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Open Thread 68.25

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

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908 Responses to Open Thread 68.25

  1. meh says:

    Is there a way for me to directly support SSC without creating a new account for anything?

  2. Hi everyone,

    I already talked about my blog (http://necpluribusimpar.net/), so I apologize for the self-promotion, but I just started it and would like people to know about it. I’m a PhD candidate at Cornell, where I work on logic and philosophy of science. I plan to share my thoughts about random topics on the blog, where I have already posted several things which I think some of you may find interesting. I just published a post in which I criticize the claim that Trump’s election unleashed a wave of hate crime on the US. Before that, I wrote a post (http://necpluribusimpar.net/slavery-and-capitalism/) against the widely held but false belief that much of the US wealth derives from slavery and that without slavery the industrial revolution wouldn’t have happened, as well as another (http://necpluribusimpar.net/election-models-not-predict-trumps-victory/) in which I explain how election models work and why they didn’t predict Trump’s victory. I have also written a few posts about Trump’s executive order and several about other topics. I welcome any criticisms, suggestions, etc. I’m also going to publish a post later tonight in which I address the polemical tone of some of what I have written so far and take up some good resolutions 🙂

    Philippe

    • Here is the post I just wrote on what I hope to accomplish with my blog and take a good resolution: http://necpluribusimpar.net/more-about-this-blog/.

    • suntzuanime says:

      This is starting to get annoying. You have a link in your name, if you want to contribute, contribute. If you want to spam, I understand Scott sells ads.

      • I honestly don’t know what the rules are here. (I’ve been reading SSC for a while, but I wasn’t commenting until recently.) I have definitely been spamming and will stop now. But is it not okay on open threads? Scott says that we post about “anything [we] want”. Or perhaps I should only link to a specific post on my blog and encourage people to discuss it? People who have been part of this community should tell me and I will go with the consensus or do whatever Scott says if he wants to chime in. This is his blog after all. But I won’t buy ads, because I can’t afford it, hahaha.

        • As I interpret local custom, it is legitimate to make an argument here and include a link to a blog post of yours that provides additional support for the argument. It is not appropriate to simply post “I have a blog post on subject X–you may want to look at it.”

          • But I think that, in many cases, my posts will be quite long and the argument pretty elaborate. Should I just try to explain the gist of it when I comment here and refer to the post for the details?

          • Your comment here should be written on the assumption that most people who read it will not read your long and elaborate post on your own blog, so should exist for its own sake.

          • Fair enough, it makes sense, so I’ll just do that.

          • JulieK says:

            It is not appropriate to simply post “I have a blog post on subject X–you may want to look at it.”

            I think that would be fine, actually. But you already mentioned your blog in a previous thread; don’t repeat yourself.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Your blog, being active and thoughtful in spirit, actually seems like a prime candidate for Scott’s blogroll, if you aren’t already there.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I was okay with you doing this once, less okay with twice, three times definitely crosses the line. Please don’t promote your blog here further beyond just linking to it in your name.

          • So, to be clear, I can never link to a post on my blog, even if it’s directly relevant either to what you say in your post or to what people are talking about in the comments?

            For instance, there is a discussion below about the fiscal impact of immigration, and someone made the point that dynamic economic models show a positive effect. It wouldn’t be okay for me to write a comment in which I say that the models in question make false assumptions, such as the assumptions that the descendants of immigrants have exactly the same socio-economic characteristics as other people, which could easily change the sign of the effect and link to a post on my blog where I make that case in more details?

            I admit that I have been spamming pretty shamelessly so far and, obviously, this is your blog, so I will do what you say. But I just want to make sure that I understand your rules, because I would have thought that what I describe above would be okay and your comment implies that it wouldn’t.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I think the problem is with top level comments and not at least making an outline for your argument in your comment proper.

            After all, David Friedman mentions his blog all the time. Comments of the type “I think X because of Y, I talked more in depth about this subject in my blog” should be OK.

          • Randy M says:

            Yes. And if you admit you are shamelessly spamming, are you at all surprised to be told you crossed a line? Have you ever read a forum with a non-sarcastic comment requesting more spam?

            When you go to a party, you should bring some food and drinks to share. You should not simply hand out fliers pointing party goers towards your own party elsewhere. Handing someone a beer and saying “By the way, I brewed this at my place, check it out sometime” is usually fine, especially if you’ve been at these parties before.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous > Whether it would be okay for me to do that is what I’m trying to ascertain.

            Randy M > That’s fair enough, but note that I didn’t complain about being told I had crossed a line, I’m just trying to be clear on what I can and cannot do because Scott’s comment implied that I couldn’t do something which I thought would be okay.

          • suntzuanime says:

            You really seem like you’re trying to nail down a legalistic rule so that you can exploit it to the maximum to shill your blog without getting banned? Don’t do that.

          • I can see why you would think so, and while I don’t see why you should take my word for it, I assure you that I’m not. I’m just aware that I have been pushing it and just want to make sure I don’t get kicked out. Scott’s reply to me implied that I couldn’t do either 1 or 2 (see my reply to Deiseach’s comment below), which seems harsh to me (though again I will obviously abide by his decision), so I just want to make sure that he actually intended to rule out 1 and 2.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            It’s not really a matter of hard rules but more just intuitive judgment. If you err on the side of caution you probably won’t annoy anyone.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            At this point you may be in the position of the guy who got ticketed doing 120, came within a point of losing his license, and now has to spend a year strictly observing the speed limit while everyone else passes him doing 10 over.

        • Deiseach says:

          This is about the third time you’ve mentioned your blog in much the same phrasing. That’s fine, now we’re aware you’ve got a blog and what you want to do with it.

          I would suggest that from now on, if you wish to raise a topic in the comments, do so. The majority of us will probably read it here and discuss it here. If you feel this is something you want or need to cover at greater length than you can do in a comment, you can say something like “I want to talk about the texture of custard, here’s a link [insert your link] to my blog”. You don’t need to go into too much detail on here if you’re also talking about the same thing over on your blog. Again, if someone brings something up and you have covered that, you can say “Hey, what a coincidence, I’ve got a post about knitting your own socks at my blog! [insert link]”.

          Good luck with blogging and your PhD!

          • Thanks, this makes sense to me, but I’m trying to make sure that I can do that. I guess there are 2 things I’m not sure about.

            1) If people are talking about something here and I have a post on my blog where I argued for a view on that topic, is it okay for me to do so and link to the post in question? (That’s what I asked Scott in reply to his comment above.)

            2) If I have written a post where I argue for something, is it okay to post a comment on an open-thread here and say something like: “Hey, I think such and such is true, roughly for this reasons, and I argue for that view more at length here [link to a post on my blog where I argue for the view in question]”? (For instance, I plan to write a post in which I present one argument against a zero discount rate in cost-benefit analyses about climate change, so I wonder if I could tell people here about it by giving a link to that post and ask what they think.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Philippe Lemoine:
            The standard answer to anyone coming into any (internet) community who is unsure about whether the action they are contemplating is acceptable is simple:

            lurk moar

            You should like the community enough to lurk, and then to try and become part of the community. Shunting traffic to your blog should be a distant second priority, if at all.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Philippe Lemoine:

            Nitpicky suggestion: if and when a link to your blog ever IS sufficiently appropriate, use the “link” button to form an HTML link that is NOT the entire full path to the page being linked. In your spammiest posts we see your base URL over and over and this just looks UGLY and OBVIOUS.

            If you have something to say, make a substantive comment. If you had an important insight, mention what it is, at least summarize the argument. Then you can say something like “more here.”, where “here” is a link to your blog. People who are interested in hearing more can click the link; people who aren’t can read the text without having been bothered by the fact that it was a link.

            To do this:
            (1) copy the link URL
            (2) select the text you want to make a link from (in this case, the word “more”).
            (3) click the “Link” button, paste the URL you want that text to link to, hit OK.

            (For instance: imagine it were relevant to a post that I wrote a love song about quantum physics. In mentioning it, displaying the full path parenthetically even ONCE would be a little annoying; displaying it three times in one post (say, first for the album, and then for two specific songs) is RIGHT OUT.)

            Also: I second what everybody else said.

        • The rules are not written down in stone.

          But incessantly asking people to follow,like, and share your blog is going to be less effective then simply posting intelligent commentary, and is growing irksome.

          I would say, personally, if you previously looked deeply into a topic and left little room for error, then posting the blog post as a comment is fine. An example would be talking about mcdonalds never molding burger, but you chime in you did the experiment.

          Mostly, keep self-blog linking to a minimum, unless you have really really looked deeply into a specific topic.

        • Glenn says:

          I have no power here and offer only advice, so take it for what it’s worth. But here’s my advice:

          Think less about what the rules are, and more about whether you’re irritating people. I believe (hindsight bias etc., yes, but hear me out) that I could easily have predicted that the posts you made (repeated posts, on the same topic, having the general character of an advertisement) would irritate people. (I think you can probably predict it too, since you apologized for it.) Perhaps you underestimated how irritating they would be, or perhaps you didn’t think it would matter that much.

          It matters. More than the rules, really. The purpose of rules in a community is to help everybody get along with each other. If you manage to irritate people while not violating the rules, it won’t accomplish your goal (of getting more readers), and probably it won’t last either: either the rules will be changed, or the rules will be discovered to be flexible. So I recommend you think more about empathy with the readers of your comments, and less about whether what you’re doing is prohibited.

          This is not to say you shouldn’t self-promote, or even self-promote shamelessly if the opportunity seems to be ripe — just that you should try to predict whether particular tactics will cause a negative emotional reaction in readers, and act accordingly (and if you make bad predictions, update on them accordingly.)

          Again, I offer this only as advice for what it’s worth; and I probably sound a lot harsher than I mean to be. (Sorry!) I’m hoping to give you, in a quick braindump, the benefit of my experience both participating in, and moderating, online communities. Honestly your blog seems interesting to me, and I think it would be bad if people didn’t read it because of a negative emotional reaction to the way it was advertised to them.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I think you’re right.

            Just to be a bit more specific, I don’t think the problem was self-promotion, it was the repetition.

          • Thanks for the advice, I don’t think it’s harsh at all. Yeah, I suspected it might irritate people, but I honestly didn’t think it would irritate them as much. I did it repeatedly because I wanted to minimize the number of people who had not seen my earlier comments, but I underestimated how annoyed people who did see them before would be. I had just created the blog and wanted as many people as possible to know about it, but I guess I got a little bit carried away. It’s harder to predict how people are going to react now, because even if I doubt they would have been annoyed by 1 and 2 before, they may well be now that I went a bit too far. I guess I’ll just try it when I post something on my blog which I think people here might find interesting and see how people react.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      I’m a PhD candidate at Cornell, where I work on logic and philosophy of science.

      Say “Hi” to Harold Hodes for me. And Jon Jarrett, if he’s still there (and if so, doesn’t he remind you of George Lucas?). I also liked Boyd and, to a lesser extent, Miller.

      Are you a Realist?

  3. Scumbarge says:

    (Hey, finally made an account here. Hi Scott, my friends probably hate me because I’m always sending them your articles, sign my shirt)
    So, I’d been largely against the wall, because $15-45 billion is a lot of money and I’m fairly predisposed against trump, but one of my facebook friends posted this:
    http://www.fairus.org/publications/the-fiscal-burden-of-illegal-immigration-on-united-states-taxpayers
    …which estimated the cost of illegal immigrants on the state and local levels to be around $113 a year in welfare and schooling and emergency room visits that never get paid back and whatnot.
    It’s from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, so they’ve definitely got a motive, but politifact took a second opinion on the numbers (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/sep/01/donald-trump/donald-trump-says-illegal-immigration-costs-113-bi/) and still came up with $85 a year–lower, certainly, but still in the same order of magnitude.
    All things being equal, I’d rather pay for services than a wall, but a wall is a one time thing and employs people, and the $85-133 billion is a repeating cost.
    I dunno. It wasn’t really something I’d thought about until I saw the numbers, and I felt like asking for opinions here before I start taking something so cartoonish seriously. What other numbers and considerations should I be considering here?

    • gildoringlorion1 says:

      Perhaps you’re missing the consideration that illegal immigrants are people whose interests ought to be factored in in some way?

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        To what extent should their interests be balanced against those of American citizens? (Hint: if you say “equally,” that’s how you get Trump.)

    • doubleunplussed says:

      At ~10 million illegal/undocumented immigrants, that’s about $10k per year each. That seems fine, I support paying at least that much to unemployed people or augmenting the income of low-income people. If they were legal, I would want them to still be getting at least the same amount in services/welfare, and their exact legal status is not that important to me.

      Pensioners also cost lots of money each without contributing anything (and most didn’t contribute enough in the past to cover what they’re getting now). So “doesn’t contribute” doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor here. I agree that respecting agreements about what methods of coming to a country are legitimate is important, but if kicking people out based on that seems orthogonal to whether they are productive or not. Would you want to kick out productive illegal immigrants?

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ doubleunplussed
        Would you want to kick out productive illegal immigrants?

        Does ‘productive’ here include migrant crop pickers, factory workers who accept less than minimum wage but don’t collect the Social Security they have been paying into, do the caretaking and other dirty jobs that we don’t want to do, etc?

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Why would being paid under the table contribute to Social Security..?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Employers and employess want what they’re doing to look legal, so the employees have fake social security numbers. The contribution are made, but barring some unlikely legal and capacity for investigation changes, the employees will never see their money.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Ah, okay, thanks. Do the employers also just lie to the IRS about how much they’re paying (re: “accept less than minimum wage”)?

          • Matt M says:

            The contribution are made, but barring some unlikely legal and capacity for investigation changes, the employees will never see their money.

            This probably applies to anyone currently under the age of 40 as well, but for different reasons 🙂

          • AlphaGamma says:

            Ah, okay, thanks. Do the employers also just lie to the IRS about how much they’re paying (re: “accept less than minimum wage”)?

            Or require the employees to pay for things, reducing their pay below minimum wage. Money that an employee is required to spend as a condition of their job (for instance, for uniforms or tools) legally may not reduce their effective pay below minimum wage.

          • Aapje says:

            @AlphaGamma

            One example is housing immigrants in crappy accommodations owned by the employer and requiring them to pay far more rent than is reasonable.

      • Deiseach says:

        I imagine the argument would go “Not if it’s paying $10k a year to increasing and unspecified – and unlimited if we go open borders – numbers of people for an unspecified and unlimited time on top of the taxes and support we pay for our own native and growing population”.

        The optimum answer is to make people legal so they can be accounted for like the rest of the citizenry. However, if ignoring all avenues of legal immigration and getting over the border means you can become legal anyway, people may opt to do so, which means your immigration controls aren’t worth anything anymore, so you may as well go open borders and anyone can come in.

        Which does mean anyone – not just the highly-educated Iranian graduate student or the Yemeni refugee, but the guy who got out of town just ahead of the police arresting him or other undesirables. And how many people can your nation absorb? It’s not an unlimited number. Where do you put them all? If everyone wants to live in New York city and not in Smalltown, Nebraska, how big does New York city get eventually and what strain does that put on resources, infrastructure, and provision of services?

        The USA is a big country and can take a lot of people, but not everyone on the planet. And yes, I know everyone on the planet doesn’t want to go there, but take the numbers from 2014 – if 1.3 million immigrated (legally) then, how many million per year can you take comfortably? Nobody seems to be answering these questions on the side that is “no human is illegal!” (though interestingly, although immigrant numbers have increased, their percentage as a total of the population decreased to its lowest between 1920 and 1970 and is only now getting back up to the same level as 1910).

        I’m not concerned about cultural adulteration or crime or any of that, simply “how many bodies can fit in the space before it gets too much?” Cairo is exploding in growth, how many want to live in San Francisco if it gets like that? I see by Wikipedia that there are 7 million people living in the Bay Area which is spread over nine counties and 101 cities. How would it be liked if it were 7 million in 1 city? (I’m picking California because that is where the majority of immigrants go).

        Suppose unlimited open-border migration from Mexico were a thing – would it be better if the USA annexed Mexico, made it the 51st state, and provided all the opportunity that illegal immigrants coming north were looking for? (NO, I am not seriously suggesting this – but what if?)

        • Nornagest says:

          I see by Wikipedia that there are 7 million people living in the Bay Area which is spread over nine counties and 101 cities. How would it be liked if it were 7 million in 1 city?

          Nine counties and 101 cities are more for historical than physical reasons; most American cities are administratively more unified. That being said, Cairo’s almost three times as dense as San Francisco and almost twice as dense as New York.

          It’s roughly halfway between the density of Manhattan and Brooklyn, so you could ask the people living there.

        • Cadie says:

          One way to handle the issue of people being incentivized to come across illegally is to allow those who are already here to become legal residents, contingent on a background check and paying a small fine to cover the cost of the background checks and documents and so forth. And then stringently enforce immigration laws for newcomers, those who refuse to be documented, and those who fail the background check (big stuff, such as violent crimes and felonies, not one or two minor nonviolent crimes like underaged drinking or low-value shoplifting five years ago.)

          The people illegally in the US are already here, so we’ve already kind of absorbed them in a way. We can extend the benefits of legal residency to them without doing much harm to anyone, and the issue of “but more people will come and we can’t take that many” doesn’t come into play because it’s a one-time thing that doesn’t apply to people who aren’t here yet. This also seems like it has something for both the left and the right – illegal immigrants become legal and mostly get amnesty, but from that point forward we’re putting more effort into securing the border and deporting those who aren’t supposed to be here.

          • Randy M says:

            One way to handle the issue of people being incentivized to come across illegally is to allow those who are already here to become legal residents, contingent on a background check and paying a small fine to cover the cost of the background checks and documents and so forth. And then stringently enforce immigration laws for newcomers,

            This is known as “Immigration Reform” and has broad bipartisan support, with the slight exception that grassroots conservatives do not, with very good reason, believe in the promises to actually enforce the law.

            That is what the wall is–a demonstration of good faith that this time, unlike the previous amnesty, the enforcement portion will actually be carried out. Such a demonstration is needed because the side arguing for “one last amnesty, then enforcement” will turn around and argue against any enforcement efforts, promoting sanctuary cities, future amnesties and benefits for illegal aliens.

            It’s similar to arguments about the death penalty, where the abolitionist side will argue that it needs to be made even kinder, then start the next battle as soon as the concession has been granted. It’s hard to accept for a compromise when you know the other side is not going to be satisfied with it, and their end requires ongoing action.

          • hls2003 says:

            The problem with this: credibility. Because this was the exact situation in 1986. The “never again” amnesty happened; the enforcement and border tightening didn’t. So here we are.

            I actually think Trump might be the most likely vehicle for an amnesty, in the Only-Nixon-Can-Go-To-China sense. If he builds “The Wall” – which I am reliably assured is useless and wasteful by those opposing it – he builds credibility on the enforcement side. If his supporters accept his immigration enforcement bona fides, and if they believe in the effectiveness of “The Wall,” they may be more likely to support him offering a citizenship path to those already here because they will perceive a lower chance of a 1986 repeat.

          • Jiro says:

            One way to handle the issue of people being incentivized to come across illegally is to allow those who are already here to become legal residents, contingent on a background check and paying a small fine to cover the cost of the background checks and documents and so forth. And then stringently enforce immigration laws for newcomers

            Since we’ve had amnesty in the past, wouldn’t your reasoning suggest that we should be stringently enforcing immigration laws on newcomers already?

        • BBA says:

          That 1.3 million includes legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, and some people on nonimmigrant visas. (To confuse things, some of the “nonimmigrant” visas like the infamous H-1B temporary work visa can be converted to immigrant status after arrival in the country.) The number of immigrant visas issued per year is closer to 500,000 with all the categories other than immediate relatives subject to worldwide and per-country caps.

          The whole system is a big confusing mess, and being run by people who don’t even understand the distinctions isn’t helping any.

        • The USA is a big country and can take a lot of people, but not everyone on the planet.

          Probably not optimal, but not impossible. The area is about ten million square km, world population about eight billion, so it would give a population density of about 800/square mile. That’s substantially less than the population density of Bangladesh, only a little more than Taiwan. It’s about twice the population density of the Netherlands, which is a pretty nice place.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            It’s about twice the population density of the Netherlands, which is a pretty nice place.

            We do have a ton of rules to deal with this density (my theory is that higher density leads to more friction, which leads to more rules).

            So it would probably make the US far more authoritarian.

            It would also be impossible to feed these people as the US doesn’t have sufficient farmland, especially if more of it is used to house people, for roads, etc. So at minimum, you’d need farmers elsewhere in the world and shipments of food from them to the US.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The Netherlands has a much more pleasant and useful climate than a lot of the US does.

          • Kevin C. says:

            I think these posts by Open Borders advocate Nathan Smith may be relevant here:
            How Would a Billion Immigrants Change the American Polity?
            A Billion Immigrants: Continuing the Conversation

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The Open Borders piece was surprisely positive about a fairly conservative vision (substantially self-governing communities without equal rights).

            Admittedly, this is a different vision, but my impression is that if the home country is livable but poor, people would rather have a few family members emigrate to make money and send it home.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          “Running out of space” isn’t an issue. The entire population of Mexico could move to the United States, and its average population density would still be on the order of 1/10th that of England.

          Running out of certain resources, or running out of space in certain cities is conceivable.

    • shakeddown says:

      This is a poor calculation, for several reasons.

      1) It fails to calculate the expected savings of the wall. How many immigrants you escape the wall to stop varies by estimates, but most illegal immigrants come in legally and overstaying visas (a number which would grow if the wall were effective), while I’d expect a lot of the people who can pass current border security to also be able to get past a wall. So knock a couple orders of magnitude of the savings right there.

      2) The wall is not a one-time expense. It needs maintenance and guarding, both of which would be extremely expensive. Also it’s expected to cost between 20B and 100B, which is more than you mention. This would also raise government debt and hence interest payments on this debt, though government debt is a complex issue (interest can be lower than inflation, they can print money to pay for it, etc.) It also has costs that aren’t calculated in this, like environmental damages and the government seizing people’s private land to build on.

      3) It also fails to calculate the contribution of immigrants. Immigrants do pay taxes and provide labour. (If anything, I’d expect them to provide more taxes than they take away on average, since they probably prefer to stay off government aid when possible. I don’t have positive evidence on this one, though).

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        3) It also fails to calculate the contribution of immigrants. Immigrants do pay taxes and provide labour. (If anything, I’d expect them to provide more taxes than they take away on average, since they probably prefer to stay off government aid when possible. I don’t have positive evidence on this one, though).

        Yeah, this sort of logic only holds up if you assume that the GDP contribution of immigrants is zero (and that their kids vanish in a puff of jalapeno-flavored smoke after the state pays to educate them). That’s why anti-immigration think tanks always specify that they’re doing a FISCAL calculation, not an ECONOMIC one. Waving your hands and going “uh bluh, economic modeling is hard” lets you stick to jacked-up budget arithmetic with lots of zeroes to scare the normies.

        And they’re not wrong that economic modeling is hard. But while they disagree on the exact numbers, I’m not aware of any dynamic model that doesn’t have a net positive contribution from immigration on a multi-generational timescale. (Which also makes intuitive sense if you’re approaching this from a textbook/prax perspective.)

        When disparate models disagree on the magnitude of the effect but not the sign, I consider that at least a moderate confidence builder in the sign.

        • I think that, in general (not just in the context of the debate about the fiscal impact of immigration), there are very good reasons not to take seriously any model that purport to make long-term economic predictions.

          In the case of the fiscal impact of immigration, I’m more familiar with the literature on France, and I don’t know any dynamic model that doesn’t assume that the economic characteristics of the children of immigrants are identical or converge rapidly toward those of natives, which as a matter of empirical fact we know is not true and could easily change the sign of the effect.

          Does anybody know if the same thing is true of the models used to estimate the long-term fiscal impact of immigration in the US?

          • Iain says:

            Off-topic: I don’t have an answer for you, but I just wanted to encourage you to write more posts like this, where you engage directly in the discussion, instead of just dropping a link to your blog and calling it a day.

            On-topic: “the economic characteristics of the children of immigrants are identical or converge rapidly toward those of natives, which as a matter of empirical fact we know is not true” — source? This seems like it depends a lot on the country you are measuring.

          • The extent to which it’s true may depend on the country, but I would be surprised if it were not true everywhere. However, I’m more familiar with the French case, for which you can read the Enquête Trajectoires et Origines if you read French. It shows that children of immigrants and, if I remember correctly, even their grandchildren are more likely to be unemployed, have a lower average level of education, a lower average income, etc. I don’t have data for the US right now, but the report from the NAS had some which, while they concern immigrants and not their children, suggest that it has probably become true of the US as well: https://gborjas.org/2016/09/21/nas1/.

            People in the US like to think that they are doing a better job at integrating immigrants and their descendants than Europeans, and I suspect there is some truth to that, but I think how well immigrants integrate is more a function of where they’re from and their socio-economic characteristics than of where they emigrate to. It’s always very frustrating that, most of the times, studies on the effect of immigration don’t disaggregate according to countries of origin and try to estimate the effects separately.

          • Here is another reason to think it’s very unlikely to be different in the US. Whether your parents are native-born or foreign-born, your socio-economic characteristics are positively correlated to those of your parents. Insofar as the socio-economic characteristics of immigrants are different from those of native-born Americans, those of their children must be as well. This is the kind of considerations that suggest to me that, if I spent a few hours looking up the literature on that about the US, I would find plenty of data to confirm my hypothesis, because if I didn’t it would be really surprising.

          • I suggest that a major factor in whether immigrants assimilate is whether there is a welfare system generous enough so that the first generation immigrants don’t have an adequate incentive to find productive ways of fitting into the existing society.

          • phisheep says:

            the economic characteristics of the children of immigrants are identical or converge rapidly toward those of natives, which as a matter of empirical fact we know is not true

            I suspect this may depend a lot on the type of immigration and how thinly-spread it is at a local level.

            This is anecdotal only, but for example the large Italian communities in Bedford and Peterborough in the UK seem now, some 60 years on, to be wholly integrated into the towns with no noticeable difference from the natives apart from restaurants and a couple of consulates. Similarly, the Russian and Greek communities in north London seem to be very well integrated between themselves, though somewhat less so with the native population.

            You’d probably get a different picture looking at immigration as a whole in the UK, as the numbers would be biased towards south London and the northern mill towns – which have their own problems of deprivation.

            There’s probably room for some serious micro-level research into the impacts of immigration rather than relying on broad-brush national statistics.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Some immigrants start businesses, too.

    • BBA says:

      About half of illegal immigrants entered the US legally, then either violated the terms of their visas or stayed past visa expiration. No wall would keep them out.

      If you’re going to let any traffic at all across the border, there’s always a chance of people stowing away in the back of a truck. And if you aren’t, well, now you have two problems.

      I just don’t see how the marginal benefits a wall has over the existing fences and patrols justify the expense.

      • Well... says:

        Fences, walls, patrols, etc. are the technology used by immigration enforcement officials to do their jobs. Just as you wouldn’t build a new type of semi trailer hitch without talking to a bunch of truck drivers, and you wouldn’t build a new retail footwear website without talking to shoe shoppers, you wouldn’t build a border wall without talking to immigration enforcement officials. Would a wall be helpful to them? Is it what they need? Is there anything about a wall that would solve some of their biggest job challenges?

        I’d be surprised if this research hasn’t been done already, though I’m having trouble finding anything on it in 5 minutes on DuckDuckGo.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      If the worry is that immigrants are a drain on the welfare state, it would be far more cost effective to build a legal wall around the various benefits than to build a physical wall on the border.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Problem: The legal wall evaporates the first time some poor photogenic kid dies because he was denied benefits. Or because he could plausibly be argued to have been denied benefits. Or, heck, the kid never even existed, but the correction will appear on page 87 underneath the wheat germ ad and anyway he’s a symbol of a larger truth of how racist and uncaring our country is.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          Problem: The legal wall evaporates the first time some poor photogenic kid dies because he was denied benefits.

          If there’s enough political capital to get the physical wall maintained in spite of commercials featuring photogenic kids, there’s enough to get that one too.

          • Dabbler says:

            Not necessarily. A story in America would get coverage. The same thing happening in Mexico wouldn’t.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            It takes time and physical effort to take down a wall. That can be dragged out as long as needed, until the media sees the next shiny object and loses interest. Meanwhile, a “legal wall” can be dismantled in a second by any President with a pen and a phone.

            Same reason why Gitmo is located in Cuba (he said half-seriously.) In order to release those poor falsely accused Afghani goatherders to their happy new lives as productive American citizens, someone would have to physically go over there and get them, not just open the doors and walk away.

          • Jordan D. says:

            Well, kinda?

            My hazy recollection of statements from the early 2000’s was that one of the administration’s biggest reasons for putting so many detainees in Gitmo was that a lot of legal analysis prior to Boumediene v. Bush suggested that having an extraterritorial prison would thwart certain judicial review, which was important because the administration had reason to think that the detainees were enemy fighters but often didn’t have conclusive evidence.

            On the other hand, the fact that Boumediene happened in 2008 and Gitmo managed to survive a hostile Administration for eight years tells me that the unpopularity and inconvenience of actually moving the detainees into the US has successfully preserved it long past the point where judicial review was imposed. It could be the same with the Wall, although if I were a president I really wouldn’t want my signature campaign promise compared to Gitmo.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            It takes time and physical effort to take down a wall.

            It also takes time and physical effort to actively patrol and guard it. A wall that isn’t actively manned is useless and “pen and phone” can withdraw those guards just as easily.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Anonymous Bosch,

            What do you think the odds are that the national guard, state and local police and/or armed citizens like the Minutemen could effectively patrol the wall in the event that border patrol was ordered to withdraw?

            (That’s not rhetorical. I don’t know and I’m curious.)

            If FedGov gives the order to stop patrolling the border today, there’s not much that Americans can do to pick up the slack even with control of State governments. But with a physical barrier it might be possible that the borders could hold even a under hostile administration.

          • John Colanduoni says:

            Would the administration not have the option of prosecuting them for trespassing on federal property? Again an honest question since I’m not sure that the wall would necessarily be considered such, or that the states don’t have some legal complication to take advantage of. I’m guessing the Minutemen are SOL though.

            Actively prosecuting state/local law enforcement for trying to keep the wall functioning doesn’t look great, but the federal government has already garnered that reputation with much of the electorate that would care in the first place.

      • JulieK says:

        The Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that public schools are required to accept illegal immigrant students.

        http://www.k12.wa.us/MigrantBilingual/ImmigrantRights.aspx

        • The Nybbler says:

          One possibility would be to attempt to get that decision overturned.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          I don’t consider the public school system to be welfare. It’s in the interest of a democracy for its citizens to have some basic level of mental competence.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I thought illegal immigrants didn’t vote?

          • Incurian says:

            That is a good argument for getting rid of public schools.

          • Jiro says:

            I don’t consider the public school system to be welfare. It’s in the interest of a democracy for its citizens to have some basic level of mental competence.

            Illegal immigrants are not citizens.

          • albertborrow says:

            @Jiro, @suntzuanime, @incurian

            I think you all missed the subject of Anonymous Bosch’s post. He switched focus from foreign immigrants to American citizens without warning – in any case, he’s right. I’m fine with public schools having illegal immigrants if there are fewer bureaucratic barriers for American citizens to be educated. Whether or not illegal immigrants are supported in the country lies outside of the responsibility of our education department – it’s the responsibility of the DHS to determine whether they should be here in the first place.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            Anonymous Bosch posted
            > >It’s in the interest of a democracy for its citizens to have some basic level of mental competence.

            Jiro replied
            > Illegal immigrants are not citizens.

            Citizens or not, it’s to our advantage for people here* to read our signs, etc, so they don’t cause accidents, etc.

            * Insert modifiers ad lib.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            She is deeply empathetic with the plight of the immigrant, the trans kid in the bathroom. And she thinks Donald Trump is a fascist.

            Illegal immigrants are not citizens.

            I think you all missed the subject of Anonymous Bosch’s post. He switched focus from foreign immigrants to American citizens without warning – in any case, he’s right.

            Apologies, I did switch from Plyler to a general discussion of education costs. But not without reason, although I should’ve noted this initially:

            The largest component of these Heritage/CIS/FAIR white papers concluding “illegal aliens cost X” is never things the aliens themselves are eligible for (since that isn’t much since the 1996 welfare reform).

            It’s the stuff their kids (who are born citizens) are eligible for. So they include the costs of the kids (and usually only the tax contribution of the parents) to make the figure as high as possible.

            In our cost estimates we also include the minor children of illegal aliens born in the United States. That adds another 3.4 million children to the 1.3 million children who are illegal aliens themselves. We include these U.S. citizen children of illegal aliens because the fiscal outlays for them are a direct result of the illegal migration that led to their U.S. birth. We do so as well in the assumption that if the parents leave voluntarily or involuntarily they will take these children with them. The birth of these children and their subsequent medical care represent a large share of the estimated Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Program expenditures associated with illegal aliens.

            And if you look at the chart of the FAIR link, most of the large line items outside “LAW ENFORCEMENT” are aid for their kids. School lunch program, Medicaid for childbirth and children, etc.

          • Citizens or not, it’s to our advantage for people here* to read our signs, etc, so they don’t cause accidents, etc.

            Probably true. But I’m dubious that you need public schools to achieve that level of practical education. People are pretty good at learning things that they find immediately useful.

      • Deiseach says:

        it would be far more cost effective to build a legal wall around the various benefits

        Problem: illegal immigrant labour is used in things like construction. The construction industry (in every country) does have a mortality rate, even with health and safety legislation. Contractors and sub-contractors using labour “on the lump”* are less likely to care about or enforce such legislation:

        903 Hispanic or Latino workers were killed from work-related injuries in 2015—on average, more than 17 deaths a week or two Latino workers killed every single day of the year, all year long.

        If Santiago who has come here to make a better life for his family gets seriously injured or even killed on the job, and has no legal benefits, what kind of heartless cruel bean-counter are you to deny this man the care he needs or the help to his widowed spouse and orphaned children?

        Not to be picking on Hispanic or Latino building workers, this was a problem with the Irish on the building sites in England as well up to recent times. A lot of men preferred to get pay directly into their hand – and drank it – rather than pay the official taxes, if they even knew they were supposed to be paying their own tax as ‘self-employed sub-contractors’:

        *’By 1970 it was estimated that of a total building work force of 1,250,000 men anything up to 400,000 were ‘on the lump’. Estimates by the Department of Employment and Productivity and Department of Inland Revenue at the time thought that the figure fluctuated between 400,000 and 600,000′. It is likely that in the 1930s the proportions of casual labour would have been higher. The provisions of the Finance Act (No.2) 1975 were drafted with the intentions of finally ending the custom of working ‘on the lump’. This phrase had its origins in the methods of letting out sections of the work for a fixed price, a ‘lump price’. It was similar to the term piece-work. Piece-work was a system under which craftsmen (the term became widely abused at this time as it implied men who had served an apprenticeship) undertook to provide the labour, and if necessary the materials, for a particular job at a definite price. The 1975 Act was passed to cover those sub-contractors who provided men for work in the building industry, but who did not pay income tax nor make national insurance payments on their behalf. In the debates of the Finance (No.2) Bill leading up to the passing of the Act there were no numbers given for the amount of tax lost as a result of the non-registration of workers.

    • JulieK says:

      You’re combining two questions that should be considered separately: Should something be done to reduce illegal immigration, and is building a wall an effective way to do that?

      • John Schilling says:

        Three questions: Is “build a wall” meant exclusively literally, or does it also include a figurative “do whatever is necessary to effectively reduce illegal immigration” element?

        Pretty certain that if Bush II or Obama had said, e.g., “we are sending an armored battalion to the Baltic states to deter Russian aggression”, nobody would have questioned that in addition to forty-odd main battle tanks there would also be the other combat arms and logistical support and the arrangements for joint operations with local forces necessary to mount a meaningful battalion-scale defensive effort. With Trump, yes, we have to question whether he’s fool enough to just pour the concrete and walk away, but we should at least consider the possibility that he isn’t.

        • albertborrow says:

          I, for one, support the idea of building a wall purely to make a ridiculous mega-structure. I don’t know if this falls into the category of “obeying an authority because they propose heroic-sounding things” or if it’s just my glory-seeking instincts, but I’m attracted to the engineering and logistics challenge of building a wall along the entire border. It’d be like the Panama canal all over again, only half outside our territory instead of completely outside of it, and of dubious economic value.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      “Employs people” is not a benefit, it’s a cost, and spending money on other things will also employ them. You have to actually do the work to compare these things quantitatively if you want to make comparisons like this.

      Also, the Wall has its own non-monetary costs (lots of CO2 and pollution released, dividing endangered species habitats, abusing Eminent Domain to confiscate private land), while many studies I’ve seen indicate immigrants (even illegal ones) have economic benefits that are not so easily measured and don’t appear to be captured by those cost estimates.

      edit–oh, and how could I forget, that we don’t expect the wall to stop illegal immigration, or remove immigrants that are already here?

      • Matt M says:

        ” while many studies I’ve seen indicate immigrants (even illegal ones) have economic benefits that are not so easily measured and don’t appear to be captured by those cost estimates.”

        This will go over really well with red-state flyover country.

        “Don’t worry, academics assure us that immigrants benefit us in a bunch of ways that we cannot measure or quantify or explain.”

        I’m sure they’ll be just itching to trust you and modify their beliefs accordingly!

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          Actually some of those studies indicate immigration cause non-immigration employment to go up, which is easy to explain to red flyover states as a benefit, it’s just difficult to calculate what the actual benefit is from an economist’s Point of View.

    • Corey says:

      Net migration from Mexico to the US has been (slightly) negative for some time. So it’s possible a wall may actually make the situation worse (from this point of view) by keeping Mexicans in.

    • Corey says:

      cartoonish

      $113 billion is 0.7% of the $16 trillion economy, so the numbers aren’t crazy, it’s certainly plausible that that much goes towards providing these services.

      ETA: Realized maybe you’re saying the wall is cartoonish, in which case the other, mostly non-fiscal arguments apply.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      because $15-45 billion is a lot of money

      It’s really not. Let’s take the high-end figure, because this is government work and I lived through the Big Dig:

      $45,000,000,000 / 125,000,000 U.S. households = $360 / household, or about $1 a day for a year.

      Trump is woefully inexperienced at politics, so he doesn’t yet have any idea how to waste money at Washington scale. I bet he turns out to be a quick study, though.

  4. doubleunplussed says:

    I just want to vent for a second.

    It feels like partisanship is reaching new extremes.

    I posted some criticism on facebook of a particular political movement for claiming to be bipartisan yet clearly pushing leftist identity politics. I decried the lack of true bipartisan political action, reaffirmed that I am a lefty myself, disclaimed that I support the liberation of every identity in the ever-growing lists.

    But I was disrespectful to the left and used rude words (not directed at other facebookers), and for that I was unfriended by several people. Smart people, educated people. People I’ve been able to have pleasant disagreements with over politics in the past. I was surprised. Either I’ve completely lost it or the bar for people to remove themselves from disagreement has dropped so low. And I don’t think I’ve lost it. I’ve seen people become literal Nazis over the last year or so as a backlash to PC politics, but am still relatively certain I’m not one of them. It’s hard to tell though when you see your mildy anti-PC views (that would sound natural coming out of the mouth of someone like Steven Pinker) being called bigotry all the time.

    This is sad. I am just going to have to abandon facebook at some point and only talk about mildly controversial things somewhere I’m anonymous. Either delete facebook or have it become an empty wasteland of smiley faces and fake agreement.

    I know we all have to be united against Trump, but that should mean broadening the tent, not writing off people with ever-more vigor.

    I just wanted to say that this sucks.

    • shakeddown says:

      I’d recommend joining my resolution to avoid making political commentary unless it provides information or is a request for information. It’s been a huge help in staying sane the last few weeks.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      “Rude words” add up– a lot of people’s nerves are pretty raw.

    • Well... says:

      I think Facebook itself is part of your problem. Something about the experience of online interaction, social media in particular—and especially the not-so anonymous experience of Facebook—causes people to behave in ways they’d never think of behaving in person.

      (The SSC comment section is not exempt from this pattern either, though it is a relative oasis of civility, intellect, and reason compared to just about everywhere else online.)

      I recommend you delete your Facebook account, and any other social media you use.

      • onyomi says:

        Impressively, I find the relatively anonymous SSC to be much more civil than the much less anonymous Facebook. But SSC may be relatively civil due to selection effects and in spite of anonymity, not because of it.

        I still use Facebook regularly, but since a few years ago, I only ever post about entirely innocuous life events, cute pictures of cats, jokes, etc. This is partly because political arguments on Facebook are usually a big waste of time and emotional energy, as well as the tighter connection there between my online persona and real life persona.

        I will also say, however, that back when I actually debated politics on Facebook with some regularity–probably 5-10ish years ago, I was usually, mostly, able to have some pretty civil discussions.

        I don’t think I could do that now. Trump has brought it to a new fervor, but it had been getting that way for a few years. My views haven’t changed that much in the past five years, but five years ago I could post say, a controversial libertarian take on x and get mostly polite comments. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t discuss my political views hardly at all on Facebook today, outside a few areas where my own view happens to coincide with a very pc one (but then I have my one or two super Red Tribe friends who would attack me for those), without starting a firestorm.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          I’m still able to do it, although I admit some of the dust-ups can get pretty bad. Weirdly, I would expect them to be worse with friends-of-friends than with face-to-face friends, but:

          I had one person I know personally, who would often defend my views in a levelheaded, “I disagree but respect” sort of way, who later apparently treated the label “racism” in such a fetishized, strongly negative way that it justified all manner of bad behavior by any alternative that he felt was not “racist”. (Reminded me a lot of the way Earthly Knight seemed to respond to “sexual predator”.) When I tried to suggest that there might be worse alternatives to someone who is racist, esp. someone who’s relatively benignly so, he accused me of sealioning and refused to discuss it further. He’s gone on to take pride in blocking and being blocked by people who don’t share his view of the term.

          Just today, I had another personal friend who accuses the Trump administration of “newspeak”, post a meme where someone claims “HUNGER is VIOLENCE. POVERTY is VIOLENCE”, etc.* I asked her not to do it; she insisted she would, and that she wouldn’t debate it further.

          A couple days ago, I had a small argument with someone I’ve never met, a friend of another FB friend I’ve never met in person, over the rate of decline of forests worldwide. It turned into a detailed perusal of two online sources that appeared to disagree, a resolution (they were looking at two different times), and agreement that forests are actually getting better.

          *Funny thing – as libertarian as I am, the claim “TAXATION is THEFT” always rubbed me the wrong way, for the same reason.

    • Jordan D. says:

      Your description doesn’t tell me very much about how warranted their reaction was, but you shouldn’t be surprised- the majority of people on Facebook don’t actually go there for robust debates to have their beliefs challenged. The past ~eight months have been really nasty to pretty much everyone on any part of the political spectrum, and the utter lack of cross-party empathy only exacerbates that. Let me give you an example:

      Say I have a very liberal cousin, Sam. Sam isn’t having a great time right now- as far as he can see, the nation elected a really terrible president who has promised many stupid hurtful things, and the recent incompetent travel ban and surrounding furor have him worked up. He’s unfollowed most of his right-wing friends because they wouldn’t stop mocking him for worrying that Trump is going to hurt a lot of people, and his Republican work friends keep posting “How can liberals care so much about criminal aliens when there are homeless veterans on the streets? Just saying.” The Supreme Court seat he’s been vaguely bothered-by all last year is now successfully ‘stolen’ and he’s ticked by every NBC and CNN report showing Mitch McConnell going “Oh how cruel that the democrats would threaten to obstruct things, how vile.”

      (This describes much of my feed, which is why I only visit Facebook once a week to check if there are any birthdays now. And I never posted anything even slightly political, so nobody’s even attacked me!)

      So Liz comes in with a relatively reasonable vaguely anti-left story- like “Did you see that there was violence at Berkeley against pro-Milo folks? Isn’t political violence terrible? We should condemn violent leftists.” There’s nothing really objectionable about that, but it doesn’t matter. To Sam, it feels like a gigantic group of evil people have been smashing up everything for weeks in an intentional effort to hurt people, and now Liz wants to come in and talk about how awful it is that one of those guys got a splinter. To Sam, that feels worse than if Liz had actually posted arguments against all of his “This Executive Order is anti-American!” posts, because it feels like she has no actual counterargument and is instead trying to argue that Leftism is bad because look, something Sam never explicitly endorsed anyway happened.

      In my opinion, it’s probably better for Sam and Liz to unfollow each other in this case. Nothing good is going to come out of arguing about it- probably Sam doesn’t support violent protesters and Liz didn’t want people detained at airports to begin with, so the best we can hope for is an angry airing of a decade of partisan grievances. What will that accomplish?

      So that’s probably what’s going on there.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Trump supporters posting “How can liberals care so much about criminal aliens when there are homeless veterans on the streets? Just saying.”

        I wish! That would at least be about policy.

        Instead, I’m seeing a tremendous amount of “Youve just mentioned [bad thing] about Trump. Well, left wingers didn’t complain about [more or less similar bad thing] about Obama, so shut up.”

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          When I see these, the “shut up” seems to be only implied at best. I can typically also read an implication of “be consistent next time, and I won’t unfriend you”.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ve seen literal “shut up”.

          • Matt M says:

            Agree with Nancy, I’ve seen it as well.

            I’ve also seen stuff like “white people do not reply to this”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m just going to add that I don’t go looking for the most aggressive SJWs. I just don’t actively avoid SJW.

            Today I saw someone claiming that we should all be ashamed because Mike Pence said something clueless about black hisotry month, praising Abraham Lincoln but not mentioning any black people.

            I actually think he should have done better, but it makes me crazy (in a fairly literal sense) to hear that I should be ashamed of what he does.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Pence did nothing wrong.

            Here’s his tweet of 9pm on February 1, 2017

            As #BlackHistoryMonth begins, we remember when Pres. Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states #NationalFreedomDay

            Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment on February 1, 1865.

            Sure, some people would like to erase white people from black history (except as villains), but there’s no reason Pence should go along with it.

          • Matt M says:

            I mean I guess they could bash him for praising an evil murderous dictator!

            If you think Trump is a threat to the constitution or to the balance of powers, read up on some of Lincoln’s great adventures!

        • gbdub says:

          I have to say, a lot of the “you didn’t complain about this when Obama did it” criticism is at least somewhat fair.

          If your (hypothetical you) position is “I like Democrat policies and support them being implemented by any means possible”, fine, argue that position! But don’t lecture me about principles of political tradition and separation of powers and federalism you were all too happy to throw out the window when they were in the way of your preferred policy.

          Personally, I think we’d all be better off if we spent more time debating principles and less time rooting for parties, but that seems to be a minority position among active Facebookers these days.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I have to say, a lot of the “you didn’t complain about this when Obama did it” criticism is at least somewhat fair.

            There is a clear circularity to this though.

            It is very hard to tease out the difference between statements that are forms of:
            1. “Trump criticized Obama for doing A” (therefore he shouldn’t do A)
            2. “You criticized Obama for doing A” (therefore you should criticize Trump for doing A)
            3. “Trump shouldn’t do A” (therefore I shouldn’t have been OK with Obama doing A).
            4. “I don’t think Trump should do B because I believe it is bad. In addition it is an example of Trump doing A (and 1 or 2).”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “I have to say, a lot of the “you didn’t complain about this when Obama did it” criticism is at least somewhat fair.”

            It may be fair, but it isn’t very relevant.

            If a policy is bad, it’s bad.

            If people need to work to be less partisan, they should do so, but this isn’t the same as writing people or complaints off because they’ve been inconsistent in the past.

          • Whitedeath says:

            The problem with “you didn’t complain when Obama did it” is that many times it’s simply not accurate. There were plenty of leftists who criticized Obama’s drone strikes and deportations.

          • gbdub says:

            All I’m saying is, if you think a policy is bad, argue for why the policy is bad.

            If your argument for why a policy is bad is because it violates some supposedly sacrosanct principle, your argument is substantially weakened if you did not support that principle when it didn’t serve your interests.

            Don’t use a principle to argue against a policy unless you actually believe in the principle.

            This has been a libertarian complaint forever – the party out of power is happy to pay lip service to principles that would limit the majority party’s power, then throw that away as soon as they take over. Assuming that happens, is that not a legitimate critique?

          • suntzuanime says:

            “You didn’t complain when Obama did it” is a counterargument to claims that the election of Trump has ushered in a new age of fascism. You’re right that it has nothing to say to arguments that Trump is continuing the age of fascism bequeathed to him by Obama. It’s merely an argument that the things he’s doing aren’t unusually bad, so they don’t support predictions that society is going to suddenly swerve into totalitarian dystopia.

          • Spookykou says:

            @Gbdub

            You got some blow back on this, but I just wanted to say that I agree with you completely.

          • quanta413 says:

            Personally, I think we’d all be better off if we spent more time debating principles and less time rooting for parties, but that seems to be a minority position among active Facebookers these days.

            To be fair, I think that’s been a minority position among almost all humans for all days that humans have existed. Principles are hard. Sometimes they’re developed from intuition and tradition and it’s hard to even understand why they exist; other times they’re derived from some sort of theoretical argument but they tend to still be extremely meta and abstract compared to how I think people usually do moral reasoning which involves a lot of “search your feelings, you know it to be true” type of reasoning. And most of us bend or break our principles in little ways all the time constantly just so we can get shit done, which can make it hard to figure where the line should really be drawn.

            Parties on the other hand are fun. They have cake and songs and everyone gets to wear a hat.

          • Matt M says:

            The problem with “you didn’t complain when Obama did it” is that many times it’s simply not accurate. There were plenty of leftists who criticized Obama’s drone strikes and deportations.

            This is reasonably true, although I would suggest that words like “complain” or “criticize” are not clear cut, black and white, binary options.

            Consider someone who universally praises Obama and regularly talks about how great he is, then makes one comment saying “I wish he’d deport fewer people though” and then consider that same person, once Trump is in power, posting every single day about Trump’s horrible evil deportation policy and directly implying that deportation is what makes Trump evil and bad.

            This is not an intellectually consistent position, even if they can truthfully claim “I criticized Obama for this too.”

          • Whitedeath says:

            I think the leftist/liberal divide is an important one here.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            It is consistent if Trump’s deportation is proportionately worse. You could complain that they are complaining disproportionately much about Trump’s deportation, but then I could complain that you are complaining disproportionately much about disproportionate complaints about Trump’s deportation. I wouldn’t, because I think that generally complaining about other people complaining is stupid and unproductive. But I could.

          • Matt M says:

            It is consistent if Trump’s deportation is proportionately worse.

            Sure. But that’s a key if and, in my experience, most people don’t really bother establishing it.

            The Facebook posts I see are not “Trump’s deportation is worse than Obama’s deportation and here is why.” They are “Trump is Hitler because he is deporting people!”

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Consider someone who universally praises Obama and regularly talks about how great he is, then makes one comment saying “I wish he’d deport fewer people though” and then consider that same person, once Trump is in power, posting every single day about Trump’s horrible evil deportation policy and directly implying that deportation is what makes Trump evil and bad.

            I’ve never be a fan of “You’re not condemning him loud enough”, no matter the source.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I think the leftist/liberal divide is an important one here.

            I’m constantly blown away by how many people are completely ignorant of this divide, and use the words interchangeably to assign the same beliefs and traits to neoliberals and tankies.

          • Whitedeath says:

            Don’t forget anarchists.

          • cassander says:

            @Anonymous Bosch says:

            >I’m constantly blown away by how many people are completely ignorant of this divide, and use the words interchangeably to assign the same beliefs and traits to neoliberals and tankies.

            From where I’m sitting, which I grant is no way representative, neo-liberals are rapidly disappearing and where they’re still around they’re often cheering on the tankies.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            From where I’m sitting, which I grant is no way representative, neo-liberals are rapidly disappearing and where they’re still around they’re often cheering on the tankies.

            In what sense are they rapidly disappearing? The vast majority of Democrats are neoliberal, with a minority of democratic socialists. Bernie’s unusual support can, I think, be attributed largely to Clinton’s personal baggage and lack of charisma; we’d need to see more elections before talking about a surge in outright socialism.

          • cassander says:

            @Anonymous Bosch says:

            >In what sense are they rapidly disappearing? The vast majority of Democrats are neoliberal, with a minority of democratic socialists.

            Voters, maybe, but certainly not politicians. Hillary’s campaign spent considerably effort running away from anything vaguely neo-liberal that her husband did, even free trade. And on a personal level, my lefty friends seem way more concerned about identity politics than they do about, say, re-jiggering welfare systems to incentivize working or reforming the department of whatever. I see almost none of the good government neo-liberalism that seemed omnipresent in the 90s.

          • Matt M says:

            “I’ve never be a fan of “You’re not condemning him loud enough”, no matter the source.”

            I haven’t either.

            But when you take someone not condemning Democrats enough and combine it with condemning Republicans too much, it leads to the very likely conclusion that they are condemning someone for being Republican, not for whatever issue they claim is the actual matter at hand.

            And this is occasionally worth pointing out.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Voters, maybe, but certainly not politicians.

            ???

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Anonymous Bosch:
            Thank you for posting that.

            That isn’t the universal view on the left, but it’s the mainstream one.

            Although you can find plenty of people who round off a nuanced view of capitalism to “capitalism is evil”, but many of those people, when pressed, will talk about changing how it is regulated, not wanting to eliminate it.

        • Deiseach says:

          I think that’s more an accusation of hypocrisy, though. Where were the mass protests and the lawyers at airports when the original act against visas for Iranian students was passed in 2012?

          I agree Trump is wielding power clumsily, but he’s using the tools the previous administrations created and left behind them.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        IMO, the more ideal solution would be for both Sam and Liz to say, “look at what we’re doing here; this is insanity; we gotta figure out a better way to work these issues out” and work from that common ground.

        (Which just happens to be the way I see SSC commenters.)

      • Deiseach says:

        The Supreme Court seat he’s been vaguely bothered-by all last year is now successfully ‘stolen’

        The Supreme Court seat has tickled me; I know nothing of Judge Gorsuch save what I’m reading, which claims that he is a conservative (in legal matters? in politics? I have no idea).

        But one online news report (and I wish I’d bookmarked the thing) said something to the effect that (amongst other bad no-good horrible effects) he’d probably make decisions that would affect access to contraception. (I imagine this had something to do with his decision about Hobby Lobby? Or something?)

        Which made me want to go “Dude, he’s an Episcopalian. If you’re looking for strict conservative religious tea-leaf reading here, you are looking at the wrong church. Thanks to the Anglican Communion wars, if he’s still in an Episcopal parish (and he is, and one where the rector is a female clergyperson) instead of having jumped ship to an Anglican church, he’s fine with contraception and probably is on a spectrum of “fine with” to “personally opposed but” as regards abortion. He was even educated by Jesuits, for goodness’ sake!”

        Which is to say, if he made a judgement in favour of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, it was on the points of law at issue and not because he’s a Bible-bashing fundie who thinks sex is dirty and wrong.

        So, that amused me.

        Though the Daily Mail has some extremely weird story that appears to have been picked up and is being shared all over the place.

        • Loquat says:

          He’s apparently also the author of a book about the moral and legal issues of assisted suicide and the article admits it’s hard to predict what his stance on abortion-related court cases might be. I’m a Trump opponent, and to me he seems as reasonable a pick as one could expect and far from the worst Trump could have nominated.

        • Jordan D. says:

          Gorsuch is a conservative in legal matters (which, in the modern era, largely means being very excited about how much better originalism and textualism are when compared to the old progressive judicial interpretative ideologies like living constitutionalism), and he’s likely to be a solid vote for conservatives on political cases as well. As far as I know, he’s never spoken up about Roe or Obergefell, but it would really surprise me if his opinions would be anything but a mirror of Scalia’s “these cases are legislating from the bench” opinions. He’s probably a vote against deference to executive agencies, possibly a vote against the rampant growth of qualified immunity and a vote yea in death penalty cases.

          His votes in Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor were certainly decided on ‘points of law at issue’, but I’m not sure why you think there’s a wall between personal beliefs and legal interpretation. Let me give you an example-

          Those two cases turn, or turned, upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute passed a number of years back which mandates that a court apply ‘strict scrutiny’ when examining a challenge under the Free Exercise clause. That is to say, a law which someone claims burdens a sincerely-held religious belief must be in furtherance of a compelling government interest and be the least restrictive possible way to achieve that, or else the law is struck as to that party (and other, similar parties can expect it not to apply to them, thereafter).

          The issue in Hobby Lobby, to oversimplify things a lot, is that the ACA required that the insurance plans they provided to their employees cover contraceptives. Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby stores owned by a very religious family, challenged the law under the RFRA, arguing that it required them to pay for contraceptives, but they believed this to be sinful. The novel issue of law was this- can a corporation have sincerely held religious beliefs? (There was also a sub-question; since they’re just providing the insurance and not buying the contraceptives themselves, can they really be said to be violating this belief?)

          Liberal judges mostly said no. Conservative judges mostly said yes. In the end, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that they could have religious beliefs and that there was a “less restrictive” method of providing contraception that the government could use. This method discussed in the second case…

          In Little Sisters of the Poor (Later consolidated into the less-sympathetic-sounding Zubik v. Burwell), a slightly different matter was at issue. Unlike Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters are a nonprofit organization, which means that under the ACA they could file a “Form 700”, which essentially tells the insurance provider that your non-profit has a religious objection to paying for contraception. The provider then offers contraception to your employees “separately”, and you don’t pay for it. The Little Sisters objected to filing this form, arguing that even the most attenuated connection to providing contraceptives is a substantial burden on religious liberty.

          Liberal judges mostly said no. Conservative judges were a bit more mixed, but said yes substantially more often. This question hasn’t exactly gotten resolved.

          So here’s the question- what do the liberal and conservative judiciary disagree on in these cases? If it’s whether or not we’re using the right standard to determine ‘strict scrutiny’ under RFRA, then how religious a judge is has no bearing at all. If it’s “what exactly constitutes a substantial burden upon religious liberty”, then what matters is a judge’s individual convictions rather than what kinds of judicial philosophy textbooks they like. If you ask me, for example, I would tell you that there’s basically no burden involved in telling your provider that you don’t want to pay for Plan B for employees. If you asked my die-hard Catholic cousin, he would argue that being in the same hemisphere as providing Plan B to employees means that you’re halfway to Hell already.

        • Deiseach says:

          Jordan D., it was rather the assumption that “conservative = Fundie Evangelical No Fun Allowed” that made me smile; they plainly never bothered to find out about his actual denominational affiliations, they just went for the stereotype (in precisely the manner they would be horrified about if anyone used it in regards to an African-American or Latina/o judge).

          • Matt M says:

            American politics does not really recognize any shades of grey when it comes to religious affiliation.

            People are basically lumped into one of two bucket – “religious conservative” or “basically an atheist,” primarily based on their political positions (meaning that Nancy Pelosi gets put in the second bucket, regardless of how many times a week she attends mass)

        • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

          Note in passing: the reason we have a RFRA in the first place is the Scalia-authored decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that sorts of practices now protected by the RFRA are NOT protected by the Free Exercise Clause.

    • Randy M says:

      I post much fewer political posts on Facebook than I did 5-8 years ago. Some people who tend to post things that I expect will draw me into argument I’ve hidden. Partly this is due to epistemic humility (no, really!) and partly due to preferring friends to converts, and also because most of my feed is family that I don’t want to either offend or risk embarrassing myself in front of with false claims. I do post SSC articles from time to time–I get more pushback on those from a left-ier friend, but I think that’s mostly due to not too many people reading them.

      Mostly I use facebook to coordinate in-person meetings or make jokes.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      I made a similar claim on an open thread a few weeks ago; it definitely seems that all the rules have been tossed out the window, so to speak, in attempting to stop Trump.

      • doubleunplussed says:

        Well I hope Trump fucks off as quickly as possible and that people can be friends with each other again once it’s over, and not just see each conversation as a battleground in which even allies must be stopped from ceding ground at all costs.

        • suntzuanime says:

          I, similarly, hope people open their hearts to Trump as quickly as possible.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Why would Trump “fucking off” do that? Rather than simply result in his opponents “crushing” Trump supporters in a victory dance to ensure nothing like Trump could happen again?

          • doubleunplussed says:

            The crazies will always be crazy, but hopefully most people will realise the stakes are lower once Trump isn’t in power, and the previously blasé can go back to being so.

          • PedroS says:

            “The crazies will always be crazy, but hopefully most people will realise the stakes are lower once Trump isn’t in power, and the previously blasé can go back to being so.”

            I am not an American, but I have been following US politics for over 20 years and (from the admittedly partial view one can get from the outside) I have the feeling that polarization is not likely to stop when trump leaves power. I certainly hope you are right, but i do not expect it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I certainly don’t think it’s likely that Trump leaving the scene would result in anything better than a return to the status quo ante, which was _already_ intolerable for those of us not willing to just go along with the SJW left. More likely it’d be a victory dance on our heads. The stakes don’t change for _us_, only the chance of winning.

            Edit: To anticipate the next question, “winning” means the power of the SJWs to destroy people is broken; perhaps by civil rights laws being enforced evenhandedly, perhaps by new laws (least desirable), or perhaps by them losing the social power they have. For a true victory, no other group must immediately take that position either; swapping SJWs for a revived and more powerful Moral Majority would be no good.

          • 1soru1 says:

            > intolerable for those of us not willing to just go along with the SJW left.

            Either you are genuinely demanding a totalitarian police state in order to avoid a few college kids being rude to you, you think actively enforced laws against being rude are somehow non-totalitarian, you are a fascist claiming to be oppressed by existing laws against murdering minorities or whatever, you are just deeply confused, or there is some more generous interpretation of your position I am completely missing…

          • > intolerable for those of us not willing to just go along with the SJW left.

            Either you are genuinely demanding a totalitarian police state in order to avoid a few college kids being rude to you

            One of the things that can plausibly be blamed on the SJW left is the federal government pressuring universities to adopt a civil standard of proof in cases of claimed sexual assault–convict if it is more likely than not that the defendant is guilty. There have been multiple cases in which the result, as evaluated by the courts when the convicted student sued, was something more like “convict if the accused cannot prove he could not be guilty.” The result is that the convicted defendant is not only expelled from the university but provided with a mark on his record that will make it difficult for him to get into another university or get employment in the future.

            That is not a matter of a few college kids being rude to someone, but of the power of the federal government being used to promote policies both unjust and damaging.

            An example. A more general survey.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            you think actively enforced laws against being rude are somehow non-totalitarian

            Opposition to totalitarian laws against being rude is a strong example of why I don’t support SJW.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @1soru1

            Your post is a non sequitur. SJWs have done more than be rude, and none of the things I proposed are totalitarian.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nibbler

            More likely it’d be a victory dance on our heads. The stakes don’t change for _us_, only the chance of winning.

            How is the chance of “winning” not already zero?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Kevin C

            For you it’s zero; I’m not trying to return to pre-Enlightenment days.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            You said: ““winning” means the power of the SJWs to destroy people is broken”. I’m saying that the probability of that is zero. The power of the SJWs to “destroy people” cannot be broken. Victory by your definition is impossible as well; the Left always wins.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          My assumption is that there’s so much political hostility built up that it will take a least a generation for people to calm down, and for things to get better that fast would take a political situation that I can’t develop. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that I can’t figure out what would be a plausible path.

          • Corey says:

            Unite to fight alien invaders.

          • Jiro says:

            The same way everyone united to fight Osama bin Laden? Or even united to fight the Nazis in World War II? (We got US-Soviet cooperation during that war. The end result: Good for the Soviets, not so good for us. Having an external force forcing you to ally with evil people is great for the evil people, not so great for you.)

    • Corey says:

      identity politics

      What would “non-identity politics” even be? White’s an identity.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        It wasn’t, up until recently. White pride, white power, white interests, these are concepts with uniformly negative status for the vast majority of society. They were things you accused your opponent of supporting, not things your opponent adopted as a rallying cry. When Identity politics are a fringe thing, that’s sustainable. When they become the only game in town, it isn’t.

        • Corey says:

          Don’t listen to Dennis Ritchie, history didn’t start at 1970-01-01 00:00:00.

          Even shortly before that epoch, towns closed pools rather than allow blacks to swim there. Local governments are supposed to be the most responsive; I guess they were pariahs for doing this, under your theory?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            your phrase was “white’s an identity”, implying present tense.

            I am aware that it was absolutely an identity in the past. Getting to the point where it was not an identity took a lot of work. It not being a viable identity was a really, really good thing. If it’s at all possible to keep it from becoming more of an identity than it is now, we should do so. If it’s possible to reverse the present growth, we should do that too.

            None of that seems possible if identity politics are the only politics.

            [EDIT] – There was a time where what we were shooting for was color-blindness, when race wasn’t supposed to matter, when we were all the same on the inside. It apparently wasn’t good enough, because we abandoned that and are now moving toward both sides, left and right, claiming that race/gender/orientation/religion is the only thing that matters.

          • Corey says:

            claiming that race/gender/orientation/religion is the only thing that matters

            Is that’s what’s meant by “identity politics”? In that case, how much should it matter? What are live political issues that don’t tie into these identities in some way?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            North Korean nukes & general crazypants aggression?

            The rise of China as a superpower and more specifically the South China Sea situation?

            Anything falling under “It’s the economy, stupid”? E.g. banking regulation, monetary policy. Trade agreements in particular have basically nothing to do with identity politics, unless you want to really stretch and claim that it’s somehow racially-driven because the poor people in the Rust Belt that don’t like it tend to be white.

            Hell, even the whole of Middle East policy has only a tenuous link to religious identity.

            What does race/gender/orientation/religion have to do with environmental issues (feminist glaciation aside)? Energy policy?

            You can have all sorts of policy discussions without involving idpol.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Corey – “In that case, how much should it matter?”

            As little as humanly possible. We should be a community; my interest should be indistinguishable from your interest as much as possible. To the extent that this is not true, politics become zero-sum and peaceful coexistence becomes impossible.

            “What are live political issues that don’t tie into these identities in some way?”

            Very few. That is precisely the problem. Our politics have been optimizing for individual identity at the expense of group identity. This was sustainable so long as it was only fringe movements doing it, and a majority of the population hewed to the group identity. Unfortunately, too many defected, and it’s now obvious that the group identity is a joke.

      • lvlln says:

        In practice, I think “non-identity politics” would refer to politics that looks a bit more like it was in the USA in the 90s-00s. I mean, one could argue that even that was not “non-identity politics,” but there seemed to be less of a heavy focus on dividing the polity by many particular identity characteristics.

        My intuition is that identity politics was the default state of things for the vast majority of history, with certain identities such as white/male/cis/straight just crushing every other one in the vast majority of areas in the USA. It was only for a brief period around the 20th century when significant progress was made to convert to non-identity politics, which allowed those dominant groups to slow down their crushing of everyone else. And in the last decade or so, we’ve seen the forces that were trying to reduce identity politics instead reverse course and decide that identity politics is good actually, as long as the previously dominant ones don’t participate this time.

        So when someone says “non-identity politics,” my intuition is that they’re talking about pushing things back towards the direction things were going around a very very brief period of time in the late 20th century.

        I’m not a historian, so I may be missing a lot of things.

        • Matt M says:

          My intuition is that identity politics was the default state of things for the vast majority of history, with certain identities such as white/male/cis/straight just crushing every other one in the vast majority of areas in the USA.

          This seems odd to me. I would see “identity politics” as something like “political issues are debated largely by appeal to one’s personal identity.” If 95% of voters are white/male/straight then appealing to white/male/straight identity is useless and irrelevant.

          To whatever extent “identity politics” may have existed in the 1840s, I imagine the relevant “identity” was southern vs northern – an identity that mattered a lot back then and much less so now. Or maybe slave-owner vs abolitionist, or something like that.

    • Tekhno says:

      @doubleunplussed

      This is sad. I am just going to have to abandon facebook at some point and only talk about mildly controversial things somewhere I’m anonymous.

      @shakeddown

      I’d recommend joining my resolution to avoid making political commentary unless it provides information or is a request for information.

      This just sets the extremists free to polarize easier. They are counting on the hollowing out of the center so that people will stop arguing against them politically, and then the only political arguments that remain will be between Nazis and Communists. As things get worse and violence escalate, then those who refused to argue now will be forced to pick a side for the sake of survival.

      If the center (center-left, center-right, grounded in liberal principles) wants to hold, then the center needs to get aggressive. Be strong and steadfast and damn the loss of worthless “friends”.

    • WashedOut says:

      For most of it’s life Facebook has been a wasteland of emoticons, fake ‘friends’, tedious interpersonal melodrama; and the last mouth of the human centipede for memes and pop culture.

      The rhetorical landscape you’ve painted does indeed suck but there’s no shame at all in wanting to delete failbook, and there’s more reasons to do so besides. From my point of view the saddest thing about your general experience is the expectation (however implicit) that Facebook *should* be a workable medium for honest, rigorous political banter. I think without a healthy balance of face-to-face friendly argument with your failbook ‘friends’ IRL, this is a recipe for disaster. Reason being, there are multiple things working against you:
      1. the public-ness of political statements you make
      2. the inextricable ties these statements have to your public identity
      3. incentives for ‘soundbite’-style compression of views and the resulting wash-out of important nuance, to suit the minuscule attention span of browsers
      4. inherent approval-seeking (or fear of losing ‘friends’) mentality underlying the posts.

      For example, 4chan (for the last decade or more) and reddit (in last few years) have captured the overflow of commentators frustrated with the rhetorical landscape on failbook. Neither of these is likely to appeal to SSC folk but both provide anonymity and absence of thought-police where people can thrash out their dangerous ideas. In my opinion we need more places like these and SSC, and to stop wasting time trying to “fix” failbook – it is defective by design.

  5. paranoidfunk says:

    Two questions:

    1. I believe evolutionary psychology is ridden with post-hoc rationalizations, and it’s hard for me to know what is relatively “accurate” and what’s earwax. Any suggestions for a thorough human evo. psych text? I’ve heard The Moral Animal is good, but I’m wary of the field altogether — it all just seems so hard to test through experimental design.

    2. How do you feel about about soy in a male’s daily diet? Is it pernicious to beard-growing capabilities? Examine.com has a good discussion on the topic, IMO, although I’d like to hear your views.

    • doubleunplussed says:

      I avoid soy in my daily diet after reading of cases where men have grown breast tissue after drinking a few glasses of it a day consistently. Not scientific, but that was my take away after reading a little bit about it. I’ll still have it whenever it’s there, but in my daily cereal or coffee or whatever I switched to ordinary lactose free milk (I was only drinking soy because I’m lactose intolerant).

      The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker is pretty good, and Pinker’s definitely not mired in ideology.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I avoid eating soy, not because I’m necessarily worried about the hormonal effects, but I just don’t see the point of it for non-vegans. Tofu is a relatively crummy source of protein relative to its fat and carb content and doesn’t taste amazing, soy milk tastes weirdly beany, and soy-based protein powder is gross. Is it even cheaper than meat and dairy sources of protein?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Moral Animal is most readable, Adapted Mind is most evidence-based and interested in avoiding the failure mode you’re talking about.

      • The Adapted Mind is the first thing I read in the field, and I found it interesting and persuasive.

      • quanta413 says:

        I’ll third the recommendation of the Adapted Mind. It’s much more subtle and interesting than I expected, although sometimes I did feel it was (like almost any social science I’ve ever read) having to work with rather difficult evidence. But I can’t fault it’s handling of that evidence, it did a better job than I typically expect for complicated social topics, and they often put forward interesting hypothesis that I wouldn’t have expected from the claim that evolutionary psychology and anthropology is all just post-hoc rationalization for 1950s gender roles. Just to be clear, after reading the adapted mind I now think this claim is terribly wrong.

    • Dog says:

      There is also a study linking soy consumption to dementia, which is worrying: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10763906

      Caveats: I have not read the full text, don’t know what they are controlling for, maybe tofu consumption is just acting as a proxy for vegetarianism, etc. This study has made the rounds though and is something many people are concerned about wrt soy.

    • Deiseach says:

      Worried about beard growth? Switch to goat’s milk, like a man! 🙂 (Sea air and goat’s milk at an early age has made me the woman I am today! Which, er, may not be a recommendation).

      Goat’s milk is recommended for children with allergies or who can’t tolerate cow’s milk.

  6. Trofim_Lysenko says:

    Riffing off the ongoing discussion of Immigration, Assimilation, and Polarization:

    So, right now my impression is that we don’t have much in the way of a standard for civics/social studies in our K-12/Primary schools. As a result, you have kids getting everything from Privilege Walks and courses about how America nothing more than a hypocritical and bloody-handed empire born in slavery and genocide, whose evils have been constrained only with great effort from the Progressive and Enlightened few….to ones that gloss over all the ugliness and messiness of history, over the shitty things America HAS done and talk about the Founding Fathers in tones generally reserved for saints, de-emphasize the importance of Slavery to the Civil War, etc.

    To my mind, this is a real problem. To start with, it undercuts one of the few really good arguments having a public school system in the first place, which is building a sense of common identity and values. For another thing, I think that a really solid set of civics, social studies, and/or US history standards and courses based on them would go a long way towards allowing us to open up immigration rates without compromising our ability to assimilate our new citizens. Finally, it continues the cycle of political and philosophical polarization that we’re currently dealing with and I do NOT think that is doing anything healthy for our country.

    So, the question them becomes:

    What can we agree on as a basis for this sort of instruction in 2016, at a national level?

    What curriculum and philosophical core can be used in both Berkeley Unified in California and Denton Independent in Texas? I think we need a concrete answer, going forward, or the splintering effect is going to be made worse with every subsequent generation inculcated from entirely different starting principles. I am well aware that others of a libertarian bent chafe at the idea of explicitly making cultural or philosophical values a part of educational standards in the US, and believe me, I get why. I am at best a “Goldwater Conservative”, if not some variety of mild, wishy-washy libertarian, and the thought of a Dept. of Education controlled entirely by, say, the people setting the curriculum at Berkeley Unified bothers me (then again, I’d be equally mortified by a Kansas or Texas controlled DoE)..

    IS there a solution that can be enacted at the federal level, without it opening the door to yet another area for Republicans and Democrats to try and control to ram through their agenda, with the ratchet tending to favor one side over the other?

    Because I think if the answer is “no, vague standards we have now + private school choice is as good as it gets”, I think that we should probably be talking about that “national divorce” and negotiating terms and territorial divisions.

    • I think arranging for everyone to be taught the same things would be a very bad idea even if the ideas being taught were, on average, more nearly true than the average of the distribution of what would be taught without such an arrangement. I also think the reasons for that are obvious, but will be happy to expand on them if others disagree.

      • Randy M says:

        The common core was framed as a way of ensuring all states agreed on certain standards, iirc. I’d disagree on that, provided we more or less implemented Federalism in other matters as well, but really at this point that’s just a couple of voices crying in the wilderness.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        I think I would appreciate an expansion. If I try to come up with my own, this is what I end up with:

        The obvious motte of standard education is literacy, since the ability to read is so widely accepted as a massive net benefit that it’s virtually always worth spending the effort to teach someone to read, long before their age of consent. Therefore: literacy is worth mandating, and therefore, so is a framework for verifying that this has been achieved.

        Other mottes start to appear, such as arithmetic. I even see a “why wasn’t this a motte already?” when it comes to how to run an experiment, verify observations, being skeptical, etc. Some of these require building on primary experience, however – one probably cannot appreciate the value of a proper experiment without practice – therefore, a standard curriculum will probably need to take a few years, including forced practice in earlier years at least.

        But keeping all this fresh starts running us into the bailey. What do you practice experiments and skepticism on? Balls on a plane? Dissected frogs? An online database? An essay by Hume? A James Joyce short story? Note that we will need many of these for any one child, and not every child will get into Joyce or Michaelson-Morley. For this reason, the choice of content will necessarily be up to the locality, with only a relatively bare requirement at the federal level – but such a requirement will still exist.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Even with literacy, details matter.

          I gather that some children have trouble learning reading before age 8. If they’re pushed to learn at 6, they may despair of their ability to learn.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I’m very aware of the problems.

      At this point, I think I’m just coming to the conclusion that minarchist/”classical liberal” schools of thought may be fundamentally incompatible with the core values of modern European and (it’s starting to look like) American democracy.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ Trofim_Lysenko
      Because I think if the answer is “vague standards we have now + private school choice is as good as it gets”, I think that we should probably be talking about that “national divorce” and negotiating terms and territorial divisions.

      Well, I do think the “vague standards we have now + private school choice is as good as it gets”, especially if you include other current factors. Aiui, the big text-book publishers and national teachers’ organizations already coordinate book content. The teachers want kids to assimilate when their parents move from Berkeley to Denton, instead of being confused and disruptive. The publishers want a standard product to mass produce and sell one-size nationwide. — But the local school boards do the purchasing and each board wants its own preferred content.

      If someone wants to affect this de facto un-system, they might follow the money into the cracks of production, sales, etc. And how the parents can avoid the local school board’s preferences, by home schooling, private schools etc (with funding entanglement up to the federal level) — at which point it might be simpler for the parents to elect a new school board.

      • Randy M says:

        Aiui, the big text-book publishers and national teachers’ organizations already coordinate book content.

        Yes, this is true. Whatever Texas and California have in common (probably NY, too) will be the de facto national curriculum, as those markets are so big for textbook publishers, and this is a pretty big cost for schools–especially when reformers push for standards to change, requiring new versions of textbooks slightly faster than they would be defaced into uselessness.

    • Matt M says:

      IS there a solution that can be enacted at the federal level, without it opening the door to yet another area for Republicans and Democrats to try and control to ram through their agenda, with the ratchet tending to favor one side over the other?

      Literally zero chance.

      Trying to implement a federally-standardized curriculum for math devolved into a political war.

      Good freaking luck trying to do this with history and the social sciences…

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        I was vaguely aware of the debate over CC math, but I actually think it’s a mistake to conclude that this is unresolvable based simply on that debate. I came away largely thinking that CC math was teaching some sound things, but the execution needed a lot of refinement, since a lot of primary math teachers appear to be in a habit of teaching only one method for doing an arithmetic problem, and not teaching that there are multiple correct ways, and how to tell a correct way from an incorrect way. (It’s also possible that a journalist was overstating the problem; I remember my early math teachers (in rural Texas) handling student questions about unorthodox math approaches just fine.)

        In short, I don’t mind the federal policy being a somewhat more detailed version of “there are multiple correct ways to do math; teach as many as you can”. Same applies to liberal arts.

        And to the extent core math is a political battle, I think it’s a still-developing one, and could still lead to a satisfactory conclusion.

        • Corey says:

          My impression (I’m an elementary school parent, with no problem with CC math): parents who grew up learning the One True Way to do arithmetic get confused by their kids’ homework, and either can’t follow what they’re asking the kids to do, or think the school is wasting time teaching so many ways to do the same thing. So the problem’s more with annoyed parents than pedagogical theory.
          (My proposed solution: get rid of homework, which teachers are already converging on)

    • WashedOut says:

      As a result, you have kids getting everything from Privilege Walks and courses about how America nothing more than a hypocritical and bloody-handed empire born in slavery and genocide, whose evils have been constrained only with great effort from the Progressive and Enlightened few….

      Thinking about this type of thing happening in schools gives me real anxiety. However one potential source of hope is that kids tend to rebel against school teachings of this sort. For example, forcing kids to take religious ed. classes and participate in faith-based activities at school is a pretty reliable recipe for making atheists and contrarians later in life.

      In my view the fundamental problem is that the type of people who go into education are from a very small pool: left-leaning, female, career teachers with little to no other experiences to draw on. In Australia, “if you don’t know what to do with your life, teach! Think of the holidays!”

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I’m not sure that hagiography should be any more comforting. If nothing else, consider that inculcating kids with “America is the Best Country EVAR That Never Did Anything Wrong” leaves them rather open to shock, disillusionment, and sharp pivots when they get handed a copy of something like Zinn’s “A People’s History Of The United States”.

        I think they’re both flawed in different ways, and as a result I’d like some sort of baseline that would allow for:

        A) a common grounding in shared history and national heritage (and yeah, that includes recent immigrants too).

        and

        B) Telling the eternal story that “Life is complex and defies easy narrative models. People are inconsistent, complicated, and sometimes opaque. Many decisions that seem easy or obvious in hindsight are anything but if you were there having to make the decision that day”.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        As a result, you have kids getting everything from Privilege Walks and courses about how America nothing more than a hypocritical and bloody-handed empire born in slavery and genocide, whose evils have been constrained only with great effort from the Progressive and Enlightened few….

        The Privilege Walks (or visits to a rifle range, as the case may be) stuff is at the discretion of local teachers and Principal. Each local community can have these as extreme as the local voters like, without the textbook industry’s pressure for a one-size fits all conclusion. But the more extreme the local customs are, the smaller an area such customs can spread to.

  7. Vermillion says:

    After months of side-eyeing it out on the sidebar I finally signed up for Beeminder and so far I’m really liking it. It probably hits me just right because I love getting achievements in video games and hate wasting money with the passion of a thousand burning suns. It’s been a little hair on fire at times trying to get the hours working on my thesis that I pledged to do but so far I haven’t been charged so hooray!

    It’s really made me reevaluate all the time I spend scanning the news/reading SSC/what not. I think because now at the back of my mind I’m running a calculation on the risk of getting dinged with every minute spent not working.

    Anyone else using them, or have any tips on how to make the best of it?

    • Well... says:

      Hah, I’m guessing not a lot of people will respond, for reasons you hinted at.

    • twicetwice says:

      I absolutely love the idea of Beeminder, and while it does strike me as a good service, when I was looking at it I questioned how the incentives were aligned. As best I could tell from their website + promotional materials, they make their revenue from people failing their goals… so the better their product works, the less money they make. I’m not accusing them of scamming or manipulating people, but I do question the way the model seems to be set up.

  8. Trofim_Lysenko says:

    An associated question from my post above: We seem to have a lot of West Coast and especially Bay Area people in the SSC Commentariat, and the success and general awesomeness of Asian-Americans has been bandied about fairly regularly. So…what’s the difference between the story in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and what I see in the Midwest?

    I don’t mean that Asian-Americans in the Midwest aren’t successful. In fact, it seems to me that you have pretty good representation and quite possibly over-representation of Asian-Americans (mostly Chinese and Vietnamese with some Thai) as small business owners even in small towns, relative to their presence in the population as a whole…BUT they also seem to be far LESS assimilated and integrated into the community than seems to be the case on the west coast. I grew up in California until I was ten years old and the difference is striking.

    Anyone have any insight here? Am I simply being exposed to different population segments and there isn’t that much regional variation?

    • srconstantin says:

      I don’t recall the economic stats so I’m not sure if your claim is even true, but one thing to keep in mind is that Chinese- and Japanese-Americans in California have been here a LONG TIME — like, since the 1850’s. In my experience this is more of a California thing. On the East Coast and in the Midwest, most Asians I knew were first- or second-generation. In California I’m meeting Asians who are more “American” than I am, and certainly have deeper local roots than I do. So maybe you’re comparing different cohorts.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I’m not sure if I my claim is even true either, thus my question at the end of the post about being exposed to different parts of the population. I think you might be right, and it might be an issue of generation, but my attempts to google papers on the subject came up pretty much dry, and it’s not the sort of thing you can raise in discussion without being rude, setting aside the language barriers.

      The only cases where I can even make an educated guess are the Vietnamese-Americans I see at my job since I often have to check their DoB. I can -guess- (but it’s just a guess) that those with birth dates of 1970-73 or so are 1st-2nd generation immigrants (either immigrated as babies or born shortly after their parents arrived), but that’s as far as it goes.

    • Randy M says:

      Depends on what you mean by assimilation. I am in Southern California; there’s large fairly exclusively Asian communities here, particularly Vietnamese due to proximity a base of where many refugees were brought in and settled near after the war. I’ve worked with many 1st or second generation–they seem to get along with whites fine, work well, be productive.
      They also tend to, as far as I can observe, still prefer associating with each other and using their own language primarily. The cities between where I lived and where I worked have a large number of signs in Vietnamese or Chinese. I’m not aware of crime statistics of the cities, though that might be interesting to check out.

      I think the difference you notice in San Francisco might be observing highly successful Asians selected to move to and work at tech firms, and there associating with other young, successful people?

      What you notice as assimilation might just be a function of relative population.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Anecdotal: I’m half Vietnamese (mother grew up in Hanoi), and literally grew up on a beef cattle farm in Texas. Scholastically, I stood out enough to warrant my own separate curriculum in K-2, skip third grade, and still make straight As through college (once I restabilized socially, which took a few years). My sister was also smart, but socialized much better; she didn’t skip a grade, but also earned a reputation as “a smart girl who goes out of her way to act dumb”.

      When I went to college, I finally got personal exposure to a lot more Asians. They seemed more studious than even many of the non-Asians in college, but they also didn’t appear to be necessarily more successful – there were simply too many variables. Plenty of them would start small businesses; plenty would take jobs in software development. My sister works sales for one business and manages business for another, and is probably considered pretty solidly middle-class.

      Overall Asian penetration into the Texas countryside appears to still be extremely low. It’s still a Scots-Irishman’s game, with a heavy Mexican component and a smattering of German-Czech-Polish. But ethnic-wise, no one really cares; they do this stuff mostly just because it’s what their parents did.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      What I notice isn’t “Not getting along well with” so much as a sense of insularity and parallel social and financial structures, with the barrier being maintained mostly by non-existent language skills. Stuff like needing an employer (who in turn has limited language skills) to take over very basic transactions and handle personal financial and identity information, that sort of thing. That seems as if it would leave you pretty vulnerable.

      And to be clear, in many cases I’m talking about fairly young people in their 20s and early 30s who are native born citizens, yet have less english than the college students -from- China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam who are studying at the local college.

      But I think I have to conclude that I don’t know enough to say anything for sure or draw any conclusions, here. The combination of social constraints, politeness, and my job preclude me raising the topic even if I knew an appropriate way to without giving offense, and I’m continuing to come up dry on Google Scholar.

    • sflicht says:

      My anecdatum is that in the Boston suburbs where I grew up, Asian-Americans (my sense is that Koreans, Japanese, and Taiwanese are somewhat overrepresented relative to mainland Chinese, Southeast Asians, and South Asians, in New England) are extremely assimilated — no less so than in CA, despite being a smaller fraction of the population. The only lack of assimilation that I recall noticing when I grew up was that certain churches were Asian-dominated.

  9. shakeddown says:

    What are disagreements between economic theories usually based on? Different ways to model things? Different results in their mathematical analyses? Different goals?

  10. Sniffnoy says:

    Scott: This open thread is lacking the “open” tag, so clicking on the “open thread” button at the top still goes to OT68, not here. Would you mind fixing this? Thank you!

  11. Anonalous says:

    Thoughts on the show Adam Ruins Everything?
    Something about it throws me off every time I see it. I mean, it seems pretty obvious to me that its straw-manning, cherry-picking, using emotional appeals, etc. for the purpose of entertainment, and that’s exactly what I’d expect from a TV show. However, when I went looking for criticisms/rebuttals of the shows claims, there were just about none to be found. Instead, google turned up lots of praise for the shows’ “hard truths”, with its site even being linked to on some LW threads. I’m worried that my aversion to (read: disgust towards) Adam’s “persona” as a the epitome of smug intellectualism might be throwing off my judgement, especially because I can feel myself wanting to fight back against even his better sourced and obviously fair claims. I suppose the polarized attitude of the past few weeks has made me very self-conscious about my own emotional/irrational biases, which feel like they’ve taken a sharp turn to the right over the past year, disturbing me greatly. Does anyone else feel that the show is as deceptive as I do, or am I somehow fooling myself?

    (This is my first time commenting here, so please pardon me if I’ve broken some rule of etiquette I failed to pick up on while lurking.)

    • suntzuanime says:

      I haven’t seen the show, but a general piece of advice I would give would be to separate the quality of the argument from the quality of the claim. It’s possible to give a shitty cherry-picked emotional appeal for a claim that happens to be definitively verifiably true. It’s important to distinguish them, and object to disingenuous arguers even when they’re right, and believe the truth even when its promoters are disingenuous. It sounds like you’re conflating the two.

      • Anonalous says:

        That’s very good advice, thank you. I think I have been, as you said, conflating the validity of a claim with the average validity of its arguments — I’m realizing now that that dooms me to never escaping the center of any contentious issue. I think this is why I’ve become more and more reluctant to associate myself with left-leaning politics — not so much the realization that liberals are exceptionally disingenuous arguers, only that they aren’t any less disingenuous than conservatives, as I’d once believed. However, because my social bubbles are 99% liberal, that’s led to me spending more and more time defending conservatives and attacking liberals in order to try and regain what I perceive to be an equilibrium, which has thrown my emotional alignment out of whack.

        (By the way, I’ve always wondered where you get your avatar from. Source?)

    • Well... says:

      I watched maybe 6-8 episodes. I genuinely liked one or two of them. (The flushable wipes one, and the McDonald’s coffee one, to be precise.) The others gave me what sounds like a similar reaction to yours, maybe moreso because I detected a vitriolic left-wing temper tantrum brimming just under the surface. For instance, look at that episode about not discussing salaries with your coworkers: after a few minutes it just turned into “workers of the world unite.” And then yes, many of the others are just Niel DeGrasse Tyson-style intellectualist smugness.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        I thought the McDonalds coffee one was terrible – it was innumerate, ignored the existence of tradeoffs, and made factually incorrect claims.

        It presents “700 people were burned by McDonald’s coffee” as proof that there is something wrong but is that a lot, in context of all the coffee McDonald’s serves? No, it’s an insignificant fraction. Nationwide, McDonald’s sells over a billion cups of coffee each year so even if there were 700 burns annually it’d still be less than a one-in-a-million event. In deciding how hot to serve their coffee in a particular year they have to strike a balance between convenience and joy to a billion satisfied customers and inconvenience and harm to a hundred hurt customers. A literally less than one-in-a-million chance of harm – even pretty serious harm – isn’t necessarily worth changing policy over, especially when we consider that some changes that reduce potential harm for some might increase harm for others. (For instance, making the top harder to remove reduces the potential for accidental spill but makes it more likely to splash everywhere when somebody – as in this case – deliberately removes the top.)

        The episode claims McDonald’s responded to the lawsuit by changing the temperature they sell coffee at – this is false. McDonald’s and other chains still sell coffee hot enough to seriously scald anyone who had that sort of accident. The only thing McDonald’s changed was to add some “warning: hot!” branding to the coffee cup design.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          Ah … the way I saw the story was, that MacDonald’s had been using cups that were not rated for such hot temperature.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            Nope. This case was a perfect storm worst-case scenario. An elderly woman (age 79) sitting in a car held the coffee cup between her thighs to get better purchase as she removed the top of the cup – intending to add her own cream – but in so doing managed to dump the coffee in her lap. She was wearing soft absorbent sweat pants which immediately wicked up the scalding-hot liquid, holding it against her skin and didn’t manage to jump out of the seat and pull down her pants fast enough to avoid serious injury.

            The burns were horrific. If she’d been younger, she would likely have been less burned and healed quicker. If she hadn’t deliberately removed the top or hadn’t done so while resting it in her lap or had been wearing polyester at the time, the injuries would have been less severe.

            The only thing wrong with the cup was that the “warning:hot” message was on the side of the cup, where people might not see it. After the lawsuit, Mcdonald’s added warnings to the top of the cup. So that’s an actual improvement.

            A misconception that Adam correctly corrected was the size of the settlement. The case made nationwide news because the initial punitive damages award was three million dollars. But those damages were substantially reduced on appeal (to $450k) and later there was a private settlement so we don’t even know what the final amount was. The first number was big enough to be newsworthy and “actually it turned out to be a lot less than that” is not newsworthy, so what we remember is more exciting than the truth.

    • Jordan D. says:

      It’s an interesting question.

      I enjoyed those segments while they were on the collegehumor channel, but there’s something about the segments since he moved that rub me the wrong way. I don’t think it can be left-signaling in my case- I enjoy, e.g., Last Week Tonight episodes even when John Oliver is blovating as hard as possible. My best guess is that it’s because the collegehumor segments had a consistent running subtext of “this guy is a huge dick” while the TruTV segments I’ve watched don’t seem to? I know that TV personalities who are a bit humorously self-critical takes a lot of sting out of things for me.

      Anyway, it’s been a while since I watched those segments but I recall thinking that his conclusions seem mostly (but not always entirely) accurate, but his sourcing for claims and especially for flavor for each story was uncritical- he only makes claims supported by a study or article, but some of those studies and articles are of questionable quality.

      I did appreciate the recent segment that showed up on my YouTube feed about the problems with solitary confinement, though. I don’t think that gets nearly enough play as an issue, and I’m willing to put up with being annoyed by Lord Smugulous if he wants to focus on stuff like that. Revelations about orange juice I’m less interested in.

      (Note – I have only watched the few segments that show up on my YouTube feed, so there could be loads of bad crap in episodes I’ve never seen.)

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      If it’s keeping to the CollegeHumour format (I’ve watched the videos online, haven’t seen the actual show) then it strikes me as a blue-tribe equivalent of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, which I enjoyed on an entertainment level but also noted suffered from the same “it’s better to be snappy and have clever emotional appeals than -accurate-” problem. Actually, looking at the episode list, I note that they’re covering some of the same topics.

      We’ll have to see if people are willing to fact-check “adam” the way they were Penn & Teller, and how the show responds.

    • Spookykou says:

      I just googled it and watched two clips on youtube.

      It seems terrible.

      The top comment on both videos was someone explaining why the video was wrong.

      Do with that what you will.

  12. ThirteenthLetter says:

    This question isn’t about Trump, though it might sound like it at first.

    So one of the big centers of people getting mad about Trump’s immigration order is how it impacts Iranian citizens. All these Iranian green card holders, dual citizens, prospective immigrants, et cetera. Everyone seems to know (or at least claims to know) some perfectly decent Iranian person who’s being caused grief by the ban on travel to Iran. And heck, I know some Iranians, they’re perfectly nice people.

    But here’s the thing: the Iranian government is the enemy of the United States. Now, one can argue it doesn’t have to be, and I agree. Some kind of geopolitical settlement between our two countries would be excellent realpolitik, and I was terribly disappointed that nothing of the sort could have been arranged in, say, 2003. But they are enemies, and a great deal of that is due to the intentional behavior of the Iranian government. Kidnapping US citizens, performing missile tests in violation of treaty, Death-to-America parades, harassing our ships, thinly disguised nuclear blackmail, destabilizing our allies and funding terror armies that attack them, on and on. All of which, furthermore, happened during a period when the American government was so desperate to be pals with Iran we shipped their government billions of dollars in unmarked bills and waved them through as they sent their proxy armies all over the Middle East; the United States has certainly given Iran grief in the past, but the last few years? Not so much.

    So, two questions.

    1) Why this expectation that even though the Iranian government is almost cartoonishly antagonistic to ours and our allies, and not just in word but in deed, we need to have 100% normal relations? Is it good, or bad, for that to be the case? For once that’s not a leading question on my part. I genuinely don’t understand it, so maybe I’m wrong. If there is some good practical reason, that would be one thing. If there is a claimed moral reason, though, it’s very hard to get on board with that.

    2) Is this not an excellent template for antagonists of the United States? You don’t need some totalitarian Juche state full of desperate, starving fanatics trapped inside by walls and guards. What you do need is a perfectly normal capitalist society with a carefully measured amount of civil rights, just enough “democracy” to fool the useful idiots overseas, and plenty of foreign travel. Sounds not that bad, as these things go! It’s just that, part of your perfectly normal capitalist government’s policy is to give the United States grief at every turn and destabilize any American ally you feel like. And if the American government ever calls you on it, there’ll be millions of Americans saying — perfectly accurately! — that their best friend is a guy with a green card from Blahistan and he’s the nicest dude you ever met, why are you racists giving Blahistan such a hard time over some dumb missiles or some meaningless threats to wipe out the Jews?

    • gbdub says:

      I don’t think this is crazy, and in fact it was one of my biggest annoyances with the Obama administration: they seemed much more concerned with getting friendly with e.g. Iran and Russia than staying friendly with e.g. Poland and Ukraine.

      Obama seemed so intent on claiming the cap-feather of “brokered a deal with Iran” that “brokering a deal with Iran that actually serves American interests” was maybe tertiary at best.

      Sure, it’s good to have good diplomatic relations, but a) it’s not always worth it and b) it takes two to tango.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      I think a big part of the reconciliation of this (with regards to immigration, not general foreign policy) is the disconnect between much of the populace of Iran and its government, which applies even more to expatriates. Knowing Iranian immigrants (well, non-immigrants technically) has taken my opinion on the Iranian regime from a general strong dislike to a more pointed hate. The Iranians I’ve met aren’t just nice people, they’re people who I couldn’t hope to match in their loathing for the Iranian government (unless they somehow come after my family too, I suppose).

      I think that when faced with this kind of geopolitical situation, two tactics help a lot (though they definitely don’t exclude other action):

      1. Fan the flames of internal dislike of the hostile government and promote their westernization (things like Tor can do wonders).

      2. Steal all the positively disposed smart people we can. This is basically a powerful long term economic sanction wrapped in a fluffy pink bow.

      The Iranians I know are here under F-1 visas to pursue PhDs, so I think they further tactic 2 for sure. I find it pretty easy to get pissed when their immigration status is messed with for no reason, just as they have little trouble getting pissed at Iran’s actions (and the US’s bumbling of the other side of the equation for that matter).

      • Aapje says:

        1. Fan the flames of internal dislike of the hostile government and promote their westernization (things like Tor can do wonders).

        2. Steal all the positively disposed smart people we can. This is basically a powerful long term economic sanction wrapped in a fluffy pink bow.

        That second goal undermines the first, to some extent.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Yeah, I’ve never understood why people consider brain drain to be a good thing. How exactly is East Shitholestan supposed to become not-a-shithole if everyone capable of making that happen flees to someplace that’s already not a shithole? I don’t think we should be glorifying those who abandon their less-well-educated countrymen to the whims of dictators.

          • Randy M says:

            There’s also a weird back and forth about whose interest exactly are to be advanced. It’s not that it’s wrong but it’s so clearly “not your real objection.”

          • John Schilling says:

            How exactly is East Shitholestan supposed to become not-a-shithole if everyone capable of making that happen flees to someplace that’s already not a shithole?

            The word you are looking for is “colonialism”. We’ll probably delegate that to the Chinese this time around, though.

          • caethan says:

            Here’s a study of the costs of brain drain in Kenyan doctors & nurses (from 2006): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1538589/

            The costs were calculated from the direct costs of training doctors & nurses, compounded to account for the opportunity cost of that investment in training vs. other investments. That means this is a serious underestimate of the total societal costs to brain drain. It just answers the question “If the Kenyan government hadn’t subsidized the education of these people who left soon after training, how much money could they have had instead?” No estimate of, most obviously, the costs of a lowered supply of health care.

            The estimated loss was ~$500M (US dollars).

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I think Aapje’s right to a certain extent, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that both prongs aren’t worth pursuing anyway for reasons I’ll get to below.

            There’s one hell of a catch, when it comes to supporting liberalism and democracy abroad: We’ve spent a lot of time discussing Russia’s apparent actions in the 2016 Presidential Election here in the US. There’s a lot of people with a general feeling that this further de-legitimizes Trump’s victory, and his administration, and makes him suspect.

            This is exactly what “Fan the flames of internal dislike of the hostile government and promote their westernization” will look like to everyone else. There are a rather limited number of overt diplomatic options open with most hostile regimes, especially without broad long-term international support. Which in turn using tools like the CIA and NSA. Even without arms-dealing or CIA support, ANY support, so much as a kind word or a positive reference to reform groups from official US channels, and it opens the door to painting those groups as “corrupt tools of our foreign enemies, bought and paid-for traitors to their country trying to sell us out to the Americans/Europe/etc”

            So even if you don’t like brain-drain, you cannot effectively pursue a policy of supporting liberalism and democracy without returning to at least some of the cold war tactics that the US has been castigated for by our left-wing politicians and academics. We can try to pick our allies with more care and foresight, and we can decide we’re not going to be sending arms or fomenting violent revolution, but at that point we’ve decided what the target country is, and we’re just haggling over the price.

            So, why do I think it’s worth doing anyway? Because it might pay off in the long term and because if nothing else it increases the pressure inside that nation. Increased pressure may convince more moderate and western-friendly people to GTFO and emigrate, thus actually reinforcing the prongs.

            @Gobbobobble

            A) If the brain drain is towards the United States, we benefit and grow stronger as a nation, while a hostile state grows weaker. This is self-evidently to our advantage. Turning that state into a friendly one would be better, but politics is the art of the possible.
            B) There’s a limited overlap between the people willing to emigrate and the people willing to fight the state for reforms. At worst, it may rob moderate reform movements of some of their voting base in countries where reform through vote is possible. However:
            C) I don’t believe, as a rule, that reform through vote is possible in most of the countries we’re discussing here. For evidence, I offer the last 40 years or so of Iranian history, the last 25 years or so of Russian history, The last 60 years or so of Chinese History, Egypt, Syria, Libya, and in fact most of the “Arab Spring” movements…

            The real force for popular form in authoritarian countries is physical force. That means that the government either needs to lose so much legitimacy that it cannot depend on the reliability of its military and internal security forces, it needs to be faced with opposition enjoying the backing of superior military force (e.g. protected from suppression by the threat of foreign peacekeeping intervention, able to subvert the loyalty of military units, sufficiently well-armed and organized to pose a legitimate paramilitary threat), or some combination of the two.

            The tipping point comes only when protesters’ demands MUST be met, because the powers that be can no longer rely upon being able to gun them down and imprison them, and if push came to shove they run a serious risk of losing everything.

          • John Colanduoni says:

            @Gobbobobble

            I don’t know about glorifying, but I don’t think I can blame them. If I had kids living in that kind of situation, I’d do everything I could to get them somewhere else.

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            I’m mostly thinking more in the terms of increasing access to “universal culture“. Public tools for punching holes in country-wide firewalls, NGO support etc. look fairly different from what Russia is accused of, and are (somewhat) harder to directly pin as foreign colonialist evil if they’re done by private citizens and organizations. I completely agree that CIA/NSA shenanigans have a ton of risk attached, though I’m not as opposed to these as rule as many on the left are (if we had anything to do with Stuxnet, I warmly applaud the NSA for that).

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            We already have decades of examples of what tools to make universal culture more available and NGO efforts can accomplish. Cf. Egypt, Iran, China, Russia….

            Since we’re going to be attacked for meddling in other country’s internal affairs regardless, and since we have decades of evidence that the sort of gentle, indirect measures you’re discussing are pretty much ineffective, my argument is more that we need to use ALL the tools at our disposal including espionage (although hopefully with a bit more restraint and foresight than during the cold war), or else we shouldn’t even bother. Don’t get the hopes of democratic reformers up when the only thing we’re going going to do when the hundreds or thousands of pro-democracy reformers are rounded up for re-education or summary execution is cluck our tongues and say “welp, we tried, but at least we kept our hands clean, such a shame” and then normalize trade relations with that country.

          • Tekhno says:

            A well executed version of this plan might work. In practice, it’s probably going to collapse down to “help fuck up people’s countries and then invite the angry pissed off citizens into ours”.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            John Colanduoni – “I’m mostly thinking more in the terms of increasing access to “universal culture“. Public tools for punching holes in country-wide firewalls, NGO support etc. look fairly different from what Russia is accused of, and are (somewhat) harder to directly pin as foreign colonialist evil if they’re done by private citizens and organizations.”

            Horror over the long-term results of this sort of meddling is a big part of the reason I voted Trump. It doesn’t seem to work, and it has pretty clearly gotten people killed for no good purpose.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Techno

            “In practice, it’s probably going to collapse down to “help fuck up people’s countries and then invite the angry pissed off citizens into ours”.”

            Or as I’ve seen it put, “invade the world, invite the world”, yes?

        • John Colanduoni says:

          For sure, but I’d also argue the second can assist the first to some extent. Not everybody is going to be a PhD student, even in the same family. I suspect the close relative of someone who has immigrated to the US is going to be less interested in burning it to the ground (well, if they parted on good terms at least).

  13. Anonymous Bosch says:

    Maybe there’s a 7-dimensional backgammon reason for berating the Australian PM, but I really don’t see it. I honestly think Trump is just being a dick for no reason.

    EDIT: The White House just said they would honor the refugee deal that Trump seemed to be bitching about. Then what the double fuck?!

    • suntzuanime says:

      I mean, he’s strongly expressing his displeasure about the refugee deal. That’s not no reason, it lays out the ground rules for the coming negotiations over it. It makes perfect sense under a plain meaning interpretation of what he says, I’m not sure why you’re confused.

      • Iain says:

        The “coming negotiations” that the embassy in Canberra confirmed wouldn’t be happening, after reconfirming with the State Department that Trump was going to honour the agreement after all?

        • suntzuanime says:

          Well, you don’t always get what you want. I understand Australia is also quite keen on not having refugees around, and they have the power of the status quo on their side. But the statement cited above sounds more like a commitment not to unilaterally violate the agreement, not a decision not to try to renegotiate it.

          • Iain says:

            In case it is unclear, by “the embassy in Canberra”, I mean the US embassy.

          • PedroS says:

            As I see it, renegotiating a “closed deal” or a completed agreement fundamentally changes the expectations of the actors. After all, the point of “closing a deal” is to get things sorted out and to be able to “move on” to other points. If “pacta non sunt servanda” , what are they good for?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Props for “7-dimensional backgammon”.

      I nominate “Many Worlds Go”

    • John Schilling says:

      I honestly think Trump is just being a dick for no reason.

      Not exactly unprecedented behavior for US Presidents, but yes. Canada still seems to be an ally, I trust that our alliance with Australia will still stand, and Trump’s reputation for being a dick is in absolutely no danger.

    • It’s so easy to create a post-hoc rationalization like… “Trump knew that if he let in in those ~1500 refugees without a fight, it would look really bad, so he purposefully leaked/publicized that he had a bad conversation, which makes it seem like he drove a hard bargain but eventually conceded.”

      Is that true? No clue — probably not. But it’s at least… noteworthy, or interesting, that even after this long we are still wondering “So… Is the guy a strategic mastermind or a lucky idiot?”.

      • Philosophisticat says:

        I think this is interesting only in what it says about (some of) us, not in what it says about Trump.

    • Deiseach says:

      From the little I’ve followed in the news, Australia (or rather its governments) have been getting a lot of heat over the conditions they are keeping refugees and asylum seekers in – they are holding them offshore, not letting them into Australia at all:

      Spanish infrastructure corporation Ferrovial, which is owned by one of the world’s richest families and the major stakeholder in Heathrow airport, has been warned by professors at Stanford Law School that its directors and employees risk prosecution under international law for supplying services to Australia’s camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

      “Based on our examination of the facts, it is possible that individual officers at Ferrovial might be exposed to criminal liability for crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute,” said Diala Shamas, a clinical supervising attorney at the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School.

      I can see why Trump might be annoyed at the deal that would fix the problem for Australia by dumping it in America’s lap. I can see why the Australian PM might like to make a big deal about this in order to divert attention away from the criticism over human rights’ violations and the rest of it:

      The deal was seen as a significant win for the Turnbull government. Australia has searched in vain for a sustainable plan for refugees. For more than three years Australia has consistently maintained it will never settle asylum seekers on the Australian mainland that arrive by boat, a position that has been popular with voters and is still supported by both main parties. But the policy has led to regular reports of human rights abuses, many of them documented in the Guardian’s publication of the Nauru files, and is bitterly condemned by refugees advocates inside and outside Australia.

      Trump may be handling things in an autocratic manner, but I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable to think that in this instance America is being asked to solve a problem for Australia, and why should they? Why doesn’t Australia treat its immigrants better?

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable to think that in this instance America is being asked to solve a problem for Australia, and why should they? Why doesn’t Australia treat its immigrants better?

        If Trump’s public position is that the US is not bound by deals concluded under prior administrations, and everything (even minor deals, such as this one) needs to be renegotiated through him because “l’etat c’est moi,” that is a problem.

        • Deiseach says:

          I do agree that you should stick to agreements made in good faith. I don’t think saying “I didn’t make this deal and frankly it’s a crappy deal” is necessarily unreasonable – after all, that is basically the position of the anti-Trump protestors with “Not My President”.

          • The treaty clause of the U.S. Constitution permits the President to negotiate treaties but requires Senate approval. I don’t know what the status of the agreement with Australia was, but surely the point of that requirement is that the President cannot bind future governments without such approval.

            The obvious case is the Paris agreement, which was not approved by the Senate and probably wouldn’t have been. Supporters are now objecting that for the U.S. to withdraw from it is violating a commitment. That would be a legitimate objection if Obama withdrew from it, but he isn’t president any more.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            It’s not about what’s permitted by the Constitution, it’s about what’s good practice for international relations. It has not generally been the practice of the US to burn down previous executive agreements as a matter of course and if that changes, such agreements will be much harder won.

          • cassander says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            Sure it has.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            My statement began “It has not generally been the practice….”

            Do better than one treaty from 2002.

          • cassander says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            fair enough

            Both of those were considered big, important treaties. The US doesn’t often withdraw from such, but it’s hardly unprecedented.

          • Matt M says:

            It has not generally been the practice of the US to burn down previous executive agreements as a matter of course and if that changes, such agreements will be much harder won.

            God forbid we have a dystopian future where it’s harder to get Australia to agree to let us take thousands of refugees they don’t want off their hands for them!

          • AnonEEmous says:

            my august opinion is this: fuck your norms, it was a terrible agreement. These refugees in particular were the ones Australia didn’t want to take, out of all the refugees they already took, which really tells you something about their criminal records and other existent flaws. Obama decided to take one for the team, the team being the West and progressivism generally, but Trump is America First. I say Worth.

  14. HeelBearCub says:

    So, recently Trump reaffirmed the Obama executive order prohibiting discrimination against gays by federal contractors. Score 1/2 point for Scott.

    It’s rumored, however, that he is going sign another executive order allowing discrimination against gays by any company that has a religious objection to hiring gay people.

    So, here is my query.

    Assuming this will be true, I think this should be contingent on then company needing to declare and make public their religious objection to hiring gays, and that they should do so before they (potentially) hire any gay people. Unless they have publically made this declaration, they have no right to retroactively make a religious exemption claim.

    Agree or disagree?

    • suntzuanime says:

      What goal are you hoping to achieve by creating this religious registry?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Fairness for the gay prospective/current employees, so they know that they will not be hired if they interview and will be fired if the out themselves.

        Also, as a preventative to convenient claims of religious exemptions. If the religious claim is sincere, they shouldn’t have an issue with making it public.

        • Jiro says:

          If the religious claim is sincere, they shouldn’t have an issue with making it public.

          The problem with this is that publicizing names leads to them randomly becoming targets for outrage.

          Of course, you may believe that publishing people’s names to get them targeted by outrage is fine, in which case ignore this. (Although said outrage can include extralegal methods as well as boycotts.)

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            As the names are things like “Hobby Lobby” and “Chick-Fil-Lay” their names get publicized as soon as the fireee, er, fired person gets the ACLU or similar publicizers to publicize it (if the media needs poking).

            The only real difference is that if Hobby Lobby had not previously announced their peculiar sub-group of Christianity, they would lose the court case, which in our timeline they won.

          • Jiro says:

            If you’re going to argue “they’d still get publicized by the court case”, you’re ignoring the scenario where nobody sues over the policy but the company is targeted for outrage anyway.

        • hls2003 says:

          Many or most such companies have mission statements, employee handbooks, Web sites, values declarations on the wall, welcome-to-our-company seminars, etc. that mention their religious, moral, and ethical positions. Those are the sorts of things that they usually point to as evidence of their sincere religious belief. It’s currently public, but hard to track down unless you’re bothering to go examine the mission blurbs of every business in the U.S., which nobody currently has the time to do (but when they do, you get Mystic Pizza mob nonsense). Why do you want a formal public registry, other than a convenient list of targets compiled in one place?

          As a practical matter, sincere belief is rarely questioned – because it is almost always true. Seriously, why would (e.g.) Chick-Fil-A bother bringing a shitstorm on themselves, and screwing themselves out of a potentially great employee pool, if they didn’t have some sort of core belief at issue?

          If a company’s prior affiliation is so weak that nobody could have discerned its existence, then it might be the vanishingly rare case where the government could challenge the belief’s sincerity. If the suddenly “kosher” butcher has been offering congealed blood-pops for the last 20 years, maybe that’d get tried. Otherwise it’s a non-starter.

          But also ask yourself this: why does it matter so much? Let’s say a company has no public history, but the owner just met Jesus on the road to Damascus (or Muhammad on the road to Mecca). Why are his beliefs any less valid than someone on the registry? More to the point, if the regulation being skirted is so damaging that you expect people to lie about their religious affiliation to get an exemption – not just isolated cases, but regularly enough to be a legit problem – then (1) maybe you need to rethink the wisdom of your regulation, and (2) why wouldn’t everyone just pre-register as a matter of course? It’s turtles all the way down. Then you’re back to the current test – judging sincerity, which RFRA already requires.

          • Evan Þ says:

            “If a company’s prior affiliation is so weak that nobody could have discerned its existence, then it might be the vanishingly rare case where the government could challenge the belief’s sincerity.”

            Like that one wedding chapel in Idaho which the government forced to allow same-sex marriages, because they hadn’t previously articulated any beliefs except “marriage is good, and God probably exists”?

          • hls2003 says:

            @Evan – Actually, religiously affiliated institutions usually have different arguments; if I’m not mistaken that chapel was exempted from the city’s ban because it was a religious organization. See, e.g., http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/idaho/idaho-gay-marriage-wedding-chapel-case-partially-dismissed/108528890

          • JulieK says:

            if the regulation being skirted is so damaging that you expect people to lie about their religious affiliation to get an exemption – not just isolated cases, but regularly enough to be a legit problem – then (1) maybe you need to rethink the wisdom of your regulation

            My position is that a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is a nice start, but what we really want is a “Freedom Restoration Act.” If a law is sufficiently non-crucial to allow religious exemptions, maybe we should just get rid of the law.

          • My position is that a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is a nice start, but what we really want is a “Freedom Restoration Act.”

            Agreed.

            I am routinely irritated at people arguing that they should be free to do things because their motives are religious when, in my view, those are things that they should be free to do for any reason or no reason. Part of the point of freedom is that you don’t have to justify to someone else the reasons for the choices you make.

          • JulieK says:

            Let’s say we agree that someone is a sincere adherent of Orthodox Judaism. Do we want to give a government official the responsibility for deciding what Jewish law does or doesn’t require?

          • Winter Shaker says:

            David Friedman:

            I am routinely irritated at people arguing that they should be free to do things because their motives are religious when, in my view, those are things that they should be free to do for any reason or no reason.

            As someone with a keen interest in drug policy reform, one of the more outstanding examples of that is this law, which allows you take peyote if and only if you are a certified Native American taking part in a traditional peyote ceremony.

          • No one thinks that the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right…at best it is an addendum to the right to religious freedom. And an untrammelled right to discriminate is inimical to freedom , as most people conceive of it. Putting the two together, you end up with a limited right to discriminate, or no right.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            No one thinks that the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right…at best it is an addendum to the right to religious freedom.

            Or freedom of association.

          • No one thinks that the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right…at best it is an addendum to the right to religious freedom.

            It is a consequence of the principle of voluntary association, which I, at least, do view as a crucial right.

            I very much object to the idea “you are entitled to decide who you associate with and how, but only if your motives are religious.”

          • Once again : freedom if association’ mrans the right to hold political and othet meetings.

          • neciampater says:

            I think the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right.

            It’s the only way to stop bigotry.

          • TenMinute says:

            freedom if association’ mrans the right to hold political and othet meetings.

            And that is meaningless without the right to “discriminate” and kick people out of your meeting. Otherwise you get this.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ hls2003
            Many or most such companies have mission statements, employee handbooks, Web sites, values declarations on the wall, welcome-to-our-company seminars, etc. that mention their religious, moral, and ethical positions. Those are the sorts of things that they usually point to as evidence of their sincere religious belief.

            To use something like that as evidence for the company’s pre-existing religious discrimination, without it outright saying “No gays need apply” — could keep a lot of lawyers and PR firms in business composing and attacking the necessary dogwhistles.

        • Deiseach says:

          Fairness for the gay prospective/current employees, so they know that they will not be hired if they interview and will be fired if they out themselves.

          Yeah, no, that’s not working great in Catholic schools where there have been cases of gay employees saying “I had no idea that getting married to my same-sex partner would be violating the terms of my contract of employment! They knew I was gay!”

          Yeah, and you knew the position of the Catholic Church on same-sex marriage. This is going to be an ongoing problem, especially since the ethos of Catholic education is that religion is not “a forty-five minute class we take once a week” but permeates all aspects of the life of the school and (to be hoped) the students. I foresee a lot more cases here, where it’ll either be “yes the government can tell you what to believe and how to believe it” or “yes there can be discrimination on religious grounds” and nobody will be happy.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Guess the Muslim Registry is back in the Overton Window.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          Before saying “I get to fire you because I’m a Whatever”, it’s reasonable to register well in advance that you’re a Whatever.

          I’d like to see fewer Undistributed Middles in ssc.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          What a facile claim.

          This is certainly not “every X is required to register”.

          Rather, it is saying that a butcher can’t retroactively claim to be kosher to avoid a fine for not complying with state rules about slaughter if they never claimed to be kosher in the first place.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Where’s the evidence that people retroactively claiming to be Christian in order to mistreat gay employees is actually a problem on a scale large enough to justify creating a big government-mandated register?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Who said anything about a government mandated register?

          • John Schilling says:

            Who said anything about a government mandated register?

            “I think this should be contingent on then company needing to declare and make public their religious objection”

            The sum total of such declarations, especially if indexed in a manner that makes them at all useful for the stated purpose, is a register in fact. And you are not arguing in good faith.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And you are not arguing in good faith.

            I never said anything at all about a registry or filing anything with the government. I simply said they needed to make a public statement of policy.

            Suntzu said something about a registry in asking me what the purpose of this was, which I perhaps should have objected to. I was trying to answer what I thought that the actual question was.

            I don’t understand what you think I have done that was in bad faith.

          • Jaskologist says:

            “The government requires you to do X to not get sued” is a government mandate. And the difference between a registry and a bunch of public declarations is a matter of bookkeeping, easily done in this day and age.

            We are worried about it for the same reason you would worry about a Muslim registry: we think it will be used as a blacklist/list of targets for harassment. And it’s not like that is a slippery slope argument or unfounded fear; it is something that already been done, by activists over this very issue.

            Do you believe it wouldn’t be used in such a manner?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Perhaps, as a compromise, we could make both religious business-owners and gays register, that way both sides can feel equally persecuted.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Have we needed a Jewish Butcher registry in order to allow kosher slaughtering?

          I think these things look very much the same. Do you really believe that the list you propose would not be used in order to target and terrorize those on it?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jaskologist:
            I said make public. This is something kosher butchers do. Declare publicly that they are are kosher. IIRC, they actually do a lot more, including submitting to inspections for certification as kosher.

            In Hobby Lobby, I believe that SCOTUS held that we aren’t allowed to question the sincerity of the religious conviction being declared. Consider a) no need for prior public declaration of the professed religious conviction, b) no ability to question, for any reason, if after the fact declarations are sincere.

            A and B look like a fully generalizable defense to any accusation of discrimination that cannot be challenged in court. In essence, the new executive order effectively nullifies the Obama executive order (and goes much further).

          • Salem says:

            In Hobby Lobby, I believe that SCOTUS held that we aren’t allowed to question the sincerity of the religious conviction being declared.

            No, that’s not right at all. Under RFRA (and most state equivalents), a religious conviction has to be sincerely held to qualify. A sudden, suspiciously convenient declaration of a never-before professed conviction would be (rebuttable) evidence of insincerity.

            What SCOTUS actually said in Hobby Lobby was that they weren’t judging one way or another the sincerity of the conviction in that case, because the government didn’t raise the issue. As a practical matter, the government almost never questions sincerity, because it’s so hard to prove, and it puts them on the wrong foot.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Salem:
            So, my belief is perhaps overstated vis-a-vis the facts of the case.

            Stanford Law Review agrees with you.

            Whereas Jeffrey Toobin (and others I am sure) agree with Ginsberg’s dissent.

            I would like to note, however, that the minimalist interpretation of the Hobby Lobby case already basically agrees with my contention that we need to have clear evidence before hand that the religious contention is sincerely held.

            This is probably different than a requirement that evidence will have been public though. It just strikes me that, if I am gay, and you have a religious objection to it, this should be information I am entitled to if you get to use that as a shield to protect you if you treat me unfairly because of it.

          • Evan Þ says:

            “IIRC, they actually do a lot more, including submitting to inspections for certification as kosher.”

            Inspections by private groups, not the government.

            And if a counterfactually-powerful American Gang of Nazis asked one of those groups, “Hey, can we have a list of all the kosher butchers in town so we can (wink wink) talk to them,” I wouldn’t be surprised if they were refused. In a world which really does contain powerful gangs of leftists, I don’t want such lists to be readily accessible.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Inspections by private groups, not the government.

            Who said anything about the government doing any inspection?

          • Evan Þ says:

            The registry’s by a private group, as well. There’s a difference.

          • Deiseach says:

            Who said anything about the government doing any inspection?

            In the case of kosher (and halal) butchering, animal rights groups claim that they inflict unnecessary suffering (on top of the usual suffering of slaughterhouses) on animals, as the method of ritually-sanctioned slaughter forbids stunning.

            It wouldn’t be beyond the bounds to imagine such a group kicking up enough of a storm via social media publicity (private inspections would be a god-send in this instance – “yeah, they get a bunch of their like-minded freaks to certify that the animals are not suffering, and we’re supposed to just take their word for it!”) that the government might take over, or send in additionally, civil inspectors.

            You can develop the analogy for yourself.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          That was my first instinct as well, but re-reading, HBC is talking about a list of companies, which is voluntary, and only necessary if you plan on claiming a religious exemption to anti-discrimination laws.

          • Montfort says:

            In fact, HBC is not even proposing a list, just that said companies put it on their website somewhere, and in some company policy statements so they can point to it later in court and say “See? We warned you ahead of time.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, more so that people who might be discriminated against (now legally) are actually warned.

            Imagine you go to work for the “Chelsea Handymen Umpires and Refinery Company”. In your interview, no one asks about your sexual orientation. There is no notification that they discriminate against gays.

            Two years later you get married (to a same sex partner) and they won’t let you add your spouse to your insurance policy and site their (new found) religious objection to gay marriage.

          • Deiseach says:

            Imagine you go to work for the “Chelsea Handymen Umpires and Refinery Company”…Two years later you get married (to a same sex partner) and they won’t let you add your spouse to your insurance policy and site their (new found) religious objection to gay marriage

            HeelBearCub, then if it is “newly-found” and hence to be doubted as the real reason behind their discrimination, as you seem to be implying, then what is the real reason?

            If they interviewed you, hired you and were happy for you to bring your partner along to Christmas parties etc. but then when you got married, this happened – what were they doing? Either it’s purely to save money, in which case the motive is not homophobia, or they were homophobic all along but never showed it despite knowing you were a gay employee. Because if they’re actively homophobic, then presumably you will pick up on that in your two years working there.

            I agree this is going to need to be clarified so everyone knows where they stand, but so far the impression I’m getting from your comments – and if this is not what you mean, please correct me – is that you are assuming plenty of places want to actively discriminate because they’re owned, founded or run by homophobes but under present legislation they can’t do that, but with the religious exemption they’ll all jump on that as an excuse? And so nobody is really religiously motivated unless they’re an actual church, this should be presumed to be a cloak for bigotry if used by anyone?

          • Deiseach says:

            only necessary if you plan on claiming a religious exemption to anti-discrimination laws

            How do you know what legislation will be passed in future that you will need to stake your religious identity claim now? That’s the other side of the registry idea: if you are going to claim religious exemption from (say) laws passed guaranteeing that every employee has the right to a bacon sandwich from the company canteen (no discrimination about anyone’s food choices permitted on dietary or cultural grounds), you must register now in advance of this law being passed in five years’ time.

          • Corey says:

            @Deiseach: It needn’t be ex post facto, RFRA is already the law. I’m not sure why, if you wanted to keep your workforce gay-free, you wouldn’t hang up a “No Gays Need Apply” sign. (Yeah, it’s an invitation to outrage from the All-Powerful Left(tm), but if that’s too big a price to obey direct divine commands, what kind of religion is it?) It seems a lot of work to try to weed out the gays after hiring.
            ETA: this would of course be incompatible with “Equal Opportunity Employer” – that’s where the government comes in, with some regulatory definition of who you can exclude while advertising you’re an EOE.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Yeah, it’s an invitation to outrage from the All-Powerful Left(tm), but if that’s too big a price to obey direct divine commands, what kind of religion is it?

            I’m not aware of any religion which explicitly forbids its adherents from employing homosexuals; are you?

          • Matt M says:

            “And so nobody is really religiously motivated unless they’re an actual church, this should be presumed to be a cloak for bigotry if used by anyone?”

            I think this is an intentional tactic used by the cultural left for the express purpose of avoiding the appearance that they have anything against any particular religion X (usually Christianity, but sometimes Judaism and rarely Islam as well).

            Making the case for the state forcing people to violate their own religious beliefs is often a tough one. But if you establish that said people don’t really hold the belief, it no longer becomes tough. Nobody has any respect for hypocrites and forcing them to kneel and do bidding is reasonably popular. There are enough biblical contradictions and a general lack of religious knowledge among the American populace that this is an easier hill to climb.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ve read about people who at least said they weren’t prejudiced against homosexuals, but considered homosexual marriage to be a step too far.

          • TenMinute says:

            avoiding the appearance that they have anything against any particular religio

            Until it’s too late, yes. “If you like your god, you can keep your god”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:

            were happy for you to bring your partner along to Christmas parties etc.

            Who said that they were? You didn’t bring anyone along and they didn’t officially know your sexual orientation.

            Case 1: It turns out that the company is actually just regular old biased against homosexuals, not actually motivated by the religious beliefs. They discriminate against you and you engage in legal action. You have what would be a lock-solid case.

            Except that now they claim their motivation is actually religious. That all the anti-gay sentiment in HR and the CEO and your managers is really actually religious.

            Well, if they can do that, in what way is their any actual protection against non-religious discrimination?

            Case 2: Turns out the long time CEO and board are deeply religious. HR goes to add your spouse and is countermanded by the executives because they have true religious objections.

            Well, now you have still suffered a harm, you either have to give up your job or give up equal treatment by your company. Or, you have no choice in the matter, as they may even fire you if they object to employing you at all. They may object to even giving you a reference on grounds of morality.

            The onus should been on the company to notify you that you would not be entitled to the treatment you would receive at a non-religious company. If the company wants a special exemption from the law in regards equal treatment, it also has a special duty to their prospective and new employees.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The original Mr. X:

            I’m not aware of any religion which explicitly forbids its adherents from employing homosexuals; are you?

            Doesn’t matter. Hobby Lobby definitely establishes that if you say you won’t employ homosexuals on religious grounds, the court cannot find that your belief is not sincere.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Doesn’t matter. Hobby Lobby definitely establishes that if you say you won’t employ homosexuals on religious grounds, the court cannot find that your belief is not sincere.

            Which part of the decision says that?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Case 1: It turns out that the company is actually just regular old biased against homosexuals, not actually motivated by the religious beliefs. They discriminate against you and you engage in legal action. You have what would be a lock-solid case.

            Except that now they claim their motivation is actually religious. That all the anti-gay sentiment in HR and the CEO and your managers is really actually religious.

            Case 2: Turns out the long time CEO and board are deeply religious. HR goes to add your spouse and is countermanded by the executives because they have true religious objections.

            Perhaps you should try proving that this sort of thing actually happens a non-trivial amount of time before asking us to accept your proffered solution.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            Which case don’t you think occurs? (It clearly must be one of them, since otherwise asking for examples would just be annoying pedantry.) You should be able to find plenty examples of people being fired for homosexuality with Google (if you can’t, here are some (I don’t vouch for the validity of all of them)).

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Which case don’t you think occurs? (It clearly must be one of them, since otherwise asking for examples would just be annoying pedantry.)

            I’m sure they do occur; I’m considerably less sure that they occur often enough to justify the sort of government interference HBC is advocating.

            ETA: And I wasn’t asking for examples, annoyingly pedantic or otherwise. I was asking for statistics.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            government interference

            Seriously, what government interference? Why do people keep bringing up registries and government lists and government interference?

            I mean, the government is “interfering” in the sense of saying that discrimination against gays is not allowed. In that sense the interference is baked in. Now we are just talking about requirements for claiming an exemption to that rule.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Seriously, what government interference? Why do people keep bringing up registries and government lists and government interference?

            Who do you expect is going to enforce this “You can’t claim religious exemptions unless you declared your religion beforehand” rule if not the government?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The original Mr. X:
            No one “enforces” it.

            It’s simply that a claim a of religious defense against charges of discrimination will be rejected.

          • Jiro says:

            That’s like saying “nobody enforces laws against bank robbery. It’s just that if you rob a bank, you don’t get a defense against the government putting you in jail.”

            A law saying that if you don’t do X you can’t defend yourself against punishment is just another way of phrasing a law saying that you are punished for not doing X.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Let’s assume that it is not allowed to rob banks.

            Let’s further assume that their is an exception, that it is allowed to rob banks if you worship Laverna, the Roman god of thieves.

            Can you successfully punish anyone for bank robbery if they can claim after they are caught that they have been secretly been worshipping Laverna?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            If there’s any doubt that somebody actually follows a given religion, there will usually be evidence they could present — members of their congregation who can confirm that they’re regular worshippers, copies of the religion’s holy books in their possession, stuff like that. I haven’t come across any cases where somebody claimed to be religious in a discrimination lawsuit and there was no evidence to back it up, and the fact that you haven’t presented any examples makes me think that you haven’t come across such a case, either. Frankly, this entire sub-thread looks less like an attempt to solve a problem, and more like wanting to stick one to the outgroup.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Original Mr. X:
            As others have pointed out, being religious does not hold a guarantee that you wish to discriminate against homosexuals. In addition, sincere religion can be a strictly private matter that involves only prayer and nothing else.

            I’m not trying to “stick it to the outgroup”, I’m exploring the idea of how principled exemptions can exist without simply nullifying the law altogether. I’m also exploring the idea of what responsibility the exemptee has to inform someone that they will discriminate against them.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            As others have pointed out, being religious does not hold a guarantee that you wish to discriminate against homosexuals. In addition, sincere religion can be a strictly private matter that involves only prayer and nothing else.

            So what’s your actual problem here? Do you think that gay people might unknowingly start working for religious conservatives, or that non-religious homophobes might pretend to be religious to get out of lawsuits? Some of your comments seem to imply the one thing, others seem to imply the other.

            I’m not trying to “stick it to the outgroup”, I’m exploring the idea of how principled exemptions can exist without simply nullifying the law altogether. I’m also exploring the idea of what responsibility the exemptee has to inform someone that they will discriminate against them.

            You’re coming up with an onerous hoop people have to jump through (and, yes, I do consider having to put your name out there for angry mobs to target you to be onerous) to solve a problem which you’ve made no effort whatsoever to prove even exists in the first place. This isn’t the sort of proposal which is generally made in good faith.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            On the accusation of bad faith, I could not disagree more.

            Look, I get your side of it. But his side is that people should at least know if they’re at risk of being discriminated against. It’s not bad faith at all.

          • John Schilling says:

            Creating a registry of e.g. bigoted Christians is a possible way of accomplishing that goal. It will also be used in the service of other, less laudable goals, so we at least need to discuss whether this is the right way to go about the primary goal.

            Denying that a registry is a registry, because the process of compiling the final list will be (predictably, inevitably) outsourced to enthusiastic bigots on the other side, is where the bad faith comes in. And legitimately leads to a suspicion that the actual motive for the registry is one of the less laudable ones.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ The original Mr. X
            If there’s any doubt that somebody actually follows a given religion, there will usually be evidence they could present — members of their congregation who can confirm that they’re regular worshippers, copies of the religion’s holy books in their p ossession, stuff like that.
            I haven’t come across any cases where somebody claimed to be religious in a discrimination lawsuit and there was no evidence to back it up,

            Yes, most defendants would have no trouble producing such evidence, which suffices in other cases, doesn’t it? But a worried employer might do well to have a letter, written long previously, on file in his lawyer’s office or some such safe place, to give to a court if and when extra evidence became necessary. No need to have anything on file with the government, or on any ‘list’.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @houseboatonstyxb:

            But a worried employer might do well to have a letter, written long previously, on file in his lawyer’s office or some such safe place, to give to a court if and when extra evidence became necessary.

            And would such a letter, submitted to the lawyer, be sufficient to protect one from lawsuit? Could it be wholly secret from everyone but the lawyer and certain executives?

            If that was sufficient, would it not be prudent for every company to file such a letter?

            And again, at no time have I suggested filing anything with the government or that any list be maintained.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC
            And would such a letter, submitted to the lawyer, be sufficient to protect one from lawsuit?

            From someone filing a lawsuit, probably not.* From losing use of the religious exemption, perhaps, if the letter turned out to be a key piece of evidence that the defendant’s claim of religious scruples was sincere.

            Could it be wholly secret from everyone but the lawyer and certain executives?

            Before it’s shown to the judge/prosecution? That would depend on the trustworthyness of the lawyer you chose, and the certain executives you chose to work with, and the staff of your company. (Of course, a lawyer’s service is not the only way you could deal with this. The point is just to prove that the letter was written well before the alleged abuse took place. Maybe get it notarized and hide it under your pillow?)

            After it’s known that you are planning to claim the religeous scruples exemption, your religious privacy is already blown, letter or no letter.

            * IANAL, but depending on the rules of the court, you might luck out with a win/win. In the pre-trial negotiations, if you can convince the prosecution side that they would lose the case, they might not proceed with the case — and not release the contents of the letter either.

            And again, at no time have I suggested filing anything with the government or that any list be maintained.

            Right. It wasn’t either of us who Rorschached an inkblot into a mountain.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @houseboatonstyxb:

            From someone filing a lawsuit, probably not.

            If it does not prevent you from losing a lawsuit, then I can’t see how it is actually fully addressing the proposed executive order, which seems designed to give blanket immunity to the religious against claims of discrimination.

            I note that you did not respond to this:

            If that was sufficient, would it not be prudent for every company to file such a letter?

            That is really the core of what I am trying to get at. The idea that, absent some fence, many will take steps to make sure the religious exemption applies to them, even though they don’t actually have any actual religious motivation.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HeelBearCub
            [T]hat people who might be discriminated against (now legally) are actually warned.

            Imagine you go to work for the “Chelsea Handymen Umpires and Refinery Company”. In your interview, no one asks about your sexual orientation. There is no notification that they discriminate against gays.

            Two years later you get married (to a same sex partner) and they won’t let you add your spouse to your insurance policy and site their (new found) religious objection to gay marriage.

            That’s the other side of the problem. The best thing for both sides is, if the gay person avoids involvement with the discriminating company in the first place — even the time and expense of traveling to their site for interview.

            One approach might be for the gay person to make the first move, by inquiring in zis first letter about the company’s gay policy. “As a gay man, I want to know [….]” If the company admits discrimination (perhaps by dogwhistle), or does not reply, the applicant crosses them off, good riddance. If the company replies with a promise of tolerance — then the applicant has a promise to hold them to, and evidence against any claim of religious objection at that date

            If, throughout the interviewing and hiring process, the applicant and the company are both hiding in their respective closets … I hope it turns out sitcom rather than tragedy.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC
            I can’t see how it is actually fully addressing the proposed executive order [….]

            I’m sorry, but that level is way over my head. As is the concern about the letter thing being abused and becoming a Leprecaun’s Ribbon; the judges of 2040 will have to deal with that.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Wake me up if it actually happens.

      Even then, pretty sure the EEOC goes back to Congress, not the executive branch, and that the precedents there are pretty clear.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Meaning the executive order?

        What odds will you give me?

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        None. I’m working on figuring out how to get a mattress that doesn’t stab broken springs through and still make rent, and “I’ve heard a rumour” isn’t enough information on which to make a forecast.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Smart move, because it has already been drafted.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Well, I wasn’t joking about the mattress. Betting is for times when you have the money to lose, or can dictate the odds (as you were doing).

          If nothing else, this year seems like it’s going to be a good one for new and exciting lawsuits and legal challenges.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, it sucks to have a shitty mattress. I wish you good fortune?

            To be fair, I wasn’t really offering to bet. I was just offering a sideways dismissal of your sideways dismissal.

            The fact that I would have been unwilling to leverage an asymmetry of information probably makes me someone who shouldn’t bet.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I’ve become exceedingly skeptical of “I’ve heard a rumour that”, unless it comes sourced and the source is somewhat credible.

            I do find it somewhat interesting that he appears to be moving to please that part of the base, or elements within his administration so early.

            As I said, if it goes into effect, I doubt there will be be much effect for the same reason my work week has been cut to 40 hours a week despite the injunction blocking the Dept. of Labor FLSA Rules change last December.

            EEOC judgements smart, especially for small to medium businesses. And the ones who will be bigoted in their hiring and HR practices will be the ones who were going to be bigoted in their hiring and HR practices regardless. I’m basing that assessment on the EEOC and HR Law newsletter I get at work.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t believe EEOC applies ? If EEOC already applied, Obama’s executive order would have had no effect.

          • suntzuanime says:

            The supposed leaked draft doesn’t seem to be sourced, though.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I don’t believe EEOC applies ? If EEOC already applied, Obama’s executive order would have had no effect.

            I’ll have to check, but didn’t the Obama EO apply specifically to the federal government hiring? EEOC has considered sexual orientation covered under Title VII since sometime in 2011. Gender identity I’m not so sure on, but there’s an example from 2012.

            It seems as if those rulings are parallel to the Obama and earlier EOs.

            Sometimes I think our combined body of statutes and regulations and precedents is in DIRE need of Version Control…

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            “Sourced.”

            Heh, I remember the olden days, too. News that was sourced… good times.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      It’s rumored, however, that he is going sign another executive order allowing discrimination against gays by any company that has a religious objection to hiring gay people.

      Where did you hear that rumor, and is it from the same sources that insisted such a thing was pending on the day the White House affirmed Obama’s nondiscrimination order?

      Mind you, this administration is so random that anything could happen, so I wouldn’t be totally shocked if such a thing did come to pass. But at least right this second the burden of proof is on the people who insist President Wrapped-Himself-In-The-Rainbow-Flag hates teh gays.

    • What the –bleep– has actually happened with this?

      Word of mouth where I am is less then useless on these topics. And my google-fu skills have waned for now.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/01/trumps-support-of-gays-is-right-out-of-the-european-far-right-playbook/?utm_term=.ff7a85a2664e

      Is this it?

    • Spookykou says:

      This is interesting if true, the EO as you describe it seems to fit in nicely with what I have heard of the Supreme Court nominee’s feeling on this issue, which slightly increases it’s likelihood of being true in my mind.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      I think a better way to do this than a registry is require it on the application, sort of like how federal contractors have to say things/ask certain questions on their applications.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Why do people keep thinking I said anything about a registry?

        “Declare and make public” is not a registry.

        • Matt M says:

          I feel like this is a meaningless semantics issue.

          If the government requires every business to state a fact of interest and makes the answers available to the public, a database will come into existence. Whether some federal bureaucrat creates and maintains it or whether George Soros pays some intern to do it doesn’t really affect the end result in any meaningful way…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            We are talking about what requirements there are to claim that what would otherwise be illegal discrimination is not, on the grounds of religious freedom. I’m assuming that is what you mean by “fact of interest”?

            Let’s consider the possibilities:
            a) There is no requirement for any evidence that a companies claim be substantiated.
            b) The evidence can be completely unknown to the public.
            c) The evidence must be knowable by the public.

            Which of these is sufficient in your minds?

            a database will come into existence

            Such databases already exist, but they aren’t the databases you are looking for.

            George Soros

            People objected when Moon attributed everything to the Koch’s machinations. Please don’t do this.

          • Matt M says:

            A is sufficient in my mind, but I don’t really care to debate it. I feel like the arguments for and against have already been covered sufficiently here.

            My only objection is to your idea that you “aren’t calling for a registry.” Having the state collect and make public an official declaration of religiosity will result in a registry being created.

            The one that “already exists” which you linked to seems to be a small collection of voluntary response surveys with no clear distinction of exactly what being on the list entails.

            If we have a comprehensive and publicly accessible list of which companies have declared sincere faith X and we know that sincere faith X allows them to perform widely condemned action Y, then somebody is going to make a database of who these people are for the purposes of attacking them.

            You are saying “Well I’m not calling for that to happen” and I am saying that what you are calling for makes that inevitable.

            Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe action Y really is evil. Maybe some people will claim X but not really be sincere. I don’t really care, that is not what I am arguing at this time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:

            Having the state collect

            Who said anything about the state collecting anything?

            And (a) simply means that any requirements not to discriminate are rendered null and void. It eliminates all actionable claims of discrimination.

          • Jiro says:

            If there was a law saying that gay people had to publically admit to being gay or else they would lose in any discrimination lawsuit, would you accept that?

            What about a law (in some medieval Europe type place) saying that the Church is permitted to hang Jews fore heresy unless they publically declare that they reject Jesus?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            I find it hard to believe that someone claiming to be discriminated against even though their employer did not know they were gay would actually succeed.

            So, yes, I think that someone needs to establish that they were known to be gay in order for their claim to succeed.

            As to other, I object to anyone being hanged for being Jewish, period. Whereas, in this case, it is claimed that it still OK to claim that one has been discriminated against for being gay (but that religion is an acceptable ground to engage in such discrimination).

          • Jiro says:

            If someone’s employer wants to discriminate against him for being gay, he probably is known as gay to his employer, but that doesn’t mean he’s known as gay to millions of people on the Internet so that he can be harassed by 4chan. And it’s impractical for 4chan to send agents around all over the country to find out which employees are known to be gay, so even though in theory they can find out, they won’t.

            All you’re doing is suggesting the same thing, except that instead of the gay person getting his orientation broadcasted to millions of people, the employer gets his policies broadcasted to millions of people. It still has the effect of making harassment (of the employer, in this case) much easier because the harassers don’t need to go around to every employer in the country one at a time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            I’ve been pondering this point. You would think I would have had a ready answer, as it’s an obvious counter point.

            The most powerful counter argument I think I can make is simply that being gay is not wrong, but discriminating against gay people is wrong. Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong. We are making a religious exemption for this, while still regarding it as wrong.

            Now, perhaps you want to make the counter argument that the religious people do think that being gay is wrong and discriminating against them is right. However the law disagrees with them. If the law accepts this argument, then law still regards being gay as somehow wrong.

            You may object that “right” and “wrong” aren’t clear enough in meaning, and have no force in law. You could substitute moral and immoral, which also have no particular force but are perhaps more clearly understood. I’m not sure that makes it any clearer, though.

            I also want to make a second argument having to do with asymmetry of information. If a Jewish person applied to be a taste-tester at a factory which produced mostly pork products, it would be unfair for them to win a suit for discrimination when they were let go for not wishing to consume pork. If they applied to be an accountant at a technology company, however, they certainly could sue if they were let go for not consuming pork at the annual holiday party.

            Assuming that roughly no one thinks being Jewish is wrong, but we also allow those who worship Moccus, the boar god of the Celts to claim an exemption to firing people for being adherent Jews, it’s incumbent on the employer to make clear that not being Jewish is a pre-condition to employment. Otherwise they are doing harm to the employee, rather than simply making clear that they will not employ them.

            And this is very much a “heads I win/tails you lose” situation. If the worship of Moccus is so wide spread that any Jew should reasonably expect a good chance that they shall be fired if they reveal their Jewishness, now we are in a situation of Jews being de facto unequal under the law. It’s not an exception, but the common way of things.

          • John Schilling says:

            Making false accusations of rape is also wrong, and frequent and very damaging. So maybe we want to protect people against this by having every woman who ever anticipates asking a court to recognize a particular exemption from the general presumption that nonviolent sex is consensual (i.e. to actually accuse someone of rape) predeclare the circumstances under which she would be willing to engage on consensual intercourse? After social drinking Y/N, after binge drinking Y/N, on a first date Y/N, in public Y/M, poly Y/N, etc. Linked to all of her social media accounts.

            Understand, nobody would be required to make such a declaration under this proposal; the courts just wouldn’t recognize their claim to nonconsent if they don’t, out of concern for the rights of the accused. And the government wouldn’t compile a centralized list, though of course there will have to be standards of what must be disclosed and where if one is to claim legal protection for their right to deny consent.

            This could not possibly be objectionable to HBC, and it would be unfair to suggest that the inevitable ranked and indexed lists compiled by e.g. every fraternity and sorority on every college campus in the land would constitute Registries of Sluts and/or Prudes. Right?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The most powerful counter argument I think I can make is simply that being gay is not wrong, but discriminating against gay people is wrong. Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong. We are making a religious exemption for this, while still regarding it as wrong.
            Now, perhaps you want to make the counter argument that the religious people do think that being gay is wrong and discriminating against them is right. However the law disagrees with them. If the law accepts this argument, then law still regards being gay as somehow wrong.
            You may object that “right” and “wrong” aren’t clear enough in meaning, and have no force in law. You could substitute moral and immoral, which also have no particular force but are perhaps more clearly understood. I’m not sure that makes it any clearer, though.

            Or you could just say that the government shouldn’t regulate morality, and that just because something’s wrong doesn’t mean it should be illegal. I gather that used to be quite a common position on the left, until they started winning the culture war.

          • Jiro says:

            The most powerful counter argument I think I can make is simply that being gay is not wrong, but discriminating against gay people is wrong. Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong.

            But my point is that requiring registration will make harassment practical instead of impractical.

            In order for your argument to be a good response to that, you would have to believe not only that discrimination is wrong, but also that that means it is okay to harass people for discriminating, in the Internet mob sort of way.

            Do you believe that it is okay to harass people for discriminating?

            (If your answer is “it is okay to harass them in some ways but not others,” you then need to argue that your plan will result in only the kinds of harassment you consider okay. I doubt you can do that.)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It strikes me that a good way to solve the problem of people accidentally taking up employment with religious conservatives — if that is indeed the problem we’re trying to solve — would be to include a clause on the employment contract, clarifying whether or not same-sex partners are counted as spouses for the purpose of receiving benefits. That way people would know what they can expect, and the biggest hardship they’d have to suffer would be wasting time in applying for a job which they decide not to accept after all. It would also seem much less open to abuse than making business owners publically declare their position on a controversial political issue would.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            How does requiring registration make harassment practical rather than impractical?

            Right now any organization that fires gays on religious grounds runs the risk of being spotlighted and dogpiled. If all such organizations registered tomorrow, there would be far too many targets to effectively spotlight. strength in numbers.

            I’ve been following this conversation off and on, and the assumption of bad faith seems odd to me.

            @HeelBearCub – Are you comfortable living in a world that has people who strongly disapprove of homosexual behavior, or do you feel in the abstract that such beliefs should be eliminated if possible? It seems pretty clear to me that the “intolerant of intolerance” idea doesn’t lead to a stable equilibrium, whereas defining hard rules to control and minimize nastiness without seeking to eliminate it completely is a much more stable idea. It sounds like what you’re proposing is based on the latter idea, and it seems like a reasonable idea to me.

            @John Schilling – Organizations have orders of magnitude less expectation of privacy than individuals’ sex lives. I don’t think your example is a good one.

          • Iain says:

            The original Mr. X’s compromise seems to me like a good one.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “Or you could just say that the government shouldn’t regulate morality”

            What does “morality” mean in this context?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            would be to include a clause on the employment contract, clarifying whether or not same-sex partners are counted as spouses for the purpose of receiving benefits.

            I agree with the part of this where discrimination that they are claiming the right to is specified, and is specified proactively, not as a reaction. This satisfies my objection that this policy could be used to nullify any general discrimination claim.

            I have objection to the part where it applies only to the employment contract.

            First, I’m not sure that employment contracts are universal (although they may be near so, and I suppose simply requiring a contract in this case satisfies the objection). Second, employment contracts usually don’t allow you to agree to signing away fundamental rights, so I think it runs afoul of certain expectations about common contracts. Third, to the extent this allows hiding the clause in dense 8-point font it doesn’t satisfy my objective that the prospective employee actually knows what the organization is claiming. Fourth, if this company does not wish to employ me, I want to know before I accept an offer and even before I interview with them.

            As a further point, I want to know this even as someone who is not gay. If an organization choose not to employ homosexuals, or fornicators, or Jews, etc. (due to religious objections), I would like to know this as I do not want to work there even though I am a married, straight, nominal Christian (really an atheist, but let’s pretend).

            This is not because I want to harass them, but because I do not want to work somewhere that denies people their civil rights, no matter how sincere their religious objection.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Third, to the extent this allows hiding the clause in dense 8-point font it doesn’t satisfy my objective that the prospective employee actually knows what the organization is claiming.

            If an employee doesn’t bother to read the contract before signing it, that’s their fault.

            Fourth, if this company does not wish to employ me, I want to know before I accept an offer and even before I interview with them.

            Yeah but if I had a choice between a society in which people sometimes interview for jobs they later decide not to take and a society in which people holding a mainstream political view are required to broadcast their names for mob harassment, I’ll go for the first any day.

            This is not because I want to harass them,

            Dear me, not this again. Look, nobody’s saying that you, personally, want to harass people. What we’re saying is that you’re advocating a policy which will, in all likelihood, make harassment easier and hence more likely. So far you haven’t even bothered to offer a response other than “Yeah, perhaps I should have an answer to that point, but I don’t.”

            I do not want to work somewhere that denies people their civil rights, no matter how sincere their religious objection.

            And yet you’re quite happy to advocate a policy which would impede others in the pursuit of their rights (to freedom of religion and association).

          • Jiro says:

            Right now any organization that fires gays on religious grounds runs the risk of being spotlighted and dogpiled. If all such organizations registered tomorrow, there would be far too many targets to effectively spotlight. strength in numbers.

            Having a big list just means the mob would start picking random targets from the registration list to harass, not that there would be no harassment.

            Also, some sorts of “spotlighting” will scale up and could be used against everyone on the list. For instance, it wouldn’t be hard to no-platform everyone on a list of a hundred thousand names.

          • Fourth, if this company does not wish to employ me, I want to know before I accept an offer and even before I interview with them.

            The obvious solution to that problem is to tell them you are gay when you are applying.

            I faced a somewhat similar issue when setting up my web page. Did I want potential employers looking for information on me to know that I was an anarchist or that I spent a lot of time and effort on a hobby that had nothing much to do with my work?

            My conclusion was that if a potential employer strongly objected to hiring someone with those characteristics, it was probably not where I wanted to end up. So I put up the web page as one site with my academic, political, and hobby (medieval recreation) activities and with my name on it.

          • Jiro says:

            I want to end up at an employer that will enable me to eat and pay rent.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            The fact that some aren’t in a position to pick and choose is one of the reasons why I, as a labor asset with more options, would choose to deny my labor to an employer with those policies.

            It’s a small amount of leverage that I would exert, but it’s not nothing.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong.

            Got it: I lose my First Amendment protections, because I’m wrong.

            Except the whole point of rights is that you have a right to do (what a majority thinks is) wrong.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Machina ex Deus:
            The First Amendment is not unalloyed. There have always been limits on what people can do in pursuit of their religion.

            Presumably you would not support the right of Muslims to murder Christians in pursuit of jihad simply because of their religious conviction.

            But of course, in this case, I’m merely asking you to assert that you are exercising the right (assuming that the said right is ruled not to be overridden by the constitutional rights of those with which you have a disagreement).

          • The Nybbler says:

            @DavidFriedman

            (this is kind of a tangent I guess)

            As Jiro and HBC have hinted, it’s one thing to do that when you’ll still have good places to work, and another when doing so will leave you with very poor choices. I have a picture of me on my (mostly-unused) social media accounts drinking alcohol; if I were in primary or secondary education rather than tech I’d never dare do such a thing, because one squawk from the wrong person and I’d at the very least have to move far away… at worst it would be “would you like fries with that”.

            Similarly, people in the fashion industry probably have no issue revealing they are gay; people in law-enforcement might find their options quite limited were they to do so.

            Sometimes the option is working for an employer who wouldn’t want you working there if they knew what you were, or losing everything. I dare say if I posted here under my real name I’d have had a lot of trouble finding another job in tech due to my political views.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            The First Amendment is not unalloyed. There have always been limits on what people can do in pursuit of their religion.

            Yes. My point is that you can’t simply argue that some action doesn’t have First Amendment protection because it’s wrong.

            This should be perfectly obvious with freedom of speech: I’m sure I’d find it wrong to say many of the things Milo says; that has no bearing on whether his speech is protected (except for some very, very narrow exceptions that Ken White over at Popehat lists in detail every couple of months).

            Freedom of peaceable assembly is a bit more physical, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been hard to strike a balance where {The Women’s March|The March for Life} can snarl traffic here in DC with a few hundred thousand marchers, regardless of how clearly wrong their position is. (None of those marchers set fire to anything, smashed anything, or beat anyone with metal rods).

            I’m lazy, so the marches can be my examples for Petitioning the Government for Redress of Grievances, too.

            In order for the government to restrict First Amendment rights, the restrictions have to withstand strict scrutiny; while I am not a lawyer, I understand that that’s a pretty high bar.

            (Side note: I thought “strict scrutiny” and “compelling government interest” went hand-in-hand, but everything I’m digging up only applies CGI to the Free Exercise clause. What gives?)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yes. My point is that you can’t simply argue that some action doesn’t have First Amendment protection because it’s wrong.

            But you can’t argue that my 14th amendment rights are nullified by your 1st amendment protection.

            These things are in conflict with each other.

  15. JulieK says:

    Is there a way to search the comments on SSC, not just the original posts?

  16. Blakes7th says:

    Brief story, had a discussion with a friend about “What is the opposite of fascism?”
    I offered Libertarianism as a possible answer, but then followed up by saying “I bet I could Google search for Libertarian Fascists” and get >1000 hits.
    He scoffed, saying “You can get 1000 hits on Google for anything.”

    And while he’s right, I now wonder what that threshold is? How many Google hits does it take to get past the Lizardman’s Constant?

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      This being a checkable claim, I searched for “libertarian fascists” (double quotes included) and got… 927 hits.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        But did you combine them with the results for “fascist libertarians”?

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Whoops; no. 812 results. But who knows what the overlap is…

          • Anonalous says:

            “Fascist Libertarians” | “Libertarians Fascists” yields ~1,730 results, so apparently there was almost no overlap. Passes the 1000 hits test, though.

      • Manya says:

        OK, but how many of those results are people describing themselves as fascist libertarians? From what I can tell, most if not all of them come from people insulting libertarians and using “fascist” as a generic word for “really really bad”.

    • dndnrsn says:

      “Anarcho-Monarchism” gets 13.8k hits, and apparently is an actual thing.

      • Urstoff says:

        I’m an anarcho-statist.

      • massivefocusedinaction says:

        That term might not be helped by there being a blog with precisely that name. Though I’d guess more than a few libertarians are also reaching similar conclusions to Trofim_Lysenco’s.

        • dndnrsn says:

          What blog? I can’t find any blog called Anarcho-Monarchism or Anarcho-Monarchist or anything like that.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Well, I’m not about to go look for a King, Autarch, God-Emperor, or Tyrant. I figure that barring external pressures provoking an authoritarian collapse (not impossible, but not guaranteed either) I’ll probably be dead and buried decades before the “liberal” part of liberal Democracy withers away completely and we get our own version of David Weber’s Legislaturalists.

          I just think it sucks.

      • AnarchyDice says:

        Um, I also wrote a blog post about an anarcho-monarchist town for roleplaying games, so count my blog as one o’ those links. Same with an anarcho-fascist town and nine other anarchist flavored towns.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Wait, isn’t anarcho-fascism just some weird Jack Donovan MANLY MEN WHO FIGHT BEARS IN THE WOODS AND LIVE WITH OTHER MANLY MEN NO GIRLS ALLOWED thing? Is it, instead, a real thing?

          • AnarchyDice says:

            Far as my research for that series could tell, it is a real thing based around the idea of voluntarily submitting to the will of a autocrat or the like so that the community can band together. It is more commonly referred to as anarcho-nationalism, but it trends closer to the original meaning of fascism which is the “bundle of sticks” approach rather than the modern interpretation of god-emperor by allowing groups to self-segregate into cohesive groups of similar ideologies, values, ethnicities, religions, etc.

            It was definitely a TIL moment when I was looking around for material to use for that anarchist town series.

          • TenMinute says:

            It’s Tolkien, man. That’s literally the word he used to describe his political views.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I thought Tolkein coined anarcho-monarchism?

          • Deiseach says:

            I thought Tolkein coined anarcho-monarchism?

            Re: Tolkien, from his “Letters” to his son in the 40s:

            (1)

            My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people.

            (2)

            It is not the not-man (e.g. weather) nor man (even at a bad level), but the manmade that is ultimately daunting and insupportable. If a ragnarök would bum all the slums and gasworks, and shabby garages, and long arc-lit suburbs, it cd. for me bum all the works of art – and I’d go back to trees.

    • shakeddown says:

      Related: What percentage of the lizardman constant is people who believe in actual lizardmen vs. people just screwing with the interviewer? If something like 10-20% of americans believed in pizzagate, it doesn’t seem that out there that a tenth of that number also believe in lizardmen.

      • Evan Þ says:

        I’m not sure you can generalize so easily. Pizzagate sounds very plausible to someone who doesn’t really follow the news: “Look, this email dump shows that the Hated Outgroup is conspiring to commit Sadly-Possible Crime!”

        Actual lizardmen… are another story.

        • shakeddown says:

          True, but I think assuming “X sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory” as strong evidence against X isn’t common to everyone. If there’s a significant percentage of the population that are willing to believe something that sounds ridiculous to me, maybe it’s typical mind fallacy to assume that there isn’t a (significantly smaller) non-zero percentage of the population that thinks differently enough from me to believe in something that seems even more ridiculous to me. And once I do assign a nonzero probability to the option that some people genuinely believe in lizardmen, I don’t know how to test it.

          • 1soru1 says:

            If belief in lizardmen is real, then there must be something that people genuinely don’t believe in, say toadmen. Identify it, survey it, compare to lizardman constant.

          • John Schilling says:

            If belief in lizardmen is real, then there must be something that people genuinely don’t believe in, say toadmen. Identify it, survey it, compare to lizardman constant.

            How do you know whether people “genuinely don’t believe in” a thing, when you are particularly interested in are the ones who will say they believe a thing even if they don’t?

            IIRC, someone here found in one of our previous go-arounds a survey in which ~5% of the respondents claim to have been personally decapitated. Can we agree that the fraction of the population which genuinely believes such a thing is <<<5%?

            Yes, there are people who genuinely believe in the lizardman conspiracy theory. They also are <<5% of the population, and probably <5% of the people who answer "yes" to the question "do you believe in the lizardman conspiracy". Probably more numerous than people who genuinely believe they have been decapitated.

            So, if someone actually cared, how might they go about determining the number of true lizardman-conspiracy believers in this sea of noise?

          • shakeddown says:

            A toadman is someone who has made a deal with the devil which gives them control over horses.

            This seems like a bad name.

          • cassander says:

            @John Schilling

            >ow do you know whether people “genuinely don’t believe in” a thing, when you are particularly interested in are the ones who will say they believe a thing even if they don’t?

            You could always make something up. Poll how many people think that Donald Trump has rabies, or Barack Obama was born in Australia.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “IIRC, someone here found in one of our previous go-arounds a survey in which ~5% of the respondents claim to have been personally decapitated.”

            Should we believe that all those people know what “decapitated” means?

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy

            A lot of people are behaving like headless chickens, so they could legitimately answer ‘yes,’ if they take the question metaphorically.

          • Deiseach says:

            IIRC, someone here found in one of our previous go-arounds a survey in which ~5% of the respondents claim to have been personally decapitated. Can we agree that the fraction of the population which genuinely believes such a thing is <<<5%?

            You can’t leave out the chance of malapropisms as an alternative to people deliberately messing with the survey. It’s entirely possible that, for instance, they may be confusing “decapitated” with “resuscitated” or a similar word – or something completely different.

          • Nornagest says:

            Yeah, Lizardman’s constant isn’t just capturing trolling, it’s also capturing people who made a mistake, or who didn’t understand the question, or who got bored halfway through the survey and filled the rest of it in with garbage.

      • shakeddown says:

        Thinking about it, there’s another distinction here that I’d like to make.
        Consider articles on Briebart with titles like “Women should be barred from STEM subjects”. They have some arguments to reason in them, but that’s not really the main purpose. The main purpose is to signal antifeminism.
        Feminists can’t really understand how anyone could write something like that, because they always try to signal feminism, and to interpret facts in ways that allows them to do it. It’s hard for most of them to wrap their heads around the idea of someone with the exact opposite signalling incentives.

        I think conspiracy theories are like that. For most of us (especially in rationalist culture), something sounding like a conspiracy theory is strong motivation to both disbelieve it and to signal disbelief in it. I think that this is less true for the general public than the people here, and that if we select for the people for whom it’s least true, we can get some small percentage of the public for whom something sounding like a bizarre conspiracy theory is motivation to believe (and signal belief) for an idea. So if you call them and ask them “do you believe in crazy conspiracy theory X”, then even if they’ve never heard X before, they’ll try to believe it (at least at the surface level), because “so crazy it has to be true” actually is a heuristic for some people.

        You can reasonably argue that these people don’t really believe in lizardmen so much as they just generally believe in conspiracies. But that still makes them distinct from the people who’d tell an interviewer a ridiculous answer they don’t believe on any level, just to annoy the interviewer.

        (The people who believe they’ve been decapitated are probably almost exclusively the second category, but that seems like it’d depend on the question. I’m pretty sure I’d say yes if someone asked me that one).

        • cassander says:

          >Feminists can’t really understand how anyone could write something like that, because they always try to signal feminism, and to interpret facts in ways that allows them to do it. It’s hard for most of them to wrap their heads around the idea of someone with the exact opposite signalling incentives.

          Sure they can, they’re just mindless (or malevolent) servants of the patriarchy, living proof that feminism bravely standing up to the dark forces of reaction. If Hitler were alive today, he’d be writing articles like that!

        • rlms says:

          I think there are also other relevant categories, such as “people who ticked the wrong box by accident”, “people who misread the question” and “people filling out random answers because they want to spend as little time on the survey as possible”.

          • shakeddown says:

            That seems easier to control for, though, for example by putting a dummy “please check box 4” question. Although the error margin of this control is still significant when dealing with low percentages in the first place, so that’s still not great.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You are leaving out “does not know what decapitated means” . This could be considered a subset of “misread the question” but I would submit it is different.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      All that means is that some people claimed there are libertarian fascists. It doesn’t mean libertarianism isn’t actually the “opposite” of fascism, though I think it’s equally the opposite of socialism, and there is no clear meaning of “opposite” since the dimensions by which you group political ideologies is up for judgement.

    • Corey says:

      I just tried “nonpracticing atheist” and got ~4130 hits.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        I just tried “nonpracticing atheist” and got ~4130 hits.

        Were they also offered to you by Amazon and eBay?

        • YehoshuaK says:

          I just tried “libertarians are fascists” and got about 271,000 hits. Anyone who wants to go through and read them, be my guest.

    • To answer the question you didn’t ask, I don’t think there is such thing as a true opposite of fascism (or democracy, or communism etc).

      The mistake there is thinking the term is actually a unique well-defined entity. The reality is they are simply terms we use to classify a set of attributes. What that set is, and how you measure them, is a hard question to answer. Hitler’s Nazi party would be classified as Fascist by 99.99%> of people. But, then again, that’s sorta cheating since we tend to use that government as part of the literal definition of fascism.

      Some people then said oh, no no, Hitler and the Nazis were actually socialists. Which is stupid, but that’s how they classify it since it backs up their own view of the world.

      Probably your best bet would be to try and identify a set of dimensions you think make up fascism, then try to talk with your friend about the inverse of those would look like (and whether or not it even exists or is coherent). Then you start noticing the whole thing is more like some sort of weird measurement problem. Unfortunately we don’t have the data processing or machine learning to do multidimensional scaling yet for grand political spectrums 🙁

  17. Well... says:

    For a long time I’ve been saying that journalism, as an industry, is positioned all wrong. There’s this notion that journalists serve this important function of bravely gathering facts, assembling them into the truth, and humbly delivering the truth to the public. Instead, says I, journalists should transparently advertise their biases and deliver their biased reports to subject matter experts, who in turn can debate what truths are revealed in the reports and deliver their findings to the public.

    That’s a summary, though also a soft refocusing, of what I said on my blog today. Am I being terribly unfair to journalists?

    • JulieK says:

      Who decides who qualifies as a presumably unbiased “expert?”

      • Well... says:

        They aren’t presumably unbiased. Nobody is. But unlike journalists, SMEs at least know what they’re talking about.

        • Iain says:

          Subject matter experts know what they’re talking about in the same sense that journalists are unbiased — as an ideal that is nice in theory, but rarely if ever achieved in practice. Like journalists, the more that depends on the testimony of an expert, the more incentive there is to defect and be the “expert” who tells people what they want to hear.

        • Nornagest says:

          For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.

    • Why not go the other way, and be upfront about your biases? Don’t pretend you have an objective view, report what facts you can, and then illustrate why you think your biased worldview best explains it. Then, readers could be aware of the biases and look for multiple sources with different points of view.

  18. Kevin C. says:

    As to the rules here, I have a question about reporting comments. Namely, how much is too much? As I understand our host has to review the resulting list and all. On the other hand, there looks to be quite a bit that seems rather objectionable, compared to past posts that resulted in bannings, these days. Any useful guidelines?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Any useful guidelines?

      When in doubt, don’t report. Truly awful comments usually garner enough attention to get the hammer anyway.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It depends? (Said the not very helpful cub)

      Is someone a regular with a history? What is that history and where are the comments in relation to the tone of their general comments?

      Perhaps you should engage them on the point. I think this is more effective, because ultimately we have to self police. Some people take exception to this because they don’t want to see what amounts to nagging in the comments, but I disagree.

      If someone else is already doing this, ignore it and move on.

      If you have done this already, and the comments continue in this vein, maybe report it.

      Are they new and are their comments all of a piece? Report it.

    • IrishDude says:

      I’ve only reported one comment before. This was for a poster that was being rude, obnoxious, and verbally aggressive across multiple posts and multiple threads, with one particularly bad post being the straw that broke the camels back for me.

      So, I have a very stringent standard, choosing to ignore/tolerate almost all posts I find rude.

  19. kaninchen says:

    People are getting annoyed at my bell-ringing and have asked me to stop, but I just carillon anyway.

  20. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    The new post– [GUEST POST] The International Refugee Assistance Program– has shown up in my email, but not on this site.

  21. Is there any way to see if my comment was removed? I sometimes feel like I’m losing my mind when I can’t follow up on threads.

    I’m also a pretty chill bro, and don’t troll or have radical views, so unsure why my comments are removed. Maybe the thread is removed? The idea of disappointing Scott is too much for me to bare.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Almost certainly your posts are getting eaten automatically due to including a Sin Word. This is not your fault; the Sin Words are selected by the Powers that Be, and what imperfect knowledge we possess of them is handed down through bitter experience. typing ‘edudorb’ reversed, for example, will delete your post.

      • shakeddown says:

        This also happens a lot with links.

        • Matt M says:

          One thing I’ve noticed is that if you actually use the code to embed a hyperlink, you’re almost always safe.

          If you copy and paste an actual URL into the text of your comment, it’s very very likely to be deleted.

    • Deiseach says:

      You may have fallen afoul of the Scunthorpe problem (I had a couple of instances where a full word contained a combination of letters that might be re-arranged to form a slur, and I was knocking my head off the wall trying to figure out why my comments were not showing up, until the penny dropped).

      • Corey says:

        Fark’s filters exemplified that, e.g. they would change “bitch” to “biatch” and ignore spaces, so if you said “it’s a bit chilly” you might be surprised to read your post as “it’s a biatchilly”.
        Eventually these got well-known enough that people leverage it for (mildly) humorous effect.

        A good solution might be: Scott publishes the list, and makes willful attempted circumvention of the list a (probably temporary) bannable offense.

        • Loquat says:

          The official forums for Guild Wars 2 have the same thing, only they replace all censored words with “kitten”. Thus you’d see things like “why can’kitten” (for “why can’t it”), and my personal favorite the Kittenushima reactor disaster.

  22. Mark says:

    I don’t understand why Slider was banned indefinitely.

    What is wrong with that comment?

    Also, it looks like all of the chief Trump haters have been banned. I think this is a bit of a problem.
    Many people are arguing that the policies of Trump are merely a continuation of existing policies. Yeah, problem is it’s direction and theme that’s important. We want to be moving forwards, upwards, and always twirling. Twirling towards freedom.
    Change you can believe in (even if it doesn’t happen).

    It’s the theme rather than the specific policies that are problematic (though the specific policies are also bad).
    So people who voted Trump *should* be shamed. We object to their attitude. Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.
    Instead of coming to terms with other types of people in an ever smaller world, we’re just supposed to hunker down, and when the others don’t go away? What happens then?
    It’s a dangerous attitude, and the correct way to combat it is to attack the attitude rather than the specific policies it gives rise to.

    • Leit says:

      The chief Trump haters were literally and continually advocating retribution against people because of their beliefs. A lot like you’re doing here, actually. I recommend going elsewhere if you want to try and shame people into compliance with your values. Facebook and twitter seem popular for outrage-based interactions.

      Slider was expressing the same sort of lumping together and assignment of uncharitable motivations that leads to the viewpoint of “they’re all monsters and thieves”. We’ve been through a few rounds of “okay, can everyone please just stop homogenizing outgroups”, commenters are pretty tired of it, and I imagine Scott is as well. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me too much if the link isn’t to the correct post there.

      • Mark says:

        “Retribution” is a bit strong – most of it was them talking about how awful Trump was, and how people who voted for him should be ashamed.

        I mean, let’s say I’m a vegetarian and I keep saying “Eating meat is awful, just think about those poor animals” – is that permissible?

        How about “People who eat meat don’t care about hurting animals”?

        I mean, unless we’re going to get into the metaphysical weeds, that second statement isn’t so much uncharitable, as overly optimistic about how far people actually think about what they are doing.

        Yeah, these things can get a bit repetitive, but there always has to be a bit of a repetitive aspect to anything comprehensible – it’s all just variations on a theme, or utter chaos.

        • Jugemu says:

          >How about “People who eat meat don’t care about hurting animals”?

          In general that’s not even true.

        • Leit says:

          Let me link you to the post that got Earthly Knight banned, in which he describes himself as a “retributivist” and advocates for abusing Trump supporters at every opportunity. And certainly, his incessant attacks had been wearing thin for some time already.

          Now you get to retreat behind “most” and call that example nonrepresentative until I dig up a bunch of Iain and HBC’s less proud moments since the election, the phrase “conservative safe space” gets thrown around, and we get exactly nowhere while wasting a lot of my time and looking petty and partisan. So instead I’m not going to respond to this thread any more.

          • PedroS says:

            I think that the specific comment Slider got banned for did not seem a particularly egregious example of a “bannable offense”, but it was indeed written in a way that would predictably cause offense (as are most comments who talk about leftists/rightists/muslims as a single homogeneous group defined by their worst representatives).

          • Iain says:

            Please do dig up my less proud moments. What have I posted that is remotely comparable to advocacy for abusing Trump supporters at every opportunity? I can think of a handful of posts in the “literal Hitler” thread where I was excessively snarky, but aside from that I have no idea why you would single me out as a bad poster. Is it because my avatar is so memorably awful?

          • Spookykou says:

            It seems very disingenuous to try and paint Iain and HBC with the same brush as EK. Also, I am not sure why you need to, the question is about the people who got banned, isn’t it enough that the people who got banned displayed the bad behavior that warranted banning?

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Iain, I think you’re an asset to this comment section and I would be loathe to see you banned.

            You and HBC both do a pretty good job keeping level heads against our multi-headed hydra of righties (of which I am a part), I dunno what comments Leit could be referring to.

          • Let me link you to the post that got Earthly Knight banned

            When I click on a link like that, I get to comments on the right original post but not to the particular comment that is supposed to be linked to. Any guess why?

            In this case, a search for “retributivist” solved the problem. If there isn’t a way of making such links work for everyone, it might be worth, if trying to link to a specific comment, to deliberately mention some word or phrase by which it can be found.

          • Bakkot says:

            When I click on a link like that, I get to comments on the right original post but not to the particular comment that is supposed to be linked to.

            Huh. Works for me, but incidentally here is a bookmarklet you can add such that clicking on it will bring you to the comment you opened the page on (or clicked the timestamp of yourself). Also useful in other circumstances, e.g. if you opened a tab to reply to someone and then scrolled and lost your place.

            In this case, a search for “retributivist” solved the problem. If there isn’t a way of making such links work for everyone, it might be worth, if trying to link to a specific comment, to deliberately mention some word or phrase by which it can be found.

            Timestamps work pretty well, I think. They’re not always unambiguous, but there’s rarely more than one or two in a thread at a given minute.

        • Nornagest says:

          most of it was them talking about how awful Trump was, and how people who voted for him should be ashamed.

          The people that get banned here generally don’t get banned for “most of [their posts]”, they got banned for a smaller proportion of stuff that’s clearly outside forum norms. That is perfectly normal. Out here in the real world, we don’t put people in prison for thousands of hours of bad-but-legal driving, but we do if they spend twenty minutes stealing a car.

          The main exceptions I can think of are John Sidles (and his sockpuppets) and Jill/Moon, who both essentially got banned for being prolific and annoying. But that’s also defensible, for different but essentially apolitical reasons.

          • Matt M says:

            Technically speaking, Jill got banned for a one time rules violation, but it was a rule invented and applied specifically for and solely to her, due to long-term prolific trolling.

    • Jugemu says:

      Leftists have been using shame attacks on anyone remotely non-left for a long time now. You might notice that those tactics are starting to fail. Continuing to double down is not likely to have positive results, as good as it might feel in the moment.

      • Mark says:

        I think there are two kinds of “shame” tactic.
        1) Oh my god – you think that? What a loser!
        2) Oh my god – you think that? Please think about these real people who will suffer if we follow your advice.

        (1) useful for gaining support of young people, absolutely useless for persuading older people. (2) effective for everyone.
        I think the failure is that we have a lot of young, and young at heart, people on the left who think calling people losers is an effective tactic. It isn’t.

        • Jugemu says:

          2. is only likely to be effective to the extent that people share your values, or feel the need to signal that they do. Many people don’t share them, and the signalling is becoming increasingly polarized. Trump’s “America First” is a straight-up rejection of universalism and plenty of people are ok with that.

          • Mark says:

            Elua dances left.

          • Jugemu says:

            To the extent that’s true it’s probably driven by technological change, not by fundamental changes in human personality. And regardless this is a slow process, not something relevant to the Trump issue.

          • Mark says:

            I think that universalism makes people happy – it’s appealing.

            I guess that once you start thinking about morality, it’s just psychically easier to think that you yourself might have value because you’re human, rather than because you happen to be different to these other people in ways x, y, or z.

            So, we could be in a bit of a win-win – if Trump supporters mainly oppose immigration because they aren’t considering them, get them to consider them.

            I really don’t think there is much of a difference between having concern for your compatriots in a nation of 300 million, and concern for everyone. Very similar process for both.

          • gbdub says:

            The issue is that I very rarely see people caring about “everyone”; I see people caring about the photogenic victim du jour. Pure emotional appeal without any room to consider the holistic impacts of the policy. It’s how we get bad laws named after people.

            Your argument works against “I just don’t give a damn about foreigners”. It doesn’t answer “I wish we could help that crying child, indeed every crying child, but ultimately I believe that what you’re proposing would make us all worse off”.

            From the flip side, it’s one thing to say, “Look, I understand that there are some potential risks and negative impacts of accepting refugees, but ultimately I consider these costs small and very bearable when compared to the benefits”. It’s quite another to argue that even talking about costs and risks makes you an inhuman bigot.

          • Mark says:

            I guess it’s a bit like the M&M question – if you really liked M&Ms, what percentage of them would have to be poisoned for you to consider stopping eating them entirely. What if all food carries some small risk of being poisoned? What do you do then?

            Most people who’ve looked into the probabilities have decided that the risk of poisoned muslims is sufficiently low that it doesn’t really make sense to discriminate against them, especially given the long term costs of rising nationalism. Perhaps people who spend their time reading articles about scary foreigners decide differently.

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”.

          • gbdub says:

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”.

            It’s more than a suspicion, it’s an assumption – and a condescending, insulting one at that. It’s the exact opposite of the principle of charity. See also “bitter clingers” and “pro-lifers don’t care about babies, they just want to enslave women”.

            Go take a poll asking “Do you believe that Muslims are people?” You’ll get close to unanimous agreement, less the lizardman constant.

            The M&M analogy is a good one, in this sense: you notice that it starts from the assumption that everyone agrees that M&Ms are good, and that poison is bad. The only reason anyone would come to a different conclusion on eating from the bowl is that they have different assessment of the level of poison risk vs. the yumminess of M&Ms.

            The attitude you mention and I quoted is basically “You disagree about the wisdom of eating from this bowl of M&Ms? The obvious explanation is that you are a horrible human being!” Hopefully you can see why that would be off-putting and probably unlikely to positively modify attitudes.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Mark

            I think that universalism makes people happy – it’s appealing.

            Not to me.

            I really don’t think there is much of a difference between having concern for your compatriots in a nation of 300 million, and concern for everyone. Very similar process for both.

            If you’re trapped in universalist mode, you may not be able to see the multiple levels this operates on. I have a similar low level concern for my compatriots as for humanity, but I have a much much higher level of concern for people who share my values, and so I want to trap those who don’t share my values outside my walled garden.

            The people who don’t share my values who are already inside remain an issue, but it causes too much chaos to try and remove them, and trying to exert the supremacy of my values directly just makes a rod for my own back, so liberalism allows us to live side by side in an uneasy peace. I don’t want to go over some tipping point, where people whose values are so aberrant they don’t even care about the mechanism of liberalism outnumber those that do, and then the whole thing decays into Middle Eastern or African style democracy, so it is in my self-interest to maintain the ability to select who is allowed in and who isn’t.

            @Mark

            I guess it’s a bit like the M&M question – if you really liked M&Ms, what percentage of them would have to be poisoned for you to consider stopping eating them entirely. What if all food carries some small risk of being poisoned? What do you do then?

            Strawman. You take proper precautions about food hygiene already, and are able to be selective about what foods are appropriate to eat and what aren’t, and in what ways. Everyone does this. If you weren’t applying some kind of metric like this, you would have a “universalist” attitude towards food and start eating clods of dirt and planks of wood.

            Most people who’ve looked into the probabilities have decided that the risk of poisoned muslims is sufficiently low that it doesn’t really make sense to discriminate against them, especially given the long term costs of rising nationalism.

            In fairness, this is probably true in America because it’s so easy to be selective about which Muslims you bring in, without looking like you are cruelly excluding all the others. Not so for Europe.

            Also, not all nationalisms are made equal. We can play that game with any aspect of politics, which right wingers have been doing for a long time by implying that social welfare policies are some kind of creeping communism, so please place yourself above returning the favor.

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”.

            The inherent value I afford to people is that they go unmolested, and in this case, the incessant meddling in the Middle East should cease pronto.

            I don’t like Islam in the first place. I despise it like I despise Christianity. I can get along with Muslims to the extent that I can get along with Christians, where their sense of purity and dogmatism regarding their religion has been effectively neutered.

            This has already been done to Christianity where I come from, and it was quite a fight, lasting hundreds of years. It’s still going on in America. If you literally hold the position that immigration control of any sort is a step too close to Nazism (which is just the flipside of conservatives thinking welfare is a step too close to communism), then you import that struggle from where it’s in a particularly violent phase; the Middle East.

          • Deiseach says:

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”

            Which only flies when they’re the kind of Muslims like the girl I’m seeing in the raving about a Norwegian TV show Skam who wears a hijab but is not judgemental (unless it’s about things we all agree should be judged).

            A Muslim who not only didn’t drink themselves but refused to hang out with others who are drinking? That we wouldn’t see so much of, I’m thinking. Sure, wear the hijab but assimilate good secular values and we’ll see you as a person and we’ll tsk-tsk at the mindless prejudice of those who can’t see you as a person. A Muslim who turned around and told the “dude, Muslims are people too” folks that they’re sinning by being sexually active outside of marriage? How long would the tolerance last there, I wonder?

          • Matt M says:

            How long would the tolerance last there, I wonder?

            You may be surprised

            There’s decent precedent in the U.S. of leftist institutions catering to demands that would normally be considered outside of the overton window for being culturally regressive, so long as those demands are coming from brown Muslims rather than white Christians…

          • Mark says:

            @gdub

            If I don’t like M&Ms, I’m not going to eat them no matter how many of them are poisoned. If I’m not as keen on M&Ms, my acceptable level of risk is going to be lower.
            So, I don’t think it’s a terrible assumption.

            For example…

            @tekhno

            Fair enough, if you just think that muslims are likely to be really bad for society, it is rational to oppose increased immigration.
            My understanding is that it’s never really been shown that immigration on the whole is bad for a country, that it is generally thought to be good for the people immigrating, and that in order to create a story in which Muslims are a threat, you have to focus on a small, unusual, minority of Muslims.

            I’d like to defend the M&M analogy. Clumps of wood and dirt aren’t food. That’d be more like saying we should have an open borders policy for animals, or diseases, or something.

            I don’t think there is much appeal for a universalist food ethics, because we aren’t food.

            It sounds like you don’t like Muslims much. For a universalist, the immigration issue is actually subsidiary to this base ethical difference – the discussion has to focus on your motivations for disliking certain groups of foreigners and why that might be misguided.
            Part of that is emphasising the humanity of foreigners (guilt tripping).

        • dndnrsn says:

          If you divide between guilt (internal) and shame (external), the first is a shame tactic, the second is a guilt tactic. I, personally, like the division – the first depends entirely on social power, and is thus, as you mention, useless.

        • PedroS says:

          Actually, the single person most associated with “calling people losers” (actually “yuge losers”) is emphatically not a representative of the Left.

          • The Element of Surprise says:

            Both the Left and the Right have dysphemisms for their opponents (e.g. involving accusations of various phobias, or references to birds of the Cuculidae family; I don’t want to run afoul of any spam filters here), though it feels to me like the Left’s shaming tactics are more powerful, both in execution (you can read them in news headlines) and in consequences (more likely to get you fired).

        • Deiseach says:

          I really don’t think there is much of a difference between having concern for your compatriots in a nation of 300 million, and concern for everyone. Very similar process for both.

          I have recently seen an example of someone who generally honestly would be “let’s be tolerant and nice, let’s value all people, we should be ethical altruists” making an honest comment about a certain sub-set of people that boiled down to “I don’t understand them, I don’t share their values and frankly I don’t like them, they should quit whining and pull up their socks and help themselves!”

          Which was once again an example of “very compassionate about Them Out There once they’re foreign and safely not within a thousand miles of you, but very antagonised by fellow-citizens of your own country that are on the other side of the fence to you”.

          So when you get people from that side of the fence lecturing you about “won’t somebody think of the children?”, it’s very easy to go “I just don’t give a damn about foreigners” because it’s not going to make them think any worse of you than they do already, so why should you be the one on the defensive here?

          • PedroS says:

            As Ivan Karamazov said (and I am paraphrasing) “Its is easy to love mankind. It is my neighbour whom I cannot stand”

          • THE WORLD STATE

            Oh, how I love Humanity,
            With love so pure and pringlish,
            And how I hate the horrid French,
            Who never will be English!

            The International Idea,
            The largest and the clearest,
            Is welding all the nations now,
            Except the one that’s nearest.

            This compromise has long been known,
            This scheme of partial pardons,
            In ethical societies
            And small suburban gardens —

            The villas and the chapels where
            I learned with little labor
            The way to love my fellow-man
            And hate my next-door neighbor.

            (GKC)

    • Zombielicious says:

      You’re touching a broader problem at the end there, I think, in that a specific, openly-endorsed strategy of extremists (e.g. the literal far-right neo-Nazis, or ISIS types if you live in those countries) is normalization of their ideas. The entire game is to get a foothold of respectability in public discourse where they’ve been shunned ever since the Holocaust, then work to become a real movement again from there. The feigned goal is to expand the Overton window, when the actual goal is to just move it somewhere else. Philosophies of “radical charity” at any time and any place, regardless of the goals or intentions, play into that strategy. As the saying goes, “If you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out.”

      We’re used to worrying about the slippery-slope of free speech: you censor one thing and a few decades later only government-mandated speech is allowed. The danger in the other direction seems to have gotten less attention up to now – play devil’s advocate no matter the circumstance and you end up having to fight the same wars that never should have happened again. Hence why stuff like intentionally removing Jews from statements about the Holocaust should be looked at with some suspicion (especially when surrounded by mountains of similar “coincidences”). Charity would say “oh don’t be ridiculous,” but at some point the evidence piles up and you’re either stupid or guilty for continuing to deny it. The Bradley effect applies here too – if people are frequently willing to lie about their true feelings towards unpopular candidates, you should expect some of them to also sometimes be lying about their true feelings towards really reprehensible ideas.

      Moderation and some kind of golden middle are probably the answer – using wisdom and good judgment about where to draw the line. Good luck getting everyone to agree on where that is, though.

    • Corey says:

      Protip: SSC is a safe space for conservatives and/or libertarians. Arguing that their values might be misguided is unwelcome. You can argue against the median SSC characterization of the left (all-powerful, anti-reason, etc.), but you’ll get shouted down at best. (We have the rest of the Internet so we can just bug out and leave the place to the monarchists when things get too annoying).

      This can make discourse exhausting, because you have to accommodate such a wide range of values (e.g. you can’t, implicitly or explicitly, employ an assumption that US blacks are roughly intellectually comparable to whites, without inviting a dogpile). But it can be useful and educational to engage conservatives in an online place where they’re reasonable.

      • Mark says:

        Just as a test, if we’re saying that there is a genetic difference in the IQ of black and white, how to explain that poor (free school meals – their parents aren’t doctors) afro-caribeans and black africans in the UK, perform better at GCSEs (16 years old) than equally poor white British students.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          No clue. I’ve heard recently that blacks in Germany do just fine in testing as well.

          The assumption that gets the most pushback is that all differences in outcome are due to discrimination, and anyone who argues differently is a racist/bigot.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          Just as a test, if we’re saying that there is a genetic difference in the IQ of black and white, how to explain that poor (free school meals – their parents aren’t doctors) afro-caribeans and black africans in the UK, perform better at GCSEs (16 years old) than equally poor white British students.

          Possibly related question: How much of the black British population are descendants of slaves vs immigrants who arrived after abolition?

          • 1soru1 says:

            The reference to ‘doing better’ was almost certainly to ‘Black African’. ‘Black Caribbean’ (overwhelmingly ex-slaves, though less recently than African-Americans) remains a few percentage points behind (before any adjustment for income or parent’s occupation).

            https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439867/RR439B-Ethnic_minorities_and_attainment_the_effects_of_poverty_annex.pdf.pdf

            The real standout is the ‘irish traveller’ group, who despite being ethnically identical to ‘white irish’, have educational outcomes off the bottom of the chart.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Page 10 seems to confirm his statement for both african and afro-carib (the part where they isolate the subsamples poor enough to qualify for FSM)

          • 1soru1 says:

            You are right, the economically adjusted figures show both groups above white british (by an amount that’s more or less random noise).

            The data also contradicts another common assumption held here; increased education spending never leads to noticeably better results…

          • cassander says:

            Looking at that chart (pg.27) and how every single ethnic group has massively improved in the last decade (really the 3 years from 2008-11), I suspect the test has been made easier, which has compressed the scores.

          • Deiseach says:

            The real standout is the ‘irish traveller’ group, who despite being ethnically identical to ‘white irish’, have educational outcomes off the bottom of the chart.

            This result is partly why I think IQ tests are as much about testing how good you are at taking tests as they are at testing IQ. Circumstances for Travellers include poor school attendance, massive disruption to education due to being itinerant (moving around from place to place), non-diagnosis of special needs/non-treatment/erratic access to services due to being itinerant, dropping out of education early and no interest in higher education, separate culture and values, etc. I couldn’t tell you if population IQ is less or equal or what, but I don’t think that they are much more stupid in general than the rest of the Irish even if population IQ might be lower.

            This is a complicated situation, when talking about Travellers (who are not at all the same as Gypsies/Roma, if anyone is confused). Genetically identical, yes. Culturally and socially (even settled Travellers) – a whole other ball of wax. There has undoubtedly been prejudice and discrimination against them in Ireland, but equally – and here is where I am going to run right into being called a racist – as a population they are not assimilating. Especially in Britain -and I’m trying to find a way to be tactful about this but there isn’t any, so not to beat about the bush, they’re involved in criminality of a petty kind. Mainly unregistered trading, small-scale smuggling, confidence trickery, things like advertising as odd job men or small building works and convincing people (often the elderly and/or vulnerable) to get unnecessary repair and maintenance work on the exterior of the house and yard done, not doing it, and charging huge sums of money for what little they do perform.

            It really is a case of “not all – “; some (whether settled or still travelling) are great people, who just want to get on with the neighbours and are trying to improve their situation and that of their kids. Some are embedded in their culture and regard the settled population (non-Travellers) as other and pigeons for the plucking and are not interested in integrating into mainstream society but will take advantage of all that do-gooders can give them, including cries of oppression and racism when it suits them.

            My experience professionally has been with social housing provision, education, and personally in childhood (I remember the Traveller encampment under the railway bridge when I was a kid in the country and we did hang around a little bit with the Traveller kids). Even my boss in social housing, who comes from a social worker background and would be one of the bleeding-heart do-gooders, admits that it’s a very hard life for a Traveller woman because the men don’t take responsibility in the same way and are often involved in feuds and crime. (Anybody who thinks The Patriarchy is bad in modern society should try living in Traveller culture, although the younger ones are becoming a lot more influenced by the mores of the wider society – that’s not necessarily in a good way, there’s a lot more cohabiting and childbearing outside of marriage and breaking up with spouses and moving on to new partners than was usual). And yes, we’ve had experience of scamming and petty frauds and crimes.

            Local government is responsible for halting sites, where Travellers can park their caravans instead of (as traditional) by the side of the road. Please don’t confuse these with American trailer parks and mobile homes; halting sites are gradually getting overhauled but they tend to be bare concrete berths with one toilet block where you get running cold water and electricity provision and that’s about it. Since we pay towards provision of caravans (where old ones are no longer habitable or they need a bigger one since they’ve had more kids), they are in the price range €5-7,000 as on this site.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m particularly tickled by the Figure 19 graph, which shows the White Irish (non-free school meals eligible) doing better than the Chinese (non-free school meals eligible) and nearly as well as the Chinese (free school meals eligible):

            Figure 19: Age 11 results by ethnic group and FSM: England 2013
            % Level 4+ in Reading, Writing and Maths

            White British FSM – 58%
            White Irish FSM – 60%
            White British Non FSM – 80%
            Chinese Non FSM – 85%
            Irish Non-FSM – 87%
            Chinese FSM – 88%

            I am also puzzled by the difference in the Chinese FSM and NFSM results; surely eligibility for free school meals is a measure of deprivation and you’d expect the results to be flipped, if you expected any difference at all?

            The (11 year old) Irish in Britain – smarter than the native British, nearly as smart as the Chinese in Britain! (I am falling about laughing here).

          • 1soru1 says:

            There’s really not that many Chinese in the UK; random noise seems easily a sufficient explanation.

    • >Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.

      This is more of a platitude than a model of reality or opposition policy.

      Letting in 1,000,000 North African’s and Syrians into a refugee camp in upstate New York would be a bad idea. Opposing that idea would also be xenophobic — since we would be afraid of the outcome of letting these outsiders into our country. In this case it’s a rational xenophobia (note: I’m sure phobia has some real psychiatric definition, but we stopped caring about that ages ago so I won’t fixate on it here). I don’t think many people would support this policy, but if any did it would probably be some political theorists or ultra-hippies.

      Different people have different heuristics and algorithms for when they get scared of outsiders. How different are the outsiders? Do they match on culture? How many are coming? How much of an exogenous shock will they represent to my community? Do I feel my community is currently thriving and can let in more people? Will these people drive down wages for low skilled work? (etc).

      Last year the US let in roughly 100k refugees. Why not 1000k? Or why not 10,000k? If we lower it to 50k, why not 0? Is this a situation of some sort of logical construction of an ‘ism’ e.g. (“You are in favor of LESS refugees/immigration than the status quo. This makes you xenophobic. I am in favor of the status quo. This makes me baseline good person”)

      Unfortunately, this more rational and reasoned approach is basically nonexistent. It’s all or nothing panicked xenophobia, detaining green card holders, and scaring permanent residents, vs. a side unwilling and unable to listen to the preferences of those who want less immigration.

      • Last year the US let in roughly 100k refugees.

        Source? Looking at a graphic from the Pew center, the last time the figure was that high seems to have been in 1995. The figure in recent years looks like about 70,000.

      • Mark says:

        That’s true, but I don’t think the distinction is based upon some arbitrary number of immigrants – it’s more about direction. Clinton wasn’t proposing open borders, but she was a step in the direction of openness.
        So, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Trump supporters are xenophobic (or more xenophobic) than Clinton supporters. Are we trying to work through our fears by gradual exposure, or are we going to trying to remove ourselves from them.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Mark

      Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.

      And regulations on business are capitalphobic.

      • Mark says:

        Some left wingers are capitalphobic – they just want to crush the capitalist system.
        I would say that the difference, at the end of the day, is that capital is a form of social relationship, whereas outsiders are people. Hating the first (while it might be misguided) isn’t necessarily a retrograde step.

        I think it would be quite a peculiar moral position to say that capital (a specific set of laws/ social relations) should be promoted in some specific form, without reference to the effects of this system on people. Taking the view that we should be moving towards an increased openness and acceptance of people in general is less tenuous, because it’s a consequence of universalist ethics.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      @Mark:

      Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.

      Do you mean this literally? Any restriction on immigration is xenophobic? Or are there some restrictions (e.g. on criminals) that are not?

  23. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Women who’ve regained enough weight to be healthy after anorexia still have autistic sensory problems and brain traits.

    The anorexia/autism study leaves me wondering whether anorexia is partially caused by autism, or at least some autistic traits.

    There’s something geeky about anorexia– the compulsive focus on detail and measurement. This still leaves the possibility open that anorexia amplifies autistic traits.

    • Corey says:

      Probably depends on specific cases – my 10yo daughter is a counterexample, barely verbal and eats anything not nailed down. (TBF she probably doesn’t have the capacity to think of measuring weight or understand “overweight”, and some of the appetite is probably medicine-driven).

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        My argument wasn’t that all autistic girls/women get anorexia, it was that perhaps autism prediposes them to anorexia.

    • 1. Over the past 3 decades, the definition for autism has broadened a great deal, including many people who originally were not included in the definitions, which already was probably too vague in the first place.

      2. A cynical note, people usually only say “don’t starve yourself” to ladies when they become thinner then what people believe is ideal for their physical attractiveness. Focusing on simply being thin, rather then becoming more physically attractive in general, is the glitch.

      3. Be cautious about including focusing on detail and measurement as signs of autism. Its more, focusing on detail and measurement in places society think is a waste of time. Focusing on detail and measurement in situation X is a sign of intelligence, in situation Y is a sign of stupidity.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        ” A cynical note, people usually only say “don’t starve yourself” to ladies when they become thinner then what people believe is ideal for their physical attractiveness.”

        I’ve seen a fair number of complaints from anorexics about getting compliments and requests for diet advice when they were thin enough to be very ill.

        The standards for beauty aren’t a good match for health.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          It also seems likely that, for women in general, there is a mismatch between the average ideal weight for being attractive to men and the average ideal weight for being … well, ‘thought by other women to be attractive to men’ doesn’t sound quite right, but you know what I mean – the idea that the average man would prefer a woman with a bit more weight on her than the average (non-anorexic) woman who is consciously trying to optimise her weight is actually aiming for (with a comparable mismatch for men in the ideal level of musculature).

          Which would mean that the standards for beauty aren’t even a good match for beauty.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m not sure whether it’s the same sort of thing, but there are men who do body-building and take it past the point where they’re attractive to most women.

          • Matt M says:

            Total speculation here, but it might also be the case that say, rich/successful men prefer significantly thinner women, on average, than average men do.

            So it might be logical for women who are trying to attract high status males to target a weight that, to the average man, seems “too skinny.”

            Reasoning: The ultra-thin supermodels who most regular guys dismiss as being “too skinny” never seem to have any difficulty whatsoever in terms of finding beloved successful attractive male movie stars/athletes to date/marry

          • James Miller says:

            More total speculation here: Most people gain weight during middle age. Taking this into account, a man considering the “lifetime value” of marrying a 25-year-old woman would want her to be thinner, at age 25, than he finds short-term optimal because of her expected future weight gain.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Reasoning: The ultra-thin supermodels who most regular guys dismiss as being “too skinny” never seem to have any difficulty whatsoever in terms of finding beloved successful attractive male movie stars/athletes to date/marry

            That might be a matter of social sorting, though: supermodels are generally high-status, rich actors/athletes are generally high-status, so the two groups are more likely to socialise and, thus, to date/get married for reasons which have no direct connection to appearance.

          • John Schilling says:

            Total speculation here, but it might also be the case that say, rich/successful men prefer significantly thinner women, on average, than average men do

            It seems unlikely that their perception of sexual attractiveness differs greatly from that of the general public, but it seems very likely that they value their reputation(*) somewhat more than the general public and so prefer to be seen with thinner women than average – at least so long as that is the consensus style du jour.

            *We are implicitly talking about famous rich/successful men here.

          • Matt M says:

            Right, that makes sense.

            Being seen with a woman who is like, > 2 SDs on the thin side is of no reputational hit whatsoever, but if she’s > 2 SDs on the fat side….

          • > that say, rich/successful men prefer significantly thinner women,

            I don’t think so. Its probably a taste of culture influencing peoples stated views.

            The erm…curvyness of mens visual preferences on XXX sites differ markedly then what is viewed as socially proper. Perhaps its viewing the sexual impulse as impure and what all men are capable of, while viewing the aesthetic pleasing of style, background as “higher” in some way.

            As for supermodels, the New York fashion walk industry is unusually dominated by gay men. A lot of supermodels are clearly thinner and more boyish then a straight mans typical preference. Somehow, this turns into a class and status thing.

            Maybe in women the thinness of models gives aesthetic pleasure without arousing sexual based envy?

          • skef says:

            As for supermodels, the New York fashion walk industry is unusually dominated by gay men. A lot of supermodels are clearly thinner and more boyish then a straight mans typical preference. Somehow, this turns into a class and status thing.

            This is a plausible theory but one that, from what I’ve read or seen on the subject over the years, is outweighed by the evidence for a different one: There seems to be a general agreement (if not consensus) among both men and women in the fashion industry that thin bodies are the best for displaying high-fashion clothes on. A lot of this apparently has to do with the options available, given that you build up regions on a thin model with padding or layers to make them curvy as desired. And even when only some clothes look best that way, there’s some benefit to “standardization” so that models can be assigned outfits at the last minute.

            This trend is exacerbated by the general evolution of runways shows towards spectacles largely divorced from the selling of the clothes actually displayed. As “couture” has become branding for other product lines, it becomes less important whether the styles on the runway would actually look good on particular people.

            All this said, I only know this from a general appetite for documentaries and such and am in no way an expert.

      • Tekhno says:

        I’ve seen a fair number of complaints from anorexics about getting compliments and requests for diet advice when they were thin enough to be very ill.

        Giant fatties get this too (the compliments not the diet advice). It’s mainly due to the internet allowing the formation of groupies and weird fetish communities.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Is that an answer to what I said?

        • Tekhno says:

          It’s another example running in the opposite direction. I’m agreeing with you that the standards for beauty aren’t a good match for health, which is particularly bad with the internet.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I was too angry to be clear.

            I can’t remember whether you’re part of the “don’t be a dick to fat people” contingent, but referring to very fat people as “giant fatties” counts.

            Complimenting people for being so thin that their health is in danger is *mainstream*.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            I can’t remember whether you’re part of the “don’t be a dick to fat people” contingent, but referring to very fat people as “giant fatties” counts.

            No, I’m part of the dickish “fat people deserve (light) mockery” brigade, because I know how it helped me and some other people lose weight.

            Complimenting people for being so thin that their health is in danger is *mainstream*.

            Most people aren’t that thin. It’s a fringe community thing, not an issue that is wide spread in society.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            >>Complimenting people for being so thin that their health is in danger is *mainstream*.

            >Most people aren’t that thin. It’s a fringe community thing, not an issue that is wide spread in society.

            My point isn’t that most people are that thin. My point is that being that thin is a cultural ideal, and this causes damage.

  24. Deiseach says:

    Has anyone else heard of this? Tesla may have made the most crash-safe car by accident? 🙂

    • Aapje says:

      The comic completely fails to distinguish between ‘less crash damage to the car’ and ‘less crash damage to the passengers.’

      Modern cars are made to intentionally deform in a controlled manner, as to gradually decelerate, limiting the G-forces on the body, maximizing survival odds. This means that modern cars sustain more damage than the much more solid cars of old, which sustained less catastrophic damage in accidents, but were way more lethal.

      If the characteristics of a Tesla are more like the old cars, this would make them less crash-safe, if one uses this definition of crash-safe: more chance of passenger survival.

      However, AFAIK the Tesla uses modern crumple zone techniques as as such, it is both quite safe and also quite prone to crumpling up like a can of coke in the hands of the Hulk (except the passenger cage).

      • gbdub says:

        Logged in to say basically the same thing.

        In theory a Tesla could be safer in a frontal crash for exactly the opposite reason the comic proposes: in a traditional car, the engine block is a big, basically undeformable injection right in front of the triver – having that intrude on the passenger compartment is a very bad thing.

        In a Tesla, the front end is all empty space, so you could conceivably design the whole thing as a crumple zone. I don’t know whether or not they’ve actually achieved this in practice, but if they have, I can assure you it wasn’t an “accident”.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The front end of a modern front-engine car is already a crumple zone; the engine is typically designed to drop below the passenger compartment in a frontal crash.

          • gbdub says:

            Right, just saying it would be theoretically easier without having to worry about the engine at all – you’re still having to design a mechanism to deal with a massive hunk of not-really deformable metal that wants to go somewhere you don’t want it.

    • skef says:

      (Edit: scooped) The analysis doesn’t make much sense. (Much) older cars tended to be very sturdy. When a car hits something and stays rigid, the deceleration of the passengers closely matches the deceleration at the front of the car, which is not ideal. Newer cars have “crumple zones” that compact in an accident, which allows the deceleration of the passengers to be lower than that of the bumper. So the illustration at the link gets the relevant notion of safety wrong, as the goal is (presumably) to protect the passengers, not to minimize damage to the car itself.

      That bad analysis doesn’t mean there isn’t a similar, better one. If you look at a Tesla drive train you’ll see that there isn’t much up front, and what there is is fairly low. The motor (on the S at least) is in the rear, and the battery block doesn’t extend all the way to the front. Some of those features have non-safety arguments for them — rear wheel drive, for example, is considered preferable for performance reasons I won’t go into. But the front looks to me like it was designed with safety in mind with a front trunk.

  25. quintopia1 says:

    Hey Scott (or anyone interested in tinkering about with numerology)–I just got this question sent to me on Quora:

    “Are the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life and the Golden Ratio Phi linked in any way? If so, how?”

    Not experienced in the ways of engineering connections between things that are, to all outward appearances, completely unrelated, I leave this here in the hopes that someone could answer this question in the way that the kabbalists of UNSONG would.

    • shakeddown says:

      The rectangles in the drawing look like they have the golden ratio between their sides. That’s not really very kabbalistic, though.
      They are both methods by which an infinite God touches the finite world: The tree of life, as explained by Aaron and Uriel.
      The golden ratio: God is one. God is very definite about being one. However, God is both infinitely complex, and yet touches the finite world. How to resolve these apparent contradictions into a satisfactory numerical representation of God?
      The answer is to find an infinite series representing a finite number, composed only of ones. The most natural and simple way to do this (and remember, God is both perfectly simple and perfectly natural) is by the number 1+1/(1+1/(1+1/(…))), which is also the representation of the golden ratio.

    • rlms says:

      Since the Golden Ratio is the limit of the ratio of successive Fibonacci numbers, just find some of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… in the Tree of Life.

  26. Silverlock says:

    I posted this question a couple of open threads ago . . . about three hours before the next thread was created. So I’m trying it again:

    I need some help tracking down an essay, please. It was entitled something like “If you Want People to Trust the News, You have to Print News Worth Trusting.” In it, the author pointed out several recent instances — mostly involving the Washington Post, I think — when the mainstream news media did not do such a hot job of spreading truth.

    I could have sworn it was from The Atlantic, but I have been unable to find it. I also thought it had been tweeted by Jon Haidt, but I can find no sign of it there, either. I know someone linked to it on SSC, but I can’t find it here either.

    My Google-Fu has failed me. Can anyone bail me out here?

  27. Deiseach says:

    Oh no, the Christofascists are out there!

    Okay, I have heard dark mutterings about Christian Reconstructionism so it probably really does exist in some way, shape or form. On the other hand, I have this awful niggling feeling that someone calling themself “Kieryn Darkwater” and talking about “I checked Twitter as I got in my Lyft back home. Shock bombarded and horror filled me as I scrolled through my timeline” is just possibly maybe slightly milking the moment for all it’s worth and may be inclined to over-egg the pudding, gild the lily, and other metaphors when it comes to talking about the terrible background of oppression they have fled?

    Does anybody have a sane opinion on this? As you can tell, I am inclined to scoff, but I don’t want my instinctive prejudice against “blue-haired fairy bois*” and the fairy stories they might tell you to blind me to something that is actually happening and actually real. I don’t mean “Do you realise people who are serious Christians are, like, serious about being Christians?”, I mean “yes there is a definite political agenda where people are purposefully infiltrating their agents into positions of power to create a theocracy”.

    *I’m Irish. You don’t joke about the fairies and they are not cutesy. Pratchett got it right in “Lords and Ladies”.

    • Corey says:

      I’m an atheist living in Raleigh so I’m probably more attuned to the Christian dominionism in the US’s water than most are.

      I’ve got (programmer!) co-workers who sincerely believe that e.g. the original 13 US States had official Christian denominations, and so the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government, only activist judges prevent States from establishing official religions.

      They’re about evenly split between literal young Earth creationists, and old-Earth creationists, e.g. one tells me evolution can’t be true because mutations can’t create information, and has maps of evidence of Noah’s flood.

      They all believe religion is the only possible source of morality, and AFAICT this is true of most people, so the concept of laws not informed by religion isn’t even coherent to them. (TBF if you’re a creationist, literally everything comes from religion, I tell myself). So they’d be theocrats in a broad sense, where they wouldn’t even recognize the difference between religiously-motivated and morally-motivated laws.

      Most US homeschooling is indeed for religious-separatism reasons (keeping your kids away from evolutionists, fornicators, rock & roll, etc; keeping them away from “socialist indoctrination” is also sometimes a plus to them). My knowledge is second-hand, from trying to find curricula and materials for supplemental at-home instruction that *aren’t* part of this movement.

      I have come across homeschoolersanonymous.org, an interesting place where they typically criticize the homeschooling movement from a Christian perspective. Obviously they focus on the harsher bits, and posts of personal experiences are always vulnerable to being made up, but they’ve got verifiable sources for lots of their stuff.

      Christian dominionism is definitely a nontrivial force in the US. As to exactly how big and pervasive it is, I don’t know. And of course in believers you have a range of devout-nesses, so exactly where to draw the line is a bit fuzzy.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        I’ve got (programmer!) co-workers who sincerely believe that e.g. the original 13 US States had official Christian denominations, and so the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government, only activist judges prevent States from establishing official religions.

        I don’t know about the rest, but Massachusetts was officially Congregationalist until the 1830s, so that factoid seems at least partially true.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          The phrase “Established Church” is ambiguous in both words. By 1789, I think no State required people to belong to a particular Church. According to this there were 5/13 state-funded Churches, 3 Congregationalist in New England, and Anglican Maryland and South Carolina. Many States required elected officials to be Protestant. Even Pennsylvania (though not RI), founded in the name of religious liberty, required profession of a belief in God and the Hereafter. Many states required people to belong to and fund a Church, sometimes specifically a Protestant Church. In theory that gave the State the ability to approve a body as a Real Church, so you might say that these were Established. Indeed, South Carolina said that “the” Protestant Church was Established. Here are some quotes from State Constitutions. The activist judges were in the 20th century.

          • Deiseach says:

            Coming at it as a non-American, prior to independence the Established Church would have been the Anglican Church (because of Henry VIII and the Supreme Head of the Church being the monarch. If George was king of the American colonies, the Anglican church was the state church). This is why The Episcopal Church has what is called The National Cathedral in Washington, even though you do not have an established church: they regard themselves as being a church of and for the nation due to their history. This led to some kerfuffle during the Revolution, where this led to the inevitable split (ironically, in view of Later Events, the Southern church was more strongly the ‘patriot’ separatist side). The official Episcopalian website puts it somewhat simplistically:

            The Episcopal church, established shortly after the American Revolution, has its roots in the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, known as the Church of England, had a strong following in colonial America. But when the colonies won their independence, the majority of America’s Anglican clergy refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch as was required. As a result, the Episcopal Church was formed.

            It wasn’t quite that easy. In order to provide for native clergy in what was now going to be a separate national church (and not merely a province of the existing mother Church of England), they needed bishops. To get bishops, they needed them to be consecrated by existing bishops, who were all more or less in England and not particularly disposed to ordain bishops for a breakaway sect. So they did an end-run by appealing to the separate Episcopal Church in Scotland (not the Church of Scotland, that’s the Presbyterians).

            Wikipedia has a clearer view of the timeline:

            Although there was no American bishop in the colonial era, the Church of England had an official status in several colonies, which meant that tax money was paid to the local parish by the local government, and the parish handled some civic functions. The Church of England was designated the established church in Virginia in 1609, in New York in 1693, in Maryland in 1702, in South Carolina in 1706, in North Carolina in 1730, and in Georgia in 1758.

            From 1635, the vestries and the clergy were loosely under the diocesan authority of the Bishop of London. After 1702, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) began missionary activity throughout the colonies. On the eve of Revolution about 400 independent congregations were reported throughout the colonies.

            …When the clergy of Connecticut elected Samuel Seabury as their bishop in 1783, he sought consecration in England. The Oath of Supremacy prevented Seabury’s consecration in England, so he went to Scotland; the non-juring Scottish bishops there consecrated him in Aberdeen on November 14, 1784, making him, in the words of scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn, “the first Anglican bishop appointed to minister outside the British Isles”. On August 3, 1785, the first ordinations on American soil took place at Christ Church in Middletown, Connecticut.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            There are three colonies that did not have the Anglican Church as the established Church. Maryland was founded specifically as a Catholic enclave, though by the time of the Revolution the Anglicans had taken over. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island emphasized separation of Church and State. Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, who were definite Nonconformists. Rhode Island was founded by Puritan exiles from Boston, who were neither more nor less Conformant than those in Boston, but who believed more in Separation. (Perhaps they became even more Nonconformant when they founded the Baptists.)

            Moreover, as I said, even the word “Church” is ambiguous, if only because centralization was impossible with 18th century communications. The South Carolina Constitution asserted that all Protestants formed a single (Established) Church, while in New York the English Church was Established apart from the Dutch Church. I said that New England was Congregationalist, rather than Anglican. It had always claimed to be part of the English Church, but I don’t think anyone really ever believed them. When they called themselves Congregationalist, they were, among other things, rejecting Bishops.

          • The phrase “Established Church” is ambiguous in both words. By 1789, I think no State required people to belong to a particular Church.

            The fact that a church is established does not imply compulsory membership. England had an established church for centuries and still has one. I do not believe it has ever been illegal to be a member of a different church, although there were at various times various legal disabilities resulting from doing so.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            You can assert a definition, but that doesn’t stop a term from being ambiguous. I was very careful not to use the term myself, as you might notice if you bothered to read.

            Also, all this talk of “belonging” to discrete “Churches” is anachronistic.

            (Well, my second comment was not so careful. I meant that there were 3 colonies where there were times that it was very clear that the English Church was not Established, not that it was clearly Established in the others.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Deiseach, let me try that again. At the time of the Revolution, there were two Established Churches in Great Britain, one in Scotland and one in the rest. So Maryland being part of this Kingdom* does not logically preclude it from having the Roman Church be Established. Indeed, I claim that it was for a while, though that time was far in the past. Similarly, it is reasonable to propose that Pennsylvania and Rhode Island never had Established Churches, but it is harder to make sense of such a negative statement.

            * I think Maryland was part of this Kingdom, but it might not have been, just as Ireland was not (yet).

        • BBA says:

          The federal Bill of Rights certainly didn’t apply to the states prior to the 14th Amendment (1868). The 14th Amendment was probably intended to do so, but the Supreme Court first ruled that it didn’t, then a few decades later ruled that a different part of it did, using bizarre double-backflip logic to avoid admitting that they got it wrong the first time.

        • Protagoras says:

          Rhode Island never had an official state religion.

      • Skivverus says:

        Having only visited Raleigh, I can’t comment on your experience, but having lived in the Baltimore and Rochester areas for several years each, I also can’t say I’ve noticed much overt proselytizing or dominion-ism – though this may be a matter of selection bias, since the family is basically atheist and unlikely to seek out hostile communities (though certainly visited plenty of churches of the friends we did make without bursting into flame, so there’s that; synagogues were less common, and only Muslim friends were female, so invitations to a mosque would’ve been weird).
        Have only been proselytized to once, in college; the man was friendly enough, though he left disappointed (Two McMillion here has/had more convincing arguments, I think).
        The US is large and difficult to generalize for.

      • PedroS says:

        Why do the literalist Christian denominations seem to have such a disproportionate influence in the US vs. other Christian countries? Even taking into account the rapid rate of seculization in Europe, I do not recall hearing any reports of such denominations on my side of the pond.

        • Part of the answer suggested by the work of Larry Iannacone, an economist whose specialty is the economics of religion, is that European countries mostly had established, hence monopoly, churches. The U.S. had a competitive market for religion.

          Which reminds me of David Hume’s argument in favor of the established church, that it bribed the indolence of the clergy and so reduced religious passions.

          • Deiseach says:

            What’s interesting to me is that the Rapture, which seems to have developed into an explosion of Dispensationalist theology in the USA (where “explosion” means “small percentage but very heated in particular non-mainline denominations”) actually started off, or got popularised, in the British Isles by John Nelson Darby but got really nowhere (unless you count eventually resulting in the Exclusive Brethren splitting off from the Plymouth Brethren who were never a large denomination to start with).

            However, when it got to America, via one particular canny or inspired editor of a Bible translation with a Bible-study course included, it took off like wildfire. Apparently you can also blame him for the whole Young Earth Creationism thing:

            Finally, the 1917 edition also attempted to date events of the Bible. It was in the pages of the Scofield Reference Bible that many Christians first encountered Archbishop James Ussher’s calculation of the date of Creation as 4004 BC; and through discussion of Scofield’s notes, which advocated the “gap theory,” fundamentalists began a serious internal debate about the nature and chronology of creation.

            Impressive, considering it was only published in 1909 and revised in 1917!

            Indeed, the only reason I know anything about it is from hanging around American Protestant websites where this is discussed from time to time (generally in a tongue-in-cheek way like the Emo Williams joke). It is so not even on the radar that I had to Google to see if Catholicism has any position on Millennialism – seemingly yes we do, we amillennialists 🙂

      • TenMinute says:

        Corey, your coworkers were right, and you’re undeservedly smug in your superiority.
        “the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government” is an exact and unambiguously correct description.

      • I’ve got (programmer!) co-workers who sincerely believe that e.g. the original 13 US States had official Christian denominations, and so the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government, only activist judges prevent States from establishing official religions.

        The First Amendment Establishment Clause only covered the Federal Government, as should be obvious from reading it.

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

        If you think your co-workers are nutty for believing that, that says more about you than about them.

        Some of the original states had established churches, some didn’t. The application to the states was a result of the incorporation doctrine, which held that one result of the Fourteenth Amendment was to make at least some of the Bill of Rights applicable to the state. That was a decision by judges–the Supreme Court in 1940.

        Most US homeschooling is indeed for religious-separatism reasons

        It is clearly one important reason but not, judging by survey data, the most important one.

        What your evidence suggests is that people pushing home schooling for religious reasons are more active in providing home schooling materials, which might, for all I know, be true.

        • Corey says:

          [Religious separatism] is clearly one important reason [for homeschooling] but not, judging by survey data, the most important one.

          More people cited “concern over the school environment” as the most important reason (31%) than “religious/moral instruction” (29%), true. But when they could list all the reasons, 85% included environment concerns, and 72% included religious/moral instruction. So there’s definitely a lot of overlap, which would match my prior of environment concerns roughly equalling “exposure to secular culture”.

        • Corey says:

          If you think your co-workers are nutty for believing that, that says more about you than about them.

          Thanks for the tips, I’ll update. I didn’t think it was that bad to be skeptical of pro-theocracy claims from people who group animals into baramins, but *shrug*.

          • I didn’t think it was that bad to be skeptical of pro-theocracy claims from people who group animals into baramins, but *shrug*.

            If “skeptical” means “the fact that they believe it is not a good reason to think it is true,” I agree. If it means “the fact that they believe it is a good reason to think it is false,” which seems to have been the rule you followed, I disagree.

            And thanks for causing me to google for “baramins.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            If people have demonstrated that they have an unusual number of incorrect or false ideas about a subject, we can increase our probability estimate that the next they say on the subject is false or incorrect.

            If they do so about many subjects, we can increase the estimate that anything they say is incorrect.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          @David Friedman:

          If you think your co-workers are nutty for believing that, that says more about you than about them.

          Please don’t go native. Please?

    • beleester says:

      This part jumped out at me:

      You cannot be this version of evangelical and not force your beliefs on others. Failing to convert is a failure on you and your dedication to your faith. This religion is based entirely on fear; you can’t argue away a fear so intense that it hardens you to anyone unlike you or your tribe.

      I follow another ex-evangelical blogger, Fred Clark (mainly for his takedown of the terrible Left Behind novels), and he described the mood in evangelical circles in exactly the same way – saving souls is paramount, everything else is just a means to that end. If you don’t preach hard enough to convert someone, then they’re going to hell and it’s your fault. This post was a good one, and seeing as he wrote it five years ago when Obama was still president, he’s probably not milking the moment for political points. So, blue-haired fairy boy or not, the guy you linked sounds like an actual evangelical.

      Do I believe that putting Pence on the ticket was a 5D Nine-Men’s-Morris move to get a Dominionist into the presidency? Not really, any more than I think that anything else Trump did is some grand chessmaster scheme. Do I believe that there’s a good-sized voting bloc that sincerely thinks the US is a Christian nation, wants to pass laws to that effect, and has an insular subculture that creates kids who want the same thing even more fervently? Yes.

      (Obligatory scary headline: Trump stated yesterday that he wants to remove the Johnson Amendment, the thing that requires tax-exempt charitable organizations, like churches, to stay out of politics.)

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Beleester – “I follow another ex-evangelical blogger, Fred Clark (mainly for his takedown of the terrible Left Behind novels), and he described the mood in evangelical circles in exactly the same way – saving souls is paramount, everything else is just a means to that end.”

        That is horrifyingly unbiblical. I mean, it’s definately real; I’ve got a guy in my small group at church who believes this, but man, what a appallingly awful way to see the world. I think Church of Christ qualifies as evangelical, and we definately do not believe this. I would hope the larger Evangelical community doesn’t either.

      • Iain says:

        Minor pedantry: unless I’ve missed something, Fred Clark is still an evangelical blogger, not an ex-evangelical blogger.

        I agree with the rest of your post, though. Fred Clark is good stuff.

        • beleester says:

          My mistake, sorry. I didn’t recall how he actually identified, I just remembered him usually being critical of evangelicals.

      • Deiseach says:

        Obligatory rebuttal of scary headline: since I’m not American and wouldn’t know the Johnson Amendment if I fell over it, I’m relying on the history as related here:

        The Internal Revenue Service, which monitors the activities of tax-exempt groups, including churches, specifies that the rules apply to “all section 501(c)(3) organizations” and not just churches, mosques or synagogues. In other words, the reference to “entities like churches and charitable organizations” is a bit on the vague side of things.

        Some history here: In 1954, then-Senator “Landslide” Lyndon Johnson was facing his first re-election to the Senate after squeaking to an 87-vote win over popular former Texas governor Coke Stevenson in 1948.

        Johnson’s political stances riled some on the right, particularly oil magnate H.K. Hunt and newspaper publisher Frank Gannett. Each separately formed tax-exempt groups to distribute information against Johnson, alleging the Senator was “soft” on Communism.

        Neither Hunt nor Gannett founded a church, however. But because the Johnson Amendment – to the Internal Revenue Code – blocked political speech for all 501(c)3s, pulpiteers were suddenly swept up in the rules.

        I have seen some online posting about “This would mean Fred and Betty could go to a church where the preacher tells them God hates homosexuality and to vote for a candidate who is anti-gay rights”. Given that (a) you can as yet go to a church where a sermon about homosexuality being a sin can be preached, this is not going to be affected by any maintenance or repeal of this amendment (b) this equally applies to Zuzu and Fawnia going to a faith community where the guest speaker talks about how crucifying Mother Gaia is a sin and to vote for a politician who will act on climate change. You can preach about sin all you like, just as long as you don’t mention any particular names – no “Trump is indeed the Anti-Christ so if you vote for him you will go to Hell (if Hell existed you would, that is)” or “Jones-Smyth-Browne is the only candidate it is sane to vote for because xie will reverse the rising of sea levels”.

        That is, any denomination, church or other religious grouping is not supposed to directly campaign for or against any politician or party. A black preacher at an African-American church getting up in the pulpit and telling the congregation vote for Obama? Just as much breaks the law as Westboro Baptist telling its people to vote for a candidate who will get rid of the gays:

        Though it apparently seems this way it isn’t only conservatives who’ve felt the sting of the IRS’ implementation of the Johnson Amendment. In 2005, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, was investigated by the agency after a 2004 guest sermon by former rector the Rev. George F. Regas inveighing against the war policies of then-President George W. Bush. That’s hardly a Jerry Falwell-style homily, is it?

        …In implying that the Johnson Amendment only impacts churches with conservative doctrinal views, The New York Times frames the issue poorly and obscures the heart of the issue. You see, churches on the left and right have felt the IRS’ hand on their shoulder because a freshman Texas Senator once got his way.

        The progressive element either are unaware of the existence of the Religious Left or don’t think it’s ‘religion interfering in politics’ when their side does it for their pet causes or candidates.

        • Corey says:

          Wonk criticism of Johnson-Amendment repeal is that it provides a (new) way to funnel opaque money into campaigns – launder it through churches, who don’t have to disclose anything about their funding sources. Likewise, it’d be easy to incorporate purpose-built churches; the US government takes an expansive view of what counts as a church, and the government asking too many questions about any church will cause an uproar.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Running the money through churches seems kludgey when there are already so many more politically-minded 501(c)3s out there: NAACP, NRA, ACLU, SPLC, to name just a few.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Honestly, I’m with Marc Randazza on this. Let’s just strip churches of tax exemption entirely, and then the question of whether or not advocacy endangers their tax exemptions becomes moot.

            Although to be honest, I’d much rather just delete 501(c) in its entirely and erase the entire concept of the tax-exempt non-profit. If people care enough to pay money for policy advocacy (or spiritual enlightenment for that matter) sufficiently to support a business organization, tax that business the same as any other.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Honestly, I’m with Marc Randazza on this. Let’s just strip churches of tax exemption entirely, and then the question of whether or not advocacy endangers their tax exemptions becomes moot.

            The power to tax is the power to regulate. Making religious institutions pay taxes would endanger the First Amendment, which is why they were exempt from taxation in the first place.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Fair enough. I’m not a big fan of the use of taxes and subsidies as a carrot and stick to shape public behavior period, so I’m all in favor of strictly limiting that power.

            When the only type of tax you’re allowed is (as a ferinstance), income tax, and it must be assessed universally against individual or collective organization (whether business, church, environmental activist group, or local amateur dramatic club that sells tickets to its plays), it makes it hard to wield that as a club without hitting so many unintended targets as to make it useless.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            There is an intermediate possibility between eliminating 501c and the status quo, namely eliminating 501c3 charities and forcing them to become other 501c non-profits, which are allowed to lobby (though it is complicated).

    • For almost the bulk of western civilization with accessible written historical records, the government was either less powerful then the papal institution, or nearly the same in power. Never underestimate religious influence in government.

      Look it Irans islamic theoracy with its written legal code being fairly close to quran laws, except where those laws can’t easily be applied. It appears that, excepting the countries where religion has been stamped out for decades under soviet rule, majority muslim countries are at strong risk of having their entire body of law be as brutal as the quran, with there being a random risk of brutal suppression of anything considered non-halal, so even rock-bands have to be very underground or risk being murdered. (And it appears so violently self-reinforcing that even at levels of being a small minority, current western civilization is already being brutally silenced

      As someone whose step-siblings were almost homeschooled, and the families closest friends children were homeschooled to avoid non-religious influence, its powerful. The biggest reasons seemed to be this
      1. Ensuring abstinence only education(remember, sexual immorality is horrible unless a really rich guy who “supports” religion does it, then its being like king david) 2. Avoiding the topic of Evolution and adding doubt to any historical records past 6000 years in history 3. Ensuring more favorable coverage of the religion one grew up in 4. Ensuring more negative coverage of other religions, in particular emphasizing the negative rule of the catholic church(clearly my family was of protestant origin)

      My guess is most parents or potential parents who believe that an area truly has a terrible school system and care for their child’s education probably just do their best to move locations to a better system, rather then just find(and how?) the one good tiny private school in the area, that may cost a fortune.

      • Avoiding the topic of Evolution and adding doubt to any historical records past 6000 years in history

        Writing seems to have been invented a little over five thousand years ago, so there is good reason to doubt any historical records claimed to be from more than six thousand years ago.

        Do you mean “any conclusions about events from more than six thousand years ago,” such as those based on geological or paleontological evidence? There is a reason for the term “pre-historic.”

      • Aevylmar says:

        For almost the bulk of western civilization with accessible written historical records, the government was either less powerful then the papal institution, or nearly the same in power.

        I can’t comment on your larger point, of whether it is unwise to underestimate religious influence on government, but based on my studies of history, I think the quoted sentence is wrong – that is, that the popes often (almost regularly) lost; that the papal faction was generally not the stronger, but the weaker by far. I’d like to focus on Pope Innocent III, since I coincidentally know a lot more about him than I do about many of the others.

        (Apologies in advance for a long historical rant, by the way; I’m somewhat sleep-deprived.)

        Per Wikipedia, “Pope Innocent was one of the most powerful and influential popes.” (Unsourced quotes will be from Wikipedia in this, since it’s easy to access and fairly reliable.) So we can use him reasonably well as a potential upper limit to papal influence, and we can look at the things that he tried to do and the things he did do and see what happened.

        • English conflict: King John quarrels with his barons. Pope Innocent is on the side of the barons and uses every means at his disposal to stop John. John responds by confiscating the income of the church and ignoring the interdict, fighting a war with about equal terms with his barons. John then offers official surrender to the Pope, who switches sides in the war and supports John. John remains fighting on approximately equal terms, but by the time he dies is clearly losing more than he’s winning.

        I don’t think we can say here that the papal institution is more powerful than the government. Indeed, I think we can say that the papal institution does not have the power to swing a war between two roughly equally balanced branches of government, suggesting it is considerably less powerful.

        • Italy. The project of the Papacy from the eleventh century to the fourteenth or fifteenth was to get Italy out of the hands of the Holy Roman Empire. It is true that the Holy Roman Empire eventually lost Italy, due to internal revolt and French invasion; it is also true Innocent reigned during the period in which the Holy Roman Empire had the most control over the peninsula it had had since before Charlemagne. Indeed, one of his rivals, Frederick II, who held onto Italy his entire life, “was frequently at war with the papacy, [which was] hemmed in between Frederick’s lands in northern Italy and his Kingdom of Sicily (the Regno) to the south, and thus [Frederick] was excommunicated four times and often vilified in pro-papal chronicles of the time and since.” It is nevertheless true that these excommunications failed to accomplish anything until more than forty years after Innocent’s death, when they were backed by the foreign armies of the French. Again, the Pope isn’t doing much.

        • Crusading. Pope Innocent III wants a holy war to recover Jerusalem. He gets the Fourth Crusade, a crowning piece of idiocy which starts by attacking the city of Zara, held by *other* crusaders, and moves on to invading the Byzantine empire. The whole time – up until it succeeds, when he finally throws up his hands and says, fine, the only way this could have happened was if God wanted it – he is sending angry emissaries to them excommunicating them and dissolving the oaths that bound them to the crusade and telling them go invade the Middle East, you idiots, Byzantium is not the Middle East. He is excommunicating the leadership and then excommunicating them again, because he has no bigger stick to hit them with.

        Jerusalem isn’t recovered until after his death, by Frederick II, who he hated and who recovered it with the condemnation of the Papacy. So, again, the Pope is putting his political power into things, and the exact opposite things are happening despite everything he can do.

        Now it is true that he wanted the Albigensian Crusade and it happened. But it is *also*
        the case that “The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and promptly took on a political flavour, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of the County of Toulouse, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown and diminishing the distinct regional culture and high level of influence of the Counts of Barcelona.” So while I think we can call this a point for him, we can’t call it a very large point, since while he’s accomplishing something he wants, he’s accomplishing it by handing a lot of power over to the dominant faction in France.

        So, over all, I think we can say conclusively that at at least the point in history when Wikipedia says “the papacy was at the height of its powers” and the Pope was “considered to be the most powerful person in Europe at the time,” governments were enormously more powerful within their territories (and more capable of waging war outside of them) than was the papal institution.

      • cassander says:

        >For almost the bulk of western civilization with accessible written historical records, the government was either less powerful then the papal institution, or nearly the same in power. Never underestimate religious influence in government.

        This is debatable. First, you have the problem of the papacy being quite unique as far are religious heads go in having the papal states. in most historical circumstances, the religious heads, if they even have the sort of formal bureaucratic authority the popes possessed, were kept safely in the capital where the royal armies could smack them down if they got too uppity. Catholicism is rather unique in that the temporal power (the great lords of Europe) were often quite far from the locus of spiritual power, and with a large number of often hostile powers between them.

        Second, even in Europe, papal power waxed and waned strongly over time. Prior to 1059, there were no formal rules for papal selection, and emperors had little trouble seating and unseating them. Papal power certainly became real in the middle ages, but it was never consistently maintained and was broken for good by the reformation, if not earlier. Even the states that didn’t go protestant went through a “gallicanising” of the church in their domains, gaining substantial control over church lands, revenues, and appointments. Popes being more powerful than secular rulers did happen, but in only during a narrow period, roughly 1100-1500, and excluding big chunks of time in that period. For example, most of the 1300s, the popes are in Avignon because they’re literally incapable of controlling Rome, much less the great princes of Europe.

    • hls2003 says:

      I’ve got pretty solid family, community, religious, and educational ties to the evangelical community. This will reflect my experience, rather than specific survey evidence, etc., but I will represent that I have also at various times seen survey evidence conforming to my opinion. To quote Reverend Lovejoy, “Short answer yes, with an if… long answer no, with a but.”

      There are actually Christians who genuinely believe that society would be better if it was run exclusively by Christians in accordance with Christian principles, with Biblical law in place of sharia law. They are not numerous; they are not supported by any denomination of note; and there is not even the tiniest chance of their success. Worrying about them is foolish.

      To the extent there are large numbers making anything like this argument, they are generally saying something relatively anodyne, like the argument that America was founded on Christian principles, that those moral principles are the only feasible buttress for the small-L liberal democratic nature of American society, and that therefore it is best for America if we do not jettison those moral principles. In other words, they are seeking not to rule because Christians should wield power, but rather to encourage a virtuous citizenry that is capable of maintaining a functional liberal democratic republic (for example, citing George Washington “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society” or John Adams “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”)

      If you want to include that second group in the term “Christian Reconstructionism,” then it is more widespread. But the goal is not to convert anyone by force, mandate church attendance, or tell anyone what to believe. Rather, it is to use law to support public virtue in connection with self-government. That may well include banning same-sex marriage, or abortion, but is generally more concerned with the relationship of citizens capable of supporting their government, not the government dictating to its citizens. In fact, most all such people are very small-government types who would be delighted with the government touching as little as possible. Worrying about this category is perhaps more realistic since they are more numerous, but they are also largely harmless as far as “Christofascism” goes.

      Neither group is seeking to “infiltrate” and “sneak” their way into anything. In fact, to the contrary, the larger second group wants to be as public and loud as possible. There are no secret conspiracies.

      I would also suggest that your suspicion of the narrative from “Kieryn Darkwater” is well-grounded. Nobody is as bitter as an ex-anything, or a less reliable expositor of the “real” nature of the thing.

  28. James Miller says:

    From Mandy C Souza (Facebook) “In Brazil and Argentina, when violence erupts, everybody sits down so police can quickly detain the perpetrators and the protest while the peaceful protesters get out of the way and then can resume afterwards.”

    • FacelessCraven says:

      That would, in fact, be a perfect solution to the problem, if the violence weren’t actually supported by the protesters as a whole.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Are you sure that’s true?

        It seems at least as likely that a lot of the US protestors don’t like the antifas, but haven’t figured out a solution they like.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          in the videos I’ve seen, there seems to be a lot of cheering on the violence. In berkeley, as I understand it, the specific goal of the protest wasn’t the content of Milo’s presentation, but the fact he was being allowed to speak at all, and in fact the antifas successfully prevented him from speaking.

          I could be wrong, but given that a fair number of people are arguing publicly that political violence is good, protesters make no attempt to impede or even differentiate themselves from the antifa, and that the antifa are directly securing the protesters’ declared goals, it’s a hard conclusion to avoid.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I don’t think we have good enough evidence that this is true, but I will admit it’s what my lizard brain is thinking, and I don’t have a better counter-argument than “We don’t have -proof- of that, be more charitable”.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Well, down here a lot of people are clamoring the police behave more like in the US, so I guess this is a “grass is greener” sort of thing.

  29. Thegnskald says:

    I am curious:

    What political group do you most closely associate yourself with, and what is your opinion of the average member of your own group, as compared to the average member of other groups?

    Mine: Leftist liberal. We are pretty much exactly average in everything except self-perception, as the average leftist seems to have a greatly inflated opinion of the average leftist compared to most other groups. That might be a result of me not seeing the average rightist’s attitude, however.

    • PedroS says:

      Right-libertarian here. I think there is no difference between my group’s average and the other groups, but this is simply a matter of “statistical faith” on the law of great numbers applied to human populations. The number of libertarians in Portugal is so low that I only know 2-3 others IRL, and most of the activity happens online (where I expect to find only the extremes of the population: the knowledgeable people from academia/think-tanks and the opinionated/too-sure-of themselves with too much time on their hands).

    • Corey says:

      I think there’s a general principle to be applied: “nobody knows what’s mainstream in their outgroups”.

      Part of this is just a corollary of outgroup homogeneity bias, part is the nature of Internet discourse, where the loudest and most persistent voices dominate.

    • Libertarian. Less likely to be religious than the national average. Somewhat more likely to be familiar with economics. Much more likely to think they are. Probably a little better educated than the national average.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Liberal-ish left. In general, the advantage of my kind is that we are unexciting. The disadvantage is also that we are unexciting.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      nuevo traction fairy, apparently.

      We are evil and very possibly must be stopped before we kill again.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I honestly have no clue. Find me a group that’s pro-immigration and wants more refugees but ALSO pro-vetting and increased surveillance on them, who wants significantly more mmigration but is against multiculturalism, pro-UBI but anti-welfare state, anti War on Drugs but also against cutting much military spending (but would be willing to cut overall size while maintaining spending to create a higher quality and even more modernized force if possible), and I’ll let you know.

      • Matt M says:

        who wants significantly more mmigration but is against multiculturalism

        Maybe not the rest, but as a right-leaning AnCap this definitely applies to me. I want much more skilled immigration of people who are likely to assimilate, or at least to not be huge dicks about not assimilating.

        I’d be willing to open the doors to hundreds of millions of immigrants provided they are all pretty much like the Indian students I went to business school with. Smart, motivated, hard working, speak perfect English, follow their own traditions but respect, adapt, and embrace some American ones as well.

      • Once you find out then tell me, so I can join as well :^)

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      Clintonista. Members of other groups are mostly younger; we know what peace and prosperity were like.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Not permitted to say, but we’re cool.

    • Civilis says:

      I’m somewhere in the vast, nebulous cloud that can be called the right.

      I am somewhat social conservative, in that I tend to adopt a ‘Chesterton’s Fence’ attitude towards social mores; they’re there for a reason, and loosening them in the name of personal pleasure has long term negatives. On the other hand, I don’t believe social mores about individual behavior should be maintained by laws, which skews libertarian. The Drug War is something for which there is no good solution, but one of the things we need to admit is that there are problems with no good solution.

      Like libertarians, I believe the government should be smaller and less intrusive on the lives of Americans. Still, I believe there are, again, things for which the least bad solution is having the government do something. Dismantling many of the poorly functioning government systems in place of private alternatives is something that is not going to be done quickly, if it is possible in the first place, which makes me sympathetic to the establishment Republicans that have to actually deal with the problems.

      I grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and have seen how laws are made and bureaucracies work. While I join many Republicans in not liking the establishment, I understand why its there, and believe that many of the people in it see it as a necessary evil required to actually get things done.

      All of these forces are shifting and jockeying for position in the big nebulous cloud that is the right. I think there is tension between them, but that also it’s not an alliance of convenience, that ultimately all three have more in common with regards to political values than they do not. I believe most people on the right are somewhere in this cloud, whether they know it or not, and they shift around it with political winds but never leave it entirely.

      As far as the average member of the group, they’re average, just like everyone else. It’s the gray tribe (and the gray tribe in me) that has the desire and fortitude to measure the cloud. I recognize my view of the cloud is skewed from inside it, but I do what I can to account for that.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Thegnskald

      What political group do you most closely associate yourself with

      Is it telling that I can’t answer this question at this point? I think I’ve legitimately managed to get to a combination of views that don’t have a group behind them (other than one irl friend).

      I am a snowflake.

    • onyomi says:

      Right-leaning libertarian anarchist. My impression of other libertarians is that they strongly skew white, male, and nerdy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I tend to like and respect other libertarians more than average, especially for what I perceive as our intellectual openness and willingness to stick to principle and logic even when they seem to lead to counterintuitive conclusions.

      That said, we also tend to have a contrarian bias. I know I have one. That is, we can tend to be “so open minded our brains fall out,” or gravitate towards weird answers to common issues precisely because they are counterintuitive, unpopular, or intellectually fun to contemplate. And we also tend to be, perhaps, overly doctrinaire–to follow our principles to their logical conclusions, come hell or high water, even if they lead us to strange and possibly bad places. It was usually these traits, in part, that led us to contemplate libertarianism–still a non-mainstream and relatively “extreme” ideology–in the first place, of course.

      But libertarianism is much better known now than when I first became one and hopefully will continue to become so. If it does, I wonder whether having the “open to contemplate weird, counterintuitive, non-mainstream political ideologies” trait will no longer be such a prerequisite, and, if so, what sorts of new libertarians will then show up (hopefully not just white, nerdy, men–not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Democrat (although I am registered Unaffiliated).

      Strong pragmatic inclinations. I’m most interested in the practical affect of policies. I think that, just like you can’t decide to only steer a vehicle left or right, and you can’t get much of anywhere, and definitely not safely, by locking your steering wheel, that policies are necessary and need to be dynamic.

      The average human is far less interested in being pragmatic than I am. The average Democrat is no different.

    • I have no idea. Here are some policies and positions I support.

      For immigration, I support immigration with filters applied, and at this point in history I am against a refugee policy. The filters probably need to be stricter with those of islamic origin.

      Pro regulated free market, with the regulations mostly being pollution related, with some mind towards renewability.

      I would ban factory farming in an instant.

      Supporter of a basic minimum income, though i’m worried about idiocracy in the long run with policies such as that.

      Anti minimum wage. I think it creates more losses then gains applied to society. Why can’t a business hire a part-time worker for 4 bucks an hour? In the current system, that guy just doesn’t get any jobs and has to try scamming the welfare system all the time. 5 bucks a day is more then enough to eat a lot of healthy food, with the smallest amount of planning.

      I hate all tariffs, excepting the cases applied to countries with human rights violations and such.

      While I would not run the experiment on the whole country, i’m pro drug legalization for all of them. I consider myself a social experimental on the issue, though. What tips me to “pro-drug” is that the class of violent stupid criminals that currently claim access to distribution will no longer be funded whatsoever.

      I am pro strict Singaporean public-cleanliness and behavior laws.

      Meritocracy with some democracy is better then pure democracy. So I suppose I support what China is attempting to do more then the American model.

      I’d try and socialize as much as medicine as possible, while keeping a mind towards incentives to improve service and R&D. The college system is trickier, but something has gone horribly wrong with college loans.

      So where am I?

      • Pro regulated free market, with the regulations mostly being pollution related, with some mind towards renewability.

        Why the renewability part of that? If I use up a resource I own there is less of it left for me, so I have an incentive to take account of that cost just like other costs.

  30. So I was going back to read In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization after the whole punching Nazis, burning Berkeley, and threatening federal funding week we just had. Here is a quote:

    I think most of our useful social norms exist through a combination of divine grace and reciprocal communitarianism. To some degree they arise spontaneously and are preserved by the honor system. To another degree, they are stronger or weaker in different groups, and the groups that enforce them are so much more pleasant than the groups that don’t that people are willing to go along.

    The norm against malicious lies follows this pattern. Politicians lie, but not too much. Take the top story on Politifact Fact Check today. Some Republican claimed his supposedly-maverick Democratic opponent actually voted with Obama’s economic policies 97 percent of the time. Fact Check explains that the statistic used was actually for all votes, not just economic votes, and that members of Congress typically have to have >90% agreement with their president because of the way partisan politics work. So it’s a lie, and is properly listed as one. But it’s a lie based on slightly misinterpreting a real statistic. He didn’t just totally make up a number.

    And a few paragraphs down:

    Anti-Semites fight nasty. The Ku Klux Klan fights nasty. Neo-Nazis fight nasty. We dismiss them with equanamity, in accordance with the ancient proverb: “Haters gonna hate”. There is a role for organized opposition to these groups, like making sure they can’t actually terrorize anyone, but the marginal blog post condemning Nazism is a waste of time. Everybody who wants to discuss things charitably and compassionately has already formed a walled garden and locked the Nazis outside of it.

    I still agree with everything Scott wrote, but it’s troubling that these two passages in particular now ring hollow. Politicians used to just lie with what they could get away with, but now Trump seems to lie a lot more. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say Neo-Nazis are accepted or anything like that, but I was a lot more comfortable saying we shouldn’t worry about fringe right-wing groups a year and a half ago. Related: a year ago or more, I wouldn’t have thought to waste time arguing with someone that political violence was a good idea, but over the last few weeks, I’ve had several people I know on the left who cheered on political-based violence.

    I guess what I’m saying is that Scott wrote this really nice post about how liberalism tends to win out, but it seems over the past year that liberalism hasn’t been doing that great. A year isn’t a trend, and I’d bet against a huge spike in political violence over the next two years, but it’s very troubling.

    • Thegnskald says:

      The variant of Leftism that has been most prominent over the last few years has been pretty illiberal, to the point where many moderate leftists (liberals) are getting fed up with it.

      Eroding those norms has been a disgustingly bipartisan effort.

      • Deiseach says:

        The mockery was over the use of “irreversible”; plainly if it could change, then it cannot be irreversible.

        Leave that out, and the statement is – as you say – simply good sense. No “right side of history”, no “arc of justice bending”, just “this is not a guaranteed state of affairs, you have to maintain the structures or else eventually they fall apart”.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Deiseach

        I’m pretty sure that the contradiction was on purpose, and Dan Quayle was taking an irony tinged swipe at the idea of whig history.

        “arc of justice bending”

        You just made me think of something. Even if it’s a moral arc, it’s got to go down at some point, that’s kind of integral to something being an arc.

        • shakeddown says:

          unless it’s concave up. Not only is justice increasing, its second derivative is also positive!
          …sorry, that was bad. I derive too much humor from calculus. I guess it’s just integral to the way I express myself.
          (sorry).

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Alternatively, it’s asymptotically approaching justice. Justice is a horizontal line or slopes upward.

          • Protagoras says:

            “Justice is a horizontal line or slopes upward.” Clearly what Polemarchus should have said in Book I of Republic; how could Socrates argue with that?

    • cassander says:

      >Politicians used to just lie with what they could get away with, but now Trump seems to lie a lot more

      I strongly suspect that this isn’t true. Politicians are, and have always been, in the business of telling people what they want to hear. People being what they are, this seldom has much to do with the truth. I see no actual evidence that trump is any more mendacious than his predecessors, just that he’s less cooth.

      >A year isn’t a trend, and I’d bet against a huge spike in political violence over the next two years, but it’s very troubling.

      So far, the only violence we’re seeing seems to be coming from liberalism’s side of the aisle.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Cassander – “I strongly suspect that this isn’t true. Politicians are, and have always been, in the business of telling people what they want to hear.”

        I want to defend Trump; I voted for him, after all. But unless I want to be a liar too, I have to admit that he is not even trying to sound believable a decent majority of the time. I have no idea what we’re actually going to get on a host of issues, because nothing he says means anything.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Strangely, I’ve gotten the opposite impression of him from his first two weeks. Or rather, I think he lies in the opposite way from normal politicians. He seems to have done his best to deliver on his promises to his base. He delivered on the Supreme Court pick. I don’t care about the wall, but a chunk of his base sure does, and he’s moving forward with that. He’s moving forward on his promise to cut down on refugees from terror-prone countries as well. He’s pretty much doing what he said he would do, in broad strokes (and I think his followers always understood his promises as broad strokes rather than detailed lists; they won’t consider it a promise broken if you explain that tariffs on Mexico aren’t really making them pay for the wall).

          His lies, on the other hand are directed at his enemies, and are about stupid things. There are no policy implications for the size of his inauguration crowd.

          It’s very confusing and I don’t know what to make of it. As a conservative, I’m used to my politicians lying to me, not the other guys. Compared against the past, Trump almost seems refreshingly honest.

          • James Miller says:

            I see it the same way, delivering what he promised to his base while giving the media silly things to complain about.

          • Deiseach says:

            Yeah, as I said, I was astounded that Trump did actually move on the pro-life/anti-abortion rights legislation as he talked about during the campaign; I’m used to “that’s a campaign promise which means it’s never going to happen”. That particular instance was something he could have let quietly die as soon as he got into office; the pro-life vote which may have gone to him was small enough it wouldn’t matter (and they’re used to Republicans not delivering on their promises anyway) and the odium from the ‘war on women’ crowd would have been avoided. This is not something that would get him a lot of good will or votes, even if you go for that cynical calculation.

            A guy who does what he said he was going to do – he really is an outsider shaking up the system!

        • cassander says:

          I have to agree with Jaskologist. Take Trump’s refuse to apologize campaign style, add in trying to knock out a bunch of campaign promises (and bear in mind that trump is to the left of the average voter on immigration, and certainly way to the left of his supporters), and I think you get basically what we have now. I don’t think he planned for the absurd over-reaction he’s getting, but I don’t think he’s upset about it. Makes his opponents look nuts.

      • Incurian says:

        Maybe it would be useful to develop an official SSC political dictionary, complete with examples, subtypes, venn diagrams, etc. Even though not everyone would agree with every entry, they would at least be have a common language to use here.

        • Deiseach says:

          At the very least, we’d switch to fighting about the Venn diagrams instead of the definitions of what is and is not left and right 🙂

      • I see no actual evidence that trump is any more mendacious than his predecessors, just that he’s less cooth.

        He may well be more mendacious than his predecessors. But whether or not he is, he is considerably more likely to be called on it, given a much more hostile media.

        One example for his predecessor, which got some but less attention, was the claim he made that

        “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

        At the time he made the statement, warming over the previous ten years had been substantially slower than predicted.

        • cassander says:

          >He may well be more mendacious than his predecessors. But whether or not he is, he is considerably more likely to be called on it, given a much more hostile media.

          And I would say that this is the single best argument that can be made for a Trump presidency. It wasn’t enough to make me actually support him, but knowing that the exact opposite would be true of Clinton made me more than willing to wish for her to lose.

        • 1soru1 says:

          Your example of Obama ‘not being called out’ is an article that is 100% criticism of an ambiguous statement that probably got the details of the timescale involved wrong?

          (10 years _before_ 2013 temperatures were rising faster than expected, now they have returned to the trend line, due to either random noise or some not-understood periodic effect).

          More importantly, what are the consequences for Trump of getting ‘negative coverage’ when he makes direct lies about things you can see with your own eyes, massacres that didn’t happen, etc? Are his supporters abandoning him, or are they doubling down?

          Are they, perhaps, saying ‘Obama was worse’?

          • cassander says:

            Did obama’s allies abandoned him when he lied? Of course not, no politician was ever abandoned for telling lies that their followers wanted to hear.

          • 1soru1 says:

            So why do his supporters want to hear stories about massacres that never happened?

          • cassander says:

            @1soru1

            The same reason Obama’s wanted to hear that the world was getting warmer faster than expected even though opposite is true, because it reminds them that the people they’re against are bad people.

          • So why do his supporters want to hear stories about massacres that never happened?

            If I followed the news correctly, it was a reference, not a story, and by one of Trump’s people, not Trump. It could have been deliberate, but it sounded to me more like carelessness. There was a real case involving the city in question, but it involved sending money to terrorist groups, not killing people.

          • Your example of Obama ‘not being called out’ is an article that is 100% criticism of an ambiguous statement that probably got the details of the timescale involved wrong?

            (10 years _before_ 2013 temperatures were rising faster than expected, now they have returned to the trend line, due to either random noise or some not-understood periodic effect).

            The quote from Obama was:

            “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

            That is not consistent with your explanation.

          • 1soru1 says:

            It’s entirely consistent with him remembering a situation being 5-10 years ago when in fact it was 15-20.

            Obama was president for 8 years, and that is the best you can do. Can you find a single day of his 2-week presidency in which Trump or his spokesman stayed closer to the truth?

          • James Miller says:

            Obama’s biggest lie was his “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” statement without which he probably would not have gotten Obamacare passed.

          • It’s entirely consistent with him remembering a situation being 5-10 years ago when in fact it was 15-20.

            Making the predictions from 15-20 doesn’t change things.

            Are you arguing that when he said

            “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

            What he meant was “we also know that the climate was warming ten years ago faster than anyone anticipated twenty years ago” or something similar? That wouldn’t be true either.

            Obama is not an idiot–he knows what “is” means. It’s barely possible that he was completely ignorant of the relevant facts and just guessing on the basis of the impression he got from the general alarmist PR campaign, in which case it wasn’t quite a lie, merely confidently proclaiming a guess as what we all know.

            But I take it as evidence that he did not care whether what he said was true. He was just inventing facts as needed.

            Pointing out that Trump tells lies does not change the nature of a lie by Obama.

          • 1soru1 says:

            In a graph of global temperature, 1999 was an anomaly above trend, if he had said what he said at a time that was the latest data he would have been factually correct (unless you are going to get pedantic about the word ‘nobody’). By saying the same thing a few years later he he was wrong.

            No-one is denying what he said was false; there are reasonable ground for disagreement over whether it was a verbal slip or intentional misinformation. As far as I am aware, he didn’t repeat the statement or issue a follow-up

            This is the same kind of error as still talking about a ‘warming pause’ now, which you can find plenty of examples of politicians doing. If someone does that, and backs down when corrected, they are interested in the truth. If someone bounces between ‘pause’ and ‘global warming is a Chinese hoax’ and ‘what is average temperature anyway’ and ‘prove it is not solar cycles’ too fast to respond to an answer on any one, they are not.

          • This is the same kind of error as still talking about a ‘warming pause’ now, which you can find plenty of examples of politicians doing.

            Saying that there was a warming pause is not an error, it is disagreement. As of a few years back, most people in the field agreed that warming had slowed down and that finding the reasons for that was an important puzzle. Here is an NOAA piece discussing it. The existence of the pause is clear enough if you look at their graph.

            Then some people offered arguments, based in at least one case on revising the earlier data, that claimed to show the pause had not occurred.

            The latest round of that controversy is a claim by a high level NOAA scientist recently retired that the “Pausebuster” paper by Karl and Peterson was based on flawed data, released to influence the Paris conference without going through the usual procedures for checking and archiving their data.

            I am taking your “talk about a ‘warming pause’ now” as “talk now about there having been a warming pause” not as “talk about there being a ‘warming pause now.'”

            Someone who says that the pause is currently continuing is probably misinformed, although he might only mean that he thinks the warming of the past two years is a temporary aberration due to the El Nino, like the earlier peak in the late nineties.

          • 1soru1 says:

            There is nothing in the above post I disagree with.

            (hope this gets attached to right point of conversation tree).

      • I strongly suspect that this isn’t true. Politicians are, and have always been, in the business of telling people what they want to hear.

        So not to toot my own horn, but I wrote a blog post about this last year during the election. Section 2 (titled “The Unknown”) catalogs 17 different positions Trump switched on during the election, sometimes differing from his previous position years ago, sometimes in a matter of days.

        These include that he thought Obama was the literal founder of ISIS, that he would self fund his campaign, that we should take Syrian refugees, that Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons, that he actually supported the Libyan intervention, that he would reinstitute torture, then he said he would be bound by laws like other presidents, and then restating that he would use waterboarding and torture. He also said he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants, and that the U.S. should “renegotiate” its public debt. These seem like pretty important issues, and he changed his mind on all of them.

        Ken White at Popehat goes further, suggesting that Trump’s claims are so outlandish, he may be incapable of being sued for defamation because no one could take him seriously.

        On these points, I offer that it’s quite possible Trump is in fact more mendacious than previous presidents.

        On political violence only coming from the left: what I’m concerned about is political violence, regardless of source. It doesn’t make me feel better that it’s one tribe or the other.

        • cassander says:

          >On these points, I offer that it’s quite possible Trump is in fact more mendacious than previous presidents.

          And just off the top of my head, the positions Obama reversed himself on include gay marriage, the wisdom of an individual mandate for health insurance, whether or not we should bomb syria, whether or not ISIS was a threat to the US, and whether or not the US should have troops in Iraq (twice, actually). I don’t say this to claim that obama is more mendacious than trump, but to point out that just listing a politicians lies tells you nothing about how mendacious he is relative to others. For that, you have to document and evaluate the lies of at least two people.

          >On political violence only coming from the left: what I’m concerned about is political violence, regardless of source. It doesn’t make me feel better that it’s one tribe or the other.

          Agreed, but you can’t dodge something if you don’t know where it’s coming from

        • These include that he thought Obama was the literal founder of ISIS

          Following your link, I don’t see support for that one. None of the quotes seems to say “literal,” unless I missed one, and I think it’s obvious that his claim is that Obama and Clinton’s policies resulted in the creation of ISIS.

          Next you will be telling us that Obama lied by claiming to have been born on the planet Krypton.

          • Hi David,

            Perhaps I was overzealous, but what I meant was that Trump literally used the term “founder of ISIS” several times, even when pressed on it. I’ll grant Trump didn’t use the word “literal”. But specifically on this segment on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Trump insisted about 3 times that he believes Obama to be the founder of ISIS. Hewitt says he knows what he means, “[Obama] created the vacuum, he lost the peace” and Trump insists “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do”. He then backtracks and says it “was the way he left Iraq…”

            So yes, there’s totally an argument for he meant it figuratively…but he also apparently didn’t mean that it was a vacuum Obama created. I think it’s still a pretty good example of there being significant confusion over what Trump actually meant, since he speaks with such lack of clarity.

            Maybe he wasn’t really lying, he just didn’t understand the point. Maybe he doesn’t know what the word “founder” means. Maybe he was just being as loud and silly sounding as possible to get media coverage. Whatever it was though, it was bizarre and weird, and seemed to fit a pattern of flip-flopping on issues.

        • Deiseach says:

          17 different positions Trump switched on during the election, sometimes differing from his previous position years ago, sometimes in a matter of days.

          Hillary Clinton, 1994: Abortion is morally wrong

          Hillary Clinton, 2000: Late-term abortion is a horrible procedure

          Hillary Clinton, 2007: I want to make abortion safe, legal and rare. And by rare, I mean rare.

          Hillary Clinton, August 2016: Still personally nuanced, takes her position from her Methodist faith, abortion should be a last resort

          Hillary Clinton, October 2016: I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions (nothing about restrictions or last resort)

          The August and October ones are particularly interesting, they’re articles in the same publication, just written by two different writers, and they are nearly mirror images of each other – Clinton the reluctant pragmatist vs Clinton the full-throated supporter. See the titles: “Hillary Clinton’s Moral Conflicts on Abortion” versus “Hillary Clinton’s Powerful Defense of Abortion Rights”. That’s a change in a matter of weeks, not years.

          Now, to be fair, she has always been pragmatic on it and has supported Roe vs Wade as law since it was decided. But she’s been cutting her cloth according to her measure on this – I was cynically amused to read about one minister who was surprised she didn’t mention her own qualms about abortion in that debate, as up till then she’d been reassuring the pro-life contingent she did have qualms.

          Is that lying, development of views, or just the normal kind of thing a politician does when they sense their constituents’ views are swinging away from what they were/you talk pro-life to the pro-life voters, you talk pro-choice to the pro-choice voters?

      • Tekhno says:

        @cassander

        So far, the only violence we’re seeing seems to be coming from liberalism’s side of the aisle.

        Antifa are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense (nor even in the narrow American sense). American political terminology is cancerous and has helped erode liberal norms by obscuring liberal tradition and principles.

        • cassander says:

          I agree, but to some degree, political movements do pick their allies. those on the center left aren’t condemning antifa the way the center right condemns stormfront, and that’s meaningful.

          • rlms says:

            When does the centre right condemn Stormfront?

          • cassander says:

            Whenever they’re asked to. Remember how it was a huge scandal when trump took almost 24 hours to condemn david duke for endorsing him?

          • Tekhno says:

            @rlms

            The center-right condemns Nazism by claiming it’s left wing and socialist.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            The center-right condemns Nazism by claiming it’s left wing and socialist.

            Precisely: we condemn Nazism in the strongest, most negative terms we have!

          • The Nybbler says:

            @rlms

            We right-of-center libertarians compare Stormfront to SJWs all the time. That ain’t a compliment.

        • Antifa are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense

          American liberals are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense. The fact that they stole our label is why we had to call ourselves libertarians.

          To quote GKC: “I’m still a liberal. It’s those people who aren’t liberals.”

          For the 19th century liberals, Adam Smith was seen as a leading thinker whose views they generally supported. When modern American liberals refer to Smith it’s usually negative, and the occasional positive reference almost always misrepresents Smith’s views (as in claiming he was in favor of progressive taxation, public schooling and or anti-trust policy, all false).

          • Deiseach says:

            Dangerous business quoting Chesterton in my vicinity, as it only encourages me to throw my tuppence worth in 🙂

            Possibly a good credo for all of us on here getting hot under the collar about Left vs Right:

            The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.

            When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is.” Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy. But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother’s knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            American liberals are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense. The fact that they stole our label is why we had to call ourselves libertarians.

            Actually, I have a problem with this too, where we’ve so much discarded the meaning of liberal that hardcore libertarians have picked it back up and monopolized it as if things like social liberalism and liberal conservatism don’t exist.

            Liberalism defined broadly is support for: free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, secularism, civil rights, rule of law, liberal democracy, equality before the law, the right to own property, and free markets. Liberal conservatives/right-liberals and social liberals/left-liberals both support the majority of that, differing mostly in that social liberals promote more mixed economics, and that liberal conservatism emphasizes cultural traditions and national defense.

            I agree that the liberalism of the American left (and the right with Trump) has been rapidly decreasing, but I think that’s a relatively recent 2010s phenomena.

            Clinton era mainstream liberals could genuinely be considered liberal. Even during the 2000s, I would say the average opinion of my US liberal associates would be considered liberal broadly speaking. Yes, they promoted some illiberal things, same as the conservatives, but they did so in a context of broadly liberal principles. I think that has changed now for both left and right, and that the shared liberal context is decaying, and I lay the blame for that on the fact that in America, liberal just means “left”. There was nothing to stop this happening once the ground conditions were in play.

            My life’s enemy are illiberals. We need to restore left-liberalism and liberal conservatism by continually enshrining liberal principles. Classical liberalism is the most purest variant, but you can be left or right so long as that is your starting point, and the place you return to when you have doubts about the results of favored policies.

            I’m seeing at the moment a dangerous abandonment of liberalism in America, and the long term trend of that is that the American left becomes social justice pseudo-communists, and the American right becomes ethno-statist pseudo-fascists. Because liberal values and the shared context of politics have been completely abandoned people don’t consider the downstream consequences of their actions, only of progressively winning victories. Enemies are simply to be punched aside and silenced. This will lead to civil war if it isn’t stopped.

    • AnonEEmous says:

      Yeah, I think it’s important to remind us all of this:

      “I think most of our useful social norms exist through a combination of divine grace and reciprocal communitarianism.”

      These social norms really are useful. If you plan to sacrifice them, then bad things will happen as a result (see:Trump, or at least Trump outright lying). So every time you act against them and / or weaken them, ask why you did so. Ask yourself if it was worth it.

      that’s sort of a dig at the Berkeley protests (though it’s universally true so anyone can have it). On the bright side, my mom read through Milo’s Wikipedia page on her phone while hanging out with me, and then the Regressive Left page too – unprompted by me, by the way. So I’m thrilled about the protests (but of course, properly respectful of those who got injured. Or at least, pretending to be since I’m bad with emphasizing with people I know nothing about.)

    • Matt M says:

      Politicians used to just lie with what they could get away with, but now Trump seems to lie a lot more.

      I disagree with this. I posit that Trump is also lying to the extent that he can get away with it. It’s just that huge portions of the country have such open contempt for most of the media (and with good cause!) that “what he can get away with” reaches a level that is unprecedented in modern society.

      There was once a time when CNN calling you a liar meant that you weren’t “getting away with it” anymore. Now not only is that not the case, but for about 1/3 of people, CNN calling you a liar can be taken as pretty strong evidence that you probably are not lying, because they view CNN as a bunch of shameless liars themselves.

    • YehoshuaK says:

      I actually once had a very interesting conversation with an internet Nazi (and I mean a self-described admirer of Adolf Hitler). We actually had points of agreement, and could reasonably and calmly define our points of disagreement. Pity I lost touch with him.

  31. suntzuanime says:

    Has anybody else noticed the SSC comments getting kind of right-wing lately?

    • Corey says:

      Nope.

    • TenMinute says:

      I can’t even tell how many levels of irony you’re on at this point.

    • Randy M says:

      Given that I haven’t seen this complaint in a couple of days, I guess it is now true.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I have reported this comment.

      Honestly people.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        are you sure he’s not serious?

        To be clear, I am serious when I ask this, because I legitimately am not sure, and was depressed.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Given his posting history, which is to liberally mix in trolling with vigorous and somewhat acrimonious debate, I’d say the likelihood he posted this merely because he thought it was true is very low.

        • Corey says:

          I took a long vacation post-election and only recently started reading again, and it kind of surprised me that the “we’re so persecuted, half the country wants to kill all white males” stuff appears to not have dwindled a bit. TBF maybe it dwindled during my vacation and is now returning. I assume there was also a shitshow after Coulter linked the “Trump’s not literally Hitler” post?

    • Whitedeath says:

      Lately?

  32. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    First they came for the Nazis….

    So far as I know, the relevant incident hasn’t been verified.