably liberal as their tech industry counterparts, but clearly the industry as a whole is not. I will be very curious to see how this shapes up over the next 30 years, as the older bankers die off and the younger cohort that I’m familiar with replace them.

            @HeelBearCub: See above for point 1. For the second point, don’t you feel that picking Peter Thiel out is cherry-picking? Thiel is notable precisely because his political views are an aberration in Silicon Valley, not because he represents anything close to the norm. As you pointed out, we’re talking about broad trends here.

            To veer off into anecdote, and perhaps elaborate a bit more on my points above, I’ve spent most of my 20-year career working with technology in various industries: finance, “pure tech” in Silicon Valley, media and now video games. Of those, finance was the only one where voicing political views to the right of the Democratic party platform would not be a sharp impediment to your career, and even there, I had a lot more left-wing colleagues than right.

            At my current employer (a midsize company which makes globally-recognizable games with a lot of critical acclaim), homogeneity of political culture is so assumed that the COO felt quite comfortable joking the day before the election at a company all-hands about how we all needed to get out and do our part to save the world from Trump. The day after, emails went out about how it was okay if people needed to take the day off to recover from the bad news.

            Are there other industries that have this level of political homogeneity from the right? I’m hard-pressed to name any (outside of perhaps religious groups?) where holding mainstream left-wing positions would get you socially ostracized or harm your career. But in academia, journalism and tech, that seems somewhat par for the course now for apostates of the dominant religion.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Cypren:

            I don’t see how you can have abortion as something settled in favour of the left. That absolutely is not the case. Abortion is probably the “social” issue where the right is doing the best. And gun rights, if you consider that a social issue. Compare gay rights to abortion, for instance.

          • Cypren says:

            @dndnrsn: If the Right were winning on abortion, I would expect to see at least someplace where there was a total prohibition on it. Last I checked, it’s legal in all fifty states and the territories.

            There have been multiple attempts at passing laws that severely restrict abortion (though not eliminate it) in red states in the past decade, but I’m not aware of any of them that have managed to avoid being overturned by courts (except those which are still in the process of being challenged). The Right may eventually get Roe v. Wade overturned if the balance of the Supreme Court changes considerably, but at the moment, I think it’s rather premature to consider that a fait accompli, especially since pro-life views are not a litmus test in the Republican Party like pro-choice views are in the Democratic Party.

            Gun control is an area where I would agree with you: the trend has been strongly rightward over the last decade since the Heller decision in 2008. However, it’s worth noting that it was a 5-4 split, and that the minority position in that case was that a complete ban on firearms ownership was not a Second Amendment infringement. In other words, an argument for total nullification. A single vote reversal could reinstate that position at any time.

            My (entirely subjective) impression is that on the Right there are camps split between the idea of respecting Roe v. Wade as stare decisis and those that want to overturn it. But on the Left I have seen absolutely no one arguing in favor of Heller and the individual right to bear arms as settled law, and the consensus for overturning it seems to be universal and just a matter of acquiring the necessary votes. (Much like Citizens United.) This is not what I would consider a right-wing cultural victory so much as a momentary pause in fire while the other side reloads.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Cypren:

            With regard to abortion, the ways to attack it have become less about banning it altogether and more about making abortions harder to get. I am not saying that the right has had a decisive victory on abortion – but that it is the social issue where the right has gotten what it wants more than any other.

            You asked what industries punish people for mainstream left-wing views – I imagine someone with mainstream left environmental views would not be especially popular in the coal or oil industries.

            Your anecdotes sound like the prevailing social views were left wing. What about economic? Who would fare better: a pro-LGBT feminist who wanted to cut taxes and thought global warming was a myth, or an old-school populist Catholic type, socially conservative but economically very left-wing?

            The cynical approach is to notice that the left-wing views that you describe as omnipresent are those that minimally interfere in people with money making more money.

          • Are you really claiming that ‘retard’ isn’t an insult in standard American English?

            No. Why did you think I was claiming that?

            “Retard” is both an insult and a literal description of a condition that most people consider very unfortunate. The comment I responded to was:

            “You can’t say retard, you need to say developmentally disabled”

            “Developmentally disabled” is a euphemism for the description “retarded,” not for the insult “retard.” Can you seriously imagine a parent or teacher telling a teen using “retard” as an insult that he should have said “developmentally disabled”?

          • Cypren says:

            @dndnrsn: First, let me say that I love that we’re talking about abortion and gun control in juxtaposition, because these are my two favorite topics to bring up when talking about political polarization and filter bubble effects. They’re effectively direct mirrors of one another, with both sides using identical tactics and arguments to promote their favored issue while loudly deriding the other side as malicious and underhanded for doing the same.

            I find it really interesting that you describe abortion as the case where the Right is getting its way more than gun control. To my mind, it’s the inverse; the various laws restricting abortion rights that have been enacted in red states strike me as just as ephemeral as the various attempts at restricting gun rights enacted in blue states. Both are going to be struck down when they reach the Supreme Court, and serve mostly as an expression of contempt and political-cultural superiority to those members of the opposing tribe unfortunate enough to live in enemy territory.

            The reason I think that the Right is winning on the gun control issue and the Left is winning on the abortion issue are the controlling SCOTUS precedents for both: Roe v. Wade and Heller v. DC/MacDonald v. Chicago. Unless they get overturned, any law to the contrary is really just a temper tantrum being thrown by politicians in fully-safe electoral territories to rally their base and express their loathing of the outgroup.

            Regarding the energy industry as a place hostile to left-wing views — good call.

            As far as economic versus social views, that was how I led off my first comment in this thread: by observing that the Left has won the cultural wars but the Right has mostly won the economic ones, though that may be changing. Opinion polls show that gen-X’ers have pretty strong negative associations with socialism and Communism because they saw its failures first-hand, but millennials (as evidenced by the popularity of Sanders!) mostly grew up in the post-Soviet world and are more captured by the idealistic promises of socialism than the observed harsh realities. So that pendulum may soon swing back the other way.

            In any case, my original post was an attempt to explain why the Right could consider themselves “losing” and under siege despite having won the victories on economic policies. And the pushback comments seem to be a pretty good illustration of how the Left considers themselves “losing” and under siege despite their victories on social policies.

            It’s interesting that historically, political movements have always tried to portray themselves as victorious and commanding more support than they really have. But in our modern culture, where victimization is equated with righteousness, both sides want to portray themselves as the scrappy and noble resistance being bullied by the evil empire of the opposing tribe.

          • Peter Thiel is left wing? I did not know that.

            There are two prominent libertarians among wealthy tech entrepreneurs, Peter Thiel and T. J. Rodgers. They are very much the exception. I don’t know of any prominent conservatives. Do you?

            I know two libertarians at Google, and it is clear from them that while the environment may be culturally libertarian, it’s politically left.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Larry Ellison might be a conservative; he supported Romney and Marco Rubio.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Cypren:

            But, like I said, the way that opponents of abortion go after it now in the US is to do an end-run around Roe v. Wade. Don’t try to ban it, just place enough restrictions on it to make it harder for women to get abortions, to hassle abortion doctors in one way or another so they do something else or move somewhere else, etc.

            As for your final point, I think it’s the norm now to do both simultaneously – two very common messages are “we’re winning, look at how much we’re winning, we are driving our weak and stupid opponents before us (but our evil and treacherous opponent can reverse that in a second so we must remain eternally vigilant)” and “we’re losing, look at how bad things are, our villainous opponents are gnawing on our bones (but we will win because we are in the right)”.

          • Cypren says:

            @dndnrsn: They’re trying but they aren’t succeeding. This is fairly similar to DC’s immediate response in the wake of Heller, which was to acquiesce to allowing citizens to purchase guns and then make it illegal to have them assembled, loaded or outside of a lockbox. (That restriction was then again defeated in court.)

            The most recent case I’m aware of that got to the Supreme Court regarding abortion restrictions was Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt from last year. It went 5-3 in favor of the plaintiff, striking down the law.

            This won’t stop abortion opponents from trying again — just as the recent spate of gun-rights decisions didn’t stop California from passing measures severely restricting ammunition sales in an attempt to frustrate gun owners — but as I said, these are mostly temper tantrums thrown to express contempt for the unfortunate members of the opposing tribe living in enemy territory, not serious attempts at making enduring policy.

            I would dearly love to see some form of personal liability imposed on politicians who repeatedly pass unconstitutional laws, because electoral accountability clearly doesn’t work when they have a sufficiently safe electoral base that disagrees with controlling Court precedent.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Cypren

            Leaving aside the laws, a clear difference is that (looking at Gallup) the % of people who call themselves pro-life and the % who call themselves pro-choice are basically the same. Most people think it should be legal under some circumstances, a minority of people think it should always be legal, a smaller minority think always illegal. Significantly, the numbers haven’t changed that much for quite a while – opinions are steady – and more people say “pro-life” and fewer “pro-choice” than 20 years ago.

            In comparison, check out Gallup on same-sex marriage. Opinions have changed massively over the last 20 years, going from mostly-against to mostly-for, with a current gap of over 20% for. A higher % of Republicans favour same-sex marriage now than Democrats did 20 years ago.

            So, same-sex marriage is something where the left has won the “culture war”, quite decisively it would appear, both in opinion and in the courts. Abortion, meanwhile, is a stalemate, both in opinion and in the courts. Again, not a right-wing victory, but certainly not a topic where the left is getting its way.

          • John Schilling says:

            With regard to abortion, the ways to attack it have become less about banning it altogether and more about making abortions harder to get. I am not saying that the right has had a decisive victory on abortion – but that it is the social issue where the right has gotten what it wants more than any other.

            As I think has been noted here before, all of what the US right has gotten adds up to less than the status quo in e.g. France and Germany, where abortions are legal only in the first trimester after a waiting period and mandatory counseling and maybe later if you can get multiple doctors to sign off on it being a matter of dire necessity.

            If “not quite as restrictive as the stereotypically sex-positive libertines of the Continent” is your standard for a right-wing victory on the subject of abortion, what is your standard for a left-wing victory? And, has there been any talk of a sort of lend-lease agreement between NOW and Planned Parenthood and their besieged counterparts in France, who obviously need more support in their desperate struggle for abortion rights?

            Because I think this is a matter where Europe has reached the compromise that the vast majority of people in western civilization are actually comfortable with, most of the US right would settle for that compromise as well, but the US left once upon a time won a great victory and won’t give up one iota of the spoils in the name of peace. And not because any rational analysis says that second-trimester abortions are vital to female autonomy, I think, but because “give up one iota of the spoils in the name of peace” includes the mindkilling concept of “giving up”.

          • Cypren says:

            I am not saying that the right has had a decisive victory on abortion – but that it is the social issue where the right has gotten what it wants more than any other.

            Again, I just find this hard to agree with given the Right’s progress on gun rights. In 23 years we’ve gone from passing a nationwide ban on the most common sporting rifles in the country — which proponents hoped could realistically be a precursor to a complete ban on private firearms ownership — to the prospect that we might actually see a national concealed-carry bill passed in the next four years, overturning most handgun restrictions in even deep blue states.

            For a similar reversal to have happened on abortion we would have to currently be debating the prospect of whether a total ban might happen under the Trump Administration. And I don’t think any serious policy analysts have been advocating that as a likely possibility, have they? (Here I’m going to discount the hysterical “the Fourth Reich is upon us!” crowd, who I’m sure are proclaiming that a total ban on abortion is imminent, just as I discounted the “Obama is going to impose communism and bread lines!” crowd in 2008. There will always be scare-mongers on both sides trying to paint a picture of impending apocalypse to fire up their troops.)

            …because “give up one iota of the spoils in the name of peace” includes the mindkilling concept of “giving up”.

            The reason the pro-choice side can’t give ground to the pro-life side is the same reason the NRA can’t give ground to gun controllers: you can’t compromise with an opponent whose negotiating position is, “give us what we want now, and we’ll come for the rest later.” I seriously doubt there are very many pro-choicers who think that extracting a fully viable, air-breathing infant from the womb and killing it is actually a good thing, any more than there are pro-gun people who want to see nuclear bombs in the hands of private citizens.

            But when you can’t trust your opposition to stop at an agreed Schelling fence, and suspect that any gains they get are simply giving them a position to fortify while preparing for the next sortie, you will fight to defend the most extreme position for your side in order to entrench your own gains as deep in friendly territory as possible. That way when the opposition wins a victory, it’s less likely it threatens the core principles that you actually care about defending.

            Scorched-earth politics are actually quite rational in cases like this where at least one side in the argument has indicated that its only acceptable winning condition is total victory. While the abortion debate has always been fought under these auspices, it’s worth noting that gun control was not always such a divisive political issue, and the NRA and gun owners were typically fine with accepting background checks and other restrictions up until the gun control movement of the 1980s made total prohibition its primary goal. Once that line was drawn (and especially once prominent gun control activists like Josh Sugarmann started privately advocating an incremental “death by a thousand cuts” strategy to work towards prohibition while publicly claiming “no one is talking about a complete gun ban” and deriding opponents as paranoid lunatics), we got the “total war” politics of the current gun debate.

          • @Nybbler:

            Judging by Ellison’s Wikipedia page he is probably either a conservative or a libertarian, having donated to a PAC supporting Rubio and hosted a fund raiser for Rand Paul. He’s donated to both Republican and Democratic politicians, but it sounds as though he is more nearly a Republican. Also pro-Israel.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Cypren, John Schilling:

            Abortion in the US still isn’t something that can be chalked up as a “left-wing victory” along with same-sex marriage. The latter is a case where public opinion has overwhelmingly come to favour same-sex marriage and the courts have ruled in its favour. The former is a case where public opinion is extremely mixed and is basically a tie, but the courts have ruled in favour of abortion rights. Courts are just one front in the Culture Wars.

          • John Schilling says:

            Is it your contention that the Union didn’t win the American Civil War in 1865 because public opinion in the South was still mostly pro-secession, anti-damnyankee and anti-black for generations afterward?

            [abortion] is a case where public opinion is extremely mixed and is basically a tie, but the courts have ruled in favour of abortion rights.

            Abortion is a case where public opinion has been consistently 3:1 against abortion-on-demand for half a century or so. The majority position is as it always has been, in the US and Western Europe, that abortion should be legal only in special cases like rape, incest, or serious health threats, only in the first trimester unless those health threats simply cannot be identified that early, and not as a birth-control choice because a woman doesn’t want to go through pregnancy.

            That abortion for whatever reason strikes a woman’s fancy or none at all, has been the law of the land for half a century in spite of 3:1 public opposition, in spite of numerous “right-wing” administrations, congresses, and courts, that the arguments we have left before us are about things like whether the government will pay for this and maybe there ought to be a three-day waiting period before making such a momentous decision, that’s a decisive victory for the left.

            Courts are just one front in the Culture Wars.

            Yes, and like e.g. Appomattox, they are a front on which one can win a decisive victory.

            You seem to be arguing that the left will not be satisfied with any victory that does not have even their former enemies cheering and shouting, “you were right all along!”. And I am inclined to agree with you – that is all too often the only sort of victory the left will accept, the totalitarian victory of the literal thought police. The right does seem to be more willing to accept the fact that its opponents might not be happy with its victories. I doubt even Trump is going to demand that Mexicans agree with him that the Wall is the Greatest Thing Ever, so long as they remain on the other side of it.

          • Cypren says:

            You seem to be arguing that the left will not be satisfied with any victory that does not have even their former enemies cheering and shouting, “you were right all along!”. And I am inclined to agree with you – that is all too often the only sort of victory the left will accept, the totalitarian victory of the literal thought police. The right does seem to be more willing to accept the fact that its opponents might not be happy with its victories.

            The invocation of the “thought police” is a bit more sinister than I would prefer, but from a high level, I tend to agree with this assessment. I see the modern Left (as distinct from Clinton-style neoliberals; I think they would themselves prefer that distinction be made) as more of a religion than a political movement.

            It has an established mythology of Nature as a pure and pristine thing before human industrialization destroyed it. Of tribes living in perfect peace and harmony before the devil figure of the White Male Patriarchy came to impose its ugly will on them, casting them down into darkness.

            It has sacred precepts of complete sexual autonomy as an unbridled good and profit as an unquestioned evil. It takes on faith the core belief that humans are not responsible for their own suffering, and that it is always imposed upon them by Powerful Forces (usually in the form of white men) over which they have no agency.

            These are priors, not policies. They cannot be argued and debated any more than the concept of a benevolent but unseen God can be; one can only make converts or decry heretics. As a result, the advance of the modern Left through institutions tends to be somewhat similar to the spread of many religions throughout history: people are either converted into the fold and hold to all of the sacred teachings, or their credibility must be destroyed and they must be driven out of society lest their heretical ideas spread to others.

            The culture wars make a lot more sense once you view them through the lens of two religions fighting a proxy war for believers rather than as rational debates over policy.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            Granted. It still isn’t on the same level as same-sex marriage. I would rate it far more likely that in the next 20 years abortion ends up with restrictions currently not allowed by the courts, than same-sex marriage is undone.

            @Cypren:

            I think you are making a big mistake in thinking that there’s one monolithic Left. For instance, the people I know who are most “anti-profit” – literal communists – are among the least into identity politics: the people I know who will outright mock identity politics are either communists or Tories.

            I also think that you’re … I’m not quite sure how to put this. Most people don’t really examine the content of their beliefs so much as stack things up, one on top of another. This is true across the political spectrum, and it doesn’t seem to have much to do with intellect, either. I know a lot of smart people who believe things that are contradictory. I undoubtedly believe things that are contradictory.

            As for comparing political belief to religious belief – why is it unusual that all beliefs are, well, beliefs? We aren’t rational beings. We like to think we are, though.

        • shakeddown says:

          Further thoughts about this: As partisanship rises, left/right becomes less about ideological differences such as thrive/survive, and more a tribal identity. This explains why the left seems to be catching up on tribalism – actual character differences are becoming less predictive of party affiliation than tribal identity.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The question is, why is partisanship rising?

            There are some “would you mind if your kid married a…” questions that have gone the other way. I imagine there are fairly few Protestants now who would mind if their kid married a Catholic, or vice versa. I imagine the same is about Jewish-gentile marriage. The friction in these cases would likely be about “who converts” or “how are the kids raised”. Approval rates of black-white marriage have gone up – although the stats I saw were just a generic “do you approve of black-white marriage” not “what if your kid…”

            Perhaps there’s a “conservation of tribalism” thing going on? I know that of the various permutations of human being I could bring home, my parents would be most upset about someone wearing a MAGA hat.

          • Moon says:

            As they well should be. Wait and see what Trump does and then that will remove all doubt that your parents are correct.

            Right Wing media controls most of our public political narrative now, and controls all 3 branches of the federal government, most governorships, and most state legislatures. So thy are obviously the more successful of the 2 major tribes. Situations like the one below, make Democrats more aware that we need to band together to defeat some of these political actions.

            E.g. the Republicans are doing stuff like this:
            “Monday (Jan. 2nd) House Republicans voted in favor of Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) proposal to gut Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence. The proposal would have placed the OCE under the control of the House Ethics Committee . The proposal removed the OCE’s ability to accept or investigate any anonymous reports of alleged wrongdoing by members of Congress; barred the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, requiring it be turn over to law enforcement; gave the House Ethics Committee the power to stop any investigation at any point; and barred the ethics office from making any public statements about any investigations.”

            http://factsdomatter.com/index.php/2017/01/03/trump-didnt-kill-house-ethics-amendment-but-msm-gave-him-credit/

            This proposal was stopped, or actually only postponed, after the outraged public– that is, Democrats, who are finally perceiving what a threat the GOP actually is to the public good– jammed Congressional phone lines demanding that it be stopped.

            Meanwhile, while Congress tries stuff like this, Right Wing media keeps Right of Center people focused almost entirely on liberal bashing– finding fault with everything that liberals like Merryl Streep say or do.

          • dndnrsn says:

            If your complaint is that polarization is the fault of the right … how exactly does your belief that parents would be right to reject a child’s date on the basis of political affiliation fit into that, eh?

          • One possible reason for polarization is that, as the government’s role in life becomes larger, politics becomes more important. Compare an America where governments at all levels spend 10% of national income, with the federal the smallest of the three categories, with one where they spend 50%, with federal the largest.

            There’s a similar argument in John Lott’s book about judicial appointments. As court decisions become more important, both sides invest more effort in trying to keep people from the other side, and especially able people from the other side, off the court.

          • Cypren says:

            One possible reason for polarization is that, as the government’s role in life becomes larger, politics becomes more important.

            This really can’t be emphasized strongly enough. It’s not even about raw economics (though that’s certainly a part of it); it’s that cultural issues that used to be left to the state and local level are now forced into national issues by religious crusaders who will stop at nothing less than everyone being compelled to follow their beliefs under threat of violence from the federal government. This holds true whether the religion worships Jesus, Gaia or abstract concepts of “diversity” and “multiculturalism”.

            Once people are convinced they know the One True Way that all people must live, it’s hard to stop them from using any means at their disposal to enforce it. History is rife with examples, and our current culture wars are just the latest in a long line.

          • shakeddown says:

            That doesn’t match my experience though – more socialist countries (or the same countries at more socialist times) seem to have a lower degree of destructive partisanship. This is probably reverse cause/effect, but still means you can’t blame partisanship on the government size.

          • Cypren says:

            @shakeddown: Accurately comparing metrics across different countries is always a difficult prospect because of confounders. Without any examples of “more socialist” countries that have less partisanship, I’m going to guess that you’re probably referring to Scandinavia, since those countries are usually held up as a model for social democracy. (I doubt anyone watching the past few French or Spanish elections would call them a model of non-partisanship, but if you’ve got other examples, please voice them.)

            One major thing to consider is that the Nordic countries are significantly smaller, each have an overwhelmingly dominant ethnicity and culture, and live in close geographical proximity to other tribes who are clearly not their own ethnicity and culture. All of these factors promote social cohesion and nationalism, seeing your own countrymen as your in-group in opposition to foreigners (and more recently, immigrants, as the strong nationalist movements in Sweden and Denmark will attest).

            This is really not that different from America in the 1940s and 1950s, when it had a single, dominant ethnicity and culture. Partisanship at that time was at an all-time low as well, and the overwhelming majority of Americans (which is to say, those part of the dominant ethnicity and culture) tended to define themselves by solidarity in opposition to the Nazis and then the Communists. Many people talk about a golden era of partisan cooperation and how polarized we are now, while not really recognizing that the golden era was only enabled by having an white Christian monoculture which excluded religious and ethnic minorities.

            This isn’t really a problem that anyone has solved, to my knowledge. Societies which are naturally cohesive are not multicultural. Those which are multicultural are not naturally cohesive. To my mind, it seems like a fairly obvious consequence of our biological predispensation towards tribal affiliation for survival; at best, we can overcome it by having a strictly-enforced neutral set of rules for arbitration of conflicting interests between groups and an ethos that favors leaving other groups alone and respecting their rights instead of trying to impose our beliefs on them.

            When that ethos breaks down, you get… well, you get the modern US, where the rules are increasingly irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the power to exert your will over the outgroup.

  20. sflicht says:

    Scott, I’ll bet you $100 at even odds (to be settled in bitcoin) that EM drive will not be launched into space in 2017. This is a lot of edge given your stated confidence that it will be launched.

    • Aapje says:

      I’d say that the chance is less than 50% even if NASA already decided to do it. It would not be time critical cargo, so probably would have to wait for a rocket with room to spare. Add in the chance of rocket failure…

  21. technicalities says:

    @21. China claims to have done this two weeks ago. Though it’s hard to imagine any independent confirmation coming. 30% confidence.

    PS: Also, my first predictions.

  22. dndnrsn says:

    10. Situation in Israel looks more worse than better: 70%
    60. Less Wrong renaissance attempt will seem less (rather than more) successful by end of this year: 90%

    How are you defining “worse” or “less” versus “more” or “better” in these cases?

    49. No race riot killing > 5 people: 95%

    What’s a “race riot” defined as, for this purpose?

    • Aapje says:

      @dndnrsn

      What’s a “race riot” defined as, for this purpose?

      Especially: if there are multi-day protests, does it count as one big riot or as many individual riots?

      If people are protesting in separate places at the same time and with coordination, does this form 1 big riot or are these multiple riots?

      • dndnrsn says:

        If there’s a protest where one or more people start shooting, is that a “race riot”?

        The Dallas shootings, for instance, could have been way deadlier – from what I read, it sounds like the cops reacted pretty well. What happens if, say, there’s a crowd, someone a ways away starts shooting, and the cops don’t know where it’s coming from and “return fire” in various directions?

  23. Douglas Knight says:

    35. Fewer refugees admitted 2017 than 2016: 95%

    What does that mean? Syrian refugees admitted to the USA? The total of all refugees from all countries admitted to all countries?

  24. dvasya says:

    > 13. ISIS will not continue to exist as a state entity in Iraq/Syria: 50%

    What’s the point of making 50% predictions? E.g. the above one also implies:

    13.75. ISIS will continue to exist as a state entity in Iraq/Syria: 50%

    How do you decide which one to publish for future scoring, 13 or 13.75? What will your eventual score measure? For calibration, you can simply go through all your 50% items and toss a coin for each one on whether to replace it with its complement – that should give you perfect calibration at 50%.

    • Nell says:

      So that you can callibrate your over/under confidence.

      Suppose you made 10 predictions with 50% confidence and all of them ended up happening. Clearly, you were underconfident on these predictions, no?

      (Alternatively, you were overconfident on the negation of these predictions.)

      • Nell says:

        To followup on this, because I can see why one might still be confused:

        When you make 50% predictions, you’re really saying “This collection of things is just as likely to happen as it is *not* to happen”.

        If 75% of those things end up happening, there’s no amount of randomization of your claims you can do that will make your calibration “perfect”.

        • rlms says:

          Last paragraph: yes there is. Suppose 75% of your 50% predictions come true (in their original forms). Say you make 100 of them, then 75 come true and 25 don’t. But! Say that before making the predictions, you flipped a coin for each prediction to see if you actually predict “This thing will happen with probability 50%” or “This thing will not happen with probability 50%” (obviously the two are equivalent). Then out of the 75 original true predictions, you should expect to have flipped 37.5. The flipped 37.5 will all come false, and the unflipped 37.5 will all come true, so out of the coin-flip-transformed versions of the 75 originally-true predictions, you expect 50% to come true. The same thing in reverse applies to the 25 originally-false predictions, so you should expect 50 of your coin-flip-transformed predictions (which were the ones you actually put on your blog) to come true. But that implies you’ll be perfectly calibrated! See the 2016 prediction results thread for more on this subject, and see literally every other yearly predictions thread for more argument on the general question of how meaningful 50% predictions are than anyone can possibly stomach.

          • Subb4k says:

            This approach fails if you force yourself to phrase them in an affirmative sentence and there are more than two likely outcomes.

            However in this case this fails. I assume Scott included it because it’s a follow-up from last year prediction, even though it’s useless for calibration.

      • dvasya says:

        So overall were you over- or under-confident in the end?

        I think with 10 statements you make 20 50%-level predictions and exactly 50% of them end up happening no matter what. That’s perfect calibration and lowest possible accuracy.

        That’s how any good scoring rule works (Brier, log, etc.): both sides of the prediction are scored. As a result, a 50% forecast gives the same score for either outcome (not a bug, feature).

        By scoring just one side of each one you’re overimposing some extra decision process that assigns some weird “color” to your probability. If that process yields spectacular results, sure we can take note of that, however it will not affect neither accuracy nor calibration. (It will show up as a crappy resolution, I’ll give it that.)

    • shakeddown says:

      What’s the point of making 50% predictions?

      This reminds me of the guy from the Terminal who tries getting a visa stamp again every day, on the theory that since there are two options, it’s a 50/50 chance either way.

    • Aapje says:

      @dvasya

      50% is a prediction that something is equally likely to happen than not to happen.

      If you predict that there is a 50% chance that a 6-sided dice lands on 6, then given enough experiments, you’d be proven wrong because the actual chance is lower. And if you would give me even odds on a bet for any amount for 1000 throws, I’d almost certainly clean you out.

      For calibration, you can simply go through all your 50% items and toss a coin for each one on whether to replace it with its complement – that should give you perfect calibration at 50%.

      No, because if the chance is not actually even, then you’d simply overshoot, rather than undershoot in that case (or vice versa).

      For example, if I would invert the earlier dice prediction to a 50% chance that the dice doesn’t land on 6, then you’d still be proven wrong, but this time the actual chance is lower. If you’d give me even odds on 1000 throws, I would simply take the other side of the bet and still clean you out.

      • dvasya says:

        > If you predict that there is a 50% chance that a 6-sided dice lands on 6, then given enough experiments, you’d be proven wrong because the actual chance is lower. And if you would give me even odds on a bet for any amount for 1000 throws, I’d almost certainly clean you out.

        Sure, but that’s not how you measure calibration since you’re testing one statement 1000 times instead of 1000 statements once each. But if I simulate 1000 separate independent forecasts by throwing a coin before each roll to decide between 6 and non-6 and always forecast 50% then my calibration will be perfect.

        • Aapje says:

          Sure, but that entirely depends on you picking 1000 statements that are on average 50% likely.

          • suntzuanime says:

            If you randomly choose between X and ~X 1000 times for 1000 Xs, those 1000 statements are on average 50% likely, no matter what the Xs are. The point is that calibration of 50% predictions, given that you get to pick those predictions yourself, is uniquely trivial.

            The probability of X is x, the probability of ~X is 1-x, the expected value of 50% the probability of X and 50% the probability of ~X is 0.5x + 0.5(1-x) = 0.5x +0.5 – 0.5x = 0.5

          • HeelBearCub says:

            If you randomly choose between X and ~X 1000 times for 1000 Xs, those 1000 statements are on average 50% likely, no matter what the Xs are.

            Hmmmm.

            Let x = 2 to 1001

            Each individual condition is a “die roll where the die is an X sided die (equal weight)”

            Let all the predictions be of the form “die X will/will not be n”, where n is a random number on the die.

            Now randomly pick will/will not be n.

            As X rises, the “will not” prediction will be more likely to be satisfied, and the “will” prediction less so. For X = 3, “will not” will occur 2/3s of the time and “will” 1/3.

            So far so good, a 50% calibration score is the most likely outcome.

            But all of that depends on picking n randomly.

            If your condition is n=X, your calibration becomes worse and worse the larger X becomes.

            I don’t think it’s quite so simple. Picking the condition you will predict at 50% is actually important to whether or not you get a good calibration score.

            Never mind, it’s early, no coffee. Fucked it up. Doesn’t matter how you pick the particular n for your condition.

          • Aapje says:

            @suntzuanime

            Yeah, but nobody is making predictions of X and not X.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            I think you are mistaking the nature of his critique.

            I believe my post above on the math of it is correct, and that is the essence of his critique.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Choosing randomly (with equal probability) between predicting X and predicting ~X is, in expected value, the same thing as predicting X and ~X.

            Consider what would happen if you waited until after the event to pick your side. If you say, “I have an opinion on whether or not I will attend at least one wedding this year”. Then, the year ends, and you have attended a wedding, so you flip a coin, heads means you predicted you would, and tails means you predicted you wouldn’t. It’s easy to see that you’ll have made a correct prediction exactly 50% of the time in this post-facto case. But it doesn’t matter when you flip the coin!

    • Exa says:

      Yeah, 50% predictions aren’t useful for testing calibration, but they are useful for decisionmaking and just straight-up prediction purposes. Sometimes the probability really is 50-50, and it would be silly to rule those cases to be impossible to make statements of confidence about. So if this is only for calibration, they’re useless, but if this is also intended to convey information about Scott’s expectations they still have value.

  25. AlphaGamma says:

    On “genetically-engineered human babies” (no.20) does this refer only to deliberate alteration of chromosomal DNA or does it also include mitochondrial gene transfer?

  26. cvxxcvcxbxvcbx says:

    I thought 24 might be overconfident because I live near San Francisco, but after further research I guess it’s about right.

  27. Mengsk says:

    Does Taiwan count as a “Tiny stupid island?”

    • suntzuanime says:

      You’d think if it weren’t covered under that clause he would have ventured a prediction about it specifically.

    • Spookykou says:

      I assumed ‘tiny stupid islands’ was in reference to the islands that nobody(or almost nobody) actually lives on that are mostly disputed for fishing rights/power games.

      I think disputes over these kinds of islands are common enough, and these islands are different from Taiwan enough for my assumption to be reasonable, but I don’t think it would hurt anything if Scott clarified.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I suspect he means areas like the Spratly islands, Paracel islands, etc.

  28. johnvertblog says:

    I want to start doing this myself, so here’s a reprint of my (relatively small number of) predictions from the Calibration Results thread:

    WORLD

    1. Hillary Clinton and some number of her associates will face serious legal consequences from crimes that have not yet come to light. 70%
    1a. Conditional on 1, the legal proceedings will widely be described as a political purge. 95%
    1b. Conditional on 1, the number of associates charged will be very large (more than a hundred people). 60%
    2. Queen Elizabeth II will die this year. 80%
    2a. Conditional on 2, King Charles will be on the throne at the end of the year. 60%
    3. Marine Le Pen will become the President of France. 60%
    4. ISIS will control significantly less territory than they do now. 90%
    4a. Conditional on 4, it will be widely held that Trump committed severe war crimes to accomplish this. 99%
    5. Terrorists radicalized by online internet communities will become an increasingly visible problem in the West. 80%
    5a. Conditional on 5, at least one such attack will be committed by a /pol/ user who will post on /pol/ about their attack before and/or during and/or after it. 80%
    5b. Conditional on 5, some of these terrorists will be Muslims, and we will see the formation of a prominent Islamic fundamentalist version of /pol/. 70%
    6. Donald Trump’s approval ratings with Republicans will rise over the course of the year. 80%
    7. At the end of the year, a greater percentage of the population will be Republicans than at the beginning of the year. 60%
    8. Though Barack Obama intends to become a pundit after leaving office, he will essentially take the rest of the year off to relax and will put off serious attempts to impact American politics after leaving office until at least 2018. 60%
    9. There will be at least one serious attempt to impeach Donald Trump this year. 70%
    10. Donald Trump will not be impeached this year. 90%
    11. There will be at least one serious attempt to assassinate Donald Trump this year. 60%
    12. Donald Trump will not be assassinated this year. 80%
    13. Donald Trump will face serious gridlock in Congress as a result of more Republicans than Democrats defecting. 70%
    14. Star Wars Episode VIII will be the highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. 95%
    15. Star Wars Episode VIII will make less money than The Force Awakens worldwide. 80%
    16. Justice League will widely be considered a flop at the box office. 70%
    17. Cars 3 will make more money worldwide than Coco. 80%
    18. Despicable Me 3 will be the highest-grossing animated film of the year worldwide. 80%

    PERSONAL

    1. I’ll finally get my goddamn driver’s license. 99%
    2. I will be attending college at the end of the year. 80%
    3. I will have a girlfriend at some point during the year. 90%
    4. I will have a girlfriend at the end of the year. 80%
    5. I will finish writing my current novel in Q1 2017. 70%
    6. I will finish writing my current novel in 2017. 95%
    7. I will finish writing (at least) two novels in 2017. 80%
    8. I will begin selling e-books online in 2017. 90%
    8a. Conditional on 8, I will be deeply unimpressed with how much money I make doing so by the end of 2017. 80%
    9. I will visit my uncle during Spring Break 2017. 80%
    10. I will obtain at least one new electronic device in 2017, such as a new pair of headphones or a cable to send data from my electric keyboard to my laptop. 80%
    11. I will purchase at least one video game in 2017 that I do not already want. 60%
    12. I will still be in touch with my current best friend at the end of 2017. 90%

    • Deiseach says:

      2. Queen Elizabeth II will die this year. 80%

      I disagree with this; yes, she’s 90 years old and yes, there was a minor health scare at Christmas when she didn’t attend services on Christmas Day.

      On the other hand, her mother lived to be 101, the health problem appears to have been a cold (and this is cold and flu season, everyone round here is sick right now) and she’s back out and about now. I would be extremely surprised if anything happened to her (bar getting run over by a tank or something) that resulted in her death.

      • Matt M says:

        You think a 90 year old head of state is MORE likely to be run over by a tank than she is to get sick and die?

        • Deiseach says:

          This particular head of state and this year? Yeah.

          Increasing frailty is how you’ll know she’s coming to the end and as yet she’s been able to carry out her public duties. I think she is getting there, but I don’t think this year is the year she’s going to die. I think she has another year or two left in her. If they scale back drastically on her public appearances in 2017 due to ill-health and frailty, then I’ll be willing to concede that the Big Funeral may happen in 2018.

          I’m also going by maternal longevity; once the Queen Mother got into her eighties, everyone was expecting the big State Funeral every year, but she held off until she hit one hundred and one. I’m not saying Elizabeth II will make it to her centenary, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it to 92 or 93. Prince Philip is more likely to predecease her, both because he’s older (95) and because he’s had a couple of health scares in the past five years or so.

          • Matt M says:

            Yes, that’s all well and good, but….

            when is she going to be around a bunch of tanks?

          • rlms says:

            Some of us have plans in motion…

            (Sarcasm. To any members of British law enforcement reading, I have no treasonous intent.)

          • John Schilling says:

            when is she going to be around a bunch of tanks?

            Since you ask.

            However, the bulk of Her Royal Highness’s rather extensive experience with military vehicles takes the form of driving them. Perhaps the question is, how likely is the Queen to accidentally run someone over with a tank?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            Can’t answer that without knowing if corgis can or can’t man (dog?) a tank. Google tells me she has two corgis and two dorgis currently, if that’s relevant.

          • Matt M says:

            John Schilling,

            So – three times in the past 70 years, all of which were under carefully controlled circumstances where the #1 priority of absolutely everyone involved was “don’t run over the queen”?

          • Deiseach says:

            under carefully controlled circumstances where the #1 priority of absolutely everyone involved was “don’t run over the queen”

            She was driving her Range Rover when she was 86 (and was allegedly seen in a “hoodie” though it was more likely the way she was wearing her headscarf), and drove herself to church (and around a couple of pedestrians in her way) in 2015 when she was 89.

            Actually, she’s still tooling around in the Range Rover, and she made Crown Prince (as he was at the time) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia nervous with her driving back in 1998 when she took him for a spin round the Balmoral estate.

            Okay, maybe not a tank – she’ll be racing the grand kids 🙂

      • Desertopa says:

        I agree that 80% likelihood of death seems like an overestimate, but at ninety years old, events that can cause health to decline very precipitously are not that rare.

    • Stationary Feast says:

      I had half a mind to quibble with your numbers in your last section and then I remembered this SNL parody of The McLaughlin Group.

      • Moon says:

        Thanks, Stationary. That skit was ROFLMAO hilarious. One of the important precursors of the alpha male appear-to-know-it-all-by-lying-constantly style in politics that has now become so familiar.

    • Michael_S says:

      You willing to make any bets on any of these? I’d be eager to take you up on a lot of these if we create a formal method of evaluation.

    • thehousecarpenter says:

      2a. Conditional on 2, King Charles will be on the throne at the end of the year. 60%

      I think this is way too low. There’s no serious possibility that Charles will be skipped over, and it’s very unlikely Charles will die this year as well as Elizabeth.

    • David Manheim says:

      It’s even easier if you put them in on Predictionbook – I linked to the ones I’ve entered below.

  29. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    22 and 23 are ambiguously worded. Do you mean there will not be a significant number of converts, or that there will be a significant number of non-convertible?

  30. Moon says:

    Will #12 be still counted as correct if Trump “dies of natural causes” this year, but if it is suspected that his death is the result of a plan by one of the many and constantly increasing groups of actors in the government and the economy that he keeps insulting? He keeps pissing off and discrediting various groups in the eyes of Trump voters, which is a significant percentage of the public. And he doesn’t hesitate to piss off the Intelligence community, or other groups that are both essential to the nation’s functioning and protection, and also downright dangerous as choices of groups to have pissed off at you.

    Trump’s government by bullying could easily result in his getting punched back in some revenge bullying, from one quarter or another.

  31. Matt M says:

    In discussion of the likelihood of Trump finishing out his first year and/or term, it seems like we all have some different ideas of what is most likely to prevent him from doing so. Just out of curiosity, I wonder if people would rank the following options, in order of “which is most likely to be the reason he would not finish his term.” My personal ranking is as follows:

    1. Voluntary resignation (not facing imminent impeachment or a serious medical condition)
    2. Impeachment
    3. Assassination
    4. Death or incapacitation related to a medical illness or accident (e.g. car crash that everyone accepts was 100% accidental)

    • HappyIdiotTalk says:

      So if we’re going to roll this up (and assuming the 2% mortality rate for 70 year old males in the US from above is accurate) then wouldn’t 10% be a really reasonable estimate? All three of your top selections should have a value above 2%.

      • Matt M says:

        I’m not intending to roll it up or do any math whatsoever. I just want to know what people think is more likely relative to other options.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Based on his personality and his age, why do you say it’s more likely that he (he’s about 70) is less likely to die without foul play than to resign?

      • Matt M says:

        A general confidence that money can buy positive health outcomes, or at least that the ones it can’t help with take longer than four years to get to a terrible point. I know nothing about medicine though, so maybe I’m wrong.

        I say resign is likely because his personality is such that I think he might just get bored and/or frustrated by his lack of ability to single-handedly change things quickly. It won’t be like his company in that he can’t just order things to be done and then watch them happen.

        • dndnrsn says:

          He’s 70. At 1.91m and 107kg, he’s got a BMI of 29.3, which is overweight, bordering on obese. He’s not heavily muscled, so BMI can’t be disregarded. Supposedly he’s a big eater of cheeseburgers and steak – although to be frank I don’t buy the “red meat bad, fat bad” stuff; if you avoid processed meats you’re probably OK. He doesn’t drink or smoke. So, probably a wash.

          His father lived to 93, his uncle lived to 77, and while his grandfather died at 49 that was due to the Spanish flu, so doesn’t count. His great-grandfather died at 48 due to emphysema, but that was the 19th century, so counts even less. One sister is a semi-retired judge still alive at 79, the other is 74, one brother died at 42 due to alcoholism (so not relevant), another is still alive and is 2 years younger. His mother died at 88. So, it looks like his family is relatively long-lived, with the only deaths happening due to causes unlikely to be a threat to him.

          As you note, he’ll have top medical care. So, all considered, I would bet that he is unlikely to die of ordinary medical causes in the next eight or so years.

          On the other hand, he’s shown a repeated refusal to back down. I don’t know if he’s the sort of person to give up like that. I would estimate it’s more likely he has a surprise heart attack or whatever than quits.

          • Matt M says:

            “As you note, he’ll have top medical care.”

            And just to elaborate – it’s not even that he has top medical care now, it’s that he grew up with a wealthy father and then became even more wealthy himself – he has had top medical care for his entire life. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

    • Jaskologist says:

      The exact opposite, although I’m not sure how to rate the two death categories. He’s old enough that natural causes seems more likely, although historically, assassinations were more common within living memory (and it was basically luck that Reagan didn’t die from being shot). But I expect we have improved both our security and medical care since then.

      Impeachment I rate astronomically low. Congress isn’t flipping within the next year, and it would be a long shot even with Dem control. Voluntary resignation is even less likely; people have been claiming that Trump would drop out any day now since the primaries, and that didn’t exactly pan out.

    • hls2003 says:

      My ranking would be:

      1. Death or incapacitation (medical/accidental)
      2. Assassination
      3. Voluntary resignation
      4. Impeachment (and conviction, presumably – involuntary removal from office)

      I would also say that I consider natural death or incapacity to be far and away the most likely. It is hard to imagine, politically, what he could do that hasn’t been “baked in” already which would cause 2/3rds of the Senate to vote to convict on articles of impeachment (as noted above I assume this is what you meant) – and given the political landscape, there is a nearly-indistinguishable-from-zero chance that there will be 67 Democratic Senators anytime in the next four years to do it on a partisan basis. I rank resignation ahead of impeachment because in the extremely unlikely event that there was a consensus for the Senate to convict, he would probably go Nixon and resign.

      If I were adding up the probabilities, I would say that natural death/incapacity chance is an order of magnitude greater than assassination, and that would in turn be an order of magnitude greater than resignation/political trouble. Practically rounding errors.

      EDIT: Reading your initial list more carefully, you excluded resignation-under-threat from the “voluntary resignation” category. So my stated reasoning is off-topic. I still think that resignation is probably more likely than impeachment; I rank the likelihood of impeachment extremely low.

      • Matt M says:

        “I rank resignation ahead of impeachment because in the extremely unlikely event that there was a consensus for the Senate to convict, he would probably go Nixon and resign.”

        For the record, my parenthetical after resignation was specifically designed to imply that Nixon should properly fall under the “impeachment” bucket rather than “voluntary resignation”

        If Trump resigns in the face of a huge scandal where impeachment seems likely, or due to having recently been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, or some other such thing, I hardly see that as “voluntary”

        • hls2003 says:

          Noted in my edit. I suppose, from your last sentence, you’re also eliminating health-related resignation from the “resignation” category and putting it in the “health” category, meaning “voluntary resignation” basically covers “I’m tired of doing this job” and not much more. I do think that’s more likely than impeachment.

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      You seriously believe Trump would just decide to leave out of the blue? Everything publicly known about his personality makes it pretty much zero chance to me. Impeachment is very unlikely too, I don’t see any reason for Trump to commit an offense that is impeachable _and_ that is bad enough so Republican majority would support the impeachment.

      Also, there’s no chance everyone would accept a fatal car crash involving US president is an accident. I mean, have you ever read conspiracy theorists? They build on stuff orders of magnitude less rich than this. This would be not even like a gold mine but like an open bank vault stuffed with gold bricks for them.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I have the reverse:

      1. Death/incapacitation by illness or accident — a few percent, perhaps as much as 10% for the entire term. The only significant one, mostly due to Trump’s age.

      2. Assassination. Very hard to estimate, but there’s already been one attempt against him. Roughly 0.1% first year, and that’s the peak.

      3. Impeachment and conviction. Essentially no chance first year. Requires doing a terrible job, loss in the midterms, and a _new_ scandal for it to happen at all.

      4. Resignation not facing impeachment or medical condition. Definitely not going to happen.

      • Matt M says:

        Ah, for the record, I should have made it clear that in my listing, I was thinking of the entire first term, not just the first year. I agree that there is basically no chance of Trump resigning voluntarily in the first year.

  32. MostlyCredibleHulk says:

    10. What is “situation in Israel”? I’m pretty sure something would become worse in Israel for a year, and some would become better. This looks like not a measurable prediction.

    50. How does one measure “half of sanctions”? By number of bills? Number of sanctioned items? Number of people affected? Doesn’t look measurable.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Conflicting Israeli-Palestinian land and sovereignty claims and the violence resulting from those conflicting claims.

      As for the second one, It’s measurable a few different ways. You’ve mentioned three. Another possible metric is in terms of estimated or measured economic impact.

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        7-8-9 cover the Palestinian claims and the violence pretty well IMO. If they are true, situation would not be worse – so why 70% for it looking worse. Also – looking for whom? For Israelis (which ones – Arab Israelis may have different views than Jewish Israelis)? For Americans? For UN? For hypothetical objective third party?

        All the metrics I’ve mentioned for 50 are either meaningless (like number of executive orders/bills) or not practically measurable without allowing so much error margin that you can halve it just by tweaking criteria (like number of people affected). Economic impact estimate by a credible source may work, I wonder if somebody (credible source, not somebody on CNN just pulling a figure out of thin air) did it for present situation.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Oh, and just wanted to say, -love- the handle. (replying here so it’s more likely to get through)

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        You can have no antifada, no large military operation, and no major change in the peace process and still have things look “more worse than better”. It doesn’t have to be a big development, and in fact I suspect (though I invite Scott to chime in if I’m incorrect) that this is a case where the metaphor of a chronically ill and elderly patient may be somewhat apt.

        You can have a guy who’s been sick with all manner of crap for decades, but hasn’t had a major heart attack, or a stroke in several years now, and made it through another year without being diagnosed with a major new illness…and still say at the end of that year that he’s “More worse than better”.

        As far as sanctions go, I actually agree with you that the first three measures are shitty metrics. I just point out that measurement -is- possible. I prefer estimated economic impact myself, and yes, there are some reputable sources trying to measure that. However, the conclusion so far seems to be “Not much” beyond the initial one-time shock immediately after they were first levied.

        With sanctions, it often takes a few years before you can get good measurements, and is complicated by governments having a strong incentive to try and overstate (on the part of the ones levying the sanctions) and understate (on the part of the recipients) their impact.

    • shakeddown says:

      Currently, the Netanyahu government is increasingly declaring their intention to completely give up on the peace process, with their plan (vaguely) looking like either mass deportation (exile?) of Palestinians from the west bank and fully annexing it to Israel. It seems like Trump (unlike Obama) would be okay with supporting this, which would almost certainly make the situation look worse.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        he might not be leader that much longer though, peep this

        http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.763607

        “Netanyahu Caught on Tape Negotiating Mutual Benefits With Businessman”

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-netanyahu-idUSKBN14S0EX

          Same story, I assume, but not behind a subscription/pay wall

        • shakeddown says:

          Which raises the question of who might succeed him, if he were to leave (or get a heart attack, for that matter). TIL that apparently he’s deliberately avoided naming a vice-PM, to make it harder for people to pressure him to quit.
          I’d guess probably someone new in Likud, with an outside chance of Lapid. Another Likud minister would probably (but not certainly) keep pursuing Netanyahu’s hardline stance. Lapid would probably (but not certainly) go back to expressing support for a two-state solution, but would almost certainly fail to actually do anything about it.

        • Brad says:

          In case of “it can always get worse”, if there were fresh elections I would think Bennett has shot. Maybe an outside one, but not zero.

      • John Schilling says:

        with their plan (vaguely) looking like either mass deportation (exile?) of Palestinians from the west bank

        Trumpian border walls, for all their dubious wisdom, are at least a thing that can be done. The plan is both literally and figuratively concrete, and can be manifest in reality.

        Mass deportation and exile is also a thing that could in principle be done. But they cannot be done “vaguely”; you again need a concrete plan. If the most you can say about someone is “their plan (vaguely) looks like mass deportation…”, then I will predict with P>0.9 that their plan is not in fact mass deportation.

        Their wish may be for mass deportation, but that’s a different thing.

        • shakeddown says:

          We currently have a giant border wall between us and the west bank. The problem is that there are thousands of settlers outside it, thousands of Palestinians inside it, and neither side remotely willing to accept it as a border.

          Regarding mass deportation and exile: They openly want to annex the west bank. Assuming this their options are either to have an openly apartheid government where Palestinians are non-citizens, or to send them all over the border to Jordan and Syria (or accept a half-Arab Israel, which they would never do). It’s probably about a 50/50 split on which one they prefer, but both options are things they avoid saying openly (and secretly hope another option presents itself).

  33. janrandom says:

    I decided to also make predictions. https://www.facebook.com/gunnar.zarncke/posts/393751694308400

    2017 is going to be an interesting year for me. Making the predictions had only made that clearer.

  34. Aaron Brown says:

    What elective surgery do you want to get? (If you don’t mind saying. I looked around a bit and couldn’t find that you had talked about this elsewhere on the blog.)

  35. soreff says:

    >24. No major earthquake (>100 deaths) in US: 99%

    I’d drop that to 97% or lower.
    The bay area alone has ~3% per year odds of a major earthquake according to the usgs
    https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs20163020

    • CatCube says:

      You have to adjust for the definition of “major earthquake.” It sounds like Scott is defining it by the number of deaths, where the USGS is using moment magnitude of 6.7 or greater.

      The Loma Prieta earthquake, for example, had M0=6.9, but killed only 63 people. So that one is a “major earthquake” according to the USGS, but not according to Scott’s criteria of deaths>100.

      This does mean that “major earthquake” according to Scott is much more likely in poorer countries, where the same “strength” of earthquake will kill a lot more people, due to deficient built environment. Coastlines also have much higher odds of massive casualties, due to tsunami threats; the Japanese are probably the best seismic designers in the world, and they still had 15,000 deaths in the 2011 quake. The US has our own 2011 Tohoku lurking in the Pacific Northwest, with the Cascadia event.

      • soreff says:

        The Loma Prieta earthquake, for example, had M0=6.9, but killed only 63 people. So that one is a “major earthquake” according to the USGS, but not according to Scott’s criteria of deaths>100.

        Agreed. I was viewing Loma Prieta as close enough to Scott’s criterion that I viewed
        a typical M0=6.7 within the bay area of having roughly even odds of killing more than
        100 of us – with the odds increasing with quake magnitudes larger than this.

        Coastlines also have much higher odds of massive casualties, due to tsunami threats; the Japanese are probably the best seismic designers in the world, and they still had 15,000 deaths in the 2011 quake. The US has our own 2011 Tohoku lurking in the Pacific Northwest, with the Cascadia event.

        Agreed.

        • CatCube says:

          An earthquake of the same size and characteristics as the Loma Prieta in the Bay Area is pretty unlikely to kill even as many as it did in 1989. Two-thirds of those casualties were from one single structural failure, at the Cypress Street Viaduct. That particular flaw has been fixed in codes, and pretty extensive retrofits have been undertaken* to prevent repeats.

          It’d take a much larger earthquake to likely hit the 100-death mark, unless there’s some really unlucky confluence of events (house party in a home with a soft story?) or the EQ happens to have unusually strong long-period ground motions or something. I suppose I can’t rule out a situation where we think we have a dog on a leash but it turns out we have a tiger by the tail, but the stock of buildings has been improving pretty steadily over the last few decades.

          *I don’t know all the particulars in California, but I see retrofits in my area (Portland) and I know Caltrans has been pretty aggressive about this.

          • soreff says:

            It’d take a much larger earthquake to likely hit the 100-death mark, unless there’s some really unlucky confluence of events (house party in a home with a soft story?) or the EQ happens to have unusually strong long-period ground motions or something. I suppose I can’t rule out a situation where we think we have a dog on a leash but it turns out we have a tiger by the tail, but the stock of buildings has been improving pretty steadily over the last few decades.

            Maybe. I’m a bit skeptical about improvements in the stock of buildings. It can be hard to see where builders have cut corners till there is a stress of some kind. Fire codes are supposed to be complied with too, but
            http://abc7news.com/news/death-toll-rises-to-33-in-oakland-ghost-ship-fire/1639010/
            And just plain structural construction standards are laws but
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkeley_balcony_collapse
            It wouldn’t surprise me if seismic standards have spotty enforcement.

      • Desertopa says:

        But you also have to adjust upwards for the possibility of earthquakes elsewhere in the US.

        There have been five earthquakes in the United States which caused over 100 deaths since 1900. Infrastructural improvements may have decreased the likelihood of damages, but rising population concentration increases it.

        I don’t think the >100 deaths metric is a very good one for gauging "major" earthquakes though, because earthquakes with lower death tolls than that can still cause extremely expensive structural damage. If the estimated dollar value of a human life in risk-minimization terms is 7-9 million, then any earthquake that causes a billion dollars in damages (and some earthquakes which have killed fewer than 100 people have done much more than that) have done considerably more than 100 deaths worth of damage.

  36. mzzhang says:

    Why are you so pessimistic about the S&P 500? Historically, the index had positive annual return 70% of the time, rising to 80% if the Great Depression is excluded.

    I was inspired by your predictions to try making my own. One thing I tried for 2016 predictions was to score them using the logarithmic scoring rule. It’s easy enough to use and has maximum expected value if all predictions are assigned correct probabilities, but unfortunately it’s hard to understand intuitively.

  37. Paul Brinkley says:

    15. Libya to remain a mess: 80%

    Libya is currently in a state of civil war. If the hostilities end, but there are still two factions claiming to be the legitimate government and are squabbling over it at a convention, do you still count this as a “mess”?

    What if things settle down under another Khaddafi-style strongman? Or one of the factions backs down (or they unite), government functions resume, but there are still a few rebellions in outlying towns?

    Are there any other plausible scenarios in the gray area between hot civil war and rebellion-free single-faction government?

    • AnonEEmous says:

      i think a strongman wouldn’t be a mess. Two governments is definitely a mess, civil war is definitely a mess, and it would probably depend on the amount of outlying rebellion for the last scenario

  38. Moon says:

    To people who sometimes have trouble getting their comments to post: Be aware that there are a couple of censored words right now, and there may be others in the future, that cause your comments to not get posted, if you use those words. See the Censored Words section on this page here. Folks should keep up with this page, and these words, because it is not necessarily easy to guess what they are. They are not curse words or anthing obvious like that.

    http://slatestarcodex.com/comments/

  39. sty_silver says:

    Given that it is totally legitimate to base your beliefs on the beliefs of others, I can now pride myself with having impressively accurate predictions for 2017 based solely on having identified that you have impressively accurate predictions! Well, unless they turn out to be worse this time.

  40. David Manheim says:

    To improve your calibration and self-knowledge about your predictive accuracy in various domains, you can play along at home!

    To make it even easier, I’ve put many of the questions on Predictionbook for people to enter their guesses. The ones I predicted (most of them) are here (Mostly. I didn’t include Scott’s personal ones. But you can add them if you want!)

  41. > 59. No co-bloggers (with more than 5 posts) on SSC by the end of this year: 80%

    The meaning of this one is unclear to me. Does this mean people with blogs (eg. me, though I rarely post at the moment) won’t be commenting on SSC by the end of the year? Is this a goal, a lament or something else?

    • Iain says:

      Some blogs have more than one writer, or publish guest posts. Scott thinks it is unlikely but not impossible that this happens on SSC.

    • rlms says:

      To elaborate further, there were some guest posts a long time ago (look in the archives and search for “Ozy”).

  42. Jobining says:

    Hey Scott Alexander, I am sympathetic to the idea that predictions are a helpful way to make people concretize their predictions such that they are checkable and thus resolve intellectual disputes that might otherwise stay vague and murky. But I find these predictions kind of boring because whether you are right or wrong doesn’t really feel like it resolves any of the things you’ve written that I’ve found controversial. For example, as one of your readers who doesn’t understand your worries about AI risk, I was hoping that there would be some predictions about that. Can you please add some predictions about AI risk that you think AI-risk skeptics would disagree with?