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OT68: Necronomicomment

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

1. Arbital has made an interactive page with my 2017 predictions where you can add your own guesses and automatically get graded and compared to everyone else at the end of the year. Try it!

2. A while ago, I tried to predict various aspects of the Trump administration and made bets with a couple of readers. Trump has now mostly finished picking his cabinet, and depending on how you count it’s 13%-14% minority. I made my 90% bet (it would be at least 10% minority) but failed my 70% bet (at least 20%) and my 30% bet (at least 30%). I think I might owe money to someone, but I can’t remember who. Send me an email about it and I’ll pay up.

3. Speaking of Trump, I agree with Aceso Under Glass’ thoughts on his latest actions, and if you feel like donating to the ACLU now might be a good time.

4. Comment of the week is Vidur Kapur on studies of saturated fat and the Mediterranean Diet.

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1,093 Responses to OT68: Necronomicomment

  1. Thegnskald says:

    So, this is a bit late, but news-that-isn’t-true (apparently my last two comments on this subject got eaten by a new filter I was unaware of) as a thing should worry us.

    Granted, it isn’t getting much traction, but it looks to me like an attempt to form a bipartisan attack on social media, with a long-term goal of increasing government control over unacceptable-to-the-institutions speech.

    I don’t think it is working, at least not yet, but did/does anyone else get that impression?

  2. Deiseach says:

    Now that we are past the first of February (St Brigid’s Day), it is officially Irish Springtime. To mark the end of winter and the anticipated lengthening of daylight hours and improvement in the weather, we have the usual seasonal gales of wind and torrential downpours (flooding in Cork city today!) 🙂

    Also, our government continues to insist “Thank you very much, EU Commission, but we absolutely positively don’t need €13 billion in back taxes from Apple”. Well, if they don’t want it, I will selflessly do my patriotic duty and take a slice of that, I’ll suffer for my nation and allow Apple to hand over a million or two into my bank account. Now we’re saying Apple don’t owe it to us, they owe it in back taxes to America. I am sure you lot will be very happy to see the €13 billion coming back to America, now that Ireland is doing so well we don’t need small change like that!

    What a great little country we are – on the one hand, we were all too happy for Australia and Canada to take our excess population from 2008 onwards, but today we don’t need any money from any multinational corporations taking advantage of our lenient tax structures, we’re doing so fine!

    I’m not sure if this means we don’t actually exist or if it means we do but the apparent reality around us is only VR and that “Flatland” was right. If we’re not really real but all some kind of simulation or game that aliens are playing or a movie they are watching then that might explain a lot – good news, everyone, President Trump is a game boss and we’re all NPCs! Or if we’re characters in a film, then all that is going on is really only the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a drama, not boring old real life.

    Reality is currently at such a pitch, I no longer am entirely sure what is real or really real or literally literal.

    • Incurian says:

      Presumably it’s better for you if they take advantage of your lenient tax structure (wherein they pay you a non-zero amount of money) instead of relocating entirely and not paying taxes to you at all? Maybe I’m misunderstanding the situation.

      • Deiseach says:

        I have no idea of the laws and legalities involved and I know for certain that large multinationals will always find a willing tax haven to accommodate them, but I’m mostly amused that the government – which, come St Patrick’s Day, will be sending politicians out of the country on ‘trade trips’ to various nations abroad to persuade them to buy our goods or invest in us or somehow find some way of giving us money – are telling the EU “No, we don’t want this money! What would we do with €13 billion anyway?” (Well, sort out the likes of this for one, I suppose).

    • Cypren says:

      My understanding is that the main reason the Irish government is protesting is that they are very upset that the EU is essentially destroying their competitiveness as an international tax haven, a status which is tremendously more lucrative in the long run than collecting taxes would be in the short run. Accepting the enforced judgment of tax collection sets the precedent that the EU can come in and meddle with their future tax arrangements, something which the high-tax jurisdictions of the EU would very much like, since they do not want to be out-competed and yet also do not want to lower their tax rates.

  3. nimim.k.m. says:

    Remember how UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks made a principled stand that free speech applies even to nasty internet trolls if the Republican students choose invite them? (I think I spotted it originally on MR.)

    Turns out the event got canceled anyway.

    Guardian. WaPo

    “Amid violence, destruction of property and out of concern for public safety, the University of California Police Department determined that it was necessary to remove Milo Yiannopoulos from the campus and to cancel tonight’s scheduled 8 p.m. performance,” the university announced Wednesday night.

    I wonder if this is what the Berkeley College Republicans wanted? (To clarify. In the sense that in the traditional usage of word, successful trolling was about provoking a nasty reaction.)

    • Cypren says:

      I think, given how reactions to Milo on most campuses have gone, that the BCR wins no matter what. There was no situation in which the campus lefties were going to stage a civil and peaceful protest; there’s far too much emotion, groupthink and tribalism going on, especially at Berkeley.

      I don’t know that they win much of a prize, though. It’s certainly not going to change the minds of anyone in power in the UC system; they’ll just blame the BCR for “inciting” the rioters and absolve them of fault for their violence and destruction because they have the right politics. Red Tribers who read about the incident will nod solemnly as they confirm their belief that the Blue Tribe is full of slavering inhuman animals. Blue Tribers will nod solemnly as they confirm their belief that the Red Tribe is full of evil racists who may not be defeated at the ballot box, but can be defeated through righteous protest and anger.

      And we’ll all get a repeat of the show at the next campus.

    • TenMinute says:

      The mob is burning down left-owned businesses, and Milo is being streamed on live TV commenting on it.
      I think that counts as a win.

    • Chimpacabra says:

      The event cancellation and subsequent riot seem to have attracted Trump’s attention– he is threatening on Twitter to withhold federal funding from UC Berkeley.

      • James Miller says:

        Excellent, a college incapable of hosting controversial speakers shouldn’t exist.

        • Berkeley accepted him to speak there though, to what extent we connect Berkeley the institution to the extreme leftist blocs that operate is a hard question. And the amount of human/institutional/educational capital contained within Berkeley is tremendous. Losing that all as a side-effect of trying to shut down the cathedral would be a truly great loss.

          • James Miller says:

            “the amount of human/institutional/educational capital contained within Berkeley is tremendous.”

            Agreed, but most of it would just move to other colleges and so wouldn’t be lost to society.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            They won’t if the funding doesn’t move with them…

            That actually could be an idea, threaten to take funding from unis that don’t respect free speech, with the condition that said funding is not lost, but rather moved to universities that do.

            EDIT: The problem is, of course, the same problem with all these SJ ideas, if there is incentive to classify others as evil (in this case, authoritarians), there’s incentive to expand the definition to the point of dangerousness.

        • berk says:

          Maybe they shouldn’t host any more speakers at all? Rely on virtual/skype conferencing streamed to dorm rooms for events?

          IDK

          We had a box to return to the Amazon store at the (Berkeley) Student Union and showed up at 5pm like clueless townies only to be confronted by a guard inside shaking his head and mouthing “we’re closed”. We saw bunches of people chanting something unintelligible and a big white bird thing and I thought, huh…. maybe performance art?

          Today, several blocks from where the “protests” carved their path of destruction, we tried to find parking for a meeting only to find parking meters were spray painted black making it impossible to make out the display; walls covered in graffiti, lots of hammer and sickle signs, also “no more pigs no more presidnts” (their typo, not mine)

          • Matt M says:

            Maybe they shouldn’t host any more speakers at all? Rely on virtual/skype conferencing streamed to dorm rooms for events?

            Do we have any particular reason to believe they would not also protest a bunch of people in an auditorium livestreaming a video of Milo calling feminists insulting names?

            I’m not sure this would actually solve the problem… Any time people with “incorrect” views gather in large groups to proclaim those views, mob violence seems likely, regardless of the method of delivery.

          • berk says:

            yes, agreed, I figured protests would also happen for livestreams to auditoriums, which is why I said “dorm rooms”.

            (or simply no more events….. if you don’t let your sister play with the dolly/tonka truck, you can’t play with the dolly/tonka truck either)

            ETA: of course the ideal solution is simply enforcement of the law and all speakers can say whatever they please, but that seems unlikely to happen here

    • dodrian says:

      Is there a winning way forward on this? Here are a couple of ways I can imagine this playing out in the future:

      1) Yiannopoulos keeps scheduling events, they keep being cancelled due to violent reactions. Protesters score points with blue tribe for ‘not giving bigotry a voice’ or something similar, Yiannopoulos scores points with red tribe for saying that blue tribe ‘is violent and anti-liberty’ or similar. Net division in America increases.

      2) A University defends Yiannopoulos’ right to free speech and refuses to cancel a future event. Violence erupts, multiple deaths, national tragedy.

      3) A University defends Yiannopoulos’ right to free speech and acquires funding (private or public) for a major police presence to protect the event. Protesters and police clash, injuries abound, new round of police over-reach vs blue lives matters sparks.

      4) Trump follows through on promise (or at least attempts) to defund Universities not supporting free speech. Blue tribe sees this as confirmation that Trump is anti-education/anti-reason, red tribe sees this as confirmation that Trump stands up for liberty. Further mass protests and division.

      Is there a better way forward? Or am I just blowing this incident out of proportion?

      • James Miller says:

        The violent protesters get arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison. This stops most future violent protesters.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Plus, universities get scared by the potential loss of funding and start taking ideological diversity seriously.

        • Deiseach says:

          The violent protesters get arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison.

          I can’t find it again, but I was reading some back-patting article online by some English bint who had nothing better to do than turn up as one of the black bloc in one of the recent demonstrations, and after she got done whoo-hooing over the big blow for democracy and anti-fascism and what-all they had done by setting off bottle rockets, flinging bricks about, setting rubbish bins on fire, burning a limousine, and smashing windows of banks and shops, she then related the horrifying aftermath – that some of the rioters who had been arrested were actually being charged with violent rioting, which meant they’d end up in court being tried, something that seasoned protesters/activists in Washington considered quite without precedent!

          My goodness me, the harshness and brutality of the police state! Only a bit of high-spirited young people in semi-paramilitary gear out on the streets aiming for the overthrow of capitalism and all the apparatus of the state via property damage and arson, and they over-react like that!

          Yeah, we’re gonna burn you all down with violence not ineffectual words, see our power in action! We will destroy all these bloated plutocratic institutions starting with smashing windows and setting fires! What, you’re going to make us stand up in court just for that? How dare you use force like that, it’s completely unjustified!

          • Deiseach says:

            And by serendipity I did find that article again.

            Compare and contrast:

            The “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist bloc,” Friday’s black-bloc march, was just one among a number of direct actions called by organizers of the Disrupt J20 Inauguration Day protests. Unlike Saturday’s vast Women’s March, Disrupt J20 aimed to directly impede, delay, and confront the inaugural proceedings. This message was delivered with human blockades, smashed corporate windows, trash-can fires, a burning limousine, “Make America Great Again” caps reduced to ashes, and a blow for Richard Spencer.

            …The black bloc I joined met at Logan Circle, some two miles north of the inauguration parade route. We peered through bandanas to find friends. We gathered in bloc formation behind wood-enforced banners, filled the street, and began to march. The bloc takes care to stay together, move together, and blend together. Within minutes, bottle rockets were shooting skyward and bricks were flying through bank windows. You don’t know who does what in a bloc, you don’t look to find out. If bodies run out of formation to take a rock to a Starbucks window, they melt back to the bloc in as many seconds. Bodies reconciled, kinetic beauty. If that sounds to you like a precondition for mob violence, you’re right. But this is only a problem if you think there are no righteous mobs, or that windows feel pain, or that counter-violence (like punching Richard Spencer) is never valid.

            The J20 detainees have been released, some with felony rioting charges to be tried in DC Superior Court next month—a harsh prosecutorial reaction that seasoned DC activists had not expected.

            Oh, yes. Harsh. Bad, harsh prosecutors! Bad, harsh law system! Sweet nice soft bunnyrabbit brick-flinging window smashers! So unanticipated and unforeseeable a punitive reaction!

      • gbdub says:

        So, let’s agree that Milo is pretty extreme, and deliberately provocative. His value-to-offense ratio is pretty low (except insofar as some believe him offending people is valuable in itself).

        I think the key is, if the campus right limits themselves to less deliberately provocative activities, will the campus left de-escalate as well?

        Because while the anti-Milo stuff has certainly been the most violent, he’s hardly the first right-leaning speaker to get protested, shouted down, and/or disinvited. And most of them are much more reasonable than Milo, and are worth at least engaging.

        Unfortunately it doesn’t take much to upset the apple cart – there are reports of literal masked agitators showing up and initiating the riot, and do we really think those guys are going to not show up when it’s Christina Hoff Summers or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, rather than Milo?

        Avoiding the negative outcomes you predict is going to require winning some internal battles on both the left and right. The campus right needs to resist the urge to troll, and the left needs to resist the urge to exercise the hecklers’ (and definitively denounce the rioters’) veto. Unless both happen more or less simultaneously, your outcomes seem sadly likely.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @gbdub – “So, let’s agree that Milo is pretty extreme, and deliberately provocative. His value-to-offense ratio is pretty low (except insofar as some believe him offending people is valuable in itself).”

          The number of similar voices on the left are numerous beyond counting. “Provocative” and “Transgressive” are compliments in media and academic circles. I haven’t actually followed Milo’s rhetoric all that carefully, but I am pretty damn sure he doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of stuff that’s been coming out of Blue Tribe for decades. The only thing unusual about him is which side he’s on.

          “The campus right needs to resist the urge to troll…”

          Alternatively, we continue to exercise our rights as we see fit, and watch the Left destroy itself in a paroxysm of fanatical hatred. Near as I can tell, Milo did nothing wrong. The college republicans did nothing wrong. Leftists showed up and rioted because someone said something they didn’t like. The solution is to start prosecuting the violence, not to humor their tantrums.

          • >I haven’t actually followed Milo’s rhetoric all that carefully, but I am pretty damn sure he doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of stuff that’s been coming out of Blue Tribe for decades. The only thing unusual about him is which side he’s on.

            The Blue Tribe/Progressive speakers are wrong in intellectual ways. As in “A re-reading of Marx with a post-modern emphasis on black transgender liberation from the corporate-media system of oppressive violence.” Wherein there will be strange and disturbing implications that call for destroying the entire social institution and rebuilding it based on (implied) the machinations of progressive and communist radicals.

            The people who watch that stuff think it’s cool. The vast majority of people would have no idea what they are talking about, and a small subset of weird nerds (us) find it terrifying.

            Milo says stuff like “Lesbians don’t exist.” and “Women should quit the internet if they can’t handle online threats.” On their own are these statements scarier than the weird radical communist stuff? No. But they are carefully crafted so that everyone can understand them and react to them. They are wrong in the stupidest way.

            Anyway, this is an aside I wanted to note since you said you haven’t listened to his rhetoric.

          • gbdub says:

            +1 to Natasha’s points. There’s a difference between “sincerely believes really out-there stuff” and “intentionally says the most outrageous thing possible to get a reaction”.

            Milo is basically human clickbait. He may have some ideas and stances worth considering, but mostly he just insults people for the lulz.

            I believe clickbait has a right to exist, and no one should be subject to a riot for sharing clickbait, but I also believe the world would be a better place with less clickbait.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            “The Blue Tribe/Progressive speakers are wrong in intellectual ways.”

            If by “intellectual ways” you mean ways fashionable among intellectuals, then sure. I don’t think it was actually very intellectual when Spike Lee opined that the president of the NRA should be shot with a .44 magnum, though. Has Spike Lee ever spoken at Berkeley? Next time he does, should the right wing set shit on fire and beat people with sticks to protest?

            “Milo says stuff like “Lesbians don’t exist.””

            I have no idea what that means, since the literal interpretation seems farcical. I see no point in even bothering to disavow it, though.

            ““Women should quit the internet if they can’t handle online threats.””

            They should. Online threats and abuse are completely ubiquitous for both genders. The correct response to them is copypasta about navy SEALs, not a social justice campaign. alternatively, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

            I repeat, the left has no shortage of inflammatory trolls. We didn’t make the rules. We’re just playing by them.

            @gbdub – “Milo is basically human clickbait. He may have some ideas and stances worth considering, but mostly he just insults people for the lulz.”

            And this distinguishes him from any number of left-wing comedians, academics, celebrities, or activists… how? Are all of them going to go away too?

          • gbdub says:

            I don’t believe “trolls exist on the left” and “campus Republicans should not invite trolls” are mutually exclusive positions.

            At some point I think we’re better off if we break the “both sides defect” spiral. You’ll note that I’m asking for a concession from the left here too: They need to stop rioting in response to trolls (and stop the disruption of non troll right wing speakers).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @gbdub – “You’ll note that I’m asking for a concession from the left here too: They need to stop rioting in response to trolls (and stop the disruption of non troll right wing speakers).”

            So the left gets to have hundreds, maybe thousands of trolls, who can say whatever they want, wherever they want. And when the right gets one troll, the left riots and beats people in the streets. And the fair solution to this is that the right gives up its troll, and the left stops rioting and beating people, but gets to keep their hundreds or thousands of trolls.

            I have a counter-proposal. Pull federal funding from Berkeley unless they enforce the god-damn law. Arrest rioters and charge them with felony rioting, with a sentence of up to ten years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. This is not hard to do. We have police. We have courts. Time to use them, I think.

          • I have a counter-proposal. Pull federal funding from Berkeley unless they enforce the god-damn law.

            “Berkeley” is both a university (UC Berkeley) and a city. Enforcing the law, in particular arresting people, is almost certainly the job of the city. If the university knew the identity of the rioters and the rioters were students the university could expel them, but it doesn’t and most of them probably are not.

            Cities are creations of the state, not the federal government.

          • Matt M says:

            David,

            You are technically correct – although I would point out that universities have taken it upon themselves to investigate and enforce sexual assault laws, so why not vandalism and rioting as well?

            Does public street beatings of conservatives not infringe on the rights to equal access of conservative students? Can Trump invoke a Title 9 deal on this issue?

          • rmtodd says:

            “Berkeley” is both a university (UC Berkeley) and a city. Enforcing the law, in particular arresting people, is almost certainly the job of the city.

            Is it? I thought it was fairly common that public universities had their own police departments that had some level of jurisdiction and thus could be expected to arrest people who were Up to No Good, at least as long as they were on the univ. campus when doing so. Does anyone know if this is the case for UC Berkeley?

          • John Schilling says:

            UCB does indeed have its own police department. I can’t find manpower numbers, and it is possible they would need to call on other local agencies for support in a major protest/riot/whatever. However, I am told by Berkeley locals that the recent protest was not atypical for the community, so it would seem reasonable to expect the UCBPD to either have the manpower to deal with such a disturbance or to have cooperative agreements in place with more capable agencies.

            If it turns out that the problem is UCB usually calling on the city cops to handle protests-turned-riots, which usually works well but in this case the city cops said “Let Milo Burn!”, then I agree that wouldn’t be a problem with the university. So there should probably be more than a tweet’s worth of investigation and consideration before deciding whose federal funding ought to be cut.

          • Cypren says:

            While Berkeley does of course have a longstanding reputation for political riots and disorderly conduct, I would be really surprised if the Berkeley PD were okay with it or on the side of the rioters; after all, they’re the ones who have to clean up the mess and look ineffective every time things get out of hand.

            This is just a gut guess; I have no personal experience with the BPD beyond seeing them around town on the few times I’ve been there to visit friends, and I’ve never seen any kind of expose on their internal culture.

            But my gut tells me that if they were standing down, it wasn’t because they sided with the protesters, but because they were given orders from higher up the food chain. The Mayor wasn’t subtle about his public support for the protesters, though he backpedaled a little when it turned into a full-fledged riot.

        • dodrian says:

          @gbdub We could flip your argument around.

          Had Yiannopoulos’ event gone ahead without protests (or only a minimal, peaceful protest) there would have been what, 500 people talking about him (mainly those who attended the event and the campus paper)?

          But with these protests Yiannopoulos is trending on Facebook (87k posts) & Twitter (1.7M unique views), front page of BBC, CNN et al. Don’t the violent protesters need to recognize that they’re giving him a much much larger audience by no-platforming?

          Maybe if the Berkeley Republicans knew he wouldn’t get such a reaction they wouldn’t bother inviting him and would focus on more intellectual speakers. So maybe the key is that those who disagree with Yiannopoulos just ignore him.

          Who will de-escalate first?

          • gbdub says:

            This is my point – dodrian, who I was originally responding to, posits that we’re basically in an “everyone loses” (or “everyone defects”) spiral because everyone can spin the Milo riot as a “win”. I tend to agree.

            Allowing that, assigning blame doesn’t really solve the problem. The answer to “who de-escalates first” is “both”.

            Otherwise I agree with your comment – if you really want to “no platform” someone, it’s better to just ignore them, especially on a campus where you’re already dominant. Unfortunately staging riots is also good for energizing your base, so there’s still an incentive to do so even though you’re not winning over anyone. The urge to fire up the true believers while giving the finger to moderates and fence-sitters is what I think both sides need to resist. That resistance can only come internally to be effective.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            gbdub – “Allowing that, assigning blame doesn’t really solve the problem.”

            On the contrary, this is 100% the protesters fault. The Berkeley College Republicans have a right to invite who they please, and Milo has a right to speak as he wishes. The protesters have no right to beat people with metal rods and sign poles for trying to listen to a speaker they don’t like.

            “The answer to “who de-escalates first” is “both”.”

            Leftists are now engaging in daily mob violence against people exercising their first amendment rights. That is not our problem. That is your problem.

          • gbdub says:

            I’m not a leftist, so watch who you’re calling “you”.

            There are lots of things that are legal and that you have a right to do that you still ought not.

            If you go around yelling “fuck you, dykes” outside a lesbian bar, well, you have a right to do that, and I am fully supportive of that right. And if one of them comes out and slugs you, I think they should be punished legally. They don’t have a right to do that. The violence is “entirely their fault”.

            But you’d still be an asshole for doing it, and a world in which people generally don’t do such things is one I’d prefer to be in. It serves no positive purpose and actively makes the world worse.

            Does Milo rise to the legal standard of provocation and inciting? Probably not, but I think he certainly meets the lower social standard of those terms. He’s going to piss people off. He wants to piss people off, and inviting him means you probably want to piss people off too.

            You have a right to do that. I’d strongly prefer if you didn’t. I am entirely comfortable holding that opinion while also believing that responding to Milo with physical violence is very bad and should be sanctioned – it’s worse than what Milo does. I reject the notion that those are incompatible positions.

            Again, the question here was “how do we avoid this spiraling negative outcome?” – all I’m saying is that the right can play a role in doing that, and we probably should.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @gbdub – “I’m not a leftist, so watch who you’re calling “you”.”

            I think that’s as good as sign as any that my blood is up and I’m not being constructive. My apologies. I’ve already replied to this basic idea in another thread, so I’m going to take a bit to cool off and we can continue it there if you like.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @gbdub

            It’s too late to be consequentialist about this now. Now that just looks like for an isolated demand for “reasonability”. It’s all about principle when leftists invite provocative speakers; when conservatives have a chance, they’re supposed to be the responsible ones and refrain?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            “when conservatives have a chance, they’re supposed to be the responsible ones and refrain?”

            Actually, I recall reading somewhere an argument as to why this asymmetry is somewhat expected.

            If one side is, to some degree, the party of “The Rules”, who believe following the rules are virtuous, while their opponents are to some degree the party of “F*** The Rules”, then the latter are likely to break rules that the Rules Party are following. If the party of the Rules keeps following the rules, they’ll be at the disadvantage of the resulting “double standard” of sorts. But if they start equally breaking the rules, then they cease to be the Party of the Rules, and become another flavor of “F*** the Rules”; cue “sinking to their level”, “two wrongs don’t make a right”, “as bad as they are”, “becoming the very evil you fight”, et cetera, et cetera.

          • Don’t the violent protesters need to recognize that they’re giving him a much much larger audience by no-platforming?

            My guess is that many of them do realize that and don’t care. Insofar as they have a tactical objective, it’s to establish that their side is the one with the ability to use violence against their enemies, hence they are the powerful and their enemies the weak. Getting lots of visibility for an enemy who they are, from their standpoint, defeating achieves that.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Kevin C

            I made a similar argument with respect to stare decisis. But it doesn’t hold here, because the proposed “no trolling” rule isn’t accepted by either side. Being the party of The Rules just means you are supposed to follow the actual rules, not the ones your opponents make up on the spot to hinder you.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I think the key is, if the campus right limits themselves to less deliberately provocative activities, will the campus left de-escalate as well?

          You think if Chamberlain just lets Hitler take the Sudetenland, that Hitler will just stop there?

          No way. They’ll just go after the next speaker the campus right brings. Ben Shapiro, for instance. Or Peter Thiel.

          • Aapje says:

            @The Nybbler

            This mechanism is very visible in many SJ spaces, which often evaporate because they keep ‘fighting injustice’ by eliminating the outliers, which then just makes new people the outlier, who then get eliminated, etc.

            You already see that many of these speakers get attacked with accusations that go far beyond their actual faults.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Well, I was kind of cheating. They’ve _already_ gone after Ben Shapiro. And Thiel though I didn’t realize that when I posted.

      • James Miller says:

        Professor Geoffrey Miller (U of New Mexico) on Facebook:

        “Berkeley changed things tonight. If you don’t follow any conservative news feeds, you may not understand just how furious tens of millions of Americans are at the violent SJW attacks on free speech. They’ve seen the mayor of Berkeley inciting violence, and Berkeley police standing by as ‘protesters’ tear-gas people, hit innocent women on the head with poles, and beat a man with metal rods, leaving him for dead in the middle of the street. This was a tipping point.”

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          hit innocent women on the head with poles, and beat a man with metal rods, leaving him for dead in the middle of the street

          Wait, what. The news articles I saw talked about fireworks and burning trashcans?

      • The Nybbler says:

        5) Trump sends in the National Guard. Literally. Milo (or Richard Spencer or whoever the bogeyman is this week) holds his event with troops with M-16s guarding the door and the streets. Universities and police departments realize if they don’t want to lose control to the feds, they’ll have to assert control on their own. (unlikely)

        6) Trump starts a RICO investigation and goes after the groups backing this violence. It’s not spontaneous and un-coordinated, of course. These people end up in jail, there’s supreme court cases using anti-abortion protester cases as precedent, and their power is broken. (Very unlikely)

        • Kevin C. says:

          “Trump sends in the National Guard. Literally.”

          On what legal grounds? Aren’t the National Guard of each state under the command of the state governors, and aren’t the conditions for “federalizing” the National Guard of a state rather limited?

          “Trump starts a RICO investigation and goes after the groups backing this violence… These people end up in jail”

          That would require cooperative courts. “Very unlikely” is an understatement.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to enforce desegregation; certainly Trump could do it to enforce free speech.

            10 USC 333:

            The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—
            (1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
            (2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
            In any situation covered by clause (1), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            First, wasn’t Eisenhower’s federalization specifically justified at least partially by the Enforcement Acts, and thus specific to the case of the rights and equal protection of African-Americans?

            Secondly, as for Trump doing so to enforce “free speech”, would not there be an immediate response from the “Speech has Consequences” crowd explaining how the First Amendment applies only to state action, so that the “heckler’s veto” and no-platforming mobs, no matter how violent, do not constitiute violations of “muh freeze peech”. And the moment they get a few judges to agree with them, cue the same people who are calling the personnel departures at the State Dep. a trial-run for a Trump (auto)coup to blare on every media channel 24-7 about how the wicked Trump is deploying military forces against his domestic political enemies based on a flimsy, trumped-up excuse that’s been eviscerated by the courts, and he must be stopped before he cements his hold as dictator-for-life! Cue impeachment, removal, and President Pence.

            There is nothing Trump, or anyone else on the Right can do, that cannot be stopped and countered by the Left. In the longer term, the Left always wins, the Right always loses.

          • The Nybbler says:

            On the authority for Eisenhower’s act — no

            https://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/civil_rights_little_rock/Press_Release_Proclamation.pdf

            It was 10 USC 332-334. They’ve been amended since, but actually to make the _broader_ in application.

            The “freeze peach” crowd will say a bunch of things, but the right to free speech on public college campuses is established precedent. It doesn’t matter that the mobs aren’t directly violating that right by preventing the speech; it’s enough that their activities are illegal and that they deprive people of a “right…named in the Constitution”. Even if they got a sympathetic District judge and it went to the Ninth Circus and was upheld, they’d lose in the Supreme Court. And I don’t see a Republican Congress impeaching Trump over it.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            “they’d lose in the Supreme Court.”

            [Citation needed]

            “And I don’t see a Republican Congress impeaching Trump over it.”

            How much of that “Republican Congress” is #NeverTrumpers and “establishment conservatives”?

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      I’ve already seen at least two people on my FB feed speculating on whether the BCRs, or Republicans in general, are looking for their Reichstag fire.

      • gbdub says:

        Assuming this was a false flag operation is probably giving too much credit to the protesters. There are definitely enough “by any means necessary” types out there (it doesn’t take that many) for this to have been an entirely sincere anti-right riot. And no one’s willing to stand up for the punched Nazis…

        EDIT: I know the “true story” of the Reichstag fire is still under debate – I just tend to see it brought up mostly in reference to potential false flags. Apologies if that was not the implication you intended.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          The sense I saw it in one case was that it was planned. The other was “never let a good crisis go to waste”. The latter seems more plausible, since Reichstag fire is obviously much better if it’s not a false flag, or even plausibly not.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Well, I’m willing to bet money that we’ll have more video of another right-winger laid out on the pavement within the next week. It doesn’t feel like this sort of violence is hard to predict; there’s been a fair amount of it lately. I can’t speak for the BCR, but I don’t intend to let it go to waste. It’s not every day your political opponents go out of their way to prove everything you’ve ever said about them true, live and on video.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        You’ve seen the video from the airport in Seattle, right?

        It’s not false flags.

        [EDIT] – …If you meant more deliberately looking for a violent reaction, that does seem plausible. Unfortunately, at this point, it looks like wearing a MAGA hat is enough to qualify as incitement to violence.

  4. Thegnskald says:

    Thought: 99% of the terrible conversation here is about contemporary people (individual or group). Nominally we are generally discussing specific issues, but in practice in inevitably turns into tribal bickering.

    Solution: If you want to discuss Trump’s immigration policy, discuss Trump’s immigration policy, not the fact that Trump is an evil fascist dictator. If you want to discuss the evils of SJ, talk about the specific behavior, rather than about how the specific behavior proves SJ is evil.

    If you’re complaining about people, you are participating in and contributing to low quality discussion.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      conversations about the evils of SJ generally are consistently one of the lowest-quality recurring conversations here. Iain above dramatically improves one by requesting that people move the conversation from SJ generally to specific examples of specific people.

      As for Trump, better to have people complaining that Trump is the next Hitler than complaining about something as nebulous as “the right”, it seems to me.

      • Thegnskald says:

        It didn’t get any better. It continued to be pointless, and even more so, since the argument is now going to be prime toxoplasma territory; a set of examples either side can interpret to support their cause.

        SJ discussion doesn’t get better. Ultimately it’s a conflict between two groups of people who mostly agree on object level goals (with a few fanatics with wildly different goals on both sides), but who disagree on what and who the movement includes.

        Most of the defenders basically want to define SJ as including only the well-educated and well-spoken, primarily academic, members, and dismiss bad actors as being irrelevant or a minority. Most of the attackers include all the bad actors as part of the movement, and had experiences of trying to participate, and were treated quite terribly.

        I’m with the attackers on this particular point. Somebody brought up climate skeptics as being similar to SJ crazies, by way of importing academic ideas and misusing them. I think this misses the point that SJ isn’t merely an academic enterprise, it is a social movement, and how the ordinary people approach it and experience it matters.

        (And it isn’t as though the academics have been particularly well-behaved, either.)

        The fundamental issue is that SJ defenders refuse to acknowledge the lived experience of the attackers (snark), and won’t admit the movement has severe issues that need to be addressed. Meanwhile, the attackers are full of bad actors as well, who just want to dismantle the whole enterprise rather than actually fix the problems.

        • Aapje says:

          Meanwhile, the attackers are full of bad actors as well, who just want to dismantle the whole enterprise rather than actually fix the problems.

          People have been trying to engage for decades now and didn’t get anywhere. Isn’t it then better to start over from the outside?

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          I think I largely agree with this.

          But… I also agree with Iain’s request to keep accusations specific, which means I’m bothered by “SJ defenders refuse to acknowledge the lived experience of the attackers […] and won’t admit the movement has severe issues” and “the attackers are full of bad actors […] who just want to dismantle the whole enterprise rather than actually fix the problems”.

          These accusations appear too broad to me, and a good example of claims that could actually be pretty solid and constructive, if they were made more specific.

        • Thegnskald says:

          Except that feeds into toxoplasma, because it turns on inherently subjective interpretations.

          It feels more productive, but the correct response to somebody saying there are assholes in a movement is, universally, to go “Yes, but this isn’t unique to our movement”, not argue over whether or not specific people qualify. Is that really a productive conversation to have?

          Personally I think intersectionality is nonsense because it replaces a useful question – is somebody being oppressed – with a useless question – does somebody belong to a group of people who are recognized as being oppressed.

          The end point of intersectionality, taken to its logical extreme, is that everybody’s situation is unique, and that belonging to some specific group not generally recognized as oppressed doesn’t guarantee a lack of oppression, because the axes interact. Is it impossible for a rich white straight man to be oppressed? The answer is clearly no, no matter how many non-oppressed criteria you add to the hypothetical, because a small amount of imagination can produce a situation in which he is. Likewise, are all black transexual women oppressed? Again, no, because again, with a small amount of imagination we can invent a situation in which she isn’t. Then what good outcome can come of dividing people up?

          I find the whole enterprise incredibly illiberal, this bizarre way of bootstrapping the idea that individuals have individual experiences into a framework that insists that oppression is a strictly group-level experience, by cutting the person into a set of axes that interact to produce oppression on a “group” level.

          • Iain says:

            Is it meaningful to say that black Americans were oppressed under Jim Crow? Or under slavery?

            You can hypothetically postulate the existence of a member of a generally disadvantaged class who somehow escapes that disadvantage. That doesn’t mean that generalities can never be useful. Sure, not all oppression is group level — but that doesn’t mean no oppression is group level, and I find it hard to believe that you seriously can’t see the benefit of analyzing it that way. If you look at a bunch of black people, and the ways that they are disadvantaged in society, you’re going to start seeing some pretty obvious group level patterns, even if they don’t apply to every black person in exactly the same way.

            On another note: if you think “SJ discussion” on SSC is a “conflict between two groups of people who mostly agree on object level goals”, you might want to pay more attention.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Iain –

            Interesting fact: Poor white people were also affected by those laws. In absolute numbers, more white people got the right to vote from the Civil Rights Acts than black. Some poor whites were exempted from the rules, but pretty much conditional on them being the right “sort” of person, which is to say, somebody who would vote the way the party establishment wanted them to vote.

            A black person was significantly more likely to be oppressed, and they were targeted more heavily with that oppression, but the oppression wasn’t limited to black people. The modern account of that period erases victims.

            So, what purpose does dividing people up by race serve? It just undermines broader support by painting a substantial number of victims of evil policy as participants in oppression, on no other basis than skin color.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Thegnskald:

            Because the laws in question were actually motivated by animus against black people. Yes, these laws had affects on white people as well, which are recognized.

            But trying to deny the truth of the racial animus is not helpful. I see no path forward that insists on denying it.

          • Iain says:

            @Thegnskald: That is indeed an interesting fact. It’s also an interesting attempt at deflection. As HBC says: in 1963, if you were analyzing the causes of voting restrictions in the United States on an individual basis, and refusing to consider group-level oppression, your diagnosis of the situation would have been completely out to lunch.

            Are you arguing that racism is impossible? That it’s useless to ever talk about it? That it has never been, and never will be the case that some categories of people in society are systematically advantaged over others in ways that deserve discussion? I seriously don’t even know what you’re trying to argue here.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Iain,

            Is it meaningful to say that black Americans were oppressed under […] slavery?

            A small number weren’t: there were at least a few black slaveowners.

            Which is exactly the point Thegnskald is making. It’s entirely possible to belong to an “oppressed class” while not being oppressed, or to be a member of an “oppressor class” and experience oppression. It may be relatively rare (as in my example) but it’s illustrative nonetheless.

          • Iain says:

            @Dr. Dealgood: Sure. A whopping 0.6% of slaves in 1830 were owned by black people. What do you think this proves?

            I claim that those black slave owners would have been better off, in terms of how they were treated in 1830 American society, if they were white. Do you disagree? If not, what exactly is your point?

            This is not a complicated argument. If I said that tall people are better at basketball, would you get all up in my grill about Isaiah Thomas?

          • Thegnskald says:

            HBC and Iain –

            Bringing up something I included as part of my point – that black people were specifically targeted – doesn’t refute it, nor does it add anything to the discussion. You do not get to erase victims because they do not fit the narrative.

            But let’s play a game. Pretend, for a moment, it wasn’t motivated by racism, but classism. Does that reduce the evil of what was done? If so, why? If not, what’s the point of ignoring the majority of victims?

            More, I will dryly observe that most of the poor southern whites who lost the right to vote had only had it for around twenty years, when the reformist movement, which ended property requirements for suffrage, finally made it to the South. It is really a bit convenient that a group of people who had traditionally been denied suffrage were denied it again as collateral damage as soon as it became politically expedient. Myself, I suspect the erasure of lower class suffrage was the goal, and racism was just the way it was sold to its victims.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Iain,

            What do you think this proves?

            Which is exactly the point Thegnskald is making. It’s entirely possible to belong to an “oppressed class” while not being oppressed, or to be a member of an “oppressor class” and experience oppression.

            I’m not sure how this is confusing you.

          • Iain says:

            @Thegnskald:

            Yes. Classism is absolutely a thing, too. I don’t think I have ever implied that it isn’t, but if I have, I apologize. Nobody is erasing victims here. Saying that black people faced systemic discrimination does not imply that nobody else faced systemic discrimination, nor does it imply that individual black people couldn’t have advantages in other ways. It just means that, everything else being equal, you would be better off in America in 1860 being white than being black. (In the same way, you would be better off being upper class than lower class. The two claims are not mutually exclusive.)

            As I already asked Dr Dealgood: do you disagree with my claim that, ceteris paribus, you were better off being white than black in 1860s America? If not, what position do you think I hold that you disagree with?

            @Dr. Dealgood:

            Allow me to attempt to restate your argument, and see if you agree. You claim that, because some black people were better off than some white people, you can’t just assign an Official Oppression Score by looking at somebody’s race and calling it a day. If you only look at race, and not at other factors, then you’re missing the big picture.

            Is that a reasonable paraphrase?

            If so, congratulations! You’ve just rediscovered intersectionality.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Iain –

            OK. Now. Why does it matter why somebody is oppressed? Why does it matter whether it is racism or classism or some other reason entirely?

            And we didn’t “arrive” at intersectionality, the whole point of this conversation is that intersectionality is a completely unnecessary construction intended to bootstrap individual oppression into an intellectual framework which previously only acknowledges collective oppression. The entire point of this conversation is that, once you arrive at intersectionality, you don’t actually need it, because it makes the same kinds of predictions as a massively simpler model – that anybody can experience oppression, because oppression is an individual experience that doesn’t need a collective experience to validate.

            Intersectionality is exactly equivalent to individualitic analysis of oppression, it just performs collectivist rituals to justify itself.

            So instead of rejecting a man who is abused by his wife and the legal system as being oppressed, because he’s on the wrong end of an axis, we add new axes until we can define him into being oppressed as a complex interaction of social groups and forces.

            Or we could just say, yeah, men can be oppressed.

          • Iain says:

            Why does it matter why somebody is oppressed? Why does it matter whether it is racism or classism or some other reason entirely?

            Because understanding the roots of a problem is useful for addressing it? Do I really have to defend the value of finding patterns in data?

            Take slavery, for example. You are correct to say that white people could occasionally become slaves. You are correct to say that black people could occasionally be slave owners. But if you want to say anything meaningful about the history of American slavery, you are going to have to talk about race.

            (To bring back my previous basketball analogy: Why does it matter why somebody is oppressed good at basketball? Why does it matter whether it is racism height or classism armspan or some other reason entirely? Why can’t we just recognize that anybody can experience oppression be good at basketball, because oppression basketball is an individual experience that doesn’t need a collective experience to validate?)

            For the third time: do you disagree that, ceteris paribus, it was better to be white than black in America in 1860? If not, can you please explain to me exactly where you think we disagree?

          • Thegnskald says:

            Iain –

            Imagine, for a moment, that everybody was white, or black, or some other arbitrary criteria entirely. Does it change anything about the terribleness of the institutions?

            You are insisting that race is important. As far as I am concerned, race is only important to racists; there are an endless variety of petty reasons for people to be terrible to one another, and focusing on correcting the petty reasons one at a time doesn’t actually solve the problem of people being terrible to one another. Behavior is the problem, the petty reasons are just excuses.

          • Iain says:

            @Thegnskald: If racists have the ability to be disproportionately terrible to people of one race, then regardless of whether race should be important in the abstract, in practice it is an important category.

            Institutions can be terrible to people for all sorts of objectively stupid reasons. That is not an excuse for closing our eyes and pretending not to notice what those reasons are.

          • Thegnskald says:

            The category is only important insofar as we can use it for something.

            I can see what function the category serves for racists.

            What function does the category perform for you?

            Because mostly it seems like it serves as a justification for arguing about who had it worse, which I thought we had all agreed was a pointlessly divisive strategy which resulted in endless debates about who had it worse that intersectionality was supposed to solve?

            And I am observing that, if we just abolish the categories racists invented, we don’t need intersectionality to solve that problem. Intersectionality is solving baggage that these categories produced – but unless there is a compelling and useful function for these categories, beyond the one intersectionality is intended to stop anyways, I don’t see what it is.

          • rlms says:

            @Thegnskald
            I don’t want to Godwin, but consider the Holocaust in Germany. It seems probable that some non-Jewish Germans were killed by mistake. Nevertheless, literally no-one says “Well, nasty Nazis might consider ‘Jew’ and ‘non-Jew’ useful categories, but I think they’re pointlessly divisive. Let’s not argue about who suffered more, and agree that anyone can be oppressed.”.

          • Thegnskald says:

            rlms –

            Your “literally nobody” is doing all your heavy lifting there.

            What is your actual argument? Is it less bad when a non-Jewish German gets killed? Does the fact that the Germans were killing people for one stupid reason make their acts more morally relevant than if they killed people for a different stupid reason? If the Holocaust had targeted brown-eyed people instead, would it be any less horrifying?

            What function is the category serving?

          • Iain says:

            @Thegnskald: My contention above, which I will repeat down here, was that it is meaningful to talk about whether one end of an axis is more privileged, but hard to talk in the abstract about how axes compare to each other.

            It is pointless to argue about whether it was worse to be Jewish during the Holocaust, or a slave in Louisiana in the 1860s. It is clear that being Jewish during the Holocaust was worse than not being Jewish. You seem to be rejecting the validity of the latter claim, but I admit that I still can’t understand why. You seriously can’t think of any ways whatsoever that looking around at Nazi Germany and thinking “Hmm, they really seem to be picking on the Jews here” might have been useful?

          • rlms says:

            @Thegnskald
            I don’t think it’s doing any lifting at all, it is (to the best of my knowledge) a statement of fact. The point is that I was mirroring your argument, and then stating that no-one ever espouses the mirror (implication, because it is silly and therefore your argument is silly too). The answer to your yes/no questions is no, but they aren’t really relevant. The category of “German Jews killed by the Holocaust”, or rather the fact that German Holocaust victims were disproportionately Jews obviously has lots of uses, like all facts. Memoirs about people’s times in concentration camps are disproportionately likely to be written by Jews. People with family who died in the Holocaust are disproportionately Jewish. People who feel that they need an ethno-state to be safe from the Holocaust are disproportionately Jewish. This is exactly the same as how “basketball players are disproportionately tall” implies all the things it implies.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Iain –

            Except nobody exists on a single axis. Everybody occupies a unique space in the N-dimensional.space of intersectionality.

            But please, why is it useful to say which side of a given axis has it worse?

            rlms –

            I continue to await your point, which you seem to think is self-evident enough not to specify.

          • Iain says:

            To add to rlms: If you were a citizen of Germany in the mid 1930s, and you didn’t like the way things were going, it seems clearly valuable to be able to identify the Nazis as not just generally nasty, but specifically antisemitic. If you are Jewish, maybe that is your cue to get out of there. If you are not Jewish, maybe that helps you craft your anti-Nazi pamphlets to specifically address questions of antisemitism, or convinces you to start helping Jews out of the country instead of random people with brown eyes.

            If you want to fix a problem, first you have to know what the problem is.

          • Skivverus says:

            @Thegnskald
            For an alternative perspective, I’d suggest that categorizing oppression at the group level comes unavoidably from the ratio of (the number of people you’re likely to interact with in the next month) to (Dunbar’s Number): some heuristics are necessary as a tradeoff between speed and accuracy. Thus, racism and SJWs, but also thus cities and countries.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Which doesn’t require believing in the categories. Indeed, believing in the categories is going to make the task significantly more difficult.

            Social justice is achieved by making people see fellow humans as humans, rather than members of a category. There is a conversation in one of the current threads about how Hollywood normalized homosexuality; it wasn’t by producing propaganda, it was by portraying them as people, with their own problems, their own faults, their own dreams and sorrows and successes.

            It requires knowing people have prejudices. It doesn’t require seeing people as members of a category. Indeed, the “members of a category” thing just solidifies the category as being important, which makes it a natural way for people to begin forming biases. It perpetuates the problem.

          • Iain says:

            Your argument implies that I should do my best not to notice if any of my friends are Jewish, or black, in case I stop seeing them as people. Identifying that some groups of people are discriminated against is not mutually incompatible with seeing them as human. (For one thing, it would be pretty awkward if you concluded that you belonged to an oppressed minority and were forced to dehumanize yourself.)

            You bring up the example of Hollywood normalizing gay people. You do realize that didn’t happen by accident, right? It happened because a bunch of gay people decided to publicly come out of the closet. It happened because a bunch of people in Hollywood looked at their gay friends, who they respected as individual human beings; recognized that there was discrimination against gay people in broader society; and then took deliberate steps to create entertainment that showed gay people “as people, with their own problems, their own faults, their own dreams and sorrows and successes”.

            Your stance seems completely disconnected from how people actually work.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Iain –

            You are shading very close to agreeing with me.

            Now then – the categories say something about racists and homophobes, not about the people who nominally belong to them.

            When you internalize the categories, you internalize part of the viewpoint of the people who created them, that these are good joints to cleave reality at.

            You perpetuate the divide.

          • rlms says:

            @Thegnskald
            “Social justice is achieved by making people see fellow humans as humans, rather than members of a category.”
            Yes, sometimes it is useful to focus on individuals (e.g. when changing perceptions of a group). But other times it is useful to focus on groups (e.g. see Iain’s latest comment). For another example: you probably disapprove of Trump’s ban on people from certain Muslim countries (if you don’t then there is a pretty clear example of a time it is useful to focus on group tendencies). But imagine a world where 99.9% of Muslims were actually terrorists. Would you still be against a ban, or would you consider the category “Muslim” and the tendency of members of it to be terrorists useful?

            “I continue to await your point, which you seem to think is self-evident enough not to specify.”
            I don’t want to be snarky, but I did start a sentence with “The point is”. If you want you can imagine I said “My point is” instead.

          • Iain says:

            @Thegnskald: “Categories” aren’t some sort of Lovecraftian horror that will corrupt you if you so much as think about them. It actually makes quite a bit of sense, for many purposes, to draw a line between Jews and Gentiles. (Maybe you’re having a dinner party!) Similarly, there are circumstances in which it is quite relevant whether that cute boy is gay.

            Antisemites did not found Judaism. Homophobes did not come up with the idea of being gay. These are real categories in the world, and identifying them is not a thoughtcrime. Don’t worry: you are allowed to evaluate whether certain groups of people are treated better or worse by society without becoming a bigot yourself.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Because understanding the roots of a problem is useful for addressing it? Do I really have to defend the value of finding patterns in data?

            A complaint I’ve had in the past is that people tend to do the latter at the expense of the former. An obvious example is the discussion over the gender wage gap. People have noticed a pattern in data, and while there is bitter dispute over what the root of that pattern is, different groups lock onto slightly different patterns in the data cut from slightly different assumptions… and never bother with the whole roots thing. This is why a focus on acknowledging a particular pattern in the data as though it is the appropriate conclusion rather than merely a piece of data which may be a premise in a further argument is telling.

            We can’t just look at the relative outcome of black/white people in 1860 and conclude that black people were oppressed any more than we could look at the relative outcome of tall/short basketball players and conclude that short basketball players are oppressed. In the first case, it’s a good pointer to, “Uh, yea, you could legally own black people at the time.” In the second case, it’s a good pointer to the rules/objectives of basketball and the physiological mechanisms by which people accomplish those objectives within those rules.

            If we exhibit this failure, we would be confused by other possible worlds. For example, consider a world where black/white people had approximately equivalent outcomes in 1850, but a disease which disproportionately affected black people swept through the country over the next decade, leaving black people much worse off in 1860. We would erroneously identify oppression when the disease would be to blame.

            Related to this is that categories lack a natural order or a natural stopping condition. These are things we just pick. We always, always, always, have to go and actually appeal to other factors in order to understand the root cause of the data. You’ve decided to hold a location and a time fixed, but that’s not the only selection we can make. We don’t even have to fix either of them. I’ve often said that the two biggest pieces of privilege I have are that I was born in the late 20th century in the developed world. Of course, these are looser than a particular country and a particular year, but I could have picked other looser/tighter categories. I was born in a northern state without a significant racial minority population. Within those bounds, perhaps race doesn’t even come into the top 10 factors. I’ve often wondered how I could compare the relative difference between, “Was born in $yearInterval$ in $State$ as a black/white person,” and, “Was born in $yearInterval$ in $State$ to parents who got divorced.” We have good reason to think that divorce affects outcomes in general, but toying around with the timeline and location would be interesting to see.

            And yes, it would be interesting to see how these things intersect, but I think it’s obvious now that we have to use a pattern in data to appeal to something else rather than just stop at a pattern in data. It’s why I can’t say, “Canada seems to be doing better than Sudan; therefore, Canada is oppressing Sudan.” It’s why when I say, “Black men are disproportionately represented in prison,” to you and to an actual racist, you probably make different conclusions from the data. I love data, and I love slicing data in as many different ways as we can think up in order to just see what’s there, but it almost never just tells the whole story right off the bat.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Iain –

            Identifying “which groups are treated worse” is just the warm up exercise for the oppression Olympics. It is less useful than just recognizing and correcting for injustice, and indeed looks counterproductive.

            We choose our enemies. If there were no racists in society, it would take nothing more than deciding racists are our movements’ enemies to create them.

            If the environmental movement focuses on waste, wasteful people would be our enemies there. Instead we have decided our enemies are denialists, and thus have granted them significant social power as the opposition.

            Pay attention to the countersignaling opportunities you create.

  5. 27chaos says:

    Attention Scott: do you have a copy of the story of 9-tsiak somewhere? I remember liking it, but can’t even remember what it was about. Also, you should back up copies of ALL of the fiction that was on Raikoth that isn’t preserved elsewhere, just in case.

  6. sflicht says:

    Cross-posting this from the subreddit, since the Friday Fun Threads don’t get much attention (yet):

    I recommend the TV series Travelers. SSC readers will like it. I don’t want to spoil it, but I suggest pushing through to the end of the first season even if you don’t find the first few episodes compelling.

    • Cypren says:

      I really enjoyed that series as well. Agreed that the first few episodes aren’t great, but the back half of the season definitely is.

  7. Eponymous says:

    Apologies if this has been mentioned elsewhere.

    In the spirit of people making falsifiable predictions, I give you:

    Eliezer [Facebook]:

    If Trump is what he presents as, he will refuse to lose face to a mere federal judge, and he will… order federal agencies to defy the judicial order staying deportation? Does Trump have other options besides a constitutional crisis for feeling like he isn’t being one-upped?
    ….
    I say this, not in confidence, but in the spirit of clearly stating what a model seems to predict so that I can be publicly seen to be wrong if appropriate.

    Paul Krugman [twitter]:

    Deep thought: The abruptness and extremism of the refugee ban make no sense in terms of policy, even racist, anti-Muslim policy 1/ Best understood, I think, as an attempt by Trump to resuscitate a narrative of personal dominance after a humiliating first week 2/ Which makes the judge’s stay a big deal — a new humiliation — even though it only protects a relative handful of people already here 3/ Trump’s response is predictable: there will be new, bigger crazy in a couple of days, just to show that he’s really in charge 4/

    Scott Adams [blog]:

    Now we have another chance to test the predictive power of the Persuasion Filter.
    ….
    According to the Hitler Filter, he [Trump] does more Hitler stuff…If things never get worse from this point on, we would have to question the Hitler Filter. But if things get worse still, the Hitler Filter is looking good.

    Compare to the Persuasion Filter. This filter says Trump always opens with an extreme first offer so he has room to negotiate to the middle. The temporary ban fits that model perfectly. On the immigration topic alone, both the Hitler Filter and the Persuasion Filter predict that we get to exactly the point we are at today. Let’s call that a tie in terms of predictive power. The hard part is predicting what happens next.

    So if Trump is a strategic persuasive genius, he will moderate his position. If he’s an unhinged fascist, he will double down.

    Gentlemen, start your prediction engines!

    • Anonymous says:

      From what I’ve seen, Trump has done nothing Hitler-like. Even the ban is the predictable flailing at the problem in security-theater fashion, in hopes of raising spirits, rather than any particular hope of fixing the issue.

      Wake me up when he has some domestic political enemy droned.

      (I’m gonna go with the Non-Hitler Hypothesis.)

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      If Trump is what he presents as, he will refuse to lose face to a mere federal judge, and he will… order federal agencies to defy the judicial order staying deportation?

      I’d score this one for EY

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Interesting, if true, and would certainly update in the direction of “reckless authoritarian”…assuming that this is a case where US Marshals are legally bound to obey a judge’s directives.

        How does the chain of command in these cases work? Depending on how far this showdown goes, it could turn into a nice little “ordergate”. I think having an independent counsel investigation in the first week of a presidency would be a new record.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          assuming that this is a case where US Marshals are legally bound to obey a judge’s directives.

          Popehat retweeted this. Seems to read exactly on.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Not really, because that’s only a partial quote. The full citation is:

          Except as otherwise provided by law or Rule of Procedure, the United States Marshals Service shall execute all lawful writs, process, and orders issued under the authority of the United States, and shall command all necessary assistance to execute its duties.”

          which goes right back to my original question: How does the chain of command in these cases work? This is why I don’t like or use twitter.

          Hopefully we’ll get an actual analysis sometime soon from Lawfare or someplace similar.

          • BBA says:

            I think that “except as otherwise provided” refers to the fact that some writs may be executed by people other than the USMS. For instance, Rule 4 of the FRCP allows any person over 18 and not a party to the case to serve a civil summons.

            I am unaware of any circumstance where USMS could be required to disregard an otherwise valid court order, but we’re in uncharted waters here.

      • Thegnskald says:

        I don’t see an order from Trump?

        Comity on these kinds of injunctions is still something of a standing question – the arguments about DAPA, the closest situation in recent memory, didn’t really sort out the issue (although I must think that the Republicans will probably oppose comity in this case, whereas they supported it last time around. And in the interest of balance, the Democrats will also have switched sides)

      • Montfort says:

        Luckily things seem to be trending back towards normal process. Also from Popehat:

        Awaiting an official statement, but about that story about the USMS not serving the LA federal court order: Counsel has now appeared for the federal defendants[, the] US Department of Justice, [and the] Office of Immigration Litigation – Civil Division. In fact, a stipulation by the parties to move the briefing schedule now appears on the docket (but is sealed).
        The significance is this: by appearing, the federal defendants can’t claim lack of service of the order. This should moot service issues. In fact it should bind the federal defendants to any order the court issues or has issued now that its counsel has appeared, as I read it.
        That doesn’t answer issue of whether CPD has refused to comply so far or will continue to refuse. Also doesn’t exclude possibility that USMS dorked around for some period of time until their counsel made an appearance. But the fact that the ACLU filed a stipulation reached with the feds suggests some level of acknowledgement and cooperation.

      • Cypren says:

        Before jumping too fast on the “not complying with a court order!” bandwagon, remember that federal agency personnel are notoriously slow to accept changes in their existing standing orders or procedure without a clear and explicit chain of CYA instructions.

        It doesn’t require a coup from the White House to get either Marshals or the CBP to resist and wait for further clarification when there’s as much chaos and miscommunication going around as there is right now.

        I’ll call this one for EY when there is concrete evidence of a directive coming down from the White House to disregard the court order or similar evidence. Until then, all I’m seeing is speculation driven by hatred and fear of Trump.

  8. Tekhno says:

    Are there any perspectives on humanity that if true would convert you into a misanthrope?

    I feel this way about about what “Andrew Card” – or whatever the pseudonym was for that guy wink nudge- said about politics and culture being this cut-throat war in which arguments are soldiers and there is no use for rational debate with the other side. When I first read In Favor Of Niceness And Community I felt sure that Scott was right, but as things have been developing, I’m beginning to think that the majority of people behave according to the ideology of “Andrew” and that there’s only a handful of elite intellectuals who have managed for a historically temporary period to craft this fragile weak thing called liberalism, and now it’s failing once more like it did in the 30s, and we’re falling back to the attractor state of human society.

    Populists are rising everywhere. People want to drop the taboo on assault to attack populists who espouse a different kind of populism. Right wingers everywhere talking about death squads. Left wingers saying that its okay to punch Nazis while constantly expanding the definition of what counts as a Nazi far beyond the genuine article like Richard Spencer. I feel like we’re spiraling down. Helter Skelter, man.

    And I’m beginning to hate human beings because of it. Because I’m not a far-rightist or far-leftist, I end up stuck in the middle seething away, without a coalition, and without power. What if they start fighting in the streets? What if things keep getting worse and worse and then it’s civil war, and everyone’s got their various schemes for killing millions of the wrong people at the ready? What if I have to pick a side but my pride and hatred won’t let me? What if I end up going kamikaze and killing as many on both sides as I can before I die, if for nothing else than a spiteful gesture from the dying center? What about my friends? I can’t betray them, but what if they give in to the tribalism?

    I’m beginning to see myself as non-human, like it’s an identity I can discard. How do I get rid of this hatred? I don’t think I can care about human beings if this is what they really are, if behind every smile and politeness, there’s nothing but tribalistic motives and cold calculations about when to be diplomatic and when to rip out throats.

    I’m becoming an anti-human bigot. I’m beginning to fantasize about mushroom clouds and cleansing fire. How do I stop and become a good person again?

    • cassander says:

      >Are there any perspectives on humanity that if true would convert you into a misanthrope?

      Perceiving them accurately? It seems to me we’re pretty consistently awful.

      >I’m becoming an anti-human bigot

      It’s only bigoted to be anti-human if we don’t deserve it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are there any perspectives on humanity that if true would convert you into a misanthrope?

      Start by not being human and form a roughly accurate opinion on humans.

      constantly expanding the definition of what counts as a Nazi far beyond the genuine article like Richard Spencer

      Spencer isn’t even a Nazi.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Anonymous

      Spencer isn’t even a Nazi.

      He’s a Blib.

      • Anonymous says:

        Blibs aren’t Nazis.

        • Tekhno says:

          They carry all the bad qualities we associate with Nazis. If you want to ethnically cleanse your country to make it an ethno-state, perhaps you are not literally a Nazi because you are not an active antisemite waving about the swastika, but you support all the same stuff that matters ethically.

          • Anonymous says:

            If ethnic cleansing is necessary and sufficient grounds for being a Nazi, then Stalin was a Nazi, and so were Roosevelt and Churchill. Croats and Serbs are Nazis, and so are Biblical Israelites. Mugabe is a Nazi, and so is Nelson Mandela, and probably Mahatma Gandhi too.

          • Tekhno says:

            Stalin didn’t ethnically cleanse as part of his goal to create an ethno-state, and obviously it’s only a “Nazi” when whites do it. Keep on adding characteristics like aesthetics and you can real close.

            The only thing making Richard Spencer not a Nazi is that he’s not an active antisemite. Every single other thing brings him right up to the line.

          • Anonymous says:

            The only thing making Richard Spencer not a Nazi is that he’s not an active antisemite. Every single other thing brings him right up to the line.

            I had no idea Spencer wanted to nationalize the industry, expand the size of the military and wage wars of expansion against neighbouring states.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Anonymous

            I had no idea Spencer wanted to nationalize the industry, expand the size of the military and wage wars of expansion against neighbouring states.

            Hitler didn’t want to nationalize industry. Was he not a Nazi? Did the true Nazis die on the Night of the Long Knives, usurped by imposters?

            All you have left is the imperialism. Would a version of Hitler who was exactly the same except he wasn’t lying about wanting peace not be a Nazi? Spencer has said before that he admires imperialism and will “get a boner” reading about Napoleon, so if you combine that with his belief in an ethno-state, you have a guy who would have surely wanted historical territories back if he was in the same situation as Hitler, and since he believes in racial hierarchy, wouldn’t be opposed to “peacefully ethnically cleansing” inferior races in order to gain lebensraum.

            EDIT:

            Hell, Hitler wasn’t the be-all end all of Nazism, anyway, in the same way that Marx isn’t the be-all end all of communism. Aren’t there varieties of Nazi in the same way that there are varieties of communist?

            Was George Lincoln Rockwell a Nazi? He called his party the Free Enterprise American Nazi party, wore the brownshirt outfit, and believed in white nationalism, but was he not a Nazi because he believed in free market capitalism instead of dirigisme?

          • Anonymous says:

            Hitler didn’t want to nationalize industry.

            But he did:

            These changes—including autarky and nationalization of key industries—had a mixed record. By 1938 unemployment was practically extinct.[2] Wages increased by 10.9% in real terms during this period.[3] However, nationalization and a cutting off of trade meant rationing in key resources like poultry, fruit, and clothing for many Germans.[4]

            All you have left is the imperialism. Would a version of Hitler who was exactly the same except he wasn’t lying about wanting peace not be a Nazi? Spencer has said before that he admires imperialism and will “get a boner” reading about Napoleon, so if you combine that with his belief in an ethno-state, you have a guy who would have surely wanted historical territories back if he was in the same situation as Hitler, and since he believes in racial hierarchy, wouldn’t be opposed to “peacefully ethnically cleansing” inferior races in order to gain lebensraum.

            All you’re saying here is that in a different situation, supposing Spencer is lying about himself and his goals, he might have been a Nazi. This is a long stretch.

          • Tekhno says:

            I forgot about that, because I was thinking of the earlier privatizations (and all economies nationalize during total war) and how Hitler opposed the 26 points. I think that’s referring to the Reichswerke Hermann Goering; when the steel barons wouldn’t didn’t engage in certain operations due to profitability concerns, Goering was allowed to nationalize them. Turns out that was in 1937, so before the war.

            I don’t think Richard Spencer is a free market guy though. He’s said something to the effect that economics is relative to the populace and that socialism with a homogeneous populace could work, so I don’t think his indifference to economic specifics is a point of difference with Hitler.

            Okay, so assuming we push back and try to get Spencer redefined as not-a-nazi, what is he? He even looks like a Nazi, since he has the Hitler Youth cut. He isn’t a civic nationalist. He hates liberal conceptions of rights too. He’s only technically not-a-nazi, because he’s so close.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think “White Nationalist” is sufficiently grave a label.

          • Jake says:

            Since I’d rather not wade through Spencer’s writings myself, does anyone know what his views on democracy are? The Fuerherprinzip was a pretty important part of Nazism and if Spencer leans more towards herrenvolk democracy that’s a substantial difference.

          • Anonymous says:

            All I can find is his enemies saying he’s against democracy. Which he might, but I can’t tell.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            @Techno

            Stalin didn’t ethnically cleanse as part of his goal to create an ethno-state

            His actions to kill and deport members of ethnicities and import ethnic Russians in their place speak otherwise. If not an ethno-state, then an empire with a dominant ethnic group. Revealed preferences and all that.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I really don’t think getting on the euphemism treadmill is going to help Tekhno.

        • Anonymous says:

          Especially not when he does precisely what he accuses other people of doing (expanding the definition of ‘Nazi’).

        • Tekhno says:

          I’m just taking their word for it. Antifa can make a pretty damn good case for Spencer being a Nazi. He’s a guy who supports ethnic cleansing to make an ethno-state, has a Hitler youth haircut, and uses roman salutes “ironically”.

          That’s not expanding the definition of “Nazi”. We’re already at the point where that means “Nazi” to most people. The thing is, the Antifa people want to push it further, and so e-celebs like JonTron are also Nazis, and normal people associate them in their minds with previously established cases like Richard Spencer.

          We can’t turn the treadmill backwards so Richard Spencer isn’t a Nazi. It’s done now.

          • Anonymous says:

            Doesn’t mean *you* have to ape them and label him incorrectly.

          • Tekhno says:

            But it’s done. It’s stuck now. The definition of Nazi is where it is.

            I’ve made pedantic rationalist posts arguing that the Nazis weren’t even Fascists technically, but what matters is the popular definition of a thing on the day, not what is in accordance with its origins.

            Besides, Spencer is maybe a mm away from Nazism. There are only a few tiny elements between what Spencer is espousing and what Hitler was espousing. It’s like if a Stalinist decided he didn’t think the state would wither away. That would technically make him not a communist, but would it be unreasonable for regular people to identify him as one?

          • Anonymous says:

            I think you’re overstating the overlap of his opinions and preferred policies with Nazism. He may be in the general vicinity of the thougthspace of Nazis, but absent being a liar, he isn’t one himself ATM.

      • gbdub says:

        “White Nationalist” or “small-n” nazi seems better, if you really want to quibble about it. At this point I don’t think it’s arguable that he’s legitimately outside the Overton window such that his opinions are pretty offensive, so assigning an offensive label to him that’s at least adjacent to his actual views doesn’t move my needle that much.

        I do think it’s relevant in that Nazis actually engaged in warfare and genocide. Spencer seems to be limited to nasty talk. Were he actually or imminently committing violence, I’d be more inclined to throw a fist at him and/or cheer those who do.

        Otherwise, I do think preserving the norm of not resorting to physical violence over verbal disagreement is more important than punching Spencer, and I oppose his punching on those grounds despite my id considering him eminently punchable.

        Oh, I also oppose it on the grounds that sucker punching a guy giving an interview is always kind of crappy.

        • The Red Foliot says:

          Punching nazis weakens the cultural tradition of not punching people. First they will punch the nazis, then they will punch the jews, then they will punch themselves, and pretty soon there will be nobody left to punch.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            To answer your initial question, it’s a matter of perspective. A subjective matter. Concentrate on things that get you down and you will reliably come to have a dour mind. All you have to do to be positive is insulate yourself from negative things and surround yourself with the positive.

          • Matt M says:

            Hah. I like this.

            “First they punched the Nazis, and I didn’t stand up because I wasn’t a Nazi”

          • skef says:

            To call it a “tradition” seems like an exaggeration (footnote 7). More like a fairly recent (and I think welcome) cultural norm.

            (Or maybe Nagel was always a kook. All those posters!)

        • Deiseach says:

          Oh, I also oppose it on the grounds that sucker punching a guy giving an interview is always kind of crappy.

          Also, one of these days one of these fearless warriors is going to throw a punch at someone who does know how to fight, then they’ll get the crap knocked out of them, and there will be outrage over violence! physical injury! how very dare they! how typical of these ultra rightists to resort to force! which will blow every hypocrisy meter in a ten-mile radius and give the rest of us ringing headaches.

          • lvlln says:

            AFAIK, the details are unknown and may be unknowable, but this may have already happened during the Milo protest at University of Washington where a Milo supporter shot an antifa protester in alleged self-defense. The shooter turned himself into the police and was let free, so of course this is being spun as “look at the evil police letting those evil neo-Nazis shoot us in cold blood and get away with it!” Rather than, you know, “No one knows what actually happened there, but one possibility is that the shooter really did fear for his life, which would justify his shooting in self defense.” The right-wing is, predictably, spinning it as “the police never let shooting suspects go, so the fact that he was let go PROVES that he really was only acting in self defense!”

            OTL

          • Cypren says:

            It doesn’t prove that he was acting in self-defense, but it does prove that the police had good reason to believe that he was probably acting in self-defense. You cannot shoot people in public, caught on video, and simply walk away without handcuffs unless there’s some pretty compelling evidence in play.

            The video that was publicly released of the incident does show some sort of a scuffle between the shooter and one of the anti-Milo protesters, followed by a crowd of protesters closing in on the guy. There may be more evidence at play, but it’s also possible that the video alone — showing how outnumbered the shooter was, and that the rest of the crowd appeared intent to do him harm — was enough to convince the police that he had legitimate reason to fear for his life.

    • lvlln says:

      I had a moment of feeling something like this – though not nearly as strongly or sustained as you, it seems – after the punching incident last week, when pretty much everyone on my side was gloating about how happy they were that someone they deemed a Nazi got punched. Maybe I was being naive given the events in the past few years, but I honestly thought that compassion for everyone was something that the people on my side considered a good thing. That any pain suffered by any human in any circumstance was something to feel sad about, at best a necessary harm for preventing greater harm (e.g. in self defense), and never ever something to celebrate. Obviously, I was wrong, and cruel sadism is not something the left lacks.

      It got me thinking for a moment about how little progress seems to be happening in things like improving prison conditions and abolishing capital punishment. Perhaps we’ll never achieve much progress on that, because on some level the vast majority of people simply believe that pain and death are things to be celebrated as long as they happen to people they deem bad.

      I don’t think it makes me think of myself as non-human or feel hatred for humans, though. Just a little more pessimistic about our future.

      • Montfort says:

        Similarly, a friend of mine considers compassion their defining characteristic, practically central to their identity. And then someone punched a “Nazi” and they started ridiculing arguments against punching political enemies. That was disheartening, I admit.

        • Zorgon says:

          Gawd, yes. I have spent years listening to supposed progressives go on and on and on about “empathy”.

          “The difference is, we’re capable of empathy!”
          “Well that’s typical of an empathy-free right winger!”

          And so on.

          Then the second a punch gets thrown at someone they don’t like? Nope. Empathy gone. ALL NAZI PUNCHING ALL THE TIME and heaven fucking help you if you express any reticence about the idea.

          • Montfort says:

            Please don’t use the inconsistencies of my friend to attack all “supposed progressives.”

            I apologize if that’s not what you’re trying to do, but I would like this request to stand against future commenters as well, anyway.

          • Zorgon says:

            If it was only your friend who was being inconsistent, there wouldn’t really be a problem.

            I used “supposed progressive” as I don’t think “progressive” in the traditional sense and “we should punch people who disagree in the face” are compatible positions. The last few months have demonstrated quite soundly to me that many of the people I know who referred to themselves as “progressive” were in fact just wearing the team colors of the Culture War victors rather than actual believers.

          • Deiseach says:

            To be fair, PUNCH A NAZI! is a very seductive notion because it’s so simple. Never mind real world complexities, this is as basic black-and-white morality and satisfying as Indiana Jones punching Nazis (an image that is getting a lot of work as a meme these days).

            It’s easy: all you have to do is –

            (1) Identify your Nazi (a particular haircut, a Pepe the frog pin, that guy who just looks like he probably thinks and believes the same things as a Nazi)

            (2) Run up and sucker punch him (I’ve been seeing online guides about “this is how you throw a punch”, “follow through with your whole body” and so on)

            (3) Success! You are a hero, the Nazis now know nobody likes them, and they will skulk back to their holes, afraid to walk the streets in the daylight

            It’s a daydream born out of frustration and a feeling of helplessness that the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, things are happening faster than you can process, there is nothing you can personally realistically do about it, and you were promised that this was never gonna happen, you were the ones on the right side of history, the arc of justice was bending your way, you were the demographic victors (or their allies).

            I can sympathise that much, even though it’s really damn annoying to see the snickering smuggery about “punching Nazis” from people I know couldn’t tear a wet paper bag in half.

          • Viliam says:

            The difference is, we’re capable of empathy!

            I’d say that people who say that only their political group is capable of empathy, are already providing more than enough evidence against their statement.

          • Tekhno says:

            It is one of the irritating things about ideologies that try to pursue evolutionarily novel values. The most sincere advocates often act like they are floating above the rest of us, but they inevitably come crashing down to join the rest of us when their reptile brain gets triggered.

            It annoys me to see people who complain about toxic masculinity and promote feminism and marginalized groups resort to macho posturing and insults that they would consider homophobic or gender binary when not in reptile mode. It just sounds bizarre to hear these people call Nazis subhumans and then act like they’re being clever rather than revealing by flipping it around.

            But it equally annoys me when you have all these guys promoting what is basically an Immortan Joe view of the world, posturing about how tough and alpha they are, and how they are going to beat all the weak feminized cucks on the day of the rope, get confronted with the reality of violence and be shown fleeing in fear or crying, only to later go straight back to how it was a weak sneak attack and that “it didn’t hurt me at all!”

            What’s the point of posturing if we can see straight through it, you stupid fucking monkey? You’re a frog’s leg twitching in a petri dish when jolted with electricity.

            People go too far with the “both sides are the same” stuff sometimes, but I really get the sense that this isn’t that far-removed from mindless football hooligan type behavior, with the ideology only serving as a flimsy justification to feel powerful and part of something.

            Disgusting. Gas 99% of humanity. Be nice, kind, and reasonable.

          • Incurian says:

            Be nice, kind, and reasonable.

            And have some sort of plan about something.

    • Mark says:

      “if behind every smile and politeness, there’s nothing but tribalistic motives and cold calculations about when to be diplomatic and when to rip out throats.”

      When I read this, it reminded me of a comment I wrote on a blog back in 2008/2009. There was some guy who was obsessed with the idea that Genghis Khan was the ancestor of however many million people, and what that meant for morality etc. etc. and how miserable he was. And sex.

      So, I made this brilliant comment, and it was like “Dude – it doesn’t matter, fight the good fight for beauty” etc.

      Anyway, I tried to look up that comment on that blog, and I couldn’t find it. I did, however, realise that I used to comment in character as some weird pseudo-middle aged old fashioned English gentleman, that my writing is far too dense, and that I’ve been having conversations about “privilege” for almost a decade.

    • James Miller says:

      “I’m beginning to see myself as non-human, like it’s an identity I can discard. How do I get rid of this hatred? I don’t think I can care about human beings if this is what they really are, if behind every smile and politeness, there’s nothing but tribalistic motives and cold calculations about when to be diplomatic and when to rip out throats.”

      I hope that genetic engineering for super-intelligence doesn’t bring out this attitude in subjects, but I seriously fear that it might.

    • BBA says:

      I am opposed to punching Nazis. As a Jew, I feel the only moral action I can take upon encountering a Nazi is to kill him.

      But as a Jew, I also feel obliged to apply Talmudic logic. If there is any reason whatsoever to have a shred of doubt whether someone I encounter is a Nazi, then I must act as though he were not a Nazi, and therefore do him no harm. (I’m not religious, but I know that e.g. in practice nobody can be shunned as a bastard because it’s always possible the parents were secretly married. This is meant in that spirit.)

      That’s always the question – can you be certain? And I’m never really certain of anything. The world is full of people who are too certain. Maybe.

      • Jiro says:

        By that reasoning, we should change the court system so that instead of requiring that someone be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they be found guilty beyond any doubt. After all, putting someone in prison does him harm, and you don’t want to do that when there is a shred of doubt.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          What if I have a shred of doubt about whether I truly have a shred of doubt?

        • BBA says:

          I speak only to my personal morality. It’s completely unworkable on a societal basis. (But for similar reasons I’m opposed to the death penalty.)

    • blacktrance says:

      Humanity is heterogeneous. Misanthropy is an appropriate response to some humans, but others inspire the opposite. Rather than seething with hatred, the solution is to build a bubble of people you like. Outside, terrible people make life miserable for each other and themselves, but to the extent that it’s possible, don’t pay attention to them, or occasionally look at them with detachment and be glad you don’t have to be part of that. You may be surprised at how little you’re affected by the outrages of the day.
      Unfortunately, politics does permeate the bubble sometimes, and there’s not much you can do about that, but it’s better to be isolated than immerse yourself in the masses.

      • Tekhno says:

        I have friends, but it feels like we’re a rare breed.

      • Tarpitz says:

        I’m not sure people are as heterogeneous as all that, at least in this respect. The world’s not full of terrible people making life miserable for each other and themselves; it’s full of basically decent people who, with varying frequency and degree, sometimes get frightened, sad and lonely and lash out, harming themselves and others. Actual complete and total bastards are vanishingly rare.

        I’m with Granny Weatherwax: there is no grey, only white that’s got a bit grubby.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Eh, not really? I’ll explain why at the end.

      I’m beginning to think that the majority of people behave according to the ideology of “Andrew” and that there’s only a handful of elite intellectuals who have managed for a historically temporary period to craft this fragile weak thing called liberalism, and now it’s failing once more like it did in the 30s, and we’re falling back to the attractor state of human society.

      Well, yeah? Aside from the bit about “failing once more like it did in the 30s” (too soon to say) I would say that not only are your feelings in accord with my own, but that I thought that it was obvious. The idea of the Triumphal March of Liberalism and Progress always had a feet of clay problem. Off the top of my head, we have yet to see a stable liberal democracy equal the long-term stability of the Roman Republic without being conquered by a dicator/authoritarian/king/emperor, suffering economic collapse, ecological collapse, demographic collapse, transitioning into authoritarianism itself…even at Peak Democracy I’m pretty sure that the majority of the human world by both country count and population were living under illiberal and/or undemocratic rule.

      Ask any soldier or police officer, and they’ll be happy to tell you that modern civilization, peace, order, and due process is not a matter of running down a checklist and then enjoying the benefits of the system you’ve constructed. It’s a series of never-ending fights, a struggle not just between humans and themselves, but between humans and other humans who lost that first fight, or just gleefully switched sides the first time the black banner went flying.

      It’s not enough to say “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” because vigilance alone isn’t enough, and it’s not just others you need to be vigilant against. If you’re not willing to to hurt other people when you have to, to wound, to imprison, to punish, even to kill, you lose. And if you’re TOO willing to hurt other people, then you still lose. So we delegate as much as we can. We delegate that responsibility and that burden, and we formalize it, and we watch the watchmen and we watch the watchers of the watchmen we watch each other and we watch ourselves.

      And maybe you’re lucky and you go through your life, and the system works, and you’ll never need to fight a drunken bully outside a bar, or a mugger, or a war, civil or otherwise. Or maybe you aren’t so lucky, either because you picked the wrong bar, or the wrong bus stop, or got born into the wrong country at the wrong point in history. You don’t get to control that. And you don’t get to control what the rest of the world does, either, except by ending it, and we both know you don’t want to do that even if it was plausibly within your power.

      So you focus on what you can control: And that is yourself. What you do, what you say, and how those choices either uphold or undermine the values you’re afraid are in jeopardy right now. You think ahead, and if you’re seriously concerned that the threat to those values could become something requiring more than words on the internet, then you take steps to ensure you are ready for that eventuality….and while you do it, you remember that HOW you take those steps, and WHEN, might be the most important part of the process.

      Everyone’s going through that process. Some more sloppily and with gut level reasoning and short-term goals in mind. Some with exquisite care and far more intelligence than you or I can bring to bear. And THAT is why I’m not a misanthrope. Because I believe the fact that we CAN go through that process means that there will always be people worth fighting for and beside, whether that’s arguing against physical violence or dispensing it.

      • Deiseach says:

        The idea of the Triumphal March of Liberalism and Progress always had a feet of clay problem.

        The Whig version of history. Between the Whigs and the Tories, I’m a Tory, though not a Tory Tory, a British Conservative party Tory, the Irish Tory 🙂

        Yeah, though, even though my head says “This is really stupid”, the idea of dying for and with your king re: Charles I – ah well, this is why the Irish were Jacobites even if we came to dislike James II and preferred “Change kings and we’ll fight you again”. Choose between William of Orange or the Hanoverian Georges and the Blackbird – this damn idiotic romanticism is why we never got anywhere in the world. It’s probably also why we don’t expect things to go our way or that things can only get better.

        Because he deserted his Irish supporters, James became known in Ireland as Séamus an Chaca or “James the Shit”. Despite this popular perception, Breandán Ó Buachalla argued that “Irish political poetry for most of the eighteenth century is essentially Jacobite poetry”, and both Ó Buachalla and Éamonn Ó Ciardha argued that James and his successors played a central role as messianic figures throughout the eighteenth century for all classes in Ireland.

        Interestingly, Napoleon inherited this messianic role in Irish poetry.

    • Zorgon says:

      I’m not at the “fuck it, fire the missiles, start again” stage yet. I just would quite like to never, ever hear or see the word “Trump” ever again if possible. Pretty much 90% of Internet content right now appears to in some way relate to Trump. My level of overexposure is reaching critical.

      If nothing else, however, the current atmosphere is making it very easy for me to avoid Facebook-related procrastination. Akrasia may be the fifth fundamental force in the universe, but it cannot withstand Trumpbook.

    • Matt C says:

      > I end up stuck in the middle

      Totalitarians to the left of you, fascists to the right.

      Well, at least you’re not alone, even if it feels like it sometimes.

      I’m disappointed in people too. Friends of mine that used to be reasonable have gone all zealoty. People I like are talking crazy and proto-dangerous talk. It’s scary and sad.

      But, “humans gonna human” as I’ve seen said here before. It was scary for a couple years after 9-11 and things eventually settled down. I was around back in the 80s, back then friends and families were splitting up over differing views on abortion. That settled down too. I wasn’t around for the crazy in the 60s, but that sounds not-too-different from what we’re seeing now.

      Most likely we’ll stumble through the next year or 3 and people will calm down somewhat and stop hating each other. I do feel like social media fans the flames in a way we’ve not had before, but I choose to be optimistic that we’ll all get over this (at least this time around).

      One thing that helps me some is recognizing that I’m a spectator in all of this. Our instincts and our cultural mythology tell us that craziness in our society is something we–each and every one of us–can do something about. For almost all of us, it really isn’t. What happens in the big picture is entirely out of our control. We can roll with it and deal with it and adapt to it, but we can’t control it or stop it. I dunno, maybe this isn’t soothing for you, but it is for me.

      Best advice I have for you, though, is to spend more time away from the computer and social media especially. That’s where the crazy is worst. Take a walk, find a project to do outside. Something you can work on with a buddy, even better. Life is still pretty good all in all. Try to focus more on the good parts.

  9. gbdub says:

    A fallacy/rhetorical tactic I’ve noticed, that seems common enough that I’m wondering if it has a name.

    Version 1:
    Esteemed Alice: Not-So-Popular Pete is a terrible buffoon who must be opposed!
    Not-So-Popular Pete: I’m not a buffoon at all, in fact Alice is an overrated nincompoop!
    Crowd: HOW DARE Pete attack Alice, she’s a heroic national treasure!

    Version 2:
    Esteemed Alice: Not-So-Popular Pete is a terrible buffoon who must be opposed!
    Not-So-Popular Pete: I choose not to respond to that comment.
    Crowd: HA! Alice DESTROYED Pete and he had NO ANSWER to her withering intellect!

    Basically, Alice can be any sympathetic figure that attacks a less sympathetic Pete. Pete is placed is a double bind: If he responds, he looks like a jerk. If he stays silent (or pulls his punches to avoid looking like a jerk), then it’s assumed he concedes the point.

    The problem seems to be the assumption that certain people should be “off-limits” for criticism, even within a debate they’ve voluntarily entered. You see this all the time with politicians getting a war hero / kid / loved celebrity to attack their opponent, basically daring them to respond (and look like a jerk).

    • Anonymous says:

      Seems a variant of appeal to authority.

      • gbdub says:

        It does, though I think it has enough unique qualities to earn its own name:
        1) The authority being appealed to is usually moral rather than factual. Or at least, the authority is at most tangential to the question at hand.
        2) It’s less about “Alice is correct, because she is authority” and more “If you criticize Alice, you are a bad person, even though she criticized you first”.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Not a snappy name, but it’s described in Proverbs 26:4-5.

    • gbdub says:

      Snappy but obscure (then again, so is “motte-and-bailey”):

      Arming the Medic

      So in “civilized” warfare, all the medics go around unarmed with big red crosses on in big white vehicles. It’s bad form to shoot them, because they are after all just tending to the wounded who are already knocked out of combat.

      Now say you’ve got a medic and you put him in a white tank with a red cross on it, and then send him out to machine gun an enemy formation – it’s not really fair to criticize the enemy when they drop a bomb on this tank. Nevertheless, you’re going to propagandize the hell out of it if they do.

    • DavidS says:

      Yeah, this can be annoying. But you are referring here to basically personal criticisms, which isn’t the clearest case. People respond with a ‘how dare you’ to personal criticism they think is unfounded/irrelevant. If Stephen Hawking called a politician idiot and they said ‘no, YOU’RE an idiot’ then people would mock them, and if they said ‘yeah, but you can’t get out of that chair’, they would be appalled. Not sure any of these reactions are terrible, or that it’s bad for Hawking to call people idiots, though obviously in itself it doesn’t move the debate forward.

      And if you have the moral high ground (in the view of the onlookers!), one of the side effects is you can morally criticise people more credibly than vice versa. A bit like how if Mathemetician Mabel told Ignorant Ingrid ‘you’re doing long division wrong’ and Ignorant Ingrid said ‘no, YOU’RE doing it wrong’ then we’d support the first but not the second.

      It becomes much more of an issue if what you mean is cases where Alice gets to make substantive arguments and Pete is basically not given space to make rebuttals.

    • Artificirius says:

      Halo effect?

  10. Mark says:

    I find it very annoying that I can hear people outside of my house getting very excited about protesting against Trump, when I don’t live in America.

    What exactly is the point of these international protests? Does anyone in America care? Who are they shouting at?

    Sigh…

    [Edit: I went down to have a look – it was actually pretty funny. The main chant was “This is our nation, fuck deportation” (wat) with scattered “Love Trumps Hate”s.

    Best moment was when this big homeless looking (white) dude shouted (jokingly?) “Any white males, I’ll fuck you up”

    So on second thoughts, I think we should have more of these protests.
    ]

    • Aapje says:

      The point is that they signal their solidarity with their ingroup in the US.

      • Mark says:

        Bit sad though, isn’t it?

        Like the international mass movement equivalent of white knighting/ getting friend zoned.

        • Aapje says:

          Much of what humans do is to gain acceptance, it is part of our core make up.

          On the plus side, this is what allows humans to work and live together. I try to frame these things like this to get less depressed by human behavior.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      What exactly is the point of these international protests? Does anyone in America care? Who are they shouting at?

      Probably at least as much about sending a message to their own government not to get too cozy with Trump or drift towards Trumpism

      • DavidS says:

        Definitely a hefty dose of that in the UK. E.g. the 1.6m strong and counting e-petition to say Trump shouldn’t have a state visit (rather adorably the given reason is because it would be horrible for the Queen but I imagine the point for most is sending a message to the government of ‘we don’t want you to cozy up to Trump too much’)

        https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928

    • Wander says:

      Cosmopolitanism is a nation in and of itself. The American blue tribe is extremely good at exporting their culture, and basically every world city ends up being made of roughly the same ideologies. They will identify with other blue tribers in other countries before they will their own countrymen, hence their involvement in their issues.

  11. gbdub says:

    Can someone give a good explanation/defense of the Uber boycott? I am suddenly being bombarded with Facebook screeds that deleting their app immediately is the only acceptable course of action.

    As far as I can tell, their crime is choosing to continue operating, and to suspend surge pricing, during a 1 hour strike by the NYC taxi services in protest of the Trump immigration EO.

    The latter part (suspend surge pricing) seems like an obvious double bind – implement surge pricing, and they get accused of profiteering off the protest. Suspend it, and we see them get accused of strike breaking.

    Really, the whole thing bothers me, in that I don’t agree with the idea that it is fair to involuntarily force people to participate in your protest. And “SCAB!” is an insult I hate – people gotta eat, they gotta get places. It’s great that you have the privilege of being able to take time off to strike/protest, but you’re hurting innocent people who did not agree to participate. But I’d be curious to see an honest defense of this practice.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Yeah, the first I heard of it was when a bunch of my friends started angrily deleting their Uber accounts. I’m still not 100% sure why, and the reason they gave (“Uber is on Trump’s staff!”) didn’t make much sense.

      What I, and I suspect most people, did is just quietly continue using Uber. I don’t feel like changing my ride-sharing service and equally don’t want to draw any heat from my peers or bosses by publicly asking questions. I doubt people will remember that they’re supposed to be using Lyft in a week anyway, it’s been one thing after another like this ever since the inauguration.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      When you look like you are breaking a strike called to stand in solidarity with people who are being illegally denied entry into the US, you are going to get hammered?

      And they apparently only eliminated surge pricing on people leaving the airport.

      If they knew they were in a double-bind, then they handled it really poorly. A terse “we are dropping surge pricing” with no mention of the strike or protests at all is the worst possible choice. It shows that you are aware of the issues, and responding to them, but lets everyone come to their own conclusion about what position you are taking.

      They seem to be trying to signal a principled position, without actually having any principles.

      • gbdub says:

        Can Uber really be accused of breaking the strike of a different service they don’t participate in, and in fact are actively opposed by?

        Taxi services do everything they can to prevent (and protest) ride-sharing, but when taxis go on strike, they are all supposed to be on the same team?

        Should the taxi service drivers get to unilaterally declare a strike on behalf of all transportation services?

        Did Lyft participate in the strike?

        I do agree that Uber’s messaging could have been better (since apparently somebody somewhere made a deliberate response to the strike – hard to claim “whoops, we just didn’t notice”), but still, this looks like “chose not to participate in the strike” rather than “obviously conspired to break the strike”, which is what they are being accused of (well, that plus being fascist Trump cronies).

        If anything, their lack of surge pricing may have helped the strike, given the Uber business model – fewer drivers would be motivated to pick up the extra fares at the airport.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Can Uber really be accused of breaking the strike of a different service they don’t participate in, and in fact are actively opposed by?

          Well, yes. If people who aren’t in the union start doing the union work, they are strike-breakers (or scabs, if you want the preferred union term).

          I mean, this wasn’t a real strike anyway. So it’s not really like the strike was being broken. But if the cabbies were actually striking, to the extent that Uber prevented that strike from being felt by the public, they would be breaking it.

          But I originally said “look like you are breaking a strike” and the words “look like” are important.

          It’s mostly a PR mistake. There are any number of ways they could have avoided it. They picked one of the few strategies that almost guaranteed they would not.

          • gbdub says:

            I guess to me, Uber is separate enough that this is more like the iron workers calling the longshoreman scabs for not joining their strikes.

            Did the city bus drivers strike? Or the hotel shuttles? Or the offsite parking drivers? Are they being called scabs? If not, why is Uber being singled out?

            I think I’m getting a little paranoid, but I’m leaning toward the opinion that the Uber boycott was not organic but rather organized by one of the usual anti-Uber groups (maybe the cabbies themselves) using this as a handy pretext. The similarity in language of the posts I’m seeing (“scabs” and “fascists”) and the rapid leap to blaming Uber specifically seems a bit too convenient. How paranoid is that?

          • Viliam says:

            Did the city bus drivers strike?

            So the proper reaction would be: “I will never use Uber or mass transit, because they refused to join the taxi services protest. Everyone join me!” And then let people debate it in the comments.

          • BBA says:

            Re public transit: on Saturday I saw some “progressive” sources praise the Governor for keeping the AirTrain running and letting protesters get to the airport.

            Of course, the issue isn’t “should there be transportation?”, it’s “whose side are you on?” So don’t go looking for consistent answers to the former.

          • Matt M says:

            “Of course, the issue isn’t “should there be transportation?”, it’s “whose side are you on?” So don’t go looking for consistent answers to the former.”

            A friend of mine posted a link to a Tweet of some activist complaining about how the ACLU was getting all the glory when “POC-owned organizations” were responsible for the logistics of actually getting lawyers to the airports.

            I haven’t yet found the right way to express my incredulity at this…

    • Deiseach says:

      They seem to be trying to signal a principled position, without actually having any principles.

      The only principles Uber had are “We’re a business, we’re in this to make money”. Since I think Uber is scummy about pretending not to be what it is (a hackney service, it’s long past “we’re just the middleman connecting a guy who needs a lift with a guy driving that way anyway”), I’m kind of happy they’re getting turned on by the same people who were all billing and cooing over the new sharing economy for being scabs now.

      I’m not happy the drivers are going to get called scab labour because it’s not their choice (if you want to keep driving for Uber, and you need to keep driving for Uber because this is part of how you make a living, you can’t tell them ‘nope, not doing any airport pick-ups’).

      • Matt M says:

        if you want to keep driving for Uber, and you need to keep driving for Uber because this is part of how you make a living, you can’t tell them ‘nope, not doing any airport pick-ups

        Is this really true? My understanding was that Uber drivers basically set their own hours and geographic locations and that the only way you really “get fired” is by having consistently low ratings from riders.

        • gbdub says:

          I do believe you can get dinged if you turn down too many nearby fares while you’re “on-the-clock”, although you can go on/off the clock at will.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’m not an Uber driver, but I thought drivers got to choose which customers they would pick up, and they know where those customers are. This is why a driver can be on both the Lyft and Uber networks simultaneously.

            A driver can opt-out of a lot of things, including routes (although whether they know your destination seems to change based on the city you are in).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            although you can go on/off the clock at will.

            I don’t think that is true either.

            My belief (perhaps incorrect) is that you can’t just clock in during peak time and not at other times.

          • Matt M says:

            Why not? Isn’t their entire model based on the premise that you CAN do that? They want more drivers on the road during peak times and fewer drivers on the road during non peak times!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I am going to have to retract that, as I can’t find anything that says that.

            I know I read an article at some point, but I must be misremembering the information that was in it.

          • gbdub says:

            UBER Community Guidelines

            You get dinged if you cancel too many trips you accept, or if you fail to accept too many requests that you are dispatched. I don’t see anything about getting dinged for logging on or off, which as far as I know you can do whenever you want. It sounds like you will be logged off automatically if you don’t respond (i.e. accept or decline) a ride request.

    • rmtodd says:

      Really, the whole thing bothers me, in that I don’t agree with the idea that it is fair to involuntarily force people to participate in your protest.

      Yeah, I agree. It’s also pretty surreal that we have the protesting taxi drivers arguing that the Uber people should have joined them in protesting Trump’s taking an arbitrary action that screwed over the travel plans of people coming into the country this weekend – and that their preferred form of protest is, well, taking an arbitrary action that screws over the travel plans of people trying to fly out of NYC this weekend.

  12. HeelBearCub says:

    I know there was movement to taboo a whole bunch of terms this OT, but, well, I don’t think happened.

    I have frequently commented that the term “SJW” is used in a motte-and-bailey fashion around here. The motte is that SJW represents on those interested in social justice who also are firmly committed to using illiberal practices to silence dissenting opinions with extreme prejudice. That’s a working definition of the motte. I’m not sure if I have captured it exactly.

    The bailey is where SJW is used to describe anyone who supports the idea of social justice at all, and is easily expanded to include anyone who is part of the left-wing coalition.

    Search SJ in this thread, and you see plenty of examples of the gamboling freely in the bailey without anyone challenging it.

    I’m not interested in arguing (in this thread) whether this should be so. I merely wish to point out that this is an example of a thread where it is so. When I have made the contention in the past, I have had plenty of people challenge my contention that it occurs.

    • gbdub says:

      It does seem to, but part of the problem is, I think, lack of an easily used term for “supports social justice but does not use illiberal means to do so”. Also, some people really do want to criticize social justice as a concept separate from criticism of SJW tactics.

      I try to use / propose “social justice advocates” (SJAs) as a term for the latter, and reserve SJW for criticism of tactics.

      Sometimes people just say “the left”, but then they get criticized for using that term overbroadly.

      Anyway I think the biggest issue is to not conflate criticism of SJA values/beliefs with criticism of SJW tactics (mostly, don’t use the latter to justify the former).

    • Matt M says:

      I think this relates to the “why don’t the moderate Muslims denounce terrorism!” argument we’ve had here before. I suspect that any SJ-sympathetic person who fails to denounce illiberal tactics by SJWs is easily lumped in as “well you might as well be an SJW yourself” then. This is probably not entirely fair, but is done for the purposes of expediency.

      That said, I do think it could do SJSs (social justice sympathizers? good new acronym!) some good to denounce the worst SJW practices as necessary. Scott strikes me as a good example of this. He seems to be largely sympathetic with most of the goals of SJ, but is willing to denounce when their tactics are objectionable. As a result, few people seem to mistakenly lump him in with SJWs – in fact, the reverse seems more likely, as he attracts anti-SJWs to his blog, and the true believer SJWs denounce him as an enemy of the revolution.

    • Tekhno says:

      What is just regular Social Justice (excluding the older Catholic meaning) as compared to being a Social Justice Warrior? Based on what I think “Social Justice” means I have a tremendous problem with the goals in mind and not just the tactics, and I think the goals and principles lead to the tactics anyway, because the ideas themselves are illiberal. I don’t, however, think that Social Justice is synonymous with the left as a whole, and it is a small and relatively recently popular sub-group that gets most of its ideas from critical theorists like Kimberle Crenshaw.

      I think what’s happened is that the right started using SJW as a general term to attack the left as a whole, and then leftists who didn’t support things like progressive stack and equality of outcome to fight intersecting oppression, decided to close ranks around the term Social Justice. The term has been rendered meaningless even though it had a clear original meaning. Some people are doing a motte and bailey and smearing the whole left. Other people are using SJ to refer to a sub-group of the left they hate.

      At this point, it’s probably just better to spell out “those people who think we should create a new inverted hierarchy based on intersecting privilege as distinct from other leftists who don’t believe that” rather than use the term SJ. Or we can make a replacement word to use for a while until rightists abuse it into meaninglessness.

      Uh… Let’s just throw out a random word. Doesn’t have to pick up outside of this community, but in the interests of clarity I’m going to be calling advocates of Social Justice “Durgs” instead, and to make absolutely clear that I’m not conflating them with other leftists I’m going to claim they belong to a totally different political spectrum that has nothing to do with the left.

      This is literally what I’m going to do from now on in these Open Threads. Watch this space!

      EDIT:

      In further service of “clarity”, I will also call what I think alt-righters are “Blibs” to avoid tedious arguments about what counts as alt-right and what doesn’t.

      Blibs: People who want to use ethnic cleansing to achieve an ethno-state.

    • Mark says:

      When Princess Diana died, I felt as if the whole country had gone completely mad.
      I couldn’t understand why everyone was crying, why everyone was saying pompous, ponderous, nonsensical things, and why they had cancelled all of the good TV shows.
      Now, I didn’t hate Princess Diana – it was certainly sad that she died – but the emotional incontinence, and the slight undertone of menace (if you’re not sad, you’re suspect) really pissed me off.

      Anyway, I bring this up because it’s similar to my feelings about “social justice”. I’m interested in social justice, and I like criticising “SJWs”. When I say “SJWs” I’m not talking about people who are using illiberal methods. I mean, I’m not especially liberal, so I wouldn’t really hold that against them.

      When I say “SJW” I’m talking about emotionally incontinent people who are probably more interested in being part of a mob than social justice.

      SJWs are the sad-sack, teddy bear clutching, Princess Diana mourners of the left.

      • Iain says:

        Okay. Now compare your definition of “SJW” to the first thread in this comment section, which is concerned about Catholic schools who are “obsessed with training their budding SJWs”, and consider that HBC’s motte/bailey analysis might have a point.

        • Nornagest says:

          Having met a few people that came out of Catholic schools in and around Berkeley, I have a feeling the “in Berkeley” part is more important than the “Catholic” part.

        • Mark says:

          Yeah – there may well be a motte and bailey at work, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with the SJWs being illiberal.

          It’s to do with them being annoying.

        • Deiseach says:

          Catholic schools who are obsessed with training their budding SJWs

          When I was in secondary school (between 1975-1980) the Vatican II reforms were just really kicking in in Ireland, and instead of the old-fashioned catechisms we had workbook-type textbooks. They were full of this sort of thing, albeit in a more embryonic form. I can’t say I learned any theological material in school (outside of reading Dante in translation for myself, that’s why I say I get all my theology out of Dante).

          So it’s not a new problem, and part of my whining that Catholics know damn-all about their own religion because the instruction they used to get in Christian Doctrine classes in school has been replaced, for the past forty years, with this kind of “it’s nice to be nice”. And now modern classes are more general about studying various religions rather than one religion in depth, so there’s even less knowledge.

          Eh. Part of this was the genuine link between charity and justice and the requirements of such in Christianity but it developed into a general vague niceness project. I’m certainly not griping about kids learning to be generous and aware of social problems, and Social Justice was originally developed in a Catholic context.

          But “budding SJWs” are not, as I said, a new development in Catholic (or I suppose they’d describe themselves as “in the Catholic tradition”) education 🙂

    • FacelessCraven says:

      @HeelBearCub – “I have frequently commented that the term “SJW” is used in a motte-and-bailey fashion around here. ”

      For what it’s worth, I agree. I don’t think the term “SJW” is ever useful. I am happy being opposed to Social Justice as a whole.

      • Aapje says:

        @FacelessCraven

        You can be opposed to the whole (or 90% of it) and yet have different criticisms of different subsections.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Aapje – Certainly. But it seems to me that the problems with Social Justice are foundational, having to do with the core theories of privilege and power dynamics and such. I think most people who use the term “SJW” in the way HBC is objecting to would likely agree: the problem isn’t a few bad apples, but rather core parts of the ideology that create bad incentives. If one believes this, the term becomes a pure pejorative, hence useless.

          • Robert Liguori says:

            What do you mean by foundational?

            I’d say the reverse, myself; a hypothetical Social Justice movement which took theories of intersectionality and invisible privilege seriously, which took as a given that the specific confluence of influences on a given individual’s life trumped any generalizations about them based on superficial attributes, and which said to itself “Guys, I know we think it’s hilarious, but we’re being told that ‘Male Tears’ mugs are offensive and we listen and believe, so let’s stop it.” would avoid an incredible amount of the movement’s current failure modes.

            Hell, even a Social Justice movement which would let itself be nailed down on what power and institutional power actually were, and then actually recalibrated its behavior when it started acting as an equal or a superior in given spaces, would avoid the worst of it.

            But I think we’re looking at a slight variation on the Iron Law of Bureaucracy here; a Social Justice movement which did these things would not be able to leverage tribalism and toxoplasma, and so would do quiet, effective, and very small things until it was overtaken and subsumed into a larger memeplex which did do them.

          • Zorgon says:

            Agreed with Robert, and I’d like to add that my experience has been that Social Justice groups like this have and still do exist in small numbers. They cannot, however, gain any power over the broader social-control-oriented movement, as that movement does not brook internal threats.

            When you see Tumblr lunatics howling on about “allies” and “liberals”? They’re actually talking about people who practice SJ conformant to reason.

          • Viliam says:

            When a movement is led by trust fund kids who have a hobby of making people who need money to survive and feed their families fired from their jobs for saying something that could be interpreted as politically incorrect…

            …then I’d say that someone who would hang those kids on the nearest lamp post would be much closer to any meaningful definition of Social Justice than them.

          • lvlln says:

            I too agree with Robert Liguori. I think privilege and power dynamics and such are incredibly useful tools with which to analyze injustices in society in order to find ways to correct them, but I am vehemently against SJW. I don’t think the abusive behavior of SJWs is an inevitable result of the social justice ideology, but rather what happens when people also add in a disdain for critical thought and science onto it. I do know a decent number of people who are pro-SJ like myself but have not become abusive or hateful.

          • Aapje says:

            @lvlln

            I don’t think the abusive behavior of SJWs is an inevitable result of the social justice ideology

            Perhaps not inevitable, but I think that the common belief that oppression is always one-directional definitely can be directly linked to a lack of empathy with ‘oppressors’ and thus very easily leads to justifying abuse against them.

          • Tekhno says:

            @lvlln

            I think privilege and power dynamics and such are incredibly useful tools with which to analyze injustices in society in order to find ways to correct them

            Only if you think inequalities per se are bad, which is part of the problem, because many hierarchies are generative.

            Injustices in society should be analyzed on the basis of physical suffering (emotional suffering is too subjective to be legalized, which is why analyses that include it as a call to political action are liable to create dangerous slippery slopes).

            Are people being attacked, beaten, and/or sexually molested/raped? Then increase police presence in the place with the highest concentration of these behaviors, and open up self defense law.

            Are people poor and starving or even just suffering from medically determined malnutrition? Find ways to increase the amount of resources they have access to, whether by increasing welfare, or by subsidizing wages, or whatever other scheme you think is appropriate after doing economic analysis.

            Any analysis based on privilege is going to be pushing a solution for a problem I don’t think is a problem in the first place, and in many cases is a good thing, and so naturally I will oppose it in most cases.

          • Cypren says:

            To me, at least, the fundamental flaw in the SJ movement is that it’s attempting to preserve the hierarchical power structure of society; they just want to reorder the hierarchy to put themselves on top. It’s not about justice, just about acquiring power through the language of justice.

            This is why intersectionality is so particularly toxic: it’s essentially creating a “scoring system” to sort people on the new social power hierarchy based on their superficial identity characteristics. Fortunately, the worst toxin seems to be injected into the SJW organizations themselves as they tear each other apart in a mad scramble to be the “most victimized” and therefore on top of the new pyramid. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people, if you ask me.

          • Iain says:

            @Cypren: A lot of people on SSC seem to have a real hatred for “intersectionality”, but their descriptions never seem to be particularly related to anything I see myself. Taboo “the SJ movement”. Who are you talking about, here? Can you provide links?

          • Randy M says:

            As someone not particularly enamored with the SJ movement, I like intersectionality; in practice it is mostly progressive sub-factions attempting to assert dominance over each other.

          • Iain says:

            If you think that sub-factions weren’t trying to assert dominance over each other before the word “intersectionality” became popular, you weren’t paying enough attention. If anything, intersectionality tends to shut down instances of the Oppression Olympics: instead of bickering over whether it sucks more to be black or to be female, intersectionality says that they suck along different axes and interact in a bunch of different ways, so shut up already and go do something useful.

            If you believe that racism, sexism, and so on are problems, then intersectionality seems like the obviously correct approach. (If you believe that racism, sexism, and so on have all been solved, then your problem is presumably not just with “intersectionality”.) So why is intersectionality such a punching bag on SSC?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Iain:

            intersectionality tends to shut down instances of the Oppression Olympics

            I agree that it should do this. And I think there are plenty of examples of it doing so.

            Does it, in practice, actually tend to shut that down?

            Because one will see it deployed frequently to talk about how if someone is female and black and gay and trans and disabled and fat, etc. all carry individual burdens and have it worse than someone who suffers only one axis of oppression.

            For instance, Laurie Penny in response to Scott Aaronson.

            “Or how about a triple whammy: you have to go through your entire school years again but this time you’re a lonely nerd who also faces sexism and racism.”

            Which, I understand, it is a seductive argument that has a lot of truth to it. But intersectionality isn’t supposed to be used that way because it is far less productive to engage in a “who has it worse” than simply get about trying to fix what can be fixed.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Iain

            instead of bickering over whether it sucks more to be black or to be female, intersectionality says that they suck along different axes and interact in a bunch of different ways

            It does?

          • Nornagest says:

            instead of bickering over whether it sucks more to be black or to be female, intersectionality says that they suck along different axes and interact in a bunch of different ways

            It does?

            Well, that’s what intersectionality says intersectionality says.

            Snark aside, the concept as you’ll find it defined in a glossary or a survey piece is fairly reasonable, and it’d be more reasonable yet outside of a strict oppressor/oppressed framework. But like a lot of things in its general ideological vicinity, the motte is strong with it.

          • lvlln says:

            Honestly, I’m not even sure “intersectionality” means anything in practice anymore. Yeah, in its ideal form, it should shut down the oppression Olympics, since it posits that all dimensions of oppression are different and work with each other in different ways that can’t easily be compared with one another. But in practice, it just seems to serve as an excuse to bring up every other form of oppression whenever any one form is being discussed, so that every speaker is incentivized to bring up a form of oppression in which they are the victims.

            But it’s not like oppression Olympics wasn’t a thing before anyway. People would be engaging in it with or without intersectionality. But maybe insisting that every discussion about social issues be intersectional just allows more openings by which oppression Olympics can be brought in.

          • Iain says:

            @HeelBearCub: A fair point. Allow me to rephrase. Intersectionality tends to shut down the particularly useless instances of the Oppression Olympics that try to compare across categories. Compare:

            Q: Who faces more discrimination in modern American society: black people, or white people?
            A: Black people.
            Q: Who faces more discrimination: black people, or women?
            A: What a useless question.

            Intersectionality says that it is meaningful to talk about whether one end of an axis is more privileged, but hard to talk in the abstract about how axes compare to each other. If you want to classify Laurie Penny’s comment as “Oppression Olympics”, then sure, intersectionality didn’t stop that.

            Two points, though. First: as you concede, it’s an argument that has a lot of truth to it. Second: to the extent that intersectionality says anything specific about this case, it says that it is worthwhile to consider not just whether being nerdy is an axis of discrimination, but whether being nerdy interacts in unique ways with being male. Aaronson’s strongest point, to paraphrase heavily, is “look, when you are a socially inept nerd, it is very difficult to reconcile the feminist demand not to be a creep with society’s expectation that you make the first move”. That is a totally reasonable point — and it fits perfectly into the framework of intersectionalism.

            It is absolutely the case that plenty of people do intersectionalism badly, and I will happily concede that point. What I don’t understand is why intersectionalism itself takes so much abuse. It’s like watching a building fall down and responding with a lifelong grudge against the entire concept of architecture.

          • Cypren says:

            @Iain: I feel like (as with many social justice terms) there’s a motte and bailey with intersectionality. The motte is “everyone’s experience is uniquely formed of the characteristics that make up their particular identity and they can experience oppression in different ways as a result of that blend.” The bailey is “there are specific categories of oppression (race, gender, sexual orientation, rape victim, hate crime victim, etc) and the more that I can claim as part of my identity, the more oppressed I am, and everyone less oppressed needs to shut up and do what I say or be branded an oppressor.”

            This is not, as you pointed out, new. Various professional-victim groups have been squabbling amongst each other about who is most victimized (and therefore most deserving of status/power/money) for a long time. But it feels like there’s been a marked rise in it in the past seven or eight years as intersectionality has gained prominence as a concept and people now try to fill more and more boxes on their personal victimization checklist as a weapon to demean and delegitimize their opponents’ opinions. When your position on the Victimization Ladder of Righteousness is determined by just your race and gender, it’s pretty hard to change it. When you can move up or down half-steps at a time by adding things like “gender-nonconforming” or “pansexual” to the list, arguing that you’re just a bit more oppressed than the normal transsexual lesbian feminist of color, there’s more opportunity for gaming and conflict.

          • Iain says:

            @Cypren: Yes, your description sounds like the story I frequently hear on SSC about intersectionalism. What I’m asking for is evidence. Who are the people who are frolicking around in the bailey? Where, exactly, are the transgender lesbians of colour throwing down at each other? In my personal experience, this is not a common phenomenon. Even in the weirder corners of Tumblr, where people frequently list a dozen quirky identities in the sidebar, the demand for status seems implicit, not explicit.

            Who are you hanging around with, that this is such a problem for you?

          • Nornagest says:

            Almost all status claims are implicit.

          • Iain says:

            Okay, but if you are describing some teenager’s Tumblr sidebar as “a weapon to demean and delegitimize their opponents’ opinions” then maybe your concern about implicit status claims has gone too far. And if you have more explicit examples, then feel free to share them.

          • Cypren says:

            @Iain: Some examples of the kinds of status-jockeying I’m talking about:

            A UCLA dinner discussing “white feminism” as a tool of white supremacy.

            Black Lives Matter shutting down the Toronto Pride Parade for insufficiently focusing on the contributions of queer people of color.

            Criticism of the Women’s March for using female genetalia as a symbol, thus being exclusionary to trans-women.

            The whole battle over “TERFs” and whether trans-women enjoy male privilege.

            The dust-up over black Women’s March organizer Bell Hooks telling white feminists, “You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too … I was born scared.”

            These are all cases where the implicit claims spilled over into very explicit ones, and in some reasonably mainstream (left-wing) venues. I was able to pull this list of stories spending five minutes on Google, and note that all of them are from the last six months, suggesting that this more likely a trend than a few isolated teenagers squabbling on Tumblr.

          • BBA says:

            It’s not motte-and-bailey so much as the way left-wing internet discourse has adopted the language of academic sociology without understanding what it means. Regardless of what the “real” definitions are, to your average internet commentator, “privilege” and “intersectionality” both basically mean “STFU.”

          • Cypren says:

            @BBA: I think that’s an excellent way of putting it. I see a lot of commonality between social justice advocates and climate change deniers, actually. Both seize on academic concepts (privilege theory and such in the case of the former; legitimate scientific research questioning the methodology and completeness of current warming models in the case of the latter) and then gleefully run off to use them as a cudgel against their enemies in ways that the academics behind the research would never countenance or agree with. In many cases, they completely invert or distort the meanings behind the concepts they claim to espouse; accuracy isn’t important to them so long as it makes them sound wise and erudite while bashing the enemy team.

          • Iain says:

            @Cypren:
            1. Framing it as “white supremacy” is overheated, but the fact that feminism tended to spend a lot more time on the issues of black women was a major impetus behind the development of intersectionality in the first place. Here’s an article with more details about the actual discussion (which involved a whopping 20 people): you can accuse it of being dumb or shallow, but I don’t see any sign of your purported status games. “The group elaborated that each person should approach feminism and other movements individualistically, but that there needed to be room for understanding and accepting each other’s unique circumstances”? How terrifying!
            2. Fun fact: I was actually in the crowd at that parade, although I believe we had left to grab lunch by the time of the protest. I don’t see what this has to do with intersectionality, though, unless you just mean that it involves people who are both gay and black. This is standard BLM, applied in a slightly different context.
            3-5. Yeah, actually, scrap the idea of responding to each of these individually. These all have the same problem as examples, which is that they don’t actually support your claim. These aren’t cases where people use some bold new Intersectionality Gambit to claim status; they’re bog-standard trans/black activism, which just happens to be targeting (perceived) discrimination inside another activist community. This has been happening for as long as there has been activism; you just seem to be noticing it more now.

  13. nimim.k.m. says:

    I stumbled upon a blog post about Karl Polanyi that might interest SSC readers (or okay, the post is quite short, but Polanyi’s thinking sounds interesting.)

    The mid-twentieth century Hungarian sociologist Karl Polanyi wrote that a market economy was a fine thing—it made great sense for individual businesses that made bread or ran streecars had to pass a market-profitability test in order to survive. But, he wrote, a market society is not. Attempting to implement a market society is very dangerous. Why?

    Because a market society turns finance into nothing but a commodity—which means that the industry you work in and the kind of job you get have to in mass pass a market test.

    Because a market society turns land into nothing but a commodity–which means that the community you live in has to in mass pass a market test.

    Because a market society turns labor into nothing but a commodity—which means that attaining the standard of living you expect and feel you deserve has to pass a market test.

    And people have very strong feelings about these three. People believe that they have a right to the standard of living they expect and deserve, to working in the particular industry at the kind of job that makes up a key piece of their identify, and to the stability of the community that they are used to. People believe they have rights to these things. Yet in a market society the only rights that matter are property rights.

    • Matt M says:

      “People believe they have rights to these things.”

      These people are wrong. Next!

      • Wrong Species says:

        Let’s imagine that automation causes this dystopian world where most people are useless for labor and they can’t find a job. For whatever reason, we get rid of welfare and some people can’t get charity. Now imagine a situation where one guy believes he has a right to a decent standard of living. Is it wrong of him to expect these things as a right? It’s not his fault he was born with the genes that he has.

        • Matt M says:

          I can’t enjoy the benefits of a market economy today because of what might happen to some hypothetical unlucky dude centuries from now?

          No one has a “right” to the labor of others. Automation or no. You never have had this right, and you never will, regardless of what technological breakthroughs occur.

          • Mark says:

            Perhaps he’s taking his cut from capital.

            I mean, increases in productivity aren’t normally thought to be caused by increased effort or focus on the part of workers – they are due to improvements in technology or organisation.

            Perhaps, to stay in line with the non-agression principle, we should say that nobody has the right to use capital to perform work, unless some portion of that work is paid to the community.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            I can’t enjoy the benefits of a market economy today because of what might happen to some hypothetical unlucky dude centuries from now?

            I see it as a benefit of a successful market economy that we can limit the benefits that fortunately gifted people accrue and use that money to make the lives better of the less fortunate.

            If we don’t, people will use this accrued wealth to help their children, while the poor can’t; so talents don’t get used and instead you get a rentier class. A ‘free market’ is self-destroying.

          • Whatever says:

            @Mark

            Could you explain what you mean again? I can’t quite understand it.

          • Mark says:

            I was responding to this:

            “No one has a “right” to the labor of others. Automation or no. You never have had this right, and you never will, regardless of what technological breakthroughs occur”

            Can we identify the percentage of production that is owed to human labour, as opposed to technology, knowledge, organisation, machinery?

            Are we simply saying that people shouldn’t be forced to work? Or are we saying that there is some calculation that can be made, which tells us how much is rightly owed to a worker?

            I don’t think you can make any claims about the market rate of pay being equivalent to some natural (moral) amount of money as long as there is a shortage of capital. With a shortage of capital, payment becomes, at least in part, a question of control.

            (And once there isn’t a shortage of capital, distribution becomes irrelevant.)

            The man who wins the right to push the button starting the cornucopia machine doesn’t have full rights to everything that is produced by that machine.
            Because it is the machine that makes things, not him.

          • Whatever says:

            @Mark

            (Thanks.)

            Can we identify the percentage of production that is owed to human labour, as opposed to technology, knowledge, organisation, machinery?

            No, but we don’t have to. The machines are owned by someone who negotiate a salary with a worker for his labor. What is produced and what that production is “worth” (i.e. how much customers are willing to pay for it) aren’t very relevant.

            Are we simply saying that people shouldn’t be forced to work? Or are we saying that there is some calculation that can be made, which tells us how much is rightly owed to a worker?

            We’re saying the former, or at least I am saying the former. What is owed to the worker is what he negotiated with the employer. The employer can’t force the employee to work. Instead the transaction is voluntary, the worker willingly exchanges his labor for a wage.

            I don’t think you can make any claims about the market rate of pay being equivalent to some natural (moral) amount of money as long as there is a shortage of capital. With a shortage of capital, payment becomes, at least in part, a question of control.

            I think I agree with that, but again I can’t be quite sure I understand.

            The man who wins the right to push the button starting the cornucopia machine doesn’t have full rights to everything that is produced by that machine.
            Because it is the machine that makes things, not him.

            The owner of the machine has the rights to what the machine produces. The worker who pushes the button has the right to his labor which he exchanged for a wage. That wage, which was agreed upon beforehand, may or may not have anything to do with the “value” of what the machine produces, and in fact is probably more related to the skill necessary to operate the machine (at least as a first approximation, Baumol disease and other effects being ignored).

            I still feel I’m missing something.

          • Mark says:

            Transfer (some portion of) ownership?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Matt

            The market generally works today. But this is because it generally works to the benefit of everyone(cue communist laughter). I don’t think that property rights should be taken for granted if it ends up in a situation where the vast majority of people suffer. Locke didn’t either, which is why he had the Lockean Proviso. The point of my hypothetical is to ask you how far are you willing to go? Assuming this future comes to pass, would you be willing to let the world burn to protect property rights? I know you don’t believe that will happen. I don’t either. But assume the least convenient possible world.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            It’s all well and good to say that the guy who “pushes the button on the cornucopia machine” should be expropriated for the greater good. But it leads to a problem if you think about it.

            If I’m that guy, and I know that whatever I produce will be taken away, why should I press the button at all? Why buy the machine or for that matter fund the research that lead to it?

            Your hypothetical machine didn’t drop from the sky after all. People made it, and they likely expected to profit from the work which went into making it. If they know that their work is going to go uncompensated, everyone is worse off than if they are allowed to extract some of the value produced by said work.

            Think about it like the Ultimatum Game. If I offer to split $1 Billion with you, me taking $0.999 Billion and you with $1 Million, would you stand on principle and turn down the money? Or would you take the “unfair” deal and walk away a rich man?

            (Note that this logic can be reversed: a deal where you lose 99.99% of your profit but still have a healthy ROI can still be attractive. I’m arguing against total expropriation here, not the concept of taxation itself.)

          • Mark says:

            @ Dr Dealgood

            I probably agree, certainly in the short term.

            However, if I were to disagree, I’d say that since we’re increasingly paid in prestige, it’s likely that people would do work even if that work didn’t give them increased control of “real” goods.

            It’s perhaps a question of whether you can separate power from prestige.

        • Tekhno says:

          What is a “right”?

    • Tekhno says:

      People believe that they have rights to these things, and therefore because of this belief are able to accrue enormous political capital so as to enact the changes they want, thus resulting in the society we live in today.

    • Mark says:

      I was reading Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber this weekend, and I thought this passage was interesting:

      In contrast, it’s notoriously difficult – often downright impossible- to shift relations based on an assumption of communistic sharing to relations of equal exchange. We observe this all the time with friends: if someone is seen as taking advantage of your generosity, it’s often much easier to break off relations entirely than to demand that they somehow pay you back.

      One extreme example is the Maori story about a notorious glutton who used to irritate fishermen up and down the coast near where he lived by constantly asking for the best portions of their catch. Since to refuse a direct request for food was effectively impossible, they would dutifully turn it over; until one day, people decided enough was enough and killed him.

      I wonder if right wingers might end up feeling the same way about freedom of speech.

  14. sohois says:

    Yet another Trump post incoming, which I felt would not be relevant in the Dogs and Wolves comment;

    I came across this rather alarming analysis of the Trump administration’s recent actions and wondered what commenters here would make of it:

    https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/trial-balloon-for-a-coup-e024990891d5#.mfbae88n1

    It’s a short article, but for the benefit of those who cannot read it, the author suggests that Trump and his administration may be paving the way for a coup, attempting to remove any limits on the power of his inner circle. In addition, he suggests that several actions point to the clear establishment of a kleptocracy designed to enrich Trump and his cronies.

    I think the author makes several leaps too far and veers into fairly typical alarmism, but feel that it is a decent argument overall, though I would still not place a high probability of some attempt to seize power due to priors.

    I’m not familiar with the author, save for an examination of his social media and other articles which paint the picture of a solidly Blue tribe person, but not an extremist.

    • dndnrsn says:

      It’s plausible, assuming all the facts are correct. I have been toying with similar “I have no idea if this is the case but it’s uncomfortably plausible” ideas – that Trump’s actions, which make sense if you interpret them as the actions of a guy with a massive ego who didn’t really expect to win, is unprepared, and is sort of flailing, also make sense if you interpret them as someone who wants to seize more and more power.

      Part of why these things are plausible is that what’s happening just … doesn’t make sense. There’s sort of this feeling of “wrongness”. It’s hard to believe anyone could be so incompetent – the way the travel ban thing was set up was just really badly done – so there’s got to be an ulterior motive.

      One possibility short of “future dictator?!?” is, and the author notes it, that Trump and co are trying to create protest fatigue.

      • Matt M says:

        One possibility short of “future dictator?!?” is, and the author notes it, that Trump and co are trying to create protest fatigue.

        On the other hand, I feel like “protest fatigue” likely pre-dates Trump and helped propel him to victory (see: you’re still crying wolf)

        • dndnrsn says:

          Not people tired of protesters – which is what it seems like what you mean here – but to get people tired of protesting. If every week Trump does some new outrageous thing, eventually people will be tired of spending Saturday marching around with signs.

          • Matt M says:

            Hmmm. I do not see this as a likely outcome, but I offer no particular evidence or data as to why. It would seem that as Trump has gained power, protests against him have become more frequent, more intense, and more quickly initiated for less serious presumed abuses.

          • Jordan D. says:

            Is that really true, though? I mean, with the exception of the protests this weekend for his Executive Order, most of the prior protests were really just against him as a person.

            And it seems to me that more people would agree that the latest protests were valid, since it seems like a majority of people agree that the travel-ban EO was either intrinsically evil or at least very incompetent as a way to accomplish any beneficial goal. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the post-election protest, a much more moderate amount about the Women’s March protest and a very small amount regarding the airport protests.

    • cassander says:

      On the state department, they are simply flat out wrong. The 4 people who were “purged” were in no way responsible for making policy. They are literally the last people you would purge. Second, the idea that the government ceases to function without senior positions being appointed is laughable. Millions of people work for the US government, a couple of thousand position are appointed. The appointment process is widely regarded as horribly broken and excessively time consuming, but it has been that way for years. the entire government is used to functioning with acting secretaries, because they have to.

      The entire piece is filled with terrible reasoning and motivated thinking. If you truly thought that the undersecretary of state for management was the only thing standing between trump and dictatorship, you’re either doing way too many drugs, or not nearly enough.

    • AnarchyDice says:

      I dunno, it reads to me like a better written version of pizzagate: Here’s a list of things definitively done by person X which could plausibly be A, B, or C. If I sum up a number of these things, and keep picking C for all of them, it leads to EVIL. Therefore, X is trying for EVIL.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Even if it were the case, the executive pushing back against the judiciary is hardly a “coup”. I don’t think it is; if this order was a trial for anything, it was to see who in the bureaucracy would defy _his_ authority. And I suspect he purged State (if indeed he did so; I’m reluctant to take Zunger’s word for it since he seems to have Trump Derangement Syndrome) precisely because he expected they would defy him.

    • Zorgon says:

      I’m not familiar with the author, save for an examination of his social media and other articles which paint the picture of a solidly Blue tribe person, but not an extremist.

      Zunger is a tribal standard bearer. If he’s not at the punch-a-Nazi-for-fun stage, it’s solely because his public persona is perhaps a little too rarefied.

      And it’s a great shame, because when he’s not poisoned through with loathing for his tribal enemies he’s actually an incredibly great read and has a way of communicating heavy-tech stories that is unusually excellent.

  15. Mark says:

    What’s this called? I’m not sure if it’s a fallacy, or just a bad way of presenting an argument, but I’ve seen this a lot recently. It’s like, I assume my result so strongly that evidence against it just looks like people acting irrationally?

    “Donald Trump, fool! You hate all immigrants, but your wife is an immigrant!”
    “Nigel Farage, fool! You hate all Europeans, but your wife is German and you are a descendent of French immigrants”
    “Opponent of immigration, immigrants don’t commit more crime because they are immigrants! They commit more crime because they are poor! Your racist views are foolish!”

  16. Matt M says:

    Does anyone know of an autocratic regime that was engaging in violence and/or oppression of a disfavored ethinc/racial/tribal group – but which tolerated open and public dissent from members of its own group?

    I’m asking in relation to a current issue – but I’d rather not define the issue just yet as I’m worried the conversation would immediately shift towards the politics of the current.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Ignoring the “autocratic” part, wouldn’t the Antebellum South count?

      • Matt M says:

        Hmm, that’s probably as reasonably close to what I’m thinking of as can be expected!

        • massivefocusedinaction says:

          I was thinking Apartheid South Africa, especially in the first decade or two (it got pretty single party by the end).

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        Unless you’re assuming the open and public dissent includes dissent about the treatment of the outgroup. Openly questioning slavery was a good way to attract a bloodthirsty mob in those days.

        • Matt M says:

          Yes. Ability to dissent specifically about the treatment of the victim class is necessary for what I’m thinking of here.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Abolitionism in the British Empire fits that. Or is that too much like abolitionism in Boston?

          But there were abolitionists in Virginia in, say, 1830.

          • Protagoras says:

            Apart from the “autocratic” (which seems to be something people have been willing to fudge), the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries fits pretty well in a lot of ways. In addition to the slavery issue (until 1833), there was also a very heavy anti-Catholic sentiment, particularly firmly enforced in law in the 18th century, and of course the attitudes toward the Irish. So far as I’m aware, being a Protestant who complained that Catholics were treated unfairly was unusual, but didn’t lead to your being oppressed in the same way the Catholics were, or similarly for being English and complaining that the Irish were mistreated.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      How about the open dissent of the Supreme Court to Jackson’s treatment of the Cherokee?

      • Matt M says:

        I’m thinking about this more in terms of laypeople dissenting, not the power struggles of various opposition authority figures.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I’m pretty sure that the dissent of the Court and the abolition debate in the Virginia legislature reflected popular dissent. Maybe you want an example of a divided public and an undivided government. Indeed, maybe that what you meant by autocracy. But that seems pretty arbitrary to me and I think you really have to explain why you want these things. Perhaps you don’t count disagreement channeled through democratic channels as “dissent”?

    • Matt M says:

      Well, I feel like I’ve gotten enough responses to reveal my analogy.

      One of the more bizarre anti-Trump proposed protests I’ve seen is left-wing celebrities who, in anticipation of Trump creating some sort of “Muslim registry,” have announced their intention to register as Muslims if this happens.

      It seems to me that their reasoning is that Trump would not go through with any sort of deportation/internment/pogrom against Muslims if it meant that some non-Muslims might get swept up in it and were harmed as well. This strikes me as insane. I have to believe that if you think Trump is evil enough to start exterminating Muslims, he probably won’t lose sleep over the fact that Rosie O’Donnell might end up in the camps too, even though she’s a white atheist.

      Like, if a bunch of hypothetical ethnically pure German socialists who constantly denounced Hitler went around claiming to be Jewish, do we really think the response would have been “wait a minute – stop all the gas chambers this instant! we’re not JUST killing Jews, we’re ALSO killing my political enemies! But they’re German so we can’t do that!”

      Historical tyrants do not seem to be known for taking great pains to ensure the safety and liberty of their most ardent political opponents, regardless of their racial, ethnic, or religious purity.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        There are degrees of tolerance. The man in Tienanmen square in 1989 was probably killed the next day, but for a few minutes he stopped the tanks.

        As in Iain’s example, this is about publicity, but there are lots of other costs that increase by adding a name to the list.

        • Jiro says:

          I know of a man who stood in front of the tanks the morning after the crackdown, but was commonly misrepresented in the media as standing in the way of the tanks when they were going to be used against protestors. Is that the man you are referring to?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Yes, the famous guy. Are you saying that rather than calling the bluff of tanks clearing the square, he jumped in front of a line of tanks trying to leave? I did not know that. It really changes the danger of his action. (I think it is relevant whether the tanks were completely done and trying to go home, or whether they had been called to action somewhere else, but I’m not sure which is true.)

            It does degrade the example, but if, as I think is widely believed, he was subsequently killed, I think it demonstrates that there are degrees of tolerance. The driver tolerated his protest, but the secret police did not.

          • Jiro says:

            Wikipedia’s article for “Tank man” says that he did it the morning after the demonstration was suppressed. It doesn’t explicitly say “as they were trying to leave”, so for all I know they could have stayed around a few days and he got in their way at the time. It is not clear who he was or whether he was killed.

        • Matt M says:

          I don’t think this really fits my example anyway. We’re talking about a random dude and a military parade where nobody expected to have to run people over. A better example would be, the Chinese secret police goes to raid an unauthorized black market foreign exchange den, but discovers that in actuality, the location actually houses a well known famous political dissident (that has nothing to do with black market foreign exchange) and says, “Well, this isn’t the guy we were told to get – better let him go!”

      • Deiseach says:

        It seems to me that their reasoning is that Trump would not go through with any sort of deportation/internment/pogrom against Muslims if it meant that some non-Muslims might get swept up in it and were harmed as well.

        Mark M, why do you assume any reasoning is going on? Sounds like trendy PR nonsense. And are we going to see any protests about cultural appropriation if they do this, by the way? People not of that religion/ethnic background pretending to be Muslim but not really converting or living as Muslims, maybe a few hijabs may get worn (can’t you just see a designer range being rushed out to cater to them?)

        What would real Muslims think? “With friends like this, who needs enemies?” And what about if they claim to be Muslim – will they then be told by the local imam “Either you take instruction and live as a Muslim and say the Shahada, or forget it”?

        There isn’t any thinking going on. This is the along the same lines as all those celebrities who declare if so-and-so wins the election, they’re moving to Canada! Okay, maybe not this time, but next time for sure!

        • DavidS says:

          I don’t really get the ‘Hollywood in politics’ thing in the US but think this is very uncharitable. The concept of ‘if you want to go after those (weak, voiceless, outsider, unknown) people you have to go through me first is a classic. Most recent post on here mentions the story of the King of Denmark deciding that when Nazis insist Jews wear gold stars that he’ll wear one too, for instance.

          There’s a fairly clear idea here in terms of
          1) showing sympathy with those affected (I am Charlie Hebdo and all that)
          2) making the policy more visible
          3) potentially making the policy less manageable if this became anything like a mass movement.

          Of course, it’s all slightly misdirected as the ban mentions country of origin not religion… though if Trump wanted to take the ‘it’s not against Muslims, it’s about these risky countries’ line he should probably have considered not saying in the campaign that he wanted to apply this to Muslims as a whole.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Being a high-status person who stands with low-status people in the face of certain violence is a good thing, aye. Heroic, even.

            Doing it in the face of violence that only the high-status person perceives pays off only if they’re actually correct, however, and otherwise looks kinda dumb. In the sense of making something huge out of something small.

          • Matt M says:

            Being a high-status person who stands with low-status people in the face of certain violence is a good thing, aye. Heroic, even.

            I don’t disagree with this.

            I guess my point is that I don’t think the left-wing actors intend on becoming literal martyrs for the cause. I think that they think that they’re just so important and that Trump is so racist that the existence of celebrity non-Muslims on the Official Muslim List will cause Trump to NOT commit any violence against Muslims at all.

          • DavidS says:

            I don’t think it’s about violence. It’s about some people being discriminated against as a group and choosing to classify yourself with that group out of solidarity and an attempt to draw attention to / undermine the policy.

            I’d assume the most effective form (again, if it wasn’t for the fact that this seems to be aimed at Trump’s campaign pledge rather than his actual policy) would be that by high profile people doing it they get lots of others to.

            Another version of this came up with Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London, Muslim) response when (during campaign) Trump said he could be an exception to the ban: of course he doesn’t want to be an exception to an otherwise blanket/arbitrary policy.

          • Deiseach says:

            I think this runs a very good chance of falling afoul of the first “Allyship 101” test: It’s Not All About You.

            I am a Muslim! Deport me!

            No you’re not and everyone knows it. You’re making it about yourself and your heroic opposition and turning the spotlight on you, rather than the people who are actually Muslim and actually citizens of those nations being affected.

          • Matt M says:

            And making yourself publicly visible as “someone who is likely to provide aid and comfort to the enemy”

            As a side issue, I’ve been thinking about how – if we are being ruled by literal Hitler, posting “FUCK HITLER” on your public social media profile that lists your job, address, and the names and schools of your children, is probably a very bad idea.

            If I thought I was currently living in 1930s Germany, I’d probably get to shutting the hell up and passing the best I could as a mild Trump supporter, all while secretly making arrangements to buy some property and create some sort of secret housing/shelter where I could harbor Muslims/Blacks/Jews/Gays/Canadians/whoever else Trump is on the verge of exterminating.

            It seems to me that the people who did the most good to resist Hitler were probably not the guys who were shouting on the streetcorner yelling obscenities about how evil Hitler was. Once Hitler was totally comfortable taking the final steps, those guys were probably disappeared pretty damn quick and were then of virtually zero help to anybody.

            I grew up in a fairly radical left-wing environment. I have actually entertained thoughts as to “I wonder which of my former classmates is likely to become a radical terrorist.” I immediately ruled out the recent mothers who post “WE ARE BEING RULED BY NAZIS RIGHT NOW” in between pictures of their three year old’s latest adventures and went right to the guys that I know to be single and unattached and incredibly committed to left-wing politics and who have gone social media dark/silent in the last few months. Those guys are probably up to something. Something potentially heroic, depending on your point of view!

          • Cypren says:

            @Matt M: Completely agreed. Few things make me roll my eyes faster than someone who takes a “brave stand” by slinging insults at opponents who they know are not actually going to do anything in retaliation. If people actually believed a millionth of what they said on social media, they would be hiding in fear of Trump’s death squads, not taunting him on Twitter.

            They’re the equivalent of the tourist fops who pour drinks and spit on the Queen’s Guard outside Buckingham Palace, knowing that they’re too disciplined to respond with violence.

            Not that I really want to imply Trump is disciplined. Or stoic. But he’s not going to send out the Gestapo to murder dissidents in their sleep, and they damn well know it, and are showing their own dishonesty every time they open their mouths.

          • Zorgon says:

            As a side issue, I’ve been thinking about how – if we are being ruled by literal Hitler, posting “FUCK HITLER” on your public social media profile that lists your job, address, and the names and schools of your children, is probably a very bad idea.

            I’ve had this thought too. Quite a lot.

            It’s an odd position to be in. On the one hand, I find myself worrying that they might be right; and that, being people I care about, they are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk over the longer term.
            On the other hand, their increasingly deranged howls of tribal loss are inherently worrying too. It’s already reaching the point where just being quiet and not saying much about it is apparently grounds for suspicion. “WEAR THE UNIFORM OR BE BRANDED A FASCIST!” is not a situation I can be comfortable with no matter who is doing it.

            Fascist clowns to the left of me, fascist jokers to the right – here I am, stuck in the middle with you lot.

          • DavidS says:

            Again, the arguments here seem to assume that what they’re doing is premised on them thinking Trump has actually established a police state. I know there’s some OTT rhetoric about this like always, but this sort of ‘solidarity’ approach exists in plenty of other situations and I think makes lots of sense if you look at it through the lens of ‘maintain pressure and attention’ rather than ‘stand up to someone who might shoot you’.

            Again, though I understand the distaste with Hollywood, people are being incredibly uncharitable in their readings of this.

            I’m not clear whether the people objecting to it here are against solidarity-type approaches as a whole, if they think there’s something unique here, or if it’s just pro-Trump (anti-anti-Trump?) or anti-Hollywood instincts. When white people went on black-only buses as part of protests against segregation, you could equally argue ‘THEY weren’t suffering from the system, they were just getting attention for themselves rather than those actually badly off etc. etc.’

          • Matt M says:

            I guess I would characterize myself as anti-hysteria.

            For the record, I’m fine with “I think Trump is going to make life marginally more difficult for minorities, and I stand with them because equality demands we treat everyone the same.”

            I’m less fine with “We are living in a Nazi state right now and the only thing that can prevent another holocaust is everyone sharing this Twitter hashtag I came up with”

          • dndnrsn says:

            There’s a weird juxtaposition of people simultaneously giving signals that indicate they think everything is OK and giving signals that they indicate everything is fucked.

            Example: NYT Magazine article about DACA kids on university scholarships for illegal immigrants worrying about what’s gonna happen now Trump is president. On the one hand, these kids all seem like the kind of people the US would be better off with more of, and they might be in trouble now Trump is president. On the other hand, if they were that seriously worried about themselves or their families getting deported, why would they be giving their full names, pictures, details about their families, etc to the NYT? If Trump is going dictator, is he really going to care that the sort of people who get the Sunday New York Times will disapprove of his actions?

          • Matt M says:

            To re-phrase… my general point is that one of the surest ways to know that you are NOT living under a tyrannical dictatorship is that you can erect giant statues of the dictator as a fat, nude, ugly, oaf with tiny genitals and suffer zero consequence.

            Actual Hitler wouldn’t put up with that sort of thing. Nor would actual Stalin, actual Mao, actual Castro, actual Hugo Chavez, actual Kim Jong-Un… hell, even Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln occasionally thew people in jail for stuff like that.

            It seems to me that when totalitarians take over, the ability to criticize the government is typically the first thing to go. The fact that it hasn’t gone yet suggests that death camps are probably not imminent…

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            Then isn’t it a good thing that people are metaphorically erecting giant statues of the dictator as a fat, nude, ugly, oaf with tiny genitals, in this case by giving public support to a group he hates?

            As long as they keep doing that, it’s not a problem. When they stop, it could mean the canary in the coal mine is dead.

          • Matt M says:

            I agree that there is a certain value to society that the “canary in the coal mine” provides.

            I think the problem here is that this is basically a bunch of people who are training canaries to fly in a formation which reads “THE CANARIES ARE ALL DEAD.”

            As I said, I’m anti-hysteria. Criticizing the government is good (I’m an AnCap, so I do it frequently myself!). Exaggerating the evils of the government is not good, because of the wolf-crying phenomenon. Reality is plenty terrible and evil enough. There’s really no need to embellish.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          This is the along the same lines as all those celebrities who declare if so-and-so wins the election, they’re moving to Canada! Okay, maybe not this time, but next time for sure!

          I think Patri Friedman missed a once-in-four-years opportunity: he could have encouraged them to threaten (/promise) to emigrate to a nice warm seastead, instead of Snow Mexico. Then they could put together a reality show for more publicity: “I’m a celebrity, what am I doing with all these libertarians?”

          (My old-fashioned browser doesn’t recognize the word “seastead”.)

          • Nornagest says:

            Is Kevin Costner one of said celebrities? It would just be too perfect to run seasteading ads using recycled footage from Waterworld.

            (Sure, dystopia. But I know too many people with an inordinate fondness for the Mad Max movies to see that as a deal-breaker.)

      • Iain says:

        There is a spectrum of potential policies involving a Muslim registry, ranging from “register all Muslims so that you can send them cake on their birthdays” to “register all Muslims for the gas chambers”. At the cake end of the spectrum, adding your (non-Muslim) name to a registry is unnecessary (though potentially delicious); at the gas chamber end of the spectrum, adding your name is futile. In between, though, there are plenty of potential uses of a registry where non-Muslims could throw sand in the gears of the machine. For example, if travel restrictions are placed on Muslims, then an expose where Sympathetic Celebrity X tries to fly across the country and documents the unjust obstacles placed in his or her way could conceivably apply pressure on the government.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          (though potentially delicious)

          I’m going to have to cast doubt on the potential deliciousness of state mandated cake.

        • Matt M says:

          “For example, if travel restrictions are placed on Muslims, then an expose where Sympathetic Celebrity X tries to fly across the country and documents the unjust obstacles placed in his or her way could conceivably apply pressure on the government.”

          Yes… but Rosie O’Donnell is not sympathetic (for the record, I can’t recall if she specifically was one of the people who proposed this, but it’s that sort of person for sure).

          I mean sure, I guess this tactic might work IF you can convince a bunch of people who are NOT known as partisan hacks to do it. Like, if you get the Dalai Llama to register as a Muslim and then you can run headlines like “Dalai Llama forced back onto plane at gunpoint due to Trump’s Muslim ban” that might win you some support… but that’s not really where we are…

          • Deiseach says:

            Sympathetic Celebrity X tries to fly across the country and documents the unjust obstacles placed in his or her way

            I don’t generally watch television but I would watch the hell out of that, just to see a spoiled rich celeb accustomed to being waited on hand and foot and surrounded by an entourage catering to their every whim having to stand in a queue and wait their turn like Joe and Jane Citizen.

            My God, if Trump makes a reality TV show out of this, his popularity would shoot through the roof!

            Anybody got suggestions for their nominated celeb? I don’t know her from a hole in the ground and I certainly haven’t seen her TV show, but Lena Dunham was sufficiently irritating in the election campaign for me to want to see her being put through the wringer 🙂

      • John Schilling says:

        Increasing the number and/or diversity of the martyrs will increase the blowback to the tyrant, possibly to the level of making a difference in the outcome or even acting as a deterrent.

        But ultimately, the “I am Spartacus!” trick just got all the slaves massacred and did not bring down the Empire. If you believe Trump is substantially less evil than Crassus, maybe it’s a winning strategy. Is it simultaneously possible to be less evil than Crassus and more evil than Hitler?

        • Iain says:

          I’ve learned my lesson about engaging with “literally Hitler”, but I must admit that more evil than Hitler is a new one.

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the more bizarre anti-Trump proposed protests I’ve seen is left-wing celebrities who, in anticipation of Trump creating some sort of “Muslim registry,” have announced their intention to register as Muslims if this happens.

        In Trump’s place, I’d deport them first.

        • rlms says:

          Sadly, US citizens have certain rights.

        • hyperboloid says:

          @Anonymous
          There is obviously a large group of people here, that I take you to be representative of, who pro-actively want Trump to create an authoritarian state.

          I’ll ask this to you, and anybody else who wants to respond; how do you actually think that’s going to work out?

          Looking at the historical record of transforming democracies into dictatorships should show just how tall an order that is. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, my mother’s side of the family is from Chile, and I find the history of that country particularly relevant to our current political impasse.

          On September 11th 1973, general Agusto Pinochet Ugarte seized power in a military coup against the elected government, and launched a campaign of “social cleansing” against dissident and subversive elements in Chilean society, killing around one out of every 2500 Chilean citizens and imprisoning and torturing many more.

          This “guerra sucia” was not an arbitrary act of brutality, but was entirely necessary in political and military terms to secure the power of the junta and, to eliminate opposition to the regime.

          While I’m sure the idea of liquidating leftists no doubt appeals to you on a visceral level, have you given much thought to the practical considerations? If the figures for Chile and the United States were similar the number of subversives slated for physical elimination would amount to a total of 120,000.

          I consider this likely an underestimate. American democracy is much more secure then Chilean democracy was, many Chileans genuinely feared the prospect of a communist revolution, and the actions of the far left did not help the situation. In the US on the other hand no such convincing or plausible pretext can be created for the abrogation of constitutional rule. Furthermore, the United Sates has a highly federal system of government with law enforcement controlled at a mostly local level and the national guard by default at the command of state governors. In the event of any radical authoritarian move by the federal government it’s is highly likely that there will be moves for succession by many of the states, and since the opponents of Donald Trump predominate in the most populous and economically productive areas of the country that will not be a small problem. The prospect of the Trump administration retaking New York or

          California by military force is not a pretty one. even if such an operation were successful, it would be a Pyrrhic victory at best, one that would push the number of dead into the six figures and leave the American economy in ruins. There would simply be little of America left to “make great again”.

          Then there is the question of the personality of our prospective dear leader. Let me say this , paraphrasing Lloyd Benson, Donald Trump is no Agusto Pinochet. The generalissimo was a military man, a disciplined counterrevolutionary who lead a fundamentally competent government. Trump on the other hand is, at best, a petulant, and egotistical man who has little idea how the government actually works, and at worst he is mentally unbalanced.

          Even if the senor ranks of the US military were not committed to upholding the constitution (and they are), what would possibly compel them to follow Donald Trump, of all people, into the abyss?

          I know that alt-righters have to go to war with the fuhrer they have, but this guy? really?

          Before you go fantasizing about Trump stripping
          people of their civil liberties, you should think about the extremes you would have to carry this to.

  17. eyeballfrog says:

    So what’s the argument against net neutrality?

    Or rather, what doesn’t the new FCC guy like about it? Every article I can find online about it has the same pro-net neutrality talking points and talks about how he says he doesn’t like it. None of them have actually bothered to lay out *why* he doesn’t like it. Since, as we all know, policy debates should not appear one-sided, what’s the side against net neutrality?

    • Matt M says:

      Putting aside the hardcore libertarian “oppose regulation in all circumstances” doctrine, it seems, to me, like a solution in search of a problem.

      We are constantly assured that net neutrality is needed to prevent some sort of capitalist dystopian nightmare wherein suddenly Comcast decides to charge companies (and probably pass it on through to consumers) extra money to access specific websites. Why this never occurred prior to the much needed legislation is never explained. Why a pricing model that consumers would seem to inherently hate would be selected by companies is never quite explained. How companies might be able to suddenly raise prices and increase profits, but have not yet done so, is never quite explained.

      And to make matters more ridiculous, the market seems to be going in the opposite direction. As it stands today, the banner of net neutrality is mainly being used to prevent companies from giving you stuff for free (under the idea that this “anti-competitive.”). Net neutrality is protecting us from companies giving us lower prices today, under the theory that without it, they might charge higher prices sometime in the future.

      Color me unimpressed.

      • Jiro says:

        Why a pricing model that consumers would seem to inherently hate would be selected by companies is never quite explained.

        Monopolies over 1) service in an area and 2) intellectual property. Both are government-granted; it isn’t mainly about markets.

        • Aapje says:

          Both are government-granted

          Technically that is not true, as natural monopolies are not government-granted.

          • skef says:

            The monopoly (or duopoly or whatever) status comes from the limited access to the relevant physical plant, mainly above-ground utility poles or below-ground tunnels. That access is granted, or more often not granted, by local government.

            If you wanted to string a cable a mile over utility poles to a single neighbor, you almost certainly would not be allowed to. Even negotiating with the owner of each property in-between wouldn’t help, because of zoning and because your cable would have to cross streets. Access is largely governed by the kindergarten rule, which makes any access extremely expensive. Utilities are largely creatures of local and regional government.

            The biggest problem with unregulated communications seems to be that you just wind up with media companies. “Free stuff” isn’t bad in and of itself, but honestly, do you want your provider concentrating on getting you faster service, or what amounts to coupon flyers and store brands?

          • Aapje says:

            @skef

            You are arguing against property, which is merely recognized and regulated by government. In anarchy there is also property, it just depends on non-bureaucratic power (like who has the biggest weapon or most friends).

            Once you have property, you can have natural monopolies.

            PS. If a person gets to string a cable where he wants, then do I get to cut the cables that I want to cut? Respect for property goes both ways…

          • Matt M says:

            ” “Free stuff” isn’t bad in and of itself, but honestly, do you want your provider concentrating on getting you faster service, or what amounts to coupon flyers and store brands?”

            If free stuff isn’t bad, then why is the government threatening companies who are giving it?

            Is it your position that net neutrality is necessary for companies to provide faster service. My perception is that average speeds, both fixed and wireless, have been improving rapidly. AT&T’s response to Google Fiber is available in my city, but I don’t need it. I think I’m at like the second lowest of their five different levels of speed they offer, and it’s more than enough to meet my needs – and I’m a fairly heavy user (although I do live alone). Wireless service gets faster and faster all the time too. Prices have gone up a bit, but not noticeably so, at least compared to general inflation/other products.

            Where is the dystopia? Where is the problem today that needs to be solved?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @MattM – The internet is one of the only good things to come out of the last fifty years. People are understandably reticent about fucking with it.

          • Matt M says:

            “People are understandably reticent about fucking with it.”

            You and I seem to disagree as to what counts as “fucking with it.”

            Handing it over to the government counts a lot more as “fucking with it” than “letting things proceed as they have since 1990” does, in my opinion.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Matt M

            Where is the dystopia? Where is the problem today that needs to be solved?

            I don’t understand. I thought we already had net neutrality, so shouldn’t we be asking this to the people who want to get rid of it?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Tekhno – ditto, though I’ll freely admit that I don’t follow the issue closely.

            Whatever the system is now, I would like to keep it.

          • Tekhno says:

            The internet works pretty great at the moment. I have my problems with specific sites, but the overall structure of the internet works just fine, a lot better than the real world anyway.

      • Cypren says:

        I agree with Jiro; the problem is that most local broadband providers are effectively natural monopolies. There are three major problems that prevent the market from working here:

        1.) It’s extraordinarily expensive to lay last-mile cables to every residence in a neighborhood. Normally, this is done in conjunction with the developer at the time of construction and not revisited for decades, if ever.

        2.) Even if a new entrant is willing to shoulder the expense, most local governments and property owners are not willing to tolerate the disruption caused by tearing up trenches to lay new cable. Since service providers need to operate at scale in order to recoup the investment of their networks, it’s not feasible to lay cable to individual residences one by one as they elect to try a new service.

        3.) On top of those problems, telecom providers are very good at capturing local and state officials to shut out potential competitors and pass favorable regulation — just note the quick response of passing municipal broadband bans in states where major localities have started to experiment with providing internet service as a public utility.

        Given these issues, I tend to think that market-based solutions are not adequate for ensuring competition in the broadband space, any more than they are in the telephone, water, sewer or electricity space — all things that we have properly determined are public utilities and treat accordingly.

        My preferred solution is not net neutrality, though. That’s really addressing a very limited subset of the problem. Rather, I would prefer that the physical infrastructure be severed from the internet service provider components of the business. The physical infrastructure is where the monopoly problems come into play, and can be treated as a public utility subject to common carrier provisions and mandated line-lease rates. Service providers can then ride on top of that infrastructure to provide the internet connectivity with a variety of business models.

        This isn’t a novel idea; this is how the DSL market worked in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it worked very well. Most urban and suburban areas had multiple potential DSL service providers that leased circuits from the local telephone company and provided service to a given address.

        What ended this era was the widespread entry of cable television providers into the market, who had no real regulatory restrictions and a technologically superior backbone network already in place. With geographic monopolies already established, they were able to easily drive DSL providers into the ground with a combination of cutthroat pricing and faster service. It was a victory for the market in one sense and a great loss in another, because competition almost completely evaporated. As of 2014, only about 20% of US households had access to two providers of 25Mbps broadband service, and only about 2% had access to 3 or more. Given that duopolies are rarely an improvement over monopolies, this should worry anyone who believes that the market is capable of providing efficient, customer-focused solutions and that government regulation is unnecessary.

      • lycotic says:

        Why a pricing model that consumers would seem to inherently hate would be selected by companies is never quite explained.

        Cell phone companies; data caps.

        Cable TV channel bundles.

        Companies do unpopular or stupid stuff and get punished for it in big an small ways all the time (New Coke). With a monopoly, there’s much less correction mechanism.

        • Aapje says:

          @lycotic

          Just because consumers hate something, doesn’t mean that they are willing to pay more to get rid of it.

          An example is that airlines found that lots of people complain about leg room, but that few were willing to pay more to have more leg room.

        • Matt M says:

          Most people don’t seem to hate data caps as was long suspected (as in, most providers now offer unlimited, and as far as I know, tons of people haven’t switched to it).

          The cable TV channel bundling is an interesting problem that I’ve had to look into for work sometimes. It turns out the major hang-up there is the content creators themselves. Disney simply will not allow Comcast to offer ESPN a-la-carte, as its own channel, at any price. They demand it be bundled with a bunch of other things, so as to increase the odds that they can win “new viewers” who might not pay for it voluntarily. As something of a TV geek this bothers me and I haven’t been able to think of a clear answer or business model that could support productive change in this arena…

        • Tekhno says:

          @lycotic

          With a monopoly, there’s much less correction mechanism.

          This. Free markets work if the market has lots of different competing producers, because then there is choice, and individual firms will be price takers rather than price makers. Libertarian arguments are excellent when considering the environment facing most small businesses, and they have the upper hand over the progressives here.

          Libertarian arguments fall down in the face of natural monopolies or really any situation where there are just a few big companies who work together to jack up prices. If the oligopoly that results is due to mergers, then you need some good old fashioned trust busting to make the market competitive again, and if it’s a natural monopoly and you can’t break it up due to infrastructural factors, then you need to heavily regulate the companies that are operating in this environment. Refusing to do so, is not freeing up the market, because there is barely a market there to begin with.

          If net neutrality isn’t maintained then the simulated market of the internet will become less free and open.

          • Matt M says:

            To the extent that a “natural monopoly” exists, without state intervention, it is the best possible situation. The “optimal” number of firms can be anything, including one. The situations wherein it will be one are quite rare, but then again, so are true natural monopolies that exist without state intervention!

          • Tekhno says:

            @Matt M

            it is the best possible situation

            On what basis? There are trade-offs.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            A natural monopoly usually means there will either be zero or one firms providing the service (anything else is unsustainable and temporary because the fixed costs are too high). While the monopolist earns monopoly profits, there is still a consumer surplus, so the resulting monopoly preserves more gains from trade than having no providers.

          • Matt M says:

            While the monopolist earns monopoly profits

            “monopoly profits” are only earned if the monopolist is intentionally restricting supply to create shortages that would not otherwise exist

            the fact that only one provider of a good/service exists is not sufficient to establish that “monopoly profits” are being earned

          • Tekhno says:

            @Matt M

            “monopoly profits” are only earned if the monopolist is intentionally restricting supply to create shortages that would not otherwise exist

            But they can do so, which is one of the trade-offs. In any scenario without competition, prices become “irrational”, because the firm is a price maker instead of a price taker. This applies to government taxation to some degree, and in the extreme case to command economies, so of course it would apply to the prices set by a corporation under a similar environment.

          • Matt M says:

            “But they can do so, which is one of the trade-offs.”

            They can, but they don’t seem to ever actually do so. In many cases, they do the opposite – maximize production to enjoy benefits of scale and push prices downward in order to ward off anyone who might even think about coming in to compete with them.

            Once again, this is a case where we are preventing real, present, right-now benefits due to concern about a hypothetical harm that totally might happen, but which no one has ever actually seen.

            Anti-trust theory is the modern equivalent of sacrificing 10% of your harvest to the Gods in order to keep them happy and prevent them from unleashing Ragnarok.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Matt M

            They can, but they don’t seem to ever actually do so.

            Because the government would stop them?

            In many cases, they do the opposite – maximize production to enjoy benefits of scale and push prices downward in order to ward off anyone who might even think about coming in to compete with them.

            If the monopoly exists because of infrastructural factors, then they wouldn’t need to do that. Potential competitors wouldn’t be able to come in and compete, and they’d have plenty of warning in any case, so they could engage in what is called “predatory pricing”, and lower the prices to ward off the extremely rare competitors that crosses the high barriers, while having preposterously high prices the rest of the time.

            Of course, in reality we don’t live in a libertarian system, so if they did this there would be massive protests, calls for laws to be passed, and the government would sweep in and kick their ass like a superhero.

            Once again, this is a case where we are preventing real, present, right-now benefits due to concern about a hypothetical harm that totally might happen, but which no one has ever actually seen.

            Anti-trust theory is the modern equivalent of sacrificing 10% of your harvest to the Gods in order to keep them happy and prevent them from unleashing Ragnarok.

            You could flip this around and use it to attack conservative/libertarian fears of big government. Right now the poor are getting the benefits from it due to welfare systems, and the supposed inevitable decay into totalitarianism hasn’t happened.

            The reality is that totalitarianism is bad, and that monopoly is a subset of totalitarianism and that it’s a trade-off not worth making in many cases (in the cases of non-natural monopoly), because we have seen the bad effects of monopoly in the past such as in the case of Standard Oil, which were formative for American anti-trust law. Government monopoly is more dangerous, but every private economic monopoly is another government growing inside the existing one.

            Monopolies are also too big to fail and need to be bailed out by government when they fuck up, leading to corporatism. A lack of competition always leads to decadence.

          • IrishDude says:

            This article is relevant to the discussion and a bit too detailed for me to summarize: https://mises.org/library/myth-natural-monopoly

          • IrishDude says:

            Standard Oil always had competitors and consistently worked to lower its prices to maintain its market share. Their market share was 90% at its peak but declined to 70% before the government filed an anti-trust suit, with the decline occurring because competitors took market share. Standard Oil is a great example of how hard it is to maintain a ‘monopoly’ in the market, and how efforts to maintain a ‘monopoly’, outside using government coercion, require doing things that please consumers such as lowering prices and improving quality.

            EDIT: It’s worth distinguishing efficiency monopolies from coercive monopolies. Efficient monopolies, like Google, gain dominant market share by being really good at what they do so that consumers freely choose to use them. Coercive monopolies, like government, gain and maintain dominance through force and threats of violence. I don’t like coercive monopolies, but I have no problems with efficiency monopolies.

    • TenMinute says:

      TL;DR, there are already some pretty good reasons for people to make deals to pay more for guaranteed/priority/extra-low-latency data transfer. But more importantly, we can’t predict the other good reasons that will emerge in the future.

    • IrishDude says:

      I saw an argument that allowing variable pricing could help ensure a critical service, like remote robotic surgery, could pay extra to have the bandwidth it needed to prevent bad things from happening. I don’t know the technical details of net neutrality to say whether the argument is correct.

    • There are some aspects of net neutrality I really like and some I dislike. I do want my ISP to be discriminating between classes of content. I do use peer to peer file transfer protocols sometimes but throttling them to ensure low latency for everyone else is a totally legitimate thing for an ISP to do. I actively want my ISP to prioritize bursty traffic over constant traffic and satiable demands over unsatiable ones. Which is to say I think traffic shaping is a legitimate thing for ISPs to do.

      On the other hand taking my money and then turning around and asking for money from content providers before performing the service I paid them to do is wrong and ought to be prevented. The same with favoring different entities within the same class for other reasons, mostly.

  18. I’m trying to find something that I believe is very very closely related to the rationality quotient posted earlier.

    Namely, there were some really really weird questions asked by some famous upper-tier school to his students. It was of the form of “Is there anything wrong with gross act X, something something participiants could not have disease and both enjoyed the experience”

    I believe there were some interesting correlations found within it, and it relates a good deal to this finding by this guy on the intelligence of vegetarian males.

    I think his explanation is poor. If I can find the study on those strange questions posted earlier, I think it will support a thought I had, on spontaneous morality in relation to the G factor.

    • suntzuanime says:

      That sounds like Haidt’s famous fucking a dead chicken experiment.

      • Deiseach says:

        That sounds like Haidt’s famous fucking a dead chicken experiment.

        Would that be pre- or post-plucking and cleaning? Because, whatever enjoyment you might get from a “just killed this minute” bird, if you’ve ever washed out an ordinary bought-from-the-supermarket chicken before cooking, you know the inside is ridged and bony and the ends (neck or other end) are gaping cavities covered by flaps of skin, so I can’t see the appeal of sticking your bits inside.

        (I mean, of all the things to do with a dead chicken, “stuffing and roasting to eat” seems likely to result in a lot more pleasure than “fucking”).

    • Deiseach says:

      it relates a good deal to this finding by this guy on the intelligence of vegetarian males

      So according to that study, my baby brother is smarter than me because he’s a vegan and I’m a dirty stinkin’ meat eater 🙂

      It is not at all clear to me why the difference in childhood intelligence between vegetarians and meat eaters is so much larger and stronger in the United Kingdom than in the United States.

      I have a suspicion that it has to do with class. Whatever about the US, in the UK the kind of person who becomes a vegetarian also tended to wear rational clothing and be a member of an ethical society (George Bernard Shaw springs to mind with his Jaeger suit, which ironically has now morphed into a traditionally tastefully styled for the better off brand), so they’d tend to be middle-class at the very least and probably more towards the upper middle-class/lower upper-class, more trendy and educated and arty types with time and money for leisure and crank (sorry, that’s how it was regarded) past times. Better education, better nutrition and general living circumstances from childhood onwards, the type who turned to vegetarianism as contrasted with the working class omnivore.

      Or the likes of the former Thursday of the Anarchist Council:

      We all lament the sad decease of the heroic worker who occupied the post until last week. As you know, his services to the cause were considerable. He organised the great dynamite coup of Brighton which, under happier circumstances, ought to have killed everybody on the pier. As you also know, his death was as self-denying as his life, for he died through his faith in a hygienic mixture of chalk and water as a substitute for milk, which beverage he regarded as barbaric, and as involving cruelty to the cow. Cruelty, or anything approaching to cruelty, revolted him always.

  19. vuzqk says:

    Anyone know of good non-pharmaceutical interventions for adult ADD/ADHD/high impulsiveness?

    Alternatively you can try to make me more confident in the drugs available.

    I’ve never gotten a diagnosis but have a history of pretty severe procrastination. I scored ceiling or near-ceiling on SAT+GRE, performed well on timed math contests in high school, etc., but have had a couple semesters of really bad grades in college (failing to turn in problem sets and even flunking one class after not turning in an exam), with some early signs in high school. Another time I put off writing up a report for a research internship for half a year. My mother has similar traits so I think its partly inherited.

    I’ve used Modafinil in the past and didn’t find it to help that much with anything besides sleep deprivation. The potential neurotoxicity of Adderall—and other side effects I’ve read about for adolescent Ritalin use—are making me leery of pharmaceutical solutions in general. I went to therapy for a short time in the past and will probably turn that into a regular thing again. I’ve also had some issues with (undiagnosed) depression, basically driven by my professional problems with procrastination and personal difficulty dating.

    I just applied to PhD programs (writing up a lot of my SOPs last-minute even though I’d had faculty in mind for months), and I really need to get this problem under control before I’m in the grad school environment with less supervision/feedback. It’s already made it unlikely I’ll get into any of the top schools I applied to; I’m at least fortunate to be in one of the less competitive STEM fields.

    Some things I’ve tried: Beeminder+pomodoros, working with paper and pen a few miles away from my computer, quitting {music while working, any social media, anything with a endless stream-style interface} indefinitely, adopting a bastardized version of http://lesswrong.com/lw/fux/my_workflow/, etc. Many of these habits have stuck but I haven’t felt really significant improvements in productivity.

    Generally I find it much easier to plan head and abstain from some distraction than to regulate my behavior when I’m in the middle of something.

    • Dahlen says:

      If you’re old enough to apply to PhD programs, you’re old enough for methylphenidate use not to count as “adolescent use”. You say you’re depressed, which might make you eligible to kill two birds with one stone through bupropion (Wellbutrin) — it has a mechanism of action similar to methylphenidate in that it inhibits the reuptake for dopamine and norepinephrine, but subjectively users experience the antidepressant effects more strongly (and the stimulat effects much more weakly), from what I’ve read. I’m saying this because I’ve been looking for non-pharmaceutical treatment for lack of motivation for 4 years almost every day before I got it through my thick skull that it was a dead-end. Anyway.

      Try and get tested. I’m guessing you’re from an Anglo country, which means doctors are more liberal about prescribing stuff and don’t pooh-pooh away your condition; also, they may provide you with better treatment options, pharmaceutical or not. I did some simple, 5-minute attention tests which I failed horribly and which have left me mentally exhausted for hours, but it went a long way towards getting me closer to a formal diagnosis, and you may be surprised at how badly you fail attention tests even though you thought your attention was not the most terrible part of your ADHD. If you went to therapy, I’d be curious to know how it went and what you did, because I’ve been stuck in a sort of cycle of people recommending me psychotherapy for ADHD and me rolling my eyes at them.

      You mention difficulty dating. That’s too bad. The only non-pharmaceutical radical mood/motivation change that I’ve experienced was when I fell in love and my neurochemistry did a 180°, but then all failed horribly and I realised all had been failing horribly from the very beginning and life itself was despair and hollowness, and I said hello to SSRIs and benzos and lots of such stuff. High-reward, high-risk strategy for hacking mood and motivation. So far, it may be that we’ve both seen only the high-risk part of it. But just putting it out there as one of the 100% natural ways one’s neurochemistry can change.

      The nature of STEM work may also pose a problem. What pushed you into this — was it interest, natural talent, the thought of employment opportunities, etc.? Because STEM fields are famous for the hard, dry, boring work required. If you’re interested in what you do, you may run on pure interest as a way to keep motivated, but you mention that you couldn’t turn in problem sets and such. Are there going to be similar homework-like aspects in your future work?

      I don’t know if you’re the same, but I seem to have a need for lots and lots of idle time, beyond what one might need for entertainment. I sometimes find that having high-intensity fun for a shorter period of time helps me be a bit more productive, as opposed to stretching out my idle time but lowering the intensity of stimulation.

      • vuzqk says:

        Interest+talent basically. Also a competitive streak (the competitions were what dragged me into it initially).

        I made it through analysis, algebra, and some topology in addition to a CS major at a top 10 school, and enjoyed it generally. Math and (theoretical) CS are what I find I find most interesting in life. I just seem to have poor executive function in general.

        At the moment I’m hedging my bets career-wise and moving to a more applied area of CS that I could use in industry (haven’t had trouble getting internships in the past). I’m still interested in research career, just not sure I’ll be able to fix this enough to hack it in academia.

      • Protagoras says:

        Also, on the neurotoxicity of adderall, the research I’ve seen suggests that the dose matters a lot, and anecdotally a fairly low dose can be enough to have a big impact on concentration and focus.

    • James Miller says:

      I’m not ADHD, but Modafinil does nothing for my concentration whereas Adderall supercharges it. I don’t take Adderall any more because I don’t want to be on it for life, but if I was going to do something short-term critical I definitely would use it again. Addreall, for me, makes things more interesting and so easier to do. I’ve read that Addreall works extremely well for some people with ADHD. You could look into neurofeedback or neurofield instead if you want to consider other alternatives. I assume you have tested if coffee improves your concentration and desire to work.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I take Adderal XR for my ADHD. Also a very tiny dose of Vibryd for my depression.

      I went through several therapists/psychiatrists. The psychiatrist I go to is great, but maybe that is simply because he is the one who finally prescribed me medication for ADHD.

      Now, I didn’t start until I was in my 40s, but when I finally got to the right dose, Adderal just makes me feel much more like me than depressed, can’t focus me does.

      It’s not like I don’t still have issue with procrastination, but everything is more manageable.

      • Incurian says:

        Same experience regarding everything being “more manageable.” Life seems like less of a chore when you can concentrate. I expected to experience some anxiety with adderal like with caffeine, but it has a distinct calming effect on me.

  20. Trofim_Lysenko says:

    We already have something like 4-5 different top level comment threads on the whole immigration issue, but what the hell, here’s one more!

    …sort of. I’m putting this one at the bottom because I couldn’t figure out where to voice my opinion without sounding like I was trying to derail a discussion in progress.

    In the last OT, I just posted a reply to MattM where I layed out one prong of my own pet solution for immigration policy vis a vis immigrants who are higher risk for criminal/terrorist activity in general and for muslims in particular. I’d like to take a moment and lay out the other prong, and the one that I think would prove the more important in the long term: weaponizing culture. Several of you here have already alluded to it to some extent in the other Immigration Executive Order discussions. For most of the 20th century there has been a school of critical thought claiming that the fundamentally aggressive and hostile stance of the West hasn’t changed, only the weapons. Instead of conquering with armies and with ships full of weapons and materiel, we now do it with multi-national fast food corporations and with ships full of cheap commercial goods. Instead of stealing entire generations of young people away from their family at gunpoint and giving them to foster families or forcing them into government schools for re-education, we corrupt them with MTV, Hollywood, Pop Music, Junk Food, Cheap Trashy Clothes, And seductive video games and electronic trinkets. We’re simultaneously disgusting atheists and idolatrous heathens (depending on who’s complaining)…

    …And I think that these critics might be onto something…and that it’s a GOOD THING.

    In fact, I think that acknowledging this, owning it, and maximizing its effect may be one of our best tools to decisively shatter the power structure of the extremist strains of Islam and other ideologies we may come into conflict with. That means, if anything, more refugees and students and long term immigrants, although it also means looking for ways to reverse direction on “multiculturalism” and emphasizing assimilation, co-option, the melting process of the melting pot, and so on. I am admittedly coming at this from an American perspective, but If there as many Arab-Americans in the US as there are Irish-Americans today with about as much influence on mainstream US culture…I’m fine with that. As long as we stick to our guns on religious freedom, individual liberties, and other modern liberal (in the “Liberal Democracy” not “Democratic Party/Progressive sense) norms, and don’t encourage unassimilated chunks and ghettos in our melting pot by either taking in too many too fast, or excessive hostility, or both.

    The long term goal here is a steady bleeding away of the best and brightest and highest-potential and most mentally flexible Muslims (of ALL ethnicities) away from the extremists. And if Europe leads the way, having started first, so much the better. The more countries doing this, the faster and more effective it will be.

    Now, that said, I don’t think that this approach is a reason to avoid fighting extremists with good old fashioned bullets TOO, when and where we can do so effectively. Nor do I think it justifies complacently ignoring that increasing immigration rates from places like Syria and Iran IS going to increase our exposure and even if we couple it with a stepped-up level of scrutiny and post-entry surveillance (see my comment in the last OT) we’ll still probably have more attacks than with a blanket ban. I just think it’s worth that risk. I may disagree strongly with the people who say we are at war with all Muslims or Islam as a whole, but I also disagree strongly with the people who seem to take the approach that a sufficiently palatable set of US Foreign and Domestic policies would be sufficient in and of themselves to eliminate Islamist extremist groups.

    So, have I managed to irk enough people on both sides of the issue yet?

    • cassander says:

      Let’s say you do this and it works perfectly. If you do, lots of the people that like the west will go to the west. The people that don’t will largely stay, so won’t the countries that these immigrants are coming from will become more anti-western over time? Or, at least, become more pro-western more slowly?

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Yes. I consider that a feature, not a bug. Let me add that since I think the policy should also include as much levis-mcdonalds-and-MTV (sorry, I’m a child of the 80s, and I can’t resist cold war cultural tropes since I don’t know the modern equivalents. Uggs-Chipotle-and-Pokemon-Go?) trade and “Contamination” as possible, even if it sours relations with some nations because we’re mucking up their attempts to balance their would be progressives (that’s progressive by national standards, not western liberal/globalist Progressive) against their religious reactionaries.

      Ideally, over time, that means that the west gets more muslims who like the west and integrate, the states that modernize and liberalize start looking more like, say, Kuwait or pre-civil war Lebanon, and the ones that -don’t- concentrate and become anti-western simultaneously start looking a lot more like Afghanistan.

      Which is to say, I think that it help to clarify where everyone stands, and separate the sheep from the goats, as it were.

      • cassander says:

        >Ideally, over time, that means that the west gets more muslims who like the west and integrate, the states that modernize and liberalize start looking more like, say, Kuwait or pre-civil war Lebanon, and the ones that -don’t- concentrate and become anti-western simultaneously start looking a lot more like Afghanistan.

        I get the first part, but how do you get the second part when the west is recruiting all the pro-western people in the illiberal states?

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I could be wrong here, but to my way of thinking IF that strategy is successful in creating a real brain-drain, then the obvious countermeasure is for the countries suffering the brain drain to attempt to compete and limit the emigration by strategically liberalizing and secularizing, even if not to the extent that we might wish for potential partners. Every concession and move in the direction of liberal, democratizing, secularizing reform makes the next one easier.

        Now, the flip side is of course they can double-down, and attempt to stop the emigration with a tightening of laws and restriction of freedom of movement…and in that direction lies at the very least Authoritarianism, and at worst a Theocratic Authoritarian regime. So again, it helps to clarify.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I think Canada and the US are leading the way, rather than Europe.

      Europe’s problem is that they need immigrants – they aren’t willing to produce people locally, so they are going to have to import them, to put it as bluntly as possible – but they don’t want them. European countries are not as good at integrating people – this is for a whole bunch of reasons. I don’t think they ever will be as good at it as Canada or the US. To give an example: “Canadian” is a more flexible identity than “French”, because we have seen a lot more immigration in recent history, and because – again to put it bluntly – the original occupants of this land met with the misfortune of smallpox and colonizers, and were pushed off of much of the good land. Someone can become an American more easily than they can become an Italian. You get the idea.

      Canada and the US also have a geographic advantage when it comes to immigration, especially Canada – we can pick and choose in a way that Americans cannot, let alone Europeans. A major fault of Canadians is that we tend to be smug over things that are a result of geography. This is one of them. Consider the differences in the refugee situation – Canada and the US can process people overseas and settle them in an orderly fashion – that we aren’t doing more is awful; Canada and the US could both handle more refugees. Europe is in a far less advantageous position – when you just have people showing up, often without papers, from all over the place, via people-smuggling routes, that creates problems that Canad and the US do not face – and the authorities in several European countries (especially Germany) really bungled their handling of the situation. They turned a situation that could have been handled reasonably into a crisis and have given a huge shot in the arm to the populist right and far right. They have also scared away many Canadians and Americans from taking refugees – even though we do not face the difficulties Europe does.

      I don’t buy what the people who say that Islam and the west are incompatible are selling. The Muslim kids I knew in university were, as a group, indistinguishable in terms of character from everyone else. The problem is that on the one hand “they are are hostile to us and will not assimilate” is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and on the other hand ignoring that there are some Muslims who are hostile to the west is incredibly foolish – because they are at war with the Muslims who aren’t hostile to the west. The primary victims of Islamist (mostly radical Sunni) violence are other Muslims – minority sects, or majority members who aren’t deemed as getting with the program by the radicals. I’ve made this point here before – Muslim friends of mine will acknowledge that Islamism is a problem; the people I know who insist that’s just a right-wing myth are not Muslims.

      So, I mean, I agree in general. This is something we can do. I worry a lot more about Europe’s ability to integrate immigrants, from anywhere, than I do about Canada and the US.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I worry that that the same polarization that leads the people you know to insist that Islamist radicals are a right-wing xenophobic myth is going to lead people to double down on attacking cultural assimilation and integration in the name of respect and multi-culturalism.

        And I think that at least here in the US another poster earlier was right: Things have degenerated to the point where compromise and progress is very difficult, because neither side of the issue believes the other is acting in good faith any more. Much like Gun Control.

        When both sides fear that the other side won’t be satisfied by anything less than total open borders and any attempts at encouraging assimilation being attacked and dismantled as chauvinistic bigotry on one hand, or ethnic cleansing on the other, the room for meaningful compromise in the middle is precious few.

        Best I can come up with is to emphasize my two prongs: that increased immigration on the one hand, AND increased long term scrutiny and post-entry surveillance of visa holders and even permanent resident aliens on the other.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Despite the people who oppose assimilation, or even integration, it still happens. Modern western culture, or universal culture, or whatever, is really attractive.

          Example: one element of Canadian smugness is to point out ways we’re better than Americans – a common sentiment is “we have a salad-bowl culture, where people mix but keep their cultures, while they have a melting-pot culture” and this is better for reasons that are never specified. We loooooove to talk about how great we are at multiculturalism. I think on the whole we are, relatively speaking.

          Despite this, people still integrate into Canadian mainstream culture. Taking hockey too seriously and drinking Tim Horton’s and having a vague (or not so vague) sense of smug superiority over the US. Once upon a time Canadian mainstream culture was Canadian Anglo culture, then Canadian white Protestant culture, then Canadian white culture; this continues to change.

          The reason that modern western culture, universal culture, call it what you want, is so strong, is that it’s fun. It generally promotes self-actualization and good times over responsibility and certainly over fidelity to culture and tradition. This is why traditionalists of all stripes hate it.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Yeah, I would have to posit that the degree to which you have women who self-identify as muslim wearing a niqab and then making out in public, you do not in fact have a “salad-bowl culture”. And I consider that a good thing.

          And I agree that it still happens, but I think it HAS been slowed.

          My other worry is that trying this policy, trying to deliberately amp up the speed and effectiveness of assimilation would be counterproductive and make traditionalists more effective in convincing others to avoid the seductive ways of Tim Horton’s and The Gap.

          • dndnrsn says:

            But there’s still distinction there. I think that even as the American identity is a flexible one, the Canadian identity is more flexible. There was a (radio?) contest once, of humourous intent, to find an equivalent to “as American as apple pie”. The winner was “as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.” When I visit the US, I’m always surprised (not put off, just surprised) by the number of flags I see. You don’t get that as much here.

            People are less enthusiastic about being Canadians, or becoming Canadians, it just sort of happens. Perhaps in the salad bowl, everyone gets coated with the same dressing?

            And Tim Horton’s is pretty damn seductive. The coffee is both better and cheaper than Starbuck’s.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Sadly, post-9/11 procedures meant that the only time I’ve been proximate to the border as an adult, it was always too much of a pain in the ass to go. Which is sort of sad because the area (Sault Ste. Marie, MI and Sault Ste. Marie, ON) would make WAY more sense as some sort of integrated economic zone, as the city on the Canadian side of the border is much larger (15K pop vs. 75K pop) and connected to other supply lines.

            Back on topic, I agree, but I’m not sure what I’d want to chip away at to create a more flexible American identity.

          • Matt M says:

            People are less enthusiastic about being Canadians

            and yet…

        • Cheese says:

          “attacking cultural assimilation and integration in the name of respect and multi-culturalism.”

          I actually wonder at the distinction between the two in practice, at least in ‘newer’ nations like the US, Canada and Australia. One of the particular strengths of Australian multiculturalism for mine, is (as the poster you reply to mentions) the relative ease by which an immigrant comes under the umbrella of ‘Australian’. The relative youth of the idea of that identity, combined with the fact that we are essentially all immigrants here (I think I have one ancestor who goes back further than 4 generations – an Irish convict – and i’m pretty much as Australian as you’d get visually and culturally) means that there’s not really any distinction between assimilation/integration and remaining multi-cultural. Because the initial ‘Australian’ culture already contained a significant number of borrowed elements (Irish and Scots, along with a not insignificant amount of Chinese pre-federation, Mediterranean post WW2 and Vietnamese in the ’70s), anything new coming in really just incorporated. By and large that is, i’m aware there’s a political opinion that says ‘no, this point in time is where it was formed and that’s that’.

          Anyway. Kind of tangential to your discussion but I feel it feeds in to dndnrsn’s point about cultural flexibility. I think that is one of the primary reasons we (Aus) do multiculturalism very well (that, having an eminently controllable border – although most of what i’m talking about still holds pre-current policies, and we tend to actively avoid enclaving)

    • Iain says:

      I think the strategy is sound, but I tentatively disagree with your tactics. It seems plausible to me that one of Canada’s (non-geographical) advantages in assimilating immigrants is our official policy of multiculturalism. Loudly trumpeting that you want to convert people to your culture tends to raise their hackles; it’s more effective to welcome them in, celebrate their festivals, and enjoy their food, all the while quietly convincing their children about the parts that actually matter. Western culture is appealing. People don’t take that much convincing. We just have to avoid spooking them. It’s the old frog in boiling water metaphor, if you like.

    • Incurian says:

      I don’t remember precisely what led me to this insight, but some time during my first trip to Afghanistan I remember thinking, “These people could benefit tremendously from Wal-Mart and McDonalds.”

  21. onyomi says:

    So apparently it is now not only okay to break the Goldwater Rule, people cognizant of the rule (the person who posted this on my social media is a doctor) will praise you as brave for doing so.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It appears Gartner is a licensed psychologist, and thus not subject to the literal Goldwater Rule (which applies to psychiatrists). However, the American Psychological Association has less-specific rule which might apply (9.01(b)). Professional ethics aside, given that Goldwater won his libel suit, I imagine Trump could win one here. Although the truth defense might defeat him.

      • paranoidfunk says:

        What about the alternative truth defense?

      • Deiseach says:

        Hm – well, diagnosing people at a distance is always fun, let’s do it for Dr Gartner!

        Desperate desire for attention and media acclaim leads him to breach professional ethics. Fails to see any harm in doing so. Accuses people in prominent positions (e.g. the president) of being dangerous – symptom of paranoid thinking? Has previously diagnosed another president at a distance – obsession with high-ranking public figures? Delusions of connections between them and him? Prominently displays on his webpage not any professional achievements or awards but an article about him in The New York Times – more demonstration of desire for publicity and media acclaim.

        Yes, I’m sorry to say Dr Gartner has all the signs of [personality disorder – you pick your favourite] and should not be encouraged in his delusional behaviour. Especially do not feed his craving for publicity and newspaper headlines, this will only worsen his condition.

  22. Sgeo says:

    I am very worried about the Executive Order to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens…”. This sounds a lot like the https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/09/16/cardiologists-and-chinese-robbers/ stuff, to make people believe immigrants are more criminal than other people, via anecdote.

    • hyperboloid says:

      Somebody really needs to create a comprehensive list of criminal acts committed by citizens, just to counter Trump’s bullshit.

      • Well... says:

        I empathize with your reasoning, but consider that there is a set of policies we could enact–and still be well within our rights as a modern Republic while not violating the rights of any of our own citizens–that would be very effective in preventing aliens from committing crimes here: crack down hard on illegal immigration and greatly restrict legal immigration. No equivalent set of policies exists for crimes committed by US citizens, so it makes sense to focus on the policies aimed toward crimes committed by aliens first.

        • TenMinute says:

          http://www.dps.texas.gov/Texas10MostWanted/fugitives.aspx

          I think this reinforces your point. It wouldn’t do much about Jared Luke Langley of the Aryan Brotherhood, but I wonder how many of the rest are citizens?

          • The Nybbler says:

            In addition to Langley, Dominguez, Jimenez, Alaniz, Garza, Gonzalez, and Aguirre are not listed as having ties to any other country. Bustos-Diaz is said to have fled to Mexico and DeLeon and Rodriguez both have ties to Mexico. Bustos-Diaz at least was an immigrant, don’t know if legal.

      • hyperboloid says:

        There exists essentially no evidence that immigrants commit crimes at a rate higher then US citizens. Even those studies that have found a modest correlation between the presence of the poorest sorts of immigrants and some kinds of property crimes, have found no correlation with violent crime . Other studies have found that when you compensate for socio-economic factors immigrants commit less crime then US citizens.

        This should not be entirely surprising as immigrants are not randomly selected from their native population, but instead are composed of a subset of people who have the work ethic necessary to travel thousands of miles, at sometimes great personal risk, and work in relativity low paying jobs, often to support their families back home.

        These are disproportionately people who came here to mow lawns, install air conditioners, and put up roofs, not sell drugs or kill anybody. The criminal classes of Mexico are by and large still in Mexico, as it’s easier to earn ones living as a thief or drug peddler there then here.

        Given how much immigrants contribute to the economy, and the immense cost of clamping down on immigration , there are far more sensible ways to allocate resources. for instance instead of spending billions building a (largely useless) wall, we could just hire more cops.

        • cassander says:

          >Other studies have found that when you compensate for socio economic factors immigrants commit less crime then US citizens

          Why would you do that? No one is discussing changing US immigration to be more socio-economically balanced, and if they tried, they’d be accused of being racist.

          > but instead are composed of a subset of people who have the work ethic necessary to travel thousands of miles, at sometimes great personal risk, and work in relativity low paying jobs, often to support their families back home.

          the illegal immigrants, at least, also have an ethic that permits them to break the law to do those things.

        • Well... says:

          @hypoboloid:

          Let’s say American citizens commit a million crimes a year and aliens commit only 10,000. Let’s say that by cracking down hard on illegal immigration and restricting legal immigration we can reduce the number of crimes committed by aliens to 1,000.

          Going from 1,010,000 crimes to 1,001,000 crimes without infringing on anyone’s rights doesn’t sound like an obviously bad idea to me.

          • Sgeo says:

            Even if that policy makes some sense, making people feel viscerally scared of immigrants makes no sense and seems rather dangerous.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @cassander
            The social science consensus about immigrants and crime is that, in general, they commit crimes at rates no higher then US citizens. This is true even of illegal immigrants. This article at CATO summarizes the general findings well.

            To quote from one study named in the article:

            Higher Immigration is Associated with Lower Crime Rates

            Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.
            During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.

            Immigrants are Less Likely than the Native-Born to Be Behind Bars

            According to an original analysis of data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the authors of this report, roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses. In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.

            The 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma. In 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent—more than triple the 2.8 percent rate among foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than the 1.7 percent rate among foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.

            Immigrants are Less Likely Than the Native-Born to Engage in Criminal Behavior

            A variety of different studies using different methodologies have found that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to engage in either violent or nonviolent “antisocial” behaviors; that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be repeat offenders among “high risk” adolescents; and that immigrant youth who were students in U.S. middle and high schools in the mid-1990s and are now young adults have among the lowest delinquency rates of all young people.

            Furthermore we have good data on whether crack downs on immigration reduce crime. from the CATO article:

            To avoid the potential Census data problems, other researchers have looked at crime rates and immigration on a macro scale. These investigations also capture other avenues through which immigration could cause crimes – for instance, by inducing an increase in native criminality or by being easy targets for native criminals.

            The phased rollout of the Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program provided a natural experiment. A recent paper by Thomas J. Miles and Adam B. Cox used the phased rollout to see how S-COMM affected crime rates per county. If immigrants were disproportionately criminal, then S-COMM would decrease the crime rates. They found that S-COMM “led to no meaningful reduction in the FBI index crime rate” including violent crimes. Relying on similar data with different specifications, Treyger et al. found that S-COMM did not decrease crime rates nor did it lead to an increase in discriminatory policing that some critics were worried about. According to both reports, the population of immigrants is either not correlated, or negatively correlated, with crime rates.

            Now just because immigrants on average don’t commit crime at higher rates then citizens does not mean that there are not some subgroups within the Immigrant community that do. So we might want to ask the question, will immigrants pass a criminal subculture on to their children burdening us with multi generational social problems ?

            Now obviously some will.

            But when we take factors that we know are correlated with crime, like being male, poor, and uneducated, and find identical cohorts of immigrants and citizens we find that the immigrants commit crime at lower rates.

            This provides a good clue as to as to what the future will look like.

            Over time can expect immigrants marry, or at least settle down, and have kids, thus balancing out the sex ratio of the population. As the economy grows we can expect their incomes to rise, and as they integrate into American society
            we can expect them peruse higher levels of education. In short it’s likely that future generations descended from immigrants will have lower rates of crime then what we observe today.

            @Well…
            In a similar spirit to your proposal, I suggest that we adopt a one child policy. We won’t be coercive about it so as not to violate anyone’s rights, instead we will just pay a large subsidy to couples who already have a child if they get sterilized.

            Now just think how much crime we will prevent!

            If the current generation will commit a million crimes over the next thirty years, and the next generation will commit the same number, then by cutting the next generation in half we are preventing five hundred thousand crimes.

            We may have stumbled on the greatest innovation in criminology sense the invention of the body cavity search. We have discovered the principle that Fewer people means fewer crimes!

            Sarcasm aside, essentially what your proposing is that we should spend billions of tax payer dollars hiring tens of thousands of law enforcement officers,and send them to arrest, detain, and deport millions of people. Because statistically some of those people will be criminals.

            Don’t you think it might be more cost effective to just have them investigate crimes, and prosecute criminals regardless of their immigration status?

          • Matt M says:

            “The social science consensus about immigrants and crime is that, in general, they commit crimes at rates no higher then US citizens. This is true even of illegal immigrants.”

            On the other hand, one could argue that 100% of illegal immigrants have committed at least one crime…

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Matt M

            Someone, I can’t for the life of me remember his name, once called that “the worst argument it the world”.

            To paraphrase his case:

            A criminal is technically someone who breaks the law, and {illegal immigrants} knowingly brake the law…

            But in this case calling { illegal immigrants} criminals is committing the noncentral fallacy. The archetypal criminal is a mugger or bank robber. He is driven only by greed, preys on the innocent, and weakens the fabric of society. Since we don’t like these things, calling someone a “criminal” naturally lowers our opinion of them.

            The opponent is saying “Because you don’t like criminals, and { illegal immigrants} are criminals, you should stop liking illegal immigrants .” But {illegal immigrants} don’t share the important criminal features of being driven by greed, preying on the innocent, or weakening the fabric of society that made us dislike criminals in the first place. Therefore, even though they are criminals, there is no reason to dislike them.

            One could of course argue that illegal immigrants do weaken the fabric of society, but my basic point is there is not a lot of evidence for that, at least not at the levels of immigration we have now.

          • Well... says:

            @hyperboloid: I don’t see how that addresses my point.

            The part of the CATO paper that you claim is arguing that cracking down on illegal immigration doesn’t lower crime seems more like it’s arguing that illegal immigrants aren’t disproportionately criminal–something I wasn’t trying to dispute. Again, see my point above.

          • Matt M says:

            “One could of course argue that illegal immigrants do weaken the fabric of society”

            You didn’t ask whether they weaken the fabric of society. You asked if they were criminals. By a strict definition, they are.

            The logic of your overall point is reasonable enough and I’m not even sure I disagree with it. But that seems to be a subjective opinion that is very much in dispute. “Bank robbers are criminals because we all agree that bank robbing is bad.” “People who illegally cross a border and not criminals because x% of people don’t think that’s so bad after all” I don’t think that’s how criminal vs non-criminal works. I don’t think an apprehended illegal immigrant in front of a judge, facing deportation, could get away with saying “my act was non criminal because it did not harm the fabric of society”

          • cassander says:

            @hyperboloid

            >The social science consensus about immigrants and crime is that, in general, they commit crimes at rates no higher then US citizens. This is true even of illegal immigrants. This article at CATO summarizes the general findings well.

            again, you conflate legal and illegal immigrants.

            >But when we take factors that we know are correlated with crime, like being male, poor, and uneducated, and find identical cohorts of immigrants and citizens we find that the immigrants commit crime at lower rates.

            which is irrelevant. immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, are disproportionately male, poor, uneducated, etc. so they will commit crimes at much higher rates than average. and unless you’re planning on changing those ratios somehow, you can’t claim with a straight face that they’re not more likely to commit crimes than the average person.

            >we can expect them peruse higher levels of education. In short it’s likely that future generations descended from immigrants will have lower rates of crime then what we observe today.

            Assuming they assimilate, that is. Look, I am actually very pro immigration, for a variety of reasons, but I have serious concerns about A, knowing how many immigrants can be assimilated, and B, that the very idea of assimilation is under attack from the left on multiple levels.

        • Jiro says:

          There exists essentially no evidence that immigrants commit crimes at a rate higher then US citizens.

          One of the most common ways to distort statistics in the immigration debate is to make statements about “immigrants” that are not broken down by category. Pretty much nobody opposes “immigration” rather than specific categories of immigrants.

    • Anaxagoras says:

      That was exactly what I first thought of. For basically any group, you can fill a news ticker with entirely true horrible things done by people in that group.

    • Deiseach says:

      I was interested to see they want to collect data on gender violence (including honour killings) by immigrants. It does sound like a pre-emptive “you want greater awareness of violence against women and repression of women by cultural mores, so here you go!” to the progressive elements. I don’t know how well it will work, and I’d hate to see any domestic disputes treated as somehow more heinous or as specially murderous (“this wasn’t an ordinary spousal killing, this was an honour killing!”) if done by a particular ethnic minority – there was great turbulence about a murder in 2009.

  23. Doctor Mist says:

    I had a random thought the other day.

    It concerned the internment of people of Japanese ancestry during WWII. Now, this internment was a terrible idea and I totally wish it had not happened. In any case I don’t want to argue about whether it was wise or stupid.

    But it did occur to me to wonder just how bad an abridgement of rights it was. My random thought was this: Out of all the people residing in America, we sent 120 thousand to camps and 50 million to fight in the war. Of the latter, 10 million were draftees who by definition were given no more choice in the matter than the internees. Of the 50 million, 416 thousand died, 3.5 times the total number of people interned.

    I have little knowledge about life in the internment camps. It might well be that it was worse than life at the front. In principle I’d tend to doubt it.

    Sure, it was unfair to single out people of Japanese ancestry. But the draft singled out males between 18 and 25 — is that any more just? There’s a reason for the profiling of draftees, you want men at their physical prime. But there was a reason to profile Japanese-Americans as well, arguably a bad reason, but it wasn’t capricious.

    It probably wouldn’t have fooled anybody to say that we were drafting these 120 thousand people (including women, children, and the aged), but I wonder if it might have been more palatable.

    What is it about the internments that makes them a blot on our history, but does not apply to the two orders of magnitude larger conscription of soldiers?

    • suntzuanime says:

      It’s the same principle where we accept the government taking trillions of dollars in taxes but get up in arms over a few billion dollars in civil forfeiture police robberies. We accept that the government has needs and that the people must serve the government so that the government can serve the people, but we don’t want the government to be unfair or capricious about it. If you accept that there was no realistic threat of a Japanese-American fifth column, then sending them off to internment camps to chill was unfair and capricious, even if it may have been less onerous than sending them off to die on foreign beaches.

    • hyperboloid says:

      There was an immediate and practical reason to draft young men for war, interning the Japanese on the other hand was pointless. Japanese in Hawaii were never interned and there was no wave of sabotage or subversion. Indeed Thousands of Japanese Americans served is the US armed forces during World War II, some of them recruited right out of the camps.

      • TenMinute says:

        I wouldn’t say “pointless”. It was a period of massive expansion in government power. Making it clear to the sometimes-dubious population that they had the power to do that to people was the very purpose of doing it.
        “The purpose of torture is torture,” (because I don’t have time to dig up the right Arendt quote, so Orwell will have to do.)

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I would fight to the death to prevent conscription in all but an invasion of the homeland scenario. I’d merely protest interments.

      I’d assume that social-category oriented people are more on their bullhorns (and they can be very loud) on a social-category issue than a random-luck issue.

      The internees lost most of the land and personal belongings that some of their families had spent generations building.

  24. Tibor says:

    I’ve stumbled upon that famous Kennedy quote again which always confused me. I mean the “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

    What confuses me is that that sentence sounds like something Mussolini (I wrote Hitler originally, but I think Mussolini is better as an example of just “a fascist dictator”) might have said and in the US context it kind of fits better with the Republicans, Democrats don’t seem to be so much keen on “making America great (again)”. Were the major US parties in the sixties so different from their current counterparts that Kennedy would be considered a Republican today?

    And why do many people find that quote uplifting even today? It literally says that the country is more important than the individual. That sounds just terrible to me, but more importantly it seems to be, at least in spirit, against what the modern left wing thinks. As far as I grok it, left wingers would argue that the individual well-being is best achieved through a large and expansive state, but still they see that state as a mean to an end not as an end in itself – at least this is what left wing people here told me when I said that nazis were socialists, hence leftists. But many people on the left like that quote. Is it simply because it was Kennedy who said it (I guess to a point it is, they probably would be a lot less fond of it if it indeed were Mussolini who said it, but say that FDR did…which would also kind of fit, actually). I’m not sure how popular it is among American right-wingers. I’d guess that American classical liberals and libertarians have the same reaction to it as I do. I like David Friedman’s (I think? or maybe he cited someone) paraphrase though: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what it does to you.”

    Coming up next: Star Trek. Is it Stalinist? (“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” ??!!! @$#@^!%) :-))

    P.S.: Just in case – the star trek bit is meant basically as a joke, but the Kennedy quote question is meant seriously.

    • Matt M says:

      I’ve wondered about this too. My best guess is that back then, people weren’t as quick to automatically politicize every single statement, and that it was thought of favorably largely due to some sense of inspiration and pride. Interpreted charitably, it could be spun as saying “stop asking for stuff and contribute something instead” which is a general sentiment that can theoretically belong to either the left or the right, depending on the specific context.

      • Tibor says:

        it still does not answer why it is still popular today, unless the answer is simply “Kennedy said it and everyone likes Kennedy (for some reason)”.

        EDIT: One less horribly sounding interpretation would be that “country” does not mean “state”. But then “what your country can do for you” does not make a whole lot of sense, so he probably really meant “state/government” when he said country.

        Interestingly, if you replace the word country by the word government or state, probably nobody except actual nazis and communists would like that quote (or am I wrong)? It is interesting since this might be a good way to illustrate to someone who is not a libertarian how that quote sounds to a libertarian (or at least to me).

        • FacelessCraven says:

          country doesn’t mean the government, it means all your fellow citizens.

        • hyperboloid says:

          One less horribly sounding interpretation would be that “country” does not mean “state”

          That is, as they say, a Bingo.

          If an American president had said “ask yourself what you can do for the state”, or something to that effect, that would indeed have sounded vaguely totalitarian.

          Country should in this case be taken to mean political community. You could mentally translate it as “ask not what your fellow Americans can do for you, ask what you can do for your fellow Americans”, it’s a general appeal to civic mindedness and community spirit; a banal sentiment perhaps, but not an objectionable one.

          • Tibor says:

            Ok, that sounds like a good translation (because it avoids using two different words while not sounding totalitarian). And it is like one of the phrases you would here from the Pope or Dalai Lama, the same kind of feel-good platitudes, which also explains why it remains popular. Still, when politicians call for people to band together, they usually mean “pay more taxes, so we can spend more”, but this is probably not what most people imagine when they hear the phrase.

      • Viliam says:

        Analogical to “better to light a candle than curse the darkness”, except that “what you can do for your country” sounds more heroic (military-style) than “lighting a candle”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Coming up next: Star Trek. Is it Stalinist? (“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” ??!!! @$#@^!%) :-))

      As discovered in a thread the other day, Star Trek is actually pretty communist.

      • Tibor says:

        There are many errors in that list (I don’t really know Star Trek, so I cannot say how accurate are the descriptions of what happens in the Star Trek episodes), for example prostitution was illegal in most (perhaps all) communist countries. The actual communists were actually a pretty conservative bunch – for example in communist Czechoslovakia university dormitories used to be separated by gender (so that male and female students lived in different buildings, or at least on different floors). Drugs other than alcohol and tobacco were also strictly illegal. Socially, communists – I mean the communists that actually were (and in some places are) in power – are conservative.

        At the same time, they never really entirely eliminated private property, that is complete nonsense. It was a goal for some of them perhaps, but it is absolutely impossible to do so. I think that even North Korea has some degree of private property and it is even more extreme than the Soviet Union (and much more extreme than the vassal states the Soviet Union had in Europe). It was difficult to get a car, you’d have to wait 10 years for it sometimes (because the number of cars made was based on 5 year plans instead of demand) and it most of them were inferior to the cars available in the non-communist countries (the ones that weren’t were typically only available to the ruling class, i.e. high ranking members of the Communist party), but when you got it, it was yours. Leaving the country was indeed difficult, especially to non-communist countries or the Soviet union (you see, the Soviets did not want their vassals to know that the Soviet Union was in fact much less developed than them). It was also more difficult in some countries than others. Yugoslavians had it much easier (since they became independent of the USSR) and Russians probably had it harder than anyone (the Soviet government didn’t want them to find out how backwater Soviet Union was either). Outright emigrating was pretty much illegal, that is correct. But generally, that list is not very good (I didn’t finish reading it).

        I think that what they’re trying to portray in Star Trek is some kind of a “post-scarcity” society, where you can have pretty much anything out of thin air (I remember these devices that materialize things out of nothing from the few episodes that I’ve seen) without any costs.

        • Anonymous says:

          Star Trek, according to that article, is *more* communist that real communist states. The real communists found it impossible, just as you say, to enact much of their program. In Star Trek, by dint of it being a fictional work, those could have succeeded just by the authors saying so.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I think you have a poor model in your head of the typical liberal left-winger.

      This is nothing more, and nothing less, than the idea that we should try and help each other get through this life, making our world a better place as we go. Compare this to “Love your fellow man” or “It takes a village to raise a child”. It is a call to be civic minded.

      I think people have this toy model in their head where they literally believe that the left desires a larger state as an end unto itself. This should strike people as ridiculous, but I have seen it said in complete seriousness so many times here that I have to think this belief is common among those who oppose your typical liberal Democrat.

      • cassander says:

        >I think people have this toy model in their head where they literally believe that the left desires a larger state as an end unto itself. This should strike people as ridiculous, but I have seen it said in complete seriousness so many times here that I have to think this belief is common among those who oppose your typical liberal Democrat.

        many interest groups that power the left, such as public employee unions, profit directly from the expansion of the state. That cannot help but influence their thinking, and their thinking cannot help but affect the thinking of their ideological allies. Claiming that the left, or large portions of it, desire a larger state for its own sake is no more absurd than the very common assertion that those on the right want lower taxes for their own sake. Self interest is not an exclusively right wing motivation.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          I belong to a public employee union. I prefer government service to private service because here I feel like an empowered citizen, not a replaceable hireling who should watch what he says (unless he’s lucky enough to have truly honorable bosses all the way to the top). I’d greatly prefer a nation in which those working in the private sector were treated the same way.

          I value the civil rights granted by being a government employee who is represented by a PEU, not an expanded government. I haven’t missed more than a couple of local union meetings. I have never heard that the government should be expanded.

          PEUs support things like mobile pensions, the right to form private sector unions, and etc… which would make the private sector, as an employer, more like the public sector, and which would thus discourage public sector service vis-a-vis the private sector. We’re* fighters for “self-interested” labor rights, not a particular employer.

          * – Personally I’m in favor of rights adherent to the individual, not the category- or group-based system of civil and labor rights. But I wasn’t the one who wrote**, or interprets, the Civil Rights Act or NLRA. We have to play the hand we’re dealt.

          ** – Too many socially oriented politicos in congress and writing our laws. They can’t even see the water in which they swim.

          • cassander says:

            >PEUs support things like mobile pensions, the right to form private sector unions, and etc… which would make the private sector, as an employer, more like the public sector, and which would thus discourage public sector service vis-a-vis the private sector. We’re fighters for “self-interested” labor rights, not a particular employer.

            They also support higher pay for themselves, more protection for themselves, and expansion of their ranks. And they fight for those things with considerably more vigor than they do portable pensions for the masses. Let’s not pretend you’re entirely selfless.

            > I have never heard that the government should be expanded.

            You’ve never once heard a call for more employees for a particular organization? An end to a hiring freeze? A pay raise? Are you paying attention at these meetings?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            expansion of their ranks.

            Expansion of unionization for current non-unionized employees, sure. I haven’t heard anyone say we need more employees, beyond a far more generalized call for better funding of government-sponsored basic science. And I honestly can’t recall if I’ve heard that in union meetings, or just from management.

            Let’s not pretend you’re entirely selfless.

            I never did. Selflessness and selfishness are beside the point. The union isn’t important, the people are.

            You’ve never once heard a call for more employees for a particular organization? An end to a hiring freeze? A pay raise? Are you paying attention at these meetings?

            No, though we are against offshoring and outsourcing of current jobs, generally for the reasons I already mentioned.

            Not yet.

            Of course, every time contract negotiations come up, but people in my local are generally more concerned with other sorts of benefits and leave policies.

            Yes, and asking questions, and I participated in a state-wide legislation and political meeting.

            I’ve been here for a year and a half so far. Theoretically things may change, but this is my experience so far.

          • cassander says:

            @anonymousskimmer says:

            >Expansion of unionization for current non-unionized employees, sure. I haven’t heard anyone say we need more employees, beyond a far more generalized call for better funding of government-sponsored basic science.

            Let me guess, you work for an organization that sponsors science?

            But the civil service unions have already come out against the attempt to stop expanding their ranks. Now, I happen to agree with them on this particular point, hiring freezes are bad policy, but let’s call spades spades.

            >No, though we are against offshoring and outsourcing of current jobs, generally for the reasons I already mentioned.

            again, calls to protect your jobs and your status.

            >Of course, every time contract negotiations come up, but people in my local are generally more concerned with other sorts of benefits and leave policies.

            Yep, which was precisely my point, so please don’t claim “We’re fighters for “self-interested” labor rights, not a particular employer.” or ” I have never heard that the government should be expanded.”

          • Skivverus says:

            @cassander
            A little less outgroup homogeneity bias, please.

          • cassander says:

            @Skivverus

            There’s no out group in question here. the topic isn’t what member of public employee unions personally believe, but what their legally established advocates advocate for. Remember where we started

            “many interest groups that power the left, such as public employee unions, profit directly from the expansion of the state. That cannot help but influence their thinking, and their thinking cannot help but affect the thinking of their ideological allies.”

          • rlms says:

            The military is right-wing isn’t it?

          • Randy M says:

            Right-wing has many connotations; military shares some, but I don’t see why reducing the government is commonly among them, especially as you go up.
            I guess you could find some generals advocating for reducing entitlement spending so you don’t endanger funds for the armed forces or something.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            The degree to which the US military skews right or left politically has changed over the past hundred years or so. When you still had hawkish Democrat politicians in the left-wing coalition of American politics, the military had a lot more people in it whose politics leaned left. I don’t think there’s anything “inherently right wing” about either a military mindset, a military career, or wanting a strong military, and I can think of quite a few examples of left-wing poltical leaders who are big supporters of muscular military policy, albeit not so much in America.

            That lack is a relatively recent (in historical terms) phenomenon and has a lot to do with the influence of the Anti-War Left on the overall left wing coalition in the US from the Vietnam-Era to the present. As the major left wing coalition party (Democrats) adopted more of the anti-war and anti-military rhetoric and policy stances, that had a predictable effect on the political affiliation of those with a military career.

            Now, Clinton (Bill, not Hilary) arguably reversed that trend, at least rhetorically, but from my time in the Army I do NOT think that it was perceived that way by career military at the time or since. Career military types by and large do not remember the Clinton-era military fondly at all.

          • rlms says:

            My point is that the (US) military is (I believe) right-wing, and also part of the government, so by cassander’s logic there is also a right-wing group that “profits directly from the expansion of the state”.

          • cassander says:

            @RLMS and down

            The US military leans right, but not as much as is conventionally thought, and certainly much less than the rest of the government leans left. The republican lean also declines as you move up in ranks.

            >My point is that the (US) military is (I believe) right-wing, and also part of the government, so by cassander’s logic there is also a right-wing group that “profits directly from the expansion of the state”.

            I agree, which is why when republicans argue that more money is needed for the miltary, one should be somewhat skeptical. But the right wing group is much smaller than the leftwing groups, and much less politically active on any subject besides defense spending.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Yep, and consistent with Cassander’s point, career military types and especially senior NCOs and Officers disproportionately favor expansions of spending and oppose cuts and reforms. Careerism is a real problem, and there are people within the US military community aware of it and who criticize it.

            So, if anything, pointing out that the military has the problem to reinforces his point: work in government, environmental and economic pressures will tend to shift your views towards enhanced government scope, spending, and power.

          • rlms says:

            There are two reasons that the right-wing military is relevant. Firstly, just as the existence of a right-wing pro-state-expansionist military doesn’t imply that all right-wingers want to expand the state for its own sake, HBC’s original point that the left doesn’t “desire a larger state as an end unto itself” is not contradicted by the existence of left-wing pro-state-expansionist public unions.

            Secondly, while the military might favour the expansion of a specific part of the government (the military), that doesn’t mean that they’re uniformly pro-state-expansion. Ditto for public union members. This is anonymousskinner’s point: they support increased government on them, but not necessarily on e.g. the military.

          • Matt M says:

            In my experience (nine years military NCO), the rank and file military mostly oppose expansion of the non-military parts of the government, as they see government funding as a zero-sum game. Every cent that goes to the National Endowment for the Arts is one less cent that we get in pay raises and increasingly lavish benefits.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms says:

            >There are two reasons that the right-wing military is relevant. Firstly, just as the existence of a right-wing pro-state-expansionist military doesn’t imply that all right-wingers want to expand the state for its own sake,

            Given the rhetoric that emanates from republican politicians about defense spending, they aren’t far off from that. the average republican voter has no idea how much money the military spends on anything, but he’s pretty sure it isn’t enough. The same is true for the average democrat for everything else the government does.

            >Secondly, while the military might favour the expansion of a specific part of the government (the military), that doesn’t mean that they’re uniformly pro-state-expansion. Ditto for public union members. This is anonymousskinner’s point: they support increased government on them, but not necessarily on e.g. the military.

            except the “them” in this case is every part of the government except the military, and not a small number of them work for the military too. If trump started downsizing the DoD civilian workforce, hell would be raised. “in favor of a bigger state for its own sake, except for some parts of the military” is still problematic.

      • Tibor says:

        How so? I acknowledged that the modern left (I don’t think it is true of the sort of early 20th century left-wingers like Shaw) does not see the state as an end in itself or above the individual per se, but that it sees more state power in almost all areas as a good means of making everyone better off. I think it is necessary to really say the sate and not “community” or something, because there are many ways you can have a community without coercion (charity is the obvious example, or even the commenter community here) but the left consistently prefers the definition of “we” which involves the state acting as “us” and forcing other people to do (or not to do) something, ultimately under the threat of violence (charitable communities do not do that).

        The difference between a left-winger and a fascist seems to be that the first believes that the state does this “for your own good” whereas the fascist is satisfied with the state doing it for its own good and glory. I might be wrong about fascists though. I haven’t really ever talked to any actual fascists and I’d guess that while they probably value the might and glory of the state, they want to make the “country great”, they also feel like the state power ultimately benefits the people.

    • It’s easy to assume that the parties have always meant the same thing they currently do but that really isn’t the case. Back when Lincoln was president the Republicans were clearly the liberals and the Democrats were clearly the conservatives. Things stayed that way for a long time before lines started to blur in the progressive era. It was still ambiguous through FDR and it was only with JFK’s embrace of the civil rights movement and then LBJ’s War on Poverty that the sides clearly swapped. Beforehand the South had been solidly Democrat but by Reagan it was solidly Republican.

      There have been significant changes since then. You can watch a now-famous YouTube video of Reagan and Bush I arguing in the Republican primary for 1980 about who was the most supportive of immigrants. Back then it was the Democrats who were mostly the party of immigration restriction based on their working class voter base. They were also the party of trade restriction and the Republicans were the party of free trade. Nowadays it’s the Democrats who are relatively more interested in free trade (thank Clinton?) and certainly the Democrats who are much more in favor of immigration. In a way the parties have been catching up to their constituents on those issues with the difficulty that establishment Republicans had repudiating Reagan’s legacy giving Trump an opening. Trump himself used to be a Democrat back when that party represented his preferred policies and only switched to being a Republican when that party better reflected his beliefs about America’s place in the world.

      • cassander says:

        > It was still ambiguous through FDR and it was only with JFK’s embrace of the civil rights movement and then LBJ’s War on Poverty that the sides clearly swapped. Beforehand the South had been solidly Democrat but by Reagan it was solidly Republican.

        This is the conventional wisdom, but if you look at southern voting, the south don’t really switch republican until the 90s, not the 60s or 70s. Republican presidents did well in the south earlier, but that’s because they did well everywhere, they won an average of more than 40 states per election from 68 to 92

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Look at presidential voting, not House of Reps voting.

          Once the Civil Rights Amendment passes, Jimmy Carter is the only Democrat to win the South again (when they had won the South every election since the end of Reconstruction).

          • cassander says:

            again, republicans presidents won EVERYWHERE between 68-88, so pointing out that they won the south tells you nothing. What tells you something is that republicans typically did less well in the south than elsewhere. this is most notable in 76, the only election democrats won, but the republican vote shares in southern states were typically lower other states.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You know who won everywhere in 1964?

            The Democratic candidate LBJ, who took 486 electoral votes.

            Goldwater, the Republican candidate, took 52 electoral votes.

            Where did this 52 votes come from?
            LA, MS, AL, GA, SC (and AZ, his home state). Of those southern states, LA had voted only once for a Republican since reconstruction, MS, AL, and SC had not voted for a Republican since reconstruction and GA wasn’t even carried by any Republicans during reconstruction.

            Then in 1968 Wallace won 46 southern state electoral votes on a segregationist platform.

            You just can’t explain that away with a “The Republican candidate won big”. Not when Republican Eisenhower in 1952 & 56 wins 442 & 457 electoral votes, but the southern states all vote for Adelai Stevenson who ends up with only 89 & 73 electoral votes.

          • cassander says:

            >The Democratic candidate LBJ, who took 486 electoral votes.

            In other words, fewer than reagan got both time, nixon got once, and only slightly more than bush the elder got. It’s hard to overstate how massively successful republicans candidates were from 68-88.

            >Then in 1968 Wallace won 46 southern state electoral votes on a segregationist platform.

            That would be wallace, the lifetime democrat, right?

            >but the southern states all vote for Adelai Stevenson who ends up with only 89 & 73 electoral votes.

            Ike won virginia, texas, louisiana, florida, west virginia, kentucky, and tennessee in 56, so a good 1/3 of the southern states at least.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That would be Wallace running as the candidate of the American Independence Party.

            The people stayed the same, local one party Democratic rule remained the same.

            If the South had voted Republican in 52 and 56, Eisenhower would have won essentially every state. If the south hadn’t flipped to Republican LBJ would have won essentially every state.

            There is essentially no difference between the Eisenhower wins, the LBJ win and the Reagan win in 84 except in the way the South voted. The South didn’t vote for Reagan because he won every state, he won every state because the South voted for Reagan. You have the cart and the horse reversed.

  25. liskantope says:

    So, the main thing I hear from all of my anti-Trump friends in America is that they’re writing letters to their national representatives. Can anyone more politically savvy than I am explain concretely how this is likely to help, or if it doesn’t do much good at all besides making the writer feel like they’re at least trying to do something? From my somewhat naive perspective, it seems like every congressman and senator expects to get thousands of letters from citizens all the time regardless of what choices they make and probably pay little attention to the small proportion that make it through the filter to their desk.

    • suntzuanime says:

      They don’t generally read them, but they have staff members who count them up and pass the aggregate stats along. It’s a sort of a form of mediated direct democracy, it lets the representatives of the people have some idea of what the people they’re representing want.

    • Matt M says:

      Disclaimer: Anecdote, n=1

      I was classmates with a guy in grad school who was once a congressional aide and whose job was to read the letters, answer the phones, etc. He insisted that they did tally this stuff and that it did, in fact, inform congressional opinion. They pay attention and they care.

      That said, they also track whether the person complaining is an actual constituent or not. And in most cases, the people who are calling to support Position X are located in a district that elected a representative that already favors Position X so it doesn’t matter a ton. So at the end of the day, it’s worth it to call your own Congressman IF you have good reason to believe they are currently on the “wrong side” of most voters in their own district (or if it’s close at least). It’s probably NOT worth it to call Nancy Pelosi and complain about Trump’s immigration policy though…

    • gbdub says:

      Having visited a couple of my representatives, they do their best to read (well, to have their staff read) all correspondence. You’re probably better off taking some time to write something unique, as obvious form letters will all get tossed in the same bucket (a unique letter might even get a real signed response, which is nice). Don’t bother writing anyone who doesn’t represent you (they care about constituents i.e. possible voters). Writing to your representative (who likely gets tens to hundreds of letters) is more meaningful than your senators (who probably do get thousands).

      Either way public opinion in the form of constituent correspondence definitely does play an important role in how most representatives vote – at a minimum there will be a staffer reporting on trends in correspondence.

      In general actionable requests, i.e. “Please support bill X” are better than general statements “you need to do a better job dealing with Y”.

    • John Schilling says:

      If you write an actual letter to your congressman, by which I mean your own words in ink(*) on paper in an envelope, it is very likely that one of your congressman’s staffers will read it. For best results, do some research to figure out what staffers deal with what issues and address the letter directly to the right one. For anything short of a headline-news level policy item, it’s the staffers you need to convince anyhow.

      If all you’ve got is “I like/dislike X”, keep it short and direct, and you get to become a tally mark in the “people who really like/dislike X and will vote accordingly, unlike the slacktivists who just forward us an email and will probably forget by election day” column. That’s worth doing.

      If you have something more substantial to say, and you think there’s a real chance that you can say it better than all but a handful of the people who will be mailing your congressman’s office on the subject, put together your best elevator pitch in written form, maybe fleshed out to a page or two, and hope that you can make a staffer stop and think for a bit. If that happens, you win even if the staffer doesn’t forward the letter to his boss. Which, sometimes, he will.

      Very occasionally, the boss will write back in his own words.

      * Can be laser-printer ink or whatnot, but the words need to be your own and should probably have a handwritten signature.

    • liskantope says:

      Thanks for the helpful responses.

      I forgot to mention that in a lot of cases they are going for the obvious variant of calling their congressman, which I imagine works out roughly the same way.

      • John Schilling says:

        For a phone call you want to start out by asking which staffer handles [Issue X], because neither the call nor the letter gets to the congressman without their staff getting first crack at it but with the call it will be obvious that it isn’t the congressman you are dealing with. Making it clear that you understand the system and are willing to work with it, is critical to anything good coming out the other end of it.

  26. paranoidfunk says:

    Hey, I wanted to post this here before talking to my psychiatrist about it.

    Essentially: I’m 21, and I’ve been having some intrusive thoughts about dying. I just came out of the shower prematurely because I felt like my roommate was about to shoot a shotgun bullet through the curtain and kill me; had a vision of blood spattering. I’ve just met my roommate and he’s an Okay Guy, I don’t think there’s really any animosity at all — probably opposite emotions if anything — as far random student dorming situations go. This was the most intrusive chain of thoughts so far — have had them for about a week now (I’ve just moved back to school) — they usually come in the form, and please excuse the self-indulgent nature, of “you’re such a valuable mind, it’d be a shame if you died” or “imagine working this hard intellectually and losing it all by dying”.

    Psych hx includes double depression, OCD (might be this to an extent), ADHD, and I think I would diagnose myself as schizoid FWIW — many labels that I don’t think about, but they were given to me at some point. I will concede I have a baseline of neuroticism, but what’s odd is that right now this is probably the most happiest and cognitively fit I’ve been in a while. AFAICT, no family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but depression seems somewhat heavy on maternal side. EDIT: I’m currently not taking anything for meds, although I was taking Wellbutrin and Celexa on-and-off for nearly two years (with at one point beneficially potent fx).

    Appreciate any response from anyone – thank you.

    • gbdub says:

      Is this happening with a great deal of frequency, or especially vivid? I feel like having occasional morbid thoughts/fantasies is fairly common, e.g. standing at the edge of a cliff and visualizing jumping off, or driving your car off the road, etc. (even though you have no intention of actually doing so). I certainly have these with some degree of frequency, and don’t consider myself in any way mentally ill.

      • paranoidfunk says:

        @gbdub

        Not at a great frequency currently, but they are increasing in frequency and increasingly vivid.

        I’ve just started feeling Worse in the hours since I’ve wrote that, which is shitty in general, but I think it may be plain ol’ stress with adjustment to back to school.

        fantasizing about driving your car off the road

        Fuck, thought I was the only one.

        EDIT: I just realized, I made this username before this stuff happened >.< Self-fulfilling prophecies…

    • Aapje says:

      right now this is probably the most happiest and cognitively fit I’ve been in a while.

      You also just made a big change to your life.

      And college is a fairly high-stress environment, even if you like being there. The number of students with mental issues seems to be increasing.

      PS. I also have had the car fantasy.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      right now this is probably the most happiest and cognitively fit I’ve been in a while.

      How are you with respect to other emotional and physiological states?

      Don’t sweat the intrusive thoughts or you risk making the situation worse, whether or not they go away. What goes on in the head goes on in the head, but otherwise isn’t a big deal.

      • paranoidfunk says:

        How are you with respect to other emotional and physiological states?

        Overall good – but I am feeling the cascade of insecurity now as I find myself vigilant of thought intrusions; what I meant by my happiness in previous comment is probably due to some unprecedented confidence that I developed recently. Eating – very well (veggies, eggs and salmon…sort of Mediterranean type diet). Exercised yday and day before. Sleep sched not great, but am getting 7-8 hours from usually 2 or 3 to 9 or 11.

        Concerning update on last night: as I was lying in bed, I thought heard a man and woman distantly yelling outside. As I put headphones on to counteract it, I heard a man whispering in the left ear channel; started to become increasingly paranoid that someone was about to open my door. This all did make me cry from that am-I-losing-my-mind despair, had to text my psych in the middle of the night, and I talked to har this morning. She is prescribing Klonopin so I rest my mind and sleep easier, and recommending I see her in-person sooner.

        Thanks for your comments so far – not easy to informally talk about with peers, nor did I want to get family or psych involved yet. I really hope this is short-lived. I still can’t believe I wrote this username before all this happened. Right now I am in class and doing OK…(Cuneiform script analysis is boring me to different tears, however.)

  27. Odovacer says:

    Have you ever been part of a protest? What made you decide to or not to? Did you care how much you agree with the other protesters or organizers?

    I have never attended a protest, but I’m considering attending a “March for Science” protest if it ever happens. I’m a scientist and I’d like more funding for most science as well as people to have a better understanding of science is and isn’t. I’m cautious about the Trump administration, because while I think he might approve a lot of money for research, I think he’s equally likely to cut a lot of funding for research and inflame anti-science attitudes, e.g. vaccines.

    However, I’m hesitant to participate because some of the things from the official twitter account are things that I do not support, e.g. this. I’m also fairly indifferent to climate change science and scandals, and that seems like a big focus of the march. I’m not yet certain what trade-offs I’m willing to accept. I’m also uncertain whether protests are effective or just a way for people to play/hookup/achieve catharsis.

    • gbdub says:

      Yeah, like the March for Women, this group seems more concerned with lumping a typical grab-bag of left-wing issues into the fold than actually promoting their nominal focus. Which bothers me because you ought to be able to be “pro-science” without having any particular stance on e.g. immigration policy, other than that we ought to debate such policy using good data.

      Agree with their position or not, at least the March for Life picks an issue and sticks with it.

      • liskantope says:

        I don’t know how how it will actually play out, but in theory it’s possible for the March For Science to focus on Trump’s claims which blatantly contradict the consensus of the scientific community (e.g. vaccines cause autism, global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese). But I too have a feeling it’s going to turn into a protest for the usual collection of vaguely left-wing causes. I see on the Facebook group that people are already discussing lack of diversity in the scientific community, for instance.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Most protests tend to be organized by groups which are dedicated to protesting and already have a laundry list of their own priorities (it’s the whole “we let the Communists run things because they’re the only ones who know to make sure there are enough porta-potties” problem.) If you sign up with one of them, you’re likely to have a Free Palestine guy on your left, a Trump=Hitler guy in front, and a KillAllCisMen guy on your right and the Black Bloc bringing up the rear, and you can guarantee that any such “March for Science” will be opposed to GMOs and nuclear power. So look carefully before signing on.

      • gbdub says:

        Speaking of, does anyone know a good alternative to the Sierra Club that actually supports nuclear power? I love national parks but hate anti-nuke alarmism.

    • Matt M says:

      Holy crap @ that tweet.

      I guess “anti-science” is the new “racist.” They’re going to call anyone to the right of Castro that anyway, so time to start owning it!

      • liskantope says:

        I have a feeling “racist” isn’t going to be retired anytime soon.

        • Matt M says:

          True. But large parts of the alt-right are basically people who decided “I’m not going to bother trying to convince anyone I’m not a racist anymore.”

          Which, as Scott sort of addressed in Stop Crying Wolf, has basically been spun as “look at all these open white supremacists!”

        • FacelessCraven says:

          racism is wearing the wrong hairstyle.

      • JulieK says:

        I keep looking at their icon and seeing the Capitol dome as a safety shower.

    • deconstructionapplied says:

      Our politics are probably very different, but I’ll offer you my perspective anyway, since all the other responses you’ve gotten are garbage.

      For reference, I’m a straight white man. I’ve been to a variety of protests, starting with Occupy in 2011. I was a barely employed college graduate and I was becoming radicalized on my own and was frustrated that no one in my social circle cared about politics at all. Not that people didn’t agree with me, but everyone I knew was completely apathetic. I went to Occupy not really knowing what to expect and it was amazing to be able to talk with people about, e.g. wealth inequality, and for them to already have an opinion (regardless of whether or not I agreed with them). So for me, the first protest I ever went to was meaningful in that I discovered I was not as isolated as I thought. And if I were crazy, at least I was crazy in the company of people I liked and admired.

      It didn’t bother me as an individual that people came to anti-bank protests with signs for free Palestine, prison reform, gay marriage, gun rights, etc. Occupy specifically was pretty cooky. What did bother me was people organizing behind the scenes to use the entire march for their pet cause. While I might not mind your free Palestine sign, this march is about foreclosures, so don’t try to steal the megaphone and get people to cheer it on.

      I’ve also been to Black Lives Matters protests and I feel more protective of the messaging around that since, unlike the Occupy’s amorphous, expansive character, BLM is fairly narrow in focus.

      I went to the Women’s March in DC. That was exciting for me because it was the first protest my parents had ever been to, and it was huge and I felt like I was participating in something historic.

      If the primary reason you go to a protest is to effect change, you’re going to be disappointed. You’re essentially offering your body and your time as a chit to the organizers to advance their own goals. If you’re pretty sure their goals don’t overlap with yours in any significant way, you shouldn’t go (unless you are indifferent and have friends going, which doesn’t seem to be your case).

      When it comes to accomplishing something via protest, you are an individual putting a penny in a jar for someone else to buy something whose cost you definitely don’t know, and of which the purchaser is also probably also unaware.

      Looking at the March for Science information… honestly it looks like they don’t know what they’re doing. However, the character of the march is created as much from that of its attendees as the organizers. The organizers for the Women’s march and the speakers they chose were extremely diverse. The attendees, while still diverse, were much less so. They were also less radical than you’d have guessed based on the Women’s March’s website.

      What does this mean? I wouldn’t go to the March for Science alone unless you are extroverted and willing to actively work to meet people. But if you go with a couple of friends you’ll have fun. Another option would be to find whatever local organizations (assuming you don’t live in DC) are chartering the buses and going with them. You’ll meet some new people and make friends who have at least one interesting in common with you. Honestly, the worst thing about protests is sitting around bored before and after and not having anyone to talk to. It’s like camping a specific spawn in old-school MMOs. It’s more fun with a party.

      No matter how they market the protest, it’s in DC and not explicitly right wing, so if you show up with Pepe pins or MAGA hats you are not going to feel welcome. Otherwise, everything will be fine.

      However, if you’re looking for the most effective use of your time to get more science funding, protesting is not the way to go. If that’s what you want, you should figure out how your university gets most of its funding and talk to the key decision people who aren’t so important they’ll ignore you. That might be a senate staffer, your own Congressman (if you’re lucky and s/he’s on a relevant committee), or a state representative who has oversight of State school budgets.

      If you’re looking for efficiency, you should find a science advocacy org you like and donate money to them. If you can get friends to make matching donations, so much the better. They know who to talk to, and have enough money/prestige to get an audience with people who’d never give you the time of day.

      In any case, it’s all probabilistic. You can put all the time and money in the world toward achieving your policy goals and still fail. And you’ll likely have no idea how close you came to victory.

      • Viliam says:

        I have participated in a few protests. In my experience, a well-organized protest goes like this:

        The organizers are visually identified, for example by wearing a symbol (or perhaps having a scarf of the same color tied on their hands, if they may need to be able to remove it quickly — but before they remove it, it must be unambiguous whether they have it or not). They have a megaphone. The protest starts by explaining the participants who are the organizers, how you can visually identify them, and what is the topic of the protests. It is said that people with all opinions are welcome to join the protest, as long as they behave peacefully and don’t bring their own agenda to here and now, because this protest has a specific topic.

        Sometimes there are some assholes (or maybe police provocateurs, you never know) who bring other signs, start causing chaos, whatever. In that case, the organizers immediately react, using their megaphones, ask those people loudly and directly to stop… and if they don’t, the organizers ask other participants to avoid that group (it helps to add “for your own safety”) because those are not a part of the protest, and are probably provocateurs. If the protest is legally announced and without any hostile intentions, the organizers can actually (politely, using their megaphones) ask the police to intervene against those specific disruptors, if they start doing something objectionable, emphasising that “those are not part of our protest”.

        tl;dr — Have clearly designated organizers, have megaphones, and use them actively. Remain polite, but remain firm about the goal of the protest. Clearly mark provocateurs and uninvited organized groups as “people who don’t belong to us”, and ask other participants to visibly move away from them.

    • paranoidfunk says:

      Jon Haidt tweeted this about the March on Science; basically, he’s got a damn good point, as seen in his next tweet in the thread: “This is not the most effective strategy for convincing Congress that science is non-partisan”.

      I have to disavow such marches that come off as unnecessarily tribalist feeding into identity politics.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      I’m also a scientist, and won’t attend the march. Among my reasons:

      (Conflict of interest: I’m a Trump supporter. I don’t like Price as HHS pick, since he looks likely to start a return to Bush era politics around stem cells plus a general opposition to new funding. But I’m still waiting for his NSF pick to see how this shakes out.)

      0. This goes against the core ideal of scientific objectivity. Politicizing science is wrong when the religious right does it, it’s wrong when the postmodernist left does it, and it’s still wrong when centrists do it. If people can’t count on us to put aside our biases and go with the data, we’re nothing more than yet another advocacy group.
      1. The idea of the march is insanely counterproductive. If we’re worried about Trump being anti-science, casting ourselves as his enemies is a great way to ensure that his administration won’t address our concerns. What is the upside to this? How will this actually help researchers?
      2. All the weird crap that has accreted onto the protest. I could see protesting against funding cuts or ill-advised restrictions on research. If I squint I can even see protesting for easier immigration for scientists and students. Why the hell are we protesting for anti-colonialism? What does that have to do with anything?
      3. This is my elitism showing, I suppose, but I’m fairly sure the march will have at least an order of magnitude more poorly-informed laymen than scientists while being reported as “N Scientists Marched Today.” That means that the “Gravity is a social construct!” brigade are going to be able to use our presence to cloak their unscientific and pseudoscientific memes as accepted fact.

  28. rlms says:

    Muslim mayor in homophobic Dutch suburb supports gays
    The angle presented in the title might be interesting to discuss, but what stuck out to me was this bit:
    “The suburb has recently been in the news for homophobic incidents, with gays being verbally abused, spat on and harassed.
    The community grew particularly restless over gay men using Slotervaarts De Oeverlanden public park as a place to meet and have sex, a practice known as ‘cruising’.
    After gay lobbyists complained over incidents of homophobic violence, the local council erected signs in the park indicating the spots where gay sex is known to take place, in a bid to avoid any unfortunate encounters.”

    Certainly, harassment is bad. But getting upset about people having sex in your public park seems reasonable. But under a libertarian framework, how can you argue for restrict people’s behaviour in public land? Or is this an argument for private ownership?

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Certainly, harassment is bad. But getting upset about people having sex in your public park seems reasonable. But under a libertarian framework, how can you argue for restrict[ing] people’s [behavior] in public land? Or is this an argument for private ownership?

      As a rule, libertarians will respond to any question about public property by saying that privatization would solve the problem. That’s just a given.

      Of course, there will always be pubic spaces regardless of whether the owners are governments or private individuals. People will have to enforce some sort of community norms regardless. And a norm against public sex is eminently reasonable.

      The issue which the article belies, though, is that this isn’t a case of Dutch traditions versus gay culture. It’s Islamic law versus Dutch traditions and gay culture. The Muslim immigrants are a much bigger threat to the Dutch than any amount of public gay sex, especially since they seem to believe that they can enforce their own religious views even while they’re guests on foreign soil.

      • rlms says:

        Well, the Muslim mayor who is opposing homophobia doesn’t seem like much of a threat.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Unless he’s just using the gay sex in the park thing to break down the Dutch traditions.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Muslims are promoting homosexuality to undermine western civilization?

            Are they putting fluoride in the water to?

            We must stop the Muslim plot to corrupt and impurify our precious bodily fluids!

          • Islam as a religion is solidly against (at least) male homosexuality. Islam as a culture, on the other hand, has at some times and places been very accepting of it. There are two famous Arabic essays that take the form of debates on the relative attractions of hetero and homosexual sex.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’ve always wondered about that, as no society with the level of pervasive sexual segregation that existed in some (though not all) Muslim communities could have gone without more then a few homosexual relationships.

            I certainly know that Saudi Arabia has long been the target of jokes among other Arabs about exactly what it’s young men get up to.

          • TenMinute says:

            >There are two famous Arabic essays that take the form of debates on the relative attractions of hetero and homosexual sex.

            You can’t just talk about something that interesting without linking the source!
            (I tried to find them, but any real results are buried in piles of autoethnographies about the “intertextual construction of brown male anality”)

          • rlms says:

            @TenMinute

            Secondary source. Presumably the essays are “The Book of Respective Merits of Maids and Young Men” by al-Jahiz. However (as the article points out), a lot (but by no means all) historic Islamic acceptance of homosexuality was actually Greco-Roman-style acceptance of pederasty.

          • Well... says:

            The Taliban guys all kept little boys around for sex. (Source: “Seeds of Terror” by Gretchen Peters. If you can find a webbed copy try searching it for relevant keywords.)

            A creative but surprisingly plausible reading of the Alt Right is that it’s one big primer to get sexually-frustrated young Western men ready to become Muslims. The hatred of Christianity, the monomania about Jewish influence, the anti-feminist polemicism, the eagerness for political combat, and of course the gay haircuts…well, maybe it’s all just an incredible coincidence.

          • psmith says:

            A creative but surprisingly plausible reading of the Alt Right

            Not half so creative as you think. This may be relevant.

          • Well... says:

            @psmith: Hah, yeah I know.

          • Matt M says:

            Alt-right…. hatred of Christianity…. wha?

            I’ve never encountered this in my experiences with the alt-right. As far as I can tell, going alt-right has caused many formerly atheist libertarian types to become more sympathetic to Christianity, as it represents the “mainstream white/American culture/civilization” they view as under assault from the SJWs.

          • Well... says:

            I guess I should clarify, this applies only to certain parts of the Alt Right. (The Bloody Shovel being just one example.) But I am pretty sure those are the parts currently most closely associated with the label.

        • gbdub says:

          The article mentions that the suburb in question is composed mostly of Muslim immigrants. And the suburb is unusually homophobic by Amsterdam standards.

          Homophobia is a problem in this suburb largely because of the attitudes of its Muslim immigrant population. So the Muslim mayor speaking out against this problem is a good thing, but he’s not a Muslim telling ethnic Dutch people to be more tolerant – he’s a Muslim telling fellow Muslims to get in line with what is already a Dutch norm.

          That said it’s fair to ban public sex – the question is whether the sexual adventurers are being abused because the sex is public, or because it is gay.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I feel like in cases where someone simultaneously breaks a live norm and a deprecated norm the presumption should be that enforcement is enforcement of the live norm. Doing otherwise creates a privileged class of deprecated-norm-breakers who have greater leeway to break live norms.

          • gbdub says:

            Can you unpack that in plainer English please?

          • gbdub says:

            EDIT: Duplicate comment

          • suntzuanime says:

            Live norm: norm against having sex in public spaces. Deprecated norm: norm against homosexuality. In response to your comment “the question is whether the sexual adventurers are being abused because the sex is public, or because it is gay”, I feel like there should be a presumption of the former. If you are breaking a norm, you are a norm breaker, and protesting that you are also breaking something that is not a norm is not something I want to hear. Stop fucking in the middle of the park.

          • gbdub says:

            I would argue that, in that particular community, both norms are live (see e.g. the threat to burn down a “homo club” at the end of the article)

            The article doesn’t really state whether the homophobic attacks are exclusively occurring against individuals having sex in public parks. I don’t get the impression that that is the case.

            And in any case, “no vigilante justice” is also a norm. Telling an overly affectionate couple to get a room might be normal behavior – beating them up is not.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I was treating the norms of Dutch culture broadly as the controlling norms. If the Muslim enclave is sufficiently isolated and autonomous then surely there’s no problem, as the norm against homosexuality is legitimate? Or at least there’s no more problem than the usual problem we have when other cultures enforce norms that we don’t like.

      • Synonym Seven says:

        And a norm against public sex is eminently reasonable.

        Without resorting to traditionalism (of which “community standards / mores” is a subset): Why?

        • Anonymous says:

          Aside from sexual privacy being an in-baked human universal? I don’t know. Hopefully, someone has a better explanation.

          • quanta413 says:

            It’s not an in-baked human universal though; maybe in baked for modern agricultural civilizations. When whole families of hunter gatherers live in one hut, parents sometimes have sex a short distance from their children and it’s totally normal. I’m thinking about a book I read on the !Kung, but I’ve heard similar things about another group or two.

          • hyperboloid says:

            When whole families of hunter gatherers live in one hut, parents sometimes have sex a short distance from their children and it’s totally normal

            I suspect that was normal, at least among the poor, in many western countries well into the modern era.

            Until the twentieth century a large portion of the population of many parts of the world lived in modest one or two room accommodations. And if they lived in a part of the world where the weather was particularly unpleasant for large parts of the year, I doubt they were sending the kids out to play every time ma and pa wanted to physically express their love.

          • Anonymous says:

            “In presence of close kin” and “in public” is not the same thing, though. I would also imagine that given the option of better privacy, these people would have taken it.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Exposing someone who isn’t a consenting party to a sex act to that sex act – eg flashing your junk at someone on the train – is a violation.

          • The Nybbler says:

            That principle looks like it could easily be stretched to require burqas.

          • dndnrsn says:

            How so?

          • Synonym Seven says:

            Exposing someone who isn’t a consenting party to a sex act to that sex act – eg flashing your junk at someone on the train – is a violation.

            A violation of what? The law? Sure, not arguing that. Of your personal mores, or the mores of 21st-century American society? Sure, but why is that to be considered sacrosanct?

            That principle looks like it could easily be stretched to require burqas.

            Or, stretched in a different direction, to stigmatize homosexual displays of affection. Or displays of affection from interracial couples.

            Or displays of anything, really – what is so uniquely special and different about sex that it merits such treatment? Why can’t this exact same argument be made about humming songs on an elevator, or wearing a Tweety Bird t-shirt?

            How so?

            Exposing someone who is not a consenting party to the oh-so-impossibly alluring sight of an uncovered female head is indecent exposure.

          • The Nybbler says:

            How so?

            What’s considered “sexual” varies from culture to culture. Showing any skin at all could count; this is the point of the burkha, to prevent women from causing unconsenting (or otherwise) sexual desire in men. Showing one’s face (or ankle, in another culture) could count as a sex act.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It’s a violation of the other person’s personal autonomy, and it’s involving them in a sexual act without their consent.

            I would argue that, sure, some cultures would say that showing ankle or hair is sexual. Showing someone your genitals, whacking off in front of them, having sex in public, etc is the “lowest common denominator” sex act. Whether flashing ankle is sexual or not depends on the society. In what societies is masturbating not a sex act?

        • Cadie says:

          Perhaps hygiene, though that would apply best to buildings and other gathering places, not places like “out in the middle of a field.” Most of us have a general idea that stranger’s body fluids are icky and we don’t want them on things we’ll be sitting on, at least not unless those surfaces are well-cleaned before we sit. The same disgust reaction one would have to stepping in a puddle of pee would apply to semen or vaginal secretions as well. So even if the shame / morality aspect went away, it’s doubtful that public sex would be fully accepted as normal. Maybe there would be special semi-private areas or something, who knows, but most people would still frown on getting it on at McDonalds.

          • Synonym Seven says:

            I guess this is the most convincing of the rationales so far, yeah.

            I can’t see it the sole motivation for the current state of affairs, though. Hygienically, I’d put it about on par with spitting. If someone spits at McDonalds, it’s kinda gross and you may eventually ask them to leave if they keep on doing it. You probably don’t call the cops, absent other confrontational factors, and you probably don’t take the account of your harrowing personal brush with lewd and lascivious saliva predators to the blogosphere, unless it’s to basically laugh and/or shake your head in dismay.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Public property is collective ownership, which means that the public can ban things on their property in the same way that a private owner can. So on a private road, we would be ok with the owner banning drunk driving. Same thing applies to government owned roads. Otherwise, there would be no road rules and there would be complete chaos. I know many libertarians try to argue that the government should be neutral in these cases but when two people are having gay sex in a park how can you possibly be neutral?

  29. TomA says:

    Is there a learning curve associated with making public predictions and then evaluating the results annually? In other words, are you improving your ability to make predictions as a result of the feedback, or is your track-record relatively consistent over time?

    Most people that I know who regularly predict (and bet on) sports game outcomes do not seem to be getting better at it over time, despite putting in enormous time and effort (plus access to sophisticated online information resources).

    • Wrong Species says:

      There are plenty of resources for sports betters but trying to make consistent, accurate political predictions is relatively new. There’s more low hanging fruit where predicting sports is like daytrading.

    • Matt M says:

      Most people that I know who regularly predict (and bet on) sports game outcomes do not seem to be getting better at it over time, despite putting in enormous time and effort (plus access to sophisticated online information resources).

      For the same reason that stock pickers don’t get better over time. You can do all the analysis you want about what happened in the past, but what happens in the future is different.

      Not to mention that for every bet (or trade), the has to be someone on the other side making the opposite bet/trade, and if we assume some certain level of market efficiency, they are just as likely to be well informed and have access to the same information that you do.

      • Tarpitz says:

        The sports betting market is not particularly efficient, because a lot of money is bet in small chunks by poorly informed fans. There are several fairly simple heuristics which over time produce a consistent return even allowing for the bookmaker’s margin – I believe the classic example is always betting against the Dallas Cowboys. My personal favourite is the market for leading goalscorer at major international football tournaments: the public invariably gives too little weight to the strength of the defenses in the known part of a player’s schedule, ie the group stage.

        • Matt M says:

          I’m not sure I buy this. A lot of ignorant boobs go out and buy a bunch of shares of Apple because they think the iphone looks cool as well. I understand the logic of things like “popular teams will be overvalued in general” but in theory, the sharp money out there knows it as well and is pushing back against that force and driving the prices to equilibrium. Various gambling-related social media accounts publicly post “pros vs joes” trackers for various games, as well as metrics like % of bets placed vs % of money wagered.

          I won’t claim it’s totally efficient. There probably are strategies worth exploiting, but I think it’s very close and most people who *think* they’ve figure out how to beat the system will probably lose in the long run.

    • moridinamael says:

      I just wanted to put this out into the universe: I find the interface in the Arbital link to be fun and easy. If somebody were to put out an enormous list of predictions that you could just skim down and click through like that, I would do that all day.

  30. Error says:

    Here’s something random: I vaguely remember hearing that going to law school is a terrible career decision. I was under the impression it was because way too many people do it, so it’s hard to find good work.

    Yet, paying lawyers is still (I assume?) expensive as hell, which it should not be if there is an oversupply of lawyers. I notice that I am confused. Either there’s not really a glut of lawyers, or hiring a lawyer isn’t as expensive as I thought, or something economically weird is going on here.

    Can anyone tell me which?

    • zz says:

      Having spoken to a practicing lawyer I’m personally close to, it’s that the labor market for lawyers has massive inefficiencies that don’t go away because lawyers tend to be heavily entrenched in tradition.

    • Cypren says:

      Both.

      (Disclaimer here: I am not a lawyer, just someone who studies law as something of a hobby. Professional lawyers can probably provide a lot more detail here, and I would ask forgiveness for necessarily painting with a broad brush to simplify a complex industry into a few paragraphs.)

      Legal services take a few different forms: rote contractual, protective, negotiation and adversarial. Traditional local legal sole proprietorships and small firms did a lot of rote contractual law, drafting wills, powers of attorney and other small-ticket items that were quick and easy to do because they were essentially just mass produced fill-in-the-blanks forms. This was a terrible economic inefficiency that was essentially the outcome of a cartel monopoly. LegalZoom and other “Internet lawyers” have dropped the bottom out of this market entirely.

      Protective lawyers are typically in-house corporate counsel. You keep them on salary to continually survey the activities of your corporation and make sure that you’re not violating (the letter of) the law to the best of their ability. These jobs don’t pay nearly as well as Big Law, but they’re steady and available in nearly any large corporation.

      Negotiation and adversarial law services are typically what are provided by what we think of as legal firms. These are the lawyers who broker large corporate mergers, file lawsuits and conduct criminal defense. The common thread in all of these arrangements is that they are not fee-for-service, are contracted for a specific case, and have an unknown quantity of labor required at the outset to reach a desired result. This is where your hourly billing arrangements come in, and where things tend to be very expensive.

      When you hire one of the Big Law firms for this sort of work, you’re really paying for three things: institutional prestige, combined experience (even if your case is being worked by a more junior attorney, he has access to much more experienced partners and specialist attorneys to ask questions if he needs them) and probably most importantly, relationships. Big Law firms tend to have cozy relationships with judges, prosecutors, politicians, nonprofits and other influencers who can bring pressure to bear on your case in both subtle and overt ways. Add all of those factors together and you get the over-$1k/hr rates they can charge.

      Small law firms have been forced to get into more adversarial law as they’ve watched the rote contractual services that were their bread and butter disappear over the last decade. This has resulted in stiffer competition, consolidation and more than a few exits from the profession, because filling in the blanks on forms and stamping them with your Official Guild Seal of Approval is necessarily much less demanding work than winning a trial or negotiating a settlement. Many individuals who were comfortably making a profit off of the economic rents in the old model were suddenly forced to add actual value, and found they were unable to. This is why a number of lawyers have tried (unsucessfully, so far) to get internet lawyer services shut down or banned from their state.

      So all of this taken together means that being an attorney in modern America is about “go big or go home”. Either you go to a top-5 law school straight out of undergrad and get on the Big Law track (and either make partner or exit and go work for a large company as in-house counsel), or you wind up saddled with mountains of debt and living a rather pathetic hand-to-mouth existence while fighting tooth and nail for clients with your fellow second and third-tier graduates while wishing you’d spent your college years on a more profitable profession.

  31. It’s difficult to measure how bad Trump’s executive order is. Each country on the list is either a failed state or not an ally of the US. The thing is, we don’t take many immigrants from these countries as it stands today. For Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, the US issued permanent residence to 21,107, 13,114, 3,840, 6,796, 127, 734, ad 3,194. As far as refugees, the US takes a shockingly low amount for how up in arms about refugees progressives act. The US took a total of about 70,000 refuges in 2015. (https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Refugees_Asylees_2015.pdf).

    Then there is this PROFOUND moralizing from the left, with people like Albright (who have themselves made ‘hard choices’ that may have caused massive suffering in arms https://www.facebook.com/MadeleineKAlbright/posts/1196791023775885). Or companies like AirBnB, which is offering ‘free’ housing to people impacted by refugees impacted by this OR people not allowed into the US, which is absurd when you think about it. There is so much more… companies like Lyft, all actors, etc.

    The reality of course being that we only let in a few thousand Syrian refugees in 2015. On the refugee count it seems arbitrary to me — if we let in a few thousand but we do it with progressive moralizing from a Democrat president and speeches about the strength of the US, that’s good. If we temporarily drop the refugees from Syria to 0, and we do it with speeches about how they are dangerous, it’s evil incarnate.

    I know these people and companies think they mean well, but it seems so disingenuous and out of touch with reality. Of all the thousands of minor policies the US interacts with every year, from trade restrictions to tariffs to drones to arming militants to organ transplant regulations, the magnitude of all of them is tremendously higher. Although I guess it’s fair that they might not clash with our existing values, they aren’t as noticeable, or they don’t give a signal for a prediction of a much much worse future.

    Overall I agree with Scott here, the big issue I think is damaging credibility by not letting permanent residence into the US. That makes this a credibility issue on the promise of the US, regarding a small but serious part of the executive order. Whereas temporarily banning immigrants from failed and oppositional states, and decreasing refugees from almost none, to none, isn’t that big of a magnitude change.

    • Anonymous says:

      The XO is mostly security theater. If Trump were serious about this, he’d ban every Muslim majority country, or even all Muslims. But for the random pedestrian pro-Trump voter, he seems to be fulfilling his promises.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Or companies like AirBnB, which is offering ‘free’ housing to people impacted by refugees impacted by this OR people not allowed into the US, which is absurd when you think about it.

      Wait, what? AirBnB doesn’t have any housing of its own, it’s just a middleman for renting out rooms and apartments. Are they seriously airdropping refugees into random third parties’ homes? That can’t be right.

      • rlms says:

        Presumably they’re offering to pay for refugees being housed by third parties through them.

        • Aapje says:

          @rlms

          And presumably they are expecting very few people to take them up on this offer and it is mostly free publicity.

      • Montfort says:

        The full details are not yet available, but I would guess they’d pay opting-in renters the full rate, and eat the cost to put any leftover refugees in hotels.

  32. JulieK says:

    Someone was looking for an article called “If you Want People to Trust the News, You have to Print News Worth Trusting.”
    You may be thinking of this popehat piece:
    Deserving Trust
    (And it’s worth reading in any case.)

  33. R Flaum says:

    Is it safe to eat literally no vegetables if I take multivitamin/multimineral pills?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I ate literally no vegetables for about ten years when I was a child. It seemed okay, though I wouldn’t recommend it. As long as you’re otherwise eating a balanced diet, it should be worse-than-perfect but not die-immediately bad.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, there was this one guy who fasted under medical surveillance for a year to lose weight, ingesting only supplements and water. I figure it’s not the worst thing you can do. Consult your physician.

    • The Nybbler says:

      How literally? Life without Brassica (leafy greens) is safe enough without multivitamins, I’m living proof. But I eat citrus, potatoes, capsicums, onions, alliums, peanuts, etc. If you’re willing to eat organ meat I think you’re good on micronutrients with no veggies at all, though you’d lack carbs.

    • Deiseach says:

      Considering the post we had about Californians food-poisoning themselves via not washing their reusable bags, bunging raw meat and veg together in the bags and letting them simmer in the heated interior of the car boot for a couple of hours, and not washing the dirt off the vegetables before eating them, it probably is safer if you eat literally no vegetables 🙂

  34. Uncorrelated says:

    berk’s question has pushed me to finally post a related question that I’ve been thinking about lately.

    Our daughter is just finishing middle school in New York City and we’ve been involved in a process for finding a high school that is very much like what other people only go through for college admission. Between helping her with essay writing, practicing for a standardized test, and similar things I’ve gotten a much more detailed look at where she is intellectually than I’d had before. (And I am upset with myself for not having this view all along.) Despite good grades and generally good comments from teachers, I now see a real need to help her in things that I think all fit under the heading of “critical thinking”.

    But I’m worried that “critical thinking” is too broad a target to aim for at once and from what I’ve read (albeit after just a quick web search) courses that try to teach it directly don’t show great results. Are there smaller topics that we could try tackling one by one? Is there good research showing what works?

    I had the idea of starting with a particular aspect of reading comprehension. I don’t know if this has its own proper name. We would practice precise parsing of language and common misinterpretations. E.g. (from a book I looked at) a sign saying “traffic for the next 10 miles” might be incorrectly interpreted as stating “there will not be traffic after 10 miles”. Or “X is not as good as Y” being interpreted as “X is bad”. I’m hoping that this is bite size enough to not be overwhelming to start with and concrete enough that there is a definite correct interpretation of each example. Bigger and more fuzzy things could come later. But that’s just what I’ve come up with so far. I would love to have more ideas to choose from.

    • Incurian says:

      Defending both sides of a contentious issue might help develop related skills.

      • Hetzer says:

        Defending both sides of a contentious issue might help develop related skills.

        I’ve tried to do that before, and it really didn’t yield great results. When arguing for something I don’t actually believe in, I just end up engaging in sophistry. I distract people with emotional appeals, I can feel pangs of anxiety as I try to gloss over logical fallacies, I construct a very stately web of diversions from the important truths and try not to let my voice shake too much as my mind races to model and predict my opponent’s counter-attack, hoping like hell they will not recognize the real flaws in my argument, and (if I’m really on top of my game) I will deliberately fail to argue my (phony) position as well as I could have, creating some weak points in my arguments, trying to tempt my opponent into attacking them so I can counter with all the arguments I held back in my earlier statements. And… I guess, I try to go with that strategy until I can run out the clock. Since my stated position is (if I am honest with myself) indefensible, my only hope is to distract my opponent and make him waste time attacking phantoms, hoping he will lose patience or get too tired to formulate an effective attack.

        In short, I don’t really enjoy telling lies. And I got enough practice with that particular… “skill” when I was a child, lying about pretty much everything to teachers, my parents, etc… basically anyone who I thought might not treat me quite as well if they knew what I believed to be the truth. Professor Moriarty was not, in my estimation, a good role model, but I did understand him.

        If I get into an argument, then it is only because I have an opinion, already formed, of what I support and what I oppose. If I am not prepared to do that, if I don’t care about an issue enough to feel my thoughts are worth volunteering unprompted, then I don’t participate, and instead sit passively and listen to others hash it out (if anyone is interested). For me to really engage in a discussion and acquit myself honorably, I have to argue for what I believe in!

        I mean, shit, if I want to profit from an adversarial argument, I’ll find someone else to argue the other point, someone who really believes what they’re saying to me. At least that way, if we are unable to convince one another we are correct, we can still mull over the conversation to get some idea of where one another’s true convictions lie and how they were formed.

        Perhaps I’m simple-minded. But the way I think of it (no, really! honest!) is that the internet lets me find someone to argue with no matter the topic, and so there is less to be gained from telling lies as a sort of academic exercise than there is to found in genuine communication, hashing out real differences of opinion.

      • Uncorrelated says:

        I think something like this may work. Sophistry is a risk, but hopefully she’d learn to argue the steel-manned version of arguments she disagrees with. This actually fits in well with my personality. I often finding myself wanting to correct/improve the arguments I hear of people who I disagree with. In the sense of “what they should have said was …”. I’m now curious to see if she has the same inclination.

      • Incurian says:

        The sophistry thing is a real danger and would certainly be the wrong lesson to learn, good point. Maybe it would be good to personally engage her in these debates and point out flaws in arguments for both sides so she can learn by example.

        EDIT: I see Dahlen made the same point below before me.

    • reytes says:

      Logic puzzles? A lot of them seem to rely on close reasoning, following specific clues in the text, stuff like that.

    • rlms says:

      Get her to comment on SSC. She can take the title of second second-generation SSC commenter (I think David Friedman’s daughter was the first).

      • At best fourth second-generation SSC commenter–I have three children.

        Patri was involved with Less Wrong before I knew it existed and may well have commented here before I did.

      • Dahlen says:

        omg, no 14 year old girl needs to be on the same internet forum that once hosted Jim, what the hell!

        • suntzuanime says:

          Yes obviously any place anyone obnoxious touches is unclean forever and must be ritually destroyed. Give me a break.

        • rlms says:

          I was being mostly sarcastic. I don’t think SSC is a particularly suitable place for the average 14 year old (or even an intelligent 14 year old).

          • suntzuanime says:

            I sort of agree in the sense that I don’t want to read their bad posts and doubt their ability to properly contribute, but for their own sake they’re probably better off here than e.g. Tumblr.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      Ozy might be able to help with this. Zie is a fan of C.S. Lewis, who gives a lot of examples of critical thinking at a middle school level.

      • berk says:

        I am interested in this too. Can someone elaborate on what text specifically of C.S. Lewis’s you are referring to?

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ berk
          I am interested in this too. Can someone elaborate on what text specifically of C.S. Lewis’s you are referring to?

          Lewis demonstrates critical thinking in almost all of his books, and offers middle grade readable examples of almost everything at all. On re-reading I see that the famous “bit of your orange” passage (the cold opening of Mere Christianity)…

          More later, probably too much.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            You know, the first you mention C.S.Lewis, I’m thinking of Narnia. Or the whatever-they-were religio-scifi books, That Hideous Strength and others? I don’t really see how they would promote critical thinking, even if they are okay entertainment and possibly suitable propaganda-of-sorts pieces if you subscribe to Lewis’ views on Christianity (though the latter property did not really work for me).

    • Get her to read essays that are both fun to read and intelligently argued. GKC would be one possibility, Orwell another. But that depends on her being at an intellectual level where that sort of things is of interest to her, and this may be too early for that.

        • Dahlen says:

          Chesterton, I would guess.

          • Uncorrelated says:

            Chesterton may be too much right now. But I am encouraging her increase the amount of time she spends reading things that interest her. (Without me, or her mother, being too involved. I’m not trying to turn her entire life with us into one long tutoring session.)

    • Dahlen says:

      Have you talked to her about this, does she agree that she might have a problem with critical thinking? I don’t exactly remember what developmental milestones you need to pass before you start caring about your own level of critical thinking, and after all you know your daughter, your parenting style, and the situation best, but depending on what she thinks about this, you may want to decide whether to approach this as a tactful “nudge” or as a formal course with lessons and homework (or anything in-between). I mean, it’s not the sort of appraisal to which people react well.

      Here are my ideas. I don’t exactly know if they’re worth anything as advice.
      – Get her to sift through bullshit — exposure to very biased and absolutely ridiculous media, lies, controversies, propaganda, sources that contradict each other. Warning: this might result in your daughter getting exposed to bullshit.
      – Get her to read books that use as storytelling devices red herrings, distraction, misdirection, unreliable narrators — stuff that’s meant to force suspicion into the reader, if she wants to have any chance of understanding the story. Detective novels might be a good starting point.
      – Logic exercises. We used to have these in 9th grade as a school subject. Warning: they can be very, very dry and boring.
      – Engage her in debates, guiding her along the way and correcting mistakes, but in a friendly and didactic way.
      – Tincture of time. She’s only, what, 13-14? It’ll get better.

      • Uncorrelated says:

        We are talking about it, though not in terms like “Your critical thinking skills are deficient and you must spend time studying with me.” She appreciated the help in studying and essay writing. While doing that, I noticed the pattern that the bits she needed the most help on were critical thinking. I also can see that among the schools we’ve looked at, the ones that interested her most are ones where these kind of skills will be the most essential. I think she kind of realizes this herself.

        I like your suggestions. We’ve already had got some debates going at the dinner table (not explicitly as learning experiences). The detective novel idea is interesting.

      • Incurian says:

        Regarding storytelling devices, tvtropes.org is a great resource.

    • Betty Cook says:

      Give her a copy of “How to Lie with Statistics”. I came across it in junior high school and many years later gave it to my kids as the best intellectual self defense source I knew. It’s very readable, too, and there is a lot to be said for having your teaching projects be fun for the kids being taught.

    • One Name May Hide Another says:

      I’ve seen the following books recommended in homeschooling circles: “The Art of Argument” by Aaron Larsen, “The Argument Builder” by Shelly Johnson, and “James Madison Critical Thinking Course” by William O’Meara. They might be too basic for your daughter (I believe they are aimed at middle schoolers), but perhaps worth checking out. Oh, and best of luck to your daughter with the high school selection/admission process.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      May be a bit too abstract, but Zendo is fun, and is about disproving hypotheses.

    • Iain says:

      High-school debate might be a valuable extra-curricular. Good high-school debate is a very good way to train critical thinking. At lower levels, there tends to be a bit too much emphasis placed on eye contact and delivery and so on, but even there it forces you to see both sides of an issue.

      (It might depend on the circuit; I understand that in some American circuits, the emphasis is on rapidly reading as many arguments from cue cards as possible in the hope that the opposing team will leave one unaddressed. That seems less useful.)

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      We would practice precise parsing of language and common misinterpretations. E.g. (from a book I looked at) a sign saying “traffic for the next 10 miles” might be incorrectly interpreted as stating “there will not be traffic after 10 miles”. Or “X is not as good as Y” being interpreted as “X is bad”. I’m hoping that this is bite size enough to not be overwhelming to start with and concrete enough that there is a definite correct interpretation of each example.

      For examples of more such ambiguities, you might look through Linguaphiles at Live Journal, mostly in the ESL questions.

  35. SnakeLady says:

    On the immigration executive orders. My first emotional reaction was that this is awful and scary. I thought about this more and I’m angry, a little hopeful and scared but for different reasons than you might think. (For background on my perspective: I currently live in the US under permanent resident status, I’m a citizen of a EU country and I’ve lived in 4 countries so far.)

    1) Angry. Everyone who is getting so worked up about people with legal visas being denied entry has no idea how immigration law/regulations work in the US. The fact that you’re arriving at a US entry port with a visa does not automatically mean you are going to be allowed entry, and if you are denied there isn’t any process or much you can do. The risk of being denied entry has always been dependent on things like your country of origin, background etc. Every day the US turns away some people who I’m sure are perfectly nice and had a really good reason to come here. Making it 0% chance of visa entry for folks from certain countries sounds radical, but the US has always maintained the right to refuse entry to anyone they please. Of course the media are suddenly getting worked up about this now, so a lot of Americans are as well because the TV said so and it fits the narrative of how bad Trump is.
    What about refugees and green card holders? This is a temporary ban (120/90 days respectively), and it already looks like this might be handled more carefully with some decisions made on a case by case basis by immigration officials or courts. Also see my comments in point (2). Finally, permanent residence aka green card is not that “permanent”, it can be taken away for a variety of reasons, one of the common ones being that you stayed out of the US for too long. Residence status is more like a privilege that awards you certain rights and responsibilities but it’s not a right in itself.
    Only citizens have the right to vote, so the laws in the US, including immigration law are designed by representation elected by US citizens, which makes sensible immigration reform unlikely. The citizen constituents won’t care about immigration unless they are bothered by it (they take away our jobs, commit crimes, participate in terrorist activities etc.). I don’t like the current immigration law in the US, but it bothers me when people who have no understanding of the difference btw green card, visa, legal vs illegal immigration, suddenly get all worked up about specific cases because the media told them to. You’re not helping! Hence angry.

    2) Hopeful (a little at least). These are mostly temporary measures (90/120 days). (Hmm, this sounds like the Syrian refugee case is the one to protest against, since it isn’t temporary…). It sounds to me like sloppy implementation and the case of someone saying “I don’t know what the best solution is, so let me do something simple for now while we work out what should really be done”. Again, like with a lot of things Trump, not necessarily the end of the world and eternal doom. I’m still in the wait and see camp.

    3) Scared. The scary part to me is the likely deliberately vague phrasing in another executive order on immigration which deals with deporting undocumented immigrants who have done something criminal. Japan has this thing were they always report how out of the people arrested over the course of X time the largest majority were foreigners. This sounds awful unless you know that if you are a foreigner residing in Japan you are required to carry ID at all times, and if you don’t have one the police can arrest you. Likewise, I’m sure a lot of foreigners legally residing in the US have broken the law by doing things like (a) forgetting to report their address change to immigration (b) falsely claiming to be US citizens by mistakenly ticking the wrong box on a long form or ticking the most closely applicable box where there was none for “resident”. So the general recipe here is to have a vague formulation about say deporting immigrants who have maybe done something criminal or pose a threat, that could be applied to almost anything. Then you can use it to justify actions on a case by case basis (if you want somebody deported because they have views you don’t like, I’m sure we can find something on them) and later to report aggregate stats which prove how bad a given group of people is (we deported X immigrants, we deport criminals, ergo immigrants are bad). Again, maybe in this case it’s just sloppy executive order writing, but just the potential of what I described above really scares me because it’s so easy to do but harder to spot right away.

    • beleester says:

      Making it 0% chance of visa entry for folks from certain countries sounds radical, but the US has always maintained the right to refuse entry to anyone they please.

      I don’t think “It’s okay because it’s legal” is a good argument against anything. The President has the legal power to order many, many stupid things, up to and including nuclear attacks, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize him for them or get angry about them.

      If you’re trying to argue that it’s not unusual for the US to do this, that it’s just a normal risk of travel that foreigners should have expected to deal with, then you need to argue that it’s actually not unusual, not just that it’s technically possible.

      It sounds to me like sloppy implementation and the case of someone saying “I don’t know what the best solution is, so let me do something simple for now while we work out what should really be done”.

      What makes you confident that someone is currently working out “What should really be done,” or that their new solution will be less sloppy than the current one? And why did we need to rush the implementation in the first place?

      • SnakeLady says:

        I never said “It’s OK because it’s legal”. I don’t like this executive order just as I don’t like the current immigration law in the US. I was only trying to say that the new thing is not that far out from what existed already which did not seem to bother anyone before. The way things are, the rights of citizens vs non-citizens in the US are very different. It’s fine to criticize it, just as it’s fine that it makes me angry that people are suddenly criticizing it now, which somehow suddenly seems to include a lot of criticism directed at things that have existed for quite a while but not many people cared. Maybe if there had been more push for immigration system reforms before, it would have been much harder to introduce an executive order like the one of Fri.

        What makes you confident that someone is currently working out “What should really be done,” or that their new solution will be less sloppy than the current one? And why did we need to rush the implementation in the first place?

        I said a little hopeful, not confident. I feel from your reply that you are inferring I have views which I do not hold and I never stated in my post that I hold them (this is why I never comment, don’t know what go into me today). Why did we need to rush the implementation even though it clearly hasn’t been thought out? Because it’s a classic new CEO move, you have to take a few simple, clearly visible actions and then people think you’re effective. And I did not say I agreed with any of those actions.

      • And why did we need to rush the implementation in the first place?

        “We” didn’t. Trump did. He want to create the image of someone who, as soon as he got into the White House, started solving the problems he had claimed in the campaign that he would solve. Doing something about immigration that got a lot of attention did that.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think it’s right to protest against temporary bans as if they were permanent, because if we assume they’re temporary, and then the administration just keeps renewing them at their expiration date, it won’t get much media coverage and it will be very hard to protest it at any particular time in the future.

      This might sound paranoid, but I’ve seen it happen again and again.

      • Matt M says:

        Yeah. Even as a Trump sympathizer I would agree with this. The Patriot Act was supposed to be temporary too.

      • The Nybbler says:

        FWIW, I’m expecting a permanent refugee ban (or near-ban with few exceptions), probably a permanent ban/near-ban on immigrants from Iran and Syria at least. I don’t expect Trump to play the ‘extend the temporary ban forever’ game. The executive order contemplates permanent bans for certain countries following some sort of nonsense report, and I expect that report’s contents are predetermined.

  36. Matt M says:

    I’d like to have a discussion about the online etiquette of “getting the last word.” (This came up in a recent OT, but I’ve actually been thinking about it for longer, I swear)

    On a different site, where I am very much in the ideological minority, I am often declared to have lost various arguments because, at a certain point, I just walk away. After some amount of back and forth, I say to myself in my head “It’s clear we’re talking past each other, we’ve all made some good points, the discussion has ran it’s course, I’ll just stop responding.” Apparently this is frequently interpreted as, “Aha! You didn’t respond to User X’s last point, therefore you obviously have no response, therefore you concede the superiority of his position!” I find this to be uncharitable and unfair, but on the other hand, also a somewhat logically reasonable assumption.

    Some people try to get ahead of this with posts like “I’m leaving now and letting you have the last word” but I always saw that as kinda passive aggressive. Like it’s almost pointless virtue signaling. Letting someone have the last word, to me, means simply walking away. If you make a big show of “I’M WALKING AWAY NOW” that doesn’t impress me much. On the other hand, if you don’t do that, apparently people assume you just lost the argument. So to defend the virtues of your position, you are apparently obligated to continue posting until infinity so long as any one person continues to reply. That doesn’t seem quite right either.

    I would suggest this is a bigger problem for an ideological minority on any given venue, because they are more likely to have multiple people making multiple counter-arguments against them at once, such that it’s difficult and time-consuming to keep up with everything. If the only way to “win” is to constantly provide rebuttals to every single point raised against you, that’s easy to do when you’re part of 10 people arguing against 1, but incredibly difficult when you’re the 1 fending off challenges from 10.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Solutions?

    • Anonymous says:

      Solutions?

      Stop giving a damn what other people think. Or at least those who treat you unfairly and uncharitably.

      If the only way to “win” is to constantly provide rebuttals to every single point raised against you, that’s easy to do when you’re part of 10 people arguing against 1, but incredibly difficult when you’re the 1 fending off challenges from 10.

      There are no winners in the special olympics. What you might consider is instead of arguing to win – which is impossible – instead try to argue such that neutral spectators will be inclined to be convinced to your side, rather than your opponents’.

    • Sandy says:

      There’s no cure for getting irritated by the internet other than to stop getting irritated by the internet. Just stop thinking you need to defend your honor against online strangers by arguing endlessly.

    • Urstoff says:

      Don’t worry about “winning” an argument, because it doesn’t matter.

    • Error says:

      The custom on LW is (was?) “tapping out“, and I always found it one of LW’s better customs.

      It probably doesn’t work on a forum so epistemically bankrupt that it considers silence equivalent to surrender, though. If your company treats argument as a battle rather than a mutual search for truth, you may want to find better company.

      • Matt M says:

        “The analogy comes from the practice of “tapping out” from a sparring match when one is tired, or at risk of injury, or has simply had one’s fill.”

        Seems like a bad analogy. In MMA (or pro wrestling), tapping out is essentially equivalent to “I give up, you win, please stop hurting me now!”

        • Synonym Seven says:

          Well, yeah, but a “slam dunk” is only worth two points – easily bested by the three-point shot or the “plus one”, and trickier to execute than an uncontested layup or free-throw, and leaves you open to a goal-neutralizing charging or blocking foul in a way that a regular field goal shot does not. Yet none of this seems to impede the understood meaning of a “slam-dunk argument”.

      • suntzuanime says:

        It definitely doesn’t work if you spend multiple paragraphs calling your interlocutor a horrible racist in the same post where you tap out.

    • Wrong Species says:

      The thing is that rarely does a heated argument end with one conceding to another. If one person hands down what looks like a slam dunk argument and the other person goes completely silent, it’s not unreasonable to assume that they don’t know how to dispute your argument.

      I think announcing your intention ahead of time is the best solution. Don’t say something abnoxious about “letting them have the last word”. Just give a strong reply to their last point and say: “I’m getting tired of this argument and it doesn’t look like I’m changing your mind. I’m out.” And then try to avoid checking for any replies.

      • Two of my father’s comments related to the issue of winning arguments:

        The objective is not to persuade the other person. It is to give him the arguments with which he may later persuade himself.

        Anyone you can persuade in one argument isn’t worth persuading–someone else will persuade him back the other way in the next argument.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Those are good points. I’m pretty sure I’ve never changed my mind over a big issue with one argument. The worst is probably someone getting me to shut up for a while. People are so used to treating debates as a war that they refuse to accept anything less than total surrender which will probably never come. If you can get someone to concede at least one of your points, you’ve accomplished something.

        • Chimpacabra says:

          If you’re arguing on some sort of public internet discussion board, you also have the possibility of convincing other people who are reading your arguments though not participating in the discussion. Given the 90-9-1 rule for estimating the number of lurkers/occasional contributors/frequent contributors on various sorts of social media sites, you can expect that the number of people reading any sort of post made on a public discussion board is much higher than the number of active participants in the discussion. I suspect many people participating in public discussion boards do not realize just how many people are reading their posts but not responding to them.

    • BBA says:

      On this note, I’d like to apologize for my conduct on the last thread. There are some matters that I cannot discuss rationally with those who don’t share my moral framework, and this is not the proper forum for my moral-but-irrational beliefs.

      (I’m not apologizing for my beliefs, though.)

    • suntzuanime says:

      My thoughts are that this is a bigger problem in real life than online. Online arguments take place asynchronously, and none of us can devote every second of every hour of every day to arguing about politics, so if one stops responding, it’s entirely plausible that one was simply called away by the demands of the real world. Further, since the norms of asynchronous argument are different, continuing fighting when you have no more new points to make, or only weak tertiary new points to make, looks petty and actually undercuts you in a way that it wouldn’t IRL.

      Remember that the goal of an argument is not to get the other side to give in, but to advance the social position of your ideas, which is achieved by A) persuading onlookers and B) making the other side feel like they got the worse of it, such that they will hold back from challenging your ideas in the future. Neither of these requires an actual surrender on the part of the other side. So if you’ve made good points, and your interlocutor has looked flailing and foolish, don’t feel like you’ve lost an argument just because you didn’t get the other side to agree with you.

      • Matt M says:

        So if you’ve made good points, and your interlocutor has looked flailing and foolish, don’t feel like you’ve lost an argument just because you didn’t get the other side to agree with you.

        Right, I generally agree with this. And *I* don’t usually feel like I lost. But the other side runs gleeful victory laps anyway and I suppose my concern is that onlookers might shrug and believe them.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Well, sometimes they’ll leave themselves open for cutting mockery in the process of their victory laps, but usually you just have to trust to the discernment of the onlookers.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          Matt. You said this occurs when you are very much in the minority. I suspect the lurkers are probably in about the same proportion of ideology, so it is unlikely they will agree with you. All you can hope for in that case is put some doubt in their minds that may sometime result in changing their ideas a bit on the margins. So it is likely they will be running victory laps — you just hope that is only on the surface.

          Arguing politics only makes sense if you play the long game; unless making points with no effect on others is your goal. Even on the SSC, where we are civil enough that people often agree that others are making a good point in opposition, I don’t see anyone changing their points of view. I think my mind is changed by arguments I hear, but only very marginally in the short run, and more substantially after I have thought about it, and probably also hear more good arguments given in slightly different form. When 90% of the good arguments one hears are from the opposition, I think most folks will waver after a while. But it takes time, as it should, because it is best when we have thought about our original beliefs enough that they can be refuted only with overwhelming evidence.

    • liskantope says:

      Yes, I’ve seen this issue and several variants of it play out online. I’m not sure I have a practical solution, but I have a “solution” in the abstract epistemic sense of the word. In an argument, one side may be more valid on the object level but may have more difficulty expressing their views effectively due to circumstances beyond their control (e.g. they’re outnumbered 10 to 1). It is possible in this way to have better arguments on your side while still losing the debate, so these circumstances, which are independent of which side is actually right, must be taken into account when evaluating how the debate went. If feasible, a set of meta-level rules (or at least ideals to strive towards) should be set up in order to bring debate performance outcomes closer to reflecting whose side actually has better arguments.

      The best practical solution may be to try to express this while arguing. Obviously it shouldn’t have to be anything as wordy or halfway-incomprehensible as my paragraph above, but maybe just “I’m sorry, I can’t get all of my points across and it becomes exhausting when there are 10 of you all arguing with me at once.” If they are rational and intellectually honest enough, they should understand that this difficulty is independent from the rightness/wrongness of your stance on the topic.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I really don’t see an issue with saying “Here is the last I will say on this” and then not responding to arguments.

      I do think it is highly annoying to he in a conversation, to be repeatedly challenged to address supposed weak points in your argument, to then spend effort to address those points, and then have the other party simply go silent.

      As to the specific term “tapping out” I don’t believe it has the specivic meaning here that it apparently did at LW. I interpreted it merely as a statement that no more posting from them on the topic shold be expected.

    • Explicitly say something along the lines of “I have made the arguments for my position, I find your responses unconvincing, I see no point in repeating the same arguments so I am done with this conversation.”

      People who disagree with you will tell themselves that this is proof that they are right and you are wrong, but there is nothing you can do about that.

    • Cypren says:

      I’ve always preferred to make a polite post along the lines of, “Alright, well, I’ve enjoyed the discussion, but it seems clear that we’ve reached the end of constructive discourse because our priors are too different. Thanks to everyone who participated.”

      This has always struck me as a good way to make it clear that you’re bowing out deliberately rather than cowed into silence, but avoids the temptation to “rage quit” or flip the bird to your interlocutors on the way out the door, which will not help your position in the eyes of anyone who reads the thread later. I’m usually very quick to bow out this way if someone interjects into a thread with blanket ad hominem attacks, especially if I’m outnumbered. My experience has been that as soon as someone breaks decorum and just starts slinging insults, the rest of the majority tribe will tend to drop their masks and join in the beating. The best you can do is just beat a hasty retreat and try to exit with as much grace and dignity as you can manage.

    • registrationisdumb says:

      Stop arguing with people on the internet and start posting dank memes.

    • Eponymous says:

      I’d like to have a discussion about the online etiquette of “getting the last word.” (This came up in a recent OT, but I’ve actually been thinking about it for longer, I swear)

      A closely related concept is the exponential growth of point-by-point refutations.

      I generally try to consciously adopt a sustainable online communication strategy, in which I try to keep my comments to reasonable length. Then to disengage from a communication, I either steadily reduce the length of my replies, or try to move towards a clear wrap up or conclusion.

      By necessity, this involves failing to address all of your interlocutor’s arguments. But I think this is actually productive. My usual practice is to focus on one point (or a subset of points) where I think we can either reach agreement, or (more commonly) clearly articulate the source of our differences.

      Persistent disagreement bothers me from a philosophical perspective, and so my goal is to isolate the fundamental differences in belief that explain differences in surface-level opinion.

      However, this is a daunting undertaking. More recently my standard practice has been to merely carve off a tiny point or part of the conversation so I can constructively engage in it. (Or in this case, merely inserting an aside that was stimulated by your comment, and is somewhat relevant.)

      (Of course, there’s always the possibility of “victory by extreme persuasiveness” or “victory by exhaustion”. But in practice this is rarely achieved.)

  37. Chilam Balam says:

    It seems that Trump did not run the immigration executive order pass the office of Legal Council, which interprets the law for the executive brach, nor by the National Security Council, which previously under Bush and Obama looked over executive orders relating to these areas. DHS and DoJ only got to look at this on Friday. It seems like every airport interpreted the ruling differently, and I don’t see the political benefit of having this not only apply to new entrants, but people who were already permanent residents. Banning students and spouses who left seems hardly fair, nor like they are great threats to America.

    Overall, this has not given me confidence in the administration’s administrative capabilities.

    • Sandy says:

      Sessions hasn’t been confirmed yet. Theoretically, the administration’s capabilities for this sort of stuff should improve once that happens.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Do any of the Trump supporters here think that this order went well / was some kind of 8-dimensional chess? Or does everyone just think Trump screwed up the execution?

      • Sandy says:

        I think Trump hurried through it without coordinating with agencies or smoothing out any of the kinks (like the green card holders) just so he could kind of say, “See, I delivered on my promise as soon as I could” or something like that. Hopefully he and/or Bannon will learn from this; immigration enforcement seems to be generally on his side, so there’s no excuse for a lack of coordination.

      • Matt M says:

        Withholding judgment for now. I’m still expecting at some point for Trump to “walk back” the green cards thing, propose a “compromise” that is a lot less strict than this, but probably more strict than anything the left would have imagined accepting a few months ago, and for the left to gleefully accept it, declare victory, and pat themselves on the back for having “successfully defied Trump.”

        If none of that happens and things just go back to the pre-Trump status quo, it’s a massive failure.

        The only other thing I would note is that if we frame this as the judicial department preventing Trump from imposing the immigration controls he promised and framed as necessary and there IS, eventually, some sort of terrorist attack that can even remotely be traced to any of these nations, that’ll be a yuge political win for Trump, which he will milk for all that it’s worth.

      • geekethics says:

        I interpret this as Trump throwing something at the wall. If he can bully people into pretending it’s legal he wins. If not he tries again with something a bit more legal. In the mean time the agents on the ground are going to defer to him, so the law as enforced will always by the most favourable to trump it can be.

      • James Miller says:

        I think Scott Adams is right that it helps Trump solve the political problem of “his supporters on the right want more immigration control than he can (or should) deliver while his many critics on the left want far less.” As Adams says “Trump’s temporary immigration ban set a mental anchor in your brain that is frankly shocking. It will make his eventual permanent immigration plan (”extreme vetting”) look tame by comparison. ”

        This is a symbolic gesture that will appease his anti-immigration base, and make it easier for swing voters to accept his eventual plan. The outrage that the order is generating helps with both goals. Immigration is an issue that helps Republicans, so doing something symbolic that causes immigration to dominate the news is politically smart.

        • Anonymousse says:

          It will make his eventual…plan…look tame by comparison.

          He’s been doing this for months. Does this strategy have any fatigue such that its effectiveness will plateau?

      • reytes says:

        I think Trump critics are about equally likely – if not more so – to ascribe it to 8-dimensional chess as Trump supporters.

        The other thing I wanted to say was that the confrontation that appears to be imminent between the judicial and executive branches worries me quite a bit as well, and seems like an important thing to take into account in any 11-dimensional-chess theories.

        ETA because I thought of another thing: if you believe the reports that Bannon intervened to overrule a DHS interpretation of the Executive Order and specifically ensure that the law applied to permanent green card holders, it seems hard to read it as an administrative error or something. I don’t know.

        • Chilam Balam says:

          Yes. I do not like the images we are seeing of U.S. Marshalls having to force C.B.P. officials to comply with a federal court order.

          • Deiseach says:

            On the other hand, I get very ironic feelings about this given the level of punitive malice about forcing Kim Davis to comply with the letter of the law (to the point of cheering about her going to jail).

            Either state officials at whatever level get no leeway or freedom of conscience, they have to implement the law as written regardless of their own feelings, beliefs or interpretations or else, or they do get freedom of conscience. This is all part of that “be careful what you wish for” warnings – the left wanted punishment of those who would not be obedient rule-followers, they got it, now what do they expect?

          • reytes says:

            @Deiseach: I think there are two separate things here – there’s the question of whether or not officials should enforce the Trump executive order (which, I agree, is comparable to the Kim Davis situation), and there’s the question of whether or not officials should obey a court order staying them from enforcing the Trump executive order. And in this particular subthread we were talking about the latter question. So I’m not sure how relevant the Kim Davis situation is in this specific context.

          • Chilam Balam says:

            @Deiseach

            I think I understand what you mean, but I don’t agree the situations are exactly comparable in the way I understand you. Correct me if I am wrong.

            If I recall the Kim Davis case correctly, she was refusing to follow a court ruling, and here again, I am talking about how there have been reports that CBP officials at Dulles and Houston refused to follow the Federal Court order putting a stay on U.S. green card holders being denied entrance, and apparently Federal Marshals were involved . In both cases, I support government employees following court orders.

        • rlms says:

          It’s ridiculous to suggest that Trump is playing 11-dimensional chess. Eight dimensions is plausible, and I could even believe nine at a push, but eleven is too many.

        • BBA says:

          Trump does not play chess. He beats up the chess team and steals their lunch money.

        • lycotic says:

          I agree that opponents, like me, are pretty likely to ascribe this to chess rather than incompetence.

          All of this plays just too perfectly into the narrative. The order was aimed to avoid hurt anyone important to Trump, but otherwise bite as hard as possible (by, say, coming unwarned and affecting green card holders). But those liberal universities and tech companies whining about their postdocs and employees are just gravy.

          The administration made clear that they weren’t trying to make sure that the order passed legal scrutiny — the fact that it was always going to be struck down by activist courts was part of the plan. Thus Giuliani’s statement that it was always intended to be a Muslim ban wasn’t a gaffe, despite the holes it picks in the legal defense of the order. It was merely completing the signalling.

          The sheer dodginess of this is the point — it increases the heated response, and thus the heated blowback. The point is setting stuff in flames.

          In order to believe the above narrative, you have to believe that Trump (or Bannon) never cared about making this work, but merely cared about inflicting the maximal harm on a group that would only be defended by liberals. This puts him as almost cartoonishly evil, but the sheer incompetence required by the other theory is also mindboggling.

          • Nornagest says:

            If Trump was trying to hurt a group that would only be defended by liberals, I can think of a half-dozen ways to do more damage off the top of my head. This policy looks to be tailored more for buzz and short-term inconvenience: compare Black Lives Matter protests shutting down freeways.

            What I’m having a harder time figuring out is what that buzz is supposed to fuel. If you’re a protest group, almost anything that gets your name in the papers is good, because that helps set the agenda. If you’re the President, you already have your hands on the levers of power, so what gives? The policy’s doomed, and even a modified version is going to be radioactive for a while. The “this is a distraction” theory makes more sense, but what does he need a distraction for? Appointments are the main thing on the agenda at this stage, but he’s not going to have any trouble getting those in.

            Maybe this was a boundary-testing exercise: try to drop something really out there and see how much pushback it gets, then use that to estimate how much you can get away with. A conventional politician wouldn’t need that, because a conventional politician would already have an intuitive feel for it. But Trump is not conventional.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        His administration probably messed up the implementation, and did so unintentionally.

        But IMO that actually looks like a good thing long term because it will likely cause a confrontation between Trump and the Judiciary.

        Right now, American courts are one of (if not the) the biggest obstacles to real reform remaining. Like the media, their power comes solely from the reverence other people have for them and the continued willingness of the populace to pretend that they are impartial. And like the media, the best way to strip them of that power is to publicly defy them and win anyway.

        President Trump hung a picture of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, and I don’t see a Jacksonian “John Roberts has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” as being beyond the pale. As long as the military and federal police remain on the President’s side it doesn’t matter a whit whether or not the courts think a given executive order is constitutional.

        The biggest danger is that the Congressional GOP will take this as an opportunity to undo the 2016 primary result and put Pence or Ryan in as President instead. But that would take a lot more spine than they’ve ever shown before.

      • He had to have messed up. Writing an executive order, which is immediately legally challenged, having to make exceptions, and throwing your federal bureaucrats into confusion, can’t be a good strategy. Even for a hard first bargain.

        I’ve mostly rationalized his choices in the past, but I’m also concerned that people are viewing him as a larger-than-life strategic genius. Rather than a 70 year old CEO who has a set of strategic heuristic tools that he is really good at using.

        Thankfully for him, progressive moralizers, actors, and tech CEOs are backing him up on this one with their continuous, never-ending insanity, which helps convince everyone who likes Trump that it’s the right choice.

        Even I initially was supporting the proposal, based on the fact that people I can’t stand strongly opposed it, until I stopped and realized that’s not actually a good reason to think anything, and the order itself is not optimal.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        i’m hearing Bannon overruled cooler heads. Now cooler heads are winning out, possibly as a result of a judge granting a stay on part of the executive order

      • The Nybbler says:

        (I’m a “Trump supporter” in that I preferred him over Hillary, not that I supported him in an absolute sense)

        1) A draft of the order was leaked to the press on Thursday, so I don’t even believe the DOJ and DHS didn’t see it until Friday.

        2) Some of the complaints, like that it didn’t define “entry” (a term used a lot in the statutes, including the one authorizing this order) and that it wasn’t clear if it applied to permanent residents (it was; it does) seem specious, and were possibly either by people trying to push back or simply taken aback by the scope of the order.

        3) I do think the order was hastily drafted and I’d like to think that had he thought it through, it would have been slightly narrower. But maybe he’s exactly as petty and cruel as the order seems. We’ll see; if he rather easily backs off on the permanent resident thing, he’s slightly less cruel (and about as cruel as I’d expect). If he also backs off on other long-term visas, he’s less cruel than I would expect.

        I think the order was neither screwed-up nor multi-dimensional chess; it was him checking off the “Muslim ban” box in a manner which was expedient for him. There might be a little bit of “chess” involved in that he might have identified those who will be problems at DHS by seeing who tried to soften the order, but I wouldn’t swear this was deliberate.

      • suntzuanime says:

        Seems like a fuckup to me. He’s at war with the bureaucracy and draining the swamp, but the bureaucracy is there to help keep you from making fuckups like this.

      • I’m not a Trump supporter and I don’t think the order was good for the country, but I am uncertain whether or not it was good for Trump. One reading of his tactics through the election is that he was deliberately doing things that would infuriate the opposition because their reaction would solidify his support. This could be more of the same.

  38. talus says:

    So what happened with that FDA guy? As far as I can tell the position is still open?

  39. meltedcheesefondue says:

    I thought I’d share it with people here. An attempt to weave together strands from Eliezer’s fun theory, Scott’s Archipelagio, and various ideas about post human life and societies.

    It starts with the death of the main character, and moves forwards from there.

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/od6/the_adventure_a_new_utopia_story/

    Since it was originally posted during Christmas:

    Hark! the herald daemons spam,
    Glory to the newborn World,
    Joyful, all post-humans, rise,
    Join the triumph of the skies.

    Veiled in wire the Godhead see,
    Built that man no more may die,
    Built to raise the sons of earth,
    Built to give them second birth.

  40. rks says:

    Does a head of an executive branch in a liberal democracy have an ethical obligation to cater to those who voted against him/her?
    Or he/she doesn’t and can enforce policies of any level of punishment to those people as long as his/her constituents are doing fine?
    Or does it depend on the voter ratios where if, for instance, backing electorate > 50% of the total population than the minority can be thrown under the bus?
    If the electorate > 50% of the total voters (but less than 50% of the total population)?
    If it’s just a legal victory with the total backers comprising 20% of the total population?

    In general, is compromise with the opposing electorate something inherent to the system or not?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Or he/she doesn’t and can enforce policies of any level of punishment to those people as long as his/her constituents are doing fine?

      I would say this is decidedly out-of-bounds.

      Working to implement your preferred policies is fine. Making those policies deleterious or advantageous based solely in political affiliation is not.

      Machine politics, as an example, is considered to have been effective at maintaining control of government, but also is considered to be corrupt by its very nature

    • Anonymous says:

      In general, is compromise with the opposing electorate something inherent to the system or not?

      Not really. The philosophers around the time of the resurgence of democracy in the west attempted to shoehorn minority rights into the deal, after the disaster of the French Republics, but it doesn’t really mesh well with the whole majority rule thing. It’s like an exception to the general rule. And if people forget why that feature is there, they tend to discard it as not fitting the democratic system.

      • rks says:

        Assuming the rulers are supported by the majority.
        In the hypothetical 3-party, winner-takes-all democracy we can consistently have the rulers supported by the 30% of the population but who are still able to impose their rules onto the other 70%.
        It seems wise to compromise but if the ruler is arrogant enough and the check-and-balances institutions are weak we can have a democratic tyranny of minority.

      • reytes says:

        This is pretty classically the tension between liberalism and democracy, yeah. Like, this is why it’s useful to keep in mind that liberal principles and democratic principles are not necessarily the same thing

    • geekethics says:

      I’d say compromise with the opposition isn’t supposed to be part of the system, likewise trying to second guess the outcome of the election/composition of the legislature by acting differently according to the details of the electoral arithmetic.

      What’s supposed to be part of the system is a set of restrictions of what the executive can do that applies regardless of how popular they are, and regardless of what the opposition thinks about it. You’re not supposed to be able to hurt the opposition, because you’re not supposed to be able to hurt minorities. You do have to cater to the opposition in so far as the executive must treat them equally under the law.

      The point of a good constitution is “if one party gets all their policy to the full extent permitted and the other side gets nothing can this make a disaster happen”.

    • Deiseach says:

      Does a head of an executive branch in a liberal democracy have an ethical obligation to cater to those who voted against him/her?

      You’re the governor of the entire nation, you are supposed to govern the entire populace, and to do it impartially – you may have a policy that you think is in the best interests of all that the opposition thinks is a bad policy, but you don’t get to implement policies that are blatantly “this rewards my friends and punishes my enemies”. I wouldn’t say “catering to”, as that can sound like cynical bribery, but if those who voted against you ask for something or need something, you need to consider it on the same grounds as if it were asked for or needed by those who voted for you.

      You do have an obligation to the nation to rule as fairly as you can and not to pick out any scapegoats or screw people over because you don’t like them.

      • cassander says:

        >You do have an obligation to the nation to rule as fairly as you can and not to pick out any scapegoats or screw people over because you don’t like them.

        What if you think they’re the problem? Say you’re a reformist mayor who wants to crack down on corruption, so you fire a bunch of the most corrupt people in the most corrupt department? Is that ok? What if you just take the most corrupt department, fire everyone, and start over from scratch on the grounds that that’s easier than reforming an existing institution? What if it’s not the most corrupt department, just a normal department, but you do it because you’re not powerful enough to take on the most corrupt department successfully and you still want to do something?

        Every policy affects someone negatively. how do you separate dealing with the problem from scapegoating?

        • Deiseach says:

          It’s not scapegoating if the guys you fire really are corrupt or are part of the bad old way of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

          It’s scapegoating if you campaign on an anti-corruption platform, get elected, then get a list of everyone working in Department L and fire everyone whose surname begins with the letters P-S and claim “I’ve clamped down on corruption, I’ve cleared out the rotten apples!”

          • cassander says:

            Right, but how do you distinguish between firing everyone named steve and firing everyone in a random department, when the criteria isn’t as completely arbitrary as everyone named steve? Particularly from the outside?

    • Kevin C. says:

      Have you ever heard of the Curley Effect?

  41. akarlin says:

    Did the Arbital predictions.

    (1) As people pointed out in SA’s previous threads, some of the questions are phrased badly (e.g. “will look more worse than better”) and will be hard to falsify.

    (2) Most people think there is a 40% chance that Syria’s civil war will end in 2017. Really?

    People also seem to be overweighing Le Pen’s prospects – twice burned (on Brexit and Trump), thrice shy?

    This is more speculative, but I am considerably more optimistic on Trump’s future approval ratings – I suspect they will begin to soar this year as the MSM narrative sinks under its own lies and Trump Derangement Syndrome, and even skeptics will begin to see that he is a man of action, someone who is serious about draining the swamp and making America great again.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      He doesn’t even want anyone to say “drain the swamp” anymore.

      The MSM is not lying when they say his plans seem vague, poorly thought out, frequently with very unwanted and highly foreseeable consequences, and in some cases illegal or unconstitutional. Then he goes and proves them right.

      I’m not seeing it.

      • quanta413 says:

        Agreed. I only wish the media would apply the same level of scrutiny and perhaps even overreaction when we get fucked by the normal “respectable” presidents we’ve had up until now. Doing illegal and unconstitutional things is par for the course with respect to the surveillance state and has been since at least the 1960s, but all we’ve got is the occasional media flare up and Glenn Greenwald kind of at the fringes. And our foreign policy is routinely morally more questionable than anything trump has managed so far, yet it draws much less aggressive scrutiny. The media seems to consistently drop the ball every time the U.S. invades or bombs a country.