This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server. Also:
1. A message from Tom Ash: “Time to take the 2017 Effective Altruism Survey, especially if you are an effective altruist, though you’re welcome to take it even if you’re not. If you took the survey last year and are short on time, take the donations only version.”
2. My last post listed a few studies suggesting there were relatively few long-term personality-related effects of childhood abuse. @SilverVVulpes on Twitter pointed out to me a few studies that seemed to show the opposite, Lynch et al and Alemany et al (I’m a little confused by the latter’s β values; are they missing a decimal?) I will have to look over these more to see what I think of them.
3. Thanks to everyone who took the survey last open thread. People were pretty strongly opposed to splitting the comment section in two, and I won’t try it.
4. Bakkot has added some new features to the comment system, which you can read about here. As always, many thanks to him for all his hard work.
5. “Comment” of the week is the index for Bean’s many comments on battleships.
6. New moderation policy: I am getting very paranoid after the various physical and reputational attacks on people saying “offensive” speech, especially given some ominous noises from within what I previously considered a bubble of safety. In order to protect myself and non-anonymous readers of this blog, I am going to be more careful about allowing things that hostile parties could interpret as reason to go Middlebury on someone. I am banning the terms “human biodiversity” and “hbd” – this doesn’t necessarily mean banning all discussion of those topics, but it should force people to concentrate on particular claims rather than make sweeping culture-war-ish declarations about the philosophy as a whole. I will also be deleting without notice any comments that I consider to have too high a heat-to-light ratio, especially when they’re the easily-visible first comment in the thread. You won’t get banned for making these comments, because I don’t expect people to be able to predict which of their comments I will worry has too high a heat-to-light ratio, but if you predict your comment might get this treatment you may want to save it somewhere so you can repost it somewhere else. I anticipate only having to do this very rarely. I’m sorry about this and wouldn’t go to this extreme if I didn’t think it was necessary to protect this community’s ability to do what it does at all.
Question for Trump supporters:
I can understand conservative or libertarian values. I don’t share them, and indeed I’m strongly opposed to them because I’m quite sure that if conservatives had it their way (again) people like me would be killed publicly en masse (again), and if libertarians had it their way, people like me would be left to the dogs. But at least I can understand such values. The appeal of spirituality, stoicism, martial heroism, entrepreneurship/growth culture, a stable Confucian society with strongly defined roles, the
myth oftheory of free market and meritocracy, the siren song of nationalism. I’m opposed to those things, but I can empathize.
Donald Trump doesn’t seem to stand for any of those things. His campaign rhetoric seemed to be against an ill-defined “globalism”, including such things as immigrants and NATO, and in favor of “draining the swamp” and standing with the white lumpenproletariat. But once in power NATO is good again, immigration is set to increase, Russians are BFF, the swamp is fuller than ever and policies are geared towards the rich. I think a lot of people seem to support trump because they hate (what they see as) “political correctness”; but Trump promptly asked for theaters to “always be safe spaces” and not engage in political criticism, and his administration is consistently bent on attacking the free media.
Trump is about as far from a Christian man as I can imagine. He falls short of any personal standard requested by Tradition. His gaudy persona, his hellish real-estate developments, his gold-plated brand are both a betrayal of everything Volkish and a mockery of all aristocratic virtues. He’s proved again and again to be a failure as a businessman and to anyone who values industry or meritocracy his life story is an embarrassment. I can’t understand any value system which would make people admire or support this strange epiphenomenon of late-stage capitalism.
If you still support Trump, why? What sort of value do you think he stands for?
I didn’t vote for Trump, but: did you or the sourced author above consider your complaints when applied to the alternative, before you wrote them?
A lot of these complaints have been filed before. So have the answers. Did you check them?
(Why do I feel like I’m running the Linux support desk?)
Freedom of speech in trouble? How about freedom of assembly? Portland, Oregon has cancelled the annual Avenue of Roses Parade this year because of threats by activists to forcibly remove “fascists” from the parade. From Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic, “A Chilling Threat of Political Violence in Portland“:
I got nothing, peeps.
I’m not sure what to make of this, the article is short on details that would help us determine just how credible the threat was. While canceling the whole parade is on the balance a better than not allowing specific groups to march I am becoming increasingly sympathetic to Nybbler’s view that, If these threats are credible and local police are not prepared stop them, it’s time to send in State Troopers and/or the National Guard.
I wonder how long it’ll be before we start seeing pundits trying to carve out exceptions for “hate assembly” or arguing that this sort of stunt is okay because it’s not the government doing it
Portland, Oregon is not a government now?
The threats came from Oregon Students Empowered and Direct Action Alliance, not the city government.
ETA: If the reference was instead to the cancellation of the parade, that was done by its organizers. Perhaps it was done in the belief that the city government wouldn’t give them the protection they were owed– a belief which might or might not be true.
The cancellation, yes.
I was referring to the (threat of) dispersing one’s political opponents.
Time for the Republican Party to organize its own parade, held in the same location and on the same date?
A song for Anzac Day.
I should have guessed, but how did “right” mutate into “Boeotian”?
Were you replying to my deleted post? I was trying to see if “alt-right” was a banned phrase. It isn’t, but maybe Sidles assumes it is, or maybe it’s straightforward enough that bringing it into his vocabulary would mess with the smart-kid-on-a-bad-TV-show vibe he seems to be going for.
I have no idea what “Boeotian” means in this context, but any explanation we’re going to get isn’t going to be worth the trouble to decode.
Yes, I was.
So Scott did live up to his claim and deleted a post? Good to know.
No, I deleted it.
Even better to know – thanks for clarifying.
You were absolutely correct on this assessment.
If thought is a property of matter, shouldn’t it be fairly easy to make 2 + 2 equal 3?
From our perspective, we’d be taking 2 + 2 and deleting one to make 3, but if the “delete one” operation weren’t exposed to the thinking matter, from their perspective, wouldn’t 2 plus 2 equal 3? You could control the matter to make this seem like the most natural thing in the world.
But 2+2=4 is not a bare fact about the world. It is meaningful because it corresponds to observable reality and fits into a broader system of mathematics. I don’t understand who “we” and “the thinking matter” are in your hypothetical, but consider all the difficulties that would arise from 2+2=3 when you add 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar for a cake recipe, or stack two 2″ cubes on top of each other, or attempt to calculate 2+2-4.
By “we” I mean us, living in this reality with our thinking matter operating as nature intended, and by “the thinking matter” I mean the thoughts that have been engineered by us through manipulation of matter.
So, we can alter observable reality (for the “brain” that we are creating) such that 2 + 2 = 3. I suppose that would mean that 1 + 1 would have to equal 1.5 – whenever you add two things of the same size the result for them would be 3/4 of what we would expect.
If the engineered mind could only conceive of this operation as “1 is added to 1, then magically .5 is taken away” rather than, “1 plus 1 equals 1.5, of course it does, how it could it be any other way” doesn’t that mean that there is some sort of platonic form of number?
In a purely materialistic framework, shouldn’t it be possible to make this weird math true (even if the resulting reality is just like – “hmmmm… this aspect is not predictable”)
You’d also have to have some way to stop everything from disappearing.
And would the act of noticing that things can be broken up into constituent parts make them smaller?
I think you need to separate out the influence of language which is concededly socially constructed.
If you had an inflated balloon and I gave you another inflated balloon, we could call the resulting number of inflated balloons ‘three’ or ‘orange’ or ‘Czechoslovakia’. What you couldn’t do is give one balloon to Aaron, one to Brad, and one to Charlie.
ok, so you do the whole brain in a jar thing and put someone into the matrix. The matrix is controlled by you and also you can manipulate the persons brain however you see fit and monitor what they’re thinking about.
In that case you could probably manipulate them to accept almost anything.
As infants if they put 2 blocks next to 2 blocks the simulation smoothly makes it so there are now 3 blocks.
If they try to count it out “but if 1 + 1+ 1+1 = 4…” then you smoothly edit the firing in their brain so that it feels natural to them that “but of course that makes perfect sense since that’s totally different from 2+2 equaling 3”
Surround them with NPC’s who totally accept that it’s obvious that 2+2=3.
If they’re looking at a building with 4 columns and put their hand up and block out 2 and them move it to block out the other 2 then it seems obvious that there’s 3 columns but any inkling of the implications of this are blocked from being thought about.
If they even start to get an inkling that there’s something inconsistent with 2+2=3 && 2+1=3 then you tweek their thinking on the matter to make them stop and dismiss it as an obviously silly thought.
And so they go through their lives totally accepting that 2+2=3
You could probably use a similar trick to make it so a subject never notices the existence of slood and never even considers the logical problems of a world without it.
If thought is a property of matter, the matter must precede the thought. What does “3 blocks” even mean in this context?
I don’t follow. I’m talking about literal physical brains in jars connected up to input/output data and suffused with hardware for monitoring and adjusting the brain on the fly.
If you’re that brain then “3 blocks” means what it would to you or me. there are 3 blocks, you can see them, touch them, taste them if you’re so inclined and if you throw them at the wall you get 1+1+1 dents in the wall.
I think that still runs into problems. Another example: what happens when you and your significant other go on a double-date? Two plus two equals three, so one of the people just disappears, and you are mind-wiped to forget that they ever existed?
It might be the case that a sufficiently powerful mind editor could trick a person into believing that 2+2=3. But it would require incredibly extensive, constant modifications, to the point where this thought experiment is more about the mind editor than the truth of 2+2=3.
How the effect is achieved has absolutely no bearing on my question.
The question was What does “3 blocks” even mean in this context?. Does 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 also equal “3 blocks”? what about 8 / 2?
To barow Iain’s example, what happens if two couples enter a bar? Does one of the individuals cease to exist? If so, does the same individual cease to exist for all observers? or do we get a Harvey the Rabbit scenario where one observer sees “Amy, Bob, and Carl” and another sees “Amy, Carl, and Denise”?
Well in my specific example there’s only one observer, other humans are NPC.
what happens if two couples enter a bar?
what ever is easiest for the simulation, either the brain-person simply never thinks in terms of there being 4 people or they never think in terms of it being 2+2 people or one person enters some kind of mental blind spot for the duration etc etc.
There’s a philosophical position that takes a view that there’s something special about thoughts: that they’re somehow inviolate and that as long as something relies only on thoughts within the brain and “self evident” thinks like 2+2=4 then it’s also somehow inviolate. Which is of course not the case since no rule says the brain is actually inviolate and it’s entirely possible that either outside interference or simple flaws in how human brains work could screw with that.
The question was What does “3 blocks” even mean in this context?
Whatever the simulator wants it to mean.
No, because 2 + 2 = 5.
IANAM but the way I’ve always understood it mathematics is a way that we humans use to describe relationships between, or properties of, objects. It’s an abstract way of describing nature rather than the manipulation of Platonic entities.
The statement “2+2=4” is true under a certain set of assumptions which don’t necessarily apply to all systems in the natural world. For example, if you add two cups of water to two cups of salt you’ll have a final volume smaller than four cups. And it really is the most natural thing in the world: nobody is surprised by the nonconservation of volume when cooking.
Yes, I guess the fundamental thing here, with language, thought, is the ability to relate or link things.
We link certain words together in certain associations and then relate those words to experience.
So, as long as we have the capacity to relate sounds to other experiences, or (more generally) as long as the power of association exists, thought as we know it is preserved. All of the rest is a detail.
So, I could make my crazy math world, or crazy math thought man, and he’d accept it, because any particular logical/arithmetical structure isn’t fundamental. The only real fundamental is the ability to associate.
But then again, I don’t know much about maths/logic, so perhaps there are some implications that derive from the ability to associate that make things more difficult.
Mathematical facts are necessary and unchanging, and hence cannot depend on physical objects, which are neither.
I could imagine imagining putting a brain in a virtual world where the usual metaphysics about objects is still a good way to compress observed reality (so that counting still makes sense) but where arithmetic worked differently.
But I can’t imagine it. If 2+2=3, traditionally you could subtract 3 from both sides and get 1=0, and our metaphysics needs a way to prevent that. Maybe you can think of a better solution, but the only thing I can come up with is to disallow regrouping the left hand side. But then the notion of individual objects is not working correctly – the whole point of having a concept of “this banana and that banana” rather than “those bananas” is so you can regroup the bananas.
(I think Murphy’s comment makes sense, but they are talking about editing the brain rather than reality, which is a lower bar)
The top-rank mathematician Vladimir Arnold gave a celebrated lecture “On teaching mathematics” (1997) that speaks plainly to the relation between mathematical truth (as humans appreciate it) and physical truth (as humans experience it).
In a nutshell, mathematical truths are sculpted by physical truths. This is the case, at least, for all of the mathematical truths that mathematicians like Arnold himself love to teach! 🙂
Update Very recently — just last Sunday in fact — the well-respected mathematician Doran Zeilberger posted “Opinion 159: What is Mathematics and What Should it Be?“; an essay whose arguments and conclusions (the way I read them anyway) are substantially consonant with Arnold’s.
If you have one thing and one thing and one thing and one thing, that’s four things, or two things and two things.
You can change the words around, but one thing and one thing and one thing and one thing
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will always be quantatively equal to
The only difference is in how you choose to group things. Obfuscating this would probably be very difficult.
OK – so let’s say we alter the mind so that it’s impossible to group discrete objects in even numbers.
As soon as you group something as an even, one is removed (and appears somewhere else?)
It’d be possible to (mentally) divide continuous objects up into even amounts, but if you’d never seen an odd number of discreet objects would people conceive of this?
Then you’ve got the problem of having to distinguish between continuous and discreet.
Things are getting complex.
If we are within a reality with a certain set of rules, is it possible to say whether that set of rules is simple?
Given a language, we can determine how complex any given expression (within that language) is.
Given two languages and some external concept that we are trying to describe, we can determine how efficient the languages are in relation to each other and how complex the phenomena is that they are describing.
But if we have two different languages with no shared phenomena, I can’t compare their efficiency/simplicity. So, as a designer of a mind/reality, I can see what is happening, compare it to my reality and say “this lacks parsimony”, but as the person living in weird-math world, I wouldn’t be able to make that statement.
It would be strange if there were not only a necessarily logical structure to the real physical universe, but also the same necessary logical structure to thought.
You’d think that if our logical thinking was just an evolved response to a reality, we’d be able to (at least locally) generate something that seems impossible to us, but that a mind would accept.
If such a mind can’t be created, it suggests that logic comes before reality?
Or perhaps it’s just impossible to imagine it.
it suggests that logic comes before reality?
It suggests nothing of the sort. Logic is a map that we use to describe the territory of reality. Yes it is possible to develop a system of logic that does not describe reality (just as it is possible to make a “language” that conveys no meaning) but this system would not describe reality.
Likewise, while it is possible to posit a reality that operates on different rules, you need to remember that “our” rules of logic do not describe that reality.
But if it were impossible to create a mind which described a different reality, wouldn’t that suggest that there was some fundamental law of logic that determined which realities were possible?
If our minds merely reflect reality, shouldn’t it be possible for us to create a mind for which 2 + 2 equals 3?
Are you saying that it isn’t possible to describe such a mind from within the rules of our reality?
Yes. 6 is even, but has an odd product. If I value 2x as much as 6y, I need to recognise that so I can avoid bad trades, and a way to communicate it so I can make good ones.
>If such a mind can’t be created, it suggests that logic comes before reality?
logic comes before reality in any case.
What are the potential negative consequences of giving your DNA to a testing company?
I’m kind of worried that google will end up sending a relentless dna-tracking kill-bot to take me out. Also, I guess it’ll make it more likely that I’ll get caught if I commit a crime.
They might keep a clone of me trapped in a torture dungeon for their personal amusement?
It gets to your insurance company and they later turn down a claim because you have a preexisting condition. (Or it doesn’t get to your insurance company and they turn down your claim because you failed to inform them about the results of the test, therefore failing to inform them about a preexisting condition. Note that this doesn’t imply the preexisting condition is the one you’re actually receiving the insurance payment for.)
It gets to an employer and they fire you, or don’t hire you, because people with those genes have a higher risk of criminality, or cost more in insurance.
It makes you more likely to get caught if you don’t commit a crime, but you fall into a false positive.
If you actually commit a crime, or if you get a false positive for some other reason and are given a sentence, the result of your DNA test goes to the judge, who sentences you more harshly based on it.
It gets used as blackmail material, or it gets leaked to the media, or it’s used to dox you, and it shows something that implies that you have an increased risk of insanity or criminality.
Same, but for embarrassing diseases instead.
Online retailers discover that people with certain genes are more likely to pay higher prices and charge you more. (Note that the more they can tailor prices, the worse off you as a consumer are on the average, so this won’t be compensated for by the possibility that you have good genes and are charged less.)
Why do feminists oppose Marine Le Pen? She’s older and more experienced than her opponent, fought patriarchy by kicking her father out of the Party, supports unrestricted abortion and is in a sexual relationship outside marriage. What feminist objection can there be to her?
None of the things you point out matter.
That makes me believe that women who identify as feminist are submissive to men of their tribe.
These sorts of gotchas don’t work any which way.
If “Why don’t feminists support a woman who will stand up to any man and supports unrestricted abortion over a less-experienced man who’s on her left?” is a gotcha, there is no hope whatsoever for rational inquiry.
Like sincerely, what are the political goals of feminism? A world where all legislatures include 50% Leftist women?
The goal is Utopia.
Demands by feminists for 50% representation are at best a belief that more diversity will bring us closer to Utopia. However, that Utopia goes way beyond just mere equal representation. In essence, it boils down to: our tribe is victorious and the other tribe disappears (because when people are no longer indoctrinated, everyone will see the light).
Anyone who is ‘racist’ (= oppose Islam/migration) is too indoctrinated to wield the sword of justice, regardless of whether they have a classic feminist heroic tale. Le Pen is not of the tribe, so her heroic journey is a tragedy. A fallen hero who could have fought for good, but turned to the darkness.
Pointing out that people aren’t being consistent with their own principles probably doesn’t work for the same reason feminists don’t support people it seems they should.
@Le Maistre Chat – “If “Why don’t feminists support a woman who will stand up to any man and supports unrestricted abortion over a less-experienced man who’s on her left?” is a gotcha, there is no hope whatsoever for rational inquiry.”
I am not a feminist, but I’m pretty sure Feminism has more issues at play than “Is Female” and “supports unrestricted abortion”. I’m pretty sure you’re aware of that as well.
“Like sincerely, what are the political goals of feminism? ”
…Didn’t we just have a reasonably productive thread based on this question within the last few OTs?
@Le Maistre Chat
You seem to be neglecting the possibility that you aren’t modeling feminists all that well.
FC: Quite possibly, but I missed it.
Chet: I was modeling feminists as simply leftists, but several OTs ago we had a discussion where I was informed that “feminism is bigger that leftism, even bigger than liberalism”, which implies that even I could be a feminist*. However, this attempt to model feminism seems unproductive, and only “feminists are leftists” appears to predict behavior.
*My biggest problem is that supporting women’s rights as a terminal value logically entails our right to kill humans before they’re born, which just seems like cod Nietzscheanism. Mistress morality for us, slave morality for men?
@Le Maistre Chat – “I was modeling feminists as simply leftists, but several OTs ago we had a discussion where I was informed that “feminism is bigger that leftism, even bigger than liberalism”, which implies that even I could be a feminist*.”
Arguably some platonic form of Feminism might fit that description, and possibly actual feminists exist who adhere to it. But the actual movement as it currently exists is a subset of leftist ideology/blue tribe. Motte, bailey, &etc.
This isn’t some kind of big mystery. Feminism is a political movement, with both a set of long-range goals and a short- to medium-range set of policy objectives. One of those long-range goals involves more women in politics; but that doesn’t mean that particular women in politics will automatically be welcomed, if their agendas don’t match in other ways.
There are situations like this all over identity politics.
Feminists aren’t very objective or rational, and no one else is either. That’s one of the ways the gotcha doens’t work.
Are they not?
You’d think they’d love Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher, too.
Perhaps you should ask a feminist. Preferably a French feminist. Unless of course you weren’t trying to get an answer.
This kind of thing really is the equivalent of “checkmate atheists”.
The fact that generally good commenters then fulfill their desire to ping-pong more “yeah, checkmate atheists” between themselves is … unattractive.
There isn’t actually a request for reasoned discussion. OP has not attempted to do any self-reflection on possible answers to the query.
I just roll my eyes and move on.
Which is what I did last night when I read it initially.
And then a game of ping-pong gets going.
And I don’t frequently call those out either, but usually they aren’t on a top level comment.
Yep, it’s hard to imagine the question was asked in good faith given the obviousness of the answer.
As someone who is not very familiar with Le Pen, the answer isn’t obvious. Of the 4 points originally given, 2 seems meh but 1, 3 and 4 seem like things feminists would support.
Would you be willing to provide details for what the answer is obvious?
Le Pen is right wing. Most feminists are left wing (also, not a monolith, but mostly left wing).
I have seen people question in good faith why right wing women who go for leadership roles don’t get more/any support by feminists.
IMO, this is not surprising, because the rhetoric by feminists often involves a narrative where it is claimed that women have a unique viewpoint and that there is value in having more women in power; or a narrative where it is claimed that women need more support. These statements are often not qualified as only applying to left-wing women.
For example, Madeleine Albright stated at a Clinton rally that:
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
I think that it is not proper to accuse people of bad faith when they take people at their word.
In addition to what Urstoff said: it’s unclear that there is even a phenomenon to explain here. If you are a French voter, your opinion of Le Pen is going to be pretty much entirely based on your opinions regarding immigration and who counts as a French citizen. There are almost certainly French feminists who agree with Le Pen about those issues, and who therefore support her. To the extent that feminists oppose Le Pen, they do so on the same grounds as everybody else in France — they don’t like her policies.
Do we have any actual evidence that feminists opposed Le Pen at a higher proportion than the overall population? As far as I can tell, Le Maistre Chat is just assuming. I can find a few articles in which feminists decry Le Pen’s xenophobia, but that’s hardly an opinion that is limited to feminists.
But, assuming he’s [edit: s/he’s] been on the internet for more than ten minutes, he knows that feminists aren’t just feminists. They are (again, not monolithically) a group with a very strong political viewpoint, and it’s neither surprising nor curious that one set of political/ideological considerations trumps another. It seems to me like it’s only a question asked in good faith if you’ve literally just learned about the existence of feminism.
Pretty sure Le Maistre Chat is “she”.
A person can assume that what is said about feminists is unfair and what feminists say is what they actually believe.
And/or the person can believe that one group of feminists says X and does X, but that there is another group of feminists that says Y and does Y. Then it is not strange to wonder why they only see people acting on X and not on Y.
Again, I don’t like it when you assume that people are trolling just because they ask a question that is perfectly rational, when listening to the primary sources and looking at their behavior.
I think it is a bit odd after all the talk of being unfair to feminists upthread, this thread is complaining that taking feminists at their word is not arguing in good faith.
Also I think it’s not being terribly charitable to assume that LMC couldn’t summon enough cynicism to assume feminists have other motives. Assume her question was more in line with “Is there a way that rooting against Le Pen is compatible with feminist arguments, or would opposition to her be an example of feminism being of less importance than other strains of multiculturalism?”
Although Iain’s question of whether feminists do in fact oppose her should certainly be addressed at the onset of any discussion of motives. Some at least seem to.
My point is that it’s not a rational question for a regular SSC commenter. We all know the answer: because tribalism, ideology, politics, etc. That was your first response to the question, after all, because it was the glaringly obvious answer.
Which is more uncharitable: to assume that a longtime poster can’t see the obvious answer, or that they can see it but are asking in bad faith? You chose the former, I chose the latter. I don’t know how to decide which is more uncharitable, but I know which I think is the more likely explanation for the post.
I feel like says it is simply left wing vs right wing is a shallow answer when there is the possibility to glean more information about feminism.
Assume that feminists do oppose Le Pen, and they do it because Le Pen is right wing and most feminists are left wing, what does that tell us about feminist’s priorities?
I would guess that any woman that comes to power would get at least tack support from feminists. This is because, at least in my mental model of what feminist think, if Le Pen comes to power and does well feminists could say “See women on both sides of the isle can do well.”
The opposition could be that feminists believe that Le Pen’s policies will be so bad that any gain from having her elected will be negated. Either so that she is a bad role model or that any gain from her being a role model will be offset by the bad she does.
The less charitable line of thinking is that feminists have priorities that they put before the idea of empowering women to be equal to men*. One of those priorities could be the idea that Aapje gave of Utopia. That the goal of feminism is to achieve a specific outcome that lines up with the blue tribe outcome and that women’s rights are just a means to an ends.
Is it unjustifiable to conclude that if feminists were more dedicated to women’s rights, they would support Le Pen?
*If you don’t like this interpretation, please put in the one you think I should have used and criticise the argument from there
Is taking feminists at their word really what is happening in this thread?
Yes, many feminists argue that it would be good to have more women in positions of power, and that women need more support. This is not a blanket commitment to support all women in all cases, no matter how repugnant you might find the rest of their policies. In the same way, I’m sure I could find quite a few American evangelicals who would agree that we need more Christian believers in politics — but that doesn’t force them to vote for Hillary Clinton, a professed Methodist, over Donald “Two Corinthians” Trump. You are allowed to value things without making them your only consideration.
(Before anybody tries jumping in with a cutting remark about how Clinton’s approach to Christianity is not the kind of thing that most American evangelicals are looking for: that is exactly my point.)
But there’s an obvious difference between a fake Christian, and a fake woman.
This really gets down to the heart of the point – is feminism about supporting women period, or about supporting women ideologically aligned with you? Feminists attempt to bridge the gap by saying that their ideology is good for women, but this is an unsatisfying argument, especially insofar as they may have hurt women (see, for example, declining happiness rates for women). More importantly, it exposes that what feminists are interested in is, at core, their ideology. They don’t want “women in power”, they want people who agree with them in power, which exposes them as ideological partisans instead of simply gender equalists.
Of course, they argue that their ideology is gender equalism and thus it works out to the same thing, which is why I don’t bother with this line of argument, because I actually find that refutation fairly strong. But I guess not everyone does.
This conflict arises because of identity politics. My argument is that this doctrine makes much of SJ worse than other advocacy groups.
Animal rights activists don’t have this problem, for example. Although to be honest, that may be because cows make really bad politicians.
@Aapje: I don’t follow. Is your claim that “SJ” is worse because “identity politics” commits SJ people to vote for members of their in-group, regardless of quality? Because that’s the exact opposite of the argument that you’ve been making up until now.
Like, the logic in this thread boils down to:
a) I interpret the statements of my ideological opponents as committing to obviously silly policy X. What a dumb policy!
b) My political opponents don’t even do X! What a bunch of hypocrites!
At this point, instead of trying to have your cake and eat it too, you should be considering the possibility that maybe you are not doing a good job of modelling your political opponents.
@AnonYEmous: I don’t have time to dig any out right now, but yesterday I saw a number of feminist articles against Le Pen that talked about how she would be particularly bad for immigrant and Muslim women. The Front National has a history of opposing abortion and pushing for women to stay home and raise the kids; while Le Pen has cleaned up a lot of that, it is quite reasonable for people who think those are anti-woman policies to not completely trust her. Sometimes there is a tension between supporting a particular woman, and supporting women in general.
No, identity politics commits the believers to argue that people with a certain identity have a shared experience that other groups can’t have and that it’s crucial for people with that identity to get to positions of power and that this will help the identity group….
and then rationalize their non-support for people with that identity, who don’t have the right politics.
This is motte-and-bailey territory.
Your entire case here rests on the word “crucial”, which you are just putting into people’s mouths. Replace it with something less absolute, like “beneficial”, and your entire argument falls apart. Who are the feminists who claim that being a woman is the only requirement for political support? (Madeleine Albright, your only example, is quite clear about not believing that.)
You keep sneaking up to unsuspecting mottes, building your own straw bailey, and then setting the bailey on fire. This is less impressive than you seem to think it is.
No, identity politics commits the believers to argue that people with a certain identity have a shared experience that other groups can’t have and that it’s crucial for people with that identity to get to positions of power and that this will help the identity group….
If that’s what they say, isn’t it a good thing that they don’t hew to it consistently?
I anticipated your objection:
The way it works is that the abstract case is argued as an absolute, where the implied or explicit model is ‘men oppressing women’, while the rationalizations come out when challenged or when taken to task for non-support for a specific person.
The rationalizations undermine the unidirectional model of oppression, but they are generally deployed in a context where this model is not discussed, so the contradiction is not apparent at that point, except to someone who is aware of the motte-and-bailey.
Of course, if this were to happen once, it could have been sloppy arguing, but it is a really strong pattern. At one point, one can condemn a movement for not self-correcting.
Here are more examples (the number has to be limited, because a copious number of links trigger the spam detection, which then casts me down into the third circle of hell):
Note that all these three links are a generic argument for more women in politics, not just for more left-wing women, and they have not been cherry picked, but were simply the first ones that popped up in a search.
PS. The motte-and-bailey is so obvious and accepted here that Le Maistre Chat was suspected of being a troll by SJ-friendly posters, because she didn’t see through statements like the ones from my examples.
You are not listening.
There is nothing inconsistent with the position that:
A) more women in politics is an important goal; and
B) other important goals exist, which might take priority.
In any situation where the intent is not to play ridiculous gotcha games with your ideological opponents, this is a completely trivial point. Tim Kaine is by all accounts a devout Catholic; the religious right still doesn’t want to vote for him. Nobody is surprised by this fact. All of this purported confusion when the same idea is applied to feminists is either a ridiculously transparent attempt to score points, or an inability (refusal?) to think of political opponents as actual human beings, not mindless robots. Neither option is a good look.
Moreover: all three of your links talk extensively about the idea of quotas: that is to say, a certain percentage of candidates for each party must be women. You can feel free to disagree with the idea of quotas, but given that right-wing parties are a thing that exist, it is pretty hard to argue that quotas would not also increase the number of right-wing female politicians. When not forced to trade off “more women in politics” against “I disagree with everything she stands for”, feminists actually are interested in seeing more women in politics across the political spectrum.
If I didn’t know better, I might take that as evidence that feminists aren’t actually a hypocritical bunch of lying liars. Weird.
You are not listening either.
My point is that this position, which is indeed not inconsistent, is nevertheless not argued by default. The former (more women) is argued by default and the latter (other goals are more important) only when valid objections are made to the former.
The result is that the motte is used to defend policy, which cannot be defended by the bailey. Furthermore, the motte is used for emotional manipulation as well, to cash in on and spread a general feeling of oppression of women by men.
If you don’t understand how the motte-and-bailey works or you steelman feminism maximally, then nothing seems wrong. This is exactly why the motte-and-bailey is so dangerous, because it can even bamboozle very intelligent people, who fail to appreciate that being consistent involves temporal and situational components as well.
To clarify, when a person argues A at time T, but A & B and time U, then the argument at time T was incomplete even as the same person made a better argument at time U. If the person then has other positions which are based on A & B, we can regard the argument that was made at time T to be a simple mistake. However, if the person has positions that are based on A and which are inconsistent with A & B together, then it is wrong to conclude that the person truly believes A & B, because these don’t form the underpinnings of their belief system.
That is an insane standard. You would not get worked up about this in any other situation. Consider a conservative politician who gives a speech about the importance of cutting the deficit, and then later gives a speech in which he talks about the importance of tax cuts or military spending. That’s not intellectual dishonesty. That’s just a person with multiple goals that don’t always line up perfectly.
If I claim that I value X, you cannot conclude that X is my only terminal value. There are no norms of discourse in which that would be reasonable. Declining to reach that conclusion is not “maximal steelmanning”. This is true even if I use words like “important” or “crucial” or “necessary” — that sort of rhetoric is deployed in service of every cause. (Emotional manipulation? My goodness! It’s a good thing that no other political movement ever uses any of that.) There is no intellectual requirement to disclose every single thing you value in a ranked order of priority, every time you open your mouth. That is a completely unworkable standard, and you would not apply it in any other circumstance.
This is the sort of thing for which the phrase “isolated demand for rigour” was invented.
Why do you assume that I don’t get worked up when a political party does the same*? Claiming that I’m a hypocrite by declaring that I believe something and then declaring that this belief is inconsistent with something that I actually do argue is not a fair tactic.
* I actually strongly reject the Dutch 50 Plus party, because it builds a false narrative based on cherry picking and outright lying. I don’t argue about that here, because none of you care or have access to the evidence (in a language that you understand).
The debate here is not whether X is their only terminal value, it is about whether it is reasonable to assume that it is their most highly valued terminal value.
I fundamentally don’t understand why you don’t find it upsetting if people make a big fuss over ‘we want X,’ you then give them X and then they respond: ‘well, we actually care more about Y’. It is simply dishonest to demand X if you actually want Y.
The only defense is that people in general often argue dishonestly, based on narratives that are memetically strong, rather than honest…but how good of a defense is that, honestly?
@Aapje, setting aside that feminists do not need to have feminist goals as their highest terminal value, you’re working with a simplistic picture of how values work. Suppose I have general values A, B, and C. Even if in some sense I value A more highly than B and C, this doesn’t mean that any outcome in which A is promoted to a higher degree than B and C is one I am rationally committed to endorsing. An outcome might promote A only a very little bit, but set B and C back substantially. Suppose I think (as most feminists don’t) that the most important problem in the world is lack of female representation in positions of power. I also care about the well-being of people in war-torn countries, and about keeping the EU together. Having one additional woman in a position of power would promote one of my values, a little bit. But it might set back the others by a lot.
What evidence do you have for the claim that more women in politics is the “most highly valued” terminal value for any feminists, then? Can you point to a feminist who has ever said that? Where, precisely, is the dishonesty? You’ve been building up this entire argument on the basis that feminists are out there being deceitful about their true intentions, but you have failed to provide a single feminist statement that can be reasonably interpreted as a commitment to women in politics uber alles.
(If you believe that this is what feminists have been saying all along, please consider the possibility that this is a fact about your belief, not about what feminists have been saying all along.)
I can only assume that you are sincere about this, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Like, this is simply not a principle that stands up to any examination at all.
If I say “I’m starving!”, and you hand me a ham sandwich, and I say “no, thanks, I’m Jewish”, then:
a) I am not dishonest for rejecting your ham sandwich.
b) I am not dishonest for failing to specify my dietary restrictions in advance.
c) It is unreasonable to conclude that I am secretly not hungry.
This would be particularly true if I were, say, wearing a yarmulke and a careful observer would have been able to predict my reaction to the ham in advance.
In the same sense, if a leftist feminist says “we need more women in politics!”, and you hand her Marine Le Pen, it should not be surprising when she balks. I do not know enough about Dutch politics to actually go through with this thought experiment, but I encourage you to consider: if I went through all of the posts you have ever made on this website looking for statements where you claimed to value something, and then looked through all of the statements of Dutch parties you oppose, do you really think I wouldn’t be able to find points of overlap? Are there no Dutch parties with whom you agree on some things, but disagree vehemently on others?
And again, because you did not engage with it last time: proposals for gender quotas are clear evidence that feminists do not, in fact, limit their desire for more women in politics to only left-wing women. In the same vein, many feminists defended Sarah Palin against sexist attacks, even while decrying her policies. There are plenty of situations where feminists work to get more women in politics, even if that might include right-wing women. You just refuse to see them.
I didn’t claim this.
My argument is that it’s not unreasonable to falsely conclude this based on the rhetoric used* and secondly, that I hold it against groups when they use rhetoric that leaves false impressions like these.
For example, when Clinton got talked up a ton for being a women (by herself and others), yet when there is no support for certain other women, there are unspoken other values at play. I hold it against people when they leave those implicit and hide them behind shallow rhetoric, as it is a rhetorical trick where values that are controversial get equated to non-controversial claims. You saw Albright do this in her clarification of her statement as well, when she said:
If you were to actually look in detail at ‘who has been really fighting on their behalf on issues that are of interest to women ,’ then you’d find that there are a lot of women who don’t feel that Clinton is helping women with her stance on those issues. For example, more women than men oppose abortion.
So the rhetoric trades on the assumption that there is a conflict between men and women, where it is obvious that certain political stances benefit women. Without this assumption, the statement falls apart. Yet, the facts go against this assumption.
Of course, feminists are not the only ones doing this (although I think they are worse at it than most other groups, because identity politics begs for this kind of equivocation of identity with political standpoints), so you may have become desensitized to rhetorical manipulation of this sort.
* This is where I defend Le Maistre Chat from accusations of being a troll
Most of them disagree vehemently with her right-wing politics, and it wouldn’t make sense for a feminist to support someone whose policies they find abominable merely for the reasons you mention.
(I’m sure you know this)
The one saving grace of threads like these is that they’re good for calibrating intellectual respect for posters.
So feminism is simply a plank of leftism, and protectionism and opposing Islam are right-wing even when combined with secularism and support for abortion.
It gets confusing when you have an ideology called feminism whose supporters have to subordinate increasing women’s rights and power to other goals, such as supporting Islam.
No. None of that follows from what I said.
“Most of them disagree vehemently with her right-wing politics, and it wouldn’t make sense for a feminist to support someone whose policies they find abominable merely for the reasons you mention.”
That is of course the obvious response, but I wonder whether the motivation for this kind of “gotcha” questions comes from a symetrical behavior from the other side of the aisle: when right-wingers opposed Obama’s policies (or Hillary’s proposals), that was often characterized by left-of-the-aisle pundits/political operatives, etc. as showing “racism” or “sexism”, even when the motive for the political opposition was obvious ideological opposition to those proposals. When one remembers that part of the blame for Trump’s electoral victory was attributed to sexism rather than political opposition to Hillary’s ideology, is it that surprising to find that opposition to Marine le Pen’s is described (mostly tongue-in-cheek by righ-wingers or anti-SJW, I guess) as “sexism”?
I didn’t read the claim underneath the disingenuity here as an accusation of sexism but of inconsistency. And I think you’re overthinking it – this kind of behavior isn’t a response to similar behavior from the other side – it just comes from the same place – the bottomless well of human awfulness.
I’ve noticed a tendency for right-wingers to insist that the left “shot first” regarding any particular erosion of political decorum, and that the right has never ever ever done anything wrong but to reactively sink to the left’s alleged level.
Not limited to the right, but yeah, it’s ugly.
It’s not even inconsistency, really, but a value-free statement about their priorities. Calling a group of people feminists only means that they have feminism in common; not all (or even any) of them have to elevate it above whatever other political commitments they have. It might count as a gotcha if directed against someone saying “why won’t you people call yourselves feminists when feminism has done so much for you?” There’s a parallel with gay conservatives, who occasionally get called “self-hating” because they choose to be conservative first and gay second.
Do you have any actual evidence that this has happened, and to any significant extent?
Obama said “To the guys out there, I want to be honest, You know, there’s a reason we haven’t had a woman president before.” during the campaign.
Taken charitably you get an article titled “Obama Calls On Men To Reflect On Sexism Before Voting” 
Taken uncharitably you get “Obama: Men Are Sexist If They Support Donald Trump Over Hillary Clinton” 
That was what I found with one google search. I am going to say that yes it happened.
“Standard commentary about Clinton’s candidacy—which focuses on her email server, the Benghazi attack, her oratorical deficiencies, her struggles with “authenticity”—doesn’t explain the intensity of this opposition. But the academic literature about how men respond to women who assume traditionally male roles does. And it is highly disturbing.”
-Peter Beinart, The Atlantic
“It’s a Hillary thing because so many have allowed themselves to be taken in by GOP faux scandal-mongering from the 1990s through today: Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Benghazi, emails. […] But the vitriol Clinton suffers is also more generally a woman thing because research shows that if you’re not a likable woman, voters, especially women, won’t vote for you.”
– Joanne Bamberger, US News and World Report
Both specifically enumerate the reasons people have for opposing the Hillary Clinton candidacy, and go promptly to “…no, obviously can’t be that, must be sexism. Science(tm) says so.” And these aren’t random two-bit bloggers, these are major media outlets, found in but a few minute’s searching.
Nope. I asked for examples of people reacting to specific right-wing commentary that focuses on the issues by accusing those specific right-wing commentators of sexism on the specific basis of the fact that they published that commentary. Nothing addressed to the masses of voters (whose motives are generally inscrutable, and I’m not going to buy that none are racist or sexist, rather than “obvious ideological opposition”) qualifies.
@John Schilling – one of your quote mentions “Standard commentary about Clinton’s candidacy—which focuses on her email server, the Benghazi attack, her oratorical deficiencies, her struggles with “authenticity”—doesn’t explain the intensity of this opposition.” – let me point out that those are not generic anti-left ideological positions, they are statements about one politician’s non-ideological personal failings. And somehow I doubt the same people who were talking about the email server then are the same ones talking about Trump’s personal smartphone or Mar-a-Lago now.
Their motives may be ideological or they may be sexism – it’s probably ideological to a greater degree than it is sexism for most Trump supporters, though that seems less likely for “swing” voters who are by definition not committed conservatives… but emails and benghazi are neither of those things, and are unlikely to be anyone’s real reasons.
Not one of those things is a policy or proposal, so they do not qualify for “when right-wingers opposed Obama’s policies (or Hillary’s proposals)”
“Do you have any actual evidence that [opposition to Obama’s has often characterized by left-of-the-aisle pundits/political operatives, etc. as showing “racism” ] has happened, and to any significant extent?”
President Jimmy Carter said “an overwhelmingly
proportion of the opposition to Barack Obama is based on the
fact that he’s a black man” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/16/jimmy-carter-racism-barack-obama
Attorney General Eric Holden :
Angela Rye, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus
West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist
This came from the first page of Google results…. There is much more where those came from 🙁
@PedroS you’re doing the same thing @veeloxtrox did in walking back the original claim. It was not general claim that racism/sexism is a component in the decision making process of some general proportion of voters (I wasn’t aware that it was even controversial to say that racism still exists). I’m asking for specific instances of individuals who have articulated ideological criticism of a candidate’s proposals being accused of racism/sexism.
For reference, you said: “when the motive for the political opposition was obvious ideological opposition to those proposals.” Saying that “it’s part of the mix” (and they’re talking about hatred of Obama, which doesn’t even account for all political opposition, so implicitly that conceding there are other reasons that could explain hatred him is a remarkably measured statement) does not remotely qualify.
I don’t recall many objections to Obama’s policies being tarred as racist, although most of his main policy proposals came through before social justice really got rolling. There was a lot of racism talk surrounding l’affaire du birth certificate, but that was not a policy thing.
Same for Clinton’s proposals and sexism. In the Clinton case, though, very little pre-election buzz centered on anyone’s proposals, except for that damn wall; the election, at least on the operational level, was all about personality and throwing weak scandals at the wall to see what would stick. And accusations of sexism definitely showed up a lot in that context.
To rephrase your question to make sure I understand: Is there any actual evidence, to any significant extent, that right-wingers who opposed
a specific policy of Obama/Hillary were characterized as “racist” or “sexist” when the opposition was obvious ideological opposition?
I would say that off the top of my head I do not know of any policy that was opposed by the right for ideological reasons that left leaning pundits or media called *ism about.
That being said, I think John Schilling, PedroS, and myself gave evidence responding to a more general question: Is there any actual evidence, to any significant extent, that right-wingers who opposed
a specific policy ofObama/Hillary were characterized as “racist” or “sexist” when the opposition was obvious ideological opposition?
An interesting note, Trump’s plan for a wall has often been declared racist and those who support it as racist. Though I don’t partially want to go do that rabbit hole.
I understand what you are saying, but I think we may be speaking past each other. Specifically, I interpreted Eric Holden, Jimmy Carter, et al. as referring to GOP opposition to TARP, the preferential treatment of UAW over major bond holders in (I think) GM restructuring, ACA, etc., as that opposition is the one which might have immediate effects on the prosecution of Obama’s policies.
If those quotes, however, simply meant that popular (rather than House/Senate) opposition was largely racist, that would entail that they believed that a white male Democrat president with the exact same policy mix would not have been opposed by the GOP after winning the 2008 election . Considering the long-runnning political animosity between Democrats and Republicans and the specific hatred directed by GOP against Bill Clinton and Democrats agains GWB, I find that specific claim to be extremely hard to believe: Al Gore, Joe Liberman, Howard Dean or John Kerry would have met exactly the same amount of vitriol from GOP pundits/legislators as president Obama, and McCain or Romney would have met strident opposition from Democrats.
That is why I think that invoking “racism” as a major factor behind the opposition to President Obama is an altogether insufficient explanation, which did not even advance his administration’s expressed desire to be “heard across the aisle” (whether or not that was possible, in light of the above-mentioned history). Rather, by framing that as “mere” racism/bigotry/evil, it makes it harder to realize how opposition between parties comes from an increased unwillingness to give a fair hearing to the opponent’s arguments. No party comes out of this looking good, as both engage in the same tactics: every election is always the most important in your lifetime, rule of law is always in danger if the other party gets to pick the next Supreme Court Judge, that other guy is unAmerican, that candidate is nasty, etc., etc., etc.
You may have thought that I wrote my initial comment in the vein of “the other side did it first” . I am sorry if it came out that way, as I actually do not even “have a side” on American politics (I am Portuguese).
I know net neutrality is on the way out, but I seriously don’t understand why it would have been a good idea to impose it on the cellular internet market (as opposed to the wired terrestrial market). It is a competitive market, and competitive markets generally don’t have censorship, squeezing out of newcomers etc. due to the ability to switch carriers.
Question for the biochemistry enthusiasts: I got a genetic test back that confirms that I’m deficient in MTHFR, so I’m looking into starting m-folate. However, this same genetic test also tells me I have a fast-metabolizing mutation of CYP3A4/5 which according to these check marks makes me ludicrously resistant to like half of all medicine ever (and nicely explains my lifelong insensitivity to SSRIs, benzos, and opiates). Would this second mutation impact my choice of m-folate dosage to hack the first?
Has anyone written a good Political FAQ for Out of Touch Elites? I constantly see claims that (1) the world is unprecedentedly awful for low-to-middle income people in the first world, and (2) if you don’t agree it is because you are ignorant or a shill. I’m vaguely familiar with some of the arguments (decreased social mobility, high debt, too much money spent in zero-sum competition) but it would be nice to see them all in one place, particularly since they cut against each other to some extent[*].
[*] For example, a big part of the debt story is student loan debt. But high demand for education implies that people believe social mobility is possible. Perhaps current students have fallen for a lie (that social mobility is still possible and is related to education) promulgated by the baby boomers, but that doesn’t totally relieve the tension since a bunch of that student loan debt is driven by older, nontraditional students in professional schools.
Damn, this is an unusually excellent idea.
I think this is an interesting idea too. This is something Scott could probably do very well.
Even people who don’t believe social mobility is possible can’t deny that downward social mobility is always possible. Maybe the demand for college isn’t driven by people dreaming of becoming rich so much as by people who’ve been sold the idea that without a college degree they will become street beggars. Maybe there are also some systemic false incentives pushing people toward college, such as rampant credentialism, or the president (the last one anyway, I don’t know about this one) going around talking about how everyone ought to go to college.
BTW, how much of the debt is people buying brand new F-150s, 55″ flatscreens, smartphones with unlimited data, eating out all the time, and receiving state of the art medical care in which doctors are doing things that would have been considered sorcery 50 years ago? Median income for a family of 4 is, what, something like 70K a year?? If you’re drowning in debt while pulling in that much money, even while supporting 3 other people, I have to say odds are you’re mismanaging your finances.
Depends on where you live; if you’re working in Manhattan or the Bay Area, 70K with 2 kids can be quite difficult.
As for social mobility, a report recently linked in the subreddit. It’s from 2012 but this is generation time scale.
Figure 3 and Figure 18: Yes, there is mobility, and yes, education seems to matter.
Most people don’t live in Manhattan or the Bay Area, and I would guess median incomes in those places are typically adjusted upward by employers to account for cost of living anyway.
I don’t doubt that education does affect social mobility, but my hunch is it’s mainly because of the systemic incentives placed on employers that I mentioned in my above comment.
I also agree this is a cool idea, though I agree with Well… that pursuit of education could be just as much a fear of downward mobility as a belief in upward mobility.
Subjectively, for example, I certainly have the impression that, to achieve the same standard of living my parents enjoyed when they were my age, a much more impressive educational and professional resume is required of millennials today than was required of them then.
I didn’t say whether the fear of downward mobility was justified. And in my second paragraph I cast doubt on the notion that things like college loans rather than our own poor consumer choices are the reason for our debt.
Think about the standard of living your parents enjoyed at your age and the standard of living you’re enjoying now. Maybe your parents had some things you don’t. To attain those things, would you be willing to give up all the things you have that they didn’t? If so, why stop at their standard of living? Why not keep going?
Depends on the parents, but in a lot of cases kids are looking at their parents’ situation at an older age (which they remember better), or don’t take into account the fact things like construction tending towards bigger houses with more bathrooms than in the past, that their same suburb or neighborhood may not have had the same amenities then that they have now, different expectations about things like eating out vs. eating at home, etc.
(My parents could have bought– but alas for future appreciation didn’t– a Manhattan brownstone around when I was born. That wouldn’t have represented remotely the same standard of living that owning a Manhattan brownstone in 2017 does– not least because 1970s Manhattan isn’t 2010s Manhattan– but it would be easy to subconsciously elide that.)
Cool idea. Will be a devil of a time to execute.
I think that the falling life expectancy in the US and the recent rise in violent crime should be front and center in such a FAQ. With much attention called to how little attention elites seem to pay to those rather stark stats (especially since the fall in life expectancy coincides with the implementation of Obamacare, which is exactly when you’d think they’d be paying closest attention to such a statistic).
Wasn’t it ultimately traced to a narrow demographic — like women without college degrees 45-55 or something like that?
Whoever it is, they’re a large enough demographic to bring down the numbers for the entire country (and consider that technological inertia alone should cause the number to rise). It does seem to be hitting both sexes, although some demographic groups have certainly been harder hit than others. From what I’ve seen, whites in particular seem to be driving the trend.
I think something like this was what I was remembering:
There’s lots and lots of seemingly contradictory statements about the data out there though.
This article by Auerbach and Gelman is one of the best summaries I’ve seen.
The article points out that, given steady increases in educational attainment, the set of “white female high school dropouts” is a moving target, which captures a smaller, poorer segment of the population today than it did twenty years ago. After you control for that, being a high school dropout is less significant, although it still appears to be the case that middle-aged women (in some states) are the people who seem to be most heavily affected.
Want to add my voice in support of this idea.
OK, I haven’t commented because I honestly am not sure what the heck hoghog means.
Is this supposed to be a FAQ that explains what it means to be poor or middle-class in America (presumably because the out-of-touch elites barely think about these things)? Or is it supposed to be a FAQ that tells elites that they are wrong about poor and middle-class Americans (because they are paying attention but are subject to confirmation bias)?
¿Por que no los dos?
A good FAQ should start with basic questions for people who haven’t thought about the issue at all and then move on to answer complex questions from people who have thought about it but still disagree. That’s just good practice.
A vox-ian counterpoint to Hillbilly Elegy I’d guess. IIRC there were such pieces in the places you’d expect to find them at the peak of the popularity of that book.
OK, I haven’t commented because I honestly am not sure what the heck hoghog means.
I always just assumed he was the spiritual predecessor to baconbacon, but maybe this isn’t what you mean.
I think the answer to your questions is best served as “why not both?”. Or do you think there’s enough distinction there to fill two hypothetical FAQs?
Well, part of the issue is the framing “(2) if you don’t agree it is because you are ignorant or a shill”, which implies that hoghog thinks that characterizations of the low-to-middle income as disadvantaged come only from “out-of-touch elites”.
The whole set up smacks of Bulverism*, so I was surprised when so many are speaking of this as if it’s a good idea.
* A very trendy word on SSC right now.
I kinda assumed that the phrase “out-of-touch elites” wouldn’t make it into the actual content of the FAQ. If its purpose were to outgroup elites, poor-splain to them, etc., I agree it would be suboptimal. Rather, I think I subconsciously steelmanned it to “this would help me understand people who live paycheck to paycheck better”.
Sort of like a broke person being to living broke, what bean is to battleships.
*If you’re thinking of a March Against Bulverism, I think I could endorse it…
I supported it because I like to see a Scott-style in-depth roundup on the whole mass of questions, regardless of whether the conclusion supports “the elites are out of touch” or “the elites are in touch and should be supported.”
This is rhetorical, right? Provided it’s directed at their personal outgroups, Bulverism is hyperpalatable to SSC commenters.
Not to put to fine a point on it, but who the fuck are “the elites”, even?
Academics? Wall street investors? Liberal city folk? The Waltons? The Kochs? Mark Zuckerberg?
Common logical fallacies are common for a reason. SSC is nothing like immune. So, sure, sort of rhetorical.
But usually people will echo the Bulverism or attack it, rather than just ignore it altogether. That was the surprising part.
Elites are those people who think they’re better than me, but they’re not.
@HeelBearCub – “Not to put to fine a point on it, but who the fuck are “the elites”, even? Academics? Wall street investors? Liberal city folk? The Waltons? The Kochs? Mark Zuckerberg?”
That seems like a pretty good list, sure. Pro-globalism, pro-free-trade, pro-immigration, Pro-EU, political consensus of the last two or three decades is a good thing and we need more of it. Generally cooperative and accommodating to business and financial interests. Never-Trumpers on the right and Pro-Hillary people on the left, as opposed to Trump and Bernie supporters. In France, Macron and Fillon supporters, who unite against Le Pen. In Britian, Remainers from the left and right. The people on the Elite side of the current multinational Elite vs Populist dynamic. Is this not a reasonably coherent grouping? All the analysis I’ve been reading from the left, right, fringe, whatever for the past eight months has focused on this split, so seeing its existence challenged is surprising.
Libertarians are a pretty fractious lot, but the anti-libertarian FAQ was a damn good analysis. Death-Eaters are likewise a pretty fractious lot, but the anti-death-eater FAQ was likewise damn good analysis. I don’t really care if the proposed one is anti-elites or anti-populism, I just think it’d be interesting to see that fault-line analyzed.
@ChetC3 – say rather, the people who are doing better than me and think everything is fine.
All of the above + more seems accurate. The fact that some of these people totally disagree with and might even hate each other seems relevant, but the grouping is not any worse than speaking of “the poor”.
The elite already rhetorically gut each other over who supposedly has the best plans for AMERICA, so it seems silly to join in that game, but whatever. A lot of people here are excited for some reason
I don’t comprehend. Ok I comprehend it, it just seems like a waste of time to me.
I took the actual phrase “Out of Touch Elites” to be tongue-in-cheek, seeing as I’m fairly sure the SSC commentariat includes many who are either qualified or credibly-aspiring members of the class in question.
Given point 2, I did not take it to be tongue-in-cheek, but more like middle-finger-in-the-air.
@HBC – Point 2 is the uncharitable formulation commonly seen. I didn’t see hoghoghog as endorsing it, but rather stating that the meme is commonplace, and it’d be neat to see all the evidence for or against it all in one place. Similar to someone saying that Libertarians often mention that 1) markets are more efficient, and 2) all taxation is theft, and then requesting a libertarian-themed FAQ.
It is as FacelessCraven says. Sorry for not clearing this up earlier, but I was a little embarrassed about being uncharitable to the populists which made me hesitant to post more for a while.
I read it as a filter: you have the elites and part of these are out of touch, as in: they think that everyone is profiting from the currently dominant political beliefs.
I’d expect such a FAQ to discuss things like the stagnation of wages for the Western middle/lower classes.
Not sure if this belongs here, or should be it’s own topic.
Example of a way poverty sucks:
Just last week we took another young adult under our roof. That makes two non-biologically related charges the family has taken some responsibility for. I told him that one of the things we would help him with was to stop “floating”, which has basically been doing since high school.
He can’t drive. In this state, in order to have a license you need to have auto insurance. Insurance for new drivers is very expensive. That is one big reason he hasn’t even tried to get his license. He also never learned to ride a bike.
Trying to hold down a job, without a vehicle when public transportation is spotty at best, is much harder. This imposes a significant cost on the margin, and presents a chicken-and-egg problem.
Kinda curious as to where you live. I live in a large city famous for having very little/limited public transit options, and yet, I still manage to take it to work pretty often with little difficulty. It’s sometimes a little late, but I feel like if I was super worried about being late for work, I could just plan on arriving a half hour early or something.
Where do you work? Young adult starter jobs are often at random stores or other small businesses scattered across the metro area without good public transit access, starting or ending at varied times when transit usually isn’t at its best.
That’s fine. I’d say there’s a difference between “access isn’t the best” and “is pretty inconvenient” and “impossible to use to commute to work”
Triangle area of NC.
Here is what I mean by that. The nearest large mall (a place where there might be a plethora of low-skill jobs) is 13 minutes away from my home by car.
The same trip via bus to that mall is 80 minutes and involves 45 minutes of walking, as well two transfers from one line to another, one transfer options are available and take 100 minutes.
Now, I live in a fairly high-dollar subdivision, so I double checked from his old apartment complex. 60 minutes with 25 minutes of walking and two transfers.
Is this doable? Sure.
But this does present some fairly large barriers on the margin. Will you be presentable when you arrive on a day where there are thunderstorms or it’s 100 degrees? If they want you in on short notice, can you be? If I am an employer, I am less willing to depend on an employee who has to come by bus.
I may have gotten him an opportunity at a job by working my network of friends (the same way I got the other young man, without a degree, a tech job). But that is another thing he and his mother did not have access to.
Grew up in the Triangle; can endorse. Unless you’re lucky enough to both live and work on the same half-hourly bus line, you usually have to detour all the way through downtown to transfer. And even in the main three cities, there’re huge swaths without a single bus line. My parents currently live about a twenty-minute walk from a bus, and there isn’t even a sidewalk most of that way.
Remember, detouring through downtown matters. Ride the bus twenty minutes in north-northwest; transfer; ride it thirty minutes out south again… and reflect that if you had a car, you could’ve driven due west and gotten to the mall in ten minutes.
And outside Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill themselves… good luck; you’ll need it. A lot. There might be one commuter express in the peak hours, and Hillsboro just added an infrequent “circulator.” Or maybe not.
And this could be connected to out-of-touch-ness. Matt Yglesias speculated that since politicians don’t ride public transit, they only notice trains and trams and other things with a perpetual physical presence. So there is a lot of political capital devoted to trains, even as buses are neglected.
Another factor is that being responsible for bringing in money to do visible, lasting infrastructure construction has a lot more potential electoral impact than getting the buses to run twice as often or on more routes. It’s a lot easier to point to new stations and track than a few more bus stop signs and (invisibly) improved service.
Arguably the badness of public transportation is a feature, not a bug, from the perspective of “elites,” since escaping the sort of person who can’t afford a car is why they moved to suburbs in the first place.
Except now the elites are moving back into the cities, the poor are being gentrified into inner-ring suburbs, and the people who can’t afford cars also can’t afford to live near transit. Which is, uh, not quite what Robert Moses had in mind.
I get the impression this isn’t necessarily true outside of large cities (and maybe not true of all large cities although I don’t know them well enough). Chicago feels dysfunctional to me and it’s a huge pain in the ass to get from the south to the north side by public transit. But some of the smaller towns I’ve lived in (~200,000 and there’s definitely a class structure even if truncated) are actually an improvement and small enough that I can plausibly walk almost anywhere in about 45 minutes if I have to and if I take a bus I can reach most areas in 20.
Object level: what’s the ridesharing market look like in the NC Triangle?
Abstract level: I’d say this is a good case study for a Low-Wealth FAQ. Naturally, we would want more while we explore this. For any given challenge, some questions I’d ask: how many people are in the same boat? What are the solutions that don’t require outside intervention? How do those fare?
Also, how bike-friendly is it?
And, what sort of damn fool state requires insurance to get a driver’s license? I hadn’t heard of such a thing anywhere, and I can’t seem to google an answer except by looking up the requirements of each state separately. By the time I got bored doing that, the answer seemed to be “only NC”, but if there are others I’m curious.
Though it’s probably moot on HBC’s friend’s case; if he’s going to be driving a car to work every day, that is going to need to be insured whether at the driver level or the car level, and whichever insurance company takes on the responsibility is going to A: notice and B: charge for the inexperienced new driver doing lots of driving in rush-hour traffic.
But, yes, a Low-Wealth FAQ in general or one specific to transportation options for poor people, would be useful. Surely someone has already written such a thing and we just haven’t noticed yet?
Looks like Hawaii and maybe New Hampshire, according to AAA’s digest of state vehicle laws. (Plus Texas, but only if the applicant owns a vehicle.)
(AAA seems to have forgotten to renew their security certificate, so I’m going by the Google cached version at https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:w6XOxo2eN6YJ:drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/drivers-license-issuance-application/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us )
I can say that I believe it’s new in the last 30 years, as I don’t think this was the case when I got my driver’s license.
I think it’s to prevent people from getting licenses and not being added to anyone’s policies. For example, if he got his license and then drove one of my cars frequently, the new driver premium could theoretically be avoided.
I lived by Southpoint mall for a couple of years when I was working in RTP. Albeit more than a decade ago. At least as of back then it wasn’t bike friendly at all. Not only were the roads not set up with bicycle lanes, but there were frequent thunderstorms all summer long.
This is the kind of road you’d have to bike on to get to work if you worked at the mall:
That’s sort of sensible, but not very. A quick perusal of the NC DMV web site suggests that they only require and/or check for insurance on the day one applies for application, not for renewals, and I doubt they revoke licenses if one’s insurance lapses. So all they are really mandating is insurance for one’s first month as a licensed driver.
And this shouldn’t be any state DMV’s job. When I got my license, I was added to my father’s insurance policy not by state action (New York) but because the insurance company required disclosure of other licensed drivers as part of their contract with my father. This looks to me like straight-up regulatory capture; insurance companies getting the state DMV to do their work for them.
If I let insurance lapse on any registered vehicle in NC, I immediately get a nasty gram and a notice of an impending fine from the DMV. So this isn’t totally obvious to me.
More to the point, it’s not clear to me that it is legal to be a a licensed NC driver without insurance. So whether or not you are easily caught is sort of a moot point.
Your point about regulatory capture isn’t really here nor there. You really ought to be insured if you are going to drive. Even if it is perfectly legal to drive poor and uninsured, that just represents a different kind of burden once you get in an accident. You end up declaring bankruptcy and the injured party ends up paying the cost.
In most states, the insurance is on the vehicle and covers all drivers (excepting certain illegal drivers, details depending on state) of that vehicle. So it’s quite reasonable to have a license and no insurance if you only drive other people’s cars (rentals including ZipCar, taxis, work trucks, etc)
I don’t think that is really true.
The premiums paid are based on the driver and the vehicle. Hence, new drivers and drivers with previous accidents pay higher premiums on the exact same car.
Car insurance in most states is on the car in the sense that it covers identified cars rather than particular driers; that doesn’t mean the premiums don’t depend on the expected drivers. In the states I’ve been in, the premium is based on all drivers in the household unless they’re explicitly exempted in the policy; in those cases the insurance will not cover the car when the exempted driver is driving it, but will cover other drivers.
That is, I can legally loan out my car to anyone not in my household who has a driver’s license, whether they have any insurance or not, and it will be covered by my insurance. I can’t _rent_ the car out to them because personal policies exclude that as well.
On the flip side, though I have car insurance, if I were to drive someone else’s car and they did not have insurance for it, I would not be covered by my own insurance and I would be driving illegally.
A commercial policy would be different, but they’d still cover the vehicle and not the driver. Though the policies might set limits on who can drive and have the policy be in effect; e.g. only employees over age 25.
So, consider someone who works in construction. They do not have a car of their own, and take public transit or ride with someone else to get to the site, so they have no insurance. But once they are there, they might need to drive somewhere to pick up supplies… they need a driver’s license, so they can legally drive one of the work trucks (owned and insured by the company) to do this.
Re bicycling: I was back in the Triangle last year visiting family, and the bike situation hasn’t improved. Traffic’s just as agitated. There was one bike lane in the gutter of a high-speed road, and two or three off-street bike paths that hardly go anywhere useful. Off those paths, I can remember maybe one person I saw cycling all week.
Per Chapter 20, Article 13 of the North Carolina General Statutes, the DMV’s actions when notified of a lapse of insurance are specifically directed at the owner of the insured vehicle and limited to the registration of that vehicle. You can be asked to turn in your plates, but not your drivers’ license.
That would be article 2. It does seem to be legal to be a licensed NC driver without insurance. It is, for that matter, legal to obtain a driver’s license without insurance.
s20-7-c1 (insurance) para. 4: “the preceding paragraphs of this subsection do not apply to applicants who do not own currently registered motor vehicles [and aren’t regularly driving someone else’s]. In such cases, the applicant shall sign a certificate to that effect”.
Nor do I see any other requirement to maintain insurance coverage as a condition of possessing a valid drivers’ license.
Doesn’t change the problem that if your friend/youthful ward/whatever needs to drive to work, he’s going to need to be covered by some insurance policy, and I’m guessing it would violate the terms of your own policy to just hand him the keys to your spare car every day and say “have at it, youthful new driver”.
But, A: given the general value of a driver’s license in modern American society, especially in places like North Carolina, if you’re looking for a way to get him out of an unemployment rut, using your resources [e.g. car] to get him a license might be a useful step even if he can’t immediately use it. B: if driving to work is going to be a door-opener for him, it might be cheaper to add him as an explicitly-covered second driver on your policy than for him to get his own, and you can decide how much of the delta he covers out of wages.
Obvious disclaimer, IANAL, call your local DMV representative for further information.
I am inclined to think you have missed something.
From the NC DMV:
“Even if you do not own or drive a currently registered vehicle you may still apply for a license, but a restriction will be placed on your driver license. This restriction limits you to only driving “fleet vehicles.” To remove this restriction, you’ll have to pay the $13 duplicate fee and present proof of financial liability.”
@ HBC –
He can’t drive. In this state, in order to have a license you need to have auto insurance. Insurance for new drivers is very expensive. That is one big reason he hasn’t even tried to get his license.
It seems the issue isn’t that “NC requires insurance in order to get a DL”, it’s that your friend can’t afford the insurance in order to legally drive. Which might be unreasonably high, but that’s not what you’ve said. Can you help this young man get coverage for driving?
Well, yes, that’s one of the reasons he is living with us now.
But I’m not poor.
As a (very occasional) commenter, but frequent reader, my take on the updated bans is that Scott needs to do the right thing for himself. It’s easy to say “stand up and fight” when the potential downside includes very concentrated sanctions to Scott and the upside some very, very diffuse benefits to a few commenters and general principles. I’m not a very tech-savvy user, and so no doubt in my Internet lifetime I’ve left enough breadcrumbs that anonymity is more of an illusion than I’d like. Anyone who is 100% comfortable with a concentrated gaze searching for ill-considered comments, etc. in their Internet lifetime is a more virtuous person than I. Scott wants to be slightly less associated with a hotbutton set of topics; it’s his career and I expect he’s doing the right calculus for himself. If anything, I would expect that he is being far too restrained – if the standards have become such that continuing use of the banned terms would cause trouble for him, there’s little doubt his earlier archives are already enough to hang him under those same standards. I’d hate to see him shut it down, but I would certainly understand.
However, I would also point out that this is sort of the problem with his prior post about not choosing free-speech provocateurs. With some exceptions, it’s only provocateurs – more or less – who can do that calculus and still afford / prefer to push through the barriers and challenge the heckler’s veto. Coulter or Milo or their crew – even Murray, to some extent, I suppose – at least get some benefit from the firestorm, and so they can be counted upon to count the cost and decide in favor of free speech. People who make money from controversy can afford to be controversial even in the face of censorious resistance. People like Scott, who just want to have a normal career and not get tripped up, almost always have the incentives to back off. That doesn’t reflect badly on them when they do; but it does suggest that there’s a place for the firebrand-as-firebrand, the provocateur who can capitalize on outrage, to push back against the chilling effects. That’s why supporting them, even when they’re doing more provocation for its own sake than full-blown truth inquiry, is usually a good idea – if you wait for the true martyr, the sensible guy just wanting to make a living, you’ll rarely find them because they’re too sensible to get caught up.
1st paragraph is exactly what I would have written if I were better at expressing my thoughts.
2nd paragraph: seems like you were getting around to making the point that maybe it’s a time a sensible guy stepped up and pushed back against the hecklers too, to show that it isn’t just firebrands who need to do this? Not sure if I agree or disagree with that point, just mentioning that it seemed like you were building to it.
With the second paragraph, my intended point was not exactly that “it was time” for sensible people to step up and push back. The point was that one would expect sensible people, by definition, to be overwhelmingly likely to avoid that level of confrontation where they have vastly asymmetrical costs compared to benefits. How, then, is a sensible person to protect free speech – if they’re hardly ever going to become martyrs themselves? By outsourcing it to the firebrands. The firebrands basically get paid based on outrage generated. So they’ll nearly always be willing to seek confrontation. And (at least rhetorically) supporting a provocateur’s right to free speech carries a much more diffuse set of costs, compared to actually stepping into the lion’s den yourself. Sensible people might actually do that, and it would be harder to bring them down for it. More or less, you’re paying provocateurs to fight your battles for you.
I interpreted Scott’s prior post to suggest that free speech advocates should only support sensible people trying to make rational points of inquiry, not provocateurs simply seeking to provoke. My point is that there are no such sensible people (or very few), because they will avoid those confrontations – with Scott himself a data point in that direction. Thus, if you want to support speech, you have to go with the army you’ve got – and that’s the firebrands.
Ah, good points.
Larry Krassner is running for Philly DA, and doing an ama on reddit. He’s wants to optimize for justice rather than incarceration. What I’ve seen of his campaign is social justice-tinged (lack of concern for white people), but it’s still a great deal better than the usual.
PSA: The Anne Frank Center, often quoted in the media for its blistering attacks on Trump, is not affiliated with the museum in Amsterdam and has a very tenuous connection to the Frank family. It’s barely even the same organization that existed under that name a year ago.
I thought Scott was dead wrong with the recent free speech posts, and I still do. That said, there’s a lot of sniping from people with no skin in the game.
Whether or not you like the current political climate (and I absolutely hate the current political climate), you need to admit that it is, in fact, the current political climate. We can all ape Rorschach (“Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise!”), but it’s worth remembering he ended up as a dark smear on the Arctic ice with nothing to show for his troubles. Hard then, to criticize someone who wants to maybe just sacrifice a small piece of a principle in the name of pragmatism. Harder still if, like me, you’re just an anonymous internet user who will never suffer any hardship in the name of that principle.
What’s more, I happen to agree that the conversation around highly controversial topics can only be improved by forcing people to be incredibly specific about what it is they’re saying and avoiding the sort of sweeping claims that are now banned. Open and honest inquiry hasn’t been abandoned.
I never objected to “forcing people to be incredibly specific about what it is they’re saying and avoiding the sort of sweeping claims that are now banned”. The problem is that Scott has announced he’s deleting unspecified things that might rile up unnamed “hostile parties” – and it seems to me that a whole lot of hostile parties are specifically hostile to open and honest inquiry.
I intentionally avoided pointing toward any particular comment, because I was more interested in giving feedback that might be valuable to than I was in getting into a debate with anyone here. I can tell you I didn’t have you in mind though.
Discourse-wise, this is the clear equivalent of a terrorist victory. I agree. That combined with the more vaguely worded part of the new moderation policy is troubling, but I think Scott has enough credit built up that we can give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being, yes?
Because the author didn’t like the guy.
Also the story has a lady or the tiger ending, but one of those endings has him undoing everything Ozymandias worked and sacrificed and murdered to accomplish, and thus his justice being served.
“In the end? Nothing ever ends, Adrian.”
The astronomer William Herschel writes in 1785 to King George III:
Author M. Hoskin comments, in his (SJ-praiseworthy) The Herschel Partnership, as Viewed by Caroline (2003):
Trump’s rush to start building his “big beautiful wall” is a Herschel ploy, isn’t it? Just start building the wall, and Congress, “confronted later with a choice between writing off all the money spent so far or coughing up more,” will “cough up,” won’t it?
Meanwhile, in response to accumulating scientific evidence that anthropogenic climate change is real and serious, the White House announces:
How can anyone rationally conclude that Trump’s administration is not fundamentally anti-rationality and anti-science?
It’s certainly possible that Trump is trying to follow the Herschel strategy. But it only works if everyone agrees that a telescope would be nice to have (and only disagree about whether it’s worth paying for one). A significant chunk of liberals and libertarians would pay money to demolish a border wall.
Yes indeed. In the long run, isn’t tearing walls down generally cheaper than building them … and far cheaper than policing them? There is scant evidence, however, that the Trump administration possesses any notable intent or capacity to assess long-term costs and risks.
It is indeed always cheaper to create chaos than it is to maintain order. Could it be that even at this late day, you’ve converted to the worship of Kek?
If you’re invested enough in this blog to be dissapointed in the author, you owe him the basic courtesy to keep that to yourself and give him just the arguments. I hope Scott isn’t going to make decisions based on the feelings of the biased sample of random commenters ungrateful enough to try to reprimand him for providing a free service they care about slightly differently, arguably worse, than before.
That bomb attack on a bus carrying football players… turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to move the stock market.
I’ve seen a suggestion to not allow immigrants from capitalist countries.
Why would that make any sense? There isn’t a string of bombings by capitalists and bombings are not disproportionately capitalist.
Nobody actually argues “there’s one bad Muslim immigrant, so we should stop Muslim immigration”. When one immigrant is mentioned, it’s as an example of a larger trend.
That was a joke.
I thought it was funny, too.
Have something relatively non-political, I hope.
I’ve been thinking about peacocks. The first question about them is how they could evolve those those tails. Sexual selection seems reasonable, but I wonder if there are some questions about how peahens managed to coordinate enough to select for one sort of ornamentation.
However, there are still questions– why peacocks? Most birds seem to settle for moderately flashy males, and some species have males and females which are so similar that they are very difficult for humans to tell apart. While it wouldn’t surprise me if there are subtle differences (smell? vocal? behavioral?) that don’t register for humans, it seems unlikely that males have any features which are just there to show how much risk they can survive.
There’s a fairly lengthy summary of the (pre-1980) research on tail length in birds of paradise (which are close enough to peacocks) in The Selfish Gene. If you haven’t read it, the short summary is yes, it’s runaway sexual selection, and if you artificially make males’ tails even longer (by, in this case, gluing extra feathers to them), they are even more successful at mating, suggesting that the females have a simple length preference. There’s a discussion of how this could arise at a population level, comparing it to the “famous because they are famous” of, e.g., the Kardashians. (It’s been 20 years since I read it, might be off on some of the details.)
I think the answer to your second question is just basically chance. Runaway sexual selection for extraordinarily costly features can’t exist for all animals, but it’s going to exist for some, because that’s just how probability works. Do you need a better answer than that?
What you’ve got is an explanation of what it’s like now for species which have a strong sex-based display, but this doesn’t explain why sexual display becomes much more extreme in some species than in others.
I think there’s a loose correlation with warmth/latitude. Tropical species tend to be gaudier than temperate and polar species, though this isn’t always sexual selection. A lot of parrots are colorful, but males and female don’t look much different.
An exhibit on birds-of-paradise I saw (they have similar runaway sexual selection) told me the “paradise” is important – plentiful food and few predators. In a place where staying alive is more of a struggle, sexual selection doesn’t carry that outsized influence.
I have a theory about this that I’ve never seen discussed:
How far sexual selection can go must be related to how secure a species is in its ecological niche. That is, only if there are no other species ready to take your place if you go crazy with giant neon colored tail feather can your species afford such luxuries.
Just an intuitive thought. Anyone know the facts?
“the females have a simple length preference”
On a more serious note, I don’t suspect peacocks / birds of paradise are particularly social (so just chance is probably the best answer), but for social animals there might actually be a benefit from the possibility of runaway sexual selection, because it allows a decoupling of fitness from individual survival. Suppose behavior or trait X is detrimental to individual survival, but beneficial to group survival (I’m specifically thinking of humans, especially males in ancient cultures, being physically brave to the point of total recklessness, and I’d be surprised if other primates didn’t share this feature to some extent). In the absence of runaway sexual selection, it necessarily dies out by the simple law of non-X individuals having more offspring by dying less; but if it is sexually selected for, the population can sustain it genetically. Then, by random chance some groups are X-sustaining, and some are not, and the X-sustaining groups eventually outcompete the others.
Peacocks are fairly social birds; they’re related to chickens and turkeys. I don’t know about birds of paradise.
In order for group selection like that to work, you need a huge number of tiny, reproductively isolated tribes in constant competition. When one tribe wins, the losing tribe has to die out entirely while the winning tribe splits. This isn’t remotely true for any primate, especially for humans. In particular, reproductive isolation is absolutely not the case, and so the abundance of the variant goes down, down, down.
It sort of makes sense if you think of it as driving for the best daughters.
The females are typically pretty drab and well optimized for survival. Talking in terms of teleology when talking about evolution is pretty much always wrong but it makes for a more easily comprehensible narrative. If you’re a male of that species then you’re basically carrying around a huge ball and chain in the form of those ornamental feathers proving that you can survive despite being lit up like a christmas tree and carrying half your weight in ornaments.
In order to survive predators etc you need to not just be healthy but spectacularly so. If 2 males look equally healthy and survive equally long but one has massive ornamental feathers then he’s probably the more capable of the 2 and will produce better daughters. So there is an advantage to the females for selecting those males. Once the trait of desiring long feathers spreads to most of the female population then there’s a double advantage to selecting the long tailed males.
I’d bet the only thing that could push things the other way is severe environmental pressure wiping out all but the smallest-tailed males.
That’s almost exactly the opposite of what’s happening.
The females are selecting males on the basis of traits that females are selecting for. These traits aren’t expressed in the females. Female offspring don’t have greatly differing rates of reproductive or survival success but males do. In other words, bearing sexy sons is valuable purely because of the tastes of females – hence why it’s called sexual selection to set it apart from natural selection.
There’s a species of spider which births males with 1 copy of each chromosome. Because of this the male cannot carry any deleterious recessive genes. At least not any that manifest within the first few days of life. The mother then mates with the healthiest surviving males to produce a full clutch of daughters.
But back to the birds 100% of females do not survive to breed, if they did within a few dozen generations the birds would account for most of the worlds biomass.
The females still experience selective pressure in the form of attrition from the environment and predators.
A male who can survive carrying around half his body weight in ornamental feathers is like a guy who can still win races while carrying a load of lead weights, excelling despite a handicap and any daughters will benefit from that while lacking the handicap.
You certainly do get a runaway amplification but it makes perfect sense every step of the way. The female do in fact gain from selecting ridiculous males and they gain more than just the chance at sons who’ll appeal to females with similar preferences.
Runaway amplification makes sense, but so does moderate amplification and so does no amplification. What determines which one comes into play?
Amount of selection against the amplified trait. If selection against the trait grows faster than sexual selection for it, the amplification will be limited. Another limit might be the genome itself; if no matter how they breed, they don’t have offspring with longer tailfeathers, and no likely mutation will get them there either (without worse deleterious effects) the runaway stops.
That is, to stop the runaway, at some point, either negative feedback must dominate or the system must saturate.
Why wouldn’t there be natural selection for females who prefer males without the detrimental trait (or with a less harmful version), via their offspring being less likely to die from having it?
It’s plausible that there are cases where sexual selection doesn’t even get started.
Another unresearched question: in some species, there’s no sexual differentiation that people can see. How do members of those species manage?
There could be, that would be another negative feedback. But it’s possible the female length preference is fixed in peafowl.
I’m not sure how much literature you have looked at? (I haven’t looked at any beyond some quick google searches)
Apparently peafowl are communal. That provides one clue. Part of their defensive strategy is based on numbers, not stealth. In addition, the tail display can actually intimidate predators. However, peahens rely at least partly on stealth when nesting.
An absence of winter, provides another (as you pointed to). They have no need to migrate. Which makes for a huge reduction in the load caused by their tails. Plus, you have a tendency for year round color display in flowering plants, which wouldn’t surprise me if it is related.
The also drop their tailfeathers when they are caught by the tail. So, in addition to serving as an aggressive defensive display, the tails serve also serve another defensive function.
It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw ostentatious male displays in all sorts of communal, non-migratory birds?
Thank you. I haven’t looked at the literature.
Sage Grouse leks … at daybreak the local Golden Eagles stop by and “harvest” some of the (smaller and less-vigorous?) displaying males … which seems harsh … and yet this daily harvest leaves (relatively) more females for the surviving (larger and more-vigorous?) males.
Throughout the western United States, local Audubon societies sponsor lek-viewing trips … with little or no publicity, because these (amazing!) lek-viewing sessions are almost invariably over-subscribed.
One thing that fascinates me is how quickly Social Justice has acquired influence. As far as I know, it was a very fringe academic system of ideas which started some 50 years ago (this is second-hand information), got out of academe to affect some of science fiction (both professional and fandom) in 2009, and in very recent years has been becoming fairly public.
Does this mean Social Justice is a stable and growing influence, or does it mean the situation is malleable and a new set of ideas could take over?
While we’re on the subject more or less, does anyone have a clear idea of what the people who say they want to destroy capitalism have in mind? What do they want to eliminate? What do they think would work better? I realize there probably isn’t a strong consensus, but I’m hoping there’s a manageably small number of memeplexes.
the times I’ve tried to engage people about destruction of capitalism the impression I’ve got is that many of them hold a strong belief that everything will just sort of work out. Their focus is on how capitalism is bad and they’ve spent so long learning and being told all the ways in which it is bad they have a hard time imagining that the default post-destruction system , whatever it is, could be worse.
it’s very very hard to get them to talk about it. “But what’s your alternative” tends to get met with something along the lines of “but here’s even more examples of how capitalism is bad”. The best I’ve got bad are sort of vague ideas about the government or “decentralized” working it out.
I too would be interested in some really good steelmen on the subject.
If you’re also curious about why people have so much difficulty articulating an alternative to capitalism, see Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? for an attempt at an answer.
Well, I’m not sure how much of a critic or opponent of capitalism I count as; on at least a sizeable fraction of “live” issues, I tend to favor the market over (present) state intervention. In fact, one of my big political proposals can be seen as lying somewhat in a “privatization” direction, as I’ve referred to it at times as “the propertization of authority”*. That said, I don’t particularly embrace the “capitalist” label, and do have several objections.
First, and strongest, is the opposition to what one might call Landian capitalism: the view of unfettered market competition driving economic-efficiency-über-alles, letting market forces drive Darwinian selection as they will (every environment selects for something), through every “Molochian trap” and sacrifice of human values, until humanity is disassembled so that their constituent atoms may be put to more profitable uses by the Vile Offspring. More generally, this may be seen as a recognition that “Molochian traps” of the “if I don’t sacrifice my values and do this bad thing, a competitor will and will drive me out of business” do, in fact, at least sometimes exist, and are grounds for government intervention. That some human values and social institutions are important enough to be worth paying the price in reduced total economic prosperity to maintain. Sayeth the Moldbug:
My second point is one of social classes and associated virtues. I’ll start by pointing to Onyomi, back on OT73.73, speaks on defining “bourgeois values”:
Recall the classic figure, particularly in the waining days of Europe’s hereditary aristocracies, of the “impovershed aristocrat”. Because however materially poor, little was more unthinkable, or corrosive to their noble status, than engaging in “trade”. It’s also my understanding that the tradition Confucian ordering of social classes places “merchants” — that is, those who work in the tertiary economic sectors — as the (non-criminal) class furthest from the noble elite. And I vaguely recall some comment along these lines in an Ancient Greek work, but I remain unsure which. One kenning for “king” in Beowulf is “breaker of rings”, referring to the tendancy of Germanic chieftans to “spread the wealth” generously to their loyal followers. (One might also look at the social dynamics of the potlatch of the Pacific Northwest cultures, and similar examples within gift economies.)
To paraphrase multiple similar comments from someone I kind of follow elsewhere, “the merchant”, which is to say, the mercantile virtues, the habits, skills, values, and so on that make one economically successful in the marketplace, are sharply divergent from (the commentor elsewhere often uses the stronger term “opposite”) the counterpart virtues of a cultured warrior-aristocrat elite (or in his metonym, “the samurai”).
Thus, at least part of the rise of “capitalism” can be seen as a triumph of the “bourgeois values” over the previously-dominant “aristocratic values”. Part of my opposition to capitalism is basically seeing this transition as a bad thing, and wishing it could be at least somewhat reversed; that the level of social status associated with (business-derived) wealth be greatly lowered, particularly in comparison with the social status conferred by military excellence, administrative skill, or “good breeding”.
*I can elaborate on this if you wish.
I’m not entirely clear about some of your examples. The gas pumping example isn’t really destroying capitalism, more slightly tweaking it towards some goal which is only “destroying” capitalism if you only view a perfect market economy to be capitalist.
Juggling social status for non-wealth things also seems to be somewhat orthogonal since you can still do that while a functioning capitalist market system keeps the economy running. Even a country where everyone is willing to spit on anyone who’s discovered to have earned their money through investments and trade rather than like a gentleman (good honest crusade and pillage) can still be capitalist in how it’s economy actually works.
On the object level I’m a tad leery of “good breeding” being elevated again. The nature of genetics and heritablity tends to mean that within a *very* small number of generations there’s very little meaningful there. A great grandparent can be hard to distinguish from someone who just lives in the same village as some of your ancestors.
I’m not so sure about this. Continued in new visible Open Thread.
This seems like a bit of a reach, even (nay, especially!) in the context of neocameralism and sovereignty-as-ownership and so on. It’s one thing to make sure the kingdom’s social capital continues to pay a healthy interest (by way of low crime, clean streets, ….) to your descendants, but whether this amounts to cultivating widespread eudaimonia is at least subject to debate. Especially in the context of e.g. the weak Galt hypothesis.
My impression is that it was the result of the capitalist class realizing that by wholeheartedly endorsing college leftist positions on social issues they could neuter economic leftism, and then putting that plan into action very effectively. The mainstream “left” is now dominated by adherents of Woke Neoliberalism; People who strongly (fanatically, even) hold the Correct opinions about race, feminism and LGBT issues, consider themselves to be on the left and adeptly use leftist shibboleths, but pay only lip service to economic justice if they mention it at all. People whose vision of a better world looks pretty much like the existing order, except with more women and nonwhite people chairing the board meetings and ordering the drone strikes.
What do you see as evidence of actual planning and implementation? Beyond, “they would benefit from this and are Machiavellian, therefore they planned this”.
All this seems to show is that the Democrats used to be more focused on economic issues, not that capitalists somehow tricked them into dropping such issues in favor of identity politics?
In any case, no need to propose a conspiracy to explain what individual politicians following their own, near-term incentives explains adequately.
It wasn’t a trick, no. It was all very open and done pursuant to the authentic beliefs of the people pursuing them. I don’t think that damages the accuracy of Acelia’s post, though: For a good thirty years, the people who rebuilt the ruins of the mainstream left parties after Reagan and Thatcher were people who were ideologically and materially threatened by economic leftism but comfortable with social leftism. They were able to leverage the latter to get winning coalitions while leveraging the former to get donors for their campaigns, for a time.
And when material problems which social leftism couldn’t solve continued to fester, they doubled down on social leftism. It’s possible look like that trend has hit a wall, though. HRC was its exemplar, and between her loss and the Blairites’ repeated failure to oust Corbyn their chances are not looking great. Their only chance is to rely on pure distaste for the right-wing alternatives. That’s probably going to let them hold onto the French presidency, but its overall usefulness seems limited.
This is from my very limited experience with my personal contacts, so just a small sample size:
The +50 people usually mean by “capitalism” the overbearing importance your job seems to have taken nowadays and how it has increasingly affected all life decisions that are being made. They remember a time when they just did whatever they wanted after graduation and didn’t think ahead at all while today even 15 year olds are already encouraged to start resume building through internships etc.
The younger ones (30 and less) often see “capitalism” as the sole focusation of companies on profits while lacking any kind of social responsibility or ethics. They often lament the environmental destruction and exploitation of third world countries and have no sympathy at all that these things are allowed to happen.
Most of these people don’t want to destroy capitalism per se. They would just like to see this perceived capitalism to not have the highest priority in everything. In short they want a change in values and virtues; the older ones want people to relax a bit more and enjoy life and the younger ones want companies, people and society to act more responsibly. Usually all of them are pretty lost on how to change things so that we get there and they acknowledge that. They just hope that people smarter or more influencial than they can come up with something.
I think the reason why the social justice movement grew so much in the last 5 years are that people learned that even though nominally racial discrimination is banned on many levels and there are programs that help minorities like affirmative action, there are certain more systemic ways of racism that can not be fought so easily (de facto the police treats black people different than white people etc.). Combine this with the fact that attempts to combat economic inequality failed (Occupy Wallstreet for example achieved nothing, last year Bernie Sanders was unsuccesful as well), which pushs people away from solutions that include any economic tools.
The social justice people are intellectually influenced by post-structuralism, which is used quite much in social and literature studies. Post-structuralism can lead to weird results, but also has reasonable applications. I wouldn’t focus too much on it, I think if something else would be a big thing at universities, the social justice people would use that instead.
I think one can compare the social justice movement to the hippies. The hippies as well appeared rather suddenly in the 60s (at least to a casual observer), and they brought radical thoughts, student protests etc. to campuses as well. I don’t know too much about politics on campuses in the USA in the 60s, but in Germany campus politics were dominated by people who idolized Mao or Ho-Chi-Minh or who had other bizarre leftist opinions that had nothing to do with a society in which anyone would want to live. On the other hand, the hippie movement in Germany where the first people critizising the continuity of the Third Reich in German institutions on a big scale, so they had some good points besides all the stupid shit they said.
And I mean we all now what became of the hippies, their more reasonable aspects where integrated into society (rock music, the more reasonable politics, controversially i would also say drug culture), while most of the stupid communism was forgotten. A few of the radicals turned to terrorism, but on a grander scale I would say that does not matter that much.
So I would predict that the social justice movement will peak (maybe it already happened), and after that people and the media will lose interest, and movement dies down. I think from a PR-perspective, the social justice movement’s momentum is based on pushing diversity, so when diversity has been pushed everywhere, the social justice people will have to come up with more and more pointless ways of pushing diversity. At this point activism should die down, and the social justice movement should fade. The more reasonable achievements gay marriage and the acceptance of it will stay, while the 1 million genders of tumblr will only be a silly footnote.
On the people who want to destroy capitalism: Most of them sadly do not know much about economics, even to the point where they can not give a sensible definition of capitalism. So you get people with opinions like “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer = capitalism”, yet also do not unterstand/know the economic tools that could be used to stop “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” (various taxes, better education, laws against cartels, etc.). So those people can not formulate meaningful demands, and instead just have to say “crush capitalism”. I find this a little bit sad, because an increasing divide between rich and poor is an actual problem which the “crush capitalism” people have correctly identified, but they cannot identify a solution.
You say you don’t know much about 60s campus politics in the US, and I’m not super familiar with the situation so I may know even less, but Hippies is probably not quite precise enough of a term here. Maybe the New Left is appropriate in terms of US politics, but I think that term has some other meanings worldwide.
I just think the political aspect of the hippies is often a little simplified. There was crossover, but many hippies had middle class values, and mainstream politics. The choice to buy land in New Mexico and start a commune is not really consistent with radical left politics, and the communes were largely white, and the successful ones were largely hierarchical and religious.
Establishing the differences between the Communists (a portion of the New Left were Maoists) and the Communards is sort of the key, even if there was crossover. There were Hippies that formed libertine religious cults with embedded misogynism, and “problematic” views on race (fetishizing POC is the main one), and were happy dropping out of society rather working as a force to change this. Maybe this would be considered a sort of Post-Left anarchism? I’m out of my depth here.
Most of this is from Fred Turner’s book on Stewart Brand. Just some things that came to mind, don’t really mean to very inexpertly pick nits.
In my model of the world, the causality is the other way round: these attempts were defeated by the “social justice” movement.
Occupy Wall Street — we can’t have the 99% fighting the 1%, because we are too busy making the 51% fight the 49%.
Bernie Sanders — you mean the white cishet male? If you are woke, you must vote for Hillary.
In nutshell, “social justice” is exactly how you channel the leftist feelings into something that does not threaten the existing powers. Suddenly the most important topic is not how the whole world is owned and ruled by the top “1%”, but whether there are enough women CEOs among them.
Both. Social Justice is Popularity, the power of popular people who are popular because they are popular and for no other reason. Popular people are utility monsters, their needs and wants are always seen as more important than everyone else’s, and they are entitled to respect, deference, consideration, and resources even from people who hate them. Social Justice is an instantiation of popularity because it allows the popular to indulge their emotions one hundred percent of the time — “we are for Good Things that have a positive emotional valence, so if there is anything we can perceive that isn’t the way we want it to be, such as us being aware of people doing useful things instead of flattering our emotions or us being aware of unpopular people, we are inherently entitled to punish people and demand action from others until things are as we want them.” And they are. They are inherently entitled to do that, because they are inherently popular. They make demands for the sake of making demands, because it is their right as popular people.
The ideas are just the jacketing for the payload, which is pure popularity. Just the way they can say “People who don’t bend over backwards for my arbitrary demands are Bad and should be punished for the crime of not being inherently popular enough to make my punishment stop by the force of their popularity.” If Social Justice as a concept disintegrated, it would be and could be only replaced by something worse, that still allowed the popular to make endless demands of others to find out who isn’t popular enough to just assert their punishment should stop, and then punish them more. The popular people instantiating Social Justice would be fine, they always are, because they are popular. The trappings would change but Popularity would grow ever more powerful, because Popularity is That-Which-Is-Given-More-Power. There will be no revolution and there will be no great upheaval.
The real Lovecraftian horror is not “capitalism” and it’s not “liberalism” and it’s not “progressivism” and it’s not “corporations”. It’s “the emotions of popular people” and it’s going to annihilate everything and all the while all of us will congratulate each other on what a good job we are doing, how morally right and just we are for burning down civilization and annihilating utility to serve the emotions of the popular.
What SJ opponents decry is Common Sense, ain’t it?
No. SJ opponents are a diverse group, in the same way that you have both atheists and orthodox protestants who oppose Catholicism.
That observation is both good-hearted and objectively true, yet see below.
When SJ proponents ground their arguments in the deep history of the Enlightenment, they win by convincing, don’t they?
Conversely, the rhetoric of SJ alt-opponents wrongly depicts SJ ideals as a fad of recent decades, rather than (objectively and correctly) as Enlightened ideals of 350 years standing (and more), isn’t that so?
At this point, whenever John Sidles asks a rhetorical question, my mind automatically fills in the answer as “no”. It’s like Goodhart’s law.
To be fair, that post is essentially an endorsement of Boldmug’s history of Anglosphere leftism. Albeit from the other side.
Dammit. I wanted to be the first to point the hilariousness of that out, but I kept getting the message I wasn’t logged in even as I saw “Howdy quanta413!” in the corner.
Alt.boeotians … late to the party … by eleven centuries?
I’m not sure you’re right about it being a simple popularity contest, but this is might an example of the mechanic being in play.
Summary: A white artist made a semi-abstract painting of Emmett Till’s mutilated corpse. Emmett Till was lynched in 1955, and his mother choose an open casket funeral so that the viciousness of his murder was made public.
Some black people felt that it’s inappropriate for a white person to get anything from representing black pain, and put out a petition calling for the painting to be destroyed.
A later version of the petition did not include the white signatories who were on the earlier version.
Thank you for this lightbulb. One of those things that the subconscious fumbles at but had never reached my conscious mind.
There was the 1990s Political Correctness wave. While it did burn itself out, some of the GenXers involved in that are involved in SJ now.
The situation is in flux. SJ took over not by gaining influence with the bulk of the people, but by taking the press and other gatekeepers (and relevantly to this post, one tactic of SRS on Reddit was reportedly to threaten to dox moderators who didn’t yield to them). This led to a very unstable situation, which led to hotspots like Atheism+ and Racefail (where people learned who their masters were)… then to larger revolts like the ants. Now… well, SJ still holds the mainstream press, but the mainstream press is less relevant. Twitter isn’t competent enough to censor the opposition (nor is reddit though they do a better job), and anti-SJ people have their own blogs and discussion areas. Their screaming “NAZI ANTI-SEMITE” seems to provide more support for anti-Semites than it does harm whoever is being screamed at. Nobody talked about the Bell Curve for years… now it’s back. Very much a situation in flux.
The subreddit LateStageCapitalism is committed to the replacement of capitalism and would appear to be the most popular anti-capitalist gathering place on the internet, from my experience.
Having spent some time around their memes and discussions – not participating myself as its one of those ‘ban any dissenting opinions’ places – I’d say there are a few varieties of capitalism replacement. You have a broad tranche of plain old marxists/communists, who need no explanation. Then there are the quite similar NoTrueSocialists, who go to great lengths to distance themselves from the various failed implementations of socialism such as the USSR, North Korea or Venezuela by insisting that these are not ‘true’ socialist systems and that once you get a ‘true’ implementation everything will be perfect. But their beliefs are basically the same thing as the communists.
Then there are the proportion who do not seem to fully comprehend what capitalism is and campaign for the system to be replaced by the “Nordic” model, seemingly unaware of the contradiction inherent in such a proposal.
I don’t really think there are any other significant movements to be found within that subreddit. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the only major alternative being proposed is socialism, given that its pretty difficult to come up with something that would even be remotely feasible. I’d imagine if you did an actual survey you’d find a lot of obscure minority opinions, but I haven’t seen anything else worth investigating
The thing is that full scale socialism is so inept it’s not even something I worry about anymore. France and Greece both elected economic leftists and they caved as soon as they faced up to reality. Venezuela is a giant mess. They can meme it up all they want but they aren’t relevant.
Venezuelan-style socialism probably has no future, but it can do a lot of damage in the present.
Does this mean Social Justice is a stable and growing influence, or does it mean the situation is malleable and a new set of ideas could take over?
I think the reason the Social Justice movement is visible is that it’s now distinguishable from the larger blue tribe. If the mainstream left takes up a lot of the social justice causes again, the Social Justice movement will once again be hard to pick out from the rest of the left.
Ten to twenty years ago, the mainstream left shared many of the short term objectives of the nascent Social Justice movement. The left either succeeded in getting those objectives (gay marriage) or had the objectives blocked by the political complexity of what they were after (such as single payer healthcare and opposition to American military intervention abroad). At that point, the interests of the mainstream left and the Social Justice Movement diverged… the mainstream left had what it wanted that it could get, and wanted to keep what political advantage it had rather than wade into political minefields in pursuit of further Social Justice aims.
Right now, the situation is malleable. You have the mainstream left which is out of power and therefore needs all the help it can get, and you have a number of competing interests, some of which have traditionally been allied under the Social Justice Movement tent (environmental justice, economic justice, BLM, etc.) which don’t necessarily agree on the next step.
Well, there’s Social Justice and there’s Social Justice
Here’s how I would classify anti-capitalists:
A. Those who advocate production of use-values rather than commodities…(google these terms if you don’t quite grasp the distinction)
Aa. with a centrally-organized plan: orthodox communists (orthodox Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyists, Stalinists, etc.)
Ab. With a decentralized, participatory plan: anarcho-communists, council communists, anarcho-syndicalists, “ParEcon”
B. Those who advocate putting only the means of production (“MoP,” capital goods) under some sort of cooperative or state control rather than allow the MoP to be tradeable as commodities, with consumer goods remaining as commodities and the distribution of the latter left to market mechanisms (although distinguishing between capital and consumer goods can be tricky at times)…
Ba. with central state control of MoP: some old-timey “socialists” of the Second International days pre-WWI
Bb. in a decentralized manner, with each firm being a profit-seeking workers’ cooperative: “market socialism,” Titoism, “mutualists,” Proudhonists
C. Those who advocate putting only the “commanding heights” of the economy under state control, while leaving all other MoP engaged in commodity production and leaving private ownership and market allocation over consumer goods:
Ca. Some “market socialists” and “social-democrats”
Cb. orthodox communists as an allegedly proximate aim / temporary concession in preparation for full conversion to use-value production later (NEP, “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”)
D. Those who want private control over most means of production, but a government stake in some sectors and a robust safety net and extensive regulations to try to control the behaviors of private business to make them act more “ethically” (not really even remotely anti-capitalist in my opinion, but whatever…): Social-Democrats, “the Nordic model,” etc.
E. Those who advocate use-value production in pursuit of a more “moral” lifestyle, starting on the scale of a small, self-sufficient agricultural/artisinal commune: Utopian socialists, “Christian anarchists,” “back-to-the-landers”
Personally, I’d classify myself as Ab. My writings on how I think it could be done start here (part 1 of 4).
In addition, my own personal view is that only the groups in the overall “A” really understand that capitalism is fundamentally a system of producing wealth as commodities to be bought and sold rather than as use-values to be administered, rationed, and consumed by their direct producers. So, I give the orthodox communists props for that, even though I think we can do better than central planning with modern technology.
The “B” family might seem appealing, but I find that, in practice historically, it becomes difficult to screen off the MoP from commodity circulation if consumer goods are still widely circulating as commodities. For example, under Tito’s Yugoslavia, worker-owned cooperatives gradually turned into typical privately-run capitalist businesses that were just as much subject to the “Law of Value” and had to compete for profit (which incentivized paying new recruits low wages rather than making them equal co-owners as the designers of the system originally intended).
I’ve read your piece and you don’t answer the important question. How on earth do you have a de-centralized plan? From where I’m sitting, there are two ways for goods to move between people. Either A, we can agree to trade or B, some third party can make us trade. The former is capitalism the latter some form of socialism. There is no third way, market socialism ends up as either a market or socialism. You can’t have market socialism any more than you can have a square circle. You can have communal ownership on a local level, sure, but then you just end up acting like a family firm. Your use values are just another form of arbitrary price setting by a third party.
Under an “Ab” “decentralized planning” scheme, individuals or groups do not own means of production or own the resulting products or services that are produced. They are trustees, users, of the capital equipment that they operate, ultimately subordinate to some political authority, and their produce goes into the hands of a political authority that will determine the standards of use of that produce (who gets to use it, how, and when).
Under the Ab scheme, the political authority could devolve to more local levels in some cases and/or be determined by more directly democratic voting and/or facebook-like social voting mechanisms as society deems necessary. In other words, the difference from the orthodox Marxists is that not everything for the whole society needs to be planned by one small committee.
The standards of use could mean anything from “use as much as you want” for plentiful goods to “you can use if it whenever it is not already in active use by someone else” for less plentiful goods to “you need to reserve this equipment a year in advance and not damage it or else face some sort of punishment” for scarce goods, as society deems necessary through voting.
Anyways, it’s not a matter of encouraging them to “trade” or swap their products with others since the products they produce are not theirs in the first place. They don’t get an option to keep those things to themselves in the first place.
“So, why would anyone bother producing anything in the first place if they don’t get to keep the produce and determine the conditions under which they will part with it?” My idea is to track each person’s consumption of unpleasant labor, track the use-values that they help produce for society, and make this information publicly visible through some facebook-like mechanism for peers to grade that person on. People with high grades get public recognition and some minor, non-tradeable luxury services (like skydiving trips or Caribbean cruises).
I understand that China is introducing a “social credit” system like this through which to assign perks (although in China’s case, it is going to apply to basic freedoms like freedom to travel. I would advocate for not having such perks include anything that might entail a power differential or a meaningful impact on people’s freedom, and instead constrain it to stuff that is truly a luxury and not all that meaningful, like skydiving lessons or a Caribbean cruise).
I’d be all for a “social credit” system like this if the people doing the grading and determining the criteria for grading were everyone in China rather than just the political elite.
I’ll admit that, when your system places everything ultimately in the hands of some political authority, it becomes VERY VERY IMPORTANT how that political authority is controlled. That has obviously been a failure mode for previous communist experiments.
“Why not just use money, though?” I already explained this in an open thread here about a week ago, but basically there is a big difference between circulating money and non-circulating grades determining rationed perks. One resurrects commodity production and all of its associated problems, the other doesn’t.
How do we decide how plentiful a good is, for the purposes of applying the correct allocation scheme to the good ?
As far as I understand, under traditional (idealized) centralized socialism, the government collects a bunch of statistics, calculates how much need there is for each good, then distributes the goods to cover the demand. Naturally, the government will also allocate workers to produce more (or less) of the good, as needed.
Under (idealized) decentralized capitalism, people can freely trade the good, and its price will reflect its scarcity — e.g. because sellers will continuously attempt to undercut each other as much as possible. Similarly, people looking to make money (i.e., most people) will spontaneously decide to produce more of the good (assuming they possess the requisite skills).
How would resource allocation work under decentralized socialism ?
Similarly, under such a system, how do we measure the amount of “use-value” that any particular good or service possesses ?
One of the big rhetorical advantages anti-capitalists have is that competing in the marketplace for your living is a very unpleasant prospect. Being jobless creates a sense of hopelessness anxiety that people will literally kill themselves to escape.
Do you know what sounds even worse than that?
The idea of being graded, publicly and constantly, by your entire community so that their collective estimation of your value as a human being can be used to determine the compensation you receive for your work. It’s difficult to even articulate how terrifying a concept that is.
Indeed. And the market allowing the rich to eat caviar while the poor eat just bread sounds quite unfair, until you realize that under communism, the caviar went to those that the regime favored and the poor had it quite a bit worse than in the West.
How can one objectively determine scarcity?
1. For consumable goods, society (through direct voting or elected committees) can set targets for days of inventory.
2. For re-usable goods, society can set targets for proportion of idle-time when those things are not in use.
Let’s say that we want to aim for having two weeks’ inventory of whole milk available. (This requires tracking daily usage, which should not be hard). If inventory drops below that, then the “utilization rate” of milk will rise proportionally. (So, for example, if we only had 1 week of inventory on average, our databases would tell us that milk had a 200% utilization rate compared to our target. Or, if we had 4 weeks of inventory, milk would have a 50% utilization rate). We can set up our databases so that goods with a high utilization rate have a proportionally higher calculated cost in terms of their “labor unpleasantness” cost to society. Likewise, low utilization rate goods would have a proportionally lower calculated cost in terms of their “labor unpleasantness.” Part of a person’s facebook profile would include their yearly consumption of “labor unpleasantness” (along with a display of the yearly use-values that they give to society, disaggregated by each type of use-value (since there is no way to aggregate the benefits of qualitatively different use-values in an objective manner, unlike with the costs of those use-values, which can be objectively aggregated in terms of labor-unpleasantness)). So, individuals would be incentivized to consume low-utilization rate goods (and these stats would be available in the warehouses where they choose and pick up (but not “buy”) their rations.
As for the horror of having the rest of society judge you on what you consume and produce…I see no way around that as long as there is any scarcity and unpleasant labor at all that needs doing, and assuming that there is a division of labor and we are not just all working for ourselves in the literal sense of self-sufficient farmers/artisans duplicating each others’ work inefficiently on small scale. Thus, we will need some sort of way to identify the “slackers” and motivate them to pitch in.
I see three different ways in which people can be evaluated:
1. A “moral economy” (status economy). If you consume more than you seem to produce, you lose status, and all of your neighbors gossip about you and harass you about it and occasionally accuse you of being a witch. Think, “Puritan town,” or small commune. Some leftists like the idea of this method, but I don’t because:
1a. It only works on small scales where everybody can keep track of each other,
1b. the moral policing is no fun to deal with. As someone who has had experience with small, paranoid, insular leftist groups, I can vouch that I hate making everything personal. I’d much rather deal with an impersonal commodity-exchange or administrative economy (see below).
2. A commodity-exchange economy. The main problems I see here are:
2a. your monetary income does not actually measure how much *social exchange-value* you produce (you are likely to agree with this only if you agree with the Labor Theory of Value).
2b. there are inevitable cyclical crises of generalized overproduction of commodities with respect to inevitable cyclical underproduction of the money-commodity gold, with their attendant problems of unemployment and misery, (you will likely only agree with this if you agree with a very specific interpretation of the Labor Theory of Value).
2c. there is a long-term tendency for the rate of profit in terms of exchange-value (not produced utility) to fall as productivity increases (paradoxical, I know!), which will at some point make most investments not worth the risk and seriously hamstring the commodity-exchange economy.
3. An administrative economy. The main problems here involve:
3a. how to agree on a plan (central committee, or some more direct, participatory method? How to gather information? What is feasible given a certain level of technology? I’ll be the first to admit that my proposals would simply not work if we had to rely on paper and pencils. Electronic networks of excel spreadsheets are a must for anything vaguely decentralized.
3b. and how to incentivize compliance with the plan without relying on commodity-exchange (Cheka? Gulags? Facebook perks?)
Basically, in our battle against scarcity, I feel like it is a bit like a battle against gravity. As long as it remains an issue that we have to deal with, it’s going to be a drag, and there will be no perfect solutions. But right now I see people overcoming it by flying around a bunch of flammable dirigibles (commodity-exchange), oblivious to the problems associated with that way of addressing scarcity, and I want to use fixed-wing aircraft instead (even though the last few test flights using fixed-wing designs exploded in mid-air even more spectacularly than the blimps do from time to time). I say that a better fixed-wing aircraft can be built. Others will disagree and say that this metaphor is unfair—that administrative economies will never function as successfully as fixed-wing aircraft have in the real world, and that commodity-exchange economies are the closer analog to fixed-wing aircraft in my metaphor. We shall see….
There’s a way around it right now: the market economy.
I don’t need to convince all eight and a half million of my neighbors that I deserve my salary. I just need to convince my institution to keep employing me, which in practice really just means convincing my PI. Keeping her happy with the quality of my work is a much more manageable task then pleasing literally everyone around me.
In fact, other than certain religious communes, I can’t think of any economic system which works the way you describe. Feudalism certainly didn’t and neither did the guild system nor mercantilism.
You keep saying that “society” will collect data on scarcity, and allocate resources as needed, but how would that work in practice ? You mention that “elected committees” could take on this task; however, such a system would no longer be decentralized. In fact, it would look a lot like the classic planned economy, a la USSR for example (but with better computers).
Later on, you mention a “database”, but how would data actually get into the database ? Who will maintain it ? You say that tracking daily usage “should not be hard”, but right now I can’t even imagine how you’d approach this task. You reference “facebook profiles”, but Facebook is a centralized organization, as well.
Capitalism sidesteps these issues by incentivizing individuals to track the resources they are personally interested in. If I check the fridge and see that there’s no milk, I can go to the shop and buy some milk. If the shopkeeper checks his warehouse and notices that he’s running out of milk, he can order more from the farmer. If the farmer can’t deliver the milk on time, the shopkeeper can jack up the price, if he thinks that enough people will buy his remaining milk, even at a premium. I don’t need to worry about warehouses, tractors, cows, or whatever — all I need to figure out is whether all this delicious milk is worth putting in some overtime at work, or not.
Note that this system is somewhat robust; if another farmer steps in with his uber-cows that produce 2x the milk, the price of milk will drop, without the deliberate intervention of committees, database hackers, or other such actors.
Naturally, capitalism has a boatload of serious bugs; however, at least it does sort of work. I am having a hard time understanding how your proposed system will accomplish the same tasks.
Why would 8 million people need to grade you? Just let whoever feels like grading you grade you, plus, to prevent a big patronage network circle-jerk, some random sampling from strangers (maybe every time someone logs in they get a prompt to take 10 seconds and quickly grade some random stranger based off of some simple metrics of what use-values that person produces and how much labor unpleasantness that person uses to produce those use-values). Perhaps have filters in place to hide your facebook page from anyone not in a network of yours, aside from the random strangers that the algorithm samples to grade you, so that people don’t get “facebook doxxed” en masse for simply stating something unpopular.
As for how “society” collects this data: just rely on people themselves to keep track of things they interact with. Occasionally spot-check it with multiple competing “data agencies” who audit inventories. So, when someone pulls an item off an assembly line or stocks a shelf in a warehouse, they scan a barcode. How hard is that? When someone takes a consumer good from a warehouse, the store makes them scan it to register the labor unpleasantness that they will be consuming. How is that harder than what we do now?
And what incentive would they have to fabricate information if use-values are not scarce commodities that can be legally owned (i.e. enforced by a state) and traded? The big problem in the Soviet Union was that even basic consumer goods were indeed very scarce. But in our modern society, unless someone has a secret underground cave, there’s nowhere they can hoard enough stolen items to make the goods suddenly scarce and valuable for exchange on a black market (here we are assuming that personal storage space must be strictly limited to possibly a single bedroom, with possibly everything else declared public domain that any member of the public has a right to access within reasonable hours).
As for centralization vs. decentralization: I hope you see that letting ordinary individuals grade each other and vote on priorities rather than the Central Committee judging everyone and planning everything is a huge step towards centralization. If it still has to use some sort of centralized infrastructure like “facebook,” so be it. There’s no reason why there couldn’t be multiple competing versions (myspace, medium, etc.) that committees can consult to make their decisions in case they think one of the platforms is biased or has gotten hacked or something.
The way people vote on that random sampling will be determined by the data that you present to the strangers to base their vote on. This leads to a very strong incentive to the designer of the system to (subconsciously) tweak it so the people (s)he likes are presented in the best light and those (s)he dislikes are presented poorly.
Humans already are very prone to seeing the worst in their outgroup and the best in their ingroup, so the designer is going to regard a biased system that matches his/her biases to be fair. So what you are proposing is just going to end up with the people who are in power and their ingroup getting all the nice goodies…just like happened under communism.
It scares me that you think that measuring these subjective things is ‘simple.’
People remember small slights more than they remember small favors, they are outraged by bad customer service but indifferent to good customer service, and they favor cheerful pretty girls over bland, efficient men. Your “opt in” grading scheme is going to have a huge selection bias, and it will reward just about everything except overall efficiency.
After a generation or two, the Jet Set / Nomenklatura will greatly enjoy the service they receive from short-skirted stewardesses on airliners that usually don’t crash, and nobody will remember that it used to be possible for ordinary schmucks to crowd their way onto airliners that almost never crash and fly across the country to visit distant family every year or so.
Real story: quite a while back, a bunch of middle-aged research scientists who had been working for a large outfit in the Midwest decided to start their own company, putting their own money into it. They set up to grow piezoelectric crystals for various obscure industrial and research purposes, succeeded in finding markets for what they were doing, kept it up for a quarter century or so, and then the founders or their heirs sold out to a larger outfit. It’s still in operation as part of that larger outfit.
That’s how it happened under a capitalist system, where money flowing through the system conveys information as to what is useful at what cost in resources. How on earth could something that obscure, as opposed to more obviously useful things like the milk of your example, get started or allowed to continue under your decentralized voting or committee system?
Under an “Ab” “decentralized planning” scheme, individuals or groups do not own means of production or own the resulting products or services that are produced. They are trustees, users, of the capital equipment that they operate, ultimately subordinate to some political authority, and their produce goes into the hands of a political authority that will determine the standards of use of that produce (who gets to use it, how, and when).
Great, so the authority decides who gets what. How is that different from what lenin was doing again?
>In other words, the difference from the orthodox Marxists is that not everything for the whole society needs to be planned by one small committee.
No, it’s organized by a hierarchy of committees, which amounts to exactly the same thing. Like I said, at best, all you’ve done is organized communities as small firms.
>Anyways, it’s not a matter of encouraging them to “trade” or swap their products with others since the products they produce are not theirs in the first place. They don’t get an option to keep those things to themselves in the first place.
So it’s collective farms all over again, eh? How’d that work out the last dozen times?
>“So, why would anyone bother producing anything in the first place if they don’t get to keep the produce and determine the conditions under which they will part with it?” My idea is to track each person’s consumption of unpleasant labor, track the use-values that they help produce for society, and make this information publicly visible through some facebook-like mechanism for peers to grade that person on. People with high grades get public recognition and some minor, non-tradeable luxury services (like skydiving trips or Caribbean cruises).
So there are points. and doing good for society gets you more points? That’s great. we need a name for these points, though. What about “dollars”? Is that taken? And if you produce goods for people and don’t use them, they can give you their dollars!
A lot of old wine in new bottles.
I agree, there’s some old wine in these bottles. Except, it’s more “vintage circa 1936 Catalonia” than c. 1936 USSR.
those are the same kind of wine. Localized tyranny is still tyranny.
Because I can’t be trusted to keep my promises when it comes to not writing, and because I had some time to spare, here is secondary armament. Anyone wanting the series index, consult the OP.
A subject that has been touched on a few times, but never covered in-depth is battleship secondary armament. In this context, I’m going to use that to mean guns that are installed primarily to shoot at things which are not battleships. (This is to avoid confusion about the 6” guns on pre-dreadnoughts).
Every battleship had secondary armament to shoot at smaller ships, usually torpedo boats or destroyers. Dreadnought herself was armed with 12-pounders (3” guns), but the major improvement in the follow-on Bellerophon-class was a switch to 4” secondary guns.
There were several different philosophies behind secondary armament layout during the first dreadnought era, which dictated the choice and layout of guns. Initially, the British expected torpedo boats to attack at night, and thus placed a premium on quick-firing, handy guns with good visibility. Because the secondary guns were not expected to be used (or even manned) during a main-gun battle (and vice versa), they were placed on open mounts without much regard for blast effects on the crew. Most main-battery turrets were topped with 4” guns, for instance. Later on, as it became clear that the Germans were planning to operate their torpedo boats with the fleet, it became necessary to give the guns some armor and place them where they would be relatively safe from main-gun blast. This also meant that the secondary guns would have to fight in a day action, increasing the range required of the guns. That, combined with the growth of destroyers/torpedo boats, meant that the British went to 6” guns in the Iron Duke-class, mounted in casemates in the side of the hull. This was necessary because of the increased weight of the guns (which had previously been in the superstructure) and their armor, but made the gun positions very wet. In fact, almost all ships built with casemates had to have some of their originally-planned secondary battery landed because they were useless in any sea.
The British reverted to 4” guns for the capital ships built during WWI (Renown, Repulse, and the Courageous-class), for reasons that had little to do with engineering. Jackie Fisher, who had presided over the design of Dreadnought, was brought back upon the outbreak of war. He had presided over the removal of 6” guns from the battle fleet, and apparently hated the idea of putting 6” guns on capital ships.
The Germans had a very different approach to secondary batteries. They had 15 cm guns on all of their dreadnoughts, and intended to use them against both destroyers and other capital ships. This was probably related to their intention to fight in the North Sea, at relatively short ranges, where the 6” gun would be a much better weapon. They also mounted 8.8 cm guns on all of their ships up through the Konig-class, to aid in beating off attacks by smaller ships.
The Americans chose yet a third approach, going to a very high-velocity 5”/51 for all of their ships after the South Carolina-class, which also mounted 3” guns. However, this was partially a reflection of the limitations on American capital ship development during the runup to WWI, and the South Dakota-class cancelled under the Washington Treaty would have had 6” guns.
At this point, though, another factor enters our story. Aircraft had arrived, and were becoming a bigger part of naval warfare. Starting around 1910, navies began to mount a few AA guns aboard their battleships. A typical outfit was 2 single guns of 3-4”, enough to dissuade zeppelins from hanging around. By the end of the war, it was not uncommon to see 4 AA guns aboard a ship, although the guns in question were basically just bolted to the deck, so any given ship’s outfit was in constant flux.
During the 20s, more of these guns sprouted from the decks of the surviving capital ships. The US standardized on 8 single 5”/25 guns (a very different weapon from the 5”/51 also fitted to these ships) while the British used a variety of 4”, 4.5” and 4.7” guns in different single and twin mountings.
In the 30s, navies faced a problem. Having two different batteries of guns of approximately the same caliber seemed to be wasteful of weight. However, making a successful dual-purpose gun, capable of firing at both aircraft and surface targets, was not easy. An AA gun has to be capable of tracking fast-moving targets, and for reliability, navies liked them to be hand-worked. However, this meant they had to be short and light, which meant that the shells were relatively low-velocity. An anti-surface gun, however, needs a high muzzle velocity for accuracy. Likewise, rate of fire is the most important factor in anti-air fire, and a 6” shell is too heavy to achieve the necessary rate of fire. An AA gun needs its trunions (pivots) mounted relatively high, so that the breech doesn’t hit the deck at high elevation. However, at low angles, this means that the breech is too high to comfortably reach. This can be dealt with by moving the trunions back along the gun, but that in turn seems to require power operation to achieve the necessary training speeds.
The only gun that was genuinely successful at both roles was the superb US 5”/38, by far the best medium naval gun of WW2. Introduced in the early 30s, it equipped almost every ship of destroyer size and up that was built after that, and remains in service in a few navies to this day. The Iowa was built with 10 twin mounts, although 4 were removed in the 80s to provide space and weight for the missiles. A typical rate of fire was 15 round/minute/barrel, although a really good crew could reach 22, with each shell weighing 55 lbs. The shell and powder were loaded separately, as 55 lbs is right at the weight limit for that rate of fire. (One thing that always amazes people at Iowa is how many men were in the mount. There were 14 in the gunhouse itself, and 13 in the handling room below. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but once you’re actually looking at it, it’s hard to believe they all fit in there.)
The British used a mix of 4”, 4.5” and 5.25” guns on their capital ships. Of these, the 4.5” was the best, although it was only fitted to rebuilt ships, while the King George V-class were given twin 5.25” mounts. These guns, firing 80-lb shells, proved to be slow-firing (7-8 rpm sustained) and generally unreliable. The British would have preferred to use 5”/38s, but the USN was using all that could be built.
The Japanese and Germans both insisted on sticking with separate batteries for anti-surface and anti-air use. Both Yamato and Bismarck had 6” anti-surface batteries, while they used 5” and 4” anti-air batteries respectively. (Shinano, completed as an aircraft carrier, was designed to use a much superior 4” gun instead of the 5” AA guns Yamato and Musashi had). This has the advantage of making sure that you can defend against air and surface threats simultaneously, but is costly in terms of weight and the total firepower that can be deployed against any one threat. Overall, they would have been better with a single DP battery.
That’s enough for now, although I haven’t even gotten to light AA batteries, and there’s a few things that I left out on the bigger guns. I’m not even going to guess whether or not I’m going to have anything Wednesday, but expect something next Sunday.
To be fair, the Japanese replaced as many of their 5.5″ and 6.1″ secondaries as they could with twin 5″ mounts when they rebuilt the ships in the 1930s and early 1940s, and I’d count their 127mm/40 as roughly equal to the USN 5″/38 as a dual-purpose gun. It is perhaps unfair to criticize someone designing capital ships in 1912-1916 and on the far side of the world from WWI for not incorporating a heavy and well-integrated antiaircraft armament, which leaves only the two Yamatos as a poor design choice.
I don’t think the 127mm/40 is quite the equivalent to the 5″/38. It’s fixed-ammo, so the rounds weigh 50% more, which means ROF is 14 initial, 8 sustained, as opposed to something more like 22/15. Muzzle velocity is also something like 10% higher for the US gun.
All of that said, I was just talking about the post-1930 ships. That column was written entirely off of online sources and memory, and I don’t know that much about the design history of the earlier Japanese battleships, so I ignored them. I’d say that it’s unfair to criticize anyone in the pre-1920 era for not thinking about aircraft like they would have 10+ years later. Aircraft weren’t a realistic threat to ships at sea until the mid-30s, Billy Mitchell notwithstanding.
(For the record, there’s a world of difference between sinking a battleship that is stationary, not shooting back, and that has no damage control crew, and one that is mobile and is trying to thwart you. Serious observers at the time understood that.)
Rate of fire I’ll give you, but it’s not clear how important muzzle velocity is to an AA gun working at medium altitudes. Necessary to reach high altitudes, of course, but in the Pacific war anything above 15,000 feet wasn’t much threat to a warship under steam.
But Navy Department records indicate that the 5″/38 required an average of 252 rounds per enemy aircraft destroyed in 1942 (prior to radar directors and VT fuzes), whereas the US Naval Technical Mission to Japan in 1946 assessed the Japanese 5″ gun at 150 rounds per kill. That could be due to superior Japanese fire control, reduced dispersion, or better ammunition, though the NTM doesn’t seem to think much of the Japanese AAA directors.
If true, it suggests the US 5″/38 can destroy (15 to 22)/252 = 0.06 to 0.09 enemy aircraft per minute, with the Japanese 127mm/40 coming in at (8 to14)/150 = 0.5 to 0.9 per minute. So I’m going to stick with “roughly equal”, with too much depending on intangibles.
I’m going to call foul on those numbers. Something is very, very fishy when the numbers for 1942, before the introduction of good radar fire-control, are the lowest of any year of the war by a big margin. And it’s even more fishy when the Japanese, shooting at planes which are much more damage-resistant, are doing that much better. Was it a number that the NTM came up with themselves, or did they report a Japanese number? I don’t have time to track down the appropriate report right now.
Based on what the linked report says, it looks like tactics play a very large part in aircraft/round numbers, and even if the discrepancy is correct, then the explanation could be as simple as the Japanese being more careful with their ammo and less likely to go firing it off at the drop of a hat. (This would not be the first time that the US was a lot more liberal with ammo than their opponents.)
The bottom line is that I really doubt that Japanese AA FC was good enough to benefit from better dispersion, as it was probably broadly equivalent to the Mk 37, and I just don’t see the projectile being twice as effective on the same weight. It’s either very different tactics, or the Japanese cooking the books. (Which would hardly be unprecedented.) The Japanese clearly thought that the 10 cm/65 was a better weapon, as they were going to replace the 5″/40s on the last two Yamatos with them. ROF matched the 5″/38, and the muzzle velocity was another 25% higher. (That’s important because it reduces dead time between firing and the round reaching the target. Not just for altitude performance.)
Checking the relevant Freidman book, the USN did not think highly of the Japanese medium AA weapons. Weapons in the 20-40mm range (overwhelmingly the 25mm) caused three times as many casualties as heavier weapons c. 1944. This was in contrast to the USN of the time, where the heavy AA gun was gaining prominence relative to the light one. He does mention that the Japanese put a fairly serious premium on ammo conservation, limiting themselves to 6 rounds per gun per target for the 5″. Overall, I still think that the USN had by far the better deal with the faster-firing weapon.
I’d missed ‘Effectiveness of Japanese AA Fire’ for some reason when I looked over the NTM reports earlier. Looking it over, the 150 rounds/kill number comes from the Japanese side, which means it’s almost certainly a gross exaggeration. The only specifics given are the Zuikaku claimed 20 kills with the 127mm battery at the ‘South Seas Battle’. Friedman thinks that’s the battle of the Philippine Sea, where the US lost a total of 123 airplanes. So either Zuikaku’s fire was unusually effective, or they were lying about the causes of their losses. Other options are the Eastern Solomons (20 US airplanes lost total) or the Santa Cruz Islands (80 US losses) or maybe even both. In any case, that can’t be a normal performance.
Don’t a whole lot of numbers involving kills of planes/what planes kill tend to be either lies, exaggerations, or mistakes? On land, you have stuff like ground-attack aircraft claiming tanks abandoned for lack of fuel as kills, claiming more tank kills than the enemy units in the area had tanks, etc.
Very much so. The usual rule of thumb is to divide claimed kills by three. The US and British were usually pretty good at vetting kill claims, at least for aircraft, while the Axis wasn’t. The Japanese in particular were terrible about overclaiming. In this case, we’re comparing vetted USN kills with unvetted Japanese kills, which is going to give a big apparent advantage to the Japanese.
If Friedman is correct in his identification of the battle in question, then for the Japanese to be right in their reports to the NTM, Zuikaku would have had to shoot down 20 of the 43 airplanes lost to enemy action at the Philippine Sea (80 more ditched, and while I’m sure the Japanese would have claimed credit for them, they weren’t shot down by the gun in question).
I know that the Germans on the Eastern Front claimed some incredibly high numbers. Probably a combination of inexperienced Soviet pilots, especially early in the war, and exaggeration. I’ve read that British numbers in Normandy tended to be inflated. One Sturmovik unit at Kursk claimed to destroy 3x as many tanks of one division as that division had in total. Strategic bombing units tended to claim hits on target where each successive bomber backed off a wee bit from where the previous bomber had dropped their payload.
>Because I can’t be trusted to keep my promises when it comes to not writing
What promise? ‘I probably won’t write because busy’ is the opposite of a promise imo.
Fair enough. I was poking fun at myself, as this isn’t the first time I’ve said that I wouldn’t write and then done so.
This may be a better, uh… illustration of why I am a libertarian anarchist than, uh… pretty much anything.
If there’s just 0.001% probability that libertarian anarchism could lead to a world where most of the planet’s real estate is still controlled by nation states, but there’s an equally powerful unified community of Star Wars Prequel fans, then I’m against it.
Seriously though, this was really interesting to watch.
Place was watched over quite closely by moderators who sought out and removed swastikas and other stuff like that, which slightly weakens the argument for anarchism.
People are afraid of real anarchy even on a Reddit picture. Sad!
Not just swastikas. This bugs me:
“For now, we can at least remember r/place as a testament to the human spirit—in the form of outdated Windows taskbars, beloved video game characters, and a lack of a certain Cheeto-haired person.”
All tribes welcome except one.
I think two tribes were excluded by the ban on Trump images– attackers and supporters.
I commented on r/place earlier in April how it is actually a perfect illustration how large-scale “anarchy” soon collapsed to a more stable equilibrium of societies that were built on tribal allegiances and most of which developed over time increasingly formalized organization and procedures to decide what they allowed on their claimed area, and negotiate alliances or wage war with other societies.
As a case in the point, consider this rousing speech by a Osu logo commanding officer to his troops, outlining their strategy and objectives.
Also, according the reports, in addition to the manpower and organization, the ability to wield advanced weaponry (scripted botting, overlay tools, etc) provided a definite edge.
In other words, everyone can see the whatever parallels to the real world that they like, for example, nation-states able to make a successful claim to local monopoly of violence (or pseudo-mystical interpretations with Hindu mythology?).
To be clear, I support Scott’s decision to do what he needs to do to be safe. I cannot in good conscience second-guess that from this distance. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with the policy, but it’s his blog, and I’ll do my best to abide by it. In fact I’m pretty sure I abide by it already. It just rankles as a matter of principle.
Here’s some great news[/sarc] for my fellow aspies: according to the latest guidance from Oxford University’s Equality and Diversity Unit, avoiding making eye contact could be considered a “racial microaggression”.
Guess you’re in real trouble if you’re a guy and come across a minority woman; if you make eye contact it’s sexual harassment, and if you don’t it’s racial microaggression.
This is like a parody.
This is just discrimination against Finns.
Prelim notes on the St. Louis SSC meetup this afternoon:
-Hartford coffee was a very accomodating venue. One of the owner’s is a SSC reader and was pleased we selected his business. They had actually set aside some tables in an annex in the back, but I didn’t realize that until after I had set up some tables in the front. If we stick with Hartford on the next trip, I believe we will set up there from the get-go (see below)
-We had a peak of 8 people counting myself, pretty much everyone who expressed an interest in attending!
-I have collected contact info and will be generating a mailing list that everyone can use to communicate with each other. One of our number has volunteered to take over organizing if necessary since I cannot regularly make the commute to St. Louis due to work scheduling and may move out of state in the next month or so if a job I’ve applied for comes through.
-At around 8 people, we were just big enough that there was a temptation towards side conversations, but not QUITE big enough to make splitting into sub-groups practical. This sometimes slowed down discussion, but in general everyone was fairly solicitous of each other’s desire for input, and if one of us got involved in a topic when someone else wanted to speak there were other people to help point that out. On the whole I’d say it worked pretty well.
-There were several people who felt a bit awkward trying to raise certain discussion points (e.g. talking about Richard Spencer and whether and how to engage with his arguments, culture war topics generally) in a crowded venue, and it was suggested towards the end up the meetup that in future we either ensure a more private room or keep the discussion culture war-free. One of us noted that this was not out of dislike of the topics, but rather a “Let’s not offend other patrons and encourage someone to come over and give us a piece of their mind” policy.
-Current plan is to try to meet monthly.
-Discussion was good and wide-ranging, but also a bit unstructured.
-As a result, first post-meetup e-mail will be asking the following questions:
1) What dates are good for you if you wanted to attend a recurring monthly meetup in St. Louis?
2) Please submit up to 3 suggested topics/suggested readings for us to use as a launchboard for more guided discussion next time.
Myself or the other organizer will put up a straw poll with the topics/readings and use that to direct the next meeting.
Thanks to everyone who showed up, and if you’d like to add info, clarify, or correct my AAR please feel free to do so here!
It seems a (fairly minor, all things considered) news item from my obscure neck of the woods managed to make a UK outlet (The Register): “Alaska dentist ‘pulled out patient’s tooth while riding a hoverboard’”
The story is less silly than it sounds.
I’m conflicted about this. On one hand, I find myself admiring Mr. Wunderlich’s cleverness and determination in finding market niches. On the other, the whole model feels pretty despicable, morally speaking. I mean:
After reading the article, I’m still not clear on what exactly the difference is between ordinary financing and lease financing when you’re talking about a purchase like a dog that presumably most buyers would want to actually keep. It seems like most of the complaints cited were over the dollar amounts owed, rather than the financial structure of the arrangement per se. So I have to wonder about the sales process at the pet stores that generated the dissatisfied pet buyers. Like, were they not being clear to people that they were in fact supposed to make X monthly payments of $Y if they couldn’t afford to pay full price up front?
Seriously, I’m actively annoyed with that reporter now for not having done any investigation of the pet stores and breeders who used this guy’s financing service,
The whole lease aspect is just a way around usury laws (and also makes repossession easier, I imagine). If one’s true rejection is about ownership culture, the solution would be to repeal usury laws. Though if your true rejection is usury, you should regulate the hell out of leasing.
Tangentially, something I saw on Sailer’s site, I think this is a huge worry.
Will ownership society survive? Does it matter at all to you?
On the topic of Charles Murray, I’ve just listened to the latest Sam Harris podcast in which he interviews Murray, and it’s given me the impression that Murray is completely undeservedly maligned. Even if he’s wrong, he seems well intentioned and careful about his research.
Most of his beliefs about things are well within the Overton window.
He doesn’t think that racial differences should imply treating people differently.
He wrote a book supporting basic income. He seems to care a lot about inequality and wishes the US had a culture of actual egalitarianism that he perceives it to have had shortly after WW2.
He is worried about technological unemployment, and believes that in a world set up in a way that benefits high IQ people, refusing to acknowledge that getting a high IQ is essentially genetic luck will spell disaster for equality.
He is well spoken and appeals to evidence for his beliefs.
This guy should not be the poster child for “most controversial person possible” as you alluded to in your post about how freedom of speech activists shouldn’t deliberately pick the most controversial people to make their points. He is perfectly ordinary in every way except that his research hit something that people don’t want to believe.
The Overton window right now is off its hinges, and the wall it’s in is peppered with holes and spray-painted with swastikas, Pepes, Iron Front arrows, and the like. Or, in less colorful language, there is currently no societal consensus on what ideas are out of bounds, in the US or the UK or (apparently) France at least. There are groups attempting to enforce orthodoxy, but they no longer have overwhelming support.
But before that the idea of genetic differences between races — particularly between African-Americans and other races — has long been taboo; it certainly was in 1994 when _The Bell Curve_ came out.
“The bell curve for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks…
Heritability estimates range from 0.4 to 0.8 … indicating genetics plays a bigger role than environment in creating IQ differences”
How much of a taboo was it in 1994 if 50 leading researchers could claim this in a public statement in the Wall Street Journal? Were any of them fired over it?
Given the large amount of counter-examples to certain narratives of “X is a taboo”, and the strong feelings that X is a taboo, there are two possibilities I can see.
1) “X is a taboo” narratives are overblown
2) Taboos are only made a big deal of if they “go viral” and this is inherently random
I support 2 and would like to explore it. I mean, Brendan Eich can’t have been the only CEO or even tech CEO to donate to anti-gay-marriage, right? He may have been the only tech CEO or so forth, but even this implies an element of randomness – the witch-hunt mob won’t go after everyone, but if you get unlucky they come after you. Chilling effect writ large I guess.
Gottfredson, who organized that letter, had previously been fired from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Organization of Schools for her research on intelligence and race. She got it published in the WSJ because Editorial Features editor David Brooks was willing to violate the taboo. And of course the only reason there was a letter was the controversy around _The Bell Curve_.
I’m not convinced it’s useful to describe it as a taboo, given the statement (and sure, it was smack in the middle of a controversy, so that guaranteees attention – if it was a real taboo, I’d expect indignant rebuttals with plentiful ad hominems, vigorous attempts to fire everyone who signed, etc.).
But thank you for linking to the long interview with Gorrfredson, it’s fascinating and I learned a lot.
Does anyone have a sense of the typical rankings of various types of French voters?
For example, Hamon is running on the Socialist Party line and I assume most of his voters would have ranked Mélenchon #2 if it was a ranked ballot, but that’s only based on reading wikipedia articles.
Since we just can’t get enough takes on the United Airlines scandal, here’s Edward Hasbrouck. He’s a bit prone to over-the-top outrage at things that have been part of the travel landscape for decades (subcontracted “Express” flights are over 30 years old now) but he is willing to do deep dives and find things others miss.
A key takeaway is that Republic is paid a fixed fee for each United Express flight they operate, and the fee doesn’t vary based on how many seats United fills or how much the tickets sell for. Also, it was Republic’s call to put some of their own “deadheading” crew members on the flight and throw some paying United customers off the plane. The terms of the contract isolate Republic from the consequences of their choices, since it’s United that has to pay the compensation and rebook the passengers, and ultimately it’s United that got the brunt of the negative PR from the violent removal of Dr. Dao from the plane. (I still put most of the blame on the airport authority for being needlessly violent.)
(to go back a generation or two in “broken guitar airline protest songs”)
Turning to matters of life-or-death import, today’s football results.
FiveThirtyEight gave the odds going in to today’s match as:
Win – Liverpool 70%, Crystal Palace 11%; Draw – 18%
Need I inform you of the result? 🙂 For those of you who haven’t experienced enough misery today and need that little extra jolt, the final scoreline where Liverpool were playing at home was:
Liverpool 1 – 2 Crystal Palace.
Big Sam does it again! And this lad is happy about the result so good luck to him 🙂
Also, from his Twitter feed, I see the result of the French election so far is Macron 23.7% to Le Pen 21.7%. Update: final result Macron 24% to Le Pen 22%, so they’re both through to the second round.
Damn. This is the last place on the internet where I expected football to be a topic.
Damn. This is the last place on the internet where I expected football to be a topic.
Nobody expects the Liverpool Supporters! 😀
And TIL to round off the comedy of errors that is our beloved club that, after signing a new shirt sponsorship deal, Liverpool Ladies had to borrow Yeovil Town Ladies away kit to play in, since they left their new kit behind. This seems to have been lucky, as they won 1-4.
Maybe we should let the Ladies’ team play the Premiership matches. Or make the men’s team play in the other team’s away strip.
Football statistical models is perhaps the one area I can safely claim to be the foremost expert on SSC, so I feel I should probably note that any individual football model is unlikely to be particularly reliable. He seems to have stopped now, but for a few years journalist Simon Gleave did rankings on a huge variety of statistical models, fan predictions, journalist predictions and bookmaker odds to determine their accuracy. Aside from the clear supremacy of the average statistical model over journalist predictions, the other thing to note from this exercise was that there was little consistency from one year to the next in terms of any individual models’ accuracy. I suppose this won’t come as a surprise to anyone statistically minded on here, but for anyone who isn’t it is worth pointing out that you should probably take an average over multiple models/predictions, rather than just relying on one (which I suppose is unlike the situation in politics where FiveThirtyEight has seemed to consistently outperform rivals such as Sam Wang).
This is going to be especially the case in Football given how difficult statistical modelling remains for the sport. Most models are very recent as serious stats analysis only really began in the past ~10 years, and there remains a lot of disagreement over the most relevant metrics, and indeed there are likely many metrics which are not even used by a number of models. Take Expected Goals, which has become perhaps the most common predictive metric and indeed is used by FiveThirtyEight. There is not yet even agreed measurement of the metric within a single game and you will find post match ratings of expected goals to differ from one person to the next. Then consider how this measure is used to make predictions. Some people rely on ExpG only, and only within season. FiveThirtyEight differs in that they place a value on prior season performance by assigning some kind of team rating. You might conclude that this makes the latter more accurate as they have more datapoints, but this is far from proven for the simple fact that people don’t know how relevant old data is; there are great changes season to season which may make team ratings less reliable than a model only based on the current seasons data.
So there are two basic types of predictive model, but you by no means have to only rely on Expected goals. Other common measures will include the likes of Shots on target ratio or total shots ratio, and models have the option of combining them all or relying on just some, and again they might look only at the current seasons data or assign a team a rating based on their metrics from last season or even over several prior seasons. And this is only getting into the team based models, since there is also the option of assigning a rating to each individual player and forecasting from that. There are plenty of metrics based around measuring how ‘good’ an individual is, and so you might use those, establish a database of a large number of players and then model a teams performance by looking at the quality of each individual within that team. I’m not sure if any models do actually rely on such a method, since any gain in accuracy is unlikely to be worth the cost, but it is a possibility based off of what I’m aware of.
It’s a good idea to incorporate additional models, as well as the predictions of betting markets into your expectations for a game and a season. Just a shame that the area of football statistics remains so fragmented and difficult to follow
Being fair to FiveThirtyEight, all the goals were scored by Liverpool players. It’s just that two of them were by an ex-Liverpool player in his first season for his new club 🙂
I recall a previous disaster against Crystal Palace led me to remark that a goalfest seemed inbound; perhaps the game could go from 3 goals to as many as 6 being scored.
I was quite right, in the end, 6 goals were scored. My accuracy did not bring me any succor though
Crystal Palace, in their history, have been a really good team at times. So losing to them is sore, but it’s acceptable.
I’m still wincing over the defeat at the hands of the mighty, formidable, fearsome Stoke. That one hurt.
Mainly I’m following FiveThirtyEight’s predictions re: Liverpool for the entertainment value – “they have us down to win by a good margin? better get ready for a beating!” 🙂
Looks like there was a bit of a “shy tory factor”, but obviously not nearly enough to overcome the 25-30 point lead Macron has in the 2nd round.
Does anybody know of a SSC page or group in minds.com?
This post has a covert vibe to it, as if it’s promoting the thing it’s officially not promoting. Not unlike that Scott Adams post wherein he officially endorses Hillary Clinton for fear of being assaulted and otherwise harassed.
Hopefully this can be kept out of a ‘culture war’ type discussion because I’m only looking for a link. I’ve been doing some reading up on cases for/ against marijuana and psychedelics legalization which naturally has a focus on the downsides of the war on drugs. Does anyone know of a well-written case for the war on drugs? Google turns up countless arguments against with none in favor, but it seems unlikely that literally no-one has found arguments in favor.
Note again – I’m not looking to discuss this here, just to find information.
Douglas Husak and Peter de Marneffe once wrote a ‘pro-and-con’ book on this subject, but on reading it, they are not actually arguing about the same set of policies at all. I can’t remember exactly what form of prohibition de Marneffe was arguing for, but it was one that was actually largely compatible with the full decriminalisation of adult personal use/possession that Husak argued for.
I’m a long-time drug user who definitely supports marijauna legalization, but I’d be hesitant to see psychedelics legalized in exactly the same way. This things are potent and although some of the acute risks are overstated (the old saw about “jumped off a building b/c he thought he thought he could fly” doesn’t have the ring of truth), suicides and fatal accidents are real risks while under their influence. My preference would be more around the lines of a pseudo-prescription (not like the “medical” marijauna regimes where you get diagnosed with a questionable illness/disorder, but more like “doctor checked me out to confirm I’m reasonably stable”). Call it a psychedelic CCW.
It’s important to balance the risks of a drug against the costs of having it be illegal.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s a lot of the more familiar drug-war-type costs in relation to psychedelics. Nobody is knocking over liquor stores to feed their mushroom habit, and there aren’t any gangs shooting each other over LSD-sales territory. The case for decriminalization there is more existential/liberty-based–psychedelics can induce profound experiences with long-lasting positive effects, and it’s sad that only a tiny slice of the world has ever had the opportunity to try them.
Yeah, something like that sounds like it wouldn’t be a bad idea, or at least should be an improvement on the huge apparent injustice of the current system.
Obligatory link to one think-tank’s policy proposals for the regulation of various classes of drugs in a post-Prohibition world, in case you’re interested.
Thanks for the link, scanning through it looks like an unusually serious and open-eyed discussion of both the costs and the benefits.
So the Blight really does consume everything. RIP.
More like the ghost grass, though.
We did it Patrick! We saved the commons!
You guys know there are places you can go where you won’t get the banhammer for talking about Death Eater science, right? Exit not voice, and all that.
The unz.com comments section doesn’t exactly seem like a place rife with intellectuals.
If I wanted to talk about that, sure. But if I think it’s nonsense but don’t want SSC moving in the direction of arbitrary topic-based bans it doesn’t help me.
If I wanted to talk about that, of course.
But if I wanted to talk about that in a rational, calm manner, with other smart people from across the political spectrum with experience in a wide variety of fields?
(And I say this as someone who doesn’t really personally want to talk about it so much.)
You know he didn’t actually prevent people from talking about it, right?
I’m just here to keep tabs on the enemy. 🙂
Seriously, though, it’s not a matter of getting banned for the discussion itself, but for failing to adhere to the speech tone and content standards. Excepting Johnson and other martyrs in the Reign of Terror, people generally get banned for being impolite while speaking their mind where their opinion is outside of Scott’s personal Overton Window. According to my earlier analysis of bans, approximately 50% of bans is for counts of sheer idiocy, 30% for being too impolitely right wing, and 10% for being too impolitely left-wing.
Which demonstrates how this sort of ban tends to radicalize people. I’d really rather not become a regular on Jim’s Blog (or similar) just to discuss these banned topics.
Try James Thompson’s. Not all unz.com comment sections are Sailer’s.
Is marginal thinking a particularly difficult set of concepts for people to grasp? Or is there a fairly simple explanation/story/analogy that one can give so that laypersons can get on board quickly?
I’ve nope.gif’d out of several economics conversations recently when I realized that my interlocutor did not understand marginal thinking, and I’d have to spend quite a bit of time trying and most likely failing to explain it to them.
Also, to some people, a first pass explanation of marginal thinking reinforces their prejudice in favor of policies that hurt people on the margin. For example, point out to someone that raising the minimum wage might put out of business firms on the margin, and that person might view that as a good thing, since they weren’t “good businesses” to begin with (the obvious reductio seems to have no effect on such a person).
Isn’t that exactly the point of a minimum wage? That we don’t want people doing (relatively) pointless scut work – we want to encourage businesses to improve productivity.
That’s certainly not the impression I get from most supporters of the minimum wage. They simply want low-skill workers paid more. Productivity is rarely a term I hear from proponents of the minimum wage.
I have hardly ever heard anyone justify the minimum wage on the grounds of improving productivity. It’s virtually always something along the lines of “if you work a full-time job, you deserve a living wage, period”.
Now, someone saying that might still approve of a minimum wage hike putting marginal firms out of business, but more on the grounds that if the firm can’t afford to pay its employees a “living wage” then it was exploiting them and deserved to be punished.
What the two people above said. I have literally never heard someone advance this argument before. In fact, usually it’s opponents of the minimum wage who point to the fact that in order to avoid increasing costs, businesses will increase productivity, typically by switching away from human labor to automation, thus eliminating the very workers who were supposed to be “helped” by the legislation in the first place.
I really don’t think Bernie Sanders is suggesting that the reason we need to increase the minimum wage is that McDonalds will hurry up and install more order-taking kiosks and employ fewer people…
If we made cheap labour more expensive, and this made some investment more worthwhile, I don’t think it’s clear that workers wouldn’t be better off?
Isn’t it possible that investment in labour saving devices becomes more worthwhile (on the margin) in the short term, and therefore research/investment in improving these technologies becomes more worthwhile in the long term?
I think it’s sufficiently complex that it isn’t really clear what would happen to wages/ employment in the short term, but long term improved productivity has to be a good thing?
I always thought that this was the argument behind the minimum wage – I’m sure I’ve read similar arguments before – though you’re all right in that I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone go into it on the stump.
You guys need to keep in mind that a lot of left-wing people want to shift much of the tax burden away from labor, so their higher minimum wage is (more than) offset by this. So labor doesn’t necessarily become more expensive. In fact, if fossil fuel is heavily taxed, then the machines that run on fossil fuel become relatively more expensive to run.
Long term improved productivity is good if labor is still a crucial part of the process and there is not a glut of labor. If not, the productivity gains go to the owners of the machines, not to the workers.
What we are currently seeing in a lot of sectors is that workers respond to a glut of labor by working more hours or only working part time during the hours when demand is highest to increase their relative value, which in turn increases the surplus of labor.
A higher minimum wage (and labor laws) does incentivize employers to replace workers even more, but it also reduces the ability of employers to take advantage of the market imbalance to drive down the wages.
A proponent of a higher minimum wage can accept that this will incentivize more automation, but can:
– value increasing the well-being of workers more than maximizing the number of workers
– have other proposals that (more than) offset the loss of jobs
– have proposals that make the unemployed much better off (like a basic income)
And ultimately we already have the minimum wage despite the downsides because we recognize that it has upsides. The optimal level is quite subjective, if you accept that it ought to be more than $0.
I think you’re unlikely to be able to explain an important concept like marginal thinking to someone and then have a productive argument with them using it immediately afterwards. Big ideas need time to sink in, so if you’re right it will probably be difficult to persuade them. Equally, if they’re right they probably won’t be able to integrate their ideas into the new framework and persuade you.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
You can gauge their actual understanding of marginal thinking by debating a topic where marginal thinking supports their position.
That said, how are explanations/stories/analogies supposed to convince someone about the relevance of marginal thinking? One would have to show that marginal thinking has a good medium-term predictive track record (which is really really difficult case to make, especially to laypeople).
Marginal thinking strikes me more as a conceptual truth than an empirical proposition.
There’s a useful piece of info I want to share with you, because a surprising amount of people seem not to know it. You know how when you go to the supermarket and get a shopping cart, sometimes the carts are stuck together? Well, I often see people trying to separate them with brute force, which never works, or just giving up and getting another cart, which makes life more difficult for the people who come after them (because they never put back the original cart, just leave it strewn out, blocking the path). Here’s how you can separate them easily: you know how the back of the cart in front folds up, becoming the roof of the cart in back? Well, 95% of the time, when two carts are stuck together, it’s because that back dipped down too low, and is now caught inside the rear cart. Just lift up on it, and you should be able to slide them apart very easily. (The remaining 5% of the time, it’s usually because one of the straps got caught.)
Why is discussion of human vibrant diversity always bad? I became interested in it after the excellent review of Albion’s Seed (and some postings here), and do not see it as inherently racist. Has it become a code-phrase of the alt-right?
Bad thinkers on the right use it to justify racism, bad thinkers on the left see that and assume it must be factually incorrect and thus anyone pushing it is a racist. Normal thinkers in the middle are thus caught in an incredibly stupid crossfire. In the long run, I’m not sure that giving in to the censorious left is a good move, but I can see why Scott would want to save himself the hassle from the social media thought police.
Although what’s disappointing is that SSC did seems like a fairly hassle free place for those in the middle who wanted to discuss things without worrying about political taboos, and noxious racists and the progressive thought police seemed fairly rare.
I’d add that it seems particularly difficult to do it right, even if you are trying to be honest. So people who oppose it in principle have a constant stream of new ammunition.
Example that I personally used to fall for: Let X be a high-status group and Y be a low-status group. If you are comparing the intelligence of group X versus group Y, it is common to frame the question as “is X smarter than Y or are they equal” rather than “is X smarter than Y or are they equal or is Y smarter than X.” If you do that, you have a garbage prior: you’ve smuggled in an asymmetry that has no right to be there EDIT: and which will make you blind to type-S errors.
And you wouldn’t have made this mistake if you were comparing the intelligence of elephants and alligators; your prejudice made you make this mistake.
The SSC commentariat is thoughtful, but it _also_ attracts fairly poisonous people (we can probably think of 2-3 examples together pretty easily). Scott does try to ban the poison, but he’s just one busy guy and the method isn’t perfect.
But more generally, some social technologies are dangerous, just like some STEM technologies are dangerous. How should we deal with dangerous technologies? I am not sure I have a good answer for you.
But generally, work in such areas will probably not be restriction-free, and I think with good reason! Despite the thoughtful nature of the commentariat here, probably not that many folks are qualified to do serious work in the “dangerous social technology” area, such as in the neighborhood of the terms banned today. But of course, people love to talk about it on the internet.
Human Neurological Uniformity is a social technology, too. And I would argue it is far more dangerous than the alternative.
Yep. “Hundreds of millions of corpses”-level dangerous.
I am glad we agree that lots of stuff is dangerous and needs to be researched and talked about with care!
Well, yes, but that’s not anyone’s position. If you assume [censored term] is false, then I understand the position would be “there are genetic differences which result in phenotypical differences in ability, but these do not significantly correlate with race”. Which is certainly not “all brains are the same”.
> But generally, work in such areas will probably not be restriction-free, and I think with good reason! Despite the thoughtful nature of the commentariat here, probably not that many folks are qualified to do serious work in the “dangerous social technology” area, such as in the neighborhood of the terms banned today.
If you define (CENSORED) to be “dangerous social technology” and only something that approved, “qualified” people are allowed to discuss, even on a mostly-anonymous online forum, you have strayed a long way from open debate and free speech, and into the territory of a central power policing what people are allowed to think. The amount of abuse that such a system invites is terrifying. The fact that this is being proposed leads me to believe that we haven’t learned from the atrocious historical record that such censorious power has.
I think I am just saying that if you don’t know what you are talking about, it’s best to shush (just on your own). This is basically a skill that’s beyond most people. It takes training to shush. It takes training to know one is out of one’s element.
Usually, it doesn’t matter, because most technologies aren’t dangerous enough to worry.
But occasionally people being overconfident idiots on the internet can be an issue that decides policy in a very bad direction.
On the margin, a culture of respect for experts needs to be promoted. With such a culture, the problem solves itself.
But there isn’t anymore — certainly not among Trump supporters.
Scene from today’s ICE protest in Baltimore:
A few protesters are holding up signs, protesting a case where ICE dumped a DACA kid over the border, because he didn’t have papers on him, then said “oh we don’t have a record of tossing him, he must have left on his own.”
Trump supporter walks buy: “My view is, people here illegally should be deported.”
Protester: “but sir, this kid was here legally.”
TS: “Eeeh, I don’t believe it.” [walks off]
Updating on evidence is a skill most folks lack. Navigating conversations in a way as to not to lose social capital is a skill most folks have, as they do it every day. Updating loses social capital, it’s much easier to dismiss, instead.
Incidentally there were 2 Trump supporters at the Science march in DC. One of them held a BIG #pizzagate sign, another was a lady with a red MAGA cap and a camera.
I think some folks started a little chant of “don’t feed the trolls.”
Given the extraordinary amount of propaganda and dishonest argumentation around the topic of immigration, I frankly wouldn’t blame the Trump supporter for not taking some random protester’s word for it. This is unfortunately a situation where 95% make the other 5% look bad.
What did you have in mind, re: dishonesty?
Considering DACA only applies to people who immigrated illegally (albeit as children), and is technically a deferral from deportation rather than an actual granting of legal immigrant status, weren’t they both kind of right?
> What did you have in mind, re: dishonesty?
“Sanctuary cities don’t exist, you crazy conspiracy theorist!” flipping instantly to “sanctuary cities are real, and they’re spectacular!” once the time was right is a good starting example.
I do in fact work in the area and one distressing issue I’ve noticed is a gradual encroachment.
Straightforward, true, not-controversial things are gradually being turned into “that which must not be named” because of people making a lot of noise about being offended.
In my own institution I was given a heads up by a co-worker that a lecturer giving a lecture on genetics had recently got in trouble for mentioning to a class that excessive consanguinity in a population tends to cause bad things like more children with genetic diseases. Unfortunately marrying close family members is a “cultural practice” in some societies making that now an unacceptable statement akin to “scientific racism” that led to complaints from The Sort Of People Who Make Complaints Like That.
The topic came up because my co-worker was at the time re-making some of his slides for a lecture on the topic so as to dance around the issue avoiding making any direct statements about the practical real effects of having kids with close family members when your parents did the same thing and their parents did the same thing and their parents did the same thing.
The Overton window on my whole field is gradually closing and shifting into the realm of simple self-deception. Genetics seems to be inherently inimical to their philosophy. They’re gaining political power steadily and I really would prefer to not see a modern replay of the politically-driven Lysenkoism farce.
I suppose the safe thing there is to use Dead White Europeans as your “pointing to why marrying your cousins for umpteen generations is a bad idea” examples; you can be as mean as you like to the Hapsburgs when talking about the Hapsburg Lip and nobody is going to go “This is insulting our cultural practices!” as yet, unless somebody thinks talking about the excessive consanguinity marriages of the Spanish Hapsburgs is anti-Hispanic/Latinx racism or something.
You might be surprised to know that the American terms Latinx, Hispanic, etc. do not seem apply to people from the Iberian peninsula (the territory of Roman Hispania, nowadays Portugal and Spain), despite the name. I certainly was when I discovered (source: Genetics class where the Professor was talking about some genetic disease which was more common in Hispanics; I’ve never read anything about the official definition of those terms and took the Professor at his word).
Officially, in the US, the term “Hispanic” does include those from Spain and Portugal, as Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt are wont to point out.
Latinx, of course, applies to those who the gatekeepers of Social Justice want it to apply to, and no one else.
Actually, the official U.S. definition of Hispanic doesn’t include Portugal although it does include Spain http://www.pewhispanic.org/2009/05/28/whos-hispanic/. They don’t write the definition on the forms though and just let people identify however they like so… uh… I was confused about this for years and was checking Hispanic on the ethnicity box because I have some Portuguese ancestors. Oops. I blame convoluted racial categories. I’m already checking like… more than half the boxes due to my ancestry, chances are I was going to make some mistake.
I realize you’re kind of joking, but the gatekeepers can’t agree on anything though so it sometimes includes Portuguese sometimes doesn’t mostly depending on the person identifying and how bombastic they want to be about it if someone challenges them.
Apparently “Hispanic” is even more convoluted than I thought.
According to the OMB directive on race: Hispanic is “A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.” This is silly enough to include Brazilian Portuguese but not Portuguese Portuguese. But according to this document, Brazilians are not Hispanic according to the census. But according to the same document, people of Portuguese origin ARE considered Hispanic by the Department of Transportation. I have no idea why the DoT is recording this sort of thing however (statistics on truck drivers?)
I wasn’t kidding about Latinx. It basically signifies the user of the term is an SJW and perhaps speaks Spanish, or English with a Mexican or South American accent, or perhaps thinks Flaca is the best character on “Orange is the New Black”. (OK, that last part I’m kidding about.)
Wow, this seems even mornconplex than I thought xD
The latest Sam Harris podcast with Charles Murray touches on those issues, in case you’re interested.
Way to miss the point.
He banned the term, not discussions.
And I really wish people would take that to heart.
Because when someone says “banned term” and then says how awful people are for not accepting its obvious truth, or falsehood, or immorality, I don’t know which version of banned term they mean.
For example, is it the version of banned term that asserts a very anodyne version of “different geographical areas of the world have associated genetic clustering”.
Or is it the version of banned term that asserts “The median black person has an IQ of 70 and should be considered developmentally disabled”?
Has it become a code-phrase of the alt-right?
See JulieK’s comment above about “[Banned term] is already a euphemism. Why not just go with “scientific racism?”” – the assumption that Human Vibrancy is another name for racism and that this is settled, when the whole point of the discussion is “is there anything to this, does it have implications for policy in about twenty areas, and is it inherently racist of itself or simply vulnerable to being misapplied for racist ends?”
When you have people assured that Featherless Biped Biotic Variety is just another way of “keepin’ the coloured folks down”, then are you surprised Scott is anxious that he may be found guilty by association if he permits free discussion of the [forbidden topic] by those who espouse and would promulgate it, even if they are challenged to defend their views by others of us?
Lots of people here have already expressed their disappointment with the new ban, so I just wanted to add a “me too” to the chorus. I completely understand why you did it – hell, I’m posting anonymously for much the same reasons – but nevertheless I have to complain that this feels like yet another step backwards, UC Berkeley-style. You’re not at all to blame for the trend of simply giving in to out-and-out thuggery (compared to, say, our entire education system) but I hoped that the resistance here would be a little stiffer, given some of the things you previously wrote.
Sigh. I guess there’s always unz.com
If the threat is serious enough for Scott’s worry to be reasonable, the threat is also serious enough that Scott’s measures won’t stop the threat.
It’s like thinking that Trump is literal Hitler, and then deciding that because you need to stop literal Hitler, you should protest against him. If he’s really literal Hitler, protesting will do no good and may even be bad for you, and you should probably sell all your possessions and leave the country. But nobody who thinks Trump is literal Hitler acts as though he really is literal Hitler.
“…you should probably sell all your possessions and leave the country.”
You certainly shouldn’t be trying to help other people (specifically, members of groups likely to face discrimination) come to the country, right?
What do you think about Trump?
Seems like he’s not doing any of the things he said he was going to do. Is that good or bad?
He got Gorusch confirmed, he’s still working at the travel ban. His big failure so far is not managing to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a bigger disaster, so that’s good.
And this matters how? Other than “not quite as bad as whoever Hillary would have nominated”?
And when he finally fails at that?
And as for “biggest failure”, what about reversing himself on DACA?
I’m quite pleased to see Gorsuch on the USSC and Mattis as SecDef, was pleasantly surprised by his meeting with Xi, and rather annoyed with his (and Ryan’s) handling of the Travel Restrictions and ACA. Overall, things are going about as well as I expected them too so I’d give his presidency a solid “meh” thus far.
I’m disappointed, but I was expecting to be disappointed.
I will say I am surprised at how incompetent the administration has been at basic tasks — messing up the travel ban launch, failing to staff agencies, et cetera. People talk a lot about how the Democratic Party doesn’t have an electoral bench, but are we in a situation where the Republican Party doesn’t have a bureaucratic bench? And given the topheavy executive bureaucracy that the US government has been transformed into, is that maybe… worse?
I think that Andrew Napolitano’s recent column “What if We Don’t Really Govern Ourselves? may be somewhat relevant here (as may this as well).
He killed TPP. He seems to be working on H1-Bs, though it’s really still too early in his administration to say.
But didn’t Hillary also say she was going to kill TPP if elected? Do you think she was (a) only saying that and didn’t mean it (b) was waffling and could have been talked into supporting it again (some media coverage said she was flip-flopping and would reverse course once elected) (c) could have tried but her party/whatever interests wanted it would have made her back down?
I would think either A or B. A and B are hard to distinguish.
TPP was dead in the Senate. Well, except in the very unlikely case that Mitch McConnel wanted to pass it in the lame duck and allowed a center coalition to pass it. The old cigar smoke and back rooms Senate could/would have done this, but I’m not sure how possible this really is now. Yes, I’m short-handing a bunch of stuff here, but the basic idea is that the congenial, gentleman’s Senate is gone.
So, there wasn’t really any upside to saying you backed TPP. It’s hard to explain and easy to attack and has no prayer of passing. Simple game-theory is enough to explain why she came out against it.
I expect the USTR will continue negotiating with the Pacific Rim nations, and in a few years the same parties will produce something that looks a lot like TPP. Only this time Trump will sell it as “sticking it to the Chinese” and it’ll actually stand a chance of getting passed.
Perhaps it will take four years, and a Democrat will get elected and try to kill it again.
Mark – “Seems like he’s not doing any of the things he said he was going to do. Is that good or bad?”
He hasn’t done a lot of the things he said he wouldn’t do either, so that’s a plus.
So far, he’s been pretty meh, and I’m pretty concerned about his saber-rattling toward North Korea. Still happier than not that I voted for him. I don’t really plan to stop supporting him till the next election, though. There doesn’t seem much point in trying to pressure a candidate when you’re supporting him specifically to resist pressure.
Here is a a Reddit list of Trump’s campaign promises and his results
Additional comments & information:
1) a dim view on Gorsuch
2) a positive view on the healthcare front
3) Myself being strongly anti-war, I think the show of military belligerence up to this point – has been fine! It’s actually very encouraging. …. I hear how the US Empire knows of only one language: force, that Washington has become just stupid…. But for Pentagon officials to say we’ve fired 59 missiles, and for the Russian recipients to count 23 missiles, that’s 23 out of 59, 23/59 …. 23:59. Looks more lucid than one would expect from a dumb bully.
An administration really captured by neocons would have used the element of surprise to do massive harm (to somebody else than themselves).
Well, I didn’t like him to begin with, so I suppose the less of the things he does the more favorably I should view it. Actually, this is roughly how I expected things to go- I’d said right after the election that I thought this could happen similarly to what happened a few years ago in my own state, where the Republican party got total control of every branch of government and immediately fell apart, failing to pass anything of any consequence. Still, he’s got plenty of time left to prove me wrong.
Of the things he’s done:
– Gorsuch – I mean, it’s a victory for the Republican party to replace Scalia with a conservative Justice, no denying it. The problem is that it’s a victory that doesn’t speak to future victories; with the Republican Senate majority in place, his only way of failing to get a nominee confirmed would have been to nominate someone crazy. It’s certainly a hopeful thing if you’re a Republican who is gambling on RBG dying or Kennedy retiring in the next few years, though.
– Executive Orders (not travel ban) – Breaking this up into two sections. Trump has now issued a lot of executive orders that sound like attempts to address his campaign promises. Some might be okay (like the regulation-restrictions), some seem vaguely bad, but mostly all of them are kind of uninspired. A whole lot of these executive orders are things like “Crime is bad so we’ll have a task force study how to stop it”. All presidents issue those, and I refuse to count them as anything at all.
– Travel Ban – This is a weird issue. To be honest, I do expect Trump to win this battle in the end. The Supreme Court doesn’t like removing immigration powers from the executive. There are colorable arguments against the ban, but I wouldn’t put any large sums of money on them. Still, in the short-term, this turned rapidly into a public loss for Trump, and I think the reason is mostly PR mis-management. The ban might be restrained for a while no matter how well-written it was, but Trump needed people who could cogently do things like explain why one country and not another was included, or foresee the stupid green card situation that arose on day one. Possibly these were newbie mistakes, in which case he really should have waited a few months to get his systems in place before trying something with so many moving parts.
– Health Care – So, this was Trump’s first foray into legislation, and it did not go well. The basic problems that confronted the bill he backed were simple:
1. They tried to move way too fast.
2. Ryan’s plan was kind of terrible. It was terrible for understandable reasons, but “Vote for this law, it’s terrible for understandable reasons” is an awful slogan.
To be totally honest, I don’t know what the right move for him is, here. He needs to pull money out of Obamacare if he wants to even discuss tax reform, but anything that tries to do much more than pull money out of Obamacare and yank subsidies away won’t be able to pass via reconciliation and will die in the Senate. I liked his suggestion that he might take his ball and go to the Democrats with it, because bi-partisan dealmaking is a classic solution to interparty gridlock, but apparently so far this has consisted of threatening the Dems instead of offering them anything.
(Actually, this weekend I’d heard that he’d offered Shumer a one-for-one funding deal with Obamacare subsidies and the wall project. I think this would be a dumb deal for the Dems, but it does illustrate the kind of opportunities that lateral thinking can afford in politics.)
– Military adventurism – I’ll admit to getting a little spooked by rising tensions with N. Korea, but I have nothing like the expertise to know whether a military policy is dumb or smart. I will observe, though, that the airstrike in Syria had perhaps the weirdest effect so far- the media proper absolutely loved it, while some of the most vocal members of his base considered it the first true betrayal. Was it a gain? A loss? A washout? Lol, idk.
– Appointments – Seperate from Gorsuch for obvious reasons. I tend to think that Cabinet appointments are vitally important to the actual function of the government, but have little effect on the perception of a president. These could be different, especially if Pruitt or DeVos succeed in dismantling major parts of their agencies. Aside from those two, though, most of his choices have been pretty much as-expected, and unlikely to be real wins or losses for him in the future.
One wildcard here is AG Sessions. As far as I can tell, the man is on a mission to make the Justice Department as bad as possible, but law enforcement has become such a partisan minefield over the past decade that I can’t predict whether that will end up looking bad or looking really good. A Justice Department that supports worse policing and bad evidentiary sciences could still end up looking tougher, and my experience is that perception is what the majority of voters crave.
As an unrepentant globalist…it could have been worse. Killing TPP is bad, the travel ban is obviously bad but one hopes will be neutered by the courts whatever its final form ends up being. It turns out that Trump’s incompetence is actually the best thing about him. He doesn’t (or can’t) prepare for anything, and his staffers are all apparently below replacement level, so everything he tries to do immediately gets shut down or converted into something ineffectual. I don’t expect that trend to last throughout his (hopefully only) four years of office. Eventually someone is going to get their shit together somewhere in the administration and actually pass something that won’t immediately get blocked by the courts or opposed by the Freedom Caucus.
The ACA debacle also exposes just how much the Republicans are not ready to actually govern anything, after basically being an opposition party for the last eight years (with house control that entire time and complete congressional control the last two years).
Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria
This makes me incredibly sad. I live in Germany so it is unlikely I would have come to enjoy this project anyway, since we are usually even more screwed with copyright law and whatnot but just the possibility if this existing and being ruined like this almost makes me wish Google becomes the new world government.
Does anyone see any way that Google can make this still happen? Since they stopped scanning books it seems like they have given up hope on that.
I’m mostly in agreement with you, but I also have mixed feeling about a universal digital library. I expect that the future risk to books will be falsification, not oblivion, and an authoritative and convenient universal library would be an awful vulnerability. The best outcome would be widespread and trivially easy torrenting.
The really awful part is how no one seems to think Congress can or will do anything, because copyright law isn’t sexy enough. To be clear, I think they’re right, and it’s awful that they’re right.
(I seem to recall that at one point, Congress worked on lots of legislation at the same time. What happened: is it just the increase in polarization or what? Personally, I blame the GOP for getting rid of earmarks. A little bribery makes the wheels of government turn so much more smoothly.)
Personally, although I’d like them to fix copyright legislation, I’m happy that they’re focussing, on, say, avoiding having the government default, given that that appears (again) to be a real risk.
IOW, working on copyright now seems like worrying about the menu when the kitchen’s on fire.
The kitchen’s always on fire somewhere. Governing is like software development: if you wait until all the imminent catastrophes are solved before you do the next most important things, you’ll never do any of the next most important things.
Is there actually such a thing as “gaining status”?
In every single example I have ever seen — every single one without one single exception — of people pointing to actions undertaken and malicious words repeated to “gain status”, nobody ever gains any status at all.
I propose the observation that status is not gained or lost, it just is because it is. People do not and cannot do things to make themselves more inherently popular, they merely act out the level of inherent popularity they have, endlessly. Status is not gained by punishing nerds and bullying the unpopular, the state of being high status is acted out by punishing nerds and bullying the unpopular.
What about “fake it until you make it”? That’s pretty much LARPing being a high status person, and eventually becoming one.
This matches my experience, assuming one is using a fairly broad definition of “status”. Someone who improves their appearance – loses weight, dresses better – will be treated like they are overall more competent, and perhaps even morally better.
Not sure I buy that. Surely things like participating in competitions, practicing hard at a skill that others admire, working your way up the corporate ladder etc, all imply a deliberate effort to do things that, if successful, will raise your status (even if you don’t consciously feel like raising your status is why you’re doing it)? Or do you have a different meaning in mind?
Have you ever told a joke that landed perfectly and made everyone in the conversation laugh out loud? Congrats! You just gained status. Do that a lot and your popularity will improve. Do the opposite and it will decline. Ditto for making the people around you good/bad, saying things that sound smart/stupid, good/evil, or virtuous/vicious. Status is usually gained or lost in tiny packets, one at a time.
Maybe I’m just not charismatic enough to gain status through the force of my personality, but I sort of feel the opposite: the only things which have affected my status in life are big changes like getting into a good school, getting a new job, getting a promotion, publishing a new article in an important journal, etc.
Maybe this sounds like I am too focused on career status, but I think that’s mostly how I derive what IRL status I may have–from my credentials, job, and related professional accomplishments. If I were really accomplished at some hobby, I might derive status there, too, but I’m honestly not good enough at anything else to derive a lot of status outside my immediate circle of family and friends (within that circle, minor talents, like the ability to cook, might add slightly to my status).
Of course, in an online context, I guess there’s a sense in which each insightful or entertaining post one writes adds to a tiny packet of status and each dumb post one writes subtracts a tiny packet of status, but that kind of status feels pretty ephemeral and of limited legibility to me.
Also, even within say, friend groups, I don’t think telling a lot of great jokes is really going to raise your status a lot in the eyes of your friends the way “started making a six-figure salary” will. They may want to hang out with you for your jokes and not your salary, but that doesn’t mean they accord you a higher social standing of the sort I think we mean when we say “status.”
In other words, as far as I can tell, the sort of lasting, real life status which is legible to people who aren’t already close to you tends to come in fairly big chunks: gaining or losing a job, getting a promotion, finishing a big project, winning some kind of competition, maybe greatly changing your appearance for the better or worse (not talking minor things, but if you transform yourself to get in way better shape, massively upgrade or downgrade your wardrobe/style, or really let yourself go it could have an effect).
> I’m just not charismatic enough to gain status through the force of my personality, but I sort of feel the opposite
Are you saying that you agree with the theory of macro-status, but you’re not convinced about micro-status? Reverse creationism, if you will?
If my assessment is correct, then frequenting a British pub with a good circle of regular customers would probably change your mind. It’s like freaking court intrigue. What you say, your appearance one day, where you stand in the queue* all matter a lot. One well-timed joke can make you a pub legend, one mismanaged interaction a pariah. I was a tolerated gray nobody in one of these places, until one day I mentioned that I grow extra hot chili peppers at home. That somehow made me a respected member of the local hipsters, who I barely interacted with before that day.
* Well, not a line, really. The bar is the only place without a queue in that country. It’s more accurately described as a kind of brawl, which is even better for social status observations, since you get a literal pecking order, mostly determined by your standing (status) with the bar staff!
I’m just saying that my intuition about status is the opposite of Cassander’s. He seems to be saying that one’s status is primarily the cumulative result of many little things, whereas I am saying that it’s very unlikely for a bunch of little status gains or losses to eventually add up to a lasting, qualitative shift in status. That is, it seems unlikely (though perhaps I underestimate the power of “connections”) that any number of good or bad jokes told at the pub will result in you moving up or down an income tax bracket.
Maybe I just see two different things here: what you and Cassander are talking about–“micro-status,” if you will, seems more akin to what I’d call “popularity,” and exists within particular social groups, usually friend groups (not as important in families nor in companies I don’t think, however).
But when I think of the word “status” I think of the height as being not “most interesting man in the world,” but rather someone people might describe as “a pillar of the community.” And the opposite end of the spectrum is not so much “guy nobody wants to hang out with,” though, if you’re a real pariah, that would result in low status, but more like “homeless, unemployed person with no family.”
In a quest to achieve “pillar of the community” status there are lots of things one can do besides just make more money (though a certain amount of financial or other resources tend to be a necessary, if not sufficient condition)–become a parent, a member of the PTA, sponsor a charity event, etc. etc. but they all feel like fairly big, substantive things to me, rather than the accumulation of a million tiny things (though obviously achievements like “getting a raise” tend to, themselves, be the cumulative result of a lot of smaller things, but usually not the sorts of things you and Cassander are talking about, and the status change comes not gradually, but all at once, when achievements are recognized in the form of e.g. a new job title).
The pointing to actions undertaken and malicious words repeated to “gain status” is about this kind of micro-status. In most contexts, there’s not much difference between “she’s saying it to gain status” vs. “she’s saying it because she thinks it’ll make her more popular”.
While I think the distinction you’re making is valuable, I don’t get why little things would not add up to bigger status changes (apart from diminishing returns).
Where I work (academia), formal hierarchies often don’t reflect actual influence. Every few months, I petition the head of department for something unusual. There’s always a list of colleagues whose support/blessing I absolutely need, and another list of those whose being opposed would not really matter.
Major status-changing events (getting promoted, botching up something so much that it costs the department money, major publicity issues) are extremely rare in this environment. However, the two lists tend to drift slowly but appreciably! I’m sure you have analogous situations at your firm too.
Onyomi – “He seems to be saying that one’s status is primarily the cumulative result of many little things, whereas I am saying that it’s very unlikely for a bunch of little status gains or losses to eventually add up to a lasting, qualitative shift in status.”
It might be unlikely for this to happen by accident, but it absolutely can be made to happen on purpose. Think MsScribe.
[EDIT] – …On further reflection, MsScribe’s popularity really came from large interventions via sockpuppet and false flags, so maybe that story reinforces his point rather than refuting it. I guess it depends on how you define micro and macro.
I don’t think you’re describing different kinds of status as much as different audiences. You have status among your friends and you have status among the community, but both are status. There’s a lot of overlap between what the community gives you status for and your friends, though clearly not 100%.
I fully grant that some status changes are bigger than others, but that doesn’t make them not cumulative. What is a higher income, after all, but a series of paychecks each of which is only a little larger that someone else’s? Or to put it another way, what if you made more money, but the extra work made you more tired and less charismatic, how would that change your status? It would go up some places, but probably down in others.
Over the course of high school I learned how to interact with others correctly, and was able to witness my status increase. (The main difference in others’ behavior is that they afforded me the benefit of the doubt more often if I said anything strange). But high school is a very small community, and maybe that is why status is more real there.
Well, it’s definitely a changing variable. I can report what it’s like to be dressed in hand-me-down clothes for the other gender in middle school, as well as what it’s like to be a newly confident high-schooler with solid academics in a school where >50% of students value academics, as well as what it’s like to be an above-average-looking male at an Ivy-league school… as well as the fact that my own family and er, “faith communities” mostly have treated me as the same person throughout.
Status isn’t exactly the word I’d use here. But I’d say there are some real changes in how other people treat you that you notice, and that these changes are much more visible in proto-typical “shallow” communities (middle school) than proto-typical “beauty-is-only-skin-deep” communities (e.g. how the adults at church treat the children, and whether or not your high school teachers like you) but makes some amount of difference across the board.
One further caveat is that not all changes on moving toward “high” status are positive. “Sneers and strident satire have always been an occupational hazard of the successful and are a fairly reliable marker of celebrity renown.” — Mary Beard, “The Roman Triumph”
So do you think Elon Musk has always had high status or do you think he never did?
There are those who have made their entire reputation on malicious words.
DrBeat – “Is there actually such a thing as “gaining status”?”
Penny Arcade et al vs Jack Thompson.
Penny Arcade et al vs Ocean Marketing.
Penny Arcade vs Social Justice (Dickwolves).
Social Justice vs The Ants.
Popehat vs Prenda Law.
Japan vs Russia, Tsushima straits.
Status comes from performing great feats; sometimes those feats involve destroying the status of other people. Numerous, numerous examples from my own life growing up and as a young adult, on both ends of the stick. This seems so obviously a thing that it sort of boggles me that anyone could miss it.
“Status is not gained by punishing nerds and bullying the unpopular, the state of being high status is acted out by punishing nerds and bullying the unpopular.”
Popularity can be gained and lost by nerds and by anyone else. Penny Arcade started out pretty low-status, and worked their way up the slow way by publishing a rude comic. When they tangled with Jack Thompson, he was a rising political actor with serious support from office-holders and a claim to a broad political coalition. They fought him on favorable ground, destroyed him, and grew their own fame and popularity greatly thereby. The invested that popularity wisely, using the power it provided to do more impressive and popular things like founding charities and conventions, which increased their popularity even more. Their destruction of Ocean Marketing shows that it can go the other way as well, with a big, popular group stomping a small, unknown to dust, when the ground is favorable. Somewhere around this point, two geeks who make rude .jpgs were in the Time Magazine “100 most important people” issue. When they started out, they were working at Best Buy and getting their IP writes stolen by rando “business partners”. Would you agree that this constitutes an increase in popularity?
When the Dickwolves incident occurred, the people on the Social Justice side were massively less popular than PA (which probably has a great deal to do with why they were targeted). The SJ partisans engaged PA on ground favorable to SJ, and won, decreasing PA’s popularity and massively increasing their own. I’d never heard of Shakesville before the Incident, and read them avidly for weeks thereafter. For the next several months, I was deeply concerned about Misogyny and Rape Culture, and thought Something Must Be Done.
When the Ants kicked off, they were massively less popular than their opponents, who were the anointed leaders of the community, had the overwhelmingly dominant ideology on their side, and had the backing of all the media the community in question consumed. They made the mistake of thinking those advantages would compensate for weak, weak ground, and their popularity was massively damaged as a result, with no appreciable negative effect on the Ants as a community. They lost massively, SJ lost massively with them, and those losses continue right on to the present day.
In the above examples, “weak ground” is a position that the viewing public sees as generally against their interests, while “strong ground” is a position generally seen as supporting their interests. Standing up for free speech and for consumers were positions the public saw as in their interest, so taking those positions was a massive advantage in a status fight. Opposing Feminism was seen as counter to the public’s image, so it was a massive disadvantage. Feminism turned from strong to weak ground when it piled up enough bad positions and woeful outcomes to undercut the public’s support, and hence the halo effect it could provide.
I’d say that the ants lost substantially. And most of the ways in which the other side lost were caused by their own actions.
@Jiro – “I’d say that the ants lost substantially.”
What precisely did they lose? Popularity? Most of the Ants didn’t have any popularity to start with, and they participated anonymously. the Gamer identity might have lost popularity relative to the mainstream, but gamers have never really cared about that before and don’t now; it’s a parallel status economy. Institutions, the games media? I think not reading Kotaku any more has probably improved my life.
“And most of the ways in which the other side lost were caused by their own actions.”
The Ants presence on the field forced them to take those actions. Compliance with their demands would have left them in a far better position. The ants lost content to consume, but the internet does not suffer from a content shortage. The Journos lost their audience, their credibility, and their medium’s reputation with the normies, which was always of vastly more value to them than it was to the actual gamers.
If you say that you’re a member of the Ants, to someone who has somewhat heard of them but hasn’t studied them in depth, they’ll think you’re a misogynist. That’s worse than just lack of popularity. I suppose you could say that the existence of the ants at all is a greater positive than being called a misogynist is a negative, but that’s far from obvious.
Also, social justice has had notable influence on video games recently. You don’t even have to be a member of the ants to be affected by that.
But like I noted earlier, you don’t need to do this. Moreover, this was a foregone conclusion; those who oppose feminism hate women. But that label itself has been losing some strength, which was the end-goal anyhow – you can’t avoid being called it, and believe me we fucking tried. So you have to devalue it, or at least force greater fact-checking on the accusation.
Similarly, social justice had already had that effect. But now at least there are people willing to point out the unpleasant truths. Who knows what’ll happen there, game companies don’t really talk too much, but at the least it was a draw.
@Jiro – “If you say that you’re a member of the Ants, to someone who has somewhat heard of them but hasn’t studied them in depth, they’ll think you’re a misogynist.”
Ants membership existed as a one-shot, disposable identity. There is no reason to reveal Ants membership to anyone who would disapprove, and no real effective way for them to check. Participation cost individual Ants little or nothing, in exchange for completely destroying the Journos’ claim to represent the community.
“Also, social justice has had notable influence on video games recently. ”
It had notable influence before as well; creators are free to make what they want to make. Neir: Automata seems to have done quite well, for example. The indie space continues apace, and life goes on.
Had the ants failed, calling yourself a _gamer_ would make normies think you were a misogynist. Not that normies think being a gamer is so great in the first place, of course.
The biggest win is the failure of the gaming SJWs to manage to completely control of content via reviews. There are now a few pro-ant gaming publications.
Another win: Anita Hoopearingsen (sorry, I think her name is filtered) lost a lot of influence when she came out against violence in gaming just prior to the 2015 E3 show; even if this was an unforced error, the ants capitalized on it.
“Not every game has been affected, just more games than before” is a loss, not a win.
From my perspective, everyone involved in that controversy lost. It’s a negative-sum game.
but you’ve failed to ask how many games would’ve been affected anyhow
Seriously, miss Hoopearringson was already a big shot and the vast majority of the gaming press had already gone full-bore social justice. There are clear exogenous factors here that you’re ignoring.
As to BBA: I feel that the majority of the people who make this judgment don’t want to acknowledge just how hard the other side went for the throat. I feel that most people in the movement tried very, very hard to rise above it – maybe just the people on Reddit and that’s a bias, but that community is quite large.
Eh. I don’t see any substantive change. The journos are left-wing and proud of it, there are parts of the gamer community that are right-wing and hate the journos, this was the case well before the debacle, and it still is. All that came out of it is a bunch of accusations and recriminations, threats and doxing or falsifications of the same…none of which matters at all today. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I will say that it put a bad enough taste in my mouth that I stopped consuming pretty much any media regarding video games, and they’re one of my major recreational past-times after reading and writing.
The Ants affair looks like a good example of polarization. Both sides probably increased in number. A lot of people who didn’t think of themselves as being on a side found themselves on one.
The SJ-in-games people hold more territory than they did at the beginning, but the anti-SJ-in-games people also hold more territory, and hold it more securely than they did before.
It’s the Great War of internet discourse bullshit. The initial sparking incident doesn’t matter any more, everyone insists they are noble and in the right, it’s an enormous fuckup that has probably done no good, and while one side holds more land than they did at the beginning they can’t be said to be decisively winning.
@Jiro – ““Not every game has been affected, just more games than before” is a loss, not a win.”
Are more games being affected than before? How would one measure this?
Gearbox doubled-down on SJ ideology. I passed on the Pre-Sequel as a direct result of GG, despite being a rabid fan of Borderlands 1 and 2. It looks like the Pre-Sequel sold about a third as many copies as BL2, and then Gearbox went in heavy on Battleborn, which got absolutely annihilated by Overwatch. Overwatch itself came under attack for sexualizing its characters; their response was to pull an animation, give a perfunctory apology, and move on, while their fan-base mocked the complaining prudes endlessly. Mass Effect: Andromeda apparently doubled-down on Social Justice ideology, and the game itself turned out to be one of the biggest industry disasters in recent memory. Meanwhile, GG turned Hatred from a forgettable snoozefest into a minor hit. Doom was a hit, despite its deplorable, problematic content. Neir is raking in the cash.
Can you think of a game that Social Justice support made into a hit? Can you think of a game that Social Justice disapproval killed? I can’t think of an example of either. The simple fact is that ideology often makes for poor art, and good artists don’t really have time for ideology.
@BBA – “Eh. I don’t see any substantive change. The journos are left-wing and proud of it, there are parts of the gamer community that are right-wing and hate the journos, this was the case well before the debacle, and it still is.”
I disagree. Prior to Ants, the gaming community was much more cohesive and the Journos were making a legitimate case for themselves as the voice of the consumers and a valuable source of insight for devs. Ants proved that they were a threat to be minimized, not a vision for the future.
@Dndnrsn – “The Ants affair looks like a good example of polarization. Both sides probably increased in number. A lot of people who didn’t think of themselves as being on a side found themselves on one.”
This is almost certainly true. As I understand it, though, this was not the Journos’ objective. They wanted to control the community, and their opponents wanted to deny them that control. Splitting and polarizing the space is a loss for them, as it gives people a high-profile alternative to their narrative.
Arguably Undertale, although that might be less “SJ” and more “Tumblr culture” — there’s a lot of overlap, but they are not quite the same thing.
And even that was only a hit by indie standards.
This is from 2013. And Critical Miss is a left-wing comic that’s usually sympathetic to those kinds of arguments; you can just imagine how the right felt about it.
This is subject to survivorship bias. If a game has been successfully killed, you probably wouldn’t have heard of it, and even if you’ve heard of it, you probably wouldn’t have played it or seen many reviews of it, so you wouldn’t have any reason to believe it would be successful.
It’s certainly possible to name games that have at least arguably been killed, such as Dead or Alive Xtreme 3.
@FacelessCraven, I am confused. SJ people are apparently prudes who can’t stand the sexualized characters in Overwatch, but they love Mass Effect: Andromeda with its frequent nudity? You seem to be working awfully hard to find a narrative that doesn’t really seem to fit the games you’re presenting as examples. To me, it looks like people are trying to make entertaining games, and as has often been the case throughout the history of gaming, sometimes succeeding and sometimes not, and that SJ has very little to do with any of it.
@Jiro — Not so sure about that. It’s certainly true for indie titles, to some extent also for minor releases from the big studios, but AAA titles and those in established franchises usually get a fair amount of pre-release buzz regardless of considerations like ideological correctness or quality. You would probably never have heard of ME Andromeda if it wasn’t attached to the Mass Effect name, but it is, so you have. There are enough games like that that our sample size should be respectable.
Doesn’t work for games that get canceled before an announcement, but it would be odd if SJ pressure only functioned at the concept/early development stage, especially given how buzz-driven it is.
DoA‘s demise I think might have more to do with the general decline of the fighting game genre — XTreme was not a fighter, granted, but spinoffs usually don’t outlive their parent series.
a lot of comments I want to reply to in this thread. This…could get messy.
I think a lot of the gaming community, even neutral voices, have lost respect for games journalism and even social justice. If they lost respect for “The Ants”, so what? We have nothing to lose anyhow. You don’t know who I am in real life, or even on any other part of the internet. But games journalists and prominent social justice advocates most definitely use their real identities.
Games journalists and social justice advocates had set up a side while pretending not to. Now they’ve been pushed out into the open and must defend their side, which is an open politicization of games. Consider that “The Ants” don’t tend to go after games they find “problematic”. Yeah, there’s been some criticism of games like Gone Home, and obviously Depression Quest, heh, but by and large those games have received plenty of criticism from other quarters as well. Games that are simply social-justice oriented but fine games don’t get their developers smeared and attacked as Terrible Raycists or anything. A great example in this very thread is
Undertale undoubtedly comes from a place of social justice. Do I care? Fuck no. The social justice community outright tried to manufacture a narrative of Ants and Ants-aligned groups hating this game, but that fell flat when most normies realised that there wasn’t anything behind this narrative. Because it’s a really good game, so who cares?
But social justice censorship is usually of the pointing-and-screeching variety. So I have to imagine that I would have heard of such – for example, you mention Dead or Alive 3, and I most definitely remember that. Also, a bit of research seems to indicate that DoA3 ended up doing pretty OK, especially due to the help of PlayAsia, who also ended up benefiting pretty hugely from the whole situation. Maybe there are some cases of the threat of pointing-and-screeching suppressing certain games, though – that I can’t know, and that might be a much better example of survivorship bias.
Anything relating to feminism is going to make zero sense when relating to female sexuality, because it will struggle between sex-negativity and sex-positivity. On the other hand, there was a social justice complaint in regards to Tracer’s original victory pose (and that’s what he referenced) and the makers of ME : Andromeda seem quite aligned with social justice (I hear they specifically altered the game and lore so your character couldn’t be made white, and they had noted white-hater Manveer Heir working on the game). So at the very least, evidence backs up these claims.
While there’s plenty in ME Andromeda that reflects current political preoccupations, the defaults for both the male and female protagonists are white: https://i.imgur.com/60f1GkW.png
They can be customized otherwise, and the protagonist’s father’s appearance will change based on that. But that’s both reasonably clever and not new– Bioware did the same thing with the Hawke family in Dragon Age 2. (In part because of the inadvertently funny contrasts of a customized protagonist with the default family in, e.g., the Human Noble origin in Dragon Age Origins, which frequently suggested deep recessive genes or adoption.)
“Frequent nudity” is also a massive overstatement. Like most Bioware games, there’s one short sex scene that culminates each possible romance, and some of those (but not all) have PG-13-to-soft-R levels of nudity.
I went for Peebee and that one was far more explicit than I was expecting based on the previous games.
Yeah, it looks like the defaults are white – but any other characters you create cannot be. I really don’t understand how this happened, but it is worth noting that, as I recall, the game’s lore apparently explained why this couldn’t be – apparently white people had been gradually bred out, which is why I thought it might be sneak alt-rightism as opposed to just social justice. Doesn’t explain why the defaults are white though.
The biggest question of SJW influence on Andromeda is “Why is default Sarah Ryder so ugly?” She’s basically hideous, for no particular reason at all (contrary to popular belief, ALL the female characters aren’t ugly).
What? This is not even close to true. There are tons of white characters.
And they left the Milky Way in the middle of the original Mass Effect trilogy, which was not exactly Caucasian-deficient.
The number of people who play a game as an import is always going to be a tiny fraction of the number of people who play it if it’s available on store shelves, even if it sells well for an import. Play-Asia is a single importer. It isn’t hundreds of Gamestops or Wal-Marts.
The whole “races have gone extinct and everything is one mush” was something that was more important in the books than in the actual games. I’d guess this was probably part of the original writers vision that didn’t make it into the game because it might have been alienating or would have been distracting from the main plot.
Either way there is no rational explanation to exclude white skin as an option for a custom character. After all, cosmetic engineering was a thing if I remember correctly and people were already using that to “dye” their hair blonde.
@Nornagest – “Arguably Undertale, although that might be less “SJ” and more “Tumblr culture” — there’s a lot of overlap, but they are not quite the same thing.”
I would call Undertale a massive hit, and from my understanding it indeed had a fair amount of explicitly pro-SJ content. I haven’t played it (I bought a copy, I just haven’t gotten to it yet), but to my understanding the content is a lot more Scott-Alexander or Ozy Franz SJ than it is Amanda Marcotte SJ. Its acclaim was universal, and Ants loved it just as much as Anita’s fanbase. To my mind, that makes it an outlier in a number of obvious ways.
@BBA – “This is from 2013. And Critical Miss is a left-wing comic that’s usually sympathetic to those kinds of arguments; you can just imagine how the right felt about it.”
In 2013, I wasn’t aware that the right wing even existed in the gaming community. I and everyone I knew, followed, or read about appeared to be happy Obama voters, and there was peace in the land. Eight months later, everything was on fire. The Ants as a group skewed heavily left/libertarian, like much of internet culture at the time.
“This is subject to survivorship bias. If a game has been successfully killed, you probably wouldn’t have heard of it, and even if you’ve heard of it, you probably wouldn’t have played it or seen many reviews of it, so you wouldn’t have any reason to believe it would be successful.”
Nornagest is correct. The games industry doesn’t work the way Publishing or Hollywood work; there simply isn’t a cohesive gatekeeper class to enforce orthodoxy. Creating one appeared to be one of the goals of the Journo side; if so, that too failed.
@Protagoras – ” I am confused. SJ people are apparently prudes who can’t stand the sexualized characters in Overwatch, but they love Mass Effect: Andromeda with its frequent nudity? ”
I never claimed their views were consistent or coherent. The fact is that yes, they did in fact complain about the rampant sexism inherent in Tracer’s victory pose, and yes, they did in fact argue that MA: Andromeda was the brave new world of progress. If you find that absurd, welcome to the party.
“To me, it looks like people are trying to make entertaining games, and as has often been the case throughout the history of gaming, sometimes succeeding and sometimes not, and that SJ has very little to do with any of it.”
The SJ journos and activists argued explicitly that it did, though. They argued that “problematic” content was costing creators customers, and in many cases actively worked to make that true by pushing bad press and boycotts for games they disagreed with. They also argued that making games “more inclusive” would generate massive profits by tapping into whole new customer bases. Time has shown that they were pretty clearly wrong. A similar process has been playing out recently in Comics, incidentally. In both cases, the argument has been that just making “good” art wasn’t enough, that the art had to be progressive. “Just make good games” was the canonical Ants position.
I haven’t read the books, but not only does this NOT happen in the games, what happens in the games is basically the exact opposite. You still have characters that are clearly based on the ethnic stereotypes of today. There’s the Russian guy, the Chinese girl, hell – even a ginger lass with a thick Irish accent who is let’s-not-use-the-word-Catholic makes it onto your ship!
I suspect they’re trying to play catchup to The Witcher games there, amusingly enough.
Regarding ME: Andromeda, I had previously poo-pooh-ed the “no white characters thing” based on the default characters, but come to think of it that’s true that you can’t go particularly fair-skinned.
I ended up going to the default anyway just because when the game first launched it seemed like the facial animations in cutscenes were -horrible- for the customized faces, and a bit better for the default, but I suppose some people get really invested in that.
And it would be more accurate to say that Bioware has been simultaneously praised AND attacked by various groups regarding their portrayals of minority sexual identities. They weren’t the first, but they got a certain amount of kudos for trying to respond to fan requests for more inclusive romance options, including gay, lesbian, bi, and in at least one or two cases poly relationships. Dragon Age: Inquisition had a character who discusses D/s play with you. and so on.
This aspect of their games, which got them kudos from some quarters of the GLBT and sex-positive feminist set, also got them a fair amount of NEGATIVE attention from other stripes of feminist, who had a lot to say about the male-gaze aspect of Miranda Lawson’s costume in Mass Effect 2 and how she’s framed in cutscenes, for example, or who say that Bioware should abandon romantic subplots in their games entirely because it is offensive and problematic to create a systematic representation of an emotional relationship where the goal is to “win” and the prize for winning is sex.
Ultimately, Bioware hasn’t responded to that last element mostly because that criticism is coming from voices (some in games journalism, some without) who…well, aren’t Bioware fans. They don’t play Bioware RPGs. The people who do play them are pretty overwhelmingly in favor of romance plots being a part of the design, and so Bioware seems to want to balance catering to that audience while being as inclusive as possible.
I feel like I made a custom white character with no problem. Or maybe I just took the default and changed his hair and his eyes? I dunno. But I definitely have a non-default white guy.
The weirdest controversy with ME:A has been the outrage over the “transgender character” they tried to introduce. At the end of the day, their actual crime was putting in a transgender character that wasn’t sufficiently important.
The nominal complaint is that “she” is poorly written because as soon as you meet her, she comes out and says “back on Earth I used to be Steve” which apparently is offensive because trans people don’t actually think that way and would never just come out and say that when you first meet them. The only problem is, this isn’t a proper character, it’s a random throwaway NPC that you virtually never interact with. I was debating this with some SJ-leaning friends and challenged them, “Tell me how, in 20 seconds, you can non-awkwardly and realistically communicate to someone that you are trans” and they could not answer this.
I feel like they did well to subvert this by creating an option where going for “sex as soon as possible” actually causes you to LOSE the prize…
Another big example of polarization is Jordan Peterson. I would bet twenty bucks that if he votes, in the past he’s voted Liberal or NDP. Then shit got real. Now he’s making “kek” references, using the term “hate facts”, etc. Being pushed out by one side has pushed him into the arms of the other side. The same is true of a lot of his (initial) supporters, it would appear. Culture War, much like real war, has a way of sucking neutral parties in on one side or another.
@dndnrsn – I hadn’t really been following Peterson, but as an irredeemable Kekite that is hilarious. Maybe I should start, though I heard he did poorly with Sam Harris.
This guy from the custom character creator looks pretty white (no matter what hairstyle they put on him):
It’s not as if the game is short of political points of varying degrees of unsubtlety. It sometimes seems as if the intergalactic colonization effort must have actively selected for individuals and couples who are at least going to need technological help to be able to reproduce in order to get examples of as many orientations, gender identities, and species preferences as possible represented. (And for the asari, who can’t have that problem, we learn that just because they’re all a single sex doesn’t mean they can’t have differing gender identities.) But that particular claim is just not one that can be supported.
She sounds more Scottish to me, but I’m no expert. And her name is Suvi Anwar, so take that for what you will. (As an old-school SF fan, I’ve always liked that sort of thing– Louis Wu, Manuel Garcia O’Kelly Davis, etc.– but YMMV.)
And like Ashley in the first game, she’s religious, but in so nonspecific a way that even pinpointing her faith is mostly a matter of inference. (Neither mentions anything more specific than believing in a God– unless Suvi does during her romance, which I’d rather not know till I run across it. Which didn’t stop Ash from getting stereotyped within the fanbase as some sort of radically intolerant Protestant.) The treatment of her religious feelings feels very arms-length, even compared with other Bioware forays into the field.
(E.g., the Chantry in Dragon Age, which comes across very much like religion as imagined by someone who can’t really empathize with being religious.)
The amusing thing is that this was also one of the main complaints by Ants against having a poorly written trans character in Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear.
If people wouldn’t apply so much bad faith, they’d see that there is a lot more common ground than the narrative claims there is.
I passed on the Pre-Sequel as a direct result of GG, despite being a rabid fan of Borderlands 1 and 2. It looks like the Pre-Sequel sold about a third as many copies as BL2
…yeah, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Too close on the heels of BL2, and not enough innovative gameplay, or of the humor I’d come to expect from BL2 (e.g. the Bagman’s lines as you’re tailing him).
Although one thing I still enjoy from BL:tPS is something I’m still not 100% is intentional. The Gunslinger – who later becomes the Sheriff of Lynchwood in BL2 – is named Nisha Kadam – you learn this only if you’re listening closely to a couple of throwaway lines. Nisha’s a passably common name in Western culture, but put it with Kadam and her complexion and she’s unmistakably a gal of Indian descent with a predilection for pistols and frontier-style speech.
In other words, she’s both a cowboy and an Indian.
While I’ll admit that Blizzard’s response to the “Tracer’s Bum” fiasco was pretty much perfect (I especially liked the fact that the pose they replaced it with was technically even MORE sexy, and was based on a famous pinup, but was also more true to the bouncy, exuberant character, so nobody could complain) but I wouldn’t count Overwatch as a game that succeeded by not catering to SJ sensibilities. The cast of characters was designed specifically with diversity in mind, and it beat things like Battleborn almost entirely on the strength of its characters. It might be an example of SJ-style sensibilities incorporated WELL into a game, rather than shoehorned in like in Mass Effect, but they’re definitely there. At the very least, it’s a better example of “Game That Succeeded By Appealing To Tumblr Culture” than Undertale, by a long stretch.
Yep, they’re utterly and unassailably popular. Which is why they so frequently disable both comments and upvoting/downvoting on their missives.
Don’t confuse control of the mainstream press with actual popularity.
And just as frequently get away with it with no negative consequences whatsoever because they are utterly and inassailably popular, and the dislike of others cannot cause them harm. Because they are utterly and inassailably popular, even the people who hate them have to constantly give them deference and respect and give in to their ceaseless, bottomless demands to annihilate utility. They control the mainstream press because they are utterly and inassailably popular, not the other way around. Their control of the mainstream press literally arose because they just asserted that they deserved to control the mainstream press, and they got it, because they are utterly and inassailably popular. Everything they have was made by someone else and they came in and said “We demand that you give this to us and make it serve our emotions instead of doing useful things, because we deserve everything.” And they always get it handed to them.
@DrBeat – “And just as frequently get away with it with no negative consequences whatsoever because they are utterly and inassailably popular, and the dislike of others cannot cause them harm.”
I don’t read Ben Kuchera any more. I encourage other people not to read Ben Kuchera any more. I was planning to vote Democrat, instead I voted Republican, and the Republicans actually won. The Hugos are burning. Doom and Neir Automata made a killing, Battleborn and MA: Andromeda bombed. Based Stick Man is still free, despite two battles at Berkeley, the last one of which Antifa pretty unambiguously lost. The response to SJ encroachment has been escalation, as is good and proper. No one knows how this story ends, but it certainly isn’t over yet.
“hey control the mainstream press because they are utterly and inassailably popular, not the other way around.”
The mainstream press is dying, and we’re all better off without it.
The “popular” core ideology doesn’t work, and sooner or later reality intrudes.
FacelessCraven, what you mean “the Hugos are burning”?
The nomination list looks reasonable. I bet the number of votes will be pretty similar to other years.
I don’t know anything about “burning”, but personally, I used to regard the Hugo award as a mark of high quality. I no longer do; in my mind, the award does not indicate anything relevant about the work to which it is applied. I’m not sure how many others feel that way, though.
@Nancy Lebovitz – They seem to have lost a great deal of their institutional prestige over the warring of the last few years and the emergence of the Dragon. Admittedly, though, I’m a partisan on the issue, and could be entirely wrong. What’s your impression from closer to the community?
FacelessCraven, I can’t really answer your question in general because I’m closer to the anti-puppy part of the community than the puppy part.
I don’t know of a venue where both sides are well-represented.
I know people who are pleased that there’s very little puppy representation on the ballot.
I’ve been hearing for a while that having won a Hugo is no longer a significant recommendation for a lot of people. I don’t know what could be done about that– it’s possible that fandom has fragmented to a point where there’s no way of making selections which will delight a significant proportion of fans.
How are the Dragon awards doing?
@Nancy – “FacelessCraven, I can’t really answer your question in general because I’m closer to the anti-puppy part of the community than the puppy part.”
Eh, you’re more of a sci-fi fan of the old school, though, right? I’m only tangentially connected to the books side of things, as I went pretty heavy into fanfic and games and such from a young age. Likewise all my data comes from the puppies side of things, so I was wondering how it looked on the other side of the fence.
“How are the Dragon awards doing?”
From my limited knowledge, pretty well. I think they have a much larger and more diverse voting population, due to the con size and voting rules, so that’s probably a good answer to a lot of the problems with the hugos. But again, sci-fi publishing isn’t my scene, and I mostly stopped following it after the fireworks died down last year. It’s a brand-new award as well, so it’s early yet to see if it’ll make a great name for itself. What have you heard from the anti-puppy side? Scalzi seemed pretty okay with them, but beyond that I haven’t heard much.
FacelessCraven, I suppose I’m old school. I’ve been reading the stuff since the 60s (and read a lot from before then) and going to conventions since the 70s.
I may even be qualified to say that *no* *one* has brought back the virtues of the good old stuff. To my mind, the good old stuff had more racism and misogyny than I realized (it’s amazing what you can read past if you’re interested in something else), but I don’t think that was why anyone read it. The good old stuff (let’s say the best from before sometime in the 60s) had a willingness to play with ideas and a concision that I’m not seeing lately.
I could continue but at this point I’m curious. What do you like in sf? What has been winning the Hugos instead?
@Nancy Lebovitz – “I could continue but at this point I’m curious. What do you like in sf?”
I like things that make me feel feelings, and I like things I can take apart for raw materials for new things. I think this is why I read fewer books these days; I’ve mostly given up on being a writer, so comics and video games take up more of my time as my skillset is geared much more toward making them. As for books, though…
Blindsight was amazing. I read it in one sitting, and it set my mind on fire. I loved the hard sci-fi crunch he puts in his work. The bleakness is right at the edge of what I can stand, and his work tends to dip into things that I find deeply painful and uncomfortable to read about, but on the other hand I find myself being drawn back, trying to inure myself to the horror. His short stories are extremely excellent. The Rifters trilogy was amazing, except for the part that burned out a piece of my soul.
A Colder War by Charles Stross is amazing. Deeper into a similar vein, Hinterlands by William Gibson and Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, and possibly Steven King’s short story The Mist. All of these have a thing I’ve mentioned here before, where you have all the faculties of human agency arraying themselves against a vast black-box mechanism, and falling woefully short. Project Long Stairs is a series of forum posts rather than a novel, but it hits a lot of the same notes, and whatever genre these all belong to is probably my favorite as well as being unbelievably rare.
I went through David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers” books awhile back, and found them a lot more thought provoking than I expected. His take on politics and war was considerably more nuanced and complex than I was expecting, and I found his use of classical history for plot lines remarkably engaging. On the other hand, I’ve read a bunch of Eric Flint and Ringo stuff, and found it too repetitive; there’s two genres, one where modern people end up in the wilderness and have to rebuild industrial civilization, the other where a bunch of soldiers reenact Rourke’s Drift. I enjoyed both of those the first three or four dozen times I read them, but now they’re definately in the “guilty pleasures” category. On the other hand, the idea of more advanced people with utterly alien values ending up in our world and trying to colonize us for their benefit seems fascinating to me, and in that vein I greatly enjoyed Stirling’s “Drakon”.
I loved Starship Troopers, but never got into any of Heinlen’s other work. I really, really like political debate, so the fact that half the book was political polemic worked great for me. I burned through all three of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War books in a single (~36-hour) sitting, and enjoyed them a fair bit. I’ve read most of the Game of Thrones books straight through and the rest two or three times through piecemeal, and enjoyed them greatly. Sadly, I am resigned to dying before I see the end of the series. I tried some of Correa’s stuff as a guilty pleasure. I really, really liked the ecology parts of the War Against the Cthorr books, but was somewhat turned off by the everyone’s crazy and also bisexual psychics and let’s devote chapters to elucidating a Scientology knockoff and here’s why it’s crucial to the current situation to engage in pedophilia parts. I guess at some point in that series, things got bad enough that survival no longer seemed like such a hot idea, and the main character and the people around him were sufficiently awful that I wasn’t sure I wanted them to win.
I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read of Lovecraft, and obviously he’s a monstrously prolific influence. Steven King’s Gunslinger series was fantastic, but I got about halfway through and never finished the rest.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot more fanfic and web serials. Of the few that I’m not too ashamed to mention, Scott recommended Fargo sometime last year, and while it probably should have been half its actual length, the ending was worth it. Friendship is Optimal and its various spinoffs was gloriously better than it had any right to be; sadly, I’ve had zero luck getting anyone else to read it. Metropolitan Man was excellent, but I’m not sure I took the lesson the author intended to give. Amusingly, I made it halfway through S.I. before gaining 90% confidence that it was actually really filthy porn designed for people very different than myself.
Mostly though, I read comics. Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Tsutomu Nehei, and a bunch of really, really good webcomics.
How about you? Any recommendations?
“What has been winning the Hugos instead?”
Spite, judging by the asterisks… : /
As an outsider, it looks less like a fight over literature quality, and more over who does what they can and who suffers what they must.
I just want to jump in here and say that Kill Six Billion Demons is fucking amazing. So few people are doing New Weird, and even fewer are doing it well.
You might like Onward, Drake!, a tribute collection for David Drake.
And Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men and Star Maker. Adequately bleak, and with plenty of things which can be used to make more stories.
As for spite and the Hugos, I know which side has people who overtly want to destroy the award, and I don’t want them to get Hugos.
@Nancy Lebovitz – Thanks much, ordered all three.
What’re your favorites, though? And what do you feel you get out of them?Ever since my older brother pointed out that there were more books in the library scifi/fantasy section than I could ever read, I’ve felt a bit weird about stories. What makes them good? What makes them worth the time to read them, much less write them? I’m always curious about how other people answer that question.
“As for spite and the Hugos, I know which side has people who overtly want to destroy the award, and I don’t want them to get Hugos.”
People didn’t want them and a lot of other people to get Hugos before this mess either, though. From what I’ve seen, that’s how the whole thing got started. Kick people long enough, they’ll kick back. Why not? What have they got to lose?
FacelessCraven: I’d be interested to see what you think of Schlock Mercenary. Advertised as straight-up space opera, and delivers exactly that. I find it to be light humor with occasional trips into pathos. The first strips are kinda goofy, with amateurish art, but Howard Tayler kept at it, and it hit its stride for me on the story centering around the tech character (bald guy with dark glasses; invented the teraport).
Amazingly, Tayler’s managed to keep at this for almost 17 years without missing a single day.
It’ll take a long time to really wear away at the popularity of social justice. But in my opinion, it’s already kind of started, even beyond Trump. BLM is dead as a doornail, too. And as Nybbler points out, a lot of people are seeing…don’t like to call it “anti-white racism” but there’s no better term…and calling it out. Their tip of the spear is growing more and more untenable and their political power is far weaker than they had thought – don’t sleep on it.
It appears to me this is almost the prototypical “heat over light” post, as it consists solely in accusations made against the outgroup without a single shred of evidence offered? I could assemble some evidence to support your view, but it seems to me that’s something you should do yourself?
It’s funny you say that, I’ve been reading this thread raptly, and not in a train wreck or outrage porn way. I think because the loudest voices this far actually share values (even if they don’t share *my* values) and disagree on beliefs, so even subjective impressions contain as much light as heat.
I’m sorry, what are ‘The Ants’?
The exact phrase is tabooed, but pronounce /ɡæmərˌɡeɪt/.
In some ant species, female worker ants are capable of sexual reproduction (either in addition to the queen, or in species that lack a queen altogether). The term for these “married worker ants” is a combination of “gam” (from gámos, marriage) and “ergate” (from ergátēs, worker). You can presumably put together the pieces from there.
As euphemisms go, it has the unusual advantage of teaching people fun entomology facts.
That’s – really cool, both as a euphemism and as a Cool Entomology Fact™.
A perfect example of how the “moderation by blocking random words” paradigm that everyone is complaining about in this thread fails.
Here we are, still talking about them, and the only thing that’s changed is that newcomers to the conversation have no idea WTF we’re talking about. Requiring impenetrable jargon and making newcomers feel like they need to consult a wiki just to have a vague idea of what people are talking about does not promote healthy discussion, and I’d argue is one of the main problems with quite a few major social movements today.
I think the rationale as stated was less “no discussion of the topic whose names are banned” and more “let’s not have this site show up at the top of search queries from people who take the phrase ‘violent disagreement’ too literally”, but I’ve noticed several commenters reading it differently.
I think that’s the objective.
@DrBeat – “Are you kidding me with this? SJ is massively, inassailably popular.”
For being unassailably popular, they sure do seem to be getting assailed an awful lot. One damn time after another, actually.
“They’re shrieking vortexes of self-serving emotion who annihilate anyone or anything that dares to do useful things instead of shoveling utility into their utility-monstrous mouths, and you just fucking pointed at their most obvious “We Won Because We Are Malicious Liars Who Always Get To Win” case and tried to tell me it was proof of them losing?”
Sir, please understand that I mean this in the kindest possible way, but I think your thinking is compromised on this issue. In particular, the phrase “shrieking vortex of self-serving emotion” seems a bit ironic.
To your point, though, what did they win vs the Ants? What goals did they achieve? How was their position improved?
To call a fortress “inassailable” does not mean “it is physically impossible to arrange forces so that they are attacking this fortress,” it means “it is physically impossible for an attack on this fortress to result in victory”. They are assailed constantly. They always win. Always. Because they just assert that they win, and it is so. Because they are inherently popular. Any misdeeds by their movement or any of them in specific are forgotten the moment word of them leaves a person’s field of vision, and they resume their place as arbiters of all that is morally good, with everyone in the Anglosphere giving them the respect, deference, consideration, and utility they are entitled by virtue of being inherently popular and for no other reason.
They got to lie in order to bully nerds and the unpopular, which is always their primary goal. They got to use their superweapons with impunity. They got to punish the unpopular for the crime of not being popular enough to make their punishment stop by force of popularity.
Specific people got to empower their own bullying by committing acts of malice and then blaming it on their victims (the Social Autopsy affair is circumstantial evidence to suggest a significant portion of “ant harassment” is actually deliberately orchestrated by a specific anti-ant in order to give herself more power to harass and bully people). They got to take more of nerd culture away from nerds for the sheer love of taking, and turn it into a thing that reviles and insults nerds instead. They got to spread the news of how evil and depraved and worthy of punishment nerds are to a wide new audience. They got all of mainstream media and culture on their side and affirmed that everyone has to be trapped in the virtue-signalling spiral of showing off how much you hate and want to punish and think it’s virtuous to lie about nerds. People are making movies and TV shows about how evil and wicked and depraved and worthy of punishment those ants are, and remorseless, inveterate abusers are being given a national stage to be showered with pity and narcissistic supply, lauded for what brave heroes they are for withstanding the horrific depravity of the ants. They got to have their lies uncritically repeated and defended by millions, because their lies are more important than the truth, and media outlets are still “gamedropping” today, none of them apologized, none of them acknowledged, none of them learned, all of them are still in thrall to Popularity. Fuck, two of them literally got to speak before the UN about how people not giving them everything they want is violence against women.
They got to punish the unpopular for being alive. That’s the only thing they ever want to do. They lost nothing and expended no resource, and are still entitled to everything by virtue of their inherent popularity.
@DrBeat – “They are assailed constantly. They always win. Always. Because they just assert that they win, and it is so.”
Maybe don’t believe them, and it won’t be so? Antifa doesn’t look like it’s winning lately, for example. I expected the right-wing people fighting back to be arrested, but they’re still free as well. They don’t want people like you and me to even exist, and yet here we are.
“They got to lie in order to bully nerds and the unpopular, which is always their primary goal.”
I experienced no bullying during the Ants; neither did anyone I knew personally. A lot of articles were written about how I’m a toilet person, but why should I care? How does their wrath effect me?
“Specific people got to empower their own bullying by committing acts of malice and then blaming it on their victims.”
Yup. And also there was a fair amount of actual harassment by randos and /baphomet/ types, and likely from some Ants as well. But to do that, they had to burn Doxxing and harassment as valid tactics, which up to that point were openly available to them. Granted, some of them still try to have their cake and eat it too… and every time they do, their hypocrisy make more enemies for life.
“People are making movies and TV shows about how evil and wicked and depraved and worthy of punishment those ants are…”
Who cares? Who did they actually punish? Gjoni got his life wrecked, but the community pitched in to help him make it through, and last I heard he’s doing okay. The core perps indeed spun their fame into various scams… but who do you think they’re ripping off? Anita got to speak at the UN, and I’m sure she feels very fulfilled, but why should I care? I don’t give a shit about the UN’s views on feminism. It’s a dysfunctional relic.
Life flourishes beyond their reach, sir. Grasp some of it. It will do you good.
You sound like someone who hasn’t had multiple friends betray him on separate occasions because popular people told lies about him, that the friends knew to be lies, and acknowledged to be lies, but joined with and believed anyway because the pull of believing what is said by the inherently popular is irresistible and nobody can pass up the huge bounty of emotional rewards offered for betraying a person the popular wish to harm.
That must be nice to not know what that’s like.
But me, I can’t take claims like “So what if popular people are lying about what a bad person you are in order to make it more emotionally rewarding for people to betray you and do you harm? You don’t have to care about them!” seriously. That’s like saying “So what if someone has put a price on your head? You don’t want to spend their money anyway, right?”
Because it’s not ME collecting that bounty that I’m worried about!
@DrBeat – “You sound like someone who hasn’t had multiple friends betray him on separate occasions…”
No, just the once. I haven’t had that many friends in the first place, but most of them have been good people. I’m not sure if that was a consequence of growing up Red Tribe or not; my red tribe family, biological and otherwise, were very good people. My blue tribe community was honestly pretty awful in a lot of ways; hateful, spiteful, addicted to bickering, backstabbing, and vicious status games. I could conclude from these experiences that all blue tribe people are awful, and all red tribe people are awesome, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works. Past experience is not 100% determinant of future events.
“…because the pull of believing what is said by the inherently popular is irresistible and nobody can pass up the huge bounty of emotional rewards offered for betraying a person the popular wish to harm.”
I have actually been in this exact situation, being told straight-up by someone with all the social capital who I believed held my career in their hands that I needed to backstab my best friend, or they would ruin me. I believed them too, and was seriously terrified to defy them. I am basically a coward at heart; my username here is chosen for a reason. In that instance, though, I managed to work up the courage necessary, ditched the asshole and their clique, kept the friend, and have profited immensely thereby. Evil doesn’t always win.
“That’s like saying “So what if someone has put a price on your head? You don’t want to spend their money anyway, right?””
No, it’s not like saying that. It’s like saying “So what if someone has put a price on your head? They don’t know who or where you are, or how to find you, and very probably never will. Meanwhile, their house is on fire.”
I had a near-miss last year, and it shook me up some. Recent events have certainly been… lively. But I actually have fled my country for fear of political apocalypse, and that and other poor decisions really did cost me a decade-plus of misery and very nearly my life. Freaking out was not worth it for me. I would have been vastly better off to keep my cool and focus on living well. Please, for the love of sanity, don’t make the same mistake I did.
I think it’s true that most of status is accorded to people on the basis of how they appear to feel, and most of the rest by a mixture of their fitness and good looks.
-Just look at statements like “If you don’t like yourself why should anyone else?”
It *literally* doesn’t occur to a lot of people that as a human being they might exercise their faculty of judgement to accord people respect/ like them according to what they deserve, rather than according to what is the most pig-lazy and convenient: to just taking someone’s ‘status feeling’ verbatim and adopting it as your judgement of them (without even being aware this is what you’re doing).
On the other hand, ‘this feeling of high status’ can be inculcated, if you’re motivated enough to want to game the plebs, and there are definitely people who try to respect people according to what they seem to be like and what they say and do, rather than how confident they feel.
I also think the really bad habits people have for assigning status are not as natural as you might think, but result of a bad social equilibrium being adapted to, including how people are put in prison like environments where it’s important not to ‘cross’ people with power, like in schools and jobs as currently typically organised. It’s partially natural to fall into the habit, but it’s exacerbated 100x by the need to slink around and avoid the ire of the mob/the teacher/the boss, who typically have no realistic oversight and are free to misuse their power especially in subtle low level ways. Problem is that this is self reinforcing. Part of this social environment is all of the people who have adapted to it and adopted principles like “accord people status based primarily on your estimate of their status”
Just in case anyone was wondering, I’m not dead. I’ve just been really busy with work, so I don’t anticipate doing another post before next Sunday.
So I’ll do a battleship AMA instead. As I’ve said, my time right now is pretty limited, so answers may not be as comprehensive as usual.
Also, with Scott having just signal-boosted me on this (and my schedule calming down soon), would anyone be interested in doing a meetup at the Iowa (San Pedro, CA), with me giving a tour for SSC readers? You’d still have to pay admission ($20/person) but the guide is thrown in for free. I can even show off some spots not on the tour route, like the brig, barber shop, and missile control room.
Disclaimer: This tour is likely to be limited to ~20 people for logistical reasons. Groups bigger than that are difficult to deal with. I may request registration if there’s enough interest.
I would love to go if I lived in California! Scott should link this comment in the original post, since I think it’s been buried.
Thanks to everyone who came to the Washington, DC slate star codex meetup last weekend! We’ll be having another one on Saturday, May 20th – can’t wait to see all of you again!
I recently read three books on consciousness and did a review on them. They’re all from a scientific rather than philosophical direction.
Consciousness and the Brain was awesome and really elucidated a number of things for me.
Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work was crap as I should have predicted from the title.
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness was worth reading but the parts on the deep origins of consciousness seemed obviously wrong.
Thanks, that seems interesting!
Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work
STEALING F.I.R.E. – A Michael Bay Film Coming Soon – In Cinemas Worldwide April 2019!
Can’t you just see the plot now? A rogue maverick scientist in Silicon Valley invents something (with the acronym F.I.R.E., the scriptwriters will work out what that stands for in technobabble) that is going to Change The World As We Know It and immediately decides to sell his work to the highest bidder, who not unreasonably turn out to be Nefarious Nogoodniks (and probably foreign to boot, now that the Russians are our enemies once more). The good maverick scientist who was protesting the bad maverick scientist’s work all along but was ignored/shut down by the greedy Silicon Valley MegaCorp where they both worked (this is one of the bad MegaCorps, not one of the Good Ones, so it will need a made-up name that doesn’t remind anyone – particularly anyone’s lawyers – of fruit, mathematical terms or mythological beings) because they expected the $$$$$$ megabillions of PROFIT!!!! from the work now has to go on the lam and the Navy SEALs (maybe her boyfriend is one?) get involved to protect her from the bad maverick scientist, the greedy megacorp and the nogoodniks because she is the only one who can foil their plan and save the invention for the USA.
Tell me you can’t see that being a blockbuster summer movie 🙂
I think I’ve already watched that plot a couple of times.
Given that it reads like an excerpt from a particular SSC commenter, I’d have been wary.
You might enjoy this paper on consciousness, which I read recently and found quite interesting and plausible.
Nice blog article. Sounds like the second one was pretty awful.
I often feel like discussions of consciousness, even from a neuroscience perspective, often equivocate between different meanings of the word (sorry for self promotion) – for example “awake-ness” versus the more philosophical sense (eg. the Nagel’s Bat sense, which we often use as morally significant). According to the philosophical sense an insect might be awake but still not philosophically a “conscious being”, and therefore according to some arguments its pain is not morally significant. In contrast, some projects to find neuroscientific evidence for consciousness might identify brain patterns associated with being awake, then equivocate to link them with wider philosophical significance (without which the research is a lot less interesting).
Did you feel these three books dealt well with the distinction and treated the two essentially different meanings separately?
Stealing Fire never established a definition and was wildly inconsistent about what it meant by consciousness (at least as far as I got). Other Minds actually ended up being about subjectivity rather than awakeness and stuck to that. Conciousness and the Brain laid out right at the start what it was talking about and was very consistent. The definition was similar to but not exactly the same as ‘awakeness’ and matched very closely the way people use the word ‘consciousness’ in everyday life. I appreciate that ‘consciousness’ is also a term of art in philosophy and scientific books shouldn’t assume that their work bears on philosophical questions without further investigation. Still, if you turn an everyday word into a piece of jargon in your field you can’t complain when another field also jargonizes that word in a different way.
In order to protect myself and non-anonymous readers of this blog, I am going to be more careful about allowing things that hostile parties could interpret as reason to go Middlebury on someone.
I’m very sorry to hear this, but I appreciate the delicacy of your situation, so you do what you need to do to protect yourself. I don’t have any reputation to lose so it’s easy for me to say “Stand up and fight!” but that’s not a good idea in this current climate.
I’d be willing to support Scott monetarily (say an indiegogo campaign or something like that) if there is a real physical threat and could be prevented with some security measures so that he’d not have to worry about things like these.
If I were scott, I’d be infinitely more worried about the potential career consequences of untoward content being posted on my personal blog than I was about physical violence. I don’t post anything controversial under my real name because why take the risk? But if someone really cared they could probably figure out who I was, and find out, and if I were even the slightest bit famous I’d be more cautious. People have gone down for less.
But Scott is claiming that he’s worried about physical violence. If the US ever gets to the the point where politically incorrect bloggers are routinely being tracked down and beaten up for saying things online, then the appropriate response would be to start shopping for a sea-going vessel, not moderating comments more heavily.
Scott’s reasoning makes zero sense to me. It makes so little sense that I cannot help but suspect he’s prevaricating. to himself, mostly, but still prevaricating.
Totally agree about posting under one’s real name is too risky. I used to post to Quora but now abstain. If I post something about an area of the city has more crime than another area that can be spun as RACIST. Actually, I guess anything can be spun as that if you try hard enough.
People do strange things when they are scared, and I think that few social circumstances would be scarier than finding that your trusted social circle is beginning to think that you may be in need of some remedial scolding/reeducation or worse. I am, like Tibor, Jason K and others, disappointed by the new policy, but I do not believe there is any conscious or subconscious prevarication on Scott’s part. On the contrary:I believe he is genuinely shocked to find that his opposition to extending free speech rights to trolling behavior is still not enough to assuage self-righteous people ( mo matter their ideological stripes) We all commenbt here under protection of our anonimity, but some cursory googling of anti-psychiatry blogs quickly returns Scott’s real life identity.
I’ve been there, it’s very scary.
But if he’s worried about his real name getting associated with the blog, and being damned by the contents, there has to be enough here to damn him already.
Moderating the comments more won’t help that in the slightest.
And for the record, the prevarication I think is most likely is “well it was one thing just to risk some reputation, and maybe I might risk my own safety, but I must protect my readers from themselves!”
I dunno, I think it gives him some plausible deniability. Like, “Hey, once I realized those evil racists were talking about *banned*, I told them to stop! I didn’t condone that sort of thing!”
Granted the way the SJW bubble works that won’t actually make a lick of difference if they really decide to go after him, but perhaps he still doesn’t realize just how fanatical the zealots in his own tribe really are?
@Cassander – “And for the record, the prevarication I think is most likely is “well it was one thing just to risk some reputation, and maybe I might risk my own safety, but I must protect my readers from themselves!””
As one of his readers, I appreciate being protected from myself in this instance. It’s difficult to determine how much of my worry over catching the Eye of Sauron is realistic. Scott’s policy change is useful data for me.
But if you grant that the “Eye of Sauron” is dangerous and destructive enough to make these worries justified rather than exaggerated, what does this say about the relative power and political momentum of (to continue the metaphor) the “Mordorian” faction? Is it not evidence pushing at least slighty toward my past statements vis-a-vis the likelihood of said political trend’s defeat? (Particularly when you consider that the have no “One Ring” weakness whereby they can be imploded by a pair of brave hobbits.)
But if he’s worried about his real name getting associated with the blog, and being damned by the contents, there has to be enough here to damn him already.
Moderating the comments more won’t help that in the slightest.
Exactly right. If they come for him, it’s already too late. I pray they don’t.
@Ransom – I’m pretty sure this has to do more with search engines and less with human action. Lots of debates about featherless biped constituent vibrancy means lots of uses of search terms, which turns this into a blog about FBCV whether we want it to be or not.
@Kevin C – “But if you grant that the “Eye of Sauron” is dangerous and destructive enough to make these worries justified rather than exaggerated, what does this say about the relative power and political momentum of (to continue the metaphor) the “Mordorian” faction?”
(How does the concept of wise counsel mesh with total despair? If everything good will inevitably be buried in unstoppable evil, how can there be a “good” action in response to this fact? The nearest I can see is nothing mattering at all, in which case why not resist just for the hell of it?)
So tell me, are you in fact somehow holding simultaneously the views that
1.) it is reasonable for us to self-censor for fear of the ruin that could be wreaked upon us should we even momentarily draw “the Eye of Sauron’s” terrible gaze, and
2) the “Eye of Sauron” is a weak, minor, temporary political blip that can be safely dismissed with a “meh”?
How do you square these? Do you think that, going forward, this “Eye of Sauron” problem (which we should rightly fear, you say) is going to get better or worse? That the “Mordorian” faction is going to grow or shrink in power and numbers?
Because things can always get worse; there is no situation so dire that a misguided attempt to fix it can’t increase the suffering.
Sure, just go ahead and erase Sméagol and his role in it, you damn dirty tricksy Hobbit Supremacist!
I don’t think he quite dismissed the idea of the Eye of Sauron so much as your specific framing, which makes this response kind of Rude on your part.
But since the metaphor is here, we might as well use it, right? The Eye of Sauron can only focus on one place at a time, and it misses things. Sure, you can’t toss in the One Ring and end it all, because this is real life, but it can’t exactly commit mass murder, because this is still real life. So instead you wear away at it. Occasionally someone catches the attention of the Eye and, say, loses their job, funding, or political support, but this won’t happen to everyone because the Eye runs on outrage fuel, which is necessarily limited and seems to be somewhat arbitrary in nature.
In regards to the power of the “Mordorian” faction, it’s entirely possible that this faction is losing power, but still has enough to deal damage. In my own experience, every usage of the Eye creates more opposition and leaches away its power, as people witness the damage done and realise that they shouldn’t give quite so much respect to the Mordorians.
Anyways, hope that wasn’t too hard to follow, what with the metaphors and all. Good times.
It seems like there are two ways to handle an Eye of Sauron type threat as you describe it (more of an outrage powered death ray, but Eye of Sauron works):
1) Lay low and hope it runs out of fuel smiting more obvious targets before it turns on you.
2) Provide it so many targets that it can’t effectively focus on any one long enough to smite it.
2 seems more effective and results in fewer casualties, but admittedly has a coordination problem.
3) Offer yourself as a willing sacrifice in the name of your ideals, and fight back if it focuses on you
which is also a lot to ask and has a similar coordination problem (in that you can offer yourself but it helps if other people do too) but yeah.
this is mildly complicated by how the outrage fuel runs out, in that it runs out faster the more people oppose the outrage and spread the opposition. But yeah, agree with your post to be honest.
I completely understand this, although my mentality is essentially “if those people are so intolerant and bigoted not to want to employ me because of my opinions then I don’t want to work for them”. I have a semi-anonymous profile. I don’t want it to be trivial to look up everything I ever say here or elsewhere on the internet to maintain a degree of privacy but also it would probably be quite easy to connect the dots if you really cared. But some people don’t want any confrontation and trouble with anybody and that’s entirely fine.
But what if pretty much the entire industry, toward which one has sunk years of one’s life and plenty of money into higher education to break into, is controlled by “those people”?
What industry do you think is an example of that? I think that even in the academia this is not quite true, otherwise for example David Friedman could not be a professor. It will be a complication in some cases. If you’re someone like Le Pen, you might actually have trouble, but that is quite far from anything we’ve been considering here. Outside of academia, it is even less likely to be an issue.
When did David Friedman first become a professor?
It’s one thing to be established in a profession, the threshold for kicking you out is a lot higher than the threshold for a young person trying to break in to an already crowded field.
Hollywood? Public school teachers? (See this NAS essay by an anonymous teacher.) More generally, I understand our esteemed host is in psychiatry. And given the general narrow range of “viewpoint diversity” in the many psychiatrists I’ve interacted with (as a patient), I can’t say a fear on his part of greatly diminished career prospects if he comes to be associated with “certain opintion” is at all unjustified.
Add to the list the video game industry, and tech in general.
That was some years after I published The Machinery of Freedom, which described my political views.
Given the competition in science for tenure, it seems pretty awful to reduce your chances from tiny to nano-sized.
This study found a significant willingness to discriminate for hiring decisions by liberal psychology scientists. If we assume that hirings need the approval of several people, the outcome of the study can mean that pretty much every hiring requires the approval by someone who will discriminate against conservatives/greys.
BTW. In 1976, the percentage of liberal scientists was about 40% vs 30% conservatives. Right now, it is about 70% vs 10%. Note that the study that my first link refers to, shows that the remaining conservatives are hiding their beliefs, suggesting a hostile climate.
So, in your opinion, would a would-be professor with a published book and a roughly equivalent set of academic journal/publishing/teaching credentials and roughly analogous views have an easier time finding teaching positions and/or tenure today? The same amount of difficulty? Or more difficulty?
Controlling for the changes in academia that have made tenured and full-time staff positions harder to get into across the board, of course.
I think “tech in general” isn’t a very supportable claim. And I think it’s worth noting that even in a very progressive-value-laden video game company like Bioware (they like to make a big deal out of diversity and inclusivity of its cast, although amusingly they are still consistently excoriated for not being diverse and inclusive ENOUGH) there was very little hestitation to terminate a lead game developer when there was fan pushback on his bellicose and hostile intersectional social justice rhetoric on his private social media accounts. I suspect there may be some workplace behavior issues in that specific story, but even so I think we can conclude that it while you are more likely to become a -target- in these industries for conservative views than for progressive views, sufficient heat and pressure can hurt the careers of progressives too.
Big companies don’t like bad publicity.
My understanding is that the dev in question was let go because the project was over. This is apparently extremely common practice in the industry, and means that this example probably doesn’t mean an awful lot. Furthermore, my understanding is that there was substantial hesitation on the part of Bioware; if I recall correctly, the lag time between the name of the dev becoming public and his termination is measured in many months, if not years.
I would also be interested in David’s and other US academics’ opinions. In any case I think my claim is on the shakiest ground in the academia but fairly solid in the industry (Hollywood maybe but that’s a tiny and very specific industry in the number of people it employs). If your job is in some way related to PR, then I’d again expect more pressure from the companies that their employees represent “family friendly values” by which I mean that they are much in the center of the current Overton window as possible.
@Aapje: Maybe it is different in other fields. I did not notice any such pressure in mathematics even though most of my colleagues are probably a lot more “left-wing” than me (unless you classify libertarians as left-wing but then they are more socialist left or however you want to call that). I doubt it would play any role in getting a position.
Another thing is that if you are controversial you might have a harder time getting there but you might make a larger impact. Judith Harris was (is) not even a professor but she seems to have made more impact with her work and influenced the consensus in her field more than most university professors.
Hmmm. I’m aware of the fairly standard practice of “staff up during the dev cycle, axe 90% of them on launch” in the gaming industry, but:
A) my impression has been that this is for relatively ‘fungible’ positions. The programmers and asset artists that do the basic gruntwork (for lack of a better term) of the game design, and that people in team lead positions for the core design are usually retained.
B) the indications from from the company and the individual involved were that the termination was directly related to his social media content. Now, it’s possible that the terminated individual is looking for personal grudges where there are none, but I would expect the company to have adopted a “this is just a standard business cycle decision” line if it was in fact the usual post-launch drawdown.
So, not saying you’re wrong, but can you elaborate on your source for that?
Nothing better than a friend in the industry, who has been laid off repeatedly. She gave me the impression that nobody was safe. Of course, this could be an issue of size; she’s still in the grey zone between indie and AAA.
I avoid Twitter and such as a rule, so I very easily could have missed Bioware issuing a statement on the dev in question, or indications from the dev. I know that they made a statement about that animator that was receiving a ton of flak. That said, I’m searching now, and can’t find a Bioware statement; and the dev in question is ambiguously saying that “he left a month ago”.
Hah, and here’s what I get for not recognizing names. The dev’s tweet was in response to the Bioware GM stating that the dev was no longer with Bioware. I’m not seeing explicit statements that it was due to social media content, but I agree that the phrasing seems to be a little frosty.
I still think characterizing Bioware’s response as being with “little hesitation” is overstating things, but I am updating somewhat in the direction that he was explicitly canned. Thanks for making me dig a little deeper!
I was not claiming that the results are universal, but if we are talking about Scott, then psychology is very close to his profession and math not so much.
Please re-read the thread more carefully. I did not mention tech; look and you will see that that was ThirteenthLetter. Please redirect your criticisms on this point accordingly.
I don’t have much data, but my casual impression is that tenured academic economists at least sympathetic to anarcho-capitalist views are somewhat more common now than then. Examples would be Peter Leeson, Bryan Caplan, Robin Hanson, et. al. Both then and now, I would expect such to be clustered in particular places (VPI for me, George Mason now), less because of political prejudice than clustering of academic interests.
I had a hard time getting tenure, but I don’t think the reason was my political views. Back when I didn’t get it at UCLA, I had the following conversation with the then chairman of the department (by memory, not verbatim):
Chairman: “You are a smart guy. If you spent a few years following the journals and writing articles on the current hot topics, you would get the sort of vita that would get you tenure at someplace like UCLA.”
Me: “That’s probably right. If you were in my place, would you do that?”
Or in other words, my policy has always been to follow out what seemed interesting to me, not what was currently popular. I think that was the correct policy. To take my favorite example, consider my first published journal article in economics, a theory of the size and shape of nations published in the JPE.
A few years back, I came across someone’s summary of the literature on the subject. It starts with my article. Ten years later Jim Buchanan writes a piece on the subject. Later other people, at least one at Harvard, write books on it. They still cite my article.
But that’s a slow way of getting tenure.
I should probably add that I finally got tenure at Santa Clara University, in the law school. SCU has two dominant ideologies–Catholicism (it’s a Jesuit school) and soft leftism. I share neither. When I was interviewing to be hired, one of the people I talked with was the number two person at the university, a Jesuit who, I had been told, was fond of liberation theology. It was clear in the conversation that he wasn’t interested in whether my politics agreed with his but in whether I would be an interesting person for their students to interact with. I was told that he supported the decision to hire me. Tenure was a few years later.
Much more recently, the school had a week dedicated to “sustainability.” They asked professors if they would like to give a talk on the subject. I asked if they would object to a talk against sustainability. They didn’t object, I gave it.
My point is not that there is no political prejudice in academia. Clearly there is. But, at least in the fields I have experience of, economics and law, it isn’t sufficient to close off the options for people with my sorts of views.
“if those people are so intolerant and bigoted not to want to employ me because of my opinions then I don’t want to work for them”.
A nice position to take in the abstract, but I doubt most bright folks would be happy being barred from intellectually rewarding and high-status careers albeit with their integrity intact. I know I wouldn’t prefer to be a bus driver with complete freedom to be seen reading “Adios, America!”
Well, I’ve never been to the US but from what I can tell I think you’re exaggerating the scope of the problem a bit, even in the academia. But let’s say you don’t or let’s say that you want to work in some kind of a fascist regime where free speech really is not tolerated and you could be barred from getting a job (nazi germany, any eastern block country during most of the cold war,…). Then I don’t know what I’d do, maybe I’d chicken out myself (I’d actually probably try to emigrate to a better country ASAP). But I don’t think this is the scenario we are considering. At worst the cost is a slightly lower pay but a nicer work environment.
This is basically my opinion as well. This is Scott’s site and it’s his career, livelihood, and possibly even life on the line, far more than any of ours. I am in no position to judge any decision he makes to protect himself under the increasingly insane circumstances we all seem to find ourselves in. Were I in his position, I likely would have closed up shop and deleted all this stuff long ago.
That said, my small amount of criticism would be that I’m not sure he should spin this as “I’m doing it to protect all of you.” Just like I respect his decision, he should respect ours. I think most of us post here knowing the consequences just as much as he does. And it seems like majority opinion of the commenters is that we like this place just the way it is, thank you very much. Not saying he is at all compelled to listen to us, just that it’s a little disingenuous to act like this is for our benefit rather than his (and once again, I am 100% onboard with him doing whatever he wants for his own benefit).
Agreed on all points.
We got your back Scott, for what that’s worth.
The steps he’s taking strike me as reasonable. He hasn’t banned discussion of the topics, just certain terms that are likely to get flagged or draw unwanted attention.
It’s transparent cover for “don’t talk about that stuff here” – just like the “rationalist taboo” on naming the-philosophy-that-Scott-can’t-argue-against. Notice how discussions about that have dropped off to nothing (along with the no reason bannings for anyone arguing from that perspective).
Fine, his blog – but the people who are talking about how Scott is doing this to defend himself and how unfortunate that is are really missing the point. Scott is on the left – regardless of whether or not he can make good arguments for it and he doesn’t like it when people make right-ish arguments that he can’t effectively rebut and really doesn’t like it when his blog comments influence people to become more rightist. From his tumblr:
[leaving out the actual rightist opinion to not distract]
He fully understands that within-the-Overton-window “conservatism” has no appeal and wants to restrict discussion to that window so his side can win.
Apparently it isn’t fine with you and few others.
I’m not writing for Scott – I’m writing for the readers.
The general impression of Scott is a rationalist who follows the evidence and thinks about things deeply.
I’m trying to get people to correct to a view closer to the correct view – that Scott is knowingly dishonest but has chosen to aim his lies by omission at a higher level than Vox or the NY Times. The NY Times and Vox both pitch lies by crafting stories that contain no outright falsehoods (usually) but which nonetheless mislead. Scott does the same thing but isn’t as insulated – Vox has no comments and the Times has “we’re the Times so screw you, we own the megaphone” – Scott has comments but he doesn’t like it when he gets called out effectively so he hamstrings his opposition to make it so that people who see the flaws in his arguments aren’t able to effectively point them out to the audience because the rebuttals are crime think.
I’d expect someone under a pseudonym like “reasoned argumentation” to put more effort into actually backing up such harsh, black-and-white-framed accusations against our host.
Came here to post this. I’m honestly not even sure if I agree with Scott’s specific countermeasures, but greatly appreciate that he’s trying to protect people, and am willing to roll with this if it helps the community.
(To be fair, though, I did not discuss the newly banned topic, and likely never would have, so this is very cheap talk from my side. That said, I am beginning to understand some previous bans that were not elaborated on quite in this fashion that I do feel strongly about, even though the exact pressures were very different, in that I begin to get the impression there may be a need for a better-kept garden, overall, which I did not realise before.)
Good luck, Scott, I hope things smooth out as intended in the middle-term.
Scott’s supposed explanation for this particular topic ban is not that he wants a better-kept garden, but that he wants to avoid retaliation against himself personally.
On the one hand, yeah, easy for me to talk about the need to be brave, safely behind the cloak of anonymity as I am.
On the other hand…
There’s a deeper issue. LW spent a lot of time worrying about epistemic hygiene and how to precisely quantify their level of certainty about everything. Not so much time was spent on what I’m going to call epistemic courage. Can you hold on to and even defend the truth when it might cost you dearly? When it’s even just unpopular?
It’s looking like the answer is: No. And without that, the rest of the enterprise seems kind of wasted. Whether or not Aspiring Rationalism will help you grasp at truth, it won’t help you hang on to it. At least Jordan Peterson-style pseudo-religion has the strengths of its convictions.
There’s something to this. Some truths simply aren’t that useful in the short term; telling me the sun will go red in a billion years and therefore I’d better contribute to a solution isn’t going to solve my problem of having enough natural gas to heat my home this winter. Same if you tell me I ought to spend my time thinking about what genes produce which phenotypes, or whether I should drop by the local university to listen to this or that speaker.
I don’t see any reason for rationalism to be unable to accommodate truths about truth, however.
What is your take on the so called “Science March”? There was this “march for science”, apparently in several cities, mostly in the US but also in Europe, including my current university. A couple of my colleagues (including my PhD advisor) took part in in. However, my opinion of this is very low. It seems to be a very vague thing with no particular goals from what I gather, other than something like “global warming is real and Trump is bad” and even that is not worded explicitly. The thing that annoys me the most is that shouting slogans in a crowd is almost antithetical to the scientific method, if your goal is to actually promote science and scientific thinking in general, then this seems like the worst possible way to do it. If you enjoy being a part of a crowd/tribe and want to score some virtue points, well, then it’s probably your thing.
But maybe there are some people here who would like to defend the idea and if so, then I’d like to read that, hence this comment.
Yeah. I went to my first protest march against the immigration ban in January because finally there was a protest that was specific, actionable, and about a thing I cared about. “Fix global warming” is a thing I agree with in general but I’d want to know the plan before throwing my weight behind any particular group and protest marches are inherently things without any nuance. And “Science is good” is also a thing I agree with but while the US right is certainly against science to the extent that they’ deny that they say man made climate change is a myth the left is also anti science on things like personality research. So I’d rather they not politicize my science.
In addition to my other objections, what puzzles me in particular is how it is even relevant to Germany. Trump is not the German president (and even if he were, the president of Germany has close to zero power).
If we just stick to global warming – in Germany, there are even deposits on plastic bottles imposed by law so that people don’t throw them away (there is a large one on those plastic bottles which cannot be re-used which makes no sense to me, because there are trash cans for sorted plastic around and you could simply throw them to one of these instead of taking them back to the supermarket). So the government is hardly anywhere close to saying that there is no man-made global warming.
At the same time, Germany decided to close down all of its nuclear powerplants because people got scared after Fukushima (Merkel originally planned the exact opposite – prolonging their functionality by 2 decades I think, but then the public opinion changed and so did change her “opinion”). The result of that is that this has to be mostly covered by coal plants and the total German emissions are growing. However there seems to be nobody protesting against that, even though it seems rather anti-scientific to me.
I was at the Science March in Munich. The main thrust of the speakers I heard was that while things are going okay in Germany, it is important to show solidarity with scientists in other countries (the US, Hungary, Russia…) and to protest anti-scientific movements everywhere (anti-vaxers, climate skeptics etc.) everywhere. That seems like a reasonable position to take.
And someone distributed flyers for a demonstration against global warming in two weeks.
See, this is what annoys me a bit. I don’t think that anti-vaxers are really an issue, particularly not in Europe and not quite anywhere really. They are a weird fringe group and generally a waste of time to argue with. They do not care about what any scientist says and other people generally don’t care about what the anti-vaxers say. Also, how much more credibility than a regular Joe do I have as a mathematician when talking about medicine? OK, I might be able to spot problems with statistics better than him but that’s about it. What sometimes bothers me is that people somehow assume that if someone is a Scientist, he knows Everything (there’s this quite fitting joke where two engineers meet and say something like “given how much of an engineer I am, I worry about getting the surgery”…it’s a bit more funny but I forgot the proper wording 🙂 ).
Also, I am not quite sure about how scientists in the US, Hungary or Russia are threatened or anything (and how walking through Munich would help them if they were). If it is about state funding of research, how is a march in Munich going to influence internal (and rather specific) politics of the US or Russia? Another thing is that I don’t think Germany is actually doing it well. Getting rid of nuclear power strikes me as incredibly stupid and unscientific as long as you’re actually concerned about carbon emissions. Also the decision to do that was based on momentary popular opinion, that’s hardly a scientific approach from the government. It is a weird quirk of some parts of the “green” movement, especially in Germany and Austria, to reject nuclear power (although they are some people who are very concerned about global working and advocate nuclear energy at the same time). Of course, there are issues with nuclear power as well but if you want to use the magical word Science you should really address those things properly, otherwise you’ll be (quite rightly) seen as just another group of activists. If the position is “everyone should do it the way Germany does”, then there’s something fishy about the whole “Science” part of this march.
> to protest anti-scientific movements everywhere (anti-vaxers, climate skeptics etc.)
Did anyone have anything to say about the anti-GMO movement?
The problem with that is that people’s knowledge of details of other countries’ politics is usually terrible and has more to do with media and Internet outrage than with what’s actually going on in those countries.
@Jiro: Indeed. I sort of live in two countries and even though they are neighbours, the media in each of them (well, German media do not write much about what happens in Bohemia at all, but occasionally they do) give a very distorted picture of the other country. And like I said, neighbouring countries, not even all that different in culture, despite some differences in politics (but pretty much just along the lines of refugee politics and nuclear power, Czechs are also more euroskeptical than Germans, but that is also true of probably any other country in the EU). So then I wonder how distorted is the stuff I read about France, Greece, Poland or Hungary.
Also, I noted that the BBC and Die Welt report in very different manner about the Brexit and generally in German media the British are now “evil right-wing populists who are going to end up a 3rd world country because of their stupid decision to leave the EU” (I’m exaggerating but not very much). I don’t live in the UK so I have to go with the British media (mostly the BBC), but yeah, generally the media are pretty awful, especially when they write about other countries. Unfortunately, there is usually a language barrier in Europe. I speak 5 (and understand 6, since Slovak is mutually intelligible with Czech) European languages at least to the extent of being able to read basic news but even if I spoke them perfectly, I would still not understand the vast majority of European media and I’d have to rely on what others write. Still, understanding at least two or three languages gives you some insight, since you can compare media from different countries and the perspectives are often more different than those of different media in the same country, so even though they all often write very distorted things about other countries, hopefully it somehow averages out.
And occasionally, there is a great journalist who actually writes well-researched and well-argumented articles. Unfortunately, those typically have several pages and so most people don’t want to read them.
Well, global warming is a global issue. I know many people that say we in Germany shouldn’t care about our emissions since the US and China don’t and all we do will just impair our economy. This probably won’t help a single bit but in many peoples minds doing something, even if it has a miniscule chance of helping, is better than nothing.
Well, effectively replacing nuclear power with coal is worse than doing nothing in terms of carbon emissions. Also, waiting for better renewable technology to come up – so that it is truly competitive (and this is something that is likely going to happen in not a very far future) – might on net be also better even from a strictly ecological perspective. Instead of building a lot of inefficient wind and solar power plants and replacing them a decade or two later, you can wait until the technology matures properly at which point everyone has a natural incentive to go into it. And by letting the economy go at “full speed”, you get to that point a bit faster as well.
More importantly, I’d be ok with this if it called it self “green planet march” or whatever, but I don’t like the motte and bailey tactics where you officially say “this is just all about supporting/defending science” when in fact you are for or against some particular policies.
I remember a representative talking about an immigration bill (different one, a few years ago, I forget the specifics). Before the vote, 5 people called and told him to vote No. He voted No. After the vote, 100 people called and were angry he had voted No. I’m assuming the rep exercised some of his own judgement, but at the same time, it would’ve been a lot better to hear those 100 phone calls before the vote rather than after, they could’ve easily changed his mind.
Smart and reasonable Marches are a great way to find those groups, connect with them, and learn what their plans are.
The five people who called before the vote are the ones who were paying attention, and may still be paying attention when the next election rolls around.
The point of marches is to make more people pay attention and keep it up.
Have you ever seen a march where it was clear, or even feasible to determine, which specific piece of legislation the protesters were demanding the legislature pass or kill? Because that’s what matters to a legislator, and I don’t think I have.
If you just want people to pay attention to the fact that e.g. Those Dastardly Republicans Are Anti-Science, then every GOP congressman knows that all of the marchers are going to vote against him no matter what his legislative record may be, because he’s got an (R) after his name.
Some percentage of the people who attend rallies get fired up and start making calls, writing letters, and attending town halls. Those sorts of activities really do sway votes on individual bills.
Have you ever seen a march where it was clear, or even feasible to determine, which specific piece of legislation the protesters were demanding the legislature pass or kill
Well, the last bill of any significance in Congress was Obamacare repeal and a quick google finds protests both for and against (with “against” being much larger).
Rallies against Obamacare repeal
Tea Party allies rally for Obamacare repeal
What country do you live in that had an immigration ban? Hadn’t heard about that.
I can’t speak to the German context but in the US marches are mostly pointless and have been for decades. Looking historically it seems like the most effective marches, rallies, and protests are those that at least contain the threat or whiff of violence — from at least one side or the other.
I think this underestimates the degree to which large demonstrations serve as rallying points for movements. The Women’s March after Trump’s inauguration was not designed to convince Trump’s supporters to abandon him; it was designed to show his opponents that they were not alone, and build energy for the political movement against him. There hasn’t been much talk about it on SSC, but there are lots of signs that the Democratic base is fired up. Republican politicians have been facing huge crowds when they return to their districts for town halls. The Democrats went from 30% in November to 45% in the recent special election in Kansas. Jon Ossoff was less than 2% away from winning a first-ballot majority in Georgia, and has a reasonable chance of winning the run-off. If the Democrats can sustain this level of energy, the Republicans are going to get smushed in the 2018 midterms. Big rallies help keep people involved.
In unrelated news, Democrats are ahead of Republicans in partisan identification among scientists, 55-6.
I did simplify a little bit. There are some possible benefits to marches, but I think they are so often overstated that it helps to err in the opposite direction.
One is the ubiquitous “raising awareness”. In some cases that can be very powerful, but where we are already dealing with common knowledge I think it is fairly useless. We already knew that more than half the country strongly disapproved of Donald Trump. The woman’s march didn’t add much in the way of the stock of common knowledge.
The other is movement building. Again, I don’t dismiss that in general. Getting people to go out and march gets them to commit mentally in a way that makes it more likely that they’ll open their wallet and/or go out to the voting booth down the road. It’s the same reason many charitable organization solicit all but useless untrained volunteers — not for free labor but to get them to identify with the organization. But I’m not sure the contemporary march organized on social media and without any kind of real messaging, leadership, or followup is suited to movement building. They seem to deliberately eschew effective techniques for movement building for some odd reason (I have the sense this dates back to Occupy Wall Street, but it may go further than that.)
In any event, within the United States I’ve seen many mass movement that fizzled accomplishing little if anything and nothing that even came close to the Vietnam protests, much less the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t think the Iraq War ended even one day earlier than it would have absent those massive protests.
In the immediate aftermath of the Women’s March, I was seeing this passed around a fair bit. It is a detailed manual for movement-building, with a lot of references to the Tea Party and the lessons that can be learned from its success. Empirically speaking, although it is too soon to be certain, it looks like the left is doing a pretty good job of movement building.
To the extent that Vietnam protests were more effective than Iraq protests, it seems to me that a lot of the difference can be explained by the abolition of the draft. Vietnam directly affected a much larger segment of the population. Given that one of Obama’s big advantages over Clinton in the 2008 primary was that he didn’t vote for the war, it is ridiculous to say that those protests didn’t have any effect. They created common knowledge that a large segment of the Democratic base opposed the war, which is an incentive for Democratic politicians to promise to end it — which is what eventually happened.
Flip the question around. If the Democratic base were completely apathetic about the Iraq War, are you confident that it would have ended not a day later?
You’re probably right about Vietnam. The protest movement declined significantly after the draft ended.
Obama wasn’t in a big hurry to wind it down after he was elected. Heck, in a certain sense it isn’t even over today (among other indicia we still have troops in Iraq and the AUMF is still law).
Inasmuch as the protests helped Obama win versus Clinton, would a counter-factual Clinton administration have pursued a different policy there?
Anyway, not one less day may have been a bit much but I don’t think they were especially effective. Even the Vietnam ones weren’t. They started really getting going in 1964 and the war didn’t end until 1973 when Richard Nixon was President.
On the first day of his presidency, Obama met with military leadership and asked them to start making plans to end the war. It took another couple years to actually get the troops out, sure, but compare that to LBJ, who campaigned in 1964 on the claim that he would not escalate the War in Vietnam and then … did not do that.
I think the most relevant point of comparison for the current rallies are the Tea Party marches during Obama’s first term. I don’t know how you would assign a precise number to it, but it seems obvious to me that the momentum of those rallies had an impact on the energy of the Tea Party movement, which in turn had a significant impact on the 2010 midterms. Do you disagree?
I don’t necessarily disagree with anything in your previous comment, but I would caution using the tea party as an example of anything worth emulating.
Yes, they had an influence upon the 2010 midterms. And that’s basically the only thing they had an influence on. Even as quickly as two years later, they were insufficient to stop the GOP from nominating the most milquetoast of RINOs, who himself lost to Obama pretty handily. I know some have attempted to draw a line from Tea Party to Trump, but I’m personally not buying it.
If the left’s goal is to have an impressive showing in the 2018 midterms then fine, hold them up as the ideal. But man, as a right-winger I hate to say this, but come on letftist dudes, have some self respect, you can do better
Yeah, that’s why the Freedom Caucus doesn’t exist, Eric Cantor is still Majority leader, and Boehner is still Speaker of the House.
I admit I didn’t think of the Tea Party when mentally going through my list of protest movements of my lifetime.
I don’t know / remember too much about the internal workings of the movement. Were marches / protests / rallies a big focal point?
wow, personnel changes
what have any of those people done to meaningfully advance the tea party agenda?
Freedom Caucus STOPPED obamacare repeal because it wasn’t pure enough. Paul Ryan denounced and opposed Trump numerous times during the election.
You are the one who specifically brought up the absence of personnel changes, saying that all the Republicans were RINO squishes (which is sort of oxy-moronic, but whatever).
Yes, the Freedom Caucus were no votes on the Trumpcare bill.
Are you saying that makes the RINOs?
@Brad: Yeah, the Tea Party held a number of rallies and protests. Nate Silver estimated over 300K (spread across the country) on April 15, 2009. The September 12, 2009 Taxpayer March on Washington was purportedly the largest conservative protest in the history of DC.
I did not mean to say that ALL Republicans are RINO squishies, I was meaning to refer to Mitt Romney specifically.
And a lot of the “tea party” people who came in 2010 ended up being generic neocons in the long-run
I really think your position is essentially incoherent.
You started with this:
And I just don’t see any support for that idea. Even in 2012, Romney was really just the last candidate standing after all the fringe candidates showed themselves to be incompetent (as candidates, at least) in one way or the other.
And yes, the Republican base is fractured, and many times the base voters want impossible things (like balancing the budget by eliminating foreign aid). But that doesn’t mean the general anger that mobilized the Tea Party hasn’t affected Republican positions, and their is definitely a Tea Party rump of elected officials who feel secure enough in their positions that they feel confident they can simply say no to Republican leadership.
The Tea Party members aren’t a majority of elected officials, and they won’t compromise, so you shouldn’t expect them to actually pas much in the way of legislation.
I’m just wholly unconvinced that in an alternate reality where the tea party never happens, society as a whole is any different than it is today. Yes, the names on certain congressional offices are different, but does that have a tangible effect?
It probably depends on whether you see the tea party as “helped the GOP win more seats than it otherwise would have” or “replaced mainstream GOP people with farther right GOP challengers”
I guess it’s possible that without the freedom caucus, Trumpcare goes through. That’s about all I can see.
To the extent the march was designed, and that extent is low, it was designed to gratify the egos of the participants much more than it was to accomplish anything. If you talk to people who marched, and I have, virtually all of their comments will be about how it made THEM feel. The justification of the march was as you say, but that’s not what it was for.
And this is appropriate. The intended audience of a protest is the protesters, and secondarily the sort of people who almost joined the protest. If you can make your side feel good about participating in politics you are more likely to win.
I would say that in a rational protest, the intended audience is elites. a mass protest behind an issue is basically shouting “If someone leads with this, we will follow”.
And I’m not at all sure that marching in a protest counts as participating in politics. At best, it’s a sort of gateway drug to political participation. ANd while that’s not nothing, it’s also not quite something.
It’s very hard to credibly signal that your feelings on an issue will affect how you vote, especially at an aggregate level.
Marches, in that they are an indication of how much effort you are actually likely to spend, make a decent signal at the aggregate level.
Call your representative’s office, ask to speak to the staffer handling H.R. 123XYZ, make a brief statement of the form, “I think you should support/oppose 123XYZ for [logical reason that acknowledges representative’s own goals]. Done.
Ask your like-minded friends to do the same.
Calling a representative can be effective. However, there are reasons why it doesn’t work in the same way marches do.
1 – An individual call takes far less time and effort than attending a march, so it is a weaker signal of how much effort you are willing to engage come election time.
2 – Calls are most effective when they target your own representative, muting the signal of the overall size of the movement.
3 – Converse to 1 and correlated with 2, a significantly large march signals to all politicians at the same time. There are thousands, upon thousands of politicians at the federal, state and local level. An individual calling all of these is infeasible.
4 – Phone calls are essentially private, and therefore don’t signal to other potential coalition members that an individuals efforts will be supported by a whole communities efforts. Successful marches are more supportive of continued action because they energize participants.
You feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow. No walls needed. *
* – I probably have to explicitly say this is a Pink Floyd reference.
There is, however, some tension between HBC’s first and last points. The net psychic cost to you of participating in a march is the time and effort you put in, minus the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow. I suspect that the typical march is populated mainly by the sort of people for whom the subtraction works out to a net benefit. (In conservative curmudgeon circles such people are known as TWERPS: Those Who Enjoy Routinely Protesting Something.)
1. That goes against everything I understand about effective political activism, and the people I learned from have run unambiguously successful campaigns with specific legislative accomplishments. Calling your congressman may require less absolute effort, but it is effort narrowly tailored to signaling “I really care about how you, Congressman Bob, vote on HR 123XYZ”. Participating in a march is mostly taken as signaling your desire to hang out with cool people and earn ingroup status with the right tribe, and to the extent it also signals political commitment it does so without specificity.
2. This is a feature, not a bug. Your congressman cares about your views mostly because you can vote for or against him, and if there’s any uncertainty about that his staff can pin it down during the call. Marches, he has to add a correction factor for how many people in the march might not be registered voters in his district.
3. An individual calling a thousand politicians is infeasible, but an individual conducting a protest march without being ridiculed is also infeasible. If you’ve got a march’s worth of protesters, you’ve got enough to call a thousand politicians, maybe a hundred times over.
4. Voting is also essentially private, so the private signal of a phone call more reliably signals the relevant commitment. If you can only motivate the masses en masse, if your means of energizing the faithful will dissipate on the way to the telephone, it will likely also dissipate on the way to the voting both and the prudent legislator will thus deprecate it.
You can’t personally change the vote of a hundred or a thousand legislators. You’re not supposed to. There’s a chance that you can change the vote of one. All by yourself, without anyone else’s help or participation. More likely, you can be a noticeable part of the process by which one legislative vote is changed. And if you want to be part of some grand movement of thousands of people that sways hundreds of votes, you’ll get more mileage out of setting up a phone tree than you will out of marching.
Won’t be as much fun, though.
Right. Pointing back to the blue-eyes-blue post, large rallies are the only place where people who don’t trust polling (or who don’t trust polling not confirmed by other experience, or who don’t trust polling to gauge intensity as well as preference, or etc., etc.,) can acquire knowledge that feels *public* rather than private or shared. And for some kinds of collective action problems, only public knowledge (or near-equivalents like quasi-public knowledge in small, thriving communities with rewards for heroics) will do. Hence, rallies are important. But for the crowd’s experience of itself, not for the spectators.
are you sure that rallies are causatory instead of endogenous
K that was a hot sentence and I bet you already foresaw the objection. But it really does seem to me like people are just fired up anyhow, regardless of rallies, and that they hold rallies because they are fired up, and that this does not necessarily fire them up more.
Yeah, I’m sure that to some extent rallies are a symptom of enthusiasm, rather than a cause. Unless you assume that every single person who gets interviewed saying “this was my first rally, and now I’m all fired up and I’m going to get more involved” is a liar, though, it seems pretty clear to me that rallies have at least some causal power. Moreover, given the difficulty of teasing out causation in this case, we kind of have to settle for correlation — if you see a large rally, then you should assume that the people holding that rally are likely to be fired up politically in the near future, even if you aren’t sure whether the energy caused the rally or vice versa. In either case, you should probably take the rally seriously.
do such exist? Certainly strong evidence if so.
I take anti-Trump sentiment seriously, at least as a political force. I’m just not willing to concede that the rallies have much to do with it.
I took part in a major city in the US. I think there are two major points
1. Emotional inspiration. I know scientists and/or rationalists like to (at least pretend to) be above such things, but for real humans (which includes scientists) it matters. Seeing hundreds or thousands of people all willing to take a day to stand out in support of something can help drive motivation through the everyday drudgery of calling/writing your representative, signing online petitions, and so on.
2. Connecting individuals and groups. I was there with a group and were spreading our message on an electoral reform a large number of people had never even heard of. It’s basically a good Schelling point for political activism (note: I personally am very left but my group is non-partisan, we attend right-leaning events as well). We had some skeptical people asking what data we had to support the idea, which is totally fair, and I responded to their concerns. No they aren’t going to form an opinion based on a 2-minute interaction but maybe they’ll follow up and do more research. I joined this group based on talking to a canvasser at the Womens March a few months ago.
We had a lot of people asking “what can I do to help” and I responded with some combination of donate-money/volunteer your time/call your state rep about this bill (having a specific bill number really helped). Obviously one (or even a few hundred) weekend marches aren’t going to fix everything. But it’s part of the process. Long-term change requires sustained long-term activity.
I’m a physics PhD. Back when the march was first announced I seriously considered taking a trip down to DC for it. This was right after the “gag order” on the EPA. It seemed to me like a serious, concrete issue that I cared about and was actually related to attitudes towards scientific output.
Then it turned out that the whole gag order thing was bad reporting and it was a non-issue. I continued to watch the march organization to see if there were any other issues I felt were appropriate to march about, but I saw none, and so I did not march.
What’s more, I worry that they’re doing more harm than good when it comes to helping people develop healthy attitudes towards science. We already have a problem in the US that “science” is often actually a euphemism for “Blue Tribe values and political desires.” (“What people say they “believe” about evolution is a measure of who they are, culturally. It’s not a measure of what they know about what’s known to science.”)
As far as I could see, the major specific issues addressed by the March were mainly environmentalist issues. Science may tell us about the environment, but it doesn’t tell us what we ought to do about it. To pretend that it does misrepresents what science is actually about, and, I fear, poisons people’s minds against listening to the things science actually does tell us in the future.
So I chose not to participate based on a desire to not accidentally strengthen the erroneous connection between “support for science” and “support for Democratic politics.”* Perhaps by participating I could have helped change the tone of the March, but given the whole political context of the thing I highly doubt that was possible.
I would kind of like to think that I was too cynical about this and that it wasn’t as political as I thought.
* I am not necessarily against Democratic politics. I am against making “science” a term of political combat.
I think we dealt with this a lot in a previous discussion, but just to reiterate, I think it’s a very grave tactical mistake to rally people under the cause of general blue tribe social justice issues and label it as “scientists marching for science.”
To the extent that Trump seems to have any consistent pattern of behavior, it seems to be “reward your friends and punish your enemies.” The notion that somehow you will improve the situation for science and scientists by marching around with giant signs saying “SCIENTISTS ARE THE ENEMY OF TRUMP” seems unlikely.
I guess you can go full Godwin and make claims about appeasement and declare that the best thing to do is boldly stand against him, come what may. But then let’s be honest about what’s really going on here (virtue signaling) and what isn’t (a legitimate attempt to improve the situation for the scientific community). If you want Trump to help the scientific community, then convince him that they are his friend and not his enemy. This march does the exact opposite of that.
Well, Trump is the enemy of scientists, so… These types of deep funding cuts are enemy action.
It all sounds nice and abstract to you, but what would you think of your boss if he decided to slash your salary 20% one day?
If I knew he had the power and the inclination to reduce it another 50% if he really wanted to? Shut up and keep my nose down and begin looking for another job. I certainly wouldn’t stand on my desk and start ranting about how he’s literally Hitler.
It makes sense for many scientists to be anti-Trump. I’m not disputing that. But maybe organizing covertly and helping fundraise for Democrats is a better tactic than standing up on a soap box and yelling “THAT GUY WHO CONTROLS MY DESTINY IS EVIL I TELL YOU! EVIL EVIL EVIL!”
That would massively depend on why he chose to do so. If it was for personal performance reasons, I’d have to decide whether it was justified by such. If it was for abstract programmatic reasons or because the organization was going bankrupt or something otherwise unrelated and not personal, I’d likely just prepare my CV for one of many non-federal-government employers who would like to give me a bag of money for producing units of science.
There is approximately 0 risk of a 20% cut to science funding whatever trump says. Scientists don’t need to march. They can just apply backroom pressure and lobbying power and move on like a corporation would. No blowback risk, keeps visibility nice and low. NSF funding has been on a strong upward trajectory for several decades, even a 5% decrease for one year is largely meaningless in the long run (where the long run is a mere 5 to 10 years).
I would be more inclined to take scientists’ grumbling about overall government funding seriously if they didn’t omit the pertinent fact that their funding is almost always going up.
Matt M: thanks for the hot tip, re: how to resist effectively, will take it under advisement, to be sure. 🙂
Controls Freak: getting folks to produce basic science is one of those “coordination problems” we hear so much about that the private sector isn’t very good at.
quanta413: You should apply your ample gifts for predicting the future accurately to making money rather than commenting here!
In fact, where were you in this election cycle? Did you predict Trump? Did you not predict Trump? Were there any other “approximately 0% chance” events in 2016 you flagged in advance?
What science funding trajectory does or doesn’t do over time is sort of besides the point — if you fuck with people’s money, or even propose to do so, you are their enemy. That’s just how life works.
FWIW, I bought about $500 worth of Trump shares to win the GOP nomination on predictit when they were priced at something like 22 cents per share (below Jeb, Cruz, and Rubio)
So is this march more likely to make Trump and his allies rethink their position, or confirm that they were right to undercut a group of opponents?
“Give us more money so we can oppose you more effectively” is not a particularly effective pitch.
As someone who cares about science, but is indifferent about Democratic electoral success, I was hoping the march would make more deliberate efforts to be actually nonpartisan by doing some outreach to Reublicans.
Cute. An irrelevant tangent. Is this how you do science as well? But I’ll answer anyways. That would have been a much harder to prediction to make what with republicans and democrats winning the presidency over the last several decades with odds not different enough from 50/50 to make it worth trying to be clever.
The trajectory of NSF funding on the other hand… I mean sure, their budget has tripled in constant dollars since 1983 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Science_Foundation#Budget_and_performance_history
and their funding has been pretty steady for the Obama Presidency other than a massive temporary increase due to the ARRA that was mostly ended after two years with no massive protests complaining about that. And it increased across the term of President Bush before that. And across the term of Clinton before that. And Bush Sr. before that. And Reagan before that.
Or you can look at total federal nondefense R&D spending if you’d like. Sure that’s not all basic science and includes a lot of engineering and stuff but close enough. It even decreased significantly a few times. http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/FunctionNON%3B.jpg
There were some massive cuts in the mid 60s due to declines in spending on the space program which is why we all of course remember the march for science during the Johnson Presidency.
Or we could look at spending including defense spending I suppose although we’re really adding a lot more development stuff. And I’m not aware of anyone marching in the street to protest massive decreases in defense spending. But hey, why not?
Now we finally see massive fluctuations in funding due to the defense category. I mean, it doesn’t really fit the narrative at all and scientists didn’t take to the streets when that funding went off a cliff, but hey.
It’s exactly the point. If you have many decades of trajectory to go off of, you can easily tell whether someone has a meaningful chance of doing what they claim. You can also tell if a group of people actually march in the street every time their funding gets a significant cut or if they only do it when the zeitgeist of the group lines up well with that.
People don’t use grant money to oppose Trump, politically, except insofar as Trump’s policies are stupid in a way scientists can quantify. They use it to pay their salaries, pay their student’s and postdoc’s salaries, and to do academic travel, buy lab equipment, and so on.
Proposing salary cuts to your political opposition seems to be the modus operandi you are suggesting here. Is that what you meant to suggest?
Unfortunately, that kind of is how politics often works. What gbdub is saying is you don’t want to solidify the people in power as your public enemies.
That’s also why I advocate backroom lobbying over marching in the streets in this case. Scientists are already a well established group with their own lobbyists etc. Trump can’t win jack in a more ordinary backroom political fight but he can cause a lot of damage in media circuses, so you should avoid those.
Ok, since we now established that (a) Trump proposed deep science funding cuts and (b) this is because Trump views scientists as his political opposition, all we are arguing about now is the most effective way for scientists to oppose Trump, their political enemy.
You seem to suggest marches are counterproductive, as did another dude upthread. That’s all fair enough.
I am not super interested in debating resistance tactics with you, though. For one thing, I don’t think you are really here to help me.
That is an abstract claim that varies across discipline and is a matter of policy. I was responding to your attempt to make the issue concrete and personal. If you’re retreating back to, “I have political reasons to favor [budget],” then I think we’re back to square one.
It’s not an abstract claim. If we compare “units of science” produced by governments vs private entities starting in, say 1945, there would be no comparison at all.
So your “polishing off your CV to produce basic units of science in the private sector” is a silly plan. Nobody cares about set theory, for example, in the private sector.
Honestly, I think you might be surprised. Four years ago, pre-Trump’s-budget-proposal-not-happening, we dropped below 50% (according to NSF).
Non sequitur. Of course, the whole thing started off with a non sequitur (the “let’s make it personal” business), so it’s not surprising that you’re still unable to keep things straight in your head.
Pretty much nobody in gov’t cares about set theory, either. Especially in NIH/EPA/DOE (the main orgs we’re talking about). Set theory exists because universities think it should exist, regardless of whether there is significant funding available.
Let’s be straightforward. NIH/EPA/DOE don’t give a shit about set theory; NSF is small. Let’s ignore the arguments of how we should actually divide basic/applied research (I can hop that fence daily). NSF’s budget is $7.5B right now; that article has them reporting $86B in basic research. I’m definitely not pro-Trump, and I’m definitely pro-research-spending, but you have to just ignore reality if you think that a document which doesn’t even mention NSF is a death-knell to set theory.
I think anything not explicitly named or isn’t the military is slated for roughly a 10% cut.
If you get a deep salary cut or a layoff (as I expect some soft money folks on the margins would face with these cuts) in the private sector, you would look for another job, but you wouldn’t find your previous place of employment exactly endearing.
If you do the kind of academic work where you can’t switch over to big pharma or get a job at google/facebook/etc, or some similar type of consumer of certain types of PhDs, you have to change careers or become unemployed.
My point is: (a) a company that cuts your salary or lays you off is not a friend of yours. They may have their internal logic, but your friends they are not.
(b) In coalition politics, it’s “show me the money.” The correct level of research spending, and basic/applied split, and federal/private split are completely irrelevant when it comes to political popularity and “who your friend and who your enemy is.”
The fact of the matter is, the idiot in charge of the budget proposal apparently tried to augur Trump’s speeches to figure out what to cut. But again, good or bad reasons are not really relevant. This conversation is really about what we should expect from constituents. And any constituency, be they scientists, corn farmers, union workers, programmers, or what have you, will not regard you as a friend as a default if you fuck with their money, for any reason. It will take a rhetorical genius to change this default.
What would I think of you if you loudly announced that your boss was an evil man and all right thinking people should oppose him–and I then discovered that the reason was that he had cut your salary?
Government funding of science was X – 20% in the past. You didn’t protest then.
You are clearly merely being self-interested. You favor direction pushing, because you have a science job right now and you want to keep it. But you clearly didn’t care about the people who didn’t have a science job when science funding was X – 20% in the past; nor do you actually have a reasoned opinion on the optimal level of science funding. You merely want it to keep going up so your job is safe.
I understand your desire to keep your job, but your desire is not pro-science, it is pro-Ilya Shpitser.
“Units of science” is a vague thing. I’ve talked with a man who thought he was doing good research, but it was proprietary for a company.
I expect there’s a lot of such research, and it’s not as though it’s just hidden away, but it’s also likely to have less effect than research which is made public.
Or is it?
If a company is paying for research, it might be less likely to incentivize research which is mere signaling, or lost in the noise of research which is mere signaling.
So much of what happens with research is covert.
Of course I am being self-interested — like any other political constituency. That’s what I am trying to say!
(It so happens cutting science is bad for everyone, given ROI on research vs ROI on other things fed puts money in.) But that’s a separate discussion — right now the discussion is me trying to explain that science and scientists are not a magical magisterium somehow immune from usual coalition politics forces.
It’s true I have no interest in helping you personally. I think the politicization of science over time (by many groups, many of which aren’t scientists) is probably bad for science but believe that the social dynamics of U.S. society make it likely to increase even more in the future. I do have a deep investment in science itself though even if I don’t care about scientists as a group much more than I care about any other particular group of people.
Resistance tactics is a rather overblown phrase though considering the term would normally be applied to a struggle for civil rights. It’s fine to be self interested, but this is a fight between two powerful interest groups neither of which is even slightly oppressed and their allies.
I totally agree they are vulnerable to such political forces. I don’t think anyone is disagreeing about that.
I disagree about whether it’s wise to give in to these forces and hitch your political wagon to a larger set of causes and a specific tribe rather than be as neutral as is reasonable and appear even more neutral. (not Social) Scientists have a lot of social capital built up as a group across both parties because they usually are viewed as less interested in worldly things and more interested in “the truth”. However true or untrue this myth may be, it’s useful a useful myth for scientists.
See, the thing is, I am in a double bind here.
I could not contest this, and let you paint me as a hypocrite.
Or I could mention all the protest and resistance stuff I have been doing, on behalf of all sorts of communities (of various levels of “disadvantage”) that are currently being victimized by Trump et al. But I would then be accused of virtue signaling, probably.
Your painting of the fight over funding as a fight of a privileged group means you do not at all understand the academic environment. Grants mostly fund an army of students, and postdocs. People who work very hard, very long hours, on very complicated problems, and for very little pay. And who would have no end of difficulties due to funding cuts.
Of course, I _also_ previously brought this up, and the fact Trump’s idiotic travel ban affected a lot of postdocs and grad students — and was promptly accused of myopia.
Given this double bind I find myself in, and previous history, my proposal is: how about you stop policing my phrasing and take a flying leap, and I am going to go ahead and keep using language how I wish. Does that sound good?