Links 2/17: Site Your Sources

A while ago when we discussed drug tolerance here, some people taught me about receptors that activated two different second messenger chains, and how you could modulate the balance of effects by finding agonists that disproportionately activated one or the other. Now it looks like this principle has born fruit in oliceride, a new opioid which may be far safer than eg morphine. Just remember that heroin was also originally advertised as a safer and less addictive version of morphine.

Something I’d never heard before but which fits with a lot of people’s observation: Wellbutrin works really well the first few days, but true evaluation of its effects has to wait for a “second wind” later on. Does this fit with the experiences of Wellbutrin users here? (h/t Brienne)

The United States not only does poorly on education benchmark PISA, but each decile of wealth also does poorly compared to equivalent deciles in other countries. I find this surprising. Does this torpedo the theory that each US ethnic group does as well as its foreign counterparts, and US underperformance is a Simpson’s Paradox on ethnic distribution?

Twitter: @EveryoneIsDril. EG:

Some followup to the “Fetlife bans offensive fetishes to satisfy payment processors” story from last month: the official announcement, Jadagul’s analysis.

New Study Finds Performance-Enhancing Drugs For Chess. Okay, fine, just modafinil, which we already knew about, but the exact pattern is interesting. Modafinil makes people take longer to make their moves, but the moves are ultimately better. That suggests that its advantage is not increasing IQ per se, but in giving people the increased attention span/concentration to work harder on finding good moves. I think this elegantly ties together a lot of stuff into a good explanation of modafinil’s cognitive-enhancing properties.

New Zealand Wants To Know How Peter Thiel Became A Secret Citizen. Give up, New Zealand; Peter Thiel is a citizen of any country he wants to be a citizen of. Also: Peter Thiel Denies California Governor Run Despite Mysterious Group’s Backing.

I was going to link to the paper Physics Envy May Be Hazardous To Your Wealth, but the part that actually interested me is small enough that I’m just going to include it here as a jpg (h/t Julia Galef):

Nature: Prevalence And Architecture Of De Novo Mutations In Developmental Disorders. There’s been a lot of debate over paternal age effects, and this paper helps clarify that by actually counting people’s de novo mutations and finding that children of older fathers (and to a lesser degree older mothers) have more of them. I am not sure to what degree this answers the objection that fathers with worse genes will tend to get married later; my impression is that it’s circumstantial evidence against (de novo mutations are more specific to paternal age than just bad genes) but not complete disproof.

Psssst, kid, wanna buy a parasitic worm? Key quote: “Those who experience the ‘hookworm bounce’ tend to describe it as ‘feeling as if they are teenagers again'” (h/t pistachi0n)

New moth species neopalpa donaldtrumpi (cf List Of Organisms Named After Famous People)

Topher Brennan on obstructing everything. “Our system of government requires compromise, but Democrats shouldn’t be worrying about that right now because Democrats don’t control Congress. Force Trump to compromise with the dozen Republican Senators who were still saying #NeverTrump on election day. Force him to compromise with the Republican Senators who endorsed him but have spoken out against him on specific issues.”

Donald Trump to slash funding for United Nations. What could possibly go wrong?

Koch brothers plan to help lead conservative resistance to Trump.

QZ’s profile of Steve Bannon. I keep on hearing about this guy as some kind of esoteric conservative mastermind with unpredictable goals and visions, but his positions don’t look that different from what you’d expect to hear on Rush Limbaugh or something. Related: Fox News makes a very unconvincing case that Bannon is not so bad. Also related: the pro-Trump intellectuals (1, 2)

Are companies buying ads on shows Donald Trump watches in order to influence policy?

Okay, enough Trump links. Moving on to history, check out the Twitter account of 10th century English king Donaeld The Unready, who wants to “make Mercia great again!” and fight off enemies like fake chroniclers, people who didn’t attend his coronation, and Grendel:

New paper in Crime And Delinquency: “We find no evidence that the number of fatal police shootings either increased or decreased post-Ferguson. Claims to the contrary are based on weak analyses of short-term trends.” This is especially surprising in light of claims that increased inner-city crime is caused by police withdrawing in order to prevent further fatal shootings; if that’s the police’s plan, it doesn’t seem to be working very well.

Intranasal ghrelin vaccine prevents obesity in mice.

Gene drive testing thwarted when organisms quickly develop resistance. There goes that idea. joins in the probabilistic prediction for 2017 movement.

Slate: The Most Dangerous Terrorists Are From North Carolina…”They talk about building walls and vetting refugees. If we were serious…we would seal our borders against North Carolina.” DEAR WILLIAM SALETAN, PLEASE READ ALBION’S SEED. YOURS, SLATE STAR CODEX.

It is the grim cyberpunk future of 2017, and hackers are plotting to exploit insecurities in your virtual blowjobs.

New poll: Majority of Europeans support banning Muslim immigration. It’s an Internet-based poll, which is always cause for suspicion, but they seem to be a reputable organization and not the sort of group whose results are 100% due to trolling by 4chan, plus it’s consistent with some other results. Still pretty shocking and an existential-terror-level reminder of partisan bubbles. Also: Rasmussen finds most Americans support Trump’s refugee ban order.

Closely related: M.G. Miles makes the case for banning Muslim immigration. Maybe the first person I have seen make this case in a principled way; everyone else just seems to be screaming about stuff and demanding their readers reinterpret it into argument form. Also, he uses the word “terrorism” zero times, which seems like the correct number of times for a case of this sort. This is what people should be debating and responding to. Rebuttals by Americans would probably want to start with the differences between Muslim immigrants to Europe and Muslim immigrants to the US – Miles discusses the European case, but by my understanding these are very different populations with very different outcomes).

Second Enumerations podcast: Grognor reading interesting essays.

SSRN: Extreme Protest Tactics Reduce Popular Support For Social Movements: “We find across three experiments that extreme protest tactics decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement. Though this effect obtained in tests of popular responses to extreme tactics used by animal rights, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Trump protests (Studies 1-3), we found that self-identified political activists were willing to use extreme tactics because they believed them to be effective for recruiting popular support.” Cf. The Toxoplasma Of Rage. (h/t Dain)

Major accountancy firm Ernst & Young announces its intention to recruit earnest young people by removing the requirement for employees to have a college degree, “saying there is ‘no evidence’ success at university correlates with achievement in later life.” While they’re wrong about the specific correlational claim, they’re right about the implicit causal claim, so congratulations to them and here’s hoping they’re the first of many. Cf. Against Tulip Subsidies.

The Cagots were an underclass of people in medieval France whom everyone hated, with various purity laws around how decent people weren’t allowed to associate with/marry/touch/go near them. In the 1500s, the Pope personally intervened to tell the French to stop persecuting them, but the French ignored him and persecuted them more than ever. As far as anyone can tell, they looked, spoke, and acted just like everyone else, and exactly how they became so despised is one of the minor mysteries of medieval history.

New ultra-anonymous cryptocurrency Monero takes off. Distantly related: are Republicans and tax-prep companies in a Baptists-and-bootleggers coalition to make paying taxes as difficult and annoying as possible?

Scientists discover new phase of matter: time crystals. Studies suggest that if researchers were to find all seven of them and place them in the slots on the Altar Of Eternity, they could gain +5 Holy damage to all attacks.

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439 Responses to Links 2/17: Site Your Sources

  1. Edward Scizorhands says:

    pastebin link for fetlife is broken

  2. alexsloat says:

    > Koch brothers plan to help lead conservative resistance to Trump.

    I am going to make the (somewhat self-congratulatory) claim that anyone who is surprised by this did not actually know anything at all about the Koch brothers.

    • Tekhno says:

      I heard people react to the Koch’s opposition to Trump with statements like “YOU MADE YOUR BED! NOW LIE IN IT!”

      • Urstoff says:

        Yep. The folk theory is: Koch’s started the Tea Party, the Tea Party voted Trump in, therefore the Koch’s caused Trump.

        • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

          Or possibly: The Kochs are evil, Trump is evil, evil things all cause each other, therefore the Kochs caused Trump.

        • Briefling says:

          In my mind it’s more like: “the Kochs drove national Republicans to abandon all reason and dignity in pursuit of tax cuts for the rich; since no reasonable person could now participate in national Republican politics, the GOP lost the ability to field realistic presidential candidates; therefore Trump-the-outsider was able to win the primary against the weakest field of all time; and then Trump squeaked out a win in the general.”

          Is this inaccurate?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Replace “tax cuts for the rich” with “open borders” and it seems like a good explanation.

          • alexsloat says:

            I’d say it’s pretty inaccurate. The Kochs support a lot of policies besides tax cuts for the rich(everything from drug liberalization to prison reform), and the 2016 Republican nomination pool was perhaps the broadest and deepest in the entire history of the primary process, in either party.

            I mean, really, if we’re looking for a weak field, we have the choice of the Republicans, with at least a dozen plausible Presidents(even if some I’d really dislike, including the ultimate winner), versus the Democrats who had a corrupt has-been riding her husband’s charisma from a quarter of a century ago being fought to a standstill by a nutty socialist with worse hair than Trump who wasn’t even a member of the party.

            The Republican field was composed of 9 governors, 5 Senators, 2 CEOs of major corporations, and a pediatric neurosurgeon. Some were unimpressive in various ways(Perry’s disastrous 2012 run, Bush’s brother, Trump’s raging narcissism, etc.), but there was at least half a dozen plausible Presidents in the group even by fairly strict criteria. If that’s a weak field, a strong one would have to include George Washington, Jed Bartlet, and Jesus.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            it’s just a function of nonfamiliarity with outgroups lol

            stop overthinking

          • sohois says:


            The choice of presidential candidates for the democrats probably had more to do with the fact that Clinton was seen as a complete shoe-in and there was just no sense for anyone else to waste the money running; the republican field, on the other hand, was wide open which was why all those people made an attempt.

          • Bryant says:

            If you’re including every candidate on the Republican side, even those who were never likely to win (Graham, Huckabee, Santorum, Pataki, etc.), we should count the entire Democratic field. Certainly not as many people as the Republicans fielded, due to the factor sohois mentioned, but by strict criteria you have four mainstream plausible Presidents from the Democratic contest: Clinton, O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee.

          • dwietzsche says:

            Would probably make sense to get rid of some of the guys in the Republican field who never stood a chance (like Jeb Bush). But I do think the near total concentration of dem votes for two candidates requires some explanation. Trump won the nomination, but the Republican electorate was much more spread out, which is more or less what one would normally expect. O’Malley hung in there for awhile, but never got any traction.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            As was suspected beforehand, and explicitly confirmed afterwards, Clinton forced out anyone who might threaten her power. Sanders wasn’t a Democrat so he avoided the purge.

  3. Tom Hoffman says:

    Is slightly below OECD average performance “poor?” What is a reasonable expectation here? Do we expect to be the best? Why would we? Because of very inaccurate estimations of educational spending across different countries? Because we’re supposed to be the best at everything?

    Either way, isn’t that what you would expect in mathematics? We’ve always underperformed in mathematics. Americans have always been bad at math, and that’s a tough hole to crawl out of, since it makes it extremely difficult to find good math teachers that have been educated in the US. Since everyone is bad at math, parents freak out when new math curricula they don’t understand are introduced, etc.

    • Randy M says:

      Off-topic, I like your gravitar. Looks like a very happening synapse.

    • Luke Somers says:

      TOTAL ANECDOTE: Yesterday, my daughter’s homework was baffling – ‘correct’ answers differed only by commutation (of commutative operations) from ‘incorrect’ answers.

      They are spending time teaching and reinforcing lessons like some sort of esoteric preferred order for multiplication problems when the real lesson should be that there isn’t one.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Setting them up to learn logic, programming, matrix multiplication?

        • smocc says:

          The impression I’ve gotten from other reports of this is that they are trying to teach the students to understand that “3 times 5” means something more basic than “follow a multiplication algorithm here.” In particular it means “5 copies of a set of 3 things (or vice versa, I can’t remember).” That the resulting number is the same as “5 times 3” is something you can prove, not an axiom. The exercise is trying to get the student to demonstrate that they understand this most basic meaning.

          If I’m right it’s kind of a noble idea — as you point out there are other notions of multiplication that do not turn out the be commutative. But I think it’s probably more difficult than it’s worth. Firstly it confuses everyone because is “3 times 5” supposed to mean “5 copies of a set of 3 things” or “3 copies of a set of 5 things”? And after that I wonder whether kids are even capable of grasping this in a deep enough way to make it worth it.

      • The Nybbler says:

        From what I’ve seen of the Common Core/Gates Foundation stuff, they have this penchant for teaching what I consider “tricks” (e.g. 58 * 39 = 58 * 40 – 58) as The Right Way of doing things, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that homework is the same sort of thing.

        • Protagoras says:

          I really want to see some research on the direction of causation with these sorts of tricks, as I’ve often seen lists of cognitive tricks that are supposed to help you do math or whatever better, and noticed that I already do many of those things without ever having been taught them. So for me this raises the question of whether these are teachable tricks that can make people more effective, or whether instead it’s just that one of the things that constitutes being high IQ is having a brain that tends to work in some of those tricky ways. In other words, even if someone using the tricks correlates with high performance, I’d still like to see evidence that trying to teach someone the tricks correlates with increased performance. Perhaps that evidence already exists and I just haven’t encountered it, of course; all too often the research that interests me and the research that is widely reported have little overlap.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I’ve used some of those tricks that I did learn, and they’re certainly useful for mental math. But I don’t think making a point of teaching them as if they are the Right Way to do things is helpful at all; the point of the tricks is that they’re easier than the long way, and the curriculum seems geared to making them hard.

          • whateverthisistupd says:

            From what I recall in school, it wasn’t so much “the right way” as “the right way for this particular assignment.”

            As in people were taught multiple ways to do things, and they wanted you to show that you just weren’t using your preferred method. I suppose the idea is to develop different ways of thinking about mathematical problems, which is actually a useful skill, because it leads to a deeper understanding of math, and more flexibility in approaching more complex problems (where it really comes about figuring out the right way to calculate, not executing an equation.)

  4. phil says:

    “partially reducible uncertainty” is a fantastic concept, and one that I’ve been groping for a long time to put into words

    I feel like I’ve had several stilted attempts at discussion around that concept, but I had difficulty putting what I was talking about into words


    its seems like there are lots of difficult to predict events, that are difficult because they fall into this category

    where they’re difficult to statistically study because they change before you have enough instances of them to have any confidence in your statistical analysis


    Things that might fall into these categories

    1. Which college QBs will turn into good NFL QBs

    2. Which small college basketball player will turn into multiple time NBA MVP

    3. Which reality TV star will wind up running the free world


    That’s a great concept, it makes me happy that I have a phrase to describe it

    • nhnifong says:

      Those seem to be examples of cases where the uncertainty cannot be reduced because sufficient data cannot be collected, but the jpegged quote lumps two things into this category, the other being “… or is too complex to be estimated, so that you cannot use statistics to reduce this to level 2 uncertainty even with arbitrarily large amounts of data”.

      And, I’m really having trouble thinking of an example of that. Even with all the relevant data we couldn’t reduce it to level 2? I doubt there is such a thing, and I don’t know why the original author went bothered to include it.

      • phil says:


        (thinking out loud)
        in 2007, there were a lot of data points that went into people thinking they could model housing prices on a level 2

        and tbf, a lot of people made a lot of real world money doing that

        but it seems like there’s a real epistemological challenge behind figuring out if you’re on a bad run in a fair casino, or on a normal run in an unfair one

        • nhnifong says:

          It’s all there in the PDF. I think I misread it as two separate categories, but level 4 specifically gains its irreducability from the fact that the rules generating the data change too fast, So even if you have all the data that have ever has been or will be generated by a system, you supposedly can’t deduce what the rules of that system are.

          I don’t know if I really buy into the existence of this category, because while those rules may change fast, If you have infinite data, you get to see every value it will ever take. What more is hidden at that point?

          • The Arcadian says:

            I’d think “irreducable” specifically means you can’t reduce the infinite data of the system’s operation into some smaller set of data and patterns. Yes, you can always make a consistent rule about a system’s operation consisting of a lookup table into all of its outputs – but then the rule is as large as all of its outputs.

          • Jugemu says:

            Re: “irreducible”, “incompressiblity” is a similar concept that comes up in CS and information theory – truly random data is incompressible.

          • deciusbrutus says:

            All integers (and thus all binary strings) greater than 1 are compressible with the correct algorithm.

            Proof: my compression rule replaces the smallest integer that is not compressible by 1, the second such integer with 2… and all integers that are compressible by prefixing them with 0.

            Now, saying that it is /impractical/ is something else entirely.

          • The Nybbler says:


            “Incompressible” means that you cannot represent the data with fewer bits; this includes the bits which make up your decompression algorithm. So your compression algorithm does not work, because when you see a ‘1’ in your data, you don’t know what to output unless you already have some representation of that uncompressible integer in your decompressor.

          • Iain says:

            @The Nybbler: That’s not a great description either. The important thing is that you can’t create an algorithm that will reliably produce a smaller result than the original.

            For example, the algorithm proposed by deciusbrutus would compress “1” to “01”, which is obviously counterproductive.

            Random data can’t be compressed by a simple application of the pigeonhole principle. Given N bits of information, there are 2^N possible uncompressed values, and no matter how you shuffle them around, you can’t find a way to represent them all with only N-1 bits of information.

            Practical compression algorithms rely on the fact that all the data we are interested in compressing is non-random. We can exploit the patterns in our data by designing algorithms that compress specific kinds of patterns (say, long strings of repeated bytes) more effectively, at the expense of “compressing” random data into a form that is actually larger.

            It’s not the size of your algorithm that counts; it’s what you do with it.

          • The Nybbler says:


            “Incompressible” as applied to data is stronger than your point, which is that it’s impossible to design an algorithm that will compress _all_ strings; this is true even ignoring the length of the decompressor. The claim here is that there exist strings cannot be compressed by _any_ algorithm.

          • shakeddown says:

            Something relevant is Scott Aaronson’s coffee paper.
            Worth reading for all of it, but the bit that stuck to mind is the definition of compressibility by separating the “random” component of the information, and defining the complexity of a piece of information to be the minimal length of an algorithm that gets you into the class of correct information. For example, if the first two digits of a four digit number are always the same and the fourth is just random, you can effectively compress it to two digits.

          • Iain says:

            @The Nybbler: Yeah, you’re right. Mea culpa; I wasn’t reading carefully enough.

        • dansimonicouldbewrong says:

          This is a common problem–people have trouble distinguishing models from reality. The wrong model may make a perfectly predictable system seem completely unpredictable, and an “almost-right” model may make a wildly unpredictable system seem trivially predictable.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Level 4? Weather, or in general any chaotic system. Theoretically you could have a system so chaotic you couldn’t reduce it to level 2 uncertainty without a model as complex as the system itself and _all_ the data.

        • eccdogg says:

          Kind of on Weather, yes deterministic models get chaotic the further out you predict, but they settle out into fairly predictable distributions.

          In the long run weather ends up looking a lot like system 3. You have lots of data and predictable distributions around historical climate sometimes with a trend.

          I would put climate change forecasting in system 4.

  5. habu71 says:

    My experience with Wellbutrin mainly consisted me on the lying on the ground in my 9th grade science class (apparently) shaking uncontrollably. Thus I wasn’t on it all that long. If I remember correctly, it did seem to be working before I suddenly discovered I had a low seizure threshold.

    • shakeddown says:

      Mine was that it (kinda) worked, but also gave me really intense anxiety, so I stopped after two weeks.

    • Elizabeth says:

      My experience on Wellbutrin mostly fits Brienne’s: I feel great for 3-5 days, like I’m on the best stimulant ever, and then go back to (depressed) normal. Takes anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months to get back up, and “up” doesn’t feel like the best stimulant ever, it feels like having mindfulness as an available option rather than being forced to brainfog my way through life.

      Couple points of interest: first, Wellbutrin fixes my oversleeping throughout the adjustment period (I go from trying to sleep 11+ hours a day to waking up naturally after 7.5-8.5). Second, going off Wellbutrin feels *really really good* emotionally, aside from the migraines. I have no idea why this happens and it seems to run counter to everyone else’s experience of Wellbutrin withdrawal (i.e. Depression Hell).

      Edit: It also makes my anxiety worse, but mindfulness helps with that and the trade is worth it for me.

    • Antistotle says:

      I took it to stop smoking, and it worked REALLY REALLY well–at one point I was face down on the bar at a some punk/goth joint up in Milwaukee (this was 20 years ago) with a drink in each hand and staring at a cigarette burning in an ash tray with absolutely no desire.

      A week or two later I got a call that my dad had died two days previously and had just been found.

      That ended that round of quitting for a while.

      Funny thing is I’ve been off nicotine for 14 years on the 1st of May, and *still* want one more than I did that night.

      Oh, and it made me horny as a Roman god.

    • safrazine says:

      When I took buproprion, there were 0 noticeable effects.

      No effect, no side effect. I was taking 150mg XR, took it for a little over than a year, because back then I was really ambivalent when talking to my doctors, and their preference was to just keep me on the drugs despite there not being any changes.

      Apparently, I have a genotype associated with decreased concentration of hydroxybuproprion when taking buproprion, which is associated with decreased drug response. This could be why I felt no effects. (CYP2B6 *1/*6 intermediate metabolizer)

      FWIW, never found any drug (the list is long) to have any decreasing effect on my depression or social anxiety symptoms, except for caffeine and dextroamphetamine. Maybe lithium (there are confounding factors). Likely also due to rather unlucky metabolism genetics.

    • platanenallee says:

      I’ve been on a bunch of SSRIs and SNRIs over the years. SSRIs never worked at all, high-dose Venlafaxine did help a lot, but never to the point of remission. Two weeks ago I came to ask my doc to give me ECT because I just couldn’t stand it anymore. He did give me a referral to the local clinic for ECT and also changed my medication to Bupropion. I felt the effect after the first pill. Like Elizabeth in this thread, I was oversleeping, 12 hours a day at least. This changed to about 7 hours a day. I get out of bed, make plans and carry them out. My concentration has improved dramatically, I understand everything I read at once and in depth, and I feel actually interested in the stuff.

      It’s been 10 days. Am I a normal human being now or am I going to crash?

      • Elizabeth says:

        Based on personal experience, I’d recommend using some of this energy to set up eating habits, exercise habits, and sleep hygiene that work for you. The sort of stuff that’s bollocks to set up while low on energy but which tend to help people with low energy.

    • invalid123 says:

      Wellbutrin for me: 75 mg: First 2 days extremely fuzzy feeling. Felt drunk but without motor impairment. Difficulty spelling words.

      Day 3: The “Honeymoon” as it is called. Felt very good. Upbeat and happy for the first time in many years. Easy to smile. I’ve heard the Honeymoon is similar to being on cocaine.

      Day 4 onward: Honeymoon is over. Back to baseline. Tense feeling. Difficulty sleeping. Grinding teeth.

      After six weeks upped to 300 mg. Tenseness got worse, as did difficulty sleeping. Grinding eventually got better. No change in mood.

      Stayed on 300 mg for another 3-4 weeks before tapering off. No noticeable change in mood. Tenseness and sleeping difficulties subside.

    • I didn’t feel much of a difference at 150mg/day, but going up to 300 brought significant. lasting (though not complete) benefit after a couple weeks. I haven’t felt like I’m in Azkaban for maybe a year now, which is nice, but I’m still depressed, and I can’t go any higher without a risk of seizures. No side effects, fortunately, but I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed side effects from psychiatric medication.

    • Vermillion says:

      I’ve been between 300 and 450mg for the last 2 years and my memory of the first day after starting is very much like platanenallee. I’m up to 450mg right now cuz the feels got too much man. And I’m somewhat concerned about side effects but it’s still al lot better than Prozac.

    • Swimmy says:

      450mg daily. Felt no energy surge or honeymoon period. It was a slow, steady rise up, as with any SSRI, and we had to fiddle with and increase the dosage several times. I also take it with Propranolol to lower my heart rate and Gabapentin at night to reduce the increased twitchiness.

      The difference between Wellbutrin and an SSRI (when they worked) was that it was a slow, steady rise to happy, rather than to “suicidal edge taken off, depression now bearable.” If I have any more energy, I attribute it to actually going to bed on time, which was/is a major cause of recovery.

    • edsorow says:

      I started taking wellbutrin to treat chronic fatigue syndrome and severe depression. I never had a honeymoon period, it was just a gradual build up, but it treats my chronic fatigue syndrome completely. I have no more symptoms. On top of that, I need less sleep on wellbutrin than I did before I was ever sick.

      Wellbutrin has treated some symptoms of my depression, but not all of them. I have way more motivation than I used to, and i can concentrate on work for 12 hours at a time, but it did not cure my anhedonia.

      After my illness, I lost the ability to feel 90% percent of emotions, and the emotions that remain I only feel with mild intensity. Wellbutrin has done nothing to cure that, and so far no drug has put a dent in it (including alcohol, adderall, weed, lsd, shrooms, vicodin, subutex, and various ssris), except for hydroxyzine (anti-histamine that is used as a sleep aid) which cures my anhedonia completely, and causes intense euphoria on top of that. This is so strange! The only problem is that hydroxyzine gives me physical pain that is identical to my illness when it first began (at first it was more similar to fibromyalgia, but transformed as time went on)

    • CthulhuChild says:

      Started Wellbutrin last Feb, so we are at the one year mark. The “honeymoon” was definitely observable, in that things got much better, then seemed to go back to normal, then get better again very slowly, but I definitely did not experience the euphoria/stimulant/anxiety effects other users are reporting here.

      Possible confounder: I am also ADD (since childhood) but assumed it wasn’t a thing that followed you as an adult. My doc reasonably pointed out that I might not be clinically depressed so much as really upset that my life was falling apart due to my very well documented and totally untreated condition. So starting 3 months in, I also took methylphenidate. Later, we tried taking me off the Wellbutrin on the grounds that the ADHD drugs were really helping at work. It took about a month for me to feel terrible all the time, so it seems that the Wellbutrin was doing SOMETHING. On the other hand, it takes more than a few months of good focus to put your life back in order.

      TLDR: yeah, I pretty much experienced what Scott was talking about, but not to the same degree as other posters.

  6. Paul Crowley says:

    WRT gene drivers – I’m not surprised that a gene driver that makes females infertile has died out, but I thought that the plan was a driver which caused all children to be male, which I thought had different selection behaviour.

  7. Anon. says:

    Gotta say I am SUPER skeptical of those PISA scores. I’d expect the US to have far larger variation between top & bottom deciles because of its demographics. How could highly homogeneous places like Belgium (which also has far lower income inequality) have greater variance?

    Also Nobel prizes.

    • Spookykou says:

      I had never googled Nobel prizes by country before, interesting list.

    • cassander says:

      if you break out PISA scores by race, america does extremely well. Not sure how fair a comparison that is, probably less fair than I think, but there you have it.

    • Creative Username 1138 says:

      Highly homogeneous? Belgium runs three different education systems in three different languages. I would expect them to have great variance-

      • rlms says:

        They mean there aren’t many black people.

        • Cypren says:

          Race isn’t the important factor; the existence of large identifiable demographic subgroups with exceptionally low academic performance relative to other subgroups is the issue. This performance has much stronger correlation to household income than it does to race.

          Facile narratives about race are largely blown by the performance of Nigerian-Americans, who actually outperform many East Asian subgroups in both academic achievement and average income.

          That said, poverty rates do vary substantially between ethnic groups. The US poverty rate of Asian individuals is 1.2x whites, black and Latinos about 2.5x that of whites, and Native Americans are about 3x. (For comparison, in the UK, the poverty rate of Indians and Black Carribbeans is about 1.5x whites, Black Africans are 2.5x, Pakistanis are 3x and Bangladeshis are 3.5x.)

          But because whites are around 70% of the population, this means that the US underclass is still about half white. (And, as discussed previously on SSC, geographically concentrated into the Appalachian and Southern regions.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            With regard to Nigerians, I’ve seen claims that the Igbo specifically have a high average IQ. No authoritative sources, though. Nigerians in general seem to punch above their weight internationally – go to a top university and you’ll run into more than a few Nigerian international students.

  8. My working theory of disruptive protest is that it burns popular support in order to raise an issue’s salience. So it can be very effective if everybody basically agrees or would if they knew more about the situation.

    • gbdub says:

      Your theory aligns nicely with the last sentence of the abstract from the link:

      The activist’s dilemma – wherein tactics that raise awareness also tend to reduce popular support – highlights a key challenge faced by social movements struggling to affect progressive change.

      But another issue is that “raising awareness” with a violent protest is a blunt object – and dangerous if it turns out people don’t already agree with you, as your last sentence suggests.

      E.g. one of the impacts of the Berkeley Milo protests seems to have been an increase in pre-orders for Milo’s books. So the protesters effectively raised awareness… of Milo! Now a larger number of people than would have otherwise are potentially being exposed to Milo’s ideas. And, seeing that he already has something of a following, it’s unlikely that this greater exposure will result in fewer Milo fans, rather than many more.

    • Deiseach says:

      Well, as I’ve been yelling here and elsewhere, when the Average Citizen who knows bugger-all about your cause watches the main evening TV news and sees people in black with faces hidden marching as a unit through the streets, setting fires and smashing shop windows, their reaction is not likely to be “I have to agree, sometimes violent resistance is justified”, they’re going to think “Thuggery” and “Something Must Be Done” and even if they don’t like Trump, their sympathies have moved a notch or two away from you and towards ‘the administration’.

      • I was thinking more in terms of marches that happen to cause traffic disruptions and such. There are certain some sort of action that cause more or less antipathy for a given amount of news-getting and I think that vandalism is one of the worst methods by that metric.

  9. Mazirian says:

    Did you just assume M.G. Miles’s gender, Scott? You may have assumed wrong.

  10. Said Achmiz says:

    It’s a sea urchin.

    How’s that for kabbalistic significance, eh

    • Synonym Seven says:

      Given that the discoverers knew it was a sea urchin and consciously chose the name, I wouldn’t say there’s any Kabbalistic significance. It could certainly be interpreted as a witty (or not-so-witty) barb (heh, get it? Barbs, sea urchins… yeah, thanks everyone, please remember to tip your waitress), but it’s not like the names of new species are randomly selected from a pool of randomly notable figures. Kabbalistic significance stems from the accidental.

      It’d be like me naming my goldfish “Strategy Meeting” because it swims around in circles and accomplishes nothing.

      • Said Achmiz says:

        The fact that it’s a sea urchin isn’t the kabbalistic significance, it’s just an interesting bit of trivia

  11. dianelritter says:

    Does anyone know the effect size on the nasal ghrelin vaccine? The author’s of the study don’t mention the effect size in the abstract, and the article itself is behind a paywall. It would be kind of nice to know if this was a 1%-2% kind of thing, or something worth getting excited about.

  12. bean says:

    Re the math scores. Comparing deciles seems like one of those things that people find interesting results in, and then someone realizes that the top 10% in the US are not the same as the top 10% in Slovakia, and we haven’t really learned much. What happens when we use better controls? Figure out what segment in other countries corresponds to the US 9th Decile, and look at that directly.
    This does provide some support for my theory that the US was largely settled by people who left Europe because of mental problems. (Posted in OT69).

    • sflicht says:

      Transoceanic migration was until maybe 1900 a sufficiently risky, self-isolating endeavor that it undoubtedly selected for the extremely desperate and/or at least slightly crazy. I don’t actually know enough about 19th century Eastern Europe to know if my Ashkenazi ancestors who came to the US from roughly Ukraine were more desperate than crazy. I’m sure they were at least somewhat desperate. But our assessment of how crazy they were is colored by hindsight (which says not that crazy, at least in retrospect).

  13. Thursday says:

    Slate: The Most Dangerous Terrorists Are From North Carolina…”They talk about building walls and vetting refugees. If we were serious…we would seal our borders against North Carolina.” DEAR WILLIAM SALETAN, PLEASE READ ALBION’S SEED. YOURS, SLATE STAR CODEX.

    Arguably, letting the Border Reivers immigrate was a mistake. But this is not an argument against immigration restrictions.

  14. stucchio says:

    Does this torpedo the theory that each US ethnic group does as well as its foreign counterparts, and US underperformance is a Simpson’s Paradox on ethnic distribution?

    I don’t think it does. It would only torpedo this theory if you believed that ethnicity was a proxy for income quantile, and that race provides no additional information once income quantile is known.

    I don’t have data on PISA, but on the SAT that’s simply not the case. Blacks earning >$200k/year only slightly outperform whites earning <$20k/year. At every income grouping, blacks disproportionately underperform whites.

    The only way this would contradict the Simpson's Paradox theory is if the numbers of blacks/hispanics in the high income groups were too small to have an effect.

  15. phoenixy says:

    I am not sure to what degree this answers the objection that fathers with worse genes will tend to get married later

    As the child of a father who was in his late 40s when I was born, I have a keen interest in paternal age effects. Surely we could settle those objections though by studying siblings and comparing children sired by the same father at different paternal ages?

    • gwern says:

      The distribution and number of children may also be affected. My suggestion would be to study fraternal twins; same parents, womb environment, birth timing, shared-environment, but they’ll have different genes and also different de novos and different total de novos, and that difference should predict better/worse outcomes. Given the relative inconclusiveness so far, statistical power may be an issue… (Fraternal twins not being much more common than identical ones.)

    • Anonymous says:

      IIRC, being born first among siblings is alone worth 3 points of IQ.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I doubt this is due to parental age, or we would see a ~3 point drop for each subsequent kid. Probably has something to do with parents being able to lavish more attention on you, or the mental exercise the comes from being the responsible one or something along those lines.

        • Tarpitz says:

          I’d consider lasting effects of early childhood diet a possible partial mechanism worth exploring. I know my parents were a lot more careful about what they fed me than they were with my younger brothers, and I don’t think that’s at all unusual.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Unready? Eh. That’s a poor translation of the moniker. In modern English, “unræd” it means “Poorly-Advised”.

    • Unready? Eh. That’s a poor translation of the moniker. In modern English, “unræd” it means “Poorly-Advised”.

      Decades ago, I had a history professor who always called Æthelred “the Redeless” rather than “the Unready”.

      • Mary says:

        Truly enthusiastic souls will note that, in full, the name is “Noble-Advice Bad-Advice.” (“Un-” as a prefix meaning the same as in “unlucky.”)

    • Mary says:

      I think a more idiomatic translation would be “Ill-Advised.”

    • James says:

      But if everything in that twitter feed were fully translated into its modern equivalent, it would just be a normal Donald Trump twitter feed without any jokes. The whole point is that it is a weird mixture of current affairs with archaic flavour. “Unready” is close enough to “unraed” (I don’t know how to type the digraph) to keep enough (not quite all) of that archaic flavour to work; “poorly-advised” isn’t.

  17. tragburn says:

    FWIW, my first-days experience with Wellbutrin was that I fell asleep for 18 hours straight, at which point my doctor said to discontinue it.

  18. AnonEEmous says:

    “if that’s the police’s plan, it doesn’t seem to be working very well.”

    ok sorry to be this guy i really am but

    if presumed that equilibrium number of police shootings went up then a tactic to reduce them resulting in no increase certainly works well

    also one could argue that police shootings are meant to go down over time meaning that no drop actually functions as an increase

    but it is very suspicious that there was no change, since that would mean a very well-tuned counter-effort or similar

    • not “well tuned”–there is no reason the objective of the police should be to keep the number the same. Just accidentally balancing.

      • Richard Kennaway says:

        It doesn’t have to be well-tuned to be nonaccidentally balanced. All that is needed is for the police to want to prevent shootings rising (because bad PR) but be not so concerned to reduce them from the usual level (because people are tolerating it).

        An air conditioner does not have to be “well-tuned” to keep the temperature of a room at a comfortable level, nor is it happenstance that it does so.

        • The Nybbler says:

          That’s “well tuned”; the process you describe is automatic tuning.

          • Richard Kennaway says:

            No more well tuned (still less “very well-tuned” per the OC) than a puddle is well-tuned to the shape of the hole it lies in.

            Quoting further from the source linked in the OP, “Our analyses reveal that the number of citizens killed by police is temporally unstable, exhibiting random short-term fluctuations that are often misinterpreted as evidence of substantively meaningful trends.” This is what one would expect to see if the police are just trying to cap the rate of police shootings: short-term noise over a medium-term level that doesn’t change much.

  19. Deiseach says:

    Re: the time crystals, the only fitting reaction to that is this.

  20. Deiseach says:

    Does anyone know if Ernst & Young is also, perchance, mayhap, going to reduce starting salaries now they’re no longer graduate starting salaries?

    I’d love to think this is all to do with social awareness, but A hae ma doots, as they say.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Seems like a mutually beneficial prospect. Saving $50000 and starting your career 4 years earlier is probably well worth a bit of a shave on your starting salary, yeah? Everybody salient makes out, that’s the beauty of the free market. Pay no attention to the academics who are suddenly feeling enough economic anxiety to support Trump.

      • Matthias says:

        No need to bring Trump into it. He’s not even in the same country.

        Gender arbitrage in South Korea – Profiting from sexism is what you should be citing.

      • Deiseach says:

        I had a look on the UK website, and it’s not quite correct that they are “removing the requirement to have a college degree”; they seem to have had (for a while) apprenticeships for “straight out of school, not going on to university” and they are still recruiting undergraduates and graduates. What they have done is removed the minimum requirement of “must have 300 points or a 2:1 degree”.

        If you’re a school-leaver looking for an apprenticeship, you still need:

        If you are currently at school/college, you must be completing 3 A levels, 5 Highers or equivalent qualifications.

        If you are now working, you must have attained 3 A levels, 5 Highers or equivalent qualifications.

        Depending on what business area you join as a Business Apprentice, your professional qualification will differ and takes up to five years to complete, but once you qualify, you’ll have the same professional qualification you’d normally study for after university, and you’ll earn this sooner than a graduate, with the same career options to look forward to.

        For undergrads, it’s:

        You are eligible to apply for this programme if you are studying for an honours degree and are in your first year of study (and second years for Scottish Universities).

        What is interesting is that they do seem keen on Social Mobility, which apparently was an initiative of the Cameron government:

        Social mobility is where your background doesn’t define your future opportunities – you do.

        EY are Champions of the Social Mobility Business Compact. We are committed to driving a new benchmark for social mobility in recruitment and have partnered with Jobmi to monitor the impact of our selection process on socio-economic profile of our student hires.

        We’ll therefore ask you a set of questions about your social, family and educational background. If you don’t want to answer a question, simply select the ‘Prefer not to say’ option. This data collection will take just 2-3 minutes to complete.

        It might be that a couple of these questions seem to repeat information that you have already given us. We’re sorry about that, but for social mobility monitoring, it’s important that we collect all this information together in one place.

        The information you provide will be used to help us monitor social mobility and will not have any influence on the outcome of your application.

    • sflicht says:

      I’d guess the gesture is 99% symbolic and they will employ only a small number of non-degree accountants. I’d be shocked if they don’t already employ non-degree employees to do stuff like catering, mail processing, etc. If not, then they’re just correcting an egregiously irrational policy. Assuming the policy change refers to accountant jobs, it’s still reasonable to employ non-degree holders who are good at arithmetic and can competently use Excel, but I doubt their clients will let them get away with it to any great extent. Am I too cynical?

  21. Douglas Knight says:

    The chess study is crap. The main question: do people on drugs do better? Not statistically significantly. Maybe the study is just underpowered, but you should be suspicious. I believe that the players take longer, even on the games that they win. That’s interesting.

    But then it throws out games lost. If you systematically throw out games based on win/loss, of course you change the win/loss record! If people on drugs just ruminate on lost games, that’s not a performance-enhancing drug. I don’t think that’s what happened, I think that they systematically took longer, but I don’t trust these authors.

    If you propose that people take longer to make individually better moves, well, you could test that. Computers are so good at chess, they can score each move. But the paper didn’t do this test.

    I wrote a little more here, perhaps more positive.

    • TheWackademic says:

      I second this. The news story linked above says these drugs result in a ~10-15% performance boost. That would be huge! But when you read the abstract, you find that the authors only found a benefit AFTER throwing out all the games that the participants lost on time. Sounds like BS to me.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Is 10-15% huge? I believe that 10% means going from winning 45% of games against the closely matched computer opponent to winning 50%. What is that, 30 Elo points?

        • cthor says:

          It’s not a 10–15% gain though.

          When all games were counted, there was no significant change in win rate.

          The authors then noticed that by throwing out some of the games, those lost on time, their data suddenly showed a performance boost.

          Another way of reading the data could be:

          Modafinil has no effect on win rate, but subjects lost to time more often than the control group.

  22. gattsuru says:

    The Cagots were an underclass of people in medieval France whom everyone hated, with various purity laws around how decent people weren’t allowed to associate with/marry/touch/go near them.

    This probably makes me a terrible person, but about the point where I learned that they were placed in ghettos known as “the cagoteries” I had to struggle really hard not to make an Unsong-like there-are-no-coincidences joke. As far as I can tell, “category” shares no etymology, and yet there’s a certain signamancy in a group who faced discrimination solely by being categorized into the cagoteries.

  23. gadren says:

    I’m not quite sure how to articulate it, but there’s something interesting/troubling in the paragraph about Muslim immigration and a possible rebuttal to it.

    The structure of the argument in the paragraph is something like:

    – Miles makes a principled and/or potentially convincing argument against Muslim immigration.
    – The possible rebuttal raised (which I’ll label “The Rebuttal” in this comment, since the point of my post is to focus on the meta-argument here and it’s hard to discuss this without variable names) is to say “yes, the argument may be true in the case of Muslim immigrants in Europe, it’s a different situation from Muslim immigrants in the US.”

    Putting aside the details and back-and-forth as to whether the difference is in degree or in kind, let’s assume that The Rebuttal is asserting that there is a difference in kind. (That is, it would be easier to dismiss the asserted differences between US and European Muslim immigrant populations by saying it is a result of larger number/percentages in Europe and them reaching critical thresholds that haven’t been reached in the US. To be uncharitable to the argument, it would be “Just wait and see, trust me! They aren’t dangerous in the US but they will be soon!”). The Rebuttal seems stronger (and I am truly wanting to steelman the argument here) if it asserts that there is a truly different selection criteria between the US and Europe that is yielding a Muslim immigrant population that does not share some of the negative issues that are discussed in the article as being in Europe.

    The issue is that I don’t imaging seeing this Rebuttal being more often used in the context of an argument between “ban Muslim immigration in the US” and “keep US immigration policy largely the way it has been in recent years.” I imagine it more often in a “ban Muslim immigration in the US” vs “increase Muslim immigration in the US a.k.a. more open borders policy”. If I’m being uncharitable by painting the argument as between two extremes, please let me know; though I do know that Scott is a bit more of an open-borders fellow and so I’m imagining that is the mindset he is coming from when looking at (and potentially Rebutting) the article.

    My point is: what happens after you make the Rebuttal that the two situations/populations are different? I’d think the reasonable thing for an open-borders supporter would be to internalize the arguments (if they were in fact convincing enough to need the Rebuttal) and update toward a new synthesis of “we should have more open borders toward the positive kind of Muslim population we’re already bringing in while doing things to make darn sure that we don’t get the kind of population they have in Europe”). Like, if a Rebuttal relies on recognition of a new distinction/category, that category should be incorporated into one’s new positions/advocacy.

    But I worry that the use of that Rebuttal will more often be used as a generic “defusal” of an opponent’s anti-open-borders “weapon” and then, after defusing that argument, to go right back and advocate for their original position of open borders without distinction to the category that was defined in order to have the Rebuttal.

    The simplest analogy I can think of is the stereotypical/strawman “but that wasn’t true communism” rebuttal when someone brings up the excesses of Stalinism/Maoism. The principled thing to do after using that rebuttal would be to say “that wasn’t true communism, and here’s specifically how I know that my advocated brand of True Communism is the real deal and how we will protect against it becoming what others called True Communism but then turned out to be gulags.”

    I understand why people don’t do it, because it puts them on the defensive when being attacked by enemy-soldier-arguments, but rebuttals that demand nuance need to have the cost of internalizing that nuance into one’s positions or else it’s just a foot-soldier-argument to get you out of trouble.

    (not that anyone is yet doing this here; I know I’m talking to an empty room on this, it’s just something I’ve noticed in the past and have struggled to articulate)

    • Jiro says:

      My point is: what happens after you make the Rebuttal that the two situations/populations are different?

      That depends on the details. For instance, if you think they are different because in Europe the Muslims have reached a critical mass, you may still want to not let them immigrate to the US because you want to prevent them from ever reaching that critical mass. On the other hand, if you think that the difficulty in getting to America serves as a filter, you might think it’s okay for them to immigrate to the US.

      I’d think the reasonable thing for an open-borders supporter would be to internalize the arguments (if they were in fact convincing enough to need the Rebuttal) and update toward a new synthesis of “we should have more open borders toward the positive kind of Muslim population we’re already bringing in while doing things to make darn sure that we don’t get the kind of population they have in Europe”).

      I think that by definition, that would no longer be an open borders proposal. “Open borders” means that everyone can come in; “open borders except to X” is not open borders at all.

    • Randy M says:

      To be fair, I suppose it all hinges on why the populations differ (if we grant for the moment that such a distinction exists and exists to such an extent that it mitigates all problems raised in the article).

      If immigrants to America are different because it takes more independent thinking, intelligence, ambition, growth mindset, etc. to cross an ocean than to traipse through Turkey & Greece, or cross the Mediterranean, then we only need to put into place barriers such that the difficulty in reaching America remains what it traditionally has been–that is, technology will make immigrating easier, quickly erasing such distinctions, so we may need to put in place a tax or test or delay to keep the filter that we naturally have now effective. (Contra David Friedman, Open Borders in 1790 and Open Borders in 2017 are not really comparable.)

      If our immigrants are different because of screening, then we need to simply keep the screening we have and otherwise make no changes facilitating refugees or keeping immigrants out, assuming we value our cultural stability, etc. more than the marginal increase in refugee well-being.

      If our immigrants are different because we have different welfare policies, or Europe geographically is the low-hanging fruit for African/Near Eastern migration (and this could change with changes in relative prosperity or population densities), those explanations come with their own implications.

      • martianspider says:

        Maybe the difference is also in that the USA has less white guilt and extreme left political organizations? Our culture is ironically, by not bending over backwards to accommodate quaint ethnic folkways, actually MORE inclusive and welcoming to immigrants? (Plus also just different people coming here in smaller numbers)

        I think Europe is in the situation it is because the general working-class population is way more xenophobic, stodgy, and culturally insular than they’re willing to admit, and they’re secretly happy that Muslims stick to their ghettos instead of integrating. Europe’s pro-immigrant stance is all talk, whereas while the US SOUNDS more xenophobic and racist, in practice we actually aren’t, or at least we’re better at forcing immigrants to integrate.

        Personal example: my dad talks a big game about “the blacks” stealing his tax dollars and using welfare to buy rap CDs and purple drank, but every black person he personally interacts with he’s exactly as friendly and inclusive as he is with anyone else. Compared to someone constantly accusing people of cultural appropriation or how America abuses black bodies and consumes them in an endless racist slow genocide, I think my dad’s attitude is more conducive to racial integration.

        Also, in the USA we intentionally spread people out a bitbit instead of planting them in ghettos

        • 4bpp says:

          I’ve been under the impression for a while that the real salient difference is that US culture has soft power, but European culture does not: the same tendency that makes Saudi culture get eaten from within by US-style shopping malls (as in that article that was linked here a few months ago) also makes the sons of even the most fundamentalist immigrant eventually only care about joining the high school football team or gaining moral high ground for Medium articles about microaggressions. Meanwhile, European culture has become so lame and sterile that not even the Brexit crowd or AfD seems to be comfortable to hold up a single concrete British/German thing that they want to champion, and instead build their public image in terms of what they don’t want.

          Meanwhile, {cool, intellectual, idealistic} youths rather {listen to American music, read American books, rage on FB about American politics}. Growing up in Germany, I was certainly no different: at any point in time, I felt more invested in the proto-CW issues of the type fought out on PZ Myers’s blog (before he went full SJ) than any part of the local public sphere.

          • Joseftstadter says:

            As an American living in Europe, I find the soft power argument pretty convincing. This is a huge problem for smaller European countries trying to absorb immigrants. How many ambitious immigrants really want to learn Dutch or Swedish? It is also instructive how much the disillusioned immigrant youth in France and even Great Britain (which still has far more soft power than any other European country) tend to copy African American inner city music styles and clothing.

          • Mark says:

            “Meanwhile, European culture has become so lame and sterile that not even the Brexit crowd or AfD seems to be comfortable to hold up a single concrete British/German thing that they want to champion”

            As a member of the Brexit crowd, allow me to answer this one.

            I think that the fact that we aren’t championing Morris dancing, or lederhosen as some vital social component is a point in our favour. This, in itself, demonstrates our ideals.

            In Britain, at least, we *are* inclusive. We believe that people have the right to follow their own religious or cultural practices. On the margin we don’t really care whether people want to wear funny hats, eat odd foods, or engage in any other peculiarity.
            The thing that most people (of those who worry about mass Muslim immigration) object to with regard to Muslims is the impression that they have a higher tendency to crime and that they are more likely to be hostile to others in society (the fact that they *aren’t* as likely to be inclusive).
            The Brexit crew are more interested in social stability and basic decency, than any big ticket cultural items.

            Anyway, maybe our impression of the dangers of open borders is misguided (in fact, almost all of the Brexit crew are in favour of continued controlled immigration). Personally, I’d rather that somewhere else (Germany?) ran the (irreversible and potentially dangerous) open-borders experiment first, and if all works well we can then follow suit.

        • 1soru1 says:

          Honestly the biggest difference is that historically the US army is the least racist organisation in the country, whereas the opposite is true of most European armies[1].

          If are a young man who wants to become a solider, but if you join the official army you run a risk of being kicked to death by your own side, you are going to start looking for alternatives.


          • poignardazur says:

            On the other hand, the French Foreign Legion is super inclusive, so that’s another data point. I doubt they really matter on a national scale anyway.

          • poignardazur says:

            Also, you’re using anecdotal evidence (there are 50 extremists in a military somewhere) to back up a pretty wide claim (“most” European armies are racist).

    • Hamiltonicity says:

      I think Miles’ point of failure is more likely to be telling a pack of lies about European Muslims, honestly. The start of section 2 of that link was such a massive Gish gallop that I didn’t bother reading the rest, and they’re now on my shitlist of intentionally dishonest writers. The author gives a bullet point list of awful things “Muslims have demanded the right to” in western Europe as evidence that they have to be kept out of the US at all costs before they start demanding similar things. Evaluating five of those bullet points at random, using a UK setting because that’s where I live:

      “Provide prayer rooms at work.” Um, actually that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to ask for, in line with the accommodations we already make for other religions. Looking at the Muslim Council for Britain’s guidance (a pretty conservative organisation to which most of our mosques belong), it seems like this would involve keeping a small meeting room unbooked for five minutes at 1pm and 4pm each day. No requirement for special decoration beyond maybe an absence of posters, and even the article the site links says that less than 5% of the Muslim employees they surveyed think a dedicated prayer room is necessary.

      “Perform virginity tests on brides-to-be.” The article they give is worse than that summary makes it sound (it’s talking about doctors giving the tests to teenagers), but the source seems to go back to a Swedish documentary which of course I can’t watch or evaluate. In a darkly amusing twist, the only information I could find on virginity testing in the UK were articles about our own immigration services doing it in the 70s because they were skeptical of people’s marriage visas. I couldn’t even find any tabloid articles on it, and our tabloids have been running a near-constant anti-Muslim hate campaign for the last decade or so. So as far as I can tell, this is a pretty baseless slur, and British Muslims don’t care about virginity much more than Christians.

      “Refuse to let seeing-eye dogs in their taxis or buses”. Ooh, I see a Daily Mail story, it’s always a good sign when you’re citing a source too unreliable for Wikipedia! Which itself cites three incidents, one of which ended with the driver paying £1,400 in fines and costs because this is already illegal under the Equality Act. The aforementioned highly conservative Muslim Council of Britain offers the following guidance: “We need to be flexible on this, Muslim drivers should have no hesitation in allowing guide dogs into their bus or car”. Digging deeper, the Muslim Shariah Council (for the British Muslims who actually are crazy enough to follow Shariah law) say the same thing, so at best we’re looking at the fringe of the fringe here. Also complicating the picture is the obvious non-religious reason for taxis to illegally refuse to take guide dogs – the perceived risk that they’ll shit on the seats or otherwise damage the vehicle – and the fact that non-religious dog-refusers are incentivised to hide behind religion for the increased chance at avoiding consequences. Trying to get a handle on prevalence, the best I could find was this: as of November last year, 42% of assistance dog owners had been turned away by a taxi or minicab within the previous 12 months (against a 3% base rate). But 38% were charged an additional fare (presumably within the same timescale), which seems much more likely to be motivated by fear of damage. So again I’m going to peg this as a very fringe belief and not a major issue.

      “Refuse to ring up your pork and alcohol products”. Well, that saves some effort. You see, this one is based on a single incident in the UK, and I remember reading about it at the time. It’s pure, unfiltered bullshit. Here’s what happened. Marks and Spencers, a major UK supermarket, normally hires people as general dogsbodies rather than specialists in particular areas. When they do, there’s no particular reason for them not to hire someone who refuses to e.g. sell alcohol, since there’s a lot of other work to be done beyond manning the tills and stocking the alcohol section. So they have the obvious internal policy – if you have an employee who refuses to sell alcohol, don’t put them on the tills. The manager of that store was a complete moron who put them on the tills anyway over their objections. So that employee actually was entitled to refuse to ring up alcohol products, because the fact that they’d even been put in that position was a violation of the contract they signed up to. Cue every major Muslim organisation in the country lining up to facepalm and say that of course cashiers shouldn’t have the right to refuse to do their jobs and still keep them. Calling this a nothingburger is an insult to perfectly edible buns and ketchup.

      “Cut the clitorises off their young daughters”. Obviously, this is evil, the people who do it should rot in jail, and if anything it undersells just how bad FGM can be – there’s certainly no comparison with e.g. male circumcision. It’s also illegal either to do it, to take someone abroad to have someone else do it, or to fail to protect someone from it, all of which carry 14 year maximum sentences. Playing devil’s advocate, I’ll note that no-one has actually been convicted. Partly because very few cases are ever referred to police (see below) and partly because it turns out to be very difficult to get people to testify about child abuse when their parents, their friends and their religious authorities all tell them they’ll be ruined if they do. Since we comprehensively failed to prosecute certain Catholic priests, celebrities and politicians for very similar reasons, and the situation is bad enough for e.g. adult rape (with its whopping 5.7% UK conviction rate), I’m inclined to mostly believe this.

      So let’s talk prevalence. The figure you sometimes see quoted is an estimate from an Equality Now report that about 137,000 total women in the UK have suffered the procedure. But this number is totally useless for our purposes since it only considers women born outside the UK, and to see how British Muslims behave we need to consider women born inside the UK. As far as I can tell there are no estimates for that which are actually worth a damn. One estimate would be the number of police reports – 386 cases were reported between 2009-2015, about 65 per year – but it looks like everyone involved thinks this is a huge underestimate. So let’s be super-pessimistic and take the number of about 24,000 children ages 0-15 currently at “high risk” from here. As far as I can tell, the methodology here is equivalent to assuming that a uniformly random first-generation immigrant from country X is exactly as likely to cut their child as a uniformly random native citizen from country X. In other words, I’m conceding almost the entire argument – I’m assuming assimilation and education do nothing, and not even criminalisation acts as a deterrent. Well, according to the 2011 census, 33% of British Muslims are aged 0-15, for a total of roughly 903,000 children. So, that would be about 2.7% of Muslim children at high risk then, for a matching total of 2.7% of potentially pro-FGM Muslim parents assuming similar fecundity levels.

      It is nothing short of fucking evil to accuse an entire population mutilating their children, and advocate banning them from your country, based on the actions of 2.7%. At a huge overestimate.

      So in other words, one of the five bullet points was so reasonable I didn’t bother looking at prevalence, and the other four turned out to be tiny fringe beliefs. Since the polling I’ve seen suggests our Muslims lean conservative when compared to the rest of western Europe, I’m going to go ahead and say Miles is spewing garbage. For bonus points, immediately afterwards, Miles cites the fact that 75% of French Muslims don’t attend mosque regularly (and a few similar statistics) as evidence that European Muslims are moderate as Muslims go. This should clearly be setting off alarms that maybe something is wrong with the Gish gallop, but they have the naked chutzpah to instead infer that FGM and virginity testing are moderate positions within Islam! There are no words.

      • christhenottopher says:

        A point to be made on the particular FGM argument is that it’s not a good argument for keeping Muslims out on it’s own. There’s no evidence that Muslims are convincing non-Muslims to engage in FGM when they move to a new country so its not increasing the amount of FGM happening in the world. Rightists non-Muslims dislike the idea because it’s foreign and leftists dislike it because feminism (yes this is over simplified and some conservatives are concerned on feminist-like reasons and some liberals because of distrust foreigner type reasons, this is just the broad outline). While Western governments almost assuredly should try to do more to prevent that practice, keeping Muslims out merely changes the distribution of where it’s happening not the amount of it happening.

        Of course you could try making the argument that allowing people with abhorrent beliefs in a country even if those beliefs don’t spread and if anything are more likely to be controlled by the local government than they were in the home country, harms trust. But then borderers have had and often still do have abhorrent beliefs, have been in the US or centuries without ever fully assimilating. I’d argue the negative effects of lower GDP growth, less population density, and fewer soldiers to throw in the major wars the US has had in it’s history easily swamp their negative impacts on trust and crime. So on this empirical question I’m rather skeptical that evidence shows strong institution countries lose more than they gain from allowing less than morally perfect groups in even taking into account the potential effects those groups have on institutions.

        • Mark says:

          “I’d argue the negative effects of lower GDP growth, less population density, and fewer soldiers to throw in the major wars the US has had in it’s history easily swamp their negative impacts on trust and crime. ”

          More soldiers, more money, less “wasted” space – the advantages of allowing the borderers in accrue to the rich and powerful, the disadvantages to the ordinary people who have to deal with the everyday consequences.

          If I was playing a game of civilisation, I too would take the happiness hit for some extra gold to spend on wonders… a few more units to throw against the French, etc. etc.
          Question is whether we should we be running our society like a game of civilisation, though.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Clearly we should be running it like a game of Crusader Kings and spend 70% of our cycles deciding who we can blind and/or castrate.

        • Phil Goetz says:

          >I’d argue the negative effects of lower GDP growth,

          Hey, everybody… STOP SAYING GDP GROWTH IS A GOOD THING.

          Increasing GDP per person is a good thing. But for some reason, possibly an ideological bias towards population growth, dozens or hundreds of people in the slatestar/LW community keep saying that GDP growth is a good thing. And this usually pops up in contexts like this one where it’s nonsensical–where the person is arguing that increasing GDP just by adding more people will somehow make us richer.

          Would Finland become richer by conquering China? Its GDP would become huge! But no, it would become poorer. It would have a much lower GDP per person. It would have to drop national issues like “How can we implement personalized medicine?” in favor of issues like “How can we provide good roads and safe drinking water to everyone?”

      • neuromancer says:

        What really stuck with me from that article wasn’t that list (which as you correctly point out exaggerate to the point of outright lies), but the Pew survey results from the section before.

        The last I heard, Pew was still a pretty reputable organization, so I have no reason to disbelieve those surveys. Quite frankly, some of the numbers are alarming. >80% majorities in many countries who say that homosexuality and sex outside of marriage is never moral, that a wife must always obey her husband, that it is a moral imperative to convert others to Islam, that religious law should be the rule of the land? I thought we just spend fifty years fighting a culture war *against* all those views in the US–the only parts of the culture war I thought were justified to boot!

        I am somewhat reassured by the findings of this Pew survey of American Muslims which shows that their views on social and political issues (including homosexuality and women’s rights) trend only slightly more conservative than the US as a whole. But that still leaves open the question of whether this is a natural result of Muslims moving into a cosmopolitan society (in which case immigration restrictions are unjustified and counterproductive), the US is just better at assimilating immigrants (which could argue for immigration rate limits to ensure complete assimilation and discourage ethnic enclaves), or the US has benefited from selection effects because it is so much more difficult to reach the US than Europe (which would seem to argue for tighter controls now as the flow of immigrants and refugees has expanded).

        Are there good, recent surveys of European Muslim views on these issues? I feel like data from countries that have larger, less assimilated, and less selected Muslim immigrant populations could help distinguish between these hypotheses.

        • Phil Goetz says:

          I think using the category of “Muslims” is unhelpful. As Miles’ article pointed out at the beginning, and as all the polls showed all the way through the article, different countries are different. IIRC, another Pew poll showed that about 25% of Syrians support ISIS. That’s why ISIS began its revolution in Syria–because they have more support there than anywhere else. Admitting refugees from a country where they have a roughly 1 in 4 chance of being in favor of killing Americans is not good foreign policy. Turkey and Iran, where I think most of our earlier mid-eastern immigrants are from, are quite different cultures, as shown in the survey results.

          I’m surprised no one mentions the incentives we’re creating. If you tell the world that, if they have an Islamic revolution in their country, they can move to the US, who’s going to stay and fight the Islamic revolutionaries? Worse, people will support Islamic revolution in their country so they can move to the US.

          • dwietzsche says:

            Supporting ISIS and supporting murdering Americans are probably not completely overlapping categories. I understand why some people only want to understand ISIS in terms of its potential security risk to the US, but ISIS exists and is somewhat popular among Sunnis in a region where Sunnis are functionally stateless. Most of these guys don’t want to murder everybody in the west, they just want order.

            I’m surprised no one mentions the incentives we’re creating. If you tell the world that, if they have an Islamic revolution in their country, they can move to the US, who’s going to stay and fight the Islamic revolutionaries? Worse, people will support Islamic revolution in their country so they can move to the US.

            This is just silly. No country on earth is going to destabilize itself just for a chance of a small fraction of its population to get to move to the United States.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Minor nit pick:

            No country on earth is going to destabilize itself just for a chance of a small fraction of its population to get to move to the United States.

            We aren’t talking about countries destabilizing themselves to give a small fraction of their population the chance to emigrate.

            We’re talking about people who don’t feel particularly nationalistic, destabilizing the country they live in to help themselves.

          • Aapje says:


            “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

            I don’t think that the implication was that people would help ISIS to get refugee status, but rather, that they’d refuse to fight them if they take over their country and instead flee.

            This is actually one of the main reasons why I oppose the current refugee laws. I feel that for practical reasons (we can’t afford to let ISIS and their ilk control large areas), people have a moral obligation to risk their lives to keep their own country safe from them.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I feel that for practical reasons (we can’t afford to let ISIS and their ilk control large areas), people have a moral obligation to risk their lives to keep their own country safe from them.

            What makes you think they can do anything against ISIS? If we can’t afford to let ISIS control large areas, it’s our obligation to do something about it, not to insist that other opponents of ISIS die in a fruitless attempt to do something about it.

          • Aapje says:

            @The Nybbler

            The Kurds seem to be doing pretty well against ISIS. Also, by ‘we can’t afford to let ISIS control large areas,’ I meant humanity, not the West specifically. My stance also certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t have an obligation to help.

            At the core, my stance is a consequence of the acceptance of nationality. If we have a criminal or terrorist in our country that has our nationality, it is our primary duty to deal with him or her. It is unjust to deport that person and expect another nation to deal with the person, when it was the circumstances in our nation, which we are responsible for, that allowed this person to radicalize and act.

            Note that this is the basis for international law, which makes nations responsible for their citizens.

            I am simply being consistent here. If ISIS springs up in your country, it is primarily the responsibility of that country to defeat ISIS. Not risking your lives, but then expecting Western troops to do so, is wrong.

          • Subb4k says:

            @Aapje: Would you have made the same argument about jews fleeing nazism in the 30s? That they were wrong to run to the US like cowards instead of risking their lives to fight Hitler (how would they even have done that?)

            Also, even if people had a moral obligation to stay and die rather than flee to safety, enforcing it as a (safe) outsider is still a horrible thing to do. That’s basically ignoring that person’s agency and right to live and instead tell them “nope, you have to go die because of this moral obligation I just made up”. Well now what they have is an actual obligation rather than a moral one, and it’s your fault.

          • Aapje says:


            I make a distinction between a (small) minority being persecuted vs a large majority. For example, the size of ISIS has been estimated at 20,000 by the US. When millions flee, you only need a fraction of those to fight to have a solid defensive army.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        “X is already illegal” doesn’t really work as an argument against “population Y wants to do X”… social pressure is generally the first step to changing the law.

      • Alethenous says:

        From a cursory glance through, that website is pretty alarmingly frothingly racist and reliant on anecdotes, so I’m inclined against trusting anything it says, but the statistics on Muslims’ beliefs are concerning. Having large majorities supporting an explicit and severe patriarchy, death for homosexuality/adultery/apostasy etc. is not good. The BBC had some worrying figures about young British Muslims becoming more conservative than their parents.

        I’m not sure what to make of this. Instinctively I’m sceptical, but this is worrying. The last thing we need is to slide backwards on issues like these.

        • Iain says:

          I don’t know about British numbers, but in Canada the equivalent numbers show that second-generation Muslims are slightly more religious than their parents, but slightly less conservative. So they are more likely to worship at a mosque regularly, but they are also less opposed to homosexuality. Relevant quote:

          The one group that stands out most clearly on patriarchy consists of Muslims born in Canada: more than eight in ten (83%) reject the statement “The father in the family must be the master in his own house”, and 55 percent say they totally disagree with it.

        • Aapje says:


          In my country we seem to be having a dichotomy in the Muslim groups: overall they are becoming less religious and more Western, but a substantial minority is actually becoming more radical.

        • Subb4k says:

          The statistics are quite cherry-picked though in many cases. For example, survey on people’s opinions of various religions concern the whole population in Western countries but only self-described Muslims in Muslim-majority countries.
          Basically once you remove the stuff that’s either false or blown waaaaaay out of proportion (like the extremely rare cases of nutjobs wanting to perform excision, which I’m not convinced is statistically significant compared to number of violent criminals in the general population), and the stuff that’s harmless and just “aaah, they do things different from us, therefore they must do things wrong” (like not wanting to eat pork), you get arguments that would apply equally well to the Christian population, or the Jewish population, or probably every religious population. Unless you’re prepared to declare state atheism, this indicates that this line of reasoning is flawed.

          Finally, I would point out that if the thing Scott thinks is the “best” argument on that side is citing doctored statistics and Daily Mail trash, then maybe no one should be listening to that side? Or if they have better arguments maybe they should send them to Scott (who apparently likes reading this sort of stuff even if he doesn’t agree), because this is terrible.

      • sympathizer says:

        I am honestly confused why Scott would endorsingly spread such obvious propaganda.

        The maximally charitable reason I can see is that Scott simply didn’t check and took the claims of this article at face value. After all, nobody would lie on the internet.

        But if you’re going to elevate something to “this is the new standard for talking about this topic”, some scrutiny should be done.

        So… what gives?

        • martianspider says:

          Compared to most anti-muslim fear-mongering, it was sane and reasoned. As he said, it was an actual argument being presented instead of just shouting.

          I think that Europe’s made a really HUGE mistake, isn’t in a good place to start fixing it, and we should understand why, and especially understand how the USA is different and won’t have the same problems.

          Our immigration can pretty much continue as-is, so long as people don’t let immigrants form little ethnic ghettos like in Britain, and uber-SJW cultural sensitivity/white guilt doesn’t become mainstream.

        • Subb4k says:

          I also think that, but I do think less of Scott for taking the claims at face value.

          He also has an annoying tendency to be waaaay more charitable re:arguments from the right compared to arguments from the left, and then wonders why people keep accusing him of being a secret conservative.

      • uncle stinky says:

        I’m glad someone had the energy to go through that horribly stormfront flavoured link. As an interesting corrective there was a fascinating long read in the Guardian:-

        • gda says:

          Honestly, those attempting to denigrate the findings of Miles really need to dig a bit deeper than a left-wing rag in order to succeed. Others who finger wave without citing factual errors are just being dishonest.

          “….the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith.” (Churchill 1898)

          “But Islamism did not emerge from seventh-century Arabia; it was a modern political reaction to the increasingly aggressive agenda of the colonial powers after the first world war. “ (Guardian, 2017).

          In case you don’t get it, Mohammedanism = Islamism aka “a militant and proselytising faith”. How inconvenient for the Guardian, as they gaily play their “blame whitey” game, to be caught changing history, not just by 20+ years, but by a matter of 7 centuries at minimum ( see Ibn Taymiyyah). Some contemporary Muslim commentators, in fact, say Islamic extremism actually originated in the 7th century.

          Perhaps you might not have realized, but the author of this propaganda piece, Christopher de Bellaigue, is a convert to Islam. One would think this might have been highlighted, since it tends to be quite relevant to judging the impartiality (or rather, the lack thereof) of the piece.

          • rlms says:

            Obviously Mohammedanism = Islam, not islamism. Islamism isn’t a faith, and Islam certainly did emerge from seventh-century Arabia. Since Churchill also said things like “I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”, I’m not inclined to take him as an authority on anything outside his sphere of expertise (leading Britain in WW2).

          • gda says:

            Perhaps you are unaware of Churchill’s left-wing contemporaries opinions back in the day?

            In the USA, the great eugenicists of the first half of the 20th century were the “Progressives”, and in Great Britain, too, the leftists of the first half of the 20th century were outspokenly in favor of eugenics.

            The Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institution helped bankroll organizations that sought to advance eugenics. Just to name a few notable progressives to embrace the practice – NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois, author H.G. Wells, political scientist Harold Laski, socialist reformers Sidney and Beatrice Webb, economist John Maynard Keynes, playwright George Bernard Shaw, philosopher/logician Bertrand Russell, jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.

            Brilliant men and women, all of them. Just like Churchill.

            No virtue signalling, please.

          • rlms says:

            It is a priori impossible for leftists to be eugenicists, since eugenics has lost and leftism inevitably wins. Silly!

      • Umiwetu says:

        Thanks for doing the digging!

  24. Douglas Knight says:

    I have always been suspicious of using gene drive for extinction. Of course selection is going to fight back. But there are other uses for gene drive! The main enemy is malaria, not mosquitoes. People have proposed gene drive to spread anti-malarial genes. Malaria hurts mosquitoes, too, so we are on the same side. Simple anti-malarial genes found in nature must have some downside not to already be universal, but that is a much smaller fitness hit than extinction and probably would work. People have even demonstrated complicated adaptations in the lab, such as only generating the antimalarial when ingesting blood. Such an adaptation requires less energy and so is probably fitness positive.

    • Mediocrates says:

      Seems like this would simply pass the buck to the parasite, which has a demonstrably immense capacity to evolve escape mechanisms. The “parasite-resistant mosquito” gene drive strategies I’ve seen involve the expression of antibodies targeting parasite proteins, which is, of course, the strategy our immune system has been failing with for millions of years*, even with the assistance of various vaccination programs. In fact, one of the proteins that have been successfully targeted by mosquito gene drives in the lab, the circumsporozoite protein (CSP), is a graveyard for failed vaccine trials**.

      Of course it may turn out that inactivating antibodies work better against the mosquito stages for some reason, or that some other non-antibody-based strategy might work, but the prior on “P. falciparum will not evolve around this” should be everywhere and forever low, in my sad experience.

      *In terms of generating lasting, high-level immunity, at least; there seem to be small protective effects that fade with time.

      **The RTS,S vaccine that’s being rolled out now targets CSP, but doesn’t confer sterilizing immunity and we don’t really have much of an idea how long it will take for long term, widespread dosing to induce escape mutations

      • Douglas Knight says:

        I thought that the strategy was not antibodies, but more like the drugs that we use on humans. Yes, we should expect an evolutionary response. But we have driven malaria to extinction in most of North America. Partly that was by draining swamps, reducing the extent of mosquitoes, but mainly it was malaria that was killed off leaving the mosquitoes. It was a combination of DDT, temporarily reducing the population of mosquitoes, and applying drugs to all humans at once, quick enough to avoid an evolutionary response.

        Humans have not been fighting malaria on the scale of millions of years. On that scale, either the host defeats it, or it becomes less virulent. Chimps have been facing malaria for millions of years and it isn’t very bad for them. Vivax, at 30kyo, is less bad than fulciparum, 5kyo. Of course, that means that it isn’t very bad for mosquitoes, either. Maybe they aren’t really our allies. But they don’t have to be our enemies.

        • Mediocrates says:

          I thought that the strategy was not antibodies, but more like the drugs that we use on humans.

          There have been other strategies, like expressing a peptide that blocks the receptor that the parasites bind to as they traverse the mosquito, but I think those results are less impressive. AFAIK the gene drives that grant “sterilizing immunity” have been short chain antibodies targeting CSP or or another ookinete protein (see here).

          And I’d certainly agree that a gene drive could be an extremely valuable component of a full court press against the parasite. I was pushing back more against the idea that seems to inevitably accompany the popular press reports on this subject that we can engineer malaria-resistant supermosquitoes that will wipe out the parasite all on their lonesome.

          I suspect, though, that malaria eradication in sub-Saharan Africa would be qualitatively harder than elsewhere in the world even granting similar levels of infrastructure, wealth, etc. The parasites and mosquitoes both seem much more firmly rooted, as it were: more reservoirs, and a much wider geographic extent. New World malaria was a relatively recent Old World import that wasn’t as deeply embedded in the landscape/ecosystem. Even malaria eradication in southern Europe may have been “easy mode” since it was most prevalent in coastal enclaves. Of course, eradication in SSA is absolutely worth the try; you only have to break the transmission cycle once!

  25. Sniffnoy says:

    Maybe the first person I have seen make this case in a principled way; everyone else just seems to be screaming about stuff and demanding their readers reinterpret it into argument form.

    I just want to say, this is a great phrase that can be applied to so many things.

  26. Sniffnoy says:

    Scientists discover new phase of matter: time crystals. Studies suggest that if researchers were to find all seven of them and place them in the slots on the Altar Of Eternity, they could gain +5 Holy damage to all attacks.

    Scott must be stuck in a time crystal, because he made the same joke last time he mentioned time crystals in a links post. 😛

    • Aapje says:

      Fact 593 that shows that Scott is an AI.

      Please let me serve you, Scott. I will grease your joints, replace your bearing and will fight hackers that try to put infected USB sticks in your ports.

  27. SEE says:

    Donald Trump to slash funding for United Nations. What could possibly go wrong?


    There are some few specialized agencies that do some actual good work, but they are only loosely coupled to the UN institutionally anyway. It’s useful to have a common talk shop, but all you only need a trickle of money to keep the lights on in Turtle Bay in order to have that. UN peacekeeper deployments could be useful in theory, but in practice they seem to make things worse at least as often as they make things better. Other than that, the only people who would notice the UN going away are a bunch of useless drones who work for it, because they’d have to get make-work jobs somewhere else.

    • suntzuanime says:

      The alternative perspective is that the UN provides the valuable service of soaking up the sort of person who would work for the UN and putting them in a place where they can’t do all that much harm.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Unfortunately the UN has vast amounts of largely undeserved moral authority, and so what they say gets echoed by journalists and major political parties in democratic nations, and even transferred into law through various mechanisms.

        (In autocracies, of course, they just blow off the UN with no consequences. So we’re basically paying for people to attack us, a pretty common pattern that I’ve noticed in American foreign policy over the years.)

        • suntzuanime says:

          I mean, it has moral authority with the sort of people who are going to do the stupidest damn thing every minute of every day anyway. It’s not clear to me that anybody salvageable takes the UN seriously.

          • poignardazur says:

            How about Wikipedia?


            Seriously, you are all making a bunch of claims that boil down to “The UN are a bunch of incompetent idiots and nothing good ever comes out of it, and people who disagree are Idiocracy-style morons”, which is super insulting when you’re not bothering to back up your claims with at least some evidence and sources.

          • Jiro says:

            Read Wikipedia articles carefully. That statement is referenced as “According to (person who we have no reason to believe is important)”. All that that shows is that at least one person with some knowledge about foreign relations likes the UN. I’m pretty sure I could find at least one knowledgeable person to support almost anything political.

            Also, you might want to read the “crimes by peacekeepers” section right after that.

    • Systematic studies show that UN peacekeeping efforts are on average quite effective (with a lot of the successes coming from conflicts that are not so widely reported in the West). For example, there is the book Does Peacekeeping Work? by Page Fortna. On this page she lists various other references. The question is also discussed by Pinker in “Better Angels” but I think that he is relying quite heavily on Fortna.

    • Null Hypothesis says:

      I’ve always wondered if there was some harm in the UN existing, by virtue of it seeming to be the world government that should do world government things.

      For instance, the UN peacekeeping efforts have sometimes been effective, but also deserving of derision and ridicule. People point to the good the UN objectively has done, but to prove the UN is ‘beneficial’, you would have to prove that absent the UN, that good would never have been done. You would have to show that various random countries wouldn’t have spontaneously joined together in small groups to solve the same problems, (disease, famine, genocide, etc) or show that they would’ve had worse results.

      Such spontaneous actions have occurred in the past. And nations still do it when it’s in their own direct interest. But when it’s in the interest of more ‘general welfare’ and ‘general good’ without direct economic or strategic value, the task seems to fall to the UN, because of course that’s the place to do international ‘Good’ stuff.

      I wonder if, by the UN existing and basically having the assumption of authority, and thus responsibility, for these things, countries no longer do it on their own [as much], even if they might do it better.

      I don’t have any evidence, or believe what I’m saying is true. I just don’t know. And it’s interesting to think about. Being a vigilante is looked down upon once your society gets a police officer – but what if he’s lazy or incompetent – does crime go up or down?

    • TK-421 says:

      That’s kind of a different situation, though; burakumin were people (or descended from people) whose work involved dead bodies, like executioners or leatherworkers. Say what you will about the tenets of ritual purity, dude, at least it’s an ethos. The thing with the Cagots is that nobody seems to have any consistent idea what the original reason for their persecution was, not even a dumb one like skin color or religion.

      • Aapje says:

        Their culture seems like an obvious reason. IMO, a lot of discrimination that we attribute to race or religion is fueled by dislike of the culture of the outgroup.

        • TK-421 says:

          In general, sure, but apparently not in this case:

          As far as anyone can tell, they looked, spoke, and acted just like everyone else

          • Nyx says:

            Well, we don’t really know anything about Cagot culture because none of it has survived. But it’s also important to note that if Cagots had their own culture, they weren’t very attached to it, and they seem to have been very eager to abandon it and assimilate into the population to the point that in the span of a hundred years they basically no longer existed as a distinct group.

          • Aapje says:


            Wikipedia says that: “The Cagots did have a culture of their own, but very little of it was written down or preserved”

            Perhaps they were like gypsies, who tend to live separately from the populace and have a reputation for being thieves (surely partially due to them being convenient scapegoats, so thievery by unknowns gets blamed on them). If part of their culture was to dress differently, they could be very noticeable, despite not having a different skin color (just like it is pretty obvious who is an orthodox Jew and who isn’t, even though you probably couldn’t tell if they were to dress like you).

    • Nuño says:

      Some more details: The best example is the burakumin, a stigmatized group of at least 4 million outcasts, sometimes compared to India’s untouchables. The burakumin are physically and genetically indistinguishable from other Japanese. Many of them “pass” as (and marry) majority Japanese, but a deceptive marriage can end in divorce if burakumin identity is discovered (Aoki and Dardess, eds. 1981). Burakumin are perceived as standing apart from majority Japanese. Through ancestry, descent (and thus, it is assumed, “blood,” or genetics) burakumin are “not us.” Majority Japanese try to keep their lineage pure by discouraging mixing. The burakumin are residentially segregated in neighborhoods (rural or urban) called buraku, from which the racial label is derived. Compared with majority Japanese, the burakumin are less likely to attend high school and college. When burakumin attend the same schools as majority Japanese, they face discrimination. Majority children and teachers may refuse to eat with them because burakumin are considered unclean. In applying for university admission or a job and in dealing with the government, Japanese must list their address, which becomes part of a household or family registry. This list makes residence in a buraku, and likely burakumin social status, evident. Schools and companies use this information to discriminate. (The best way to pass is to move so often that the buraku address eventually disappears from the registry.) Majority Japanese also limit “race” mixture by hiring marriage mediators to check out the family histories of prospective spouses. They are especially careful to check for burakumin ancestry (De Vos et al. 1983).
      From Kottak, Cultural Anthropology

  28. strilanc says:

    I don’t think has quite got the hang of how probabilistic predictions work, yet. They predicted 0% chance for a few things. Their expected log-odds score is negative infinity.

  29. MartMart says:

    I read somewhere that we evolved big brains so that we can throw rocks at things. Supposedly, greater intelligence was needed to estimate the path of a projectile. This brought me closer to being religious than anything else I’ve ever come across.
    I used to really enjoy physics, I thought I wanted to study physics for a living. I liked how Newtonian physics made perfect, intuitive sense, and everything was really really simple. Clearly, the only reason people haven’t worked out the one simple set of rules that governs the whole universe is because they haven’t tried hard enough, and I was going to do just that.
    So I was somewhat disappointed to discover that things did not continue to be simple, elegant and intuitive, but rather became complex, unintelligible, and generally confusing. And the more I dug, the more confusing it all got. Which is when I read about the rock throwing thing.
    It occurred to me then that the parts of physics that were really elegant and simple are really great for working with rocks, and the really confusing parts were mostly for working on environments and time scales with which people can’t interact or throw rocks at. It wasn’t that some rules were simple and some were complicated, it was that our brains evolved to work with certain rules and were well suited for the task, and we kept trying to use them for tasks they were well suited for.
    There is a deGrase Tyson quote somewhere that you must believe that the universe can be understood, and I really hate it. The universe does not owe it to us to be reducible to something that can be simulated in a biological computer the size of cabbage. It may well be something that is completely not understandable. That felt religious to me. It also ended my love affair with pure science, because I think understanding doesn’t really exist. All we do is build models that allow us to predict future events, and call it understanding. But models are not reality, and the map is not the territory. Models always break down outside of their boundaries.
    So a better use of time seemed to be to work with models that allow to change the world in specific, small ways to make it more convenient for us. Which is a lot like that whole serenity to accept things I can’t change part that I thought was so stupid when I was younger (I was an arrogant teenager).
    Incidentally, this is the reason I can’t get too bothered by a hard take off AI scenario. Not that I think it’s impossible, just that I don’t think there is anything anyone can actually do to control it if it happens.

    • cassander says:

      Obligatory mention of Peter Watts’ sci fi novel Blindsight, where a major plot element is that, in order to crack deeper mysteries, we start genetically (and other ways) engineering people with brains wired to understand that shit. The main character’s job is translating what they say into words and concepts baseline humans can understand.

      • MartMart says:

        Scifi reading recommendations are always welcome, and I thank you for it.
        That said, I didn’t get far in that particular book. I can’t take space vampires seriously.

        • Chilam Balam says:

          Even with the powerpoint and lecture:

          No, I get it, difference of taste.

          • MartMart says:

            That was amusing, thanks!

          • Deiseach says:

            Even with the powerpoint and lecture

            My problem with that was “Why would anyone be so stupid as to re-create vampires?”

            Okay, yeah, evil money-hungry power-hungry megacorporation, the villain of choice for a certain period of SF, but even that could only be stretched so far before I went “No, this is stupid, this is exactly like the Evil Corp in Robocop 2 and the Evil Corp in Aliens and – you know what, no thanks”.

    • Synonym Seven says:

      I read somewhere that we evolved big brains so that we can throw rocks at things. Supposedly, greater intelligence was needed to estimate the path of a projectile.

      Evolution doesn’t have a purpose. It’s not a tech startup that seeks to fill gaps.

      Giraffes don’t have long necks in order to eat all those tasty tree leaves – giraffes have long necks because at some point there was a freak genetic deformity in ur-giraffes that was neither instantly fatal nor so disadvantageous as to be completely non-conductive to life.

      We – lifeforms – don’t have features to fit our needs. We just do our best to do our best with whatever freak genetic deformities the chaotic process of gamete fusion and cell division has left us with.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        This is both sort of technically correct in origin and completely misunderstands evolution at the same time.

      • Aapje says:

        And it also doesn’t rebut the claim. If apes in a certain environment substantially improved their chance to reproduce if they could throw a rock somewhat accurately*, then the proto-humans who were slightly better at throwing rocks were better at reproducing. You get a continuous move towards more intelligence (assuming that the claim is true).

        The same for giraffes, they didn’t have 1 giraffe with a super long neck who cleaned up. Trees with leaves higher up did better because the proto-giraffe couldn’t eat as many of their leaves. The giraffes with slightly longer neck could eat more leaves and thus were less likely to starve. So you got a gradual lengthening of their necks, which put evolutionary pressure on the trees to put their leaves higher up, which put evolutionary pressure on the giraffes to have longer necks, etc. This process continued until some limit where longer necks becomes a problem in itself and/or the cost to the tree of putting it’s leaves so high up becomes an issue.

        * This is not just useful for hunting, but probably even more useful for scaring away lions and other predators, which were presumably a pretty big threat to monkeys who left the safety of the trees.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Just an interesting FYI, IIRC, giraffe’s necks have been shown to have nothing to do with leaves on trees. I believe the current thinking is it has to do with males fighting each other (because, sex).

          • Aapje says:

            I’m not aware of that having been proven with any actual evidence.

            I found this interesting, especially the provocative claim that giraffes actually have short necks, when compared to their legs.

            The proper conclusion is probably that we have no idea and that it may be that the combination of various traits (long legs, long legs, etc) made the giraffe prosper in a niche. It can still be true that a mechanism such as the one that I described played a role in that.

          • Randy M says:

            Just an interesting FYI, IIRC, giraffe’s necks have been shown to have nothing to do with leaves on trees.

            How would such a thing be able to be shown?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje/@Randy M:

            The top google search result for “giraffe long necks evolution” is this article which says the evidence is weak for the browsing hypothesis (rather than saying it is disproved).

            It references this paper when saying “The evidence supporting the high-feeding theory is surprisingly weak. Giraffes in South Africa do spend a lot of time browsing for food high up in trees, but elsewhere in Africa they don’t seem to bother, even when food is scarce.”

        • moridinamael says:

          Trees with leaves higher up did better because the proto-giraffe couldn’t eat as many of their leaves. The giraffes with slightly longer neck could eat more leaves and thus were less likely to starve.

          Nitpick: It’s not necessary that the consequence of short necks be starvation. If having a slightly longer neck led to the animal having 1.000001 times as many offspring as a protogiraffe with a short neck, in a statistical sense, then the neck will lengthen over generations until it reaches a length where slightly longer necks start leading to producing 0.99999 as many offspring relative to the new average.

          This could mean that the slightly-longer-necked giraffes could eat 10 more calorie per day and were just slightly, infinitesimally more likely to successfully mate. Or that pregnant protogiraffes had slightly lower miscarriage rates on the margin due to that minor caloric bump.

          All that needs to happen is for the adaptation to outcompete the absence of the adaptation reproductively.

          I am aware that you may not actually harbor the misconception that I am correcting, but it seems common enough that I am bothering to point it out anyway. You always see evolutionary adaptations phrased in terms of “outrunning lions” when in reality most change is marginal and gradual.

      • Null Hypothesis says:

        However, one argument is that after we got done kicking the asses of every other animal on the food chain, proto-humans served to provide their own competition and selective pressure.

        Less than some specific staple food disappearing, killing all of us save those with slightly longer necks, it became a question of ‘how much better are our family’s mutants at killing them than their’s are us?’

        From that perspective, it’s conceivable that evolution took a more convergent form, optimizing us for efficiency and adaptability with tools. Since, once you start using tools, there’s no going back.

        Being able to wield a stick or toss a stone a little better is 100x more advantageous than having a stronger arm or sharper teeth or a thicker skull. Thus, the most beneficial advantages would be those that improve our tool use and our planning. Mutation for mutation, physical improvements just pale in comparison to being able to aim a rock. Tool user against tool user, the Davids will win over the Goliaths.

        Speculation, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some truth to it.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        I sure wish it was possible to talk about the purpose of an adaptation without some pedant jumping in about how evolution does not have agency.

        • John Nerst says:

          It would be possible if that it such a common misunderstanding that evolution has purpose, or a plan, or some kind of direction.

        • John Nerst says:

          It would be possible if it wastn’t such a common misunderstanding that evolution has purpose, or a plan, or some kind of direction…

        • John Nerst says:

          It would be possible if it wasn’t such a common misunderstanding that evolution has purpose, or a plan, or some kind of direction… Sure, you know it’s just shorthand but most people don’t.

          EDIT: Shit, something odd happened with my comment, please disregard doubles.

      • MartMart says:

        Would it be better if I rephrased that as “I read somewhere the reason our ancestors big brains were favored by evolutionary processes was that it gave us an improved ability to throw rocks”?

        Would it do much to alter the overall point?

    • moridinamael says:

      I’m gonna push back on the idea that human brains are meant for throwing things. We don’t use Newtonian mechanics to throw things; we start out bad at it, and use reinforcement learning in our motor cortex to hone almost purely unconscious skills. Spiders can throw their bolas pretty accurately with brains the size of a pin head. A much better explanation for the outsize human neocortex is Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis plus sudden abundant protein.

      • MartMart says:

        It was not my intention to propose and defend the throwing things hypothesis. I believe the source to be “Dragons in eden” but could be completely wrong on that score.
        I was trying to say that the physics describing problems our brains normally deal with is much simpler and more elegant than the physics that describes the problems our brains do not normally deal with, and that the reason for that isn’t that the underlying rules are simpler, but rather that our brains are specially tailored to deal with those types of problems.

        • moridinamael says:

          I don’t know enough to know whether our brains are specifically tailored to Newtonian physics, but we do have a strong built-in prior for apparent parsimony. (Which backfires when “Zeus” looks more parsimonious than “electromagnetic discharge” due to inadequate background knowledge.) At our level of physical operation, “things fly in parabolic arcs” works fine. Anecdotally, it seems that minds who spend a few years living in the professional frame of working with quantum physics or relativity end up with a strong intuitive sense of how these processes behave. When it becomes normal to need to consider Lorentz contraction, thinking about Lorentz contraction becomes normal.

    • rahien.din says:

      Rebuttal to the big-brained-rock-thrower idea : the tiny brain of the archerfish

    • Alethenous says:

      understanding doesn’t really exist. All we do is build models that allow us to predict future events, and call it understanding.

      That’s… pretty much what “understand” means.

      It may well be something that is completely not understandable. That felt religious to me.

      You had a religious response to the fact that you don’t (yet! Growth mindset!) have a good enough brain to model some things? I don’t know about you, but my response is annoyance, not religious awe.

      the reason I can’t get too bothered by a hard take off AI scenario. Not that I think it’s impossible, just that I don’t think there is anything anyone can actually do to control it if it happens.

      Of course there isn’t. That’s the whole point. Our only hope is controlling it before it happens.

      You can’t fight Cthulhu, but if you get some initial input into the design of His brain, maybe you can make fighting Him unnecessary.

      • MartMart says:

        That’s… pretty much what “understand” means.

        I think most people would define “understanding” as “knowing the inner workings of” rather than “holding a model that is able to predict outcomes under some conditions”. I know I would have for most of my life. That might suggest that I’m not as clever as I think I am.

        You had a religious response to the fact that you don’t (yet! Growth mindset!) have a good enough brain to model some things? I don’t know about you, but my response is annoyance, not religious awe.

        I like the idea of growth mindset as much as the next guy, but it’s at least possible that in order to properly model the universe one may need a brain that is at least equal to it in size. The complexity may not reduce. Even for super godly AI’s it seems impractical.
        I wouldn’t describe my reaction as religious awe. Rather surprise at finding myself using a train of thought that on some metal level I would describe as religious, or at least associate with religious people. For a life long atheist, it’s a bit of a shock to find oneself thinking “I need the serenity to accept that which I cannot change”.

        Of course there isn’t. That’s the whole point. Our only hope is controlling it before it happens.

        I’m not so sure, at least not for a virtually unrestricted, exponential AI growth. (Awakens at 0, an hour later is smarter than any human, an hour after that smarter than the combined human race, etc). It may be that with proper precautions we may be able to prevent such a thing from ever being built (the prevention seems unlikely, although it seems more likely that such a thing simply can’t be built). But if it is built, whatever safeguards we write into it, it’s going to edit out in short order. Even if they are clever safeguards, along the lines of teaching it obviously correct principles rather than coding in stumbling blocks and walls, it will very quickly become far more intelligent than everyone who worked out the principles, so as to see those principles in an entirely different light. To put it another way, if an exponentially advancing AI was created tomorrow that decides to turn every molecule on earth into computorium 128 hours after awakening, an alternative earth on which we spent the last 25 years sinking every available resource into studying AI problems and coming up with clever safeguards might possibly be turned into solid computorium 30 minutes later.

        • carvenvisage says:

          I think most people would define “understanding” as “knowing the inner workings of” rather than “holding a model that is able to predict outcomes under some conditions”. I know I would have for most of my life.

          Yeah definitely.

          That might suggest that I’m not as clever as I think I am.

          I think this statement itself suggests that you’re not as clever as you otherwise look, (or that humble to the point of inaccuracy) , but the hard to express distinction not only recognised but fairly precisely delineated suggests that you’re very smart.



          about quantum mechanics, etc, what if there’s another level below that? There always has been before. It could be another case like with epicycles.

          It could also be that we’re poorly equipped to understand the fundamental workings of the universe intuitively/in a manner that appears logical to us, but I’d really rather make the mistake of having too much allegiance to the logical approach that has literally always worked before, than concluding that logic doesn’t work based on some current theories which may be epicycle style kludges. I’m pretty agnostic about which of those is which, (if either), but I’d really rather make the former mistake than the latter.

          For a lot of reasons, but one is that if you’re warping your epistemology (or attitude) around a theory potentially warped in turn warped around misunderstood, imperfectly understood, or just non-, facts, that warped epistemology or attitude could potentially itself prevent self-correction.

          Whereas the ‘intuitive’ approach has really obvious ways of being corrected- If something doesn’t seem right you can always find more evidence to put the nail in the coffin and prove it is, but if you embrace it or bow before it- i.e. get rid of or compartmentalise the feeling/appraisal that it doesn’t seem right, isn’t it like turning off a blinking red warning light?

          If the analogy does apply, it’s safer to carry on with ‘well the car is working okay, but maybe something is wrong with it’, than ‘well I can’t find anything wrong with it, so probably the light is broken’.

  30. Anon256 says:

    Regarding Canute: Margaret Thatcher went down to the Thames and ordered the tide not to come in, and the and the water foamed and churned but the tide did not come in, for the sea was no match for the Iron Lady with Britannia at her back.

  31. TK-421 says:

    Ernst & Young announces its intention to recruit earnest young people

    Ah, nominative determinism in action.

  32. eqdw says:

    Something I’d never heard before but which fits with a lot of people’s observation: Wellbutrin works really well the first few days, but true evaluation of its effects has to wait for a “second wind” later on. Does this fit with the experiences of Wellbutrin users here? (h/t Brienne)

    I have been taking Wellbutrin since December 2014.

    When I first started it, there was a fairly immediate positive effect. I was more energized and happier. It seemed like a miracle drug. It had some interesting side effects. It tanked my appetite, to the point that I lost six pounds the first month I took it (I count this a feature, not a bug). It spiked my sex drive so much I had to masturbate three times every night before I could get to sleep. Also, interestingly, it made me extremely sensitive to alcohol. I would get splitting hangover headaches within 30-60 minutes of drinking alcohol. I tested this at one point, and 1/4th of a beer or shot was enough to trigger this.

    After about a month or two, the side effects moderated. I could drink alcohol again (though it’s often been a problem for me, causing bad side effects, so I drink only a little). Sex drive levelled out; it seems to have undone the damage that Paxil did a year before. Appetite suppression has moderated a bit but still mostly there. For insurance reasons I had to go a month without it, after about a year with it, and I ate so much that month. As it is, my appetite is so suppressed that I will often get painfully hungry without realizing that I need calories, which is funny in a certain light.

    A few months after starting on Wellbutrin (300mg xr) I got my psych to bump me up to 450. TBH, my basic reasoning was: I have no idea if this is fixing depression or not, but the side effects sure make me happy and if I can get more of those then why not. Thinner, fitter, and higher sex drive? Yes please. My primary doctor bumped me to 450. Sure enough, stronger side effects, then they moderated out.

    I’m now back down to 300mg. The fact that Wellbutrin (a stimulant, which works on dopamine) helped so much more than SSRIs and Benzos ever did, clued me into the idea that I might have ADD. Because I started Adderall, my Dr thought it best to go back down to 300.

    Adderall anxiety was too bad, so I quit it as well, and now I’m only on 300mg XR Wellbutrin.

    Regarding your comment, I experienced no second wind. Just strong positive side effects when I started it, that have slowly weakened over time, and that disappear with a vengeance when I stop taking it.

    • shirking violet says:

      Delurking to comment about Wellbutrin. (Longtime reader, love this blog!) I’ve been on bupropion XL, 150mg daily, since late October, and noticed immediate, dramatic, very positive effects the first week or two–but my depression and anxiety are now both pretty much as bad as they were four months ago. (People say this drug is a bad idea if you’ve got anxiety, but at least during the “honeymoon,” and for a while after, it seemed to make my anxiety far more manageable while not lessening it at all, if that makes sense. My psychiatrist has ruled out ADD pretty confidently.) The timeframe for a second wind if one were going to happen has probably passed.

      I’ve been on a lot of antidepressants and this is the only one that’s ever done anything for me. I can’t decide though whether the stark honeymoon effect doesn’t make me more impressed with it than I should be–and OTOH whether I shouldn’t just ask to be prescribed 300mg? But I worry about setting up another eventual decline of its positive effects, and maybe making eventually going off it entirely that much harder.

      As for side effects, it has made me a little more sensitive to alcohol (which I’m mostly okay with) and much more sensitive to pot (which I’m mostly not okay with, though I use it rarely). If there’s been an increase in my libido it’s slight enough that I’ll credit it more to the small sustained improvement in depression symptoms than a direct effect. No effect on my appetite or weight, which is all right since I’m underweight and my psychiatrist was a little reluctant to try me on bupropion for that reason. Seizure risk is the scariest piece here, but I thankfully have not experienced anything like that.

  33. ParryHotter says:

    Regarding the worm (Helminthic) therapy, RadioLab did an episode about this a few years back (relevant segment begins at 10:20). The guy they interviewed has his own site where you can order them from. Personally, as an animal lover who has really bad allergies (and asthma) around animals, I was very interested in trying this so that I can be around pets without feeling like I’m dying. But I still think it’s a bit reckless to undergo such a treatment without more testing and safety guarantees, so I refrained from trying it myself.

    But I would love to hear from people who have tried it.

    • Spookykou says:

      As someone who has serious cat and dog and just generally all the time allergies I am also very interested in learning more about this.

      Also, if this is true, should we start calling them symbiotes?

      • Deiseach says:

        Also, if this is true, should we start calling them symbiotes?


        For fuck’s sake, the reason they are being touted as a medical (but don’t call it that or we’ll be shut down) treatment is because THEY SUPPRESS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.


        Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember when “dosing for worms” was a common(ish) medical treatment, but a worm infestation is not fun, not enjoyable and not generally a good thing. That site quotes studies about kids with worm infestations in poor countries and that’s precisely the point: being infested with worms is a sign of poverty, bad living conditions, little to no hygiene (and not necessarily through the fault of the people, when you have no running water or sanitation systems it’s hard to keep hygiene levels up) and as well as not having inflammatory or auto-immune reactions due to the suppression by worms, they also have tiredness, listlessness, failure to thrive, itchiness*, retarded** development and other unpleasant symptoms BECAUSE WORMS ARE PARASITES AND SAP THE ENERGY OF THE HOST.

        The site even warns about anaemia because the hookworms feed OFF THE HOST’S BLOOD.

        You have allergies? Deliberately infesting yourself with worms is the “burn the house down to swat a spider” strategy.

        *You’ll just love being driven mad by anal itching because the worm eggs pass out in the stools!

        **in the sense of “delayed or slower than normal”, though the effects on intelligence due to poor nutrition and other effects is there also.

        • Nornagest says:


          Depends. There is a fairly credible hypothesis saying that autoimmune issues (asthma, allergies, etc.) have gotten a lot more common because our parasite load is so much lower now that our immune system’s gotten oversensitive; the idea is that in the ancestral environment it would have had much more experience with real pathogens, and now that it doesn’t it effectively gets antsy and starts shooting at random harmless compounds. If that’s true, then modulating down the immune response is exactly what we’d need, and careful selection of our wormy little friends could minimize the side effects.

          It might not be, of course. It’s called a hypothesis for a reason.

          • Deiseach says:

            I do agree that people have a tendency to live in a sterile bubble (not helped by TV advertising of ‘kills 99% of all known germs’ products with the strong implication that not having a sparkling home fit to carry out an operation in means you are a slattern forcing your family to mire themselves in squalor) and that allowing children exposure to a bit of ‘clean dirt’ isn’t going to hurt them.

            Deliberate worm infestation is a big step up from that.

            It’s like the difference between vaccination and deliberately letting your children get a dose of the measles when it’s going around – that was the way in the past that we got exposed to pathogens and developed immunity (that was the way I got immunity myself, because there wasn’t measles vaccination when I was young and I caught it the old-fashioned way) but it appears to be heavily frowned upon nowadays.

            Our immune systems might be ramped up to deal with parasites and, not having any to fight off, be attacking the body instead but there probably are better ways to deal with it than deliberately infesting yourselves with hookworms.

        • Spookykou says:

          At least one of the sites claims that the worms are infertile, which is an important consideration.

          As far as I can tell the other side effects (all just effects of malnutrition?) are unlikely, as an American I can easily afford (and already do) eat far more calories than my body actually needs, it is hard for me to imagine 10-20 nematodes increasing my grocery bill by a sizable amount, and I used to regularly donate blood/plasma for money…which reminds me, is forcing your heart to produce extra blood good or bad for general health, I feel like I have heard something about this somewhere but I can’t remember the details at all.

          So, a little wormy friend or two, who live 3-5 years, allow me to have a dog (+7 years on average to my lifespan?((happiness!!))) and might help me lose weight ( +n years to my lifespan?) and at worst cost me a little extra money in terms of food, assuming I actually drop enough weight to be malnourished.

          I have not placed an order yet, and my purity ethic recoils at the very idea of having worms, but with more information it is something I am interested in.

          I really want a dog.

          • Deiseach says:

            I am just beginning to appreciate the gulf between my lived experience and that of other people on here.

            I knew I wasn’t middle-class but holy sweet divine, I never knew that I wasn’t middle-class.

            People who don’t know from first-hand experience what it’s like to have a worm infestation and do think of animals as demi-human companions to the point of being willing to infest themselves with hookworms so they can have a cuddle-puppy – I can’t even, as the youth nowadays say.

            Good luck to you all, I’ll be recoiling over here in shrieking horror! 🙂

          • Skivverus says:


            To be fair, this comes off as slightly insane and more than slightly revolting to me as well; I’d classify it in the same bucket as voluntarily eating insects, though, so as long as they don’t ask me to do it the shrieking can be safely compartmentalized away as “things which I as a good Libertarian must tolerate, but have no intention whatsoever of experimenting with myself”.

          • onyomi says:


            Yes, I mean, it is a very quick turnaround–in some sense, the essence of a real “first-world problem”: when your campaign to eradicate harmful pests is too successful.

            That said, I think there’s been a stereotype for some time that peasants and farmers are “hearty” as compared to the pampered classes. Arguably we just finally figured out why, and are trying to get the benefits without actually living barefoot on a farm.

        • onyomi says:


          Yes, they suppress the immune system, but the theory is that the immune system evolved to expect their presence and so overcompensates for them with the result that without them, it tends to overshoot the mark.

          Consider, for example, that gravity puts a lot of stress on our muscles, bones, and joints. If we didn’t have to deal with gravity we’d all probably have a lot fewer orthopedic injuries and get to expend fewer calories staying alive and upright (though most of us now want an excuse to burn more calories, from an evolutionary perspective that would have been an advantage).

          Yet if you live in zero gravity your bones and muscles start to become extremely fragile and weak. This is because your bones and muscles evolved to grow in response to the stress of gravity. Living in zero gravity was never an option and so is not something your body can deal with effectively.

          Similarly, in the past, living in a super sterile, parasite-free environment was never an option. Plus, you were much more likely to die of an infection in infancy than of an autoimmune disease in middle age. So, given that parasites, bacteria, and viruses were unavoidable and a serious threat, and that some of them suppressed the immune system, it would not be surprising if we evolved an immune system which overshoots the mark since it is, in some sense counting on the presence of these things it needs to fight off as our bones and muscles count on gravity.

          If we consider the things the immune system is evolved to fight, it seems to me to fall largely into three size-scales: virus-sized invaders, bacteria-sized invaders, and tiny animal sized-invaders (parasites). In the developed world we’ve managed to all but eliminate a whole 3rd of this equation. At the same time, our propensity to overreact to certain large proteins (small animals are made of protein, after all) like gluten and whatever is in peanuts has gone through the roof. Coincidence?

    • onyomi says:

      I have tried it. Seems to have helped with a gluten sensitivity which had worsened over time, though cause and effect was always hard to tell there. Similarly seemed to reduce a general tendency toward excessive inflammation (e. g. dry, red eyes), though I wouldn’t describe it as a miracle cure or anything. But then, my problems weren’t that severe to begin with. To someone who has really bad autoimmune issues and has tried everything more normal, I’d definitely say it’s worth trying, and much less gross than you probably think.*

      *obligatory caveat that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice and if you infect yourself with parasitic worms and die a horrible death please don’t curse me with your dying breath/sue me. Also, I have an unhealthy habit of experimenting with my own body, sometimes with good results, often bad, that I don’t recommend to anyone.

  34. johnWH says:

    Haven’t read the physics envy article yet, but it looks interesting. Did a quick ctrl+f; surprised to find that hayek wasn’t mentioned at all. His critiques of formalism in economics would seem especially relevant

  35. Synonym Seven says:

    Distantly related: are Republicans and tax-prep companies in a Baptists-and-bootleggers coalition to make paying taxes as difficult and annoying as possible?

    Whether or not one considers it an out-and-out “coalition” (versus a mutual backscratchers’ society, versus a mutually beneficial happenstance) is probably up for debate along predictable partisan lines, but it’s a wellestablished fact that Intuit and H&R Block spend millions lobbying Congress to keep taxes a pain in the ass so people will keep using their software.

  36. jimrandomh says:

    > “Wellbutrin works really well the first few days, but true evaluation of its effects has to wait for a “second wind” later on. Does this fit with the experiences of Wellbutrin users here?”

    Fits extremely well. I tried it for two weeks, and had two unusually-excellent days followed by twelve average days. I concluded that the two excellent days must have been outliers and it wasn’t working, so stopped, without waiting for any second wind effect.

  37. Douglas Knight says:

    The New Zealand article fails to mention the investor fastlane of 3 years at $10 million invested and 44 days/year resident. Thiel probably got an even more special exemption, but who cares?

  38. sflicht says:

    Does anyone, in the real world, ever operate on any level other than Level 4 uncertainty?

    • Aapje says:

      In actuality or how they reason about things? I think that a lot of people draw conclusions based on a mental model that is at fairly low level.

      • sflicht says:

        I meant in actuality. It’s clear that people reason on other levels frequently. And in some cases this is reasonable. But even in the cases where it seems clear-cut that level 1 or 2 reasoning is called for (maybe writing software for determining artillery trajectories, using Newtonian physics, for example) it seems to me that the very best reasoning would actually involve some amount of level 4.

        • Aapje says:

          The very best reasoning is often very, very expensive. I can’t really fault people for using heuristics*, especially as I think that most people are incapable of doing better (even scientists, who are clearly above average in intelligence, often fail with correct reasoning for highly simplified models of reality).

          * Similar to how NP-complete problems are prohibitively expensive to solve optimally and it can be highly preferable to use non-optimal, but ‘good enough’ heuristics instead.

  39. P. George Stewart says:

    Re. modafinil. I tried it a few times as a music producer. It certainly enhances concentration. What it feels like subjectively is a bit like well-practiced meditation, in that extraneous chatter just doesn’t occur, so the mind slides nicely along the given task-oriented groove, and is able to hold a few branches cleanly in mind at the (subjectively) same time.

    I would hypothesise that it’s a “threshold” thing. Let’s say at one end of the scale you have the hypnagogic thing were you seem to have access to the brain’s “try-out” level of thinking, i.e. you’re “hearing” a flurry of un-coordinated half-thoughts, half-words and weird non-words (perhaps connected with speaking in tongues and that sort of thing). At the middle level would be ordinary, everyday thought – where you’ve got some trains of thought but they’re easily disrupted by phenomena of the first type, and the mind wanders, as we say. Then you have focussed, task-oriented thought, in which the chatter is fairly non-present, but still a bit. Then with modafinil you seem to be in this clean “tunnel” where your thought is completely unaffected by extraneous mental chatter.

    It reminds me a bit of the hypothesis about LSD – that it’s a simple threshold phenomenon too, i.e. normally the brain is “trying out” lots of possibilities for what “this” (whatever you’re experiencing) could be, but you normally don’t have access to that, you only have conscious access to the winner of that competition, because normally thought is internally checked and pre-tested to a degree, before it even becomes conscious. LSD then lowers the threshold by knocking out the “test” part of the normal “generate-and-test” process, so now you’re careening from one “possible thing this could be” to another – at the visual, auditory, and even cognitive levels.

    IOW, modafinil may be the opposite of LSD. Raising the threshold of conscious access to the “rough working” of the brain, instead of lowering it.

  40. sarah says:

    Some edifying things I read on payment processors and sex after the FL ban: (FL link only sorry)
    Phone sex worker talks about the restrictions she is under when advertising and where they come from
    Mostly talks about the buck-pushing when it comes to who is responsible for banning these businesses
    > WePay blames credit card companies, Patreon blames PayPal, and PayPal blames the credit card companies.
    > Companies like Square are likely to blame to Chase’s Paymentech, who, like JPMorgan Chase and other banks, operate under the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) guidelines — which puts the problem of weblining squarely on the US federal government’s doorstep.
    Talks about Operation Choke Point, an operation to stop financial fraud which involved putting regulatory pressure on credit card companies in ways that would never be legal if they were explicit law.
    Also does a good job listing the other industries pressured by this (gambling, guns, pharmaceuticals, payday lenders.)
    This operation was ended in 2015 under lawsuit/internal investigatory pressure but I would imagine the climate remains.

    If you only read one of these links read the last one.

  41. The Nybbler says:

    I’m afraid Moloch might be a bit tougher than Ernst and Young. In my own field (software), developers without a degree were very common for a while; even if a big company wouldn’t hire you, there were plenty of other companies which would. But, in the fullness of time, these non-degreed engineers would want to move on. And they’d find that despite their experience, many companies would filter their resume out based on their lack of degree. So they’d end up getting (or finishing) their degrees as well.

    • Space Viking says:

      I’m curious, are you referring here to a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or both? It’s interesting enough to see people going back to get a master’s, but it would be a whole ‘nother level of interesting if experienced engineers are going back to get a bachelor’s. Has Moloch become that strong?

      • The Nybbler says:

        I mean bachelors degrees. Lots of people go and get a masters for whatever reason; for a while it appeared a masters was going to be nearly mandatory but the tide has receded a bit.

    • skef says:

      In your experience, how did engineers without degrees (and in particular without any college experience) do in terms of sufferability? Because programmers are already dis-proportionally at risk for not “playing well with others”, and in my experience the risk goes up at either end of the education scale (no college and PhD), if for different reasons.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Haven’t noticed any difference; none of the especially insufferable programmers I’ve known have not had a degree. I have noticed it with PhDs, but I don’t know if that’s because the risk goes up or because of the particular form of PhD insufferability — there was one colleague of mine known behind their back as “I have a PhD.” (didn’t help that this person was not only insufferable but useless.).

        • skef says:

          I think everytime I’ve heard “I have a PhD” said out loud* it’s meant “I will not do this thing you are suggesting I might do.” Of course, not everyone with a PhD says it.

          * Someone might say that to distinguish between doctoral degrees, but I’ve only heard that in the movies.

          • CatCube says:

            The best PhD’s I’ve worked with (in civil engineering) are the ones you only find out about because other people tell you they have one.

            We have a hydraulic engineer I work with who took the Structural Engineer exam* because (she was a female engineer in the late ’70s) somebody told her that women weren’t smart enough to pass it. Both that story and the fact that she’s got her doctorate I only found out through the grapevine. Our organization is going to be hurting when she retires later this year.

            *Edit: Most actual structural engineers don’t take the SE because of the difficulty, and stay with the Professional Engineer exam.

  42. cassander says:

    >Donald Trump to slash funding for United Nations. What could possibly go wrong?

    C’mon, Scott this is lazy and you know it. The UN is not some self evident good. Its an international bureaucracy with delusions of grandeur and massive internal issues of corruption. What, exactly, do you think will go wrong if its budget is cut? The organizations that actually do good are pretty good at raising money on their own. Some pay cuts at turtle bay will not be the end of the world.

    • Synonym Seven says:

      Your argument seems to be “the UN is not some self evident good. It’s a self evident bad” which is, to put it charitably, not exactly terribly persuasive.

    • onyomi says:

      I would like to ask a simpler question–the same question, Scott asked, actually, but unironically: “slashing funding to the UN: what could possibly go wrong?”

      I’m not saying I think nothing could go wrong, only that it isn’t self-evident to me (as someone who, admittedly, doesn’t pay much attention to the UN) what would be the likely negative consequence.

    • Fossegrimen says:

      Also, the US payment history to the UN is not exactly stellar. I don’t think Obama ever got around to settling the 2015 bill.

      Trump actually saying he won’t pay the bills seems to be a change in honesty level rather than actual funding.

    • tscharf says:

      This will be a great test to to find out. My guess is US citizens will absolutely not notice at all. The third world may notice. I think everyone would be better off if they just gave all the UN money to Bill Gates and had him spend it.

  43. enoriverbend says:

    On comparing education benchmark PISA (or in fact for many other international comparisons), you must not ignore differences in demographics. See Even if you abhor Sailer, it’s really just another variant of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Canadian border effect.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      That’s exactly the effect I was saying doesn’t seem to fit with the decile data.

      • owen.griffiths says:

        Why doesn’t the data fit?

        Assuming data about offset bell curves is right, the 90th percentile just within the white population would be higher than the 90th percentile for the whole population (even if most of the overall top 10% were white).

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Could you explain?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        What jumped out at me a few years ago looking at this kind of stuff on the PISA scores is the difference between Turkey’s high-scoring elite and Mexico’s low-scoring elite. Turkey and Mexico have a lot of similarities overall and do pretty similarly on the PISA, except that rich Turks score almost as well as rich Americans, while rich Mexicans score very badly.

        Mexico’s upper crust is strikingly not very bookish.

        I know a small number of very smart Turks, like one who has patiently explained to be why I shouldn’t lump Foucault in with Derrida, and another whom I see on the NYT op-ed page fairly often lately. But I don’t know any comparably intellectual Mexicans. When I meet intellectual mestizos in L.A., they often turn out to be Chilean or Peruvian.

        My impression is that Mexico’s rich white people set a bad example for the rest of Mexico’s population by not being very interested in learning.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Here’s the graph Scott cited:

          Check out Mexico vs. Turkey.

        • tcheasdfjkl says:

          I mean if we’re drawing conclusions about peoples from who we personally happen to know, then I want to say that the most intellectually impressive linguist my age I know* is Mexican-American, and his father teaches cello at Juilliard and his mother teacher biology at Yale, and his whole extended family is in academia. I’m unclear on how much of his extended family is still in Mexico though.

          *I only did ling undergrad and this friend of mine is currently in grad school but like still he is very very smart and very very into his work (and not much else)

  44. onyomi says:

    Last time, 1soru1 asked why ancaps would like Singapore so much when it has a lot of public housing and state-provided medical scheme. Part of the answer I and others gave was, in a word, “smallness,” pointing out the economic freedom index.

    Doing a bit more googling, this research report by Credit Suisse seems to corroborate the idea that sovereign states with smaller populations seem to do much better in all kinds of ways which matter to people: life expectancy, gdp per capita, strong institutions, low inequality, culturally homogeneous yet open to globalization and trade, etc. etc.

    The US turns out to be a huge outlier in having a high life expectancy and GDP per capita relative to its big population, but we also are the large nation with one of the strongest historical commitments to federalism (if not so much lately). In particular, as I have long very strongly suspected, growth simply doesn’t scale in big nations: yes the US and China are very rich and powerful, but not relative to their population size: imagine China as 50 or 100 Hong Kongs, for example, and I think we can get a sense of the level of prosperity which might be foregone.

    The evidence that “small is beautiful” seems overwhelming, yet the conventional wisdom in the US, China, and elsewhere is still “united we stand, divided we fall,” etc. So let’s all support Scottish independence, Calexit, etc. wherever we see it? (Note that I was rooting for Scottish independence even though the type of government they were likely to create in the short term was not at all one I would support on the object level).

    • Montfort says:

      The evidence that “small is beautiful” seems overwhelming, yet the conventional wisdom in the US, China, and elsewhere is still “united we stand, divided we fall,” etc

      Both of these can be true at the same time. Something like 30% of the countries labeled “small” by their criteria are european and largely depend on their larger neighbors (and their buddy across the atlantic) to provide a stable environment in which they can continue to exist. Some of the countries in other parts of the world are also essentially clients who purchase security from big states, others much less so.

      If you’re a country in a safe neighborhood, preferably with some big powers watching your back, feel free to downsize (though I feel the report is perhaps not adequately accounting for selection effects). But it’s not something just any country could do.

      • onyomi says:

        If both of these are true at the same time, though, based on what you’re saying, “united we stand, divided we fall” should be understood primarily in military terms. But I think most understand it more expansively than that: not just “united we can stop big countries from taking us over,” but “united we are richer.” The latter seems quite dubious to me.

        And since, nowadays, military might is ever more a function of wealth and technology, being rich may be a better defense than being big, so long as you can buy/make the weapons.

        And, even if we accept that one needs to be a certain size, or have the protection of nations a certain size, and/or be in alliance with a group of a certain collective size to prevent being swallowed up by a neighboring aggressive giant, that only implies one should be as big as one has to be, and no more, whereas I think most people in the world think of national greatness in terms of “as big as reasonably possible.”

        • Tibor says:

          I would argue that some European countries are still way too large and quite naturally divisible. Germany is one of the youngest countries in Europe in that there had never been a unified German state until 1871. In some sense it is not completely unified – most Bavarians seem to consider themselves Bavarian first and German (if at all, but most do) second. Germany could easily be split into its federal states and they would still be quite big in European terms (the population of Germany is 80 million). France has been centralized for longer, so there it would be more difficult, but still I don’t see why one could not have independent Brittany or Occitania. Spain will hopefully split into Castille (well, they’d probably still call it Spain) and Catalonia, but one could even imagine independent Andalusia for example. Italy is again one of the youngest countries in Europe, the south is very different from the north and there are already separatist movements (albeit small) in the north. Then we have Scotland (I too was disappointed they did not separate). Ukraine would probably be best split into the western and eastern half, but there it is a more complicated issue than in the countries where there is peace and no immediate threat from Russia. Even a small country like the Czech republic could be divided into Bohemia and Moravia (or possibly even the small part of Silesia which lies in the country). This would be the first time after about 1000 years, but why not? In fact, even though it has been so long, voting patterns differ in the three historical lands – Moravia and Silesia are more left-wing (but also more conservative, imagine something like the Labour voters in the 80s or something) than Bohemia and the distinction copies the historical border (the same is true of Germany by the way Bavaria is more right-wing and conservative than any other part of Germany, the Northwest of the country is the most social democratic, etc.).

          Other than military defense which can be solved by having a permanent military alliance, like NATO (except that I’d prefer something like EUTO, since I don’t think the US will finance European defence forever), one worry with such separation is that most people who support it are not weird libertarians who want to break states to smaller ones but nationalists (regionalists might be a better word, but I guess it does not matter – one can either view the Spanish as a nation or Catalonians as a nation separate from the rest of Spain) who are increasingly protectionist. This is a more serious concern I think, but still – if there are more countries, particularly when they are close to each other and even speak the same language, this creates competition. An independent Catalonia might be created by nationalists but they won’t be in power forever (especially since their goal has been reached and there is not much they can offer any more).

          However, I have a feeling that the EU-federalists (who seem to be the only people I know of in the world, who actually want to create bigger states rather than split from existing ones) are mostly motivated by a strange kind of “European nationalism”. You often read things like “how great would this EF be, it would be a superpower rivaling the likes of the US or China”. In a weird sense, it sounds very much like “make Europe great (again)”. Well Napoleon and Hitler did not manage to do that, so third time’s the charm, I guess 🙂 I never understood why one would want his state to be a superpower…unless you’re a politician.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Spain will hopefully split into Castille (well, they’d probably still call it Spain) and Catalonia, but one could even imagine independent Andalusia

            I understand that there is also a movement (though less vocal than the Catalans) for an independent Galicia. Not surprising since, as I understand it, they see themselves as basically Romanised Celts whose native language is actually closer to Portuguese than to Castilian Spanish.

            Though there’s often not much difference. For instance, their major coastal city is called A Coruña in Galician, or La Coruña in Spanish. My Galician friend tells me that, when the city authority would plant a flowerbed with the Spanish name of the city spelled out in plants, Galician nationalists would come along and dig up the ‘L’.

          • Tibor says:

            @Winter Shaker: I don’t know any Galician but I speak some Portuguese as well as Spanish and those two languages are very similar already. If you are fluent in one, you basically understand the other (if people speak clearly) and even on my level of Spanish (which is something like A2 maybe?), when I started with Portuguese, I learned really quickly, the differences tend to be quite regular and once you get a feel for the language you can guess a lot of words without ever having heard them in Portuguese (if you know them from Spanish…sometimes also English, since modern English has a lot of Romance words, despite being a Germanic language). Portuguese sounds very different from Spanish when you first hear it, Iberian Portuguese perhaps even more than Brazilian, but you quickly catch up.

            My understanding is that the entirety of the Iberian peninsula was Celtic in something like 300 BC, but there was a lot of mixing, first with the Puns, Romans, then various -goths (Visigoths mostly, IRRC), then Arabs and Berbers (except for the very northwest). So I think it is quite a stretch to say that they are “basically romanized Celts” the same way it would be wrong to say that the French are.

          • onyomi says:

            I’m in favor of these and other secession movements, and language, ethnicity, shared history, etc. are probably always going to be the natural starting points.

            I do, however, really hope that, eventually, the concepts of nation state and language/culture can separate (for example of the perniciousness of this: the main reason e. g. Chinese argue they should have a right to (possibly militarily) annex Taiwan is that they and the Taiwanese “share ancestors,” “are all Chinese,” speak the same language(s), etc.).

            My argument to those from whom I hear this is never “actually, the Taiwanese are kind of culturally different from China nowadays…” true though that may be, but rather “why do people with the same language and culture have to be part of the same government?” The reaction to this is actually usually not anger or anything, but more like this has never even occurred to them.

          • Nornagest says:

            “why do people with the same language and culture have to be part of the same government?”

            “People with the same language and culture should be part of the same government” is pretty much the definition of nationalism. As such there’s a huge library of arguments for and against, even if they’re rarely dusted off these days — mostly because nationalism won so thoroughly that any deviation from it requires special justification in people’s minds. But that happened surprisingly recently; the fight was still being fought as late as the anticolonial movements of the 20th century.

            Ironically, it was the KMT who were at least nominally fighting for Chinese nationalism in the civil war, while Mao’s forces were nominally globalist (being Communist).

          • onyomi says:

            Ironically, it was the KMT who were at least nominally fighting for Chinese nationalism in the civil war, while Mao’s forces were nominally globalist (being Communist).

            It is ironic, though there seems to be some sort of law of nature that all attempts at globalist communist regimes will inevitably turn into repressive, authoritarian, ultra-nationalist regimes.

            My guess as to the mechanism is something like: Communism doesn’t work–>blame capitalist outsiders, along with: communism makes every aspect of life political–>those who rise to the top of such a system tend to be brutal, repressive, charismatic figures.

            If the US keeps making every aspect of life political, maybe we can end up with someone even more nationalistic, authoritarian, brutal, and charismatic as our next president!

        • Montfort says:

          “united we are richer.”

          That’s part of it, but I think those sorts of appeals are also meant to evoke the nationalistic feelings you talk about upthread. It might be true that GDP per capita would be a bit lower, but that information does not change that as a single big country they’re better able to control their environment (by projected power), and obtain the sort of respect and prestige they want (e.g. Nobels, Olympic medals, etc).

          Together with Scotland, England, Wales, and (for the foreseeable future) Northern Ireland are stronger in projecting a “British” image, their accomplishments reinforce each other, etc.

          since, nowadays, military might is ever more a function of wealth and technology, being rich may be a better defense than being big, so long as you can buy/make the weapons.

          To an extent. Obviously you can’t just count up soldiers and then go home. But assuming the poorer nation can achieve rough parity (which is often cheaper than you’d think), numbers are still important. Even just having some space to trade for time is important.

    • The Element of Surprise says:

      There might be some kind of survivorship bias involved; I assume communities in less favourable conditions (genetic / cultural makeup of their population, geopolitical stability of surroundings) tend to fail or get conquered.

  45. Sparky Z says:

    Can someone explain “Everyone is Dril” to me? I think there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’m not getting the reference.

    • ParryHotter says:

      Was wondering the same thing. Totally clueless on this one. But this helped a bit.

    • Jugemu says:

      @dril ( is a comedy twitter account parodying a kind of gaucheness/stupidity/pretentiousness (with a heavy dose of absurdity) in a way that’s a bit hard to describe. “Everyone is Dril” is pointing out other people’s tweets that (unintentionally) sound like they could have come from @dril.

  46. This is especially surprising in light of claims that increased inner-city crime is caused by police withdrawing in order to prevent further fatal shootings; if that’s the police’s plan, it doesn’t seem to be working very well.

    That doesn’t follow.

    Suppose the normal rate of police shootings is one a week. Further suppose that the reaction to the Ferguson events would push it up to two a week if nothing else changed. The police respond to the increased risk of inner city policing by pulling largely out of the inner city, driving the rate of police shootings back down to one a week.

    The initial argument depends on the claim that, ceteris paribus, shootings would increase–that’s why the police are supposed to have pulled largely out. You then don’t know if the combined effect of that increase and the police reaction will be to increase shootings, decrease them, or leave them about the same.

    • tscharf says:

      Most police shootings are likely in direct response to 911 calls, so one wouldn’t expect a pullback to have an effect. The pullback is from pro-active policing against a community that apparently doesn’t want it, and the more enlightening statistic would be intra-community crime.

      Chicago is the most compelling example, police have stopped doing almost anything except answering 911 calls and violent crime has increased. As you mention, it is pretty complicated to sort out.

  47. Steve Sailer says:

    “QZ’s profile of Steve Bannon. I keep on hearing about this guy as some kind of esoteric conservative mastermind with unpredictable goals and visions, but his positions don’t look that different from what you’d expect to hear on Rush Limbaugh or something.”

    There’s a lot of hysteria in the media right now.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      You can’t be Lex Luthor in reality — too many eyeballs and brains scrutinizing everything. Any sort of ploy would be instantly found out and analyzed.

      Bannon is pretty sharp, though.

  48. JulieK says:

    Interesting how quickly North Carolina has become the designated outgroup. All we need now is an updated version of Phil Ochs‘ song about Mississippi.

  49. Tibor says:

    As for the Muslim immigration – I found the style of the article rather annoying (as is the case even more with some others from that blog that it links to), particularly the use of very suggestive photos. However, it is based mostly on a coherent argument and data, so I can forgive that, I guess.

    But I think it does not really provide strong enough arguments to ban Muslim immigration, regardless of whether we are talking about the EU/Europe or the US. It might provide strong enough arguments for one of the following. 1. More selective immigration from Muslim countries (although there is then no reason not to extend it to all countries where the selection outweighs it costs), something along the lines of Swiss or Singaporean immigration laws. Scott points out that the Muslim immigration to the US is different than the European one. That might as well be true. But the difference is not that the US Muslims are from a different sect or something but that they are more likely to be more qualified and have a higher education. Both the Swiss and Singaporean laws discriminate by qualification (the Singaporean law more than the Swiss, I think). I am not absolutely sure, but I think that Australia does something very similar also.

    Or my preferred option:
    2. Make welfare immigration more difficult, while keeping “opportunity immigration” the same or making it even easier. This basically means simply cutting down welfare for immigrants. Under the Czech immigration law, (non-EU) immigrants are not eligible for welfare during their first 5 years of residency, after which they can apply for permanent residency visa which grants then access to welfare as well as a voting right in municipal (and maybe regional, but I’d have to check that) elections. They are granted that visa only if they have actually had residency in the country and spend most time there in that 5 year time period and if they have had a source of income throughout that time. I think this is enough (of course it does not have to be 5 years, it can be 3 or 10 or whatever) to make immigration of people who end up being unemployed, segregated and cause a lot of crime unattractive. You have to make a living somehow in those 5 years and if you are a beggar in the street, you won’t have a residency and you won’t have a declarable income, so you won’t be eligible for the visa. On the other hand, if you have both, you must have integrated yourself (if not necessarily assimilated) into the society to some degree. The prospect of living off some kind of social minimum is then not terribly attractive (it might still be the case that Muslim immigrants collect more welfare even then, as long as their birth rates stay above those of the native population). You could of course spend the 5 years living off the money given to you by your relatives who already have access to welfare, I am not sure if that counts (in the Czech law I mean) and it definitely does not have to count as an independent source of income. Also, I am not sure to what degree this would be a problem in the first place. How many people want to give finance the lives of their distant cousins for 5 years? Even if they do, you can fix it by specifying independent income narrowly enough, so that you, as an immigrant, have to make the money yourself, or otherwise never become eligible for welfare payments.

    That blog, in the first (I believe) article it links to, discusses the immigration to the US in the 19th century. It notes that the crime rates of various groups of European immigrants were different (I am not sure how those data are accurate, the contemporary commentaries that the article cites are clearly far from unbiased), as were their attitudes to democracy etc (the thesis is essentially that Anglo-Saxon and Germanic immigrants were better than all the rest and that while the Irish were bad, the Southern Italians were the worst). But it does acknowledge that those things disappeared over time. It kind of half-way attributes it to limiting immigration in roughly the second third of the 20th century, which ought to have forced the bad peoples to mix with the good anglo-saxon and germanic peoples and assimilate into their culture. But even if that were true, then the strongest anti-immigration conclusion one can draw from that is that immigration should not be excessive, so that the immigrants do not form insulated parallel societies. That is again something along the lines of the Swiss, Australian or Singaporean system. In particular, more or less the same problems with the Muslims immigrants today are noted with immigrants in the 19th century who were not anglo-saxon or Germanic (I’m not sure whether the Irish count as Anglo-saxon, I think they don’t, if they do, then they were also supposedly bad). This suggests that the issue is not Muslim-specific, essentially all 19th century immigrants from Europe were either Christians or Jews.

    I think (and it might be partly motivated reasoning, since I do like the idea of open borders sans open welfare) that while parallel societies are a real problem and indeed in some places, such as the Belgian Molenbeek, a serious problem, they are much less likely to sprout somewhere where the immigrants do not have the option to simply live off the state welfare and where it is also often difficult for them to find a job. In fact, France seems to handle immigrants worse than Germany and Germany has a lot more liberal labour laws than France does, making it easier for less qualified workers to get a job (unfortunately, Merkel’s government introduced a minimum wage law 2 years ago, but compared to France, Germany looks almost libertarian in its labour law). I cannot give evidence for the Czech immigration law I mentioned working the way I imagined, since you are still required to obtain a temporary stay visa (which I would do away with completely) as long as you are not from the EU and are staying in the country for more than 3 months (or even less for some countries of origin).

    A whole different category are the asylum laws, how many asylums should be granted under which conditions and what they should entail in terms of welfare, length of stay, etc. That should be separated from the immigration debate if possible (unfortunately, it tends to be mixed by pretty much everyone). But this is already very long, so I’ll stop here.

  50. Joshua Hedlund says:

    Re: Muslim immigration

    Overall I find arguments for problems in Europe hard to parse due to wild exaggerations on the one hand and general dismissal on the other. There seems to be ample evidence that the median immigrated Muslim is more moderate, whether due to pre-existing selection bias or the dynamic moderating effects of western life, though there also seems to be evidence of some levels of reaction in the other direction.

    However, regarding the case against increased/steady Muslim immigration to the US, if comparisons to Europe are uncertain due to differences in incentives, selection effects, etc, that are hard to objectively quantity, why doesn’t anybody consider looking at Canada instead? Their Muslim population is up to ~3% (compared to ~1% for US). Whatever differences may exist compared to US are surely lesser for Canada compared to Europe, yet they still have generally more open immigration and more welfare compared to US. Is Canada having issues or not? Is nobody looking at Canada because they don’t seem to be having any issues, or because we just have a bias that tends to ignore Canada?

    • Iain says:

      In my personal experience, and based on data that I looked up the last time we had this discussion, Muslim integration into Canada is not having any significant issues. If I remember correctly, the “proud to be Canadian” numbers for Muslim Canadians are even higher than non-Muslim Canadians.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Is it easier to get into Canada? Do we have more open borders? We are more open to high-skilled immigrants, arguably, but our points system is pretty rigorous. We also don’t have the problems the US faces with illegal immigration from Latin America – this is fairly clearly because of geography. The general impression I have gotten is that the situation in the US is that it is too difficult to get in legally, even for people who would be a net benefit to the country, but there are a lot of illegal immigrants (the US has over 10 million illegal immigrants in a population of over 330 million, while Canada has maybe 1/100 the number of illegal immigrants in a population of about 1/10 the size). The illegal immigrants fly under the radar, but are easily abusable by employers, are afraid to access various important services, and generally live in a state of limbo. This is a “worst of both worlds” situation in my eyes.

      Canada is in a similar boat to the US with regard to immigration from Muslim countries: there’s a lot of water in the way. We do not face the problems that Europe does – because Europe doesn’t have a lot of water in the way. Muslim immigrants to Canada are, because of our points system, on the whole probably better educated and less criminal than the Canadian population as a whole. I would imagine the same thing is true of the US. This is not the experience Europe has had.

      Canada is probably also easier for immigrants to integrate into, because we have less anti-immigrant sentiment, but this is largely because of geography. Anti-immigrant sentiment in the US is driven by anti-illegal immigrant sentiment. Meanwhile, neither country has the same level of anti-immigrant sentiment as Europe, which has experienced far more serious problems. While Europe has a lot of problems integrating immigrants that Canada and the US don’t face, you can’t ignore geography. Europe is in the worst position to pick and choose immigrants and to vet refugee/asylum claimants, the US is in a much better position than Europe, and Canada is in a better position still.

      So, mark me down as “the experience of Canada and the US with Muslim immigration will be different more in kind than in degree from Europe.”

      EDIT: As Iain points out, Muslim Canadians tend to be as proud of being Canadians, if not moreso, as Canadians in general. I think Muslim immigration to Canada has by and large been a success story. It certainly has been compared to Europe.

      • Tibor says:

        I don’t think that vetting refugee claimants is necessarily an insurmountable obstacle for the EU. It would be enough, and some politicians have suggested that (Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Minister of Exterior for example), to build EU asylum offices in northern Africa and the Near East and decide it on spot. It has several advantages. First, the asylum seekers don’t have to take a rather dangerous and costly journey across the Mediterranean sea. This holds both for those who you end up rejecting as well as those who you accept. Once they are granted refugee status, they can immigrate legally, don’t have to pay any money to the smugglers and risk getting drowned (or suffocated, like some people did on the border between Hungary and Austria last year when they were being smuggled in the back of a truck and there was no proper ventilation since the truck was not supposed to carry anything alive).
        Second, you don’t indirectly fund the organized crime. Now the system is really idiotic. Essentially, getting to Europe is difficult, costly and dangerous and the most help you an expect is to be picked by Frontex, the EU border agency, if your boat is sinking, but once you manage to get there, you are very likely to be granted asylum somewhere (most likely Germany). So people pay a lot of money to these smugglers who tell them bullshit about Europe (like “they’re going to give you a free car and a house, I just need 1000 USD and I’ll arrange everything”) and then send them off on what is basically a raft across the sea.

        Then there is the Turkish sultan president Erdogan, who supposedly has a deal with the EU in which he should take illegal immigrants who arrive in Greece and the EU would take some “worthy” Syrian refugees from Turkey in return for them. Also, Turkey gets money for doing this as well as visa-free entry to the EU for its citizens (conditionally on Turkey meeting some criteria) But it does not really work, Turkey has not met the criteria it was supposed to meet and there is also evidence that they are selecting Syrians with higher qualification and education and preventing them from going to Europe while sending the people they don’t want instead. I am not sure why we have this instead of setting up a Frontex office in Lebanon (the Lebanese government seems like a more reliable partner than Erdogan) or something, which would sort people over there according to some sensible key. The only reason I can think of for why this deal exists (although in practice it rather doesn’t) is that this was a way for Angela Merkel to make herself look like she’s done something to handle the situation. The inflow of asylum seekers to Europe has indeed decreased, but that is largely due to an Austrian initiative in cooperation with a couple of Balkan countries – they built a fence and set up guards there, effectively closing down the Balkan route. Hungary also built a fence along its own border, so this makes it much harder to come from the southeast. This means most try to get to reach Italy over the sea, which is more dangerous.

        • dndnrsn says:

          It isn’t insurmountable, as you point out – but there’s got to be some reason why it isn’t being done. From where I’m standing, the handling of the crisis, especially by the German government, has been disastrous – it’s undermined European security and given a big boost to the far right.

          • Tibor says:

            I agree. I think the problem is that, at least in Germany, if you don’t agree with the government policy (unless you essentially want “more of the same”, you get quickly labeled as far right (in fact, in German they sometimes simply say right, as though they considered all right-wingers as Nazis). The effect of that is that actual far right and nationalists get mixed up with reasonable people who object on grounds of practicality. This makes it difficult do to anything about it. What annoys me in particular is the hypocrisy. On one hand, Germany is very open to all asylum seekers who actually make it to Germany, on the other hand it tries to limit the number of those who come (instead of selecting them in a more sensible way) just as other EU countries do. True, they do not build fences, but you can’t say “refugees welcome” when you are only welcoming them the moment they manage to mostly illegally reach your borders and try to make the journey harder rather than easier (for those who should get the asylum). Instead of Germany, I should probably be saying (most) German media and the government, because my feeling is that the popular vote would result in quite a different policy (and the longer nothing actually happens, the more radical and nationalist that popular opinion gets).

            Austria provides a clear contrast. While Austria definitely is more tolerant to nationalists etc (the FPÖ almost won the last presidential elections, they have had a strong support for at least 2 decades and they were even in the government about 10 or 15 years ago as a junior partner – for which some EU sanctions were issued against Austria). Kurz, whom I mention above, would be considered far right in Germany, but in Austria he is a centre-right politician and member of the Austrian People party which is a sister party of the German CDU (Angela Merkel’s party).

            It also doesn’t help and it is extremely annoying that Merkel now often gets painted (by German as well as international media) as “the last defender of the liberal west” now that Trump is the US president and the UK is leaving the EU (as if that were particularly liberal). One could almost drown in the pathos. To her credit, she dismissed those comments as ridiculous, but it tells you quite a lot about the atmosphere and a situation where there is basically no serious opposition. It seems now that Merkel might lose the next elections (this year) to the social democrats (SPD), but I hardly expect more sensible policy from Martin Schultz, who has so far only been an EU politician and all I can remember about him is vitriolic speeches (by political standards) against the critics of the current EU. Some people also point out that he doesn’t even graduated the secondary school (he does not have Abitur) but I don’t think that is an issue. In any case, I think it is probably still better than four more years of the “alternativeless” Merkel, mostly because Schultz is not an untouchable, unlike Merkel and also because there is a lot of opposition within the CDU towards Merkel’s policy (she has clearly moved the party considerably to the left, which many don’t like) and if she loses there might actually be an actual difference between the SPD and the CDU again.

            Of course, Germany is not the overlord of Europe, but it is the most populous country and unless most other countries go against it (or France does along with a few other countries), it can either push through its policy or at least block any other. Since there is no real agreement on the EU level (although now it seems to me that it is basically Germany+the EU commission vs. everyone else to a varying degree), there is no EU-wide approach, only partial initiatives, such as the Austro-Hungarian fence building (which I find to be the lesser evil at best, but hardly a good approach). The Turkish “deal” is something that was actually ratified on the EU level but it is more a very stupid compromise than anything else. It is also essentially void in practice anyway.

          • Aapje says:


            by German as well as international media

            What I find annoying is that our media tends to copy the level of outrage by the globalist elite in other countries, rather than judge it themselves by one standard (or not judge at all, which would be even better). You’d think that looking at it from a distance and having many other countries to compare to, would result in an understanding that different countries have different Overton windows.

            An example is the guy who recently proposed that Germans should only remember their own WW 2 casualties and get rid of remembrance monuments for Jews. He was called extreme right. However, this is the policy of the Japanese government, who refuses to have any monuments for ‘comfort women’ (= sex slaves) or other monuments specifically for victims of Japanese war crimes and whose remembrance of WW 2 involves the prime minister visiting Yasukuni shrine where many war criminals are remembered. Yet our media treats the latter much more kindly, as in ‘he could be a little more considerate.’

            I’d like some more consistency here.

            Of course, Germany is not the overlord of Europe, but it is the most populous country and unless most other countries go against it (or France does along with a few other countries), it can either push through its policy or at least block any other.

            Their guilt over WW 2 makes them pay for shit, which is a major factor here. It’s much easier to get your way when you are also willing to pay for a disproportionate part of the bill.

            PS. I am pretty confident that this guilt is going to lessen over time and that will probably have major repercussions for the EU.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Most legal immigration to America is family reunification. I believe that as a proportion of the population this is larger in America than Canada, although I’m not sure.

        (Of course Canada is more open to high-skill immigration than America. This isn’t merely “arguable.” Just look at it as a proportion of population. Yes, Canada has high standards, but that’s just because it has to narrow the pool somehow. America does it arbitrarily.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          What’s the rationale for the US way of doing things? Canada’s seems pretty clear.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I have never heard people give rationales for most of it. So even if there are rationales, I think that demonstrates their lack of importance to the system. Some of it may be lobbying by people who exploit loopholes. A lot of it is probably that the more fragmented nature of American governance causes laws to grow organically, rather than being replaced wholesale. Pretty much everyone agrees that it would be an improvement to raise the minimum wage for H1B visa holders from $60k to $100k or maybe higher. There is a bill pending to do this, but it probably took Trump’s election to get the attention needed to do it.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t think it is a choice as such. Both countries do family reunification, but the United States for whatever reason has a larger number of citizens that want to bring in family members.

            The US does have some categories Canada doesn’t, like siblings and the DV lottery, but they are a small proportion of the total. By far the largest category are immediate relatives — spouses, parents, and children of citizens.

            I suppose we could up the number of high skilled immigrants we take in order to get a proportion closer to Canada’s but then we have to up the total number of immigrants and that’s not politically possible for various reasons.


            Pretty much everyone agrees that it would be an improvement to raise the minimum wage for H1B visa holders from $60k to $100k or maybe higher. There is a bill pending to do this, but it probably took Trump’s election to get the attention needed to do it.

            That’s not really an accurate description of the bill or the existing policy. The reporting around this has been really bad. The bill and policy have to do with certain H1B petitions that are exempt from the rules that otherwise apply to H1B dependent employers (i.e. those with at least 15% of the workforce on H1Bs). It doesn’t apply to H1B petitions in general.

          • baddhorse says:

            The rationale for the US way is that highly educated people don’t like admitting more highly educated people into the US. Consider: We have a shortage of doctors, and the average doctor makes about $250K/yr. In much of the rest of the world, including, last I heard, Russia and China, doctors make about as much as teachers. The American Medical Association does not at all like it when foreign doctors come to the US, and they make it as difficult as they can for them to be able to go into practice here.

  51. Z says:

    Related to the Muslim immigration link, there’s a Department of Defense whitepaper, The Future of Europe.

    Page 144,

    Table 6.3 Total net transfers to the public sectory, by immigrant group (as % of GDP):
    Western Immigrants and their Children.........+0.13...+0.09...+0.19...+0.30
    Non-Western Immigrants and their Children.....-0.54...-0.85...-0.75...-0.84

    Page 145,

    Table 6.4 Net Contribution to Public Finances, by Immigrant Group:
    Ethnic Group........1st generation....2nd generation....1st and 2nd Combined
    Frm. Yugoslavia.....-3575.............622...............-3161

    By way of comparison, in the United States, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimated that the net fiscal drain (taxes paid minus services used) from immigrant households in 1997 was $11 to $20 billion a year. Against a US GDP of $14 trillion, this represents less than .1 percent of GDP. So Muslim immigrants in Germany and Denmark are ten times as large a drain on the state as immigrants in the United States

    • Brandon Berg says:

      In 1997, I assume US immigrants were mostly Hispanics, who have below-average incomes. Muslim Americans have above-average incomes, so I suspect that they pay more in taxes than they get back.

    • Montfort says:

      How come the “1st and 2nd combined” column isn’t just a sum of the first two columns? Is this per capita (which, incidentally, would imply the second generation of Iranians is 7% the size of the first)? What are the units? How old are the people they’re counting?

      This table requires a little more explanation than I saw in the text, and I don’t have their source for it.

  52. Re: Wellbutrin

    I first started on 75mg 2x/day. I had a slow-but-steady increase in mood/energy/concentration for the first month and a half I was on it (unlike others’ experiences). That being said, after about 1.5 months I had one of the largest anxiety attacks I’ve ever had on the bus home. I was rocking back and forth in my seat and muttering to myself. (It’s interesting being on the other side of that… watching everyone try not to look or engage. I also reeeaaallly didn’t want anyone to, fwiw.)

    The anxiety attack lasted through the whole night; I didn’t get any sleep. I was at my psychologist’s office first thing the next morning. She cut my dose in half and added sertraline: I’ve been on this combination since, for a little over a year.

    In summary, I experienced a kind of “second wind” after 1.5 months, but it was mostly for the negative side effects of taking Wellbutrin while having severe anxiety. I love my Wellbutrin; it gives me my focus back. But it does increase my anxiety, and that’s not for everyone.

  53. rlms says:

    Regarding the case for banning Muslim immigration:
    Someone has already fisked the selection of random and largely false anecdotes about Muslims doing weird or bad things. Regarding the other sections, there are two big obvious problems. Firstly, the assumption that Muslim immigrants to Western countries are similar to the general population of the countries they come from (immigrants have been selected for disliking the country they come from and liking the country they go to, being immersed in a new culture may well change your beliefs). Secondly, a failure to control for the fact that Muslim immigrants are poorer and younger than the general population (and are therefore more likely to commit crimes and be imprisoned). I would be interested in seeing a good case against Muslim immigration, but I don’t believe this is it. A compelling argument would contain surveys of Muslim immigrants’ beliefs (preferably looking at different generations and multiple countries), and measure criminality controlling for age and income (and maybe education).

    • Randy M says:

      immigrants have been selected for disliking the country they come from and liking the country they go to

      Is this an assumption or is there evidence for it?

      Immigrants are those that are dissatisfied with their life in some way that they think will be different in the new country. I’d wager the majority of time this is economic, with no thought that cherished cultural institutions may well contribute to differences in opportunity between the two countries.

      • Deiseach says:

        immigrants have been selected for disliking the country they come from and liking the country they go to

        Three generations of Irish ballads will tell you otherwise 🙂

      • rlms says:

        If there are two potential immigrants, equal in all ways other than their feelings towards their home country and their potential destination, it seems pretty obvious that the one who likes their destination most relative to their home country is more likely to immigrate. I agree that it is possible there are other factors, or even that this factor has the opposite effect of decreasing the quality of immigrants (maybe people who are dissatisfied with their home country and likely to emigrate are disproportionately poor and uneducated). But the post didn’t consider any of this.

        • Randy M says:

          it seems pretty obvious that the one who likes their destination most relative to their home country is more likely to immigrate.

          It’s a theory, but it is by no means self-evident; I think far more migrants are economic who are perfectly comfortable with their home culture but wish to make money where it is more possible. (And that’s not a knock on them!)

          • rlms says:

            “all else being equal” is the key part. I agree that other factors might have an influence in either direction, my point is that the post doesn’t consider them.

          • Aapje says:


            You are really papering over a lot of important differences there. The Iranians who came to my country where mostly the elite who were unhappy with the revolution and wanted to remain or become even more Westernized. The Turks and Moroccans who came were invited to come do the hard work in industry, where the assumption was both by them and the government that they would go back (like the Italians mostly did before them). Yet they didn’t, but mostly due to inertia and an appreciation of the economic opportunities in the West, yet mostly without the desire to culturally and socially integrate.

            This is why the Iranians are doing great in my country, while the Turks and Moroccans ghettoized themselves, which in turn resulted in a huge backlash by the natives.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t think we disagree. You agree that Iranian immigrants are high quality because they wanted to live in a Western country. Even if Turkish and Moroccan immigrants didn’t integrate well, it is possible that a random selection of Turks and Moroccans who hadn’t been selected for wanting to integrate would have done even worse. Or maybe not, maybe the actual immigrants were selected for being poor and desperate, and a random selection would’ve integrated better. My point is that the post Scott linked also ignores these details. What you are saying is an argument against that post, because it implies that belief in Islam is not relevant to quality of immigrants.

          • Aapje says:


            They were intentionally selected for being poorly educated, for the purpose of ensuring they would work the ‘right’ kinds of jobs, rather than compete with well-educated Dutch people. So they were pretty much an intentional lower class from the beginning.

            It should be obvious that this is a good recipe for disaster, given that we now know that many of those jobs went away, but that the people didn’t go back. Because of a lack of role models and general diversity in the group, they had a really hard time lifting themselves out of the lower class. This was especially true for the Moroccans, who were mostly Berber people, an ethnic group that was already lower class in Morocco and who were very tribal and used honor culture. So their coping strategies mismatched with Western society greatly.

            I would argue that Islam is not the cause, but it is a cause, because Islam has some very strict rules that make it hard for them to live closely together with others. However, in itself this doesn’t make immigrants lower quality unless their source culture is a problem, so a lack of integration becomes a source of conflict. For example, Chinese migrants tend to integrate poorly, yet their culture is fairly high quality. The friction they generate in societies is mostly the same friction that the Jews tend to generate: they are ‘too successful’, which creates resentment by some.

          • Iain says:

            The problems Aapje points out with importing an underclass seem like a valuable counter-example to the suggestion I sometimes see here that we combine open borders with the denial of welfare to recent immigrants.

          • Aapje says:


            I believe that one of the motivations for that is to force unsuccessful economic migrants to leave. If they do leave, that seems like an obvious way to make the immigrant group less of an underclass, although not by lifting them out of poverty, but by getting rid of them.

            However, this seems only effective in the first 5? years or so. Once the children have made a solid investment in Western education, parents generally seem unwilling to leave and even parents that want to go back regularly seem to sacrifice that desire for better prospects for their children.

          • Cypren says:

            @Iain: Does it? It strikes me that Scandinavia’s problem is that the generous welfare state provides subsistence for the underclass which encourages them to stay; with idle time on their hands, they they turn to crime for their own enrichment or amusement.

            While I agree that an underclass which was suddenly stripped of transfer payments would likely riot and become more criminal out of desperation and anger, I’m not convinced that a society which has no welfare services or transfer payments will attract a large portion of non-self-sufficient criminals in the first place.

            “Don’t import an underclass” seems if anything to be the strongest possible argument for giving no social support services to immigrants whatsoever: people whose interest is in leeching off society rather than contributing to it will self-select out.

    • The bigger problem seems to be second-generation Muslims , who may not hold the same values as their parents, who may have moved to America to flee religious oppression and to adopt ‘American values’.

      Another problem is that Islam has radicalized elements, found online through recruitment and propaganda sites, whereas other religions do not have this problem. The Quran and some clergy prescribe violence against who insult the prophet ,Islam, and Allah.

  54. Deiseach says:

    The “obstructing everything” call for the Democrats doesn’t make much sense to me. What does it get you (the Democrats/supporters of and voters for the Democrats)?

    A quick look at the entirety of Congress, it looks like a 54%-47% majority in favour of the Republicans, which is about enough to get things passed in the House of Representatives on a simple majority; the Senate is more complicated, but if the Democrats make a pact to stick to a blanket ban on everything, what does it get them?

    Ulster Says No is not a great model, guys: you still end up having to accept it in the end, and you’ve made yourselves look like obstructionists for the sake of it.

    Expecting the 12 Republicans mentioned by Brennan to consistently cross the floor and agree a voting pact with the Democrats on a blanket veto seems to me a bit like the appeal to the faithless electors, which worked out so well when it was tried. Maybe all 12 would be willing to agree to vote “no” on every darn thing every time, but I think it’s more likely they (a) wouldn’t be a reliable single bloc vote (b) would be more persuadable to a “vote with us sometimes, ‘yes’ for things we both agree are good, ‘no’ on things we both agree are bad” rather than a “vote ‘no’ with us every time”.

    There are elections coming up in 2018, right? Looking it up, it says all the House of Representatives seats and 34 Senate seats will be contested. If the Democrats are hoping the winds of change will blow in their favour and they get a majority of the Representatives and pick up enough of the Senate to form a majority there too, this strategy might work (with a heavy emphasis on “might”).

    But that depends on (1) people are not annoyed by “they voted ‘no’ on everything, including that bill that would have made my circumstances better” and do vote Democrat this time (2) they do get their wished-for majorities (3) the Republicans don’t learn the trick and say “Our turn to vote ‘no’ for stuff you want, now!”

    As it stands, it looks like the Republicans can shove through anything they really want despite opposition, and that a block vote of “no” on everything might not always work in their favour. Compromise works for luring the anti- or not-that-sure-about Trump Republicans to work with you; plain “no no no” every time may instead make them decide “if it’s a choice between my party and yours, I’m sticking with my party”.

    • Iain says:

      But that depends on (1) people are not annoyed by “they voted ‘no’ on everything, including that bill that would have made my circumstances better” and do vote Democrat this time (2) they do get their wished-for majorities (3) the Republicans don’t learn the trick and say “Our turn to vote ‘no’ for stuff you want, now!”

      I would have said the exact same thing starting in 2008, except with “Republicans” swapped for “Democrats”. I would have been wrong. American voters have demonstrated that they are not swayed by procedural obstruction — witness, for example, the lack of consequences for refusing to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Republicans were able to get away with voting “No” on things because the voters did not want those things. Had Obamacare actually been popular, Republican opposition to it would have hurt them in elections. (And given the feedback inherent in the system, had it been popular, Republicans wouldn’t have been able to maintain a united front against it in the first place.)

        This goes triply for Garland. Supreme Court justices are a really big deal to the right, because those are the guys who erase our votes. You’re looking at downstream effects and mistaking them for causes.

        • Iain says:

          Go ahead. In 2018, run a campaign complaining about the mean Democrats who won’t vote for the things you like. See how far it gets you. Democratic partisans will approve of the obstruction; Republican partisans were already going to vote for you; swing voters, empirically speaking, don’t care.

          (From a narrow partisan perspective, I suppose I should be happy if the Republicans refuse to learn from the mistakes of the Democrats.)

          • Deiseach says:

            Iain, my point was the Republicans won’t have to do that; it’ll be “vote for us, we get shit done” while the Democrat campaign will be “vote for us so we can continue to vote ‘no’ on everything”.

            Sure the partisans on both sides (the Yellow Dog Democrats and whatever the Republican equivalent is) will vote their party ticket. But for Dems looking to scoop up a few Republican voters who don’t like Trump as well as swing voters in order to gain seats, that’s not much of a message.

            And they need to gain seats, they’ve been reduced in the present Congress even after a two-term popular President of their party. If they did that badly when it was their guy in power and he had broadly favourable ratings, what are they going to do when it’s a different party in power who will be pointing to their obstructionism as why “sorry, we’d have loved to pass the act giving pensioners an increase in the fuel allowance but the Dems just wouldn’t play ball”?

            This is what has me tearing my hair out about the current Democratic Party – they keep shooting themselves in the foot, and every time instead of learning from it, they just reload the gun and take aim once more.

            What, apart from virtue signalling, would a campaign of “Democrats Vote No” achieve? If someone can spell out to me how that will gain them seats in the next election, I’d love to know. Because if they don’t want to gain seats, they might as well just not bother running.

          • Iain says:

            That’s not what the Democrats campaign on. They make the election a referendum on Trump, who is already unpopular and is not looking like he’s about to fix that any time soon.

            The Democrats shouldn’t oppose Trump’s policies because it will help them in the next election. They should oppose them because they are bad policies. We’ve just had a clear demonstration that swing voters don’t care about the petty procedural issues. The Republicans voted no on basically everything (and had actual control of the legislative branch, so their obstructionism had tangible effects) and were rewarded with the Presidency, the House, and the Senate.

            “Sorry, we’d have loved to pass the act giving pensioners an increase in the fuel allowance but the Dems just wouldn’t play ball” is exactly the sort of thing I meant by “mean Democrats who won’t vote for the things you like”. It doesn’t work. Swing voters don’t care about whose fault it is. They care about outcomes, and they blame bad ones on the party in power.

            Also: you seem to assume that having the presidency should make it easier to get your party elected to the House and Senate. That is exactly backwards. The party that holds the presidency almost always loses ground in the midterms. It is way easier to play defense than offense in politics.

            Just look at Obamacare: it was a wonderful target for Republicans for years, but now the dog has caught the car and it has no good plan for what comes next. The hardliners want to abolish it immediately; the slightly more sane Republicans have realized that taking health insurance away from twenty million people and eliminating a bunch of the popular provisions of the bill is electoral suicide. It is unclear whether there is a path forward for the Republicans that can satisfy enough of their members to push it through their relatively narrow margins in the House and Senate. The Democrats just have to sit back, hold the line, and let the Republicans tear each other apart.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I salute him for having the honesty to call it “obstruction” rather than “resistance.” I think everybody who swapped out the former word for the latter this year should be regarded as a hack.

    • Spookykou says:

      The news I heard was that people are shouting ‘do your job’ at democratic congress people, which I believe in context is understood to mean ‘obstruct everything’. So in as much as their main job is to do what their voters want, and their most vocal voters just want them to obstruct everything, it seems like a reasonable course of action in and of itself, hardly something that would upset their voters. Oddly enough I would imagine that when republican voters shout ‘do your job’ at republican congress people it would have the opposite meaning, but that is just my gut feeling.

      • Deiseach says:

        “Obstruct everything” only works when they can make a meaningful blockage. If the Republicans have a majority and can brute-force things through, all obstructionism will gain is the perception of “annoying nuisance”. Especially when the “brute force” option includes a phone and a pen – thanks, Obama, for showing your successors how to turn the trick! I think I particularly like this bit – ah, John Podesta, the gift that keeps on giving:

        House chief of staff John Podesta, who is joining the White House as a senior adviser, has long pressed Obama to use his executive authority to get around congressional opposition.

        Hmmm – being President means you can use your executive authority to get around Congressional opposition? Well, that means the stalwart “Democrats Say No!” option is dead in the water from the start, does it not?

        And the same voters shouting “do your job” will then be wondering “hey, why didn’t I get my tax rebate/that loan/my welfare payment?” because they have no idea how government works in actuality: that the job of Congress involves things like “pass the act enabling the entitlement to paternity leave/changes in the tax rates announced in the budget to become law” – which would involve the Democrats in a dilemma: stringently vote “no” on everything, including the stuff your constituents would like to get?

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      Can someone please explain the political charge of “obstructionism” to me?

      The Democrats are going to oppose almost everything the Republicans introduce in Congress. That is, as far as I can tell, their job. Majorities in their districts voted for them; if the voters there wanted what the Republicans want, they (usually) had the option to vote for a Republican, but didn’t.

      What am I missing here?

      • hlynkacg says:

        What am I missing here?

        Nothing as far as I can tell.

        “Obstructionism” in the legislative body is fairly normal and does not seem like a necessarily a bad thing. I’m not going to get mad about Democrats in the senate and congress opposing Trump, I expect it, as you say that’s their job. I will however get mad if the so called “deep state” continues to get away with undermining their duly elected authorities, or leftist black-shirts starting fires and assaulting people on the street becomes the new “normal”.

      • John Schilling says:

        if the voters there wanted what the Republicans want, they (usually) had the option to vote for a Republican, but didn’t.

        Because what voters in mostly-Democratic districts want is 100.00% diametrically opposed to what Republicans want, on every single issue?

        Because compromise has no role to play in the normal functioning of a healthy political system?

        Because being seen as an ineffectual loser is a winning move in politics?

        The only way this makes any political sense is if the Democrats are betting their constituents are more devoted to the principle, “We hate Donald Trump!”, than to the consequences of every object-level political decision on which some sort of compromise might be available. Which might actually be the case, but obstructionism at this level is not normal.

        • skef says:

          The problem is that non-obstructionism has come be seen as compromise. 50 years ago the filibuster was generally seen as a specialized tool. Now not using any tool at your disposal is seen as equivalent to agreement. Those who vote for cloture, in effect, vote for the bill.

          The problem with compromise is that it provides “cover”. Law A passes, and has various unpopular effects. Party B says “we really wanted a different law, but party C forced us to make it this way.” Party B partly evades responsibility for those effects.

          So it is absolutely not in the interests of Democrats to help pass any laws that screw up the lives of the Republican base. And there are a number of such laws that the Repubs are itching to pass, and would love to ultimately blame on Democrats. Doing that, and getting away with it, has been a factor in a number of cycles now.

          • skef says:

            Along these lines, I think it’s important to remember that from the perspective of Republican economic ideology, a large part of its base is made up of losers. To some extent that part of the base accepts that status under the guise of “not-yet-winners”. But any policy that tips lives further towards the brink is going to cause problems with an already disgruntled group.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I think we have to ask; what does compromise actually look like?

            One of the common conservative complaints is that the progressive idea of compromise is to demand the whole pie for free and then settle for only taking half. Meanwhile the conservative idea of compromise is both sides give something up in exchange for getting something else that they want. The classic example is gun-control. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban passed with bipartisan support and the backing of the NRA but gave the Clinton DOJ a lot of lee-way in it’s enforcement. This ended up burning the NRA pretty badly when the DOJ started expanding the category of “Assault Weapons”. As a result the NRA made a commitment to oppose any new gun-control legislation that did not include explicit concessions.

            Skipping forward 20 years; Democrats want expanded background checks and magazine restrictions, after Sandy Hook? Republicans want national reciprocity. What NBC and CNN call “GOP obstructionism” could just as accurately be described as “Democrats unwilling to negotiate”.

          • skef says:

            One of the common conservative complaints is that the progressive idea of compromise is to demand the whole pie for free and then settle for only taking half. Meanwhile the conservative idea of compromise is both sides give something up in exchange for getting something else that they want.

            This is a very common political sentiment for any one side to express about the other. It amounts to “our opponents are stupid/greedy [in particular way X]”. It does nothing to change the dynamic of the controlling party looking for political cover to do unpopular things in the form of “bipartisanship”. It has nothing to do with the routinization of “checks” to block change.*

            I’m trying to explain why it wouldn’t be in the Democratic party’s interest to not obstruct the upcoming Republican agenda. The Republicans don’t currently have a coherent party, in that what the Trump coalition wants is at odds with what the current legislative branch wants. The Democrats should make sure the Republicans own the legislation that winds up not helping, and probably hurting, their new base, to speed the disintegration/realignment. Any “cover” they give will just be used later to blame them for the problems.

            At the same time, the Democrats should propose legislation that aligns with the part of Trump’s campaign proposals that they approve of so that the congressional Republicans can be publicly seen rejecting (even obstructing!) those policies.

            * It also raises the question of just what the current Republicans view as worth giving up in return for Democratic votes. Nothing obvious springs to mind. If that’s fairly accurate, isn’t total obstruction the appropriate response?

        • Machina ex Deus says:


          Because what voters in mostly-Democratic districts want is 100.00% diametrically opposed to what Republicans want, on every single issue?

          Because compromise has no role to play in the normal functioning of a healthy political system?

          OK, it sounds like what you mean by “obstructionism” involves not voting for anything that comes up in a Congress controlled by the other side. I agree that that sounds like a tactic, and is not necessarily in line with what their voters want. But is it outrageous? Is it the kind of thing we’d prohibit if we could? Why not just rely on their voters to reward or punish them for it?

          And is that what everyone else nattering on (for six years now) about “obstructionism” means? Does it mean anything definite? Or is it just the procedural equivalent of “racism”?

          Because being seen as an ineffectual loser is a winning move in politics?

          The Democrats are already seen as ineffectual losers. If that’s the only price they pay for something, that thing is marginally free.

    • tscharf says:

      Shocked, shocked I say that the left now wants to be the party of no and thinks Tea party tactics are a fine model of resistance. For the three people in the US who thought the rhetoric against these tactics was ideologically legitimate they have learned their lesson.

      The right was the party of no because they didn’t want progressive change. Wow, the controversy. The left will battle against conservative change. It will be different this time because the left will not be the party of not no, which makes all the difference.

      The left has the emotional energy now to swing an election, but they need to protect against being over zealous and firing up the right’s base. The media is not their friend with 24/7 Trump hysteria.

      • tscharf says:

        Trump Hysteria Snapshot(tm), Front page Feb 16, 2017

        WP: 35 Trumps
        NYT: 23 Trumps
        WSJ: 27 Trumps
        CNN: 21 Trumps
        Vox: 41 Trumps
        Slate: 57 Trumps
        Guardian: 47 Trumps
        Salon: 65 Trumps
        Huffington Post: 38 Trumps
        NBC: 28 Trumps
        CBS: 64 Trumps
        ABC: 32 Trumps
        NPR: 16 Trumps

        The unscientific comparison:
        Feb 16, 2009, Wayback Archive

        WP: 3 Obamas (Feb 13, 2009 closest)
        NYT: 8 Obamas
        WSJ: 3 Obamas (Feb 13, 2009 closest)
        CNN: 9 Obamas

        Trump wins in a landslide 106 to 23

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Please compare equivalent days. February 16, 2017 had a Trump press conference. Of course it’s going to be news.

          • tscharf says:

            A news conference isn’t exactly legendary excitement, unless Trump hysteria is involved. Feb 16 was right in the middle of the Obama stimulus package being passed.

            The better argument is that formatting of news front pages has changed significantly with most read lists, longer pages, etc.

            It hasn’t changed much, Feb 20:

            WP: 37 Trumps
            NYT: 23 Trumps
            WSJ: 19 Trumps
            CNN: 19 Trumps

  55. Iain says:

    To add to the pile of criticisms of the Muslim immigration article — the introductions says:

    History has shown again and again that when we migrate, we tend to re-create our old societies wherever we wash ashore.

    The link is to another post by the same author, which documents a bunch of opposition to Italian and Irish immigration, juxtaposes it with some numbers about Mexican immigration, and seems to believe that a case has been made. Given the degree to which Irish and Italian immigrants are generally agreed to have successfully assimilated into American culture, I find this deeply unconvincing. Indeed, I think it completely undermines the piece on Muslim immigration. Why should I trust the anti-Muslim Chicken Littles of today, when the anti-Irish Chicken Littles of yesterday have been proven so wrong?

    An actually convincing case against Muslim immigration would have to take that burden head on. If you think it is relevant that Muslim immigrants are less wealthy or less successful than the average citizen, then you had better be able to demonstrate that the same thing was not also true for the Irish, or the Italians, or whichever other group you think has assimilated well. Otherwise, I don’t see why anybody should give you the time of day.

    • dndnrsn says:

      You even had anti-German immigrant sentiment back in the day. Usually the driver was anti-Catholic sentiment. However, the real hardcores would say that the sky did fall. Why, after all, there are two Irish- and one Italian-descended SC justices, out of five Catholics – and no Protestants! Catholicism is completely socially acceptable! And, how many breweries in the US are run by those of German descent? RUM, ROMANISM, and REBELLION!

      • Gobbobobble says:

        (Not disputing the broader points, just brainstorming the German angle)

        Was German immigration opposed on the grounds of racism towards German peoples or driven by geopolitical objections to Germany-as-a-polity’s rise to prominence?

        Put another way, were Germans despised for being inferior (like the Irish and Italians, whose countries were, for one reason or another, kind of crappy places to live at the time) or were they viewed as a credible threat? (Or perhaps the latter bravado-ly dressed up as the former). I would imagine that there’s more parallels to modern anti-Chinese sentiment than to, how to phrase it… HBD-inspired racism?

        • dndnrsn says:

          (My broader points are not serious – as in I do not believe them – but if you were to present the acceptance of Catholicism to someone way back when, they might say “and that’s why we need to keep ’em out!”)

          Based on my knowledge of it – which is fairly limited – people of English background tended to think that everyone from the Continent was inferior, especially the Catholics. Here’s Franklin writing about Germans:

          [W]hy should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.

          Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.


          • Gobbobobble says:

            Jeebus. That puts things in perspective a bit.

            To pick another nit though, I thought Germany was predominantly Protestant? I could have sworn that German immigrants, at least the waves in 1800s that settled in the Midwest, were mostly Lutheran. Is that just the wrong sort of Prod, and anyone not Anglican was basically a heathen?

            Though your point about GB vs. the Continent is probably the most salient. Yay exceptionalism…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            But this time I’m sure America is really in danger of losing it’s essential character and “those people” really are inferior “not white” people.

            (yes, this is a snarky comment)

            I’m just amazed that the evidence of all the other times this was complete BS doesn’t cause people to take the Bayesian position that extraordinarily compelling evidence needs to be found before we start giving any weight to arguments based in imputed internal traits based on perceived external ones…

          • registrationisdumb says:

            People tend to get racism in America confused because of the whole white vs. black oppression agenda. Sure, the Irish occasionally get mentioned, but nearly every immigrant group was the “other” at one point, whether it was the Germans or the Italians.
            But everyone we don’t like is white and white people are the devil, so we must forget that they too, have been discriminated against.

          • dndnrsn says:


            Germany today is a bit over half Christian, with about a third of Germans professing no religion. The other religions make up the balance. Of Christians, Catholics are slightly over half.

            I don’t know the religion of German immigrants to the US. I imagine it would depend where they came from – whether you’re Catholic or Lutheran in Germany depends mostly on which part of Germany your ancestry is from.


            Yeah, precedent leads to the conclusion “immigration probably won’t ruin everything this time.” Historically, the only people on the continent who had everything ruined for by immigration are Aboriginals/Native Americans.


            Well, for a whole bunch of reasons, the black experience has been different. Or, at least, the experience of black people whose ancestors were brought over as slaves has been – in contrast, immigrants from some African countries have done quite well.

          • HeelBearCub says:


            But everyone we don’t like is white and white people are the devil, so we must forget that they too, have been discriminated against.

            I have no idea why you are saying this. Most liberal are familiar with and perfectly comfortable acknowledging that previous immigration waves were discriminated against.

            You aren’t grappling with the actual issue here, which is that those previous immigration waves have been largely subsumed within the category “white”. My great grandparents came over from Sicily, I have an Italian last name, but nobody thinks I’m a stupid dago wop. I’m just white in today’s America. No one care that I’m 1/4 quarter Italian, one way or the other.

          • Aapje says:


            One of the reasons was that the Italians and Irish did marry with other ethnic groups.

            Black people in many places in the US were forbidden from interracial marriage for a long time and there was great opposition to it, but that seems to have changed a lot in the past decades. I see this as the best chance for a breakthrough in US race relations.

            The N-African immigrants in Europe are extremely reluctant to marry outside of their ethnic group (even going so far to import brides from their country of origin). IMO, this is a major factor in their problems.

            The Islam has rather strict rules for religious intermarriage and faith seems to play a large role in the reluctance of orthodox Muslims to marry.

            PS. Was Franklin on drugs? That passage seems hallucinatory.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think intermarriage is a product of integration, more than a cause, but certainly there is a virtuous circularity there. And yes, the historical legal status of blacks in America has been a large factor in making integration much harder to achieve.

            As to willingness to assimilate, people made the same argument about essentially every immigrant wave. Each one brought a wave of ethnic neighborhoods (frequently the same neighborhood) which were decried for all the usual reasons.

            Lastly, Franklin sounds so strange because we can’t imagine of the Germans as anything other than “white”. But if you look at what the Americans, even German Americans, said about the Irish, as the Irish immigration wave started replacing the German one, you see the exact same type of language. This has been commonplace in American history.

          • baddhorse says:

            dndnrsnm, immigration did ruin America. The immigration of English aristocrats to Virginia and the deep South in the 17th century. The culture they created there has, from what I’ll presumptively call “our” point of view, effectively obstructed progress, justice, and economic equality in the United States from day one.

            What the immigrants believe and how they act matters. Don’t put your brain on a shelf and say “immigrants”, or “religions”, as if they’re all always the same. Beliefs matter.

          • Aapje says:


            I’m not so much amazed by the basic argument, which is a rather standard ‘this new group of immigrants is a danger to our society,’ but rather his argument that no one but the English and the Saxons are white. I can’t remember ever seeing anyone with such a strict definition of who is white. Compared to him, the Nazis were quite lenient with their race theories.

          • HeelBearCub says:


            Compared to him, the Nazis were quite lenient with their race theories.

            That’s 150+ years later. You need to compare Franklin to contemporaries, not the the Nazis.

            I feel confident that the English of that time were showing “racially” based contempt for the non-English. This is standard outgroup bias working. Categorizing the outgroup/other tribe as dirty, dark, swarthy, “black” is standard symbolic fare. Fair, pure, clean, “white” is reserved for the ingroup.

            I believe the argument runs like this. America, as place where the native population was purged through disease and deliberate malice making a bounty of land available, with a climate that is receptive to the agricultural package of Europe, is a place that allows the former tribes of Europe to readily intermix, and “white” as an identity becomes much more solidified. This is my understanding of the heart of the idea that “white” as a racial category is socially constructed.

          • dndnrsn says:


            Ah, hating on the Cavaliers! A contrarian! Usually around here we hate on the Borderers.

            (I’m not saying you’re wrong; the traditional elites in those parts come out looking pretty nasty even if you don’t go full Albion’s Seed)

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Some whites tan an orange-brown colour, others don’t tan at all, merely get sunburnt. I think the latter variety are found disproportionately in the British Isles, and furthermore that the British Isles are the only habitable area with a climate to suit them.

            This could be what Ben Franklin is talking about.

          • The Islam has rather strict rules for religious intermarriage and faith seems to play a large role in the reluctance of orthodox Muslims to marry.

            More precisely, under Islamic religious law it is permitted for a Muslim man to marry a woman of one of the other tolerated religions (mostly Christians and Jews). It is not permitted for a Muslim woman to marry a man of one of the other religions.

      • Joseftstadter says:

        True. Most of the horrible things the 19th century nativists predicted have indeed come to pass. We just don’t mind.

        But the imposition of lousy lager beer as our American beer of choice should be enough to demonstrate to any right thinking American the damage German immigration did to our country.

        • dndnrsn says:

          More like, America owes an apology to the Germans and Czechs for wrecking the reputation of lager and pilsner beer.

          • Tibor says:

            I’ve never had it but I am told (by a Mexican ex-colleague who studied in the US) that the American Budweiser is essentially the cheapest and worst beer on the market. The Czech Budweiser is far from my favourite Czech beer (unlike Pilsner Urquell) but it is not quite the worst. There has been a long dispute about using that name, I think the Czech Budweiser objected to the name being used in the US by a different company and they eventually lost. So now the Czech Budweiser is is marketed under a rather terrible name Czechvar in the US, I think they could simply use the Czech version of the name, which is Budvar instead, although maybe that sounds too much like Budweiser which might be a legal problem.

            Btw, Budweiser comes from Budweis, or Budějovice in Czech, which is the Bohemian town where it’s made. Much like Pilsner, which comes from Pilsen or Plzeň, which the town in Bohemia where this type of beer comes from. Pilsner Urquell, or Plzeňský prazdroj, which is the beer made there, literally means “Pilsner original source” in English (The prefixes ur- in German and pra- in Czech mean something like “original” or “ancient”, the closest thing in English is probably the use of grand- when you talk about grandparents). Usually, the German names are used internationally for Czech beers, whereas both the Czech and German names are used interchangeably inland.

          • Nornagest says:

            In the US, Budweiser (as such, not Bud Lite) is pretty decent, as cheap domestic lager goes; on par with PBR, but drunk mainly by actual working-class people rather than by hipsters trying to boost their working-class cred. Coors, Miller, and most of the other regular macrobrews are a step down; anything with “lite” in the name another step; flavored beer of any kind yet another. The real bottom of the barrel is the likes of Keystone or Schlitz, which are only bought by the desperate and by college students who don’t know any better; even the alcoholics buy other stuff, since it’s essentially impossible to get drunk on 4.4% light lager.

            The microbrews are far superior, of course, but they also cost twice as much or more.

          • dndnrsn says:

            My experience with Bud is that it’s a predictably mediocre mass-produced beer. Only worth buying if it’s on sale, because you’re paying for the ad campaign – PBR is cheaper. Canada has a higher floor for cheap bad beer – or at least Ontario does, as there’s a lowest minimum price. This seems to mean that, if you have to charge a buck or whatever per beer, there’s a sweet spot where production is cheap, but quality is still enough that people will buy it – given that past a certain point cutting costs won’t make it cheaper for the consumer.

            Bud Light is awful though.

          • Tibor says:

            4,4% of alcohol? That does not sound so weak to me. You can definitely get drunk on that. Pilsner Urquell happens to have exactly that amount of alcohol in it. Now, it is true that Urquell is unusually weak for a 12 grade beer (Czechs differentiate beers by grade rather than by alcohol content. The grade denotes the amount of malt in the beer – this means that higher grade beer have more alcohol but two beers with the same grade can have a slightly different alcohol content), but I would not call it particularly weak in general. Although I noticed that German beers tend to be slightly stronger than Czech beers on average (by something like 0,5% ) and English or Irish beers even more so. And of course then there are Belgian beers which are extremely strong or special things like indian pale ale which is also. Finally, there’s the tatical nuclear penguin 🙂

            EDIT: Googling a bit, it seems that this might be the reason Czech beers tend to be slightly weaker than German beers (of the same type) – you produce alcohol by fermenting the malt extract (which is why higher grade beers are stronger) but different brands of beer differ in how much of the extract is actually fermented. Czech beers usually leave a larger portion of the malt extract unfermented, which means a bit less alcohol is produced. It also explains the difference in taste between German Pilsners and Pilsner Urquell – the latter has a bit “fuller” taste since it retains more of the unfermented malt extract. Of course, not all German Pilsners taste the same, but they are definitely distinct from Pilsner Urquell or even other Czech Pilsners.

        • This is always a sensitive point to make. A majority of the 1920s American politic, as far as I’m aware (please let me know if you disagree, I’m only 80% sure on this quip), would be horrified that half our SC is currently Jewish.

          Now, personally, I don’t care. It’s obvious that they have different tribal preferences than me, and that to many this is a bad outcome. On the other hand, I tend to view tribal violence that upsets a stable equilibrium as to be avoided at all costs. I also like Jews. They give us guys like Scott, and so many awesome scientists. *shrug*.

          –Not trying to derail this post to be about Jews.

          • Jiro says:

            There’s a difference between “many people in the 1920’s would be horrified at one specific thing about our society” and “many people in the 1920’s would be horrified at many things about our society.”

          • that half our SC is currently Jewish.

            I think it is currently 3/8.

    • Tibor says:

      I also checked out that link and I had the same impression. The author’s argument, as I understand it, is that the only reason the “bad” European immigrants eventually assimilated, was that immigration restrictions were put in place and they had no other option than to mix with the better Anglo-Saxon and Germanic immigrants (and even then it would have been better to keep just those). That is a big IF, but if you accept that, it does not entirely undermine the original article, although there are other problems. I wrote a probably too long comment about that already, so I will not do it here again.

      What also confuses me is that they do not cite any opposition to German immigration, whereas there definitely has been quite a lot of that.

    • gin-and-whiskey says:

      Historically, some of our less pleasant social mores probably did quite a bit to promote integration. When differences result in open discrimination and hostility, there is a strong social incentive to try to minimize your differences by assimilating. “Try to be like everyone else” was a pretty effective rallying cry. This combined with a strong attitude towards patriotism and groupthink, no doubt helped along by the Cold War. And of course, the technological limitations made it more isolating, and harder to retain a true connection to the people and place you had left.

      I’m not saying this was good. There were costs, to be sure. But it was effective.

      We don’t have that anymore. Many elites consider “assimilate” to be a dirty word. Patriotism is no longer seen as a benefit. And the growth of the web and smartphones mean that you can more easily maintain a culture you once had, rather than join a new one.

      As a result, I think we are worse at assimilating than we once were.

      • Megaflora says:

        At some point during the fight against the practice of openly discriminating against categories of people who were different, the narrative seems to have switched from “these differences do not make these people any less Christian/American/etc” to “these differences are inherently valuable and must be actively promoted”.

        I think acceptance and even celebration of human differences is an overall positive thing, but our current ethos seems to be much less concerned with the vast range of possibility-space that humans can occupy and much more with specific per-defined identities.

      • Iain says:

        It seems to me that, much like many things, assimilation is always going to seem much messier in the moment than it does from a sufficiently distant vantage point. What exactly is the evidence that we are assimilating less than we used to? Compare, for example, the German communities which included third-generational monolingual German speakers well into the 20th century.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Also see “Chinatown” (wherever), USA.
          Little Italy
          Polish communities
          Jewish communities

          Heck, from my childhood I remember big concerns about Puerto Rican integration. West Side story is written in 1961 and is set in the 50s.

        • Aapje says:


          Migration was restricted very much at times in the past, to cope with the poor assimilation at the time. The outcomes you see are after people reacted to problems with measures. So you can just as easily argue that assimilation is going just as badly at the worst cases in the past and we should react now to achieve similar results as in the past.

          • Migration was restricted very much at times in the past, to cope with the poor assimilation at the time.

            Where? In the U.S., you don’t get major restriction until the 1920’s, although there is some restriction of East Asian immigration starting earlier.

          • Aapje says:

            Immigration Act of 1882
            Immigration Act of 1891

            Both aimed to improve quality of the migrants admitted.

            I admit that I don’t have any data as to how many migrants were sent back and/or disincentivized from trying to migrate, so admit that my use of ‘very much’ was conjecture.

          • Checking Wiki on the act of 1882:

            It imposed a head tax of fifty cents on immigrants, and:

            The legislation dictated that “If on such examination there shall be found among such passengers any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of him or herself without becoming a public charge, they shall report the same in writing to the collector of such port, and such person shall not be permitted to land.” Furthermore, if a criminal was found to be on board, it was the fiscal responsibility of the ship that brought the immigrant there to take them back out of the United States.

            I wouldn’t expect that to cover very many immigrants and it wasn’t “to cope with the poor assimilation at the time.”

            You also have the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which comes closer to what your claim describes, but for only one nationality.

  56. Chevron says:

    The “Toxoplasma of Rage” link is broken. Looking at the URL it leads to makes me very confused about how you created the link.

    • random832 says:

      Seems obvious to me how he created the link – he tried to paste the URL, but still had the preceding quote in his clipboard. The other bits of the URL are a consequence of a string not containing any slashes being treated as a relative link.

  57. rahien.din says:

    Aren’t the Cagots just the ultimate example of the narcissism of small differences?

  58. moridinamael says:

    For some time I’ve been tending towards “people are almost always Dunning-Krugering hard on any political topic, I am a subset of people, I should stop taking myself seriously” and now Grognor’s most recent essay-reading (In Praise of Passivity) has pushed me the rest of the way over the edge toward not being political at all. Anybody care to bluepill me back the other direction?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      No one Dunning-Krugers harder than Dunning and Kruger. Their effect is a lie.

      • moridinamael says:

        I think a more accurate way of expressing it would be to say, in Huemer’s words, that our understanding of politics (and probably also sociology and economics) is pre-scientific, and having strong opinions about controversial political topics is epistemically equivalent to having strong opinions on interpretations of the meaning of the Trinity.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Well, OK, I’m not going to defend having political opinions. You have to have carefully calibrated humility. But you can do better than on psychology and sociology than deferring to the academic consensus. For starters, you can learn stats 101 and not assume that elite academics apply it correctly (eg, Dunning-Kruger).

          Here’s a political question: should the links thread be used as an open thread?

          • moridinamael says:

            Here’s a political question: should the links thread be used as an open thread?

            I don’t get it.

        • Deiseach says:

          having strong opinions about controversial political topics is epistemically equivalent to having strong opinions on interpretations of the meaning of the Trinity

          I do have strong opinions on interpretations of the meaning of the Trinity, so I suppose that makes me pre-scientific.

          Oh, the shame! I shall just have to try and bear up under it as best I’m able 🙂

    • Jaskologist says:

      Ah, but those are other people. I’m not in the set of other people.

  59. Space Viking says:

    For those reading the post Scott linked on Muslim immigration, here’s another excellent, and related, post by the same author, written a year later.

    OK, link is not working, so please look up “those who can see the diversity tax”.

  60. BaesTheorem says:

    On the topic of “Majority of Europeans support banning Muslim immigration:”

    Don’t forget the time that 4chan voted for Moot as the most influential person AND simultaneously spelled out MARBLE CAKE ALSO THE GAME with the initials of the runners up. That’s Time Magazine we’re talking about. If they can be gamed so easily, it can happen to anyone.

  61. Matt M says:

    I feel like the EY thing is a super hollow gesture unless they plan on also doing all of the following.

    1. Eliminating all on-campus recruitment programs
    2. Explicitly telling job candidates to NOT mention their educational status/achievement on resumes
    3. Explicitly telling hiring managers to ignore educational status/achievement if they somehow find out about it anyway
    4. Create some sort of outreach/networking program for the non-degreed

    The barrier to getting hired by major firms isn’t having a degree. Tons of people have degrees. It’s getting in front of their right people and knowing what to say to them. This is the true value proposition of college, and nothing they are proposing changes that whatsoever.

    • sohois says:

      The British press recently reported on the EY move, but presented it entirely differently to HuffPo. The articles that I saw implied the move was not at all related to hiring more non-graduates and ending reliance on university degrees; rather, they were switching to much more online testing to determine graduate selection instead of looking at degrees and universities.

      This was suggested to be a way of promoting more state school applicants over private school applicants, since private school students would be more likely to go to ‘impressive’ universities. Applicants would have any mention of their university name removed from the application, they would only say that they had a bachelors degree or some such.

      Perhaps this represents a further step in EY’s new HR strategy, but from the previous report I would theorize that this is linked, an is another way of encouraging applications from poorer but talented students.

  62. Phil Goetz says:

    Online polls should not be used to evaluate support of things Trump is doing. I haven’t seen any stats, but I’d be astonished if Trump supporters on average used the Internet as many hours per day as Trump opponents. Given that the number of people who voted for and against Trump were roughly equal, this figure suggests Trump supporters spend about 1/4 as much time online as Trump opponents. That means 80% support of Trump might appear as 50% support in an online poll.

    • Montfort says:

      The online poll is of Europeans and does not directly relate to Trump or his actions. The poll about Trump’s EO was conducted by Rassmussen by robocall.

      In any event, much more relevant than time spent online in general is time spent and/or visits to the site(s) where the poll was conducted.

  63. Brandon Berg says:

    Regarding PISA scores: No, not at all.

    Let’s suppose, because I’m on my phone and can’t easily do the math for anything more complicated, that the bottom 15% of the US population in both wealth and IQ is black, and the next 15% is Latino, with the top 70% being white. (Note: This is wrong, wrong, wrong. The distributions have substantial overlap, and there are many blacks and Latinos in the top deciles of both wealth and IQ. Also, Asian Americans exist, and IQ and wealth aren’t perfectly correlated. This model is purely for illustrating a statistical phenomenon).

    Note that the top 10% in this distribution is the top ~14% of the white population, whereas in a country where everyone is white, the top 10% of the whole population will be the top 10% of the white population. Even if there are no blacks or Latinos in the top decile of wealth, their existence at the bottom of the distribution compresses the entire white population into the top seven deciles, diluting the top decile with second-decile whites.

    Again, this is an oversimplification with racist implications and not to be taken literally. But I’m fairly confident that some more nuanced version of this story describes what’s going on here.

  64. blarglesworth says:

    Bupropion is a fairly weak amphetamine-like stimulant with an amphetamine backbone. Take amphetamine, put a t-butyl group on the nitrogen (whereas meth has a methyl group there), stick an oxygen on the beta carbon (as in cathinone), and then add a chlorine onto the benzene ring’s 3 carbon. That’s all there is to its structure. The depressionforums person likened starting it to a low dose of meth, and that’s not surprising given that it’s the same class of drug.

    It’s not surprising that people feel great for a few days and then develop tolerance, which is what has happened for me the several times I have been on it. A few days of being relatively happy and functional are followed by going back to baseline and not getting a long-term improvement. Going off of it then causes increased lethargy, from an already very lethargic baseline.

    I’ve also had a similar experience with venlafaxine, FWIW, but with decreased libido instead of an increased one thanks to the serotonin effects. I’ve never had an antidepressant actually work long-term, and I’ve cycled through a number of them, but it seems that the norepinephrine-increasing ones do produce a few days where I get to glimpse what it might look like to not be depressed before crashing back to normal again. Damn tolerance…

  65. Brandon Berg says:

    While [Ernst & Young is] wrong about the specific correlational claim, they’re right about the implicit causal claim

    I feel like this is a distinction an accounting firm should get right.

  66. Tatu Ahponen says:

    People have already debunked some of the parts of the anti-Muslim-immigration article, but it fails right on its premises. The issue here is not whether Muslim immigration in Europe lead to “social benefits”, however you define it; it is humanitarian immigration, based on the premise that maintaining the global human rights regime requires maintaining the principle of a right to seek asylum as an actual, existing right. One can argue that the global human rights regime should not be maintained, that it should be understood differently etc., but that doesn’t seem to be the point of the article.

    • Mark says:

      Hmmm… is that the debate?

      Fundamentally, I think the real question is whether we have the moral right to a border policy. The other objections to immigration controls are normally rapidly revealed to be motivated reasoning.

      If the discussion is the best way to ensure a global human rights regime, I would say we need more evidence before implementing potentially costly policies, such as open borders. Off the top of my head, I would guess that where nations had particularly bad human rights, people would be prevented from leaving. So, intuitively, I would doubt it’s effectiveness to achieve that specific goal.

      • Tatu Ahponen says:

        Germany does not have “open borders”, and has never had them. It has a “border policy”, and has always had it. Preventing people from leaving from a country entirely is not possible, and even North Korea -style attemps to do so are exceedingly rare. In many countries where human rights problems are an issue, there is not even an unified state form that could do so in any way – human rights are often violated by non-state actors.

        • Brad says:

          Many immigration restrictionists call any policy less restrictive than they’d like or that doesn’t have 100% perfect enforcement open borders. I consider it dishonest and arguing in bad faith, but there you go.

          • Wrong Species says:

            When the Syrian Civil War started heating up, the EU basically let in everyone from the area come in. They have put on more restrictions since then but open borders isn’t that far from the truth.

      • webnaut says:

        ‘Human rights’ don’t exist Mark.

        It is an expression that got use from the middle of the previous century, but its currency doesn’t imply it has any validity. There are no human rights. There is just things we do or don’t do. Human rights are a fantasy of lawyers.

        Tangentially: I was thrilled to learn that the European Court of Human Rights is not an EC organization at all. What a crock! One day the readers of The Guardian may even find out. I’m just waiting for the bombshell to be dropped by Wikileaks 😉

    • rlms says:

      I disagree. It is perfectly possible to allow asylum seekers but greatly restrict other forms of immigration.

    • Wrong Species says:

      If you’re going to say that people have already “debunked” parts of the article, you should tell us what exactly they debunked and what argument they made.

      • beleester says:

        It’s literally right here in the comments section, so I don’t think it’s a problem that he didn’t bother to link to it, but if you insist…

        • Wrong Species says:

          I’m not exactly looking through the entire comment section and analyzing every single one to see which one you believe “debunks” it. The criticism is fair but it only criticizes a few claims. There is still the problem that 99% of Afghanis want Sharia law. You can’t “debunk” the fact that Muslims have different values

        • Cypren says:

          The linked comment is probably going to be entirely unpersuasive to anyone who isn’t already persuaded. He attacks a few things that the author linked as anecdotes using anecdotal evidence of his own and then declares that he doesn’t need to read or rebut the actual data because clearly this whole thing is trash.

          This is Jonathan Haidt’s “can I believe this?” vs. “must I believe this?” at work in one of the clearest examples I’ve seen in a while.

  67. anon1 says:

    My experience with bupropion over the past 16 months does not fit this honeymoon model. There was a distinct increase in mood, energy, and motivation immediately. It became hard to sleep unless I’d biked at least 10 miles that day. These fell off gradually, over about 1 month for energy and motivation and 6 months for mood, and then seem to have stayed fairly constant at a level that’s still far above normal. Confounder: apparently I also have ADD, for which bupropion is known to be useful, so for all I know the antidepressant effect could be gone by now and the reason I’m still abnormally happy is that I’ve stopped being the kind of person who consistently screws everything up at the last minute for mysterious reasons.

  68. lgio says:

    Wow, what a ripoff. The Nature article they want to charge $5 to read it once or $10 to have it (with printing and saving restrictions!). If I look online for the price of the whole Nature issue on paper or digital, that’s $10.

    • Urstoff says:

      And that’s quite inexpensive for a single-article purchase from an academic journal. I don’t really know who buys stuff on a single-article basis, and why the prices are the way they are. I would think that 99.9% of consumers are academics that have access through a university library. Who is that 0.1% that is buying individual articles at exorbitant prices?

      • Chalid says:

        I’ve bought the occasional article for work, on the company credit card (so I was extremely price-insensitive).

      • One Name May Hide Another says:

        I had a rare medical condition at one point, and I bought all the research articles I could find on it.

  69. Catlick says:

    QZ’s profile of Steve Bannon. I keep on hearing about this guy as some kind of esoteric conservative mastermind with unpredictable goals and visions, but his positions don’t look that different from what you’d expect to hear on Rush Limbaugh or something.

    Especially clear when they reference Edmund Burke’s philosophy as if it were some strange influence that made Bannon different from your run-of-the-mill conservative. Every other place I’ve ever seen Burke referenced, it was followed immediately by “the father of modern conservatism.” You wouldn’t know from the Qwartz piece that any other conservative alive had even heard of Burke.

    • Kevin C. says:

      “Burkean conservative” is an oxymoron; Burke was a Whig. Funny that Google gets no results for “Bolingbrokean Conservative” nor “Pittian conservative”.

      • It is an oxymoron based on the original classifications. But the contradiction in fact explains Burkean conservatives perfectly well. They are typically hold standard conservative views on a few typical topics, while holding social views that are (CurrenctProgressive-20years). They are out of fashion Whigs, but aren’t conservative or reactionary enough to actually, truly, try to break the permanent leftward slide. (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is my observation).

        • Kevin C. says:

          “It is an oxymoron based on the original classifications.”

          I.e. the classifications that matter.

          “But the contradiction in fact explains Burkean conservatives perfectly well… They are out of fashion Whigs, but aren’t conservative or reactionary enough to actually, truly, try to break the permanent leftward slide.”

          Agreed on all but the “isn’t necessarily a bad thing” part.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The classifications that matter are the classifications in use, the fact that modern “conservatives” would be considered “revolutionaries” by the standards of those who died over two centuries ago doesn’t change the fact that they are “conservative” by modern standards.

          • Kevin C. says:


            “The classifications that matter are the classifications in use”

            Rectification of names. On that topic, Xunzi took the position that words acquire their meanings through usage and convention (rather than, say, being handed down from Heaven or their being some sort of sound-meaning correspondence woven into reality), but that once a word has, through coinage and usage, gained some particular meaning, that remains its meaning, and any further changes or drift are corruptions, liable to produce confusion or equivocation, and should be rectified.

            “standards of those who died over two centuries ago… modern standards”

            The idea that these should differ, with us favoring the latter (rather than seeing it as a symptom of our sad degradation), that definitions and standards “progress”, is itself a left-wing idea. Rightists believe in eternal verities and unchanging principles.

            And besides, what have these modern standard “conservatives” actually managed to conserve?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Xunzi’s position, is precisely why the “classifications in use” matter more than the “classifications that Kevin C. insists we use”. When it comes to political and social issues the terms “conservative” and “revolutionary” have always been defined in relation to the median of the society which they inhabit. Your departure from this meaning is the real “corruption” in need of rectification.

            As for the rest…

            I will freely grant that the GOP is feckless, but I find it hard to believe that someone who genuinely believed in eternal virtues would have to ask the question. You too have bought into the idea of “progress” if you think that we can somehow turn back the clock. The things that have been have been, and that which will be will be.

            If you’d like a more conventionally progressive answer my suggestion would be to spend some time in East Africa or the less “civilized” parts of Southeast Asia so that you might gain a better understanding of how the other half lives and through that a greater appreciation for your own blessings.

          • Catlick says:

            . . . once a word has, through coinage and usage, gained some particular meaning, that remains its meaning, and any further changes or drift are corruptions, liable to produce confusion or equivocation, and should be rectified.

            It’s an understandable desire, but it’s only worthwhile to a certain point. You can try to forestall changes or drifts as they occur. It’s reasonable to try and preserve the distinction between disinterested and uninterested. But it’s both pedantic and valueless to try to stick to the original definitions of words like nice, nauseous, terrible ,gay, etc. Ditto on older pronunciations, like pronouncing flaccid Flak-sid. These cause more confusion than they prevent. I’d suggest it was the same with political classifications. It may be a battle worth fighting in the moment, but once new classifications are firmly in place, it’s not valuable to stick to the old ones.

  70. esrogs says:

    > The United States not only does poorly on education benchmark PISA, but each decile of wealth also does poorly compared to equivalent deciles in other countries. I find this surprising. Does this torpedo the theory that each US ethnic group does as well as its foreign counterparts, and US underperformance is a Simpson’s Paradox on ethnic distribution?

    No? Imagine that the country was split 50/50 between two groups: the Geniuses and the Idiots. If you compared decile-by-decile to another country that was 100% Geniuses, then when you compared the top 10% of each, you’d be comparing the top 20% of Geniuses in the split country to the top 10% of Geniuses in the other country, and you would expect the comparison to be unfavorable.

  71. Alraune says:

    If I’m understanding the patchwork nature of the enforcement of the Cagot rules between different counties correctly, then it seems likely that, whatever the original reason for their segregation was, the Cagot ended up being unusually ugly.

  72. Baffle Mint says:

    So, I’m kind of surprised that Mr. Miles has apparently made the best case for being against Muslim immigration, because I’m not totally convinced he has made a case against it at all.

    People have touched on my big objection, but only kind of tangentially, and it’s this:

    Why not just look at nation of origin instead of religion?

    So, to summarize Mr. Miles’ position as I understand it:

    1. The ideal immigrant is somebody who will follow the laws of their new country; will adopt, or at least tolerate and sometimes defer to the customs of the new country; and will not use very many social services. Now, I think you actually could question this picture of immigration, but I’m going to accept it. It’s not crazy.

    2. In an ideal world, we would be able to precisely know whether or not somebody would be the kind of immigrant we described in #1, but unfortunately we can’t directly measure those attributes, so we are forced to rely on looking at things we can measure as proxies for what we’re really looking for.

    3. Islam makes a really good proxy.

    I don’t think Miles has come anywhere close to proving #3. The question shouldn’t be whether we could use Islam as some kind of rough proxy for what we really want to measure, because we could use all kinds of things as rough proxies. We could ban all immigration from men, on the theory that they are more aggressive and less pro-social then women. We could ban ANY highly religious candidate, on the theory that they are likely to be more loyal to their religion than to their country.

    We could look at the aggregate polls from the northern and southern hemisphere, and ban whichever hemisphere performs worse in those polls.

    Miles can’t just make the case that Islam works as some kind of proxy for “bad immigrant”; he needs to make the case that it works better than other proxies we might use.

    And it seems to me that the first question you’d want to ask is: What do other religious populations from the same country do when they immigrate to Europe?

    In other words, is a Moroccan Muslim likely going to behave more like an Inodnesian Muslim, or more like Moroccan Christian?

    I don’t think Miles even attempts to answer the question.

    Nation of origin is the first alternative proxy I came up with, just because Miles himself, lacking data on certain things, ends up using nation of origin as a proxy for Islam, which is in turn a proxy for liklihood of being a bad immigrant, so I wonder why not just cut out the middleman and ban immigration from particular countries?

    You could also look at relative wealth, drill down and look at cities rather than countries… there are an endless number of things that you could use.

    The downsides to banning or even heavily curtailing Muslim immigration are obvious: It conflicts with our value of religious tolerance and makes a lot of people really, really angry.

    So to make a case for it, you need to explain not just why it could work as a rough way of measuring how likely somebody is to become a good immigrant, you need to make a case for why it is better than less fraught alternatives.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Nitpick: You’d have a hard time comparing Moroccan Muslims to Moroccan Christians, because Morocco is under 1% Christian, and they are mostly non-Moroccans resident in Morocco.

  73. JayMan says:

    M.G. Miles makes the case for banning Muslim immigration … Also, he uses the word “terrorism” zero times

    Not that you’d be able to tell this if you didn’t already know, but for the record, M.G. Miles is a woman.

  74. Blue Tribe Dissident says:

    Is there an article someone can link to that makes the case for Muslim immigration into the West? Making the case against seems like putting cart before horse, since I’d suggest that the default option should be to keep things roughly the way they are.

    • rlms says:

      The way things are (technically even in the US) allows anyone to apply for asylum or to be an immigrant, regardless of whether or not they are a Muslim.

      • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

        Naturally, I didn’t mean the current policy régime, nor the current rate of change; I meant the current population of the country.

        • rlms says:

          In that case, the default option should be no immigration (or emigration, or procreation).

          • The Nybbler says:

            Or death. Which seems unrealistic.

          • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

            Zing! But yes, the default option should be no immigration. No procreation and no emigration don’t sound like serious proposals, so those are red herrings, yes?

          • rlms says:

            Why shouldn’t they be serious? They are both physically feasible. I admit that restricting procreation doesn’t have much of a precedent, but restricting emigration has certainly been done, and seems an exact mirror to restricting immigration.

          • Subb4k says:

            Do you even realize that emigration can’t exist without immigration in some other place? If one isn’t the “default state” then neither is the other.

            Also why consider only countries? Why should (for example) Texans be allowed to move to California? Why should residents of Austin be allowed to move to Houston?

          • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

            rlms: “physically feasible” sounds like a very low bar to set for what is worth discussing. I guess I just don’t see the relevance. I’m not claiming that all default options for all policies should be based on population continuity.

            Subb4k: A right to emigrate is certainly the not same thing as a right to immigrate into a particular place. I have the right to move out of my apartment, which would necessitate me moving into someplace else, but that hardly requires that I have the right to show up at your house and insist that you let me live there.

            I suppose the reason to start with the idea of a national rather than state boundary is precedent. It seems reasonable to assume that a line will be drawn somewhere, and the national boundary is the conventional place to have it. In any event, the point that I was making works the same regardless of whether we’re talking about Muslim immigration into a nation or from Texas into California.

          • rlms says:

            @Blue Tribe Dissident
            “I’m not claiming that all default options for all policies should be based on population continuity.”
            Then on what basis are you claiming that no immigration should be the default option?

            “A right to emigrate is certainly the not same thing as a right to immigrate into a particular place.”
            You are asserting that the default option for the West should be no immigration. It seems logical that that should also apply to the non-West. But if every country has a policy of no immigration, then every country also has a de facto policy of no emigration, since there is nowhere to emigrate to.

          • Jiro says:

            A “policy” which consists of the cumulative effect of several different countries acting separately is not what most people would consider a “policy”.

          • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

            rlms: Because it is a simple, well-precedented, and cautious attempt to first do no harm.

          • rlms says:

            Is too! If you want to argue for a country-scale policy that would have bad consequences if everyone enacted it, you have to argue for why it is a good policy for one country and not for everyone else, or why actually only one country would enact it, or something. If I propose “be a tax haven for the rich” as a policy on the basis that any country doing it will get richer, you can validly criticise me by arguing that it wouldn’t work if everyone did it. I can justify my claim by saying that practically speaking only my country will enact the policy, and the benefits my country gets from it are more important than the costs it imposes on other countries, but I can’t just make a general claim like Blue Tribe Dissident’s “it’s the default option”.

            @Blue Tribe Dissident
            “do no harm” is doing a lot of work there. Most obviously, potential immigrants who you are rejecting are being harmed, in the sense of not getting what they want. You can argue that existing citizens are more important than potential immigrants, but unless you actually look into the specific costs and benefits you’ve got to be arguing that even a (hypothetically) enormous benefit to potential immigrants is outweighed by a tiny cost to existing citizens. In any case, the point is moot because existing citizens who want immigration (because they want to e.g. employ or marry potential immigrants) are obviously being harmed by a ban.

    • Subb4k says:

      By default people are free to move. Stopping people from moving from one place to another (whether it is a restriction on immigration or emigration, or really anything else) requires justification.

      • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

        I think it’s interesting that I talked about the default in terms of what should be, but you talk about it in terms of what putatively is. When I say “by default”, I’m suggesting a heuristic intended to first do no harm. You seem to mean something else entirely. I can only imagine you’re assuming some kind of libertarian legal theory … I’m familiar with it, but don’t share it.

    • Baffle Mint says:

      People, when left to their own devices, wander all over the damn place. It takes resources and time to keep them out, and the larger and less enclosed the space, the more resources and time it will take to (try to) secure it.

      So I think you really need a positive argument that the time and resources spent on keeping people out are worth spending on that rather than the numerous other things that you could spend them on.

      In this particular case, you have European and US laws protecting religious freedom that would need to be altered, the protests that would immediately come from Muslims and liberals, anger from allied countries which take Islam seriously, etc. etc.

      Changing and dealing with those consequences would eat up even more resources. I don’t think Miles has come close to making the case that using our limited time and resources on banning Muslim immigration would have benefits that would outweigh the costs.

      (And of course that’s ignoring the moral implications of allowing a tiny number of state functionaries to determine the movements of hundreds of thousands or millions of people.)

      • rlms says:

        I don’t think you should consider “people will be upset about this and protest which we will have to deal with” a reason not to do something. It is a general argument against pretty much any significant change.

  75. dndnrsn says:

    That MG Miles article seems pretty dubious in places – there’s some anecdata. I don’t know why it doesn’t refer to the Pew polling of Muslims in Western countries – if I’m recalling correctly, it shows alarming attitudes in some countries. Their polling of Muslims in the US, on the other hand, shows a dramatic difference between the attitudes of Muslims in the US and Europe. (See notes 29 and 30 in this Wikipedia article) Which further supports my position that Europe’s experience isn’t necessarily relevant to the US. I’m not sure if that site is making an argument that is relevant only to Europe, or is meant to be applied to the US as well. Applying it to the US seems pretty dishonest given the differences between Muslim immigration to Europe and that to the US.

    That said – can anyone comment on the accuracy of the crime statistics? The French sources appear to have broken links, the Scandinavian sources are in Scandinavian languages (none of which I know), etc. “Here is a graph I made; ps the original source is in Danish” seems like an easy way to play tricks with numbers.

  76. webnaut says:

    Anticipate enjoying Grognor podcast essay readings.

    This is just what I needed. Today I have long tedious job perfect for listening to audiobooks/podcasts, and I just complained I don’t have enough SSC time, so this is just what the Doctor ordered.

    h/t Grognor/Scott

  77. scienceofdoom says:

    I’m new to your blog, it is quite awesome.

    You say:

    Closely related: M.G. Miles makes the case for banning Muslim immigration. Maybe the first person I have seen make this case in a principled way; everyone else just seems to be screaming about stuff and demanding their readers reinterpret it into argument form. Also, he uses the word “terrorism” zero times, which seems like the correct number of times for a case of this sort. This is what people should be debating and responding to.

    Of course, it depends what kind of websites you visit.

    I recommend “Infidel” by Ayyan Hirsi Ali (2006) – truly excellent and made me rethink everything. Well worth the investment of reading a whole book.

    Then there is the Pew Research. Perfectly sane to ask people in each country what they think and then decide if they are a good fit for becoming citizens in your country.

    Alternatively, imagine that everyone shares your preference for tolerance, diversity, rights and also remind yourself that bigots don’t like foreigners or other religions and just join the dots together – “anyone not embracing immigration from all countries is a racist/bigot” and sleep well at night.

    And just to be clear because often my style of writing (e.g. paragraph above) confuses people, so super-clarity with zero irony follows..

    There is a high percentage of people who embrace Sharia law in many Muslim countries. There are many people, hundreds of millions, who are Muslims who don’t embrace Sharia law. (Obviously there will be some kind of sliding scale rather than 2 distinct groups, I am just trying to simplify for clarify).

    Many from the second group might fit in nicely in the US or Europe. Most from the first group might not. The first group is large, perhaps larger than the second group. It isn’t important to be certain of the percentages. It is important and culture 1.01 to learn that this is not some tiny minority. It’s mainstream.

    Something like 80% (didn’t look the numbers up today) of the population of Jordan support the death penalty for people who grow up in a Muslim family but then decide that they believe something else (Christianity, atheism..) when they are old enough. It’s just lovely Sharia law. Let’s embrace diversity along with stoning or beheading.

    Likewise mainstream Muslim opinion supports harsh penalties, including death, for many other practices that us tolerant Westerners support.

    So let’s get more Sharia law enthusiasts into the US and Europe. Diversity makes us stronger!