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Open Thread 68.75

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

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783 Responses to Open Thread 68.75

  1. Here is something that I think is an example of bullshit.

    Reading on the three-strikes laws, apparently the cost for keeping a prisoner incarcerated is…$70,836 a year.

    The cost of feeding someone for a year for healthy food, when smart people use math to minimize costs while keeping nutrient levels high, is less than 2000 a year. And when not paying attention to taste and personal desire for variety, probably around 1000. Prisoners don’t spend almost anything their entire sentence, and can gain minimal levels of cash for doing labor. I’m not sure how much it costs to wash the clothes, and what the other ongoing expenses are, but I would be very surprised if costs added up to more than 4000$ bucks a year, for the terrible air conditioning there. (And now reading the actual calculation, here it is, about 3500 bucks for inmate food and activities)

    Somehow, it ends up costing 70,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner. I’m convinced this stat is totally inflated bullshit. I wonder what the true marginal cost, after group health insurance deals are made, the annual building repairs are made, of adding an additional prisoner is. Since its probably on the scale of not more than 8000 a year, with the bulk of that money going into maintaining the guard ratio and his salary and benefits. Somehow there are a lot of lies in this, but it takes time to pinpoint exactly *where* all the bullshit is.

    But why are statistics like this inflated in the first place?

    • Montfort says:

      I don’t know if I would call it “bullshit.” It looks like they just divided the total cost of the department of corrections in each category by the number of inmates. If you take the line item from the 2016-2017 budget (page 69 of the pdf, 65 by page number) and divide it by the number of adult inmates, you get about $80,000/year, so there’s about a billion dollars from the budget that either went to juveniles, were uncounted for the answer you link (some administrative categories, perhaps?), and/or went unspent in some combination. You’re right that that’s not the marginal cost of an additional inmate, but that’s not the question it’s purporting to answer, and it’s probably harder for them to do then just a little bit of long division.

  2. Ok. So, it looks like, after a century of research into dieting, most diets fail because….people get hungry, don’t like eating bland food without sugar and fat and that just kindof sucks..

    Its interesting how wide-spread appetite suppressants are. Why does society seem to reject this solution? Not viewing people as biological machines, but some vague will-power thing? The most effective suppressants I know of are ADHD stimulants, which are regulated drugs. Would society disapprove of them being allowed for appetite suppression for obese people? (Also, would the companies selling them then dislike that the drugs used to control children’s behavior are also known as powerful appetite suppressants?)

    • The Nybbler says:

      All the effective appetite suppressants have turned out badly for one reason or another. Amphetamines have serious side-effects. Fen-phen caused heart problems. Nicotine is addictive and its usual delivery method makes you smell bad and tends to kill you. Various anti-depressants also have serious side effects. And the FDAs version of arithmetic where they weight even the most-unlikely life-threatening effect infinitely against mere desires (like not being hungry or in pain) means you’ll never see such a drug pass muster.

      • Why are there cheap caffeine pills but no cheap nicotine pills, for that matter? Is it manufacturing costs or marketing?

        Does the population just shout down people picking up some nicotine pills because nicotine is this terrible thing that should be shouted at(shouting best down after having some hypocritical coffee or haughty moralistic abstinence) (It isn’t. Tobacco is, nicotine isn’t). Is it due to some federal regulation on how nicotine can be regulated? Is it manufacturing difficulty? Is it monopolistic patent pharma collusion, with makers deciding that cheap tasty lozenges could be made artificially scarce and expensive instead of the low profit-margin caffeine pill industry?

        I wonder what the hell is going on there.

        • Matt M says:

          Isn’t vaping basically a cleaner way of ingesting nicotine?

        • Brad says:

          I don’t know about pills but the nicotine liquid you can buy for vaporizers is really cheap in bulk.

        • dndnrsn says:

          If you are talking about the quit-smoking gum and patches and lozenges and such, I imagine the market is captive to some extent – since it’s composed of people who want to quit smoking by tapering down and can’t any other way.

          Caffeine pills are just a more convenient way of getting caffeine in you. They’re not for people trying to quit coffee.

        • bean says:

          I think that most nicotine delivery products besides cigarettes are considered medical devices. E-cigs are new enough that the government still isn’t sure what they are.

      • Corey says:

        Long-acting glucagon-like-peptides (e.g. Saxenda(R)) show some promise, but we’ll probably have to wait for them to go generic to see any nontrivial use.

  3. Here is a question that I have. How did the estimated feedback for clouds in global warming change, when the planets meteorological knowledge has not *really* changed over the past decade?

    ” In the current climate, clouds exert a cooling effect on climate (the global mean CRF is negative)”

    “The sign of the net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is less certain but likely positive”

    These seem to be the official – enough statements of the IPCC, in 2007 vs 2013.

    There have not been any massive improvements in climate knowledge during that period of time. Perhaps slightly better measurement systems with improvements in electronics, but nothing else.

    I really wonder how many 10 year trends with cherry-picked points are being used to make all uncertainties appear to be positive feedbacks. Right now, I guess that the same trends that appear in biology and psychology research are happening to the climate research base. Positive studies are much more likely even if insane to be published then neutral studies. Studies that show worrisome trends are more likely to be published even if plenty of researchers believe the error bars of knowledge are too large to say anything useful.

    Just how a bunch of smart people believed in a lot of antidepressants until it turned out that for a bunch of them, 70% of the studies and thought of them were negative and simply not published, I wonder if some false “cloud feedback” consensus can be created simply by favoring worrisome studies.

  4. Mark says:

    Are things looking up for Marine Le Pen?

    My understanding was that Fillon had a pretty hard-line immigration policy, and that in a run off between him and Le Pen, he could count on both votes from the respectable right, and the left to win a landslide (a la Chiraq).

    On the other hand Macron, who is currently beating Fillon in the polls, seems to be a supporter of Merkel’s immigration policy – so the contest between him and Le Pen becomes a straight left-right (immigration) battle?

  5. Deiseach says:

    Okay, time to test out FiveThirtyEight’s predictive powers!

    They’re giving Liverpool 43% to Spurs 31% to win today’s match, with 26% chance of a draw.

    Given that we’ve slumped to sixth place in the table (which is a result I would have killed for in other years, but is a bit disappointing given we were Challenging For The Title this year), we need to win this one to (a) break our losing streak (b) bump us back up to fourth place so we can have a chance at the Champions League next season.

    Which, all taken together, ordinarily would make me think “We’re gonna lose”.

    BUT!

    Sadio Mané (back after international duty in the Africa Cup of Nations), has just gotten us TWO GOALS (in the 16th and 18th minutes of the first half), God bless the lovely Senegalese darling, so there is definite hope.

    BUT!

    This is Liverpool. They flatter to deceive. They’re perfectly capable of conceding three goals in the second half.

    BUT!

    Spurs are a decent team! We play better against decent teams! If we can break our habit of conceding opposition goals in the first half and then needing to chase to get back on level terms in the second half, we could win this one!

    All of which makes me go “Nate Silver, don’t fail me now, please let your football predicting prowess be better than your Trump predicting prowess – or at least as good – and our slim superior probability of winning be true as predicted!” 🙂

    • Deiseach says:

      Okay, FiveThirtyEight were on the right side of that prediction as we ended up winning 2-0. They’re giving us the odds to beat Leicester in our next match, we’ll have to see if they can correctly discern the vagaries of the team to get it right 🙂

    • Matt M says:

      Have you bothered to reconcile their predictions with listed betting odds at sportsbooks?

      Are you assuming “the experts” would be better than the decentralized opinion of interested parties operating in a relatively efficient market?

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m interested in a purely for own amusement way in how their predictions line up with what the usual sports and betting pundits would predict. I have a fair idea how (for instance) Paddy Power might set the odds; seeing an outside organisation like this using (different? similar?) methods and comparing how accurate (or not) they are is just a layer of icing on the cake of “matchday expectations you know are too sanguine/depressed” 🙂

        For instance, they’re giving us 64%-15% for us against Leicester in our next match. Now, I think that’s probably right, but the odds are too generous – I’d bump Leicester up and us down a bit. Why? Well, Leicester are last season’s champions, which everyone agrees was a fluke result, and this year normal service has resumed, they’re now in 16th position in the table. So you’d expect them to lose against a team of Liverpool’s calibre.

        (Let me just pause and laugh for a moment about that).

        On the other hand, though we are currently in fourth position in the table (thanks to yesterday’s result), we have been slipping – we were down as far as sixth and we’ve been on a losing streak lately – possibly due to the fact that Sadio Mané was on international duty.

        This means that (a) we seem to be very reliant on Mané as our playmaker and if Leicester figure out a way to neutralise him, they have an advantage (b) we too are eminently beatable.

        So it could go to a draw, or we could do as we did against Hull and end up beaten. That’s why I think that, although on the general go of things, FiveThirtyEight’s prediction is in the right area, I think they’re being a bit too generous to us. Is this because they’re using A Mathematical Method and not letting personal opinion tweak the odds? Are they right and I’m being too pessimistic?

        We will know come the 27th!

  6. Tekhno says:

    Does anyone have any data on how large the UK austerity program was up to now? I’m having a hard time getting a straight answer on how big the cuts were.

    • Deiseach says:

      No idea, the impression I was given by the press (whether it’s fair or not) was that George Osborne as Chancellor of the Exchequer wasn’t getting his figures right and did a lot of fudging first to make the economy look as if it was doing better than it was, and secondly to make it look like they were hitting targets when they weren’t, and thirdly to disguise the austerity cuts as much as possible.

      I don’t think anybody agrees on anything: for example, are the cuts to disability (and which were discussed in a post on here before about “are they really driving more disabled people to suicide/causing deaths, as claimed?”) and the push to get people back into work who were on disability payments part of austerity or part of the Conservative ‘no leeching off the taxpayer’ mindset?

    • The original Mr. X says:

      IIRC most of the cuts were more like decreases in the rate of spending increase rather than actual cuts, although I don’t have figures to hand.

    • This shows the data for UK spending through 2015. It looks as though it was increasing, although very slowly.

  7. BBA says:

    From the “he was still alive?!” department: Raymond Smullyan, the author of What Is the Name of This Book? and This Book Needs No Title, died a few days ago at the age of 97. In my view he wrote a better introduction to the concepts behind Godel’s theorem than Douglas Hofstadter’s. I need to reread both sometime.

    • Anatoly says:

      These are sad news. Smullyan’s collections of logic puzzles are exemplary; I’d encourage anyone to give What Is The Name of This Book? or The Lady or The Tiger? to math-inclined teenagers you know, including your inner math-inclined teenager.

      Smullyan also wrote what I think is the best rigorous treatment of Godel’s incompleteness theorems for people outside the field – that’s his short book titled simply Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems. It isn’t a popular math book; readers should feel at home with proofs in mathematics and to have been exposed to B.Sc.-level math before. But given those constraints, it’s an incredibly lucid and illuminating treatment.

    • Alejandro says:

      RIP. When I was a 14-year old fascinated equally by chess, riddles and mystery stories, discovering his book “Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes” felt like something too good to be true, like someone had conjured into existence the kind of book I most would have wanted to read. It even inspired me to compose several retrograde analysis problems of my own.

    • Elephant says:

      Wow — I hadn’t heard. Thanks for posting this! Smullyan’s logic puzzle books are wonderful, deep and joyfully fun at the same time. From time to time, I discuss some of the puzzles with my kids, and it’s great to watch light bulbs turn on.

  8. markus says:

    How about alcohol in utero as meningful factor for changes in populationwide intelligence?

    This is a working paper describing a 8,5 months long regional swedish policy experiment in 1967-68 with strong beer (less than 5,6 %) sold in general stores instead of in the government monopoly leading to a 1000% consumption increase. Results include 20 percent less earnings and higher risk for of low results in the military cognitive tests for those conceived before the start of the experiment but with the longest in utero exposure and born by young mothers (under 21).

    Link

    • rahien.din says:

      I don’t have a good source, but IIRC there is some controversy as to whether ethanol is the causative agent or simply a marker for poor nutrition and/or other things more likely to affect intelligence in utero.

      (Anyone feel free to disabuse me of that notion if I am obviously wrong.)

      • Loquat says:

        Apparently it’s confirmed to be alcohol; you’ve probably heard of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but what you might not know is that that’s now considered just the most extreme end of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. I was reading an article about it recently, I forget where, and one of the mothers they found to interview claimed that she’d given up drinking entirely when she found out she was pregnant, about 6 weeks along, but since she’d been in the habit of drinking every weekend prior to that, her baby still had noticeable symptoms.

    • Anonymous says:

      How about alcohol in utero as meningful factor for changes in populationwide intelligence?

      That would predict Russians being damn stupid. IIRC, they’re about average as other whites.

      • suntzuanime says:

        Two obvious possibilities – Russians would be about equivalent to other Asians without fetal alcohol holding them back; or the long hard-drinking history of the Russian population might have a selected for a genetic resistance to the negative effects of alcohol in this regard.

        • Anonymous says:

          I was going to suggest that Russians aren’t that genetically distant from their more sober Slavic cousins… but I find myself being unable to provide any examples of substantially more sober Slavs.

      • nimim.k.m. says:

        Are you using just the stereotype “Russians drink” or some statistics how much Russian women drink, especially while pregnant?

        The stereotype I’m familiar with about drunks — Russian or otherwise — is that they are usually male.

        Here in Finland girls and women used to drink significantly less than men, but that social norm has been slowly dying, and in recent years the kind of health authorities whose job is to worry about possible consequences (FAS etc) have been semi-regularly talking in the media how worried they are about it.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          There are interesting recent changes. Russian life expectancy peaked in 1960. From 1960 to 1985 it declined, probably because of increased alcohol consumption. So in 1985, I believe that Russian women drank a lot, although surely less than men. Gorbachev worked to limit alcohol consumption and life expectancy rose 1985-1990. After that male and female life expectancy diverged, men continuing the 1960-1985 decline and women, I forget, either remaining steady at the 1990 level or maybe rising. I thought I got all that from the paper I linked, but while it talks about sex differences, it doesn’t graph them. (The explicit point of the paper is a complicated theory about what happened under Yeltsin.) Probably it would be better for me to cite another source for life expectancy.

        • I have no first hand experience of Russia, but I concluded from a visit to Finland that Finnish men (specifically the academics I was interacting with) routinely got drunk in the evening. Finns are not Slavs. Does it have something to do with climate? Do Russians in the north drink more than Russians in the south?

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            Fascinating questions, I’d hope I had answers. That’s what is often commonly told to foreigners (“nothing else to do during the winters”), but I don’t think it should be taken seriously.

            I don’t know much anything about Russia (except the stereotype “men drink, wives complain”), but what I do know about my home country and is maybe even more or less backed by research (but I’d be damned I can find all the sources right now) is as follows:

            1. The Swedish-speaking part of the populace is to some extent culturally (and possibly genetically) distinct; they also have stereotypically more ‘civilized’ drinking habits (social drinking where everybody sings and eats crab-snacks and either just have fun or mostly hit the brakes when they are still tipsy). They live in the coastal areas, but the overall difference in climate is very small.

            On the other hand, I’ve seen claims that before the 19th century when everybody got very excited about ethnic identities, people had very practical attitude when it came to learning languages. (A bright lad wants to study and become a priest or an official in the government, by of course he learns Swedish because that’s the language of ‘civilization’.) If you take a HBD view, that could imply several centuries of selection effects, but it also sounds like a just-so story and I don’t know there’s enough data to draw conclusions.

            2. The government of Finland had the bright idea of experimenting with prohibition at the same time it was tried in the US, and to the surprise of no modern reader today, the effects were predictable. (The crime organized around smuggling exploded, the consumption of hard liquor sky-rocketed.) Some people said that we are still living with the consequences.

            3. One guess is that the ultimate reason is maybe not dissimilar what happened to Native Americans, whatever that was about. Maybe the inhospitable climate and low population density meant that the country was a bit secluded, creating a practical distance to mainland Europe, a “mini-Atlantic” of sorts. Still, just a guess.

            4. And I’ve seen also suggestions that when a large amount of people who have lived as peasants for centuries move to live in modern cities, not everybody adjusts well. There’s no deep generational cultural tradition about the role of alcohol in modern city life, and at the same time, the old country-side traditions are being disregarded en masse because they to large extent are not applicable to city life. Down with the washwater goes whatever cultural inhibitions of alcohol usage there was in the traditional lifestyle. The possible biological adaptations (or lack of them) could amplify this effect.

            Compared to many other (West-)European countries, Finland modernized from almost fully agrarian society to something modern very fast, very suddenly in a couple of decades after the WW2. The upheaval was quite dramatic. [1] Now, curiously enough, in Russia something very similar happened, except in more massive scale and with the additional effects caused by Soviet-style city planning and housing ideology.

            In general, I wonder to what extent the idea “the people of X have always been drinking much” could be just an inflated (if not outright constructed post facto) national myth to rationalize the current habits? Statistics might be interesting, if they could be found.

            5. Forgo the stereotypes and history: in this day and age, I’ve occasionally seen the drinking habits of our youth compared to the same of working-class Brits, both in anecdotal descriptions by exchange students (“it was like being back at home!”) and statistics.

            [1] As an aside:in the 60s, hundreds of thousands people — which is a lot in a nation smaller than NYC — emigrated to Sweden because there were industrial jobs in Sweden but no jobs at home. …well, it’s been decades, but I’m told the Swedes still maintain a half-insulting image of Finns being terrible alcoholics and the Slussen area in Stockholm had an infamous drunkard community of, well, guess who.

  9. Deiseach says:

    This occurred to me this morning as I was washing my hair, and you may disagree: the Black Bloc in the Berkeley demonstrations and elsewhere are re-enacting Kristallnacht. I don’t mean intentionally, but all the supporters and apologists who popped up in the “Daily Californian” with the following:

    (1) First, no protest is nonviolent. You are laboring under the assumption that protesters are coming into a peaceful atmosphere and disrupting it through chanting, song and broken windows. This, of course, is a misrepresentation of our society and its treatment of the marginalized.

    (2) Only the destruction of glass and shooting of fireworks did that. The so-called “violence” against private property that the media seems so concerned with stopped white supremacy from organizing itself against my community.

    (3) Of all the objections and cancellation requests presented to the administration, local government and local police, the only one that was listened to was the sound of shattering glass.

    (4) To the less radical bystanders who chanted “no more violence” (as though Amazon windows and floodlights have bones to break or blood to spill) and who turned out the next morning to help clean up — would you have been there to defend the undocumented students he would have outed?

    (5) If you condemn the actions that shut down Yiannopoulos’ literal hate speech, you condone his presence, his actions and his ideas; you care more about broken windows than broken bodies.

    (6) I urge you to consider whether damaging the windows of places like banks and the Amazon student store constitutes “violence”

    Are they so ignorant of history? Do they not know, or is it that they just don’t care? For all the talk of “It’s 1933 right now!” and “living under a Fascist regime” and “Literal Hitler”, who are the ones dolling themselves up in quasi-paramilitary gear*, for organised and planned disruptions, and using destructive tactics? It’s not the guys in the MAGA hats, it’s not even the goddamn KKK organising marches to smash up ethnic stores – it’s the Left who are acting like the Nazis, using a tactic that is both a statement of intent and a threat: not against the Jews this time but the capitalists (as represented by Amazon, the banks, Starbucks, etc) – “we’re going to destroy this system, we’re going to smash it and you”.

    If I wanted to create a meme to drive people to the alt-right – or at least anti-left – all I’d need to do would be juxtapose pictures of Jewish shop-keepers and business owners sweeping up the broken glass from their destroyed premises in the wake of Kristallnacht with quotes like the above – “so-called violence”, “you care more about broken glass”.

    *I’m Irish, with the coverage of the Troubles, I’m well accustomed to photos of people dressing in black and hiding their faces so as not to be identified by the forces of the State.

    • Matt M says:

      “If I wanted to create a meme to drive people to the alt-right – or at least anti-left – all I’d need to do would be juxtapose pictures of Jewish shop-keepers and business owners sweeping up the broken glass from their destroyed premises in the wake of Kristallnacht with quotes like the above – “so-called violence”, “you care more about broken glass”.”

      Are you sure about that?

      Did actual Kristallnacht drive people in Europe to become increasingly sympathetic to the Jews? Did synagogue attendance go up?

      My impression of history is that it helped the Nazis more than anything. It set the stage of “we are going to be violent and nobody is going to stop us, so you better back the winning team.” The same thing seems to be happening here. Other than some sternly worded tweets from Trump, nobody is stepping up to oppose these people. They have announced their intent to be violent, have actually carried out violence, promised more violence, and it seems clear that nobody has any particular interest in stopping them. If you’re a moderate living in Berkeley with no particular ideological commitment, which side do you want to be on?

      • dndnrsn says:

        In Berkeley, maybe. But compare: Richard Spencer getting it in the face was considered hilarious by pretty much everyone on the left. That woman in a MAGA hat getting pepper-sprayed? I haven’t seen anybody I know in real life defend that. Sure, you’ve got people on tumblr defending it – but nobody under their real name.

        There’s a reason that people defending what happened at Berkeley – or, at least, under their own name – frame it as though all that happened was property damage. Everyone I know who posted stuff even remotely in support of the Berkeley violence – a far smaller number than posted stuff in support of Spencer eating one – mentioned nothing other than “garbage cans set on fire” and “broken windows”.

        Additionally, where are you getting your history? The Nazi party held power in Germany, and had for years before kristallnacht. It caused significant worldwide outcry, and significantly helped stoke the anti-German sentiments in the US that helped allow Roosevelt to support the war against Germany before Germany declared war on the US.

        EDIT: And your statement that nobody is stepping up to oppose them is false. For crying out loud, you’ve got Robert Reich suggesting the rioters were right-wing plants. And people on the right are opposing them, obviously.

        • Matt M says:

          That woman in a MAGA hat getting pepper-sprayed? I haven’t seen anybody I know in real life defend that.

          The question is less “did people defend it” and more “did people rise up against it?” Was the perpetrator arrested (non-rhetorical, I legitimately don’t know). Did it lead to wide-spread denunciations of these sorts of tactics by anyone who wasn’t already on the right and denouncing them anyway? I see no particular evidence that these sorts of things make it harder for antifa to recruit or whatever. If anything, I’d guess the opposite.

          “Additionally, where are you getting your history? “

          Well lately all I’ve seen on social media are posts about how America was super racist and anti-semitic and we refused to let in Jewish refugees. I believe I’d read things in the past suggesting that “help the Jews” was way WAY down on America’s list of reasons for entering the war – almost incidental. But I claim no particular expertise here – I could be entirely wrong.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’ve seen denunciations from people on the left. Not liberals, leftists. People I know.

            As for whether it makes it easier to recruit – well, that’s polarization. The question is, did the pool of possible recruits grow more than the pool of people who dislike these tactics?

            I predict a few things happening. First, the cops will show more competence. I don’t buy the “campus cops let it happen because they wanted it to happen” explanation – lacking more information, my guess would be “they were overwhelmed and outnumbered and had not expected this.”

            Protests of stuff like this usually takes the form of cops lining up between protesters and people trying to get to the [Milo speech/MRA conference/whatever], a bunch of incoherent screeching about fascism or whatever from one side and knowledge-of-the-law-free yelling about “free speech” from the other side that ends up as comedy material on youtube, and eventually someone pulls a fire alarm. Maybe an awkward shoving match. Black bloc window breaking and people getting beaten up is more likely to happen at stuff like Trump’s inauguration or the G20. Police show up prepared for that, and they do kettle, beat up, pepper spray, arrest, etc people.

            The “police let it happen because ANARCHO-TYRANNY” explanation would predict that police wouldn’t arrest people at Trump’s inauguration or the G20. They did, which lends credence to my hypothesis.

            As for kristallnacht, no, it didn’t make people like the Jews more. But it did make them dislike the Germans more.

          • Cypren says:

            I predict a few things happening. First, the cops will show more competence. I don’t buy the “campus cops let it happen because they wanted it to happen” explanation – lacking more information, my guess would be “they were overwhelmed and outnumbered and had not expected this.”

            Incidentally, I asked a buddy of mine — a beat cop in Houston — what he thought about the way the Berkeley police handled the riot. His response was (paraphrased), “riot training varies a lot from department to department, and I don’t want to second-guess the cops on the ground. But situations like that are very tricky because of the potential of escalation and civil rights violations if you wade into the crowd, so it’s usually a last resort only in dire circumstances.”

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of the video footage people shot of Milo supporters actually being beaten and pepper-sprayed showed cops standing around just idly watching, did it? They were just holding a line while vandalism was taking place.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Cypren:

            MMA fighter Jake Shields stepped in to stop a guy getting beaten up, and he says when he tried to get cops to intervene they wouldn’t.

            Lacking the number of cops present, but with reports that there were ~150 black bloc, I am guessing the cops didn’t even have the ability to wade in.

            @Matt M: there’s an example of a guy stepping in. There’s a short video linked. He ends up arguing with a couple of black bloc. Their response to someone resisting appears to be not to swarm him – guy’s a pro fighter, but I still wouldn’t like his chances armed against a few guys with clubs or whatever.

          • Matt M says:

            dndnrsn,

            That’s a fair example. I’d certainly like to see a lot more of them, or more proactive measures, to be sure.

            For example, do we think it’s likely that a bunch of campus “moderates” might, say, form a human wall around the auditorium for a Milo speech so that antifa provocateurs can’t get in and disrupt (similar to the roaming bikers who “shield” military families from WBC protsts)? I don’t see this happening any time soon.

          • Incurian says:

            I don’t see this happening any time soon.

            Why not? I’d volunteer. Something about something Voltaire said once…

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          That woman in a MAGA hat getting pepper-sprayed? I haven’t seen anybody I know in real life defend that. Sure, you’ve got people on tumblr defending it – but nobody under their real name.

          Not on tumblr, and it may be cheating pulling this particular guy in, and it’s twitter not tumblr, but:
          https://twitter.com/arthur_affect/status/827021737942466561
          https://twitter.com/arthur_affect/status/827018845625909249

          • dndnrsn says:

            Ugh. I had forgotten about that. It’s … enlightening to see the Vocal Male Feminists all of a sudden think violence against women saying things you don’t like is grrrrrreat.

            EDIT: Not that he represents all of them, of course. And I use capital-M capital-F Male Feminist to refer to guys who do stuff like explain to women why they need feminism, talk over women who say they don’t experience discrimination by saying “oh yes you do you just don’t realize it”, and other such ironic stuff. All male feminists are not Male Feminists.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I feel compelled to not hold Arthur Chu against the left, because hell, pretty much everyone will tell you he’s a fucktard.

          • Deiseach says:

            It wasn’t a MAGA hat, that’s the point. It was a parody hat: pink, with “Make Bitcoin Great Again” on it, as a parody of the red “Make America Great Again” hats. She was on his side.

            But our brave Nazi-puncher being apparently unable to, or uninterested in, identifying the enemy simply leaped in from the side and pepper-sprayed her. That’s the fruit of the “punching Nazis is your civic duty! anyone who has qualms about Nazi-punching is a Nazi themselves!” cheerleading – idiots who think that petty violence is the cool new way to make a five-minute hero of themselves.

          • Deiseach says:

            Even better on Twitter, a woman being all approving of using violence against “female Nazis” when quite clearly the woman in the video is not a Trump supporter, she’s wearing a parody hat! She’s making fun of Trump! She’s one of your side! And you’re too self-righteously up your own backside in your “punch a Nazi” virtue you can’t even see that!

            I know Tumblr has a bad reputation for SJW Special Snowflakiness, but this kind of lack of functioning brain makes me glad I never got into or onto Twitter.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Yeah, Deiseach, I second this question.

        Another complication is that Kristallnacht happened a full 5 1/2 years after the Enabling Act of 1933. So far as I know, Jerry Brown doesn’t have dictatorial powers that include banning the Republican Party… and if he was, that’d be a heck of a civics lesson in federalism.

        • Deiseach says:

          I’m not saying “The Black Bloc are Nazis”, I’m saying with all the hysteria about “we are living in an actual Fascist State under Literal Hitler”, who are the people behaving like the Nazi paramilitary organisations?

          Who are the ones dressing up in the gear, organising and infilitrating protests, and using a particular tactic designed to be disruptive and destructive?

          Who are the ones acting like the Fascists? Not the guys in the MAGA hats, as I said. When we get Red Hat Troupes marching through neighbourhoods deliberately smashing the windows of bodegas and Asian corner shops, then we’ve got Actual Trumpian Fascists to worry about.

          And the apologists mocking the concerned that all they care about is broken windows and that property damage is no big deal – let me remind them that broken shop windows were a very big deal as a statement of intent, and that they are making a statement of intent re: their political views about capitalism (amongst other things). I am forced to the conclusion that they are so historically illiterate they are genuinely clueless why “organised mobs smashing shop windows as political protest and preliminary to The Great Day Of You’re First Up Against The Wall” gives people a bad feeling.

          I mean, literally wearing all-black quasi-uniforms? Come off it!

          • Nornagest says:

            Hey now, this is America we’re talking about. Our wannabe Nazis back in the ’30s wore silver.

            Not that your average modern neo-Nazi would know that or care.

          • Deiseach says:

            My fellow Americans SSC readers and commenters, you will be pleased to know that my reblog of a post on Tumblr, which echoed my criticisms as expressed on here, provoked (I think that is not too strong a term to use) a response from a fellow Tumblrite who took exception to the opinions expressed and who wished to engage me in fruitful debate:

            hey dickhead if you’re gonna invoke the fucking holocaust on a jewish man’s post maybe don’t do it in service of tut-tutting people who are actually fighting fascists

            while we’re at it, dunk your head in the toilet and give yourself a swirlie since i can’t do it to you myself

            Ah, the white-hot cut and thrust of intellectual controversion at a high level! You can’t find that everywhere! 😀

            (Part of the reason I love you all is that you get a higher class of insult on here).

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t know why you bother with expressing political opinions on that hellsite.

            I mean, I have an account too, but I mostly stick to posting pictures of archaeological finds and cities in snow.

          • Incurian says:

            Not that your average modern neo-Nazi would know that or care.

            It sounds like you’re disappointed by the lack of heritage in the neo-nazi movement.

            hey dickhead if you’re gonna invoke the fucking holocaust on a jewish man’s post maybe don’t do it in service of tut-tutting people who are actually fighting fascists

            while we’re at it, dunk your head in the toilet and give yourself a swirlie since i can’t do it to you myself

            You can’t call him a fascist, he called no tag-backs.

          • Nornagest says:

            I just generally have a low opinion of neo-Nazis. Even leaving aside the whole mountains-of-skulls thing, there are plenty of actually new and interesting things you can say if you want to be a right-wing contrarian, so why waste time rehashing a failed movement from seventy years ago?

            The answer is “because you’re not very smart or creative, and mostly care about being xxxEDGYxxx”. I don’t know why anyone even bothers to fight these idiots; the Gathering of the Juggalos is probably more politically significant.

          • Matt M says:

            Part of the reason I love you all is that you get a higher class of insult on here

            Even our trolls are orders of magnitude more intelligent and erudite than what you would typically encounter in say, youtube comments!

          • Incurian says:

            Nornagest, I was just teasing you.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Even our trolls are orders of magnitude more intelligent and erudite than what you would typically encounter in say, youtube comments!

            “Even” our trolls?!?

          • Deiseach says:

            I don’t know why you bother with expressing political opinions on that hellsite.

            Sometimes the accumulation of lack of sense about what they’re saying means I have to clear it all out in a big blow-out, then I can go back to scrolling past the political stuff and searching out the fandom and swords and history and art stuff 🙂

            I don’t know if it’s that the ones who are particularly impassioned about this stuff are young(ish) Americans (20s-early 30s) and so don’t have much of a mindset or view point outside their immediate locale and time, and that’s why they don’t see how what they’re doing looks to the average voter (which is not the young, if we can trust the analysis): why did they think people were trying to represent the Berkeley protests as right-wing false flag?

            The guest poster pointed out how IRAP knows how to play the perception game:

            IRAP’s ground level work meant that when Trump’s order went out, it took them approximately four seconds to create a list of extremely sympathetic/photogenic immigrants who would be caught at airports that day, for some of whom they were already the legal representative of record.

            By comparison, all the chirruping from the ninnyhammers that no, the Berkeley Black Bloc totally were Berkeley students and not outsiders meant that congratulations, idiots, you’re doing Trump’s work for him. You’re moving the perception, in the minds of the average uninvolved American who gets their information from what they see reported in the media and on the TV, of undocumented immigrants from “hard-working families who only came here to give their kids a better chance” to “gangs of thugs who dress in black and cover their faces in order to march through the streets setting fires and smashing windows”.

            Or your brave Nazi-punchers assault a woman for the crime of wearing the wrong hat, and all the “This is what a feminist looks like” crowd cheer him on.

            They may not like Trump, but their sympathies have moved a notch away from you. This is how you persuade people that what is needed is a Strong Man to Restore Order.

            Violent resistance can be justified. Thuggery is not violent resistance.

          • Deiseach says:

            while we’re at it, dunk your head in the toilet and give yourself a swirlie since i can’t do it to you myself

            That part did amuse me. The last time a boy tried to intimidate me, I was six (the last time a girl tried it, I was twelve). Neither time worked* 🙂

            By contrast, anonymous “go dunk your head in the loo” posturing is nothing. Besides, if he’d left that part out and just stuck to the top half of his response, it would have been more effective (if anyone here is Jewish and feels offended by my making a parallel with Kristallnacht, I apologise).

            *Mainly because I was too unaware to pick up what was going on; in the case of that girl and her three friends who surrounded me, it took me two whole days for the penny to drop that “Oh, she was threatening that they would beat me up!”

          • Nornagest says:

            no, the Berkeley Black Bloc totally were Berkeley students and not outsiders meant that congratulations, idiots, you’re doing Trump’s work for him.

            A few of them were students at Berkeley, but neither “students’ nor “outsiders” is really accurate. Usually when something like this happens, the perpetrators are basically random people you find rattling around the Bay Area radical scene: many are students at other Bay colleges, but Berkeley itself doesn’t have an unusually radical student body these days. It’s an Ivy-tier school now, and while it’s very proud of its activist heritage, it turns down something like nine out of ten students. That means the ones that make it in are highly selected for conscientiousness and willingness to work with the system, and also that they have a lot to lose.

            I don’t know if I know any of this particular batch personally, but I don’t know if I don’t, either. I do brush shoulders with Bay Area radicals occasionally, and you get a sense of how the scene’s shaped after a while.

          • Deiseach says:

            Usually when something like this happens, the perpetrators are basically random people you find rattling around the Bay Area radical scene

            Nornagest, I’d imagine myself a lot of outsiders turned up for the protests, both the kinds of radical activists that float around from one protest to another and the ordinary ‘any chance for a bit of street violence’ crowd who may not care tuppence about what the particular protest is about but it’s a great chance to smash windows (and do a bit of grabbing under cover).

            But when you have the opinion columnists in the Berkeley student paper wittering on about

            We were not, as the news, the chancellor and concerned progressives have alleged, “unaffiliated white anarchists.” Behind those bandanas and black T-shirts were the faces of your fellow UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College students, of women, of people of color, of queer and trans people.

            You really do have to say “Don’t you have a goddamn clue about the optics, you twit? This is not helping! Ordinary America turns on the nightly news, sees black-clad thugs smashing up the streets, and thinks ‘This needs to be stopped’.” People with more smarts on your side go “No, it wasn’t us, it was agents provocateurs!” and you blow the gaff by loudly insisting “No, it was us”. This means Ordinary America decides “And my tax dollars are going to fund a bunch of layabouts more interested in property damage than earning the degree they went to that university for?” so when Trump cannily talks about defunding UC Berkeley – whether he actually can do that or not – they don’t think he’s an idiot or a Fascist, he begins to sound like “common sense telling it like it is”.

            The Left – and I don’t mean the liberals or the ordinary Democrat centrists/mildly left of centre – wants to be agents of change? They are not going to do it by street protest. These overgrown toddlers are going to leave Berkeley in a couple of years and move on to their careers (ironically, probably eventually with Amazon or the other Big Capitalist Corporations they’ve been breaking the windows of*, when the realisation sinks in that now they’re out on their own they need to earn money to live and writing whiny op-eds for radical papers won’t do that), but the damage they’ve done to the cause will outlast them.

            *Imagine the job interviews: “And why do you want to work as a graphics designer for SwizzyFizzyGames?” “Well, three years ago I put on my black balaclava and yours was the first store window I ever heaved a brick through in the cause of bringing down the capitalist system in flames!”

            Silicon Valley doesn’t want to destroy capitalism, it’s doing very nicely out of it.

          • Nornagest says:

            Student newspapers always suck. Opinion columns in student newspapers can safely be assumed to be eight column inches of solid bullshit.

            Fortunately, no one reads them, so the optics don’t really matter.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            For some reason it’s really hard to find this on Google, so a lot of people might be unaware, but the darker internet has known exactly who the nazi puncher is for a few weeks now.

            I’ve rot13’d this, because we don’t need linked back from any of this. It’s all NSFW. I wouldn’t open this link from a work computer or network.

            uggcf://ntrbsfuvgybeqf.pbz/4puna-qbkkrq-evpuneq-fcrapref-chapure-abg-fnsr-sbe-jbex/

          • suntzuanime says:

            Well, no. The “darker internet” often commits to claims without sufficient basis. The fact that the “darker internet” says something is not a great reason to go talking about it as though it were true.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If you were to just fucking read it, you would see that his identity is pretty much nailed.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Did actual Kristallnacht drive people in Europe to become increasingly sympathetic to the Jews? Did synagogue attendance go up?

        That was in the days before they had the Nazis as an example of everything that’s evil, though.

        My impression of history is that it helped the Nazis more than anything. It set the stage of “we are going to be violent and nobody is going to stop us, so you better back the winning team.”

        OTOH, the Nazis were firmly in control of Germany by then, which no doubt made a difference. It might be significant that Hitler held off doing Kristallnacht until he felt secure.

    • James Miller says:

      As a member of the right, but not alt-right, I totally agree. The alt-right’s core message is that the traditional American right plays honorably while the left doesn’t, and this gives the left a huge advantage which is why it always wins on policy and this makes the right losers and, in their words not mine, cuckservatives. When the left wins a tactical victory via violence its supports the alt-right’s world view via conservative principles on proper means. Personally, as a conservative/libertarian professor, I tend to think that anyone who thinks it’s justified to use violence to stop Milo from speaking at Berkeley would support using violence to get me fired.

      • Cypren says:

        I’m not sure I’d agree that the idea “the traditional American right plays honorably while the left doesn’t” distinguishes the Alt-Right from the mainstream Right. I think that’s been a pretty mainstream position for some time; examples would be Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, Hugh Hewitt’s If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It or Ann Coulter’s Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.

        I think what’s new with the Alt-Right is the idea that the Right shouldn’t take the high ground and that it should be total war, “on their heads be it.”

      • Sandy says:

        The alt-right’s core message is that the traditional American right is stupid and blind, preferring to get muddled down in questions about “debt ceilings” and “entitlement reform” while conceding every cultural, social and societal question to the left.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Lack of awareness of this sort of thing is absolutely rampant.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToKcmnrE5oY

  10. onyomi says:

    Question from someone born in the 80s, who’s never been to the Middle East/North Africa, and who isn’t very knowledgeable about the history of those regions:

    In the past couple of years I’ve seen a lot of social media posts like this video basically showing what are meant to be shockingly modern, liberal-looking pictures of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. around the 60s and 70s, i. e. before Ayatollahs, Gaddafi, et al. (though that equivalence itself seems a little strange, since, if I understand, the Ayatollahs are theocrats and Gaddafi a socialist).

    The message looks like: the Middle East in the 70s was basically like the Mary Tyler Moore show plus sand and then somehow things went horribly awry. The conclusion we are supposed to draw is usually left as an exercise to the viewer, and may seem to include: Islam sucks (or, more charitably, radical Islam sucks and has somehow replaced much more tolerant, liberal versions of the religion in both majority-Sunni and Shia areas), US foreign policy sucks, authoritarianism sucks, colonialism and US puppet dictators weren’t so bad (though if they inevitably result in what we have today, one doesn’t see how), or some combination.

    Though the person who posted this to my social media was a right-wing libertarian, interestingly, such an argument could potentially support two very different sides in US politics: either as a way of saying “see, radical Islam is a cancer so we need to wipe it out,” or else as a warning against the dangers of reactionary authoritarian social movements destroying a beautiful liberal consensus in the blink of an eye, as many on the left seem to fear could happen with Trumpism.

    But I have a more basic question: are these images wildly misleading or aren’t they? I mean, I can probably get together a photo collage making the DPRK look like a paradise, but it doesn’t mean anything, as it wouldn’t mean much if I took a few photos of the richest tiny portions of Iraq with the wealthiest, most liberal people living in a tiny enclave. Presumably these nations had enough unrest to result in what we see today, so… ?

    Also a possibility: are the images misleading in the opposite direction? That is, because we in the US only ever see images of the Middle East as burning rubble and women in veils nowadays are we in fact unreasonably shocked to see halfway modern, liberalish, pleasant images of the Middle East from the 70s only because we could just as easily find such images today if “most of Iran actually a really nice place to live” were considered newsworthy?

    • 1soru1 says:

      > Presumably these nations had enough unrest to result in what we see today, so… ?

      At the time those countries were post-colonial monarchies. There was not so much unrest as inequality; you are probably seeing photos of the top 1-10%, but not some tiny enclave.

      The countries that have avoided major oil wealth but stayed as post-colonial monarchies (Jordan, Oman, Botswana etc) probably provide the best reference; grinding poverty in the back-country, torture in the dungeon under the palace, fine meals and fashion houses in the capital.

      And things slowly getting better over time rather than worse.

      • onyomi says:

        This sounds about right to me.

        Seems to be something of a Moldbuggy lesson here: yes, the king and the top 1-10% live in obscene wealth compared to the rest of you; yes, the king tortures political enemies in a dungeon under the palace and is responsible for a number of atrocities; no, your revolution to overturn this seemingly intolerable social order and replace it with something you imagine will be much better will not actually be better and will, in fact, almost certainly be much worse than the gradual but real improvements we are seeing under his majesty jerkface.

        • birdboy2000 says:

          Depends on the type of revolution. A lot of the pan-Arab dictators (and Ataturk, even earlier) saw sweeping away the old order as part of their mandate and came to power with significant popular support – heck, some of those photos were taken when they were in power! (Not in Iran, obviously, but the ones from Egypt or Afghanistan or the like.) Even now the Syrian Democratic Forces are liberating women in northern Syria.

          Islamist revolutions being bad doesn’t make revolution bad; it makes Islamism bad.

          • Anonymous says:

            Islamist revolutions being bad doesn’t make revolution bad;

            Indeed not. Revolutions are inherently bad, and there’s no redeeming them.

          • 1soru1 says:

            The only actual Islamist government (Iran) is a relatively ok place to live, certainly up there with the average modern absolute monarchy.

            It’s secular dictatorships (not ‘illiberal democracies’ like Iran or Singapore) that are by far the worst for the people living there. For a dictator, the fundamental justification for ruling is that a civil war to remove them would fail. So their survival depends on ensuring that remains true, never letting the people get strong enough to falsify it or optimistic enough to test it.

            If you ask the question, ‘why do you rule?’, the answer ‘because God said so’ is not great. But it is ‘because I can have your family killed’ that really requires constant reinforcement.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @1soru1:

            I’d say that the worst, based on those countries, is “chaos”. Iraq under Saddam was safer than Iraq now, surely.

          • The only actual Islamist government (Iran) is a relatively ok place to live, certainly up there with the average modern absolute monarchy.

            Why Iran and not Saudi Arabia? The latter is, so far as I can tell, the one Sunni state that has stayed reasonably close to traditional institutions, with law largely determined by legal scholars rather than legislators.

            Iran seems to have modernized its institutions more, but I could be mistaken–I know less about them.

          • Nornagest says:

            Saudi Arabia’s an unusual case. First of all, Wahhabism, the currently dominant ideology, is not one of the traditional sects of the region; it’s a fundamentalist movement dating to the 18th century. It initially didn’t pick up much momentum, and would likely have stayed a small minority sect except for one fact: early on, it was adopted as the family sect of the House of Saud.

            That has allowed it to exert religious hegemony whenever the Sauds were in power over the region, which has happened three times over the last three centuries, the most recent forming the modern state of Saudi Arabia. It’s almost a state religion in the mold of the Church of England, and as such, stuff like the Saudi religious police are instruments of political control as much or more than they’re purely religious institutions. There are other Sunni sects in Saudi Arabia, particularly among the Bedouin, that likely have a better claim to following Sunni tradition.

          • First of all, Wahhabism, the currently dominant ideology, is not one of the traditional sects of the region;

            As best I can tell, it’s a fundamentalist revivial, of which there have been others over the history of Islam–consider the Almoravides and the Almohades, for example.

            The question is what it changes in the institutions. Saudi law recognizes the existence of all four madhabs, although I gather they no longer have separate courts for each. I am told that the judge is supposed to rule according to which madhab the party before him adheres to. I am not sure how that applies to cross cases, when a Shafi’i sues a Maliki, say, but that problem existed in the traditional system.

            They have the shurta, the police, and presumably courts other than the religious courts operating under fiqh, but that’s been true through most of the history of Islam, one of the ways in which the theoretical separation between state and law is broken.

            They even have the ‘Akila, which Schacht claims “fell into disuse at an early date,” as I discovered when I had the pleasure of primary sources in my classroom, Saudi LLM students taking my legal systems very different class. They translate it as “clan,” each of them has his clan, and if he was found guilty of negligent homicide the damage payment, diya, would be shared by his clan, the traditional system.

          • TenMinute says:

            I can see why you find Islamic and Irish law so fascinating!

    • Jaskologist says:

      I have about as much background as you on the subject, but here’s a video linked around here in the past. It’s the president of Egypt ca 1950 using as a punchline the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to make all the women wear hijabs. The idea is clearly ludicrous to him and the crowd. I find that a lot more telling than pictures which may be cherry-picked.

      • onyomi says:

        Wow, that is really surprising. I feel like for all our talk about the inevitable leftward march of flower god Cthulu, we have under our noses an example of a huge chunk of civilization taking such a hard conservative turn?

        • dndnrsn says:

          People on the right in the West usually tend not to see it as a victory for them so they don’t count it as a victory at all, and people on the left in the West usually tend to see criticizing Islam and Muslims as something right-wingers do, so they avoid noticing (or at least don’t say out loud) that socially conservative (to say the least) views held by Muslims are, in fact, socially conservative views. This on top of the “if it didn’t happen in the West it isn’t real” bias that most people in the West tend to have.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            people on the left in the West usually tend to see criticizing Islam and Muslims as something right-wingers do, so they avoid noticing (or at least don’t say out loud) that socially conservative (to say the least) views held by Muslims are, in fact, socially conservative views

            I don’t think this is correct.

            People on the left criticize conservative cultural views as conservative cultural views, , and certainly many of those cultures are also Islamic, but the left doesn’t connect them to Islam in particular.

            Take as examples the campaign against female genital mutilation and the Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” campaign.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Here’s an example of what I mean. Here in Canada, in Ontario specifically, the province has been trying to bring in a new sex ed curriculum. One big priority is making it more friendly for LGBT people.

            Canada’s foremost left-wing paper published an interview with a principal of a Muslim school who wrote a guide to the new curriculum for Muslim parents. The interview is super softball, and they excerpt her guide. It includes:

            On Grade 3 students learning about homosexuality, within the context of being respectful of differences: Allah created men and women as complements of one another, each with their own special qualities so that they could help one another live happily. Since Allah created us, he knows what is best for us.

            Allah wants us to be upright and spread goodness through the world. When a man and woman get married and have children together, they create another life that can help spread the teachings of Allah. In this sense, we are not fully complete without our special companion.

            You might notice that there are some families that have 2 moms or 2 dads. Although we should treat everyone with kindness, this type of relationship is displeasing to Allah. In Islam only a man can marry a woman and only a woman can marry a man — we are not allowed to marry people of the same gender.

            On gender identity, discussed in Grade 5: If you are born a boy, your gender identity is Male. If you are born a girl, your gender identity is Female. You cannot be a boy if you are born a girl and you cannot be a girl if you are born a boy. Allah does not make mistakes. We cannot go against what Allah wants for us because Allah knows what is best for us.

            The article does not challenge this excerpt, or even comment on it, and the excerpt goes directly against the paper’s generally pro-gay, pro-trans politics. As far as I can tell, the paper has not published a similar softball interview and comment-free excerpting of a guide for conservative Christian parents, and I do not believe they would. The paper has generally been in favour of the new curriculum.

            More anecdotally, among the (overwhelmingly left-wing) friend group I have from university, condemnations of misogyny tend to be far harsher against Christians than against Muslims; in fact, I rarely see the former on, say, my Facebook feed. The hypocrisy goes both ways: I have a right-wing friend who actively thinks (and says) patriarchy is good, but suddenly becomes a feminist when it’s Muslim patriarchy.

          • lvlln says:

            I think you’re generally right, dndnrsn. I think a big part of it is that USA Left considers USA Right as the outgroup, Middle-Eastern Right as a fargroup, and so their conservative actions don’t really register as much. Particularly since Middle-Eastern Right (and Middle-Eastern Left) are part of the USA Right’s outgroup, and enemy of my enemy and all that.

            It’s not like USA Left doesn’t care about victims of oppression in conservative Islamic societies, it’s that acknowledging those victims and the people who do the victimizing gives ammo to the outgroup. So push comes to shove, the USA Left acknowledges that oppression goes on, but you really have to push and shove to get to that point, and they’d much rather focus on things that happen over here that demonize our outgroup instead of ones that might demonize our outgroup’s outgroup. Hence why, say, Jackie and Emma Sulkowitz get more attention than Rotherham or Koln (at least that was my perception).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @lvlln:

            First, this is just anecdata. I could be imagining things.

            It isn’t just “oh things happening over in faraway lands”. As HeelBearCub points out, you see plenty of stuff about FGM and education rights for girls in places where they are denied education.

            I mean stuff happening in the US, Canada, Europe, etc. If an imam and a priest in a major US city both preached in the same week, and both said it was justified for a man to smack his wife with an open hand to discipline her, I would bet that there would be more outcry over the priest. You’d probably see some right-wing outlets suddenly find their feminism and condemn the imam, but left-wing sources, my Facebook friends, etc would clearly pick one target over the other.

            You’re right to bring up Rotherham and Koln. People who I know who I would generally expect to be horrified by such things were silent when they happened/were uncovered. Whether they didn’t know, or just found it inconvenient to mention them, I don’t know. I don’t want to impute motive to anyone, and I think that to some extent the motives are good (there are people who would beat Muslims with any stick available) but the end result is that the outcry (its existence, its magnitude, from all over the political spectrum) is based more on who does what to whom than what was done.

            I recall most vividly the bizarre spectacle of seeing friends on Facebook explaining how Omar Mateen’s mass shooting, the deadliest in US history, had nothing to do with Islam, and was in fact really, when you think about it, the fault of white Christian Republicans. I’m being uncharitable, but only mildly.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ dndnrsn
            The hypocrisy goes both ways: I have a right-wing friend who actively thinks (and says) patriarchy is good, but suddenly becomes a feminist when it’s Muslim patriarchy.

            I think ‘hypocrisy’ is too harsh a term for such apparent inconsistencies nuances.

            Hints: The map is not the territory. The word is not the thing. Patriarchy as practiced in the US is not patriarchy as practiced in Afganistan. Etc.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @houseboatonstyx – “I think ‘hypocrisy’ is too harsh a term for such apparent inconsistencies nuances.”

            To put a finer point on it, I don’t remember any honor killings in Leave It to Beaver.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @houseboatonstyxb/FacelessCraven:

            But also for lesser stuff. I mean, the guy is a bit of a hypocrite. He’s less of a hypocrite than the rest of them.

          • Cypren says:

            @dndnrsn:

            You’d probably see some right-wing outlets suddenly find their feminism and condemn the imam, but left-wing sources, my Facebook friends, etc would clearly pick one target over the other.

            My most charitable interpretation of this thought process goes like this: “if I criticize a Muslim, I am lending support to Islamophobes. There are very few Muslims in the US who are going to be beating women as a result of this advice. There are many Islamophobes who may discriminate against or even assault Muslims because of prejudicial views that consider them all barbaric. Thus I will not reinforce those views.”

            My less-charitable interpretation is just that Muslims are an ingroup to the Blue Tribe by virtue of being an outgroup of the Red Tribe, who are the only outgroup the Blue Tribe really recognizes or cares about because they’re the only ones that pose a direct threat to its agenda.

      • Interesting video, but I want to know who the audience is. The pictures of them are pretty blurry, but they look as though they are all wearing western dress, which suggests that they may be from the westernized upper class.

        Also, with regard to the negative reference to al-Hakim… . He was a Fatimid Caliph, a sevener Shia (Ismaili) Imam, and viewed by some as crazy (and by others as religiously inspired–the Druze founder regarded him as an incarnation of God). So not someone Egyptian Sunnis, however orthodox, are likely to think well of.

    • rlms says:

      Anecdotal evidence suggests that Iran is a relatively nice place to live: I know people who moved back there from the UK. The Libyan I know plans to go back eventually but not in the near future.

      • Aapje says:

        AFAIK you get can away with a very liberal lifestyle, if you do it in secret.

      • rlms says:

        I also get the impression that Afghanistan was nice pre-1978, since I think it was a popular travel destination for Western hippies. That is less true now.

        • birdboy2000 says:

          40 years of civil war can make any country significantly less nice, whoever wins. And the good guys lost in Afghanistan; at this point it’s just different flavors of villain.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            War creates an environment that rewards bad behavior and punishes good behavior. This depletes the supply of good people and multiplies the supply of bad people. if you’re lucky, you run out of food, bullets or soldiers before you run out of good people, the war ends, stability returns and you can try to rebuild. If you’re unlucky, the supply of good people drops below a critical threshold, and you get the opposite of Scott’s “divine grace.” Infernal malice, I suppose. The critical mass of bad people become numerous enough to start flipping marginal good people, and suddenly there’s no good people left. At that point, it seems like the only solution is to start civilization over from scratch; warring tribes eventually conquered by a strongman, strongman creates stability, stability creates prosperity and eventually (maybe) freedom.

            Alternatively, someone knocks your strongmen down every couple decades, constantly pushing you back into the “freedom” of warring tribes over and over again.

    • dndnrsn says:

      With regard to Iran, your last point is basically right. Iran is a fairly developed country – it’s “high human development“, 69th in the world by HDI (out of 188). Life expectancy is 73 years and 90% of Iranians have some sort of health insurance. It has the same average murder rate (3.9/100k) as the US.

      Iran got screwed over by a long war with Iraq, and then by sanctions, but it’s still a decent place to live. Iraq likewise suffered from the war with Iran, the Gulf War, sanctions, and then the 2003 war and its aftermath. It is a less decent place to live than Iran, and a lot less safe.

      With regard to Afghanistan in the 70s, what I have read is that the cities were quite cosmopolitan and developed, but there was a huge gap between the cities and the countryside. During foreign military involvement in Afghanistan, securing the cities hasn’t been the problem, it’s been the countryside, especially the parts with rougher terrain. Afghanistan is also in pretty rough shape after decades of war.

    • cassander says:

      >modern, liberal-looking pictures of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. around the 60s and 70s

      Those places were modernizing, but they were not in any way liberal. Arab socialism was secular, but it was also deeply authoritarian, often accomplished by implicit or explicit military dictatorships. While they never used the term, Fascist is not inapt description for Nasser and his imitators.

  11. So, I have somewhat updated my thoughts on CO2 and warming. It seems that until some point in CO2 levels, this happens. Namely, plants grow significantly faster, and are (somewhat) more resilient with heightened CO2 levels.

    However, it appears that the response to plant growth and CO2 levels are asymptotic, with very little extra growth occuring after say.. 3x pre-industrial CO2 levels. Or, effectively, above a doubling of current CO2 levels, there becomes very little benefit to additional CO2. Which seems to mean that once the CO2 levels hit 800 PPM, all there is is additional warming without countering positive effects, or one has to “wait” for evolution to catch up to take advantage of such additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Right now, my guess is that for the next 50 years or so, additional CO2 will have mostly positive effects, regardless of whatever feedbacks there are.(with the damaging effects of warming being exaggerated) Sometime during the next N years, mixed effects, and after that mostly negative effects(how large I am unsure of, and perhaps this changes depending on how evolution takes advantage of co2 increases), due to simply adding temperature without any real increase in the ability of plant life to take advantage of heightened CO2 levels.

    (This all avoids the ocean acidification issue, though)

    • What is your source for the claim that CO2 fertilization maxes out at about 800 ppm? It could be true, but you only link to a piece on the effect of doubling CO2, and I don’t remember having seen the claim before.

      • The claim isn’t that it maxes out at 800 PPM. Its that the relationship between CO2 levels in the air and the rate of photosynthesis, holding other factors constant(light intensity, nutrient density) is asymptotic, with comparatively little gain above the level of 800 PPM for a large amount of plant life.

        I’m not sure which plant species gave the first chart in that link (the relationship varies amongst plant species) but from what I can tell the shape of that graph is replicated amongst most papers that have attempted to find the relationship.

        Its not surprising, since graphs like that show up all across biology. The rate of muscular growth and testosterone levels, the receptor response to pharma drug levels all share that graph’s structure.

        I have not yet found a paper (though I have not delved through the entire literature base in any thorough way) that clearly compared a wide variety of plant and tree growth in regards to CO2 levels under conditions expected to be typical…but with the research I have done, there tends to be relatively little growth gain above the range of 800-1000 PPM under conditions that hold other variables constant that we can’t really expect to change in the natural environment(nutrient levels and light intensity levels)

        I think that’s a very important note for long-term warming trends.

        For warming that may occur this century, i’m much more worried about any sea-life changes then land-life, as it appear the temperature(and PH) variability is much much lower then land temperature variability.

        As an additional note, it does look like the CO2 response differs amongst plant-life. So if there are multiple species competing for a certain ecological niche, the one with the best response to CO2, temperature, and precipitation changes should end up dominating that niche temporarily.

        There’s another trait that has some varying research as to how this effects animal life. Its hard to say how this increased growth rate effects vitamin/mineral/protein density of the plants, and how animal life’s hunger/digestive system relates to total nutrient consumption vs volume consumption for herbivores.

    • Controls Freak says:

      my guess is that for the next 50 years or so, additional CO2 will have mostly positive effects, regardless of whatever feedbacks there are.(with the damaging effects of warming being exaggerated) Sometime during the next N years, mixed effects, and after that mostly negative effects

      Perhaps for this one sub-component of your damage function. A lot of people want to include other things. What’s worse is that modeling nearly anything that is reasonably fast-timescale 50 years in advance is basically impossible. We’re certainly not going to be able to say anything about how our technology, politics, and economics are going to be situated in their ability to adapt to the diminishing returns of this benefit.

      • Matt M says:

        my guess is that for the next 50 years or so, additional CO2 will have mostly positive effects

        This isn’t just your guess, the IPCC consensus has basically admitted as such.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Assuming this to be true, that would argue even more for taking the steps to combat climate change now.

          Do the preventative maintenance and major repairs on your car while it is allowing to earn money, and therefore have the money to pay for it. Don’t wait until it breaks down and you lose your job.

          • Matt M says:

            Maybe. Although it’s worth pointing out that even if we discovered some magical technology tomorrow where we could flip a switch and instantly eliminate 100% of carbon emissions without harming industry or the overall economy in any way, it wouldn’t be a good idea to flip it right now. Right now, CO2 emissions are benefiting humanity.

            One thing that has always bugged me about the climate change debate is that whenever I ask the question: “What IS the optimal global temperature, anyway?” nobody seems to have an answer. But I’d be willing to bet that if you surveyed 100 people, 90+ would suggest the answer is lower than what it is today, even though the expert consensus seems to be suggesting it’s actually higher. Understanding this dynamic is probably, like, kind of important.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:

            That’s essentially some form of begging the question.

            We don’t have a “switch” we can flip and there appears to be no likely switch we will be able to flip in the future. Every indication is that it will take years of concerted effort in order to bend the demand curve for carbon so that it goes to zero.

            You’ve set up a false choice, then assumed that the choice you want to take is better.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Matt M: I suspect that depends on who you asked. The resident of North Dakota might have different ideas on which way the temperature should go compared to the resident of Arizona.

            @HBC: No one’s suggesting any preventative maintenance or major repairs. Instead, it’s “stop using the car so there’s more miles left for future generations”.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Don’t wait until it breaks down and you lose your job.

            This assumes we have a remotely defensible estimate of damage circa 2060. We don’t.

          • I think HeelBearCub is mostly correct. The evidence indicates that CO2 output isn’t something civilization as a whole can ignore for any long period of time, but for the next several decades the damage is being exaggerated with the benefits downplayed.

            Unfortunately, the positive trend looks like it will end by the end of this century. And if alternative technologies are not widespread by then, then all that appears to be happening is adding heat to the planet and changing ocean PH levels and seeing what happens. (By the way, that’s totally ignoring the fact that most projections even accounting for discovering more resources appear to have the world run out of oil reserves within 250 years…meaning civilization *has* to develop alternative energy sources)

            Maybe that’s why the projections for damage in the next 30 years are so exaggerated. That’s the timeframe where people are motivated, so if people won’t act for the long-run you need to lie to them in the short-run.(and its also the timeframe where someone can exaggerate damage to publish a paper and get a quote in a paper that adds to ones reputation and not be really professionally damaged due to being wrong).

            It looks like only the chinese were sufficiently worried enough and risk-averse in relation to more agriculture and medical technology and birth rates that they thought to in advance limit birth rates (turns out in the western world, mostly people just liked sex more than the emotional pull for babies. But that was a planetary experiment! And if the guess was wrong the western world perhaps would be feeling malthusian trends today. Interestingly, this trend *does not* appear to be true in some second and third world countries(even those with cheap birth control access), and probably won’t reverse for quite awhile, if ever)

          • Unfortunately, the positive trend looks like it will end by the end of this century. And if alternative technologies are not widespread by then …

            A lot of things will have changed by the end of the century for other reasons. A few relevant likely ones:

            Countries that are very poor, most obviously Bangladesh, will probably not be very poor–consider what has happened to China as an extreme example. So diking against SLR or adapting in other ways will be a more practical option.

            Newer technologies, such as solar, will have developed further and so become less expensive.

            Fossil fuels will probably be more expensive due to resource depletion, although that might still be being balanced by improvements in extractive technologies.

            Individuals will have adapted in various ways to higher CO2 and warmer temperatures, making further increases less costly. Most obviously, population will have shifted a bit towards the poles, crop varieties will have shifted.

            The more general point is that conditions in 2100 and after are hard to predict, making it risky to bear costs now for benefits we hope to get then.

        • Where in the IPCC consensus is that?

  12. Well... says:

    Are there any decent free VPN services?

    • Cypren says:

      If you define “decent” as “permits traffic to flow at speeds exceeding dial-up internet” and “doesn’t inject malware/attempt to hijack your accounts”, then the answer is no.

      Maintaining a VPN service is very costly both in technical terms (since they are literally paying for all bandwidth you use twice over — once to communicate with the endpoints you’re accessing, then again to send it to you) and legal ones (governments take a dim view of services specifically designed to anonymize people and evade scrutiny). Other than Tor (which is decentralized and under heavy assault on a number of fronts both technical and legal), you won’t find that kind of service made available for free.

      • Well... says:

        Good to know, thanks.

        BTW, I wasn’t aware that VPNs were used for anonymity. I just want to be able to bring check my email at a coffees shop without some hacker kid being able to snoop through my stuff from a couple tables away.

        So, given that a decent VPN service isn’t going to be free, what kind of price tags should one expect? Are there services that charge by the minute, or are they all pretty much monthly or annual subscriptions…?

        • Cypren says:

          I just want to be able to bring check my email at a coffees shop without some hacker kid being able to snoop through my stuff from a couple tables away.

          As long as you’re connecting to your email over an HTTPS or SSL connection (and if you’re using a webmail provider on any major service — Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, etc — you are), you’re fine. The warnings you get about the insecurity of surfing on a public wifi connection relate to using non-secure HTTP connections.

          There’s been a lot more attention paid to this in the last couple of years, and many sites that previously allowed insecure HTTP connections (such as Facebook) now route everyone over secure connections by default instead of making you specifically request it. You can also get browser extensions that will automatically attempt to encrypt all of your connections if the server on the other end supports it.

          If you’re dealing with small mom-and-pop businesses or similar parties that don’t encrypt their connection — well, shame on them! But in that case, you’ll need a VPN. Note that the VPN isn’t really securing your connection, though. It’s only securing the connection between your computer and the VPN provider; once the connection jumps from the VPN provider to the target server, it’s insecure again. This is helpful to you only in the sense that you’re hiding in the noise of a million connections on the Internet rather than a dozen at your local coffee shop, making it somewhat less likely that you’ll be personally targeted. But it’s still a false sense of security overall.

          To analogize in non-technical terms, using HTTPS is like shipping a package in an armored car to its destination. Using a VPN is like shipping your package in an armored car to a bank, which then sends it via regular postal service to the destination. This may be better than sending the package via the postal service if someone is waiting outside your door to ambush the postman, but it’s not a great deal more secure.

        • Controls Freak says:

          I just want to be able to bring check my email at a coffees shop without some hacker kid being able to snoop through my stuff from a couple tables away.

          Then make your own VPN! With blackjack and hookers, if you so please. There’s a fun little project out there designed to make it as easy as possible to set one up on a Raspberry Pi. So, for less than $50 and an evening of tinkering, you can at least VPN back home safely (without even having to leave your main machine on).

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ is 40 bucks a year and friends say it works great.

          If you have a unix-like machine at home, you can tunnel everything through there.

          • Protagoras says:

            Yeah, that’s the one that I use, for the sort of thing for which something like that is useful. Speed is of course not as fast as without the VPN, but usually the decrease isn’t enough to be annoying. Occasionally connections and configuration need a bit of fiddling, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the completely technologically clueless.

            There’s also Hide My Ass is more expensive and with certain issues less helpful, but is more user friendly, and the areas where PIA protects you better than HMA are not those the OP mentions wanting the VPN for. I mention it because for some people it being more user friendly may be an overriding consideration.

  13. Well... says:

    Random question for anyone who might know:

    Is there an adjustment that needs to be made to one’s normal eyeglasses prescription when ordering prescription sunglasses? If so, is there some formula, and if so, what is it?

    [EDIT] I ask because I wear a prescription of -3 in my normal glasses. They are slightly weaker than the -3.25 “full strength” prescription that would get me to 20/20, but that’s how I like it. (Make my eye muscles do a bit of work, I say!) Then I ordered some prescription sunglasses online and decided to make them -3.25. When I got them, however, they felt significantly weaker than even my normal glasses.

    My normal glasses have small rimless lenses. The sunglasses are big aviators. Does that explain the difference, or is it something else?

    • Aapje says:

      I don’t see why there should be a difference. The glass that prescription sunglasses get made off is ‘polluted’ with something that filters out some of the light, but there shouldn’t be a distorting effect that interferes with the lens function.

      If that was an issue, they would have have to put prescription glass in regular sunglasses to counter that effect and they clearly do not.

    • skef says:

      As someone who has ordered prescription sunglasses in the past: For a given lens “grinding” technology, no, I don’t believe there is any difference. But the caveat is relevant. Different manufacturers can correct for different optical features and may therefore want more information from the optometrist. The Oakley sunglasses I got (many years ago) were like this — they could shape the lens in more subtle ways and therefore wanted more info. And the more light the lenses block, the larger your pupils will be (especially in darker conditions, as when it’s cloudy), so the more it’s in your interest to correct for specific features.

        • skef says:

          The general difference in pupil size from the reduced light could account for the apparent difference in strength, but it shouldn’t work that way with a perfectly matching prescription. Is it possible your eyes have slipped a bit since you last got them checked?

          Of course, it’s also possible that they just screwed up the grinding.

          • Well... says:

            My eyes haven’t slipped because my vision through my normal glasses still feels fine.

            The pupil size shouldn’t make that much of a difference either; I notice the same weakness in the sunglasses regardless whether I’m wearing them in bright or dim conditions.

            It seems more and more likely that they must have screwed up the grind. But man, that’s crappy luck: I actually gave them the wrong prescription (-2.5) by accident the first time; the sunglasses I’ve been talking about are the “second try”. They do at least feel more powerful than the first ones.

  14. The long thread on Milo and reporting illegal immigrants reminds me of an issue I have been thinking of recently, in the context of the book I am writing.

    One problem with the modern system of criminal law is that all crimes are treated as offenses against the state, hence prosecution is by the state. The result is that crimes the state approves of are unlikely to be prosecuted. The obvious modern example was the Director of National Intelligence committing perjury in sworn testimony to Congress. He was clearly guilty, pretty much admitted it, but was not and will not be charged. For a more extreme case, the Chicago Black Panther shootings, back when I was a graduate student in Chicago, were a pretty clear case of first degree murder by cops–none of whom were ever charged.

    One obvious solution would be to permit private prosecution of crimes, as was the rule in 18th century England. My standard example of the advantage of that approach is an incident involving the radical journalist/politician John Wilkes. At one point when Wilkes was in jail in London there was a mass demonstration in his favor outside the jail. The authorities got worried, the troops opened fire on the crowd, and several people were killed.

    Wilkes’ supporters charged the soldiers who fired and the Justice of the Peace who gave the order with murder, and they were tried. One of the soldiers skipped bail, the other defendants were acquitted, but there was a serious risk that they could have been convicted since the trial was in London which was pro-Wilkes.

    On the other hand … . A system that permits private prosecution of crime raises the same sorts of problems being discussed in the thread here. You break up with your girlfriend, she gets mad and prosecutes you for smoking marijuana or under age drinking. That particular problem already exists in the context of college accusations of sexual assault, but it could become a much more common problem in a system of privately prosecuted criminal law.

    One tempting response is that we should only have laws we really want enforced, but I think that is too simple.

    (Apologies if I have discussed this issue in some previous thread–I might have).

    • gbdub says:

      So the major difference you’re describing vs. existing civil torts is that the prosecuting civilian need not have directly suffered loss?

      Abused as it is, prosecutorial discretion does seem fairly important to avoid overwhelming the legal system (otherwise you’d probably get do-gooders trying to prosecute every case of public intoxication or whatnot).

      I wonder if you’d end up with a case where “prosecutorial discretion” gets exercised as the state prosecutor offering “plea deals” with zero penalty (thus making the do-gooders’ attempts double jeopardy and getting them thrown out).

      • random832 says:

        I wonder if you’d end up with a case where “prosecutorial discretion” gets exercised as the state prosecutor offering “plea deals” with zero penalty (thus making the do-gooders’ attempts double jeopardy and getting them thrown out).

        Double jeopardy already doesn’t apply to state vs federal prosecutions. If individual do-gooders had independent jurisdiction, they likewise wouldn’t necessarily be bound by a state acquittal either.

        • BBA says:

          The dual sovereigns doctrine is a uniquely American exception to double jeopardy. It obviously doesn’t apply in unitary states, and in other federations it’s quite rare for a crime to be punishable at two different levels. (Canada, for instance, has no provincial crimes at all.) Reading up on other countries, I get the impression that America got some parts of federalism wrong and there’s some room for improvement, but don’t tell the founding father worshipers I said that.

          In Britain double jeopardy applies to private prosecutions. (But there it’s no longer a universal rule – new evidence can force a retrial of an acquitted defendant.)

          • Controls Freak says:

            Questions surrounding double jeopardy multiply the problem of increased court workload and potential for abuse.

            If we don’t prohibit double jeopardy, then we incentivize all kinds of terrible behavior. Have a mob that collectively has some money and hates someone? Great news! Find a criminal charge, any criminal charge! Sure, if you took it to a Silly State Prosecutor, they’d say, “We have maybe a 5% chance of getting a conviction; piss off.” However, you have more than a Silly State Prosecutor! You have twenty friends!

            If we do prohibit double jeopardy, then we incentivize all kinds of terrible behavior. Want to commit a crime? Make sure you have a buddy who is already ready to bring a terrible prosecution against you. You’ll have immunity in no time!

            Pretty soon, you’ll have judges who have to say, “No; that is a shit prosecution. We’re not going to allow it.” Or they’ll say, “No; that was a shit prosecution. We’ll let you bring a better one.” Either way, you’re the one exercising discretion for the government now, dawg.

          • BBA says:

            In Britain the Crown Prosecution Service is authorized to step in and take over a private prosecution, for the reasons you’re describing.

            I think originally the grand jury was supposed to filter out bad prosecutions before they got too far, by demanding that a prosecutor convince a dozen randos to sign the indictment. With professional prosecutors who knew how to game grand juries, they rapidly became worthless, which is why all the other common law countries have abolished them and the US probably would too if we hadn’t put it in the unamendable constitution.

          • I think originally the grand jury was supposed to filter out bad prosecutions before they got too far, by demanding that a prosecutor convince a dozen randos to sign the indictment.

            I think that is correct for England in the 18th century, except that they were not randos. Being on the grand jury was a moderately high status position.

          • BBA says:

            I was being flippant, but weren’t they literally random people off the (much shorter and more exclusive) list of eligible jurors? If not, how were jurors selected back then?

          • The Grand Jury was not the same thing as an ordinary jury.

            The judges arriving somewhere on circuit was a big social event, and the grand jurors, as I remember, got to play a significant role in it. If you are really curious I can look it up–the relevant books are in the book case behind me.

    • Said Achmiz says:

      Hang on a second. What exactly do you mean when you say that “Wilkes’ supporters … were tried”? Who conducted this trial? According to what procedures, decided by whom? What if they’d been found guilty — what would’ve happened next?

      Or this: “You break up with your girlfriend, she gets mad and prosecutes you for smoking marijuana or under age drinking.” What does it mean that your girlfriend “prosecutes you”? What does this involve? What outcomes can follow?

      I ask because… the only thing (it seems to me) that makes the actual justice system, the one we have, work, is the state monopoly on force. The state physically detains (some may say “kidnaps”) the accused (or credibly threatens to do so); those who resist, suffer violence, possibly deadly violence. If you’re convicted, the state physically incarcerates you. Resistance to that, as well, is met with force, up to and including deadly force. Any attempt to change this situation is also met with force (or, again, the credible threat thereof).

      In light of this, what exactly does it mean to have a private trial? Of what consequence is it?

      • suntzuanime says:

        We already have private trials, for civil torts. I don’t see why in principle you couldn’t expand the system to criminal law.

      • What exactly do you mean when you say that “Wilkes’ supporters … were tried”? Who conducted this trial? According to what procedures, decided by whom? What if they’d been found guilty — what would’ve happened next?

        They were tried by the ordinary court procedures of the time. In 18th century England almost all criminal prosecution was private, just as tort prosecution is in the modern U.S. system. If they had been found guilty and not pardoned they would have been hanged.

        Presumably they, or at least the Justice of the Peace, would have been pardoned, which was a weakness of that approach for punishing people who committed crimes the state approved of.

        There was a different procedure, an appeal of felony, which was fully private–Smith v. Jones rather than Rex v. Jones. It was still on the books but no longer in use and difficult to use. In another case, some of the Wilkites tried to use it against two brothers who had been convicted of murder and then pardoned, apparently because their sister was a lady of easy virtue involved with a couple of politically powerful noblemen. But they didn’t succeed.

        If they had succeeded, the King could not have pardoned those convicted. Which was the point of the attempt.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        @Said Achmiz:

        Wilkes’ supporters charged the soldiers who fired and the Justice of the Peace who gave the order with murder, and they were tried.

        The “they” above refers to the soldiers and the Justice of the Peace, not the supporters. That sentence tripped me up, too; my initial reading of “charged” was Wilkes’s supporters rushing at the soldiers, until I got to the “with murder” part.

    • skef says:

      One problem with the modern system of criminal law is that all crimes are treated as offenses against the state, hence prosecution is by the state. The result is that crimes the state approves of are unlikely to be prosecuted.

      This strikes me as a description that may be formally correct but that’s misleading given the kind of inference you want it to support. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the state is one of the parties with what amounts to veto power over a prosecution?

      I point this out because one of the distinctive aspects of our actual criminal law system is that there can be very good evidence of a (non-civil) crime being committed, and whether a prosecution goes forward will still depend on whether a certain party that is not the state “presses charges”. Short of very serious crimes like murder, that seems like the most common arrangement. So in that sense those crimes are very much not treated as offenses against the state, whatever the formal language indicates.

      • beleester says:

        IANAL, but everything I’ve read says that “the victim is pressing charges” is just shorthand for “the state is pressing charges and the victim is cooperating with that.”

        They’re usually synonymous, because if the victim is willing to forgive the crime, then the state doesn’t have much reason to bother, but in principle the state can charge you whether or not the victim cooperates. And you can think of cases where that would be a good idea, such as a victim of domestic abuse who insists that her husband is a good guy, he just gets a little angry sometimes.

      • Legally speaking, the victim has no control over prosecution, although the state may if it wishes choose to honor the victim’s preference. Of course, if the victim happens to be the key witness, his reluctance to testify may be a reason for the state not to prosecute.

        If you assault me and the case comes to trial, it is not “Friedman v. Skef” but “California v. Skef.”

      • skef says:

        I very specifically called out the relevant distinction using the term “formal”. The fact of the matter is that the system tends to give the victim this level of control regardless of whether the victim is needed as a “key witness” to go forward with a prosecution. And why would the state not have much “reason to bother” if “the victim is willing to forgive the crime”? More specifically, why in the cases where it would seem to be a “good idea” to prosecute anyway does that generally not happen?

        The actual conventions don’t match the language, so making a big deal about the language is just misleading.

        • The state can, if it wishes, prosecute without the assent of the victim. The victim cannot prosecute without the assent of the state, nor can anyone else. As I pointed out, with examples, this means that someone who commits a crime the state approves of does not get prosecuted.

          That is more than a formal difference.

    • Controls Freak says:

      The obvious modern example was the Director of National Intelligence committing perjury in sworn testimony to Congress. He was clearly guilty, pretty much admitted it, but was not and will not be charged.

      Reminder that Wyden asked him a question that was impossible to answer lawfully. Senator Feinstein acknowledged this possibility in the beginning of the session, asking her fellow Senators to not ask questions with classified answers. The thread about Milo is filled with claims like, “It’s not nice,” “Don’t be a dick,” and, “Don’t be a huge asshole.” It’s pretty obvious which person in this exchange was being a huge asshole.

      Re-reading that Lawfare piece, I had either forgotten or never registered the fact that Clapper apparently wasn’t under oath, so perjury is apparently right out. Putting my fake defense attorney hat on, we’re going to have fun with the phrase, “any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate” in 18 USC §1001. We’ll have to scour some case law to see if we can argue that the request of classified information was “pursuant to the authority” of an unclassified committee hearing or if Feinstein’s request for Senators to not be dicks (in this particular way) is buried somewhere in the rules of the Senate.

      On top of that is the complication that nobody disputes the fact that the statement was corrected privately, immediately after the session. I don’t know how this plays for a strict reading of the law, but let’s be honest, a strict reading is never in play. This one is probably in the same class as what I said the Hillary emails case was: if you put it in front of a jury, it’s closer to a 50/50 than an 80/20 in either direction.

      Getting back to your real question, gbdub points out the ‘overwhelming the courts’ problem. You mentioned college accusations of sexual assault, but I don’t imagine you’re proposing private courts of this type. Instead, the courts will have to find some filtering mechanism for what is surely going to be a deluge of private criminal complaints. Do you plan on still applying restrictions on standing? Going back to Clapper for a second, it’s abundantly clear that making a false statement to a Senate committee fundamentally is an offense against the state. To think otherwise would be akin to saying, “Let’s have private prosecutions for contempt of court.” To the extent that we think about allowing private prosecutions for some offenses, this one almost certainly wouldn’t qualify.

      If there are no restrictions for standing (hell, even if there are), courts will almost certainly have to filter their caseload somehow. What do you think this looks like except for prosecutorial discretion… happening in the hands of a different element of the government? Whether it’s your ex-girlfriend, the owner of a hotel which you gave a bad review for online, or whoever, the fact is that you’re going to be seeing a massive number of shoddily-constructed cases. If you entertain them, you waste a ton of time. If you don’t entertain them, congrats! You’re the one exercising discretion for the government now, dawg.

      • “Instead, the courts will have to find some filtering mechanism for what is surely going to be a deluge of private criminal complaints. Do you plan on still applying restrictions on standing?”

        No. What I am suggesting is the system that existed in England well into the 19th century. Any Englishman (including, I believe, any Englishwoman) could prosecute any crime. Most crimes were privately prosecuted, the main exceptions being crimes against the government, such as coining.

        As a rule, the prosecutor was the victim, since he was both the person with the strongest incentive to prosecute and, usually, the one with the most information. But that was not a legal requirement.

        The perception at the time was that the problem was not too many prosecutions but too few, since the prosecutor was paying the costs of the prosecution. To deal with that problem rewards were established for conviction for some crimes and, later, the possibility of reimbursement of the prosecutor’s expenses under some circumstances.

        England did not get public prosecutors until the second half of the nineteenth century. After police forces were established in the early nineteenth century police officers often acted as de facto public prosecutors, but legally speaking they were simply exercising the same right to prosecute as private citizens who prosecuted.

        • Controls Freak says:

          The perception at the time was that the problem was not too many prosecutions but too few, since the prosecutor was paying the costs of the prosecution.

          I guess this comes down to whether or not you think anecdotes of billionaires pumping money into legal challenges or advocacy groups pooling resources to use the legal system as a weapon is a real phenomenon in our current society… and how pervasive this behavior will permeate through the entirety of society.

          suntzuanime made parallels to civil law above. In civil law, we have statutes to handle frivolous lawsuits, specifically allowing a court to punish a person for bringing a dumb claim. Would you adopt something like this as a filtering mechanism that a judge could use? (Again, now a judge is exercising discretion and drawing the line on which cases are “frivolous”.)

          • I’ve actually suggested a rule in tort law where the losing plaintiff owes damages to the prevailing defendant, as was done in Periclean Athens for at least some categories of cases. One obol in the drachma, which I think meant one sixth of the amount the plaintiff claimed the defendant owed him. I can see arguments for something similar in criminal law, perhaps limited to cases where a majority of the jury voted for acquittal.

      • “Re-reading that Lawfare piece, I had either forgotten or never registered the fact that Clapper apparently wasn’t under oath, so perjury is apparently right out.”

        The lawfare piece asserts that, but it is obviously slanted in favor of Clapper and against Wyden and it offers no support for the claim. Every other description of the incident I have seen says he was testifying under oath. Do you have a source, other than the Lawfare assertion, for the claim that he wasn’t?

        On top of that is the complication that nobody disputes the fact that the statement was corrected privately, immediately after the session.

        That is not true. Whether it was corrected I do not know, but the claim that it was corrected is disputed.

        On top of that, Wyden revealed that after Clapper’s answer — which Wyden knew was false — Wyden staffers sent a letter to Clapper asking him if he wanted to amend his answer, and Clapper’s office refused to do so.

        Nobody seems to deny Wyden’s claim that Clapper had been told in advance of his testimony that the question was going to be asked.

        • Controls Freak says:

          Do you have a source, other than the Lawfare assertion, for the claim that he wasn’t?

          How about the tape? It’s not in there. Apparently, this is very common for typical legislative hearings.

          Whether it was corrected I do not know, but the claim that it was corrected is disputed.

          I suppose I should qualify such statements with, “Is not disputed by anyone who is serious.” TechDirt is not a serious organization on these topics, and I have an exceedingly long history of calling them out for complete and obvious bullshit over and over and over again on r/technology. Please do not cite them. Or read them. Or ever speak their name again.

          The most thorough article that I have seen is WaPo’s. Reading down to their update is important. It says:

          [Clapper] wrote that his staff acknowledged the error to Wyden’s staff “soon after the hearing.” A Wyden spokesman confirms that, saying that Clapper’s staff declined an opportunity to amend the record publicly. Given that Clapper very quickly–if privately–conceded that he had made an error [emphasis added]

          Wyden’s own staff doesn’t dispute it (and I haven’t seen any dispute of WaPo’s account on this), so I’m going to call it “undisputed”. The Advocacy Organization Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken notwithstanding.

          Wyden staffers sent a letter to Clapper asking him if he wanted to amend his answer, and Clapper’s office refused to do so.

          Notice the two-step that happened in both these quotes. “Clapper’s staff declined an opportunity to amend the record publicly.” The statement “…asking him if he wanted to amend his answer,” also implies that it would be an amendment to the record – the public record of a public hearing. OF COURSE he’s not going to amend the public record – that would be putting classified information in the public domain!

          Wyden is a master at saying things that are technically supportable, but are horribly flawed… and they’re great for giving ammunition to advocacy organizations like, uh, nevermind… who aren’t as scrupulous about ensuring that they’re even technically kinda true.

          Nobody seems to deny Wyden’s claim that Clapper had been told in advance of his testimony that the question was going to be asked.

          I haven’t seen any documentation that specifies this particular question. He actually asked it in his follow-up time after spending most of his primary time in a back-and-forth, trying to re-word his question multiple times to pin him down. It’s really not clear which and how many of these questions were stated in exactly the form we see in the video. It may actually be the case that this specific question was verbatim in the advance, but it honestly seems unlikely. Can you provide some evidence? I will agree that if that exact question was there, his office dropped the ball in objecting ahead of time to say, “You can’t ask that in open session and you know it.”

  15. nimim.k.m. says:

    Given the nature of the commentariat, I thought this might be of some interest to you:

    https://www.edge.org/conversation/stuart_russell-defining-intelligence (Defining Intelligence. A Conversation With Stuart Russell)

  16. IrishDude says:

    Carrying over a conversation from the other thread, I’d like to get thoughts on:
    1) Do you think most people mostly treat others peacefully?
    2) If yes to 1), do you think this is mostly due to fear of consequences from police/going to jail or due to other reasons?
    3) If you think it’s mostly due to other reasons, what do you think are the most salient reasons that people treat others peacefully?

    • The Nybbler says:

      1) In the US, obviously, yes

      2) Mostly other reasons.

      3) Most people don’t want to get into a confrontation that they might lose, or if they win might cost them more than they would win. Acting peaceably is usually easier and pays off better. Of course there are exceptions, and in those cases fear of official consequences enters into it.

      • IrishDude says:

        What particular costs do you think are most likely to occur when a person engages in confrontation, even if he/she wins, other than official consequences?

        • The Nybbler says:

          You can get injured. Your property can be damaged. Your time will be spent. You can gain a general reputation for being violent/confrontational, which has both costs and benefits. Separately and more specifically, you can motivate revenge by the person you won over or their friends and family.

          • IrishDude says:

            How much do you think this cost is pertinent: A person who engages in violence against others will think poorly of themselves afterwards. In other words, how much do you think conscience plays a role in restraining violent behavior?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think conscience is likely to stop many people from engaging in planned and premeditated violence. But there are plenty of people who either are without conscience or who do not find some types of violence to bother theirs. And I think it’s the first thing to go in the heat of the moment.

        • Deiseach says:

          What particular costs do you think are most likely to occur when a person engages in confrontation, even if he/she wins, other than official consequences?

          A punch in the face? We had an exchange in the comments on a past thread over someone who, when dared by a drunken idiot to “Make me” when he wouldn’t stop acting like a clown, hit him – to the shock of the idiot and his friends, who plainly didn’t come from a culture where they expected any consequences from challenging someone other than backing down and clearing off, certainly not the possibility of physical retaliation.

          Not everybody comes from a culture/background where, if you act like a jackass and challenge people to stop you acting like a jackass, you can continue to act like a jackass secure in the knowledge that everyone is too polite to use force.

          This has its ups and downs – I do come from a culture/background where if you act like a blackguard and then follow that up with a challenge, you had better be prepared to back that up with your fists. For non-blackguards the rule tends to be: Don’t hit first, but if you do get hit, you can choose to hit back and that doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on your character.

          The downside of that is that someone who is physically aggressive can dominate and even instill fear in a neighbourhood/grouping well beyond their actual importance, because nobody wants to get into a fight with a violent person and have them gather up their family and come break in your windows and doors (another reason I am less than impressed with the Berkeley students and ex-students defending the black bloc re: property damage on the grounds that windows don’t feel pain – for all their chirruping about their deprived/oppressed backgrounds, plainly they haven’t lived where the possibility of having your windows smashed and your door kicked in by the violent, and being assaulted yourself, is an actual threat).

          • Cypren says:

            The distinction you’re pointing to is the key difference between the honor and dignity cultures so well described in Campbell and Manning’s “Microaggressions and Moral Cultures” (summary at the link). The wealthier classes in Western society are living in a dignity culture; the poorer classes (and much of the rest of the world) are living in an honor culture. When the two meet, there are frequently sparks and a lot of surprise.

            There’s a great piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates that I’m utterly failing at finding a link for (if anyone knows what I’m talking about, please link me! I’d love to read it again!) where he talks about his experience acculturating to upper-class professional culture, having grown up in the Baltimore ghetto. He recounts an incident where he got into an argument with someone at a political convention and almost escalated it to physical violence, but his boss pulled him back from the edge and gave him a sharp lecture of the “what the fuck do you think you were doing? You were about to throw your whole life away!” variety. He talks about what a sudden realization that was about how completely different the rules and assumptions of upper class society are from lower class, and how they don’t mix well at all.

          • Iain says:

            Pretty sure this is the TNC article in question.

          • Cypren says:

            Thanks, that was exactly it! Absolutely great piece. It resonated with me a lot as someone who also grew up spanning two cultures and still has trouble respecting all of the norms of each in context.

          • Aapje says:

            I wish that bell hooks would read (and understand) that article, because she assumes that all men are taught honor culture to the same extent as her friends and family.

    • Randy M says:

      Do you count things like fraud, shop-lifting, petty theft, as violence for this question, or only assault & battery/muggings on up?

      • IrishDude says:

        Mostly thinking of physical force like assault/rape/murder/armed robbery, but I’d include fraud, shop-lifting, and petty theft as well.

        • Randy M says:

          Then yes, out of a mix of official consequences and reputation, with a significant fraction who behave peacefully/honorable out of moral conviction.

          In other words, I think most people do not steal/lie because they don’t think they could get away with it; if everyone thought that they could get away with it, but it wasn’t yet a widespread practice, you’d probably see a majority (65%?) engage in opportunistic theft (maybe violence up to intimidation, shoving in crowds, etc.) with the rest abstaining due to conviction, but overtime the participants increase as the hold-outs see honor as a “sucker’s game”.

          Assuming there isn’t a sort of arms race in consequences, possibly including mafia like organizations to keep businesses profitable if we posit authorities are unable to inflict lawful consequences.

        • Wrong Species says:

          This is my problem with the Non-Aggression Principle. Libertarians like to play the definition game where things they like are defined as non-violent. If I decide to use force to oust a trespasser, I may be in the right but I’m still using violence against a peaceful person. If you want to claim the moral high ground, you have to say that it’s also wrong to use violence against property crimes.

          • gbdub says:

            I don’t think the libertarian position is “shooting a trespasser is nonviolent”. Rather, property being a right, property crimes are themselves violence and justify a violent response.

          • Wrong Species says:

            My point is that calling property crimes “violent” is torturing the use of the word. It redefines the common meaning so they can say they aren’t initiating violence.

            It also smuggles in a libertarian conception of legitimacy. That’s why the state making you property taxes is violent but a landlord making you pay rent isn’t.

          • IrishDude says:

            To clarify, my OP was trying to get at: do most people treat each other decently, and if so, what are the primary causes of this. Being peaceful (non-violent) is one way we treat each other decently and I used this specific term in my OP, but respecting other people’s property is also treating people decently and so I was curious about Randy’s thoughts inclusive of that as well.

            I think violence can be used justly and unjustly, and am not a pacifist, for the record.

          • gbdub says:

            Are you saying that calling e.g. a riot that destroys a storefront “violent” is torturing the common meaning? Because I feel like that’s a fairly standard interpretation of “violence”, and calling it “peaceful” would be a greater warping of common usage.

            That’s why the state making you property taxes is violent but a landlord making you pay rent isn’t.

            This is another poor interpretation of libertarian principles.

            In the case of the landlord, rent is what you pay for the use of the landlord’s property, according to a contract you both agreed to presumably non-coercively. Thus, not theft.

            Taxes are the state taking your property according to laws which you are coerced to abide by. Thus theft. Unless you believe that all property belongs to the state, but that’s where libertarians and socialists differ.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Wrong Species –

            Communication error.

            It may help if you substitute something like “unilateral non-consensual action”. There are other subtleties about societal consent – consider the difference between yelling in someone’s face versus talking quietly to them, in either case without their consent; the fact that we treat one as marginally violent and not the other suggests something like a social contract of consent.

            You will find the libertarian concept of violence is closer to common understanding than a strict definition. They handle, for example, BDSM much better, as well as non-consensual acts of social-level intimacy, like hugging.

            Sort of. They lean heavily on social contracts, which libertarians would ordinarily claim to be against. Any libertarians around who can clear that up for me? Why do social norms matter vis a vis violence?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Gdub

            Rioting isn’t violent because it involves property damage but because the way people go about doing it. If you believe that me stepping on to your property without your express permission is a violent act, then yes, you are using a highly nonstandard definition of violent. If you choose to use violence to keep me away, you may be in the right. But you are still the one initiating violence.

            In the case of the landlord, rent is what you pay for the use of the landlord’s property, according to a contract you both agreed to presumably non-coercively. Thus, not theft.

            Taxes are the state taking your property according to laws which you are coerced to abide by. Thus theft. Unless you believe that all property belongs to the state, but that’s where libertarians and socialists differ.

            I’m not a socialist but I don’t really see a difference in principle. A landlord can make you do what he wants. The state can make you do what it wants. In an anarcho-capitalist world, these people would be one and the same. So when the ancap says they want to get rid of the state’s monopoly on violence, all they are really doing is shifting that right from what we call the state to the individual property owners. It’s a shift from political authority to absolute propertarian authority.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @thegnskald

            Are you suggesting that a duel is non-violent? After all, they both consent to shoot each other.

          • random832 says:

            @gbdub

            In the case of the landlord, rent is what you pay for the use of the landlord’s property, according to a contract you both agreed to presumably non-coercively. Thus, not theft.

            I was going to say something about it being the state’s property, which the “landlord” rents, but I see you’ve already gone there later in your comment, but attributed it to socialism (seems more feudal to me – the difference between allodial title, which is only held by the state, and fee simple, which is what everyone else has)

            Taxes are the state taking your property according to laws which you are coerced to abide by. Thus theft. Unless you believe that all property belongs to the state, but that’s where libertarians and socialists differ.

            I’m not sure how it’s measurably different, from your perspective, from all property in the world belonging to private owners who won’t sell it to you at any price, and therefore you must pay rent to (and obey rules imposed by) one or another of them in order to exist.

            Add to that the fact that you don’t have the automatic right to move elsewhere, and it begins to look a lot like feudalism. So maybe states are just a natural consequence of property. A state is just a very large landlord (or homeowner’s association), and the whole map is covered with them, and the common people (serfs, if you will) are born with no real property and no ability to obtain it.

          • gbdub says:

            @Wrong Species
            First, I’m not really a strict libertarian, and I’m not someone who goes around saying “taxation is theft!”. I’m mostly objecting to what I perceived to be your overly glib interpretation of libertarian theories on violence.

            A landlord can make you do what he wants.

            No, a landlord can make you do what you agreed to do when you contracted with them for use of their property

            You seem to be ignoring the issue of consent here – and that’s the rub! If I voluntarily enter into a lease, my landlord is hardly being violent by expecting me to honor the terms of that lease.

            random832 raises an interesting point that a sufficiently monopolistic landlord might wield state-like coercive powers in a quasi-feudal way. So certainly “coercion” exists on a continuum.

            But likewise “violence” is a continuum, and I don’t think it’s inherently silly to call trespassing “violent”, it’s just a minor form of violence.

            I don’t want to speak for libertarians, but certainly I’m on board with proportionality in response to violence, and in remedies for victims of violence. So I wouldn’t say it’s open season on someone who just steps on my land. At the same time, if I physically toss the trespassing dude out after asking them to leave, I don’t want him to have a legal/moral defense of “I was just sitting here peacefully and he violently assaulted me!” The trespasser is ultimately the initiator of bad behavior, not the landowner asserting their property right.

          • Wrong Species says:

            You can define violence however you like. But everyone else believes that violence is some variation of “rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment”. So when you say that libertarians don’t believe in initiating violence, it’s a bait and switch where you say one thing and mean something else. Based off the common definition of violence, you are initiating violence against the trespasser. Based off your own idiosyncratic definition, it’s whatever you want it to be. But just think how ridiculous that is. If I have been told to leave a property by the landlord and I’m sleeping there, you insist my act of sleeping in a room by myself with no one around me is an act of violence. Or maybe I’m trespassing without knowledge of doing so. You believe that by walking around, I’m committing violence against the owner. No matter how ridiculous it is though, libertarians in general will keep using this definition because they know that replacing it with a more appropriate word loses its rhetorical punch. It’s dishonest.

            The trespasser is ultimately the initiator of bad behavior, not the landowner asserting their property right.

            I agree. But violence isn’t the same thing as breaking property rules.

            Now to the “consent” of property. We do have consent with states, it’s called immigration. But what about people who live in one state for their whole life? Imagine that you grew up in one house and you never left. At what point did you consent to the rules of the landlord?

          • The usual libertarian category is “initiation of coercion” or “initiation of force.” It isn’t coercion if it is mutually agreed to, as in a duel. It isn’t initiation if it is a response to someone else initiating coercion against you, as in responding with force to an attacker.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Wrong Species –

            It is violence in the same sense that boxing or rugby are.

            Words can mean different things. They can even mean different things to different people.

            I would shoot somebody if they broke into my house. I would regard them as initiating the situation, more – they have created a scenario where my only options to rectify the situation are violence, either my own or outsourced to the police.

            I don’t see the use of playing definitional rule-lawyering. In our society there is an implicit threat of violence behind damage to property, and ignoring that to make some kind of pseudo-leftist point doesn’t hold any value, particularly given the long-standing principles behind many variants of leftism which hold that property itself is violence. If you don’t understand why leftists would hold that, you don’t understand what property is.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            [Libertarians] lean heavily on social contracts, which libertarians would ordinarily claim to be against. Any libertarians around who can clear that up for me? Why do social norms matter vis a vis violence?

            Putting on my libertarian hat: social norms aren’t special. They’re just a non-physical tool that has proven to save time and effort when resolving disputes. They’re not mandated (coerced through force), but you can expect everyone to look at you funny if you eschew social norms in a libertarian setting, for the same reason you’d get looks if you insisted on splitting firewood with a pocketknife.

            Or, to put a sharper point on it, if you insisted on poor tools when employing your trade with other people. A libertarian would claim you have every right to split wood with a pocketknife, but would not wish to buy firewood from you. Likewise, you have every right to speak menacingly (yelling in someone’s face can be physically unpleasant, so let’s suppose it’s just being growly and insulting, say), but no one’s going to seek conversation with you in that case. Like I said, nothing special; these are the normal reasons anyone would reject anyone who rejected social norms, libertarian or not.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @thegnskald

            See my reply to gdub. I don’t know what you think I believe but I’m no leftist. I agree that the trespasser is in the wrong. My point is that it’s fundamentally dishonest to make up your own idiosyncratic definition without being upfront about it. Look at this conversation with a hypothetical socialist:

            “I don’t believe in initiating violence”
            “Then why did you hit him?”
            “Because hateful words are a form of violence”
            “…”

            If you agree with me that what the socialist is saying is dishonest then you should admit that saying libertarians don’t believe in the “initiation of violence” is also dishonest.

            @David
            Why is it a coercive act for the government to demand property taxes but not for the landlord to demand rent?

          • John Schilling says:

            It isn’t initiation if it is a response to someone else initiating coercion against you

            So who is “initiating coercion” when a policeman, private security contractor, or concerned citizen tries to pull over the idiot who insists on driving 100 mph through a residential neighborhood?

            If the answer leads to a conclusion that we have to let people drive at 100 mph through residential neighborhoods until they actually hit someone. then liberty or at least libertarianism is DOA. If the answer is that driving 100 mph through a residential neighborhood “coerces” the residents to accept an unwanted risk, then you are on a slippery slope to everything even slightly dangerous and unpopular being prohibited.

            I see far too many libertarians trying to draw lines on the more cliff-like portions of that slope and saying “but obviously we should stop sliding here, because liberty”, to the point where I no longer consider the NAP to be useful guidance.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            IANALibertarian.

            But isn’t the answer to your scenario that the road will be privately owned and that people will choose to buy their property and build their homes adjacent to roads that don’t allow this? And that people accessing that private road have to abide by the contract which allows them access? (Well, at least the AnCappers).

            I mean, I think that private roads are unworkable for other reasons, perhaps best summed up as “network effects”, but, you know, that’s just me.

          • John Schilling says:

            That’s more of an anarcho-capitalist rather than general libertarian answer, and it’s not readily traceable to anything we can build out of our present society where most of the roads aren’t privately owned.

            It also has the problem of, gee, I just bought the roads on all four sides of your house, and my price for ever letting you leave or anyone ever bringing a scrap of food in is everything you own plus a twenty-year sexual slavery contract on your teenage daughter. If I catch you setting foot on the road without permission, that’s Initiation of Force, just like it would be for the guy driving the fast car, and my men will defend my property against your nefarious aggression with these nifty pain rays that we bought from the now-defunct military.

            I suspect that Homo Economicus, practicing perfect game theory against a player whose lust for their teenage daughter was quantitatively rational, could probably avoid that outcome at some lesser cost, but that’s not terribly reassuring.

          • IrishDude says:

            @John Schilling

            So who is “initiating coercion” when a policeman, private security contractor, or concerned citizen tries to pull over the idiot who insists on driving 100 mph through a residential neighborhood?

            I think it’s relevant who owns the roads the idiot is driving through. If it’s a neighborhood owned by adult race car drivers that signed an agreement to allow severely high speed limits and the ensuing higher risk to person and property, then I wouldn’t say those abiding those rules were coercing the inhabitants, and those trying to stop the speedy guy going 100 mph would be initiating coercion.

            If it’s the typical neighborhood owned by families with kids who post 25 mph lower speed limits, then they don’t consent to the increased risks of high speed limits and are coerced by the speeder who inflicts much higher risk of harm on them. The people stopping the speeder would by using retaliatory justified coercion.

            It matters greatly what people consent to when determining whether something is coercive. And sometimes coercion is justified and sometimes it’s not.

          • IrishDude says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I think that private roads are unworkable for other reasons, perhaps best summed up as “network effects”, but, you know, that’s just me.

            Here’s a list of private highways in the U.S..

            Business complexes could privately own their roads, either by a single real estate developer that owns it all and leases out space, or a joint ownership by all the business owners on the complex. Same for residential real estate.

            You can have private roads where people live, where they work, and in the spaces between those two spots. You can have private roads on private nature reservations and the roads to get to them to. You can connect cities with private roads.

            All the above private roads can be restrictive or open to all, depending on the owner(s) wishes. I see this situation working pretty well for the most part, with some potential edge cases to work out.

          • IrishDude says:

            @John Schilling

            It also has the problem of, gee, I just bought the roads on all four sides of your house, and my price for ever letting you leave or anyone ever bringing a scrap of food in is everything you own plus a twenty-year sexual slavery contract on your teenage daughter. If I catch you setting foot on the road without permission, that’s Initiation of Force, just like it would be for the guy driving the fast car, and my men will defend my property against your nefarious aggression with these nifty pain rays that we bought from the now-defunct military.

            I don’t think I know anyone who thinks private property is inviolable. I think easements can be a reasonable restriction on private property rights, depending on the circumstances of the case. Certainly in the scenario you describe I think it would be justified for the surrounded person to violate the consent of the highway owner by moving across his land to get to the rest of society. I think it likely that a reasonable private arbitrator would come to that same conclusion if such a case went to court.

            EDIT: I just thought of what I think is an interesting analogy to your example. Modern states engage in a public version of your private tyranny through the use of border controls, where people get trapped in countries with very corrupt governments and widespread destitution, not allowed to leave by the surrounding countries, no matter the price paid. So, similar to how I think it’s just to violate the consent of the horrid private highway owner, I consider it just to illegally immigrate.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @IrishDude:
            The roadway network in America is decidedly not private. Even in 1795, when that first turnpike was built, it was not the only road, and the network that it connected to was not private.

            So pointing at the fact that some private roads exist, which I knew and my argument does not depend on, doesn’t mean anything.

            John Schilling already made the argument about the kind of thing that can happen if you allow your property to be surrounded and therefore made potentially inaccessible. Some private equity firm starts scooping up the right roads, and squeezing people really hard.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think it likely that a reasonable private arbitrator would come to that same conclusion if such a case went to court

            But now you’re just arguing that libertarian policies are awesome because anything that isn’t awesome will obviously be deemed unreasonable in court for mumble reasons, which is hardly an improvement over the NAP as policy guidance.

          • rahien.din says:

            @IrishDude, JohnSchilling

            Re: controlling roads to control the people served by the roads

            It’s no hypothetical. Federal agencies have done this exact thing. When they want people off their land, they may try to condemn the only roads leading to the people’s homes. The example I am aware of, kid-you-not, is to expand a protected wetland area and aid duck migrations.

            I wish I could give you a good source. Suffice to say that when a friend of mine worked on the Hill, she helped write a bill to combat this practice.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Why is it ok when a private organization owns the roads and charges people for its access but not when the government does so? Why is it that I’m “consenting” to his fees but not the governments?

          • IrishDude says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You say: “I think that private roads are unworkable for other reasons, perhaps best summed up as “network effects”, but, you know, that’s just me.”

            I noted that private roads do and have existed, so they seem to me they can clearly work.

            You say: “The roadway network in America is decidedly not private.”

            I understand the way things are, but private roads do exist and can therefore ‘work’. Perhaps it would help if you would describe more what you mean about private roads not being workable.

            John Schilling already made the argument about the kind of thing that can happen if you allow your property to be surrounded and therefore made potentially inaccessible.

            And I made a counter-argument. I don’t consider private property inviolable and don’t know anyone else who does, with easements under certain conditions being the kind of things I think likely to hold up in private arbitration. And that, well, nation states already act this way against people living against their border, with observed really negative effects on those people that are trapped, so I don’t find government control of property to be a necessarily good alternative.

            Some private equity firm starts scooping up the right roads, and squeezing people really hard.

            Aside from private property being something I don’t consider inviolable, if you are describing a situation where a firm tried to increase their profits by raising prices, I’ll note that this induces competitors. From the wiki page on private highways: “Because electronics did not exist in that era, all tolls had to be collected by human cashiers at toll booths, creating high fixed costs that could only be covered by a large volume of traffic. As railroads and steamboats began to compete with the turnpikes, less profitable highways started to shut down or be turned over to governments.”

          • IrishDude says:

            @John Schilling

            But now you’re just arguing that libertarian policies are awesome because anything that isn’t awesome will obviously be deemed unreasonable in court for mumble reasons, which is hardly an improvement over the NAP as policy guidance.

            How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one? I think a vast majority of people would. Under a Machinery of Freedom arrangement, most people would then want to sign up for security services that protected the right of people to cross the ringed highway, and private security services would be incentivized to agree to arbitration agencies that their customers preferred.

            Any response to the nation-state analogy on borders, and how we currently observe nations leaving people trapped in terrible situations by not allowing entry/exit?

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            Why is it ok when a private organization owns the roads and charges people for its access but not when the government does so? Why is it that I’m “consenting” to his fees but not the governments?

            To me, the difference in treatment partly depends on if you consider the government ownership legitimate. If a mafia comes to a town, breaks some legs, and comes to have de facto control over it, I don’t think shop owners are consenting when the the mafia makes their monthly rounds for ‘protection’ or ‘governing’ payment and the owners comply.

            To the extent consent is on a continuum, the level of consent in the mafia scenario is much less than the level of consent given by shop owners that voluntarily join together to hire and pay fees to private security and governance firms.

          • skef says:

            How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one?

            Given that step 2 in any argument about libertarian principles is “well you know, libertarians don’t really agree on anything!” or “wait, which conception are you criticizing, because so-and-so writes …”, it’s really hard to say.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Irishdude

            To me, the difference in treatment partly depends on if you consider the government ownership legitimate.

            That’s exactly right. The difference between libertarians and others isn’t that libertarians don’t believe in the “initiation of force” and other people do, it’s that they don’t consider the government legitimate but they have no problem with property owners. If we got rid of all the governments in the world, and started from scratch, we would be under a similar situation to where we are now, even if anarcho-capitalism was successful. Why? Because eventually someone would grow up in a household where they never have a definite moment of consent and yet they are still paying for services. If we broke up all the countries in the world in to micro-states, it would be the same result. So the libertarian problem with governments isn’t really that they exist, it’s how far their geographic reach is.

          • IrishDude says:

            @skef

            Me: “How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one?”

            You: “Given that step 2 in any argument about libertarian principles is “well you know, libertarians don’t really agree on anything!” or “wait, which conception are you criticizing, because so-and-so writes …”, it’s really hard to say.”

            I think you can use your knowledge of what you think is just, and what those around you think is just, to come to some idea of what other people think and how wide spread an ethical judgment might be. But if you don’t feel comfortable speculating on others, you can at least answer for yourself. Do you find the scenario John Schilling described an unjust one?

            EDIT: And because it would be interesting to note, I wonder if any poster would speak up to call John Schilling’s scenario a just one. I’m guessing such people are out there, but my feeling is they’re probably pretty rare.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            So the libertarian problem with governments isn’t really that they exist, it’s how far their geographic reach is.

            Well, both kind of. My definition of government requires political authority, where state agents engaging in behavior that would be seen as wrong if done by non-state agents are considered legitimate. Some people are given special moral status, which I have a problem with, and therefore I do have a problem that governments exist.

            Geographic reach plays a role in what behavior used to gain property I consider right or wrong. For example, if 100 people are stranded on a tiny desert island, with just enough coconuts to last everyone a week which is when a ship is expected to rescue them, then I think I would not respect ownership claims of the first guy to find the coconuts and claim them all. I’d think the guy a jerk if he tried to defend his claim, and I’d join with the 99 in using coercion to acquire possession of the coconuts.

            I’d feel very different about ownership claims over a coconut tree if they were plentiful and the desert island was vast.

          • Wrong Species says:

            My definition of government requires political authority, where state agents engaging in behavior that would be seen as wrong if done by non-state agents are considered legitimate.

            Let’s imagine that we lived in ancapia. One guy manages to buy up all the land in the entire world(Assume the least convenient possible world). Suddenly there’s not a difference between government and property. It’s one and the same. He doesn’t need to use his political authority to assert his dominance, he can rely on what I call “Propertarian authority”. You may consider propertarian authority more legitimate but it’s still equivalent for all practical purposes, in this scenario at least. It still involves him having the right to do something that we wouldn’t let the other people do. Property taxes are the equivalent of rent. Regulations are the equivalent of rules. So we agree that every other person growing up in this situation besides the owner never really consents, right?

            Now here’s the catch. This is not just a weird problem for a hypothetical world that’s never going to happen. It’s a problem for any possible world, unless you never have any children and then start from scratch. Someone is going to grow up on a plot of land where they never give their explicit consent. This affects both property owners and governments. So when you say that the government has the ability to do things other people can’t, that’s not true. The government collects taxes. The owner collects rent. Right now, we separate the two, but in your world you’re not really eliminating the government so much as conflating it with property.

          • skef says:

            @IrishDude

            If we are just going to reason from what we “think is just”, what do we need libertarianism for? What about the aspects of libertarian thinking that many people find counter-intuitive? When someone responds to my intuition with “mumble mumble NAP mumble” what am I supposed to say?

            If our intuitions about what is just are sufficiently reliable, why is it that libertarians themselves can’t come to agreement on so many issues?

          • Why is it a coercive act for the government to demand property taxes but not for the landlord to demand rent?

            Because the landlord owns the property and the government doesn’t.

            That, of course, get us into the question of how property is justly acquired. It’s a hard problem for the libertarian in the case of property in land. I have an attempt to solve it, but not one I am very happy with.

            It’s much easier for what is on the land, including the house the tenant is renting, since that was built by the landlord, if not with his own labor with the labor of other people who agreed to build it for him in exchange for things he did for them.

            Why is it a coercive act for you to make me do something but not for me to make me do something? That’s the easier version of the same question.

          • Anonymous says:

            Because the landlord owns the property and the government doesn’t.

            That’s a fascinating way of looking at it, but I don’t think it’s correct.

            The way I look at it, the government owns all its territory, and grants some (most) of it in fief to individual vassals (mostly citizens, but sometimes others) based on its internal rules of acquisition and transfer. The government still levies taxes on these fiefs, of course, the landlord just happens to be entitled to making productive use of it and reaping the lion’s share of the profits. The government also reserves the right to revoke said fiefs if it feels the need to do so, with compensation or not.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            You said: “Why is it ok when a private organization owns the roads and charges people for its access but not when the government does so?”

            I responded that the difference is whether the ownership is considered legitimate. Do you disagree that it’s relevant how someone comes to own something on whether them charging for use of that possession is legitimate? Do you think there is a moral difference between the mafia charging for their protection and governance services after violently taking control of a town and private vendors charging for their protection and governance services after being voluntarily asked to provide them by the townsfolk?

            @skef

            If we are just going to reason from what we “think is just”, what do we need libertarianism for?

            Let me first note that I can’t speak for all libertarians, just myself as a more fringe AnCap libertarian.

            I think some ethical judgments of what is just are widespread (rape is wrong) and some aren’t (abortion is okay). If asked to speculate on how a certain hypothetical would play out in AnCapLand, having some sense of whether people would be likely to consider that scenario just helps to answer the question of what the response to the scenario would likely be. John Schilling’s proposed scenario seems like one where most people would be unlikely to respect the private property claims as unjust and therefore my response to the hypothetical is that the highway owners claim probably wouldn’t have standing.

            Now, there are other situations that could be described that are more ambiguous, where there is much more disagreement about what is just or not. Say, what the proper compensation is for a man who without provocation seriously injure another man. I can see people coming to fairly different conclusions on what is just compensation. In such a scenario, I think a Machinery of Freedom type arrangement with private security and arbitration, with arbitrators picked to satisfy consumer preferences, is more likely to result in a judgment found just by more people than the justice system under states.

            In other words, I think AnCap libertarianism describes a more just system, from how people voluntarily pick their service providers (instead of having them imposed on them) to how justice is determined by private arbitrators when there are competing beliefs on what is just.

            What about the aspects of libertarian thinking that many people find counter-intuitive?

            Can you provide an example please? I think that would be easier for me to respond to.

            When someone responds to my intuition with “mumble mumble NAP mumble” what am I supposed to say?

            You could say, as I do, that non-aggression is a good presumption for people to believe in, but that there exceptions to it can be just. You could say, as I do, that reasonable people might disagree on what counts as justified aggression, and so it would be good to have a system that best accounts for these varying opinions on justice.

            If our intuitions about what is just are sufficiently reliable, why is it that libertarians themselves can’t come to agreement on so many issues?

            I think intuitions about what is just are reliable on many things but not on all things. I teach my kids not to hit and not to steal, which seem like pretty good rules of thumb on how to live justly, rules of thumb I think most parents teach their kids. As he gets older I’ll teach him what I think are justified exceptions, and to the extent I get pushback from others on some of those exceptions, I say it’s good to debate.

            I think the AnCap mechanism for debating and determining justice is better than state-based solutions, though it’s still not perfect.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            I see consent as on a continuum, with the ability to exit a situation being a relevant factor. If a person is in a situation that can be easily exited, but they choose to remain, then I think that level of consent is higher than one in which a person is in a situation with very high costs to exit. So, I think the level of consent given to live in any particular city is higher than the consent given to live in any particular country, given how relatively easy it is to move to a different city but not a different country.

            It’s why people tend to not like monopolies, as it feels like there is no choice or ability to opt out, and subsequently the level of consent is not as high as it would be with a diverse set of options. Governments are the biggest most salient monopolies. One man owning all the land would also be a monopoly with no ability to exit, and therefore the level of consent to remain in his territory would be nonexistent.

          • skef says:

            @IrishDude

            My original point was that libertarians don’t agree on the sort of points that were being discussed earlier. I’ve talked to libertarians who would be fine the enforcement of private roads surrounding an area. One common way of pushing back against such examples is “it’s not important because it wouldn’t happen (or would only happen to someone being really dumb).”

            Now you’re asking me to talk with you about your version of AnCap. I don’t care! One of the main reasons I don’t care is that “the AnCap mechanism for debating and determining justice” being “better than state-based solutions” assumes there is something that “the AnCap mechanism for debating and determining justice” refers to. I don’t think there is sufficient agreement such that that definite description has a referent. Even if your preferred conception would be helpful in “determining justice”, if other people won’t use it, that doesn’t matter much.

            Many, many political systems would work well if everyone agreed on some given X or Y. “Things would be great if everyone agreed to ____” is famously not a convincing argument for agreeing to ______.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Irishdude

            Sure it’s important how the government came to be the owner but that’s a different question than whether ancap world would have less “political authority” than a state dominated one. You mentioned degrees of consent and the absence of exit, which I completely agree with. My point is that the person who grew up in a city-state has just as much consent as the person who grew up in a city owned by one individual.

            Here’s another scenario. Imagine that we have two cities. One of them taken over by the mafia. Another had a single individual buy out the whole city, giving a fair price and without any kind of coercion. Both have exit rights. Now imagine that some time has passed. The mafia becomes more lenient and the business owner becomes more exploitive. After two hundred years, the individual policies becomes identical. Now a libertarian comes along and says we need to dismantle the mafia organization because of its illegitimate founding. The citizens are more reluctant because they have seen that the other city lead to the same end result and fear dismantling would lead to interim chaos. Wouldn’t you sympathize with the reluctant citizens?

          • John Schilling says:

            How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one?

            Most of them. But then, most people would consider it unjust if anybody is poor and rich people aren’t being taxed at least 20% of their income to alleviate poverty. Most people would consider it unjust if there were ever any mass shootings in the news and people were allowed to buy machine guns without Extreme Vetting. Most people (in first-world nations at least) would consider it unjust if employers were ever allowed to pay people less than $5/hr for their labor.

            And most people would consider it unjust if the state were not allowed to “initiate aggression”, for the common-language definition of those words, in a wide variety of situations.

            “Most people would consider it just/unjust” is the standard for democracy, is neither necessary nor sufficient for and may be incompatible with liberty, and is a particularly bad fit for NAP-purist libertarianism.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @rahien.din wrote (seventeen posts above; thanks, nesting limit!)

            It’s no hypothetical. Federal agencies have done this exact thing. When they want people off their land, they may try to condemn the only roads leading to the people’s homes. The example I am aware of, kid-you-not, is to expand a protected wetland area and aid duck migrations.

            You may be thinking of the Hammond family in Oregon. This was part of a long, drawn-out series of actions by the Fish and Wildlife Service to get them to move off their ranch to make it part of a bird sanctuary.

            The Guardian has an article about the Hammonds.

            Google supplies more information: Neighboring ranchers were flooded out by the feds. And it will surprise nobody who’s been paying attention that FWS has mismanaged the bird sanctuary so badly (e.g. letting carp take over the lake, allowing junipers to take over the fields) that fewer birds are present now than when it was owned by the ranchers.

            The government, which we tend to think of as a guarantor against feuds, seems to have started and continued one of its own in this case—a very one-sided one. The 70-something grandfather and 40-something father are currently serving five-year sentences (in California, of course) on trumped-up arson charges.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            The scenario you describe of two cities that seem similar, and whether we should think of them differently, reminds me of this nice article from David Friedman on communist/capitalist trucks.

            I’m running out of energy to get into a more detailed reply for now, but perhaps we can pick up this thread in a future OT.

            EDIT: @skef and John Schilling, similarly, I’d like to pick up this topic in a future OT. I appreciate your replies.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Wrong Species

            That’s exactly right. The difference between libertarians and others isn’t that libertarians don’t believe in the “initiation of force” and other people do, it’s that they don’t consider the government legitimate but they have no problem with property owners. If we got rid of all the governments in the world, and started from scratch, we would be under a similar situation to where we are now, even if anarcho-capitalism was successful. Why? Because eventually someone would grow up in a household where they never have a definite moment of consent and yet they are still paying for services. If we broke up all the countries in the world in to micro-states, it would be the same result. So the libertarian problem with governments isn’t really that they exist, it’s how far their geographic reach is.

            I didn’t find the counter-arguments to this point convincing, and I think that this is why the formalist patchwork of REDACTED IDEOLOGY is a much more grown up and sophisticated ideology than libertarian anarcho-capitalism (but still flawed), which is reflected by so many of its advocates being ex or post-libertarians.

            If we accept that the anarchism part is incoherent, then what we actually have is a desire for decentralized privately run states. When this is the entirety of the ideology, it becomes much clearer to discuss, since you have absolved yourself of the ethical murkiness of justifying property and arguing over what counts as a violation and so on, and you can solely focus on questions of efficiency and outcomes and so on. Property depends on its ability to be defended, and so the state has the highest level claim of all.

            Property is any stable structure of monopoly control. You own something if you alone control it. Your control is stable if no one else will take it away from you. This control may be assured by your own powers of violence, or it may be delegated by a higher power. If the former, it is secondary property. If the latter, it is primary or sovereign property.

            In the REDACTED IDEOLOGY sense, anarcho-capitalists essentially believe that secondary property can exist all on its own.

            If sovereign property is required, then the state is a given, and the question is only about organization.

          • If we accept that the anarchism part is incoherent, then what we actually have is a desire for decentralized privately run states

            How do you define a state? In particular, how do you define a decentralized state? Does “decentralized” mean no territorial monopoly?

            If I defend myself with force against a mugger, am I a state? If not, what has to be added?

          • Kevin C. says:

            What’s the difference, in practice, between “decentralized privately run states”, with control/sovereignty over territory treated and defended as property, with the possiblity of subcontracting and delegating to smaller subdivisions (as “secondary property”), and feudalism (as actually practiced before the rise of centralizing forces in the Early Modern period)?

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            How do you define a state? In particular, how do you define a decentralized state? Does “decentralized” mean no territorial monopoly?

            Each state would have a territorial monopoly. But there would be a lot more of them.

            I’m not actually arguing this position, by the way. I’m just saying that it’s more realistic than anarcho-capitalism, especially since it has monocentric law enforcement, rather than polycentric law enforcement (each territory has a fixed law agency, rather than there being a market in law agencies per territory, or rather; the market for law agencies is called war).

            If I defend myself with force against a mugger, am I a state? If not, what has to be added?

            A state has to involve the organization of people. Probably something above the Dunbar number where you’d get bureaucracy type effects where people would be ruled by people they don’t know, and those rulers in turn wouldn’t know them. So you can distinguish a tribe from a state, but it pretty clearly isn’t anarchistic either, since there are still involuntary imposed hierarchies involved even in tribes, and there is no market in law.

            @Kevin

            What’s the difference, in practice, between “decentralized privately run states”, with control/sovereignty over territory treated and defended as property, with the possiblity of subcontracting and delegating to smaller subdivisions (as “secondary property”), and feudalism (as actually practiced before the rise of centralizing forces in the Early Modern period)?

            Feudalism tied serfs to the land of their lords. That’s one of the defining features of feudalism along with the absence of land being a commodity. This wouldn’t be the case under Mldbg’s scheme (which I don’t agree with, but it’s far more plausible than anarcho-capitalism), so it’s pretty clearly still capitalist rather than feudalist.

          • Feudalism tied serfs to the land of their lords. That’s one of the defining features of feudalism along with the absence of land being a commodity.

            I don’t think either of those is correct. Bloch comments somewhere that there are no references to serfs being tied to the land in France before (I think) the fourteenth century, so although it’s a possible characteristic it is not a necessary characteristic.

            And there were markets for land in medieval Europe.

            My preferred definition of feudalism is a system where the key resource is controlled at a level below the top, making the ruler a coalition leader rather than an autocrat. In medieval Europe the key resource was heavy cavalry. In Tammany New York it was votes. For details, see Plunkett.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            In medieval Europe the key resource was heavy cavalry. In Tammany New York it was votes. For details, see Plunkett.

            That is a decidedly non-standard definition.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            “Bloch comments somewhere that there are no references to serfs being tied to the land in France before (I think) the fourteenth century, so although it’s a possible characteristic it is not a necessary characteristic.”

            Not to mention that there’s significant variation between Western and Eastern European forms; it’s my understanding that the restrictions and labor obligations on villeins under manorialism were fairly light.

            Edit: I’ve said to people before that when critics of AnCap compare it unfavorably to feudalism, and AnCaps defend against the charge, they’re usually both wrong. Namely, because their conception of “feudalism” seems to owe less to history and more to Monty Python and Mel Brooks; it’s usually an anachronistic amalgamation of grinding Eastern European serfdom, “Royal Absolutism” that was actually part of what replaced feudalism, and “the Dung Ages” myths like Droit du seigneur/ ius primae noctis, “Black Legend” propaganda about the Inquisition, nonsense about Columbus being denied funding because the kings and queens of Europe thought the Earth was flat (when actually it was because he was using a figure for the size of the earth that was known to be far to small, and there was, really, no way his expedition could even make it halfway to Asia; he lucked out by there being two unknown continents in the way), and other such stuff.

          • random832 says:

            @IrishDude

            The scenario you describe of two cities that seem similar, and whether we should think of them differently, reminds me of this nice article from David Friedman on communist/capitalist trucks.

            So, this bit stuck out at me.

            For one thing, the individual voter has very little incentive to try to find out whether the proposed political changes are actually in his interest, since his vote has only a small chance of determining what actually happens. The individual purchaser, on the other hand, “votes” by buying or not buying a house in the community.

            It seems to be saying that exit (or, if you will, “entrance”) is more important than voice, and that voice isn’t worth anything at all.

          • IrishDude says:

            @random832

            It seems to be saying that exit (or, if you will, “entrance”) is more important than voice, and that voice isn’t worth anything at all.

            I don’t think it says voice is worth nothing, just that the incentives to produce desirable goods are stronger with easy exit/entry than through voice. When people can easily say no to what you’re offering, you’ve got to offer good value to get them to voluntarily buy what you’re selling.

            For a really interesting look at exit and voice, I highly recommend this 15 minute talk from Balaji Srinivasan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOubCHLXT6A

          • That is a decidedly non-standard definition.

            Yes. Thank you.

    • Corey says:

      yes, other reasons, and because people are basically good. That is, left to their own devices, people usually want to leave others alone to do their own thing (and thereby be left alone in turn). (I’m a middle-aged nice guy, so this may be typical mind fallacy talking; OTOH it matches data from my lived experience pretty well).

    • Well... says:

      1) Yes
      2) Other reasons
      3) Laziness mixed with fear. Some herd effects too. Let me unpack that:

      Laziness: it’s an awful lot of work going around being violent to people. I can feel good and get what I want much easier by using my skills to earn money or words to ask for things if I need them.

      Fear: I might be able to beat up any given old lady I meet, but I can’t be sure her 250-pound linebacker grandson isn’t going to come after me with his gun- and baseball bat-wielding friends.

      Herd: If I haven’t spent a lot of time cultivating my own network of gun- and baseball bat-wielding friends, or living a lifestyle that made it easy for me to evade such groups (i.e. no wife and kids, for starters), it would be pretty stupid of me to go around doing things that might rouse violent action against me. Lots of other people are in my same position (not having close ties to any violent gang), and we kind of know it. We can sense it. And that accumulates into a sense of civilizedness that we all like and continue to want to take part in, for example by generally following rules and not committing acts of violence.

    • ShemTealeaf says:

      I think yes to 1, at least in the part of the US where I live. I don’t think it’s directly due to police consequences, but I think the threat of police consequences contributes to creating a culture where violent actions aren’t something that most people seriously consider as an option. Once you have established a peaceful norm, it can be self-reinforcing, without most people needing to be actively afraid of police consequences. If violence is the norm, even people who are not predisposed to violence might consider preemptive attacks to protect themselves. If peace is the norm, people aren’t generally worried about being the victim of someone else’s preemptive strike, and you can default to mutually beneficial cooperation.

  17. Deiseach says:

    It’s not a proper conspiracy theory until the Vatican is mentioned, and here at long last it is!

    Okay, before I start, does the New York Times retain any credibility as a newspaper, much less ‘the paper of record’, when it comes to He Who Must Not Be Named and his administration? This is the kind of tinfoil hat coverage I expect to see on websites that start off in red capital letters about how THE ANTI-CHRIST REVEALED: THE ROMAN CHURCH IS THE WHORE OF BABYLON AND THE POPE IS THE MAN OF BLOOD and then goes on to spill the beans about the New World Order, how the Jesuits founded both the Communist Party and the Nazis, and the Jews only think they’re pulling the strings because the Vatican is pulling their strings.

    Now, as a Catholic, this is the kind of story you read where a stringer in Rome has had an agreeable luncheon with one of the many clergy in the Vatican bureaucracy who, as long as your paper is paying the expenses, will be quite happy to give you a story about the real inside scoop. Some of it may even be accurate. Generally, though, the paper doesn’t name names of sources and isn’t as upfront about the menu for the pleasant tête-à-tête as the Times’ story here –

    Mr. Harnwell said over a lunch of cannelloni.

    Reading through the story (I’ve waded through it so you don’t have to unless you’re feeling in need of some suffering), we get a lot about Mr Harnwell. A lot. He certainly doesn’t seem to be encumbered by hiding his light under a bushel, nor shy about bigging himself up on his own website via approving quotes (allegedly) by Steve Bannon.

    That the guy is a huge Bannon fan? Very likely. That Steve Bannon knows him from a hole in the ground? No idea, or at least not in other than the most cursory “I want to get a Breitbart reporter covering the Vatican beat, who can help me do that?” fashion.

    Anyway, to get to the meat of the story (and very lean it is too), the tie-up between Harnwell, Bannon and the Vatican is that Bannon is (allegedly, we only have Harnwell’s word for all of this) linking up with Cardinal Raymond Burke, and Harnwell is the guy who introduced them.

    Now, I’m fairly sure this name means nothing to most of you. But if you’ve been following the fluttering in the dovecotes during Francis’ reign, Cardinal Burke is an American cardinal, formerly Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (basically the judiciary of the Catholic Church) and on the conservative wing. He’s “clashed” with Francis most notably over Amoris Laetitia – anyway, let’s just skip the inside baseball and say that if Francis is perceived by the media as a cuddly liberal who is going to drag the Church into line with the present-day Zeitgeist, Burke is the opposite of that.

    Okay, so if you want to talk up a conservative conspiracy where Trump (or rather Bannon) is plotting with Elements Within The Vatican to overthrow or undercut the Reforming Pope, then sure, Burke is the guy you’ll pick.

    On the other hand – Burke is a traditionalist. Bannon is a three-times divorcé who probably hasn’t darkened the door of a church since his kids were christened. This is not the kind of ally someone who is seriously dubious about Amoris Laetitia is going to cultivate, in other words. All we are going on here is Harnwell’s word and I think you should take it as seriously as any other “an inside source at the Vatican told our reporter” story, which is that both parties had a nice meal and a chat in pleasant surroundings and this is what was produced to justify the expenses claim.

    Anyway, for a conspiracy theory, they missed the perfect ingredient! Cardinal Burke is Patron (he’s been demoted, or it’s being presented as a demotion, by moving him from the Signatura to this) of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (this video gets it hilariously wrong in every detail but it’s the kind of thing I mean about juicy conspiracy theorising).

    The Order of Malta. The successors (well – it’s tangled, various organisations are going around claiming to be the real or the only true successors) of the Knights Hospitaller. Sure, it’s not the Templars, but it’s nearly as good!

    Cardinal Burke who is head (okay, no he’s not the head but come on, petty details) of his own private army within the Church allying with Bannon and Trump in a pro-anti-Muslim, anti-Pope Francis internal coup – how could they have missed that angle?

    Swiss Guard versus the Order of Malta – place your bets now! 🙂

    • Loquat says:

      Combining this with some of the paranoia above, I am forced to conclude that Burke is going to use Order of Malta commandos to carry out a coup in the US and turn us into the revived Holy Roman Empire with Trump as Emperor, to forestall the otherwise-inevitable coup by leftists that would result in the mass execution of every political figure to the right of Hillary Clinton. It’s the only thing that makes sense!

      • John Schilling says:

        My only regret is that we couldn’t have done this in 1950 or thereabouts, when the Order of Malta aka Knights Hospitaller had an actual strategic bomber force. This was the same era that the International Red Cross operated a munitions factory, so the leftists won’t be left totally outgunned in the War of the Militant Pacifists.

        (The boring version: Things that might be interpreted as ex-Axis military assets but with utility to the civilian postwar economy get parked with custodians of unimpeachably peaceful intentions to reassure everyone that they aren’t secretly gearing up for WW2.1)

    • The Order of Malta. The successors (well – it’s tangled, various organisations are going around claiming to be the real or the only true successors) of the Knights Hospitaller. Sure, it’s not the Templars, but it’s nearly as good!

      What do you mean “nearly”? The Knights of Malta, aka the Knights of St. John, were the Christian equivalent of the Barbary Corsairs, organized piracy on a large scale. To minimize competition, the two firms had a simple rule for market division. The Corsairs only targeted Christian ships, the Knights only Muslim ships. That aside, their systems were pretty similar.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        THE KNIGHTS OF SAINT JOHN!?!
        (the knights of saint john!)

      • Deiseach says:

        I meant “nearly as good for conspiracy theory purposes”. Everyone and their dog drags the Templars into their conspiracy (Dan Brown, Assassins’ Creed, you name it) but the only pop culture reference to the Order of Malta I can think of off-hand is “The Maltese Falcon”.

        Clearly they are an untapped source for future conspiring 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        What do you mean “nearly”? The Knights of Malta, aka the Knights of St. John, were the Christian equivalent of the Barbary Corsairs, organized piracy on a large scale. To minimize competition, the two firms had a simple rule for market division. The Corsairs only targeted Christian ships, the Knights only Muslim ships. That aside, their systems were pretty similar.

        Did the Knights of Malta also raid Muslim coasts for slaves and loot?

      • The original Mr. X says:

        To minimize competition, the two firms had a simple rule for market division. The Corsairs only targeted Christian ships, the Knights only Muslim ships.

        Yeah, I mean, it’s not like a crusading order and members of a religion whose leader commanded them to wage war against infidels could have had any other reason to target the other religion’s people.

        • John Schilling says:

          Was there a command from the Pope to generally wage war against Muslims after the last of the Crusader States fell in 1291? The Crusades themselves were IIRC fairly specific in their targeting.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think he’s talking about jihad there. As in “one party is Crusaders, the other party is Jihadis targeting everyone else”.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What Anonymous said. My point was that using ideas like “market division” and “avoiding competition”, as if the Hospitallers and Corsairs were modern firms competing for market share, just seems like a weird and anachronistic way of explaining why the Knights enslaved Muslims and the Corsairs enslaved Christians. The fact that enslaving enemies was a common part of warfare in this period, and that both sides were at war against the other, seems a much more adequate explanation.

    • suntzuanime says:

      On the other hand – Burke is a traditionalist. Bannon is a three-times divorcé who probably hasn’t darkened the door of a church since his kids were christened. This is not the kind of ally someone who is seriously dubious about Amoris Laetitia is going to cultivate, in other words.

      You don’t gotta give somebody communion to conspire with them. Catholics don’t really go in for the “oh, impure sinner, must never interact with them in any way” deal as much as some religions do.

      • Deiseach says:

        If I, a cardinal, have come to hair-pulling with the pope over his Exhortation on marriage and the family in regard to re-admitting the divorced to Communion, I’m going to have to do some very fast talking to explain how I’m cosying up to a guy who is on Divorce Number Three currently 🙂

        I’m giving Cardinal Burke the credit that he does believe what he claims to believe and is not just cynically peddling a line for the rubes that he doesn’t care about when it comes to getting power for himself (e.g. the way Republican candidates have used the pro-life vote and then done little to nothing when they get into office because pragmatically it’s more trouble than they’re willing to take on for the level of reward they’d get). There’s a lot of politics in religion, sure, but not all religion is politics plain and simple.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Jesus broke bread with prostitutes, I don’t see why you can’t conspire against the Pope with a divorcé. We’re not called upon to totally shun the divorced or anything.

          • Deiseach says:

            If your point of departure with the pope is that he is too liberal about relaxing the restrictions around marriage and that letting people divorce, re-marry and be re-admitted to the sacraments without the necessity of (a) annulment (b) penance and change of life, then it’s hypocrisy at best to link up with someone who’s a lapsed Catholic who divorced, remarried, divorced again, remarried again, and divorced once more. It sounds as if you don’t care for the principle, you’re only interesting in enforcing rules for no reason other than they give you power.

            You know, all the old Protestant canards about priestcraft.

            What, in this putative union of Trump and/or Bannon with Burke, is the end that they wish to achieve? The story in the NYT seems to boil down to: they’re both anti-Muslim bigots who want to work together to ensure Muslim immigration is halted and reversed. So as far as the reporter is concerned, Burke’s fight with Francis has nothing to do with anything like “he really does believe the doctrines on sacramental marriage”, it’s down to anti-Muslim sentiment, which is why he can link up with Bannon, who also is a white supremacist shares anti-Muslim sentiment.

            If (for the sake of exaggeration) we take it that Burke wants a theocratic America where the Catholic Church rules, he’s not going to get it via Bannon, who quite plainly isn’t bothered about keeping Church laws. For that reason alone, making an ally and making agreements with Bannon is foolish. Unless we take the view of the paper, which is more or less “yeah yeah, we know the religious guff is only a cover story, the real thing both these guys have in common is right-wing politics and anti-Muslim bigotry”.

            I’m saying I don’t believe the story because (a) there is only one source quoted who seems to be more interested in making himself out to be this influential mover and shaker with contacts on both the Vatican and the White House side (b) I think Burke genuinely is concerned about the sacrament of matrimony which is why he wanted the dubia on Amoris Laetitia (c) I don’t think Burke is motivated by white supremacist anti-Muslim right-wing politics but most importantly

            (d) mostly because it reads like a conspiracy out of a Dan Brown novel, not real journalism. It’s lazy work.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I agree that Burke would be a hypocrite if, after fighting with the Pope about letting divorcees remarry, he then married Bannon. Somehow I don’t think that’s on the table, so I don’t see a more platonic form of “linking up” with him as any sort of violation of his principles.

            The story seems unbelievable for other reasons, but it’s not implausible that a priest would work with a sinner. That’s sort of their job description.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            You know, all the old Protestant canards about priestcraft.

            Is Priestcraft more like Minecraft, or World of Warcraft? Either way, I think we’ve solved the vocations crisis.

            And is Protestant a class and canard a race, or the other way around? What special abilities does a canard have?

  18. Kevin C. says:

    A question for my fellow Red Tribe-ish, Trump supporter-ish types here on SSC.

    Out in one of the more Alt-Right areas I frequent, they’re claiming that the more “establishment” republicans are going to have to join the “Royalists” (as they call the Congresspeople supporting “God-Emperor Trump”, a title they’re increasingly taking seriously) as a matter of survival, and that none of the “#NeverTrumpers” are going to cross the aisle on impeaching Trump because then they’d be literally “signing their own death warrants”. Meaning, not that they’ll be under threat from Trump supporters, but that if the Democrats ever retake the White House they will literally execute every single last Republican in Congress, even those who sided with them, and “Romanov” the entire Trump family. The question: I’m not a Leftist plant for thinking this is crazy, right? Because I’ve been called “Grima Wormtongue” and given “echo brackets” for saying that’s nuts. Or am I wrong, and we’re now really at the “you win the Game of Thrones or you die” stage of politics?

    • Cypren says:

      This strikes me as even more paranoid and insane than the left-wing theories that Trump is going to seize power and run a military dictatorship. At least there’s some vaguely rational-ish correlation that the military and police overwhelmingly supported Trump and so they might follow his orders.

      To believe that Elizabeth Warren is going to ascend the throne and start rounding up Republicans for the gas chambers is to believe that there’s a hidden Progressive Army somewhere. (Okay, yes, I realize this was the plot of an Orson Scott Card novel. It was just as silly then.) It would have to be one with advanced alien technology preparing to emerge with their mind control rays to co-opt all of our existing armed forces when Her Most Exalted Diverseness gives the secret code word.

      ARE YOU AIMING YOUR MIND CONTROL RAYS AT ME? ARE YOU?

      • Cypren says:

        …and of course, I post this snark and then click a link to a Power Line blog post (I know, I know, I’m a glutton for punishment) which ends (emphasis mine):

        It is easy to laugh at the current hysteria in the Democratic Party, and, perhaps, it is a moral duty to do so. But we are learning something very ugly about liberals. All that talk about democracy? Forget it. Their interest is in power, period. I seriously think they would throw us conservatives in jail if they had the opportunity. The Democratic Party, as currently constituted, must never achieve power again.

        So apparently the tribal hysteria is not entirely confined to just crazy 4chan type posters and has infected the (somewhat) more mainstream right-o-sphere as well.

        • gbdub says:

          There have certainly been plenty of Democrats (voters and pundits, not so much politicians) advocating jailing e.g. “climate denialists”, “hate speakers” (for a broad definition of hate speech), and the entire Dubya administration.

          I generally consider these calls about as serious and likely as calls to literally “lock Hillary up” which is to say, semi-serious but highly unlikely to actually happen.

        • Civilis says:

          “If they had the opportunity” covers a multitude of sins. The idea of Democrats passing a Canada or UK style hate-speech law if they could get it past the first amendment isn’t that outlandish, and based on the rhetoric applied to Sen. Sessions, they think that would apply to mainstream Republicans.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Some of them absolutely would throw conservatives (and libertarians and liberals who weren’t with the program) in jail if they had the opportunity. Expansion of the criteria for “harassment” and support for “hate speech” (in practice meaning “speech which opposes us”) laws demonstrates this. Very few of them yet have the taste for killing (the antifa probably do, but I kind of suspect it’s the other way around for them; they are thugs who have found a political excuse, not political radicals who have turned thuggish).

          Believing they’d carry out mass execution of Senators is another level of crazy.

        • John Schilling says:

          Forget it. Their interest is in power, period. I seriously think they would throw us conservatives in jail if they had the opportunity.

          That is certainly true of some of them, and may be true of most of them. Fortunately, they don’t have the opportunity and even giving them the White House, 60% majorities in both houses of Congress, and six Supreme Court justices would not give them that opportunity in the short term.

          As Civilis notes, they could do things like expanding hate-crimes laws to the point where what is today common speech among Republicans would be legally actionable. Republicans not being complete morons, this results in Republicans being more circumspect but not in Republicans being locked up en masse (though a few might chose figurative martyrdom)

          A policy of locking up, or per Kevin C actually executing, Republicans merely for being Republicans, would be so obviously illegitimate that the civil service, the military, the police, would stall indefinitely when it came to carrying it out – even the ones who might privately want to, would (rightly) fear being stuck as the fall guys when the political tide turns and the top brass hide behind plausible deniability. It would take a generation of consistent Democratic rule to make that sort of thing a realistic possibility, and a generation of consistent Democratic rule would make that sort of thing unnecessary.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Fortunately, they don’t have the opportunity and even giving them the White House, 60% majorities in both houses of Congress, and six Supreme Court justices would not give them that opportunity in the short term.

            Strongly disagree; we’d see a repeat of the events following passage of the Federalist Sedition Act. Sure, most of you could stay silent; I personally am temperamentally unsuited to doing so even when it is in my best interests. But there’s also the actual conservative media. We’d see the editors of Breitbart, the Washington Times, and other conservative newspapers jailed. Right-wing bloggers would also be jailed, and some Fox News commentators. All in the name of “stopping hate”.

          • James Miller says:

            All it would take to silence the right would be for the government to not enforce the law when the left engages in violence against the right, as happened with the anti-Milo protesters in Berkeley.

          • Iain says:

            If it is dumb when the left panics about Trump jailing his political opponents, why are we suddenly giving credence to wild speculation about what Elizabeth Warren would do, given sufficient power?

            At least the people hyper-ventilating about Trump can point to the “lock her up” chants at his rallies.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Iain

            Who is “we”? No one here (including Kevin C.) is claiming Warren will be executing Senators; it appears “we” are unanimous in _not_ giving credence to those claims.

            @James Miller
            Selective enforcement and lack of enforcement of the laws against rioting could prevent public speaking by conservatives. It can’t really stop the right-wing media nor the internet. If it gets to the point where the government is allowing left-wing militias to burn down Fox News headquarters and murder Breitbart reporters in broad daylight, that’s another matter, but I think we’d reach the point of actually jailing them before that happened nationwide.

          • Cypren says:

            @Iain: Read what I wrote. The Elizabeth Warren story was deliberately sarcastic and absurd. Unless you believe in alien mind control rays.

            [looks at you suspiciously] You don’t have alien mind control rays, do you?

          • Cypren says:

            If it gets to the point where the government is allowing left-wing militias to burn down Fox News headquarters and murder Breitbart reporters in broad daylight…

            The history of the Israel/Palestine conflict is very instructive on this point, with both sides forming citizen militias and active terrorist groups as the British government stood by and allowed violence to happen. I would expect a theoretical future Red/Blue Civil War 2.0 to proceed along the same lines, especially because of how dispersed power is in the US.

          • Iain says:

            Sorry, I was using “Elizabeth Warren” as a metonym for “the Democrats” as a whole, which I guess is confusing given the context.

            I’m talking about stuff like this:

            Some of them absolutely would throw conservatives (and libertarians and liberals who weren’t with the program) in jail if they had the opportunity.

            We’d see the editors of Breitbart, the Washington Times, and other conservative newspapers jailed. Right-wing bloggers would also be jailed, and some Fox News commentators.

            If somebody on Tumblr reversed the sides and said this about Trump, people here would be making fun of it, and using it as evidence that the left is disconnected from reality. What, precisely, is the difference here? Is it the plausibility of the two sides? Because I’m having a hard time thinking of anything from the left to compare with “Lock her up! Lock her up!” from the president.

            Or, to phrase it in a less confrontational way: if people are prepared to grant The Nybbler the interpretive charity to treat the remarks I quoted as a discussion of a hypothetical but deeply implausible situation — which I think is totally fair! — then perhaps they should also consider granting similar interpretive charity when reading comments from their outgroups. (As one example, consider the repeated discussions about people on the left who purportedly believe Trump is Literal Fascist Hitler.) Interpretive charity isn’t only good when applied to your own side.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Iain, I personally don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that people who say they want to have criminal penalties for speech they don’t like would in fact impose them if they got the chance. On the other side, this would be the equivalent of suggesting (on November 9, 2016) that Trump would start mass deportation of illegal immigrants or overzealously prosecute the media for defamation or even to prosecute Hillary Clinton. It is not the equivalent of saying Trump is literally Hitler — the equivalent of that is the Elizabeth Warren death squads.

          • Aapje says:

            @Cypren

            Or N-Ireland. This fiction that only one side gets to use violence until the other side behaves (= accepts oppression) is rather silly. When violence becomes a viable way to achieve results and non-violent methods become less viable, those who want results will resort to violence, on both sides.

            It’s a death spiral.

          • Iain says:

            @The Nybbler:

            On the other side, this would be the equivalent of suggesting (on November 9, 2016) that Trump would start mass deportation of illegal immigrants or overzealously prosecute the media for defamation or even to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

            Okay, sure, those are reasonable comparisons. But those sorts of claims are generally seen on SSC as strident and unserious. You can’t have it both ways: either your discussion about leftists jailing the editors of the Washington Times is a stain on your credibility, or we should go easier on people who express the same sorts of concerns on the other side.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Not red tribe, but Trump supporter. Do they mean metaphorically literally execute or literally literally execute? I can see a sense in which that might be colorful metaphor for something that wasn’t completely insane, but no, we’re not at the point of mass purges of political parties yet. Heck, Trump hasn’t even had Clinton arrested.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “Do they mean metaphorically literally execute or literally literally execute?”

        The latter. Actual bullets into actual Republican brains.

      • pylonshadow says:

        “Target the enemy at every opportunity. Hit them wherever they show themselves vulnerable. Play as dirty as your conscience will permit. Undermine them, sabotage them, and discredit them. Be ruthless and show them absolutely no mercy. This is not the time for Christian forgiveness because these are people who have not repented, these are people who are trying to destroy you and are quite willing to harm your family and your children in the process. Take them down and take them out without hesitation.”

        SJW Attack Survival Guide

    • FacelessCraven says:

      That is extremely retarded. Good on you for trying to inject some sanity, but I would recommend not frequenting a place that fucked up.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        Don’t use “retarded” as an insult.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          I am not sure how to reply to this. Where are we on the euphemism treadmill now?

          • Anonymous says:

            “Developmentally challenged” was the last answer I got. But that was a couple of years ago, so it’s probably considered archaic by now.

          • Corey says:

            euphemism treadmill

            It’s illustrated well in an NAACP-like example: the advocacy group for such people in my county is “The ARC”, where ARC once stood for “Association of Retarded Citizens”.

            I refer to my daughter as “special in the Olympics sense” and nobody seems to mind.

          • John Schilling says:

            “Retarded” classically refers to a person, not an argument or assertion. Whether or not it is inherently more offensive than e.g. “stupid”, saying “that’s stupid” merely indicates that a person has made one stupid argument whereas “that’s retarded” strongly implies “you’re retarded”, generally incapable of making not-stupid arguments.

            You probably ought not be doing that on the basis of one stupid argument.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Well, you could reply to it by never using “retarded” as an insult again. You’re not the only one in this comments section to do it; you’re just the first one after I got fed up.

            This isn’t the euphemism treadmill: that would be if someone objected to describing a person as “retarded”.

            But since it still has the meaning of “person with something wrong with their cognitive ability”, using it as an insult expresses some contempt or dislike or devaluation of people with below-average cognitive ability.

            Since one of my daughters is one of those people with below-average cognitive ability, you using “retarded” as an insult or negative description of a thing makes me want to punch you in the face. Then the left would say, “Look, those Right-Wing SSC Commenters really are violent! We told you so!”—and neither of us wants that.

          • Controls Freak says:

            “Retarded” classically refers to an engine timing, not a person, argument, or assertion. You probably not ought assess whether a motor is knocking or in danger of detonation over the internet.

            I try to live in the good old days, when it just meant delayed or hindered. I try to reclaim this slur whenever I can. If we’re waiting for Person X to show up to an event, and someone says, “Where is Person X?” I respond, “Oh, they’re just retarded. They’ll be here soon.”

          • suntzuanime says:

            As long as we’re PC-ing up the comments here, do you think we could get people to stop making racist jokes about the Irish?

          • Anonymous says:

            Since one of my daughters is one of those people with below-average cognitive ability, you using “retarded” as an insult or negative description of a thing makes me want to punch you in the face.

            That’s a problem mainly with you, not anyone else. Using insults is not nice in general – but apparently, according to you, this insult is off-limits, because you have a personal relation to it?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It’s illustrated well in an NAACP-like example: the advocacy group for such people in my county is “The ARC”, where ARC once stood for “Association of Retarded Citizens”.

            Here in the UK we had the National Spastics’ Society, which changed its name to Scope back in 1994. And now, low and behold: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=scopey

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Machina ex Deus – I had been under the impression that the movement to taboo the word in question had largely failed, you’re the first person I’ve run into to actually take offense to it, after years of hearing jokes where its supposed offensiveness was the punchline. It also galls me to lose a pejorative of long and honorable service.

            On the other hand, while I am generally in favor of offending people these days, I find I have little stomach for actually inflicting offense directly. Consider me properly chastised.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            Thanks. I appreciate it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Terms for undesirable traits will get used as insults. It’s just how the world works. Every time we move on to another term, it simply comes to describe the same undesirable trait, and people start using it as an insult, because what it is describing is undesirable.

        • Incurian says:

          I have never heard a good explanation for this.

          • Anonymous says:

            For what? Why people use “retarded” as an insult? Or why other people object against using it as an insult?

          • Cypren says:

            My belief is that people who chide others for using politically-incorrect insults are mostly just engaged in conspicuous virtue signaling. It explains quite nicely why there needs to be a never-ending race to create new euphemisms; it’s like the fashion industry for status-signaling. You don’t want to be caught dead using last year’s terminology, do you? So uncouth.

          • Incurian says:

            The rule probably ought to be “don’t harass people, especially the disadvantaged.”

            I think this is an instance of “building a wall around the Torah.” But as someone upthread mentioned, this absolutely just leads us to the euphemism treadmill.

            For an interesting counter example, I think it’s completely reasonable to require that people not use “gay” (and other related words) as negative terms, because it’s implying that gay is negative. Even though most people didn’t mean it that way, I understand why it is inherently offensive.

            I don’t think this applies to things like “retarded”, “blind”, etc., because they’re merely hyperbolic description, which is appropriate for an insult (whether or not it’s appropriate to insult at all is another matter).

            For a counter-counter example, the N-word is on it’s face just a reference to skin color, but it’s loaded with a bunch of very negative connotations, and you won’t catch me arguing that it’s ok to say just because it’s merely descriptive.

            So why not the same protection for “retarded?” Because the euphemism treadmill is… bad, and it should be nipped in the bud.

            All that being said, I personally don’t say it because my wife unfairly harasses me when I do.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s too late, “MR” (for Mental R-) has been replaced by “ID” for Intellectual Disability. The treadmill grinds on. Though Control Freak’s engine timing reference elsethread suggests a (very insulting, close your eyes now) Foghorn Leghornism: “That boy’s so slow, he’s firing 5 degrees after, I say after, top dead center.”

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            Why is it assumed that trying to stop people from using “retard” as an insult is what leads to a euphemism treadmill?

            I would have thought it was the other way around. Like, people with intellectual disabilities exist, and people are not going to want to refer to these people by words with strongly pejorative force such as “stupid”, etc. So they’re going to look for words that don’t have that pejorative connotation attached for them, and if there aren’t any left in the language they’re going to have to invent new ones.

            Meanwhile, somebody who wants to insult somebody for their lack of intelligence can use any of the many terms that have already been fixed at 100% pejorative, such as “stupid”, “idiot”, “imbecile”. Why, then, do people use the more euphemistic terms? I could be wrong, but I suspect the ultimate reason is that some people are contemptuous of the intellectually disabled and want to explicitly express that contempt. (To be clear, I’m not saying that every person who uses such terms does it for this reason—in fact I think most of them just use it in the normal memetic way, because it’s an insult they know other people mind and it’s the first one that came to mind—I’m talking about the motivations of the first adopters.) If that’s the case then it comes down to what you think is more feasibly eliminable, human kind-heartedness or human cruelty.

            Personally, I don’t think *either* of these things are eliminable, and therefore I have to just accept the euphemism treadmill as something that will inevitably happen. But I’m not actually that fussed about it. Language changes. If in the future I have to stop using “intellectually disabled” to refer to intellectually disabled people because it’s now considered offensive, and adopt some new more PC euphemism instead, I’m entirely cool with that.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @thehousecarpenter – “I could be wrong, but I suspect the ultimate reason is that some people are contemptuous of the intellectually disabled and want to explicitly express that contempt.”

            I disagree. Actions that arouse pity from the disabled bring scorn toward those who are able yet still wallow in folly. The base claim is that they are acting contrary to their nature, which brings their nature into question. The same idea can be seen in the now-taboo “you hit like a girl”.

    • skef says:

      Can I ask what the end-game in this scenario is, after the execution of one of two parties? Are they thinking communism? SJW enforcement militias?

      • Kevin C. says:

        My understanding of the argument is not that Trump and the Republicans are going to be murdered by the Left, but that it is clear the Left intends to do so. And that Trump and Congressional Republicans, if they don’t already realize this, will soon. Thus the more moderate Repubs in Congress will, in the spirit of Franklin’s “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”, join with the pro-Trump faction in backing Trump 100% as a matter of literal survival. Similarly, the argument is that Trump, to avoid having “his son getting eaten by crocodiles”; i.e. the whole family getting “Romanoved” by Black Block types or any of the other “Nazi-punchers” on the Left just slavering to do violence against those who disagree with them, will have to call upon the above support in Congress, his “100% support” amongst the rank-and-file military and police, Eric Prince (via his sister Betsy DeVos), et cetera, and openly defy the courts, the bureaucracy, and so on, carrying out the autocoup, giving Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the other “liberal” justices “free helicopter rides to the Atlantic”, and pretty much become right-wing dictator for life because he’ll have to as the only way to avoid having himself and his children murdered by increasingly unhinged, increasingly violent leftists; and, eventually, pass the job onto a son or grandson, so that, many generations from now, much like with Caesar Augustus, the historians will retroactively recognize The Donald as the first Emperor of the Trump Dynasty.

        • Nornagest says:

          That’s pretty silly. No doubt there are some characters out there who could talk themselves into building a mountain of Trumpist skulls; the antifa we’ve recently seen in action, for example, might not be far from that point. But there really aren’t very many antifa in total, nor are those that do exist well positioned ideologically or physically to carry out civilian massacres, let alone pose a serious threat to the President of the United States. And if… wherever you’re hearing this… thinks the likes of Elizabeth Warren are anywhere close to resorting to organized political violence in the near future, I don’t know what to tell them. Tolerating the black bloc, sure; even tacitly admiring them. But that’s a far cry from overt support, or even the more obvious forms of covert support.

          Don’t get me wrong, a number of Bad Ends in our future are a lot more credible now than I’d like them to be. But this particular scenario isn’t one of them.

          • Kevin C. says:

            “That’s pretty silly.”

            I agree. But saying that is what got me echo brackets and replies of “Grima Wormtongue has now revealed himself…” As far as they’re concerned, anyone who disagrees with the argument is probably a Jewish Leftist infiltrator.

          • Cypren says:

            @Kevin C: Sounds like you need to find a higher class of place to hang out. Like, say, the nearest crack house.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C, – What you are describing is full epistemic closure. I used to get most of my media intake from places with a similar degree of closure, though they mostly came at things from a populist left-wing stance. I eventually left when I realized that I was receiving no useful information; I already knew what the headlines and the commentary was going to be before the page even booted up: the government is doing awful things because it is evil, corps are doing awful things because they are evil, bad people are doing awful things because they are evil. It wasn’t even a matter of concluding that they were wrong in these accusations, just a realization that I understood their perceptual filter well enough that I didn’t need them to apply it for me any more.

            Speaking more generally, what value do you derive from being in such a forum?

        • Cypren says:

          In the highly unlikely event that this happens I suspect I will welcome the inevitable death of the world in nuclear fire. It will be more sane than the alternative.

        • skef says:

          Ok, to be more specific then, what is the intended endgame? I mean, unless the hope is to convince moderate Republicans of this when it isn’t true, so that Trump can be God Emperor, they would presumably have a subsequent plan, right? Things don’t just stay the same after one of the two major parties is collectively executed. Even mustache-twirling villains usually have some sort of plan.

          As a conspiracy theory this sounds kind of slip-shod.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      I second the sentiment that this sounds about as delusional as the left wing people I know on the internet who panic on Trump sending death patrols to murder muslims “any time now” and brag how they would hide Anne Franks in their cellar.

      Look at a place where there is real authoritarian government or other similar extreme political situation going on. For example, Turkey, or Rurssia, or Ukraine, or the infamous cases from the US South from the civil rights era (and before) everybody on the Left likes to iterate. The usual sign is that there are arrests and political violence and such in the real, physical world. And I don’t mean random violent protesters hitting random people and burning things (which while bad, happens semi-regularly almost everywhere — and the Berkeley protest was still far, far away from a real riots the police couldn’t control even if they tried), I mean targeted beatings and killings. The kind of where there’s knock on your door, next you know you have a hood over your head and being savagely beaten (if you’re lucky) or someone finds you dead in the nearby river next week (if you are not) or maybe you just disappear (if you are, for example, in al-Assad’s Syria prior to the actual fighting breaking out).

      And even then, in Russia the couple of people who have infamously died have been very unlucky to anger some corrupted oligarch. Usually they just end up in a Russian prison.

      The places you hang around sound like echochambers where the echo effect has reached insane levels. I’d suggest re-evaluating their epistemic value. Only a couple of months ago Obama was still the president, and the only black helicopters that landed in anyone‘s backyard to commit an execution did so in Middle-East, to kill Osama frickkin’-bin-Laden.

      edit. Thinking about it, the more people propagate this kind of insane theories will make it more likely that enough people start to believe them and thus make them into a reality. (“If they are going to kill us / there’s going to be a revolution, might as well as be the one who strikes first and is doing the killing.”) Also, recall the Days of Rage blog post that was posted some time ago: the political violence in the US has still not yet even reached the 1970s level of insanity.

      • Cypren says:

        Only a couple of months ago Obama was still the president, and the only black helicopters that landed in anyone‘s backyard to commit an execution did so in Middle-East, to kill Osama frickkin’-bin-Laden.

        To be fair, Obama was more a fan of drone strikes than black helicopters and did kill 4 US citizens (though only one was explicitly targeted) and may have possibly signed a death warrant for a fifth, though that is unproven. So the precedent has been set, though I don’t think this is really a good argument that we’re about to see any critic of the president die in a fiery explosion.

        But it should still make anyone who believes in due process and rule of law very uncomfortable.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          You are correct, and I thought about mentioning the drone strikes, but it would sidetrack from my main point, that is, the previous democratic party government of US did not have indications of starting a reign of terror and killing republican senators.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        As Moldbug recently pointed out – since the consensus is that only direct government action counts as oppressive government we’ve ended up with a government that outsources its political violence and applies it through disintermediated agents in a semi-random manner. Ferguson, MO was recently ethnically cleansed in a very violent process – but not a direct government one.

        • hyperboloid says:

          Ferguson, MO was recently ethnically cleansed

          If I may ask, what American cities do you consider to have been ethnically cleansed? And when did this supposed cleansing happen?

          • The Nybbler says:

            If I may ask, what American cities do you consider to have been ethnically cleansed?

            Chicago. Detroit. Washington, D.C. New York City. Newark, NJ. Camden, NJ. Baltimore, MD.

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

            http://www.gif-explode.com/?explode=http://i.imgur.com/xZoKnTa.gif

            http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/White-Flight-By-The-Numbers-206302551.html

          • hyperboloid says:

            @ The Nybbler

            It is apparently a well known “fact” among white nationalists that Baltimore is a lawless hellhole where no white person would dare venture for fear of being slaughtered by rabid packs of feral Negroes.

            I find this amusing as I am a white man and have lived in mixed race neighborhoods in Baltimore for most of my life; and yet I have been repeatedly assured by various alt right types that I must have been ethnically cleansed.

            Despite our city’s remarkably high murder rate, the odds of a law abiding, middle class, white man in Baltimore being the victim of violent crime are pretty slim. The overwhelming majority of both the perpetrators and victims of violent crime are people who earn their living breaking the law, mostly by dealing drugs.

            White flight was not ethnic cleansing, as people left mostly for economic reasons, in particular falling property values. When the traditional industries that supported the city collapsed in the nineteen seventies, property values plummeted, crime rose as many of our poorer citizens turned to the drug trade as a means of support, and people pulled up stakes for greener pastures.

            At no point was this migration principally driven by racial tensions, or fear of racially motivated violence. White flight is in many ways missed named, as was the dived between those who stayed, and those who left was not really a racial one. Plenty of poor whites stayed, and Baltimore experienced massive “black flight”, mostly to Prince George’s county.

            In fact I think this phenomena did more damage the then any change in racial demographics, as it left behind concentrations of where successful communities had once been.

            @suntzuanime

            Nobody is being forcibly relocated, they’ll just be shot if they stay.

            That is straightforwardly falsified by the fact that plenty of whites do live in these cities, and are at remarkably little risk of being shot.

            @John Schilling

            An average non-Hispanic white person living in Detroit for their entire life has an 18% chance of being shot and a 5% chance of being murdered.

            That is likely to be a very misleading statistic, as the risk of being a victim of violent crime is non randomly distributed in the population. It’s almost certainly
            the case that young white men in Detroit who work in the drug trade (yes they exist), or habitually steal to support a habit, or are otherwise involved in a criminal lifestyle, are much more likely to be shot then a middle aged manager at GM.

          • Nornagest says:

            …the risk of being a victim of violent crime is non randomly distributed in the population. It’s almost certainly the case that young white men in Detroit who work in the drug trade (yes they exist), or habitually steal to support a habit, or are otherwise involved in a criminal lifestyle, are much more likely to be shot then a middle aged manager at GM.

            No doubt this is true, but you’d need some implausibly high rates for it to be driving shootings/murders at 18%/5%. I don’t think 1 in 5 people in Detroit are or were e.g. actively involved in the drug trade, and that would be a minimum for this theory to work out — it assumes that ~100% of people in drug-related occupations or similar get shot at some point.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Nornagest
            Those are lifetime prevalence numbers. There are certainly communities where ten or twenty percent of men are involved in habitual criminal behavior for some portion of their lives, usually the mid teens to mid twenties.

            But I would be surprised if white Detroit as a whole qualified. There may be something wrong with John schilling’s numbers, and It would be helpful if he could site a source.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Between 1950 (the peak of white population in Baltimore) and 1990, the white population of Baltimore went from 720,000 to 290,000, while the non-white population went from 226,000 to 450,000. In 1960, white population was 610,000 while nonwhite population was 330,000. By 1970 it was 480,000 to 430,000. Certainly whites were leaving already, but it seems hard to believe the race riots of 1968 did not accelerate this trend.

          • BBA says:

            So, when affluent white people like me move back into the neighborhoods that our grandparents moved out of, displacing the people of color who had lived there in between, is that also ethnic cleansing?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @BBA

            Depends. Some claim that “gentrification” is being accomplished through official (police) and unofficial harassment of, threats towards, and violence against the people in the neighborhoods to be gentrified. If they are correct, “ethnic cleansing” seems like a fair description.

          • BBA says:

            Hm. I figured it was mostly simple economic pressure, but maybe economics is war by other means. And one wouldn’t expect the original “cleansing” to be so easily reversible just two generations later.

            As long as nobody’s being ordered at gunpoint to leave the Bronx I have trouble calling it ethnic cleansing, but that’s just me.

          • Nornagest says:

            Those are lifetime prevalence numbers. There are certainly communities where ten or twenty percent of men are involved in habitual criminal behavior for some portion of their lives, usually the mid teens to mid twenties.

            They’re lifetime prevalence numbers for white people in Detroit, not white men. Given that a large majority of habitual criminals are men, to get a lifetime prevalence of ~18% in a mixed-gender community (again, assuming every habitual criminal gets shot at some point) you’d need about 35% of men. And since they’re usually young men, we’d either need about that percentage of young men to have been involved in criminal cultures over several decades, or even higher numbers for a shorter period of time.

            That seems implausible to me.

          • John Schilling says:

            There may be something wrong with John Schilling’s numbers, and It would be helpful if he could site a source.

            I’m on a different computer and couldn’t find all of the exact sources I used last time, so this reconstruction is a bit patchy.

            49 white people killed in Detroit in 2012.

            701,475 people lived in Detroit in 2012, and 7.79% of Detroit’s people were non-Hispanic whites in 2010.

            So, 49 / (0.0779 * 701475) = 0.0897% probability of a generic white person being killed in Detroit in an average year.

            Life expectancy of a white person born in Michigan in 2012, 78.7 years.

            Which gives a 7.1% lifetime probability of murder, but that’s for 2012 because 2012 was the last year for which I could easily find a racial breakdown of homicides. Detroit’s homicide rate has fallen by 22% in the past four years, so assuming no further changes that gives a bit over 5% lifetime homicide risk for white people in Detroit. And the ratio of shootings to homicides comes in at 4.25:1 in this source, which would be a 23% lifetime shooting risk.

            Digging into the details, same sources, the lifetime homicide rate for white vs black people in Detroit comes to 5.6% vs 5.3%. Anyone claiming ethnic cleansing on the basis of that 0.3%, deserves to be laughed at.

            Is the white homicide rate being driven by young white male drug dealers and their enforcers? If we assume that 52% of the white males in Detroit enter the drug trade at 15 and that 100% of those are shot by the time they are 24, that would about work. I’m skeptical.

          • LHN says:

            John Schilling: my immediate observation is that the pool of potential victims isn’t just residents. E.g., as of 2013, about 72% of the people who worked in Detroit (and are so available to be crime victims there) didn’t live there. Just based on the demographics of the region, a larger proportion of that 72% are likely to be white than residents. http://michiganeconomy.chicagofedblogs.org/?p=462

            I don’t know what the pattern of illegal activity is, but I at least wouldn’t be surprised if a fair fraction of people buying or selling drugs in Detroit, or engaging in other sorts of criminal enterprises that involve a heightened risk of murder, also don’t live there.

          • John Schilling says:

            My immediate observation is that the pool of potential victims isn’t just residents

            Good guess, but from my first cited source, 88% of Detroit’s homicides took place in a residential setting. That’s hard to square with white suburbanites being killed while they working in the city.

          • LHN says:

            Honest question (because I don’t know much about it): where does the drug industry generally operate? I have an impression of crack houses and meth labs operating in what would ostensibly be residential, but that’s more pop culture osmosis than anything.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Imagine getting a citation because your neighborhood wasn’t zoned for meth labs.

          • Corey says:

            @suntzuanime you now have me picturing turning HOA “lawn police” types loose on the drug trade, and I think that needs to be made into a sitcom.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            In my experience, pot dealers tend to do business in their mom’s basement. Crack dealers do business out of a normal-looking house up the street where cars with out-of-city plates keep coming and going. Fifteen years ago, they had an open-air crack market going on a large traffic island across from the liquor store, but gentrification.

            Meth dealers do business nowhere near me, I assume in trailer homes or perhaps some sort of barn.

            And one of the guys alleged to be a dealer in my neighborhood is in his 50s. Drug dealing doesn’t look like drug dealing.

        • Civilis says:

          Ferguson, MO was recently ethnically cleansed in a very violent process – but not a direct government one.

          Ethnic cleansing and violence have distinct and very serious meanings. Perhaps different, less loaded terms would work better. I’m fed up enough with people that think speech can be ‘violence’. ‘White flight’ and ‘gentrification’ are not ethnic cleansing.

          Yes, a number of American inner cities seem to be self-segregating along ethnic lines, and one of the reasons people are leaving some areas has to do with violent criminal behavior, but nobody is being forcibly relocated. This (the self-segregation, or perhaps balkanization, not the ‘not forcibly relocated’) is most definitely not a good thing. Detroit, Balitmore, and Newark are, by American standards, horrible places. (Washington D.C. has been, until recently, headed the other way, due to the increasing power of the bureaucracy and it’s hangers on). It’s also most definitely not ethnic cleansing, or genocide, or whatever.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Nobody is being forcibly relocated, they’ll just be shot if they stay.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            I am pretty sure Baltimore, Newark and Detroit aren’t quite as bad as Zimbabwe.

          • Civilis says:

            They’re at increased risk of violent crime if they stay. Nobody’s going to target them if they don’t move. And they’re at basically the same risk as members of the dominant ethnic group if they stay. The rioters that burned sections of Baltimore and Ferguson didn’t care whose property they burned and looted.

            Yes, violent crime is a bad thing. These aren’t safe places to live, and they should be. We should be worried that the balkanization of the city will further exacerbate ethnic tensions, making the problem even worse (and, eventually, maybe leading to real ethnic cleansing). But ‘people leaving because crime has gone up’ isn’t ethnic cleansing.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What if it turned out that the 1960s-70s race riots were a deliberate and successful attempt to drive white people out of the cities so black politicians could take them over? Would it be “ethnic cleansing” then?

          • Civilis has a point. I suggest we use a more nuanced term. How about hyper-extreme white “double Holocaust” genocide cleansing?

          • Civilis says:

            What if it turned out that the 1960s-70s race riots were a deliberate and successful attempt to drive white people out of the cities so black politicians could take them over? Would it be “ethnic cleansing” then?

            Ok, dictionary definitions of ethnic cleansing:

            “the mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group in a society.”
            “the expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity”
            “the systematic forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous”

            If it really was a deliberate plot by Democratic politicians (a la the 70s ‘we need to make things bad to trigger a revolution’) I could see it described as ethnic cleansing even if it’s not forced expulsion. I could see arguing that some of the 60s-70s radicals would have committed ethnic cleansing of their neighborhoods if they could have gotten away with it. I could even see arguing that Progressives on some college campuses have tried to ‘ethnically cleanse’ their colleges if you’re willing to allow me to define ‘the right’ as an ethnic group for this purpose, which I could even argue is probably the best way to look at it. Americans now divide more by political tribes than ethnic groups, from some of the studies I’ve read about.

            Outside of the recent political protests at Berkeley, I don’t think any of the recent bouts of collective violence in the inner city have been targeted on any group. They may use politics as a cover, but the goal is to smash stuff and loot things. They’re not picking and choosing who they hit.

          • John Schilling says:

            Nobody is being forcibly relocated, they’ll just be shot if they stay.

            An average non-Hispanic white person living in Detroit for their entire life has an 18% chance of being shot and a 5% chance of being murdered. This is an unusual definition of “they will be…” that you are using. Insofar as the risk is largely independent of ethnicity, it is also an unusual definition of “ethnic cleansing”. One could argue that Detroit is being cleansed, full stop, but that process appears to be tapering off.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Civils

            About recent targeting of white people during mass violence:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB5lirVJtwE

          • cassander says:

            @The Nybbler says:

            >What if it turned out that the 1960s-70s race riots were a deliberate and successful attempt to drive white people out of the cities so black politicians could take them over? Would it be “ethnic cleansing” then

            You don’t need the hypothetical. Most big US cities saw deliberate attempts by various city governments to drive people out of their cities. Which ethnic groups did the driving and which groups got driven varied from city to city, but driving freeways through the neighborhoods of your rival ethnics was standard practice.

          • Civilis says:

            About recent targeting of white people during mass violence:

            There’s a difference between some of the rioters choosing targets of opportunity based on ‘they’re not part of our group’ and deliberately making a specific group the target of the riot, as in Kristallnacht.

            I worry about my overly precise definition, as I don’t know if Kristallnacht even qualifies as ethnic cleansing under a strict definition of the term (it was most definitely a harbinger of the ethnic cleansing to come later, but we’re looking at it as if it were an isolated event). It’s a good self-test for whether the definitions I’m using work, as it’s definitely ethnically targeted violence, the question is whether it counts as expulsion or forced removal. Certainly, I’m not pedantic enough to argue with someone that says Kristallnacht was ethnic cleansing.

            However, Baltimore and Ferguson weren’t Kristallnacht or even “hyper-extreme white ‘double Holocaust’ genocide cleansing”. I don’t mean to say that what’s been happening in the inner cities is a good thing; it’s serious, and we need to work to stop it from happening.

            I probably should apologize for being a bit over sensitive here. I just think a lot of serious words get overused in a dangerous fashion, even sometimes by people I otherwise agree with. Because of a tiny group of idiots throwing similar phrases around, we right now have a larger group of idiots that thinks it’s perfectly okay to assault just about anyone on the right side of the political spectrum, and so it’s made me a bit touchy.

    • hyperboloid says:

      Out in one of the more Alt-Right areas I frequent, they’re claiming that the more “establishment” republicans are going to have to join the “Royalists” (as they call the Congresspeople supporting “God-Emperor Trump”, a title they’re increasingly taking seriously

      You have to understand that the kind of political views that you subscribe to are held by a percentage of the American public that can be safely rounded down to zero. There simply are no royalists.

      And disseminating paranoid fantasies that rabid hordes of social justice warriors are planning some kind of night of the long knives under president Elizabeth Warren is not going to change that.

      Trump himself might be willing to accept the job of emperor, but that’s based on nothing other then greed and a pathological need for self glorification. If anybody else was offered the job he would be the first to speak out against it as abrogation of the American democratic tradition, as it is likely not in his commercial interest to conduct business under a dictatorship not run by him or his close allies.

      You keep confusing what most Americans mean when they say “Conservative”, with the kind of politics you believe in. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of the American right believes in some form of the legacy of the American revolution. Even the most explicitly racist elements just want to narrow the circle of political participation to exclusively include “whites”, not burn down the entire system of American democracy.

      Outside of a bizarre tiny Internet bubble, there is no possible base of political support for a movement to install anybody as a monarch, or dictator, of any kind. The people who hold the real power over violence in our country, that is to say the United States military, take their oaths to the constitution very seriously. There is no Ceaser, Sulla, Franco, or Pinochet waiting in the wings to cleanse society of the leftist scourge. And it is an infantile fantasy to believe otherwise.

    • Leit says:

      Don’t read the comments.
      Do not read the comments at alt-right sites.
      The comments section is virtually guaranteed to be a dumpster fire in reactor four.
      Even so, the couple of places I’m familiar with would have to have gone sharply downhill for this sort of thing to become something more than a signalling exercise/fantasy.

      • Corey says:

        something more than a signalling exercise/fantasy

        I think that’s a general problem with intellectually-monocultural places: yesterday’s signalling exercise is today’s group-consensus position, then it’s tomorrow’s minimum-required-for-membership position. Trolls make this effect worse.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Trolls make this effect worse

          If I were to troll alt-right sites, I would absolutely do it by screaming about how The Left is trying to murder us all.

    • James Miller says:

      Before answering this question you have to answer why this kind of thing almost never happens in democracies and then try to figure out if next time will be different.

    • rlms says:

      Don’t listen to everyone else, it sounds pretty plausible to me.

    • dndnrsn says:

      There are elements of the right that worry about left-wing death squads and elements of the left that worry about right-wing death squads. Both are convinced that their opponents want to do things that will destroy society; many seem convinced their opponents are omnipotent or close to it. They can’t both be right, and I suspect neither are. Me, I think that what ends up destroying society is gonna be something we don’t see coming.

      • suntzuanime says:

        I think the hardcore on either side would be willing to pull out the death squads under the right circumstances, I just don’t think we’re a single election away from it.

  19. FacelessCraven says:

    Why is it wrong to “out” illegal immigrants by reporting them to the appropriate government entities?

    During the various discussions about the Berkeley protests, Zombielicious and others used Milo’s planned presentation on how to report illegal immigrants to the authorities as proof that he was a bad person who should be strongly opposed.

    Pro-argument I can see: I’m under the impression that Milo was specifically reporting people he didn’t like for reasons other than their illegal immigrant status; SJ activists, for instance. This trips the “argument gets counter-argument, not bullet” alarm.

    Anti-argument: they are illegal immigrants. They are breaking the law to be here. Exercise of free speech does not give you a right to break the law, or a pass on the consequences of breaking the law. Claiming that reporting illegal aliens is unethical is an attempt to make an end-run around laws that have considerable popular support. Nor does this seem to be a case of “lawfare” or harassment via the legal system; the illegals in question are not having their lives combed through for minor violations to be gouged with; they have broken the law, and in the few cases I’m familiar with are openly bragging about having done so.

    • psmith says:

      Edited for cuntiness.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        It would be cool if we could minimize right-wing-snark in this thread. I can generate an arbitrary amount of that myself, but am much more interested in principled arguments on the issue. At least a few people in the previous threads were willing to grudgingly tolerate violence over this sort of “outing”, and I’d like to hear why. I also disagree with the “counter-argument not bullet” argument, but am not supremely confident about my position.

      • Wrong Species says:

        The weird thing is that isn’t necessarily true. People do generally acknowledge that it’s acceptable to have borders. They just act like it’s wrong to enforce the rules once illegal immigrants are inside the country. It reminds of the Wet feet, dry feet policy towards Cuba.

    • Corey says:

      It’s not nice, for starters. But the main difficulty I see: how’s a civilian gonna determine a random person’s immigration status?

      Unless they’re your employee that you’re paying under the table (in which case reporting them would be extra dickish), what’s the strategy? Call ICE about every “Mexican”-looking person you see who speaks Spanish in public? Seems like a lot of hassle for the false positives.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        Growing up I knew a lot of people who were very open about being illegal immigrants.

        They probably wouldn’t volunteer that information to a cop or an employer, but it’s something that’s going to come up in conversation eventually. It’s an open secret, if it’s a secret at all.

        (As a sidenote, every time I hear “ICE” I feel like a Decker. Why does the name of the agency have to change every few years?)

      • suntzuanime says:

        Note the

        and in the few cases I’m familiar with are openly bragging about having done so

        . Like, there was that guy who was writing in the NYT(?) about his experiences as an undocumented immigrant, under his own name. Does not take a genius to figure that one out.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Corey – “It’s not nice, for starters.”

        Why not, specifically? And how not-nice is it? How angry should we be at this sort of behavior?

        “But the main difficulty I see: how’s a civilian gonna determine a random person’s immigration status?”

        For purposes of discussion, I am assuming that they have themselves openly admitted to being an illegal immigrant, or otherwise their status is not really in question; the criticism of Milo is that he’s outing actual illegals, not that he’s filing false reports.

        [EDIT] – Let’s assume they didn’t publicly declare that they were an illegal immigrant, but someone found out anyway, which strengthens the flavor of Doxxing. Still, the people we’re talking about are actual illegals, so false positives aren’t an issue.

        • Corey says:

          And how not-nice is it? How angry should we be at this sort of behavior?

          Depends on your opinion of the severity of the crime. At two ends of the criminal spectrum, (probably almost) everyone agrees that keeping quiet about murderers is wrong, and hanging out on streets with a radar gun reporting speeders to the police would be pointlessly mean. Or maybe consider tax evasion, another crime that’s common and people are often proud of, for a case a little further from the edges.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I often wish it were legal/effective to anonymously submit dashcam videos of drivers being asshats. A horn just does not do enough to get people to update their dangerous behavior.

            Reporting tax evasion also falls into my bucket of “obviously a Good for society”, if probably-implausible for Joe Neighbor to provide evidence for.

          • caethan says:

            Are you kidding me? I would bake cookies gratis for someone who wanted to volunteer to run a speed trap around my house. I’ve got a two-year-old. Speeding is not a victimless crime.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            hanging out on streets with a radar gun reporting speeders to the police would be pointlessly mean.

            We’ve got those already in the UK. It doesn’t seem to cause much controversy.

        • Jiro says:

          Whether you should be angry should be affected by your attitude towards illegal immigration. But I get the feeling that the people who are actually angry are trying to have it both ways: they are angry in a way which implies that they like illegal immigration, but few of them are actually willing to say that they support illegal immigration to the degree necessary for their anger to make sense.

      • gbdub says:

        Last time I looked at numbers, something like 1/3 of Hispanic people in Arizona are undocumented. So “randomly pointing at Mexican looking people” would actually give you a pretty high hit rate.

        Add in a few simple behavioral observations (“is standing at Home Depot soliciting day labor”, “pays for everything with cash”, “lives in neighborhood X”) and you could quite easily hit percentages that exceed the probable cause most warrants are based on.

        Not saying we ought to do that, but it really wouldn’t be that hard.

    • Alejandro says:

      Here is an attempt to steelman the underlying position. One can think that declaring open borders would lead to hundreds of millions immigrating to the US in a very short time, with very bad consequences for a country unable to deal with the suden influx, so it is propoer to have laws restricting immigration. At the same time, one can believe that the marginal immigrant at the current relatively small rates has neutral or positive consequences for the country. (Note this is unlike most laws prohibiting something: the marginal murder or fraud is not neutral/positive.) Then one can think that the State should not go through the effort of enforcing the law to deport current illegal immigrants, even if they are violating the law. Clearly being in the US is massively positive for the immigrant himself (as well as for relatives and close network, some of which are perhaps citizens), and deporting the immigrant causes a great concentrated harm on someone already in a vulnerable position, while costing the State money and time, and not having tangible benefits for the country other than an abstract “rule of law”. If deporting is unjust, then a fortiori outing people in order to get them deported is also unjust.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Alejandro – “If deporting is unjust, then a fortiori outing people in order to get them deported is also unjust.”

        Clearly. But a large plurality of the US does not accept this logic; they are pissed that the immigration laws have been flaunted for decades and want them to be strictly enforced.

        I can understand the position you lay out, but that’s a different thing from agreeing with it. The attacks on Milo mostly seem to be claiming that what he’s doing is fundamentally indecent, ie that he’s violating universal rules of society in a way analogous to, say, screaming racial slurs at black people or waving “God Hates Fags” signs at a marine’s funeral. If one *doesn’t* agree with the claim that the illegal immigrants we already have should be allowed to stay, why is reporting one a bad thing?

        • The Nybbler says:

          The attacks on Milo are mostly just tribal; as far as I know, no one knows what Milo was actually going to do. He denies that he was going to publicly name “undocumented immigrants”.

      • Kevin C. says:

        @Alejandro

        “At the same time, one can believe that the marginal immigrant at the current relatively small rates has neutral or positive consequences for the country.”

        This reminds me of those bits about Justus Möser I linked in a previous thread, and how Muller uses him as an example of how “conservative” thinking differs in terms of systemic incentives vs. individual compassion. The example was Möser’s essays arguing against the then-current legal change forbidding guilds their traditional practice of excluding bastards from membership. He admits that it’s not a bastard’s fault they’re a bastard, and that humanitarian compassion is clearly on the side of letting them in. But, as he notes, consider what this does in the aggregate to the incentives. Anything that reduces the stigma associated with out-of-wedlock births and single parenthood reduces the degree society disincentivises extramarital sex, and if sex is significantly available outside marriage, then the single life becomes clearly preferable to the institution of lifelong marriage, and society has good reasons to incentivize marriage over singlehood. (Möser also notes that reduced stigma on out-of-wedlock birth will increase extramarital sex and (accidental) single motherhood, and that some fraction of those unintended pregnancies will not be affordable by their mothers, and will be “solved” by infanticide, leading not only to an increase in dead infants, but an increase in dead women when those committing infanticide are caught and executed (by drowning) for their crime. He also argues that the new statutes have taken property from the guilds, namely the “honor” of a guild which is a collective possession of it’s members, and which is reduced by being forced to admit bastards.)

        Apply this in parallel here. Each marginal immigrant might, taken alone, have a case for being let stay. But then take the Kantian approach, and consider the resulting incentives in the aggregate, and how this weakens the ability to have in practice “laws restricting immigration”, which you admit are proper.

      • Cypren says:

        (Note this is unlike most laws prohibiting something: the marginal murder or fraud is not neutral/positive.)

        I’m not certain I agree with this proposition. For example, I think there are an awful lot of people who would agree that the murder of Hitler in 1930 would have been significantly more than a “marginal” good for Germany and the world. There are probably an awful lot of people who believe that the murder of Donald Trump in 2015 (or right now) would have been the same, or a fraud that deprived him of his fortune and therefore his ability to use it to buy access.

        It seems to me that other than true pacifists (of whom there are very few; I suspect the vast majority of people have at least one person they would prefer to see dead, whether they’ll publicly admit to it or not), what most people object to is not necessarily murder as such, but murder of someone they personally believe is undeserving. The general prohibition on murder is a detente reached because none of us trust strangers to decide who is and who is not deserving, and therefore we surrender that privilege ourselves to reach a social equilibrium.

        Opposition to illegal immigration is similarly about preserving a social equilibrium. Much like we don’t trust people to decide who to murder, we also can’t trust people to make objective decisions about who should and should not be allowed to break immigration law and how much value they bring to society. I’m not suggesting that the average illegal immigrant is the same level of net negative to society as the average murder. But the principle to me seems the same; it’s less important what the marginal benefit or harm of the act is and more about the marginal damage it’s doing to the concept of the rule of law. Once we eliminate neutral law and leave everything up to individual discretion, it’s hard to stop the floodgate from opening and getting an ever-escalating quantity of the behavior we’re trying to prohibit.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          To be fair, “marginal” generally implies any random instance, while you’re talking more about (perceived) Greater Good-style specific exceptions. I do agree with your conclusion that individuals should not be allowed to determine what exceptions are justified, though.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I find the pro argument you give compelling; there’s a difference between being a law-n-order fanatic who would report any illegal immigrant who they found out about, and someone who co-opts the government into acting as their enforcer by selectively reporting crimes that mostly go overlooked.

      As someone who is rather anti-authority I don’t like the idea of reporting anyone for any sort of victimless crime (and despite its bad effects on the whole, I don’t believe any individual act of illegal immigration can be said to have a victim), but I wouldn’t expect that argument to hold weight to a traditional conservative or other law-n-order type.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Eich is the canonical case, so let’s go with him.

        Eich engages in legal free speech. His opponents organize a legal social campaign against him to get him fired. A lot of people around here feel that this is a “bullet”,

        The “outed” illegal has broken immigration law, and engaged in free speech. Milo legally reports them to ICE. A lot of people here think this is a bullet.

        How do you rank it compared to Eich? More egregious, less egregious, roughly equally awful?

        I have never really given much of a damn about the immigration issue generally; the two things that get me angry about it are claims that Hispanic immigration is going to give Dems a permanent majority, and claims that we don’t have the right to enforce our own laws. This issue tweaks both: I accept that I have to put up with Blue Tribers; we’re all citizens here, they have as much claim to the country as I do, the best we can do is try and figure out a way to live together in peace. All of that goes out the window for someone who isn’t a citizen, has no right to be here at all, and is nonetheless acting like they own the place. In that case, Charity pretty quickly goes to zero.

        A lot of times when Immigration comes up here, people float the idea about allowing open borders but denying immigrants access to welfare, voting, etc. I feel like this is a perfect example of why that would never, ever work.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          Well, the obvious difference is that there isn’t going to be a social campaign designed to shame emigrants until their companies fire them. Instead, there’s a law, being enforced.

          A lot of people seem to think that the point is to have conservative pressure mobs attack illegal immigrants, and that is pretty stupid. But it also seems to be a thought with very little backing, most of it due to some random professor claiming to have “reliable sources” which conveniently ended the debate in his favor.

        • Matt M says:

          I don’t like the comparison to Eich. This reminds me of the discussion we had in the last OT about left-wing vs right-wing efforts to silence speech.

          In one case, you have people attempting to enforce (or aid in the enforcement of) laws that, whether you agree with them or not, no one disputes were legitimately passed in full accordance with the rules and procedures of our glorious democratic process.

          On the other side, you have vigilante mob-style justice wherein people attempt to enforce things that are not laws, but they really think should be.

          This is not a fair comparison.

          However, I will suggest the fact that we end up with issues wherein the law is markedly different from the prevailing norm should be viewed as something of a cognitive dissonance between the state and the culture. I would suggest that vast majorities of people do, in fact, believe both “the average marijuana user shouldn’t be hassled” as well as “the average illegal immigrant shouldn’t be deported” even if they support legislation making both of those things illegal.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Matt M – “On the other side, you have vigilante mob-style justice wherein people attempt to enforce things that are not laws, but they really think should be.”

            The question isn’t whether the riots are justified. The question is if Milo is roughly analogous to, say, Amanda Marcotte or Andrew Cord, and thus someone we on the right should be disavowing to avoid being hypocrites.

        • random832 says:

          Eich engages in legal free speech. His opponents organize a legal social campaign against him to get him fired. A lot of people around here feel that this is a “bullet”

          To my understanding, he was a CEO and made more than ten times as much money as me. I’ve seen no argument that he will be unable to find work making the same amount of money as me, and will accept no argument that making only as much money as me is a “bullet”. (Well, I’m hesitant to really commit to “will accept no argument”, but it’d have to be a heck of an impressive one.)

          • Jiro says:

            “It’s a sufficiently low amount of money that the threat will intimidate people in such positions” is enough to make it a “bullet”. By your reasoning, robbing a millionaire of a half million dollars is just words.

          • random832 says:

            We’re not talking about robbery, we’re talking about (the threat to) legally not giving money to a nonprofit based on their decision to have someone as their CEO. Calling it a “bullet” (or, talking about “mess with his livelihood” etc) makes the implicit argument that he is thereby unable to support himself or his family, which is a position I find fundamentally dishonest.

            Also, while googling for past discussions about this I participated in, I ran across a statement that he was offered a CTO position at the same pay he had as CEO. We can argue counterfactuals all day about whether the boycott would have actually stopped if he’d taken it, but then we’d be talking about what he was threatened with in the counterfactual instead of in reality.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Would you consider it a bullet, or at least a credible threat, if Eich were gay and it were an anti-gay mob loudly and publicly calling for “legally not giving money to a nonprofit based on their decision to have someone as their CEO”?

          • and will accept no argument that making only as much money as me is a “bullet”.

            I think the underlying distinction is orthogonal to the one you imply.

            The difference between argument and bullet is not the size of the effect. An argument attempts to defeat an idea by persuading people, the one who proposes it or the ones he is speaking to, that it is mistaken. A bullet tries to prevent an argument from being made by making it costly for someone to make it.

            Those are two quite different approaches to changing people’s ideas. In particular, the first works better if your position is true and the position you are attacking is false. The second depends not on that but on how much political or social power you have.

          • random832 says:

            @Gobbobobble

            Would you consider it a bullet, or at least a credible threat, if Eich were gay and it were an anti-gay mob loudly and publicly calling for “legally not giving money to a nonprofit based on their decision to have someone as their CEO”?

            Being gay is not in the same category as having political views or taking political action. Not a nonprofit either, but probably the closest equivalent is the call to boycott Apple for not supporting the Republican Convention.

            @DavidFriedman

            A bullet tries to prevent an argument from being made by making it costly for someone to make it.

            Is there no room for a distinction based on people’s right to decide what their own money is spent to support? They’re taking away their own money, not anyone else’s.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            To my understanding, he was a CEO and made more than ten times as much money as me. I’ve seen no argument that he will be unable to find work making the same amount of money as me, and will accept no argument that making only as much money as me is a “bullet”.

            What are the odds that this salary cap, beyond which one apparently loses one’s permission to hold controversial political opinions (or at least opinions which would become controversial several years later), would happen to be just high enough that it doesn’t affect you personally? That was sure lucky, huh.

          • Randy M says:

            I think that’s definitional. “Punching up” and all that.

          • Cypren says:

            Is there no room for a distinction based on people’s right to decide what their own money is spent to support? They’re taking away their own money, not anyone else’s.

            This strikes me as mostly an argument about social norms. The Right has historically believed in the idea that politics and professionalism are two separate spheres, and punishing companies for the beliefs or political views of their employees or officers which do not affect their work is out of bounds. As David says, it’s an attempt to shut down speech by imposing costs on the speaker. In contrast, the dominant attitude on the Left since at least the 1970s has been “the personal is political” (despite the original use of the slogan having nothing to do with attacking people’s personal lives).

            This is essentially an argument about whether politics is boxing by Queensbury rules or total war. The Right’s historical view (which has been changing rapidly in the last decade; see Trump, Donald) has been that politics is a gentleman’s sport with rules where we all shake hands at the end of the day. The Left up until the 1960s largely treated it the same way, but since the Civil Rights era has more or less treated it as total war: you use any and all means at your disposal to undermine, destroy and pressure your opponents because winning is all that matters.

            In large part, this is the difference of a group that believes it can work within the system to achieve its ends versus one that believes the system must be destroyed. Trump’s rise was essentially the Right coming around to the same conclusion that the Left did half a century ago and saying, “fuck it, the gloves come off.”

          • Incurian says:

            For the sake of clarity, it might be best to consider 4 categories of response rather than 2: arguments, bullets, direct action, and pressure. Direct action might be firing someone strictly because of their politics (it’s not violent, but it’s clearly a dick move). Pressure might be boycotting a brand because of their politics (which is not the best way to change minds, but it’s within your rights to not support people/causes you find offensive). Bullets are literal violence.

            As random832 said, I think there are important distinctions between them.

          • random832 says:

            Trump’s rise was essentially the Right coming around to the same conclusion that the Left did half a century ago and saying, “fuck it, the gloves come off.”

            Even granting that it was the Left first, even granting that it was relatively recent for the Right (two things I definitely do not actually concede), you don’t think there’s anything the Right has done before Trump that qualifies as this? I mean, just to pick a recent one, let’s not forget just why Trump has a Supreme Court vacancy to fill in the first place.

          • Cypren says:

            @random832: We’ve largely been in an escalating war of tit-for-tat for the last 50 years. Yes, I think the Left “started it” as much as anyone can really be said to start anything, but I think the Right kept the boxing gloves on a lot longer.

            I don’t think you can really bring up judicial confirmations without acknowledging the elephant in the room: the “advice and consent” role was restricted to qualifications and temperament, not political views, until Robert Bork in 1987. We’ve been on a downhill spiral ever since, of which the unfortunate tabling of Merrick Garland was simply the latest incident. Both sides agree that we need to stop defecting and start cooperating, but neither one is willing to do so until they’ve gotten revenge for the last defect. So it continues.

            Honestly, at this point, I’m sort of curious to see which side will be the first to start assassinating the other side’s Justices while they control the confirmation process, because I don’t doubt it’s coming. We’ve piled too much power into the hands of nine individuals in robes for it to not devolve into violence at this point.

          • @DavidFriedman

            A bullet tries to prevent an argument from being made by making it costly for someone to make it.

            Is there no room for a distinction based on people’s right to decide what their own money is spent to support? They’re taking away their own money, not anyone else’s.

            That is an important distinction, but not the distinction between an argument and a bullet in this context.

            I think you have a right to try to make someone worse off to punish him for making arguments you disapprove of, as long as you are making him worse off in a way you have a right to do, such as not buying what he is selling or not selling what he wants to buy from you. Or, for that matter, telling him that you think worse of him for making those arguments, supposing that he is likely to care.

            But I also think that discouraging arguments in that way is an entirely different approach, and a much less attractive one, than discouraging them by offering better arguments against them. For one thing, it doesn’t require you to have better arguments, so works as well when you are wrong as when you are right.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            They were not just boycotting though, they were putting big pressure on the figurative shop to remove the product from the shelves (boycotting would be if they stopped using the browser themselves and started a campaign to convince others to do so same).

            By doing this, they removed the option for a ‘market vote.’

            SJWs tend to be a minority who seek positions of power and/or seek influence with those in power, so they avoid needing majority support for their actions and as a minority, can force the majority to do what they want.

          • random832 says:

            They were not just boycotting though, they were putting big pressure on the figurative shop to remove the product from the shelves (boycotting would be if they stopped using the browser themselves and started a campaign to convince others to do so same).

            Either there is some detail that I have forgotten, or your analogy has fallen apart. Can you explain what specific event this refers to, and what was in fact done that cannot be fairly described as “campaign to convince others to do the same”?

            And what entity, exactly, is the “figurative shop”?

          • Aapje says:

            Eich was kicked out not because of a successful boycott by people who started using an alternative browser (enough people to result in a measurable impact on the browser usage figures), but by putting pressure on Mozilla to fire him (Mozilla being the ‘shop’).

            There was never a demonstration that a large number of people supported the activists, they put pressure on a few people.

          • random832 says:

            Eich was kicked out not because of a successful boycott by people who started using an alternative browser (enough people to result in a measurable impact on the browser usage figures), but by putting pressure on Mozilla to fire him (Mozilla being the ‘shop’).

            You are playing some kind of shell game here. Mozilla is the supplier of the product, there is no additional entity positioned to be the “shop” (as there would be if, say, someone had tried to have Google and Apple pull the mobile versions of Firefox from their app stores). There was no mechanism, other than the boycott, for pressure to be applied. Mozilla was entirely free to choose whether to wait and see if the boycott was actually “successful” on the numbers, or to shy away from controversy and avoid the risk that if they bet wrong the numbers wouldn’t come back.

      • Civilis says:

        As someone that can emulate a traditional conservative / law-and-order type, one of the things we tend to believe is that the punishment should fit the crime. The problem with illegal immigration is that the minimum viable punishment for the crime (deportation) is grossly disproportionate to the damage done by an individual act of illegal immigration. This is why much of the rhetoric from the right tends to concentrate on those illegal immigrants that have committed other crimes besides just illegal immigration; they’re easy cases to justify the punishments involved. If they’re already headed to prison, deporting them doesn’t seem disproportionate.

        An otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrant has broken the law by trespassing here to come for a better life; in general, this is a ‘stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family’ type offense. We on the right have compassion, but if you make that sort of thing legal, suddenly everyone is starving enough to justify theft and nobody is making bread. Imprisonment is out as a punishment for illegal immigration, as you’ve just hampered their ability to benefit society as a whole and are now housing them at cost. If you fine them, however, you’ve just set a “if you’re rich enough to pay the fine, you can cut the immigration line” rule for immigration which harms the neediest would-be immigrants. The only punishment which has the potential to deter the crime without burdening society is deportation, with all the pain and heartache that entails.

        It’s another case for which there are no perfect or even good solutions; we just need to find a least bad one.

        • multiheaded says:

          Ahhhh. Self-consciously arbitrary and chaotic enforcement of a law on a population that has no say in it. That’s my favorite part of Law & Order!

          If you fine them, however, you’ve just set a “if you’re rich enough to pay the fine, you can cut the immigration line” rule for immigration which harms the neediest would-be immigrants.

          If you’re on the Right, maybe you should acquaint yourself with any standard free-market defense of price discrimination. Unless you think that e.g. Uber surge pricing is also monstrously unfair to poor people, comrade.

          (FYI, the current Kafkaeqsue system of refugee “vetting” is, if anything, way more arduous to its subjects than scrounging up/borrowing a fixed sum. especially if that investment can completely turn their life around. I’m for open borders altogether, but immigration fees are by far the less brutal and harmful control mechanism.)

          • Civilis says:

            If you’re on the Right, maybe you should acquaint yourself with any standard free-market defense of price discrimination. Unless you think that e.g. Uber surge pricing is also monstrously unfair to poor people, comrade.

            The right’s not a monolithic block, and some of us see the market differently. Because I like analogies, think of choosing who gets to immigrate as a business hiring a new employee (a free market process). We don’t just hire the person that asks for the lowest salary, we do a quick check to see if there’s any black marks on their history. Once we hire them, they are often on probationary status without the full rights of an employee until we’ve proven they can do what they said they could do. We also might choose to hire people for reasons other than direct revenue; think of a Wal-Mart greeter hired to generate goodwill rather than revenue.

            Ahhhh. Self-consciously arbitrary and chaotic enforcement of a law on a population that has no say in it. That’s my favorite part of Law & Order!

            I’m not saying we shouldn’t be orderly in how we handle immigration, just that it’s a hard problem.

            People aren’t perfectly rational machines. It’s perfectly ok to be both free market and capable of compassion, or both desiring of law & order and merciful. Recognizing that there is tension and any solution is imperfect is important. It keeps you from going crazy when imperfect people can’t implement your perfect plan in the real world.

            Personally, I would think that ‘we have X number of open immigrant slots, and they go to the high bidders’ would work just as well if not better than the current ad-hoc system, but it’s not a perfect solution. Taking only the highest bidders in the immigration lottery is like a business maximizing short term revenue at the expense of long term profitability. It may be better to have someone that is worth less immediately but pays off over a long term than someone that can fork over the cash now but loses you money in the long term. (Right now, we have a line of applicants outside the door, but are effectively handing a paycheck to anyone that makes it to the employee lounge, even if they’re not actually working.)

            I’d also prefer to minimize the amount of vetting we need to do, but I recognize there are times when you need it, like, say, speaking perfectly hypothetically, when a nearby country decides to save money on prisons by sending all their violent criminals to you as immigrants.

          • If you’re on the Right, maybe you should acquaint yourself with any standard free-market defense of price discrimination. Unless you think that e.g. Uber surge pricing is also monstrously unfair to poor people, comrade.

            That’s not what economists usually refer to as price discrimination. Price discrimination is selling the same good to different people at different prices based on their willingness to pay. It can either increase or decrease economic efficiency depending on the details of the situation.

            Surge pricing is selling goods at different prices at different times due to shifts in the demand (or supply) curve with time. It increases economic efficiency.

            Price discrimination requires the seller to have some degree of monopoly power. Surge pricing would happen in a perfectly competitive market–the way grain prices vary with the harvest.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I think that only a certain subset of crimes are crimes that we want people to go around reporting. You don’t report people for smoking weed or internet piracy, but you do report them for theft and rape. If you report someone for smoking weed you’re a gigantic asshole, and similarly for illegal immigration.

      • Matt M says:

        This.

        The people who get upset (at either example) are, almost exclusively, people who think it shouldn’t be a crime at all.. I also think both cases are interesting in that even a lot of the people who do think it should be illegal are mainly concerned about abuse, or worst case scenarios, and that having a law on the books is necessary to prevent the worst case scenario. Some people support making marijuana illegal only because they’re worried about stoned drivers or what have you, and making life more difficult for the hippie that smokes in his home and harms no one is just collateral damage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you report the hippie.

        A lot of people don’t want open borders because they don’t want hordes of criminals and terrorists flocking over here with no screening mechanism. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they report the dishwasher at their local restaurant who doesn’t seem to be harming anybody.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          Is someone a huge asshole for pushing for strict enforcement of immigration laws? Many of Trump’s supporters want all of the illegal immigrants in the country to be deported. Is that an asshole position to take?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Again, consider the analogy with marijuana legislation. There’s a huge difference between someone who supports banning marijuana and someone who goes around looking for people smoking weed and reporting them to the cops.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @suntzuanime – Weed is an issue that there’s no real fight left on; all that stands in the way of full legalization is inertia. Immigration, on the other hand, is still a live issue. If people are assholes for reporting illegals, surely they’re already assholes for wanting the immigration laws enforced in the first place, and we’re back to the problem of half the country being “deplorable”. At that point, you might as well call people assholes for wanting to own guns or being pro-abortion or for any other mainstream political position.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I feel like you have declined to engage with my point in favor of posting your political opinions.

            Perhaps it would be helpful to consider a less controversial law, like the law against cocaine. Cocaine legalization does not have much momentum, and an opposition to cocaine legalization is clearly not beyond the pale. But even so, if you go around looking for people snorting coke so you can report them to the cops, people are going to consider you a giant asshole.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @suntzuanime – That is certainly not my intention. Near as I can tell, your point is that it’s just a cultural norm that people who report illegals are assholes. The Milo situation is the first incident of this type that has come to my attention, and I’m uncertain of whether condemnation is actually a cultural norm or not. A great deal of the culture war currently seems to consist of claiming and then enforcing cultural norms, and one of the best available counters to this tactic is to point out that the behavior in question is still well inside the Overton window and thus legitimate, while the attack is an attempt to arbitrarily shift that window and therefore not.

            “There’s a huge difference between someone who supports banning marijuana and someone who goes around looking for people smoking weed and reporting them to the cops.”

            This is true. On the other hand, if Tommy Chong drives his Blazemobile into Little Rock, Arkansas covered in Chronic4Lyfe bumper stickers and starts haranguing the locals on what squares they all are, I’m not going to be upset when someone drops a dime on him and the local PD busts him for possession.

          • Civilis says:

            suntzuanime: I think that only a certain subset of crimes are crimes that we want people to go around reporting. You don’t report people for smoking weed or internet piracy, but you do report them for theft and rape. If you report someone for smoking weed you’re a gigantic asshole, and similarly for illegal immigration.

            I think there’s a middle ground.

            If the person smoking weed is outside your window at 3AM with his buddies making noise and throwing his butts on your lawn, most people think you’re justified in reporting him. It’s kinda like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We’re not justified in searching out illegal immigrants for being illegal immigrants, but there is some level of circumspection required and you make it obvious that you’re flaunting the law, eventually someone’s justified in reporting you.

            On the same comparison, parading around to demand subsidized college education because you’re here illegally is like smoking weed on the front steps of the police station.

          • random832 says:

            If the person smoking weed is outside your window at 3AM with his buddies making noise and throwing his butts on your lawn, most people think you’re justified in reporting him.

            Yes, but that’s because he’s done some harm to you (maybe not enough to justify what’s going to happen to him, but what else can you do). Reporting someone as a reprisal for their political speech is fundamentally different. Argument gets counter-argument, not bullet.

            By saying “there is some level of circumspection required” you are saying that they should be punished for attracting attention, rather than for doing something which harms someone.

          • Civilis says:

            By saying “there is some level of circumspection required” you are saying that they should be punished for attracting attention, rather than for doing something which harms someone.

            I do see your point. I certainly don’t want someone calling the police every time I exceed the speed limit. Still, if I get pulled over going one mile over the limit and given a ticket, I can’t blame the cop, even if he is an asshole. I knowingly took a risk. If you’re here illegally, that’s a risk. Given that we have people advertising their status as illegals in the paper, it’s as minimal a risk as my driving the speed of the surrounding traffic. If you’re here illegally, minimizing the number of people that think you’re an asshole and hence willing to report you is sensible risk management.

            Unfortunately, I think that unless you’re going to somehow convince most of the country that restrictions on immigration are immoral, it’s a distinction without a difference. Either violating social norms is wrong, or it’s not. Ultimately, ‘don’t snitch’ (or ‘don’t stick your nose into other people’s business) is an unwritten social norm. If we’re going to punish people for being an asshole for snitching via social shaming, we’re well within our rights to punish people we see as assholes for attracting attention for violating social norms that we’ve codified as laws, even if what they attracted our attention for isn’t the codified social norm they are violating. ‘Don’t snitch’ as a social norm is also relatively low on the totem pole, it frequently gets overridden by other, more important norms, like ‘don’t abuse kids’.

            Ultimately, we have to leave it to people to say ‘is this crime worth reporting’ and trust them to make that decision reasonably, knowing that some may make that decision differently than we would in similar circumstances.

            (I see the logic behind the sanctuary city laws, but the concept in execution has gone from the practical ‘it’s worth protecting legal immigrants when it benefits us by stopping worse crimes’ to an ideal ‘we’re going to shield illegal immigrants from deportation at any cost’.)

          • Randy M says:

            It’s not hard to agree that we shouldn’t report people for infractions of laws like speeding or possession of marijuana. But I find that that leads me to want to get rid of the laws; if the offense isn’t serious enough to report, why is it serious enough to enforce?

            At the same time, I don’t want people to go around looking for ways to get their neighbors in trouble with the law; it reminds me of totalitarian police states. But maybe that is only truly objectionable when the law in question exists to support those in power, rather than preserve the public good.

            Maybe we need to import the legal concept of standing into the discussion? But then that would imply you shouldn’t report a murder if you have no relation to the victim, so no, I don’t think that settles it.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @suntzuanime – “Perhaps it would be helpful to consider a less controversial law, like the law against cocaine.”

            Was this an edit? I missed it when responding last night. I think it’s a pretty good comparison.

            Milo seems like a pretty raucous guy. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s partaken of the Peruvian Marching Powder. I don’t really care one way or the other if he does or not. He’s also not a US citizen. On the other hand, if his political enemies lured him to a coke party with the promise of free coke, recorded him doing fat rails, submitted the evidence to the police and got him booted from the country, I would not think they had acted indecently. It would be his own damn fault for letting himself be undone by his vices. I would not consider this a “bullet”.

            Sterling got a whole lot less defense than Eich did, and most of it centered around whether the punishment meted out to him was an overreaction. But he did actually make racist statements, and we as a culture actually do see explicit racism as worthy of censure. What happened to Sterling seems a whole lot less like a “bullet” than what happened to Eich, and maybe not a bullet at all.

          • random832 says:

            Sterling got a whole lot less defense than Eich did, and most of it centered around whether the punishment meted out to him was an overreaction. But he did actually make racist statements, and we as a culture actually do see explicit racism as worthy of censure. What happened to Sterling seems a whole lot less like a “bullet” than what happened to Eich, and maybe not a bullet at all.

            Is the distinction on what happened to them, or on whether we agree that racism and anti-gay are the same thing, or on whether we consider a campaign donation to be an act of public speech?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @random832 – “Is the distinction on what happened to them, or on whether we agree that racism and anti-gay are the same thing, or on whether we consider a campaign donation to be an act of public speech?”

            I think the distinction is over how objectionable/fringe their actions were. If Eich had participated in a WBC protest, I doubt anyone would have been surprised by the condemnation. What he actually did was make a political donation to a campaign opposing gay marriage; opposition to gay marriage being, at the time, the stated position of Obama.

            Social shaming is a useful, probably even vital tactic, but it only works if it is used to enforce an overwhelming consensus. You cannot declare that half or even a quarter of the country is deplorable. If you try, social shaming as a tactic stops working completely. Eich’s attackers were de facto declaring that a large plurality of the country should be barred from any high-status position. They got their way with Eich and their other early successes due mainly to inertia, at the cost of a massive right-wing backlash that is still gaining steam.

          • random832 says:

            Eich’s attackers were de facto declaring that a large plurality of the country should be barred from any high-status position.

            I don’t think they were. I think they just didn’t want their own money to be used to pay him.

          • skef says:

            Still, if I get pulled over going one mile over the limit and given a ticket, I can’t blame the cop, even if he is an asshole

            Ha!

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @random832 – Positions have implications.

            If Eich had been replaced by someone else who’d donated a thousand dollars to prop 8, would that have been acceptable? Obviously not. So it’s not just him, it’s anyone who does what he did.

            Was it something about Mozilla itself that made his action especially egregious? No, Mozilla has nothing to do with politics generally or gay rights specifically. It’s functionally indistinguishable from numerous other non-profits. If it’s justifiable to kick him out of Mozilla, it’s justifiable to kick him out of any of those other positions too.

            Is there something about non-profits that makes them very different from other social organizations? Not really. They rely on volunteers and donations, but regular for-profits aren’t immune to social pressure and boycotts either. Why is Mozilla a legitimate target in a way that, say, Google isn’t? Because Google’s big and therefore much harder to pressure? That’s not a reassuring distinction.

            “I think they just didn’t want their own money to be used to pay him.”

            They pretty clearly didn’t want anyone else’s money going to him either, and in fact they got their wish. This proved to a great many people that Eich’s critics intend to do as much harm as they can to anyone who disagrees with them. They hit Eich because he was a soft target; no one was left with the impression that they intended to stop there. Eich was not an outlier, but well within the norm. Therefore, they’re targeting normal individuals. Mozilla wasn’t an outlier in its goals or organization, therefore they’re targeting all companies. Hence the backlash.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Mozilla is different in that it’s a soft target. If people try to target Starbucks or Microsoft, well, people still like their products. They are boycotted thousands of times a year and it goes nowhere. But Mozilla depends on a very small network of contributors. Get that network on your side and you can shut Mozilla down.

          • Iain says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            They hit Eich because he was a soft target; no one was left with the impression that they intended to stop there. Eich was not an outlier, but well within the norm.

            And yet, by and large, “they” did stop there. The Eich Affair was nearly 3 years ago; if your analysis was correct, shouldn’t we have another prominent example by now?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Because the whole “pour encourager les autres” thing was quite successful. People in the tech industry have learned to keep their damn heads down lest they be chopped off.

          • Cypren says:

            Seconded, as one of those people who is keeping his damn head down. But the incident didn’t make me more inclined towards leftist views; it made me angry and pushed me further to the right from my previously more-centrist position because that could have been me they were after.

            Once again, this is how we got Trump. Tell enough people “you’re either with us or against us” and eventually you may find that more people are against you than with you. I loathe Trump on a personal level, disagree with almost all of his political positions, and yet I still would much rather have him installed as dictator for life than live in a democratic society run by the social justice nazis who ran Eich out of his job.

            Threatening people is a pretty quick way to build up hatred that will override all rational decision-making.

          • Civilis says:

            Because the whole “pour encourager les autres” thing was quite successful. People in the tech industry have learned to keep their damn heads down lest they be chopped off.

            I think it was successful up until the election. At this point, with the revelations brought about by the election, I don’t know that they can keep it going once Trump settles down in office. We’ll have to wait and see.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I think Edward Scizorhands is closer to right here. There aren’t as many soft targets like Eich/Mozilla out there. Most of the ones soft enough to be hit that way already HAVE been. The rest are more financially robust and have cash flow it would take more social leverage than is currently available to compromise.

          • James Miller says:

            @Iain “And yet, by and large, “they” did stop there. The Eich Affair was nearly 3 years ago; if your analysis was correct, shouldn’t we have another prominent example by now?”

            The SJWs tried to get Peter Thiel kicked off of Facebook’s board but they failed.

          • suntzuanime says:

            They went after Palmer Luckey too. Maybe they’ve just been having less success lately because people are sick of their shit? What a nice thing that would be to believe.

          • BBA says:

            Oh boy, we haven’t discussed Eich enough! Well, let me expand on that “soft target” line.

            Mozilla is quite possibly the only company of its kind – a for-profit subsidiary of a nonprofit foundation formed to support an open-source software project. A lot of the people protesting his appointment thought it was like Chick-fil-a or Hobby Lobby, and the CEO would have the power to make his “bigoted” views official company policy, and then got too angry to listen to me explain that it didn’t work like that, Mozilla is a bottom-up community project.

            And then in the midst of it, Eich gave an interview in which he addressed the controversy with a bizarre reference to Indonesia, at which point I realized he had no business being CEO of anything and should never have been offered the job. (This is not an insult – I also have no business being CEO of anything.) And I get the sense that people inside Mozilla were feeling the same way, and this was more of a “loss of confidence” than a firing.

            Note that nobody cared as long as Eich was CTO of Mozilla, nobody has hounded the company where Eich now works and demanded he be fired, and nobody has said anything about Gerv Markham, a high-profile Mozilla employee who wears his Christianity and his opposition to same-sex marriage on his sleeve.

            It was such an unusual situation that I think it’s impossible to draw any conclusions about anything else from it. And that’s all I have to say about that.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Smaller heads have been chopped, but they’ve failed to get many more big head choppings; those left are too small to make publicity or (like Thiel and Luckey) too tough to chop. Getting Moldbug booted from Strangeloop was the next big one in tech; they failed at Lambdaconf. They also got Dr. Tim Hunt chopped; a Nobel Prize doesn’t count for much (as Dr. Watson earlier found out)

          • Cypren says:

            @BBA: I tend to agree with you that at this point, it’s much harder for the SJ crowd to claim prize scalps of very high-profile individuals; the low-hanging fruit has been culled.

            That said, line-level workers are still very much in danger of coordinated harassment and disemployment campaigns if they offend the priesthood. As I recounted in another thread, I’ve personally seen it happen to two people I know (coworkers; I’m not talking about people who worked in the Bangalore office of the same multinational, I’m talking about people I knew and interacted with every day) and had it tried unsuccessfully with a third, who survived it only because he was indispensable to the company and the CEO knew exactly how much trouble we’d be in if he caved. I know for a fact at least one of these incidents was written about here on SSC; I haven’t checked all the archives to see if the others were.

            So I guess while it’s nice that the SJWs aren’t likely to sink Peter Thiel anytime soon, it’s not a huge comfort to people without billions of dollars and close friendships with major tech leaders. We’re still looking over our shoulders ever day and tip-toeing around mindfields lest we find ourselves on the receiving end of a campaign to render us persona non grata in tech.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Seconded, as one of those people who is keeping his damn head down. But the incident didn’t make me more inclined towards leftist views; it made me angry and pushed me further to the right from my previously more-centrist position because that could have been me they were after.

            Yep.

            And I realize that utilitarian arguments never seem to have any effect in these cases, but it is worth considering that bullying people into silence does not create allies; it creates Good Soldier Schweiks. A whole secret army of people publicly nodding their obedience to the Central Committee’s diktats while quietly doing everything that can be done anonymously to make the Party members’ lives miserable, out of sheer spite. (All the aggressive doxxing of pseudonymous writers and campaigns against anonymity start making increasing sense in that context.)

            Just letting people hold their dumb retrogressive opinions without risking their employment would have been far less damaging to the social justice cause, in retrospect. The vast majority of people don’t (or didn’t, several years ago) really care about politics unless it directly affects them, so maybe it was a bad idea to make it directly affect them, huh?

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I don’t think it’s wrong to report them to authorities, but I don’t think that’s what Milo was doing. He was just holding them up in front of a bunch of alt-right bros as a not-so-subtle “here’s someone to target and harass.” It’s basically doxxing. I doubt Berkeley PD or ICE are watching his presentations ready to bust the door down on whoever he names.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        The arguments I saw were very specific that the objectional element was the “outing” to authorities; his talk apparently was showing the activist’s public statements, showing his audience the ICE “report an illegal” page, and then entering the Activist’s information into that page.

        I would strongly disagree that publicizing an activist’s public, activist statements constitutes “Doxxing”. I’m under the impression that they were speaking under their public name, but may be wrong about that. I would also point out that mainstream blue-tribers are entirely willing to defend Doxxing as a tactic, and that outrage over harassment has always been extremely selective.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          I would strongly disagree that publicizing an activist’s public, activist statements constitutes “Doxxing”.

          I obviously can’t speak to specific people in the absence of knowledge about who was going to be outed. Obviously if they weren’t using their legal name it would be doxxing by any standard. But I don’t think amplifying public statements is necessarily exclusive with doxxing. Certainly one way of doxxing is to publicize information that was private. But another method is to amplify public information presented to one audience to another one.

          For instance, it’s very trivial to find Scott’s identity, because he used to be public about it. If I were an unscrupulous Scott-hater, and sent his most inflammatory out-of-context quotes to his employer along with said public disclosure, that would certainly be doxxing, because the audience matters. I’m not sending that stuff to his employer for any reason except to get him in trouble.

          Similarly, Milo wouldn’t be publicizing that student’s information to show people how to use the ICE website. That rationale is so transparently bullshit that it’s pretty much a troll of its own. You could show people how to do that with a fictional Juan Doe if you really wanted to. No, the purpose is to get that person’s information in front of a bunch of people (Milo’s audience) who will make their life a living hell.

          The arguments I saw were very specific that the objectional element was the “outing” to authorities;

          I would also point out that mainstream blue-tribers are entirely willing to defend Doxxing as a tactic, and that outrage over harassment has always been extremely selective.

          I’m going to get very very very mad on the Internet right now, and I apologize that this is coming at you, specifically, because it happens almost constantly everywhere and I’m probably guilty of it myself at times.

          But this is the worst. The fucking worst. This stupid vos quoque argument combines the emptiness of the appeal to hypocrisy with the laziness of a weak-man. If you want to engage a mainstream blue-triber, then go find one. If you want to engage my post, then find me, specifically, saying that doxxing is a legitimate tactic.

          As someone who has mongrel political beliefs that don’t neatly map onto any tribe this is, by far, the Worst Argument In The World because it’s roughly 1000% easier to argue by contradiction against one’s own perception of some random tribe than to engage with the specifics of what is said in a given conversation. This mental virus is basically everywhere now, even places aspire to some higher standard of logical rigor, and makes me question whether it’s even possible to talk to people about politics as an independent anymore.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anonymous Bosch – I appreciate your frustration, but on the other hand I’m at a bit of a loss at how to proceed. This entire conversation seems to me to be about cultural norms, not ideals. I don’t know how to discuss group-wide norms without appealing to examples from the group. This isn’t down to anyone’s personal preferences; it’s about what rules we as a society enforce and why. Hence the appeals to group-level examples like toleration of speeding or narcotics use. For what it’s worth, I’ll try to confine myself to your specific statements in this thread, though.

            “Certainly one way of doxxing is to publicize information that was private. But another method is to amplify public information presented to one audience to another one.”

            What is the difference between your second definition of doxxing and just straight up quoting people you disagree with as examples of an ideology you think is wrong? How do we do political debate at all without using this sort of “doxxing”?

            “”No, the purpose is to get that person’s information in front of a bunch of people (Milo’s audience) who will make their life a living hell.””

            I strongly disagree. My belief is that he is making a statement that reporting illegals to the ICE is a socially acceptable thing to do, by doing it publicly. Certianly that is what a great many of the attacks against him have claimed, including the ones by SSC posters that prompted my OP.

            To address your specific argument though, this harassment narrative was maddening during the Ants, and it’s no less maddening now. People publicize notable examples of bad behavior and poor arguments made by members of the other tribe because they are good examples of why the other tribe is fundamentally wrong. Pointing out their egregious behavior, and how that behavior is minimized, tolerated and enabled by their allies, is such a fundamental part of political debate that even describing it is a bit boggling. By your definition, it seems to me that pretty much everyone talking about politics with an audience of any appreciable size is a doxxer and/or harassment-enabler… Which to be fair does seem to echo your closing paragraph.

            How should we be doing things, in your opinion? Milo exists, Marcotte exists. Berkeley College Republicans exist, Antifa exists. Illegal immigrants exist, immigration laws exist. What do?

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          For instance, it’s very trivial to find Scott’s identity, because he used to be public about it. If I were an unscrupulous Scott-hater, and sent his most inflammatory out-of-context quotes to his employer along with said public disclosure, that would certainly be doxxing, because the audience matters. I’m not sending that stuff to his employer for any reason except to get him in trouble.

          Just because Scott sucks at hiding his real identity, it doesn’t mean that he’s posting with it, so this example would still be regular doxxing, even if it’s low effort. I’d say it’s significantly different from signal-boosting controversial, out of context statements said with their real identity, even if the latter is still bad.

        • Aapje says:

          I would argue that doxxing is always the amplifying of information that is public to some extent, otherwise the doxxer wouldn’t have the information in the first place.

          The ability to doxx means that at least one person knows the real name behind the pseudonym, his address and/or other information that the person wants to keep separate from their pseudonym.

          I a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter that a programmer has Moldbug beliefs and people at a programmer conference would not punish him for it unless he brings it up at the conference itself. And it wouldn’t matter that a psychiatrist has Scott Alexander beliefs. But the world is not perfect, so it does matter and privacy is important.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Correction: you don’t think that’s what Milo was allegedly doing. There’s no actual evidence this was going to happen.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Consider the example of speed of a motor vehicle while on a public roadway.

      The law is that you cannot exceed the posted speed. The enforcement of that law is limited to people who exceed the posted speed by a non-negligible amount or do so in situations that have other exacerbating factors.

      Now imagine a Highway Patrol website that allowed people to report “illegal driving”. And that doing so would actually result in certain prosecutors applying the strict definition of the law.

      Suppose a group was reporting relatively random people who admitted to exceeding the limit. Imagine if one of those people came to your place of work and was hanging around the water cooler recording audio, combing the employee list to search social media for posts admitting to any speeding, and recruiting your co-workers to report others.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m not sure about dobbing someone in (informants have not generally been well-regarded in Irish history). On the other hand, when you have university students and former students making much of their undocumented status for places in the Oppression Olympics, including public statements in school papers and on the campus radio, then turning around and going “I’m terrified of Milo because I’m undocumented and suppose someone tells the authorities” – I am not so convinced:

        More disturbing was the possibility of him outing and targeting specific undocumented students on campus, much like he did to a trans student at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

        As an outspoken undocumented student at UC Berkeley, this frightened me. I walked around campus constantly looking over my shoulder that day, uncertain whether the doxing of my online profile had already placed a target on me.

        If you’re really scared of being revealed, why would you go around with “I’m an illegal” practically on a T-shirt?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          In the US, most feel free to admit that they drive over the speed limit and many will happily say things like “if you are driving the speed limit, stay in the right (outside) lane and keep out of my way”

          But if a private citizen was hanging out on the roadside with a radar gun jotting down license plates, they would feel quite nervous. And many would get quite angry.

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          A lot of people seem to suggest that Milo outed a trans student during his University of Wisconsin talk. He did no such thing. I think some of the articles covering the incident were intentionally misleading. The trans student in question gave an interview for the local TV news talking about her issues with accessing the women’s locker rooms at the university. Milo showed a screenshot of the news coverage and made a rude joke or two about the student. That does not amount to outing or doxxing.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Comparing illegal immigration to speeding seems to assume the conclusion; whether illegal immigration is a big deal or not is the whole issue under contention. More generally, if illegal driving impinged directly and significantly on national-scale politics, I think it’s pretty unquestionable that we would treat it very, very differently.

        I think suntzuanime’s cocaine example is much more relevent; replies here.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The illegal immigrant who states there status is doing so explicitly because they are like speeders, where self-reporting of speeding is not punished.

          This is also similar to self-reporting drug use, yes.

          And your “lure people to a party” example is not analagous. You need to find a relatively random person, not a public figure, and you need to do it based on something other than direct evidence.

          Consider trolling Facebook or r/trees for people to report.

          Or consider trying to get Milo arrested because he admitted, in a book, to using drugs. Or, trying get him deported because he admitted it.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “Or consider trying to get Milo arrested because he admitted, in a book, to using drugs. Or, trying get him deported because he admitted it.”

            I would not be particularly upset about someone doing this. If Milo wrote about how he always keeps a bit of nose candy around for quick pick-me-ups, and someone got him raided, arrested for possession and subsequently deported, that would not be a problem for me.

            Your previous argument about trawling Facebook or r/trees makes me a lot more uncomfortable. I’m not sure why; I think r/trees being weed might be part of it.

          • Cypren says:

            You can chalk me up in the list of people who wouldn’t have a problem with Milo getting arrested for drug possession or use either. I think drug laws are dumb, but as long as we have dumb laws on the books, they need to be enforced with particular vigor against the wealthy, powerful and high status. That’s the only way they stand a chance of being repealed.

    • Chalid says:

      If “outing” became common, it would make illegal immigrant communities much more segregated, distrustful, etc. and therefore generally toxic to society. Given that an illegal immigrant is here, it’s certainly better for everyone that he has the ability to make friends, can live someplace in a stable way, etc. Especially since their kids are citizens.

    • John Schilling says:

      If it’s that easy for you, as a civilian who has zero authority to stop people and check their paperwork, to figure out that someone is an illegal immigrant, then the police don’t need your help in the first place. You may reasonably assume from the fact that there are still undetained obvious illegal immigrants out there that the police don’t give a damn or, at a minimum, have devoted all of the finite resources they are going to devote to that task. In which case, what you accomplish by snitching, if you can do so vigorously enough to get a policeman to put down his donut and make an arrest, is mostly just to substitute one detained illegal immigrant for another.

      Net social benefit, zero. At the personal level, it gives everyone who knows about the incident reason to not trust you with anything they might like to keep at all private, and cause to wonder whether you snitched on that particular immigrant because of your abiding passion for law and order or because they particularly offended you in some way. Neither of these are going to do you any good, so don’t do that.

      OK, if you are trying to signal tribal loyalty to the Trumpists, it might do you some good. But that just leads to a broader admonition of “really, don’t do that”.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not evil to report illegal immigrants, just as it is not evil to do a citizen’s arrest or take other action to defend yourself and your community where the civil authorities have failed to protect you. Illegal immigrants shouldn’t be there. Reporting them to the civil authorities is just, just as reporting a theft, a trespassing or tax evasion.

      (I agree with some of what John Schilling said above, though. Particular circumstances heavily weigh on whether it’s a good idea, not just non-evil.)

  20. rlms says:

    Based on the discussion of Wicked last OT:
    What is SSC’s third-favourite musical?

  21. nostradamus says:

    Recently read this article that was very critical of people worried about “superintelligent” AI. Curious what people here think about it? http://idlewords.com/talks/superintelligence.htm

    Will post my own thoughts later if there is interest.

    • rlms says:

      It’s a mixed bag. The “argument from complex motivations” is basically the very weak argument from “but making paper clips sounds nasty, surely AI would talk about poetry and read Reddit instead?”. The “outside argument” is mostly “these people are weird (and have incentives to play up the dangers of AI)” which, while it is a view I am sympathetic with, isn’t actually a counterargument. But I think the “argument from brain surgery” (which I prefer to frame as “why hasn’t our existing (human) human-level intelligence bootstrapped to godhood yet?”) is strong, and the arguments that AI would require actual time to learn, and that intelligence isn’t necessarily powerful by itself are also worthy of consideration.

    • Corey says:

      I read it a while back, the “argument from my roommate” has merit I think. The “argument from Slavic pessimism” I think could go both ways – maybe it’s not AI itself we have no hope of getting right, but Friendliness.
      Another interesting possibility though I forget what it’s called in the article: maybe intelligence has a conceptual limit (anything smarter than X breaks itself) – not the sort of thing you’d want to count on to save us from uFAI, but it would be interesting to know.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “maybe it’s not AI itself we have no hope of getting right, but Friendliness.”

        Let me very much second this view. I am highly skeptical that “Friendliness” is even possible; my own intuition is that any non-human intelligence (whether AI, highly-modified post-humans, or extraterrestrials) will have irreconcilably conflicting interests with humanity, making conflict inevitable.

        “maybe intelligence has a conceptual limit”

        Actually, I have an argument along these lines. First, what is the use of intelligence? Primarily, modelling the world around the intelligent agent. But when it comes to modelling the world, for example, going from, say, the second to third digit of pi gives you more improvement in accurately modelling the world than going from the twenty-second to twenty-third digit. Similarly, part of modelling the world is modelling other intelligent agents. But as game theory has shown, chains of “I know that you know that I know…” tend to quickly converge on game-theoretic equilibria, and adding further levels of recursion to the model fail to much improve on things. Thus, it seems clear to me that at some level, intelligence, like so many other things, is subject to diminishing marginal returns.

        But, in addition to the material and energy costs of intelligence, there’s also the “mind virus”/”memetic hazard” element. By analogy, as computers have gotten bigger and more powerful, have they become more or less vulnerable to viruses and other propagating malware? Does it take proportionally less or more resources to guard against such? Recall that much repeated quote about “some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them”. If the marginal cost of vulnerability to “memetic hazard”, and the resources needed to combat them, does not decrease with increasing intelligence, and especially if it increases, then combined with the diminishing marginal returns, there clearly exists a marginal returns=marginal cost optimum intelligence, with any smarter mind being “too smart for its own good”, and less adaptive on average than the optimum intelligence. Note that in this model, anything that improves the scale of communication between minds increases the risk associated with “memetic hazard”, and will thus push the optimum intelligence downward.

        • Corey says:

          Corollary: easy communication / social media makes society dumber. Seems to fit the data 🙂

        • Let me very much second this view. I am highly skeptical that “Friendliness” is even possible; my own intuition is that any non-human intelligence (whether AI, highly-modified post-humans, or extraterrestrials) will have irreconcilably conflicting interests with humanity, making conflict inevitable

          Even basically passive systems that just answer questions or whatever?

  22. Alejandro says:

    John Holbo discusses Haidt and political correctness. Written in the typical Holboan somewhat-rambling style, but with lots of interesting points here and there. My own attempt at a summary of the main argument is that there is a tension, or even a contradiction, between Haidt’s praise of the more diverse moral foundations of traditional societies (as opposed to the lone “harm and fairness” foundations underpinning Western individualism) and his current criticisms of campus PC culture. Campus PC culture is precisely an incorporation of “sacredness” values into the western liberal moral portfolio: there are some things you should not say even if they cause minimal concrete harm, because they reveal you to be an intrinsically “bad” person. These are exactly the kind of moral attitudes that Haidt praises in traditional societies as a way of generating social cohesion.

    • cassander says:

      It’s worth mentioning that Haidt has more or less reputed his views on left wing purity since the publication of his book.

      • Randy M says:

        But that doesn’t mean he has repudiated a view that having sacredness is good, in which case is it indeed good if PC fulfills that role? (Taking for granted he did think it was superior to have more moral dimensions)

        It’s funny, though, in that I don’t the most purity-obsessed among us would argue for sacredness for it’s own sake; more that certain things are sacred, and sacred things should be recognized.

        Well, perhaps the more analytical rationalists might posit that if human society functions better with a sense of sacredness, but actual things or concepts aren’t, actually sacred, we should be some somewhat arbitrarily (but not capriciously). But it doesn’t really work for the average person to think that the sacredness is extrinsic, does it?

      • Aapje says:

        I would argue that not all sacredness is created equal. If genetic purity is sacred, you tend to get discrimination of people. If American Football is sacred, a lot of money gets spend on a sport.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        There was a link to an article about changing attitudes about sex and food in the Haidt article that didn’t work.

        Here it is.

        I think it’s correct but doesn’t do justice to the weirdness level about food, and oversimplies about sex, but it’s still a good start.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Does Haidt praise a diversity of moral foundations? Didn’t Holbo assert this in the previous post, Haidt responded by denying that, and Holbo returns here to repeat himself? What’s the point?

      Added: You merely claim that Haidt praises sacredness as promoting cohesion. Holbo seems to claim that Haidt wants diversity of foundations on campus. I don’t think Haidt is calling for social cohesion of campus at all, so there is no conflict. I think Haidt is calling for social cohesion of America and for the left to recognize the morals that it shares with the right, but refuses to talk about. If the left created a new sacredness that promoted cohesion on the left, that might be good for the left, but not for the whole.

      • toBoot says:

        I’m surprised to see Haidt characterized as pro-sacredness. I’ve read both The Righteous Mind, and The Happiness Hypothesis, as well as some of the articles on campus PC culture. It’s been a few years since I read those books, but I don’t recall coming away with the impression that he thought sacredness was inherently good. Just that a lot of people who claim to have harm-principle based values, in fact also engaged in sacredness judgment (e.g. when he discusses how people contort their reasoning to try to show how using an American flag as a cleaning rag is harm-causing behavior).

    • toBoot says:

      I’m surprised to see Haidt characterized as pro-sacredness. I’ve read both The Righteous Mind, and The Happiness Hypothesis, as well as some of the articles on campus PC culture. It’s been a few years since I read those books, but I don’t recall coming away with the impression that he thought sacredness was inherently good. Just that a lot of people who claim to have harm-principle based values, in fact also engaged in sacredness judgment (e.g. when he discusses how people contort their reasoning to try to show how using an American flag as a cleaning rag is harm-causing behavior).

  23. Eltargrim says:

    In science news, scientists have opened a seal to the end of the world. We see the birth of an unholy abomination, wrought in an anvil of diamond.

    I speak, of course, of bonded helium. Turns out a combination of metallic sodium and helium will turn into a novel solid bonded phase at pressures above 113 GPa (more than one million atmospheres). This phase, Na2He, has interesting electronic properties, and computational work suggests that Na2HeO will be stable at the (relatively) low pressure of 15 GPa.

    The nobility have fallen; long live the reactive proletariat!

    • Wrong Species says:

      This is really interesting. Why is it that pressure makes such a difference?

      • Eltargrim says:

        If you look at a lot of the energy terms at the atomic scale, they often have a 1/(r^n) dependence. For a compound to be thermodynamically stable (like Na2He) it needs to have minimized its energy much more than any nearby configuration.

        At standard pressures (~1 atm) helium is happy as a hog to be by itself. It has a full shell of electrons, it’s neutral, and that means it’s very low energy. If helium starts to get close to another atom, it will usually be easier to minimize the energy of the system by the helium moving away, rather than sharing electrons or something similar.

        Pressure starts to take away some of the usual strategies for minimizing energy. Pressure, even macroscopic pressure, makes atoms move closer together. The smaller r term in the 1/(r^n) potentials means those energies can get much larger, and that can require unique strategies to cope. For example, metallic sodium is a conductor at standard pressures (electrons move freely), but at high pressures it’s an insulator (electrons are isolated). This is because the core electrons are practically touching at high pressures, whereas at standard pressure they’re well-separated.

        In the case of Na2He we get a funky fluorite structure. In fluorite, you have a 2+ cation (calcium) charge-balanced by 1- anions (fluorine). In Na2He you have almost a mirror: 2- anions are being charge-balanced by 1+ cations (sodium). In yet another bit of weirdness, though, the 2- anions aren’t helium: they’re isolated electron pairs. This kind of material is called an electride. You can see the concept schematic in Fig 2. The red diamonds are actually isolated electron pairs acting like a negatively charged ion.

        So in short, very high pressures make things behave weirdly compared to their standard pressure analogues. In nature, we see this with neutron stars, and stars in general (nuclear fusion). On Earth, we have to make do with lower pressures, so our weirdness is restricted to electrons.

  24. AnonEEmous says:

    here is an open question to the open thread

    Currently there’s a study arguing that Obamacare saves 45,000 lives a year

    However I seem to recall some random blind trials done in some state where those who received Obamacare, or maybe it was Medicare which was meant to amount to the same thing, showed no improvement in health outcomes

    what are the problems with these two studies? Which one is correct? And can anyone help me find the second study?

    • cassander says:

      You are thinking of the Oregon Medicaid Study.

    • The only 2 RCTs I know of the effect of health insurance coverage on various health outcomes are the Oregon study mentioned by cassander and a RAND study from the 1970. Both of them suggest that we should take these claims about the effects of Obamacare with a huge grain of salt.

    • Corey says:

      The Oregon Medicaid RCT was underpowered and said “getting Medicaid is somewhere between really good and kind of bad”; see here for analysis. The post links to another on the Romneycare diff-in-diff analysis, which links to other posts about the general question “does health insurance improve health?”

  25. Jaskologist says:

    Many of you probably know that US life expectancy was flat from 2012-2014. The question was whether this was a statistical fluke, or the start of a new trend. Numbers are in for 2015. Life expectancy has declined.

    So now it’s a trend: 3 years of no progress (in contrast to the previous long-term steady progress), and then movement backwards.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Case & Deaton found there was only a decline for white woman. This seems to show a decline for white men, white women, and black men. Any idea why the difference?

      • Jaskologist says:

        I have no special insight; I’ve just been googling periodically to see when the numbers are in because I think this is a very significant change. NYT dissects the data a little more, and they seem to agree that it hit white men, white women, and black men. Deaths from cancer lessened, but a bunch of other things got worse.

    • Deiseach says:

      Stupid obvious comment: all the easy remedies have been used, now the US is hitting the hard cases where little to no progress can be made? Heart disease and cancer seem to be the two big killers here; they talk about the increase in obesity as being behind the heart disease increase so perhaps that’s it, or perhaps people are succumbing to the more intractable problems that drugs/surgery can’t (yet) tackle?

      • Nornagest says:

        That would explain no progress, but not negative progress. That plus obesity might drive a decrease, though.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Also suicide? I seem to recall earlier posts mentioning that’s up among white people.

          • Eltargrim says:

            The WP article seems to show that the suicide death rate increased from 13.0 to 13.3 deaths per 100 000 people between 2014 and 2015; this is a relatively low absolute change. Conversely, heart disease increased by 1.5 per 100 000, stroke by 1.1 per, and diabetes by 0.4 per.

            Life expectancy at age 65 was unchanged; it’s the expectancy at birth that’s decreasing. My money is on complications from obesity causing earlier and more severe health incidents. On the other hand, as suicide is a significant cause of early mortality, small effects could potentially be magnified.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          Could be a delayed effect of the recession. 3 years isn’t that long of a time.

    • LoopyBeliever says:

      An economist Andrew McAfee spoke at the recent future of AI conference (that Scott wrote about here).

      He mentions increase in mortality of white men over the couple last years. He ties it to technological unemployment (hollowing out middle income ranges) -> lower status for uneducated men -> increase in non-social behaviour (drug abuse, suicides) -> increase in support for anger motivated politics (Trump, Brexit). He makes some interesting points about potential solutions to this, in particular he critiques basic income guarantee.

      It is a very insightful short talk. I recommend.

  26. People often say that, since the police stops more blacks than whites, yet the proportion of blacks they stop who have something illegal on them is not higher than the proportion of whites they stop who do, it shows that the offending rate for blacks is not higher than for whites and that cops are racist. This argument can be found, for instance, in the DOJ report about the Chicago Police Department written after the death of Laquan McDonald. But I think it’s a fallacious argument, because while it would be valid if, within each group, cops stopped people randomly, not only is this assumption totally implausible but the conclusion of the argument I criticize actually implies that it’s not true. I wrote a post, as well as a follow-up on it to clarify some points, where I argue for this in more details and I’m curious to know what you think. I hope it’s okay for me to link to my blog in this way, as I know people have been annoyed by the way in which I did it before, but I tried to follow people’s advice on how to start a discussion about something I wrote.

      • Yes, I remember that post, but it was much more general in scope than mine, which makes a more limited point. I don’t think he makes the point I make in my post, but it’s been a while, so I could be wrong. That being said, I think both his post and the Lauritsen and Sampson review of the literature it relies on a lot are very good, but there seems to have been a few recent meta-analyses that have nuanced their conclusions a little bit, though without affecting the bulk of them. Maybe I’ll write a post about this literature at some point, but it would take time, so it probably won’t be for a while. Even without looking at the literature, I think a back-of-the-envelope calculation is enough to make it very implausible that discrimination plays a substantial role, compared to other factors. I have written something about this which I will plan to post soonish. I think there are many popular beliefs that can be shown to be implausible with a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      I think you’re rather quick to accuse people of overt bias in the first post. Yes, it’s a clear enough idea once pointed out, but it’s complex and subtle enough that it took me several read-throughs to fully grok what you were saying (maybe your explanation just isn’t the best), and I know a reasonable amount of statistics. I also didn’t realize the issue on my own, despite having looked at the argument in a class on crime and on my own, and being skeptical of the “cops are the Klan” narrative.

      Now, arguably professional researchers should have more diligence and you could accuse them of some lack of integrity by not investigating further arguments whose conclusions they liked. But it is hardly intentional lying.

      • It may be that I wasn’t clear enough, but I took myself to be making just the point that you’re making, namely that while this mistake is understandable for ordinary people, it really shouldn’t be made by professional researchers. I also didn’t accuse anyone of lying and, in fact, I explicitly said that I didn’t think Lamberth was dishonest. As for the rest, you may be right that I underestimated how difficult it was to see the problem, even if you are skeptical of the liberal narrative about cops. But, as you admit yourself, professional researchers at least should have noticed this a long time ago. And, as I suggest, many of them probably did, but didn’t say anything because the political environment in academia makes it difficult.

        • Cypren says:

          You’re making a causality argument. It’s clear enough in mathematical terms for someone with a math background, but I should point out that couching it in those terms severely limits the number of people who are likely to read or understand it. Unless you’re presenting at a conference of mathematicians, physicists or computer scientists, as soon as you use the phrase, “Let X be…” you’ve probably lost 90% or more of your potential audience.

          I agree that it’s likely that the religious precepts of Academia, probably the most important of which is thou shalt not question any assertion of widespread systemic racism, are probably behind the lack of challenge of the arguments you’re criticizing. But I would, because my strong internal biases are against the Cathedral and its priors. You haven’t made a case for that in your essay; you’ve merely asserted it. To persuade people whose priors are not already in alignment with yours, you’re going to need more evidence to show that there are systematic attempts to suppress ideas and narratives contrary to accepted SocJus orthodoxy before alleging bias.

          • I used the silly example about people getting stopped to see if they have coins in their pockets in the hope that it would help people who aren’t very comfortable with math understand it. But you may be right that it wasn’t enough or, as you say, that people just stopped reading before that.

            On the other point you make, I don’t think it’s true that I merely asserted that ideological uniformity was responsible. I took myself to be making an inference to the best explanation. As I note in my post, most professional researchers know enough statistics to understand the fallacy, yet they commit it all the time or at least don’t criticize it when others commit it.

            I think the best explanation is that ideological uniformity makes it less likely they will see the problem and, if they see it, that they will point it out. You may think that it’s a weak inference, but I didn’t merely assert my conclusion.

  27. AnthonyD says:

    https://aellagirl.com/2017/01/30/facts-vs-truth/

    “If we want to step away from this, we have to be consistent. If I want to condemn Trump supporters for being tolerant of his lies, then I have to stop sympathizing with the pro-gay interviewers and I have to defend my father’s presentation of his views as he gave them. I have to tell the police the truth, even if it means a would-be rapist goes free. If Trump supporters do not get to pick and choose their own truth, then I don’t get to pick mine either.”

    Hopefully this quotes gives the idea of the peice, even out of context.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I think it conflates two issues. She talks about “mockery and satire, or impassioned and exaggerated speech” and equates it with making false accusations of a crime. When you engage in satire or impassioned speech, the things you say may not be literally true, but you don’t have deceptive intent in your communications. You’re using your words for rhetorical effect, and a reasonable listener would interpret them that way. That contrasts with making a false crime report, where you are making a direct false claim you intend to be believed, with total deceptive intent, or her other example of falsely quoting an interviewee, where you intend to deceive people about what the interviewee was saying.

    • Incurian says:

      Facts, even if true, can be misleading, can slow us down, can catch us in petty arguments over statistics or history, can distract us from things like protecting gay people or prosecuting would-be rapists. They can be used as weapons against us – if you’ve ever had a debate with an obviously-wrong person who is more technically informed than you, you know this frustration. Facts do not equal truth, at least not deep down in our gut.

      I may have some analysis on this after I stop twitching. Didn’t realize people consciously held this position.

      EDIT: Upon more thorough inspection of the blog, I retract my criticism. And if she’s reading: Hi, I’m Inc.

      • dank says:

        I think the point of this post is that you can say true things until your face turns blue and still give a misleading account of the whole situation.

        The Wheel of Time series included a sect of sorceresses whose initiation involved a spell so that they could never lie. They got so good at telling misleading truths that people never believed anything they said.

      • Matt M says:

        if you’ve ever had a debate with an obviously-wrong person who is more technically informed than you

        Most of my debates play out this way! 😉

      • MoebiusStreet says:

        Didn’t realize people consciously held this position.

        I confess that I have held this position in the past. In college I had a friend who was remarkably confident and well spoken. We would have a conversation in which I knew I was right, but I frequently found myself frustrated by his ability to completely strip my argument of any logical underpinnings.

        Today, after further reflection on those cases and after growing more erudite and confident myself, I think there were two facets to this.

        On the one hand, I’m sure there were cases where my convictions of my own righteousness really weren’t as strongly founded as I believed, and his cutting them down was a demonstration that I needed a stronger foundation before being willing to accept something so strongly.

        But on the other hand, there was also a certain amount of rhetorical skill involved: he was just a better debater than me. A skilled rhetorician frequently can twist into a knot someone who just doesn’t have the skills to defend his position. I think that’s even true if the more skilled one is trying to debate fairly and honestly.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Scott discusses something similar here.

          • Wrong Species says:

            The difference between Scott and the article above is that Scott calls it “epistemic learned helpless”. So he doesn’t know if the argument is right or wrong but for his own sanity, he might choose to ignore it. The person above says the other person is “obviously wrong” because their gut says so.

      • Incurian says:

        You all make good points but I know I’m right so suck it so I’m going to think about it more. I think that as suntzsuanime said, different things are being conflated, but I’m not sure what the specific rules ought to be.

        • Incurian says:

          I thought about it, here are the rules:

          -It’s wrong to mislead people who are not your enemies, and you should be careful about misleading even them because your credibility may become important in the future. White lies to your SO about their weight are ok, but don’t delude yourself into believing you’re really accessing a deeper truth, you’re just trying to maintain social harmony.

          -If someone’s facts are misleading, the burden is on you to explain why that is the case. You need to get into petty arguments about statistics. I mean, you don’t need to, but you also can’t really continue the argument (which might be the wiser choice in many cases).

          -If you “know you’re right” but the other person is more knowledgeable, you need to stop knowing you’re right and reconsider your position. You may very well turn out to be right, but you don’t know it yet.

          These are inconvenient rules but the alternatives are worse.

          My original point was that although the problems she lists are annoying, I thought people either adhered to my rules (or some similar variation), or broke them subconsciously, possibly with some cognitive dissonance involved. I didn’t think people held the belief that lying is an acceptable rhetorical tactic as long as you know you’re right.

          • Loquat says:

            How closely do you think you’d adhere to your third rule if someone were trying to argue you into a conclusion you found wholly unacceptable and repugnant? Like, (argument you can’t find a hole in) therefore you should join our death cult and suicide-bomb the mall this weekend.

            I feel like a lot of people would endorse NOT reconsidering your position and just rejecting your opponent’s argument out of hand when they’re arguing for a sufficiently repugnant result, no matter how well they make their case.

    • rahien.din says:

      An oblique example from my own practice

      There is a certain medication that I give out a lot for epilepsy in kids, and its only real adverse effect is irritability, which happens about 30% of the time according to the literature. Otherwise, it is really amazingly safe. We are supposed to tell our patients about adverse effects before giving them medications. I was exposed to two strategies regarding this medication.

      Strategy A : quote the numbers and tell your patient’s mom there is a 30% chance of causing irritability
      Strategy B : tell them it’s safe, full stop, with no mention of irritability whatsoever

      Patients who got strategy A were told 30%, but 60-70% of them would come back with irritability. Patients who got strategy B were told 0%, but about 5-10% of them would come back with irritability. So strategy B is less “factual” than strategy A because it deviates from observed facts, but it is more “truthful” in that there is a smaller discrepancy between the patient’s expectation and experience than with the more “factual” strategy A.

      There are all kinds of caveats (reporting biases abound). But, these strategies have real implications, because the number of drugs you have tried predicts your ultimate prognosis to some degree, and it does not matter whether a drug failed because it didn’t work or because it hurt you.

      • Might a compromise be to say something like “About a third of the time it has some negative effects but not dangerous ones,” without specifying the effect and so triggering it?

        • rahien.din says:

          Maybe. But in my experience that statement will trigger something.

          • And if you then tell them “Oh no, that’s not one of the side effects this medication can have,” do they believe you?

          • rahien.din says:

            Well, their willingness to be convinced in a single instance isn’t the point.

            I’ve told them that something bad could happen, but I haven’t told them what it is. So they are stuck trying to guess if the bad thing is happening whenever their child has some symptom. Just read the databases generated via FAERS – people worry that literally any symptom could be an adverse effect of their medications. Telling them “Your symptoms are not the bad thing I’m thinking of” only addresses a single instance, but does nothing to help the overall uncertainty.

            That strikes me as kind of cruel. Especially when uncertainty is such a large part of the difficulty of epilepsy.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        It seems possible that it causes irritability in everyone but some people have lower baseline irritability or sensitivity to irritability so that they don’t complain about the condition since it doesn’t push them over some threshold. When they’re told about it in advance, they notice because they’re looking for it (right now you’re conscious of your breathing because I wrote this).

        • rahien.din says:

          Sure sure, there are plenty of good explanations for how this happens. Ultimately it’s an overlap between a factual adverse effect and a very real nocebo effect.

          Mechanisms aside though, my question is : what is actually true for my patients?

          If I tell 10 patients that 3 of them will get sick from the medicine, then 7 of them get sick. If I tell 10 patients that 0 of them will get sick from the medicine, then 1 gets sick. In which case have I told the more true statement?

          • Jiro says:

            The number of patients who get sick, for some predefined definition of “sick”, remains constant whether you tell them or not. The number of patients who report getting sick will change, not the number of patients who actually get sick.

            The extra 6 patients either do or don’t meet the predefined definition of “sick”, and which statement is true depends on that, unless you define “sick” such that whether the sickness is reported is part of the definition of being sick.

      • Aapje says:

        @rahien.din

        People who falsely report to you that their medicine gives them irritability give you the possibility to reassure them. People who don’t get that the medicine might cause these symptoms might experience years or even decades of adverse effects, without any idea that the medicine is the cause. I would argue that the latter outcome is worse than a false belief that the medicine causes their irritability, so it’s not just the gap that matters, but you have to weigh false negatives against false positives based on their consequences.

        I would also argue that you might be able to evade the problem by Strategy C: measure the the irritability of patients with a test before and after you give the medication. If you don’t tell them why you do this test (and it is not obvious from the test itself), you’d have much more objective information.

        • rahien.din says:

          Aapje,

          Thanks. Your points are very well-taken. Interestingly enough, Strategy C is basically what I do. I don’t even suggest this medication to kids I think will go bonkers. On followup visits, I ask normal indirect questions and observe the kid’s behavior. That’s usually enough to know if I am inducing misery.

          If those sorts of ethical considerations can be satisfied, I still think that Strategy B is more “true” than Strategy A.

          People who falsely report to you that their medicine gives them irritability give you the possibility to reassure them.

          This I am very unsure of.

          In the absence of other identifiable causes of irritability, what could it mean to falsely report irritability? Nocebo is a real thing, and I don’t doubt the genuineness of my patients’ experiences. Moreover, patients with “false” irritability do get better once the medication is weaned off. There are multiple common ways that causality is examined in medicine, and this would seem to satisfy their definitions of a probable or likely adverse effect. So I hesitate to tell patients their experience of irritability is false.

          My other hesitation is pragmatic : only in extreme cases have I successfully reassured a parent who thinks their kid has gone feral. Switching medications is almost always the right decision.

          • Aapje says:

            @rahien.din

            Nocebo is a real thing

            Sure, but it is difficult to distinguish from false attributions. Vague symptoms that everyone has (like irritability) and that have very common other causes (like being tired or having sleeping problems) are extremely prone to false attribution effects where people latch onto the explanation you handed to them. So I would suspect that many of the people who report more irritability just take variations in irritability and instead of attributing that to being tired (or such), they attribute it to the medicine, because you made them look aware that the medicine can cause this.

            This article suggests that people tend to underestimate the likelihood of rare events when they learn by experience and overestimate when they learn by being given information about existence of the risk. This matches your experiences.

            My other hesitation is pragmatic : only in extreme cases have I successfully reassured a parent who thinks their kid has gone feral. Switching medications is almost always the right decision.

            Devil’s advocate suggestion: give them a placebo first and tell them about the risk, then switch them to the real medicine if they complain or keep having the original symptoms.

          • rahien.din says:

            Thanks Aapje,

            I should be careful to say that this is not mere false attribution, or at least, the false attributions are not detectable. I want my patients to stay on this medicine – it’s very good – so I question them closely.

            Moreover, if there is an organic cause of irritability… there is still some rationale to not give a drug that will heighten that irritability. EG, I don’t suggest this drug to kids who already have poor sleep, have autism, etc.

            give them a placebo

            Could be an interesting experiment, and it has been tried before in other circumstances in order to test parental report of hyperactivity following sugar intake. And your other article is interesting and well-taken. Both of these cast some doubt on the reporting.

            But I’m not convinced it matters.

            Some patients report irritability that is “false,” and others report irritability that is “true,” but their description of the irritability is not different and there are no identifiable other causes. I have to decide whether each patient in isolation is “false” or “true.” But there’s no way to make that distinction.

            Yes you could do a before-and-after formal neuropsychiatric assessment, but if that’s necessary, no one will opt in to the medicine. And it’s an even stronger nocebo stimulus.

            Even if I can make that distinction, my patient’s experience is their experience, regardless of what I insist it should be. Especially when the only reason why they “falsely” think their life is worse is purely because of my suggestions. That seems highly unethical.

            So you may be right that some of these parents have the false experience that their child is irritable. But that idea can not be operationalized.

        • Cypren says:

          People who falsely report to you that their medicine gives them irritability give you the possibility to reassure them.

          This seems really only true for side effects that have obvious physical symptoms. Mood-affecting symptoms seem likely to self-reinforce via psychosomatic effects to the point where the person really is experiencing the adverse effect they claim to be, but for the wrong cause. As @rahien.din says, “nocebo” is a very real thing.

  28. ringmaster555 says:

    [Full disclosure: If I am being completely honest, the goal of this post is probably to seek some sort of validation, although it may also serve as an interesting data point for this site – a reader with a below-average IQ, along with a full diagnostic report of his scores.]

    When I was 16, as a part of an educational assessment, I took both the WAIS-IV and Woodcock Johnson Cognitive Batteries. My mother was curious as to why I struggled in certain subjects throughout my educational career, particularly in mathematical areas like geometry.

    Here is a PDF of the test results.

    I never got a chance to have a discussion with the psychologist about the results, so I was left to interpret them with me, myself, and the big I known as the Internet – a dangerous activity, I know. This meant two years to date of armchair research, and subsequently, an incessant fear of the implications of my below-average IQ, which stands at a pitiful 94.

    Upon reading The Parable Of The Talents, my thoughts on my IQ had been solidified: Stop trying to fit into intellectual shoes that are too big for you. This is your station in life. Accept that it is so statistically improbable that you will not contribute anything useful in STEM-related areas, you might as well minimize your opportunity cost; invest your one Talent within discipline in which you are most likely to succeed.

    Normally, one would conclude that I shouldn’t pursue STEM-related fields. What’s incongruous, however, is at 20 years of age, I have worked for cyber security and stock trading firms (admittedly with the help of an actual high-IQ friend) and even pitched a software idea to an eminent scientist/businessman. So, what’s the matter? Well, I still struggle in certain areas of comprehension. I received a score of 1070 on the SAT, (550 Reading & 540 Math), and am barely scraping by in my college algebra class. Honestly, I would be ashamed if any of my coworkers knew I barely could do high school-level algebra. I also take a long time to comprehend certain texts, often having to reread many times in order to understand the material. Perhaps this is a function of my poor working memory. I am excelling in my major courses (cyber security), however.

    In summation, what was the point of this post? I’m not sure. I’m honestly confused and quite depressed about my abilities and potential life outcomes, especially considering that an IQ of 94 is the average of an individual with only 1-3 years of high school education. Am I a dunce, am I smart, or both (twice-exceptional)? Should I continue to learn heavily-g subjects like math, programming, physics, or find subjects that are comparatively more prosaic but easier?

    • dndnrsn says:

      What are the areas where you tested well?

    • bja009 says:

      Something you should keep in mind is that IQ and g and their ilk are measures of ability, but not measures of worth. It’s all well and good to pat yourself on the back for being Bright(tm), but being a truly decent person is just as important and at least as rare.

      If you’re having some successes, and it sounds like you are, then don’t worry and don’t get down on yourself. There’s more to life than having a +4sigma intellect, especially if it seems like being average isn’t holding you back from pursuing your interests.

      (Also, if you’re really reading and comprehending and engaging with the content and community at SSC, your cognitive battery scores might have been, uh, poorly administered? I don’t know, but surely the test-giver can screw these things up. You might be on the higher side of average, who knows?)

      • dndnrsn says:

        I’m going to second the last bit of this. If your IQ tested at 94, and you are bad at math, and on the SAT you tested similarly for reading as math – well, you don’t write like someone with a somewhat-below-average IQ.

        If I were you I’d talk to a psychologist and figure out what’s up.

        • Incurian says:

          well, you don’t write like someone with a somewhat-below-average IQ.

          This was my first thought as well.

          Also: If it’s stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid and don’t fix it.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I am excelling in my major courses (cyber security), however.

      The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Do what you do, and do it to the best of your ability. Fuck anyone or anything that says otherwise.

      Do your best to be honest with yourself about the quality of your own work product, but don’t predict failure based on secondary indicators when the primary indicators are telling you that you are doing well.

      I also take a long time to comprehend certain texts, often having to reread many times in order to understand the material.

      I know a man who was essentially blind. He could not actually read unless he had a jeweler’s loupe put to his one eye that had any sight, hovering an inch off the page. That meant he was very slow to read anything.

      He still made it through a fairly prestigious law school with very high marks.

      Just because you take longer to read and comprehend doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It sounds like you are, in fact, doing it. Keep grinding. Grinding is itself a talent, which it sounds like you have.

      Do not be ashamed of who you are. Do not pretend to be anyone else. Clear your vision.

      ETA: I agree with others that are saying that you should pursue the idea that the professional help you have received to this point may be incorrect, incomplete or inadequate.

      For instance, it it possible that you have undiagnosed dyslexia? Not because I think this is likely, merely because it is a good example of the kind of thing that could be making things more difficult than they should be.

      Pursuing an assessment from someone who excels in diagnosing and treating learning disabilities might not be a bad idea.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “The proof is in the pudding”

        Can I just step in to say that I hate this mangled metaphor? The original, meaningful form of the saying is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”, with “proof” used in the older sense of “test, trial” (the same sense used for the related verb “prove” in the expression “the exception that proves the rule”).

        • suntzuanime says:

          You’re mangling your own metaphor, “prove” in “the exception that proves the rule” is actually being used in the modern sense. So lay off other people.

          • Kevin C. says:

            It seems to be that there’s some debate about this issue.

            Edit:That said, consider the latter point withdrawn.

          • That gives the “true, or at least original” meaning as what suntzuanime claims, and describes the other as “an alternative explanation often encountered,” which it then says is “considered false by some sources.” Further, it traces the true meaning back to an explicit Latin rule.

            The implication of the Wiki article is that the original meaning is clear even if some deny it, and the only ambiguity has to do with how people later used the phrase.

      • shakeddown says:

        I know a man who was essentially blind. He could not actually read unless he had a jeweler’s loupe put to his one eye that had any sight, hovering an inch off the page. That meant he was very slow to read anything.

        He still made it through a fairly prestigious law school with very high marks.

        I’ll one-up you here and mention my former neighbor, who was completely blind and got through the top law school in America.

        • Walter Oi was a prominent economist who went blind. According to the Wiki article, by the time he entered college he was unable to read text.

          Jimmy Savage, a mathematician and statistician largely responsible for the idea of subjective probability, was almost entirely blind.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Nicholas Saunderson was another blind mathematician who is said to have worked in subjective probability. In the 20th century blind mathematicians tend to be geometers.

      • Cypren says:

        For instance, it it possible that you have undiagnosed dyslexia? Not because I think this is likely, merely because it is a good example of the kind of thing that could be making things more difficult than they should be.

        Completely agreed. This was my first thought as well. @ringmaster555, you do not write like someone with a permanently-disabling intellectual deficiency. If you lack something in natural intelligence, you are more than making it up with raw discipline and focus — which I would say is vastly more important to success than IQ, just harder to measure.

        My gut guess would be that you’re not unintelligent; you just have some confounding factor that makes you perform poorly on tests. There are a lot of possible reasons for that, and the tests do not try to measure for them.

        Don’t take test scores as an objective measurement of your self-worth.

    • Deiseach says:

      Brother, sister, sibling or other form you may prefer, let me fall sobbing on your neck in recognition. I’ve never had a formal IQ test of any kind, but the closest I came to it was doing a Ravens Matrices one on the Internet which scored me at a whopping gigantic IQ level of 99.

      I wear my “Below Average” badge with pride 🙂

      You sound a bit in my direction: good with language, hopeless with mathematical concepts, the difference between “left” and “right”, spatial reasoning (I managed to get lost in my own home town on two separate occasions and believe me, it’s no throbbing metropolis of a million streets) and basically anything more complicated than “put the square peg in the square hole. NO, the square hole”.

      I’m also not one speck artistically talented; I did a one-year general arts course to determine if I had any abilities in that direction and nope. I apparently can’t distinguish hues or which ones go together in families (the painting teacher nearly broke down sobbing). Don’t ask me about the pottery class 🙂

      You sound as if you’re doing well, all things considered. Sure, maybe pure STEM is not for you, but that does not mean you cannot contribute to the ancillary arts and fields that go to support it.

      Have you by any chance tried testing to see if you’re dyscalculic? Just as dyslexia was only relatively recently recognised as a problem for students, I think there’s an awful lot of people who were told (and are still being told) in school they were just plain lazy/stupid/both when in actuality they have this problem.

      You sound as if you have a reasonable life now. Don’t let yourself be disheartened by “Well in the new knowledge economy anything less than 115 IQ means you’re only fit to sweep the floors until the robots take that over, too”. You know your limitations, now work with them and sure, growth mindset isn’t going to give you abilities you don’t have, but you are not condemned to be a low-IQ dunce just because you still need to count up on your fingers to check your addition (ahem, I mean I heard some people do that, that is a low-down dirty lie that I can’t do simple mental arithmetic and have to write it all down).

      • Winter Shaker says:

        A couple of threads back there was a ‘where does your screen name come from’ question, and I didn’t get around to responding, but it seems relevant now. It was after this song, which happened to be high on my playlist at the time I wanted to come up with one, and given the song contents (and the band’s subject interests generally), I assumed it referred to a Native American group that had a ceremonial rattle only to be used in winter, or to ward off the cold, or some such.

        Nope. Turned out on googling it that it referred to someone who joined the Shakers during cold times to take advantage of their hospitality but didn’t really contribute to the community when it counted. Which, as someone who enjoys the politics and the chat, but whose brain switches off at the prospect of doing any heavy lifting with the maths, seems appropriate 🙂

        • Randy M says:

          I’ll steal that reference so I can sound cultured next time i read “The Ants and the Grasshopper.”

      • I managed to get lost in my own home town on two separate occasions and believe me, it’s no throbbing metropolis of a million streets)

        That’s nothing. I spent a week or two in Canberra before I realized that my mental map of the part near me was inside out. I had been going on point to point navigation.

        A few days ago I was with a group getting a tour of part of NASA Ames. It was chilly and windy, and I was wondering why we had gone so far from the party we were all attending and thinking about how long it would take to walk back when we turned a corner and were at the building we started at.

        And I score high on the sort of tests he scored and you think you would score low on.

        I apparently can’t distinguish hues or which ones go together in families (the painting teacher nearly broke down sobbing

        My wife, like your teacher, has this odd belief that some colors go with other colors. I mostly humor her in what I wear.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Given the nature of the RPM, this probably explains your supposedly low IQ combined with writing like someone who is definitely not low IQ.

        I’m in the same boat. Garbage visually.

    • John Schilling says:

      If you’re struggling with high school algebra, while in college, that puts you well ahead of all the people who gave up on algebra and dropped out of high school – some of whom are nominally smarter than you are.

      Hard work is worth at least ten points of IQ, probably twice that for most purposes, and IQ itself only measures a part of the multidimensional thing that is human intelligence. So if you focus on what you are good at(*) and work at it, you may find yourself keeping pace with some of the lazy misplaced geniuses in the same field. If so, you’ll probably have less time to enjoy it than they do on account of the constant hard work, but you may wind up feeling better about yourself than they do on account of ditto.

      * Which are not necessarily the ones that are “easier”; it’s the ratio of progress to effort that matters.

    • rahien.din says:

      Look at what you’ve written :

      I fear the implications of my IQ of 94. I am ashamed I could barely do high school-level algebra. My working memory is poor. I am depressed about my potential life outcomes. I find it incongruous and confusing that I have excelled in my chosen field of cyber security and pitched ideas to eminent persons.

      So much shame and fear of failure in there.

      But it seems like you needn’t be afraid. You write very lucidly, you have a clear grasp of fairly specific concepts such as opportunity cost that exceed the difficulty of things like algebra, and you have already demonstrated to yourself that you can succeed in the field of your choice. Don’t be confused by the fact of your success, reach for it with both hands.

      I agree with everyone else that your 94 is rather dubious and belies your apparent intelligence.

      invest your one Talent within discipline in which you are most likely to succeed.

      This is exactly what everyone does. Successful people find a niche that exploits their talents and minimizes the impact of their weaknesses.

      My brain doesn’t work like a regular medical student’s, to the point that I was briefly on academic probation in med school and contemplated dropping out. But neurology and neurologic thinking clicked for me, and I went with it, and now I’m a damn fine epileptologist. No one gives a shit that I failed my ob-gyn exam the first time around. In fact, it’s kind of funny.

      Luckily for you, you have found a niche in cyber security very early into your career. Go for it.

      One other thing : you seem genuinely upset about this. Maybe talking to a counselor or therapist would be a good idea, lest this thing gnaw at you forever. It might also be worth reading this post, as shame and self-doubt can be symptoms of depression. I am no psychiatrist nor do I play one on the internet – so take your grain of salt – and be safe and whole.

    • I got a 550 Math SAT and, like, a C in University algebra. Never took another math course, never took a programming course. (I majored in Political Science, which I was actually pretty good at).

      I am in my mid/late 20s, making about what you’d expect from a top tier CS grad on the west coast, and work as a Data Scientist at a big tech company in econometric modelling. I always feel like a poseur. *shrug*.

      I was always pretty decent at writing and learning about the world. If I had to praise myself, I would say my natural inclination towards rationalist style thinking, bias correction of the world, and scientific reasoning is probably very very high. I also spent much of my free-time in the past 10 years trying to learn things that I felt came so easily to my peers.

      I got a masters at the LSE, but it was in political economy (wasn’t smart enough for mathematical econometrics). I scraped by with Game Theory and Causal Inference/Econometrics courses, which weren’t that hard.

      I never took advanced math, programming, or physics types courses. I wasn’t smart enough to pass those tests. I just studied them on my own time, and eventually worked and proved my way into a good job. Even now I’m still not gifted at harder science stuff. It takes me a long time to learn simple algorithms that the wiz kids pick up in an hour. I won’t lie, I still think daily about how much easier my life would be if my math IQ was higher.

      Still, there is something I am incredibly good at that’s hard to put my finger on. If you’re posting at SSC maybe you’re good at that same thing. Don’t give up hope, but be willing to be strategic and look into uncommon strategies to get where you want. I couldn’t get a BA in physics from any school, so I didn’t try.

      PS: Ignoring what you might think of his blog or cartoon, Scott Adams book “How to fail at everything and still win big,” Is a really uplifting ‘self-help’ book that addresses lots of your concerns. I really can’t recommend it enough.

      PPS: I don’t think your IQ is 94 based on your desires and writing. Either way, remember, IQ is a 1-dimensional model without a perfectly high r2 (so to speak). It’s not a deterministic number, although it’s also a meaningful one. You probably have some split abilities. There is no clear way to test for that stuff at an individual level (at least not a mainstream well known one).
      I have had some high profile profs and previous bosses not understand why on earth I wouldn’t go get my PhD from a top 5 econ school, like, they thought I was gifted. What do I say? Sorry, my GRE in math score is so low they would throw my application out. Plus, I’m missing like 8 math classes they require. That’s embarrassing, and it’s weird. I don’t know what to make of it, and at this point I guess I don’t care. I’m just who I am trying to live my life how I want. I’ve still got it really good.

      Anyway, if you’re interested in more personal info let me know and we can exchange contact info. Since you remind me of myself, I’m very empathetic to your position in life.

    • Cheese says:

      I think people can severely under-estimate the extent to which an average IQ person can understand complex concepts and perform pretty damn well at most things a higher-IQ person can do.

      To make a counter example, I have a measured IQ (let’s assume both are correct) a full 40 points above yours. At 20 my major achievements were dropping out of a very similar degree to yours after a semester because i’d been taking too many drugs and partying too much to study, and getting fired from a large-chain retailer.

      So yeah, IQ correlates reasonably well with success and stuff on a population level. But applying population level correlations to individuals as a rule… nah. You seem like you’re doing fine. I think ‘do what you’re good at’ is a pretty good rule for anyone, but there’s a lot of high IQ people who are good at doing nothing with themselves.

      • Dog says:

        As a counter-point, head over to https://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/sample_items.asp and hit the search button. If this assessment is accurate, then for example only 36% of US adults can read a basic bus chart. I feel like intelligent people more often over-estimate the capability of an average person. I would guess OP has a learning disability that is skewing his test results (or has deceptively good verbal skills).

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ dog
          If this assessment is accurate, then for example only 36% of US adults can read a basic bus chart.

          A correlation might be, that the more intelligent adults have less need to ride the bus.

          • Dog says:

            I can believe that there are many seemingly simple skills that could be learned by a typical adult (e.g. reading a bus chart) that they nevertheless might struggle with if asked to perform as a one-off. The bus chart is only an example though. Another example from the data-set: 42% of adults could not calculate a 10% tip on a lunch bill. This is from a large, random sample of US adults. If the OP is getting through Algebra (even with a struggle), I think he’s safely past the “can’t calculate a tip” zone.

            Take a look at the site and sort by P-value (percentage that answered correctly in this case). It’s frightening. I believe I originally came across this site on a slatestarcodex post, but I can’t remember which one…

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            But calculating a 10% tip is another skill like reading a bus chart, which one can forget or fail to have ever learned how to do while at the same time not lacking the capability to learn how to do it if needed. I do expect there is a reasonably large proportion of the population which would lack that capability. I just don’t think the survey gives much indication of what that figure is except that it is no greater than 42%.

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            FTR, I can’t read bus charts, and I do use buses reasonably often, and while I don’t know what my IQ is, I do have a maths degree.

  29. cassander says:

    On moving the open threads to the Reddit

    Would anyone else be in favor of this? Granted, we’d have to re-learn everyone’s name, but the Reddit interface works a lot better and I’m pretty sure it’s possible to eliminate upvoting.

    • suntzuanime says:

      No, everyone hates the Reddit, which is why they post here instead. That was the first idea people had when the Reddit was opened, but it was a nonstarter.

    • rlms says:

      Strongly against. I don’t like Reddit.

    • I’m new here, but for what it’s worth, I’m totally unfamiliar with Reddit and I imagine that a lot of people are like me and only really know how to comment on more traditional platforms.

    • Skivverus says:

      Meh: it might make me create a Reddit account, but it’s not something I currently check.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I tried Reddit and I found I disliked a whole bunch of things about it (I think upvotes and downvotes are bad, and I found the ways of organizing posts to be like a bad compromise between a forum and a comments section). I would prefer continuing to comment here.

      • It can’t be emphasized enough how horrible upvotes/downvotes are. They are truly cancer to a good discussion.

        • drethelin says:

          This is an insane point of view. Whether or not you PERSONALLY don’t like them, they clearly have not prevented enormous amounts of good discussion happening in various parts of reddit or on Lesswrong.

          From my point of view up and downvotes are enormously attention-conserving compared to having to read tons of replies that basically say “same” or “you’re a dick”

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      I do comment in the subreddit, but the commenting format there is hell for threads like this one, I don’t think it’d be a positive change.

      Plus, Culture War threads there are bloated as they are.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Yeah, reddit threads tend to die after a day. A conversation here can go until the next open thread.

    • Nornagest says:

      I hate the commentariat on the Reddit. Moving open threads there would change it, but I’m not sure if it’d be enough.

    • cactus head says:

      Against.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It’s absolutely impossible to actually see everything posted in a thread on reddit in any decent way.

      If you tried to follow a multi-person conversation in a sub-thread on reddit it would be an exercise in painful frustration. The nesting of replies alone would make the long back and forth conversations that occur difficult to follow.

    • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

      I hate that wascawwy Weddit.

    • Deiseach says:

      I do comment over on the Reddit, but it’s very different to here. I don’t bother reading the replies/comments in the inbox because there’s no way to get a proper conversation going, I hate the “buy gold” thing, and the upvote/downvote system makes little sense to me.

      Besides, I find my persona shifts when I’m on the Reddit; it’s great for a ‘drive-by shooting’ style of commenting but I much prefer here for discussion, arguing, and thrashing out something.

    • Anonymous says:

      No.

  30. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    If you believe in HBD (Human BioDiversity), what policy changes would you like to see? How do you think the world would be different as a result?

    Do you think people over-reacting to real differences is ever a problem?

    • Is “HBD” short for “human biodiversity”? (That’s what I found on the Urban Dictionary, and I’m guessing that’s what you had in mind, but I want to make sure.)

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I’ve edited the comment. Thanks for letting me know there might be a problem.

        • Okay, thanks, I can reply now. I think at this point it’s pretty much indisputable that there are significant between-group genetic differences, but I also think that, for the moment, we know relatively little about the actual import of these differences. So this suggests to me that, for the most part, it’s premature to draw policy conclusions from the fact that significant between-group genetic differences exist. But it’s likely that, with the progress of molecular genetics and the advent of genome-wide association studies, we’ll soon get a much clearer picture of what traits these genetic differences influence and how they do so, which could then have policy implications. However, even after we know more, it’s unclear to me that there will be obvious policy implications, because I suspect that the policy changes will hinge on philosophical issues at least as much as empirical ones, as they often do.

          • cassander says:

            > So this suggests to me that, for the most part, it’s premature to draw policy conclusions from the fact that significant between-group genetic differences exist

            How about we just stop drawing policy conclusions on the basis of the “fact” that they don’t exist?

          • Iain says:

            This is the standard reply, yes. Why don’t you get specific? Which policy conclusions are being drawn solely based on the non-existence of genetic differences?

          • cassander says:

            @Iain says:

            >This is the standard reply, yes. Why don’t you get specific? Which policy conclusions are being drawn solely based on the non-existence of genetic differences?

            Virtually every claim modern claim of of discrimination and the policy results/lawsuits/etc. that follow from them.

          • Sure, I’m all for that, but it’s not clear to me how this should affect the policy conclusions we draw, until we know more about the import of those differences. Perhaps a good idea, as long as we are in the dark about that, would be to experiment with different policies in different areas that rest on different assumptions about the import of those differences. You can think of it as a kind of risk diversification.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            DoE disparate impact complaints in regards to children being punished in schools

            https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/08/teachers-say-no-disparate-impact-discipline/402144/

            In an effort to combat disciplinary bias, the federal government has warned every school district in the country that they face legal action if their discipline policies have a “disparate impact”—“a disproportionate and unjustified effect”—on students of a particular race.

            it might not be as widespread as other commenters make it out to be, but here it is fam

          • Wrong Species says:

            I think at this point it’s pretty much indisputable that there are significant between-group genetic differences,

            I think you’re severely overstating how obvious it is. Being accused of believing that is enough to end careers. I’m actually surprised you’re saying that using your real name.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Something can be both obvious and illegal. Indeed, the more obvious it is, the more illegal it needs to be.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I meant obvious from a societal point of view.

          • Wrong Species, I never said that it was a socially acceptable view, I just said that it was indisputable given the evidence, which isn’t the same thing.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @AnonEEmous

            To follow up on that Atlantic article, here’s a more recent one, about the St. Paul, Minnesota public school system, from Katherine Kersten at City Journal: “ No Thug Left Behind“:

            Valeria Silva, who became superintendent of the St. Paul Public Schools in December 2009, was an early and impassioned proponent of racial-equity ideology. In 2011, she made the equity agenda a centerpiece of her Strong Schools, Strong Communities initiative. The district’s website lauded the program as “the most revolutionary change in achievement, alignment, and sustainability within SPPS in the last 40 years.”

            After implementing “white privilege” training, Silva moved to eliminate what she called the “punishment mentality” undergirding the district’s discipline model. In an effort to cut black discipline referrals, she lowered behavior expectations and dropped meaningful penalties for student misconduct. In 2012, the district removed “continual willful disobedience” as a suspendable offense. In addition, to close the “school-to-prison pipeline,” Silva adopted a new protocol on interactions between schools and the police. The protocol ranked student offenses on five levels and required schools to report only the worst—including arson, aggravated assault, and firearm possession—to police. School officials were strongly encouraged to handle other serious offenses—such as assault, sexual violence, and drug possession—on their own. For a time, the district administration actually tied principals’ bonuses to their track record on reducing black discipline referrals.

            December 4, 2015, marked a turning point. That day, at Central High School, a 16-year-old student body-slammed and choked a teacher, John Ekblad, who was attempting to defuse a cafeteria fight. Ekblad was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. In the same fracas, an assistant principal was punched repeatedly in the chest and left with a grapefruit-size bruise on his neck. At a press conference the next day, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi branded rising student-on-staff violence “a public health crisis.” Assaults on St. Paul school staff reported to his office tripled in 2015, compared with 2014, and were up 36 percent over the previous four-year average. Attacks on teachers continued unabated in the months that followed. In March, for example, a Como Park High teacher was assaulted during a classroom invasion over a drug deal, suffered a concussion, and required staples to close a head wound.

            In 2014, a groundbreaking study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by J. P. Wright and others discredited both these claims. The study utilized the largest sample of school-aged children in the nation. Unlike almost all previous studies, it controlled for individual differences in student behavior over time. Using this rigorous methodology, the authors concluded that teacher bias plays no role in the racial-equity suspension gap, which, they determined, is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” Racial differentials in suspension rates, they found, appeared to be “a function of differences in problem behaviors that emerge early in life, that remain relatively stable over time, and that materialize in the classroom.”

            I strongly encourage reading the whole article.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Halfway through the article.

            I’ve heard a lot about how absurdly unqualified Trump’s nominee for Department of Education was. I find it pretty hard to imagine how she could possibly be even a tenth as blindly destructive as the policymakers this article describes. Closing the schools completely and turning the students out on the streets would be less destructive than this; at least then their violence wouldn’t be actively sheltered from law enforcement.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “I find it pretty hard to imagine how she could possibly be even a tenth as blindly destructive as the policymakers this article describes. Closing the schools completely and turning the students out on the streets would be less destructive than this”

            When I go on about fanatics sacrificing the supports of civilization on the altar of equality as sacred value, this is an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

            For example, there’s this bit from the article:

            Silva’s administration put the blame for the escalating mayhem squarely on adults. Jackie Turner, the district’s chief engagement officer, said that in response to the violence, the district would consider more training for staff and school resource officers on “how to appropriately de-escalate situations.” Fights might not have escalated, she said, “if some of the adults would have reacted differently.” Asked if students should be expelled for fighting, Turner replied: “You’re not going to hear that from me, you’re not going to hear that from the superintendent, you’re not going to hear that from any of the administrators.”

            See, the catastrophic outcomes were clearly because the teachers weren’t tolerant enough. True Communism hasn’t failed because it’s never been tried; the policy cannot fail, it can only be failed. If it doesn’t work, that just means we haven’t tried hard enough. And so, they’ll push even harder and further the next time, and even harder the next time, and even harder the next time…

          • AnonEEmous says:

            I saw my dad reading that and felt sad that I hadn’t posted it myself. Thanks fam.

            And yeah. I read a good piece about sacred values once from a site I really liked, arguing that certain values are basically given an infinite or near-infinite worth in believers’ minds. Obviously, that allows for a lot of really bad decisions, unusually bad decisions even. In this case I also think people might be blinded to reality by thinking, say, that black kids aren’t really bad to their teachers. (Personally, I think they’re bad to their teachers and good to their parents, while white kids seem to reverse this behavioral pattern.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – This is pretty clearly impossible to defend. I still disagree with your long-term prognosis. This madness is too virulent to survive indefinitely, and it appears to me that the wave is breaking already.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “This is pretty clearly impossible to defend.”

            And yet, defend it they do.

            “This madness is too virulent to survive indefinitely.”

            Yes, but “the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent”, “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”, et cetera, et cetera. A virulent plague always burns itself out eventually, yes, but the question is how much damage it does before doing so.

            “it appears to me that the wave is breaking already.”

            Evidence?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C. – “And yet, defend it they do.”

            we have blue-tribers here; I don’t see any of them rushing out to defend these policies. When was this article published? do you think these policies will remain in place now that the results have had a few years to play out and are attracting national attention?

            “Evidence?”

            Trump won the election, and is now running roughshod over Blue Tribe. This article is going to be the go-to counterargument to every blue-tribe opinion on education for the next couple years. I think the Berkeley Riots have a similar effect; effective in a tactical sense, disastrous from a strategic sense. These things are exactly how you lose all cultural credibility.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “When was this article published?”

            I think a couple days ago (look at the dates on the comments, if nothing else).

            “do you think these policies will remain in place now that the results have had a few years to play out and are attracting national attention?”

            Yes. Or more specifically, these exact policies will be removed, only to be replaced by something “different”, but ultimately equivalent, if more extreme. They will “double down”, and double down again.

            “Trump won the election, and is now running roughshod over Blue Tribe.”

            Really, “running roughshod”? Sure, he’s attempted to push back against the Blue Tribe, but haven’t plenty of the more non-Blue, Trump-favoring commenters here pointed out how most of these are “poorly-implemented” disasters? I’m beginning to think that commenter “Ken’ichi” over at Dreher might have been on track with his theory as to why our “ruling elites” “allowed” Trump to take office (he previously predicted that “they” would resort to faithless electors, court decisions, or possibly even assassination to prevent President Trump): to be so disastrous in trying to control borders, fight globalism, and so on, as to permanently discredit any right-leaning or anti-globalist populism for enough of the population to ensure the “bipartisan establishment” maintains permanent electoral dominance.

            “These things are exactly how you lose all cultural credibility.”

            What does “cultural credibility” matter? Iron law of oligarchy, and manufactured consent. There is always a ruling elite, and it’s what they say that goes.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – As always with these things, the only reply is “wait and see”. I think we’ll have a pretty good picture within the next two years, and a very good one by the next election.

            From where I’m sitting, we’ve gone from Blue-Tribe values being essentially unchallenged as of 2014-2015, to open culture-wide civil war within Blue Tribe and a radically-revived red-tribe now. The Ants, the atheism implosion, Bernie vs Hillary are all examples of the former. Trump, Brexit, Le Pen, etc are examples of the latter. These things would have been unthinkable three years ago.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “the atheism implosion”

            The decline of religiosity and the rise of the “nones” has continued the past eight years according to Pew Research. “Nones” were sixteen percent in 2007, now twenty-three percent.

            “Brexit”

            Britain has not yet left the EU; Article 50 hasn’t yet been invoked, and “The Week” is at least considering the possibility that Brexit might never actually happen.

            “Le Pen”

            Marine Le Pen has yet to be elected. See also “There will be no President Le Pen“.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – “The decline of religiosity and the rise of the “nones” has continued the past eight years according to Pew Research. “Nones” were sixteen percent in 2007, now twenty-three percent.”

            As a Christian who wants to take my faith seriously, I do not believe that nominal Christians becoming explicit atheists is a long-term problem, and in fact this pattern is exactly what I’d expect from Christianity growing too enmeshed with politics generally. Sooner or later, the pendulum will swing the other way.

            What I was referring specifically to, though, was the collapse of New Atheism as a mainstream cultural force. Its “I Fucking Love Science!” progeny was even shorter-lived, and I think Academia and science as a cultural constituency are poised for a pretty serious setback as their overhang of falsified positions collapse into the open.

            Brexit passed the house of commons; May’s supposed deadline for triggering it is next month. On this and Le Penn, I suppose we’ll see.

            [EDIT] – …I used to be firmly apocalyptic in my thinking. The only way to escape that trap is to make predictions and watch what happens. What are the obviously undeniable signs that we’re fucked forever, and when do you expect them to arrive? Without that sort of ironclad prediction, any evidence can be explained away. For me, it was Bush seizing power and suspending the constitution. When he left power peacefully, that was solid evidence that my model was wrong.

          • Randy M says:

            “When was this article published?”

            I think a couple days ago (look at the dates on the comments, if nothing else).

            There have been other reports of such policies in the past. I couldn’t have provided the details from memory of where and who, but I knew such policies were being tried.
            This came up from a quick google from 2014. (Yes it’s opinion, I’m just using it as evidence that this has been known about for a few years at the least.)

            Off-topic, sort-of:

            – …I used to be firmly apocalyptic in my thinking. The only way to escape that trap is to make predictions and watch what happens.

            I must admit to being worried about more widespread economic problems when the Greek default crisis was being discussed 6-8 years ago.

          • Deiseach says:

            Personally, I think they’re bad to their teachers and good to their parents

            Because if they behaved like that to their parents, they’d get a walloping but they know the teachers can’t do a thing to them apart from “I feel your pain, Jayson”. Wasn’t there some quote on a comment thread here where a guy wrote an article bemoaning how when he was a kid, his black friend’s grandmother would beat the badness out of his pal for using bad language? That’s because Granny knows if she doesn’t want Junior to grow up to be a thug, he needs discipline now, not “And how does that make you feel?”

            Kids with genuine behavioural/learning problems and/or from unstable backgrounds need support. Kids who are just being little jerks because they can get away with it need a dose of the wooden spoon from their parents when the teacher writes home about it.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “Sooner or later, the pendulum will swing the other way.”

            How can you be so sure of that?

            “ironclad prediction”

            How long did it take the Roman Empire to fall? Some place the start of the decline at around 180 AD; the conventional date is 476, when Odoacer deposed Emperor Romulus. However, plenty of people reject this, by pointing out the eastern half of the Empire lasted another thousand years until, what, the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, right? What sort of testible prediction does one make for centuries of decline other than “things will slowly get worse over multiple generations”?

    • Odovacer says:

      I wouldn’t say that I’m a hardcore believer in HBD; I do think there are very real differences between ethnic populations and sexes, but I think many HBD-believers speculate, go too far in magnifying these differences, and essentialize and ignore that populations follow distributions, e.g. just because Danes are the tallest people in the world on average, doesn’t mean that there are no short Danes or tall humans in other populations.

      In terms of policy changes, I don’t know if I’m enough of an expert on that comment. Speculating, I think that this could affect disparate impact/treatment legislation. As well as potentially decrease funding/attention for forced diversity, e.g. women in STEM.*

      *I think that on average women as just as capable as men in doing science. I think that women in the West, on average, for whatever reasons aren’t as interested in certain science fields as much as men, particularly physics, math and engineering. That’s fine that they aren’t. The countries in the west are wealthy enough that for the most part one can pick his or her own career, plus most scientists aren’t changing the world or making exciting discoveries, much of it is humdrum and repetition.

      • Kevin C. says:

        @Odovacer

        “just because Danes are the tallest people in the world on average, doesn’t mean that there are no short Danes or tall humans in other populations.”

        True, but it does mean that if the “International Giants Club” that requires members be over 7′ tall is disproportionally Danish, that we shouldn’t automatically assume it’s due to invidious discrimination against non-Danes until proven otherwise.

        Similarly that men are taller on average than women doesn’t mean there are no tall women; I have an aunt who’s about 4″ taller than me. But it does mean that if our “International Giants Club” is disproportionally male, we should not default automatically to “sexism” as the explanation.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        I think that on average women as just as capable as men in doing science.

        Interesting. After considering what evidence did you come up with this belief?

        • Anonymous says:

          After considering what evidence did you come up with this belief?

          It seems a cultural assumption, mostly. Egalitarians tend to assume equality as default. OTOH, average intelligence is pretty close for men and women. I’ve seen data suggesting a few points either way. OTTH, interest itself is a pretty big component of capacity, especially in investigative fields.

          • Science is mostly not done by average men. Or average women.

            My understanding of the data is that while average IQ is about the same, the standard deviation is greater for men, so more men well above average and more well below. Also, IQ reflects a variety of different abilities, and it’s at least claimed that men tend to be relatively better at mathematical, women at verbal skills. That could be either cultural or genetic (or both), but it does show that equal average isn’t enough to give you equal ability for science, or any other field (other than taking IQ tests).

          • Cypren says:

            The ratio of students who get a 700 or higher on the math portion of the SAT is about 1.6:1 male-female, which provides a strong statistical confirmation that elite math skills have an unbalanced gender ratio and that whatever the cause is, it happens before college. But it doesn’t really help us to determine the cause: innate ability, social conditioning and interest, or gender imbalance in elective math classes are all quite plausible explanations.

            If you look at the graph of score distribution, it provides pretty strong argument for the concept that men have a flatter curve than women overall, with more individuals distributed away from the median.

          • Anonymous says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Yes, I agree. It all hinges on what one actually means by the statement.

            The other day I had a bunch of coders jump down my throat for merely suggesting the possibility (not even explicitly stating, merely being devil’s advocate for the opposing view) that women aren’t as capable in that field as men. Judging by their accusations of MRA-dom and misogyny, I think what they parsed that as was “women should get back to the kitchen, they’re not as smart or good at coding as men, it just comes with the ovaries” whereas your position is an alternative, and in my opinion a more accurate representation of the issue.

            If you pick a random Joe Shmoe and random Jane Shmoe, and appraise them for scientific capacity, they’ll probably both suck, and doing a Monte Carlo over many of them will probably reveal that they are close to the same level of ineptitude.

            If you pick from actual scientists, you will of course find that the field is dominated by men, for whatever reason. A marginal difference in g curves is one explanation. Institutionalized misogyny is another.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Cypren

            I think gender imbalance in elective math classes can be ruled out for two reasons.

            1) It’s circular, because the next question is “Why the gender imbalance in elective math classes”, which has the same sort of possible answers minus that one

            2) You find greater difference between male and female scores in younger students identified as “mathematically advanced”

            http://www.pnas.org/content/106/22/8801.full

    • massivefocusedinaction says:

      First and most important is a Canadian style immigration policy (a points system based on factors likely to be correlated with traits desired by society).

      A replacement of testing rather than years of education for jobs.

      In discrimination, a requirement to show behavior beyond neutral rules that create a disparate impact.

      I don’t think society would be substantially different, my goal would be a bit more efficiency (less human capital applied to the wrong areas and hopefully less monetary capital invested in housing).

      I would say that violence in done as a result of real differences would be a problem.

      • JulieK says:

        First and most important is a Canadian style immigration policy (a points system based on factors likely to be correlated with traits desired by society).

        Why is that connected to HBD? (Canada already has such a system, and I don’t think the Canadians are more convinced of HBD than Americans are.)

        • Lyle_Cantor says:

          Sure. But the institutions have some sense of this, even if few individuals in them do. The points system works because it is basically a bunch of IQ correlates. Do to our modern nonsense, no one can admit this out loud. It’s much less efficient and practical than granting citizenship to whoever can get a couple standard deviations above the mean on a culture-fair IQ test but better than what America and Europe have. It’s an example of how esoteric policy can prevent decay even when all the right-thinking people have gone mad.

    • Anon. says:

      The biggest one for the US is “disparate impact” which implicitly assumes no group differences and does all sorts of harm.

      Some say immigration, but I’m not so sure. When it comes to mass immigration like Europe has been seeing lately, then probably yes. But for high-skilled immigration, it doesn’t really matter that much since you’re just skimming the +2sd people.

    • John Schilling says:

      The policy change I would like to see, but never will, starts with an honest attempt to catalog and measure the relevant differences. This is, at this point, even more unrealistic than hoping for an honest and apolitical assessment of anthropogenic climate change.

      Barring that, I don’t think there are policy changes that can be justified with the limited knowledge currently available. I’d like to see a change in the attitude that statistical differences in outcomes are strong evidence of discrimination because “everybody is equal”, but that attitude is rarely encoded in actual policy – you can’t e.g. win a discrimination suit just by showing that a workplace is 40% or 60% female, 5% or 15% black. It does frequently color the implementation of policy, but that’s a harder problem to fix.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Are you familiar with Ricci v. DeStefano? The New Haven Fire Department refused to promote anyone to avoid facing a lawsuit over not promoting enough black people.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Wow. The department was damned either way (I’m morally certain they would indeed have faced a lawsuit if they’d promoted according to the test results, though perhaps they would have won that one. In the Supreme Court. 5-4) And the Hispanic firefighter got beaten as a result, or so he says.

        • John Schilling says:

          s/enough/any

          Claiming discrimination because your workplace is 0% black, or because the factory floor is 20+% black and the foremen are 0% black, is not quite the same thing as arguing over 5% vs 10% vs 15%. There are, of course, cases where a 0% black management chain over a 20% black labor force is a legitimate outcome, which makes this a hard problem.

      • Corey says:

        If the differences haven’t been cataloged and measured, how do *you* know about them?

        • Anonymous says:

          If the differences haven’t been cataloged and measured, how do *you* know about them?

          They have. He’s probably just discounting them as unreliable for some reason. (I don’t think they are, but people’s opinions differ.)

    • Space Viking says:

      Let’s see:

      -switch development aid from building things low IQ people can’t maintain – schools, hospitals, etc. – to raising IQ, so iodine supplementation, malaria prevention, deworming, etc.

      -generally, high IQ people have lower fertility than low IQ people, raising the fertility of high IQ people must be addressed by government policy, I’m not sure how, so experimentation is in order

      -fertility must also be lowered in low IQ people, not only in developed countries but around the world to stem the migration crises, free contraception must be provided and promoted worldwide, and welfare incentives for having children must be reduced in developed countries

      -also, reform welfare to stop trying to bring people out of poverty, it won’t work and wastes billions of dollars, so do vocational training instead combined with enough welfare to at least keep people out of absolute poverty

      -immigration, legal and illegal, must be carefully restricted

      -no more government support for affirmative action, no more disparate impact laws

      -stop wasting billions of dollars on educating the uneducable, do vocational training instead

      -automation becomes an even more serious threat to employment; it’s time to start thinking about this now

      -outsourcing must be restricted, because no, Appalachian coal miners can’t become computer programmers, only a small percentage of them can

      -finally, flood funding into genetic engineering research, both germline and somatic, as well as nootropics, to mitigate and eventually solve most of the problems caused by HBD, not just IQ, but conscientiousness, criminality, etc., and if we don’t, China will, and will rule the world as a result

      And yes, people over-reacting to real differences is definitely a real problem. Look at the Holocaust. But that historical overreaction doesn’t make HBD go away. The sooner we address the problems of HBD, the less harsh the reaction to those problems will be, because addressing it soon will give those problems less time to build up.

      Also, people disadvantaged by HBD, e.g. most low IQ people, while being subject to rational discrimination, so no more affirmative action, must still be protected from irrational discrimination. So hate crimes are still hate crimes, and must be treated as such.

      • The Nybbler says:

        -generally, high IQ people have lower fertility than low IQ people, raising the fertility of high IQ people must be addressed by government policy, I’m not sure how, so experimentation is in order

        Isn’t the traditional way of combatting the fixation of a deleterious trait in your population to outbreed? Encourage matches between members of fecund but relatively low-IQ populations and members of low-fecundity high-IQ populations. If a study of the high-fecundity population reveals no relationship between IQ and fecundity within that population, you can speed things up by picking (relatively) high-IQ individuals within that population.

        Not sure how to do this. The 1950s “Mad Men” workplace provided a method; a sex-segregated workplace would allow lower-IQ support workers (which we, the moustache-twisting eugenicists pulling the strings, could select from fecund populations) close contact with higher-IQ knowledge workers. But the sex segregation, and most of the support workers, are gone, so that’s out.

        • Kevin C. says:

          @The Nybbler

          “Isn’t the traditional way of combatting the fixation of a deleterious trait in your population to outbreed? Encourage matches between members of fecund but relatively low-IQ populations and members of low-fecundity high-IQ populations.”

          Except this ignores the possibility of pleiotropy. What if the same genes responsible for the deleterious trait, here low fertility, are also responsible for the trait we want to preserve, here high IQ? What if the negative correlation between fertility and IQ in the modern selection environment is the product of a causal mechanism, so that it is impossible to significantly raise fertility without a concomitant reduction in IQ, and vice versa? What if there is, in fact, a Darwinian advantage to lower intelligence in our present environment? Then, raising high-IQ fertility would require significantly alter the (cultural) environment to change the requisite selection pressures.

          In fact, this relates to part of my theorizing about the Fermi Paradox. Whether Dawkins’s “meme” model or otherwise, pretty much every model I’ve seen for the propagation of ideas and culture is at least somewhat epidemiological. And these propagating mental entities can be seen as occupying a spectrum between what one writer I read dubbed “mitochondrial memes” and “viral memes”; for example, using religions, once like the Druze and Zoroastrians who take no converts and propagate only from parent to child fit the former end, and those like the Shakers the latter end. Add the reasonable (to my view) conclusion that higher intelligence does not provide protection from “viral memes”, and may in fact increase vulnerability. Then consider the effects of global telecommunications and the cultural dominance of whatever subgroup of a species gets “first mover” advantage on the Industrial Revolution for the propagation of those “viral memes”. Together, one might conclude that in an “interconnected” world, “protective stupidity” becomes adaptive. Thus, any civilizations capable of sending interstellar signals are already “too smart for their own good”, and actively selecting against the intelligence necessary to maintain them, and so such societies are inherently unstable and self-limiting. (Especially given the “once per planetary history” nature of industrial revolutions; see the “fruit & ladder” metaphor.)

          In short, idiocracy is probably the inevitable outcome of modernity, and civilization is doomed.

        • The Nybbler says:

          @Kevin C.

          Low-fecundity, not low-fertility. High-IQ people can breed, but they mostly aren’t. As I understand HBD, most of its adherents believe behavioral traits are largely inherited, so the fecundity should be too. We know IQ isn’t the result of a single or small number of genes, so it seems extremely unlikely that all or most of them also affect fecundity.

          Stepping back from the purely genetic, we reach my actual position, which is that the high-IQ _itself_ causes the low fecundity. For high-IQ individuals, children are a greater burden; furthermore high-IQ individuals are more driven by their intellect (which is telling them that kids are a burden) than low-IQ individuals. As you suggest, to solve this we need not a moustache-twisting eugenicist but a moustache-twisting propagandist and cultural engineer. We need to make kids less of a burden for the intelligent, and we need to make sure the high-IQ know that has happened. Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.

          • Kevin C. says:

            “Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.”

            Because nobody’s are up to the task. The problem is insoluble, and idiocracy is inevitable. We’re doomed.

          • “Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.”

            At a considerable tangent, one can view the Amish as an example of successful cultural engineering. They impose rules on themselves designed to maintain the sort of culture they have and want, and so far it has worked quite well.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – Braintape. Boot multiple instances. If hell is other people…

          • Lyle_Cantor says:

            >Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.

            If you could make laws, I think it would be pretty straightforward. High IQ kids are public goods and so underproduced. Give parents X percent of the future tax income of their children. This incentive scales with the capacity of the parents. It would also encourage the use of High-IQ sperm banks, embryo selection, and other technologies that increase IQ and future income.

            In the short term, I think this would work well. In the long term, this would likely get pretty Molochy.

          • Cypren says:

            Give parents X percent of the future tax income of their children.

            We used to have this system. It was called “not having a social safety net for retirement” and having a widespread social expectation that children care for their aging parents.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “Braintape”

            Doesn’t look to exist any time soon.

            @Lyle_Cantor

            I can’t find the primary sources at the moment, but everything I’ve read indicates that subsidies, tax breaks, or otherwise “paying people to have kids”, have no or only minor upward effects on TFR. In my readings on the topic, it looks like it’s far easier for government policy to lower a group’s fertility than to raise it. IIRC, didn’t Francis Galton’s initial ideas around eugenics involve primarily trying to raise fertility of the upper classes at least as much, if not more, than lowering those of the “unfit”? And yet eugenics practice ended up on the latter. It seems to me this is simply because the latter is far more easily done than the former. From what I’ve read, pretty much the only things, policy-wise, that raise fertility are either draconian measures like Romanian Decree 770, or reducing female (Western-