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Neutral vs. Conservative: The Eternal Struggle

I.

Vox’s David Roberts writes about Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology.

It’s got a long and complicated argument which I can’t really do justice to here, but the thesis seems to be that the US Right is defecting against the country’s shared institutions in favor of forming its own echo chambers.

So for example, there used to be a relatively fair media in which both liberals and conservatives got their say. But Republicans didn’t like having to deal with facts, so they formed their own alternative media – FOX and Rush Limbaugh and everyone in that sphere – where only conservatives would have a say and their fake facts would never get challenged.

Or: everyone used to trust academia as a shared and impartial arbitrator of truth. But conservatives didn’t like the stuff it found – whether about global warming or trickle-down economics or whatever – so they seceded into their own world of alternative facts where some weird physicist presents his case that global warming is a lie, or a Breitbart journalist is considered an expert on how cultural Marxism explains everything about post-WWII American history.

It concludes that “the press cannot be neutral”, although it also “cannot afford to be, or be seen as primarily instruments of the Democrats”. To its credit, it admits this is kind of contradictory:

They must figure out a way to play a dual role: to be fair and consistent referees of policy and ideological disputes within the public square — while also acting to defend the institutional integrity of the square itself from what is, at present, a highly asymmetrical threat. They must fight to keep some core principles and commitments inviolate, outside the sphere of normal political dispute, against an administration that wants to drag them in…that’s a humdinger of a problem.

Let me start by saying what this article gets right.

I think it’s right that the two parties used to have much more in common, and be able to appeal to shared gatekeeper institutions that both trusted.

I think it’s right the Republicans unilaterally seceded from those shared gatekeeper institutions, so that now we’re in the weird position of having two sets of institutions: one labeling itself “neutral” and the other labeling itself “conservative”.

I think it’s right to consider the situation asymmetrical. Yes, CNN leans liberal, but it’s not as liberal as FOX is conservative, and it’s not as open about it – it has a pretense of neutrality that FOX doesn’t, and although we can disagree about how realistic that pretense is I think few people would disagree that the pretense is there. Nor is there a liberal version of FOX that lacks that pretense of neutrality.

I think it’s right that the conservative side is worse than the neutral side. However biased and crappy you think CNN and mainstream academia are, FOX and the conservative academic bubble are working on a different level (though note that as a liberal, I would say this, and you should interpret it with the same grain of salt that you would any other “my side is better than yours” claim).

I think it’s right that this situation is horrible and toxic and destroying the country, and it’s really good that someone has pointed this out and framed it this clearly.

I think it’s wrong in exactly the way I would expect it to be wrong, which is also an example of what’s wrong with it.

II.

Roberts devotes four sentences in his six thousand word article to the possibility that conservatives might be motivated by something deeper than a simple hatred of facts:

The right’s view that the institutions lean liberal is hyperbolic, but not without foundation. Science, academia (at least liberal arts and social sciences), and journalism do tend to draw their personnel from left-leaning demographics.

Those institutions have cosmopolitan aspirations — fair application of transpartisan standards — but there’s no doubt that in practice, those aspirations often cover for more parochial preferences.

But the right has not sought greater fairness in mainstream institutions; it has defected to create its own.

Roberts says that these neutral gatekeeper institutions “tend to draw their personnel from left-leaning demographics”, as if this was just a big fuss about 105 New Englanders for every 100 Texans. I would like to counter with a report from a friend who graduated from a top university last year:

I was at my graduation last weekend, and the commencement address was basically about twenty minutes of vitriolic insults directed at Trump. And in between burying my head in my friend’s shoulder in discomfort and laughing nervously, I was thinking about the family of this guy in my class.

He’s the first person in his family to go to college. He drove an hour every day to go to a somewhat better high school because there was an epidemic of gang violence at his local school. Against the odds, he did well, and got into college, where he has continued to get good grades and play sports and generally do things that make parents proud.

His family is not well off. They’re Mexican-American. And they’re Trump supporters.

Yeah, I’m kind of confused too. But they honestly are. (Not even reluctant Republicans supporting Trump–they voted for him in the primary. His aunt owns a Make America Great Again cap.) And all I could think about was how happy they must have been to be attending their son’s graduation from one of the best universities in the world [citation needed], only to have that happiness turn to bewilderment and anger as everyone around them cheered a series of caustic attacks against them and their values. The message couldn’t have been clearer: “You don’t belong here.”

My mom thought this speech was So Courageous. When I suggested that it might have been more courageous to say something that not everyone there agreed with, she replied, “the students maybe, but a lot of the parents looked unhappy.”

Seventy percent of the parents there had family incomes over six figures. (More, probably, since low-income parents are less likely to attend graduation.) A lot of them are members of the self-perpetuating intellectual/economic elite. This probably isn’t true of the few Trump supporters among them.

So if we are going to single them out for judgment, force them to account for their support for an “infantile,” “bullying,” “proto-fascist” “charlatan”…can it not be on the day of their kids’ graduation?

And sure, if you consider me your friend, then that makes this one of those “friend of a friend” stories. But I dare you to say that any of this sounds the least bit implausible. My point is, just because a university paints “ACTUALLY, WE ARE POLITICALLY NEUTRAL” in big red letters on the college quad, doesn’t mean that anyone is required to believe it. And the ideology that invented the microaggression can’t hide behind “but we haven’t officially declared you unwelcome!”

And the same thing is happening in the media. For example, in this very piece, Roberts cites a Vox poll showing that Trump supporters are more likely to be authoritarians. Vox has pushed this same claim many more times: Authoritarianism: The Political Science That Explains Trump, The Rise Of American Authoritarianism: A Niche Group Of Political Scientists May Have Uncovered What’s Driving Donald Trump’s Ascent, The Rise Of American Authoritarianism Explained In 6 Minutes, The Best Predictor Of Trump Support Is Authoritarianism.

Okay. But Vox is working off an internal poll that it hasn’t released (or at least I can’t find it) meaning no one has any idea if the sample size and methodology are okay. And some political science professors tried the same exercise around the same time with excellent methodology and a sample size of over a thousand and found the opposite – Trump supporters were less authoritarian than Cruz supporters, and no more authoritarian than Rubio supporters. They did find that Republicans were a bit more authoritarian than Democrats, but correctly noted that the measure involved is literally called “Right-Wing Authoritarianism”, is based on a scale invented by Theodor Adorno to prove conservatives had fascist tendencies, and only asks questions about child-rearing practices (you get marked as “authoritarian” if you have a traditional religious child-rearing style). And there are other investigations of authority that try to control for this sort of thing and sometimes find find liberals and conservatives are about equal in respect for authority.

I don’t want to overdo my criticism. “Right-wing authoritarianism” is a powerful idea with a good academic reputation, and the decision to focus solely on child-rearing was a principled choice to avoid including politics itself in the construct. And failed replications should be an opportunity for reflection rather than a cause to instantly dismiss a finding.

Yet it’s still good practice to mention their existence. And I still feel like somewhere there might be a conservative who reads this sort of thing and feels like Vox is not quite the perfectly-neutral mutually-beneficial gatekeeper institution of their dreams.

And whenever I mention this sort of thing, people protest “But Fox and Breitbart are worse!” And so they are. But I feel like Vox has aspirations to be something more than just a mirror image of Fox with a left-wing slant and a voiced fricative. It’s trying to be a neutral gatekeeper institution. If some weird conservative echo chamber is biased, well, what did you expect? If a neutral gatekeeper institution is biased, now we have a problem.

Roberts writes that “the right has not sought greater fairness in mainstream institutions; it has defected to create its own”. This is a bizarre claim, given the existence of groups like Accuracy In Media, Media Research Center, Newsbusters, Heterodox Academy, et cetera which are all about the right seeking greater fairness in mainstream institutions, some of which are almost fifty years old. Really “it’s too bad conservatives never complained about liberal bias in academia or the mainstream media” seems kind of like the opposite of how I remember the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The way I remember it, conservatives spent about thirty years alternately pleading, demanding, suing, legislating, and literally praying for greater fairness in mainstream institutions, and it was basically all just hitting their heads against a brick wall. Then they defected to create their own.

III.

This predictably went badly.

I wrote before (1, 2) about the sort of dynamics this situation produces. A couple of years ago, Reddit decided to ban various undesirables and restrict discussion of offensive topics. A lot of users were really angry about this, and some of them set up a Reddit clone called Voat which promised that everyone was welcome regardless of their opinion.

What happened was – a small percent of average Reddit users went over, lured by curiosity or a principled commitment to free speech. And also, approximately 100% of Reddit’s offensive undesirables went there, lured by the promise of being able to be terrible and get away with it.

Even though Voat’s rules were similar to Reddit’s rules before the latter tightened its moderation policies, Voat itself was nothing like pre-tightening Reddit. I checked to see whether it had gotten any better in the last year, and I found the top three stories were:

The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.

FOX’s slogans are “Fair and Balanced”, “Real Journalism”, and “We Report, You Decide”. They were pushing the “actually unbiased media” angle hard. I don’t know if this was ever true, or if people really believed it. It doesn’t matter. By attracting only the refugees from a left-slanted system, they ensured they would end up not just with conservatives, but with the worst and most extreme conservatives.

They also ensured that the process would feed on itself. As conservatives left for their ghettos, the neutral gatekeeper institutions leaned further and further left, causing more and more conservatives to leave. Meanwhile, the increasingly obvious horribleness of the conservative ghettos made liberals feel more and more justified in their decision to be biased against conservatives. They intensified their loathing and contempt, accelerating the conservative exodus.

The equilibrium is basically what we see now. The neutral gatekeeper institutions lean very liberal, though with a minority of conservative elites who are good at keeping their heads down and too mainstream/prestigious to settle for anything less. The ghettos contain a combination of seven zillion witches and a few decent conservatives who are increasingly uncomfortable but know there’s no place for them in the mainstream.

IV.

I don’t want to give the impression that this is limited to the places people traditionally gripe about like academia and the media. The same dynamics are going on everywhere.

In the hospital where I work, there’s a RESIST TRUMP poster on the bulletin board in our break room. I don’t know who put it there, but I know that anybody who demanded that it be taken down would be tarred as a troublemaker, and anyone who tried to put a SUPPORT TRUMP poster up next to it would be lectured about how politics are inappropriate at work. This is true even though I think at least a third of my colleagues are Trump supporters.

I went to a scientific conference in a field completely unrelated to politics where one of the researchers giving a presentation started with a five minute tangentially-related anti-Trump rant. I can’t imagine someone giving the opposite rant any more than I can imagine a pro-Trump commencement speaker at my friend’s graduation.

I’m desperately trying to avoid the Nerd Culture Wars, which have somehow managed to be even worse than the Regular Culture Wars, but even I’ve heard about GamerGate and the Rabid Puppies. These were originally movements to fight a perceived liberal bias in regular gaming/sci-fi. They of course failed, and now they’re their own little separate conservative spaces practicing conservative video game commentary/sci-fi writing. I don’t want to deny that they’re often horrible. They’re horrible in exactly the same way FOX News is horrible, and for exactly the same reasons. I expect this pattern of conservatives seceding from theoretically-neutral-but-realistically-left-leading communities and forming terrible communities full of witches to repeat itself again and again, because it’s happening for systemic rather than community-specific reasons.

The overall impression is of a widespread norm, well-understood by both liberals and conservatives, that we have a category of space we call “neutral” and “depoliticized”. These sorts of spaces include institutions as diverse as colleges, newspapers, workplaces, and conferences. And within these spaces, overt liberalism is tolerated but overt conservativism is banned. In a few of these cases, conservatives grew angry enough that they started their own spaces – which began as noble attempts to avoid bias, and ended as wretched hives of offensive troglodytes who couldn’t get by anywhere else. This justifies further purges in the mainstream liberal spaces, and the cycle goes on forever.

Stanford historian Robert Conquest once declared it a law of politics that “any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing”. I have no idea why this should be true, and yet I’ve seen it again and again. Taken to its extreme, it suggests we’ll end up with a bunch of neutral organizations that have become left-wing, plus a few explicitly right-wing organizations. Given that Conquest was writing in the 1960s, he seems to have predicted the current situation remarkably well.

V.

David Roberts ends by noting that he doesn’t really know what to do here, and I agree. I don’t know what to do here either.

But one simple heuristic: if everything you’ve tried so far has failed, maybe you should try something different. Right now, the neutral gatekeeper institutions have tried being biased against conservatives. They’ve tried showing anti-conservative bias. They’ve tried ramping up the conservativism-related bias level. They’ve tried taking articles, and biasing them against conservative positions. I appreciate their commitment to multiple diverse strategies, but I can’t help but wonder whether there’s a possibility they’ve missed.

Look. I read Twitter. I know the sorts of complaints people have about this blog. I’m some kind of crypto-conservative, I’m a traitor to liberalism, I’m too quick to sell out under the guise of “compromise”. And I understand the sentiment. I write a lot about how we shouldn’t get our enemies fired lest they try to fire us, how we shouldn’t get our enemies’ campus speakers disinvited lest they try to disinvite ours, how we shouldn’t use deceit and hyperbole to push our policies lest our enemies try to push theirs the same way. And people very reasonably ask – hey, I notice my side kind of controls all of this stuff, the situation is actually asymmetrical, they have no way of retaliating, maybe we should just grind our enemies beneath our boots this one time.

And then when it turns out that the enemies can just leave and start their own institutions, with horrendous results for everybody, the cry goes up “Wait, that’s unfair! Nobody ever said you could do that! Come back so we can grind you beneath our boots some more!”

Conservatives aren’t stuck in here with us. We’re stuck in here with them. And so far it’s not going so well. I’m not sure if any of this can be reversed. But I think maybe we should consider to what degree we are in a hole, and if so, to what degree we want to stop digging.

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1,918 Responses to Neutral vs. Conservative: The Eternal Struggle

  1. RH28 says:

    How do you objectively show that Breitbart, Fox News, etc. are worse than the liberal media in their bias leading them astray? I remember right after the election there was this stuff about a “wave of hate crimes” across the country, including several Muslim girls who kept getting their hijabs ripped off. Having followed the conservative media for years, I knew that there were a lot more fake hate crimes than real ones, so I assumed that this one would be proven false too. Sites like Breitbart and the Daily Caller shared my skepticism, while CBS, NBC, NY Times, etc. ran with it as representative of Trump’s America.

    And guess what? Conservatives were right, as they often are on these kinds of issues. Remember “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”?

    Whatever your bias, you seek out information that confirms your narrative. And the liberal view of race relations in the United States, with its productive, angelic minorities and evil, sadistic whites is so simply divorced from reality that they’re always going to get all racially charged issues wrong. Conservatives have narratives about minority crime and Muslim terrorism, but those things actually exist, unlike Duke athletes raping black strippers or the new trend of hijab pulling.

    Maybe conservatives are worse on other issues such as global warming, but how the media handles race is something that’s been bugging me for a while.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I appreciate your concern, and I’ve added a parenthetical to my post that I am probably biased on this for the obvious reasons.

      I think that if you cherry-pick issues where the Right is correct, then Breitbart, being further right, will of course be more correct.

      But ignoring the issue of which side is more correct, it seems to me like Breitbart has a stronger and more overt conservative slant than CNN does a liberal slant, or at least that it makes much less of a claim to be a neutral gatekeeper. Would you disagree?

      • RH28 says:

        I was actually surprised by the parenthetical. I haven’t been following the blog for that long, but I always thought you were a libertarian.

        Anyway, I would agree that Breitbart’s bias is more overt and it doesn’t present itself as neutral. And CNN has conservatives on, while I’ve never seen a liberal write at Breitbart, so I guess I’d agree that the bias at Breitbart is stronger too. Yet which news organization is more likely to distort reality to fit its bias depends more on the specific issue than anything else, and who is “worse” will depend on what issues you care about. I’d point out that the liberal media has a lot more reach, so even if you trust it more, the left’s echo chamber can still do more to distort national policy.

        • Jiro says:

          I haven’t been following the blog for that long, but I always thought you were a libertarian.

          Scott isn’t a libertarian. It’s just that most of the time he disagrees with the people on his side, he happens to disagree in the libertarian direction.

          (I would take this to suggest that maybe libertarianism is correct. Scott clearly isn’t a libertarian and doesn’t want to be drawn in a libertarian direction, yet merely by using good reasoning, that’s what happens.)

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            I would take this to suggest that maybe libertarianism is correct. Scott clearly isn’t a libertarian and doesn’t want to be drawn in a libertarian direction, yet merely by using good reasoning, that’s what happens.

            Leftism is obviously wrong – Scott however finds the actual right wing so alien and repulsive for emotional reasons that he can only express the wrongness of mainstream leftism through the prism of older leftism (libertarianism). Being a libertarian isn’t as emotionally damaging as being right wing would be.

          • Iain says:

            Scott isn’t a libertarian. It’s just that most of the time he disagrees with the people on his side, he happens to disagree in the libertarian direction.

            (I would take this to suggest that maybe libertarianism is correct. Scott clearly isn’t a libertarian and doesn’t want to be drawn in a libertarian direction, yet merely by using good reasoning, that’s what happens.)

            I’m not convinced that Scott always disagreeing towards libertarianism is a real pattern, rather than your own confirmation bias, but let’s assume that it is. That’s still not really evidence for libertarianism in the way that you want it to be.

            Imagine a hypothetical hard-line libertarian not-a-state, with an alternate-universe version of Scott who broadly agrees with libertarian principles but is concerned about, say, collective action problems. Most of his disagreements with the libertarian side would be disagreements “towards” communism, in some way — but it would be ridiculous to take this fact as a vindication of Marx.

            If you interpret the ways in which Scott agrees with you as correctness, and dismiss all the ways in which he doesn’t as motivated reasoning, then you certainly can take it as evidence that you were right all along, but you shouldn’t expect that to convince anybody else.

            (I’m not touching “reasoned argumentation” with a ten-foot pole.)

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Leftism is obviously wrong – Scott however finds the actual right wing so alien and repulsive for emotional reasons that he can only express the wrongness of mainstream leftism through the prism of older leftism (libertarianism). Being a libertarian isn’t as emotionally damaging as being right wing would be.

            How can a distinction based on terminal values even be wrong or right?

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Leftism is obviously wrong – Scott however finds the actual right wing so alien and repulsive for emotional reasons that he can only express the wrongness of mainstream leftism through the prism of older leftism (libertarianism). Being a libertarian isn’t as emotionally damaging as being right wing would be.

            You should change your ‘nym. It’s extremely misleading.

          • Deiseach says:

            Oh, get off the hobby horse, reasoned argumentation. Scott isn’t moving to the right mainly because he is not convinced by that side/does not feel that he can identify as such, and possibly partly because in the US the right is represented by the Republicans and if I had to choose an American political party I’d choose the Democrats over them, never mind that I’m a right-wing/conservative type myself.

            Anyway, as a conservative, I am not worried about the current situation. Yes, it’s bad. But it’s not going to last, even if it ends in a big crash when everything goes whump. Because history moves in cycles and we’ve been here before. Young progressives may imagine that they are indeed the first in the history of the world to have notions like polyamory etc but no, they’re not. All this has been around under different names before – granted, the current Western incarnation of the old ideas has slapped a new coat of paint on and voiced a theory about the phenomenon never before heard, but it’s a veneer on pre-existing behaviours.

            Conservatism gave way to increasing liberalism which tends to go the way of liberalisation and then libertinism and then decadence and then crash, whump, reaction to conservatism once again, and we all take another spin on the merry-go-round:

            9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

            10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

            11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

          • >Leftism is obviously wrong – Scott however finds the actual right wing so alien and repulsive for emotional reasons that he can only express the wrongness of mainstream leftism through the prism of older leftism (libertarianism).

            Trying to psychoanalyze the emotional machinations of why someone as bright as Scott has the opinions he does is not only rude, but also unlikely to actually be correct.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            Scott isn’t moving to the right mainly because he is not convinced by that side/does not feel that he can identify as such, and possibly partly because in the US the right is represented by the Republicans and if I had to choose an American political party I’d choose the Democrats over them, never mind that I’m a right-wing/conservative type myself.

            This is disagreeing with my conjecture?

          • Scott does tend towards libertarianism in that he tends to bewail the absence of a solution to problems that have an obvious just-make-them-do-the-right-thing solution.

          • wintermute92 says:

            Imagine a hypothetical hard-line libertarian not-a-state, with an alternate-universe version of Scott who broadly agrees with libertarian principles but is concerned about, say, collective action problems. Most of his disagreements with the libertarian side would be disagreements “towards” communism, in some way — but it would be ridiculous to take this fact as a vindication of Marx.

            This is basically my impression. I’m in a place similar to Scott – a self-described liberal who spends a lot of time yelling at the left about market solutions and weakening state power. It’s not because I’m pretending to be something I’m not, or inevitably compelled by the correctness of libertarianism. It’s because there are a lot of stupid and oppressive things being done, and libertarianism has laid a broad claim to being the politics of “stop making it worse”.

            If I lived in Singapore and my oppressive government was competent and efficient, I wouldn’t pitch libertarianism so much. If I lived in Somalia and got hyperlibertarianism every day, I wouldn’t pitch it at all. But I live in America, where all the medicine costs 4x what it should and and college costs 10x what it should and the police drive tanks and you need a degree to braid hair.

            So for myself at least, I end up arguing for the faction of “doing nothing is better than doing a very stupid thing”. That doesn’t make von Mises my guru, it just means libertarianism is a general idea that improves on the current problems I’m worried about.

          • albertborrow says:

            @wintermute92

            I don’t really know how to express agreement other than copying and pasting your entire comment. What I willadd is that with conservative parents and liberal friends, I choose libertarianism less because it presents a possible solution and more because it lacks the flaws both sides’ solutions have. I feel like people are trying to fix a sinking ship by poking more holes in it.

        • Walter says:

          Scott’s like the dude in Mother Night, who infiltrates the bad guys only to discover that he is beloved by them, and suspected by the righteous. He is every conservatives favorite progressive.

          For every post where he is like “conservatives please please please don’t elect Trump” there are ones where he savages the progressives for their sins. He wants them to be better, we want them to be criticized. It works out.

          • johnvertblog says:

            who infiltrates the bad guys only to discover that he is beloved by them, and suspected by the righteous

            Worm???

          • ksvanhorn says:

            Scott is every conservative’s favorite progressive because he is willing to actually engage and discuss issues instead of just sneering at those he disagrees with.

          • Scott isn’t a progressive

          • albertborrow says:

            @NatashaRostova

            He has gone out of the way to say he is liberal – is that not enough?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            He has gone out of the way to say he is liberal – is that not enough [to make him progressive]?

            Not enough. Even if one uses the word “liberal” in its American political sense. Progressives are noticeably more expressive about how they think their ideas will improve society.

          • alexsloat says:

            > He is every conservatives favorite progressive.

            Because he’s possibly the only progressive thinker that I’ve ever heard from who doesn’t strike me as either smarmy or hateful(barring those I know personally, who will obviously be better-behaved to me). Admittedly, we’re both libertarian examples of our respective ideologies, so the distance between us is smaller than most, but it’s still impressive. He takes my views seriously, assumes that I’m not a terrible person simply for thinking them, explains rationally why he thinks I’m wrong about issues when he disagrees with me, gives me credit when he thinks I’m on the right track, and makes it very clear that he’s seeking truth, wherever it may lead, and not just trying to rack up easy points. He’s actually changed my mind on some issues, and that doesn’t happen often to someone who’s been arguing politics like it’s a full-time job for north of 15 years now.

            Yeah, he’s a lefty, and yeah, it shows sometimes. I’d still take him over most conservatives.

        • Protagoras says:

          I’ve always thought he was a libertarian-leaning moderate leftist, probably because that’s what I am so I assume smart people are going to be naturally drawn toward that general area.

        • mupetblast says:

          Greg Ferenstein is a liberal who writes at Breitbart.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        I’m not sure that making less of a claim to be a neutral gatekeeper necessarily makes Breitbart worse than CNN. If a site’s biased, it’s probably better if it admits its bias rather than trying to pass biased commentary as perfectly neutral fact-based reporting.

        • Chiffewar says:

          trying to pass biased commentary as perfectly neutral fact-based reporting

          Isn’t that what Fox does? “Fair and balanced”? The problem is that no one believes them, or thinks they believe it themselves. Good ‘neutral’ journalism may have a liberal tint, but it’s done in the pursuit of truth. CNN might miss the mark alarmingly often, but at least they agree that the target exists and that hitting it is good.

          • abc says:

            Isn’t that what Fox does? “Fair and balanced”? The problem is that no one believes them, or thinks they believe it themselves. Good ‘neutral’ journalism may have a liberal tint, but it’s done in the pursuit of truth. CNN might miss the mark alarmingly often, but at least they agree that the target exists and that hitting it is good.

            Let me see if I understand your argument. “Both CNN and Fox claim to be unbiased, CNN fails at this alarmingly often but should nevertheless be considered better than Fox because, um, the seem more honest (to Chiffewar).”

          • Deiseach says:

            Well, I often see GetReligion (a site about journalism and coverage of religion) lamenting that the American media seems to be moving to European-style advocacy journalism (where every paper has a particular political viewpoint and you know which is on the right, far-right, centre, left, far-left, etc) from good old-fashioned American-style impartial and fair reporting.

            I have my doubts as to whether the American press always (or ever) operated on that idealistic model (the faint strains of ‘the yellow press‘ drift on the aether to my mind) but certainly there is a perception that this is how it was, whatever about nowadays.

            Again, I’m willing to say I think both sides are as likely to be inclined to present one side over another as the fair, just, moderate* one, but one side will think it is the ‘normal’ side – remember all the triumphing about the right side of history? Yes, and if you’re old enough, you will remember when the right-thinking side on the right side of history was the conservative and the shocking radicals with their extremist positions were on the liberal side. As King Lear says,

            A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yon justice rails upon yon simple thief. Hark in thine ear: change places and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?

            *The way the use of language in reporting can convey subtle judgements as to which of the parties is in the right, even if the article on the face of it avoids any such opinionating, as pointed out in the 2005 report of the Credibility Group for the New York Times:

            Too often we label whole groups from a perspective that uncritically accepts a stereotype or unfairly marginalizes them. As one reporter put it, words like moderate or centrist “inevitably incorporate a judgment about which views are sensible and which are extreme.” We often apply “religious fundamentalists,” another loaded term, to political activists who would describe themselves as Christian conservatives.

            We particularly slip into these traps in feature stories when reporters and editors think they are merely presenting an interesting slice of life, with little awareness of the power of labels. We need to be more vigilant about the choice of language not only in the text but also in headlines, captions and display type.

          • MugaSofer says:

            abc, I think they’re saying that Fox dishonestly claims to be unbiased, while CNN honestly claims to be aiming for neutrality but isn’t very good at it.

          • ksvanhorn says:

            A “liberal tint”? CNN does not have a “liberal tint”, it’s more like it has poured a bucket of the brightest crimson red over itself.

            Even though I despised Clinton, in early 2016 I thought that Trump was the most dangerous of the presidential candidates. But the blatant bias of the media (especially CNN) in favor of Clinton and against Trump pissed me off so much that I ended up hoping Trump would win just to stick it to the smarmy, condescending bastards.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ksvanhorn

            While I sympathize, this sort of hyperbole doesn’t help.

          • Gilmore says:

            “” Good ‘neutral’ journalism may have a liberal tint, but it’s done in the pursuit of truth””

            Nope

            http://imgur.com/6gMBcVl

          • ragnarrahl says:

            I have my doubts as to whether the American press always (or ever) operated on that idealistic model (the faint strains of ‘the yellow press‘ drift on the aether to my mind) but certainly there is a perception that this is how it was, whatever about nowadays.

            I think that perception is mostly a result of the period from the end of WWII to 1964, the “postwar liberal consensus,” when we had a one-ideology polity masquerading as two parties. (in the media, the journalistic influence of this period is of course going to be longer as it took time for Goldwateresque conservatism to influence journalists– consider the end bound to be, say, Cronkite coming off the air).

            The reason it’s mostly liberals that have this perception is that all the journalists in that period were liberal.

        • Nebfocus says:

          Reason.com publishes who all their writers are voting for. I wish all outlets did this.

          • somervta says:

            Note: it’s not mandatory at Reason (and in fact thereI think there’s a chance it’s not legal for it to be mandatory)

          • somervta says:

            Note: Reason does not make revealing mandatory (and I think there’s a chance making it mandatory is illegal).

            Also, Slate, Deadspin & The American Conservative do the same thing

          • Jacob says:

            Slate did this, and after years of having 20% republicans, in 2016 they had 59 for Clinton, 1 for McMullin, 1 for Stein. Having successfully purged itself of wrong-think, Slate became utterly unreadable after many years of decent moderate-leftie journalism. RIP.

            Now if we had to guess, what are the proportions at Vox?

          • BBA says:

            2016 was a weird election for journalists. Trump was so anti-press that dozens of newspapers that had endorsed every Republican since, say, Taft flipped to Hillary or refused to endorse anyone.

          • JulieK says:

            Slate did this, and after years of having 20% republicans, in 2016 they had 59 for Clinton, 1 for McMullin, 1 for Stein.

            Cite on the “20% republican” figure? That’s the exact distribution they had in 2008- one republican vote, one independent, 50-something democrats. Mickey Kaus wrote a blogpost saying “Journalists say that people overestimate how left-wing the media is. The only way that claim can be correct is if people think Slate had zero R’s instead of one.”

        • Yosarian2 says:

          I would rather read a news source that is *trying* to share unbiased facts then read one which is willing to *intentionally* slant their news coverage for political reason. Granted no one can really be 100% unbiased but I think the motivation makes one news source much more reliable then the other.

          I also like editorials and commentary and blogs written by people with an opinion. I just think that when you mix the two and blur the lines between news and editorial opinion the result is ugly.

          • Gilmore says:

            *trying* to share unbiased facts

            You misspelled ‘pretending’

          • Yosarian2 says:

            I don’t think they’re pretending. They don’t seem to favor one party over the other in political campaigns, for example.

            They do have unconscious biases that probably has an effect on how they cover issues and what kind of issues they consider important and things like that, but that’s not at all the same thing as deliberately trying to run a political propaganda campaign.

          • Nornagest says:

            You don’t need to be openly advocating something to be pushing a narrative. Somewhere in this monstrosity of a thread there’s an anecdote about how the NYT production process selects stories to fit their idea of how the national conversation should go, for example.

      • abc says:

        I think that if you cherry-pick issues where the Right is correct, then Breitbart, being further right, will of course be more correct.

        So what’s the right wing analogue of “hands up, don’t shoot”?

        • victa20 says:

          “Death Panels”?

          • What’s wrong with the “death panels” argument isn’t that it’s not true, it’s that some version of it exists under any system for allocating limited health care resources. Someone decides in some way who gets what treatment, and that means deciding that some people will die who could have lived at least a little longer.

            The way it is used is demagogic, but not fundamentally false.

          • victa20 says:

            @ Davidfriedman:

            Fair enough.

            Obama/Kenya?

          • herbert herberson says:

            What’s wrong with the “death panels” argument isn’t that it’s not true, it’s that some version of it exists under any system for allocating limited health care resources.

            It wasn’t true as to the particular policy it was used against; end of life counseling has almost nothing to do with health care rationing, and is a very good idea.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Did Fox do a lot of Birther stories?

            My main source of right-wing news is National Review, and they dismissed it as obvious nonsense before 2008 was even out.

          • Brad says:

            That ignores the context of how the term “death panel” was coined in order to bend unreasonably over backwards to apologize for the right right wing.

            It was coined to attack a provision that provided funding for end of life counseling.

          • RH28 says:

            Fair enough.

            Obama/Kenya?

            Was taken seriously by exactly nobody on the right but Trump. Granted, that’s a big exception, as that made him president, indicating that there were incentives for conservatives to take up this issue. But the fact is that they didn’t, and when Trump picked it up he wasn’t seen as a serious political figure.

            “Hands up, don’t shoot,” became the basis of a political movement, and Hillary Clinton was touring the country with Michael Brown’s mom after the Obama DOJ itself had concluded that he got shot in the process of attacking a police officer.

            Instead of thinking who is more biased overall, I like the idea of ranking by irrationality on issues. Liberals and race would be my number 1, followed closely by liberals and gender at 2. Maybe if I knew more about global warming or something else I’d put conservatives up there on that issue, but I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to say so.

          • vV_Vv says:

            What’s wrong with the “death panels” argument isn’t that it’s not true, it’s that some version of it exists under any system for allocating limited health care resources.

            Including the market.

          • Vorkon says:

            The whole birther controversy actually maps pretty much perfectly to “hands up, don’t shoot,” IMHO.

            It was a questionable, but believable proposition to start with, which a biased media pushed pretty heavily during the brief period before it had been definitively disproven, but which a large group of low-information supporters latched onto and refused to let go of, perhaps bolstered by the media in question mostly just ignoring that aspect of the issue once it was disproven, rather than going out of their way to point out how wrong they were.

            The scale of “hands up, don’t shoot,” might be slightly greater, with more media people pushing it, with less skepticism, for a longer period of time, and more people who still believe it today, but at their core they’re basically the same phenomenon.

            Most of the other examples people have brought up in this thread are questionable, at best, (i.e. “death panels” are misleading hyperbole, not a blatant falsehood) but the birther and “hands up, don’t shoot” phenomena map to each other remarkably well.

          • RH28 says:

            Obama/Kenya only taken seriously by Trump????

            I mean people with influence, not polls of what people believe. If you’re going to look at polls of the general public, you’ll find all kinds of crazy things on both sides. What I’m saying is that nobody in leadership among Republicans or Fox News pushed birtherism. I’m not sure about talk radio, if they did you’d have a point.

          • victa20 says:

            What I’m saying is that nobody in leadership among Republicans or Fox News pushed birtherism.

            Just a sampling of Fox News/Birtherism:

            https://mediamatters.org/research/2016/09/16/flashback-how-fox-news-promoted-trumps-birtherism/213152

            And a few people here, missing is Jim Inhofe and others:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_citizenship_conspiracy_theories#Campaigners_and_proponents

          • victa20 says:

            And let’s not forget Sheriff Joe’s press conference *this past December* showing Obama’s BC was a “fake”:

          • RH28 says:

            Victa20,

            Ok, I accept your evidence. Good day.

          • Evan Þ says:

            the brief period before it had been definitively disproven

            A lot less brief – it was 2011 before the certified copy of the Certificate of Live Birth was released.

          • tscharf says:

            end of life counseling has almost nothing to do with health care rationing

            Not. It may not be explicitly about rationing, but the effect is the same. End of life counseling is going to include Hospice and subjects like quality of life under chemo and so forth. It will and should address wasting medical resources on hopeless cases. That third round of expensive hard core chemo for your stage 4 cancer that has metastasized everywhere when you can barely walk is not a good move according to reasonable counseling.

            You start hospice, you stop diagnostic treatments. Home hospice is cheap as dirt relatively. Disclosure: My mom was a hospice nurse for 20 years and died from breast cancer. She stopped chemo because it was “only extending death”.

          • Brad says:

            The birth notices in Hawaiian newspapers should have been enough for anyone. They came out as soon as the story surfaced in 2008.

          • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

            Instead of thinking who is more biased overall, I like the idea of ranking by irrationality on issues. Liberals and race would be my number 1, followed closely by liberals and gender at 2. Maybe if I knew more about global warming or something else I’d put conservatives up there on that issue, but I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to say so.

            Surely conservatives on God is number one? Granted liberals/leftists/progressives also usually believe in God, but it’s not a political issue for them.

          • codingmonkey says:

            Agree conservative faith in religions must be the top in irrationality. Anything beyond basic theism (I have to admit something made this place maybe it was a god) makes me question people’s intelligence.

          • victa20 says:

            Surely conservatives on God is number one? Granted liberals/leftists/progressives also usually believe in God, but it’s not a political issue for them.

            But how irrational about God are they during an argument? For instance, do they behave as irrationally when someone tells them god doesn’t exist, vs say, when someone says they think guns should be restricted, or how they behave when someone is talking about global warming? The visceral response to questioning the second amendment seems similar-ish to telling liberals race isn’t a social construct, etc.
            *Edit: That is, if we make a list, I think a part of the equation should be about the reaction of the interlocuter, as well as how rational the belief itself should be.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            Obama/Kenya thing was not even close to universally endorsed on the right at its height, even though the evidence was things like Obama’s book publisher falsely claiming he was born in Kenya. Yes, it wasn’t true, but it is not hard to see how it may be seen as evidence – it’s like if police dispatchers who worked the case would claim Brown did have his hands up during early investigation, and Wilson (the officer) would not contradict them initially, but then would have changed the version. Doesn’t change the facts, but surely contributes to how some people could be misled.

        • deciusbrutus says:

          “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

          • abc says:

            “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

            Um, you do realize that’s basically true.

          • Tekhno says:

            Surely, the disagreement is whether that good guy should always be the police.

          • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

            A cheap slogan that triggers emergency self-defense mode in the audience, and diminishes reasoning and understanding (and finding preventions) capacity.
            Don’t.

          • PedroS says:

            “You can get your way much better with a nice word and a gun that with just a nice word” 🙂

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Um, you do realize that’s basically true.

            The framing is pretty infantile, and ends up being misleading. It seems like in the vast majority of cases, it’s a not-entirely-good-or-bad guy with a gun stopping a not-entirely-good-or-bad guy with a gun.

            “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
            – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

          • Allisus says:

            “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
            – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

            Bravo wysinwygymmv, bravo. This exact quote came to mind while reading this. I think this is a truth that is so fundamentally important to all situations/ideas/concepts. Most people fall into the trap of believing themselves to be the righteous ones (God is on our side, etc..) and that they are exempt from the usual irrationality of human beings. This is so often an impediment to rational thinking.
            Another way of putting it as stated by Peterson. “People cast themselves in the heroic role. If they had been in Nazi Germany they would have taken on the burden of fighting against the Nazis and defending the things that should’ve been defended. That’s a very foolish presupposition, as it’s evident from history that that isn’t what people did. If you were in Nazi Germany you would’ve been a Nazi.”

          • Vorkon says:

            The question at hand isn’t whether or not the framing is infantile, it’s whether or not it’s true.

            “The only thing that can stop someone intent on causing harm with a gun is someone else with an equivalent weapon or tactical advantage” is about as close to a tautology as you can get, and that’s what everyone who says “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” means.

            Anytime that argument is used, it is in response to the effectiveness of banning guns or other security measures, not a commentary on whether or not it is morally correct to shoot “bad guys.”

            Either way, how does that argument, even IF you accept the “good guy/bad guy” framing as misleading, map to a blatant falsehood, which is still accepted as fact and chanted at rallies to this very day? I’m hardly trying to say that the right doesn’t do this, too; there have been several good examples in this very thread, such as the birther conspiracy or pizzagate. You have plenty of examples to choose from. But seriously, respond to the question, don’t just start randomly listing things the right says that you don’t like.

          • po8crg says:

            What’s wrong with this is that it assumes you can’t prevent bad guys from getting guns. You can; you just need a societal consensus that guns are bad and a ban on guns.

            See: UK, Australia.

          • brenner says:

            I think you are being uncharitable, Vorkon. The implication of “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” is universally recognized among members of the right to be “We need more good guys with guns,” and the policy prescription is almost always “We need to make it easier to get guns.” Surely you can see why THAT claim is a bit more controversial and a bit less tautological.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Vorkon appeared to be talking only about the factual question, the one on which the OP was ridiculing the right-wing position. Of course if you go beyond that to “We need to make it easier to get guns” you’re bringing in some contestable value judgments; left-liberals are entitled to object to those. What they aren’t entitled to do is pretend that they’re thereby correcting a simple error of fact.

          • Z says:

            @ po8crg

            1. We as a society agreed that alcohol was bad and banned it. How did that work out?

            2. 1. We as a society have agreed that drugs are bad and banned. How is that working out?

            3. The UK and Australia are islands. The US has two porous borders.

            4. Mexico’s cartels import, steal, and manufacture both drugs and guns [1], [2], [3], [4].

            Please consider the evidence, both historic and current, before assuming a US gun ban will work out the way it did for the UK and Australia. And the story of those countries too are not as clear cut as you might think [1], [2].

          • ashlael says:

            I feel like the gun issue has some similarities to Scott’s description of witches and witch hunts.

            It may be the the case that if everyone was forced (or heavily socially pressured) to own and carry a gun, society would be safer. I’m not at all sure that is the case when guns are carried by everyone who wants one and no one who doesn’t. The people who don’t ever want to shoot someone are exactly the sort of people you would want to be armed.

            Also, a distinction really needs to be made between handguns and long guns (with the possible exception of break action shotguns that can be sawn off). The latter are disproportionately used for shooting things that are not people and are bad weapons for criminals. New Zealand barely regulates long guns at all, and they are pretty similar to Australia in terms of crime rate, gun violence etc.

          • Mary says:

            See: UK,

            Okay.

            I see a country that has seen violent crime steadily mount while its restriction on guns piled up.

            Was this injunction supposed to be relevant to the rest of your comment?

          • abc says:

            The framing is pretty infantile, and ends up being misleading. It seems like in the vast majority of cases, it’s a not-entirely-good-or-bad guy with a gun stopping a not-entirely-good-or-bad guy with a gun.

            Classic example of the fallacy of gray.

            The Sophisticate: “The world isn’t black and white. No one does pure good or pure bad. It’s all gray. Therefore, no one is better than anyone else.”
            The Zetet: “Knowing only gray, you conclude that all grays are the same shade. You mock the simplicity of the two-color view, yet you replace it with a one-color view…”
            —Marc Stiegler, David’s Sling

          • sohois says:

            @Mary

            You see what? I’m not sure where you get your statistics, but it seems pretty difficult to note any consistent increase in violent crime, see: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoffences/yearendingmarch2016/overviewofviolentcrimeandsexualoffences

            you will note that increases in violent crime appear to be largely the result of different police reporting methods and that crime surveys see violent crime having consistently fallen since a peak in 1995.

            Furthermore, I have no idea how you would propose a causal link between firearms in the UK, which have been heavily restricted since 1968, and violent crime rates today. Indeed i doubt there has been a period of modern British history in which firearm ownership was widespread.

          • JulieK says:

            Indeed i doubt there has been a period of modern British history in which firearm ownership was widespread.

            Obviously it’s easier to eliminate guns from your country if there weren’t so many to start with…

          • “Indeed i doubt there has been a period of modern British history in which firearm ownership was widespread.”

            I don’t know about amount of ownership, but I believe that at the beginning of the 20th century purchase was essentially unrestricted. I believe GKC mentions that when he got married he went into a shop and bought a revolver “to protect his bride.”

            My impression, again from literature not statistics, is that shotgun ownership was common, at least among land owners, not for protection but for sport.

            At the beginning of WWII, I believe there was extensive activity with private weapons being turned in to the government for military use–somewhere there should be figures on the numbers.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            Actually that’s factually untrue. In most of the cases where a mass shooter was stopped by a civilian or civilians, the people who stopped him were unarmed.

          • Skivverus says:

            In most of the cases where a mass shooter was stopped by a civilian or civilians, the people who stopped him were unarmed.

            I believe the standard objection to that statistic is not that it is false, but that it is the result of survivorship bias:
            First, mass shooters are presumably unlikely to seek victims where they know there will be armed opposition, and have their choice of venues. A similar issue exists in computer security (“Why Nigerian scammers say they’re from Nigeria” comes to mind).
            Second, a mass shooter that only manages to shoot one person before getting gunned down themselves doesn’t actually hit the threshold for a “mass” shooting (I believe the threshold is four victims, but recommend you check me on this).

          • Yosarian2 says:

            Ok, Skivverus, that may be a fair criticism. I’ll have to take a closer look at that statistic.

            More to the point, though, I have not seen a lot of evidence that arming a lot of civilians is an effective way to stop “a bad guy with a gun”. Intuitively it makes sense that it might, but even in states where a lot of people concealed carry, it just doesn’t seem to happen that often.

          • John Schilling says:

            More to the point, though, I have not seen a lot of evidence that arming a lot of civilians is an effective way to stop “a bad guy with a gun”. Intuitively it makes sense that it might, but even in states where a lot of people concealed carry, it just doesn’t seem to happen that often.

            Gary Kleck would like to have a word with you, or maybe a 2.5 million word monologue every year.

            But I’m guessing when you say “bad guy with a gun” you mean only spree killers and mass murderers, not the hundreds of thousands of ordinary common criminals who collectively cause a couple orders of magnitude more carnage than the high-profile nut cases.

            In which case, if you’re actually paying attention, there is a dog very conspicuously not barking. In a nation where about a quarter of the population owns handguns and about one in thirty regularly carries, approximately every single mass shooting incident has occurred in a legally designated gun-free zone where only the police are allowed to carry guns. Yes, there are places in the United States where only the police are allowed to carry guns, or nearly so. Why do you imagine it is that would-be mass murderers only ever manage to rack up newsworthy death tolls in these places?

          • Mary says:

            “In most of the cases where a mass shooter was stopped by a civilian or civilians, the people who stopped him were unarmed.”

            That’s because armed bystanders manage to kill such shooters before they hit the magic four that makes them “mass” shooters.

            CPR has never ever ever saved a drowning victim. Because if CPR saves you, you’re a near drowning victim.

          • ragnarrahl says:

            “That’s a very foolish presupposition, as it’s evident from history that that isn’t what people did. If you were in Nazi Germany you would’ve been a Nazi.””

            People who are in America now and don’t have a mainstream political ideology– unless their non-mainstream ideology is Nazi– have at least some basis for believing they would not have been Nazi in Nazi Germany. They’ve already proven that they resist the ideological impulse to conform to a national peer group.

          • ragnarrahl says:

            What’s wrong with this is that it assumes you can’t prevent bad guys from getting guns. You can; you just need a societal consensus that guns are bad and a ban on guns.

            In which case only government bad guys get guns.

          • John Schilling says:

            In which case only government bad guys get guns.

            No, the criminals still have them as well.

        • herbert herberson says:

          One right-wing version of “hands-up-don’t-shoot” is the idea that the “hands up don’t shoot” was definitively disproven, when actually all we ever had was an obviously biased state court proceeding and a federal investigation that looked at a very narrow question.

          Dorian Johnson wasn’t the most credible witness, but he was never convicted of perjury. “Hands up don’t shoot” never struck me as the most likely version of those events (with the possible exception of Walter Scott, these police shootings are not purposefully racist executions, they’re fearful overreactions), but that doesn’t mean anyone should take Darren Wilson’s uncross-examined and self-contradictory story as gospel.

          • theblighter says:

            That is not a correct recounting of events. It was not simply one man’s word against another’s: there was also forensic evidence.

            Dorian’s version had Wilson shooting Brown in the head execution style. Wilson’s version had him shooting a charging man after having scuffled with him in the car over his own gun.

            Three(!) different autopsies all produced evidence consistent w/ Wilson’s story, inconsistent w/ Dorian’s “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” one.

            But, sure, maybe the city’s autopsy and the one the family ordered b/c they didn’t trust the city and the one the federal government conducted b/c they either didn’t trust the first two or (less charitably) were really, really hoping to find something to bolster the narrative were all wrong and it’s really just one guy against another.

          • infiniteperplexity says:

            Speaking as a liberal, and as someone who read *every* witness statement from front to back, “hands up don’t shoot” has been conclusively disproven. The shooting was seen by about a dozen people, and while there were some minor inconsistencies in the accounts, Dorian Johnson was clearly lying.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Speaking as a liberal, and as someone who read *every* witness statement from front to back, “hands up don’t shoot” has been conclusively disproven. The shooting was seen by about a dozen people, and while there were some minor inconsistencies in the accounts, Dorian Johnson was clearly lying.

            Speaking as an attorney, eye-witness statements taken by the party which they favor and not subjected to cross are worth very, very little; least of all in a controversial and well-publicized case like that.

            (Of course, speaking as a liberal, I also wish Tamir Rice had been the catalyst for BLM instead–Bob McCulloch is a piece of garbage for convening a grand jury only to shamelessly sandbag it, but otherwise it’d be nice to have a better set of facts and there’s no shortage of cases out there that can do so)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            It’s not just the fact that it was disproven. It’s that it was taken as is and reported as fact by the media. This is a common occurrence. When a source provides a soundbite that advances the left’s narrative, it is reported by CNN without qualification. Anything supporting the right’s narrative is either ignored or gets twelve “allegedlys” in front with an “(unconfirmed)” right after.

            And I don’t honestly think they’re cognizant of it. I think these are people who unironically believe “reality has a liberal bias.”

          • infiniteperplexity says:

            Outside view: The justice department has many lawyers, and they were willing to put their names on a report, extremely critical of the police department, that went the extra mile and declared Darren Wilson “innocent”, even though they were tasked only with deciding whether there was sufficient evidence to bring civil rights charges against him. Also, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, definitely not a right-wing outlet, gave “hands up, don’t shoot” four Pinocchios, its lyin’-est rating.

            Inside view: Roughly a dozen witnesses gave accounts that vary only slightly on what happened. Their accounts are broadly consistent with evidence from three autopsies, including one autopsy conducted at the family’s request. Witness 14 gave the longest and most detailed report; even though he(?) described the killing as an “execution” his account did not support “hands up, don’t shoot.” Two other witnesses gave accounts more supportive of “hands up, don’t shoot”; these accounts sound like scenes from two different bad action movies; both changed their stories under oath after the police challenged them.

            Speculative: Darren Wilson probably lied or at least hammed up some details of the incident, but those details were not directly relevant to the legal case against him, nor to whether “hands up, don’t shoot” is something that happened.

        • MugaSofer says:

          what’s the right wing analogue of “hands up, don’t shoot”?

          Global warming being a hoax? 90% of everything Trump says (e.g. that he watched Muslims cheering in the streets of New York on 9/11, that he would jail Clinton, that Obama was wiretapping him)? Mass rape waves in Europe? Pizzagate? “I can breathe”? Spirit cooking? Hillary Clinton’s imminent death from unspecified illness? The emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer? Abstinence-only sex ed? Satanic child abuse rings?

          Or maybe it’s all these crazy infowars articles I mocked a while back?

          It’s hard to decide.

          • Ryan says:

            An aside on Fox News. Initially I thought “Fair and Balanced” was mockery of the liberal press’ claim to be objective. But over time I decided it was just a bullshit slogan.

            Trump I think is different. When he was campaigning he said words to communicate with voters, but what he was communicating was pretty detached from his syntax.

            Finally, while I think you’re list makes sense, read up on the charges Anthony Weiner is facing down. He knew the girl was 15, he knew the girl was in high school. I don’t know what is or is not on his laptop, but I’m reminded of that old Chris Rock joke about how no one has every taken $400 out of an ATM at 3:00 am for something positive.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Infowars is perhaps non-central to right-wing media.

          • Deiseach says:

            The emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer?

            Yes, let’s all laugh cheerily about the guy who, with his three year old son in the same bed, continuing chatting up a woman not his wife while his wife was absent and showing her images of his hard-on visible through his underwear.

            The only reason “emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer” (and my understanding is that it was a shared computer, not his own) ever came to attention was because the authorities were looking for evidence of him sexting to a 15 year old girl, that he knew was a minor, and were not searching for copies of his wife’s work emails. That was just the cherry on top, so to speak.

            He’s not exactly an example you should bring up about “baseless and fabricated scandals thrown as mud against the Democrats/left/liberals”.

          • what’s the right wing analogue of “hands up, don’t shoot”?

            … Satanic child abuse rings?

            One of those cases was prosecuted by Janet Reno as Florida State Attorney. That was before Clinton appointed her as Attorney General.

            The McMartin case in L.A., the longest and most expensive criminal case in U.S. history, was prosecuted by L.A. District Attorney Ira Reiner, who later ran (unsuccessfully) for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California.

            For another case, from Wikipedia quoting The Week Magazine:

            “Coakley did not prosecute the case, which was already under way when she joined the office as an assistant district attorney in 1986. But years later, after the day-care abuse hysteria had subsided and she had won the office’s top job, she worked to keep the convicted “ringleader,” Gerald Amirault, behind bars despite widespread doubts that a crime had been committed … the convictions won by the Middlesex DA in the Fells Acres case have not borne up well. By today’s standards, the prosecution of the Amirault family, who owned and operated the day-care center in Malden, Mass., looks like a master class in battling witchcraft.”

            Coakley was Massachusetts Attorney General and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the senate (to replace Ted Kennedy).

            I don’t swear no right wingers were guilty in that particular set of witch hunts, but that’s three Democratic politicians, two of them prominent at the national level, who played a sizable and ugly role.

            Did any Republican president appoint a Republican prosecutor involved in one of the cases Attorney General? Did any of them get a Republican nomination for the Senate?

          • abc says:

            Mass rape waves in Europe?

            What’s your claim. That every report you hear about about Muslims engaging in mass rape is a hoax?

            Pizzagate

            If you have a disprove, I’d love to see it. Near as I can tell the only argument against it was the low prior.

            Spirit cooking

            So your contention is that the photos were photo-shopped?

          • I’d like to add “Non-muslims not allowed into Birmingham”.

          • If you have a disprove, I’d love to see it. Near as I can tell the only argument against it was the low prior.

            I’m worried now. I can’t disprove that the Queen is a space-reptile in disguise…

          • johnvertblog says:

            Noted thing that’s not known ever to have happened on this planet, politicians systematically molesting children behind closed doors.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            We know where the pizzagate “scandal” came from. It was total invented on 4Chan out of nothing, bored people making up fake “code words” in emails .

            That’s not how you get truth. You can’t draw a map of New York city by closing your eyes and making something up and have any reasonable chance of getting it right.

            “It’s not impossible for it to be true” isn’t really an argument here, neither is “you can’t prove it’s not true.” It’s no more likely to be true in this case then it would be about any person in the world chosen at random, and in fact it’s significantly less likely true here then it is about any random person considering the level of scrutiny Hillary has been under for decades.

            You’re basically making the Russell’s teapot argument.

          • johnvertblog says:

            This is a common assertion. I was there at the start, though, and there was general agreement that the “code words” were dumb and a tactic to discredit actual crowdsourced investigation – which was already going strong by that point. Still, the code words spread a lot faster than the more substantial stuff, both because they were memetically catchy and easy-to-understand and, presumably, because they were being centrally “shilled”.

          • abc says:

            We know where the pizzagate “scandal” came from. It was total invented on 4Chan out of nothing, bored people making up fake “code words” in emails .

            Have you looked at the emails in question? They’re pretty clearly in some kind of spy-speak. Whether it refers to pedophilia or something else, I have no idea.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            We had a bit of discussion here a few weeks back on whether Pizzagaters/the pizzagate curious were represented among the commentariat, and how that fit with its overall liberal slant. Take this for data, I guess.

            Beyond that, I am absolutely fascinated to hear about “the more substantial stuff” unearthed by the intrepid Pizzagate investigators, before they were cruelly undermined by some unhinged people in their midst making laughable claims.

            Johnvertblog makes the solid point that pedophile politicians have been shown to exist, therefore probably pizzagate, but I’m left wondering whether this, like code words, is just another attempt to undermine their cause by making it look extremely stupid.

          • johnvertblog says:

            I attempted to elaborate but my comment appears to have been deleted by moderation, which I must say is not exactly doing wonders for my impression of the way the topic is treated.

          • Nornagest says:

            You probably tripped over a banned word. A partial list is on the comments page in the header. Suggest using Harry Potter references and opaque injokes like the rest of us.

          • johnvertblog says:

            Oh, indeed I did. I feel kind of silly now, because the banned word I tripped over appears to have been banned with good intentions.

            Essentially, here are the worthwhile arguments for PizzaGate, in my view:

            #1: Suspicious phrases in the Podesta emails. You can’t just ascribe arbitrary “code word” meanings to them, but the lack of sense they make in context strongly supports the idea that they’re code words for something other than the literal meaning, which is Bayesian evidence for any hypothesis that involves Podesta and his circle doing something shady.
            #2: Several FBI-identified pedophilia symbols, which the relevant FBI document specifically states are used publicly in ways that could theoretically be innocuous for plausible deniability, appear in a high concentration in the logos and advertisements of businesses within a single block in Washington DC, which are owned by a small number of people who are part of a single social circle directly connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign through several people including John Podesta. The symbols are deliberately designed so they could be coincidentally recreated by chance, but the sheer concentration of them in one place is the strongest evidence for PizzaGate, IMO. It’s basic dogwhistling theory: to signal something that you can’t publicly signal, you have to do a lot of different plausibly deniable signals; I just remembered that Scott actually wrote an article about this idea a long time ago using the analogy of Russian spies who don’t know each other’s identities.
            #3: Creepy art that the Podestas collect. The Podestas are well-known among their friends and acquaintances as art collectors, and a lot of the art that they display in their house share themes of sexual violence, particularly towards children. As an opponent of thoughtcrime-based rhetoric, for example towards fanfiction on Tumblr, it would be wildly hypocritical for me to call this evil in itself; I would call it Bayesian evidence though.
            #4: Creepy social media pictures and posts from James Alefantis (the owner of the pizza parlor from which PizzaGate gets its name) and his friends, involving children. The most gut-churning one is probably the one you’ve likely seen, where James Alefantis appears to have duct-taped a young girl’s arms to a table in a possibly sexual position.
            #5: Concurrently with PizzaGate gaining traction, a certain meme, banned on this blog, arose in the mainstream media to discredit non-establishment news sources (theoretically only describing scam sites seeking ad revenue, but it’s a motte-and-bailey thing which has often been applied to PizzaGate). The timeline matches up perfectly for this meme to have been the outcome of elites panicking and scrambling to bury PizzaGate. This is the weakest link I’m putting in this post, since the elites have plenty of other reasons to create a meme to discredit news sources they don’t control, but still – it takes something BIG to get the elites to trot the Pope out to call you all coprophiles.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            So the pope did endorse Trump? Or perhaps he’s in on it too…

            I recognise that you list it as the weakest link in you case, but, still, “my opponents have identified a series of actors manufacturing veritably false claims against them. To me, this suggests that they have a child sex dungeon next to the mozzarella cheese station” takes chutzpah.

            And then we’re back to “some of the shop signs in a one block area look a bit like pedophile symbols if you squint/are unhinged”. I need more on this please.

            Did that guy you sent to check things out come up with anything more on this?

            Is there any chance that organised pedophile rings amongst the rich and powerful might have moved on to technology more advanced than literally putting up signs advertising that one can “get your child sex/pizza here?”

            Honestly, please don’t stop providing detail – it’s the only way to drown out those guys who are undermining your cause with their stupid codeword stuff.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            And then we’re back to “some of the shop signs in a one block area look a bit like pedophile symbols if you squint/are unhinged”. I need more on this please.

            Did that guy you sent to check things out come up with anything more on this?

            That’s not at all what “we’re back to”, if you read johnvertblog’s comment. Also, any reason to think johnvertblog had anything to do with that guy who went to check things out?

            I understand the emotional need to ridicule conspiracy theories, because that’s what you seem to be doing here. I also like snarky sense of humor and I believe this comment section would be dull without it. However, in this particular case, I think it’s not very helpful.

            If I ever become enthralled with a conspiracy theory, I’d love to believe I could come to SSC for rational feedback. If I get comments like yours above, it will do nothing to convince me my pet conspiracy theory is wrong. Quite possibly it will have the opposite effect.

            To johnvertblog, I’d like to recommend Scott’s post on The Pyramid and the Garden.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            One name, I don’t think that’s a very perceptive summary of the situation here with Johnvert.

            Let’s start with his factual claims:

            They are all incredibly stupid. One of the ones you’re upset about my skipping over is “they collect art I think is funny-looking”. While I didn’t take the time to say so, be assured that this, too, is incredible stupid.

            So we can get deeper into the weeds with the details of his (I’m pretty sure it’s “his”) theories, but these are not beliefs that warrant gentle handling.

            You also assert that Johnvert bears no responsibility for a guy who, taking the theories he is peddling here seriously, went and shot up the place. And you don’t recognise why that failed investigation might have some impact on the remaining credibility of the claims he’s still , for some reason, making.

            This is not “perhaps there are children being held under your pizza parlour”-level dumb, but’s it’s not exactly insightful commentary either.

            Second, what do we owe johnvert?

            This is debatable, but my answer is “nothing”.

            My audience is not really johnvert, who is either a congenital idiot or likes to play one at parties, but those conservatives here who have cheerfully climbed into bed with this type of “theorising”, and deserve to get a good look at their new partner in the cold light of day.

            We collectively lack the resources to save the johnvert’s of this world, and the best that we can hope for is that he feels a little less welcome in non-sewer venues.

            In a perfect world we’d go with what ever the non-snarky version of “and why do you feel that paedophiles would advertise on shop signs in a one block radius?” is, but time is short and the next best solution is that he be reminded that we recognise the quality of his arguments in an efficient manner.

            But more importantly, the several conservative commenters here, who try to treat this sort of stuff as politically useful innuendo (“was it ever really disproven?”) while retaining plausible deniability should feel like they need a shower after reading this guy’s stuff.

            I know I do.

        • grendelkhan says:

          Maybe there’s some motte-and-bailey going on; the motte is a well-considered, staid policy prescription, and the bailey is red meat for chanting hordes.

          So, on climate, the motte is that there’s uncertainty in the models, it’s a hard coordination problem, and we’re definitely not going about fixing it in the most cost-effective way–the sort of thing Bret Stephens has been writing about (though it still seems a tad disingenuous to me). The bailey is that the whole thing is bullshit intended to destroy capitalism.

          And on BLM, the bailey is, of course, “hands up, don’t shoot”, and more broadly, the idea that racist white cops are running around murdering black kids (‘state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies’) for funsies. The motte is Campaign Zero and the things Conor Friedersdorf writes about.

          • gbdub says:

            Doesn’t “motte-and-bailey” require both positions to be held by the same people? I’m not sure Bret Stephens wants to play in the “hoax to destroy capitalism” bailey.

          • grendelkhan says:

            You’re right; it’s just a regular old spectrum of opinion.

            I’m not sure Bret Stephens wants to play in the “hoax to destroy capitalism” bailey.

            Well… he does want to play in the “mass hysteria phenomenon” caused by “the totalitarian impulse”. He toned it down quite a bit for the Times.

          • The bailey is that the whole thing is bullshit intended to destroy capitalism.

            That’s a considerable exaggeration. The defensible version is that people on the left are willing to believe and propagate an exaggerated version of the problem because it provides arguments for policies they would be in favor of anyway.

            There is a popular cartoon which makes that point pretty clearly without, presumably, the author realizing the implications.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The defensible version

            Ummm, I know you know the difference between a motte and a bailey, but it’s a tad ironic to see you flub this one. Or something.

          • grendelkhan says:

            Aaargh, that’ll teach me to try and use the local jargon. (Wait, why is it ironic? I’m not exactly an expert or anything.)

            DavidFriedman: The defensible version is that people on the left are willing to believe and propagate an exaggerated version of the problem because it provides arguments for policies they would be in favor of anyway.

            Sure, “if it bleeds, it leads”, and all that. That’s a defensible argument (though see here on scientists, not so much on media types), and there’s plenty of truth to it. But that’s not the excitingly spicy variant of the meme, in which climate change is a UN-led hoax to create a ‘new world order’, and it’s really about destroying capitalism. Those are real beliefs, really held by some people on the right.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @grendelkhan:
            I was ribbing Friedman a little bit, not you.

            Bailey’s aren’t defensible, so when he starts talking about “the defensible version” of a bailey, he is talking about the motte. This is humorous to me because of his long involvement with SCA.

      • Alex Zavoluk says:

        I also disagree with the assertion that Fox News is obviously more biased, and even have a citation on hand to provide more data than just anecdotes and bias: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/GrosecloseMilyo.pdf

        • deciusbrutus says:

          By not evaluating the quality of the think tanks, you don’t answer the question “What think tanks would a completely unbaised news source use?”

          • The paper is defining bias by reference to Congress. A completely unbiased news source would use the same distribution of think tanks as the median member of congress.

            It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the basic logic of what they are doing. They explicitly are not defining it by reference to truth.

          • Unsaintly says:

            That only works if the median member of congress is in the middle. However, congress is currently Republican controlled so you would expect the median member of congress to have a right-wing bias. Therefore, wouldn’t the actual hypothetical “unbiased news source” use a somewhat more left-wing distribution of think tanks?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Unsaintly

            As others have noted, the report is a bit outdated. In 2003 the houses of Congress were 51% and 52% GOP. Just enough to be a majority but I doubt enough to skew the median substantially.

          • Luke Somers says:

            Actually, that is just enough to skew the median substantially. When you’ve got a very bimodal distribution, just about anything is enough to skew the median substantially away from the MIDDLE.

        • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

          … from 2003.

        • JohnBuridan says:

          Thanks for the link! I’ll check it out this afternoon!

      • Steve Sailer says:

        In my opinion, the New York Times is clearly the highest quality news organization in the country.

        The big problem with the NYT is not the reporters or even the editors, it’s that the readers want their worldviews confirmed. So a lot of NYT articles are constructed upside down with the most interesting and unsettling news buried toward the very end where most subscribers don’t bother reading.

        • Scott says:

          The research would give that one to The Economist, by measure of overall trust in its reporting. And if you want data backing up the claim that mainstream media leans liberal, look no further than the number of reds in the left column versus the number of yellows in the right.

          Also of note is that The Wall Street Journal is the most politically balanced highly trusted source by both liberals and conservatives alike – if you’re looking for nonpartisan neutral news and don’t have the time to read many different outlets, I’d stick to those two.

          I think it’s not at all a coincidence that these two sources are behind a paywall. Advertiser-funded news only gets money if people click, and nothing makes people click like partisan outrage in the headline. The other 3 in the top 5 most trusted (BBC, PBS, NPR) also do not get their funding from advertiser pageviews, but from government, grants, and donations.

          • spinystellate says:

            While I understood the connection between “pay-per-click” and “crappy quality” before, I somehow never made the connection between “pay-per-click” and “ideological bias”.

            This connection suggests that a good media-improving campaign would be to refuse to read anything on the internet funded by pay-per-click, i.e. only read paid journalism or intellectually-motivated bloggers. Many of you probably already do this, but somehow I didn’t fully appreciate how important this step might be.

          • Janet says:

            The Economist probably is the best “mainstream” publication. Last year, they ran a cover article on “The Art of the Lie”, about how crazy “alternate facts” spread around on social media and partisan news sites. One of the examples of this sort of obvious falsehood which wouldn’t go away, was Breitbart, et. al. pushing the idea that Hillary Clinton had some sort of undisclosed medical issue. I mean, come on.

            They published on September 10th. The next day, of course, Hillary collapsed in public, due to an undisclosed medical condition.

            So that’s part of the problem: the Overton window, at least for the mainstream media, isn’t wide enough to encompass all of the actual reality around us. The idea that Hillary had some sort of potentially-disqualifying condition, even temporarily did, was totally unacceptable; and so they didn’t accept it. (Even afterwards, the media didn’t vigorously follow up the remaining questions about mis-aligned eyes, long disappearances from public view, etc. the way they dog-piled McCain, say.) But reality is nothing more nor less than that-which-we-must-accept-regardless, isn’t it?

            Another part, I would link to your own comments about how man is a rational animal, and so dismissing their rational thoughts with contempt, is a form of dehumanization. The mainstream media are “gatekeepers” and very specifically keep out facts, ideas, issues, opinions, stories, etc. that don’t reflect well on the Blue elite. No surprise that the Reds ultimately end up making their own media that won’t do that (or, more accurately, were easy pickings for Murdoch). Also no surprise that you find gandersauce to be very distasteful– they ignore important issues, focus on trivial, hammer your side for any failing but ignore/downplay the same thing on your opponents’ side, bash down strawmen, etc.

            (For grins, I just clicked over to CNN.com… the headline is “GOP split on gutting protections for the sick”. Come on. Tell me that’s a ‘neutral’ take on healthcare reform. Tell me that’s ‘better’ than Breitbart. Tell me that the Reds left because they don’t like the ‘facts’ that journalists uncover.
            Even as writing for liberals, this fails to convey what’s actually being discussed and to enlighten on how to influence the result effectively.)

          • Scott says:

            @Janet, I mostly agree. But I think you have your Scotts mixed up – I’m a random one and not Mr. Alexander. (There’s too many of us…)

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            Janet, that’s an unhelpful airbrushing of Breitbart’s reporting and that of the economist.

            From the story itself:

            “A case in point is the recent speculation about the health of Mrs Clinton. It started with videos purporting to show Mrs Clinton suffering from seizures”

            These videos did not show Hillary Clinton suffering seizures, and no subsequent evidence supported this claim. So you’re going with “something of the general nature they claimed occurred later, victory for journalism!”, which I think shows where you have to set the bar in order to get comfortable with conservative media.

            As far as “GOP split on gutting protections for the sick”, I think that’s an unreasonably tendentious framing, given journalistic norms, but it’s not factually inaccurate (depending on how deep we require a “gutting” to be). The bill does cut protections for the sick in order to liberate funds for a future tax cut targeting high income earners.

            So, yeah, that’s both better than Breitbart and better than your mischaracterisation of the Economist’s reporting, because there aren’t any lies in it.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        The New York Times has never allowed the alliterative term “hate hoax” to appear in its pages since 1851. It is highly adverse, presumably for Sapir-Whorf Light reasons, to allowing the concept of a hate hoaxes to find footing in its readers’ minds.

        Breitbart uses “hate hoax” all the time to categorize hate hoaxes.

        Does this mean the NYT is more biased on this topic than Breitbart or vice-versa?

        Personally, I think the more conceptual categories the better. If you accept my premise, then this makes Breitbart more sophisticated conceptually than the NYT on this one topic.

        • Enkidum says:

          Though I’m loathe to admit it, you’re probably right about this specific point.

      • vV_Vv says:

        Breitbart is better compared to the Huffington Post or The Guardian, CNN is better compared to Fox News.

        So, does your point boil down to right-wing media being honest about its leaning while the left-wing media being dishonest about it?

        • Ryan says:

          When Fox News first came out I thought their “fair and balanced” slogan was just satire, “ha ha, we’ll claim to be objective too.”

          Now, though, I think they were just ass holes.

          What I like about Breitbart is not so much their honesty about bias, but rather their philosophy of “the mainstream press leaves out any part of reality which contradicts the narrative, we’re here to find and publish what they leave out.” In a weird way they make the overall press more objective.

      • Deiseach says:

        Reading this post reminded me of when Richard Dawkins was talking about the Catholic Church as the Evilest Evil That Ever Eviled In The Entire History Of Evil, which more or less led me to go “Well, okay then!”

        Conservatives are the Most Biased Biased In The Entire History Of Bias? Well, okay then!

        Fox News is a Rupert Murdoch operation. Rupert Murdoch has one guiding principle: making money. He finds the right/conservatism more congenial to that end, but he’ll happily throw his media empire’s support Labour’s way when it’s politically convenient (New Labour or Tories Lite, that is). He was born in Australia, moved to Britain and made noises about taking out citizenship there when that was the base for his news organisation, then finally took out US citizenship for the sake of cash money “to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own US television stations. This resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship”. His marriage to Wendi Deng was seen by some as being as much (or mainly) about getting a toe-hold in the Chinese market as True Love.

        Rupert Murdoch is a capitalist. He has no other conservative values than that. I honestly think his creation of Fox was as much about not being able to get a wedge into the existing liberal-oriented newspaper world in the USA (his acquisition of the New York Post and turning it into a tabloid was on the same lines as his business model in Britain but he wasn’t able to pick up an American plum – or former plum – the equivalent of The Times in the USA as he had managed to do in Britain) as it was identifying a gap in the market for pandering (let’s call it that) to the right-wing consumers of opinion and reportage.

        Anyway, this gives me a chance to use my links about The New York Times in particular and “is it/isn’t it a liberal newspaper”.

        2004, the new Public Editor, Daniel Okrent answered that question Of course it is:

        TIMES publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. doesn’t think this walk through The Times is a tour of liberalism. He prefers to call the paper’s viewpoint ”urban.” He says that the tumultuous, polyglot metropolitan environment The Times occupies means ”We’re less easily shocked,” and that the paper reflects ”a value system that recognizes the power of flexibility.”

        He’s right; living in New York makes a lot of people think that way, and a lot of people who think that way find their way to New York (me, for one). The Times has chosen to be an unashamed product of the city whose name it bears, a condition magnified by the been-there-done-that irony afflicting too many journalists. Articles containing the word ”postmodern” have appeared in The Times an average of four times a week this year — true fact! — and if that doesn’t reflect a Manhattan sensibility, I’m Noam Chomsky.

        But it’s one thing to make the paper’s pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls (European papers, aligned with specific political parties, have been doing it for centuries), and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don’t think it’s intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn’t have to be intentional.

        2010/2011, the former Editor, Bill Keller, rejoins that it’s not, or at least not in the sense of having a deliberate liberal/Democrat slant in the news coverage and editorialising. It’s a liberal paper in the same sense as a liberal arts college, it has an urban, sophisticated, modern, cosmopolitan background and its staff reflect that:

        “We’re liberal in the sense that … liberal arts schools are liberal,” Keller noted, during a recent dialogue recorded at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. “We’re an urban newspaper. … We write about evolution as a fact. We don’t give equal time to Creationism.”

        Moderator Evan Smith, editor of the Texas Tribune, jokingly shushed his guest and added: “You may not be in the right state for that.”

        Keller continued: “We are liberal in the sense that we are open-minded, sort of tolerant, urban. Our wedding page includes — and did even before New York had a gay marriage law — included gay unions. So we’re liberal in that sense of the word, I guess. Socially liberal.”
        Asked directly if the Times slants its coverage to favor “Democrats and liberals,” he added: “Aside from the liberal values, sort of social values thing that I talked about, no, I don’t think that it does.”

        Being right is necessary but not sufficient. We also strive to be impartial. We are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with a preconceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers and including our own government. (NPR, whose news coverage I admire, must surely be wondering whether a federal subsidy is worth its vulnerability to the riptides of Congressional politics.)

        My little realm, the newsroom, consists of about 1,100 people. Every one of them has opinions about a lot of things. But just as doctors and lawyers, teachers and military officers, judges and the police are expected to set aside their own politics in the performance of their duties, so are our employees. This does not mean — as one writer recently scoffed — that we “poll people at both extremes of any issue, then paint a line down the middle and point to it as reality.” It does not mean according equal weight to every point of view, no matter how far-fetched. (Sorry, birthers, but President Obama is an American citizen.) Impartiality is, for us, not just a matter of pretending to be neutral; it is a healthful, intellectual discipline. Once you proclaim an opinion, you may feel an urge to defend it, and that creates a temptation to overlook inconvenient facts when you should be searching them out.

        In short, our mission is not to tell you what we think or what you are supposed to think, and it is certainly not to pander to your prejudices. It is to supply to you, as best we can, the basis to make up your own minds.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          It’s useful to think of the New York Times as an institution that represents the finest traditions of genteel German-Jewish-Americans. The Ochs-Sulzberger family has owned the Times since the late 19th Century and has done well by it.

          There was a lot of resentment among more bumptious Eastern European Jews toward German Jews in the U.S. (e.g., the Century Country Club in Westchester County wouldn’t let Russian Jews join until after WWII, when Scarsdale diet doctor Herman Tarnower was let in as somebody who obviously wouldn’t get involved in a scandal). But that has largely been forgotten as intra-Jewish discrimination has been retconned into anti-Semitism in the interest of Jewish communal amity.

          • Ryan says:

            I don’t remember who originally said this (wouldn’t be surprised if it was you), “the more time Koreans spend hating the Japanese, the less time they spend hating each other.”

            It’s a pretty good rule of thumb for everything.

      • nyccine says:

        But ignoring the issue of which side is more correct, it seems to me like Breitbart has a stronger and more overt conservative slant than CNN does a liberal slant, or at least that it makes much less of a claim to be a neutral gatekeeper. Would you disagree?

        There are two very important sleights of hand being played here. The first is in the form of “answer the question you (not Scott specifically; this trick was played by the press long before anyone commenting here was born, we’ve all just fallen for and internalized the trick) want to ask instead of the one actually being asked.”

        Accusations of “bias” are accusations that one’s positions on an issue are influencing one’s discussion of the issue; in the case of the press, this accusation means that the press is engaged in one or more of the following:
        -Only reporting on stories that make sides opposing their favored position look bad, or that make their favored position look good.
        -Present facts that shore up the favored position, or discount opposing parties, and suppress, to at least some degree, facts that don’t help the narrative.
        -Outright lying about facts and/or claims in order to defend the favored position, or attack opposing position.
        “How biased is CNN, relative to Fox?” is a question of how much of the above CNN does, and how hard they do it; telling me the position they are biased in support of isn’t as “extreme” as Fox isn’t germane to the question at all, yet is presented as answering the question.

        The other sleight of hand is pretending that CNN’s worldview is less “extreme” than other positions by arbitrarily assigning it a position on a meaningless 2-dimensional axis. Contrary to assertions that it’s not as left as, say, MSNBC, I would contend that the globalist Neoliberal position is rather extreme compared to American norms, and on many positions is almost completely incompatible with the expectations of a representative republic.

    • Mazirian says:

      And it’s not just the media that is wrong about race. Social science is equally bad. Much of American social science is dedicated to producing findings in favor of progressive racial narratives. I mean things like “stereotype threat” causing achievement gaps, “implicit prejudice” causing discrimination, “diversity” being beneficial for productivity and so on. A critical reading of the literature reveals that the evidence for each of these propositions is essentially nil. Shouldn’t the fact that social science produces ideologically motivated racial frauds of this sort on a continual basis make conservative skepticism of social science claims the rational, scientific position rather than an expression of tribal epistemology?

      • Enkidum says:

        I must have missed the boat on the stereotype threat being a false finding thing – can someone point me to relevant paper(s)?

        • Eltargrim says:

          Inasmuch as you trust Wikipedia, it has links to the appropriate papers. If they’re paywalled and you can’t get access, I’d be happy to try and pass them along.

          • Enkidum says:

            Thanks! No problem with paywalls (I work at a university), but I am apparently way too lazy to Google for 30 seconds. I’ll download them and have my worldview ANNIHILATED.

          • Eltargrim says:

            Annihilated would be strong, I think. A healthy injection of doubt due to the possibility of publication bias and weak stats, perhaps? I mean, the only somewhat recent scientific findings I would characterize as being annihilated are the Wakeman autism/vaccine study and the LaCour fraud.

            I have much sympathy for my colleagues working in human sciences. It’s hard enough to tease out effects when you’re studying simple physical systems; I’d hate having to study people.

          • Enkidum says:

            I was being silly with the “annihilated” thing, and agree with your point. I do work with human data (cog sci / neurosci) and its complexity makes it very easy to come to erroneous conclusions for a variety of reasons.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Actually, it’s surprising how little support the social sciences come up with for the conventional wisdom. I’ve been a big aficionado of the social sciences for 45 years and they have been consistently politically incorrect if you read them closely and critically.

        Ever since the federally funded Coleman Report of 1966, mainstream social sciences have been full of hatestats.

        • Progressive Reformation says:

          And yet somehow the conventional wisdom remains, well, the conventional wisdom. In your view, what mechanisms prevent these ‘politically incorrect’ results from finding their way into public knowledge, and is there a way to change this?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            What do the social sciences have to say about how conventional wisdom works?

          • Steve Sailer says:

            What happened to Larry Summers when he let slip some hatefacts? What happened to James D. Watson?

            People are generally not going to pay much attention to facts that get even incredibly famous and powerful individuals shown the door.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            In 2013, there was a survey of academics attending a conference on intelligence. According to the expert respondents, the most reliable source of journalism on IQ matters in English turned out to be … me.

            http://www.unz.com/jthompson/what-intelligence-researchers-think/

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            Steve, that part is clear as day to me – I suppose I wasn’t being clear with my question, which was more along the lines of “who wields the power to censor these results?” Is it the radical students, or the radical professors, or someone else? If it is either the radical students or the radical professors, are they a minority, and if so, how did they acquire this power?

            And, of course, there is the second part: how can we change this?

          • Steve Sailer says:

            A lot of the mechanism is Voltaire’s “pour le encourage les autres:” the occasional random extreme over-reaction causes a lot of self-policing. America’s most famous living man of science is forced to resign from heading the great medical laboratory he rebuilt from decay over the last 4 decades because some remarks he made in seeming confidence made their way into the newspaper? Uh-oh …

            It’s kind of like puppy-training. If you want your pup to grow up to be cringing and dependent upon you, use intermittent reinforcement: beat him randomly rather than consistently. Thus the inconsistency of the beatings for violations of political correctness has a bigger impact than if there were carefully worked out bright lines that everybody could understand and follow.

            In reality, there is a lot of randomness in the system of punishments.

            One of the things that randomness does is it encourages people to believe that those who got punished must have had it coming.

            I hope I contributed to Scott’s more cautious new position about what he’ll allow to be discussed by helping him come to doubt his overconfident previous assumption that all he has to do is be like Pinker instead of Charles Murray or Larry Summers and he won’t get in trouble.

            In reality, Pinker is like a cross between Murray and Summers, so Scott shouldn’t be so confident.

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            That part, too, is fairly clear to me. I even made the same points myself a couple months back in a debate with a Harvard-trained CEU professor of philosophy: https://medium.com/@progressive.reformation/i-already-gave-you-several-examples-of-unpunished-violence-1e8a07a8646f

            In the case of universities canceling speakers, it seems fairly clear to me that the problem is a loud, violent, radical minority of students. Administrators, not wanting to deal with a likely or even merely possible, um, “fecal hurricane”, buckle and even do some ‘self-policing’ as you describe it.

            For the James Watson case it is less clear to me. The lab he resigned from was a private lab – no radical students to cause trouble, etc. So what happened? Does Cold Spring Harbor Lab maintain close relationships with universities it fears offending (and the universities are then basically held hostage by loud violent radical etc. student groups)? Was it pure media pressure – perhaps making the lab fear for its funding? Or they were afraid of offending some researchers? Or maybe the culture of self-policing is just so pervasive that Watson was forced to resign without any concrete threat? Or some combination of all of these?

            Anyway. All of the above hypotheses seem plausible to me, but I’m curious to know if you favor a specific one (or combination of them).

            Finally, to get back to my original question: Who, specifically, is preventing the conventional wisdom in social science from changing? If, as you say, the journals are full of “hatestats”, are they clearly stated or do you have to read carefully to pick up on them?

            And whose job is it to turn research into the conventional wisdom? Is it usually the university’s media-relations engines, or the mainstream press, or conference presentations, or… etc, etc, etc. After all, depending on whose job it is, different “censors” come into play (if it’s the universities’ news offices – my guess for most likely – then the culprit is probably radical students; etc.)

            And, again, most importantly: do you think there is any way to change this? If we managed to reduce the power of organized loud violent etc. students, would that by itself solve the problem, or do we have to rein in some radical minority of professors too? etc.

      • grendelkhan says:

        Social science is equally bad. Much of American social science is dedicated to producing findings in favor of progressive racial narratives.

        I’ve had a published research scientist working in psychological statistics tell me that stereotype threat explains the black-white test gap. (It was the obvious misreading of the first graph here.) I don’t think it was anything sinister, just motivated stopping, but it was staggering just how bad the mistake was. I guess this is what happens when you let your guard down.

        • Progressive Reformation says:

          The whole “stereotype threat explains the gap” stance – as a mainstay of the ultra-progressive-SJ party line (I’ve heard it independently from several friends who are very much ultra-progressive-SJ-ists) – has always puzzled me somewhat.

          Suppose for a minute that it is, in fact, true (it probably isn’t, but bear with me). Wouldn’t that make cultural associations coming from within the black community – e.g. “oreo”, “acting white”, etc. – a major source of negative stereotypes which would then impact education? And wouldn’t that basically completely ruin their proposed solution of “everything would be fine if white people would admit guilt and stop being super implicitly racist all the time” – because there would still be this kind of self-stereotyping?

    • Enkidum says:

      I think one very important distinction between Breitbart et al and the mainstream left-leaning news is that the mainstream news does not commit outright fraud. Breitbart, on the other hand, became famous largely because of James O’Keefe’s videos targetting ACORN and Shirley Sherrod, which were actively promoted and encouraged by Bannon and his cronies. There is no equivalent of this on the left-leaning mainstream side. Being fooled by stories that fit the narrative you support (which is what happened with the fake hate crimes post-election) is a quite different sin than what O’Keefe did. I suppose the closest thing on the left-wing side would be Michael Moore’s work, which is not, and never has been, a centerpiece of the New York Times or Washington Post’s editorial pages.

      This is one way in which it’s really true that one side is simply worse. There is an abandonment of the notion that one should stand on a bedrock of truth on the Breitbart side of things, indeed it was precisely by abandoning this that they became a force to be reckoned with.

      Now, I don’t mean to pretend that there aren’t people on the left with equally appalling attitudes towards things like truth, fact-checking, and rejecting false stories even if they support our side. Trust me, I know plenty of the left wing equivalents of the worst right wing scumbags. But the point is that there are numerous large and powerful institutions, among which the entire mainstream media belongs, where these attitudes are kept in check through formal processes, explicit ideological commitments, and (probably most important of all) implicitly-learned habits. The same is not true of Breitbart and similar places.

      I think, as Scott says, that this is an appalling and dangerous state for the Western world to be in, but here we are. I also agree that there are many ways in which the left holds responsibility for this state, and this post points to some of them. But at the end of the day, I’m not going to trust something that’s only reported on Breitbart (or a similar site), because I know they have crossed the line into outright fabrication and slander on more than one occasion, and see nothing wrong with doing so, whereas in every case that I know of where a reporter has taken steps in this direction in the mainstream press, they have had their careers destroyed. And that’s not because I’m a liberal sissy cuck whatever (though I’m sure I am), it’s because I’ve got some minimum fucking standards, and the left wing media has a much better history of meeting those standards.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        You shouldn’t trust anything that comes from Breitbart. You also shouldn’t trust anything that comes from the New York Times. Or at the very least “trust, but verify.”

        Nullius in verba is a hard code to live by but it’s a worthwhile attempt.

        Anyway, there has been plenty of fraud in mainstream news lately and much of it has been insultingly obvious. The pictures of migrant “children” in their twenties and thirties and the Rolling Stone rape scandal are the first to jump out at me. The fact that you don’t see it doesn’t mean that it’s rare, it means that you’re not paying attention to it.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The NYT controls carefully what concepts are considered mainstream. For example, even though there have been countless hate hoaxes going back to Al Sharpton’s Tawana Brawley hate hoax 30 years ago, which made Tom Wolfe’s current bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanity seem understated, the NYT refuses to publish the 9 character string “hate hoax.” Thus, every single time, the NYT publishes a fraudulent hate hoax it’s a completely random accident, not something that it should have been on the look out for … because there’s no such thing as a “hate hoax.”

          • MugaSofer says:

            The term “hate hoax” does not appear to have existed off of outright white supremacist sites prior to 2013, and seems to have originated on Stormfront. I wasn’t familiar with it before today, despite being thoroughly familiar with the concept.

            I don’t think that the mainstream media’s failure to use this term is particularly revealing.

            (Although it is definitely true that they are insufficiently skeptical of dramatic, media-friendly hate crimes.)

          • suntzuanime says:

            It’s less an issue that they don’t use Steve Sailer’s specific name for it, and more an issue that they don’t use any name for it, they don’t recognize it as a phenomenon and a possibility to be aware of when reporting on anonymous “hate crimes”, and they treat every hoax that gets revealed as “shocking, no one could have predicted this”.

            They even piled on some of the “no one could have predicted this” in the case where they had previously savaged Trump for predicting it, which I thought was especially brazen of them. O the fuckers.

          • Ryan says:

            Does the NYT even SlateStarCoxex bro?

            The Toxoplasma of Rage

            http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

            Not just a convincing case that prominent hate crimes are likely to be false, but also a convincing explanation about why they are likely to be false.

            Come on NYT, start surfing the right internet sites and step your game up.

          • JulieK says:

            I’ve seen the phrase “hate crime hoax” more than “hate hoax.”

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            “Hate hoax” strikes me as very Daily Mail or (I assume, I don’t read it) New York Post. It just has a bit of an “EU numpty” or “sex romp” or “paedo” or “fat cats spending our tax dollars” air about it.

            You may have a freestanding point about coverage of the incidents themselves, but you undermine it by vigorously lobbying for terminology which sounds like it came straight from stormfront/the national enquirer.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            “Hate Hoax” was the title of a 2004 article by me in The American Conservative about when Claremont McKenna professor Kerri F. Dunn trashed her car and then blamed it on her conservative white male students.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            “Hate Hoax” was the title of a 2004 article by me in The American Conservative about when Claremont McKenna professor Kerri F. Dunn trashed her car and then blamed it on her conservative white male students

            I believe that is consistent with my earlier point about the optics (euphonics?) of “hate hoax”.

            And I can’t help feeling like “why isn’t the New York Times popularising this term I coined?! I blame liberal bias!” is maybe a bit self-serving. In fact, I call it “self-serving-Sailerism”, and look forward to the NYT doing likewise, or otherwise it’s biased.

      • howardtreesong says:

        Dan Rather engaged in outright fraud. So too did 20/20 or whoever it was that set up GM cars with model rocket engines under them to try to convince everyone they were a fire risk.

        I’m generally conservative and likely have confirmation bias, but I find MSNBC to be much further left than Fox is right, and the NYT to be much further left than the WSJ is right.

        • eccdogg says:

          I think you are correct on NYT vs WSJ. The only thing that is really right wing in the WSJ is the editorial page.

          You are also probably correct on Fox vs MSNBC.

          Fox was created because there were 6 news sites that were essentially a 4 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most conservative. In a stroke of business genius Murdoch created a 7/8 and took almost half the audience leaving the rest to be split among the previous six.

          MSNBC was a response to create a liberal Fox, but since the main stream was already a 4 they had to go even further to differentiate.

          • hlynkacg says:

            That is my assessment as well. I feel like Fox was a 6 or 7 early on (I remember their initial coverage of 9/11 and GWOT being quite sober and reserved) but they drifted right during the Obama years to the “strong 8” they now occupy.

          • Marshayne Lonehand says:

            That Faux-News Report “Fred Rogers — this Evil, Evil Man” pretty much turned-up the alt.Boeotian knob all the way to 11, didn’t it?

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Dan Rather didn’t solicit the memos. He ignored clear evidence that they were fake because he didn’t want to believe it, and insisted that the source was “unimpeachable,” and a bunch of other things that deserve to end one’s journalism career, but he didn’t commit fraud.

          • Radford Neal says:

            It’s barely conceivable that Rather didn’t realize the memos were fake at the time of the initial broadcast, but it is beyond belief that he didn’t realize they were fake when defending their authenticity later.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            To this day he and Mapes insist they were legit. I suppose he’s faking it, but more likely is that he just refuses to consider facts harmful to his worldview.

        • The Nybbler says:

          _Dateline_ is the one which blew up Chevy trucks with rocket engines.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Rolling Stone got fined $3.5 million for publishing a wholly fictitious libel about fraternity initiation gang rape on broken glass, and that’s even with the fraternity lawsuit still on deck.

        The NYT has printed a lot of wholly fraudulent stories about gang rape at UVA and Duke because they want to believe that evil cishet white male Haven Monahans are out raping away. The NYT and the Obama Administration frequently conspired to launch various manias and moral panics, such as World War T in 2013.

        • MoebiusStreet says:

          I think Enkidum is trying to draw a distinction in that some Conservative stories were actively fabricated, whereas the Rolling Stone rape story and others were just a matter of suppressing their skepticism of something that was given to them.

          But I don’t think that the Left media is always on the correct side of this distinction anyway. I mentioned elsewhere the case of NBC’s editing of the George Zimmerman 911 call.

          • Ryan says:

            One of the things which came out at the defamation trial is that the Rolling Stone author basically started out with the premise of the story: college campus frat culture rape, administration silences victim, and then shopped around for someone to say that happened to them.

            If that was step one of your journey, and steps 2 through 10 involved suppressing skepticism, maybe that’s not fraud exactly, but it’s close to a moral equivalent.

          • Aapje says:

            I would say that there is no clear line between journalist malpractice and outright lying.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            The UVA Rolling Stone hoax was actively fabricated by coed Jackie Coakley, based on a Law & Order episode she watched, some half-remembered dialog from Dawson’s Creek, and so forth. Jackie’s gangrape on broken glass fraternity initiation ritual was so prima facie absurd that you’d have to be utterly marinated in the current hate propaganda against straight white gentile males to fall for it, but Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Jann Wenner fell awfully hard.

          • Nornagest says:

            Gentile?

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Scores of other professional journalists praised Erdely’s Night of Broken Glass hate fantasy, such as Jeffrey Goldberg, since promoted to Editor in Chief of The Atlantic.

            It took five days for a single professional journalist, Richard Bradley, to go public with his skepticism about this story, and it was four days before a second pro, me, got up the courage to link to Bradley’s dissent.

            That opened the floodgates.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Erdely’s Rolling Stone UVA article is full of paranoia about dangerous, hateful conservative blonds engaging in Nights of Broken Glass.

            http://takimag.com/article/a_rape_hoax_for_book_lovers_steve_sailer/print#axzz4g3iKzb00

            Ironically, but predictably, her hate hoax led to an actual Night of Broken Glass on campus as liberal students smashed the windows of the fraternity libeled in her article.

            Interestingly, at the U. of Pennsylvania, Erdely had worked for notorious hoaxer Stephen Glass, subject of the interesting little movie “Shattered Glass.”

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Gentile?

            As in, not jewish.

          • Nornagest says:

            I know what it means. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a culture warrior use the word, or any synonym of it, in a culture-war context aside from a few Jewish writers talking about the Jewish community. Jewishness is just a non-issue in most contexts, with the arguable exception of Israel, but even that seems to be cast more as a West-vs-Arab-world thing than a Jewish-vs-Muslim thing.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Then, for better or for worse, you musn’t be very familiar with Steve Sailer’s writings, as it’s a common theme in them.

          • Nornagest says:

            No, I’m not, which is why I was trying to draw out some elaboration from him.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Well I’m no Sailer, but basically, when it comes to culture war topics in America, he considers liberal, secular jews as a distinct interest group. Probably because this “solves” the issue of self-hating white people in culture wars: they’re not self-hating, they’re jews “hating” on WASPs.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            If you read Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s works carefully, you’ll notice that anti-gentilism is recurrent. She finds the blond gentiles at UVA, with their admiration for Thomas Jefferson, disturbing and dangerous. In Erdely’s telling they seem always about to break out into a Kristallnacht: thus the bizarre Shattered Glass theme running through Erdely’s “A Rape on Campus.”

          • Steve Sailer says:

            From my 12/3/2014 column in Taki’s Magazine analyzing Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s 11/19/2014 9000 word article “A Rape on Campus:”

            A stone-cold sober coed named Jackie is lured by her date “Drew” to an upstairs room at the fraternity house. She is immediately tackled by one of the eight men waiting in the pitch darkness. Their toppling bodies crash through a glass table unaccountably left out in the middle of the rape room. Amidst the shattered glass, the young men beat her and hold her down on the floor. The shards grind into her bleeding back as she is methodically raped in the dark for three hours by seven young men, while her upperclassman date and another man coach them.

            The frat boys egg on one reluctant pledge: “Don’t you want to be a brother?”

            “We all had to do it, so you do, too.”

            In other words, this is supposed to be some sort of fraternity initiation rite. (That fraternities at UVA hold their initiations in the spring, not in September, isn’t mentioned in the article.)

            The last lad, whom Jackie somehow recognizes in the dark as a boy in her anthropology class, rapes her with a glass bottle.

            What should we make of Erdely’s “brutal tableau” of beer bottle rape amidst the shattered glass?

            As a work of journalism, it’s most interesting for what it inadvertently reveals about the bizarre legends that seem plausible to American media consumers in 2014.

            As a creative work of art, however, drawing (consciously or unconsciously) upon multiple influences such as the blockbuster Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hate porn franchise and the Shattered Glass biopic of magazine article fabricator Stephen Glass, it is more impressive. It’s first-rate propaganda, and Erdely’s adroit techniques should be studied by those concerned about how gullible Americans are.

            Some of the literary power of Erdely’s nightmarish retelling of poor Jackie’s saga stems from the writer’s use of glass, both broken and bottle, as an ominous multipurpose metaphor. Throughout “A Rape on Campus,” glass stands for fragility, bloodshed, loss of virginity, alcohol, littering, male brutishness, danger, violence—even a literal phallic symbol. Glass represents not the calm transparency of a window pane, but the occluded viciousness of the white conservative Southern male power structure.

            For example:

            “The first weeks of freshman year are when students are most vulnerable to sexual assault. … Hundreds of women in crop tops and men in khaki shorts stagger between handsome fraternity houses, against a call-and-response soundtrack of “Whoo!” and breaking glass. “Do you know where Delta Sig is?” a girl slurs, sloshed. Behind her, one of her dozen or so friends stumbles into the street, sending a beer bottle shattering.”

            Strangely, just about the only people in America who don’t seem to have accepted at face value Jackie’s theory of a nine-man conspiracy to rape her are those portrayed in the Rolling Stone article as knowing the poor young woman well. …

            During her sophomore year, Jackie became prominent in the struggle on campus against rape culture. But the patriarchy struck back brutally last spring, using its favorite tool of violence, the glass bottle. Outside a bar at the Corner:

            “One man flung a bottle at Jackie that broke on the side of her face, leaving a blood-red bruise around her eye.”

            That’s horrifying … assuming it happened. Or are we deep into Gone Girl territory now? (There’s nothing in the article about anybody calling the police over this presumably open-and-shut case.) Erdely continues:

            “She e-mailed Eramo so they could discuss the attack … As Jackie wrapped up her story, she was disappointed by Eramo’s nonreaction. She’d expected shock, disgust, horror.”

            Erdely attributes this widespread ho-hum reaction among Jackie’s old friends and confidantes to a second massive conspiracy, this one to cover up the first conspiracy in order to protect that bastion of the right, UVA.

            Erdely’s explanation for why those who know Jackie best didn’t rush her to the hospital or call 911 or even pay much attention to her claims over the next two years is that the University of Virginia is an alien, hostile, conservative country club with an

            “… aura of preppy success, where throngs of toned, tanned and overwhelmingly blond students fanned across a landscape of neoclassical brick buildings.”

            The Rolling Stone writer is bothered by how UVA students look up to founder Thomas Jefferson (a notorious rapist of a black body, I might add).

            Erdely finds offense in the campus honor code, by which students promise not to cheat on papers.

            http://takimag.com/article/a_rape_hoax_for_book_lovers_steve_sailer/print#ixzz4g3wXxjON

          • Nornagest says:

            A metaphor — and a versatile one, as you say — is a bit of a thin reed to hang race hatred on. I could probably come up with a dozen symbolic uses of broken glass without trying hard; Watchmen and Apocalypse Now are only the first two that come to mind.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s ethnic animus would be pretty obvious if we were permitted to have in common discourse useful conceptual terms like “anti-gentilic” to accompany common terms like “anti-semitic.” But, like in “1984,” our conceptual vocabulary is carefully policed so that we don’t have useful terms like “anti-gentilic” or “hate hoax” that would make it easier to notice some patterns in reality.

            Thus, the national media lauded Erdely’s hate hoax article because it confirmed so many of their prejudices. And they don’t even know they have those prejudices because “anti-gentilic” isn’t a Thing. Neither are “hate hoaxes” a Thing. So Erdely’s hate hoax motivated by her anti-gentilic hostility didn’t seem like an absurd concoction to, say, Atlantic Editor Jeffrey Goldberg, it seemed like Great Journalism.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            A striking irony is Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s gang rape on Shattered Glass hate hoax story led to a real life Kristallnacht at UVA, when a mob smashed the windows of the fraternity implicated in Rolling Stone:

            Jeffrey Scott Shapiro wrote in the Washington Times:

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/21/rolling-stone-university-of-virginia-rape-story-sp/

            Unpunished vandalism rampage inspired by Rolling Stone’s U.Va. rape story

            Student activist who led vandalism attack on Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house says he has no regrets

            By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro – The Washington Times – Sunday, December 21, 2014

            In the wee morning hours after Rolling Stone’s now-retracted gang rape story roiled the University of Virginia campus, a masked group of five women and three men unleashed their fury on the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the center of the controversy.

            Bottles and bricks were tossed through nearly every first-floor window, sending shards of glass and crashing sounds into the house around 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 20.

            Profane, hate messages such as “F—k Boys” were spray-painted on the walls of the colonial facade, along with anti-sexual assault epithets such as “suspend us,” and “UVA Center for Rape Studies.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            I haven’t noticed any lack of antipathy towards white Jewish males who won’t toe the line. Scott Aaronson has found himself the target of feminist ire. Moldbug’s been called a Nazi. Our own host has noted fear of physical and repuational attacks on him. So I think Sailer is off-base here.

            (Also I have my doubts as to whether Coakley or Erdely know what Kristallnacht was)

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Let me point out that the other Washington newspaper reporter who did good work revealing just how absurd the Rolling Stone UVA hate hoax was was also named Shapiro: T. Rees Shapiro of the Washington Post.

            So there are plenty of journalists who don’t let ethnic animus get in the way of doing a good job.

            But others are susceptible to it because our 21st century respectable discourse lacks useful conceptual terms such as “anti-gentilic” and “hate hoax.”

            If it were respectable to point out examples of anti-gentilism in mainstream media, there would be less of it.

            Because criticism is good for human beings. Having it pointed out when we succumb to common failings such as anti-gentilic bigotry, we would be on guard to be guilty of it less often.

            But instead, in our culture, the media critic who points out how Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s anti-gentilic ethnic animus contributed to her spectacular fiasco is considered to be, at best, some kind of weirdo bringing up some obscure and bizarre term that doesn’t even exist.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Nornagest writes:

            “I know what it means. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a culture warrior use the word, or any synonym of it, in a culture-war context aside from a few Jewish writers talking about the Jewish community. Jewishness is just a non-issue in most contexts …”

            Have you ever wondered why that it is in a country where Jews make up about 1/3rd of the Forbes 400, at least 2/5ths of the top pundits, and give close to half of all political contributions?

            My personal opinion is that American Jews have largely earned their wealth and influence through their intelligence and hard work. Just as much denounced “white privilege” largely reflects the hard work of white people’s ancestors, so does the far-less noticed but even more striking “Jewish privilege.”

            On the other hand, what seems to be unfortunately underdeveloped among Jews relative to the old WASP elites they have largely displaced is a sense of noblesse oblige toward their fellow Americans. (A few Jewish writers have made this point as well, such as David Samuels of The Tablet and, more hand-wavingly, David Brooks of the NYT.) For example, the reigning conventional wisdom on future immigration policy seems to be largely comprised of Ellis Island schmaltz, ancestor-worship, with Emma Lazarus retconned into America’s foremost Founding Father, and ethnic resentment over century-old slights.

            That’s an irresponsible, childish, backward-looking way to control the limits of debate on immigration policy. But almost nobody dares notice how Jewish ethno-schmaltz and anti-WASP hostility is allowed to control what Americans are allowed to say. We would be better off if we were as free to laugh at Jewish ideological predilections as we are free to laugh at white people.

          • Nornagest says:

            I get that you think the white privilege narrative comes out of “ethno-schmaltz and anti-WASP hostility”. What I don’t see is any evidence for that view that isn’t weak and circumstantial bordering on conspiratorial. Sure, American Jews might be a little more willing than Anglos to buy into that narrative. That’s no surprise: they’re urban, they’re highly educated, they’re largely professional. In short they’re in the target audience. Occam’s Razor says we can stop there.

            As to laughing at Jewish ideological quirks, isn’t that Woody Allen’s entire schtick?

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Jews are less the target audience than the suppliers of this worldview that sacralizes immigration. That’s extremely well documented in American history and in American current affairs, but people sense that it’s dangerous to notice even such an obvious pattern.

            The full scope of Jewish achievement in American life was summarized two decades ago by Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University:

            “During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26 percent of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series.”

            http://takimag.com/article/bargaining_with_zionists_steve_sailer/print#ixzz4g4Q7ck9j

            That’s a lot of firepower for influencing the conventional wisdom, especially if you rig thinks so nobody notices your prejudices.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            The Nybbler writes:

            “(Also I have my doubts as to whether Coakley or Erdely know what Kristallnacht was)”

            Of course Sabrina Rubin Erdely knows of a key event in the trend toward the Holocaust. She was an Ivy League grad who makes 6 figures per year as a professional writer. She has been a journalist since she worked for Stephen Glass, of the movie “Shattered Glass,” at the Penn daily paper. She sends her two kids to a Jewish summer camp:

            http://jewishexponent.com/2013/08/07/jersey-day-camp-draws-record-numbers/

          • Aapje says:

            @Sailer

            There recently was an essay in my weekend newspaper by a Jewish person who was upset at being lumped in with gentiles by anti-racists. The claim was essentially: It’s great to collectively blame white people for what their ancestors may have done and I blame them collectively too (for what happened to Jews in the past), but Jews never were part of the slave trade, so don’t pin that on us. Ironically, his dumb ‘original sin’ narrative legitimizes blaming Jews for the death of Jesus (and in general was extremely stereotyping), but anyway…

            I have seen some Jews threat gentiles as inherently evil people, just waiting for their chance for victimize people/Jews and have heard Jews describe how fear of gentiles was taught to them by their environment. So I can see how a relatively high percentage of Jews may have completely broken BS detectors when it comes to hoaxes like these.

            However, you ascribe a level of intentional malice to Erderly for which there is just no evidence. AFAIK, Erderly just wrote down what Jackie claimed, with no fact checking. As such, there couldn’t have been an intent to hide the truth, as Erderly never got to the point where she had conflicting evidence.

            The narrative that women are an oppressed group who are kept down with (sexual) violence is a fairly common SJ narrative. As such, it is not surprising that Erderly would link the oppression of Jews with her claim of oppression of women, by invoking the image of the Kristallnacht; just like a black feminist could liken it to slavery. It is a logical consequence of a world view that divides the world in oppressors and the oppressed, where all claims of oppression are hyped so minor upsetting experiences are treated as being extremely destructive. This outrage inflation then pushes mass rape into Holocaust territory, as it would otherwise be trivialized by getting the same level of outrage as being asked an upsetting question.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            There was good article in 2014 in the New York Times by a Jewish woman who was surprised to discover the not insignificant Jewish role in the Confederacy:

            http://takimag.com/article/mythos_and_blood_steve_sailer#axzz4g5CiBkgE

            Jews also played a role in the slave and sugar industries in Brazil and Surinam, and in the very profitable exploitation of black labor in the gold and diamond mines of South Africa.

            But in Sapir-Whorf Lite terms, since “Jewish privilege” doesn’t exist in our conceptual vocabularies, but “white privilege” very much exists and since nobody except Jews is allowed to say anything at all critical about Jews, very few Jews ever notice that the contemporary myth about Jewish powerlessness in the past is largely a myth.

            That about 1/7th of the world’s billionaires are privileged with an Immaculate Conception legend about their ancestors’ guiltlessness ought to be of some concern.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            “However, you ascribe a level of intentional malice to Erderly for which there is just no evidence.”

            No, I’ve never said that Sabrina Rubin Erdely knowingly libeled (the nonexistent) Haven Monahan and his fellow frat boys. I agree with the jury that found Erdely and Rolling Stone liable for $2.0 million in damages to Dean Eramo due to “clear and convincing evidence” of “actual malice,” which means either awareness of publishing a lie or at minimum a “reckless disregard for the truth.”

            The Rolling Stone hoax wasn’t some idiosyncratic personal vendetta, but instead it represented the state of the art zeitgeist.

            Rolling Stone’s story of a fraternity initiation gang rape ritual carried out in the dark on broken glass was insanely implausible. As I commented on Richard Bradley’s blog on 11/27/2014:

            Sorry to keep coming back to this, but I’ve done some more thinking and here’s where the story falls apart: pitch darkness _and_ broken glass on the floor. The glass table is smashed, but nobody turns on the light to see what happened or where the broken glass is? Instead, each man, having heard the glass table get smashed, still gets down on the floor covered with shards of broken glass, risking not only his hands and knees, but also pulling out an even more personal part of his anatomy, one that he only has one of.

            Really?

            But Sabrina Rubin Erdely didn’t question Jackie Coakley’s preposterous story because she believes that white Southern fraternity boys really are that evil.

            And for 12 days, nobody in the press except Bradley and I questioned this popular article either.

          • Incurian says:

            Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

          • Aapje says:

            Or alternative: highly scrupulous people cannot imagine that other people could be unscrupulous without evil intent behind it.

          • Aapje says:

            @Sailer

            I agree that she didn’t question it because most probably:
            – It matched her stereotypes
            – She believing in the ‘don’t question the (alleged) victim’ narrative
            – She got encouragement by the same people that didn’t fire her after the earlier hoax that she fell for and that were extremely reluctant to fire her for this hoax.

        • Nornagest says:

          World War T?

          • Ryan says:

            World War G – Bake a wedding cake for the gay marriage or we’ll fine you into bankruptcy

            World War T – Caitlyn Jenner is a stunning and beautiful woman

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Another Sapir-Whorf Lite aspect of coverage of Rolling Stone’s extraordinary hate hoax “A Rape on Campus” is how hard the mainstream media has worked to make the story behind the story seem boring — proper journalistic methodologies were not followed carefully enough — instead of absolutely hilarious — Lovesick freshman coed Jackie Coakley catfishes into digital existence a handsome but nonexistent upperclassman named Haven Monahan to make jealous a frosh boy she has a crush on, using dialogue plagiarized from “Dawson’s Creek.”

          The New York Times has allowed the name “Haven Monahan” to appear in its columns only once in all its coverage, and never used the word “catfishing” to describe what Jackie was up to. If you read the NYT, you probably think this is an extremely boring story. And they very much want to keep it that way, since the reality of the story undermines the NYT-Obama Administration -Hillary Campaign initiative to get voters worked up over fears that Republican white male fraternity boys were raping their daughters on an industrial scale.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          A very useful concept is The Narrative, as explicated by novelist Stephen Hunter, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his film criticism for the Washington Post:

          “The narrative is the set of assumptions the press believes in, possibly without even knowing that it believes in them. It’s so powerful because it’s unconscious. It’s not like they get together every morning and decide “These are the lies we tell today.” No, that would be too crude and honest. Rather, it’s a set of casual, nonrigorous assumptions about a reality they’ve never really experienced that’s arranged in such a way as to reinforce their best and most ideal presumptions about themselves and their importance to the system and the way they have chosen to live their lives.”

          http://takimag.com/article/from_orwell_to_gladwell_and_back_steve_sailer/print#ixzz4g46ZV6Jk

      • birdboy2000 says:

        I think one very important distinction between Breitbart et al and the mainstream left-leaning news is that the mainstream news does not commit outright fraud.

        Unless it involves, say, Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.

        There’s a reason I only trust Trot papers these days. At least they’re whitewashing small, irrelevant sects instead of governing parties trying to start wars.

        • MugaSofer says:

          I think the mainstream media has definitely committed outright fraud.

          But the WMD thing doesn’t seem like an example of this, but rather than honest mistake (or even simply honestly reporting the lie spoken by members of government.) Admittedly I’m young enough not to really remember the incident.

          In any event, I’m pretty sure this failure was bipartisan.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            Of course the failure was bipartisan, that’s what I’m trying to point out. 🙂

            NYT (and others) not only have a history of failing, but in failing in the same way as the bulk of the political class of both parties on the same issues, and viewing it as Democrats vs. Republicans often misses the real problem.

          • cassander says:

            >or even simply honestly reporting the lie spoken by members of government.) A

            There have been dozens of books written on the bush administration, by both critics and apologists. Virtually all of them agree that everyone in the administration sincerely believed that Iraq had WMDs. There was no lying.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Heck depending on how broadly you want to define “WMD” Iraq did have WMDs thing is that when you’re looking for nukes and super-plagues bog standard nerve gas casualties barely make the news (beyond the standard so-and-so was KIA).

      • MoebiusStreet says:

        Off the top of my head, I can think of at least one huge example of the left-leaning media doing something very much like the ACORN thing (or the Planned Parenthood thing).

        Recall back when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin? NBC aired a tape of Zimmerman’s 911 called that had been edited to the point where it only superficially resembled the original, and instead gave listeners the impression that Zimmerman said things that he definitely did not say. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381387/sorry-nbc-you-owe-george-zimmerman-millions-j-delgado

        I don’t know if there’s any way to keep score here, to say X did it twice but Y only did it that once. My conclusion is thus that they’re all snakes, and not to be taken at their word.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          I don’t know if there’s any way to keep score here, to say X did it twice but Y only did it that once. My conclusion is thus that they’re all snakes, and not to be taken at their word.

          This. Arguing that one side is categorically worse on the basis of infraction count always struck me as arguing about which side’s house is more on fire.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The media practice of calling the obviously tri-racial George Zimmerman a “white Hispanic” was pretty funny. What happened was the media heard a guy named George Zimmerman had shot an angelic black child. They immediately assumed Zimmerman was white and that this was the story of white-on-black-racist-violence the Obama re-election campaign needed.

          But eventually they got more pictures and it turned out Zimmerman is a tri-racial pardo who kind of looks like the son Obama never had with his ex-fiance Sheila Miyoshi Jager. And it turned out that Trayvon Martin was a strapping lad who had been pounding Zimmerman’s bloody head into the pavement. So, the media fell back to “white Hispanic” as a compromise to keep attention focused on how this was a story of whites being racist toward innocent blacks as The Narrative demanded.

        • Mary says:

          And a judge actually managed to rule that no reasonable person could find such editing to be “actual malice” and did not die of shame for issuing such words.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            “Actual malice” is a legal term of art and doesn’t mean what a layman would think of as “malice.”

          • Mary says:

            Yes. It means “knowledge that the information was false.”

            When they themselves had the truth, and editted it to be false, they knew it.

            Or with “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not” — hmmm — I gotta ask, what DO you think a layman would think of as “actual malice”?
            because those two do seem to sum it up.

      • Does Nature count as sufficiently respectable so that deliberate dishonesty in it is evidence? How about trying to neutralize the implication of CO2 fertilization for crop yield by claiming that it makes crops less nutritious, without clearly explaining that what that means is that it increases the yield in calories by more than it increases the yield of some minerals, hence lowers the ratio of some minerals to calories.

        Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition.

        For details see:

      • abc says:

        is a quite different sin than what O’Keefe did.

        You mean what used to be called “investigative journalism”? How is that a sin?

        • Enkidum says:

          Please explain precisely what was investigated during the Shirley Sherrod case, and precisely what this investigation revealed.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            I haven’t heard about the Sherrod case, so I just looked through the Wikipedia article on it and haven’t noticed any mention of James O’Keefe in it. Doesn’t seem like he had much to do with it. Is there any actual reason to use this case to discredit O’Keefe or to show that O’Keefe is not a (decent/good) investigative journalist?

          • Enkidum says:

            Argh, apologies, I had conflated O’Keefe with Breitbart as a whole. Sorry. The Shirley Sherrod thing is appalling. O’Keefe also commits journalistic fraud as a matter of course, but this particular one wasn’t on him.

      • Enkidum says:

        Reply to all the above…

        None of the examples any of you have given count as fraud, no, with the exception of the Zimmerman phone call, which I had forgotten ever happened. Being overly trusting of other people is not fraud. It’s definitely a sin, and yes we need to police it, and yes the left-wing media is guilty as hell of it. But none of those are equivalent to what O’Keefe does.

        • DrBeat says:

          You’re saying it doesn’t count when the Left does it because the institutions are merely being overly trusting of liars who support their narrative, but it does count when the Right does it because O’Keefe is telling lies to support their narrative. You’re not comparing like to like. By your standard, the right is just as blameless, because O’Keefe is not himself a media institution, and the right-wing media is just being too credulous and not committing fraud.

          • Enkidum says:

            No. O’Keefe is not a source. He’s not someone telling tall tales to reporters who are overly credulous. He is the reporter, albeit a freelance one, and one who has committed appalling journalistic fraud (for which he had to pay several hundred thousand dollars in fines) which should rule him out for the rest of his life as a journalist. But he is still taken seriously and is a member in good standing of the new alt-right-wing media establishment. There is no equivalent to this in the mainstream left wing press.

          • DrBeat says:

            What is the difference, besides tribe affiliation, between “freelance reporter” and “someone who comes to a media outlet selling them a story that flatters their narrative”? Because from where I’m sitting, I don’t see one.

          • Enkidum says:

            You don’t see a difference between someone who calls themselves a professional journalist, runs a multi-million dollar company which claims to be involved in investigative journalism, and produces content that is hosted on news websites without alteration… and someone who tells a story to a reporter? I’m… not sure what I can say in response to this.

          • DrBeat says:

            I don’t see how any of those factors alter the moral dimension of what they did. Those things are window dressing.

            O’Keefe tells lies. The lies are politically advantageous to certain media people, support their narrative, and most importantly are emotionally rewarding to them, so those people report those lies without any critical examination.

            “Jackie” tells lies. The lies are politically advantageous to certain media people, support their narrative, and most importantly are emotionally rewarding to them, so those people report those lies without any critical examination.

            If anything, the case of “Jackie” is worse, because the uncritical repeater of the lies had to interact with them for a lot longer and had a hand in creating them.

            You do have a valid point about O’Keefe being a repeat offender instead of being discredited, but I’m not sure how different that is from uncritical left-wing repetition of the same story that has always turned out to be a lie in the past while excoriating people who dare to question if it might be a lie this time.

          • Enkidum says:

            I’m not really arguing about the moral dimension. I’m saying there is a specific thing – journalistic fraud – that is virtually unknown and heavily punished by one set of institutions, and much more common and sometimes actively rewarded by another set of institutions. When I read something in the NYT, I can be reasonably certain that the events as reported actually happened, and were not deliberately fabricated by the reporter.

            I realize this is an incredibly low bar in some sense, but without a very strong allergic reaction to this kind of behaviour, this specific problem with inevitably become commonplace. And only one side has this allergic reaction.

            It’s true that there are problems with uncritical acceptance of various lies (though I’d need specific examples to know precisely what you’re talking about), and I’m not sure that there’s much to choose from there between the two sides. But that’s a distinct problem.

          • DrBeat says:

            That isn’t the original claim you made at all and doesn’t differentiate what the Left does from what the Right does! You first claimed what the Left did was “being overly trusting of other people” but now your claim is that when you read the NYT, you can be confident that the events you read about actually happened and weren’t fabricated by the reporter.

            Those are two different standards, and BOTH NYT AND BRIETBART violate the first while upholding the second. You should not be confident that a story you read in the NYT actually happened because by your own admission the “respectable” media institutions often uncritically repeat lies that are told to them as if they were the truth because those lies confirm the narrative they want to believe.

          • Enkidum says:

            No, I’m saying that fabrication of news happens on the Breitbart but not the NYT side of things.

            You’re right that I just made two claims. (1) what I read in the NYT is likely to be true and (2) unlikely to be fabricated by the reporter. I accept that I’m overconfident about (1), but I’m confused as to why you think (2) is not a problem for Breitbart. You’ve literally just given examples of reporters affiliated with Breitbart nakedly making shit up, and being rewarded for it. Find me an equivalent example from the NYT and I’ll change my mind. Not “morally” equivalent, whatever that means, but actually involving the deliberate falsification of data in order to present a narrative.

          • DrBeat says:

            O’Keefe is, by your own admission, freelance. He does not work for Brietbart. (Well, he did at one point have a column on BigGovernment, but it’s not the focus of or really related to his “””investigation”””.) His “Project Veritas” shit is an independent group releasing videos, Brietbart are just the only people who still give him the time of day. He is not a reporter for Brietbart. He does not take orders from Brietbart. He doesn’t work for Brietbart. He’s a piece of shit who tells outrageous lies to Brietbart, that Brietbart uncritically repeats because those lies flatter the narrative and are emotionally rewarding. So how is he substantively different from all the other pieces of shit telling narrative-flattering, emotionally-rewarding lies to be uncritically repeated by left wing outlets?

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            appalling journalistic fraud (for which he had to pay several hundred thousand dollars in fines)

            Could you point me to the specific instance you’re referring to here? Again, I’m going off my scanning of the Wikipedia articles. I see that he was sued for invasion of privacy and had to pay a lot of money in the settlement of that case, but when did he pay fines for journalistic fraud?

        • abc says:

          But none of those are equivalent to what O’Keefe does.

          Still waiting for your explanation of why investigative journalism is now a sin.

          • DrBeat says:

            What O’Keefe does is not called “investigative journalism”. What O’Keefe does is called “lying”. He edits his videos extensively so that they appear to support premises for which there is no actual evidence — when he “exposed” ACORN, for example, every single thing in those videos that outraged people was either stitched together from multiple conversations, or recordings of people humoring his bullshit long enough to get him out of the room so they could call the cops.

          • Enkidum says:

            What DrBeat says. The ACORN exposé automatically discredits O’Keefe as a journalist for the rest of his life, and subsequent events have not painted him in any better a light.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            when he “exposed” ACORN, for example, every single thing in those videos that outraged people was either stitched together from multiple conversations, or recordings of people humoring his bullshit long enough to get him out of the room so they could call the cops.

            What are some of the most convincing pieces of evidence to support the claim?

          • Enkidum says:

            The wikipedia article on O’Keefe covers it pretty well, I think.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            I have read through the Wikipedia articles on O’Keefe and ACORN as well as some of the cited sources, but I don’t see how they support the assertion that every single thing in O’Keefe’s videos is a deception. In fact, my impression is that, some of the ACORN or ACORN Housing employees in, say, Washington and Brooklyn were recorded giving very inappropriate advice to O’Keefe and that there is no reason to think they did it as a joke or that they called the police afterwards. (Unlike the cases of some of the California ACORN videos.)

            Look, for example, at the Proskauer report cited as a source by the Wikipedia article on the ACORN controversy. It finds that the inappropriate remarks by ACORN members were a result of managerial oversight and supervisory weaknesses. It doesn’t find that there was nothing to worry about in O’Keefe’s releases and that all O’Keefe did was pure deception and stuff taken out of context, and that the people interviewed at ACORN said nothing wrong, which is the impression I got after reading the comments in this thread.

            To be clear, I have seen some of O’Keefe’s more recent work, and I find it to be very annoyingly edited for dramatic effect, but I don’t believe his editing to be any more deceptive than what the mainstream media does on a regular basis.

      • I think one very important distinction between Breitbart et al and the mainstream left-leaning news is that the mainstream news does not commit outright fraud.

        Time Magazine ran a cover story on my father with the line, attributed to him, “We’re all Keynesians now.” What he actually said was:

        “”in one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, no one is a Keynesian any longer.”

        Is that outright fraud?

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Race is obviously a huge issue in the U.S. and it’s The Issue about which people feel most entitled to lie and mislead the public.

      If, for example, you read the New York Times has carefully as I do, you can notice how it tries to mislead without outright lying. But I presume that 95-98% of readers fall for the planned misdirection and don’t notice the truth that shows up toward the end of NYT articles.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      The U.S. media lacks the equivalent of the Daily Mail, a center-right tabloid that has discovered that in the Internet Age, the old-fashioned limitations on the length of the story that allow newspaper editors to carefully mold The Narrative by leaving out inconvenient details, are outmoded.

      The Daily Mail has done well in building a U.S. audience by data dumping the reporter’s entire notebook and lots of photos for many articles. Also, the Daily Mail’s policy is to put the most interesting news up front in the headlines, in contrast to the New York Times policy of burying the lede toward the end of the story.

      Personally, I prefer reading the far more genteel New York Times for stories I’m only mildly interested in, but for hot topics, the Daily Mail is likely to cover them better. In particular, the Daily Mail draws readers’ attention to key details, while the Times’ general editorial tendency is to try to draw attention away from the unsettling facts that the reporters insist upon including.

      • Deiseach says:

        The Daily Mail? The frothing at the mouth ultra-Tory “how can we write this story so we can slap a headline about ‘foreigners bring down our property prices’ on it while tying in the latest ‘lettuce gives you cancer’ health scare and accompany it with a photo of some fruity girl?”

        If your notion of a centre-right newspaper is The Daily Mail, no wonder I keep getting tagged as a liberal on American political quizzes! (For centre-right I would have said The Daily Telegraph but that has moved a little more rightward since I used to read it. Still not as brain-fizzingly rightward as the Mail, though)

  2. AnonYEmous says:

    Oh look, i’m first

    Appropriate, I think, since the largest topic of discussion on this post will probably be about who defected from neutrality first, followed perhaps by who should return to the fold.

    You may also get a side contingent (perhaps led by me!) arguing that the twin culture wars have mostly created conservative-leaning neutral spaces rather than outright echo chambers. Can’t speak to the Puppers though. (And the liberal bias has transitioned from a suspicion, to something many games journalists outright admit as moral. In fact, the advent of Trump has done this to a lot of journalists, which is quite interesting indeed.)

    Anyways, good post overall though.

    Edit: was second. Failed to predict a topic of discussion, “who defected harder”.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “the largest topic of discussion on this post will probably be about who defected from neutrality first”

      When I was in high school in the early 1970s, I read all the back issues of National Review back to about 1969. The single largest theme was complaining about the liberal bias of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the network news.

      So I don’t think there’s much evidence of some pre-lapsarian era when the news media was clearly objective and nobody complained about bias.

      • Jiro says:

        When I was in high school in the early 1970s, I read all the back issues of National Review back to about 1969.

        This wasn’t your intent, but I was amused at what is basically “I read zero or more issues.”

        • Steve Sailer says:

          It came out every two weeks so I read early 1969 to mid-1972 back issues, or about 90.

  3. habu71 says:

    Great article, as usual, but I couldn’t help wondering the entire time I was reading it, “What about MSNBC?”.

    • Chiffewar says:

      Still employs people who believe in the Platonic Ideal of Journalism.

    • FXKLM says:

      The article has a paragraph arguing (and I agree) that Fox News is farther from the center than CNN. But then the following paragraph quickly pivots to say “biased and crappy you think CNN and mainstream academia are, FOX and the conservative academic bubble are working on a different level.” I can’t agree with that at all. Mainstream academia (excluding hard sciences and economics) is way out in left field. There are a few cranks in explicitly right-wing universities (like Liberty), but even there I think they’re closer to the center than mainstream academics. And, as you point out, aside from the self-professed neutral media outlets, there are plenty of openly left-wing news sources out there.

      Fox News isn’t really all that extreme for the most part. It has some genuinely neutral voices, and most of it is populist center-right. It’s lazy, pandering and usually terrible, but it’s not as far right as its critics believe.

      • Gazeboist says:

        Do we really have to accept the English department as part of academia?

        (Scientist from a science/engineering focused school; sort of sarcastic sort of not. I divide the typical set of university subjects into knowledge-generating disciplines, disciplines that wish to generate knowledge but aren’t very good at it, upper class trade schools lumped in with the preceding two, and some uppity hipsters. I see “academia” as properly covering the first two, and grudgingly accept that the other two will probably be glued on as long as our “standard” education system remains fucked. This is, frankly, pretty snobbish of me, and I usually try to fight it, but I genuinely cannot see how the disciplines (or parts of some disciplines) that remain in my “uppity hipsters” category could, much less do, contribute to the general enterprise of knowledge generation. Anyway, I would invert your comment on academia: mainstream academia is mostly ok, excluding parts of the soft sciences and the uppity hipsters we can’t manage to get rid of.)

        • The original Mr. X says:

          That’s a rather idiosyncratic definition of academia.

        • Mary says:

          “Do we really have to accept the English department as part of academia?”

          Academia are the people teaching in the college. So, yes. Absolutely.

        • Deiseach says:

          Do we really have to accept the English department as part of academia?

          That whirring sound you hear is C.P. Snow turning in his grave.

          Oh, how quickly the children forget! Once upon a time, the sciences were the ugly stepsisters of university subjects, and as for engineering – well, grubby men down coal mines might have need of it, but a university? 🙂

          • LHN says:

            Snow’s novel The Masters catches the moment when the transition is beginning to be really felt, with a benefactor pushing for more scientific fellowships, and the existing faculty agreeing that yes, they should have more, but not so quickly that they’re “swamped” or that it “change[s] the character of our society.”

            https://books.google.com/books?id=7nqYDQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT88&ots=kGOenRAY1n&dq=cp%20snow%20saga-men&pg=PT91

            (An earlier part of the same chapter features a Professor Gay going on about his Norse “saga-men”. I’ve read, though not with anything I’d call firm confirmation, that the character was based at least in part on Tolkien.)

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            And that is why progress took so long.

            Many of the lofty ideals that we call modern civilization are utterly dependent on advances from sciences and engineering.

          • Deiseach says:

            Aapje –

            “Living? Our servants will do that for us” 😉

    • Svejk says:

      I also immediately thought of MSNBC as a counterpart to Fox. I think there is a lot more ideological symmetry in this problem than this (very good) essay implies. The amount of unacknowledged liberal bias in the mainstream media is more than sufficient to counter Fox and Breitbart – being more wink-nudge open about their biases allows Fox to use a profitable niche competition strategy. Conservative columnists have recently been discussing a filter-ratchet mechanism at work in the mainstream media, whereby aspiring journalists – already somewhat predisposed to cluster in liberal enclaves by tribal/cultural affiliations – are encouraged to signal strong liberal affiliation to improve their chances of entering and advancing within the profession. Because Conquest’s Law means that liberals are advantaged in colonizing existing institutions, conservatives have to cluster in terra nova with the witches.

      • onyomi says:

        Yeah, Bill O’Reilly was never any more right wing than Rachel Maddow is left wing.

        Plus, we all seem to be forgetting the “flagrantly liberal bias” news channel: Comedy Central.

        • gbdub says:

          O’Reilly came first, and was always more popular. Fox was more biased than the neutral CNN types, and watched by many more people than the more overtly biased outlets like MSNBC.

          So there probably was a time that the average conservative news viewer was getting more biased news than the average liberal news viewer. I’m not sure that’s still true, with the proliferation of online outlets and yes, the Daily Show. Seems like everyone has their biased niche now and CNN is just something that’s on at the airport.

        • carvenvisage says:

          Imo Bill O’Reilly is more aggressive and rude.

    • gbdub says:

      I thought the same thing, but stopped after the opening part of the essay, which seemed way more partisan than the rest, to the point where I did a double take to make sure it was actually under Scott’s byline and not a guest post. Not sure if that was the intent, but the tone of the first section definitely belies the content if the rest.

      The thing is, yeah, Fox is more biased than CNN (though that was more true two years ago – CNN seems to have gotten more openly biased in the Trump era). But “a whole other level” is a strong claim. If true, who else is on CNN’s level? Maybe the broadcast networks and the wire services, but anything else on cable or the internet is pretty biased. And CBS gave us RatherGate, so the bias isn’t too deep below the surface.

      E.g. HuffPo/Breitbart are probably on a whole other level from Fox. Conservative talk radio has been on forever, but liberal sites online were there from the beginning (e.g. DailyKos) so it’s not like conservatives defected to the internet and only then did liberals follow.

      So it looks less like a quasi-neutral ecosystem from which conservatives defected (even if that’s how it started, which maybe) and more like a cluster of left-leaning but basically centrist legacy institutions with Fox a little more to the right and then a whole mess of openly biased stuff ranging from the editorial section of NYT to full throated extremism on both sides. More partisan, but ultimately somewhat balanced (trouble is no one reads both sides).

      • LIB says:

        I think the weirdly partisan-sounding parts are Scott signalling leftist tribal affiliation *super hard* so he can say things that challenge Standard Practices for some leftists and they might listen.

      • MugaSofer says:

        I don’t visit either much, but HuffPo and Fox seem about the same level of bias to me. And Fox is far more powerful/influential.

      • Matthew Green says:

        The accuracy of your conclusion depends on the accuracy of your premises. For example, if a post on diet begins with the (unsupported) premise that fat is terrible for your health, you can bet safe money that the post won’t conclude by recommending a low-carb, high-fat diet. To get beyond this, you’d need be much more skeptical about that premise. SSC is usually pretty good about questioning premises. Indeed, I’d say that “question your premises” is probably the moral of a lot of the *best* SSC posts.

        The reason I dislike Scott’s political posts is that he seems unable to apply the same skepticism to political premises. Scott doesn’t say “let’s assume CNN leans liberal”, or “what would happen if CNN leans liberal” — he just swallows the premise whole and states CNN’s bias as a fact. What comes afterwards may be perfectly rational, but it all flows from accepting these premises.

        At the end of the day, convincing people to accept debatable premises *as fact* is a characteristic of a successful political movement. The right has spent years trying to push the Overton window in a favorable direction, to the point where even centrist media can be casually referred to as “liberal”. While I don’t generally disagree with Scott, his political posts fail for me because they seem to be the end-result of a very deliberate campaign of persuasion, one that could probably benefit from the kind of skeptical analysis Scott usually relishes in.

        • gbdub says:

          I’m confused – Scott starts this post with the premise that Fox is very biased, and CNN is not. You seem to be criticizing Scott for basing his argument on the opposite of that premise.

          (And also, “Seeing CNN as liberal can only be the result of a deliberate campaign of persuasion by the right” is itself a rather large premise to swallow prima facie)

          • Matthew Green says:

            That may be what you read, but it’s not what Scott wrote. Here is what Scott wrote:

            “Yes, CNN leans liberal, but it’s not as liberal as FOX is conservative, and it’s not as open about it – it has a pretense of neutrality that FOX doesn’t, and although we can disagree about how realistic that pretense is I think few people would disagree that the pretense is there.”

            This manages to both accept CNN’s liberal bias as fact, *and* insult them for being deceptive (any sane person would agree that “pretense of neutrality” is hardly a complement) before finally admitting that while both sides kill people, the right wing media kills more.

            PS Since I can’t reply to your response below, here’s I think this matters. The thrust of Scott’s post is “story A”: that the right wing has pushed *very hard* to get their side represented in media, and media rejected them. After this unfair treatment, they were forced to go off and make their own institutions. But now consider “story B”: that the right *did* get a lot of cooperation from the MSM, which moved rightward — but the right itself responded to this success by becoming *even more radical* and then went off and made alternative media outlets.

            I am not saying that “Story B” is more or less likely than “Story A”. I am saying that the treatment for the disease is probably very different in those two worlds, and if you uncritically accept the premises that Story A is based on (as Scott seems to), you might end up taking the wrong medicine.

          • gbdub says:

            I think it’s right to consider the situation asymmetrical. Yes, CNN leans liberal, but it’s not as liberal as FOX is conservative, and it’s not as open about it – it has a pretense of neutrality that FOX doesn’t, and although we can disagree about how realistic that pretense is I think few people would disagree that the pretense is there. Nor is there a liberal version of FOX that lacks that pretense of neutrality.

            I think it’s right that the conservative side is worse than the neutral side. However biased and crappy you think CNN and mainstream academia are, FOX and the conservative academic bubble are working on a different level (though note that as a liberal, I would say this, and you should interpret it with the same grain of salt that you would any other “my side is better than yours” claim).

            I think it’s right that this situation is horrible and toxic and destroying the country, and it’s really good that someone has pointed this out and framed it this clearly.

            (emphasis added)

            My point was that you seem to be ignoring everything in that except “CNN leans liberal”. That you can read all that and see that the obvious problem is that Scott is being unjustifiably harsh to CNN with his premise is what’s confusing to me.

            My exact words were that Scott says FOX is very biased, and CNN is not (he says they lean liberal, and otherwise refers to them as the “neutral side”).

        • abc says:

          The right has spent years trying to push the Overton window in a favorable direction,

          So that explains why it’s now unacceptable to point out that there are only two genders in polite company.

          The accuracy of your conclusion depends on the accuracy of your premises.

          How about you try applying this principal to your own comment.

          • Matthew Green says:

            Actually what I would like to see is a detailed empirical analysis of both comments. Scott links to a series of dedicated efforts to influence media, and then claims that they failed. Is he right, or am I right? I’d love to see an SSC post that tries to tackle the problem.

  4. kboon says:

    This has made me appreciate Eric Raymonds recent posts about how the only value of merit for entry into the hacker community should be merit of your code. He might or might not have been explicitly thinking of the systemics described here, but judging only by code certainly works to keep even those who are politically opposed to him just as welcome in hackerspace.

  5. robirahman says:

    Are there any mainstream US news outlets that are comparable to CNN but on the right? WSJ comes to mind but it’s not nearly as popular as FOX. And the outlets actually in the center, such as Roll Call for example, are basically unknown to most people.

    Is there any hope of ever restoring the state of national discourse such that conservatives won’t feel repelled from those neutral gatekeeper institutions?

    • Sandy says:

      CNN is probably the most famous televised news outlet in the world, given that it’s a staple of virtually every international airport. There’s no other outlet that’s comparable to it.

      • Brad says:

        BBC world service?

        • keranih says:

          That, dear sir, is an insult to the BBC.

          (No, srsy, BBC is much better at covering the Anglosphere world than CNN is at covering, well, anything – the left-tilt is there in both stations, but BBC is at least competent at its job. I also miss, to some degree, Al Jazzerah America. Horrific slanting, tone-deaf culturally, completely willing to do deep dives into subjects.)

    • Protagoras says:

      WSJ’s rep used to be that while the editorial page was a dumpster fire, the rest of it was very good on providing news. I do not know if they are still good at providing news (of course many newspapers have declined, and I haven’t kept track of WSJ in recent years). But unfortunately not very many people read print journalism, so even if WSJ is still decent, or there are still other good neutral/right print journalism options, they don’t help the problem very much.

      • po8crg says:

        The liberal version of WSJ is, of course, FT.

        Both have really good reporting in general, and especially good in financial news. Both have opinion pages that are much more left/right than you’d expect from the news pages.

  6. Paul Zrimsek says:

    Vox doesn’t even succeed at being a mirror image of Fox with a left-wing slant and a voiced fricative. More like a mirror image of Fox with a left-wing slant and an unvoiced labial plosive.

  7. doubleunplussed says:

    Was my comment filtered for mentioning worker ants? Think you could fish it out of the filter since it’s on topic for this post?

    Eh, I’ll just write it again: I think they are unfairly maligned, so far. Their enemies have been very effective at demonising them. About their political leanings, I’m pretty sure they still lean liberal, though I think I can perceive a shift to the right slowly happening. /r/KotakuInAction has had surveys about this, so there should be data about it

    I think they started out as basically outcasts solely for questioning feminism, and now in the last year or so you’re starting to see more anti immigrant sentiment and whatnot seep in. But I would still bet that right now most of the subreddit’s readership would be voting for democrats over republicans. It probably won’t last, but it’s a far cry from Fox News.

    • Anonymous says:

      Was my comment filtered for mentioning worker ants? Think you could fish it out of the filter since it’s on topic for this post?

      Just use Harry Potter terminology like the rest of us.

      That said, what would be the HP term for reproductively capable worker ants?

    • Mary says:

      ” more anti immigrant sentiment ”

      anti-immigrant or anti-illegal-immigrant?

      • doubleunplussed says:

        Both unfortunately, which I think is inevitable for the reasons Scott has given. The two are conflated with each other in polite company in order to make it unacceptable to be anti illegal immigrant, so if you have a community that tolerates objections to illegal immigration, the people there are already comfortable being labelled all sorts of nasty things. People will more extreme views feel right at home (they are not immune to the efforts to lump the less extreme views in with themselves either), until you start seeing fairly white nationalist opinions popping up occasionally.

        • hendrikvandersteijn says:

          I experience the same from liberals, who will criticize the ineffectiveness of certain ways to limit illegal immigration, like someone might say that the wall can be easily climbed over with a ladder. When asked what their preferred method of reducing illegal immigration, the oft heared answer is “well, we shouldn’t stop any immigration!”

          People masking their true intentions is not limited to just one side of the political spectrum and sometimes I doubt it’s even intentional, judging by some of my friends.

          Sometimes we need that mirror to see what we’re saying. And I dare say that communists and violent anarchists like antifa feel as comfortable hiding in liberal circles as white nationalists might in conservative circles.

    • wysinwygymmv says:

      I think they started out as basically outcasts solely for questioning feminism, and now in the last year or so you’re starting to see more anti immigrant sentiment and whatnot seep in.

      My impression is that they are vilified for providing cover/participating in social media harassment of feminists and game critics and especially feminist game critics, not for being right wing generally. but I’ve been trying to check out of this bullshit so my observations are distant and can be taken with many grains of salt.

      • vV_Vv says:

        My impression is that they are vilified for providing cover/participating in social media harassment of feminists and game critics and especially feminist game critics

        There is no evidence of any organized, or even widespread, social media harassment, and in at least one case one of the alleged victim was caught harassing herself (she forgot to switch to the sockpuppet account).

        Most likely it was like the post-Brexit/post-Trump hate crimes: fake.

        • Besserwisser says:

          There was a group which specifically targetted harassers from both sides. Yes, there was harassment but it was hardly unilateral. And guess which side the member of that group came from?

        • BBA says:

          Given the sheer number of 14-year-old boys who play video games and that I remember what my classmates were like at that age, my prior is that harassment occurred regarding any video game topic at all. Stochastic harassment, not the organized hate mobs that the press claimed existed, but harassment all the same.

        • vV_Vv says:

          There was a group which specifically targetted harassers from both sides. Yes, there was harassment but it was hardly unilateral. And guess which side the member of that group came from?

          Both sides formed “anti-harassment” groups at some point, each side denouncing the other one as fake and biased.

          The Ants had their Harassment Patrol, which claims some successes, though I don’t know any trusted independent source that can confirm.

          The SJWs had the Crash Override Network, which, according to some leaks, was itself involved in organized harassment.

      • doubleunplussed says:

        I was in the same boat, but after investigating it at least a year after it was a thing, I can safely say that impressions such as yours are the result of effective demonisation by groups that have a lot of power to shape perceptions, and have little to do with the truth.

        I mean they’re not saints. But neither are they demons. They’re just normal people who lean mostly left and don’t like feminism, and decided to stop kowtowing to it.

      • Eltargrim says:

        Given that this community cares about base rates, when considering the Ants it’s also important to see how the gamer community reacts to non-Ant-adjacent topics.
        Polygon gives a brief breakdown of some recent game reviews that resulted in DDoS attacks. The reviews were about the most recent Legend of Zelda game, which is not a particularly political title. Company of Heroes 2, a WW2-based real time strategy game, has a metascore of 80, but a user score of 2/10. While CoH2 was worse than CoH1, it wasn’t that much worse. What it did do was portray Soviet Russia in WW2 in a not particularly favourable light, leading to (I’ve been told) Russian users brigading the reviews. When Steam and Bethesda tried to implement a paid mods system, the result was fairly explosive. When Bioware mucked up the ending of Mass Effect 3, well, let’s just say it caused a bit of a reaction.

        Game-adjacent topics are renowned for having shitstorms, so while a political game-adjacent topic might be a particularly bad shitstorm, it’s not like everything was sunshine and rainbows to begin with.

    • Walter says:

      I mean, if you are as far along as ‘questioning feminism’ you’ll be all the way off the progressive ranch before too long.

      • birdboy2000 says:

        But that need not lead you to the right. There’s a reason 8chan, which grew so massively from the GG exodus, wound up with /leftypol/ as its 3rd-largest board. That’s the path I followed and any time the subject comes up there it’s clear I’m far from alone.

        It’s frustrating how many people see politics in terms of ethnic and gender groups, but there are alternatives out there – it’s one of the reasons I get so annoyed when people lazily equate factions of feminists (no matter how anti-egalitarian in their actual views – and yes, this probably includes the “mainstream” of feminism) with “the left” – any authentic alternative can’t just be based on “no, *my* ethnic group is the one politics should fight for!” Idpol is idpol.

      • Besserwisser says:

        I don’t get why feminism is considered progressive anyway. That’s not entirely true, I get how it fits into the progressive mindset, it just opens up so many questions you don’t have with other issues. So, we have a group that lives longer, is less likely to go to jail, less likely to be victims of violence, more likely to be homeless… and that’s the group we should be especially worried about? That’s why there’s a lot of left-leaning folks who question feminism, apart from the ones who think feminism as a concept is fine and modern feminists are just too extreme.

        • reasoned argumentation says:

          Because it aims to breaks down cultural institutions that evolved for some purpose* and replace them a new set of designed norms that are untested but were created to be more “fair”. Tearing down Chesterton’s fence is what progressivism is all about.

          * Allowing men and women to cooperate in forming a household to raise children in a stable environment, allowing women to cooperate to tamp down sexual competition with other women, allowing men to cooperate to tamp down sexual competition with other men, etc.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Indeed. 3rd wave Feminism/Intersectional Feminism/Social Justice is really about destroying the Western civilization.

            This is why they make a big deal about an essentially non-exiting “Rape Culture” on college campuses, but when a real “Rape Culture” comes to the shores of Europe, carried by a certain set of Muslim immigrants who run child rape rings and gang-harass women in the streets, the SJWs suddenly became silent and try to make excuses.

            They realize that mass-immigration of an alien culture is probably the fastest way to destroy Western civilization, women be damned.

          • Aapje says:

            @vV_Vv

            That doesn’t seem correct to me. The feminists who came forward to the media to speak out against the claim that migrants are more prone to harass/rape seem to honestly believe that the only thing that makes men rape is patriarchy and that cultural differences play no role.

            In their eyes, a German man is intrinsically just as likely to rape or harass as a person from Morocco, as they are both indoctrinated by the patriarchy.

            It’s a really dumb black/white view that stereotypes all men, but it’s not a desire to replace Western culture with a worse culture.

          • Do you think all adaptations remain eternally adaptive, however conditions change; or do you think there is a mechanism that swiftly removes them when they have outlived their usefulness?

          • They realize that mass-immigration of an alien culture is probably the fastest way to destroy Western civilization, women be damned.

            And why, on your theory, do they want to destroy western civilization? It makes sense that someone might want to replace western civilization with something else they thought was better, but it’s hard to see how Islamic civilization would qualify.

          • grendelkhan says:

            Aapje, doesn’t it collapse that distinction if you describe ‘patriarchy’ as an aspect of culture? Which it kind of sounds like anyway–some cultures are more and some less patriarchal.

          • Aapje says:

            @grendelkhan

            The patriarchy seems to be treated in feminist discourse like conspiracy theorists look at the Illuminati: a force that controls people about equally strongly everywhere in the world.

            I think that many feminists don’t actually believe this, but it’s not politically correct to say so, because SJ people tend to see people of other cultures as oppressed by white men. So they fear that admitting this will bolster xenophobia.

            So the end result is that when the sexual violence happened in Cologne, you had many feminists who explicitly said that German/Western men are equally likely to act that way. When the discussion is about female genital cutting, comparisons between cultures are generally simply avoided, as raising that subject would result in painful conclusions.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            So the end result is that when the sexual violence happened in Cologne, you had many feminists who explicitly said that German/Western men are equally likely to act that way. When the discussion is about female genital cutting, comparisons between cultures are generally simply avoided, as raising that subject would result in painful conclusions.

            These examples, by the way, do not count when discussing beliefs that progs have that are deluded because these are things you’re not allowed to notice or talk about.

        • herbert herberson says:

          I think Corey Robin had it right: the most fundamental cleft between the right and the left is support for hierarchy. The right values hierarchical structures in the workplace and the family, typically traditional ones; the left seeks to tear them down.

          Also: the fact that this could be read as a steelman of reasoned argumentation’s reply here despite the very different place he is otherwise coming from is telling, imo.

          • ksvanhorn says:

            I think it’s absurd to claim that the left “seeks to tear down” hierarchical structures. They’re all about centralized planning and control, diktats emanating from Washington regulating in detail all aspects of the economy. They can’t even leave the decision of who gets to use what bathroom to the local level.

          • herbert herberson says:

            There’s big difference between regulations and hierarchy. In fact, they’re actually opposites. All of the questions you mention have to be answered by someone. A very centralized leftist state (which, needless to say, is not the only form of a leftist state, even if the alternatives were pretty short-lived historically–and Robin’s approach does a better job than any I’ve seen of explaining how both anarchists and communists can be considered on the left, and why most people can tell the difference between anarchists and libertarians) answers them with rules. Perhaps in some cases a bureaucrat may personally enforce those rules, but it’s understood that that is what the decisions are based on. Her authority is not vested in her person, but on the fact that she is there to implement something that a third party who also has authority over her decided. Also, while she enjoys some of this vicarious command authority, she doesn’t typically have responsibility–as long as the rules were properly followed, she will not typically (or ideally) suffer any consequences for subsequent failures. And, sure, there are human beings out there somewhere who make those rules–but they are depersonalized. They lack a personal relationship with the people the implement their authority over–a relationship which would be, definitionally, hierarchical… and how telling is it that the traditional right wing complaints about bureaucracy, even in their most summarized form, include that part? They are from far away, they’re not one of us, they’re “faceless.”

            Conversely, right-wing philosophies prefer to find a way to have those answers made by someone vested with both power and responsibility. His authority doesn’t come from rules made by third parties. It comes from his personal characteristics/possessions–he owns the company, he’s the battalions’ lieutenant, he’s the pater familias. Furthermore, his authority is tied directly and intimately to his responsibility–he doesn’t jet back to Washington, but rather lives with his decisions.

            At one point in history, the right’s hierarchical structures were bound together into a great chain of being. That totality didn’t survive the Enlightenment in most places, but the right wing response to that is the exception that proves the rule. The left said, let there be no kings–let’s end hierarchy! The right said, let every man have his opportunity to be a king in the marketplace and/or the family! The exemplar of this was the Virginia contingent of the US Founding Fathers (or, really, all of them except Paine)–they risked their necks throwing off the monarchy, but enjoyed (to say the least) their hierarchical authorities on their personal estate. In this more decentralized system, the various everyman kings do need to contend with outside forces, but here, again, the exception proves the rule–the right seeks to mediate these forces by playing off power and responsibility whenever possible. They don’t want to have regulations enforced by a disinterested bureaucrats to prevent problems, they want interested parties to litigate problems out when they arise and for the potential of that litigation to incentive parties to avoid the problems in the first place.

            If the rights’ distaste for regulation was just that it micromanages individuals’ lives, it would be hard to explain their support drug testing welfare recipients, the prison industrial complex, for sexual regulation outside the nuclear family, for the drug war, or taking away local control when it suits them (like the North Carolina bathrooms–and while obviously, the whole right doesn’t support all of those things, it’s telling that the more gut-level rightism is the portion that does, and that you need the more intellectualized/abstracted libertarian philosophies to get there). It’s when the state micromanages the actions of someone in authority (especially private authority), and in doing so undermines that authority, that the right will begin enthusiastic opposition.

          • random832 says:

            @ksvanhorn

            They can’t even leave the decision of who gets to use what bathroom to the local level.

            Conservatives shot first here. This all started with a state government overturning a city ordinance.

          • cassander says:

            @herbert

            That’s too narrow a read. the left is about tearing down hierarchies in general, the right upholding them. Incidentally, this theory also predicts and explains both left wing and right wing discomfort with capitalism. The left is occasionally attracted to the way creative destruction tears down existing hierarchies, but loathes how it builds new ones in their place. the right, conversely, is comfortable with the hierarchies it builds, but very uncomfortable with the ones it tears down.

            @ksvanhorn

            Ideology is mostly about motive, not method. Almost any policy can be defended or criticized for both right and left wing reasons. E.g. “we need to build a giant centralized command and control machine……to enhance national greatness” is a right wing argument. “……to fight corrupt capitalistic power” is left wing.

            Why? hierarchy. the left is trying to tear down some existing hierarchy, the right is trying to defend them or build them up. Is the leftist argument inherently problematical? Yes, i think so, but that’s why I’m not a leftist.

        • doubleunplussed says:

          Absolutely. As a leftie I see feminism as a sort of betrayal by one group of oppressed people of other groups. If you had to pick one axis of oppression, it is surely socio-economic class, and yet feminists decided gender was most important. They’re defecting instead of cooperating with other oppressed people.

          Then when they became intersectional, race was elevated to perhaps the second most important in their eyes, then sexuality etc. You can debate about the precise order, but the movement is still named after a gender, and seems to worry a lot about gender differences at the top end of society – CEOs, tech workers etc, with socio-economics barely even mentioned. They’re still missing the point.

          And yet, whenever social justice/feminism argues why a group of people are oppressed, the reasons are all socio-economic ones! So why can’t we focus on that directly?

          As a leftie, parceling people into groups ordered by how disadvantaged the groups are on average, instead of looking at disadvantage directly, is the antithesis of the kind of social equality I am looking for. If we are going to have collectivism, the disadvantaged should be united. And yet this group of mostly privileged people are telling us poor white folk are less disadvantaged than rich black ones, and seeding all kinds of disunity.

          So yes, I don’t think a leftie has to accept feminism. Equality of women, sure, but not feminism. If you care about the poor, look at people’s bank accounts instead of their genitals. Just because genitals might correlate with bank balances is no reason to ignore the more specific information if it’s available.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            And yet, whenever social justice/feminism argues why a group of people are oppressed, the reasons are all socio-economic ones! So why can’t we focus on that directly?

            Because of memetic evolution – the collapse of the Soviet Union contrasted with the fact that “economic lefties” were still defending it and stating that it was more advanced than the west until the day it collapsed means that economic arguments are weak and more importantly – easily mocked. You can argue all you like in favor of economic leftism but people who don’t share your views will look at the USSR or Venezuela and dismiss you without thinking too hard.

            The leftist memeplex isn’t under selective pressure to work to successfully achieve its stated goals – it’s under selective pressure to be believed – and selling communism is basically impossible now.

          • doubleunplussed says:

            I’m not even a communist though (despite the avatar) – I don’t think it’s useful for workers to own the means of production. Markets work, but can amplify inequality. So mostly the policies I wish we could all get behind are generous welfare and more progressive tax systems.

          • Aapje says:

            @doubleunplussed

            Cooperations can work quite well, but I’m in the ‘don’t elevate multinationals over smaller and/or cooperative businesses camp,’ not the ‘forcefully take businesses away from their owners and give them to the workers.’

          • Besserwisser says:

            Ranking oppression the way it’s down right now will lead to comparing apples to oranges. I specifically listed things which are normally associated with oppressed groups targetting men, yet someone should really have called me out on that. Gender works completely different than race or economic class. We can treat another race or, to a lesser extent, class as an outgroup, people who are not like us and try to interact with them as little as possible. Yet, men and women grow up along each other, then, more often than not, we find someone of the opposite sex and start the cycle all over again. This makes it really difficult to use the same parameters if you want to compare.

            For instance, income is a pretty good indicator for economic class (obviously) and also race. It’s not perfect but it works to an extent. If you have two groups which are likely to live together and share everything with, things get really murky, especially if the higher paid from one group tend to be more likely to be in this kind of relationship than the higher paid from the other group. This is the case for gender but very rarely for race or class. That’s also why income is such an important metric for feminists (“equal pay for equal work”), it’s one of the few which works the same for gender as for race and class while “correctly” identifiying oppressor and oppressed.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            “contrasted with the fact that “economic lefties” were still defending it”

            What, all of them? Every single one? When “economic lefties” as a category includes vast categories of social democrats, democratic socialists, non-pro-Soviet radical socialists etc. whose identity was also in large part defined by *not* defending the Soviet Union?

          • When “economic lefties” as a category includes vast categories of social democrats, democratic socialists, non-pro-Soviet radical socialists etc. whose identity was also in large part defined by *not* defending the Soviet Union?

            I expect you are much more familiar with the relevant literature than I am. To what extent were those people seeing the USSR as an oppressive, undemocratic, but economically successful system? I’m thinking mostly of Paul Samuelson’s textbook, which was the dominant intro econ text for a long time, written from a standpoint that was probably left of center in terms of the population, centrist in terms of the academy. For edition after edition it predicted that the Soviet economy would catch up with the U.S. economy in the not very distant future, because it claimed that the Soviet economy was growing substantially faster.

            That’s relevant because a central part of the left/right argument is central planning vs markets, which is separate from the tyranny vs freedom arguments. Someone can be, and many were, in favor of both central planning and freedom, whether or not the two are really compatible.

          • benwave says:

            I think there might be some degree of conflation between ‘feminists (and other intersectional groups) detract from class struggle’ and ‘feminists (and …) have been successful in their own more narrow struggles while little progress is made in class struggle’

            I broadly agree with you, I just don’t think the detraction is so big as you think it might be. If there is a sense in which gender equality is ‘easy’ while socio-economic equality is ‘hard’ (and I think there’s good reason to believe that is so), then it should not be surprising that after some quantity of time the feminist struggle should have progressed while the socio-economic struggle is stalled.

          • Aapje says:

            @benwave

            Mainstream feminism tends to fight for women’s privileges, not gender equality.

            I agree that women’s privileges are easier to achieve, as almost all rational arguments against it have been thoroughly vilified. In contrast, it is perfectly acceptable to make the rational argument that some people are inherently more capable of producing economic value and deserve to be rewarded for that.

            Because the debate around wealth distribution is more rational, it’s not as easy to motivate people into supporting extremist laws by outright falsehoods and/or simplistic memes.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            “I expect you are much more familiar with the relevant literature than I am. To what extent were those people seeing the USSR as an oppressive, undemocratic, but economically successful system? I’m thinking mostly of Paul Samuelson’s textbook, which was the dominant intro econ text for a long time, written from a standpoint that was probably left of center in terms of the population, centrist in terms of the academy. For edition after edition it predicted that the Soviet economy would catch up with the U.S. economy in the not very distant future, because it claimed that the Soviet economy was growing substantially faster.”

            I haven’t looked into this in detail, but my gut feeling would say that this defense did not continue to the day of the collapse, as claimed in the post I replied to. At the very least, in Finland, a country predisposed to viewing Soviet Union more positively than the West during the Cold War (at the official level), even the Marxist-Leninists appeared to recognize the need for reforms in the SU in the 1980s, as they sided with glasnost and Gorbachev (which led to a split in the party, which had already split from the eurocommunist majority later on).

            Of course, the problem is the message I was replying to can be read in (at least) two different ways.

          • even the Marxist-Leninists appeared to recognize the need for reforms in the SU in the 1980s, as they sided with glasnost and Gorbachev

            Because they thought the system was an economic failure or because they were in favor of a less oppressive system? That was the distinction I was trying to get at.

            Someone in the U.S. who believed that the Soviet economic system was successful in catching up with the West but at the cost of a lot of oppression might not unreasonably have hoped that a western country could use central planning to get the development without the oppression. That seems to have been the view in India, mutatis mutandis, for quite a long time.

    • hendrikvandersteijn says:

      It’s not ever for questioning feminism, as there have been various open and accepted feminist voices in the ant communities, it’s for questioning one to three particular feminists who the mountain of evidence is really against, but who have both the right connections and the right message for old media to get behind them wholesale.

      It has really accelerated young people’s adaptation to new media, which is unpredictable and scattered at times, but who at the moment seem much more trustworthy and authentic than either CNN with their “looking at wikileaks is illegal” or Fox hosts who have trouble explaining how tidal forces work.

      It tends to come with a more significant time investment to find a selection that will cover a good variety of news, but it is unparalleled in getting accuracy.

      • Forlorn Hopes says:

        It’s not ever for questioning feminism, as there have been various open and accepted feminist voices in the ant communities

        Yep. Christina Hoff Summers and Liana K jump to mind. I’m not sure but I have a feeling that Nichole Sund (frommally going by Cult of Vivian) identifies as feminist. Just a few examples.

        There are people who’ll reflexively criticise anyone who identifies as feminist, but on the whole there are prominent and accepted non-SJW feminists floating around.

      • or Fox hosts who have trouble explaining how tidal forces work.

        I don’t know what example of Fox hosts you are thinking of, but most people have trouble with tidal forces. How many can explain why, if the tides are due to the moon’s attraction, there are two high tides a day, not one?

        • grendelkhan says:

          DavidFriedman, I think the reference is to Bill O’Reilly’s “tide goes in, tide goes out, you can’t explain that” bit, from… wow, from 2011. Truly a classic.

          How many can explain why, if the tides are due to the moon’s attraction, there are two high tides a day, not one?

          You know, if you’d asked me how many high tides there are a day, I’d probably have guessed one, but… the tide bulges on both sides of the earth, right? So you get one high tide when the moon is above you and another when it’s directly opposite, yes?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yes, and that’s because “the moon’s attraction” is a gross oversimplification. It’s the difference or gradient between the moon’s attraction at the near side of the earth (greater) and at the far side (lesser) which causes tides. (Ask any Pearson’s Puppeteer)

            Also, it’s two high tides every period of the moon as seen by an earth observer, which is 24h 50m, because the moon is orbiting in the same direction as the earth is rotating.

          • Yes. Now explain why.

            O’Reilly in that segment (I didn’t view all of it, but the tide part was early) doesn’t try to explain the tide, so I can’t tell what point he is making. That it’s mysterious?

            The atheist he is arguing with is an idiot.

          • Yes, and that’s because “the moon’s attraction” is a gross oversimplification.

            True.

            It’s the difference or gradient between the moon’s attraction at the near side of the earth (greater) and at the far side (lesser) which causes tides.

            Inadequate.

            Earth and moon are both orbiting the center of mass of the Earth/Moon system, which happens to be inside the Earth. On the moon side of that point, the moon’s gravity is stronger than the centrifugal force, on the other side, the centrifugal force is stronger than the moon’s gravity.

            If you don’t like centrifugal force, call it the apparent force due to centrifugal acceleration.

            And the (implausible) point of “Neutron Star” was that the Puppeteers didn’t get it, and had to have it explained to them by a human.

          • grendelkhan says:

            I think you guys are missing the forest for the trees here. David Silverman (the atheist guy) is at the very least abrasive. This was 2011, New Atheism had yet to be rent asunder by SJWism, etc.

            But Bill O’Reilly is arguing directly against the rational knowability of the natural world. Of the tides, for crying out loud. And even if David Silverman isn’t an expert on tides in particular, that’s different from saying that the tides are literally inexplicable. This is “fuckin’ magnets, how do they work?”-level stuff, here.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @grendelkahn:
            Your mistake was trying to explain the tides, instead of pointing out that O’Reilly was saying no one could. It’s a “checkmate atheists” level of argument.

            And Silverman was likely on O’Reilly because he is abrasive and an “idiot”. O’Reilly stacks the deck.

          • instead of pointing out that O’Reilly was saying no one could.

            That might well be what he meant, but I couldn’t tell. Conceivably he could have meant “how do you explain the laws of physics if they are not the work of God.”

            My guess is that neither he nor his guest could have explained the tides–most people can’t–but that’s not because the explanation isn’t known.

  8. Winfried says:

    If you survive being no-platformed, you become untethered and free.

    Not all tethers are hampering restraints; some serve to keep you grounded in an environment lacking firm grounding.

    I’m currently coasting on apathy and depression to keep my views from sliding down into what I have come to believe is true. I don’t want them to be true, but my ability to self-delude took a big hit from the events of the last few years of my life.

    • Kevin C. says:

      I’m currently coasting on apathy and depression to keep my views from sliding down into what I have come to believe is true. I don’t want them to be true, but my ability to self-delude took a big hit from the events of the last few years of my life.

      If it wouldn’t bother you, could you elaborate a little here?

  9. James Miller says:

    A famous economist spoke at my college and went to dinner after with the econ department. Someone asked this man why there are so few Republicans in academia and this economist responded “IQ”. (Everyone at the table but this famous economist knew I was the only Republican present.) Most academics don’t consider Republicans/conservatives to be evil, but rather they think us stupid. Asking colleges to be more open to the right is asking them to do what they perceive as lowering their intellectual standards.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Which of course begs for Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry’s rejoinder: “That’s interesting. For which other underrepresented groups do you think that’s true?”

      • hendrikvandersteijn says:

        For a moment I thought this might get the easy answer “men”, but that would require acknowledging that men have become a minority on colleges, which I don’t think the high IQ liberals are willing to do.

    • manwhoisthursday says:

      The main reasons conservatives are not well represented in the academy:

      1. Openness to experience – conservatives do tend to be lower in Openness, and a closed minded intellectual is an oxymoron*
      2. Conscientiousness, especially subtrait Orderliness – conservatives also tend to be higher in Orderliness**, and Orderly people tend to be dutiful and self-select for more practical careers, rather than high risk careers in academia, journalism or the arts
      3. Hostile work environment – even if most liberals don’t actively discriminate against conservatives in academia, once a critical mass is reached, academic culture will tend to make conservatives uncomfortable, who wants to work in a place where people denigrate your most important beliefs?
      4. Outright discrimination – some liberals, especially in the humanities, actively discriminate against conservatives

      *Openness correlates somewhat with IQ, so the idea that conservatives, at least of a certain kind, are somewhat less smart than liberals and libertarians, is true.
      **Both low Openness and high Orderliness predict conservatism, but are orthogonal to each other. So, you can get high Openness, high Orderliness people who can do good academic work, though they will tend to self-select out of the academy at higher rates than low Orderliness liberals and libertarians.

      —–

      Not sure what can be done about this, especially as trying to recruit low Openness people into the academy seems like a complete non-starter, but it does seem like the academy could do a lot more to recruit high Openness/high Orderliness people into its ranks, especially in the humanities.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        1. Openness to experience – conservatives do tend to be lower in Openness, and a closed minded intellectual is an oxymoron*

        There seem to be plenty of closed-minded academics around.

      • AnonYEmous says:

        I don’t want to use this on you, because you seem fairly good-faith. But I am honestly interested to how proponents of “Conservatives aren’t represented in the academy but it’s not discriminatory” respond to the question of why minorities are under-represented in the academy? I mean, I can quote much more explicit proof of outright discrimination against conservatives, and obvious policies of affirmative action in favor of minorities, and it’s entirely possible that conservatism is as biological as skin color (meaning you’re not to blame for it, and it might as well be a racial feature such that discrimination is unfair). What’s the response to this line of argument?

        edit: Reading over your entire comment you’re definitely not the right target for this argument. But I want to use it so I can get feedback, not so I can use it on people, so discuss, I guess.

        • vV_Vv says:

          It is not physically impossible for both Conservatives and [underrepresented minority] to have low average IQ for biological reasons.

          I don’t know what is the average Conservative IQ, but certainly for many years Conservative have dabbed in stuff (e.g. Creationism/ID/Teach The Controversy) which I wouldn’t associate to high IQ.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It is not physically impossible for both Conservatives and [underrepresented minority] to have low average IQ for biological reasons.

            It’s not impossible, but when large parts of academia dogmatically deny the possibility of any minority except conservatives being less intelligent on average, it tends to look like they’re arguing in bad faith.

            I don’t know what is the average Conservative IQ, but certainly for many years Conservative have dabbed in stuff (e.g. Creationism/ID/Teach The Controversy) which I wouldn’t associate to high IQ.

            So have liberals (e.g., patriarchy theory, mythical campus rape epidemics, refusal to entertain the notion of evolution working above the neck). So what?

          • vV_Vv says:

            it tends to look like they’re arguing in bad faith.

            Or they just have low IQ 🙂

            So have liberals (e.g., patriarchy theory, mythical campus rape epidemics, refusal to entertain the notion of evolution working above the neck). So what?

            The left-wing idiocy seemed to be confied to sociology/cultural anthropology/X studies departments up until the right-wing idiocy was publicly defeated.

            Maybe there is a Law of Conservation of anti-intellectual idiocy?

            EDIT:

            I said this tongue-in-cheek, but actually it kinda makes sense: there may be a constant fraction of people who are attracted to appeals to emotion, tribalism, anti-intellectualism and so on.

            These people will take whatever ideology suits their psychological inclinations. The right used to be that ideology, until it became too discredited (seriously, Ark museums?), and so the left moved to fill the gap.

          • eccdogg says:

            Conservatives depending on how you define that term might have lower IQ.

            But Republicans have higher IQ’s than Democrats.

            Mainly because Republicans contain many Classical Liberals/Libertarians who have the highest IQ scores.

            http://reason.com/archives/2014/06/13/are-conservatives-dumber-than-liberals

            If intelligence were the main story wouldn’t we see larger numbers of classically liberal Republicans?

          • Evan Þ says:

            Okay, aside from “Creationism is false,” what do you think is so bad about the Ark Experience? I was at the Creation Museum several years ago (before the Ark model opened), and it seemed to be a pretty well-done museum.

            (And if “Creationism is false” is your argument, then you should attack it there and not several syllogisms down the road where they try to build museums about what they believe to be natural history.)

          • bean says:

            I said this tongue-in-cheek, but actually it kinda makes sense: there may be a constant fraction of people who are attracted to appeals to emotion, tribalism, anti-intellectualism and so on.

            These people will take whatever ideology suits their psychological inclinations. The right used to be that ideology, until it became too discredited (seriously, Ark museums?), and so the left moved to fill the gap.

            This doesn’t make any sense, because these are not the same people. Like Evan, I have been to the Creation Museum (twice, actually) before they got the ark. I come from that culture, and I’ve known more than a few really staunch creationism advocates. These are about as opposite from the sort of people who get involved in various leftist anti-intellectual idiocy as it is possible to get, except for being anti-intellectual idiots. This conservation law has to play on a society-wide scale, not just on a specific group of people who always seek out the latest anti-intellectual idiocy.

          • Jiro says:

            Since creationism is false, there isn’t evidence for it. That means that whenever you try to create a museum exhibit that shows evidence for it, you won’t be able to. If they claim to have created museum exhibits that show evidence for creation, they must be incompetent at creating museum exhibits as well as incompetent at evolution.

          • Randy M says:

            Since creationism is false, there isn’t evidence for it.

            Do you hold that evidence can never support an untrue proposition? For example, if DNA evidence puts either of a set of identical twins at a crime scene, can we not say that both the proposition that Twin Bob was involved and the proposition that Twin John was involved is supported by evidence, even if in fact one of those is wholly incorrect?

          • bean says:

            @Jiro

            Since creationism is false, there isn’t evidence for it.

            Really? There’s evidence for homeopathy, and I think that if we took a poll here, that would be rated more false. There is often some ‘evidence’ in favor of even the most ludicrously wrong things.

            That means that whenever you try to create a museum exhibit that shows evidence for it, you won’t be able to. If they claim to have created museum exhibits that show evidence for creation, they must be incompetent at creating museum exhibits as well as incompetent at evolution.

            Now you’re just being bizarre. The skill of evaluating arguments and the skill of presenting arguments are near-orthagonal. I’ve been to the Creation Museum. It was clearly done by someone who was good at building museums. The scientists behind it may or may not have been any good at science, but that doesn’t mean the people in charge of presenting it are incompetent.

            Keep in mind that a lot of the arguments for creationism (and for evolution) are sophisticated and technical, and frankly beyond the ability of a typical person to understand.
            Example:
            I was given an article by a member of my church about how the results from Messenger proved that Mercury’s magnetic field was decaying at a rate that proved YEC. I decided to look into this more. (This was after I’d become agnostic on evolution v creation, and the guy in question was the definition of an anti-intellectual idiot, but it was summer and I had time on my hands.) I discovered that the results from Mariner 10 had a very wide error bound, and that Messenger’s results fitted nicely within them. It was total bunk. But to figure that out for myself (as opposed to simply listening to someone who told me that it was bunk), I had to understand the basics of how scientific results are reported and what things like error bounds mean, know where to look for the relevant data, and have the interest to run it down. And it could be countered to a credible audience by pointing out that I didn’t actually prove that he was wrong. The numbers are entirely consistent with the scenario of Mercury’s magnetic field decaying. Yes, they’re equally consistent with it not doing that, but if you don’t understand Occam’s Razor well, that’s not convincing. Most people do not have the relevant skills, and are on a given side because they’ve decided which expert to believe.
            (It doesn’t help my case that some creationist ‘experts’ are genuinely terrible at science. But there are others who aren’t, and the Creation Museum was done more by the latter type.)

          • Jiro says:

            Do you hold that evidence can never support an untrue proposition?

            I don’t hold that, but there’s a spectrum. And creationism (and homeopathy) are all the way on the “really horrible evidence that nobody with any sense would put into a museum” end of the spectrum.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Okay, aside from “Creationism is false,” what do you think is so bad about the Ark Experience?

            It’s not just false, it’s bizarre and ridiculous. People were mocking it as the “Flintstone’s Museum”.

            It’s the sort of thing that cause you lose status by associating with it, in other words, it is uncool.

          • bean says:

            @vV_Vv
            That’s not really an answer. Why in the world should anyone who would actually think about going care about what you think is cool? They’re much more concerned about what their friends think about it, and their friends (who are the people at their church) are of the opinion that evolution is a vile lie, and that preventing their kids from falling into it is vital. And thus, to them, it’s a very good thing.
            Seriously, every time we try to reach the root of liberal objections to YEC, we find out that it’s a pretty reliable tribal marker for the God Tribe, and you just don’t like us. There’s no object-level reason to object to people believing it, and spending their own money on museums about it. You’d probably also consider the Museum of American Quilts uncool (if you actually like quilting, substitute farm equipment or something else that is associated with your outgroup and that you don’t like) and yet if it’s not funded by your tax dollars, I see no reason for you to care.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I don’t hold that [an untrue claim can never have supporting evidence], but there’s a spectrum. And creationism (and homeopathy) are all the way on the “really horrible evidence that nobody with any sense would put into a museum” end of the spectrum.

            This is strictly consistent with Bean’s claim, but stil leaves room for even creationism (and homeopathy) having supporting evidence.

            For example, I could imagine there being a recovered sample of amber containing multiple DNA samples that appeared to be from humans and from dinosaurs. Or a method of treating rocks that causes them to test as much older than they actually are, that could plausibly occur in nature.

            The fact that I would suspect an error in DNA extraction or sequencing, or that the rock treatment doesn’t cover all of the age tests, doesn’t preclude the possibility that I might be unable to confirm such suspicions, bringing creationism closer in plausibility to the old-universe explanation. I blame most of this on my geologic science knowledge being largely inherited from authority, relative to my math and physics knowledge, which I can frequently demonstrate firsthand.

            Same goes for probably most people. No one can slap together a solar system simulation on their kitchen table. A open minded, rational person with little geology training could still come out of such a museum thinking creationism is more plausible than I personally believe it is, until they look closer.

          • but certainly for many years Conservative have dabbed in stuff (e.g. Creationism/ID/Teach The Controversy) which I wouldn’t associate to high IQ.

            How about alchemy, of which Isaac Newton was a proponent?

            I don’t think weird beliefs necessarily anticorrelate with intelligence. One consequence of being very intelligent may be to conclude that things everyone knows are quite likely to be false–including things that in fact are true.

        • MugaSofer says:

          Race and gender are much more visible than political affiliation. This both makes discrimination inherently easier, and opens the door for much more subconscious and stereotype-based discrimination (e.g. grading the same essay differently based on a student’s name, halo effect based on appearance, etc.)

          Furthermore, it seems like you’re ignoring the obvious possibility that leftism in academia preceded the outright discrimination. You could make a compelling case that this is what happened with skin colour.

          With that said, I do think the discrimination is probably the/a major cause here.

        • Well, selection on the basis of aptitude is not discriinatin, and self-selection on the basis of interest isn’t either. Is anyone wondering about the number of conservatives in the police and armed forces?

          • Kevin C. says:

            Well, selection on the basis of aptitude is not discriinatin, and self-selection on the basis of interest isn’t either.

            Tell that second part to the folks complaining about female underrepresentation in STEM fields.

          • The Nybbler says:

            And the first part to supporters of affirmative action.

      • 1soru1 says:

        You missed one: wealth. College professors vote Republican in pretty much exactly the proportion of any other group of mid-income professionals. The fact that the modern republican party has been unable to win the votes of people whose job is to know stuff (instead of own stuff) is a cause, not a consequence.

        Core conservatives more or less by by definition have money; conserving the power of that money is what they are conservative about. People already wealthy when they are students probably inherited money. Consequently, they have little incentive to learn transferable skills for employment as they are planning on employing people, not vice versa.

        The peripheral conservative groups are those who, with greater or lesser degrees of plausibly, plan to gain such wealth. Becoming a college professor is not a plausible path to wealth. And anyone foolish enough to falsely believe it is is unlikely to qualify.

        Note that high-ranking university administrators do predominantly vote republican, partly because they run the university like a business, and partly because they have 6/7 digit salaries.

        • gbdub says:

          Note that high-ranking university administrators do predominantly vote republican, partly because they run the university like a business, and partly because they have 6/7 digit salaries.

          Citation needed on that one, I think. Administrators might be more conservative than some of the social science departments, but that hardly makes them Republicans.

        • Nozick had a piece a long time ago on why academics were left. The basic argument was that high school had two status systems. One was decentralized, based on what your peers thought about you. The other was centralized–grades. People who did well in one of those systems and badly in the other tended to think that was the right kind of system. So the people who got good grades and became professors like centralized, formal, hierarchical systems, such as government. The people who were popular in high school liked decentralized, informal systems, such as markets, and became businessmen.

          Surely too simple, but there may be some truth to it.

          • Tibor says:

            The piece is available here. To go into more detail, he talks about intellectuals in general, or better yet he distinguishes between what he calls “wordsmiths” (who oppose capitalism) and “numbersmiths” (who don’t):

            These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors. It does not include those who primarily produce and transmit quantitatively or mathematically formulated information (the numbersmiths) or those working in visual media, painters, sculptors, cameramen. Unlike the wordsmiths, people in these occupations do not disproportionately oppose capitalism. The wordsmiths are concentrated in certain occupational sites: academia, the media, government bureaucracy.

            As Julian Sanchez notes here, it is a bit outdated. There are not very many actual communists around (outside of philosophical faculties) any more, but there is still the same pattern with supporting government centrally planned solutions as opposed to decentralized market solutions.

            Sanchez’s hypothesis is that the pattern either comes from self-selection based on prior beliefs, or as a post-hoc rationalization. In the first case, if the most problems are best solved by political means, then becoming an academic, particularly in those “wordsmith” areas, is the most efficient way do good. If, on the other hand, the best solutions are decentralized and private (be that donating to charity, entrepreneurship, etc.), then it is no longer necessarily the case. So people who believe the former will drift towards the academia more than those who believe the latter.

            Alternatively, it is a post-hoc rationalization – I decided to do this or that largely because I enjoy that style of work more or I’m better at it, but I want to feel like I’m a good person/doing something meaningful and I change my views accordingly.

            Of course, those two are not mutually exclusive. I think that a combination of both plus peer pressure (and the amount of peer pressure might even be measurable – given how at least the US academia shifted towards the left – on average – over the last couple of decades) explains quite a lot.

          • Being in business feels like being in a hierarchy, because bosses. The market is abstract by comparison.

          • Being in business feels like being in a hierarchy, because bosses. The market is abstract by comparison.

            To put it differently, as Coase pointed out long ago, a firm is a miniature centralized economy. But whether it feels like you are in a hierarchy might depend on whether you were spending your whole career in one large firm, working in a small firm with very few levels of hiererarchy, or moving from one firm to another as opportunities open up. The first is hierarchy, the second might feel more like family/coop, the third as though you are yourself a player in a market.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Conservatives do well in school because they are higher in Conscientiousness.

            They also tend to make much better managers than liberals. Again because of higher Conscientiousness.

            —–

            The reason lefties like school is that they tend to be higher in Openness. They like to play with ideas. It’s not because they do better in school.

            Lefties do better in stable organizations where pay is based on seniority, or some clear cut metric, because they are also higher in Agreeableness subtrait Compassion, which tends to make you a bad negotiator.

        • Going back to the “there are fewer conservatives in academia because conservatives aren’t as smart as liberals” argument. As I see it, the logic goes as follows:

          1. Left wing views are true.

          2. Therefor people who don’t believe them are, on average, less intelligent than people who do.

          3. So conservatives are, on average, less intelligent than liberals.

          4. So it’s reasonable that universities, which want intelligent faculty, have few conservatives.

          The obvious alternative story is:

          1. People in academia believe left wing views are true because they are rarely exposed to intelligent arguments against such views, due to most of academia and most of the respectable media being left wing.

          2. Following the previous argument, they conclude that conservatives are probably unintelligent, so don’t hire them in their departments.

          3. Thus maintaining the situation that gave rise to 1 above.

          As some casual evidence for 1 in the second argument … . My father had the reputation of being an extraordinarily good debater. Part of the reason was that he was having arguments with people whose arguments he had heard many times over, but who had never heard his arguments.

          I’ve mentioned before my parallel experience during the 1964 election (last three paragraphs of the linked post).

          • Philosophisticat says:

            I don’t endorse the former explanation, but one disadvantage the latter explanation has is that it is incomplete – it’s an explanation for why an environment that is sufficiently isolated from external arguments, which starts off with a slant in some political direction, and which introduces new members on the basis of judgments of intelligence might reinforce that slant. It doesn’t explain why the slant would begin any particular way.

            Also, I don’t think 1) is very plausible. I’ll wager academics are considerably more likely to be exposed to intelligent arguments for conservative views than almost any profession, especially in areas like, say, philosophical ethics, which is very liberal.

            I think it’s more plausible that academics are left wing because, even when exposed to intelligent arguments for different views, they endorse the liberal ones, either because the liberal ones are more compelling or because they do not respond appropriately to the strength of arguments.

          • ashlael says:

            My counter to that is Milton was indeed an extraordinarily good debater.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Philosophers may be more exposed to theoretical conservatives arguments but I doubt they are as aware of the kind of issues that cause people to become conservative. Political views aren’t shaped in a vacuum and ethical beliefs come from more than just philosophical arguments.

            I’m also skeptical that liberals philosophers do understand conservative beliefs. How many have read Burke compared to Marx?

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @WrongSpecies

            I was reading this as an explanation of why academia is liberal relative to other professions. The explanation can’t be that not many of them have read Burke, since not many of any profession has read Burke, and academics are more likely than others to have done so. More generally, if we identify “intelligent arguments for conservatism” in a narrow way, it will be true that academics are not very exposed to them, but it will be true that everyone else is exposed to them even less. The conservative arguments that people in any profession are likely to have heard, academics are even more likely to have heard, if only for being generally better-read. It may be that other groups read places like Breitbart more than academics, but I wasn’t imagining that that’s where the intelligent conservative arguments were. Maybe I have the explanandum wrong.

            Anyway, I wasn’t claiming that academics understand conservative beliefs. I was challenging the idea that academics are liberal because they’re not exposed to conservative arguments. I think it’s easy to be exposed to an argument, even a clear and compelling one, and still fail to understand it (from bias, insufficient expertise, general stupidity, etc.)

            And of course political views are not shaped purely in response to philosophical arguments. In fact, I think philosophical arguments have relatively little to do with how political views are formed, and that’s part of why I’m skeptical that the explanation for liberalism in academia is that they haven’t heard the arguments for the other side.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Good lord, this isn’t that hard. Conservatism tracks with low Openness, liberalism tracks with high Openness. Conservatism tracks with dutifulness and productivity, liberalism tracks with irresponsibility. Personality measures explain all this.

            Incidentally, conservatives should not be confused with libertarians, who are just very high IQ and/or selfish liberals. And the problem is with conservative underrepresentation in academia, not libertarian underrepresentation.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            How well do Big 5 personality traits account for famous conservative writers like Swift, Burke, Austen, Eliot, Waugh, Buckley, Wolfe, and O’Rourke?

            Do they tend to be high on Openness but still conservative? How well can the Big 5 theory account for conservative skills at satire?

          • onyomi says:

            @DavidFriedman and Philosophisticat

            While I agree with Philosophisticat that academics within a few subfields like philosophy and political science are at least as likely as any liberals to be exposed to more sophisticated conservative arguments, I think this picture leaves out a few things:

            1. There is another group out there more likely than academics to know good arguments in favor of conservatism, and that is conservative intellectuals. Nowadays, many or most of them find a home outside academia at a think tank, a media outlet, or what have you.

            2. Academic philosophers and political scientists, like pretty much everyone else, are people first, members of a larger professional/local community second, and philosophers/political scientists third. The people in the Psych, Anthro, Music, and French departments probably haven’t read Burke. And the people in the Psych, Anthro, Music, and French department are the people the philosophy department are living next to, whose kids go to the same school as their kids, whom they see at parties, and so on. In other words, though they may have something of a professional duty to be at least somewhat familiar with arguments for conservatism, they have an arguably much stronger social incentive not to find them convincing.

            Which leads to
            3. Don’t underestimate how powerful is the tendency, even among professional academics, to seek out and read in depth thinkers who support the things they already want to believe and treat opposing thinkers in an extremely superficial manner, if at all.

            I struggle with this quite a lot myself: I find it satisfying to read good arguments for things I’m already inclined to believe; I usually find it very unpleasant and slow-going to read even better writers among those I’m strongly disinclined to agree with. As an exercise in understanding other viewpoints I try, periodically, to read someone like David Harvey I know strongly disagrees with me, but it’s very hard to go beyond the level of a skim. It’s hard to engage with it at any deep level. Reading pro-communist arguments for example, can easily cause me to feel literal, physical revulsion (maybe this is my conservative high scrupulosity?)

            But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this: to take the recent example of academics of various stripes excoriating Charles Murray on tv and in person; it seemed clear that many had never read anything Charles Murray actually wrote. And, after all, why should they? They already knew how to rebut strawman Charles Murray. What could they possibly gain by becoming more familiar with nuanced Charles Murray?

          • And the problem is with conservative underrepresentation in academia, not libertarian underrepresentation.

            Interesting claim. My impression from my experience is that liberal academics are more tolerant of libertarians than of conservatives. I don’t know what the actual percentage of academics who are libertarians is or how it compares with the percentage of libertarians in the population.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @onyomi

            Of course, intellectuals who work at conservative think tanks are going to be more familiar with conservative arguments than the average academic. But that doesn’t give us evidence that the reason that academia is liberal is that they haven’t been exposed to conservative arguments any more than the fact that professional christian apologists are more familiar with strong arguments for christian theism shows that the reason philosophers tend to be atheists is that they’re not familiar enough with religious arguments. Perhaps you don’t disagree with this, but then I’m not sure what the relevance of 1) is to what I said.

            I agree that liberal academics do not read conservatives in depth. But I think this is primarily an effect of their being liberal, not an explanation of it, as David was suggesting.

          • onyomi says:

            @Philosophisticat

            Perhaps I misunderstood, but I think I interpreted you as saying “most people of all stripes don’t read Burke, but if we can expect anyone to have read Burke, it’s the philosophy and polisci experts in academic departments, who, even if they don’t agree, still need to do some due diligence.”

            My point was that the sort of conservative intellectual we might expect to have a nuanced understanding of Burke has already largely “seceded” from mainstream academia in the same way Scott describes conservative media “seceding” from mainstream “neutral gatekeepers.”

            I think what I’m saying is I don’t expect anyone who isn’t sympathetic to a view, be they an academic or a man on the street, to be very familiar with nuanced arguments for opposing viewpoints, because strong social and psychological forces disincentivize them from becoming so.

            I do, however, expect most people, specialist and non, to be familiar with the most basic arguments for whatever view is near the center of the Overton Window, which, I think, is mildly leftist in most of the developed world today, certainly from a historical perspective. Therefore, I do expect Joe Sixpack conservative to be a little more familiar with Joe Sixpack liberal’s arguments than the other way around.

            I also expect “conservative think tank writer” to be at least a little more familiar with “academic polisci department professor’s” arguments than the other way around because it is the former who has “seceded” from the latter.

            As for why “polisci professor in the mainstream of academia” got more liberal than the mainstream of society in the first place, my answer is about bigger social forces, rather than the quality of the arguments: that is, if you want to know why polisci professors tend to be liberal, the first question is not “what is the relative quality of arguments made for different positions throughout the history of this discipline?” but rather, “why is the type of person more likely to become a polisci professor also more likely to be liberal?”

            In support of this, consider that the Overton Window is constantly moving. In the US case, seemingly, mostly leftward for the past century (but even if not, all that matters for my purposes is that it can shift a great deal over time). If academics were really responding to the quality of the arguments then we might expect them to switch sides, en masse, on those occasions when “overshoot” must, at least sometimes, happen.

            Let’s say the correct view on ethics of a certain kind of policy is x, and over the past 60 years, the Overton Window has shifted from “x-6” to “x+3.” If the quality of arguments were really a primary determinant of viewpoint on politically-sensitive issues, then we’d expect those who study the issue to start switching sides, en masse, around the time we got to x+1 or x+2.

            But this seemingly never happens with respect to politically sensitive issues. Instead, groups commit to a side, like the “-x” camp or the “+x” camp and keep trying to pull things in their team’s direction regardless of how the mainstream view shifts. If the average view of a particular segment of society was “x-3” at a time when the mainstream view was “x-6,” then I would expect that same group, all else equal, to believe “x+2” at a time when the mainstream has moved to “x-1.”

          • Vorkon says:

            All of these comments talking about the Big 5 personality traits as if they’re concrete, easily measurable, and self-evidently applicable to the situation strike me as remarkably surreal.

            It’s like, “obviously liberals dominate academia, they have +2 to Charisma and a +4 bonus to all Persuasion checks related to bureaucratic structures! They also get a +6 on rolls to save vs. Religion, and we all know that for every Religion Point a character has, they take an experience point penalty in the Scholar class!”

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Steve:

            Two things:
            1. Openness is only one of the two B5 personality factors that predict conservatism. The other is Conscientiousness, especially the subtrait Orderliness. Most artistic conservatives are likely high Openness/high Orderliness. In fact, Orderliness is what predicts religiosity, and religiosity is likely the part of conservatism that is of most help to an artist.
            2. Openness is always going to be relative to your society. A highly Open person 200 years ago, let alone 500 or a 1000 years ago, would likely have had far more conservative beliefs relative to today. In fact, I suspect that the optimal combination for art is a highly Open personality in a traditional society.

            —-

            Satire is a bit of a puzzle. You are right that the best satirists tend to be conservative, yet, like all artists, they are going to be high in Openness. Satire is also obviously going to be associated with low Agreeableness, particularly low subtrait Compassion, which is associated with right wing politics, though not necessarily conservatism.*

            The weird bit is how satirists relate to Orderliness. They tend to be social conservatives. They also tend to traffic in disgust, while paradoxically being known for the extreme “purity” of their style (Aristophanes, Juvenal, Swift, Pope, Waugh). Yet, they are, with some exceptions, typically much less religious than other conservative artists. Given the typical association of Orderliness with religion, that is odd.

            —–

            It is remarkable that, despite, the near total domination of any arts enterprise by liberals, so many artists at the very top are conservatives, even today: Les Murray, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Houellebecq, Geoffrey Hill etc. I suspect that high Openness/high Orderliness is, at least in modern societies, the optimal personality combination for high art.
            http://mallproject.blogspot.ca/2009/11/where-are-right-wing-writers.html
            (Note that people like Vladimir Nabokov or Mario Vargas Llosa are libertarians more than conservatives. Right wing but not conservative.)

            —–
            *Right wing just means more tolerant of inequality. But there are a lot of different ways to approach inequality. Libertarians tend to not care that much about how things end up, while conservatives tend to view reality as having a natural order with a hierarchical structure.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            You factor analyze descriptions of human personality and they clump into 5 factors, with 2 subfactors each. They aren’t made up. These factors also reliably predict things in the world. Deal with it.

      • cassander says:

        Interesting analysis. Is that also why blacks are under-represented?

        • MugaSofer says:

          I’m starting to wonder if “duplicate comment” should be one of the reasons Scott deletes comments. He’s got enough readers we get these identical pile-ons on popular posts.

          • cassander says:

            I would think that if a comment provokes many identical responses, then the person who wrote it clearly failed to consider something obvious, and that he, not one of the many identical commentators, is the one that needs to re-examine his logic.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      As most existing journalistic outlets moved left in the 1960s and 1970s, a couple of business-oriented publications, the Wall Street Journal and The Economist, were able to afford to up their game and match wits.

      The problem today is that the main political divide is no longer left-right but globalist-localist, and naturally the globalists, such as The Economist and the New York Times, have more money and thus more hired brains on their side.

    • Brad says:

      I’d offer another possibility — the two institutions in question both have relatively low pay despite being highly competitive. Thus they attract people that are mission driven rather than money driven. Consider that those with a mission drive on the conservative side are far more likely to consider the clergy than those on the liberal side.

      • Vorkon says:

        Or the military.

        (Not saying I necessarily agree with you, but it’s definitely an interesting theory!)

      • gbdub says:

        Is “being on the political left” a necessary part of the academic mission the way that “believing in God” is for a clergyman? Maybe for a small set of politically inclined departments, but there’s no reason math or chemistry or even history ought to have a slant (indeed we’d likely be better off if they didn’t).

        Maybe the marginal conservative science grad student would be fine with low pay and hyper-competitive, but being socially shunned for supporting lower taxes pushes them over the edge to abandoning academia? Or “it’s hyper-competitive, and I know the fact that I voted for Romney is going to be a black mark against me, so why even try?”

        • Brad says:

          Is “being on the political left” a necessary part of the academic mission the way that “believing in God” is for a clergyman? Maybe for a small set of politically inclined departments, but there’s no reason math or chemistry or even history ought to have a slant (indeed we’d likely be better off if they didn’t).

          No it certainly isn’t.

          But say let’s say there’s an evenly divided pool of people out there on the left and right. Both have have normally distributed intelligence and mission-driven-ness.

          If someone is both conservative and mission driven he might decide to either try for academia or try for the clergy. If someone is liberal and mission driven he is definitely going to try for academia (in this toy model). If professors are selected at random from applicants we would expect to have more liberal professors than conservative professors simply because of the existence of the clergy option.

          Maybe the marginal conservative science grad student would be fine with low pay and hyper-competitive, but being socially shunned for supporting lower taxes pushes them over the edge to abandoning academia? Or “it’s hyper-competitive, and I know the fact that I voted for Romney is going to be a black mark against me, so why even try?”

          I think this is certainly a part of the picture. Another part is that politics are not some intrinsic property of a person, being encultured into academia probably moves people to the left of where they started. I’m not rejecting these factors, just suggesting another one — and I’m far from certain it is true, it is just something that occurred to me.

        • caethan says:

          Uh, as someone who’s attended Presbyterian services for about 10 years and listened to a lot of sermons, let me tell you that “believing in God” is in no way required or even overwhelmingly likely for a pastor.

          • thestudent452 says:

            This is curious. I too have attended my fair share of conservative (which from talking to people Presbytarians tend to also be) churches and can’t speak to your experience. The only clergy I know that outright deny God are people like Spong, who (coming from one of the most liberal denominations) is considered a heretic by most Episcopalians. Do you have any readings related to your anecdote?

          • caethan says:

            PCUSA, the mainline (and largest) branch, not the conservative one. No particular readings or links to give, just anecdotes. When my wife and I went to get my daughter baptized, we met with the pastor privately to go over the service and get everything set up. She was going to be baptized on Easter, and as an offhand comment the pastor said that of course Christ hadn’t risen from the dead, but it was a time for celebration anyway. I guess because my wife and I are both smart and educated she assumed that we would agree with her. I hadn’t heard her discuss it so blatantly in her sermons, although they definitely leaned that way so much that I wasn’t particularly surprised.

  10. Dumb_Young_Kid says:

    To be honest I am rather confused by the references to trump in your article. As I understand it you are making an argument that the left was exclusionary to the right, and used the neutral media spaces to be exclusionary, and this led to the establishment of the right wing media space. However, it seems to me that most of your references were to events occurring after the establishment of the right wing media space?

  11. Thecommexokid says:

    You often—and I think increasingly frequently—write whole posts where you talk about capital-C-Conservatism without reference to any specific political issue. You say that the “neutral gatekeeper communities” (by which you seem mostly to mean the media) should give being less biased against conservatives a try. But do you have any specific examples of how or where, on an individual-issue level?

    • Tedd says:

      You say that the “neutral gatekeeper communities” (by which you seem mostly to mean the media)

      Well, also academia. And “an extremely prestigious university had a graduation speech which was mostly an anti-Trump rant” is a fairly specific example of bias against conservatives in academia.

      • Evan Þ says:

        And also nonprofit hospitals. And also, we could add, many major corporations.

  12. Quadratic says:

    There’s a third group that’s larger than either of the two: that majority of the voting population that took a look at politics and wrote both sides off as being bad.

    There’s a lot of absolutely terrible and ignorant reasons for coming to that kind of cynical and shallow conclusion, but the bad behavior on both sides seems like it’s trying to squeeze out even those that might be so inclined, and they’re definitely not trying to expand their base.

    The paranoid part of me thinks that corporations are purposefully propping up the worst elements of both sides to turn off as many reasonable and calm people as possible so that politics becomes more about purity and shouting and debates over social justice and nazi fighting and draining the swamp and not talking about the pragmatic and bipartisan things we could do to actually improve the country, like the points you made in the past about how we could relax regulations on safe medications so that bullshit like Pharmabro doesn’t happen all the time.

    • Nebfocus says:

      Chevron deference seems to indicate that the FDA could modify/relax their standards any time they wanted. Public choice theory explains why this wouldn’t happen.

    • There’s a third group that’s larger than either of the two: that majority of the voting population that took a look at politics and wrote both sides off as being bad.

      Everybody likes to count up the nonparticipants, assign political views to them, and say “Ha! A majority!”

      This is a fallacy for several reasons.*

      First, across the entire population, there is far less detailed awareness of or attachment to politics and ideology than we activists typically assume.

      Take a random sample of American adults, ask them a bunch of politically charged questions, and keep track of their answers. Then go back three weeks later, ask the same questions, and you’ll find a shockingly low correlation between a respondent’s answer in the first vs. second round. The totals may be very similar, but you’ll find a lot of churn. It’s not that people are constantly changing their minds, it’s that only a small subset assign much personal importance to how those questions are answered.

      See Neuman, The Paradox of Mass Politics, for much more on that.

      Second, the proportion who choose not to vote is greatly exaggerated by bad statistics.

      Consider that reports and studies about voter turnout almost invariably use an inflated denominator.

      Very often, what’s reported is votes cast as a percentage of “registered voters”. To varying extents in different areas, the number of registered voters is inflated by deadwood — people who died or left and are no longer available to vote — or (say) a household’s grown children who moved away to Seattle, but are still on the voter rolls of their hometown.

      Academic surveys typically compare the number of actual voters to the total number of adults in the population. But that larger group includes non-citizens, prison inmates, people who are intellectually disabled or demented or lying in comas, migrant workers who don’t meet residency requirements, people who have just moved to town and missed the deadline for registering to vote, etc., etc. People readily enter or leave some of those categories, but at any given moment, they include many millions of Americans.

      Third, if you exclude all those populations who can’t reasonably be expected to vote, the difference between voters-as-a-group and non-voters-as-a-group shrinks to almost nothing. Their politics and demography are at most a few percentage points apart.

      Some think that difference between voters and non-voters has grown in recent years — e.g., that people of lower socio-economic status are disproportionately less likely to vote than in the past. I have yet to see convincing data on this.

      Note, too, that using a static measure like high school completion is misleading when applied to time series of voting behavior, because the groups at the bottom of the education scale are much older than average and dwindling in absolute numbers. There are fewer of them voting because fewer of them exist.

      * Note that this entire posting is specifically about the USA electorate, and may not apply to the rest of the world.

      • Randy M says:

        Quality post.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          I am curious what proportion of adults vote in places like Australia where voting is mandatory. And what proportion of registered voters vote. I think this should show better what the true denominator is, since the numerator in those cases should be close to the true denominator.

          • potatoes says:

            voter enrolment and turnouts in australia can be found herelink text

            at a quick glance most states had about a 90% turnout. I think it varies from election to election. By elections tend to have low turn out

          • potatoes says:

            sorry link went wrong

            link text

          • @ potatoes

            at a quick glance most states had about a 90% turnout.

            Compulsory voting fosters a whole different attitude toward elections and voter participation. In essence, even if you don’t care at all, you’re legally required to know that an election has been scheduled.

            I’m guessing that the 90% turnout is based on a much more accurate list of voters than is possible in the U.S. In other words, the denominator is not inflated.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Rather than complaining about bad statistics, why not recommend good ones? This looks pretty good to me. Maybe there aren’t good statistics to address the question of how voters compare to non-voters, but Quadratic made no claims about that.

        • Rather than complaining about bad statistics, why not recommend good ones? This looks pretty good to me.

          I’m not criticizing the statistics themselves, rather, the tendency to take the turnout percentages literally.

          The site you pointed to does make an effort to adjust the denominator to exclude non-eligible populations, such as non-citizens. I certainly understand that it’s difficult to go farther than that.

          And I see that turnout in the 2012 presidential election is calculated as around 58%, in other words, a substantial majority of those eligible did participate. Still, the other 42% includes a lot of people who can’t really be expected to vote.

  13. peacetreefrog says:

    I feel like a big part of the problem is neutral media not really understanding conservative arguments or giving them their due.

    Partly, I think this is often because conservative arguments are harder to understand. If you remember Scott’s EpiPen article, for example, Vox basically said the reason the drug was so expensive was problem was drug companies were allowed to set their own prices, and the solution was to regulate them more. And on the surface, it seems simple. Who jacked up the price? Mylan (the drug company). What should we do? Make them lower it, easy. It’s only after digging into the issue a little deeper, and understanding the current regulatory regime, history of previous attempts by competitors to introduce alternatives, etc etc that you realize, woah, maybe this isn’t as easy as we thought.

    This as compared to more liberal arguments/solutions, which is to rely on a benevolent, competent, and powerful government to solve society’s problems. Whether that’s actually how it ends up working or not, it’s a lot easier to understand/package into TV sized sound bites (vs 10k word blog posts).

    It’s also easier to understand intentions. You want more regulation for drug companies? You must be against $300 epipens, good for you. You want less regulation? You must be a shill for the drug companies.

    • Placid Platypus says:

      That doesn’t explain why the same pattern shows up in e.g. academia, where higher levels of nuance would be expected.

      Also your comment reads like you’re coming from a place that puts you at high risk of cherry-picking. It would be a good idea for you to try for a bit to come up with cases where the conservative side is the more naively intuitive one.

    • MartMart says:

      The easiest solution to virtually any problem to explain is “lets put someone powerful in charge who will make sure that bad stuff doesn’t happen”. On the surface, this is authoritarianism. Why are so many left leaning solutions in economics fit into this mold?

      • gbdub says:

        Everyone is a bit authoritarian at heart I think, it’s a corollary of the typical mind fallacy. “Build a wall”, “ban weird sex”, and “tough on crime” are authoritarian conservative solutions I’d say.

        The anti-government / personal independence streak of conservatism isn’t strong enough to prevent “let’s solve it by fiat” from being the way of Republican legislators, but it’s enough to make conservative economists sound less authoritarian.

        While both sides have their authoritarian streaks, “the government passing a law that says X means X will happen with no unintended consequences” does seem somewhat more common on the left, or at least common at a higher level of intellectualism than it makes it to on the right.

    • Randy M says:

      I am reminded of liberal preference of around 2004 for the word “nuance”, and the assertion that they had it and conservatives were unable to grasp it, preferring the obvious responses of “go kill bad guys” to more complex problems (one example lies up-thread, in fact).
      Either in some spheres conservative solutions are simple and others liberal solutions are simple, or more likely, each problem can be addressed in either direction with various levels of complexity.

      • liskantope says:

        Yes, this was going to be my response. There are plenty of areas where the left-wing position seems less immediate and more nuanced (e.g. fighting terrorists, being softer on crime, etc.) I strongly feel that (in regard to American political dynamics in my lifetime) this was especially true during much of the Bush administration, in the years following September 11th. It’s strange now to look back to those teenage years where I had the same kind of fondness for the Left that I have for rationalism now, because at the time I saw the Left as the more emotionally detached and rational side of the political spectrum. That is definitely not the case today.

    • Economically sophisticated arguments are hard to explain. ..sociologically sophisticated arguments are hard to explain. ..guess who’s got the sociologically sophisticated arguments.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      …more liberal arguments/solutions, which is to rely on a benevolent, competent, and powerful…

      I’m sort of joking, but I read this and think “see? how hard was it, really, to understand how a conservative thinks?”

  14. shakeddown says:

    I agree with this mostheartedly, and this is something I’ve believed for a long time. I’ve tried to turn politics discussions into genuine intellectual discussions and turn heat into light, and a few times I was even successful.

    But a few weeks ago, there was a thread about H1B visas on reddit, and I lost it. I realized I was furious. I’ve been applying for this visa for months – it’s a ridiculous amount of work and dealing with regulations and unending fees, you have to dig up every piece of paperwork from the last ten years, call up five different offices at your school to get them to print more yet more paperwork, and even you manage all that the best you get is a lottery. And all of this is just to be allowed to work for your living. And that’s under normal circumstances – as far as I can tell, Trump can just change his mind and refuse to give anyone a visa at any time.

    And after all that, I read this reddit thread that’s completely full of people talking about how completely awful it is that you’re allowed to work even under these conditions. And it wasn’t just internet flame wars. It was internet flame wars by people who actually might convince the administration to kick me out of the country.

    So you kind of imply that leftists have all the structural power and conservatives don’t, and that’s true in some bubbles. But that’s often not true – hell, republicans control all levels of the government – and when you’re in a position to realize this, it bites.
    (I realize this is an emotional rather than factual argument, so I’ll add a disclaimer that I don’t mean to imply any of the implications beyond “I am intensely angry and frustrated with the current immigration debate, for what I think are justifiable reasons.”)

    • Evan Þ says:

      The visa system is horrible and should be drastically changed. Neither party has a good plan to fix this, as you can see by how it didn’t really get any better under Bush, Obama, or now Trump.

      That said, I think you should distinguish between governmental structural power, which conservatives now have to a large extent; with cultural structural power, which they don’t. Look how the media were fawning over Obama eight years ago, at a time when (IIRC) Democrats controlled all branches of government. Now look at what’s happening with Trump now. That’s the significance of cultural structural power.

      • Placid Platypus says:

        Look how the media were fawning over Obama eight years ago, at a time when (IIRC) Democrats controlled all branches of government. Now look at what’s happening with Trump now. That’s the significance of cultural structural power.

        The problem is that there’s no outside-view way to distinguish between “the media is biased against Trump” and “Trump is actually worse.”

        For a new organization, maintaining real neutrality would probably require assuming a priori that both sides are equivalent, which basically means not ever reporting on the how the sides’ competing claims relate to objective reality.

        In actual fact the media seems to be doing pretty badly on both sides of the tradeoff, so there’s almost certainly room to do a lot better, but at it’s heart it’s a hard problem.

        • Evan Þ says:

          What I was trying to point out in my previous comment is just that cultural power exists, and it’s distinct from political power; I wasn’t making a case for whether the media were using it well or poorly.

          That said, yeah, it’s a real question. My conclusion is that Trump is actually worse by prevailing standards, but that the media has been so poor at reporting on previous Republicans that many people quite rationally give them near-zero trust when they try to say so.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          The problem is that there’s no outside-view way to distinguish between “the media is biased against Trump” and “Trump is actually worse.”

          I think one way to do that is to be as honest as possible and bring in as much context as possible. Of course, it’s never possible to get there all the way. But the media constantly crashes and burns in this regard, such that I simply don’t care at all about their opinions. I may absorb some facts, but everything else is in one ear and out the other, and that’s how it’ll stay.

        • PedroS says:

          “For a new organization, maintaining real neutrality would probably require assuming a priori that both sides are equivalent, which basically means not ever reporting on the how the sides’ competing claims relate to objective reality.”

          I do not think that is necessary: a reporter could fulfill their duty of neutrality by reporting each side’s best arguments, as expounded by their proponents, followed by their response to the opponents’ best arguments. The task of grounding claims to objective reality should fall on the debaters, and the faithful reporter would try (to the best of his ability) to report those claims, rather than (consciously or unconciously) use an alleged neutral stance to prop his/her favorite side. I do know that human natures makes this extremely difficult for most of us, but if most political/cultural journalists can do no more than use their subject matter as a convenient foil for their worldview/ideological commitment/etc. , is it any wonder that people (left, right and center) start distrusting the news?

          Like the original mr. X, above, I think that when such a failure mode by journalists is commeon, it is best to be upfront about one’s biases instead of pretending (like most news organizations) that one is neutral/objective. When biases are acknowledged readers are at least warned about their slant and know in which direction their grains of salt should be sprinkled.

          • random832 says:

            I do not think that is necessary: a reporter could fulfill their duty of neutrality by reporting each side’s best arguments, as expounded by their proponents, followed by their response to the opponents’ best arguments.

            And what happens if one side lies? What if both sides lie?

          • MugaSofer says:

            One would probably also need to be careful to recruit from both sides equally in order to appear fair, which in practice is the same as adopting as a prior that both sides are equally correct.

          • Placid Platypus says:

            The problem comes when the sides flatly contradict each other on matters of objective fact. If you say explicitly, “Side A is telling the truth, Side B is lying,” then you alienate supporters of Side B and encourage them to go set up their own bubble. If you don’t, then you’re completely failing to do anything resembling journalism.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            The problem comes when the sides flatly contradict each other on matters of objective fact. If you say explicitly, “Side A is telling the truth, Side B is lying,” then you alienate supporters of Side B and encourage them to go set up their own bubble. If you don’t, then you’re completely failing to do anything resembling journalism.

            This attitude is what’s wrong with much of journalism. It is not the job of reporters to tell which side is right — that is the job of viewers / readers to decide. The job of reporters is to report the views of both sides as faithfully as possible, so the viewer / reader has a chance to make up his mind. (Actually there are almost always many more than two sides, but perhaps it over complicates the news to try to report on more than two sides for major controversies).

            Journalism probably also includes punditry, and certainly it is the job of these writers to tell us which side is right. But reporting and punditry must be kept well separate from each other if consumers are to maintain trust in the reporting.

          • Aapje says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            How can you tell which side is correct unless you have the time and capability to look at the actual evidence (which is very hard, because the evidence itself is flawed and frequently biased)? If most people are not capable of this, their favor will go to the side that appeals to them emotionally, not the side that is more correct.

          • How can you tell which side is correct unless you have the time and capability to look at the actual evidence

            Good question.

            You can get some information by imperfect but easier approaches. You can, for instance, keep track of predictions made by one side and base your opinions on whether they come true. Some time back, I tried to do that for past IPCC reports.

            You can look for bits of the argument that overlap something you know about and judge the argument by that. Some time back I came across an online video of a kid doing an experiment that, it was claimed, demonstrated that CO2 was a greenhouse gas. In fact, the demonstration depended on not understanding the greenhouse effect. One of the sponsors of the video was the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. That told me that popular science on that topic from respectable sources could not be trusted, that the people doing it were more interested in saying the right things than in making sure that what they said was true.

            Or you can look for patterns:

            From time to time, someone in the climate debate announces that we have only ten years to save the world–if we don’t do something drastic by then the situation is hopeless. Ten years pass. The fact that the world doesn’t end does not prove the claim was wrong, since it was a claim about what would eventually happen if we didn’t fix things now.

            But you now see another claim of the same form, starting now. Both claims are treated seriously by the rest of the movement they are made as part of–and if you check, you can probably find something similar twenty years ago, maybe thirty. And the person who made the previous claim doesn’t now say “sorry, folks, the game is over, no point trying to do anything more to prevent catastrophe.”

            That doesn’t tell you whether the basic claims of AGW danger are true, but it does tell you that the people making those claims cannot be trusted, which ought to lower your estimate that they are true.

            I expect that people on other sides of other controversies could come up with similar imperfect tests. For instance, anyone who claims that we can eliminate the budget deficit by cutting foreign aid is either ignorant or dishonest, as can easily be checked by looking up the numbers for foreign aid expenditure and the deficit. That doesn’t prove that other things the person says are false, but it is a reason to lower your confidence that they are true.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            In my experience the claim is generally that at a certain point the positive feedback loops are so strong that global warming can no longer be kept below a safe level.

            It’s not literally that the earth will disappear and I think that issues like the ice caps melting at a rapid clip will be seen as pretty solid evidence by those who are worried about the issue. On the other hand, extreme skeptics will still argue that the evidence is lacking when Bangladesh has disappeared.

          • Matt M says:

            Aapje,

            I think we get that. The point is, if people say “Unless a carbon tax is passed within the next 10 years, the feedback loop will start and we will never be able to recover” and then a decade later, there is no carbon tax, but they repeat the same claim again, “Ok, if it isn’t done within the NEXT 10 years….” then that indicates they are being disingenuous.

            Because after all, if they were right the first time, and we didn’t do what they suggested, then it’s already too late. Humanity is already doomed and we might as well continue to enjoy cheap air travel and air conditioning while we still can, right?

          • In my experience the claim is generally that at a certain point the positive feedback loops are so strong that global warming can no longer be kept below a safe level.

            Matt already explained my point, to which I don’t think your really responds.

            On your point, how do you make that claim consistent with the fact that average global temperature has been substantially higher at various points in the geological past, as has been CO2 concentration? Is there something special about the globe at present that makes it much more vulnerable to such feedback loops than it was in the past?

            The estimate for the PETM is about 8°C above the current temperature.

            Also, what defines a safe level? Eight degrees would make some very hot parts of the globe effectively uninhabitable, but have the reverse effect for some areas currently uninhabitably cold.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Aapje:

            On the other hand, extreme skeptics will still argue that the evidence is lacking when Bangladesh has disappeared.

            You realize that Bangladesh is growing, right? Over the last century it’s pretty consistently been annually gaining more land from sediment deposits than is lost from sea level rise. There was a lot of press about this in 2008 and 2010 based on satellite studies and AFAICT the facts haven’t changed since then. The new land gained doesn’t appear in precisely the same locations as old land lost – there’s gradual movement over time – but this idea that the whole country is going to disappear requiring mass migration is starting to seem like one of the sillier early-IPCC claims. Um, try this 2014 paper:

            There is a widespread misconception that a rising sea-level with global warming will overwhelm Bangladesh’s coastal area contour by contour and will thereby displace as many as 10–30 million people in the 21st century […]

            Comparison of Landsat images taken in 1984 and 2007 showed a net land gain of 451 km2 in the Meghna estuary within that period, representing an average annual growth rate of 19.6 km2 (Fig. 3) Brammer, in press. Earlier, Allison (1998) had calculated annual net gains of 14.8 km2 between 1792 and 1840 and of 4.4 km2 between 1840 and 1984. This historical evidence of large-scale net annual land gains in the Meghna estuary suggests that land gain might exceed land loss resulting from the slow rates of sea-level rise projected for the 21st century.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            Matt already explained my point, to which I don’t think your really responds.

            You were using hyperbole to complain about people using hyperbole, so I tried to subtly make you aware of that. I didn’t see that comment as the basis for productive debate at a detailed level (unlike the comment I am responding to now).

            On your point, how do you make that claim consistent with the fact that average global temperature has been substantially higher at various points in the geological past, as has been CO2 concentration? Is there something special about the globe at present that makes it much more vulnerable to such feedback loops than it was in the past?

            The claim is that such positive feedback loops have existed in the past due to extreme natural causes and with very devastating effects on earth life (as in mass extinctions). So the claim is the opposite of the earth at present being different. It is the claim that the globe is still the same, but that what we are doing is an extreme human cause that results in mostly the same outcome as an extreme natural cause.

            Note that the existence of negative feedback loops that will ultimately win out to return us to lower temperatures is not denied, but rather, considered irrelevant. After all, the claim is that we will suffer severe harm before these negative feedback loops win out.

            Also, what defines a safe level? Eight degrees would make some very hot parts of the globe effectively uninhabitable, but have the reverse effect for some areas currently uninhabitably cold.

            Humans are dependent on a very high production of food, have locked themselves into owned property and certain enclaves called states (with borders and migration laws). It’s very plausible that the new earth will be able to produce far less food because the non-hot parts are at an inconvenient circle of latitude, that our farming methods that have been optimized over many centuries will stop working well and that we have to fall back on far less efficient farming methods, that you will see major shifts in wealth, as land owned by one person/nation will be worth more and land owned by another will be worth far less, that people will resort to war rather than just let their wealth deteriorate gradually and/or that large scale migration & unrest will destroy Western culture and the current world order.

            If you can’t see how many things can go horribly wrong, that speaks to either a lack of imagination or of you operating at an extremely high level of abstraction, where ‘humans don’t go extinct’ equals ‘no problem.’

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            That part of my post was intentionally hyperbolic. My point was that you can’t necessarily wait until people are already in trouble.

            I didn’t mean to claim that major parts of Bangladesh would disappear in the short or medium-long term.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            How can you tell which side is correct unless you have the time and capability to look at the actual evidence (which is very hard, because the evidence itself is flawed and frequently biased)? If most people are not capable of this, their favor will go to the side that appeals to them emotionally, not the side that is more correct.

            That’s the point of the reporter faithfully trying to people the most credible arguments for each side. This gives the reader/viewer a chance to decide which view is the most credible. That is far superior to deferring the judgment of who is correct to the reporter.

            As I’ve said, there is a place to be had for punditry in the media, to help consumers make this judgement. But there should be a Chinese wall between the pundits and the reporters (as I think there was, once upon a time.

            In reality, most media consumers will make a judgment based on emotions, but that is the case no matter how the media reports. But reporters trying to give a voice to more than one side gives those consumers who want to make a rational judgment a fighting chance.

          • The claim is that such positive feedback loops have existed in the past due to extreme natural causes and with very devastating effects on earth life (as in mass extinctions).

            The most recent case of high temperatures is the PETM. The “mass extinctions,” at least according to the Wiki article:

            Fossil records for many organisms show major turnovers. For example, in the marine realm, a mass extinction of benthic foraminifera, a global expansion of subtropical dinoflagellates, and an appearance of excursion, planktic foraminifera and calcareous nanofossils all occurred during the beginning stages of PETM. On land, modern mammal orders (including primates) suddenly appear in Europe and in North America.

            So one group of near microscopic ocean organisms lost a lot of species, another group gained a lot of species, and land animals, specifically mammals, gained a lot of species. That isn’t what most people would describe as “mass extinctions” or “devastating effects on earth life.”

            The PETM is supposed to have gotten to about 8°C above current global temperatures. What period of high temperatures that had more serious effects were you thinking of?

            Humans are dependent on a very high production of food

            Current agricultural output is much more than what humans need to survive, since a sizable fraction goes to feed meat animals, which is a very inefficient conversion of calories to calories. Further, humans do not farm nearly all arable land–forest area in the U.S. peaked in the 1920’s, declined thereafter due to shrinking area of agricultural land. And doubling CO2 concentration increases yields by about 30% for C3 plants, which most food crops are.

            It’s very plausible that the new earth will be able to produce far less food because the non-hot parts are at an inconvenient circle of latitude, that our farming methods that have been optimized over many centuries will stop working well and that we have to fall back on far less efficient farming methods

            ,

            It isn’t impossible, but it’s pretty implausible. You are talking about changes over a century or so, which is a long time for people to change agricultural methods–consider how much change there has been in the past century.

            People currently produce food across a wide range of climates. We already know how to farm in a climate 3.7°C warmer than Minnesota, because we are doing it in Iowa, and similarly for shifts elsewhere in the range.

            Or in other words, I think the catastrophic story is mostly hand waving. Terrible things could happen in the future for any of a variety of reasons, but global warming isn’t one of the more likely ones.

    • Squirrel of Doom says:

      I used to be on H1B back when it was less insane than now, and it was a master class in learning to hate government even then.

      Having established that credential, I don’t see the issue as that clearly conservative. Big business wants lots of immigration, while many workers want to stop it. Yes, this time it’s (maybe, we’ll see) the Republicans who limit it, but the forces behind it come from all over the political spectrum.

      • AnonYEmous says:

        yeah

        sorry the H1B system is so terrible, but this country also has a terrible problem of not enough jobs for its citizens, and H1B takes those away in many cases.

        • christhenottopher says:

          Quick thing, H1Bs are specifically for jobs specialized/skilled enough to require at minimum a bachelor’s degree. The overall US unemployment rate is 4.7%, and for people who might actually compete with H1Bs (Bachelors degrees or higher), it’s 2.5%. Even if you want to talk about employment rates, for people with bachelor’s or higher in the US it’s nearly 90% (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cbc.asp). So if you want to talk about Americans not having enough jobs available, you want to talk about lower than Bachelor’s holding Americans, aka Americans who don’t compete with H1B holders.

          • Spookykou says:

            My understanding of the complaints with H1B1 is that they are farmed out by large Indian firms who are using them almost exclusively to put underpaid tech workers in fields where plenty of Americans are able and willing to work, driving down wages/displacing workers. Which is a violation of the spirit of the H1B1, which was to bring over skilled workers that could not be easily sourced locally.

            Also I don’t know what that 2.5% is in whole numbers, but I imagine it is more than big enough to warrant a scary news headlines.

          • Anon256 says:

            Salaries for US-citizen tech workers are still six figures so I don’t think this is a problem. (Note: I am a US-citizen tech worker.)

            2.5% unemployment is within the range of “frictional” unemployment you’d expect from people deliberately moving between jobs etc.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Salaries for US citizen tech workers working for top tech companies are 6 figures. That’s not who the WiPro/InfoSys/Tata Consulting H-1Bs are competing with. Tech workers who do business programming or IT for non-tech companies are the ones affected by them.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “It was internet flame wars by people who actually might convince the administration to kick me out of the country.”

      That’s called democracy, free speech, and rule of law.

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        I believe this might be a good time to distinguish what is legal to do and say from what is good to do and say.

        Now I won’t claim to have discovered the True Source of Objective Good. However, I can certainly understand how shakeddown would feel attacked by people claiming that the long and arduous process they’re going through to immigrate is still too permissive–even though it’s well within the redditors’ legal right to say so. And I’ll guess from shakeddown’s phrasing that they weren’t being all too polite about it.

        I’ll also bring up that point Scott (I think it was Scott?) made a while back about immigration as letting people into your house vs. immigration as letting people into your café. It’s a question of values, and I doubt there’s an objectively correct answer. However, I think there’s room for a bit more subtlety that “Immigrants are stealing our jobs!” [I’ll grant I might be strawmanning, but I’m inferring from the quality of every “internet flame war” I’ve ever seen.]

        • MartMart says:

          What I find so frustrating in immigration related debates is how poorly informed the anti immigration side tends to be with regards to actual immigration policies and processes.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Yeah, those moronic anti-immigrationists have never heard of the Zeroth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, as carved on the Statue of Liberty by Founding Father Emma Lazarus: Anybody from anywhere can move here, and Americans aren’t allowed to complain.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @Steve Sailer there’s a spectrum between “everyone can get in, no questions asked” and “no one can get in, ever”

          • Evan Þ says:

            Numerically, isn’t the actual process just as likely to be “Get in on some visa and then overstay, or else find someone to sneak you over the Mexican border”?

            (Which doesn’t do anything at all to undercut the complaints of those honest enough to go through the lengthy legal process. In fact, it accentuates them. They’re self-selected for honesty and following the law, which means they are statistically more likely to be the people we want in the country.)

          • Brad says:

            Numerically, isn’t the actual process just as likely to be “Get in on some visa and then overstay, or else find someone to sneak you over the Mexican border”?

            Some pro-restrictionists on SSC have convinced me that the stats on illegal immigration are not to be trusted. If you did trust them, you’d think there’s been no net illegal immigration for many years. But even so, it’s hard to believe that have amounted to more than a million a year over the last decade which is the trend for the legal immigration system.

            AFAICT the single largest contingent authorized or unauthorized are spouses of U.S. citizens.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            In your view, what is the biggest misconception on the part of anti-immigration types which, if corrected, would result in them changing their thinking?

          • MartMart says:

            fortaleza84:
            At first place, that illegal immigrants do not qualify for any form of public assistance, and are largely prevented from getting any. Whatever their reasons for coming here, free welfare money is not one of them.
            Followed closely by illegal immigrants are practically ineligible from any sort of legal status, and for the vast majority of those people, there is no way to repair that situation, including leaving the country to get back in line, for there is no line for them to get back into. In most cases, they would be automatically turned down even if there was a line into which they could qualify.
            These aren’t remotely controversial points, like immigrants effects on wages or crimes, and yet I often hear some combination of the two.

            Of course, those facts aren’t so crucial that are guaranteed to change everyones thinking, and clearly some of those wanting to strike a very hard line with regards to immigrants are aware of these facts.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            At first place, that illegal immigrants do not qualify for any form of public assistance, and are largely prevented from getting any.

            I’m kind of skeptical that this means much. For one thing, and correct me if I am wrong, but they can walk into a hospital if they need medical care; if they have children who are born here they can collect welfare; they can enroll their children in public schools; and so forth.

            For another, the basic point — which seems to be correct — is that illegal immigrants are a drain on government services.

            Followed closely by illegal immigrants are practically ineligible from any sort of legal status, and for the vast majority of those people, there is no way to repair that situation,

            That’s not true, if they are here because they overstayed their visa they are potentially eligible. More importantly, there are regular pushes from the Left for amnesty.

            It looks to me like your frustration has more to do with people not putting much stock in your nitpicks than anything else.

          • MartMart says:

            Perhaps my frustration is that some consider these nitpicks.

          • Same but for the healthcare debate.

          • Brad says:

            I’ve seen similar arguments, with the sides reversed in the context of gun control.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I think of the divide as being between “can I live with you?” in the mild sense of sharing the same public space vs. (at best) “would we die for each other?”

          It’s Jacobs’ Trader vs. Guardian.

      • wysinwygymmv says:

        “It’s good to upend the life plans of peaceful, industrious people and get them kicked out of the country, causing them to lose out on a lot of invested time, energy, and probably money too.”

        That’s how equating that with democracy, free speech, and rule of law comes across in this specific context. If you think those three things are good (I do), then maybe you shouldn’t conflate them with poor treatment of people.

        Like I understand — you want to be able to treat foreign people poorly under cover of law. But it hurts your case when those foreign people are more sympathetic than you are. You can acknowledge the tradeoff instead of implying that kicking visa recipients out of the country is an unalloyed good.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Sorry, but this is a good example about how in practice immigration turns out to be anti-First Amendment, anti-democracy, and anti-rule of law.

          It’s remarkably easy for non-Americans like Shakeddown to bully many American citizens into conceding that they don’t deserve their traditional rights to public debate and self-government because he filled out a lot of forms.

          We can have our First Amendment, as long as we don’t ever say anything that hurts immigrants’ feelings. And we can have democracy as long as we don’t ever vote for anything that impedes foreigners’ Zeroth Amendment rights to move here. And we can have rule of law as long as we don’t enforce laws.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            Is immigration any more problematic this way than any other sacred value of the left?

          • Randy M says:

            Is immigration any more problematic this way than any other sacred value of the left?

            Perhaps in that it is also shared by many Republican law- and opinion-makers, as Squirrel points out.

          • vV_Vv says:

            It’s remarkably easy for non-Americans like Shakeddown to bully many American citizens into conceding that they don’t deserve their traditional rights to public debate and self-government because he filled out a lot of forms.

            Shakeddown didn’t call for censorship of those opposing immigration.

            You are taking a “everyone who disagrees with me is violating my First Amendment free speech rights”, which is, frankly, ridiculous.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            “Is immigration any more problematic this way than any other sacred value of the left?”

            Yes. It’s a Ratchet Effect. It’s much easier to enforce Rule of Law to keep people out of the country than to throw them out of the country, so once they get in, it burns a lot of political capital to throw them out. Similarly once they are in they typically start agitating to let in their relatives and countrymen by denouncing Americans as racists for not submitting to their ethnocentric demands.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          “That’s how equating that with democracy, free speech, and rule of law comes across in this specific context. If you think those three things are good (I do), then maybe you shouldn’t conflate them with poor treatment of people.”

          In other words, you can have democracy, free speech, and rule of law as long as you promise upfront that you won’t use them in regard to immigration law (which is of course the single most crucial form of self-government).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I tried to avoid saying “leftists have all the structural power”. I focused on leftist control of supposedly depoliticized gatekeeper institutions. I think “the government” is a paradigmatic example of *not* being that.

      • Brad says:

        In the world you envision would there be any left wing spaces at all? Presumably there’d still be Churches for the right.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          We’ll still have the Unitarians.

          • gbdub says:

            Scott said nothing like what Brad implied, don’t encourage him.

            It’s more that if you are worried about polarization, you need to be more proactive about not pushing one side out of notionally neutral places.

          • Brad says:

            What about the military? What about law enforcement agencies? What about churches? Should people that are part of them be more proactive about not pushing one side out?

          • gbdub says:

            Churches maybe not – no one asks for a Sunday School transcript as a prerequisite for work.

            But law enforcement and the military – yeah I think it’s potentially a bad thing if those organizations become hyperpartisan, and therefore it would be best if they try to be proactively welcoming to people from diverse ideological backgrounds.

            I don’t think the argument is “left wing spaces should not exist”, it’s that “we’re better off if news media and academia is inclusive rather than polarized/partisan”.

          • quanta413 says:

            What about the military? What about law enforcement agencies? What about churches? Should people that are part of them be more proactive about not pushing one side out?

            Yes.

          • Vorkon says:

            The military, despite still having a generally conservative culture, has Equal Opportunity officers in every command, mandatory classes about rape and consent, and has largely opened every MOS to all genders as long as they can meet certain requirements. And you know what? Despite those classes being too time-consuming and not particularly effective, none of those are bad things, in theory.

            Similarly, if your church is preaching about how leftists are evil and should not be welcomed into their community, you should probably start looking for a different church.

            In short, yes, the things that Scott suggests left-leaning organizations should be doing in this post apply to right-leaning organizations as well, especially if they make any claim of being non-political or otherwise fair.

          • gattsuru says:

            @Brad :

            What about the military? What about law enforcement agencies? What about churches? Should people that are part of them be more proactive about not pushing one side out?

            With the exception of churches, probably, but it might surprise you how many programs exist for the explicit purpose of avoiding those issues. Neither law enforcement, nor the military, nor really any career outside of working directly for the RNC, have anywhere near the political affiliation bias that academia, social work, or mainstream journalism do.

      • shakeddown says:

        How would you define supposedly depoliticized gatekeeper institutions? The gatekeeper is doing a nontrivial amount of work there – I’m pretty sure law enforcement and immigration enforcement try to be neutral but lean right in the same way as academia leans left. I think you are describing something real, I’m just not entirely sure what the right generalization of “media and academia” is.

        …Well, one theory is that this is a consequence of social divide into classes by cognitive ability (as in Murray’s Coming Apart). The new upper class institutions are the ones that tend to lean (neo)liberal, and the lower class institutions tend to lean conservative.
        I don’t trust this theory too much – I can think of arguments for and against it, but from the outside view, it’s too neat a way to make myself feel good and call people who disagree with me dumb. But it does seem to sort institutions correctly at least.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          The new upper class institutions are the ones that tend to lean (neo)liberal, and the lower class institutions tend to lean conservative.
          I don’t trust this theory too much – I can think of arguments for and against it, but from the outside view, it’s too neat a way to make myself feel good and call people who disagree with me dumb. But it does seem to sort institutions correctly at least.

          Create government rules to favor finance and international business over manufacturing. Capital accumulates in the cities while the rural manufacturing centers stagnate. Smart people and cultural institutions go where the money is, now you have a concentration of smart people in blue cities. Change the rules back to favor local industry and red state institutions will attract talent.

          • shakeddown says:

            Disagreements regarding the premise aside, would they stay republican? Or would we just have a lot of rural democrats? FDR had massive rural support, so this doesn’t seem self-evident. And finance/business are historically red while manufacturing is (historically) more blue.

          • hlynkacg says:

            would they stay republican?

            I think that would depend on the Democrats. Yes, FDR had a lot rural support but then I don’t think that today’s Democratic party would nominate FDR.

            What they would stay is “red”.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “I am intensely angry and frustrated with the current immigration debate, for what I think are justifiable reasons.”

      You want to stop Americans from exercising our First Amendment rights to debate what should be the law.

      How is that in the interest of Americans? Does it ever occur to you that you are abusing Americans by trying to deny them their foremost rights to free speech and self-government?

      • Enkidum says:

        Where has he tried to deny them these rights? Saying “you’re an asshole and your arguments are stupid” is not saying “you should not be able to make your arguments”.

      • GCBill says:

        Do you think that Shakeddown’s intense anger and frustration implies that other people can’t have the debate? That’s not what I interpreted his comment to mean.

      • Randy M says:

        Shakeddown’s main frustration seems to be that the situation he was counting on continuing can be changed by those now in power in American government, even after he has begun to jump through the hoops they have set for him.

        This is certainly an understandable frustration, but it is akin to being frustrated that Americans can collectively decide to change their laws to be less beneficial to him, because at the time of change there will always be someone inconvenienced. Say, someone upset that road construction causes them to miss a flight or be late for work will feel similarly. Directing his anger at those who are glad about the road would be out of place, even if their joy is galling, even if the road work is entirely unneeded.

        But it’s not really fair either to say he is against debate and democracy and all good things ™.

      • vV_Vv says:

        You want to stop Americans from exercising our First Amendment rights to debate what should be the law.

        They didn’t. Please don’t appropriate free speech as a flag to push unrelated political positions.

      • grendelkhan says:

        You want to stop Americans from exercising our First Amendment rights to debate what should be the law.

        This is a terrible post.

        The OP is frustrated and angry because they’re trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare of bureaucracy which might shift out from under them at any moment. You think that not only are they primarily upset about the policy, but that they’re so upset about it that they want to stop you from spreading your Dank Truths, which so far as I can tell is a pure invention to justify you turning ‘this person is complaining about arbitrary and infuriating bureaucratic hurdles’ into ‘this person is abusing Americans‘.

    • gbdub says:

      What makes your fury at limiting the H1B system any more righteous than the fury of American workers with no jobs or lower pay because of companies abusing the H1B system to hire cheaper foreign workers?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Shakeddown’s fury at Americans exercising their First Amendment right is more valid because he’s not an American citizen, which makes him morally better and thus entitled to more power than Americans debating what should be the law in America.

        • gbdub says:

          Meh, you’re not helping. Shakedown’s comment came off as entitled and uncharitable, but yours is just as bad in the other direction.

          I can’t blame someone for being upset about a possible change in policy that would hurt them personally, they just need to actually consider the other side of the argument.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Sorry, but I’m an American citizen and he, like 7 billion other people, is not.

            The 0.3 billion American citizens have the right to engage in free speech over what they want their democratic representatives to enact as immigration law and then demand that their elected officials enforce the law.

          • gbdub says:

            I must have missed the part where shakedown said “the Reddit thread should not be allowed to exist” rather than just “it pissed me off because these views have a large chance of negatively impacting my life”.

            Americans have every right to debate and ultimately decide immigration policy. And shakedown’s argument (which they admitted to be emotion based) was probably too immigrant-centric.

            But simply because something is a privilege doesn’t mean you can’t be pissed if it’s taken away arbitrarily. The H1B program is, after all, a program Americans previously debated and agreed to. It’s quite possible, even likely, that most people arguing against the H1B program aren’t all that aware of the hoops currently jumped through by H1B applicants, and might be more sympathetic if they had that data point.

          • random832 says:

            It’s quite possible, even likely, that most people arguing against the H1B program aren’t all that aware of the hoops currently jumped through by H1B applicants, and might be more sympathetic if they had that data point.

            I think it is infinitely more likely that their reaction would be “eh, I don’t believe it.”

            But of course it is badwrong to be frustrated that the premises of someone’s arguments are not connected to reality. They’re just exercising their right to free speech.

          • gbdub says:

            Well than call me badwrong because the premise of your argument seems to be that I agree with Sailer’s premise that Shakedown is calling for a limitation on free speech, when I specifically disagreed with it.

            Your other premise the evidence-less assertion that hypothetical people would be infinitely likely to hypothetically disbelieve a hypothetical argument, which you use to frame a smug dismissal of these strawmen. Where’s the connection to reality in any of this?

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            I must have missed the part where shakedown said “the Reddit thread should not be allowed to exist” rather than just “it pissed me off because these views have a large chance of negatively impacting my life”.

            The context is the entire progressive world view –

            1) This makes me angry because it has a large chance of negatively impacting my life
            2) (unspoken here but stated in plenty of places) The emotions of “vulnerable people” – like immigrants, racial minorities (not Asians, of course), women, etc. are never to be disturbed – and it’s everyone else’s job to ensure this happens.

            Just because he didn’t set out premise 2 doesn’t mean that it’s not lurking there. How many times have you read the argument that “x makes me – a member of a vulnerable (legally privileged) group feel threatened – therefore x cannot be permitted to continue” – and then anyone saying x gets banned from the forum?

          • random832 says:

            Well than call me badwrong because the premise of your argument seems to be that I agree with Sailer’s premise that Shakedown is calling for a limitation on free speech, when I specifically disagreed with it.

            That part was meant to be addressed toward Sailer himself, but if you feel like wearing it I won’t stop you.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            Just because he didn’t set out premise 2 doesn’t mean that it’s not lurking there.

            This seems like a bizzare leap.

            One of the main advantages of democracy is that it has a feedback loop; when the government does something that hurts a person, that person can and should and will push back; because of that, democracies hurt a lot fewer people then authoritarian governments do, in general.

            “The govenrment is doing X and it is hurting me, I wish the govnermnet would stop doing X” is ALWAYS a completely legitimate point to make in a democracy. You may think there is a valid reason for X and want to argue in favor of it, and that is fine too, but that doesn’t mean that the point isn’t valid.

            In fact if you see the govnerment hurting people unnecessarily it’s basically your duty as a citizen to speak up against it, before more harm is caused.

            Now, the fact that some people are more vulnerable to this kind of harm is certanly *true* and worth keeping an eye on, but it’s not necessary, nor is it really relevant to this specific case.

          • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

            Just because he didn’t set out premise 2 doesn’t mean that it’s not lurking there.

            This is textbook strawmanning. He did not make that argument; you’re imputing it to him.

            I have seen other people online make that argument, but that does not mean that all people who hold the first premise embrace the second. This is a space for rational discussion; we’re supposed to engage what our fellow commenters say, rather than a nightmare fantasy of it.

      • Joyously says:

        I don’t know what Shakedown’s field is, but I’m in engineering. Watching my foreign-citizen friends in grad school apply for jobs, I found it bizarre that anyone would think they would have an unfair advantage over me if I were to apply to the same jobs. Sure, they were willing to take whatever salary offered as long as a company agreed to sponsor their H1-B, which meant those companies could probably get away with offering lower salaries. But it was still blindingly obvious to me that an American girl (me) would have an advantage over an Indian guy with the same qualifications but a ton of necessary paperwork and a heavy accent.

        • Thegnskald says:

          Owing to requirements in H1B1 visas, companies have to post jobs for a certain amount of time before the application will be accepted. This results in extremely specific job postings that are tailored to specific individuals they want to bring over, (edit: local applicants for which) they will find any available reason to dismiss.

          So in a general case, the local applicant has an advantage, but job sites are full of these kinds of fake job offers the companies never intend to hire local workers for. This leaves many IT people quite bitter about H1B1 visas, since there are jobs they literally cannot get being dangled in front of them, then inevitably going to the foreign worker the company specifically wanted. From an outside perspective, it can look a lot like “H1B1 employees have an advantage”, even though it is really any artifact of regulations requiring this bizarre practice.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Owing to requirements in H1B1 visas, companies have to post jobs for a certain amount of time before the application will be accepted.

            This is not exactly the case. To get an H-1B requires only a Labor Condition Application with prevailing wage information, not a job posting. The fake job ads are used, however, in the process to get green cards for H-1B workers.

        • gbdub says:

          The fact that they’d be willing to accept a lower salary for an H1B almost certainly lowers what employers would offer you.

          But also, I don’t think your peers in grad school are the sort of people that H1B abusers hire. The most famous recent case was where a bunch of Disney animators got laid off (and were forced to train their replacements!) when Disney contracted their work out to a company staffed by H1B workers. They got away with it in the resultant lawsuit based on the argument that since they were contracting to another company, rather than directly replacing their own workers, they weren’t actually harming any local workers with H1B hires.

        • Randy M says:

          Sure, they were willing to take whatever salary offered as long as a company agreed to sponsor their H1-B, which meant those companies could probably get away with offering lower salaries. But it was still blindingly obvious to me that an American girl (me) would have an advantage over an Indian guy with the same qualifications but a ton of necessary paperwork and a heavy accent.

          Why? Were you also willing to take whatever salary was offered? If so, do you think the amount of the offer would have anything to do with supply and demand?

          • Joyously says:

            I’m more flexible on salary than a lot of people (I recently graduated and took a job that paid significantly less than what I could have gotten elsewhere because it’s where I wanted to work). But more importantly, employers in this field don’t maximize on a value of “cheaper” or even a combination of “cheaper” + “competent.” They will tell you that they value “personality” and “fitting in to our culture.” Exxon Mobil prefers to hire engineers who are either well-put-together women or tall men with good hair, and they’re not subtle about it.

        • reasoned argumentation says:

          But it was still blindingly obvious to me that an American girl (me) would have an advantage over an Indian guy with the same qualifications but a ton of necessary paperwork and a heavy accent.

          Well yeah, if you’re a woman in engineering and even minimally qualified you’re overwhelmed with offers.

        • Jiro says:

          Sure, they were willing to take whatever salary offered as long as a company agreed to sponsor their H1-B, which meant those companies could probably get away with offering lower salaries.

          That’s the advantage.

    • infiniteperplexity says:

      H1B visas seem to be the one immigration-related issue where it’s socially acceptable for liberals to hold anti-immigration views without being considered “anti-immigrant.” I think that’s probably just a matter of classism – we respect college-educated people enough to care about foreign competition to their jobs.

    • eqdw says:

      H1B discussions on reddit piss me off so hard.

      I left reddit like two years ago, but back then there were tons of articles in silicon valley and sf bay area subreddits about how h1bs are terrible and exploitative and how we need to stop giving them.out.so companies can’t unfairly underpay these workers.

      Ignoring that restricting H1Bs makes these people unempkoyed, not fairly paid: H1B DATA IS PUBLIC AND COMPANIES ARE REQUIRED.BY LAW TO PAY PREVAILING MARKET RATES.

      Internet commentators: whipping up a righteous fury over things that a five second google search show are false

      • birdboy2000 says:

        A five second google search tells me that the laws are on the books, not that they’re effectively enforced. Given the prevalence of things like wage theft and nominally illegal union busting, while it’s *possible* companies are paying prevailing market rates as the H1B laws require, it’s the kind of thing that requires more info to prove.

        (Also, increasing the supply of labor in a market without collective bargaining still drives down wages because you’re increasing the number of people competing, even if you can’t actually pay them less.)

      • Brad says:

        Part of the disconnect when it comes to H1Bs is that a small number of companies (Indian BPOs) file a large number of total cases and they arguably abuse the process. That’s where a lot of the negative anecdotes are coming from. Whereas for cultural reasons random internet forum people that got an H1B themselves or know someone that did are likely to be more familar with how it works for companies that file far fewer.

    • The Nybbler says:

      And it wasn’t just internet flame wars. It was internet flame wars by people who actually might convince the administration to kick me out of the country.

      If you mean the SSC subreddit, I was on that thread and I can assure you I have no pull with the administration.

    • wintermute92 says:

      I would add to this that while the presidency is fickle and changes hands at near-random, state governments have been sliding consistently right for decades. A lot of state-level legislation is pre-written by corporations and passed verbatim, and there’s virtually no opposition to militarized policing and shredded environmental or consumer protections. Even the liberal holdouts have gone coercive corporate-authoritarian-left in most cases. This scares me, because it’s way less visible than the left’s media and academic influence but is causing long-lasting harms.

      (I’m deeply sorry about your situation, the H1B program is broken but the applicants are the victims in that, not the offenders. Any reform I want to see would make well-meaning use of it far easier.)

      • cassander says:

        >I would add to this that while the presidency is fickle and changes hands at near-random, state governments have been sliding consistently right for decades.

        Please show me a single state where regulation or spending on social programs is down over the last 20 years, where gays have fewer rights, where there are fewer state employees (contractors included), really any policy you can show objective measures for other than gun control, where a state is right of where it was 20 years ago.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Gays have fewer rights in every state, though they may have more specifically homosexuality-related rights. Gay entrepreneurs are almost as strangled by encroaching regulation as straight ones.

        • shakeddown says:

          I think liberals think of “Corporations writing laws and giving them to politicians they fund to sign verbatim” (for example, in Massachusetts only a specific set of companies can give you car insurance) as a primarily republican phenomenon. Do Republicans consider this a primarily Democrat phenomenon? (And if they do, do you have any idea whether this sort of thing passes more in red or blue states?)

          • Randy M says:

            No, while the side most vulnerable to regulatory capture or its legislative counterpart might vary by industry, but I think most Republican voters who are aware of this see it as bipartisan. Bipartisan isn’t a word loaded with positive affect among Republican voters, of course.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I think liberals think of “Corporations writing laws and giving them to politicians they fund to sign verbatim” (for example, in Massachusetts only a specific set of companies can give you car insurance) as a primarily republican phenomenon. Do Republicans consider this a primarily Democrat phenomenon? (And if they do, do you have any idea whether this sort of thing passes more in red or blue states?)

            I am not a Republican or Democrat, but I’ll give my opinion anyway. It is probably more likely for laws to be written by business lobbyists to be Republican than Democratic, because Repubs are friendlier to business than Dems. However, I suspect it is likely for more regulatory capture (where businesses control the agencies that theoretically control the businesses) to happen in Dem states, simply because Dems are more likely to favor regulatory agencies. Almost all such agencies are controlled by the businesses they purport to regulate, because who else is expert in these matters than these businesses and the people that run them? So it matters little who writes these laws; they all end up in the same place.

          • cassander says:

            >Do Republicans consider this a primarily Democrat phenomenon? (And if they do, do you have any idea whether this sort of thing passes more in red or blue states?)

            those that consider it consider it a problem inherent in a large, bureaucratic state that regulates basically everything. Public choice theory is a heavily, though no means entirely, right wing effort. The very fact that you cite massachusetts, one of the most left leaning states, out to be proof that liberalism doesn’t solve the problem.

          • shakeddown says:

            I was citing Massachusetts because I heard it specifically referred to as weird that this happened in Massachusetts, as a blue state. So there’s a strong selection bias for that example.

  15. ameliaquining says:

    I think your “grind our enemies beneath our boots” framing here is part of the problem. The way I see it, the two sides are playing a true prisoners’ dilemma. That you should consider cooperating in the true prisoners’ dilemma is not obvious, and treating it like the standard fake prisoners’ dilemma, where everyone knows that good people cooperate, is just going to make people angry and also convince them that you don’t understand them at all.

    The progressives here don’t see the payoff matrix as being measured in power, or prestige, or any of those other things that you obviously shouldn’t defect for because that would be antisocial. They see it as being measured in human lives rescued from the horrific oppression that progressive policies aim to fight against. From this perspective, maximizing your payoff (by defecting, goes the implicit reasoning) is the right thing to do, and comparing it to defecting for power or prestige (which would of course be antisocial and wrong) is just being confused about what matters morally.

    If you want to argue effectively against this, you need to acknowledge that yes, you’re asking progressives to take actions that (from a CDT perspective) will increase on expectation the number of people living in horrific oppression. Then you explain the counterintuitive reasons why this is nonetheless the right thing to do, if fighting oppression is what you care about.

    (And yes, there are plenty of political parasites and sociopaths in the mix, and even more people whose behavior fails to distinguish them from same, but we ought to be careful about throwing around such accusations. It makes things harder to coordinate, and people have a known bias in this direction.)

    • Tracy W says:

      Is it at all obvious that this is a true prisoners dilemma? Under a prisoners dilemma your pay off matrix for a single game is such that defecting is better for you regardless of what your opponent does. It’s not at all clear to me that defecting is better for progressives if conservatives cooperate, or even if conservatives defect.
      (This being a common problem with applying game theory to the real world.)

      • ameliaquining says:

        Yes, I think this is a true prisoners’ dilemma. If progressives use Dark Side tactics or what have you to move the Overton window to the left (defecting), and conservatives don’t fight back in kind (cooperating), then the Overton window will move to the left and more progressive-favored policies will be implemented, which is the currency that the payoff matrix is denominated in.

        • Nornagest says:

          That seems to assume that the only reason people don’t use Dark Side tactics is because of moral qualms. This may be the case, but I can also think of a scenario where they work in the short term but burn external goodwill or internal stability to do it, and so are unsustainable in the long run.

        • Tracy W says:

          @ameliaquining
          Or progressives move the Overtones window to the left, implement their policies and it results in disaster, reducing all demand for said policies (eg Communism, Urban Renewal, in the USA, forced busing of school kids), and giving conservatives a tool to bash future progressives with.

        • LIB says:

          You guys, I think we might be equivocating the word “true” here. In order to predict and explain the behavior of agents, the real result of different courses of action don’t matter – only what the agents /expect/ to be the results. It only matters whether this looks like a True Prisoner’s Dilemma to the liberals and conservatives in question. If they are mistaken about this, we may be able to argue that to change their behavior, but our model of their current behavior is unchanged.

          The sense of True in which ameliaquining means it is simply that agents acting rationally for max expected value will really choose to defect /even when value includes moral value/, which is indeed what the certain liberals and conservatives in question appear to see this as.

    • poignardazur says:

      Insightful.

      Yeah, that’s precisely it. I guess that mirrors something Scott (sort of) pointed out in “What Developmental Milestones are you missing?”, the idea that people have different values, but people don’t realize that other people have different values and are ready to defect for them.

      • LIB says:

        Well, it isn’t that simple of a factual realization, either. You can realize that people hold different values, and use that to create perfectly accurate models of them, which you then use to satisfy your own values. It takes an even more special outside view to cooperate in the true prisoner’s dilemma – the one where /you don’t care about their values/ regardless of whether you know about them.

        Also, yes, ameliaquining, this is very insightful, and thank you for it.

  16. Hyenaspots says:

    Maybe this is all for the best?

    Conservatism seemed to get absolutely wrecked by the World Wars and the immense cultural production of Marxists in the West. My background was art history and I really couldn’t tell you where conservatives fit in that. It’s hard for me to imagine where conservatives slotted into the national media either — it’s really major market, i.e., urban media. I’m not entirely convinced that conservative viability in the major gatekeeper institutions didn’t just die out from lack of contributions. From my perspective, as a former-ish conservative, a lot of its intellectual energy really felt spent and too politically focused.

    You point out that the entire secession is slowly producing more various mirrors and uncomfortable conservatives. Perhaps it will eventually spawn conservative contributions to broader culture? At the same time, I’ve noticed more liberals near me starting to talk like conservatives thanks to the whole white working class narrative. The amount of “get a job, whiner” I’ve heard directed at people from rural areas has been pretty high.

    I’ve actually been really pleased, as someone who believes both in feeding hippies and telling them to get a job.

    ETA: Just to provide my favorite example, City Journal once had a lot of commentary pushing for a kind of Academicism and City Beautiful take on visual culture and architecture. That died out, it seems, but it had articles by Scruton and stuff. That wouldn’t really be possible in the mainstream.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “the immense cultural production of Marxists”

      It’s retconning to assume that there were many Marxist artists or writers before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It was only when capitalists ran out of money to subsidize artists during the Depression that artists paid much attention to Marxism.

      During the 1920s, Mussolini’s Italy was much more popular with the cultured than was the Soviet Union. Without the Depression, artists and writers would have continued to ignore Russia in the early 1930s.

      Many of the political ideas that galvanized the cultural elite during the 1920s seem unfamiliar to us. For example, anti-feminism was huge among American writers, actors, and critics due to the linkage between women’s suffrage and Prohibition, which they hated.

    • Tracy W says:

      My background was art history and I really couldn’t tell you where conservatives fit in that.

      Does that say something about art history or about your education in art history?

      • caethan says:

        He apparently studied the history of art all the way back to the long-ago days of the 1930s.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Some artists were Marxists between 1930 and about 1950. Virtually none were Marxists before 1930 and few were Marxists more than a few decades later.

    • acrimonymous says:

      My background was art history and I really couldn’t tell you where conservatives fit in that.

      This seems like a clear case of the winners writing the history. Conservatives don’t fit in art history because art history is the history of progressivism in art–even going back to formal representational developments like perspective, the history is the history of innovation and change.

      More recently, you have the Derriere Garde associated with Tom Wolfe and American Arts Quarterly magazine, for example. They are just pointing back to specific times in the past, however. They are aware of this, and discussion of what steps forward can be made after taking several back has taken place without, I think, any definitive answer.

      Personally, I see art as being rather like cuisine. The forms have to be taken in the context of human biology. World cuisines have been pretty much perfected. Recent developments have been game-playing, and the things that really satisfy are established cultural traditions. I think visual arts and architecture are the same. I.e., we’ve probably reached a point where meaningful development is over, and further changes are motivated by forces of the market or ego.

  17. yotann says:

    Wouldn’t this be a serious problem in the archipelago? New communities need to form somehow, but if they only attract the fringes the new communities won’t be healthy.

    • Evan Þ says:

      That’s a very good question. I suspect the difference might be that new polities in the Archipelago would be physically distinct, with new economies providing new nitches for people to fill. Many of the first English settlers in the New World were religious refugees – but they followed in the footsteps of the economic migrants of Roanoke and Jamestown, and were swiftly followed by more economic migrants.

      (Of course, AFAIK this could only happen with brain uploading, huge-scale interstellar travel, or magic.)

    • Tekhno says:

      IIRC didn’t the Archipelago depend on having pretty much infinite space and resources, so if you wanted to start a new community to escape someone’s witch hunt, and found that it was full of witches, you could then go and start yet another community until you got the level of filtration you wanted? Real life resource and space constraints are what render it only a thought experiment.

      • JulieK says:

        Infinite space and resources, but not infinite people. I can found my own community, but who’s going to follow me there?

    • poignardazur says:

      You did read that post where Scott said that the Archipelago existed, and it was the Internet and it turned out to be a pretty crappy (fantastic) place dominated by a few major networks and pop ups everywhere?

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/07/22/freedom-on-the-centralized-web/

      The real world is dominated by social momentum. We have things like cults and countries and religions and companies, which all try to appeal to your sentiments or use various incentives to keep you loyal to them.

      I’m just a stranger on the internet, mind you, not a political scientist, but it seems to me that the archipelago is an utopia for the same reason communism is: logistic problems and incompatible incentives.

    • Tekhno says:

      @poignardazur

      dominated by a few major networks

      This is only because of the network effect. People WANT to be in a huge network with all of their friends friends friends. You need a counterveiling force to counter-act that if you want anything different, but even if large networks are the result, that’s not intrinsically a failure. Those large networks are serving and are comprised of the normal for humanity (this is also why they converge on similar practices despite different design structures).

      At the same time these networks dominate, I can easily exit to any of the kabrillions of smaller places that also see use, such as this place, or other boards and comment sections I’m not telling you guys about that I’ve been posting on since 2006.

      Yes, it’s hard to get everyone else to move with you if you create something new, but it doesn’t matter when there are 70 kabrillion already existing smaller communities you can join. You have to give people a reason to go to any new community you create, and if you create a new community just to be more “free” then it’s going to be filled with witches. If you create a new community that actually offers something the big players don’t, then maybe you can overcome the network effect, but clearly the truth is that as much as people bitch about reddit and twitter they really really really like using them.

      In Scott’s post he says:

      So instead of “let a thousand nations bloom”, it ended up more like “let five or six big nations bloom that we can never get rid of”.

      Let five or six nations bloom and also ten thousand kabrillion backwater nations the normies don’t care about.

      If you go into Archipelago assuming the end goal is everything split up into relatively evenly sized communities catering to every single possible variant of humanity, then you are going to be let down, because humanity is clustered around the middle of a bell curve in most every trait. The beauty of freedom isn’t for the masses, it’s for the misfits, it’s for the witches. Of course, the majority of people are going to hate that and stay clustered in large networks with their fellows who are relatively similar enough to themselves.

      As regards the vast majority of humanity, things like anarcho-capitalism are solutions in search of a problem. Most people aren’t libertarians, so a libertarian society (the internet, an Archipelago etc) would reflect that.

      I used to think that there was enough demand for a free marketplace of ideas that if a company become too restrictive, another one would spring up to replace it. Then I suffered through the conflict between Reddit and Voat.

      Reddit didn’t become too restrictive. The vast majority of people are demonstrably happy enough with Reddit to continue using it. The restrictions on “hate subs” affected only a small portion of the userbase who were witches, who then fled to a witch hideout, making everyone happier.

      If the majority of people disliked reddit more than they liked it, you’d know about it, like with Digg. The majority want some level of censorship, so any drive for an alternative that could overcome the network effect enough to lead to a fast enough transfer would be catalyzed by problems with reddit that aren’t based on libertarian concerns, but on the more common progressive and conservative ones.

      Archipelago would be a complete waste for the majority of people. Its only purpose is to allow for misfits to escape from the giga-clusters of the masses.

      EDIT:
      Or at least most of the time. Maybe once in a blue moon one of the tiny outer spaces hits on something amazing that the masses love, so it helps innovation at least, even if it doesn’t result in the sorting of humanity into a thousand nations.

  18. Jack Sorensen2 says:

    The funny thing about a lot of this is that the conservative complaint towards the neutral/liberal institutions mirrors many leftist critiques of those same institutions.

    The Marxist view of those same places is: there’s no truly neutral or objective standpoint, and to the extent people talk about one, it just reinforces a white, or male, or whatever-else, point of view. We need to have our own institutions to push back against the “neutral” places that actually reinforce racism, sexism, and the rest (and our response is explicitly, by design, not neutral).

    And I think there actually is some validity to this, although in recent years it has strongly diminished. Since it’s in the news, Andrew Jackson, the Civil War, and other slavery-related things are an example. When I was younger Andrew Jackson was taught in school, and generally remembered, as a good President who maybe did some bad stuff and was maybe controversial. The Civil War was taught in my high school as a cautionary tale about what happens when people can’t compromise. More generally, it was a sad tale of heroism between two noble groups, and today we all know that one side was right but Robert E Lee was still a gentleman. The Missouri Compromise was great because everyone came together and agreed on what to do, the 1850 Compromise a little worse because it was more acrimonious, and the rest of the 1850s even worse. John Brown was somewhere between “controversial” and “bad”. People like John C Calhoun were remembered fondly as one of the Great Triumvirate of Senators. JFK’s book, “Profiles in Courage”, about courageous politicians, included those who “bravely” took stances that aided slavery and Jim Crow.

    All of this was the conventional wisdom accepted in places like the NY Times and academia, and the people on the other side were a loud, but small, minority.

    Another view of this history, and I think a more compelling one, is this: who cares if Senators were nice to each other? Who cares if they compromised or gave great speeches or followed Senate protocol, or acted like Southern gentlemen or did politically unpopular things? Slavery, as a moral issue, is infinitely larger than any of that. The way to tell the good guys and bad in antebellum US history is this – the pro-slavery people were the bad guys, and the anti-slavery people were good. Andrew Jackson “owned” 150 humans, and when putting a reward out for a runaway slave, offered to pay extra if the slave were tortured before being returned. Thomas Jefferson raped Sally Hemings when she was a teenager, and enslaved the resulting child, his child. That child was actually 7/8ths white, the child of 3 generations of raped female slaves. That shit was fucked up, and it’s the most important moral issue of our country’s early history.

    The old liberal institutions did not take this view. Historical surveys of US Presidents put Andrew Jackson in the top 10 all time (along with Woodrow Wilson, who was practically a Klansman). No ifs, ands, ors, or buts – by any modern measure, morally speaking slavery absolutely crowds out anything else he could have done. The more recent developments in, say, Andrew Jackson’s legacy are just reverting to what’s morally right. People say they’re tired of hearing about slavery, but our country actually has not come to terms with the sheer amounts of violence and brutality involved.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Andrew Jackson was prestigious with historians in the 1960s such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. because most historians were Democrats and Jackson was the founder of the modern Democratic Party. Jackson was on the side of the little guy against the rich. Alexander Hamilton was less fashionable because he was a plutocrat and not very democratic.

      Today, of course, nobody cares about the little guy anymore, just about race and the like. So, we are told to hate Jackson and to love Hamilton, because he was a West Indian immigrant and maybe secretly Jewish and he was on the side of rich New York bankers.

      And that’s what matters.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Is it reasonable to parse “the little guy” as “the white little guy”?

        • Steve Sailer says:

          It’s funny how in this age of intense racial sensitivity, the billionaires keep getting ever more billionairey. It’s almost as if there’s a causal connection between Jackson being booted off the double sawbuck in the name of fighting racism and Wall Street traders being able to afford 4 figure tickets to see a rapping Alexander Hamilton on Broadway.

      • wysinwygymmv says:

        I think it matters that he perpetuated a genocide, even against American Indians who wanted to assimilate into white society.

        Yeah, I mean rah rah populism and all that — maybe government-run banks are a bad idea — but let’s not pretend populism doesn’t have an ugly side.

      • Today, of course, nobody cares about the little guy anymore, just about race and the like

        Oh dear…well, best not fan the flames, then.

    • Gazeboist says:

      This comment is so very almost.

      This is the essential history of the civil war, at least in my view: slavery was a disgusting institution that got steadily more inhumane as time passed. The north used that immense human tragedy as an excuse to cast out their political enemies and burn the culture of those enemies to the ground, then sold off any chance at actually helping the victims of slavery in exchange for their enemies’ acceptance. The US response to slavery was horrible, not just because nothing was done for the first 80 years, but because the barest minimum of what could be gotten away with was done then, and nothing was done for then next 80 years either. We are perpetually left the mess of our parents to clean up, and we use the fact that the mess exists as an excuse to ornament what little we can be bothered to clean. We at turns deify and vilify our predecessors because we are afraid to see them as what they were: flawed humans, who acted with little, if any, sense of the magnitude of the decisions they made.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I thought slavery got somewhat better after it was no longer legal to kidnap people from Africa. No?

        • Sadly, no. The historical consensus is that American slavery was most “gentle” in the 1600s when labor was scarce, figuring out how to keep slaves from dying from disease and overwork was new and tricky, and when slave conditions were roughly comparable to those of indentured servitude, with slave contracts varying on issues ranging from whether children of slaves automatically became slaves, whether slaves were entitled to own personal property and save up to “buy” themselves out of slavery, and whether slaves were automatically freed if they converted to Christianity. At first, the answers were “maybe not,” “maybe,” and “maybe,” but by the early 1700s, with the passage of some laws (such as in the 1705 Virginia slave code) that standardized these things, the answers became, “yes,” “no,” and “no,” respectively.

          Then, in the 1800s, the Haitian Revolution and the Nat Turner Rebellion scared the bejeezus out of Southerners and slave-owners in particular and led them to pass laws against slaves traveling alone without passes or being taught to read (lest they foment new rebellions).

        • Gazeboist says:

          Not really. By the time the transatlantic trade was banned (1808; ie as soon as allowed by the Constitution), slavery had become a political/cultural football. That, together with westward expansion into the area of the Louisiana purchase, meant that the ban on transatlantic trade resulted in a massive step-up in the internal trade (plus smuggling, of course). In addition to what citizencokane says above, one big thing I recall from my history classes was that there was a significant jump in the number of slaves sold away from their families around this time.

          • po8crg says:

            It’s also worth pointing out that most of the free states freed their slaves by passing laws saying that anyone born after year X would be free, or that any slave still living in the state after Y years would be free. Slavery was legal in all 13 of the original states in 1776.

            These didn’t stop the slave-owners selling the slaves to states that still had slavery. Nearly all of that was after 1808 – so the banning of the transatlantic trade meant that Northern slave-owners got a better price when they sold their slaves to the South.

            So, yes, at least some of the Northerners who voted for that 1808 ban on the transatlantic trade were doing so to improve their profits on selling off their slaves to the South.

            One reason that the controversy over the Fugitive Slave Act didn’t really get going until the 1830s/1840s is that the North still had lots of slaves until then, so a court determining whether a black man was a slave or free seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing.

            Incidentally, there were still 18 slaves in New Jersey (a free state) in 1861.

            Virginia, which was mostly not good cotton country (tobacco and indigo were the main cash crops, but many plantations were farms, growing food), made a lot of money in the 1840s and 1850s by selling slaves to other slave states – but the slave population barely dropped in VA. That probably means that Virginia was effectively breeding slaves for profit. There’s very little evidence of selective breeding (ie telling slaves who to breed with), though there was a lot of masters and overseers raping their female slaves.

            So, yeah, slavery sucked differently post-1808. Death rates dropped, but family breakup increased.

        • keranih says:

          @ Nancy –

          I think you mean “When the Brits began seriously enforcing the imbargo on the Atlantic sea trade in slaves purchased in Africa”. It was never a thing for Yankee traders to go running ‘cross the plains of Africa, lassoing all the darkies they could find. Africans sold the captured members of other tribes. (There are no good guys here.) And the Brit empire cared quite a bit more about the trans-Atlantic trade to the Brit colonies in the Americas than it did about the Arab trade east and north from Africa.

          There is also evidence to suggest that, once across the Middle Passage (which tended to kill nearly as many human sailors as it did human cargo) the North American plantations allowed for more humane conditions (ie, less deadly) than did the Caribbean and Central American operations.

          As noted elsewhere – there was not an easy way to let go of the tiger. Southern slave holders thought that they – and their children – would lose their lives (much less their fortunes) if/when the slave revolt came.

          It would have taken a George Washington, or a Francis of Assisi, or the Nazarene, to convince them otherwise. But those men are dead, and we will not see their like again.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The 1808 US ban on importing slaves largely worked. And the British largely didn’t stop US ships, so a lot of the ships bringing slaves to Brazil or the Caribbean flew the US flag.

    • cthor says:

      Ranking presidents from best to worst is a fun exercise that intentionally leaves out the possibility for any nuance. I suspect a lot of people for that exercise look at things from a utilitarian perspective, where they say the net utility of Jackson’s acts were positive, rather than a “who committed the least heinous acts” perspective.

      I’m not familiar enough with the US Civil War to argue specific object-level points, but the approach that seems most appropriate is this, and is how most historians write:

      Jackson did some things, for these reasons.

      Of course, when teaching kids history, that’s a bit dry. You want to forge a narrative that at least keeps them interested. And so:

      Jackson did some things, for these reasons. This is what we think of those things and reasons now.

      The main danger is the pattern: “Jackson’s heinous acts were simply beyond the pale. Therefore we need to forge a revisionist history surrounding his good acts.”

      Your view of history is getting close to that: “Who cares about all the nuance, Jackson did some Bad Things and everything else is irrelevant by comparison.” That’s politicising the institution.

      I think your argument amounts to this:

      Jackson was in the past ranked amongst the top 10 presidents. Therefore, the institution of history education was already politicised because his heinous acts were not being sufficiently denounced. Therefore, I’m justified in further eroding the neutrality of this institution.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Jackson was celebrated in the past for staring down South Carolina’s secessionist rumblings in the early 1830s, but that seems to be forgotten. In the past, Jackson was seen as opposing the South Carolina oligarchs such as Calhoun whose descendants led Secession in 1860, putting Jackson and Lincoln together on the side of Union.

        But today the big money is into putting down Jackson and deifying Hamilton.

      • Jack Sorensen2 says:

        Ranking Presidents is un-nuanced, and historians may write in the way you say – but in popular history, people generally see some historical figures as good, and others as bad. Nobody has a problem with this when it comes to a great number of former leaders. Some people have a popular legacy of “good guy”, some “bad guy”, and some “well, it’s complicated”.

        You can generally argue against that way of categorizing things; but if I’m asking about the biases of neutral institutions, then it makes sense to see how they rank people.

        As for net utility – this is the whole problem. How do you make that calculation? The leftist people making the critique I’m talking about would say that someone giving Jackson a positive net utility does so by massively discounting the negative effects to slaves and Native Americans, and then giving him a positive number based on relatively unimportant things like whether there was a National Bank or whether the “common man” was, in some abstract sense, represented.

        Your view of history is getting close to that: “Who cares about all the nuance, Jackson did some Bad Things and everything else is irrelevant by comparison.” That’s politicising the institution.

        Almost everyone agrees with the logic here for sufficiently “Bad Things”. And they certainly agree with a softer version of the logic, along the lines of “this person did certain Bad Things and we should generally judge them much more harshly for it”. And they certainly would agree with this logic when the “everything else” is a bunch of weaksauce in comparison to the Bad.

        I think your argument amounts to this:

        Jackson was in the past ranked amongst the top 10 presidents. Therefore, the institution of history education was already politicised because his heinous acts were not being sufficiently denounced. Therefore, I’m justified in further eroding the neutrality of this institution.

        Problems in defining “neutrality” aside (which are larger than your comment) – the argument (Jackson being a single example of it) is that institutions are currently biased, not in the past. And to the extent one fights that, they’re not further eroding neutrality, they’re correcting it.

        That said, I do think there’s a liberal bias in many institutions, I think that’s bad, and I think that position’s completely consistent with everything I said about slavery.

    • Tracy W says:

      Another view of this history, and I think a more compelling one, is this: who cares if Senators were nice to each other? Who cares if they compromised or gave great speeches or followed Senate protocol, or acted like Southern gentlemen or did politically unpopular things? Slavery, as a moral issue, is infinitely larger than any of that.

      I disagree, and not just because years of maths makes me finicky about the word “infinite”.

      Good government is important. Bad government can be terribly terribly bad. Europeans fled to the USA during slavery because it is terrible to see your children go hungry every spring or be killed in a pogrom or freeze during the winter. The USA produced the prosperity that protected against that, the compromises and Senate protocols generally avoided civil wars or the societal breakdowns which kill millions. Look at the breakdown of China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Slavery was a great evil but so was the Boxer Rebellion. So was WWI. So was the Russian Revolution. So was the Irish potato famine. The USA has avoided a lot of potential tragedies of a level of magnitude on the order of slavery.

      Note, I am not American.

      • wysinwygymmv says:

        Maybe it’s because I’m not a utilitarian, but I think there’s a clear moral difference between, say, WWI where a bunch of people with conflicting interests killed each other to further their individual interests, and US chattel slavery where one group intentionally subjugated another group to bondage and horrific treatment to further their own interests. In WWI, if one side unilaterally de-escalated, they would have been conquered which makes it unclear whether that would have been the right thing to do, whereas with slavery only one side could unilaterally de-escalate and it definitely would have been the right thing to do.

        I tend to think similar arguments could be made for each of your examples: US chattel slavery was a morally bad institution in an especially one-sided way. And I don’t really think there was a tradeoff involved where it was like: “Well, we either have good government and slavery, or bad government and no slavery.”

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          where a bunch of people with conflicting interests killed each other to further their individual interests

          I mean, it was mostly other people that killed and got killed, not the ones with conflicting interests.

        • Tracy W says:

          I think WWI was a massive failure of politics. The German Kaiser and the Russian Czar lost their jobs, and eventually the Czar his life and his family’s. The British ruling class lost something like 25% of a generation of young men. How was that in any of their interests?
          German children hungered and froze during winter under the naval blockade. Belgian civilians were shot by invading German troops. Russia got so bad there was a revolution.

          And all over what? An assassination of one Archduke and his wife by a Serbian separatist in a country far away from many of the combatants.

          And it’s not the case that if one side had unilaterally de-escalated they’d have been conquered. After the Revolution the Russians negotiated a peace with Gernany. It was painful for Russia, they gave up a lot of land, but not as painful as continuing the war.

          WWI was a massive failure of politics. Which came at a terrible human cost.

          I agree with you that there probably wasn’t a trade-off of the type you describe. But I think it is quite possible to assess both the slavery and the other actions of an American politician and despise the slavery while admiring some of their other accomplishments. (I’m not expert enough on American history to say if any of the leaders you mention actually did help avoid an American war on the scale of WWI, or the Boxer Rebellion or the like.

          • Aapje says:

            And all over what? An assassination of one Archduke and his wife by a Serbian separatist in a country far away from many of the combatants.

            That was just what set off the chain of events that led to war, but the actual main cause was the emergence of Germany as a new superpower. At the time, the idea was that you had to have an empire/colonies to be a superpower, but the other nations had already snapped up most countries that qualified.

            The existing superpowers were afraid of Germany taking parts of their empire and Germany was afraid that they would be conquered before they were strong enough. So many thought that war was inevitable to shake this out. German military analysis was that at that point, the only way that Germany could win a war was by defeating France before Russia entered the war and that Russia was very slow to mobilize.

            So when Russia started mobilizing after the assassination of the Archduke, Germany believed that their only chance was to strike right away.

            As it happened, they were wrong that they could defeat France quickly and they were wrong that Russia was slow to mobilize.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            At the time, the idea was that you had to have an empire/colonies to be a superpower, but the other nations had already snapped up most countries that qualified.

            The existing superpowers were afraid of Germany taking parts of their empire and Germany was afraid that they would be conquered before they were strong enough.

            It’s worth pointing out that, as history played out, everyone was correct on these points, though. You did need an empire to be a superpower, and Germany was conquered before they were strong enough.

          • You did need an empire to be a superpower

            In the literal sense of a colonial empire, the big imperial powers were the U.K., France, the Netherlands and Portugal, none of which ended up as a superpower. The U.S. and the USSR had acquired all of their territory in one chunk. The U.S. had influence over lots of poorer countries but wasn’t actually ruling them. The USSR ended up with an empire in east Europe, but only at the end of the war.

          • Tracy W says:

            @Aagpe: that was what I recall from my history classes too, but the causes of WWI are more hotly debated than that. Among other things, that analysis ignores that the existing Great Powers were not monolithic, eg Britain had an interest in a European land power that could weight against England’s old enemy France. Margaret MacMillian argues that Germany deliberately put pressure on the Brits years before 1914 under the belief that the Brits had no option but to maintain their German alliance, but the Brits responded by signing a treaty with France.

            But leaving those debates aside, your account still leaves plenty of opportunities for a statesman to have made a bold speech or a compromise that could have altered the outcome. Perhaps a German could have broken the linkage between superpower and colonies and instead positioned Germany as the defender of freedom against the British, French and Russian empires. Perhaps the Kaiser could have said “this military plan is too complex and too risky, we’re not going to war.” Perhaps a combined French and British diplomatic could have reassured German worries. In all those cases a great tragedy could have been averted by compromise, by diplomacy, maybe even by speeches.

            @Chevalier: the theory about colonies was wrong. 1930s France had heaps of colonies and was defeated and occupied by the Nazis. 1930s Britain still had India, and much of Africa, and the support of Canada, Australia and NZ, but could not stop the Nazi advance on land. The standard economic analysis is that colonisation and empires make the colonising country worse off relative to freely trading with countries in question.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            1930s France had heaps of colonies and was defeated and occupied by the Nazis. 1930s Britain still had India, and much of Africa, and the support of Canada, Australia and NZ, but could not stop the Nazi advance on land.

            I thought WWI was the big war under discussion? Those colonies did make a big difference in the first war in terms of manpower and supply. Without the French & British colonies, Germany may well have won. WWII had its own set of factors – and arguably the biggest was the resolution of WWI. The French capitulated early rather than go through it all over again and the Brits probably would have too if they weren’t safe behind their moat.

            The standard economic analysis is that colonisation and empires make the colonising country worse off relative to freely trading with countries in question.

            Economically, sure. But note how long it took the Free Yanks to join the war (both of them!) compared to the Dominion Canadians & ANZACs.

          • Aapje says:

            @Tracy W

            If Germany had just dug in and defended as well as they did in WW 1, there is a good chance that they could have made the allies sign a peace treaty with no/minimal loss of territory, if the allies had decided to attack. They would have done much better at propaganda, as well.

            A major mistake by Germany in WW 1 was to ignore the importance of public perception. Hitler explicitly recognized this and made propaganda a big part of his strategy. But again, 1930-40’s Germany would have been better off with a far less aggressive strategy.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            Given that part of the core of national socialism was the conviction that Germany needed to conquer a significant territory in the east, it’s hard to imagine a less aggressive Germany.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            My controversial argument is that national socialism was wrong 🙂

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            Of course. My point is that discussions of the actions of Nazi Germany in the 30s, even when they don’t involve “predicting the future” so to speak, ignore that there were certain fixed ideas that couldn’t be done away with.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            ‘Alternative history’ is pretty much synonymous with theorizing about one or more factors being different in the past.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            On the other hand, some things are more readily “alternative” than others. “What if one of those assassination attempts on Hitler worked” or “what if such-and-such a decision had been made differently in fall 1941” is more plausible than “what if Hitler’s entire worldview had been different in a crucial way.”

          • Aapje says:

            True…but my comment was not intended as a claim that we were a coin toss away from such an alternative history.

            It was more a claim that if the Germans had made a different choice, the outcome would probably not have been as bleak as their planners predicted (while the outcome of their choices was clearly very bleak).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            Well, yes, but “the Germans” making the decision were Hitler plus whatever underlings had managed to infight enough to have a say in decision-making that week. Now, if the hypothetical is “what if one of the assassination attempts before WWII happened?” and going from there, sure.

        • Jack Lecter says:

          and US chattel slavery where one group intentionally subjugated another group to bondage and horrific treatment to further their own interests

          I don’t know how to do links on here yet, so:
          Wikipedia has a page about the Selective Service Act of 1917, which looks a lot like one group intentionally subjugating another group to bondage and horrific treatment to further their own interests. It doesn’t pattern-match quite as cleanly to historic atrocities like slavery or the Holocaust, but it fulfills the criteria as you’ve laid them out, and I don’t think that’s an accident of wording.

          War is messy enough (in the parlance of MacNamara, it’s ‘foggy’) that a lot of the time distinguishing monsters from victims isn’t easy- that doesn’t mean there weren’t any.

          • Evan Þ says:

            BTW, you can create links using HTML. I think this’ll show you what to do:

            <a href=”http://example.com/page/goes/here”>Text you want the reader to see</a>

        • The Nybbler says:

          And I don’t really think there was a tradeoff involved where it was like: “Well, we either have good government and slavery, or bad government and no slavery.”

          No, it was worse than that. A nation with slavery, or 13+ tiny nations, some with slavery and some without.

          • Jayson Virissimo says:

            It is non-obvious why having more nations is worse.

          • Evan Þ says:

            The typical 1780’s response was that thirteen independent states would be more susceptible to European political machinations, waste resources in disputes among themselves, and be less open to westward expansion. All this still seems to make sense to me, though I suppose you could make a decent argument that it’s all counterbalanced by the horrors of slavery lasting longer under the Federal umbrella (together with the greater abuse of Native Americans thanks to the greater westward expansion.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jayson Virissimo:
            There are probably pros and cons, but one obvious drawback is that you need 13 different 13th amendments. A second is that an invasion of a different nation to end slavery is far less likely than a civil war to prevent secession. Survival almost certainly survives in at least one of those nations far past 1865.

      • entobat says:

        Note, I am not American.

        That much was obvious from your use of “maths”.

    • Another view of this history, and I think a more compelling one, is this: who cares if Senators were nice to each other? Who cares if they compromised or gave great speeches or followed Senate protocol, or acted like Southern gentlemen or did politically unpopular things? Slavery, as a moral issue, is infinitely larger than any of that. The way to tell the good guys and bad in antebellum US history is this – the pro-slavery people were the bad guys, and the anti-slavery people were good.

      The trouble with that strict formulation is that it applies modern standards of awareness and morality retroactively to historical figures, with zero consideration that they were men of their time, captive of the ideas and politics and culture and circumstances that were prevalent all around them, living inside an Overton Window that we would find hard to imagine today.

      Since everyone was at least complicit in brutal slavery, you could read early American politics as being like the history of Sauron and orcs in Mordor, generation after generation after generation. All that unrelieved evil would get boring.

      And saying that everyone in America was complicit is not much of an exaggeration. Historians of abolitionism (undermining their own importance) tell us that before 1861, immediate abolitionists were never more than 1% of opinion in the North. In other words, even in the “free” states, 99% were okay with slavery in the South continuing for decades at least.

      Respect for property rights was (and is) a very high value, and compensating slaveowners was understood to be wildly infeasible. To a typical pre-Civil-War American, simply expropriating a large part of the nation’s private property was just unthinkable.

      The mainstream “anti-slavery” people (the “good guys”) detested and distanced themselves from abolitionists. Rather than attacking slavery directly, they focused their concern on issues around the geographical edges of slavery, like enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act in the North, or questions of expansion of slavery into the territories.

      (People on both sides assumed that if slavery were simply confined to the existing slave states, it would eventually die out.)

      All that being said, the country was in a pickle that ordinary politics couldn’t solve. Nobody at the beginning of 1861 intended a long and brutal war, let alone the destruction of the South. Lincoln only intended to put down the insurrection and preserve the Union.

      But as I have written here before, I think the war was the only way the nation could have gotten rid of slavery, and survived.

      • Tracy W says:

        living inside an Overton Window that we would find hard to imagine today.

        The Roman Catholic church condemned slavery in the 16th century. The English Sommersett case, which freed a slave, was in 1772. The abolitionist position was in the Overton Window.

        • The Roman Catholic church condemned slavery in the 16th century. The English Sommersett case, which freed a slave, was in 1772. The abolitionist position was in the Overton Window.

          What people were saying overseas had very little relevance in US politics. The number of Catholics was still very small in 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church had next to no influence here.

          Politicians in the US before the Civil War war lived in a world where even Northern voters lined up about 99 to 1 against abolitionism.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Larry Kestenbaum – “What people were saying overseas had very little relevance in US politics. The number of Catholics was still very small in 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church had next to no influence here.”

            Very good point that didn’t click with me till your comment. This was still well into the era when anti-catholic riots were occurring in major cities, correct?

          • Tracy W says:

            @Larry

            The USA was actually ruled by Britain until the American Revolution. And during the Revolution, the American states were allied with France. Thomas Paine moved between all three countries.

            On Catholics, to an English Protestant Christian (you know that country that the American states revolted against), Catholics were near group, not the far. Thomas Babington Macaulay and J.S. Mills refer naturally to the Catholic church and practices like the Devil’s Advocate on decisions about sainthood. Which normally led to them defining themselves against Catholics except that the moral arguments around slavery are so totally one-sided it would have given Catholics a metaphorical stick to beat around Protestants’ heads.

            As for American politics after the American Revolution, if Abolitionism was outside the Overton Window, why were there free states?

          • @ Tracy W:

            The USA was actually ruled by Britain until the American Revolution.

            Which was “four score and seven years” before the Civil War. Many things happened in the interim.

            On Catholics, to an English Protestant Christian (you know that country that the American states revolted against), Catholics were near group, not the far.

            That wasn’t how it looked to Protestant Americans at the time.

            As for American politics after the American Revolution, if Abolitionism was outside the Overton Window, why were there free states?

            Now, that’s a much better question.

            It was politically feasible to outlaw slavery where it barely existed. And the doctrine of state’s rights supported the idea of each state making that decision separately.

            But to overrule another state’s choice, and destroy slavery against the wishes of its electorate, that was considered beyond the pale of reasonable discussion before 1861.

      • Jack Sorensen2 says:

        You can agree with much of my comment and still judge people on a curve. For example you can say Andrew Jackson was a product of his time, and still view him as having fought for evil in a way that overwhelms anything good he fought for.

        But if you want to see strong condemnations of slavery, you can read the words of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and I’m sure others. Every single one of those guys had strong, negative words about slavery.

        In fact, looking online, the first US President for whom I didn’t find a quote lambasting slavery was – Andrew Jackson!

        • You can agree with much of my comment and still judge people on a curve.

          Of course. It’s entirely appropriate to make moral judgments about historical figures. Like most people, I revere Lincoln and despise Calhoun.

          But if you want to see strong condemnations of slavery, you can read the words of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and I’m sure others. Every single one of those guys had strong, negative words about slavery.

          At least half of those fellows owned slaves, and they didn’t release them from bondage during their own lifetimes.

          The Framers of the Constitution carefully avoided using the word “slavery” in the document. They hoped slavery would fade away of its own accord.

          During 1789-1860, many were willing to make a theoretical case against slavery, especially among the “anti-slavery” faction I mentioned. But very, very few Americans advocated that slavery be abolished, and all slaves emancipated, Right Now.

          Just take a look at some of the anti-slavery figures wrote about abolitionists, as dangerous extremists, “long-haired men and short-haired women,” “bedraggled, screaming, denunciatory creatures,” and the like.

          The leadership of the new Republican Party had seemingly reasonable, achievable goals, such as keeping slavery out of federal territories. Abolitionists were seen as discrediting and undermining those efforts: they were (in the words of A.D. White) “driving every sober-minded man and woman out of the anti-slavery fold” and potentially throwing elections to pro-slavery candidates.

          Of course, those distinctions were forgotten once pro-slavery troops were shooting at us. Just three years in, the Senate passed the 13th Amendment.

          • Jack Sorensen2 says:

            Of course. It’s entirely appropriate to make moral judgments about historical figures. Like most people, I revere Lincoln and despise Calhoun.

            Hey, you’re the one who criticized my comment saying that I was applying modern morality retroactively.

            At least half of those fellows owned slaves

            I know, but this doesn’t change my point. You said, in response to my bringing up slavery, that you can’t use modern morality in judging these people. I’m saying, they knew slavery was wrong. You say, well yeah but they were total hypocrites about it. But so what? Doesn’t change the fact that they were doing something wrong. In fact, it strengthens the case, because they, and others of that time, knew slavery was wrong.

          • Hey, you’re the one who criticized my comment saying that I was applying modern morality retroactively.

            Not all morality is “modern”. Anyway, what I objected to was applying it strictly, as if 1860-campaign Lincoln were running for office now. By today’s standards, he was a brazen white supremacist. He, like practically all other Northern political figures of his day, condoned the existence of slavery until the day the slaveholders took up arms against the Union.

            I’m saying, they knew slavery was wrong. You say, well yeah but they were total hypocrites about it. But so what? Doesn’t change the fact that they were doing something wrong.

            People can all agree in theory that something is wrong, but fiercely resist doing away with it. The Overton Window is the range of which policies are politically viable and taken seriously.

            For example, I think anthropogenic climate change is a serious problem that ought to be taken seriously and addressed through policy. But I would strongly oppose a proposal, in 2017, to instantly and forever shut down all gasoline-fueled transportation. Indeed, almost no politician in all of America would advocate that, or anything close to that.

            The politicians of the 1840s and 1850s took a very similar attitude toward slavery. The ones who were most concerned urged reasonable, measured policies to limit its range. Others vehemently rejected those proposals. No mainstream figure advocated immediate abolition.

            Of course immediate abolition was the only right answer morally. Certainly that’s the view from the present, and I’m sure many of these same guys, in their heart-of-hearts, knew that would be the case. Still, that didn’t empower them to open their mouths and advocate freeing all the slaves.

  19. victa20 says:

    A lot of users were really angry about this, and some of them set up a Reddit clone called Voat which promised that everyone was welcome regardless of their opinion.

    This reminds me of “Gab.” I went there because everyone was complaining about how liberal Twitter was and how they shouldn’t have booted Milo…and it was/is a goddamn cesspool with one or two sensible folks.

    I posted about ESPN firing a bunch of personalities in a recent open thread, and how some think this is related by ESPN moving to the left. Someone kindly shared this “Roll Hard Left and Die” theory at me. I’m not sure how much I buy this theory overall, but it certainly seems like news orgs are rolling hard left all over the place, and will die more or less, or at least seem so untrustworthy to everyone because of this split you’re writing about.

    However, on the flip side of Rolling Hard Left, New York Times hired Bret Stephens from WSJ, ostensibly to seem more neutral, he predictably wrote a shitty climate change skeptic article, and even more predictably, many threatened to cancel/did cancel their subscriptions. Now people on the right, who hate the NYT, are saying, “See, those stupid liberals can’t even handle different opinions,” and feel more justified for heading to e.g., Voat, and liberals head over to HuffPost, to read more articles about how white people shouldn’t be able to vote for 20 years by authors who don’t exist, or to Vox, if they’re not willing to go full HuffPo.

    Troubling times, indeed.

  20. TheWackademic says:

    “And within these [supposedly neutral] spaces, overt liberalism is tolerated but overt conservativism is banned.”

    I think that in a few spots in this piece, you conflate Republicanism, conservatism, and Trumpism.

    I think that, if Jeb had won in 2016, you wouldn’t see anti-Jeb stickers in your break room or hear commencement speakers criticizing him. Donald Trump was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault and was unwilling to state that he’d accept the results of the election if he lost. I think that many believe that Trump represents a unique threat to the future of the US in a way that Jeb or Rubio does not. This mindset can explain many of your examples without the need to invoke an overarching increase in liberal intolerance of conservative ideas or of all Republican politicians.

    • drethelin says:

      You say this but references to bushitler and bush being a chimp and george bush being a war criminal and george bush being an idiot and people sarcastically saying “nukular” were basically inescapable in my internet experience of that era, and certainly common in real life. This is not a new trope. It may be stronger than before, probably due to Trump Derangement Syndrome, but it’s not new.

      • seladore says:

        But I don’t think that particular brand of low-brow political mockery is a leftist phenomenon. Every politician gets called an idiot. Here in the UK, Tony Blair regularly gets called Tony Bliar (B-Liar), Ed Milliband was portrayed as a clueless idiot, and Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely pilloried for everything he does.

        From an outside (i.e., European) perspective, Trump being in power does seem like a new phenomenon, rather than just another iteration of liberal/conservative politicians. I mean, he’s a wildly unstable reality TV star who rose to power while bragging about his sexual assaults. Conflating criticism of Trump with normal political mud-slinging seems almost dishonest.

        If liberals elected a left-wing version of Trump (Kanye West, say) who rose to power while exhibiting wildly erratic behaviour and spouting bizarre offensive statements, I would expect similar levels of mockery. The widespread opposition to Trump isn’t just “business as usual”, it seems like a fairly predictable response to a wholly unsuitable president.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          Here in the UK

          found the problem

          More seriously, the conservative outlets blast liberal candidates and love conservative candidates, and the liberal outlets blast conservative candidates and love liberal candidates. The only problem is that the liberal outlets are believed to be neutral, despite still blasting conservative candidates and loving liberal candidates. If it was known that every word from their mouth was poisoned with bias, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. Instead, because the institutions were co-opted (arguably ???) a lot of people don’t know and it becomes the mainstream, which is super unpleasant.

        • Furslid says:

          It isn’t that the left mocks their opponents.

          Consider the critique of inappropriate humor. “Don’t punch down.” I wince every time I hear this line. I wince because it’s almost always a middle class or better person with a college education expressing views their audience approves of mocking someone poorer, less educated, and with unpopular opinions. Punching down may be offensive, but using “Don’t punch down,” to punch down is a whole new level.

        • Sandy says:

          If liberals elected a left-wing version of Trump (Kanye West, say) who rose to power while exhibiting wildly erratic behaviour and spouting bizarre offensive statements, I would expect similar levels of mockery. The widespread opposition to Trump isn’t just “business as usual”, it seems like a fairly predictable response to a wholly unsuitable president.

          See, I look at Stephen Colbert saying to Trump “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster”, and I find it hard to believe any conservative anchor at Fox News who made a similar statement about a Democratic President would keep their jobs or at the very least avoid making a public apology. Colbert in all likelihood will face no repercussions from that because the cultural environment he operates in allows a level of mockery of conservative politicians that would never be considered acceptable for liberal politicians.

          Imagine if Tucker Carlson said of Obama “The only thing your mouth is good for is being the Ayatollah Khamenei’s cock holster”. You think Carlson wouldn’t have to apologize for that statement?

          • entobat says:

            Is there damning evidence that Ayatollah Khamenei manipulated the American election to elect Barack Obama? Is there plausible evidence that Obama was in on it?

          • Sandy says:

            Is there damning evidence that Ayatollah Khamenei manipulated the American election to elect Barack Obama? Is there plausible evidence that Obama was in on it?

            There’s damning evidence that Obama sabotaged his own anti-proliferation programs and freed Iranian spies (after lying about the nature of their work) just to appease the mullahs. Does that count?

          • entobat says:

            I’ve skimmed the first bit of the linked article. From what I’ve read, Obama negotiated the Iran deal badly by wanting it too much and putting himself in a weak position by allowing Iran to leverage that. In exchange for the deal, a dozen national security threats lost that designation.

            I want the reader to recall that the worst thing terrorists have ever done to America is 9/11, i.e. the marginal death toll of Americans driving SUVs (as opposed to regular cars) each year.

            Am I going to find something more scandalous if I keep reading?

            I think lying about these guys being “just businessman [who used their businessmen ties to smuggle uranium into Iran, btw]” is dishonest. Given that the Iran deal was supposed to stop them from getting nuclear weapons, I would guess that releasing some of the guys who helped get them nuclear materials was only done because the administration expected the net effect to be positive. (This does not preclude the possibility that they could have negotiated a better deal.)

            Should I be supposing that enabling the Iran nuclear program was the administration’s goal the whole time, which they covered up by negotiating a treaty ostensibly to stop said nuclear program?

            Edit: The last two paragraphs were added after posting.

            I also feel, looking over my comment, that my tone probably reads as snarky and confrontational. I’m sorry but I don’t really know how to improve that; it was not the intended tone. As I’ve read through enough of the article to grow bored of it I don’t know what I’m supposed to be angry about, and I would appreciate if you framed it yourself.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            From what I’ve read, Obama negotiated the Iran deal badly by wanting it too much and putting himself in a weak position by allowing Iran to leverage that. In exchange for the deal, a dozen national security threats lost that designation.

            And then lied about it. And the media was complicit in this.

            That is, as always, what really bothers me. Sure, Obama does dumb shit – but the media kisses up to him and doesn’t tell anyone about it. Sure, Trump says dumb shit – but the media dials the outrage up to 11.

          • Virbie says:

            @entobat

            Do you really think that Carlson would have been asked to apologize on grounds of _accuracy_? I can’t imagine you’re truly that obtuse, so you must just be being disingenuous.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            I think that Fox News and other right wing people frequently said things much worse than that about both Obama and Hillary and other democrats with absolutely no repercussions. For that matter some of the things Trump said about other Republicans during the campaign were worse than that; he called Ben Carson a “child molester” for example.

          • cheertina says:

            You’re comparing the monologue of a late night talk show host to an anchor on a daytime news show. If Howard Stern had said that about Obama, do you think he would have had to apologize?

        • cassander says:

          The widespread opposition to Trump isn’t just “business as usual”, it seems like a fairly predictable response to a wholly unsuitable president.

          That is, word for word, what people said about Bush, who was an idiot cowboy who was also obviously unsuitable to be president. And Reagan, who was a b-list actor who was also obviously unsuitable to be president. And Eisenhower, who was a quite likable, but bit of a dunce and was also obviously unsuitable to be president.

          The same game keeps getting played out over and over, with more hysteria every time. Had Jeb, or rubio, or god forbid Ted Cruz, pulled out the same victory trump did, they reaction would be every bit as hysterical.

          • bean says:

            I don’t think this is 100% true, but there’s a core of truth to it. Trump made the left hysterical, in a way they weren’t about Bush, McCain, or Romney. But it’s the difference between being chased by a wild animal and running at a track meet. You’ll be faster in the former case, no matter how much you want to win the meet, and you don’t get credit for being nice to the other people at the meet when you run faster after the bear shows up.

          • cassander says:

            The level of hysteria is definitely higher than in the past, but it seems to grow every time a republican gets into office regardless of their actions. Trump is more pro-gay marriage than Obama was in 2008, but I have multiple LGTBQ friends who talked about how scared they were for their status as human beings when trump got elected.

            Now, maybe every republican really has been the “worst thing ever”, but I think the likelier answer is that the not-republicans are just getting more hysterical.

          • Deiseach says:

            And Reagan, who was a b-list actor who was also obviously unsuitable to be president.

            I was going to ask, does no-one remember Bonzo Goes To Bitburg? But then Wikipedia tells me it didn’t get released in the USA so that explains it (and many of you may have only been toddlers at the time anyway):

            Reagan’s plan to visit the Bitburg cemetery had been criticized in the United States, Europe, and Israel because among the approximately 2,000 German soldiers buried there were 49 members of the Waffen-SS, the combat arm of the SS, which committed many other atrocities. Among those vehemently opposed to the trip were Jewish and veterans’ groups and both houses of the U.S. Congress. The phrase “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” was coined by protesters in the weeks leading up to Reagan’s trip. Employed as an epithet for Reagan, Bonzo is actually the name of the chimpanzee title character in Bedtime for Bonzo, a 1951 comedy starring Reagan

        • Aapje says:

          @seladore

          I mean, he’s a wildly unstable reality TV star who rose to power while bragging about his sexual assaults.

          That was actually 10 years ago. Lots of people seem unable to separate ‘time when something’ happened from the ‘time when it was reported.’ It matters, though.

          • seladore says:

            Fair enough, I should have been more specific.

            I don’t think it matters *that* much though. Unless Trump has undergone a Damascene conversion in the last decade, it’s safe to assume the content of his current character is much the same as was when he made those statements.

          • Aapje says:

            My point is more that behavior that happens during or near a campaign speaks much more to a lack of self control or bad judgement than behavior from before the person decided to run, when the incentives are a lot different.

            However, ultimately, a lot of voters care more about ‘what you (s)he do for me’ than ‘is (s)he a good person.’

            I think that it is a common mistake by already decided voters to see such evidence against their opponent as a slam dunk disqualification, while rationalizing away the evidence against their own candidate. More wishy washy voters probably decide that both candidates aren’t very nice people as they see the evidence against both candidates as pretty bad…and then they vote for the one who they expect to profit from personally.

      • wysinwygymmv says:

        Bush started a war of choice on false pretenses, and he intentionally played dumb to the media because he knew it was good marketing for his candidacy. Calling him stupid is reasonable if he’s going to act stupid (indeed, he probably acted stupid exactly to bait people into saying so) and calling him a war criminal is a pretty plausible interpretation of the events surrounding the Iraq war.

        • gbdub says:

          But any standard that makes Bush a war criminal would rightly apply to Obama and Hillary too. To be fair, there are those that do apply the label to all three, but they are a very small subset of the people who declared they wanted Bush and Cheney investigated for war crimes.

          • But any standard that makes Bush a war criminal would rightly apply to Obama and Hillary too.

            Not to mention Churchill, FDR, and Truman.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            “war criminal”, if it’s to have any meaning other than a boo light, implies violation of a specific war-related crime.

            Off the top of my head the main war crimes supposedly commited by Churchill and FDR (area bombing of civilian populations) wasn’t actually war crime until additional protocol I was passed in 1977.

            This is without going into the issues of jurisdiction and enforceability.