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OT77: Opium Thread

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit, the SSC Discord server, or the Cafe Chesscourt forum.

1. Comments of the week: Mazirian on Ashkenazi demographic expansion, Majuscule on history of the Jews in Hungary, and B (at Information Processing) on the role of assimilation. And from the subreddit, an experimental philosophy question and very clever response.

2. Thanks to an SSC reader who will remain unnamed until I remember to ask him if he wants his real name on the Internet, we have an Esperanto copy of Laszlo Polgar’s Bring Up Genius (as mentioned here) and an offer to translate it into English for $1200. If you want to help pay, donate at the GoFundMe page [EDIT: Campaign is complete, thank you!] Legal issues permitting, I’ll try to post the translation here once I have it.

3. A new ad on the sidebar, Meditation For Atheists, an audio course by an SSC reader interested in non-religious meditation practices. If you’re interested in advertising on SSC, you can find more information here.

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1,065 Responses to OT77: Opium Thread

  1. Salem says:

    UK election. Any thoughts?

    Who’s going to win? Are the polls right? What would it even mean for the polls to be “right” given there’s a 10 point methodological difference? What will it mean for the country?

    I live in a marginal constituency with an incumbent, but unpopular, Labour MP. It’s a vital constituency – we’ve had activists coming from far and wide and all the neighbouring candidates have been helping out. If we could get half the UKIP voters from last time to switch and hang on to our core vote, we’ll win just fine. But I don’t think we will. And if we lose here, what does that mean for the rest of the country? Maybe nothing, but I am very worried.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      The polls had the average at ~7 at the end. ICM was the worst for Labour, ComRes tightened two and Ipsos spread 3 both giving a result of 8. YouGov chickened out and went to a 7% lead from 3-4%. Survation went all in for a 1% lead. Ballsy. Some other internet polls showed really good Labour results. I understand turnout at least appears to be up, especially among young voters, but most reports are out of London which hardly matters.

      Polls having a large spread is good. It means many methodologies were tried and at least a few pollsters had the courage not to herd at the end. Unlike those tossers at YouGov.

      I’m expecting a 3.5-5.5 lead for the Tories, depending on how it works out Labour might at least cause May to have run a whole election for minimal if any change. What’s your constituency? I can check its relevant for the national results.

      • > I understand turnout at least appears to be up, especially among young voters

        Anecdotally confirmed, my local polling station had mostly young voters spilling out this morning.

    • Salem says:

      Looks like I was right. We haven’t declared yet, but the results elsewhere are just as I feared, and regional trends suggest we have no chance of picking up the 1000 votes we need locally. I wonder if we go again in 6 months.

  2. Mark says:

    You know all this stuff about sex and evolutionary psychology – women are naturally more picky etc.

    Let’s assume it’s true, and women are more picky, and it’s easier for a woman to find a sexual partner. Couldn’t this be caused by the sex ratio? For young people, there are five percent more men than there are women. If things were the other way around, would behaviour be different?

    I don’t think we can explain the fairly clear fact that woman are subject to sexual selection unless men have the capacity to be picky.

    • Aapje says:

      The problem with your argument is that the facts clearly show more reasons:
      – It is a fact that on average there is an age mismatch of a few years between men and women in relationships. This negatively skews the ratio of willing partners for young men and older women. This is a logical consequence of gender differences in partner preference (women value men who can provide, while men prefer beauty. Income tends to go up with age and beauty tends to go down).
      – Many independent metrics show a substantially higher libido in men (on average). The logical consequence is that women can be more picky (as they have a larger supply of willing partners than men and in relationships, having access to a woman who is willing to have sex is worth more for the average man than vice versa).

      I don’t think we can explain the fairly clear fact that woman are subject to sexual selection unless men have the capacity to be picky.

      You began your post by arguing the claim that women are more picky and here you transitioned to the argument that only women get to pick, which is a far, far stronger claim, which is obviously false. The evidence that men pick is plentiful (for example, most individual men clearly aren’t willing to date any random woman, but have preferences).

    • dndnrsn says:

      @Mark

      So, you are correct in saying, “it’s easier for a woman to find a sexual partner” (assuming the woman is looking for a male sexual partner. But that’s not all there is. While men will complain women are too picky, the distaff counterpart to that is “men won’t commit.” In heterosexual relationships, women get more of a pick when it comes to sex, but the opposite is true when it comes to commitment. By and large.

      • Randy M says:

        Certainly. Hence the “no sex before marriage” rule turns out to have been in women’s favor more than men’s generally.

  3. onyomi says:

    Though I’m not sure I entirely agree with all the fine rhetoric about how America has long been a propositional nation, etc., I think this article is one of the best statements I’ve seen of roughly my own feelings on the whole assimilation, integration, diversity question.

    Though it is tempting to summarize as “we can tolerate anything except intolerance,” (a slogan Antifa would surely endorse) I think it’s more than that. I think it implies a kind of tradeoff: Americans should accept immigrants so long as immigrants are willing to accept a kind of “thick Americanism,” which doesn’t necessarily imply becoming a Christian or leaving all of one’s own culture behind, but which also requires more than just, well, showing up, or even just not being intolerant. It implies endorsement of certain values of the kind I think are pretty well encapsulated in the Bill of Rights, as well as, arguably, a willingness to learn English.

    And this is why, I think, ideas about e.g. “cultural appropriation” make me angrier than seems reasonable even to myself; it’s not just the absurdity and illogic of it, but that such ideas are actually hugely undermining to the whole underpinnings of the aspect of American culture proponents claim most to love. Melting pot, not salad bowl.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      I actually agree. Some reasonable degree of assimilation is a requirement for an immigration based society.

    • Matt M says:

      And this is why, I think, ideas about e.g. “cultural appropriation” make me angrier than seems reasonable even to myself; it’s not just the absurdity and illogic of it, but that such ideas are actually hugely undermining to the whole underpinnings of the aspect of American culture proponents claim most to love. Melting pot, not salad bowl.

      It’s almost as if the people promoting these ideas don’t actually love American culture at all, and would happily see it destroyed!

  4. sinanreis says:

    Wanted to share this concept of a metaquiz with this community. Here’s an example metaquiz on climate change.

    The primary goal is that participants do poorly on the “other side” section. Underestimating the other side’s knowledge raises the questions “maybe they’re not all stupid?”. Incorrectly stereotyping their beliefs raises the question “maybe they’re not all evil?”. As a secondary goal, if participants do poorly on the quiz itself, they may learn something about climate change. Any feedback on the concept / execution?

    • rahien.din says:

      I did pretty bad on the quiz!

      I think this technique has some promise but may extinguish itself wrt general use. Either people will start to find it pedantic, or they will dismiss it as an unfair venue. Kind of has similar general failure modes as polls.

      That said, I’m interested to find out what the other side thinks.

    • herbert herberson says:

      I just did it. Knowing that you posted it here substantially changed my answers though–if the other side were drawn from the general public, I would assume a lot more ignorance.

    • Brad says:

      Sign in to your Google account to fill out this form
      This form contains features which require sign in. Your identity will not be revealed.

      Sorry, after that whole phishing with google docs thing I’m not going to do it.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        FWIW this correctly detected my active gmail login, unlike when I got that phishing email.

        • Protagoras says:

          Ditto. So if someone is concerned about a fake google log in page, they should just open up their gmail or whatever in another tab and log in someplace where they know it’s a real google log in, and then go to the survey.

      • sinanreis says:

        Let it be known that I have no desire to phish, spearphish you or anyone else. Just looking for honest feedback!

    • Matt M says:

      Hmm, I got 8/10 on the quiz despite specifically NOT caring about the “science” behind climate change. Weird.

    • Well... says:

      I don’t know how to answer most of the questions.

      – I don’t know how serious the “scientific consensus” (whatever that is) thinks climate change is.
      – I have no idea how much I’ll personally be affected by climate change or what that even means.
      – I don’t know which future generations they’re asking about. My childrens’ generation? My grandchildrens’ generation? ALL future generations? And isn’t the extent to which they’re affected by climate change dependent upon how much they’re affected by other things first?
      – What are “scientific facts” (as opposed to other kinds of facts)?
      – Lots of questions require an answer but don’t provide an “I’m not sure” option, so I had to make blind guesses.

      On the plus side, I was able to leave the email field blank and it still showed me my (predictably low) score.

      Anyway, my feedback is to word the questions carefully.

      • Nornagest says:

        If you’re interested in the answers to these questions, the IPCC reports are a good place to start. They aren’t short but they are readable.

        • Well... says:

          I’m not, really. Here’s a rundown of where I stand on these types of issues:

          I care about the environment inasmuch as I care about having lots of undeveloped land, lots of open green space where the land is developed, and minimal pollution. I hate seeing litter and I’ve called the cops on someone for tossing fast food wrappers out his car window. I recycle and compost as much as I reasonably can. I tend to side with conservationists when they talk about protecting ecosystems, but they tend to lose my sympathy when they talk about some particular endangered animal that we all have to change our whole way of living to save (unless that animal is one I arbitrarily care about already, like wolves). I’m skeptical about the risks of global warming, since the risks might be balanced out with unforeseen advantages. I’m sensitive to the way every single nature documentary always devotes a segment to smacking me on the nose for being an evil rotten human who’s destroying the planet. When it comes to the actual truth about who’s doing what to the planet and how seriously it should be taken, I’m basically agnostic because I know I don’t and probably won’t ever understand enough to have an informed opinion on it.

    • Controls Freak says:

      In researching one of the questions I got wrong, I came across something curious. Can anyone reconcile these two pages, both from the same gov’t organization? Even if we take the latter page to be referring to “capacity” from the former page (in order to make the nuclear percentage match), others don’t match. By kind of a lot.

      • Protagoras says:

        The large slice for petroleum on one page and the absence thereof from the other suggests that the former page is reporting all energy use, while the latter is only discussing electrical power generation. What I can see on the pages at a quick glance seems to fit with that.

        • Controls Freak says:

          Oh, I see now. And I feel dumb for not realizing it immediately. The first link is just referring to power plants, while the second is referring to all usage (including, e.g., cars). I don’t know what point anyone is trying to make with a question about nuclear electricity generation anyway, but it seems like a really large shift to result from a small change in terminology… such that it probably reduces the relevance of the question (especially because most people who are interested in climate change related questions are thinking about total usage… not whether it is temporarily converted into electrical form prior to being used).

      • Nornagest says:

        I only skimmed it, but it looks to me like the first page is looking at electrical power generation and the second page is looking at total energy consumption. The latter includes a lot of stuff the former doesn’t, most importantly including automotive powerplants (the engine in your car is good for a fair fraction of a megawatt) but also stuff like gas heaters for your house, etc.

        Notice the much higher fraction of petroleum in the second page. Oil power plants are uncommon; oil-derived transportation fuels are ubiquitous. Note also that that long yearly graph goes back long before electrification.

    • rlms says:

      The knowledge quiz is ripe for gaming on a basis of guessing things you think the quiz author included because they are a bit surprising. On the other hand, trying to do that made me get a couple of answers wrong that I’d have got right if I’d gone for my actual belief, so maybe it cancels out.

      • sinanreis says:

        The point isn’t really to make you fail on the quiz, more to see how much you caricature the other side.

        I attempt to explain here: link text

  5. Mark says:

    Is there any historical justification for the idea that Lucifer (as Venus) represents sexual desire and wordly passion, while Satan represents the big nothing, just getting in our way and making everything shit.

    (Though I suppose those difficulties are also a necessary part of life.)

  6. Tarhalindur says:

    I’ve been mulling over this post for a bit: while the American tribes seem to exist, they aren’t monoliths and having a schema in place to talk about specific subgroups of the tribes sounds useful. So, allow me to propose a schema for critique:

    Blue Tribe:
    Social Justice wing – No, really? This wing dates back to the major American political Christian movements before the Christian Right: the Abolitionists and the Social Gospel and temperance movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At some point along the way it transitioned to a purely secular movement*. Interestingly, the modern secular version feels like it went fundamentalist at some point in the last 5 years or so, which may just mean that what I code as fundamentalism is just what moral/religious groups do when they get into power; the Temperance movement is another decent data point for this, come to think of it. Of course, the movements the Social Justice wing derives from were in turn derived from the Puritans and Quakers, so it may just be Puritan influence instead. (This is where I note that there are internal distinctions between the college campus and minority sections of SJ and that I should probably split off some subgroups from Social Justice and then don’t.)
    Democratic Socialist wing – There’s no good name for this wing these days; it’s a loose alliance between social democrats, socialists, and out-and-out communists, and the two traditional names (Progressive and Populist) have been hijacked by associations with Social Justice and Americanists, respectively. Bernie Sanders is the most prominent example of this wing these days, so I’m using his term here. This wing has antecedents going back at least as far as Jefferson, but in modern form dates back to the Populists of the 1890s. This wing was the core support for the New Deal; it still supports unions/antitrust/regulation and distrusts businesses, and (once you get outside of the college atmosphere) cares less about social issues than the rest of Blue.
    Greens – As far as I can tell, this wing also rose out of the Populist movement, though I suspect the ultimate cause may have been the closing of the American frontier. Teddy Roosevelt was an early supporter, and the National Park system was an early Green project; the 1960s version is responsible for the EPA. Its main goal is conservation of the natural world; the modern version seems to couple this with a back-to-nature spirituality, but I’m not sure if that holds before the 1960s or so. My impression is that the Green support base draws heavily from the West Coast, and especially the Pacific Northwest. Long-term note: there’s a pretty good chance that the Greens are going to see a resurgence and become an even larger political force in the next half-century or so. There’s a trend in American religious history where denominations rise in a Great Awakening and become political forces during the next Great Awakening (the predecessors of the Social Gospel date back to the Second Great Awakening, the predecessors of the Christian Right date back to the Third Great Awakening, and I think Manifest Destiny may have derived from First Great Awakening thought)… and the Fourth Great Awakening (aka the New Age) was decidedly Green. (This goes double if we see major changes in climate consistent with global warming thought.)

    Red Tribe
    Christian Right – This is a fairly recent wing; the sources I’m familiar with trace it back to the 40s/50s era Latter Rain movement, with precursors in the 1930s and some connection to the Fundamentalists of the 1920s and earlier. There’s also an independent Catholic origin I’m less well versed in, most notably represented by the magazine First Things; Rod Dreher comes from this faction. (That said, modern American anti-Catholicism seems to correlate strongly with the Protestant side of the Christian Right.) This is a very socially conservative wing; it tends economically liberal, especially in the Prosperity Gospel part of the wing, with some parts considering American capitalism to be divinely ordained. (Note: the Protestant side of the Christian Right is the wing that has gone the furthest in the direction of parallel Red institutions.)
    Traditionalist wing – This is the wing of Red Tribe I have the least familiarity with, especially if splitting off the Southern Traditionalists is correct; if so, this wing is centered in the Midwest, Appalachians, and Great Plains/Mountain West. As Scott noted in his Albion’s Seed review, Borderer is probably another good way of describing this wing, especially since Jacksonian democracy looks ancestral to this wing. My understanding is that this wing tends socially conservative, economically liberal, and “get off my lawn” towards the government.
    (Southern Traditionalist wing) – I’m putting this wing in parentheses because I’m not sure it still exists; it may have been absorbed into the Traditionalists, Americanists, and Christian Right by now. It definitely existed historically, and used to drive the “solid South” (my impression is that “Blue Dog Democrat” usually refers to this wing); it shifted from voting Democratic to voting Republican between 1948 and 1994. If it still exists, it’s exactly what you would expect – traditionalists who grew up in the traditions of the South, especially the segregation-era South.
    Americanist wing – Basically this is George Wallace’s base and the groups that developed out of that base; the John Birch Society appealed to this wing, though I’m not sure it’s a one-to-one overlap. If any part of Red Tribe considered a black president anathema on specifically racial grounds (as opposed to a more general visceral reaction), it’s this wing; modern American anti-Semitism also seems to correlate strongly with this wing. Modern /pol/ looks like it falls firmly into this wing, as does the militia movement.
    Capitalist wing – Basically what people are thinking of when they say “Republican establishment”, AFAICT. Economically liberal, nominally socially conservative but it’s not a priority (with some overlap with the Prosperity Gospel). One of the big distinctions between this wing and the Traditionalist wing is on foreign policy; the Capitalist wing leans Hamiltonian (except for the neocons, who lean Wilsonian), the Traditionalist wing leans Jacksonian or to a lesser extent Jeffersonian.

    Splinter: Libertarian wing – People here with more experience with libertarian history can correct me, but my understanding is that this wing has the firmest origin of any Red Tribe wing, dating back to a conference in 1970 when a group of classical liberals (in the European sense) broke from the Capitalist wing over a refusal to compromise on the social aspects of liberalism. This wing is traditionally associated with Reason magazine** and the Cato Institute.
    Splinter: Grey Tribe – This wing looks libertarian to my eyes, but Scott describes this wing as splitting off of Blue Tribe. That… would suggest that the closest comparison to Grey Tribe might actually be the neoconservatives, who broke from Blue Tribe (IIRC from the more Socialist parts of the Democratic Socialists) in the late 1960s and transitioned to Red Tribe over the next 15 years or so.

    The late stages of the 2016 primaries are instructive here. In the Democratic primaries, Hillary drew support predominantly from Social Justice and Bernie drew mainly from the Democratic Socialists (unsurprisingly, I used his name for the movement for a reason); I’m not sure. In the Republican primaries, Trump drew Traditionalist and Americanist support, Cruz drew the Christian Right, and Kasich drew Capitalist support (though Jeb/Rubio are better examples of Capitalist candidates).

    Key modern implications:
    – My impression (with low epistemic confidence, especially since I don’t have a good handle on the northern Traditionalists) is that the core of the Tea Party drew heavily from the Libertarian and Americanist wings of Red Tribe.
    – George W. Bush’s core base of support was in the Christian Right and Capitalist wings of Red Tribe.
    – Obama’s core base of support was in the Social Justice and Green wings of Blue Tribe. The Democratic Socialists supported him initially (probably in part because the 2008 primary alternative was Hillary Clinton), but cooled off on him fairly quickly.
    – On a related note, the Democratic Socialists really don’t like Hillary Clinton, probably due to Bill Clinton’s presidency (the Third Way deemphasized DemSoc issues, and NAFTA and welfare reform are specific bones of contention) but I think there’s also a visceral reaction involved. This is one of the factors behind Trump winning the presidency, and I think a big reason for the current pushback against Hillary’s candidacy is the Democratic Socialists going “we said no and we MEANT no, enough is enough”.
    – The core opposition to Trump is rooted in the Social Justice wing and to a lesser extent the Greens; Social Justice in particular views Trump as anathema. This is one of the 2016 developments that caught me off guard; I was expecting opposition comparable to the opposition to W., but Trump opposition seems to be a notch above that. (Side conclusion: I’m probably underestimating the likelihood of a visceral Red Tribe reaction to a modern Democratic Socialist president in the Sanders vein..)

    * – Interestingly, I read a biography of the Beecher family a while back, and it featured a couple of descriptions of late 19th century churches that sounded very similar to descriptions of 20th century Christian Right megachurches. Moreover, the book’s description of Henry Ward Beecher’s theology reminds me of the modern Prosperity Gospel. It’s possible that the Christian Right is walking the same path to secularity that the Social Gospel did, though I’m by no means confident about that.
    ** – Which poses a question: How much of the recent Social Justice opposition to rationalism comes from rationalism being traditionally coded Red Tribe?

  7. Mark says:

    I’ve decided to not read any news for the next year and instead spend the time I normally waste on it studying for a graduate diploma in mathematics.

    Wish me luck!

  8. BBA says:

    Idle query, somewhat related to the “falling asleep” question up-thread.

    I almost always feel tired in the morning, no matter how much sleep I got the previous night. A sleep study indicated borderline apnea, and I was given a CPAP machine to try out. Well, I can’t say anything about whether it helps my sleep quality, because I can’t fall asleep with it on. I’d read up on complaints about older CPAP machines, and this one fixes the common issues that the mask is uncomfortable or the air is too dry – it’s a new model, with a soft rubber tube that fits over the nose and a built-in humidifier. It’s just that having it blow air into my nose, like it’s supposed to, interferes with my breathing so much that I have to consciously keep track of my breath and can’t let myself fall asleep. Any recommendations, or should I just send the machine back and work on my sleep hygiene in other ways?

    • onyomi says:

      Recently saw an ad for this on Facebook; seems to still be in the “crowdfunding” phase, but might be something to keep an eye on as a more comfortable alternative.

      Anecdotally, I think I was suffering mildish sleep apnea lately (occasionally wake up in the middle of the night with a suffocating feeling) and saw some improvements by doing more cardio exercise.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I was given a CPAP machine, could not get used to it, and ended up improving my sleep by losing a bunch of weight. I don’t know if that’s a factor or not from you.

    • Zephalinda says:

      A friend of a friend of, etc., campaigns in somewhat evidence-based ways for dental appliances as an alternative to CPAP for sleep apnea. The clinic I know about is here, but they seem to have some (US) national availability.

    • Corey says:

      I started out with a full-face mask, because I can’t keep my mouth shut (heh). It took some getting used to, but only a handful of days IIRC (I’ve been on CPAP for several years, and now it would feel weird to sleep without it).

      Your machine probably has a user-configurable “ramp” setting that starts the pressure low and gradually increases it, for just this reason, if you haven’t tried that it might help.

      Another possibility for getting over the hump: good old-fashioned drugs, for a night or two (Benadryl or Nyquil or ethanol).

      There’s a mode called “BiPAP” that drops the pressure when it feels you breathing out (at high pressures, like 20 cm H2O, it’s required, as it would be too difficult to breathe out otherwise).

      If you got the machine through prescription and a respiratory tech, they’ll be monitoring for compliance and effectiveness as they rent the machine to you for the first year or so. The machines log quite verbosely, and the tech may have helpful ideas from either your descriptions or the machine logs.

      • Schibes says:

        There’s a mode called “BiPAP” that drops the pressure when it feels you breathing out

        BiPAP machines are more expensive than regular CPAP machines but if your insurance agrees to pay for them (mine did, back in 2012) they have many more settings and configurable options, so there’s more flexibility to “tweak” when there is discomfort/restlessness/other unease with the machine. I plan on digging up more of the documentation some time and figure out all the advanced settings, I think I need to make a few adjustments on mine and don’t feel like paying a $1500 deductible (if not more) for another sleep study.

        Other datapoints for our informal SSC sleep study:

        1) My apnea is also related to weight gain, if I lose 100 pounds it will probably go away. Still trying to figure out the best thing to do about that. Please don’t judge.

        2) I wear the full face mask after initial experiments with the nose-only and mouth-only masks were judged dismal failures (a Fisher Paykel model I paid for myself since the one that came with my machine didn’t work that well with my beard).

        3) Some family members are freaked out by the machine during sleepovers and crack unfunny jokes about Darth Vader. Whatever.

        4) I’m VERY attached to my own particular machine – I spent a night in a hospital for an unrelated ailment a couple years ago and they insisted I use their “approved” CPAP machine instead of my own and it was so uncomfortable that I was only able to sleep 3 hours all night. So when I hear about new apnea sufferers refusing to wear their masks, I can relate. Finding the right machine/mask fit can be a tricky, trial-and-error prone process.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      On a CPAP machine for several years.

      I have used both the full face mask as well as (now) the type of nostril “sealing” type. I switched from the full face mask as my beard was making the full mask leak ineffectively.

      I will echo what Corey said that the full face mask was much easier to get used to than the nostril only one. Eventually you make your peace with it. Stick with it as it makes a huge QOL difference if you do need it.

      I would also advise getting some Biotene rinse for when you inevitably wake up with dry mouth. I tend to rinse before I go to bed and that helps (as well as when I get up).

    • Password says:

      I’ve used a CPAP machine for several years. My experiences differ quite a bit from yours, which may make them either helpful or useless to you. I’ve only used a nose mask, and my apnea is almost certainly caused by my weight. In no particular order:

      1) When I’m wearing the mask but the machine is off I have trouble breathing. It’s like trying to breathe through a snorkel when you’re a foot or two underwater.
      2) When the machine is on I find it slightly easier to breathe than I do in my daily life; If I could have the effect of the CPAP all the time without having to carry the machine/mask around I would.
      3) My machine has a ramp feature which gradually increases the relative air pressure from 0 to [set level] over a configurable amount of time. I’ve disabled this, not only because of point 1 above but point 2 as well. In practice it actually takes 15 seconds or so to reach the max level.
      4) I’ve removed my machine’s humidifier because it was more trouble than it was worth.

      Could you elaborate on how the incoming air interferes with your breathing? For me it works just like normal breathing, but perhaps your pressure is set too high?

  9. Worley says:

    In regard to polyamory, polygyny, etc. First, let’s use the words correctly, “monogamy” means marriage to one person. Who you have sex with outside of marriage doesn’t count. It’s an artefact of mid-20th century US culture to consider “monogamy” to mean that unmarried people can’t be involved with more than one person. (It’s sort of funny to read both Miss Manners and Robert Heinlein whining about The Kids These Days and their prissy ways. But of course, both of them were adults before the 1950s.)

    But the historically interesting question is Why has monogamy become nearly universal in world cultures? The anthropologists says that the vast majority foraging peoples permit polygyny (though of course, very few men are able to indulge in it). And almost all early agrarian cultures seem to permit polygyny, with the Romans being the only exception that I know of. But over time, one culture or another has given over polygyny. The last large and important culture converting to monogamy that I’ve heard of was China banning it in the early 1900s when they adopted a law code based on German models. In a sense, the canonical example is the ancient Jews — in the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, polygyny was permitted and seemed to be common, by the times of the Christian Scriptures, it had gone out of fashion, if not been forbidden.

    I’ve seen no historian mention this, and I have a hard time imagining what the cause might be. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious pattern.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s probably the influence of Roman law, the Christian religion and egalitarian ideology (since monogamy is rationing women; pretty unfair for the 1% to grab up all the good ones), combined with the aggregate success of the European way of doing things. People imitate success, and if they don’t know which parts of the successful strategy are relevant to what they want to improve, they imitate the whole thing.

    • John Schilling says:

      It’s an artefact of mid-20th century US culture to consider “monogamy” to mean that unmarried people can’t be involved with more than one person.

      Mid-20th through early 21st, at least. Or when did you think it ended? Also, most of the Anglosphere, not just the US.

      And since most of us here actually live in the early twenty-first century Anglosphere, we’re going to use the language thereof and not pretend that etymological prescriptiveness is anything but pointlessly silly. Whether a long-term romantic and economic partnership is sanctified by marriage is increasingly irrelevant, and what matters are the customs regarding who ought and ought not be forming such relationships.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think if you look at how things turn out for the kids from these long-term romantic and economic partnerships, the kids whose parents were married end up doing a lot better. It’s hard to see how that would be caused by a piece of paper from the state, exactly, but there’s *something* going on there.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          It’s hard to see how that would be caused by a piece of paper from the state, exactly, but there’s *something* going on there.

          You’ve got the causation backwards.

          I’ve seen firsthand, people who see marriage as a “piece of paper from the state” end up divorced pretty fast. The ones who are more likely to stick it out are those who see it as a promise to start a family, or better yet to join two families together.

          That said, the most successful couples I’ve seen recently among the very wealthy are split 50:50 between husbands and wives and pairs of unmarried ‘partners.’ Not particularly fertile, typically at or just above replacement, but with a lot fewer divorces than I was used to seeing in the lower-middle / working class. Money might not be able to buy happiness but it seems like it can buy marital bliss.

        • John Schilling says:

          I think if you look at how things turn out for the kids from these long-term romantic and economic partnerships, the kids whose parents were married end up doing a lot better.

          I don’t share your confidence in that conjecture, but it is interesting and perhaps important if true. How do we find out?

          Note that we are talking explicitly about long-term partnerships, so unmarried couples who stay together long enough to raise a child (or at least long enough to be on par with the married ones). Is there data on outcomes that properly normalizes for relationship duration and allows us to sort out the effect of legal matrimony?

        • Worley says:

          But it’s easy to see how two people deliberately entering into a contract would affect their behavior. Conversely, looking at people who entered into a contract is likely to be selective regarding the mindset of the people who choose that path.

  10. Controls Freak says:

    And from the subreddit, an experimental philosophy question and very clever response.

    This was an interesting read for me, because it is exactly the analogy I had settled on for abortion (I didn’t know anything about the real world situation). To me, it gets intentionality the right way round (the person is actively choosing to cut the rope/abort the fetus, knowing that it has an extremely high likelihood of death). It includes the possibility of death/harm to oneself (I usually remark that there are a variety of possible hypotheticals; maybe the rope is wrapped around your leg, and you don’t fear death, but you fear losing your leg; maybe you’re just suffering rope burn; maybe it’s a more trivial harm; how much harm is enough?). And it points out that people can object to rope-cutting (abortion) without also claiming that you just shouldn’t rock climb (have sex). Obviously, no one wants to be in that situation; they do everything they can to make sure they don’t end up in that situation (use proper gear/technique/condoms). Nevertheless, once you’re in that situation, we still have to determine what is acceptable behavior. Finally, it makes it very clear just how important the “is it life with moral worth” question matters – clearly, if it’s a worm hanging on the end of the rope, pretty much no one is going to oppose cutting.

    The “clever response” also brings to mind relevant answers to the abortion question. In the 12th century, Peter Abelard argued that it was suitable to require a new mother to perform penance after accidentally smothering her infant in her sleep in order to have a public norm against it. Many people say that you won’t realize how important it is to defect unless you’re in that situation… and the argument usually heads in the direction of how the public norm actually affects behavior (moving away from the morality of particular actions).

  11. herbert herberson says:

    Is anyone sick and tired of the conversation around terrorism and immigration coalescing into a single trans-Atlantic discussion?

    I’m American, and I support without reservation the standard left line on terrorism and immigration… in America. We don’t have a big integration problem: I used to go out drinking in the main Muslim neighborhood in Minneapolis, never felt an issue. My ancestors arrived here less than 150 years ago, and I question the right of me and those situated like me to restrict the entry, particularly from the modal immigrant (who is of indigenous ancestry) but also from people fleeing war. Since 9/11 (which is a fudge, granted, but at this point a minor one–it’s been almost 16 years, there are undoubtedly comments on this page made by people who can’t remember it), we’ve really had only had two real Islamic terrorist attacks, along with a couple more terrorist attack slash workplace shootings, which puts it in the same league as both white supremacist terrorism and spree killings by garden variety psychotics. The degree to which our culture and foreign policy focus on this minor problem strikes me as insane.

    But it Europe? Every one of those things I mentioned is tilted in favor of treating the issue more aggressively. The Muslim population is by all accounts bigger and less integrated and there have been an awful lot of terrorist attacks in the last couple years. But to me the biggest difference of all is that European nations are not settler nations. They’re indigenous people living in their homelands. I’ve felt this way for a long time, and it’s been disconcerting in the last year or two to see it alluded to in memes with filenames like white_genocide.png, but it’s still something I believe: the burden of justifying migration restrictions should be a lot higher when applied to someone whose great-grandparents emigrated to a place than when applied to someone whose ancestors have been there for tens of thousands of years (or considerably longer, if you count the Neanderthal ancestry).

    • Europe is already tougher on some aspects of immigration, particularly in that illegals are deported, not amnestied.

    • Odovacer says:

      I’m no expert on Muslim assimilation in the US, but I’m going to nitpick you on one point. I assume the place you’re talking about is the Cedar Riverside (pop. ~ 9000) area of Minneapolis. It’s about half black, I’m not certain of the # of Somalis. Regardless, it’s right next to a very large university, the University of Minnesota. So even if Muslims wanted to prohibit drinking there*, I think the 48,000 university students would influence and overwhelm any such sentiment.

      *I’m not familiar with any external prohibition movement in the Somali community. Though there was some brouhaha about taxi drivers refusing to transport dogs or alcohol a few years back.

      • herbert herberson says:

        That’s the neighborhood, yes.

        But I’m not really trying to say “oh, look, they haven’t banned alcohol,” partly because that isn’t even close to being in the realm of possibility. I’m saying that one of the closest things the U.S. has to a banlieue is a place where it’s fun for hipsters (Minnesotan hipsters, at that) to go get wasted. Even if the college proximity is a big part of that (and it is), the fact that a place that the fever swamps of the U.S. Right regard as a beachhead for creeping sharia is infested with food trucks and live music venues with fantastic drink specials seems… relevant.

        edit: and it’s not like we’re talking about effectively different neighborhoods; for example, the bar where I had one of my best NYEs ever in 2013 is across the street from the “Little Mogadishu” appartment complex.

        • Well... says:

          What if that area you’re talking about is a rare outlier, and someone could point to a similarly rare outlier on the other end of the spectrum? (Just guessing, but maybe some area of Dearborn MI…)

          • INH5 says:

            I’ve never been to Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit that has a Muslim-majority city council where mosques are legally allowed to broadcast the call to prayer 5 times per day on loudspeakers. But a Google search turns up an article calling it “the last bastion of unpolluted divebardom in Detroit.” It is also the site of an annual independent music festival that in 2017 featured bands with names like “Satan Face,” “Mexican Knives,” “The Whiskey Charmers,” and “Handgrenades.”

            Just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I searched for anti-Muslim videos about the town and found one entitled “Muslim Takeover – Hamtramck Michigan.” The problems discussed by the video consist of:

            1) Mosques are allowed to broadcast the call to prayer 5 times a day. This can be sometimes be annoying for non-Muslim residents.
            2) A female resident once sued the police after they forced her to take off her headscarf.
            3) The websites of local schools include translations of certain phrases into Arabic and other “Muslim languages.”
            4) Local schools have a somewhat stricter than usual dress code. Jeans and shorts are banned, for example.
            5) One local schools doesn’t close on Veterans Day.
            6) The wall of the city’s Facebook page include comments in “Muslim languages.”

            In the same video, the guy argues that Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office because “Islam doesn’t recognize the separation of Church and State.” And these are the only things that he could find to complain about.

            The only place in the US I’ve heard of that is more “Muslim” than Hamtramck is a hamlet in upstate New York called Islamberg that was founded in the 1980s as basically an intentional Muslim community. But that place seems about as relevant to mainstream American Islam as the Waco compound was to mainstream American Christianity.

            So I have yet to see any evidence that the area that herbert talks about is any kind of rare exception.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Are you American? If not, you can be forgiven for not knowing: there is no spectrum. If you want to talk about Muslim-dominated communities in the US, the conversation begins in Minneapolis’s Little Somalia and ends in Dearborn, with no stops in between.

          • random832 says:

            @herbert herberson

            I’m American and I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. I don’t even know those two locations well enough to know how similar or different they are from each other, or anything, good or bad, about either one other than what’s been said here. Are you saying those are the only two examples, period? That they represent two clusters on opposite ends of a hypothetical spectrum for which there are no real examples of the middle?

          • rlms says:

            @random832
            I’m pretty sure the idea is that those are the only areas in the US with large Muslim populations (because the proportion of Muslims in the US is small).

          • herbert herberson says:

            Yes, exactly.

            Which is part of the point. Those who fearmonger over creeping sharia try to suggest that there’s much more, but there are really only two neighborhoods/cities of meaningful size in America that are predominantly Muslim… and when they do talk about the two that exist, they attempt to conflate them with European banlieues.

    • dodrian says:

      America does have an integration problem… sort of. Look at the history of American integration. It’s dominated by waves of:
      * New people group arrives, finds work in hard labor (factories etc)
      * Existing people get upset about newcomers (all those hard workers taking our jobs!)
      * Widespread discrimination occurs against outsider group
      * Slowly gain acceptance and work themselves into respected community positions (takes a generation or two)
      * A different people group arrives to be discriminated against by the one that just finished assimilating

      This has happened many times in US history – Germans, Irish, Chinese, Italians, and Jews are just some of the waves that followed this pattern (often the pattern is localized to a city or region of the country). It’s going on with Hispanics at the moment.

      The US uses the public school system to push integration. The American ‘melting-pot’ encourages other cultures to contribute some of their differences with the wider community, but mostly to take on the ‘American’ culture that surrounds them. Historical immigrant towns get big celebrations of other countries’ national holidays (think St. Patrick’s day or Cinco de Mayo), and weird hybrids of ethnic food and drink. After two or three generations you get integration, and that immigrant group is seen as part of the history rather than outsiders, but in doing so they’ve lost a lot of their culture.

      Europe is not all ‘indigenous people living in their homelands’ – it has a long history of waves of people movements – either through force and the various empires that have risen or fallen across the continent, or through the normal migration of people seeking a different life.

      Some of Europe is currently taking the ‘multiculturalism’ approach to integration – new communities are encouraged to keep their identities, culture, and language, so that its uniqueness can be shared with all. This is the case in, eg., Britain, where community leaders representing the larger minority groups in an area (Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, etc.) are invited to participate in civic ceremonies alongside the Church of England. Their religions and holidays are recognized in state schools in the same way Christian ones are. Much of the debate over immigration in Europe at the moment is whether or not this is a good approach. France, for example, takes the ‘strictly secular’ approach of refusing to acknowledge religion and other cultures in public life.

      • bbartlog says:

        The success of previous immigrants in integrating is often used to argue in favor of immigration in general. But it’s not clear to me that it’s a particularly strong argument; it kind of assumes that the outcome we see is one of the best we could have had. We don’t know what the US would look like if the nativists had won politically and prevented most Italian or Irish immigration, for example. Of course the immigrants in question and their descendants can very strongly be presumed to be better off, but this is not necessarily relevant to a nativist who might be primarily concerned with the fortunes of the current inhabitants and their heirs.

        Also integration has in the past been very slow sometimes. The Germans took over a century and might have taken longer if we hadn’t had WWI. And depending on the metrics you use (are we interested only in language acquisition, or do we care about reaching native levels of economic success?), hispanics are also integrating slowly.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          What’s more, most past groups of immigrants came over in a time when circumstances were much more encouraging of integration than they are now (e.g., it was often next to impossible to keep in contact with family members in the old country, unlike now, when anyone with Skype can manage it and lots of people go for regular visits “back home”). So there’s every reason to suppose that assimilating more recent immigrants, if it happens at all, will take much longer than was historically the case.

      • SUT says:

        There’s one glaring miscompare when trying to understand Muslim immigration through the lens of Irish immigration.

        Anyone who wasn’t Irish, that went to Ireland to check it out, wouldn’t get killed in the street if a mob discovered they were not Irish or Catholic.

        Which of us on this board could actually go visit Pakistan and have a puncher’s chance of surviving a year outside a green zone created for Westerners / NGO people? Libya, Iraq, Syria? Heck even inside an embassy, you will be carried out into the street for torture and mutilation.

        As soon as Westerners can live peacefully with the proles in Muslim lands, all these debates will end. Until then, of course the West should be cautious about taking citizens from countries where public death will be televised and cheered.

        • rlms says:

          Obviously Libya, Iraq, and Syria are unsafe; most warzones are. I think you are massively overestimating the danger of Pakistan though. Sure, I wouldn’t like to visit the Taliban-controlled areas, but I’d happily live in a decent part of Lahore for instance, and being killed by an angry mob would not be my main worry if I was living in a rural area. But more importantly, those are only four Muslim countries. I would have no qualms at all about living in rural Turkey, Indonesia, Albania or Kazakstan (well, no qualms I wouldn’t have if I was an ethnically homogenous Muslim).

        • INH5 says:

          Like rlms said, you are vastly overestimating how dangerous most Muslim countries are for Westerners. Many of them have large tourism industries. Many have large communities of Western expatriates. This applies even to some countries with ideologically extreme governments – for example, around 100,000 Westerners live and work in Saudi Arabia.

          Go ahead and pick a Muslim-majority country at random and look up its page on Wikitravel. Very few of them have a safety warning at the top of the page.

          Like rlms said, there seems to be a much stronger correlation between “being at war” and “being unsafe for Western visitors” than between “being majority Muslim” and “being unsafe for Western visitors.” True, I wouldn’t feel safe visiting Libya or Syria, but I also wouldn’t feel safe visiting Eastern Ukraine or unstable parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

          • Controls Freak says:

            there seems to be a much stronger correlation between “being at war” and “being unsafe for Western visitors” than between “being majority Muslim” and “being unsafe for Western visitors.”

            What’s really strange about the EO cases is that nobody seems to acknowledge that it keys on “being at war” much more than “being majority Muslim”.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        When the previous waves of immigrants came to America, they were treated like garbage and massive pressure was applied to force them to stop being weird backwards foreigners and act ‘murican. They were also pointed in the direction of the frontier and told “go build something in the wilderness or die.” And a not insignificant number of them couldn’t hack it in the new world and went right back to the old. Contrast this with the treatment of modern immigrants, who are eligible for all kinds of free benefits and services, and no one is allowed to criticize their culture without being shunned from polite society as a racist.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          I don’t know enough to agree or disagree, but your model suggests that Blacks would be more assimilated than Italian Americans. It also suggests we’d see a preponderance of e.g. Jews in the West/formerly underdeveloped regions. So at best you may want some caveats.

    • Wrong Species says:

      You may have heard that 94% of terrorist attacks are by non-Muslims. But first off that was from 1980-2005, and it’s worse since then. Also Muslims only make up 1% of the population. Even in America, they are punching above their weight.

      • herbert herberson says:

        Like I said, in the same league. Doesn’t mean they’re not on their way to winning the championship within that league–but it does mean that it would only take one or two more Jared Loughners or Dylan Roofs to switch up the rankings.

      • SUT says:

        According to the article Muslims commit 6% of terror BUT! “Jewish Extremism” is 7% of the Gross National Terror.

        I’m not sure exactly how they get there: is it because the jews did 9/11? or is it because they control the media and we never hear about their dastardly plots? /sarc

    • Zorgon says:

      The primary thing I’m getting sick of in the terrorism “discussion”, over and above absolutely everything else, is idiots chiming in every single time there’s a shooting (or indeed any kind of mass killing) to give us this scintillating piece of wisdom:

      “JUST YOU WAIT, THE MEDIA WON’T CALL THIS TERRORISM BECAUSE IT WAS A WHITE PERSON!”

      Every. Single. Flipping. Time.

      White guy goes nuts, stabs a whole bunch of dudes to death and shoots a crowd outside a frat house? “MISOGYNIST TERRORISM!”

      White guy goes on a rampage with a load of guns in a cinema? “CALL IT WHAT IT IS – WHITE SUPREMACIST TERRORISM!”

      Disgruntled worker goes on a rampage with a gun against his co-workers? “THIS WAS CLEARLY WHITE SUPREMACIST TERRORISM! IF THIS WAS A NON-WHITE PERSON THEY’D BE CALLING HIM A TERRORIST!”

      And yet…

      Bunch of Arab Muslims actively plot and enact a bombing in a major city in order to terrify and frighten the populace and further a political agenda, with an Islamic terrorist organisation taking credit for the attacks? “WE MUSN’T BE TOO QUICK TO PIN THIS ON MUSLIMS!”

      I actually have a great deal of sympathy for the latter view, I should point out; I think that the fact that the local Muslim community in Manchester already pegged at least one of the bombers as being an extremist (and nothing was done about it) says a lot about who is to blame here. It’s not the howl itself that annoys me; it’s the sheer douchebaggery with which they insist on every single mass shooting being equated with planned, intentional acts of terrorism carried out by organised terrorist groups for literally no other reason than that it looks bad for their outgroup.

      And all of this, of course, before the bodies have even cooled.

      • rlms says:

        This goes both ways. Left-wingers are often too eager to blame terrorist attacks on mental instability, and although I haven’t noticed it much I’m sure they blame non-political attacks by white men on ideology. But equally, right-wingers are often overly quick to blame attacks by nominal Muslims on Islamist ideology, or even less accurately Islam in general, and unwilling to accept that ideology has a part to play in attacks by white men.

        • Zorgon says:

          I will definitely grant you the first part of your corollary – indeed, I did put a small sidebar in about it, not to mention the laudable actions of the Manchester Muslim community (who frankly seem to be doing a far better job of curbing Islamic extremism than many of our regional authorities seem able to).

          The last part though? Imma rant about it. (Please note that this rant is not specifically aimed at you, rlms.)

          Along with many other people, I’ve been actively looking for “white”-coded ideological attacks that could be called “terrorism” in any meaningful sense. You can count the “white men” terror attacks from the past decade on a single hand in the US. You might need a second hand if you include Europe. They are simply not remotely common; most mass killings by “white men” are spree-killings, which are neither planned nor organised. The only way that people can weasel their way into coding these as “terror” is by intentionally conflating “killer had [ideology] ” with “killer was killing with the express intention of furthering [ideology]”.

          (Even then, most of the time the ideology in question is usually of the interlocutor’s own invention, even in the face of outright contradiction – see “Elliot Rodger was an MRA” for a classic example.)

          And even if we’re looking at situations where the framing that “the killer was killing in the name of [ideology]” is actually accurate (the killing of Jo Cox leaps to mind), we still find ourselves in a position where:

          a) We’re somehow pretending that there’s a moral equivalence between an ideological assassination/fracas-gone-lethal (Jo Cox) and the pre-planned mass murder of innocent and uninvolved children (Manchester).
          b) By attempting to guilt-by-association “white men” and/or whatever ideology is involved here, we’re directly contradicting the stated position that Muslims as a group are not responsible for the acts of murderous extremists!

          I refuse to accept either of these at all. There is no such equivalence between some “white male” who is off his meds deciding to methodically kill a cinema full of people, and a group of people intentionally constructing and utilising devices to mass-murder people in order to further what they see as their ideological goals, and more to the point, trying to draw such an equivalence in order to cast aspersion upon “white males” for the former while simultaneously opining that the Muslim community should not be held responsible for the latter is beyond unempathetic cognitive dissonance; it borders on dehumanisation.

          So for those reasons, I am wholly against the idea that “ideology has a part to play in attacks by white men”. Anders Brevik? Thomas Mair? Sure. But it’s not usually those guys the right wing are saying aren’t ideologically motivated. Those guys, the right wing just repudiates and denounces, as they should. The right wing in the US and Europe does a lot of things wrong, but this isn’t one of them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Zorgon

            …not to mention the laudable actions of the Manchester Muslim community (who frankly seem to be doing a far better job of curbing Islamic extremism than many of our regional authorities seem able to).

            Members of a community are frequently going to do a better job of policing that community than intruding outsiders. Given that, worldwide, the majority of victims of terrorism by radical Muslims are other Muslims… Neither the “Muslims bad!” reaction, nor the (well-meaning but clueless) “this has nothing to do with Islam!” reaction are actually of help to the innocent victims – who are mostly themselves Muslims.

          • rlms says:

            Firstly, I’m definitely not trying to tar white men as a whole for terrorist attacks a small proportion of them commit, for the same reason I don’t blame all Muslims for Islamist attacks. But you definitely can blame Islamist ideology and the people who support it (even if they aren’t violent) for attacks committed in its name, and the same thing applies to attacks by e.g. white supremacists. I’m also not saying that white mass shooters are all politically motivated, and I’ve not seen anyone claiming that. At best, you see people trying to use a broader definition of “terrorist” to mean “anyone who causes terror”. That should be filed under the same category of “people trying to make minor changes to definitions that benefit their ideology” as people claiming that tweeting things that support Islamist terrorism are terrorists.

            I agree that not all terrorism is equal, and there is a distinction between indiscriminate bombing and killing political targets. But if you argue that the killing of Jo Cox is qualitatively less important than Islamist bombing, then you’re also implying that e.g. the murder of Lee Rigby was relatively unimportant. I think you’d also have to make that distinction between indiscriminate Islamist attacks and the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

            Regarding your last paragraph: Lindsey Graham suggested that Dylann Roof was either an apolitical school shooter type, or hated Christians in general. The Daily Mail has an article here that spends most of its time talking about Thomas Mair having OCD and being nice and not racist, before briefly mentioning his interest in white supremacism. It never mentions his actual connections with far right groups or calls him a terrorist. They then followed up with an exact mirror of the left-wing “this attack must be condemned, but it is understandable because people are racist and foreign policy is bad” by claiming his belief that foreigners were going to steal his house might have explained his decision to murder (again, with a complete absence of the t-word).

          • gbdub says:

            “Violence by white guys inspired by racist ideology” is bad. “Violence by Muslims inspired by radical Islamic ideology” is also bad. In neither case should the ideological underpinnings be ignored. In both cases it should be acknowledged that the violent perpetrators are a small minority of much larger groups, who should not necessarily be collectively held responsible for these acts.

            Unfortunately it seems like everyone wants to treat one or the other scenario differently.

            (One thing that does bug me – the narrative “racist right wing white dude terrorists kill more people than Muslim terrorists in America”. Ignoring for a moment the validity of using Sept. 12, 2001 as a start date for your study, there’s a pretty big denominator problem when you consider that Muslims make up only 1% of the population)

          • Zorgon says:

            Members of a community are frequently going to do a better job of policing that community than intruding outsiders. Given that, worldwide, the majority of victims of terrorism by radical Muslims are other Muslims…

            This is very sadly true. However, given that Muslims make up such a small percentage of the population in Western countries, the majority of victims of radical Islamists in the West are unsurprisingly overwhelmingly non-Muslim.

            Indiscriminate attacks being what they are, of course, sometimes Muslims get caught in the blast radius; no doubt they deserved it for not being radical enough or something. (Or, horror of horrors, not being Wahabi!)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Zorgon

            My point is more the latter bit – that, given that the majority of lives saved by finding better ways to address Muslim radical terrorism would be Muslims, makes the well-intentioned “this has nothing to do with Islam” messaging particularly clueless and counterproductive.

            I suppose it’s not just a “well-intentioned” thing, but it’s also a particularly secular way of understanding religion. See: “the Crusades were really about trade routes”, “the Thirty Years’ War was really about a struggle for temporal authority”, etc. There’s a refusal to see religion as more than a mask for “real” things.

      • herbert herberson says:

        I really want to respond in anger here, but instead I’ll just point out that you’re speaking in generalities and I think it’s because there are very, very, very few examples that warrant your “critique.” I can’t think of a single time I’ve seen someone accused of white-supremacist or misogynistic terrorism where that accusation wasn’t thoroughly backed up with direct statements on YouTube, on social media, or via a straight-up manifesto.

        • gbdub says:

          What about attempts (at least initially) to portray the Pulse nightclub shooting as primarily an anti-gay hate crime, inspired by American social conservatives, and downplay the ISIS connection? Wasn’t it classified as “right wing terrorism” in one of those SPLC or similar studies claiming domestic white guy terrorists are more dangerous than Muslim terror groups?

          And what gets emphasized can change – certainly you’ll hear that the Portland stabber was a white supremacist, but whether or not his social media support for Bernie is brought up depends on where you’re reading the story.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Any attempt to interpret Pulse as anything other than an Islamic (or, Sunni Salafist) terrorist attack would be very dishonest. It was one of the two I was thinking of in my OP.

            On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of patience for those trying to throw up chaff about the Portland stabber. Whatever his political journey was, he attacked minorities for being minorities, then turned violent when he was asked to stop. He may have had both white supremacist and socialist beliefs, but it wasn’t his socialist beliefs that led to his murders (as could be argued if, for example, he shot someone for working at a bank).

            I’ve seen people on the right try to wave away Dylan Roof, who wrote an entire manifesto with fairly doctrinaire white supremacist beliefs. In this thread, rlm Zorgon to do it with Eliot Rogers, who did video after video explaining his seething sense of misogynistic entitlement. It’s pure cowardice.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            No argument with the rest but

            Whatever his political journey was, he attacked minorities for being minorities, then turned violent when he was asked to stop.

            as I understood it, Crazyman was just spewing racist crazyperson talk on public transport, as crazies are wont to do on public transport. The persistent disruptions by crazies and grifters is a big part of why public transport is unfortunately considered low status in the states.

            So “attacked minorities” is language creep, especially considering your own sentence includes “then turned violent”. Conflating racist verbal abuse with racist physical assault is poor form, mate. The latter can be called terrorism, the former is not.

          • Zorgon says:

            You are, as Gobbobobble pointed out, engaging in language slide by pretending that a guy who was yelling at minorities on the train was “attacking” them. Then a single paragraph later you pull out Elliot Rodger, claiming that his attacks were the result of his “misogynistic entitlement”.

            When in both of these cases, the majority of corpses were those of white males.

            Elliot Rodger killed 4 men and two women. Jeremy Christian killed 2 white guys and zero Muslims.

            Apparently, in your world, the murder of white males counts as terrorism against women and minorities.

            (And that’s before we even start on you trying to maintain the pretence that Rodgers was an MRA.)

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s fairly conventional to describe insults or energetic haranguing as an attack — so much so that when when I was writing the previous sentence, I was having a bit of trouble describing the action in terms that don’t at least allude to physical assault. Might be a little disingenuous to do so when the incident in question also involved sticking a knife into people, but let’s not pretend this is some kind of Orwellian language game — it’s no stranger than headlines that have a politician “blasting” another or “brushing off” criticism.

            I mean, there are plenty of real Orwellian language games we could be looking at, here.

          • Aapje says:

            @herbert herberson

            Elliot Rodger hated sexually active men as well, so it’s disingenuous to describe his manifesto as merely misogynist.

            Rodger felt wronged by society in general, not women specifically.

          • rlms says:

            @Aapje
            He could have been misogynist as well as other *ists (much like ISIS).

            @Zorgon
            “but Islamist terrorists kill Muslims too, so Islam must have nothing to do with it!” is a bad argument. The reverse is also bad.

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            Then people should call them all out or none of them, not cherry pick, thereby creating a biased narrative.

          • herbert herberson says:

            as I understood it, Crazyman was just spewing racist crazyperson talk on public transport, as crazies are wont to do on public transport. The persistent disruptions by crazies and grifters is a big part of why public transport is unfortunately considered low status in the states.

            “Pay taxes!”

            “Get the f*** out!”

            “Go home. We need Americans here!” Christian screamed, according to the affidavit.

            Destinee Mangum, one of the girls targeted in his outburst, said to KPTV, “He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country. He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves.”

            These were explicitly political statements. If they were inversed, I don’t think anyone would have any trouble calling it leftist violence–and they’d be right.

            (+what Nornagest said–it started off verbal, became physical when he was confronted, didn’t mean to imply otherwise)

          • herbert herberson says:

            @herbert herberson

            Elliot Rodger hated sexually active men as well, so it’s disingenuous to describe his manifesto as merely misogynist.

            He wasn’t mad at those men for taking his job, or insulting him, or being infidels, or for being rich, or being part of a given race, or any of the multitude of reasons that men may hate men that have nothing to do with their attitudes towards women. He was mad at them for benefiting from the free choices of women he felt entitled to. It absolutely was an aspect of his misogyny.

          • Aapje says:

            @herbert herberson

            He was angry at other men and women pairing off and leaving him alone.

            That you see this as hating women speaks to your bias. Your reasoning reminds me of the MRA joke: ‘Asteroid on course to hit Earth, women most affected’

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems like there are two discussions going on here:

            a. In these terrorist attacks/atrocities, what were the motivating ideologies of the attackers?

            Sometimes, those are relatively rational expressions of some ideology (Brevik, the Oklahoma City bombers); other times, they’re incoherent expressions of some ideology as held and expressed by a seriously crazy person (the nut who shot Gabby Giffords, the recent nut who killed a couple guys on a train).

            b. How should various ideologies or political movements rise or fall in status as a result of these terrorist attacks/atrocities? Should we hold other members of these ideologies or political movements partly responsible for the actions of their extremist members?

            This seems like a different question, and one I don’t really know how to think coherently about.

            In day-to-day political discussions, this is all about whose side you’re on. For example, the set of people who think the pro-life movement should be held responsible for pro-life terrorists[1] seems to have almost no overlap with the set of people who think BLM should be held responsible for murders of policemen by people expressing similar rhetoric and sometimes somehow associated with BLM.

            But I’m not sure the right way to think about this. On one side, a lot of these discussions seem like exercises in guilt-by-association and tolerating anything but the outgroup. On the other side, some political and social movements seem to tolerate, support, or encourage violence a lot more than others, in their rhetoric and propaganda and in how they organize and whom they associate with. There are good reasons to push back on that.

            [1] I’ll admit I find this phrase darkly amusing in its built-in contradictions. Now if we could just compare them with pacifist terrorists somehow….

          • herbert herberson says:

            That you see this as hating women speaks to your bias. Your reasoning reminds me of the MRA joke: ‘Asteroid on course to hit Earth, women most affected’

            More like, “sexually frustrated asteroid who is almost too on the nose in its embodiment of the creepy Nice Guy stereotype has uploaded a manifesto talking about how mad he is that ugly, inferior carbonaceous asteroids get all the love when a beautiful metallic asteroids like himself remains ignored is on course to hit sorority house, damage to surrounding environs is expected.”

          • Gobbobobble says:

            These were explicitly political statements. If they were inversed, I don’t think anyone would have any trouble calling it leftist violence–and they’d be right.

            I doubt it. IME it’s only leftists who claim hate speech constitutes violence. Crazy Portland Dude was a public nuisance, a non-violent one, until some poor fools Poked the Obvious Crazy. There’s a reason the professional Public Nuisance Handlers are (ostensibly) trained to not escalate.

          • herbert herberson says:

            @albatross11

            I dispute your dichotomy in part a. I think there definitely are nuts whose mouthings of ideology are just incidental ingredients in a word salad–I think the Giffords shooting definitely qualifies as such–but I don’t think you can just point to a person’s mental instability and assume their actions are still non-ideological. The Portland shooter berated minorities for being minorities, and then attacked when challenged.

            (although: I think it would be fair to push back against those calling Portland terrorism. Terrorism is a premeditated act of violence intended to further political goals, and it’s clear enough that the Portland guy didn’t get on that train intending to kill anyone. It’s a white supremacist hate crime, but not really terrorism)

            As for B… I agree that the danger of resorting to mere guilt by association is huge. But I think the solution is fairly straightforward: first, ask was it motivated by the ideology? and second, ask if it was given permission by the ideology?

            If the answer to the first question is yes and the answer to the second question is “sorta-but-mostly-no” (as it is in a lot if not most of these, like the BLM shooter you mention, Rogers as long as you’re talking about anti-feminism generally instead of the particular extreme-incel groups he frequented, the Portland shooter as long as we’re talking about the alt-right rather than old-school neonazis, etc), then the group gets fisked and its political enemies get to make some righteous and legitimate hay, nothing more nothing less. If the answer to both questions is yes, like it is with ISIS/al Qaeda, McVeigh-style militia-types, extreme and/or old school white supremacists, then you come down on them with the full force of the law. If the answer to neither question is yes, then you talk about something else.

          • herbert herberson says:

            I doubt it. IME it’s only leftists who claim hate speech constitutes violence. Crazy Portland Dude was a public nuisance, a non-violent one, until some poor fools Poked the Obvious Crazy. There’s a reason the professional Public Nuisance Handlers are (ostensibly) trained to not escalate.

            Is it only leftists who are interested in protecting women from public harassment by their ideological enemies? If you want to claim the left is more chivalrous/more resistant to the bystander effect than the right, I suppose I won’t stop you…

          • Mark says:

            The best bit of Elliot Rodger’s manifesto is when he spends a week in isolation concentrating really hard to make sure he wins the lottery.
            And he’s convinced he will win the lottery, and when he loses, that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

            It’s great that he left that stuff in there, because it really gives you an understanding of his thinking – “I am the chosen, magical one, oh no I’m not, kill everyone” – without it being related to any political issues what-so-ever.

            I mean, that was his problem. He thought he could just buy a lottery ticket, mediate on it for a while, and he’d solve all his problems.
            Not that that kind of thinking is all that unusual, just a particularly extreme and destructive version of it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @herbert herbertson

            Judging from (the highly unscientific sample of) my circle of Facebook friends and acquaintances, there was a real tendency towards explaining the Pulse shootings as the fault of homophobia in an “American” sense (read: Christian, Republican, probably white – there seems to be either an ignorance of or a disincentive towards discussing, say, homophobia among African-Americans) rather than a “Muslim” sense (see also this Slate article, which is extremely dismissive towards the idea that LGBT people might actually have a reason to be a bit nervous about Islam).

            Considering that it was one of the most lethal (the most lethal?) incidences of mass murder in American history, the Pulse shooting seems to have been forgotten relatively speaking. The American right doesn’t seem to care much – speaking uncharitably, they care more about AR-15s than gay Hispanics, and the American left seems to have found it inconvenient that the shooter was a Muslim of Afghan extraction who had been a registered Democrat at some point.

            (I especially like the comparison in that article of the views of all American Muslims to American evangelical Christians to imply that LGBT people have less to fear from all Muslims than all Christians).

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Is it only leftists who are interested in protecting women from public harassment by their ideological enemies?

            No, but there are better ways to do this than directly confronting the clearly deranged. Only a fool jumps in front of a bullet when it would be equally effective to remove their charge from its path.

          • herbert herberson says:

            @ dndnrsn

            Yeah, I do recall that. But, outside of the academic point that there is a shared homophobia across Abrahamic religions, it is obviously wrong; don’t really know what else to say about that beyond the fact that there’s obviously a lot of weaselling on both sides of the fence, and probably will always be, and all we can do is focus on the individual facts of each individual event as we come to know them and resist the urge to explain away the ones that are inconvenient to us. I’ve tried to do that here by owning the Micah Xavier Johnson’s murders, which were clearly motivated by BLM-esque beliefs with which I also (broadly at least) agree. It sucks, but it’s true.

            No, but there are better ways to do this than directly confronting the clearly deranged. Only a fool jumps in front of a bullet when it would be equally effective to remove their charge from its path.

            All I can say is that I hope I would have done the same thing. Those dudes were heroes.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            but I don’t think you can just point to a person’s mental instability and assume their actions are still non-ideological. The Portland shooter berated minorities for being minorities, and then attacked when challenged.

            I agree an unstable person’s actions are not necessarily non-ideological, but Portland is a bad example. The stabber berated minorities for being minorities, and then after someone else became violent (shoving/hitting is violence, words are not) immediately escalated things to their lethal conclusion. The takeaway lesson from this specific scenario should be to not start physical altercations with obviously insane people because obviously insane people sometimes have knives.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            All I can say is that I hope I would have done the same thing. Those dudes were heroes.

            Sure. You can always tell a hero by their coffin. I personally hope I would have done something smarter, if less heroic. Like alerting the authorities or quietly helping the beratees move away from Crazyman.

          • herbert herberson says:

            I guess part of the question is how obviously crazy he was. If I see someone acting aggressively during what appears to be a psychotic break, then, yeah, I’m calling the cops and only intervening to help remove or shield any victims. But the impression I had was that he appeared to just be a drunk racist doing this kind of thing until he pulled the knife.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @herbert

            That’s a good question, yeah. Though I dunno if that link is really the example you want to use for “not having some sort of mental issue” 😉

            And I personally would bucket belligerent drunks in the same “unpredictable, irrational: avoid if at all possible” strategy as belligerents with clinical psychotic issues.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            Edit: What Gobbobobble said

          • Randy M says:

            The American right doesn’t seem [about Pulse] to care much – speaking uncharitably, they care more about AR-15s than gay Hispanics

            Can you point to any metrics that the American right cared less about pulse than, say, San Bernardino? (As a counterpoint, I brought up both in the same sentence on the prior thread). I did hear more about the latter, but I’d attribute that to their being more odd conspiracy components to it (mail order bride, friend who bought them guns or something, etc.).

            It’s also not really fair to say they don’t care about it when if they bring it up the default assumption will be “you’re only talking about this because Islamophobia”

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Randy

            I heard way more about San Bernardino because of that whole thing where the FBI wanted Apple to crack phones for them.

          • rlms says:

            If media attention is proportional to death toll, you would expect to see more coverage of Pulse.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            I can’t point to any metrics or hard numbers. I just “get the feeling” that San Bernardino was talked about a lot more. It provided more red meat for the American right – immigration issues (was the screening enough?), reaction (various dumb remarks about “workplace violence”), the perception that some in the Obama administration etc seemed to make worries of anti-Muslim backlash the priority.

            For something with over a hundred casualties, the Pulse shooting seemed to me to fade out of public perception fairly quickly. I may be entirely wrong on this. It is entirely the impression I got, and nothing else. My impression may be false. If my impression is correct, I think my explanation is plausible: it wasn’t a good enough political tool for either side.

          • Randy M says:

            If my impression is correct, I think my explanation is plausible: it wasn’t a good enough political tool for either side.

            I don’t agree with this as a restatement for your prior description. In the sentence I quoted, the implication seems to be “American right is indifferent to the deaths of gay hispanics”.

            I dispute in particular that this is a reasonable impression to leave, as the additional reasons you, Gob, and I supplied point to the fact that the San Bernardino attack simply had more facets to discuss.
            Contra, rlms’s assumption, Death toll is not proportional to salient details. San Bernardino was a conspiracy between a husband, his recently vetted immigrant wife, their duped friend who assisted with weapons who was also involved in immigration fraud with a mail order bride; leaving behind evidence requiring either novel data extraction techniques or cooperation of the manufacturer to determine if there was more conspirators. There’s just more going on there than Pulse, which was either a lone wolf or crazed gunman scenario, which we are being trained to Quietly Accept and Carry On from.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Not to deny that the phenomenon of “aspects of this this is inconvenient for both the left and the right so no one is motivated to talk about and so no one does” never happens or doesn’t apply here at all, but an alternative theory does occur to me: San Bernardino happened in the good old days when news could be about lots of different things. The Pulse shooting occurred during the current era of news reporting being completely dominated by one particular man. Could just be the terrorism equivalent of when the famous-in-her-own-right wife of one of the world’s biggest music stars was home-invaded at gunpoint and possibly almost kidnapped for random, and no one paid even a little attention because it was October of 2016 and we all had other things on our minds.

          • Randy M says:

            herbert, are you being facetious or do you think the news reporting is has changed in the last year and half? Due to what, the election? Twitter?

            (My confusion made more sense prior to edit)

            @dndnsrn below, sure that’s a fair statement.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            I was speaking uncharitably, and also a bit flippantly. I think that the American right does, however, care more about gun rights than LGBT rights. I think that is a fair statement.

            Imagine two scenarios:

            -Afghan Muslim immigrant (well, second-generation) shoots up a mall, wounding and killing more than a hundred
            -Native-born white Christian shoots up a gay club, wounding and killing more than a hundred

            I think the right would have made a lot more noise in the former case, and the left in the latter.

          • herbert herberson says:

            do you think the news reporting is has changed in the last year and half?

            No, not facetious. Just trying to be wry about how difficult it was for the media talk about anything besides Trump last summer, and ever since.

            (and yeah, probably a little too wry pre-edit)

          • Jaskologist says:

            I think that the American right does, however, care more about gun rights than LGBT rights. I think that is a fair statement.

            I’m going to nitpick this one, because there’s an important distinction to be made.

            The American right does not consider the “right to not be murdered” an LGBT right; that’s just a plain old human right, regardless of the LGBTQIA status of the victim.

          • Aapje says:

            I’m a bit late here, but for me, culpability of the group for a crime depends on whether:
            – the mainstream of the group has an ideology that legitimizes the crimes
            – the perpetrator was part of the community and more importantly, if they were aware of the extremism
            – the main figures of movement excuse the crime or condemn it

            Eliot Rodger’s beliefs were not even close to mainstream MRA beliefs, nor is there any evidence that he ever was part of an MRA community, even just as a lurker, let alone someone who actively talked about his beliefs. He was not even a PUA, but member of PUAHate.

            Micah Xavier Johnson shot police officers at a BLM protest, which right away gives a link between him and BLM. It also seems very common for BLM protesters to chant part of the manifesto of Assata Shakur, who was convicted for murdering white police officers. The three women who started BLM have all said that they were inspired by Assata Shakur. So that makes cop-killing very close to mainstream BLM beliefs, although the leaders seem to hold the belief that Assata Shakur was falsely accused. Micah Xavier Johnson doesn’t seem to have been a real part of the BLM movement and his actions were condemned by the BLM leaders.

            So I think that MRAs have no culpability when it comes to Rodger and that BLM have some culpability for Johnson, mainly because they talk highly of someone who was member of a violent black power movement and was convicted for cop-killing.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          That’s funny to me, because among the right-leaning people in my bubble, Pulse got WAY more discussion and heat than San Bernardino.

          I would treat that claim that “The right doesn’t care about Pulse” with extreme skepticism.

    • Nornagest says:

      I’m a little confused as to why we’ve suddenly started biting each other’s heads off over terrorism here. London attacks, yes, but those weren’t that unusual. And what happened to the three-day moratorium?

      • Wrong Species says:

        The Machester attack happened back in May. The reason we’re talking about it is because so many are happening recently, it’s not going to go away on its own.

      • Matt M says:

        London attacks, yes, but those weren’t that unusual.

        This is part of the issue.

        Some people see “this event has become common” as justification for shrugging it off, why get upset over something that’s common?

        Others see it the exact opposite. The fact that it has become common is what makes it worthy of outrage. Why get upset over something that’s exceedingly rare?

        • Nornagest says:

          I’m not trying to give it a moral pass or anything. I’m just wondering why we’re not shrugging off this one, while we did at least comparatively shrug off the last few. Usually these things get less attention over time, unless they get correspondingly more destructive, which this one isn’t.

          • rlms says:

            The Manchester attack was a lot more destructive than any other attack in the UK in the past 12 years.

    • onyomi says:

      I think the issue is confused by the simultaneity of two actually different problems:

      Europe is currently experiencing two, separate immigration-related problems:

      1. Demographic shift, crime: high-fertility immigrants uninterested in integrating may be displacing the old majority populations and cultures; fairly or not, these immigrants are also viewed as more likely to commit certain types of crime, like rape and drug trafficking

      2. Terrorism: some of these new groups bring with them an increased incidence of terrorism

      In the US, 2 is still a largely theoretical problem, and to the extent it is one, it’s not being caused by the same immigrants who are primarily responsible for our version of 1 (in our case, Hispanics), whereas in Europe, there is a large overlap between the groups responsible for 1 and 2. But terrorism makes headlines in a way “WASPs still on track to become minority by 2040” doesn’t, and we don’t want terrorism to become as common in the US as it seems to recently be in Britain and France, so the issues get conflated.

    • Alkatyn says:

      Personally I’m very sick of every discussion around Islam in europe or the attacks in the UK on the internet being derailed by American racists. There’s a particularly american way of framing thnic and religuous conflicts that really doesn’t make sense outside the US (for a non-muslim specific example, splitting populations into “white” and PoC doesn’t make much sense in the rest of the world. Compare the experience of a 2nd generation British Indian doctor to a recently immigrated white polish plumber).

      Funny that you say the US muslim population seems more integrated because I would have felt the opposite coming from the UK. Maybe its because the US has more of a history of parallel neighbourhoods divided on ethnic grounds. Talking about the “muslim population” of the UK doesn’t really make much sense since the large second and third generation Pakistani community is very different from more recent groups like Turkish and arabic immigrants.

      I’d say that the problem of terrorism in the UK is more analogous to the school shooter situation in the US. They are almost entirely British born and tend to be young disenchanted people, normally above the poverty line but not especially successful with a grudge against wider society. There isn’t really support in the muslim community (the way for example elements of the irish catholic community implicitly supported the IRA) and muslim leaders tend to work with the police nad security services.

      • Wrong Species says:

        And you don’t think it’s a little odd that these terrorists get support from ISIS connected groups? That’s the difference between America and Europe. They are all lone shooters over here.

        • Nornagest says:

          Do they? For how many of them? ISIS claims responsibility for pretty much all, but they claim responsibility for anyone that declares allegiance to them, whether or not they had any contact more significant than watching YouTube videos beforehand. And you might be thinking of something else, but most of the recent attacks wouldn’t have taken any significant infrastructure or expertise.

  12. sscreader says:

    I’m trying to get into meditation. Any suggestions for apps, audio courses, etc?

    • Vermillion says:

      Dharma Seed has hundreds of excellent talks: link. I’d personally endorse taking a listen to Ajahn Amaro, and Tara Branch, but there are probably lots of other great ones as well.

      I use the calm app for 5 or 10 minute guided meditations every morning for the last couple years: link. Headspace is also good, I just like Calm a little more, maybe just because it’s been tracking me for so long.

      Anyway good look getting into meditation, i’ve found it to be a very positive addition to my life and I hope you do to. For anyone else who’s interested I think this account on Reddit encapsulates it pretty well: linky link.

    • blame says:

      In the last open thread someone recommended the book “The Mind Illuminated”. I am by no means an experienced meditator, but I find the book to be very helpful, detailed and precise. I started and gave up meditation several times due to lack of proper guidance, but this book got me really motivated again.

      • sscreader says:

        Sounds great, esp given that I’ve started and given up on meditation several time too. Thank you!

    • rahien.din says:

      I would start with some form of mindfulness meditation like vipassana, or the kind of Zen described in Zen Meditation in Plain English. You don’t need to get esoteric or mystical or to have a mantra. You just need to start with simple awareness.

      I’ll second HeadSpace.

    • Reasoner says:

      Shinzen Young

    • Alex says:

      Delurking to say you might be interested in our meditation program, which is rational and for which we’re building an evidence base (literally mid-study at the moment).

      http://wiserbydesign.com/

      It has a free trial period too, so try before you contribute moneys.

  13. Yakimi says:

    Folks, I’m hearing something about Saudi Arabia being on the verge of war with Qatar. How did it come to this, and what are the implications for the region? Might we see Qatar join the Iran–Syria axis for protection?

    • engleberg says:

      According to angryarab.blogspot.com<a the Sauds just released some old emails between Gaddafi and Qatar agreeing to overthrow Saudi Arabia and the Sauds are annoyed.

      • bintchaos says:

        That is not true.
        Its partly outflow from Trump’s crack down on terrorism meet in Riyadh.
        https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/04/22/making-qatar-an-offer-it-cant-refuse/
        and partly a long running structural problem in the GCC
        read this tweet storm if you are interested
        this is the first tweet–

        this is the one i found most interesting–
        Erdogan has had to go part Ottoman to avoid the Morsi treatment. I admit Prince Reckless might be able to pull off full Ottoman.

        • engleberg says:

          ‘That is not true.’

          Not true like the Angry Arab is wrong, or not true like I misread him?

          ‘read this tweet storm if you are interested’

          Short tweet storm, but I’m still more confused than enlightened.

          ‘go full Ottoman’

          Like strangle annoying brothers, or some other Ottoman?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Like strangle annoying brothers, or some other Ottoman?

            I assumed it meant the Saudis were going to lay siege to ConstantinopleIstanbul.

          • Deiseach says:

            I took it to mean Erdogan dropping all the “let us join the EU, we are a modern secular Western state too!” stuff and going full-out “we are part of Asia Minor with a major leadership role there, we are a Muslim state (death to the Crusaders of New Rome), I’m the boss and extending the powers of my office as fast and as far as I can, and anyone who doesn’t like that gets the bow string an up-close view from the inside of our modern penal system”.

          • bintchaos says:

            Pardon
            I just meant The Angry Arab wasn’t getting even 10 % of the complex situation unfolding.
            This just happened–
            1. Qatar reaffirms support for MB
            2. Turkey allying with Qatar, building AF base in Qatar (which already has 2 US AF bases)
            The reason US has 2 bases in Qatar and zero in Saud, is that saudi population made it too hot for US to openly stay there– it was destabilizing the monarchy.
            This is why Trump can do beaucoup damage to international relations and regional equilibriae while being essentially held impotent domestically by the Founders’ genius.
            Al-Salool took the Riyadh meet as permission to go after Qatar like O gave (tacit) permission for the crackdown in Bahrain. Bad game move. Now Turkey and Qatar can ally, and try to wrest the Defender of the Faithful title (and regional prime sunni influencer title) away from House Saud.
            What we should worry about:
            If IS or whatever islamic insurgency comes after them gets an airforce, then its all over for House Saud. And pretty soon after that said insurgency will have the very nice modern Saudi AF and all the piles and piles of sweet, sweet US armament– literally billions of dollars worth.
            Thats why US military is taking Qatar side in this dispute and why Trumps “Qatar is terror” tweet rendered his foreign policy and military advisors speechless with shock. Trump and the Generals are diametrically opposed on this– cant wait to see what happens next.
            What Dr. Abbas Kadim means by going “full-Ottoman” is that the next Saudi King may have to take the Ottoman position to keep his title. I just love Prince Reckless– I think he is perfectly capable of doing almost anything, including going full-Ottoman to hold on to the Defender of the Faithful title.

            @Deiseach
            That is an excellent explanation of partial-Ottoman–
            I can’t improve on that except to point out Erdogan’s extravagant palace and ceremonial “Ottoman” guard–
            tags to the glorious Ottoman past.

          • engleberg says:

            @bintchaos- thanks.

            ‘If IS or whatever Islamic insurgency comes after them gets an air force, then it’s all over for House Saud.’

            That easy? I thought the Saud National Guard was both pretty tough and pretty loyal. Good Ottomanablers for their prince, sure.

          • bintchaos says:

            @engleberg
            you’re welcome.
            Part of IS continuing effort against the “near enemy” is destabilizing al-Salool (derogative for the Saud monarchy), emphasizing how un-islamic the Arab Tawaghuit are, with their love of luxury and ostentation. A large majority of the KSA population in the last published survey believe IS is more “islamic” than the Saudi royals.
            The KSA army is not capable of pulling off a coup like the Egyptian army…the Saud royals have kept the military relatively weak in fear of an internal coup against them.
            If IS had an airforce they be would winning, or at least at a draw/frozen conflict right now.
            Air cav is the only thing rolling them back. The mujahideen are ferocious fighters, maybe super-soldiers. SSC commenters decry terrorism, but in the absence of air power, its a force multiplier..
            Somewhere up thread someone was asking about which countries took in refugees– I think Erdogan has taken in ~4 million so far– Qatar also supports refugees and anti-Saudi intellectual dissidents. Now why do you suppose they would do that?
            mw simultaneous IS attacks on Iran parliament and Khomeini shrine. I study complexity theory…does anyone think these events are happening in a vacuum, independent of each other?

  14. onyomi says:

    The silent(ly approving) majority:

    Bill Maher often points out (I think, correctly) that the problem with Islam isn’t the .1% of Muslims who actually become terrorists, it’s the (let’s say) 50% who agree with the statement “if you insult the Prophet you deserve to die.”

    One might similarly say that it’s not the .1% of conservative Catholics who bomb abortion clinics who are the problem, but whatever (presumably much larger) percentage of abortion opponents who, while they’d never bomb a clinic themselves, nonetheless kind of think it’s justified.

    Or, it’s not the .1% of libertarians who pen neoliberal economic treatises justifying trickle down, but the 50% of heartland Americans who basically think poor people are bums.

    Or, it’s not the .1% of liberals who are themselves radical professors of intersectional Critical Race Theory or their most ardent students, who break windows when a conservative speaker is invited to campus, it’s the 50% of NYTimes commenters who defend what they’re doing as not a big deal or kind of understandable.

    If this is true, it feels like “doing something” about any one of these problems is much, much harder. I’m not sure it is true (or it may be true in some of the above example cases and not others), but if it is, I’m not sure what to do about it (the opposite theory, which also has merit in my mind, is that most people are not very ideological and kind of just follow whatever the thought leaders are doing, so it’s more important to deal with the radicals than the broader social consensuses supporting them).

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      On the up side, it’s worth noting that the real number on that one (violence is an appropriate response to an insult to Muhammad/Islam) isn’t 50% in most of Europe and the Americas, more like 20-30% and even then it’s “violence” and not explicitly “death”.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Also on the up side, do people literally believe the stuff they claim to believe, or are these commitments just shibboleths? For example, do those Catholics really think it’s kind of justified to bomb abortion clinics, or would they recoil in horror if a friend went through with it?

      Edit: If these are just shibboleths, I wonder how this relates to ‘society goes evil’ situations, where everyone suddenly goes from joking about how bankers deserve to be shot to actually doing it. An sudden phase transition, where people start taking themselves literally…

      • Anonymous says:

        Also on the up side, do people literally believe the stuff they claim to believe, or are these commitments just shibboleths? For example, do those Catholics really think it’s kind of justified to bomb abortion clinics, or would they recoil in horror if a friend went through with it?

        Catholicism forbids both murder (fully) and breaking civil law (in most cases), and recognizes the right of the civil authorities to levy death penalties. Now, an abortion is about as unjust as a capital punishment gets, but that doesn’t justify murder; it may justify some breaches of civil law, however. Bombing abortion clinics seems both immoral and ineffective.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          I don’t think abortion can be plausibly considered a form of capital punishment; nobody’s saying that the foetus has committed a crime, or anything like that. You’re right, thought, that Catholicism generally frowns on people deciding to take the law into their own hands; it also frowns on initiating pointless or counterproductive violence (hence why “reasonable chance of success” is usually considered one of the criteria for a just war), which bombing abortion clinics would probably count as.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t think abortion can be plausibly considered a form of capital punishment

            It’s killing of a person in a manner sanctioned by civil law. Sounds like capital punishment to me – after all, governments across time and space have executed people who committed no crime, or whose crime could be described as ‘being inconvenient’ or ‘being relative of X’. I don’t recognize the moral licitness of it – just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right – but the state is unlikely to care about my opinion.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @The Original Mr. X – “nobody’s saying that the foetus has committed a crime, or anything like that. ”

            Few in favor of it are willing to agree that the feotus is a human life and therefore capable of being guilty. In any case, trespassing and/or squatting would seem to be the obvious formulations.

          • CatCube says:

            @FacelessCraven

            It’s hard to call it trespassing when you forcibly drag the “trespasser” into your house, then use that to justify shooting them in the head.

    • fahertym says:

      That’s an interesting way to put the issue.

      Based on this paradigm, we can evaluate particular groups by:
      A. How bad the .1% is.
      B. What percentage of the 99.9% support the .1%
      C. How the 99.9% support the .1%

      So according to Maher and Sam Harris, Muslims could be evaluated as:
      A. Want to conquer the world and spread theocratic tyranny, slavery, subjugation of women, and pretty much the worst death cult in the world. So very very very very bad.
      B. A lot more than most people think. According to the famous Pew Research polls, even in the most liberal Muslim population that number is probably around 20%, while in the most conservative Muslim countries it’s 90-99%.
      C. The majority has built entire governments and made boat loads of money to support the .1%.

      And Christianity:
      A. Want to outlaw abortion, outlaw homosexuality, enforce Intelligent Design curriculum, and institute prayer in public schools.
      B. Not sure, but my sense is very little support on a global scale, and more but not much support in America.
      C. Almost none.

      • INH5 says:

        Based on this paradigm, we can evaluate particular groups by:
        A. How bad the .1% is.
        B. What percentage of the 99.9% support the .1%
        C. How the 99.9% support the .1%

        […]

        And Christianity:
        A. Want to outlaw abortion, outlaw homosexuality, enforce Intelligent Design curriculum, and institute prayer in public schools.
        B. Not sure, but my sense is very little support on a global scale, and more but not much support in America.
        C. Almost none.

        (Emphasis added.)

        Are you seriously arguing that only 0.1% of Christians want to outlaw abortion, that that those Christians have “very little support on a global scale” and that mainstream Christians have done almost nothing to support efforts to outlaw abortion?

        • fahertym says:

          You’re right, far more than 0.1% of Christians want to outlaw abortion, but as far as I can tell even the worst 0.1% don’t want to do anything more to abortion than outlaw it. Maybe really harsh punishments for violators?

          The very little support on a global scale refers to bombing abortion clinics, which I should have made more clear. There are is still significant Christian support for outlawing abortion, but for terrorism as a means to achieve that end.

    • Chalid says:

      I think this is just wrong.

      It’s certainly true that the existence of a few people whose views are so strong that they are willing to take extreme actions (say, terrorism) implies the existence of lots and lots of people with less-extreme versions of those views, or perhaps with the same views but less willingness to personally act on them.

      But Bill Maher is making the converse statement, that the existence of lots of people with not-too-extreme views implies the existence of a few extremists who will do things like bomb abortion clinics. Maybe it’s a necessary condition but it’s not a sufficient one – e.g. in the modern United States, there are lots and lots of Christians who think atheists shouldn’t hold public office, wouldn’t want their child to marry an atheist, etc. but there isn’t really any Christian anti-atheist violence.

      Also one can clearly take the same form of argument Maher does and put it into ridiculous forms – “it’s not the 0.1% of husbands who murder their cheating wives who are the problem, it’s the 50% who believe cheating is wrong.” The extremists don’t necessarily delegitimize the larger group that they’re drawn from.

      • onyomi says:

        Bill Maher is making the converse statement, that the existence of lots of people with not-too-extreme views implies the existence of a few extremists who will do things like bomb abortion clinics.

        I don’t think he ever claimed that tacit support for radical actions necessarily leads to radical actions; he’s saying that, given we that we already have radical actions of a small number and tacit support of a much bigger number, maybe we need to consider the degree to which the real problem is the widespread tacit support, not the few who act upon it.

        Point which might support this: seems like abortion clinic bombings are down relative to my youth. My subjective impression is that it’s not that opposition to abortion is down all that much, but that the number of abortion opponents who tacitly think violence is a legitimate tactic for fighting abortion is down, probably due to horrific news footage of people killed in such attacks. A bit of a chicken and egg problem, but it certainly seems arguable that the radical who takes action also takes comfort in the notion that he is heroically doing what everyone approves of but most lack the courage and commitment to do. If the impression of social approval disappears, so too, arguably, does the potential for the radical to weave a heroic narrative in support of his actions.

        The good news, then, may be that you don’t need the number of Muslims willing to say “insulting the Prophet is bad” to go down; you only need the number of Muslims willing to say “violence is a justifiable response to insulting the Prophet” to go down.

        “it’s not the 0.1% of husbands who murder their cheating wives who are the problem, it’s the 50% who believe cheating is wrong.”

        To be analogous you’d have to say “it’s the 50% of men who think murdering a cheating wife is justified, even if they wouldn’t do it themselves.” I’m talking about tacit approval of extreme actions by a much larger group who won’t take extreme actions themselves. “50% of Muslims think insulting the Prophet is wrong” implies something very different than “50% of Muslims think violence is a justifiable response to insulting the Prophet.”

        • Chalid says:

          I think “real problem” isn’t good terminology for what you describe here. Using your example, criminal anti-abortion violence is a problem, and the question is whether it’s productive to address that problem not just by narrowly trying to prevent or deter people from committing criminal acts, but instead/also by trying to shift the beliefs of the community to make the crime seem less heroic.

          To be analogous…

          I don’t think your examples in your original post follow the form you’re insisting on here. There is a huge gap between sympathizing with someone’s actions, versus approving of them or supporting them, and I think most of the people in your original post’s “50%” categories are in the sympathizing category at best.

        • engleberg says:

          Violence is flashy and gets overrated. The states that nickle-dime and regulate abortion clinics until they’ve run them out of state do more to prevent abortion than any clinic bombers.

          I’d say the reason for ‘more heat than light’ abortion arguments is a real moral dilemma. It’s bad to kill babies. It’s bad to keep women from owning their own bellies. Can’t duck both evils. Legal abortion is good practical law- keeps the law from actively preventing women from owning their own bellies, and only passively allows babies to be killed.

          I think a lot of conservatives got tired of being called baby-killers for supporting the US in Vietnam and got back at liberals by being against abortion.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      One might similarly say that it’s not the .1% of conservative Catholics who bomb abortion clinics who are the problem, but whatever (presumably much larger) percentage of abortion opponents who, while they’d never bomb a clinic themselves, nonetheless kind of think it’s justified.

      Why “presumably”? What grounds do you have for the assumption that any non-negligible percentage of abortion proponents think bombing abortion clinics is justified?

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        It would be really weird if there weren’t. Some of them claim to think abortion is murder, and if that were the case then bombing abortion clinics would be heroic (though maybe still unwise).

        • The original Mr. X says:

          I don’t think it weird at all: people are generally opposed to vigilante justice and taking the law into one’s own hands, even in cases where it looks like the person who got killed was really nasty and the world is better off without them.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think the word is perhaps more like “understandable” rather than “justified.” As in, I understand why you robbed the bank (you want money and that’s where the money is). That doesn’t justify the robbing of banks. I understand why someone wants to blow up an abortion clinic (stops baby killers). That doesn’t justify the blowing up of abortion clinics.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        It’s worth noting that abortion clinic bombings had very few casualties. Putting together all the attacks it was single digit deaths. They were more about destroying the facilities than actually killing people, which is much easier to justify.

        • rlms says:

          Actually it was double digits, and at least one attack that was part of the general movement was not target at an abortion clinic.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            Apparently I hadn’t checked the stats in a while. I guess 11 is indeed a 2-digit number. Point still stands. Abortion-related violence has killed fewer people in total than most terror attacks do individually.

          • Aapje says:

            I’m pretty sure that most terror attacks have less than 11 victims, although the ones you hear about in the news obviously have a relatively large victim count.

    • Or, it’s not the .1% of libertarians who pen neoliberal economic treatises justifying trickle down,

      At a considerable tangent, I do not believe I have ever seen an economic treatise “justifying trickle down.” “Trickle down,” so far as I can tell, is an invention of critics of laissez-faire, a straw man argument that they attribute to their opponents. The real argument claims that pro-market policies which make the rich better off also make the poor better off, not that money handed to the former somehow trickles down to the latter.

      • rlms says:

        According to Wikipedia, William J Bryan referred to wealth “leaking” from rich to poor in a speech, but the original use of the exact phrase “trickle down” was indeed by an opponent of those sorts of policies.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bill Maher often points out (I think, correctly) that the problem with Islam isn’t the .1% of Muslims who actually become terrorists, it’s the (let’s say) 50% who agree with the statement “if you insult the Prophet you deserve to die.”

      The *real* problem is the Muslims who are permitted to be in the position of having the option of committing terrorist attacks on the unbelievers of the West.

      • onyomi says:

        I mean, I, personally, would also one day like to be able to visit Damascus without fear of being blown up.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sure, me too. I’ll put that down as something to do after the residents are converted to Christianity. (Or, well, anything other than Islam.)

    • Civilis says:

      I think what gets lost here is ‘how likely is the silent majority to get what they want?’ and ‘if this generates a problem, is it self correcting?’

      Take the Catholics approving bombing abortion clinics, and ask yourself what they could actually accomplish. Could they change the laws to make bombing legal, or even harder to prosecute? Probably not. I don’t see any way you could just confine this to abortion clinics. If the vast majority of Catholics accepted as legitimate tactics violent forms of terrorism, I would wager all you would accomplish is to make all political groups accept violent forms of terrorism. If Catholics are blowing up a lot of abortion clinics, you’d have green groups blowing up a lot of polluting companies, black nationalists blowing up a lot of police stations, white nationalists back to torching black churches, etc., and this would either become the new normal or everyone else would get sick of it and call for a government crackdown.

      I think the 50% of heartland Americans who think non-working poor people are bums could accomplish something like welfare reforms, as that’s something you could actually use the law to do. I’m not going to say ‘I don’t see this as a threat’ because I’m sympathetic to that worldview, but let’s look at the opposite. If you had a critical mass of urban blue tribe Americans that thought the poor were held down by the Man, you could do things like remove any restrictions on welfare. While I think this would be bad, it’s not a real threat because if this had severe negative consequences, it doesn’t impose any real barriers to the next administration undoing it, just as the next administration after the ‘bums’ administration could undo any changes.

      The problem is that the NY Times readers supporting the campus radicals and the Muslims that want people that draw Muhammad jailed that support the .1% actual potential terrorists could do real changes AND those changes wouldn’t be easy to undo.

      The NY Times readers that understand the radical professors make the college campus more hostile to people that aren’t radicals, inflaming tensions, inciting the radicals that make more demands to further radicalize the campus which get agreed upon by the NY Times readers in a vicious cycle.

      In the case of the Muslims that hold views like ‘if you insult the Prophet you deserve to die’ even if they wouldn’t resort to terrorism themselves, we’ve seen what happens in the UK and Canada. Giving anyone the power to silence people that outrages them just emboldens them to find more people to get outraged at, and one thing that automatically seems to outrage them is telling them that their grievances are not worth getting outraged over or worth silencing, so it’s much harder to take back that power.

    • vV_Vv says:

      One might similarly say that it’s not the .1% of conservative Catholics who bomb abortion clinics who are the problem, but whatever (presumably much larger) percentage of abortion opponents who, while they’d never bomb a clinic themselves, nonetheless kind of think it’s justified.

      I don’t think the numbers here are anywhere close to those of Islamic terrorism, both concerning those who actually carry out the attacks and those who justify them. Also, why are you singling out Catholics? I’m pretty sure that abortion is a sin in all flavors of Christianity.

      Or, it’s not the .1% of libertarians who pen neoliberal economic treatises justifying trickle down […] Or, it’s not the .1% of liberals who are themselves radical professors of intersectional Critical Race Theory or their most ardent students, who break windows when a conservative speaker is invited to campus

      Again, pretty questionable analogy.

      the opposite theory, which also has merit in my mind, is that most people are not very ideological and kind of just follow whatever the thought leaders are doing, so it’s more important to deal with the radicals than the broader social consensuses supporting them

      I think that both the radicals and the silent large groups that essentially support them influence each other: the large groups enable the radicals, providing them with fresh recruits, funds, platforms, and motte-and-bailey ideological fig leaves to justify themselves. The large groups are in turn inspired by the radicals, which they see as heroic figures.

      I’m not sure what the best way of breaking this feedback cycle may be. On the one hand, the radicals are easier to attack because there are fewer of them they are easier to spot. While, barring genocides, forced mass conversions, ethnic cleansing, etc., you can’t really wage an all-out war against an anonymous mass of people who all individually have plausible deniability. On the other hand large masses may be more vulnerable to subtle ideological manipulation. If you control the media, the education system, key points in access to the job market or public resources, you could leverage them to subtle draw the masses to your side, while radicals are probably going to be much more resilient to ideological manipulation.

      • onyomi says:

        Re. “Pretty questionable analogy,”

        My point isn’t to say that liberal professors are as bad as terrorists, that Catholics are as likely to support terrorism as Muslims, or anything like that.

        My point is just to identify different conceivable instances of a pattern (some of which I disagree with myself; I’m just trying not to limit myself to things I, personally, think are a problem) and think about the issue in general.

        The pattern I’m pointing to is, there are many cases where you have a few radicals getting a lot of attention supported by a much larger population who tacitly approves or at least does not strongly condemn.

        The question is, in such a case, is going after the extremists the top priority or trying to somehow change the minds of the larger, quiet supporters? I’m thinking more the latter, though sometimes it is precisely by making the extremists look bad that public opinion can shift. I think the campus identitarian radicals in the US are currently doing harm to the causes they hope to further, for example, because the optics are so bad.

    • Worley says:

      As a general assessment, I think you’re right. OTOH, you say “doing something about any one of these problems is much much harder”, and yes, we’ve discovered that doing something about these problems is sufficiently hard that we’ve not been successful at it.

      • onyomi says:

        Part of doing something effective about this problem, in addition to recognizing that it is a problem (I don’t think most do, especially in cases when blaming a larger group, like “the Muslims who won’t denounce terrorism” or “the black people who won’t return a guilty verdict for a black criminal” can be construed as racist, “Islamophobic,” etc.) may be recognizing that many things which appear to be a military, police, policy, or intelligence
        problem, may, in fact, be closer to PR problems.

        • Levantine says:

          onyomi: The pattern I’m pointing to is, there are many cases where you have a few radicals getting a lot of attention supported by a much larger population who tacitly approves or at least does not strongly condemn.

          Like Bush and Obama and Clinton administrations, and (as I hear) Trump administration, and Reagan in Panama, and all the way (per Smedley Butler) to Theodore Roosevelt’s era: intervening with terror in foreign countries and supported by a much larger population and not strongly condemned by the majority? You mean what Mark Curtis describes in Secret Affairs, Douglas Valentine in his CIA books, Fletcher Prouty in his, Steve Pieczenik in his articles …? As I write these lines, I catch a sight of a retweet: Michael Krieger‏: “We can no longer allow our governments, which support terrorist states, to control post-terrorist attack narratives. They are the culprits.” What’s that all about, are such claims exasperatingly deficient in evidential support, and really get on rationalist nerves?

          Also, do you think Libya and Syria are dominated by violent, criminal and terrorist groups because their populations have been too supportive of violence, terror and criminality …. While Egyptians are a more enlightened population??

          (Everything I know of these countries points to the opposite.)

          Scott Atran has pointed out that families of Islamic terrorists usually disapprove of terrorism, and are totally oblivious of what their son has been up to. (Of course, this requires a lot of scrutiny and a lot of but-s to be properly qualified.)

    • cassander says:

      This question is rather well explored in the literature on counter-insurgency. In an insurgency, the vast majority of the population is not heavily invested in one side or the other winning. The task for both the insurgent and government is the same, to create conditions on the ground that reward actively siding with them, not the enemy.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I think your theory is also missing the existence of memes that may be used by disapproving majority against the radical minority. Or the disapproving minority against the radical majority.

      If a Christian is about to kill an abortion doctor, you can say “though shalt not kill,” “love thy enemy,” “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” etc. There are lots of ways for Christians to control potentially violent Christians.

      When you have a Muslim neighborhood that’s mostly been peaceful, and then a radical imam comes in and riles them up to the point they want to start through gays off roofs…how exactly is the peaceful Muslim who appreciates modern ideas of tolerance going to stop them? They’re going to jump in front of the crowd and say…what?

      A Christian who kills an abortion doctor is being a bad Christian, and can be stopped by good Christians. A Muslim who throws a homosexual off a roof is being a good Muslim, or certainly not a bad one, and cannot reliably be stopped by the modernized Muslims who disapprove of rooftop homosexual tossing.

      • Zodiac says:

        If a Christian is about to kill an abortion doctor, you can say “though shalt not kill,” “love thy enemy,” “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” etc. There are lots of ways for Christians to control potentially violent Christians.

        I know I’m being too literal but do you truly think that if somebody is just about to commit a murder you can stop them through such words? Especially words that he probably knew before already and just decided they are invalid in this case? Maybe the soon-to-be-murderer decided he’ll fulfill the saying of “an eye for an eye” for the killed fetuses.

      • rlms says:

        What about the multitudes of Muslims who condemn terrorism every time it occurs? It is easy to argue against both Christians and Muslims killing unjustly on a general basis of “let’s be nice to people, follow the commandment against killing [even if that isn’t theologically relevant in a particular case]”. Obviously this has cultural prerequisites: it won’t work in 17th century Salem or modern day ISIS-controlled Syria.

        But you can also argue against Muslims executing gays on a theological/historical basis. Here’s how I’d do it: the only sources suggesting executing gays are hasan hadiths — considered trustworthy but not at the highest level of reliability. They don’t talk about homosexuality specifically, rather they reference the story of Lot from the Quran. That is open to interpretation, certainly I think the Catholic-style interpretation of “homosexual feelings are OK, it’s only sodomy that is problematic” is plausible (indeed I think it is relatively mainstream, in that usually only sodomites are executed), and I think you could defend the interpretation that it is actually homosexual rape that is being condemned. You could also point to the requirement that Muslims obey the law of their country.

        But I think a stronger argument is historical. Homosexuality was often tolerated in historical Islamist states (it was decriminalised by the Ottomans more than a century before the UK got round to it). If writing homoerotic poetry was good enough for great Arabic poets, and taking male lovers was good enough for various Caliphs, that kind of thing is good enough for modern Muslims.

      • onyomi says:

        Well, at least some significant number of British Muslim leaders are willing to condemn these attacks in terms of Islamic ethics:

        “Consequently, and in light of other such ethical principles which are quintessential to Islam, we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer for the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”

        I don’t know how many Muslim leaders worldwide share this interpretation of the teachings of Islam, but it seems to at least be possible to justify condemning these actions in Islamic terms, as it is probably also possible to justify stoning of adulterers with the Bible. Which is not to say that I think all religions are equally good or awful. I think Islam as a philosophy/set of ethics/historical phenomenon may be inherently easier to use to justify violence than, say, the Lotus Sutra, but with all religions the interpretation of the leaders seems to matter a lot more than anything written in a book.

    • rahien.din says:

      Even recognizing that some kind of groundswell may exist, Maher’s claim requires substantiation. An alternative hypothesis is that there is a tremendous amount of response bias. Islamists’ willingness to commit extreme violence (honor killings, terrorism, etc.) would be a potent driver for response bias. The poll results may be evidence of a populace held hostage by violent psychopaths.

      His claim also proves too much, and the sword’s second edge takes his own nose clean off. IE, it’s not the .1% of Americans who would actually attack Muslims for being Muslim, it’s the substantial proportion who would respond in polls that all/most Muslims are complicit in all Islamist violence, because of how those Muslims responded to polls.

      tl;dr: it’s a poll.

      Edit: clarity

  15. Well... says:

    In most or all of the American cities I’ve lived in with FM radio stations that I consistently listened to (7 cities; 3 on the west coast and 4 in the Midwest)…

    – the classical and NPR stations have tended to be in the lower frequencies.
    – the r&b/rap stations have tended to be in the higher frequencies.

    Has anyone else noticed a pattern like this, or is it just some weird coincidence? What would account for it if it is indeed a pattern?

    • OldMugwump says:

      For a long time (maybe still today) the FCC assigned the lower FM band frequencies to non-profit and college/university stations, the higher frequencies to commercial stations.

      Why they chose to do this, I don’t know. Perhaps they thought it would be more convenient for listeners to “know” where to look on the dial for a given type of programming.

      Anyway, it’s not a coincidence.

      • phil says:

        is rap/ r&b generally higher on the dial than than more conventional pop/ rock?

        if so, I wonder if that’s a function of them being new art forms, and stations devoted to them being established later than the pop stations

        • Well... says:

          In the city I grew up in, 92.3 was R&B/hip hop in the early 90s, became rock in the late 90s/early 00s, and I believe is now R&B/hip hop again.

    • Urstoff says:

      And most religious music is in the 88’s/89’s.

  16. Zodiac says:

    Does anyone know of what could cause unusual amounts of thirst?
    I drink between 7 and 9 litres of water a day and have been doing so for many years. Google only says diabetes, schizoprenia and drugs, none of which applies (it also throws a billion articles in my face about how deadly it is to drink too much water ._. )

    • publiusvarinius says:

      Chronic anemia? See your doctor and ask for a complete blood count.

      • Zodiac says:

        I have one here from a half a year ago. Everything is in acceptable bounds although I’m on the lower end on leucocytes, HBE/MCH and MCV. Would that fit the picture?

    • Aminoacid says:

      It might be Diabetes Insipidus (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetes_insipidus), which is a cause of intense thirst without alterations in blood sugar.

    • Rachael says:

      Here’s a very long list of possibilities: http://www.ehealthstar.com/polydipsia.php

      It could well be psychogenic polydipsia, which means you feel like you need to drink water all the time but actually you don’t, and it’s just a strong psychological habit. I think I had that (although not as strongly as you – about 5 to 8 litres a day). Once I realised that was a thing, I tried training myself to drink less, and it only took a few days before my thirst adjusted to a more normal level.

      • Zodiac says:

        Holy cow, that’s a lot.
        Thanks for the help everyone. I’ll have my doctor do another full blood count and discuss the matter with him. If nothing comes up I’m gonna try the retrain approach in case it is psychogenic polydipsia.

    • Shion Arita says:

      I don’t remember this clearly but years ago I heard about a case of someone being very thirsty all the time and the cause ended up being some kind of kidney problem.

  17. OptimalSolver says:

    Why do adherents of Many Worlds behave as though they’re living in a good old-fashioned singular timeline?

    Eg, why is Eliezer obsessed with cryonics when his belief system assures him immortality? Even if endless life wasn’t baked in to the very fabric of reality, he could rest assured one of his alternate selves is taking care of the problem much more effectively.

    Many Worlds adherents also seem strangely blasé about the eons of unimaginable torment that lie ahead of them.

    • Anatoly says:

      Q. Why do people who believe there’s no freedom of will do anything?
      A. Because they have no choice.

      Q. Why do believers in Many Worlds behave as though they’re living in a good old-fashioned singular timeline?
      A. They don’t – they behave in all possible ways. You’re only looking in one branch.

    • Wrong Species says:

      If you believed in Many Worlds, would you feel reassured about your other lives when getting mugged?

    • cthor says:

      In what way does many-worlds assure him immortality?

      I think you’re smuggling a lot of assumptions in here.

      (Many-worlds doesn’t mean every-world. There are infinite rational numbers between 1 and 2, but none of them are 3.)

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Many worlds plus Born probabilities plus VNM rationality adds up to normality.

      To unpack that a little, many-worlds believers generally care about futures in proportion to their probability. So e.g. a game of quantum Russian Roulette is treated as 1/6 of a death, just like the classical game.

    • Anonymous` says:

      Many Worlds adherents also seem strangely blasé about the eons of unimaginable torment that lie ahead of them.

      Okay, this has been cryptically hinted at for years on Less Wrong and we need to confront it once and for all. As I understand it, the argument is that since branches where you die are no longer part of your consciousness-tree and there’s at least some very small probability of any physical event, sooner or later the only branches left are ones where you’re injured/horrifically old/whatever but the particles are still bouncing just so and you’re still alive, and some of these branches extend really far in the future.

      Unrefined counterargument material:
      I don’t care about other branches unless they’re descendants of where I am on the tree right now, and I know *other* people actually have died in my experienced branch. Why do “I” “leap”/continue into specifically my branch-descendants that live, and not the far more numerous ones which die and actually halt? Clearly somebody’s actually halting; why can’t that be me? Just because an outside (far outside) observer sees that the whole tree of mes continues only into those branches shouldn’t necessarily mean that’s “my” “experience”.

      • random832 says:

        I don’t care about other branches unless they’re descendants of where I am on the tree right now, and I know *other* people actually have died in my experienced branch. Why do “I” “leap”/continue into specifically my branch-descendants that live, and not the far more numerous ones which die and actually halt?

        This is basically quantum immortality theory (they continued, obviously, into the ones where they lived – many-worlds is, after all, an explicit rejection of your implicit idea that there is anything at all special about the branch you are experiencing), with emphasis on the fact that it makes no guarantee of quality of life.

        • Anonymous` says:

          I know there’s also an idea that you don’t have to have a causal link to another copy of yourself (in another universe or otherwise) for that copy to be in your experience-cone, if you share memories and maybe personality. If that worked, then there’d be nothing special about the branch you’re experiencing, but if not, your branch is special to you.

          But many-worlds doesn’t seem to require that idea to also be true, and I haven’t been convinced of that one yet.

          • random832 says:

            I’m not sure why copies that you don’t have a causal link to have to matter for this. The principle seems to apply perfectly well even if you only consider the copies that (present)you do have a causal link to. At every future moment (that is, in your actual experience cone, causally connected to the current world’s present time), you may experience some event that causes you to: A- die, B- continue living but suffer a reduction in quality of life, or C- continue with more or less the same quality of life (or better, I suppose).

            Quantum immortality is basically the idea that A is irrelevant as long as B+C is nonzero, no matter how small that nonzero is. Given that, the point being made here seems to be that, the older you get, the more B is going to outnumber C in probability volume.

          • Anonymous` says:

            What did you mean about the branch you’re experiencing not being special, then?

          • random832 says:

            I mean there’s no “leaping” – that (in many-worlds) there’s nothing separating the branch you are experiencing and all of the other branches that your past self also ended up experiencing. Since “leaping” is not a thing, there is no way in which you can end up “leaping” into one that terminates and thereby causing the ones that do not to collapse into a “never experienced by anyone” state.

            Why do “I” “leap”/continue into specifically my branch-descendants that live, and not the far more numerous ones which die and actually halt?

            Because, by definition, the ones that live are the ones that you continued into, and the ones that die are the ones that you did not.

          • Anonymous` says:

            Ah, I wasn’t clear. When I said “leaping” I meant something more akin to the no-causal-link situation, or to a separate descendant of a past common state. The slash between leaping and continuing wasn’t meant to indicate I was using different words to describe the same concept, but that both concepts could lead to getting to a branch that isn’t currently dying.

            there is no way in which you can end up “leaping” into one that terminates and thereby causing the ones that do not to collapse into a “never experienced by anyone” state.

            I agree. I just care about whether the termination can be experienced by anyone, because that’s the vast bulk of the tree mass and so I don’t need to retool my current plans around somehow avoiding otherwise-certain hell. If I should always expect not to experience that because it’s “past” where your “experience” ends (sorta like < vs <=), and the leaping (NOT wavefunction collapse but just consciousness continuing) is possible, on the other hand…

            Because, by definition, the ones that live are the ones that you continued into, and the ones that die are the ones that you did not.

            Yes, and to the outside observer that’s the whole picture. But since unlike that observer I care more about the part of the tree I’m on than the parts that other mes are on, I should anticipate the possibility of experiencing death and then nothing, yes?

    • Nornagest says:

      Haven’t you just answered your own question? Even if you believe in quantum immortality (which, as weird Less Wrongy beliefs go, is really really weird — Many Worlds by itself doesn’t get you there, and cryonics and the AI god are reasonable by comparison), you might still be concerned about the fact that most of that immortality is likely to suck. And once you’re concerned about it, it’s pretty reasonable to go looking for something to do about it.

  18. bean says:

    (Series index, Jutland Part 1)
    Jutland: Preliminaries to battle
    Scheer planned the operation that lead to Jutland as a trap for the British, a battlecruiser raid on the north English coast drawing the British out past submarines stationed off their bases, with the main body of the High Seas Fleet waiting to pounce. Due to condenser problems and delays in repairs to the battlecruiser Seydlitz, the operation was delayed from its planned date of May 17th, forcing postponement to the end of May. The Germans had a force of zeppelins they used for reconnaissance, but high winds on May 28th prevented them from reaching their positions, and the plan was altered to a sweep into the Skagerrak, the area between Denmark and Norway. The British continued to trade with Norway, and this raid would have seriously disrupted that trade. The High Seas Fleet finally sailed shortly after midnight on May 31st.

    The British had recovered a German codebook early in the war, and set up an organization known as Room 40 to handle decryption and direction-finding. Room 40 was alerted on May 28th to the impending operation, and Jellicoe began his sortie three hours before Scheer. The U-boats off the British bases had not yet received word that the plan was being executed, and the British made it to sea without losses. However, he was the victim of a miscommunication. The Admiralty asked Room 40 for the current location of callsign DK, which was used by Admiral Scheer in port. Room 40 told them that it was in Wilhelmshaven, which was true. However, Scheer shifted to a different callsign while at sea. Room 40 knew this, but did not pass it on, due to either personal antipathy with the Admiralty’s messenger or a misunderstanding of the purpose of the question.

    At 1420 (GMT) on May 31st, the first British and German scouts, sweeping ahead of their respective battlecruiser forces, ran into each other while investigating a neutral Danish steamer to the southwest of the Skagerrak. Beatty was heading west, followed by Jellicoe, while Hipper lead Scheer north by about 60 miles. At 1428, the British light cruisers Galatea and Phaeton fired the first shots of the greatest sea battle of the first World War.

    Jutland: The Run to the South
    The two battlecruiser forces sighted each other at around 1530, and the Germans turned south, hoping to draw Beatty into the High Seas Fleet. Beatty followed, but a signaling lapse meant that the 5th Battle Squadron found themselves 10 miles behind Beatty. (We’ll come back to his signaling woes later.) Beatty had a total of 32 13.5” guns and 16 12” guns, giving him a substantial range and firepower advantage over Hipper, who had only 16 12” and 28 11” weapons. However, he held off opening fire (odd, considering the doctrine he advocated), and Hipper opened fire first, at 1548. In fairness, the gunnery conditions greatly favored the Germans, as the low sun backlit the British, and the wind blew their gun and funnel smoke into the line of fire, while the German smoke was blown onto the disengaged side, where it merged with a natural cloud to produce a background that they blended against. The British opened fire 30 seconds later, on the orders of the captain of Lion, Beatty’s flagship. The first German salvoes were incredibly accurate, Seydlitz’s first shells falling just 300 yrds short of Princess Royal. Tiger was hit twice by Moltke minutes later, although neither was critical, although a third hit 3 minutes later took the sighting hood off of Q turret.
    (A brief digression. Counting from the front, the German ships were in a line Lutzow – Derfflinger – Seydlitz – Moltke – Von Der Tan. The British order was Lion – Princess Royal – Queen Mary – Tiger – New Zealand – Indefatigable.)
    The British gunnery did not start as well. In theory, they should have had a major advantage, as one of their ships should have been unengaged, and near-misses are a serious hindrance to gunnery. Beatty’s plan was that each ship should engage its opposite number in the German line, starting from the rear, while Lion also engaged Lutzow. Instead, Queen Mary engaged Seydlitz, while Tiger joined New Zealand in firing against Moltke, leaving Derfflinger unengaged for almost 10 minutes. This would have been less odd if the same thing had not happened at Dogger bank a year earlier.
    By the time Queen Mary landed the first hit of the British fleet at 1555, the Germans had made at least 10. At 1557, Beatty ordered a change of course to open the range, at the same time as Queen Mary made the first serious hit on the Germans, knocking out Seydlitz’s aft superfiring turret. At 1600, Lion took another hit, this one opening the roof of Q turret, and it was only the actions of Major Francis Harvey, the Royal Marine turret officer, that flooded the magazines and prevented Lion sharing the fate of Indefatigable two minutes later. A hit on her A turret set off the cordite that was coming up from the magazines, and within 30 seconds, they exploded, taking all but two of her 1,017 officers and men with her. See here for more details on the causes of this.
    The two fleets were drawing apart, but the 5th Battle Squadron had finally joined the battle, opening fire on the rear of the German line. At 1609, Barham landed a hit on Von der Tann, admitting 600 tons of water, and nearly disabling her steering gear. More hits put two turrets out of action, and Moltke was also hit. The battlecruisers also began to hit, after a dismal record in the first 20 minutes of the action. However, at 1625, Queen Mary suffered a turret hit, which sent her down in the same manner as Indefatigable. A total of 1,258 men were lost, with only 8 survivors. Shortly thereafter, Beatty turned to Lion’s captain and famously said “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today”.
    Ten minutes later, the British cruiser HMS Southampton, ahead of Beatty, first saw the High Seas Fleet. Southampton’s captain continued south, to gain more information. He closed to within 13,000 yards, although the Germans did not fire until Southampton turned north again, probably because they assumed her to be one of their ships. Even more astonishingly, he was not hit during his escape, despite an estimated 60 shells falling within 100 yards of the ship. At 1638, he signaled his sightings, totally surprising Beatty and Jellicoe, who had been told that the body of the High Seas Fleet was still in port. At 1640, Beatty ordered his force to turn north, bringing the run to the south to an end. When he turned, the Germans had scored 42 hits on the battlecruisers and 2 on Barham. They had taken only 11 hits from the battlecruisers, and 6 from the 5th Battle Squadron. However, due to another signaling failure, the 5th Battle Squadron continued south, passing him 10 minutes later. At 1655, they followed Beatty north, under fire from the lead elements of the High Seas Fleet. Although under orders for all ships to turn in the same place, Malaya, in the rear of the 5th BS, turned early, to avid the concentration of fire the Germans were pouring at the spot where the other three had turned.
    The only battlecruiser that came through the action undamaged was HMS New Zealand, which took only one hit, and suffered no casualties. She was paid for by the government of New Zealand, and the Maori had told her captain that so long as he wore a Maori grass skirt and pendant, she would not be harmed in battle. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the resulting outfit (which he wore over his uniform), but it appears to have worked, as she took no casualties during the entire war.
    We’ll cover the Run to the North and the main fleet battle next week. I probably won’t put something up Wednesday.
    A note on sources:
    I’ve been using two books for my primary reference, in addition to the internet. One is John Campbell’s Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. This is universally agreed to be the best book from a factual perspective, but it is a technical analysis, and basically impossible to read. I bought a copy last year, as all of my other books cited it, intending to read it before the 100th anniversary, and failed completely. The other book I have is Nicholas Jellicoe’s Jutland: The Unfinished Battle. It’s good, and much more readable than Campbell. There are also some lovely personal touches, as Nicholas is Admiral Jellicoe’s grandson. (I got to meet him recently, and he was very nice, even when I was pestering him with all sorts of weird technical questions.) He also has a website, which I would highly recommend. The animation he narrated is well worth a watch. You’ll probably get more understanding out of it than you will out of my writing, but I’ll soldier on.

    • gbdub says:

      So is there anything Beatty did right? The failure to stay in formation with the powerful 5th BS seems huge, and it doesn’t sound like even his battlecruisers were formed up well for the battle. This short action was the most lopsided exchange of the battle, and Beatty does not seem to have accounted himself well.

      • bean says:

        During the run to the south? Not really. He did a bit better during the run to the north, but still failed to tell Jellicoe what was going on, which was his actual job.

        • gbdub says:

          What does the counterfactual look like where the 5th BS and the battlecruisers are well deployed, and manage to devastate the German battlecruiser squadron? Does it actually make a significant difference to the rest of the battle (or the course of the war)?

          Were the British battlecruisers just doomed? Just in the run to the south, they lost two with nearly all hands and a third would have gone but for some quick action to flood a magazine. Perhaps even if they’d survived the run to the south, a fatal hit would have been inevitable, given their flawed powder handling?

          • bean says:

            I’m not 100% sure. I strongly suspect at least one would have gone down in any world where they took substantial damage. (We haven’t even gotten to Invincible yet.)
            And I’m not sure how much of the improvement in 5th BS gunnery was down to the fact that they were firing from a rather different angle to the BCF, and how much was due to them being better at gunnery. But if the 5th BS had been in from the start, they might have drawn off quite a bit of German fire (which they survived pretty well in the real battle) and their shells were a lot more effective. They basically mission-killed Von Der Tann at long range.
            The biggest impact of the 1st SG being destroyed would have been that they couldn’t cover the turn-away and the torpedo-boat attack around 1900. I’m not yet familiar enough with that part of the battle to be sure of what the follow-on impact would be. Maybe the British break up the torpedo attack more effectively and can follow Scheer instead of turning away.
            Medium-term, the British BCs get a lot more freedom in the North Sea, but I’m not sure if that’s going to do a huge amount.
            Long-term, it kills off Hood, as the British were always paranoid that the Germans were going to overtake them in battlecruisers.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Wow, the miscommunication with room 40 is pretty weird.

      • bean says:

        Yes, but that sort of thing happens a lot in war. Apparently, the Admiralty ops officer was loathed by Room 40, and his visit just before Jutland was only his second trip there. So he didn’t understand what they were doing, and Room 40 may not have understood what he was doing.

        • James Miller says:

          An excellent argument against socialism. If the British government didn’t bother to set up a reliable system where vital information could be efficiently transmitted during their long-planned great navel battle what hope is there that they could regularly do so when running an economy.

          • rlms says:

            LOL. Sometimes private organisations also fail, is that a death blow to capitalism?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            You would need to check that stuff like this never happens in NGOs. Otherwise this just shows that organizations sometimes suck, and the socialists already knew that.

          • bean says:

            I think you’re reading too much into it. Keep in mind that radio as a military technology was in its first real war, and it wasn’t very good. Most technologies are used incorrectly the first time out. During the next war, the British did a very good job of integrating their intelligence-gathering and operational staffs, to the point where the US copied them.
            (Also, seriously, have you ever worked for a large company? These kind of problems are symptomatic of large organizations, regardless of type.)

          • CatCube says:

            The key is that a private firm will eventually go bankrupt if it doesn’t check the stupider impulses.

            My go-to example of this is that a software company shares a building with my government agency. The software company has free beer on tap for its employees, whereas we don’t even get free coffee. However, if half of our employees turn into degenerate lushes, we’ll still be here, whereas the software company will go under. Different incentives.

          • bean says:

            @CatCube
            I at least am not trying to defend socialism. There are lots of good examples of why socialism is a bad idea. This just isn’t one. It appears (I don’t have my sources to hand right now) that they had a simple communications breakdown. Maybe Jackson normally sent an aide, who knew to ask where Scheer was, and not just about DK. That, or personal politics, which have ruined companies, too.
            (To repeat, I am not defending socialism, just asking you to pick a different example of why it is bad.)

          • CatCube says:

            @bean

            My comment was intended to reply to @rlms, and I’m in agreement with you.

            You work for a large aerospace firm, IIRC, and I know you’ve seen bureaucracy as stupid as anything in government. It’s just that no matter how large your company, eventually the balance sheet needs to work out. For government organizations, that day of reckoning can be held of for a lot longer (until the collapse of society).

          • rlms says:

            @CatCube
            We could argue all day about the relative merits of different forms of organisation, but my point is just that one example of a system in the public sector failing to function perfectly is not a convincing argument against the idea of a public sector in general, as the same applies to the private sector. I agree with bean (“These kind of problems are symptomatic of large organizations, regardless of type.” etc.) so I think we are in agreement too.

            James Miller’s argument is quite interesting though. He’s targeting the navy specifically as an example of an inefficient organisation that would be better run privately, but it is hard to think of anything else with more widespread support for government ownership than the military.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            TBH I think the general dysfunction of Britain in the years before Margaret Thatcher came to power (Winter of Discontent, three-day working week, power shortages, bodies going unburied, rubbish piling up in the streets) is a much better argument against socialism than a bit of fog-of-war miscommunication.

      • Protagoras says:

        I’ve wondered for a while if there’s been any exaggeration of the effectiveness of the codebreakers in the standard histories. We’re usually told that the central powers in WWI and the Axis in WWII were confident that their codes were secure, but there are definitely cases where they act as if concerned that the codes had been or could be broken. They constantly updated their devices, and more tellingly in this case Scheer’s alternate callsign seems to have been based on the assumption the English could be listening in (though of course in this case they were one step behind since the English knew about this trick). How often did the Germans use tricks similar to Scheer’s to mislead anyone who might have broken the codes? And of course something massively difficult to measure, but I wonder if there’s been any research on it, to what extent did the Germans restrict their use of radio for communicating sensitive information (either because they feared it might be compromised, or because they were perfectly aware that providing more data to work with makes eventual code-breaking easier for the enemy)?

        • bean says:

          There’s a long discussion of this in Friedman’s Fighting the Great War at Sea.
          Basically, Room 40 wasn’t just codebreaking, it was also direction-finding, which is where the data they were using actually came from. Callsigns were probably sent in the clear, so the DF network would pick them up regardless, as would things like traffic analysis. The British would listen in to the minesweeper order frequency. When a lot of orders started being passed, they knew a sortie was about to happen.
          (I may expand on this later.)

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      If engaging all adversaries is important, did anyone ever consider independently-aimed turrets? Would two directors just take too much space? Or is it that you never plan on being outnumbered?

      • bean says:

        They did, and the Iowa, at least, had two directors. (Well, 7, not counting the ability of the turrets to fire under local control. See the post on fire control.) The problem is that splitting your battery is bad for fire control, particularly as it was practiced at the time. Von Der Tann was actually supposed to engage both Indefatigable and New Zealand, but decided not to.
        The Germans didn’t have proper directors at Jutland (they were introduced shortly thereafter), and neither they nor the British seem to have planned for firing at split targets. Part of this was that fire-control gear was developing quite rapidly, and it made more sense to equip every ship with one before they started to hand out seconds.

        • gbdub says:

          Wikipedia mentions that the Germans used a “ladder” ranging system, where their initial salvo would be aimed to three different ranges (best guess, short, long) and by observing splashes adjust their ranging accordingly. This was more effective than the British approach of targeting the first salvo to best guess range only.

          Presumably splitting your fire would hamper the ladder approach?

          It’s an interesting question I think – on the one hand, splitting your battery between say two opponents probably reduces your chance of sinking either ship by more than half (how much more I don’t know) just because you’re putting less metal at either ship and it seems like battles were usually decided by a few vital strikes – luck clearly played a role.

          On the other hand, leaving any opponent unmolested while you attack his partner probably significantly increases the chances that that opponent will take you out, relative to an opponent that needs to account for and deal with (even ineffective) return fire. It would take an iron man indeed to not be at all affected by nearby splashes and the flash of guns pointed at him.

          • bean says:

            Presumably splitting your fire would hamper the ladder approach?

            It would, yes. I think they’d shoot 4 guns at each. With twin turrets, that gives best spotting. I believe this was one of the reason’s VDT’s gunnery officer gave.
            As for German vs British practice in this era, they were changing what they did (or were planning to do) every 2 years. I frankly can’t keep it all straight without at least glancing at my books, and I’m really into this stuff.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            How about firing a few concentrated ladder salvos to find the range, then redirecting some fire to the unengaged opponent?

          • bean says:

            How about firing a few concentrated ladder salvos to find the range, then redirecting some fire to the unengaged opponent?

            To paraphrase Jackie Fisher, the important thing is to hit first, hit hard, and keep hitting. Splitting your fire means you now have half the chance of hitting the ship you’re shooting at. So is the benefit of taking a second ship under fire worth a 50% reduction in hits on the first ship? Probably not, particularly as you can’t shoot very accurately at the second ship. Full dual fire control doesn’t seem to have arrived until probably the Queen Elizabeths. So far, I haven’t found references to anyone except the 15″ battleships shooting at two separate targets. The QEs and Rs, though, did it quite a bit at Jutland.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      So judging by the animation, it looks as if lack of communication severely hampered Jellicoe during this battle. Which makes me wonder: in an alternate universe where his subordinates all made sure to keep him up-to-date on any enemy movements they observed, how much better could the British have done? Trafalgar-style annihilation of the enemy fleet, or just sinking a few more German ships than they historically did?

      • gbdub says:

        Scheer proved his ability to effect a successful escape when the battle turned, and Jellicoe showed a cautiousness that make it seem unlikely he would have taken the risks necessary to force a decisive confrontation between the main fleets.

        And keep in mind Jellicoe would have needed to not only have perfect comms, but also to believe he had perfect communications and knowledge, to risk it all.

        Given that no proper Dreadnoughts were actually sunk, it seems like neither side truly wanted a decisive battle enough for it to occur. To me the most potentially interesting part is the (not yet covered by bean, so maybe we’ll save it) nighttime withdrawal of the Germans, in which there were possibly several passed opportunities to corner and kill German ships. Still, given “night action” and Jellicoe’s caution, maybe it just would have been a few more ships, enough to make it a clear British victory but not a decisive blow to the “fleet in being”.

      • bean says:

        Probably a decisive victory, but annihilation is probably going too far. As gbdub points out, not only would he have had to have perfect information, he would have had to have known he had it. We’ll come back to this later, so I’m not going to expand too much right now.
        That said, if Jellicoe had known where the HSF was early enough, he might have been able to cut it off from Whilelmshaven, and then who knows what could have happened.

        • gbdub says:

          bean – after you’re done with the narrative series, I think a post structured like “Top Five Best/Worst Decisions by Jellicoe/Scheer” or even just “Key Turning Points/Counterfactuals of the Battle” would be neat.

          I’m also curious – Mr. X asks basically what would have happened had Jellicoe had better comms, but what if it was Scheer who had executed perfectly? The original German plan to bait out and destroy the British battlecruiser force was ultimately thwarted by timing and codebreaking (with Beatty getting through before a sub screen could be set) but the plan seemed sound. And nearly worked anyway, with Hipper leading a battered and strung out Beatty right to the HSF.

          Was there a chance for the German plan to have come off? With Beatty (and maybe the 5th BS) not merely beat up but cornered, cut off, and ultimately annihilated piecemeal before the Grand Fleet could respond? It seems like the overall German strategy of knocking out enough British capital ships to achieve near parity in future operations was at least theoretically achievable – perhaps more so than what Jellicoe would need to do, namely more or less totally destroy the HSF?

          • bean says:

            That’s actually been my plan. I think that two posts from now is going to be end of battle/analysis, although it may spill over.

    • hlynkacg says:

      On the topic of Naval anniversaries today is also the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

      • Protagoras says:

        Another interesting one. I’ve been inclined to argue that Yamamoto is badly over-rated, partly on the basis that his plan to divide up his forces for Midway produced no benefit, and possibly a massive cost; it seems possible that if the other units of the Midway attack force had been with the carriers, or scouting close by, the Americans might not have been able to attack the carriers as effectively (due mostly to the extra AA but also the greater possibility of American aircraft being spotted by some of the other ships at some point).

      • John Schilling says:

        Another interesting one. I’ve been inclined to argue that Yamamoto is badly over-rated, partly on the basis that his plan to divide up his forces for Midway produced no benefit,

        It produced no benefit because A: the United States had already broken enough of the Japanese naval ciphers to know that Midway was the primary target and thus to ignore diversionary attacks on the Aleutians and B: the United States had already broken enough of the Japanese naval ciphers to engage the Midway attack force before it landed an invasion force on Midway rather than after.

        The plan was to ambush the American fleet as it sortied to respond to an invasion of Midway. For that, you need the carrier task force separate from the bombardment and invasion forces, because you can’t really ambush anyone with a force that is known to be tied to an island. Nor do you really want to be forming and breaking task forces in the middle of an operation if you can help it, particularly those composed of ships with greatly dissimilar capabilities. And the bit with two light carriers on a diversionary attack isn’t necessarily a bad plan itself, if there’s a reasonable chance that it can actually divert the enemy’s attention.

        Yamamoto’s plan for Midway was at the high end of what can realistically be coordinated under wartime conditions, but not unrealistically so and was inmplemented with what should have been a tolerable number or minor failings. Any plan that depends on multiple misdirection is doomed from the start if the enemy is reading your coded messages, but that can’t really be laid on Yammoato. And once it came to that, he did pretty much the right thing by letting Nagumo handle the carrier duel without interference and then ordering a withdraw after the first night.

        • bean says:

          I think you’re reading too much into the word ambush. The Japanese plan was to draw the Americans out, and they expected us to just walk into their trap. They were really bad at remembering that the enemy has a vote. If your plan is to ambush the enemy with forces they are not expecting, then you should not use those forces to launch airstrikes against the island you’re using as bait. Separating forces in battle is something navies did all the time. You explain to everyone that when Yamamoto wants the carrier group, these ships go away. When they get orders, they execute. Unless you insist on drawing from half a dozen different forces that are widely spread. Which the Japanese probably would.

          • dndnrsn says:

            You’ve mentioned this before, I think, that the Japanese were prone to overly complicated plans. Any theories as to why?

            Also, I’ve read that the Japanese tended to have crap logistics. I’m always surprised – I would figure a military built around a navy, especially naval aviation, operating over a relatively large area, would have good logistics. Were the Americans just able to mess up their supply lines, or was there something else to that?

          • cassander says:

            On logistics, it’s hard to overstate how much the Japanese were trying to punch above their weight during ww2. Despite having an overall level of industrial output similar to that of Italy, they didn’t just try to to fight a naval war with the UK and the US and simultaneously, they also had a million man army trying to conquer china. Even had they been good at logistics, and they weren’t, their resources were simply inadequate for the tasks at hand.

            Now, the japanese were not completely stupid. They knew their material resources were not a match for the west. They didn’t understand just how far behind they were, but they knew they were behind. And so in order to compete, they put everything forward, were ruthless about trying to keep up their tooth to tail ratio. The results were predictable. Everything would work out……as long as everything went according to plan. But whenever the plan was disrupted, things would go disastrously wrong as the razor thin margins meant that a disruption in one area was likely to lead to disruption others, leading to a cascade of failure. Thus the japanese pattern of ww2, when they win, they win big, and when they don’t win big, they lose big.

          • bean says:

            You’ve mentioned this before, I think, that the Japanese were prone to overly complicated plans. Any theories as to why?

            As cassander points out, overly complicated plans mean you win big or lose big. If you’re absolutely sure you’re going to win, then there’s no reason not to do so. If you’re paranoid about things going wrong, you make your plans as simple as possible (like the Russians).
            So basically, it was probably just extreme optimism. They knew they were the best people and would always win.

            Also, I’ve read that the Japanese tended to have crap logistics. I’m always surprised – I would figure a military built around a navy, especially naval aviation, operating over a relatively large area, would have good logistics. Were the Americans just able to mess up their supply lines, or was there something else to that?

            It was something else. The Japanese, surprisingly, were not very good at understanding seapower. If they were, they wouldn’t have tried what they did. Their pre-war doctrine didn’t really require lots of logistics, as the big ships would sit at base until the decisive battle. So why bother with tankers?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’ve been doing some Googling and can’t seem to find good numbers for combat troops:logistics troops ratios. Either stuff varies wildly, or it’s sources that don’t seem super reliable, or both. This seems legit and has 1:2.5 in Europe by the end of the war for the US. I’m going to guess that the Commonwealth countries were similar. Not sure about the Germans – I’ve seen 1:1. By some accounts the Soviets had 3:1, but I’m not sure if I believe that.

            If the Soviets did have an unusually high ratio of combat to logistics, presumably simple plans would have enabled that?

            EDIT: And, as I understand it, the Japanese surge early on was due in large part enabled by carriers. Were they just that attached to the idea of a decisive one-stroke battlefleet clash?

            (Tangentially, one could speak of an attachment to a single decisive blow in some Japanese martial arts, and supposedly the reason competition judo is built around a one-point win instead of best 2/3 or whatever is due to Japanese military influence in the 30s)

          • baconbacon says:

            In terms of game theory using complicated and likely to fail strategies for the underdog is the best move.

            HOWEVER on failure of those strategies you have to be prepared to negotiate a surrender almost immediately afterward (ideally with another such strategy in your back pocket). The Japanese went with what is basically the worst combination of strategies.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There’s excellent arguments to be made that no Axis power, or at least no major Axis power (the “join up with the guys who look like they’re winning, and try to jump ship when it looks like they’re losing” of the minor Axis powers seems relatively sound) was a rational actor in WWII.

          • cassander says:

            @dndnrsn says:

            I’ve been doing some Googling and can’t seem to find good numbers for combat troops:logistics troops ratios

            .

            You won’t. Such numbers depend almost entirely on how you count things. Military services often aren’t even internally consistent (e.g. the armored division will count its organic motor pool battalion as part of end strength, but the infantry division won’t) so cross-country comparisons are incredibly difficult.

            There are two numbers I see repeated a lot, but never with any explanation of how they were arrived at. The first is that for every US soldier in the pacific, there were 4 tons of equipment, for each Japanese soldier, 2 pounds. This figure would obviously have to exclude personal kit and consumables. The second is that for each trigger puller (described in various ways) in the US military, there were 16 people supporting him, in the Imperial Japanese military, it was 2.

            I trust neither figure very much.

            EDIT: And, as I understand it, the Japanese surge early on was due in large part enabled by carriers. Were they just that attached to the idea of a decisive one-stroke battlefleet clash?

            They were, but at that time they also knew that most of the US battleships were sitting at the bottom of pearl and that the british battle line was tied up in Europe, so they didn’t need their battleships.

            (Tangentially, one could speak of an attachment to a single decisive blow in some Japanese martial arts, and supposedly the reason competition judo is built around a one-point win instead of best 2/3 or whatever is due to Japanese military influence in the 30s)

            There’s excellent arguments to be made that no Axis power, or at least no major Axis power (the “join up with the guys who look like they’re winning, and try to jump ship when it looks like they’re losing” of the minor Axis powers seems relatively sound) was a rational actor in WWII.

            Depends what you mean by “rational”. The German plan of grab as much as you can, as quickly as you can, in a desperate hope that you can get enough to stand up to the anglo-jewish conspiracy was premised on a lot of faulty assumptions and was certainly high risk, but it wasn’t exactly irrational. Germany, even as late as 1941, simply did not have the human and material resources to slug it out with the US and UK. They knew that, and so they thought they were facing a choice between taking a huge risk and accepting inevitable defeat. And remember, right up until the battle of moscow, it’s looking like the german gamble is paying off in a huge way. They almost pulled it off.

            And looking at german policy before Barbarossa, it’s almost always driven by similar concerns. Wages of Destruction is an excellent book on this subject, does an amazing job of demonstrating how much pre-war german planning was driven by perceived economic necessity.

            Japan made even more false assumptions than the Germans, and had much less room for error, but if you accept as a given that withdrawal from china is off the table then there’s a not a lot else they could really have done. War takes oil. If the war must happen, the west won’t sell you oil, and oil can be taken, well, then you pretty all that’s left is taking the oil, which meant war on the UK, Netherlands, and US.

          • John Schilling says:

            Unless you insist on drawing from half a dozen different forces that are widely spread. Which the Japanese probably would.

            That’s not fair. We know exactly what the Japanese did, and it was to concentrate all of their available fleet aircraft carriers into one task force before the battle, along with half of their fast battleships and adequate lesser screening elements. Concentration of force from the day they left Tokyo bay, not some hare-brained scheme to bring together carriers from multiple forces in mid-battle.

            The only further concentration possible would be to have the carriers sail alongside the invasion transports and the bombardment force, for what purpose I do not know. The carriers need to be anyplace else if it is a battleship slugfest, the battleships don’t do much good in a carrier duel, and the transports need to be safely to the rear until control of the seas has been secured. Protagoras suggests that the increased AAA would have been decisive, but I’m rather skeptical – particularly given the way the battle actually played out.

            Separating forces in battle is something navies did all the time. You explain to everyone that when Yamamoto wants the carrier group, these ships go away. When they get orders, they execute.

            The way Ghormley ordered the American carrier group to separate from the invasion force at Guadlcanal? Because I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen that way. The fast carriers and a light screen were in Task Force 61 under Fletcher, invasion and bombardment was Task Force 62 under Turner; I don’t think the two ever sailed together and were in any event the carriers were about a hundred miles away when the invasion force started landing troops.

            Seriously, were there any US naval operations during WWII, involving an amphibious assault, where the fast carriers sailed as part of the same task force as the invasion and bombardment ships?

            Because I’m pretty sure the way the Japanese organized their fleet at Midway was the same way we did it everywhere else. A concentrated carrier strike group under one commander, and a separate invasion force under another. That is about the minimum plausible complexity for an invasion opposed by enemy air and naval forces, and if there are any faults in Japan’s plan for Midway I would not count that among them.

          • Protagoras says:

            @John Schilling, You seem to be assuming that the first fleet stayed together, when what I’ve read reports that the “main force” trailed several hundred miles behind the “carrier striking force” and as a result didn’t participate in the battle. A number of ships of the main force seem like they would have been useful to defend the carrier striking force. Admittely, speed seems to have been a factor in the two forces coming apart, but having the anti-aircraft firepower of three extra battleships and the scouting of the seaplanes on those battleships and the planes on those three extra light carriers could certainly have made a difference; seems to me the carrier striking force should have waited for them. And the northern area force’s distraction didn’t make much sense or help very much; that’s more screens and scouting capability that could have been with the carrier striking force.

            Getting into heavy second-guessing, why were the three slower battleships with the first fleet, where they got left behind with the “main force,” and the two faster battleships in the second fleet, which presumably wouldn’t be moving as fast as the first fleet since it had to stay with the slow transports? Swap the battleship assignments, and the carrier striking force could have been protected by two battleships without having to slow down. You’d also have to ditch Hosho from the first fleet, moving it to the second fleet presumably if you don’t just leave it behind, but it didn’t participate in the battle anyway, and adding the ships from the pointless Northern Area Force to the first fleet would add more air power to the first fleet than the loss of Hosho would subtract. So even if speed was that critical, the Japanese had lots of options.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @cassander

            Depends what you mean by “rational”. The German plan of grab as much as you can, as quickly as you can, in a desperate hope that you can get enough to stand up to the anglo-jewish conspiracy was premised on a lot of faulty assumptions and was certainly high risk, but it wasn’t exactly irrational. Germany, even as late as 1941, simply did not have the human and material resources to slug it out with the US and UK. They knew that, and so they thought they were facing a choice between taking a huge risk and accepting inevitable defeat. And remember, right up until the battle of moscow, it’s looking like the german gamble is paying off in a huge way. They almost pulled it off.

            And looking at german policy before Barbarossa, it’s almost always driven by similar concerns. Wages of Destruction is an excellent book on this subject, does an amazing job of demonstrating how much pre-war german planning was driven by perceived economic necessity.

            I’ve read Wages of Destruction. It’s an excellent book. The way the Germans acted to reach their goals were rational, but were those goals rational? Hitler rejecting the notion that Germany could enrich itself by trade, rejecting the notion that agricultural advances could allow Germany to feed itself, etc, not especially rational. Germany has done pretty well post-war doing more or less what Hitler rejected.

            Taking a gamble is rational when you need to take a gamble, but if your irrational thinking leads to you take a gamble when you don’t really need to…
            German racial policy is not something that could be described as rational, either.

            Japan made even more false assumptions than the Germans, and had much less room for error, but if you accept as a given that withdrawal from china is off the table then there’s a not a lot else they could really have done. War takes oil. If the war must happen, the west won’t sell you oil, and oil can be taken, well, then you pretty all that’s left is taking the oil, which meant war on the UK, Netherlands, and US.

            I meant more that the Japanese seem to have had a rather stereotypical fear of “losing face”. As I understand it, they were given the option to back down on China (which was a bit of a quagmire for them) and refused to. I’ve also read somewhere that higher-ranking Japanese decision-makers tended to feel forced into aggression due to pressure from below.

          • bean says:

            @John
            The Japanese fleet was in three forces, not two. Yamato, Nagato, and Mutsu were in a separate force from the invasion or the carriers. The invasion was covered by two Kongos, which makes next to no sense. I’d have used the slow 14″ ships, but they were all up in the Aleutians (for no apparent reason). Those Kongos could have been with the carriers. I’m not sure it would have made a difference, but I don’t think it would have been a net negative.
            As for pulling units out, I point to TF 34, which was often pulled out of the various TF 38 task groups. (Yes, there was the one time it was not, but I can think of at least three or four instances where it was.)

          • John Schilling says:

            You seem to be assuming that the first fleet stayed together, when what I’ve read reports that the “main force” trailed several hundred miles behind the “carrier striking force” and as a result didn’t participate in the battle.

            No, I’m recognizing that the main force was separated from the carrier force, and that this is where they should have been. The main force was slow battleships that have no place in a carrier duel, and should stay out of the way if one is being fought. And if it had come to a surface gunnery action, the carriers would need to have stayed out of the way, which being in a separate task force of only high-speed ships they would easily have done.

            There were actually five or six Japanese forces at Midway FWIW. The fast carrier force, which was to neutralize Midway with an early airstrike or two and then engage the US fleet as it approached. The main force of powerful but slow battleships to deliver the final blow against whatever survived the carrier attack(*). The invasion transports and their heavy escorts; the Japanese call these out separately but they didn’t operate independently. A “support force” of fast gunnery ships to follow up the air attacks on Midway with surface bombardment. And a force of tankers and supply ships that played no role in the battle but would have been important if the IJN had needed to hang around Midway waiting for the US to show up (as originally planned).

            Agreed that the Kongo and Hiei could have been added to the carrier group’s screen, but I can’t see that making any difference. The battle was not won or lost by marginal number of antiaircraft guns, and it’s not really plausible that it could have been.

            The carrier group operated exactly like it should have, exactly like US carrier groups did in every similar action – independently, as a concentrated group of aircraft carriers and escorts and nothing that would slow down an aircraft carriers, free to maneuver as needed to engage the US fleet.

            The main force could have been combined with the invasion force to no great loss, at least as the battle turned out, but initially putting it between the invasion and carrier forces to support either depending on where the US shows up allows greater flexibility and isn’t an excessive complexity.

            The fast bombardment force is an irrelevance except that it didn’t retreat fast enough and so lost one of its cruisers.

            The tankers and supply ships could also have been combined with the invasion force but it makes little difference either way.

            Combining the main force’s slow battleships with the strike force’s fast carriers would have simply hampered the carriers. Whatever type of battle is actually fought, all you’d be doing is adding extra targets that do nothing but get in the way and add some AA guns – and if they are close enough for those AA guns to matter, they are definitely getting in the way. Nobody mixes fast carriers with slow battleships anywhere combat is likely, and for good reason.

            So, aside from the dozen 127mm mounts on Kongo and Hiei, there’s no useful concentration of force that the Japanese didn’t exploit at Midway, and aside from the loss of the misplaced Mikuma there’s no harm I can see from the extra complexity of their deployment.

            (*) Note that, at this point, only one capital ship anywhere (USS Lexington) had been sunk on the high seas by carrier-based aircraft. Pre-Midway, carrier aviation was for sneak attacks on ports and for damaging enemy capital ships so your battleships could catch and kill them.

          • cassander says:

            @dndnrsn

            Hitler rejecting the notion that Germany could enrich itself by trade, rejecting the notion that agricultural advances could allow Germany to feed itself, etc, not especially rational. Germany has done pretty well post-war doing more or less what Hitler rejected.

            Oh, sure, no question. But I’d point out that germany has done well more or less as an adjunct/vassal of the anglo world. If your goal was to establish Germany (or, more importantly for hitler, the german people) as an independent political power on the level of the US, then they took pretty much the only course open to them. I think that goal was foolish, and the means they used to pursue it monstrously evil, but then as an anglo born and bred, of course I’d think that, wouldn’t I?

            I meant more that the Japanese seem to have had a rather stereotypical fear of “losing face”. As I understand it, they were given the option to back down on China (which was a bit of a quagmire for them) and refused to. I’ve also read somewhere that higher-ranking Japanese decision-makers tended to feel forced into aggression due to pressure from below.

            the IJA might be the only modern army in history where generals were afraid of their majors. Pre-war japanese politics were amped up to a degree that’s truly hard to believe. And not just japan vs. the rest of the world, but the army/navy factions within japan. the infighting was insanely vicious, and not infrequently violent. I wish there were more written on the subject in english (i’m assuming there is more in japanese that I’m simply unaware of) because it’s truly a fascinating period that seems criminally understudied. It can’t just have been that there was something in the water.

        • Protagoras says:

          Also, even if you don’t know your codes have been broken, that there is radio chatter going on can tip off the enemy that something is up, and widely separated divided forces increases the amount you’ll need to use radio to coordinate.

        • cassander says:

          @john

          It produced no benefit because A: the United States had already broken enough of the Japanese naval ciphers to know that Midway was the primary target and thus to ignore diversionary attacks on the Aleutians and B: the United States had already broken enough of the Japanese naval ciphers to engage the Midway attack force before it landed an invasion force on Midway rather than after.

          The entire point of the midway campaign was to draw out the US fleet. successful secrecy would not have much aided the japanese at all in the campaign, and it certainly wouldn’t have made those feints more useful. Moreover, the japanese did this a LOT during the pacific war, they were always coming up with overcomplicated battle plans.

          And the bit with two light carriers on a diversionary attack isn’t necessarily a bad plan itself, if there’s a reasonable chance that it can actually divert the enemy’s attention.

          when the plan is to draw out the enemy, the last thing you want to do is divert their attention.

          Yamamoto’s plan for Midway was at the high end of what can realistically be coordinated under wartime conditions, but not unrealistically so and was inmplemented with what should have been a tolerable number or minor failings.

          This is excessively generous. the plan, originally, was to show up with 6 carriers. then zuikaku got her air group shot up and shokaku got damaged at coral sea. If the japanese weren’t capable of sticking the shokaku group on zuikaku in a reasonable time frame, then the best possible effort would have been to try to make up the carrier deficit by not diverting the light carriers, not carry on with dramatically less firepower. You don’t just leave to fight the decisive battle down 1/3 of your striking power and carry on as if nothing has changed. With another carrier or two at midway, the japanese almost certainly don’t suffer the catastrophic defeat they did.

          • John Schilling says:

            The entire point of the midway campaign was to draw out the US fleet. successful secrecy would not have much aided the japanese at all in the campaign, and it certainly wouldn’t have made those feints more useful.

            Feints and/or secrecy, if successful, means the US fleet is drawn out in response to the invasion of Midway, not in anticipation of it. Midway as an unsinkable aircraft carrier is a substantial advantage in a fleet battle.

            As it played out, the US prevailed because American reconnaissance aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet about two hours before the opposite. Those aircraft were the heavy flying boats from Midway, not the lighter and shorter-ranged shipboard scouts. And the Japanese invasion force included tenders to turn the island into their own seaplane base, at very least, immediately on occupation.

            If you’ve got the opportunity to trade two absent light carriers and the clumsiness of an approach under radio silence, for control of the only airfield within a thousand miles, you say “yes!”. The only question is how likely the combination of a covert approach and a feint is to get you that base before the American fleet arrives. In hindsight it didn’t, but that doesn’t make it an obviously-bad decision a priori.

          • cassander says:

            If you’ve got the opportunity to trade two absent light carriers and the clumsiness of an approach under radio silence, for control of the only airfield within a thousand miles, you say “yes!”. The only question is how likely the combination of a covert approach and a feint is to get you that base before the American fleet arrives. In hindsight it didn’t, but that doesn’t make it an obviously-bad decision a priori.

            Except that trade wasn’t on offer. the original japanese plan was to destroy the carriers, THEN assault midway, not before.

            The basic strategic idea behind the original midway plan was basically sound, get the fleet together and go after something the US would have to come out to defend. To that end, feinting gets you nowhere. Not that the japanese were actually capable of taking midway, but even if they were, tricking the US into sending the carriers somewhere else is actually detrimental to the plan.

          • John Schilling says:

            Except that trade wasn’t on offer. the original japanese plan was to destroy the carriers, THEN assault midway, not before.

            “The Japanese had planned that their Midway offensive would take place in three separate phases. In the first phase, the large fleet aircraft carriers of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s powerful First Carrier Striking Force (Kido Butai ) would approach Midway Atoll from the north-west on 4 June 1942. In the pre-dawn darkness, Nagumo would launch aircraft from his four carriers to attack the American air and land defences on Sand and Eastern Islands. When the American defences on Midway had been neutralised by Nagumo’s carrier-launched air attacks, the second phase would begin. Warships and transports of the Midway Invasion Force commanded by Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo would approach Midway from the south-west and land troops to crush all resistance, occupy the islands, and prepare the airfield to receive Japanese combat aircraft. Having neutralised Midway Atoll and prepared it for Japanese occupation, the third phase required Vice Admiral Nagumo to wait in ambush with his carrier force for the anticipated arrival of carriers of the United States Pacific Fleet on or soon after 6 June. When the American Pacific Fleet arrived from Pearl Harbor to defend Midway, Admiral Nagumo would destroy it. ”
            Source.

            And everything else I have read is nearly identical. Bombard and neutralize Midway. Invade and occupy Midway. Then engage and destroy US fleet.

            You don’t just leave to fight the decisive battle down 1/3 of your striking power

            If the reason you are down 1/3 of your striking power is that you just fought a battle which left the enemy down 1/2 of his striking power, that’s actually a pretty good time to fight the decisive battle.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        Here’s my speculation for the day: at battles like Midway, both sides seem happy to fight an air-only battle. One would think that if one side (at Midway, the Japanese) has a notable advantage in surface combatants, they’d really want a surface engagement simultaneous with the carrier fight.

        Is it just too hard to catch the enemy force with surface ships?

        • John Schilling says:

          If the enemy has carriers or the equivalent, you pretty much can’t catch them with a superior surface force in daylight. Takes an enormous amount of luck, in any event.

          If the enemy is willing to cede the night and withdraw his fleet at sunset, you can’t catch him at night either.

          Spruance was extremely cautious about that once he took over at Midway, giving up the chance to maul the Japanese invasion force by day in order to minimize the risk of his weakly-screened carriers being sunk by Japanese battleships at night. Later, in the various battles of the Solomons campaign, the US had ships tied to the islands by the necessity of supporting invasion operations, and the Japanese were able to force night surface actions. Which, initially, they were very good at. Second-generation fire control radar gave the US the edge by the later years of the war.

        • Protagoras says:

          I concur with Schilling; the carriers tended to be very fast. If their aircraft made them aware of any surface ships, carriers could certainly move fast enough to keep away from them until the air battle had resolved things (if not indefinitely; only the fastest of fast battleships or battlecruisers could ever catch up with even one of the slowest carriers).

  19. eyeballfrog says:

    Could someone explain to me why Lob’s Theorem was considered so important to rationalists? And, for that matter, whether it’s useful to actual mathematicians. “If PA proves X, then X” seems like it’d be harder to prove than X in most scenarios.

    • Anatoly says:

      Yudkowsky thought that Lob’s Theorem opens a path to results about rational agents behaving in a desired way while taking into account knowledge of each other’s source code. Consider for example that if you code an agent to first look for a proof in PA that something, then do something else, then (with suitable diagonalization) you might find it easy to prove “If PA proves X, then X” and apply Lob’s theorem. There were some papers published by MIRI a few years ago in this vein. I don’t know if this was developed further or what else came out of it.

      It’s probably fair to say that rationalists as a whole don’t find Lob’s Theorem especially important.

      • Jiro says:

        Anyone who refers to predicting an agent by analyzing their source code should read up on the Halting Problem.

        • John Colanduoni says:

          That’s literally the same thing as saying that anyone who refers to studying mathematics by proving things should read up on Godel’s incompleteness theorems (via the Rosser’s theorem/halting problem link). Which is true, but not in the way you meant it.

      • timorl says:

        The paper Anatoly is referring to is probably this or, if you want a possibly more practical approach, this.

        tl;dr In the prisoner’s dilemma with programs with access to each others source code playing, you can create an agent cooperating only if it can prove that its opponent will cooperate with it. Will it cooperate with a copy of itself? It is easy to see that if it could prove that it will, then it would. Thanks to Löb’s Theorem this means it will.

        For mathematicians it is more of an impossibility result. Löb’s Theorem means that, in general, you cannot prove that if you could prove something then it would be true. In particular you cannot prove this for any false sentence — it is not provable in PA that if 2+2=5 would be provable in PA, then 2+2 would actually equal 5. In other words any sufficiently powerful system cannot assert its own correctness.

    • vV_Vv says:

      Yudkowsky fixated on it, because he thought it was important for his (now abandoned?) framework of AI safety which would have involved logical agents that had to somehow prove in a formal mathematical sense their safety (or “friendliness”, as he calls it) even under self-modification.

      In reality it is one of the various impossibility results proven by diagonalization, similar and inspired by Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. Essentially, they are all different formal ways of showing that “you can’t prove that you are not insane”.

      For anything computational, the most important of these results are Church-Turing’s halting theorem and the related Rice’s theorem.

  20. Tibor says:

    Say we have the following problem. There is a maniac murderer on the loose. You have two options. Either you jail everyone who might be a suspect, thus definitely harming some innocent people but also getting rid of your problem, or you do a careful investigation first and only arrest someone when you have a reasonably solid* evidence that he is indeed the murderer. That way you’re less likely to hurt innocents but you risk that the murderer kills someone while you’re busy collecting evidence.

    Now, my guess is that more willing you are to try the first approach, the more conservative you’re going to be and the more you want to do the second, the more left-wing/libertarian you’ll be. Do you (dis)agree? Any studies that tried relating these things to each other?

    • Protagoras says:

      I don’t know of any studies, but I certainly lean strongly toward the second approach and am of course leftist with some libertarian sympathies.

    • Tibor says:

      I put an asterix over the “solid”, meaning to explain what I mean exactly below and then I forgot to do it. So, essentially, what is or is not solid of course has to be put on a scale. And while the first approach of the two I outlined is going to be supported probably only by the people who would support Mussolini and his way of dealing with the mafia (and while that might seem like a very small group of people, some people’s ideas of how to deal with Islamic terrorism essentially amount to a similar approach), I’d say that the less evidence you require the more conservative you’re likely to be. I shouldn’t have said left-wing, since some communists would probably also fit into this pattern, but they are essentially left-wing conservatives.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Ooh, and you can change the number of suspects and how long they are in jail to get more fine-grained information. For example I would jail 30 suspects for a day, 10 for 2 days, 2 for a week.

    • entobat says:

      In option 1, do we jail people forever? Or do we have some way of finding out who the murderer is while all the suspects are detained?

      • Tibor says:

        I guess you can consider both scenarios as well as a varying length of expected detainment for the other suspects to get a more fine-grained answer.

    • carvenvisage says:

      anecdata, The first approach sounds good and I guess I would be classed as conservative before left wing.

      (assuming that either ‘everyone’ or ‘might’ has room to be reasonable)

      edit:

      And while the first approach of the two I outlined is going to be supported probably only by the *people who would support Mussolini* and his way of dealing with the mafia

      I didn’t read down before I posted. Probably would have posted anecdata anyway but this seems kind of like an insult? (Naturally I disagree with the statement)

      • Tibor says:

        I guess that was too harsh. Or it really depends. Do you still support it if it means simply locking up the probable suspects without releasing them? Or if they are likely to be detained for a very long period of time before one of them is found guilty?

      • carvenvisage says:

        The comment I wrote seems to have been eaten, and I don’t have that lazarus addon installed on this computer, so I guess I don’t care to explain again why instinctively prioritising security over convenience doesn’t mean I would support Hitler’s greatest ally Benito Mussolini.

        Other points:

        most of the investigation happens at the start. People mostly wouldn’t have to be held for long. Far better to inconvenience a bunch of people for a night or two, -or two weeks or a month, than be like ‘we can’t take action until we have definitive proof’ and let them kill again ..and again. QALys and utilitarianism aren’t perfect tools, but if we’re being realistic, someone ending an innocent person’s life and terrorising a community isn’t in the same class as locking people up for realistic lengths of time.

        If you want a discussion about theory liberals prefer x, conservatives prefer y, adding ‘p.s. preferring y makes you a fascist isn’t good for discussion, -even if it’s true.

        If I’m hypothetically in charge, suspects are being paid to play xbox and practice the violin in a cushy facility, with all the visitors they want, not thrown in a cell because they’re a ‘potential murderer’. Some of them are murderers, some of them aren’t. if a murderer can be identified, he will get his. subjecting an innocent person to that curtailment of freedom and upending of living arrangements is a big deal and something we should fork out for. Punishments should also be less harsh in cases where there is uncertainty, to reassure citizens cooperating in a difficult situation. If you want to nail the guy you have to first nail the guy.

        With authoritarian measures, maybe it could become safer to release people. e.g. If someone is caught and released and kills again, you can upgrade their punishment, or you could do things like embed GPS trackers in them if that would work.

    • OldMugwump says:

      With or without full compensation for the innocents jailed on suspicion, afterward?

      The answer influences my answer.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      My honest answer is that it depends on the nature of the murders, but I tend to lean towards the second option except in cases where rather than one murderer you have some sort of large scale guerrilla war or mass terrorist campaign.

      Even then I would probably prefer something closer to catch-and-release (after taking fingerprints, photographs, and various DNA samples sufficient for both individual and familial identification when combined with other samples collected), which is still a rights violation but a less severe one.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I reject the premise?

      It has essentially no real world application to actual crimes and investigations. It’s a fantasy that lets you treat the problem as simple, and in a simplistic manner.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        I think it was only meant as empirical philosophy. Like asking people to solve trolley problems.

      • Tibor says:

        What the 5 hogs said. One real-world application is terrorism. If you lean towards the first approach, I’d expect you’d be more likely to support legislation such as “the patriot act”.

        • dodrian says:

          I too reject the premise as rolling together a number of different and difficult issues. Everyone has a point at which innocent-until-proven-guilty is no longer sacrosanct. It’s not only a question of degree, but a question of community and values.

          Say we have the following problem. A company is exposed for having a widespread sexual harassment problem. You have two options. Either you fire anyone accused in the board of directors and upper management, thus definitely harming some innocent people but also getting rid of your problem, or you do a careful investigation first and only fire someone when you have reasonably solid evidence that they are indeed guilty of sexual harassment. That way you’re less likely to hurt innocents but you risk that more harassment occurs while you’re busy collecting evidence, or that those who were responsible have a chance to cover their actions and get away scot-free.

          Now, my guess is that more willing you are to try the first approach, the more left-wing you’re going to be and the more you want to do the second, the more conservative/libertarian you’ll be. Do you (dis)agree?

          • albatross11 says:

            If you ask the question in terms of date rape you can probably get more liberals than conservatives willing to abandon innocent-till-proven-guilty.

            As best I can tell, most rapes that happen are date rapes, where there is no actual evidence of rape beyond the testimony of the victim. How should the justice system deal with this when a woman shows up at the police station saying “this bastard just raped me,” where the case will ultimately come down to his word against hers?

          • eyeballfrog says:

            In situations where it’s genuinely his word against hers, the justice system should simply not prosecute. Reasonable doubt cannot be overcome. It’s an imperfect solution, but in a world of imperfect information you can’t do any better.

          • Tibor says:

            Good point, dodrian. I think you’re assumption is correct. But it is still interesting to see what causes this discrepancy, only the libertarians seem consistent here.

          • Brad says:

            Now, my guess is that more willing you are to try the first approach, the more left-wing you’re going to be and the more you want to do the second, the more conservative/libertarian you’ll be. Do you (dis)agree?

            I would expect the divide on this one to be the left and conservatives on one side and libertarians on the other. Because I see the most salient issue here not the sexual harassment part, but the company part. I think most conservatives and most liberals (American definition) whether they articulate it or not think of a job as quasi-property which it would be immoral for an employer to withdraw for “bad reasons”. Whereas I think libertarians are more likely to view a job as a continuing series of voluntary transactions that can be terminated at any time without implicating morality.

      • vV_Vv says:

        It has essentially no real world application to actual crimes and investigations.

        Doesn’t it? How do we, as a society, decide what constitute sufficient evidence to warrant the arrest of somebody who hasn’t been convicted of a crime yet?

        A few posts ago there was discussion about bails. How we decide what criteria judges should use to set a proper bail, if any?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Is this not just Blackstone’s Formulation?

      I think the answer maps well to the authoritarian-liberal axis, but not the conservative-progressive one.

    • Brad says:

      Now, my guess is that more willing you are to try the first approach, the more conservative you’re going to be and the more you want to do the second, the more left-wing/libertarian you’ll be.

      What do we do with people that describe themselves as libertarian but the second there’s a terrorist attack go all internet tough guy and endorse throwing civil liberties out the window? Do we just conclude they are lying about their ideology or does the word libertarian somehow need to be modified to take into account the range of positions taken by people that claim the label?

      • herbert herberson says:

        You know, I’m tempted to relate this to my personal grand theory of the right: that the right only opposes the state insofar as it sees it as a threat to its own hierarchical projects. This doesn’t threaten the way they order their business or their families, so there’s no reason to fear it.

        But… there are plenty of genuine libertarians out there who don’t do this thing, who are reflexively repulsed by police states regardless of their targets, so I think the only fair conclusion is your first one. Being a libertarian is cooler and more acceptable in some circles than being a conservative, so some conservatives develop a habit of calling themselves libertarian–but when the rubber hits the road, the pretenses start dropping.

      • There’s play politics, and there’s real politics.

      • The Nybbler says:

        We’re way past “the second there’s a terrorist attack”. I would suggest that libertarians who now suggest (e.g.) precautionary internment of all Muslims or something similar are now “former” libertarians; it’s not hypocrisy to change your beliefs as the result of data.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        I mean, is the takeaway from this supposed to be that a lot of people are inconsistent in their views and/or hypocritical? Or is there a stronger claim here (“libertarians are particularly prone to this”, for example)?

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          I’ll supply a stronger claim: libertarians are being corrupted by their association with the right. For a second example, it is very strange that the libertarian party favors strong immigration restrictions, which at best is orthogonal to libertarianism

          • Randy M says:

            Such news would cheer me, I’ll not lie, but I don’t think you are accurately representing the US Libertarian Party platform, which includes

            3.4 Free Trade and Migration

            We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

            Not exactly Trumpian

          • Nornagest says:

            As Randy M says, libertarians are at least more likely to support loose immigration than the Right coaliation generally. But insofar as some don’t, I think 9/11’s largely to blame: no one in American politics got through that day unscathed, but it hit right-leaning libertarians especially hard. There was a sense that the basis of ordinary politics had been upended, that an existential threat had appeared. A lot of principles got modified or suspended.

            A lot like what the politics around Trump are doing to the Left now, come to think of it.

          • I’ll supply a stronger claim: libertarians are being corrupted by their association with the right.

            Seems odd that it would be happening now. Libertarians were pretty much considered, and pretty much considered themselves, part of the conservative coalition until at least 1969, the date of the split in YAF, and to a considerable but decreasing degree thereafter. Much less so in recent decades.

            For a second example, it is very strange that the libertarian party favors strong immigration restrictions, which at best is orthogonal to libertarianism

            Could you point at your claim that the LP favors strong immigration restrictions? Or did you mean the GOP, which isn’t a libertarian party?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            I’d like to apologize for besmirching the libertarians. My claims about their immigration policy were based on a hazy understanding of Johnson’s campaign and nothing more.

        • Brad says:

          I’ll admit there’s some subtext there, but the surface level is legit. Should we treat libertarian more like ‘tall’ wherein self description ought to be completely disregarded or more like ‘Christian’ where in most cases we take self description as definitive and require the definition to be correspondingly flexible?

      • onyomi says:

        Part of the problem most all libertarians, especially libertarian anarchists like myself, face, is that of deciding what we should or should not accept the state doing, given that we have a state and can’t expect the private sector to replace all its necessary functions while it’s still around.

        That is, in theory, I don’t accept the state doing anything, because I don’t think it’s legitimate; in practice, most anarchocapitalists, myself included, are not willing to go without police protection, a court system, public transportation, etc. while we wait for the state to dismantle itself and be replaced by private alternatives.

        My answer is that a libertarian can accept (though need not necessarily support) a state action if it is something which would be morally acceptable if private actors did it. Private actors could restrict access to private property, and, under anarchocapitalism, everything would be private property; therefore, libertarianism doesn’t rule out immigration restriction, though it certainly doesn’t require them.

        Re. the question, I’m okay with treating “libertarian” as more like “tall” than “Buddhist” as a descriptor, which is why my thought in response to someone saying Ayn Rand wasn’t a libertarian is to say “yes, yes she was.” She may have rejected the label, but she so closely pattern matched to what people mean when they say “libertarian,” that I think it’s perfectly reasonable to call her one.

        As for who can call themselves libertarian without opening themselves up to accusations of logical inconsistency, there’s a wide range, as stated above. My personal criterion would be that a libertarian can’t assign special moral status to the state. One can believe that the state is a necessary evil, as Rand did (minarchist), or that it’s an unnecessary evil, as Rothbard did (anarchist), but if you start to see the state as a force for positive good with a special moral status by virtue of e.g. democracy, then I start to doubt whether you can really be called a libertarian.*

        *This further introduces the issue of policy-level libertarianism vs. philosophical libertarianism. I’m talking more about the latter. It’s at least conceivable to prefer a brutal dictatorship which enforces strong private property rights, an unregulated economy, no restrictions on prostitution, drugs, gambling, etc. One could arguably describe such a position as “policy libertarianism,” but not philosophical libertarianism. The latter doesn’t demand the former on any particular issue except those which require the state to do something a private actor couldn’t ethically do.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      For most crimes it would seem to map onto liberal/conservative as you described, but for sexual crimes I would wager it maps the reverse.

  21. J says:

    Nominative determinism: con-man Mr. Conn skips out on bail before sentencing in $500M+ disability fraud scheme.

    Armand Hammer sat on the board of Church & Dwight, the company that owns Arm & Hammer.

    Rich Fairbank co-founded Capital One.

    • BBA says:

      On the other hand, Reality Winner just got arrested for leaking classified information, which doesn’t meet my definition of winning at reality.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        Who gives someone named “Reality Winner” access to classified information in the first place?

        • The Nybbler says:

          It was her birth name.

          • Worley says:

            I once saw a reference in a news story to a female US Navy LTCDR named Destiny Savage. The military, being well-run, doesn’t penalize you for having a strange name. Though in this case, I wouldn’t expect it to hurt LTCDR Savage’s career…

  22. rlms says:

    I brought this up in the last Open Thread, but it didn’t get much traction. The British government frequently censors a certain kind of political speech on the grounds such as inciting racial hatred. Is this defensible, or will it inevitably lead to tyranny?

    • Matt M says:

      I think one could examine the various limits the government places on free expression and conclude that it already has led to tyranny….

      • rlms says:

        Tyranny implies badness, but the UK is still a pretty nice place to live for most people[citation needed]. I guess it’s not so much if you’re the guy in my link, is that what you’re saying?

        • Matt M says:

          Or if you’re some 16 year old who got sent to jail for using a racial slur on Twitter, I guess.

          I think tyranny implies badness, but maybe it shouldn’t. Or at least we have to find a better way to quantify badness.

        • John Schilling says:

          Most tyrannies are pretty nice places to live for most people[citation needed]. Winston Smith had a decent enough life in Oceania before he started dating a seditious criminal, and that was a story designed to make tyranny seem really really bad.

          So, yeah, we need a better standard

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I don’t think most tyrannies are necessarily nice places to live for most people, but I bet they at least have substantial minorities with good lives.

            SF: Manuel’s family has it pretty good in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, but I wonder what it’s like for the stilyagi (unattached young men).

            Also, I can’t find it at the moment, but I’ve seen a good discussion by sf writers of color about dystopian fiction where they point out that a lot of dystopian fiction depends on who in the society you focus on.

            Now I wonder what 1984 would look like if it centered on O’Brian.

          • Matt M says:

            No I agree with John, the impression I got from 1984 was that most people considered that they had a pretty nice life, and genuinely DID believe that Big Brother was, in fact, looking out for their best interests, and that any problems were due to the enemy.

          • engleberg says:

            Smith was reusing a dull razor and facing a cut in the food ration described as an increase and a bunch of other small annoying indignities labelled as improvements by Ingsoc, very like most English for ten years after the war due to English Socialism.

          • LHN says:

            Yeah– Oceania’s day-to-day life is basically permanent WWII conditions (rationing, occasional air raids, constant overseas warfare) with the threat of nukes thrown in (Winston remembers Colchester being A-bombed), plus a more pervasive surveillance state, forever. The members of the Party, like Winston, have more direct contact with the last, and can be accused of thoughtcrime pretty randomly even if they think they’re loyal.

            (Parsons was ridiculously committed, but was arrested for– it’s alleged unconvincingly– talking in his sleep, having been denounced by his daughter.)

            The prole majority are poorer but under less political discipline– as long as they’re not a problem. (The ones who show signs of becoming so are killed by the Thought Police.)

            Oceania may be more survivable for the average inhabitant than Winston’s experience suggests, but “nice” is probably going too far.

          • JulieK says:

            Most tyrannies are pretty nice places to live for most people[citation needed]. Winston Smith had a decent enough life in Oceania before he started dating a seditious criminal, and that was a story designed to make tyranny seem really really bad.

            That wasn’t my impression. Wiki says:

            The society of Airstrip One and, according to “The Book”, almost the whole world, lives in poverty: hunger, disease and filth are the norms.

            Members of the Outer Party consume synthetic foodstuffs and poor-quality “luxuries” such as oily gin and loosely packed cigarettes, distributed under the “Victory” brand. (This was a Parody of the low-quality Indian-made “Victory” cigarettes that were widely smoked in Britain and by British soldiers during World War II.) Winston describes something as simple as the repair of a broken pane of glass as requiring committee approval that can take several years and because of this anybody living in one of these blocks usually does the repairs themselves (Winston is called in by Mrs. Parsons to repair her sink which had been blocked).

            In contrast to their subordinates, the Inner Party upper class of Oceanian society reside in clean and comfortable flats in their own quarter of the city, with pantries well-stocked with foodstuffs such as wine, coffee, and sugar that are denied to the general populace.[34] Winston is astonished that the lifts in O’Brien’s building function, that the telescreens can be switched off, and that O’Brien has an Asian manservant, Martin; indeed, all of the Inner Party are attended to by slaves captured in the disputed zone, and “The Book” suggests that many have their own motorcars or even helicopters. Nonetheless, “The Book” makes clear that even the conditions enjoyed by the Inner Party are only relatively comfortable and would be regarded as austere by the standards of the pre-revolutionary elite.[35]

            On the other hand, Aryan Germans had a pretty good life in 1938, better than 5 or 10 years earlier. (Can I say that without invoking Godwin?)

          • Matt M says:

            engleberg & LHN,

            yes yes, I concede all that, but what I’m saying is that the people of Oceania believed that their conditions were the best they could expect given the problems in the world, problems which Big Brother was doing his absolute best to solve, only to be frustrated by the efforts of domestic terrorists and those awful heathens in eur/eastasia

            George Washington also probably “shaved with a dull razor”, ya know?

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah– Oceania’s day-to-day life is basically permanent WWII conditions (rationing, occasional air raids, constant overseas warfare) with the threat of nukes thrown in

            At the time 1984 was written, the actual non-tyrannical United Kingdom was still under WWII-era rationing and would be for another five years, had just extricated itself from the Palestinian war only to become involved in the Malayan one, and was coming to grips with the fact that the Soviet Union had just developed the atomic bomb. So I’m not seeing a huge difference here.

            More generally, poverty and war(*) are only weakly correlated with happiness and nice-place-to-liveness, and tyranny is only weakly correlated with poverty and war.

            * On the home front, where there is a reasonably clearly defined “home front” with no more than sporadic raids. See e.g. the UK today, where we are busy discussing the results of the latest terrifying raid but most people still seem to think it is a pretty nice place to live.

          • LHN says:

            @John Schilling: maybe we just have orthogonal ideas of niceness? Conditions-as-of-1948 plus totalitarian rule and a return to the Blitz, all as permanent conditions of life (plus the occasional atomic attack) strike me as prima facie non-nice, and Orwell goes out of his way to show what a grind life is.

            But maybe you’re using a different yardstick e.g., material conditions compared with most of human history, rather than what a typical reader would consider unacceptably bad?

            It’s obviously well below what a typical modern British or American reader would consider decent. Even for 1948 Britons accustomed to much worse conditions, the satire doesn’t work unless the rationing and fear is worse than what they were currently living under. E.g., during the war, UK rationing included some sugar (half a pound a week at the low according to Wikipedia), some jam (8 oz. per month), etc., rather than those being attainable only via the black market even for Outer Party members. (Who are themselves, we’re told, an elite better off than 85% of the population.)

            I’d be very surprised if a typical 1948 British reader looked at the book and say, “well, that was a nice life, at least till Winston ran afoul of the authorities”.

            On the other hand, they can support a sizable population which is underfed but not starving, maintain an industrial base, distribute mass entertainment, and have public order. That’s obviously better than a lot of places have ever managed, then or now. And the prole Winston tries to interrogate about pre-Revolution conditions evaluates his life more or less independent of the political and economic situation. That’s not where I’d personally draw the line for niceness, but this may be a terminological issue more than anything.

          • John Schilling says:

            @John Schilling: maybe we just have orthogonal ideas of niceness? Conditions-as-of-1948 plus totalitarian rule and a return to the Blitz, all as permanent conditions of life

            I see what you did there. You can’t just slip in “plus totalitarian rule” as evidence of non-niceness, when the question is how bad totalitarian rule is for the apolitically loyal. As for the rest,

            It’s obviously well below what a typical modern British or American reader would consider decent … I’d be very surprised if a typical 1948 British reader looked at the book and say, “well, that was a nice life, at least till Winston ran afoul of the authorities”

            Orwell obviously wasn’t writing for a modern audience. And nobody came away from the book thinking that life in Oceania wasn’t all that bad, when the whole point of the book was that Tyranny is the Ultimate Badness.

            My point is, the way Orwell chose to show that, starts with a society that is a slightly drearier amalgam of the experienced and expected British conditions of 1949+/-5 years, and then segued into a boot stamping down on the face of someone who had gone out of their way to put their face in a highly bootable position.

            The orthogonality, is the (in)accuracy of Orwell’s predictions of Long War economic and military conditions over the next twenty-five years. Again, poverty and war are only weakly correlated with tyranny. My central point is: where are all the stories (real or fictional) about how terrible tyranny is when experienced by non-dissidents?

          • Enkidum says:

            ” My central point is: where are all the stories (real or fictional) about how terrible tyranny is when experienced by non-dissidents?”

            Uh… they’re pretty common? Frank Dikötter’s trilogy of nonfiction works about the Chinese Communist Revolution, Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution are a pretty good place to start. Between them, those three events involved the death of >10% of the population, the vast majority of whose only crime was existing. Another good example of the horrors of non-dissident life during this period would be The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Li Zhi-Sui, who was his personal doctor for something like 30 years.

            There are many other documents about everyday life in China, or in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Hitler’s Germany, or Stalin’s Russia (all of which also involved slaughtering large proportions of their own non-dissident population). For novels, you might be interested in Memories of a Pure Spring by Duong Thu Huong, which covers the (substantially less horrifying, but still pretty shitty) Vietnamese regime’s effect on its people.

            “More generally, poverty and war(*) are only weakly correlated with happiness and nice-place-to-liveness, and tyranny is only weakly correlated with poverty and war.”

            Can you give some examples of what you think is a tyranny which was a pretty nice place to live for most people? I feel like you’ve got some very profound historical blinders on.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Enkidum

            Historical nitpick: Germany’s victims were largely people in conquered countries – for example, German Jews were a small minority of the Holocaust’s victims, while Polish Jews were half or more – beyond the intentional killing in that regard, the German war machine was based on plunder with little regard to what it did to those plundered.

          • John Schilling says:

            Can you give some examples of what you think is a tyranny which was a pretty nice place to live for most people? I feel like you’ve got some very profound historical blinders on.

            I feel the same about you.

            Nazi Germany is the central example of tyranny in the modern era; for the vast majority who were non-dissident ethnic Germans it appears to have been no worse than any other central European nation of the era until about 1942, and then for reasons that have more to do with losing a war than with the authoritarian nature of the government. The same was true of most fascist regimes.

            Going back, Genghis Khan was famous for the brutality of his conquests and the totality of the obedience demanded, but of the Pax Mongolica it was said that a naked virgin could walk the length of the empire with a pot of gold on her head and remain unmolested. This may have been an exaggeration, but see e.g. Marco Polo; the peace and prosperity of Mongol rule inspired envy and immigration, not the reverse.

            For that matter, the authoritarian Greek rulers who gave us the term “Tyrant”, governed realms whose ordinary citizens seem to have had lives little worse than that of their democratically-ruled neighbors.

            Your own list is heavily weighted towards explicitly Communist tyrannies, so maybe there’s something specific to communism that makes its adherents implement tyranny in a particularly unpleasant fashion. Or maybe communism is the brand of tyranny that appeals most to people living in impoverished war-torn nations whose lives are going to suck no matter how the government is run. But even there, I will note that living standards in North Korea exceeded those in the South from 1945 to about 1975.

          • Enkidum says:

            Nazi Germany is a central example of tyranny in the modern era. In the space of seven years, their society, which was one of the richest ones that had ever existed on the planet, collapsed to the extent that they required another country to devote a substantial fraction of its GDP towards rebuilding it. The fact that non-Jews who chose to collaborate with the regime were not doing so badly for the first five years of the regime (although most accounts I have read suggest that the average German lived in terror of the SS et al) is hardly a glowing recommendation of fascism as a way of building a society.

            If you want more non-Communist examples, you can throw in the Shah and the Ayatollahs of Iran, most other Middle Eastern states, many sub-Saharan African ones, and numerous Latin American countries. These have all been fairly awful for a large proportion of their citizens, dissidents or not.

          • Randy M says:

            Nazi Germany is a central example of tyranny in the modern era. In the space of seven years, their society, which was one of the richest ones that had ever existed on the planet, collapsed to the extent that they required another country to devote a substantial fraction of its GDP towards rebuilding it.

            This reads like you are attributing all of Germany’s economic problems to their form of government without pointing out the deep debt WWI incurred and the rampant inflation occurring in Weimar Germany, nor the bombing and invasion by the allies during WWII.

          • Enkidum says:

            @Randy M: clearly, I’m being more than a little glib there (and one could compare, say, post-war Belgium and Holland to see places with similar issues to Germany). But I do want to suggest that the Nazis had something to do with that outcome. Like… fascism (and other forms of tyranny) might actually be a bad thing because it leads to bad outcomes.

          • Randy M says:

            I’d agree authoritarian and thriving economy are nearly mutually exclusive, due to the coordination problem, etc., not to mention simple corruption. Many of the same problems dooming Communism will do in Fascism.
            But to portray Weimar Germany as an economic marvel, and the post-war occupation as the result of mere poor economics, is … well, let’s go with very glib, at the least.

          • Nornagest says:

            Economic authoritarianism, at least. The case for social and political authoritarianism is weaker — Singapore’s doing okay, and while China’s per-capita metrics are still mediocre, its growth rate is absurd (though it shows some signs of faltering). Japan’s a pretty socially authoritarian country, too, though not in the same ballpark as those two.

          • Randy M says:

            The case for social and political authoritarianism is weaker

            You mean against, yeah?

            And that’s true, but the problem is if you give someone political authority, what’s to stop them from attempting to exert control over the economy based on some whim or desire to placate the populace?
            Is there historical precedent for authoritarianism that doesn’t slide into totalitarianism?

          • Nornagest says:

            I was going for something more like “the case for social and political authoritarianism [being responsible for economic decline]”, but your phrasing might be clearer.

          • John Schilling says:

            In the space of seven years, [Nazi] society, which was one of the richest ones that had ever existed on the planet, collapsed to the extent that they required another country to devote a substantial fraction of its GDP towards rebuilding it.

            In the space of seven years, pretty much every society in Europe collapsed to the extent that they required another country to devote a substantial fraction of its GDP towards rebuilding it. Fascist tyranny, communist tyranny, liberal democracy, constitutional or non-constitutional monarchy, you name it.

            Having your country invaded and conquered is double-plus ungood, but if you are going to argue that this is strongly correlated with tyranny, there’s all those conquered devastated democracies to deal with. Also, of the major fascist and/or communist tyrannies of Europe ca. 1940:

            Germany was invaded and conquered
            Russia was invaded but emerged victorious
            Italy negotiated surrender as soon as it was invaded
            and Spain stayed out of the whole thing

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Enkidum

            The fact that non-Jews who chose to collaborate with the regime were not doing so badly for the first five years of the regime (although most accounts I have read suggest that the average German lived in terror of the SS et al) is hardly a glowing recommendation of fascism as a way of building a society.

            Most post-war accounts are unreliable because where did the incentive lie after the war – to say “things only got bad when more and more young men were coming home in boxes, the bombing got heavier, and we started losing”, or to say “we were unwilling captives terrified of the Nazis; had we not gone along with them we surely would have been killed”?

          • but of the Pax Mongolica it was said that a naked virgin could walk the length of the empire with a pot of gold on her head and remain unmolested.

            I associate that line with Cyrus quite a bit earlier than Genghis Khan. Do you have a source?

        • vV_Vv says:

          Tyranny implies badness, but the UK is still a pretty nice place to live for most people[citation needed].

          According to the numbers, China is a much better place to live for most people.

          People don’t primarily choose where to live based on the amount of civil liberties they will get.

          • Anonymous says:

            People don’t primarily choose where to live based on the amount of civil liberties they will get.

            Word. Civil liberties are way down there in the ‘non-essential’ category. And even with deficiencies of basic necessities, many people still stay, even when not forbidden from doing so.

          • hyperboloid says:

            According to the numbers, China is a much better place to live for most people.

            Um… what? ….No really , what?.

            By nearly every empirical measure of social welfare or economic success the UK is superior to China by a significant margin. Given that democracy has been shown to be positively correlated with every one of these measures, I suspect that the differences between the Chinese and British systems of government may have something to do with this.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            To my mind, the interesting thing is that people don’t tend to use universal medical care or more government support for medical care as an incentive to move. This is a thing that is unlikely to be feasible when you’re in bad shape or past fifty, but could be planned for when you’re twenty or thirty.

            I’ve never even seen it given as advice, but maybe I’ve missed something.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Um… what? ….No really , what?.

            My comment was a tongue-in-cheek way of pointing out that just because many people live in a certain country, and don’t all try to go away despite being largely free to do so, does not mean that the country is not tyrannical.

            By actual per-capita indexes, the UK is better than China. But Qatar has the highest GDP PPP per capita in the world, and has higher HDI and life expectancy than many Eastern European countries. But, Qatar is obviously way more tyrannical than anything that exists in Europe.

          • Given that democracy has been shown to be positively correlated with every one of these measures, I suspect that the differences between the Chinese and British systems of government may have something to do with this.

            I don’t. I suspect it has to do with the difference between the British economic system and the Chinese over the past eighty years or so.

            Looking at the present Chinese system, one observes that per capita income has been growing much faster than in the U.K.–from a much lower base.

      • You could, but I have the disadvantage of living here.

    • I think they should treat him as an enemy combatant, and avoid the speech issues.

      • Montfort says:

        What does “enemy combatant” mean to you? Someone who says things you don’t like?

        • Someone who openly and brazenly advocates and calls for violent war and destruction against a country.

          No need to be overly principled. Just take a common sense approach. If someone is calling for you, your loved ones, or your community to be violently killed, don’t sit around and wax political theory. Get rid of them.

          • rlms says:

            I never expected to see “prosecute Blair and Bush for war crimes” on SSC, let alone the far stronger claim of “jail everyone who supported any war ever”.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            rlms, we are large, we contain multitudes.

          • Let me take a step back, because I’m probably coming across as edgy, which is my fault.

            I think debates over the finer points of speech and classical liberalism ideas are crucial.

            Having said that, I also view the UK, and countries under a similar classification (“The West”), in a special case of war with strains of Islamic radicalism. It’s not a war based on nationalism. In a war based on nationalism, historically, countries have been pretty comfortable with killing everyone of that nation. There is an implicit understanding that if you live in a country that declares war on another, you are now at risk, even if you didn’t support that war.

            Obviously Islamic radicalism is diffuse, and bound together by a shared idea, rather than borders. If all Islamic radicals had their own country, which was the generating point of all terrorist attacks, the Western nations would probably obliterate it pretty quickly. Lots of their women and children would die as well.

            This is obviously not the case. In your example above though, this man unequivocally is advertising and promoting this war. He is encouraging more terrorist attacks, he continued to promote the Subway bombings. He is, in no uncertain terms, advocating for his side to continue this war, and to kill as many innocents as possible.

            Now, I understand you probably don’t see it this way. You seem him as a citizen exercising speech. Thus he is categorized under the rights protecting citizens. On the other hand, I see him as part of a non-nation state actor, which is in open warfare with my country.

            Having robust rules to identify why we can be confident this is the case gets messy. It’s hard to create an algorithmic like rule that perfectly identifies who we can and cannot strip free speech requirements away from. I don’t disagree with that. However, I’m less worried about damaging our classically liberal values by getting rid of people openly advocating and recruiting terrorist attacks and war on my country, than I am about the damage terrorist attacks will do to the long-run stability of our values. I can’t prove my prediction is right, maybe I’m entirely wrong and am misunderstanding the equilibrium here.

          • Montfort says:

            Wikipedia has a somewhat informative article on the term “enemy combatant.” Calling someone that (or “unlawful combatant”) as opposed to a “criminal” generally indicates you believe them to be subject to military tribunal instead of civil law. (Actually, enemy combatants are supposed to be entitled to Geneva Code treatment, unless they are unlawful combatants, but recent usage by the Bush administration is a little more confusing).

            I think this is inapplicable to someone who merely advocates for the continuance of war against the country he lives in, since there is no actual military activity he is involved in. He’s not literally marshaling troops, spying, sabotaging, shooting at soldiers, etc. By analogy, a German citizen who happened to be living in the UK in 1943 is not an enemy combatant, he’s just a civilian – unless he actually goes and blows up a factory, or tries to murder a Home Guard regiment.

            I can see construing direct instruction, direct action, recruitment, intelligence collection, or even logistical or financial support as “combat” activity, and perhaps other things I haven’t thought of. But I don’t see how a generic expression of desire for the country’s destruction could be any of those, unless it’s some kind of code phrase used to activate a sleeper cell.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @ Nikolai: I like your point that our current alleged clash of civilizations is inherently way less likely to lead to mass death than the nationalist conflicts if the past. This had never occurred to me, and I feel that I now understand a little better those who would like to escalate.

          • Murphy says:

            So, if you’re part of an ethnic minority and there’s a non-trivial fraction of the population who are advocating for your expulsion or even extermination and that faction appear to be gaining group: someone is calling for you, your loved ones, or your community to be violently killed, don’t sit around and wax political theory. Get rid of them. Time for violent action.

            Good we’re clear on your position, that you support the terrorists!

          • Murphy, rhetoric word-play isn’t the same as the actual reality.

            Just because you can swap some entities around to ‘flip’ the sides in a glib paragraph, doesn’t mean that the two things are related or that I have somehow implied that I support terrorism.

            Currently the UK, and EU, are being continuously attacked by a specific and well classified militant ideology. In fact, the recent suicide attackers were well documented by British intelligence as openly supporting ISIS (https://www.ft.com/content/9e1cd794-4a0a-11e7-919a-1e14ce4af89b).

            >Six of his neighbours in Barking, east London, identified the 27-year-old Pakistan-born British citizen as an extremist who was filmed praying in front of a black Islamist flag in Regent’s Park in 2015.
            The footage, later broadcast on Channel 4 in a documentary on British jihadis, shows the suspect in the company of leading figures from the banned al-Muhajiroun network.

            Despite these militants openly calling for the murder of British people, openly praising a militant ideology that is in an open war with who they view as apostates to be killed, and consistently acting on this, we should continue to leave them be, because it’s important to respect their right to, what exactly? Plan and orchestrate suicide attacks on civilians against a country they view as the enemy?

            Honestly, this is insane. If someone wants to kill you, supports people who want to kill you, and is part of a network that has demonstrated that they will kill you, stop debating the finer aspects of speech and civilian rights: Get rid of them.

          • beleester says:

            @Nikolai, it’s not just wordplay. Murphy’s not trying to paint you as a terrorist. He’s saying that terrorists could borrow your justification, and that the policy you propose would probably make people agree with the terrorists. If you start declaring your citizens “enemy combatants” and executing them, and if speech is enough for that to happen to you, people start to worry who’s next.

            Nobody will think “Sure, the government just executed someone without trial, but it’s okay. Government murder squads are known to be highly non-racist and only ever kill terrorists. There’s no way that I could get hurt by this.” They’re going to think “Holy shit, the government is crazy! What’s going to happen to me?”

            In other words, there’s a population that is not terrorists, but has a justifiable fear that the government will commit violence against them. And you’ve just told them that, if someone is threatening violence against you, don’t sit around and talk political theory. Get violent. Get rid of the government before it gets rid of you.

            And now you have more terrorists than when you started.

          • @beleester

            >In other words, there’s a population that is not terrorists, but has a justifiable fear that the government will commit violence against them. And you’ve just told them that, if someone is threatening violence against you, don’t sit around and talk political theory. Get violent. Get rid of the government before it gets rid of you.

            Your point isn’t lost on me. Certainly neither of us want to live in a world where gov murder squads determine who is disqualified from speech due to appearing as an enemy of the state.

            The question then is an empirical one, or one of prediction: At what risk are we of this happening based on anti-terror actions?

            Let’s try a counter-factual experiment. You’re in a room a couple years ago with British intelligence. You’re up to date on recent terror attacks, ISIS, and current risks the nation faces. You’ve just been briefed that a crypto-ISIS cell is operating in your country. They haven’t broken any rules, but they are openly praising, advocating, and recruiting, for terror attacks against civilians to happen within your country. They note that they were able to put Abu Haleema briefly in prison, but that radical activism isn’t a sufficient condition for long-run imprisonment.

            They also discuss how a documentary is being made called ‘The Jihadi next door,” which tracks men on the intelligence watch list who are known radical activists.

            There is debate within the intelligence agency as to whether they have the right to pursue them, and even if they did, whether or not they would succeed. You assure them that these rules are worth following, as these men have not legally done anything wrong.

            A couple years later some of these men directly launch an attack on London citizens.

            Would you argue that, while this attack is regrettable, it was still the correct choice to not arrest these men, as the damage to legal procedure would have been greater than the loss of life in the city that day?

            Obviously I take a different stance, which is that when an organized group of people openly call for the violent collapse and destruction of their country, they become enemies of that country, even if they have not committed any violence up until that point.

            I wouldn’t predict such a policy would have dangerous or long-run consequences on free speech. I think the classification of ISIS and/or set of people who are openly advocating destruction of a state and its people is relatively easy to make. I could be wrong, but on the other hand doing nothing could also have long-run consequences on free speech or other civil liberties, which deteriorate rapidly when people become scared and lose trust in their government to protect them.

          • Montfort says:

            @Nikolai

            So your point of disagreement isn’t that certain opinions should be illegal to publicly hold, it’s that the government should be allowed to indefinitely detain people who have committed no crime*?

            I don’t see how this is all that different from letting police lock people up who may not have done anything bad yet, but who definitely hang out with the wrong crowd and talk about drugs and guns a lot.

            (*Recruiting for a terrorist organization is a real crime in America, at least, and if you have proof you can prosecute them on that basis. If they’re just recruiting for their own terrorist attack, that’s conspiracy and is also prosecutable.)

          • Murphy says:

            Try applying the model to some example situations without including clauses that only cover this one situation. (ie, no “and they’re specifically waving an ISIS flag”)

            So, the communists society at the local university has a rally, they’re trying to get people to join up and also they talk a lot about “destroying capitalism” and use phrases like “ashes of the old corrupt capitalist system”

            Do you disappear them and detain them indefinitely?
            They tick the boxes.

            organized group of people [tick] openly call for the violent collapse and destruction of their country[ tick]

            since the language is pretty violent but I’m sure they’d argue that they meant metaphorical ashes, that they didn’t literally intend to burn anyone.

            How about the local anti-abortion protesters group.

            They’re trying to recruit. They keep talking about how the country is corrupt and evil for allowing children to be slaughtered. They don’t state they’re going to bomb the abortion clinic but they express the view that the more violent anti-abortion groups aren’t entirely lacking moral justification, they talk a lot about the doctors and lawmakers involved “deserving to go to hell” which could be interpreted to mean they should be sent there sooner.

            Again, do you detain? Some of them genuinely might end up murdering doctors or bombing clinics one day.

            And so on and so on. for every person who actually shoots/kills anyone there’s a thousand stupid students and angry people who are never actually going to go out and shoot anyone but look kinda similar to the people who actually do and say kinda similar things.

            Are you going to detain them all?

            it’s not just about Muslims, it’s about every silly little anarchist, discontent, anti-authoritarian, really-really-pro-more-authoritarian etc who’s never going to actually do any more than scrawl a few slogans on walls but who says lots of stupid shit about tearing down “the system”.

            Do you really want the kind of country? There is a real tradeoff that may even be expressible in life-years worth of harm. Is 1000 citizens spending 6 months each in some government hole undergoing “enhanced interrogation” better than 1 citizen dying because some nutter stabbed them while screaming about the government offending their god?

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Murphy:

            They’re trying to recruit. They keep talking about how the country is corrupt and evil for allowing children to be slaughtered. They don’t state they’re going to bomb the abortion clinic but they express the view that the more violent anti-abortion groups aren’t entirely lacking moral justification, they talk a lot about the doctors and lawmakers involved “deserving to go to hell” which could be interpreted to mean they should be sent there sooner.

            Substituting your caricature of the pro-life movement for the actual pro-life movement does not help your argument.

          • Murphy says:

            I’m describing my local batch of pro-lifers, not a caricature (though some people are walking talking caricatures), I’m describing the individuals I’ve encountered in the most straightforward way. The group in question are particularly idiotic bunch called “youth defense” who’s SOP was trying to disrupt any pro-abortion speakers with screaming, shouting and thrown objects.

            In debating their local branch leader on forums I was depressed to find just how utterly thick he was. They kept insisting that their views were all based on Catholicism while actually constantly contradicting the catholic churches positions in favor of a random smattering of American evangelical positions and would then get huffy when the official catholic positions were pointed out to them.

            The sad reality is that many people genuinely are walking parodies of their own movements.

        • jimmy says:

          Drawing the correct distinction isn’t trivial and there’s plenty of room to try to abuse things, but would you not agree that it exists?

          It’s illegal to hire a hit man to kill your wife, but it’s not about an expression of ideas or beliefs. So far as I know it’s completely legal to write an essay about why the world would be better off if she died. It’s just that when you act with intent to directly cause her murder in a way that can plausibly succeed, then your words become *evidence* of your actual crime.

          Sure, proving intent is tough and we don’t want to criminalize unpopular ideas under some hand-wavey idea that it might have bad consequences somewhere down the line, but that’s sorta a different question as I see it.

      • Fahundo says:

        What kind of combat was he involved in?

    • Alkatyn says:

      If we look for comparisons most european countries have more restrictive laws on free speech and don’t seem especially tyrannical. The USA is an outlier among western countries for having such strict free speech protections, but it doesn’t seem to be correlated with better democratic outcomes.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        but it doesn’t seem to be correlated with better democratic outcomes

        That has more to do with our pants-on-head FPTP system than anything else. When your system inevitably decays to 2-party trench politics, it doesn’t really matter how theoretically good your marketplace-of-ideas infrastructure is since it will all just get mobilized for the war effort.

  23. As some of you may know, women are vastly underrepresented in philosophy, which a lot of people in the field claim is because of sexism. I wrote a detailed post in which I argue that, despite what I call the “official narrative”, there is scant evidence that women face pervasive discrimination in philosophy and, on the contrary, there is a lot of evidence that they get some kind of preferential treatment. Perhaps more importantly, I argue that even if sexism really were pervasive in the field, it still wouldn’t explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy. That’s because what most people don’t realize is that a good explanation should not only explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy, but also why they are not in many other fields. I argue that, in view of these facts, the best explanation for the underrepresentation of women in philosophy is that, for whatever reason, they are less likely to be interested in philosophy than men. I show that, unlike the official narrative, not only does this hypothesis explain the data, but it’s independently supported by the evidence. I argue that, while there are often reasons to be concerned by the fact that women have different occupational preferences than men, this is probably not the case here. I conclude by arguing that, if philosophers really want to change the preferences of women toward philosophy, they probably can only do that by radically changing what counts as philosophy, which I think is not desirable. If they refuse to do that, the only way departments of philosophy could substantially increase the proportion of women in philosophy is by engaging in some kind of affirmative action, whose result would probably be the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. As you may remember, Scott had already discussed that issue a few years ago, when he criticized Leslie et al.’s study. I mention his criticism when I argue that we probably shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that women are less interested in philosophy than men.

    • manwhoisthursday says:

      You might want to check out this article from UofT philosophy prof Joseph Heath:
      http://induecourse.ca/adversarialism-in-philosophy-a-defence/

      Women are weirdly not deterred from entering certain professions, like law or surgery, where there are, in fact, a lot of sexist jerks.

      —–

      He also has a similar paywalled article in the Chronicle, but I don’t have access and haven’t read it:
      http://www.chronicle.com/article/You-re-Wrong-The-Case/239985

      • Thanks for the link. I already knew about Heath’s blog, but I had missed this post, which I find absolutely excellent. I briefly mention the hypothesis that the adversarial culture of philosophy is responsible for the underrepresentation in my post.

      • OptimalSolver says:

        My completely baseless speculation is that it all comes down to the social status of the men in a particular field, plus how people-oriented it is. That’s why we see no female deluge into computer science. Rock-bottom social status male geeks plus a focus on non-living systems = female wasteland.

        Are male philosophers high status? Maybe in 390 BC.

        I also see that stubbornly using “her” and “she” as default pronouns, no matter how distracting in context, has not raised male philosophers’ stock with women.

        Edit: I’m also guessing that women with philosophical interests, especially big-concept philosophy and metaphysics, are very likely to be on the spectrum and be more male typical in interests and behavior.

      • BBA says:

        Women are weirdly not deterred from entering certain professions, like law or surgery, where there are, in fact, a lot of sexist jerks.

        But those also pay extremely well, at the high end anyway. Philosophy doesn’t. Lesson: enough money makes anything tolerable.

        • Matt M says:

          So Philosophy is the male equivalent of gender studies? Something you major in if you want to hang out among your own kind, and don’t care about never making any money?

          • Nornagest says:

            Philosophy majors actually make pretty good money. They just don’t do it in philosophy.

            This is probably because it attracts smart people, though, not because of the content.

        • Jiro says:

          Engineering pays well, too.

          With the result that lots of women go into engineering in developing countries, where they pretty much have to take jobs for the money. But not in the West, where the woman is a lot more likely than the man to take a job that pays less but is more enjoyable.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Right, wake me from a drunken stupor and I could name like 50 high paying careers that women don’t seem as interested in, often with much lower jerk ratio.

    • SchwarzeKatze says:

      Unless we’re talking about “analytical philosophy” which recognizes that the empirical methods of science are the only way to gain useful knowledge, I don’t see why women (or anyone for that matter) should care how represented they are in philosophy any more than they should care about how represented they are in stamp collecting or astrology.

      • rlms says:

        As opposed to dirty “continentalal philosophy”, which is comprised only of Cultural Marxists and other such fools?

        • SchwarzeKatze says:

          There is no such thing as “cultural marxism”. It’s just a smear word used by people who have never read Marx and who think anything that deviates from north american cultural values is “comminism”. What I think you are referring to is “postmodernism” which has been hilariously shown to be nonsense designed to impress fools (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair). Marx was pretty much on board with the empirical methods of science being the only basis for knowledge. Historical materialism and atheism are fundamental things in Marx’s thought that are quite alien to the crowds usually refered to as “cultural marxists”. Saying that immigration is the reserve army of capitalism or criticizing aspects of jewish culture or the declaration of human rights like Marx did would be part of the seven deadly sins of these crowds. Many right wing fools endlessly quote Nietzsche and other continental philosophers to support their claims.

          • Stationary Feast says:

            There is no such thing as “cultural marxism”. It’s just a smear word used by people who have never read Marx and who think anything that deviates from north american cultural values is “comminism”.

            It’s frequently used to refer to people who seem to think of most, if not all, interpersonal interaction as oppressor/oppressed interaction, usually with the proviso that white people, and especially straight white men, can never be oppressed.

            There are other ways of viewing the world, and people who use “cultural marxism” as a term generally see things other ways.

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            And what exactly has that got to do with Marx or even marxism? Cultural liberalism would be a better term to describe this and marxism as well as serious anarchism rejects the philosophical assumptions and rhetoric of liberalism that it considers as a bourgeois ideology.

          • Stationary Feast says:

            And what exactly has that got to do with Marx or even marxism?

            кто кого?

          • vV_Vv says:

            There is no such thing as “cultural marxism”. It’s just a smear word used by people who have never read Marx and who think anything that deviates from north american cultural values is “comminism”.

            And yet all these continental “philosophers” always manage to include some anti-capitalist rethoric in their inane screeds. I wonder where did they get the idea?

            Anyway, modern Social Justice ideology is very clearly a derivative of Marxism. Not only the people who developed it were openly Marxists, but it shares with Marxism the same belief structure and (lack of) epistemology: both are collectivist ideologies that focus on the struggle between the “oppressed” and their “oppressor”. Both ideologies are fundamentally cultish, dogmatic, anti-enlightenment (they reject freedom of speech, freedom of association, equality before the law, due process, meritocracy, democracy), totalitarian (they want to police your thoughts) and they are prone to violence.

            The difference is that in Marxism the oppressor-oppressed axis was based almost exclusively on wealth, or more precisely on the ownership of the means of production, while Social Justice, while paying some lip service to wealth distinctions, fundamentally recognizes as the oppressor anyone physically and culturally identifiable as a central example of a successful Westerner (white, male*, straight, Christian), and recognizes as the oppressed anybody who diverges from the stereotype (non-white, woman, gay/trans/attack helicopter, Musim/Wiccan/Atheist+, etc.).

            (* not because Westerns women don’t exist, of course, but because, for historical reasons, the stereotype of a successful Westerner is male)

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            @vV_Vv
            >Both ideologies are fundamentally cultish, dogmatic, >anti-enlightenment (they reject free speech, equality >before the law, due process, meritocracy, democracy) >and they are prone to violence.

            (Classical) anarchism is anti-enlightenment, anti-meritocracy and in some cases resorts to violence. But it advocates (absolute) free speech, equality before the law, due process and (real as opposed to elected oligarchy) democracy. So using your logic, is it derived from marxism too then? Oh wait, it can’t because it precedes it historically.

            It’s also news to me that capitalists do not resort to violence as well to silence their opponent as the historical record is replete with capitalists resorting to violence from gunning down workers gone on strike to invading countries to impose free trade.

            Also I haven’t heard of anyone in the social justice crowd or even the larger left that rejects property which is a core idea that socialists agree about whether they are of the marxist or the anarchist variety. Anyone who doesn’t reject property is effectively a capitalist as property is the one single thing that makes capitalism possible.

            Furthermore I don’t see how one can call people who are routinely criticized for being special snowflakes collectivists as opposed to individualists.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            vV_Vv: I don’t think you get oppression points for being wiccan. It’s probably counted as white people faffing around because they have slack in their lives even (I’m not sure) though it might not be cultural appropriation.

            By the way, is there a pronounciation for your handle? I just think of it as wings.

            SchwarzeKatze: SJWs seem to be alright with smashing capitalism, but I don’t think they especially want to end property.

            I have no idea where this puts them on the Marxist/not Marxist spectrum. I’d have said they are at least strongly influenced by Marxism.

          • onyomi says:

            This has come up before, but apparently enough people think “cultural Marxist” is a dirty swear word that one should either specify “Frankfurt School” or use the broader “Marxist cultural theorist.” The latter definitely exist and are overrepresented on the continent, but I don’t think all continental philosophers are Marxists, nor all Marxists continental philosophers. If one means the people who think everyone is oppressed in unique and exciting ways, “Intersectionality” and Critical Race Theory tend to be the operative terms.

            Re. the Sokal Affair, from what I’ve read, the article wasn’t peer reviewed. A non-peer reviewed article is basically not an academic article, so it can’t really be an indictment of academics’ own vetting process (not that I think peer review works great or doubt the contention that something with a snappy title or a politically congenial conclusion will receive the benefit of the doubt in a way other work might not, just that the Sokal Affair seems a bad example for proving it. A better example, in my mind, is Arming America, though it doesn’t prove anything about postmodernism per se).

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            You can’t technically prevent anyone from engaging in capitalism if property isn’t outlawed. But they wouldn’t know that because they’ve never read Proudhon and/or Marx either and have the same understanding of the words capitalism and property as most proponents of capitalism do. To be strongly influenced by marxism you’d have to have at least read Marx and know what he was actually talking about which clearly isn’t the case. Actually the ideology from which SJ derives from is referred to by some actual marxists as liberal-libertarian which they consider as a cultural outgrowth of capitalism.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            onyomi, thanks. I didn’t realize Arming America had been debunked.

            As for Sokol, I feel he didn’t give his hoax a fair test. He revealed it too soon.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Yeah, I never got how “cultural Marxism” is a dirty right wing swear word but “Marxist cultural theory” and such are somehow perfectly fine.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @SchwarzeKatze

            (Classical) anarchism is anti-enlightenment, anti-meritocracy and in some cases resorts to violence. But it advocates (absolute) free speech, equality before the law, due process and (real as opposed to elected oligarchy) democracy.

            Democracy, in the usual meaning of rule of the majority, is incompatible with pure anarchism. And so it is having laws and courts to enforce them. Of course there are hundreds of variants of anarchism that compromise on certain points, but this fundamental tension still exist.

            So using your logic, is it derived from marxism too then? Oh wait, it can’t because it precedes it historically.

            Most contemporary versions of anarchism (anarcho-socialism, anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism) have certainly been heavily influenced by Marxism, and anarchism is now virtually universally considered a far-left ideology. The only exception is anarcho-capitalism.

            It’s also news to me that capitalists do not resort to violence as well to silence their opponent as the historical record is replete with capitalists resorting to violence from gunning down workers gone on strike to invading countries to impose free trade.

            Humans are violent apes, throughout history every group with any kind of power has practiced violence. This said, Marxism advocates for violence at a theoretical level in a way that capitalism never did, and going by their body counts, Marxists have killed far more people than capitalists did, both in absolute number and as a fraction of their populations.

            Also I haven’t heard of anyone in the social justice crowd or even the larger left that rejects property which is a core idea that socialists agree about whether they are of the marxist or the anarchist variety. Anyone who doesn’t reject property is effectively a capitalist as property is the one single thing that makes capitalism possible.

            Marxism and socialism don’t necessarily condemn property defined as having personal possessions. They condemn the private ownership of the means of productions, the capital. This is an important distinction: in Soviet Union, for instance, some people could accumulate significant amounts of wealth, but they were never “capitalists” as they did not own things like factories, farms, shops, etc.

            Anyway, Social Justice is indeed more capital-friendly, which makes it more palatable to the Silicon Valley and Wall Street elites that bankroll it. As I said, it has largely retargeted its oppressor-oppressed axis from economic differences to physical and cultural differences.

            Furthermore I don’t see how one can call people who are routinely criticized for being special snowflakes collectivists as opposed to individualists.

            They are very conformist in their anti-conformity, of course. Your typical SJW will claim some racial minority status if they can, even based on flimsy grounds (like saying that you are Native American because you are 1/8 Cherokee, even if you look white), or if they can’t, they will claim some made up gender identity and sexual orientation (e.g. demisexual gendervoid), plus some self-diagnosed mental illness (typically PTSD, since it’s easy to fake and can be used to police other people’s behavior). Add some pink/blue hair, an ugly tattoo or two, “problem glasses”, a hipster beard for males, and here it is your standard-issue special snowflake.

            Of course, as soon they are confronted with actual diversity, primarily diversity of thought that they can’t categorize in their pre-made boxes, they go nuts.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            I don’t think you get oppression points for being wiccan. It’s probably counted as white people faffing around because they have slack in their lives even (I’m not sure) though it might not be cultural appropriation.

            Well, at least you don’t get the oppressor points for being a Christian. But yes, if you really want to win the Oppression Olympics, you’ll have to join the Religion of Peace.

            By the way, is there a pronounciation for your handle? I just think of it as wings.

            I’ve never said it aloud, but in my mind it sounds like Vee Vee. Wings sounds cool though 🙂

            @onyomi

            Re. the Sokal Affair, from what I’ve read, the article wasn’t peer reviewed. A non-peer reviewed article is basically not an academic article, so it can’t really be an indictment of academics’ own vetting process

            It was published in a respectable journal in the field of Sociology. The fact that this journal did not practice peer-review and was nevertheless considered respectable speaks volumes about the level of intellectual rigor of the field.

            @manwhoisthursday

            Yeah, I never got how “cultural Marxism” is a dirty right wing swear word but “Marxist cultural theory” and such are somehow perfectly fine.

            It must be like “colored people” vs. “people of color”.

          • Chalid says:

            published in a respectable journal in the field of Sociology

            I’m not sure about the respectability level but it was definitely not a sociology journal.

            Sociology is actually pretty quantitative and I don’t know why it’s often the catchall epithet for bad social science on SSC. Just because it has “socio” in the name?

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            @vV_Vv

            >Democracy, in the usual meaning of rule of the majority, is incompatible >with pure anarchism. And so it is having laws and courts to enforce them. >Of course there are hundreds of variants of anarchism that compromise >on certain points, but this fundamental tension still exist.

            Classical anarchists don’t have a liberal understanding of the word anarchy which is the absence of rules, they understand it as the absence of hierarchy (which is the correct etymology of the word) which requires rules whether these rules are written or not. Democracy, like it existed in ancient athens, is a practical example of how to implement anarchy as it is understood by classical anarchists.

            >Most contemporary versions of anarchism (anarcho-socialism, >anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism) have certainly been >heavily influenced by Marxism, and anarchism is now virtually >universally considered a far-left ideology. The only exception is anarcho-capitalism.

            Neither marxists nor classical anarchists consider themselves to be anywhere on the left and have criticized the left abundantly. The reason why I always use the term “classical anarchism”, is because today’s self-described anarchists aren’t anarchists in the classical sense, they have the liberal understanding of the word anarchy which is at odds with classical anarchists. Most of them are thus indeed on the far left and have never read any of the classical anarchists. No classical anarchist was ever influenced by marxism and furthermore they all reject communism and Marx explicitly. What most people believe is worthless.

            >Humans are violent apes, throughout history every group with any >kind of power has practiced violence. This said, Marxism advocates for >violence at a theoretical level in a way that capitalism never did, and >going by their body counts, Marxists have killed far more people than >capitalists did, both in absolute number and as a fraction of their >populations.

            While it’s true that Marx and marxists did advocate for armed revolution,
            what you forget to take into account is all the deaths caused by poverty which continue to this day. When this is taken into account, then capitalists dwarf every other group that ever existed as killers.

            >Marxism and socialism don’t necessarily condemn property defined as >having personal possessions.

            Of course not, because this isn’t what property means.

            >They condemn the private ownership of the means of productions, the >capital. This is an important distinction: in Soviet Union, for instance, >some people could accumulate significant amounts of wealth, but they >were never “capitalists” as they did not own things like factories, >farms, shops, etc.

            Only marxists focus on the private ownership of the means of production because marxism is an ideology which explains everything with economics. This is what Marx’s writings are: an attempt at explaining history exclusively with economics. National Socialism on the other hand was an attempt to explain everything with race. And that is actually a very good reason why “cultural marxism” makes no sense at all. SJ does not explain the world with economics at all but through their own concepts of “patriarchy” and “oppression”. And that is certainly no threat to capitalists.

          • IrishDude says:

            While it’s true that Marx and marxists did advocate for armed revolution, what you forget to take into account is all the deaths caused by poverty which continue to this day. When this is taken into account, then capitalists dwarf every other group that ever existed as killers.

            Can you expound on your take that poverty is caused by capitalism? Almost everyone in the world for all of history were in a state of material poverty. It’s only historically recently, within the last two centuries, that vast amounts of wealth have been created and large numbers of people have come out of poverty. The richest countries around the world are generally the ones with the greatest respect for private property and free trade, which I consider the basis of capitalism.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Democracy, like it existed in ancient athens, is a practical example of how to implement anarchy as it is understood by classical anarchists.

            TIL that Ancient Athens had no hierarchies. /s

            Neither marxists nor classical anarchists consider themselves to be anywhere on the left and have criticized the left abundantly.

            Sounds like a No True Leftist fallacy.

            Anyway, we are arguing semantics here, whether you consider Marxism and anarchism left-wing or not, it is still a fact that Social Justice is derived from Marxism.

            While it’s true that Marx and marxists did advocate for armed revolution,
            what you forget to take into account is all the deaths caused by poverty which continue to this day.

            Oh, you mean all the people who died in the Holodomor? Or those who died in the Great Chinese Famine? Or those who are currently enjoying Nicolás Maduro’s special weight loss program in Venezuela? Or those who practice cannibalism in North Korea?

            Damn capitalists!

            And that is actually a very good reason why “cultural marxism” makes no sense at all. SJ does not explain the world with economics at all but through their own concepts of “patriarchy” and “oppression”. And that is certainly no threat to capitalists.

            Indeed, SJWs are Marxists who retargeted their sights from economic class struggle to race/gender/sexual orientation/religion/etc. struggle. But other than this retargeting, they are totally Marxist.

          • Brad says:

            @vV_Vv

            Anyway, we are arguing semantics here, whether you consider Marxism and anarchism left-wing or not, it is still a fact that Social Justice is derived from Marxism.

            Someone should let the Jesuits know.

            Indeed, SJWs are Marxists who retargeted their sights from economic class struggle to race/gender/sexual orientation/religion/etc.

            They were Marxists in middle school and then changed targets in high school?

            You wouldn’t happen to have any kind of evidence for these pronouncements, would you?

          • Nornagest says:

            Someone should let the Jesuits know.

            The phrase “social justice” comes out of Catholicism, but most of the theory behind it comes out of social science academia. We could reasonably disagree on how central Marx is to that, but it is a fact that Marxian ideas had and still have a great deal of influence there.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            [Sokol hoax]

            “It was published in a respectable journal in the field of Sociology. The fact that this journal did not practice peer-review and was nevertheless considered respectable speaks volumes about the level of intellectual rigor of the field.”

            Still, by revealing the hoax when the piece was published, we didn’t have a chance to see what a lot of people in sociology thought of it.

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            An incomplete list of the death toll of capitalism:

            300,000 US Bombing of Yugoslavia
            500,000 US Bombing Iraq Water Supply ‘91
            1,000,000 US sanctions on Iraq
            500,000 Iraq (Desert Storm)
            1,200,000 US Backed Suharto
            1,500,000 Irish Potato Famine
            7,000,000 Famine of 1932-33
            30,000,000 Famine in British India
            5,000,000 US Intervention in the Congo
            1,000,000 Indonesian Anti-Communist Purge
            100,000 Industrial Revolution USA
            3,000,000 US-Philippine War
            300,000 Guatemala
            650,000 Invasion of the Philippines
            1,200,000 Invasion of Afghanistan
            1,300,000 Invasion of Iraq
            6,000,000 US intervention in Latin America and brutal US-backed military dictatorships
            10,000,000 Vietnam War, including Cambodia and Laos
            10,000,000 Korean War
            20,000,000 British Occupation of India
            12,000,000 Great Depression (America alone)
            120,000,000 Capitalist Policy in India 1947 – 1990
            30,000 US Backed murder of Tamils
            100,000 Spanish-American War
            20,000 Massacre of the Paris Commune
            1,500,000 First Indochina 1946-1954
            1,000,000 Colonization of the Belgian Congo
            80,000 French Madagascar
            95,000,000 Native American Genocide
            100,000 US Made Famine Bangladesh

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m not even going to touch most of that whole Gish gallop, but just to take “Native American Genocide” as an example, I love it that it’s (a) the high estimate (b) of a death toll caused primarily by unintentionally spread* disease and its downstream effects, (c) primarily under pre-capitalist modes of economic organization.

            But you do you. This is cute, I don’t see real live tankies very often.

            * You’re going to say “smallpox blankets”. I’ve heard of them too.
            There is exactly one documented suggestion of using them, late in the colonization of the Americas, and we don’t know if it actually happened or if it worked if it did.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I also love the part where the quasi-Capitalist South Koreans are getting the blame for being invaded by the Communist North Koreans.

          • John Schilling says:

            And the way the Evil Capitalists of the Korean War killed ten million people, at a time when the population of North Korea was only nine million. Even adding the half-million or so South Korean and Allied dead, that’s not going to work.

          • dndnrsn says:

            And of course there was that time that 1/10 of the American population in 1930 starved to death during the Depression, which is definitely a thing that happened.

            Plus, here I was, not even knowing that the USSR’s famine in 1932-33 was the fault of capitalism.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is what Marx’s writings are: an attempt at explaining history exclusively with economics. National Socialism on the other hand was an attempt to explain everything with race. And that is actually a very good reason why “cultural marxism” makes no sense at all. SJ does not explain the world with economics at all but through their own concepts of “patriarchy” and “oppression”. And that is certainly no threat to capitalists.

            Yes, Marx’s writing were about class struggle between economic oppressors and economic victims. “Cultural Marxists” explain the world through cultural oppressors and cultural victims. That’s why the word “cultural” is used to modify “Marxism” because it’s still class struggle, just the classes are defined by race/gender/etc instead of ownership of capital.

            Another appropriate term would be “postmodernism.”

            Yes, “Cultural Marxism” is a snarl word because no one calls themselves a Cultural Marxist. An awful lot of actual Marxists decry American “imperialism” during the Iraq war, even though this obviously means they have no idea what they’re talking about, since no one calls themselves an “imperialist,” America is not an empire, and did not annex/colonize Iraq.

            Perhaps the confusion is based on whether you think the oppressor/oppressed dynamic is more central to Marxist theory than economics. If you’re sympathetic to Marxism (or Cultural Marxism), then obviously the only thing important to Marx’s writings is economic in nature, since one takes it as a given that the world is made of oppressors and the oppressed. Therefore the only thing Marx was ever saying that wasn’t blatantly obvious was about economics. If you’re a paleoconservative, you’re looking at the world on a civilization/barbarism axis, and if you’re a libertarian human interactions are based on liberty or coercion. This makes your central disagreement with Marxism (or Cultural Marxism) the validity of the oppressor/oppressed worldview, and the economics stuff is secondary.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            Thank you for reminding me that famines under communism are the product of the evil communist government destroying all the food or something, while famines under capitalism (or, in many cases, simply the poor starving – which isn’t a problem, they should’ve bought money) are a natural problem which has nothing to do with the country’s economic system, and if anything capitalism, no matter how wholeheartedly embraced by the government in question, should be credited for not making it worse.

            I am sure the one in nine people hungry today, long after the fall of the USSR and the Dengist counter-revolution in China, really appreciate it.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Thank you for reminding me that famines under communism are the product of the evil communist government destroying all the food or something,

            The Ukrainian famine pretty much was:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            Marx’s writings are an in detail description of how capitalism came to be and works, Das Kapital
            is an economics book and while class struggle is an important part of the explanation, it’s not the central
            theme of Marx’s writings. What Marx attempted to do is a scientific explanation of how capitalism works. It’s not some kind of political manifesto. You just need to read the titles of the chapters of Das Kapital to understand this. The Communist Manifesto, is a declaration of war against capitalism but it doesn’t really describe some elaborate strategy against capitalism or some plan for an alternative kind of society. This is because Marx thought that capitalism was an expected stage of civilization and that it would “collapse under the weight of it’s own contradictions” (automation might actually make his prediction come true). Marxism-leninism/bolshevism is what came up with a strategy against and a replacement for capitalism based on Marx’s description of capitalism.

            SJ is not derived from Marx’s description of what capitalism is and neither derived from marxism-leninism. Worse it’s ways of viewing the world are in contradiction with Marx’s description of capitalism. For instance Marx called immigration “the reserve army of capitalism”. Immigration for a genuine marxist is a bad thing. Communist parties before the collapse of the USSR when they still were satellite parties of the russian communist party, all opposed immigration on anti-capitalist grounds. In constrat SJ will do anything to promote immigration, open borders etc. That is a liberal “social democrat” thing. Marx says that capitalists support immigration to undermine the native working class. For marxists, SJ are tools of capitalism. The word “leftist” was coined by Lenin as a snarl word for “social democrats”, i.e. people who think capitalism just needs to be regulated/reformed a bit but is fundamentally a good thing.

            Cultural marxism is not a snarl word because no one calls themselves that, it’s a snarl word because of the popular manichean view of the world in U.S. culture which lumps into the same “communist” bag any society or group that has or promotes policies that oppose capitalism regardless of what replacement they propose or just want to regulate capitalism in a way that conflicts with the interests of U.S. corporations. Like calling Venezuela “communist” or “socialist” when property (i.e. interest, wage labor, rent, speculation) is clearly not outlawed there but simply more regulated and in ways not beneficial to U.S. capitalists.

            The USA is an empire, just like russia, china or any other large hierarchical society is. The US is the world’s biggest bully. It did annex Iraq by putting in charge a government that has enacted policies that are to the benefit of U.S. capitalists. It has been doing this for decades everywhere in the world just like the roman empire bullied all it’s neighbors so they would pay tribute and to get more slaves. No fundamental difference. This is documented, anyone can go read Wikileaks and see this for themselves.

          • Mark says:

            I’m not too sure about that list – I’ve never heard of the 300,000 people dying in the US bombing of Yugoslavia – but, I think the general point is good.

            We’ve had this conversation here before and I think it’s a real weak spot for the anti-Communists – one which they are fairly reluctant to acknowledge or discuss.

            Bring up slavery, imperialism, famines, and hunger, which certainly killed millions in the 19th century before the introduction of social welfare programmes, and you are told, “ah, but that isn’t the real capitalism…”

            And yet, and yet… we’re also told that one of the major reasons why communism isn’t even worthy of consideration is its blood-soaked past. Anyone trying the same argument as above for Marxism is given short shrift and dismissed as an apologist for murder.

            There are two related but somewhat separate issues when it comes to criticism of Communism – motivation and efficiency. (1) People cannot be motivated to work in a Communist system without resort to massive violence (2) Communist central planning is fundamentally inefficient, Communism has no institutions capable of transmitting information in a similar way to the market.

            To which the replies are:
            (1) Full-blooded capitalism has also required massive violence, and people can be motivated to do almost anything. Look at all the weird shit people have done throughout history. Communism is, believe it or not, seriously considering the question of how an individual can exist, whereas liberalism just assumes it.
            (2) I’m not clear on the technical details, but, afaik, central planning is bad if you need information about individual consumer preferences, but good if you need to build lots of battleships, or whatever.
            Central planning isn’t a fundamental feature of Communism, more an artifact of early-Twentieth century technocratic thought.
            Regarding transmission of information, again I’m not sure on this, but, afaik, markets don’t need capitalist ownership to exist. They could just be a means of expressing preference, rather than a way of trading productive capacity for consumption, with costs expressed in terms of energy/labour.
            But that might be looping back round into questions of motivation.

          • Nornagest says:

            Bring up slavery, imperialism, famines, and hunger, which certainly killed millions in the 19th century before the introduction of social welfare programmes, and you are told, “ah, but that isn’t the real capitalism…”

            Capitalism isn’t an ideology. It’s not an ideology to Marxists. who on that level of analysis treat all ideology as a distraction from economic relations. And it’s not an ideology to actual capitalists, who mostly just want to sell people things. The number of people who’ve been killed in its name is therefore roughly zero. (Anti-communism, yes, people have died for that. But anti-communism isn’t capitalism either.)

            When our tankie friend here starts listing deaths due to it, despite all talk of -isms, he’s actually holding a mode of economic organization up against the more advanced (to Marxists) one represented by the Combloc countries. It’s still a poor list for any number of reasons, and the Marxist analysis behind it is full of holes, but it’s at least comparing something to something and we could take a stab at bounding them both and trying to quantify some stuff.

            You haven’t even gotten that far.

          • rlms says:

            @Nornagest
            If you’re trying to compare apples to apples where apples are people killed in the name of an ideology, you can’t include the majority of famine deaths under Communist regimes.

          • Mark says:

            @Nornagest

            Capitalism isn’t an ideology.

            I feel like this has Molochian implications.
            Are you saying that our thoughts about how best to socially organise are entirely irrelevant, and that only technical capacity matters? And, does technical possibility require human understanding, consideration? Wouldn’t our understanding and opinions of possibility constitute an ideology if it did?

            Or you saying that the rich and powerful simply have no thoughts about the matter? We’re being ruled by the scorpion headed high priests of Kal Ada’b?

            And… since there are people who believe in a capitalist society as best, isn’t it a little rude to tell them they don’t exist?
            I mean, what is going on there?

            at least comparing something to something and we could take a stab at bounding them both and trying to quantify some stuff.

            I am comparing something to something. I’m comparing anti-communists passionate arguments against communism to their disinterest in similar arguments made against capitalism.

          • John Schilling says:

            If you’re trying to compare apples to apples where apples are people killed in the name of an ideology, you can’t include the majority of famine deaths under Communist regimes.

            Can I include the ones where the Communist regime sent men with guns to take food away from hungry people, or evict farmers from good farmland?

          • Brad says:

            The Irish potato famine? What does that have to do with communism?

          • rlms says:

            @John Schilling
            Yes and probably not. The link between seizing land and famine is more like the link between war, or even (capitalist) economic policy, and famine than deliberate ideological killing in my opinion.

          • Enkidum says:

            What about the famine during the Great Leap Forward, which was not a deliberate act of policy like the Soviet famines, but rather simply the result of gross negligence, incompetence, and insanely stupid policies? And probably killed more people than any other single event in history.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It did annex Iraq by putting in charge a government that has enacted policies that are to the benefit of U.S. capitalists.

            I don’t think you know what “annex” means. “Puppet government” I’d grant, but this is just loonery.

          • dndnrsn says:

            With regard to famines, the major and relatively recent famines taking place under capitalist modes of organization – the Irish famine, or several Indian famines where British colonial administrators either chose not to or were ordered not to act to alleviate the famine on the basis that it would upset the market – colonialism seems to be more the culprit than capitalism. If millions of English had been starving to death, the English government would have done something, market or no, because those English were more likely to have votes than Irish or Indians, and their lives were valued more than those of colonial subjects. This was the case before modern capitalism was really a thing, and it was the case when other factors were at play (eg during the Bengal famine, it seems fairly conscious decisions were made to prioritize the war effort over starving civilians).

            Likewise, to be fair, the famine deaths under communism were as much a result of incompetent central decision-making, followed by doubling down, as much as they were anything to do with communism. Any form of economic organization could have that happen if there’s a controlling group like what the “vanguard party” turned into in multiple places – it’s not as though there haven’t been famines along the lines of “crop yields suffer, income for lord declines, lord squeezes peasants harder, peasants starve”.

            The lesson in both cases is that locals on the ground will generally make better decisions, or at least decisions that value their lives more highly, than someone a distance away who maybe doesn’t value the lives of foreigners/peasants/kulaks, whether they be Colonial Undersecretary, Duke, or Commissar.

            There is nothing new under the sun.

            With regard to the whole “cultural Marxism” shibboleth, it’s entirely relevant that there’s a major tradition in left-wing academia of using Marxist or Marxist-flavoured methods of analysis without being Marxists. A lot of people who are quasi-liberals (it’s not as though they seem to have much respect for free speech, property rights, etc) or quasi-radicals (they don’t really seem to be that into remaking society in any hugely radical ways) have adopted views that take Marxism (or, a simplified version) and just swap in various other groups for “rich people” and “poor people” or whatever.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            With regard to famines, the major and relatively recent famines taking place under capitalist modes of organization – the Irish famine, or several Indian famines where British colonial administrators either chose not to or were ordered not to act to alleviate the famine on the basis that it would upset the market – colonialism seems to be more the culprit than capitalism.

            In the Bengal famine of ’43, it looks like more colonialism (specifically in the form of overruling the Indian provincial governments and preventing them from banning food exports) might actually have helped.

          • IrishDude says:

            @dndnrsn

            Likewise, to be fair, the famine deaths under communism were as much a result of incompetent central decision-making, followed by doubling down, as much as they were anything to do with communism

            Isn’t the biggest issue the incentive problems with collective farms over private farms? Private farms create strong incentives to be very productive since the gains are internalized to the productive farmers while collective farms lack those incentives. Thus, the pilgrims nearly starved under collective farming arrangements and therefore switched to private farms to greatly increase their yields. Similarly, the Chinese greatly increased their crop yields after switching from collective to private farming.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @IrishDude

            The most deadly part of the famines was concentrated among Ukrainians, and there was a lot more going on there. Collective farming seems mostly to have been a failure, but for a whole bunch of reasons. Attempts to “rationalize” things by shuffling peasants around usually don’t work – eg, for the opposite ideological tendency, American attempts to move villages around in Vietnam to create supposedly more defensible communities failed.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I go with the belief that if capitalism is to be blamed for poverty in capitalist countries, then communism is to be blamed for poverty in communist countries. And if there are more and worse famines in communist countries, then this might just have something to do with communism.

            I also believe that if people consistently move from country A to country B at the risk of their lives, and stay in country B even though they’re free to move back to A, then life is substantially better in country B.

          • Enkidum says:

            The Great Leap forward in China matches the Ukrainian famine, in that collectivization certainly didn’t help, but it was merely one among a perfect storm of factors, including melting down half the metal tools, refusing to allow people to actually do the necessary work in the fields, deliberately over-planting fields by ridiculous amounts, exporting millions of tons of food, murdering many of the best workers, etc etc etc. Frank Dikötter’s book on it is highly recommended, if you want to marvel at just how bad a government can be.

          • Nornagest says:

            If you’re trying to compare apples to apples where apples are people killed in the name of an ideology, you can’t include the majority of famine deaths under Communist regimes.

            We could argue about that. But the point I’m trying to make is less that we need to make that specific comparison and more that we need to make some kind of apples-to-apples comparison. Unless you’re arguing in full-blown dialectical materialist mode (in which case I’m just gonna make fun of you, because arguing is pointless), it is not reasonable to roll up all the major wars and disasters since the Congress of Vienna (and a few before), blame them all on “capitalism”, and call it a day. There have always been other ideological forces floating around: religion, monarchism, nationalism, socialism, and all the weird Third Way crap we came up with in the early 20th century. You need to figure out what you’re calling capitalism and come up with some kind of criteria for assigning blame to it, or you’re just blowing smoke.

            I’m not seeing a lot of that in this thread.

          • Mark says:

            Perhaps Communism Vs. Capitalism famine-death match, isn’t a very useful conversation.

            Does the mismanagement of mad-mao tell us very much about Communism?
            Does mismanagement by the East India company tell us very much about capitalism?

            The more precise our definitions of capitalism and communism, the less historical evidence we have to criticise them. Hence “that wasn’t the real Communism, man”.

            Not really anything wrong with that, is there? They are just noticing the skulls.

          • Nornagest says:

            Communism is way better defined than capitalism, and just as importantly it (in its Marxist-Leninist vanguard-state form, before some idiot starts blithering about full communism) is way more totalizing: it attempts to exert complete control over economic life. So yes, I’d say that conspicuous economic failures under it tell us more about the ideology than conspicuous failures under an allegedly capitalist government tell us about capitalism.

            (Socialism isn’t particularly well defined, but the few nations calling themselves socialist but not communist didn’t tend to produce mountains of skulls, so I’m not as interested in criticizing them.)

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            Capitalism is the ability to acquire capital (money, land, objects) without working for it. Without property (ownership is the anglo-saxon translation of the word) capitalism is impossible. Property is not just things that belong to someone, it is defined in roman law from which it originates as “the right to use and abuse something you have” (jus utendi et abutendi res sua). In other words, an absolute right to do everything you want with things that belong to you. It’s the various abuse schemes that property rights grant (rent, speculation, interest, wage labor) that socialists oppose, not the use part. This is all explained in detail in Proudhon’s “What is property?” in which he famously stated that “property is theft”. Proudhon’s solution to the problem was to simply ban all the aforementioned abusive schemes (in other words abolish property). It’s interesting to note that property can’t even be fully implemented in societies that allow all the various aforementioned robbing schemes or everything goes to hell quickly. For instance monopolies would not be banned if property was fully implemented. Capitalist ideology (also known as liberalism) is essentially the worship of liberty so the rich are allowed to engage in all the various robbing schemes that property allows. Slavery is being granted property rights over someone else. Early liberals had no problems with that and many engaged in it. Wage labor is part time slavery made possible by the state having property rights over all not privately owned land it controls so individuals have no other choice than to sell themselves part time to live.

          • random832 says:

            How did you acquire the property in the first place if not by working for it? It seems like it all basically boils down to complaints about the unfairness of how different kinds of labor are valued.

          • Enkidum says:

            “How did you acquire the property in the first place if not by working for it?”

            While I’m ignoring most of this thread because it seems pointlessly silly, I think there’s a pretty clear answer to this question, no? The single best way to become rich is to have rich parents.

          • onyomi says:

            I’ve linked it before and I’ll link it again: capitalism and socialism are anti-concepts.

          • cassander says:

            @dndnrsn

            Likewise, to be fair, the famine deaths under communism were as much a result of incompetent central decision-making, followed by doubling down, as much as they were anything to do with communism. Any form of economic organization could have that happen if there’s a controlling group like what the “vanguard party” turned into in multiple places – it’s not as though there haven’t been famines along the lines of “crop yields suffer, income for lord declines, lord squeezes peasants harder, peasants starve”.

            Except you can’t have a capitalist vanguard party centrally controlling economic decision making, because doing that is antithetical to the very idea of capitalism. You can have one under communism, communism in fact requires such a party, or at least a dictatorship of the proletariat doing the same thing. This IS intrinsic to communism, and why it always goes bad because no amount of competence can solve the economic calculation problem. Communism, to work, requires literally super human intelligence, and so it always fails. incompetence in communism excuses nothing.

          • random832 says:

            While I’m ignoring most of this thread because it seems pointlessly silly, I think there’s a pretty clear answer to this question, no? The single best way to become rich is to have rich parents.

            I didn’t make it explicit here, but I think I’ve suggested before in this kind of discussion that keeping your rich parents happy enough not to disinherit you [or give all their assets away (to some chosen protege, to charity) in their lifetimes, or whatever other legal means they may have of stopping you from getting the money] counts as a form of labor.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          > Yeah, I never got how “cultural Marxism” is a dirty right wing swear word but “Marxist cultural theory” and such are somehow perfectly fine.

          “Marxist cultural theory” is used to describe people who are Marxists. The word “cultural Marxism” are, by and large, used to describe people who are not Marxists.

          • DavidS says:

            I’ve seen probably hundreds of uses of the term ‘cultural marxism’ almost exclusively below the line on right wing news sites from people who use it for anyone more liberal than them on race, immigration, gender, sexuality, religion… From use it seems to translaste as ‘liberal (derogatory)’ so doesn’t in practice add any content just invective. And in a rather mad-seeming ‘you’re part of a plot to deliberately destroy everything nice out of spite’ sort of way.

            I’ve never seen anyone talk about Marxist cultural theory but not using the lazy insult term means I’d be more open in my preconceptions

      • skef says:

        Unless we’re talking about “analytical philosophy” which recognizes that the empirical methods of science are the only way to gain useful knowledge

        Last time I checked, analytic philosophy was still generally on board with a priori knowledge.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Unless we’re talking about “analytical philosophy” which recognizes that the empirical methods of science are the only way to gain useful knowledge,

        That’s not even true. You’re thinking of positivism

      • SchwarzeKatze says:

        See the analytic philosophy Wikipedia page which states that analytical philosophy is “identified with specific philosophical traits” such as “positivism”.

        • Protagoras says:

          There are actual analytic philosophers who hang around here, so there are better sources than the wikipedia page as to what we’re like. That being said, I’d say most of us would admit these days that positivism was a big influence on subsequent analytic philosophy.

          • skef says:

            This is a common pattern seen across a variety of fields:

            1. Some approach comes to dominate, squeezing out other approaches.

            2. Eventually the limitations of the approach become clear, and is very out of favor for a while. (A sort of Thermidorian reaction)

            3. Some of the original approach comes back in the form of “tools”.

            I think this fairly characterizes the progression of structuralist linguistics (not to be confused with the philosophical movement it inspired), and also positivism in analytic philosophy.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Identified with is certainly very different than identical to. The most important critics of logical positivism like Wittgenstein or Quine were both analytic philosophers.

      • skef says:

        Given the arguments that @Philippe Lemoine offers in his linked piece, and the context those arguments link back to, I think I can safely assert that he is primarily talking about representation in departments with a generally “analytic” approach, and avoid the question of what separates that from other approaches.

    • Aapje says:

      @Philippe Lemoine

      There is evidence that men are more likely to want to explain things to others, even if they don’t know what they are talking about, what feminists like to call mansplaining.

      If that is true, then it is completely logical to assume that men would be more likely to enter a field that legitimizes this kind of behavior, like philosophy.

      • Protagoras says:

        Ouch!

        • Aapje says:

          Sorry for being mean, but my experience with people calling themselves philosophers is quite poor, where if the byline of an article written in my newspaper defines the writer as a philosopher, it tends to contain more logical fallacies than other articles. This causes me double the irritation, as one would expect these people to be more aware of these errors, not less.

          Of course, there may be a selection effect where philosopher who write in newspapers are the black sheep of philosophy.

          However, my theory is that philosophy is so difficult, due to it’s lack of inherent grounding, that only extremely intelligent people are able to deal with this. Furthermore, many colleges and even schools want to teach philosophy, where they merely need and probably prefer, mediocre talents, who merely need to regurgitate the classics and ought not to too creative.

          But I’m sure that you are the exception, Protagoras 🙂

    • Tibor says:

      I can’t speak for philosophy but at leas from my experience in maths, women tend to like more practical subjects. In financial maths (in Prague at least), the sex ratio was 50/50, perhaps even slightly tilted towards women, in econometrics it was like 60/40 towards men. In something very theoretical (which does not necessarily mean harder, just less immediately practical, there were simply no female students. Now, it is necessary to say that the same can be said about the total number of students as well. That is, in finance there were more students than in econometrics, where there were more students than in algebra (and similarly with other disciplines). But there was a clear pattern that the less practical disciplines both fewer people in absolute terms and fewer women in relative terms.

      I think the lower total population does to some degree correlate with interest as well as skill. The people who study more theoretical maths tend to on average be more talented. But with women I found that many of very brilliant students would rather study something more practical whereas their equally brilliant male peers would drift towards more theoretical fields.

      So my theory is that this is somehow linked to a general characteristic that (on average of course) women have and that is taking fewer risks. You have fewer women in extreme sports, fewer women in fringe political ideologies (regardless of what they’re like, well maybe radical feminism might be an exception but that is going to be female-biased sort of by definition) and so on. One could also test it to some degree. If there is a notion in the general population that for example maths is something abstract and “useless” in terms of immediate practical applications in a sort of a standard career path, then I would expect fewer women to enroll in maths programmes than in an otherwise identical society where studying maths is regarded as a good way to help your career.

      One thing this theory does not answer quite well is why so few women study computer science. Compared to that, maths is full of women (in fact it seems to be about a third of students across countries, but this is more of an impression of mine than anything based on solid data), yet computer science is obviously applicable and it is well known that being a programmer is quite a well-paid job.

      • Computer science is not the only counterexample or even the most glaring one. If you look at the graph in my post, based on data from the CIRP Freshman Survey which asks more than 250,000 students every year what they plan to study as they enter college, the women/men ratio is even lower in various engineering fields. But clearly engineering is also practical. I don’t really know why women are less interested in philosophy than men, but there is no question that they are, at least by the time they enter college. What you’re talking about could be part of the explanation, but there seem to be enough counterexamples that it’s probably not the whole story. In any case, this is pretty speculative, whereas the fact that men and women have different preferences isn’t.

        • Matt M says:

          But clearly engineering is also practical.

          Is it? You’re locked away in a room drawing blueprints for something you may very well never actually see be made. That doesn’t strike me as the kind of “practical” we’re talking about here…

          • You may be right, but in that case, it probably shows that we need to be more precise about what notion of practicality we have in mind when formulating the hypothesis.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Throwing in my own useless anecdote, that reminds me of something my sister told me. There was a libertarian guy trying to “convert” her. Her response wasn’t that she thought he was wrong or anything like that. She just didn’t care. She’s in to politics and is fairly intelligent but the idea of debating the finer points of whether taxation was really theft simply had no interest to her. Something that abstract doesn’t seem as pertinent to women as it might be to men.

        Of course, n=1 but I think there’s a fairly easy experiment that could be setup. Take a group of men and women, give them an IQ test and figure out what their interests are. My guess is that the high and low IQ women overlap more than men. Smarter men are much more likely to be interested in the abstract and esoteric than low IQ men while for women they will have more in common with each other.

        • rlms says:

          If it’s a useless anecdote (as you correctly identify), what is the point of throwing it in? Anecdotes are useful when someone claims that the probability of an event is negligible enough that any single example of it occurring is interesting, or if the anecdote inspires interesting thoughts. But no-one is claiming that *all* women are interested in esoteric philosophy.

          Anyway, if we’re going to trade anecdotes, I think that debating the finer abstract points of the intersection between gender, race and sexuality seems of interest mainly to women.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that debating the finer abstract points of the intersection between gender, race and sexuality seems of interest mainly to women.

            Of course, the male gender role is about self-reliance.

            Even BLM was started by 3 women, even though the vast majority of black people that die of violence are men.

            BTW. The more logical explanation why fewer women are interested in libertarianism is that most libertarians seem to care a lot about taxes and women pay fewer taxes and on average get more in benefits from the government, while men on average pay more tax than they get benefits.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I have a notion that libertarianism is politics for people who don’t want to do practical politics.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Can you blame them? Running other peoples’ lives is hard!

          • So do I, with bells and knobs on. I recently had a discussion — another discussion — with some about how it’s better to let an economic system collapse than hand out free money. Not exactly practical.

        • Tibor says:

          Well, in this particular scenario, despite being a libertarian myself, I would not care much either. It is just semantics…And it is clearly not a theft 🙂 A theft is when you take away something from the owner without letting him known. Taxation is more like extortion 🙂

          But my point was a bit different. You find fewer women among libertarians or communists or nazis or pretty much any fringe group. I don’t think it is necessarily because those groups are more abstract but simply because they are fringe. I would expect the ratio of female libertarians to increase if libertarianism became the new mainstream. One might even check it (albeit imperfectly given the oppressive nature of the regime) by looking at the ratio of NSDAP gender ratio before Hitler took over Germany and after that. I’m not sure if being in the party was quasi-mandatory there the way it was in the communist countries (at least if you wanted to get any remotely interesting job), if it was, which is likely given that the Hitlerjugend was de facto mandatory then it obviously does not work. But maybe you can find similar things with less oppressive regimes based on ideologies that were at one point or are now fringe.

          • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

            Women are less on the extremes on several things, their distribution bells are, erm, more curved (e.g. IQ: https://www.mensa.ch/category/semantic-tags/iq-faq). So there may be a biological factor involved.

          • Tibor says:

            @TheEternallyPerplexed: Yes, however there seems to have been some studies linked to by someone here saying that the difference in IQ variance is not real. However, I am sort of more inclined to believe the Mensa here since sorting people by IQ (that sounds quite awful:-) ) is their main business and I don’t see any particular reason why they should be biased in any way.

      • joe says:

        I would guess that a main factor of interest comes from representation in a field. Philosophy, math, CS, etc all are already male dominated with very few female role models. This in combination with the fact that people aren’t going to pursue careers where they can’t imagine themselves being successful. If you’re a female today and the only successful philosophers, mathematicians, or engineers you ever see are male, its probably hard to see yourself having a successful career there.

        • orangecat says:

          That might be part of it, but it’s not an impenetrable barrier as the medical and legal fields demonstrate.

        • fahertym says:

          Ayn Rand is one of, if not the most famous libertarians of all time.

          • onyomi says:

            And widely scorned by the mainstream of the philosophy profession during her lifetime (though supposedly later judged ahead of her time on some things by some people), I might add.

            In defense of the mainstream of the philosophy profession, however, she probably didn’t endear herself by claiming to be basically a sui generis genius with the answers to everything, acknowledging a debt only to Aristotle, when she clearly owed one to Nietzsche (though she claimed her ideas were fully formed and arrived at independently before reading him) and probably many others.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Ayn Rand wasn’t a libertaraian. She detested libertarians for not being philosophical enough. I *think* she assumed all libertarians were anarchists.

            As far as I can tell, politically she was a disappointed conservative. She occasionally supported Republicans, but found they weren’t consistent enough.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Onyomi

            Ayn Rand is still considered a joke in the mainstream of the philosophy profession.

            I think the better defense of mainstream philosophy’s attitude towards Rand is that Rand was genuinely a terrible philosopher.

          • Rand didn’t call herself a libertarian, but that doesn’t tell us whether she was one. Her political views were extreme minarchist–closer to anarchist than the median libertarian.

          • Ayn Rand wasn’t a libertaraian. She detested libertarians for not being philosophical enough.

            I always that was a People’s Popular Front of Judea thing.

        • vV_Vv says:

          On the contrary, precisely because there are so few females in nerdy fields, those who are there can pretty much base their careers on being the exception.

          Think of the “X chick”, “Y babe” phenomenon that we see on the Internet. “Hey nerds, look at me, I’m one of you! With tits!”

          • Jiro says:

            And of course there’s the inevitable backlash where someone notices when a “nerdy female” is not very nerdy but is using her gender to get attention. Some nerd points this out, and then the entire set of nerds is then accused of sexism.

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            And of course there’s the inevitable backlash where someone notices when a “nerdy female” is not very nerdy

            Much of the stigma around being a nerd has fallen away in recent years, and much of what was previously considered nerdy has been appropriated by mainstream culture, so it seems like people in general are more likely to self-identify that way now. With the result being that the word barely means anything anymore. It just means “I like to read” or maybe “I like Marvel movies.”

            Though the female “fake nerds” seem to attract more attention and more scorn. It kind of reminds me of the attitude people have toward white rappers.

          • Fahundo says:

            It kind of reminds me of the attitude people have toward white rappers.

            So who’s the female nerd version of Eminem?

          • skef says:

            So who’s the female nerd version of Eminem?

            Felicia Day?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Eminem is good, though.

        • albatross11 says:

          Yeah, we just ran a natural experiment where social and administrative barriers to women entering academic fields and jobs came down across the board. Some high-prestige intellectually demanding practical fields (law, medicine) and some scientific fields (biology) and social sciences (psychology) got big influxes of women, and women became highly successful prominent people in those fields. Other intellectually demanding practical fields (engineering, computer programming) and scientific fields (physics, math, chemistry) and social sciences (economics) got far fewer women flowing into them, and there are now far fewer prominent women in those fields.

          A theory to explain the gender differences in these fields needs to account not only for why women are underrepresented in CS, but why they’re overrepresented in psychology. It needs to explain why women quickly achieved parity or more in medicine and law, but not in physics or math.

          And this is made more complicated by the fact that we don’t know whether the current distribution will remain. Maybe in another 50 years, physics and math and philosophy will be 50% female. Maybe in 50 years, medicine will be mostly female and engineering will be mostly male.

          • herbert herberson says:

            How much of this is undermined by gender segregation within those fields? I don’t know how much this is true in medicine, but in law the lower-prestige and/or do-gooder fields like family law and legal aid skew heavily female.

          • Jiro says:

            Women are not interested in some subjects, either because women specifically aren’t, or people in general aren’t, and in our society it’s generally the woman who works the job that she likes and the man who works the shitty job that brings a lot of money in.

          • albatross11 says:

            herbert:

            Suppose we get to the point where academic computer science and computer programming are 50/50 split between women and men. Will it then be a problem that women dominate some areas and men dominate others? It seems like this is a formula for *never* declaring the problem solved. Which is great for activists, but it isn’t so clear why I would care.

            I mean, to the extent women are driven out of academic computer science or computer programming because of sexism, I do care–I’d like women to be able to pursue their desired careers without being hassled for it, and I’d like the best programmers regardless of sex. But to the extent we’re just finding ever-finer distinctions to justify why sexism is still a major problem, I’m not so interested.

          • This is actually one of the points I make in my post. (EDIT: I’m referring to albatross11‘s original comment above.)

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Wild speculation: Maybe women are less obsessive? Pure math rewards obsessiveness more than applied math I think, and this is the sort of low level personality trait that I’d expect to be affected by sex. (For what it’s worth, this is the theory of the only female pure mathematician who has told me what she thinks about this question).

      • liskantope says:

        In my experience of quite a few years doing math research at universities (still a small sample size in the grand scheme of things), women who enter math postgraduate programs seem markedly more likely than men to go into applied areas of research.

    • The Nybbler says:

      s/Philosophy/tech/g for the problem part, and it wrks just the same. The basic problem is the assumption of human bio-uniformity. If everyone’s the same, underrepresentation must have some _external_ cause such as invidious discrimination. If you can’t find it, and can’t reject HBU, you’ll tie yourself (and anything you can reach) in knots trying.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      How do you define discrimination?

  24. sty_silver says:

    Are there any ways to reduce the amount of time needed to fall asleep? I think it takes me about 30 min on average, which feels like a waste of time. I’ve already tried

    – going to bed at the same time every day (still doing that)
    – rituals (as in stuff like ‘count from 1 to 60 twice’. Gave up on those, I always feel the need to let my mind wander)
    – listening to white noise (still doing that, too).

    The heat is a definite problem. I’ve done better during winter. But I don’t know what to do about it.

    • Zodiac says:

      Have you tried simply going to bed later or is that not an option? Some people have just very persistent inner clocks that are very difficult to retrain.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        https://www.amazon.com/Frogg-Toggs-Original-Chilly-Cooling/dp/B06XQBRD29

        The best thing I know of for staying cool. It’s a 33″ x 13″ flat slow-release sponge. If it doesn’t do enough by itself, aim a fan at it.

      • sty_silver says:

        I used to have a really inconsistent rymth and always had difficulties keeping bedtime from sliding farther and farther forward, and an even harder time pulling it backwards again. Now that I managed to adopt a stable rythm I’m quite hesitant to mess with it – also it’s 11 PM which makes it so I can stand up at 6 AM which I often have to.

        So no, I haven’t tried. I don’t think it’s feasible in my case.

    • James Miller says:

      Eliminate exposure to blue light a few hours before you attempt to fall asleep. You can buy blue blocker glasses.

      • sty_silver says:

        Interesting, I was on the verge of buying them once when I tried polyphasic sleep, then it dropped off my mind. I wasn’t sure how credible the idea is. Might try it this time.

      • beleester says:

        You can also try using F.Lux for your computer, which changes the color temperature of your display with the day/night cycle, so that it appears reddish when it’s bedtime. I can vouch for this – I found myself nearly falling asleep at my desktop a few times after I started using it.

    • carvenvisage says:

      Tiring yourself out with exercise. Can be difficult if you’re at a level of fitness where tiring yourself out causes you a high level of pain/discomfort that then impairs your sleeping, though in that case arguably getting out of it should be a high priority if at all possible.

    • The Red Foliot says:

      Thirty minutes doesn’t sound so bad. It’s about where I’m at now after great diligence in my sleep routine. In the past, it could take me an hour or more to fall asleep. Some things you could add to your list are:
      1. Counting how many hours you’ve been awake, and only going to sleep after 16~ hours have elapsed.
      2. Not stimulating your brain too much before bedtime. No video games or heated internet discussions–just relaxing activities like books or midnight walks.
      3. Not eating close to your bedtime, especially not high energy foods.
      4. Not drinking coffee later in the day. Preferably, it should probably be taken as early as convenient, if at all.
      5. Melatonin pills. I’ve tried these things and not found any great effect, but allegedly they shorten the time it takes to fall asleep by a small amount.
      6. Eliminating stressors. This is related to #2, but worth specifying, as causes of anxiety can be especially deleterious. Basically, anything that causes you anxiety should be avoided before bed, as anxiety hormones do more than just stimulate your brain, they also directly inhibit it from shutting off.
      7. Advanced super rituals. I agree that it’s usually preferable to let the mind wander, but sometimes the mind is uppity and only wants to wander places that cause it stimulation. For these occasions, I focus my attention on my feet in a kind of pseudo-zen-Buddhist manner, just paying attention to the subtleties of their sensation. At the same time, I will try to focus what’s left of my brain function on images of deer and the weird shapes that play in the darkness of my eyelids. I think counting sheep is really bad for modern people as we don’t see much sheep, but we do sometimes see deer. I alternate between my feet and the images as best I’m able, in a sort of teeterboard manner, with one method substituting for the other when the other can no longer be sustained. I have tried also controlling my breathing, but this gets my heart rate up for some reason; it does not harm my ability to sleep, but nevertheless, it is unpleasant. This approach, the whole of it, is just my backup approach for sleeping. I do not use it all the time, but it usually works on the occasions I need it for.

      • stoodfarback says:

        A quick note RE melatonin: I found the tablets to have no detectable effect on me, but the liquid sublingual (hold under tongue for a minute or so) to be noticeable with even a few drops.

    • OldMugwump says:

      What I’ve always done is read a book, in bed, until I find myself nodding off. Then put the book away – I’m immediately asleep.

      That doesn’t reduce the time needed to fall asleep, but it does eliminate the waste of time.

      • My equivalent is to do low stress mental work, such as plotting out part of a novel, while trying to fall asleep. That has the advantage over reading that I can do it with my eyes closed and so gradually drift off.

      • sty_silver says:

        I haven’t read in bed for years, but I remember that it worked similar to what you’re describing. This sounds like a pretty obvious solution that I hadn’t thought off. I think I’ll try it.

      • IrishDude says:

        I second this. I turn all lights in the room off, then read a kindle with backlighting on a low setting. Once I read the same sentence multiple times because I’m not processing it, I put the kindle down and go to sleep pretty quickly.

        I also recommend putting white noise on, either from a fan or a machine like this.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Auto-hypnosis?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      My trick for falling to sleep is the following:

      I can remember every shot of the golf round I played the first time I broke 80. I play each shot in my mind. Remembering the hole, what club I hit, the ball flight, and where the ball ended up. Then I play the next shot.

      Usually I’m asleep by hole 3 or 4, sometime 6 or 7.

      Obviously this won’t be exactly replicable for anyone else, but I think the idea is solid. It’s a pre-programmed series of steps, repeated the same way each time, but it’s not boring (like counting).

      I have a theory that “counting sheep” only applies to shepherds who are simply remembering each sheep in their flock.

      • sty_silver says:

        It’s not that I don’t believe rituals work, it’s that I can’t do them. I’ve tried, and after a few nights I got frustrated because I wanted to think about stuff. I concluded that going against desires can’t be a good idea and gave up.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          I think the trick is to find something just engaging enough that you don’t get frustrated and want to do something else, but not so engaging that it keeps you awake.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are there any ways to reduce the amount of time needed to fall asleep?

      I watch Star Trek episodes.

    • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

      The Dilbert guy mentioned in a book that easily digestible carbohydrates make him drowsy, so much so that he can block the effect of too much caffeine with a bowl of rice.
      Dunno what it’s worth; people have different genetics and intestinal microbiomes.
      If you try that, keep in mind that adding other stuff (e.g. fats) may influence digestion speed. Probably needs some experimenting.

      EDIT: I noted a similar effect for me, with up to 2 hrs between eating and sleepiness.

    • MuncleUscles says:

      I like to listen to audiobooks/podcasts while falling asleep – it seems to keep the verbal parts of my brain occupied so that I don’t keep myself awake with my own thoughts. I’ve gotten really good at noticing when I’m starting to pass out, pausing the playback and falling asleep pretty much immediately afterwards. I think it still takes about half an hour, but at least I’m making progress on my reading list.

      Also, Melatonin

    • gin-and-whiskey says:

      I just have a few stacks of about 50 “falling asleep” books which I read over and over again in somewhat dim light (incandescent works best). They are good enough not to be boring, and super-familiar enough not to require a ton of mental energy. It works for me and it’s easy to try.**

      That said if you have an active day, 30 minutes is really not so bad. The best you can probably do is to move some of that to “presleep” like I did, where you’re reading for 15-20 minutes and then it only takes 5 to fall asleep.

      **My top three go-to categories, depending on my mood, are math (Mathematical Games, Econometrics, Godel Escher Bach, etc); cartoons (Complete New Yorker or The Complete Far Side); and nautical fiction (Patrick O’Brian, Horatio Hornblower, Kydd, Ramage, etc.)

    • CatCube says:

      Make the room dark. By this, I mean to eliminate light beyond the red end of the spectrum. That is, don’t have clocks with non-red displays, and get rid of or tape over all of those eye-raping blue LEDs that designers like to scatter over every piece of electronics these days.

    • Jon S says:

      I’m surprised that there aren’t more replies mentioning melatonin. Isn’t the readership fairly interested in nootropics in general? I was under the impression that melatonin was also one of the more commonly recommended nootropics after caffeine.

      • gudamor says:

        This is another vote in favor of melatonin. Especially helpful to get through Jet Lag

    • liskantope says:

      I think 30 minutes is pretty close to average. Does anyone here regularly fall asleep in a much shorter time? Mine has varied over the years but seems a bit shorter than 30 minutes now, I think mainly because I’m tiring myself out a bit more during the day and eating dinner relatively close to bedtime.

      In any case, the most sensible-sounding concrete advice that I’m always hearing is to stay away from electronics (lit screens) right before bedtime. I still can’t seem to discipline myself to follow such a rule, though. Charging my phone right next to my bed might have something to do with this.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      The technique that I use when I’m stuck thinking about something instead of sleeping is to break up the narrative by doing a free association with the random spots and flashes and shapes that appear when my eyes are closed. So if I find myself thinking about some argument I had with people on the internet, instead I just look at the shapes and match them to something. “Banana…hill…rocket ship…circle…” and that seems to do the trick.

    • rahien.din says:

      Agree with all the above. And, with your idea that heat is a problem. The bedroom should be cool/dark/quiet. A trick I used when visiting my Alabama kin in the summer was to wear a light cotton undershirt to bed, which always cooled me off nicely.

      When we look at people who have prolonged sleep latency, the issue is that their brain is executing a habit/plan that includes that period of latency. It is not that you are trying to fall asleep quicker and failing. Your brain is trying to stay awake for 30 minutes before falling asleep, and it is succeeding.

      This can be retrained or influenced. In addition to any or all of the above suggestions (especially melatonin) I suggest the following : don’t even enter your bedroom until you are at the point of sleep. Instead, stay in some other part of the house and do quiet, unexciting things that expose you to little light and little sound. Also, firm admonitions that should be followed if this degree of sleep latency truly bothers you this much : 1. your bedroom is only for sleep or sex, and 2. if there is a TV or other type of screen in your room – even if it is off – then get it out. Period. No concessions permitted. Full stop. The end.

      …but how much does it really bother you?

      I’ll give you the same advice I give everybody about everything : if you have a medical problem that causes you X amount of trouble, and you institute a plan that takes away the medical problem but causes you X amount of other trouble (such as no longer being able to watch TV in bed) then you still have the medical problem in a different form. So, in many instances, it is a bad idea to rearrange your entire life to get rid of a medical problem.

      Or, a la Thoreau, the price of cure is how much life you exchange for it. If you get your sleep latency down to 15 minutes, then you’ve harvested 15 minutes. Would the benefit be waking up 15 minutes earlier? The extra 15 minutes of rest? Or the mere satisfaction of using 15 minutes on inactive sleep rather than inactive wakefulness? You may have to do exchange a fair amount of life for not much marginal benefit…

  25. Well... says:

    I have an idea for a website: it’s a wiki-style site that catalogues industry jargon (the jargon used by people who work in a given industry), in as many industries as possibe. It’d be a wiki site so that it can keep up when jargon changes or new jargon is introduced. Each term would have a simple-language translation/explanation.

    A site like that would be useful for…

    – people who want to sound informed when they make customer service calls
    – fiction writers
    – new hires in a given industry
    -others…

    Is there anything already like this?

    • J says:

      I recall in the early days of Wikipedia, someone edited my alma mater’s page to mention some euphemism for a variety of sexual practice they claimed was common there. I had never heard of it and so I deleted it, and they reinstated it, asserting without proof that it was totally a thing. The problem with jargon is that it’s hard to distinguish “legit” jargon from things that only a few people say. Wikipedia deals with this by having some standard of notability and proof, and jargon that passes this threshold can go on wikipedia if it survives the process. At the other end is urban dictionary, which accumulates all manner of bullshit. So I guess I’d want to know how your site would differentiate itself from those and deal with the issues they face.

    • cassander says:

      Isn’t that just the urban dictionary?

      • Well... says:

        No, for at least 3 reasons I can think of off the top of my head, and probably more…

        – UD isn’t dedicated to industry jargon.
        – UD isn’t searchable by industry.
        – UD isn’t QCed to the level of, say, Wikipedia.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      The first thing that came to mind is military jargon – this is probably the sweet spot for size of the speaking body, and therefore utility, and amount of pointed jargon that actually means something and isn’t simply free association. Military.com has a section on jargon, but it’s rather small. There are several other hits on “list of military jargon”.

      If you’re really serious about this, I would suggest starting with about 20 such lists and collating them. The result might not be high quality, but that’s not the point; the point is to reveal most of the problems you might expect to run into. Starter problems OTTOMH:
      * provenance (where’d this term come from – includes both who actually submitted it, and its etymology)
      * breadth (esoteric term or general)
      * recognition (can I just use this term, or will I typically have to explain it?)
      * formality (do I use this in a speech? when troubleshooting a problem? in a latrine?)
      * connotation
      * ambiguity (multiple context-dependent meanings)

      Another resource worth looking at is The Jargon File. Accompanying the lexicon is an array of supplements describing the culture that produced them.

      • Well... says:

        All that stuff would be worth documenting.

        Remember, the point of such a site would be that it’s handy to someone who needs to use that jargon in some practical way. If I’m placing a customer service call about my internet service, I might want to use some telecom jargon for the concepts I know I’ll be talking about. If I’m writing a novel that has characters who are astronauts, I want them to talk shop realistically to each other. If I just got a job on a construction site and the other guys keep using this one acronym I’ve never heard, I want a way to go find out what it means without revealing my ignorance to anyone.

  26. Well... says:

    Question for anyone with knowledge of IT and its recruiting apparatus: How much of a pay raise (in %) can a contract-to-hire employee expect to get once he is hired?

    Assume the field is IT, the location is in the lower Midwest, the hiring organization is big and has fairly deep pockets, and that the employee’s current hourly rate is between $35 and $40.

    • J says:

      Seems weird to look at it in terms of a percentage increase. Ultimately the question is what you could make elsewhere, which you’d find out by getting competing offers, or estimate by trying to quantify the locally prevailing wage. If they’re paying you $35-40 now, and that’s more than you could make elsewhere, why expect an increase at all?

      • Well... says:

        If they’re paying you $35-40 now, and that’s more than you could make elsewhere, why expect an increase at all?

        Because they’re no longer having to pay a cut to the recruiting agency.

        • J says:

          Oh, I see. Fees can vary widely across agencies. If the agency is paying you $40/hr then they may well be making $80/hr, although in that case they’re also bearing costs like the payroll tax, benefits and HR overhead, so the hiring company’s costs would go up if they paid you $80/hr.

          • Well... says:

            Yes, that’s why I’m asking the question. I know that just because the recruiting agency is making 15% of the contractor’s rate doesn’t mean the contractor would get that 15% if he was hired on. But he should get some of it. How much could he expect?

          • tumteetum says:

            i havent worked in the us, but from my experience of contracting in the uk and oz, becoming a permanent employee has always meant being payed less than a contractor.
            their argument is that because you’re now a permie you have stability, a career path, training programmes etc you get paid more for being a contractor because you have to cover the times when you dont have a contract, have to pay for your own training etc

    • Worley says:

      It’s hard to say. The recruiting company no longer gets its cut, but on the other hand, the worker starts getting benefits. It seems like the general rule still holds: What are you worth on the market?

  27. angularangel says:

    Anybody mind if I drop another link to the forum I’ve been working on? It’s intended to allow large number of people to talk about complicated ideas and reach meaningful conclusions. You can see it in practice over on the right edge of the link. It’s still very much in alpha, but I think the basic idea comes through. Anyway, Registrations are open for anybody who thinks the idea is interesting and wants to see how it works. And I’d love to hear any thought you might have, even if you don’t want to use the thing right now. (Indeed, especially if you can tell me why you don’t want to use the thing right now.)

    • Link doesn’t work for me.

      • angularangel says:

        Weird. What kind of an error do you get? Does this one work?

      • FollowTheQuest says:

        If you’re getting a blank page, did you disable NoScript or any add-on that might be interfering?

        I can zoom in and out with the slider on the left or the scroll wheel, but I can’t click any nodes. I hadn’t zoomed in close enough. Neato.

    • Reasoner says:

      I’m really glad to see people like you tackling the online discussion problem.

      Currently, when I use my trackpad’s scroll capability (I’m on a MacBook Pro), I’m either hopelessly scrolled in or hopelessly scrolled out. With some difficulty I’m able to scroll the trackpad just a teensy bit to reach a happy middle. Then while reading I tried using the trackpad to move around the discussion canvas and ended up losing the happy middle I was at.

      I think the big challenge for forums of this type (Cafe Chesscourt, Omnilibrium, etc.) is the chicken-and-egg problem: in order to get users, you need content, and in order to get content, you need users. But, I think just one really prolific user who writes a lot of posts that people want to read (e.g. Scott) to overcome this problem. Therefore, I recommend emailing all of your favorite bloggers and telling them that you want to build a blog/discussion platform for them. Hopefully by teaming up with someone who can provide content, you are able to create the marriage of content & technology needed to make progress on the online discussion problem.

      • angularangel says:

        Ah, thank you! And yeah, I’ve been thinking about overcoming that particular catch 22 myself. I’m not sure I really want to go about begging people for content – at least, not anymore so than I’m already doing. Though if Scott found himself wanting to hold a large discussion of something complicated sometime, I would certainly be happy to host it. Right now my plans are to either provide such content myself, or maybe to federate with the Ostatus network, I.E. GNU Social and Mastodon.

        My current focus is on making the thing worth using, though. I’ve been doing a bunch of work on the thing lately, especially regarding mobile events – I might have fixed your problem? I’ll try and hunt down a laptop with a touchpad and see. :/

  28. biblicalsausage says:

    Turn in your Bibles to the book of Numbers, chapter 12.

    We find our hero, Moses, where we left him last, as the leader of a bunch of people wandering in the desert around 1450 BCE. His siblings, Aaron and Miriam, are upset that he married a Kushite woman, and they start challenging his position of leadership. They too, they say, talk to God, and should be on some kind of even level with Moses.

    God gets mad about this, and insists that Moses is the rightful holder of leadership over the wandering Israelites. He strikes Miriam with tzaarath, a skin disease (possibly fictional) which creates a severe state of ritual impurity.

    The whole deal is resolved in the end, with Miriam being sent away from the Israelites for seven days of ritually impurity, after which she is accepted back into the group.

    There is a possible racial angle to this story. Kushites are, in the Bible, a people who live near Egypt, and are noted for their skin tone — they’re either black in the conventional sense of the word, or at least noticeably darker than the Israelites. Meanwhile, tzaarath is a disease which turns skin white.

    So Miriam complains about a woman with dark skins and is turned into a unhealthy white-skinned woman herself. I don’t know if this is meeting modern racial concerns into an ancient text that does not actually address them, but it seems a bit too much to be a coincidence.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Nah, it really is addressing racism approximately as we understand it. Kushites are depicted in New Kingdom art as frizzy-haired black people, while Berbers and Semites were depicted as lily-white and the Egyptians themselves as an ambiguous bronze or, for women, yellow.

      • JulieK says:

        Cf. Song of Songs 1:5, “I am black, but comely.”

        • rh says:

          The original Hebrew is “שחורה אני ונאוה”, so “I am black AND comely”. The “but” is an artifact of the translation.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            On the other hand, Hebrew does use a vav sometimes when setting up two contrasting ideas, where in English we would have “but.” Certainly verse 6 would seem to indicate that her “black”ness (which she explains as a sun-tan due to being forced into outdoor work) is something the female protagonist is self-conscious about.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The woman in Song of Songs is dark from working outdoors, and whether that kind of dark skin being low status has any relation to racism is unknown.
            The consensus belief of historians is that racism developed from the conquest of the Americas. It’s not PC but can be documented that the Muslim slave trade led to similar stereotypes of Africans earlier. But I don’t think there’s evidence for bigotry against blacks in the Iron Age or Roman times, outside of a couple of strange references like Numbers 12.

          • Aapje says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            AFAIK, there were two competing ideas: one was that working the land was low status and that it did give you dark skin. So light skin became a signal of high status.

            The other was that dark skinned people were animalistic. AFAIK, this was heavily influenced by assuming that cultural habits were innate differences.

    • JulieK says:

      As you probably know, according to Jewish tradition, Miriam criticized her brother not for marrying this woman, but for separating from her (in order to fulfill his unique prophetic responsibilities).

      • biblicalsausage says:

        I did not know that, but I looked it up and Rashi says so, so that’s good enough for me. My Jewish tradition knowledge is extremely uneven, and mostly consists of reading the Bible with Rashi, sort of at random when the mood strikes. I used to read the Bible by itself, but that’s gotten dull. But Rashi’s never dull.

        Now, Rashi doesn’t make Miriam the racist here, but he still manages to bring up the race angle in an unexpected way:

        האשה הכשית: על שם נויה נקראת כושית כאדם הקורא את בנו נאה כושי, כדי שלא תשלוט בו עין רעה:

        “The Kushite woman: on account of her beauty she was called a Kushite, just like a man might call his handsome son “Kushite” [using a negative nickname] to ward off the evil eye.”

        That’s cold.

  29. (A satire comment shamelessly ripped off from Popehat (https://www.popehat.com/2015/11/18/the-current-refugee-crisis/. This comment is meant to be read as a tongue-in-cheek joke. I’m currently reading a few WWII books on the Nazi bombings, and thinking back and forth between London today, and the London my grandparents lived in during the blitz.)

    “Did you hear? A German bomber took out a pub in Burough market. There are reports of up to 11 killed. Something has to be done.”
    “Yes, it’s a tragedy. Our community has to join together and strengthen after this attack.”
    “Perhaps more than that, don’t you think? If an enemy aircraft bombs our country we should react with vigilance!”
    “Look, I understand why you feel that way. But we need to understand this within a rich and level-headed context: Yes, a German bomber destroyed our pub, there is no denying this. However, this only happens once or twice a year, it’s extremely rare. You have a higher chance of dying in a car accident than from a German bomb. Statistically, we are safer than ever.”
    “Well, sure, I suppose that’s true. Still, I know I might die in a car accident at any time, but being attacked feels different.”
    “That’s a normal cognitive bias, but it’s not rationally grounded. I feel less safe when I fly in airplanes, but I know that they are perfectly safe.”
    “I don’t think you’re being reasonable. Germany is a sovereign nation, they attacked us. Is that not war?”
    “Again, I understand it seems this way, but you need to understand this from Germany’s political system. Currently the neo-Fascists control only 3% of Parliament. Now, some of their members are in cahoots with the German airforce. Not many, but some. Every once in a while, they orchestrate a revenge bombing against the greater German establishment’s wishes. Now, this is unforgivable, but if you recall the mass fire-bombing and rape the German women and children suffered 15 years ago at the end of the war, you can certainly empathize with their frustration.”
    “So we sit back and just take this?”
    “Do you suggest we bomb Germany again? This is only 3% of their parliament, the vast, overwhelming, majority of Germans do not support these actions. That is no basis for a justified war. In fact, it’s not even clear these bombings represent the German sovereignty. And need I remind you that you’re more likely to die from a car accident? I even read somewhere you’re more likely to choke to death on your food: We are safer than ever before. In fact, It’s even suggested that these attacks are less common than right-wing attacks committed by Native Brits.”
    “But surely you can at least admit that these bombers are in contact with some German immigrants. We have proof that some of them are tipping off the neo-Fascist party coordinates to bomb.”
    “Yes, surely some of them are, but that’s the tiny minority. Most come from families who are aligned with the Christian Democrats. In fact, some of them moved here even before WWII. We benefit vastly from their culture.”
    “Do we really?”
    “Certainly we do. The Volkswagen is an incredibly safe car. In fact, I bet if we did the cost benefit analysis, we would find that access to the Volkswagen saves more lives than the rogue German bombers kill. Again, these cognitive biases are hard to shake. But it’s better than having useless and hateful reactions. We have to deal with very low risks of being bombed, it’s part of the risk we take living in this world. There are no simple solutions.”

    • rlms says:

      Why yes, Germans living in the allied powers did face unwarranted discrimination and prejudice during the world wars, as natives blamed them for the actions of the German government they had no connection with, much like Muslims in the same countries do today. Very insightful!

      • I’ve never been able to come up with any sort of self-consistent idea of what rules would have justified burning millions of civilians alive, vast amounts of whom were anti-Nazi and/or even Jewish themselves, but would make it clearly wrong to jail Germans living in Britain for fear they were colluding with the German government.

        The generally accepted story of WWII though is one where this vast collective punishment against the Germans was completely necessary. If you gotta burn a few hundred thousand women and children alive to win the war, you do it. I’m not even saying that was wrong, it’s just interesting to me how our ideas of collective punishment change over time.

        I’m not saying one doesn’t exist, I’m not a WWII historian, but the actions of the allies (Churchill specifically) during WWII didn’t really consider anything except optimizing the probability of winning.

        • James Miller says:

          Similar to how it’s acceptable for the U.S. to use drone strikes to killer terrorists knowing that some innocents will die, but if Trump decided to close Gitmo by killing all of the prisoners there he would probably end up being convinced of murder.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            Nah, the salient difference in that example is that people who are already in prison are not a threat.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think establishing the precedent that we execute prisoners when they become politically inconvenient to us would have pretty substantial costs, and establishing the precedent that the president could ignore existing laws in ordering people killed would have still greater costs. To avoid those costs, I favor having the president know that doing those things will likely end up with him impeached, removed from office, and sitting in a prison cell somewhere.

        • hlynkacg says:

          …but the actions of the allies (Churchill specifically) during WWII didn’t really consider anything except optimizing the probability of winning.

          That there is the argument. Classical thinkers and through them the modern right have traditionally approached physical violence/war in terms of existential conflict. They explicitly reject the “politics by other means” theory of warfare in favor of “Don’t fight unless must. But if you must, fight with absolute commitment” and “If an injury must to be done to a man, ensure that it is so severe that his vengeance need not be feared”. If burning Dresden (or Atlanta) will end the war one day sooner, that is what must be done.

        • Atlas says:

          I’ve never been able to come up with any sort of self-consistent idea of what rules would have justified burning millions of civilians alive, vast amounts of whom were anti-Nazi and/or even Jewish themselves, but would make it clearly wrong to jail Germans living in Britain for fear they were colluding with the German government.

          The generally accepted story of WWII though is one where this vast collective punishment against the Germans was completely necessary. If you gotta burn a few hundred thousand women and children alive to win the war, you do it. I’m not even saying that was wrong, it’s just interesting to me how our ideas of collective punishment change over time.

          I don’t think this is necessarily the “accepted story”. The very widely read American popular historian Howard Zinn, who was himself a bomber pilot during the war, was very critical of the Allied bombing campaign. British philosopher and prominent public intellectual A.C. Grayling wrote a pretty good book, Among the Dead Cities, critiquing the morality and efficacy of Allied, particularly British, bombing tactics. In the US, the parallel debate over the morality of the use of atomic weapons on Japanese civilian populations is, in my impression at least, fairly lively. And I think that in general, the kind of people who find summarily detaining civilians en masse without charges objectionable are also likely to find indiscriminate bombing of urban areas objectionable. So overall I think that people are more consistent than you’re suggesting.

          • Jiro says:

            In the US, the parallel debate over the morality of the use of atomic weapons on Japanese civilian populations is, in my impression at least, fairly lively.

            That’s a special case because for several reasons, the left wanted to minimize the threat of the USSR, and that led to the left’s opposition to nuclear weapons. It doesn’t apply to bombing Germans (or really, to bombing Japanese without nuclear weapons).

    • J says:

      That’s more propaganda than satire. Depicts their straw man as not wanting to do anything at all about the bombing (as opposed to a more realistic position of “we’re already doing a lot, and citizens freaking out and targeting ordinary Muslims isn’t going to help”), while conflating terrorism with a Nazi organized bombing campaign.

      • Noted, if I write it up again outside of SSC I’ll take your feedback into account (sincerely). As I mentioned in a comment above, I’m mostly interested in the way we view when collective punishment is or isn’t okay with respect to nations vs. non-nation actors. Obviously I have a view, which is that it’s not necessarily that different. I also don’t think they are doing much at all. May wants to restrict or regulate internet to stop this, I’d restrict immigration.

        • J says:

          That comment is much more interesting to me than the long allegorical story: you’re making specific philosophical and policy positions. I too find it deeply troubling that politicians want to use terrorism as a reason to seize control of the internet.

        • albatross11 says:

          One important difference between collective punishment for amorphous groups vs countries–countries have decisionmaking mechanisms, so in some sense you can think of interactions with another country as being a game (in the game theory sense) played between two countries, so threats can work. Whatever the morality of threatening to nuke Russia if they nuke us (mostly killing innocent people all around), at least that threat probably works–Putin doesn’t want his country nuked, and he has a lot of power to prevent his country’s military from nuking the US.

          Amorphous groups like “all Muslims living in the UK” don’t have a decisionmaking mechanism that can respond to your threats of collective punishment. So if you say “any Muslim terrorist attack in the UK will lead to twice as many Muslims being executed as there are non-Muslim victims,” your threat probably isn’t all that effective–the outlier committed/crazy terrorists say “Good, the worse the better” and go drive a van into a crowd of people, and then you execute a bunch of random people who had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. There, you’re playing a game with several million people, all with different goals and payoff functions. So the deterrence strategy won’t work as well.

      • Mark says:

        “Citizens freaking out and targeting ordinary Muslims isn’t going to help”

        Absolutely.
        But, isn’t the “more realistic position” itself a straw-man? Or rather, a shit-man?

        I mean, I’ve not heard anyone suggest that revenge be taken on Muslims willy-nilly. I’ve only heard people suggest that Muslims must obey the law, be forced to obey the law, and that since we have a potential sectarian problem with Muslims, their increase should be controlled.

        Does a straw-man of a straw-man equal a good argument?

        • Fahundo says:

          I’ve only heard people suggest that Muslims must obey the law, be forced to obey the law

          Are Muslims exempt from the law currently?

          • Mark says:

            No, but Rochdale.

            They also seem to have more difficulty obeying it.

          • Sandy says:

            Well, in certain localities Muslims and the law have a “don’t ask don’t tell” arrangement going on.

          • rlms says:

            @Sandy
            The guy who eventually prosecuted that case (after the CPS had failed to due to a fear of appearing racist) was a Muslim. There certainly was a systematic problem of police and social services not doing anything for fear of appearing racist (which obviously has nothing to do with Islam). You can certainly argue that there was a systematic problem of South Asian men (especially, but not exclusively Pakistanis) forming rape gangs disproportionately often (although of course the rapists are still a tiny fraction of their population, much smaller than the proportion of Irish priests who were charged with sexual abuse). I don’t think you have any evidence that Muslims disproportionately ignored rape gangs, and if you do I’d like to see it.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            (although of course the rapists are still a tiny fraction of their population, much smaller than the proportion of Irish priests who were charged with sexual abuse)

            “All right… we’ll give some land to the Muslims! But we don’t want the Irish!”

          • rlms says:

            That is indeed a logical position.

        • rlms says:

          “I mean, I’ve not heard anyone suggest that revenge be taken on Muslims willy-nilly.”
          Have you read the SSC comments lately? There’s someone a few comments up claiming that we should try being more brutal than the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe (I’m only being slightly uncharitable here).

          • Mark says:

            Yeah, maybe.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ChjfFx_zLU

            Inaction will only facilitate the creation of an angry and disgruntled population who will end up cleaning out this Islamic problem. The UK government would then have a massive extremist problem, which they have given birth to themselves, because of their lack of courage, their lack of political will, and their lack of bollocks to do what is necessary.

            Best speech I’ve seen in a while.

            I think they should execute anybody found guilty of being an accessory to terrorism, and stop terrorists coming in. Seems like a reasonable compromise.

        • Murphy says:

          You’ve not? The guy laying hardboard in my hallway a few days back was talking casually about how we needed to “slaughter them all, all of them” in reference to muslims living in the UK. Bonus later in the day “Mr Trump has the right idea”

          It’s a disturbingly popular position. Some people genuinely believe that random Muslims are acceptable targets for revenge.

          • Mark says:

            Oh dear… that’s a bit of a worry.

          • Garrett says:

            One of the key elements of the Geneva conventions is that people involved in the armed conflict (soldiers, etc.), needed to be visually identifiable with some sort of uniform. This was primarily a protection mechanism for the civilian population. It was understood that if all combatants were wearing uniforms then the civilian population was not a threat and could be disregarded. The flip-side is that fighting out of uniform (subject to a few trivial exceptions) either was a war-crime, or it deprived the civilian population of those protections. So it was to the benefit of the civilian population to ensure that the military wore uniforms.

            With terrorists, especially suicide attackers, we lack the war-crime approach. We cannot easily identify these people in advance and try/punish them. I’ve yet to have come across a standard uniform for western infiltrating suicide attackers which is distinct from civilian attire.

            So instead we face the “whole population” problem. Unlike the Westphalian model of geographically-localized state-warfare, we’re dealing with cross-border ethnic/cultural/religious/ideological warfare of a sorts. So many of the “enemy civilians” will in-fact be neighbors.

            It’s not nice. I doubt it’s ethical. And I don’t know if it would be effective. But it does follow from extrapolating the existing standards for the rules of armed conflict.

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s a disturbingly popular position. Some people genuinely believe that random Muslims are acceptable targets for revenge.

            Welcome to the intersection of diversity and proximity.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            Being maximally charitable to the guy, this sounds like chest-thumping rhetoric concerning what the government response should be. Even if I disagree vehemently with him, it’s not at all the same as condoning vigilante justice against random Muslim citizens. The populations he’s suggesting we bomb aren’t random after all. The solution actually would work. It’s just that some of us consider “genocide of truly staggering scope and scale” to be an unacceptably high cost for fixing the problem.

          • Murphy says:

            @xXxanonxXx

            if any nation on earth set out to genocide a billion people do you honestly think that that would be the end of their troubles even if they succeeded? At that point it’s in the interest of literally every other country to nuke them out of existence before they turn their genocidal cross-hairs on them.

            @Garrett

            That’s a remarkably motivated and “inventive” reading. By that logic if a nutjob American shoots up a school in Europe I’m then justified in topping any random American tourist I see. because the American nutjob wasn’t in uniform.

            If you can derive and accept that from the rules of armed conflict then you can derive and accept pretty much anything no matter how ridiculous, unreasonable, downright evil or absurd.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            @Murphy

            No, I don’t believe it would be in the interest of literally every country to nuke the coalition that just carried out history’s most terrible genocide. They’re militarily formidable, for one, and completely willing to engage in crimes against humanity to protect their citizenry. That’s just an aside though, as it’s an evil and ridiculous idea that will never really be on the table. My point was that I take this…

            Citizens freaking out and targeting ordinary Muslims isn’t going to help

            …to mean things like vigilantism, random citizen-on-citizen violence. Whereas the man laying hardboard sounds as if he’s getting at something more the like state stripping all Muslim’s of citizenship and engaging in total war against the religion. I’m less concerned with people talking about the latter than the former, because the former might actually happen.

        • Zodiac says:

          I know a bunch of people that say we should carpet bomb all muslim countries to the ground with no regard for civilian lives. Does that count?

    • Atlas says:

      I realize that you aren’t literally comparing Islamic terrorism to the Blitz, but I feel that making cosmetic analogies without noting relevant substantive differences can run into non-central fallacy/worst-argument-in-the-world territory, so:

      “Did you hear? A German bomber took out a pub in Burough market. There are reports of up to 11 killed. Something has to be done.”
      “Yes, it’s a tragedy. Our community has to join together and strengthen after this attack.”
      “Perhaps more than that, don’t you think? If an enemy aircraft bombs our country we should react with vigilance!”
      “Look, I understand why you feel that way. But we need to understand this within a rich and level-headed context: Yes, a German bomber destroyed our pub, there is no denying this. However, this only happens once or twice a year, it’s extremely rare. You have a higher chance of dying in a car accident than from a German bomb. Statistically, we are safer than ever.”

      According to Wiki, around 40,000 British civilians died during the actual Blitz, which lasted about 8 months. Whereas, according to data noted in a Daily Mail article I found via a cursory Google search (would like to link but comments with too many links seem to get flagged as spam), 1934 was the year with the highest number ever of British road fatalities, at around 7,300. So Britons would have been quite rational, during the actual Blitz, to regard German bombs as a much greater threat than auto accidents. (Whereas regarding Islamic terrorism today, which seems to cause 100 fatalities a year at most, as a considerably greater threat than auto accidents, which in 2012 caused around 1,700 fatalities in the UK, is puzzling.)

      I hasten to note that there are obviously many other reasons why one might oppose immigration, and Islamic immigration in particular, and that if one places a sufficiently low value on the putative benefits of immigration, harsh restriction to prevent even a small number of fatalities may be rational.

      “I don’t think you’re being reasonable. Germany is a sovereign nation, they attacked us. Is that not war?”
      “Again, I understand it seems this way, but you need to understand this from Germany’s political system. Currently the neo-Fascists control only 3% of Parliament. Now, some of their members are in cahoots with the German airforce. Not many, but some. Every once in a while, they orchestrate a revenge bombing against the greater German establishment’s wishes. Now, this is unforgivable, but if you recall the mass fire-bombing and rape the German women and children suffered 15 years ago at the end of the war, you can certainly empathize with their frustration.”

      This analogy falls flat for me for a few reasons. One, it just seems really implausibly far-fetched for a fringe group to be able to use the weaponry of a modern, rational state to carry out an attack on another state without the consent of high ranking political and military figures. In real life, if a state condones an Islamic terrorist attack against Western civilians, like the Taliban in Afghanistan in regards to 9/11, it can expect to be attacked in retaliation with relatively little dissent from Western liberals. If the state is so weak that it can’t stamp out Islamic radicals within its own (nominal) borders, as in Somalia, Syria or Pakistan, it’s hardly uncommon for the US in particular to attack the terrorist groups.

      Two, I also think that the distinction between civilian populations and the government/military of a nation is a valid and important distinction both in World War 2 and in today’s War on [Sunni Islamic] Terror[ist groups]. Instead of just randomly murdering Germans and Japanese left and right, I think the appropriate goal of the Allies in World War 2 would have been to destroy the military and political apparatuses of the Axis states. I think this is true despite the fact that no doubt many German and Japanese civilians supported and/or enabled the crimes committed by their governments. Likewise, I think it’s reasonable today to define the enemy as specific Islamic militant groups and their members/material backers, even though there are some (I believe Pew polling shows a fairly small minority of) Muslim civilians who support them.

      I agree fully that the idea that Muslim terrorist attacks are as likely as (implicitly white) right wing terrorist attacks is absurd and risible, even in absolute but particularly in per capita terms, given that in most Western countries ethnic Europeans are like 6-30x the Muslim population. (Surely Muslim terrorist attacks are hate crimes against Westerners, and cause many more fatalities than domestic Western hate crimes against Muslims, but nonetheless the narrative seems to be that Muslims have more to fear from Western Islamophobia than Westerners do from Muslim Europhobia.)

      “But surely you can at least admit that these bombers are in contact with some German immigrants. We have proof that some of them are tipping off the neo-Fascist party coordinates to bomb.”
      “Yes, surely some of them are, but that’s the tiny minority. Most come from families who are aligned with the Christian Democrats. In fact, some of them moved here even before WWII. We benefit vastly from their culture.”
      “Do we really?”
      “Certainly we do. The Volkswagen is an incredibly safe car. In fact, I bet if we did the cost benefit analysis, we would find that access to the Volkswagen saves more lives than the rogue German bombers kill. Again, these cognitive biases are hard to shake. But it’s better than having useless and hateful reactions. We have to deal with very low risks of being bombed, it’s part of the risk we take living in this world. There are no simple solutions.”

      I somewhat agree, somewhat disagree with this. On the one hand, I think that collective punishment is generally morally and practically questionable at best and that the risk of dying in a terrorist attack is indeed very low. On the other hand, I share your frustration that liberals/leftists stubbornly refuse to see any connection between Islamic terrorism and Islamic immigration, fail to admit that sharply restricting Muslim immigration, as eastern European countries like Poland and Hungary do, is in fact a very simple solution to Islamic terrorism, and that liberals/leftists treat living with the threat of Islamic terrorism as an unchangeable fact of nature, like the fall of rain or changing of the seasons, when in reality it’s the result of specific decisions about national identity that countries like the UK make differently than countries like Japan.

      • Thanks for the reply, I think that’s a fair point. In the future when I wanna try writing something silly like this I should try to go more along the Popehat style, where they did it scifi, so it was clearly an abstraction.

        Whereas I think mine died halfway between nonsensical abstraction and actual historical facts.

  30. manwhoisthursday says:

    I’ve been formulating my thoughts on why exactly we should be concerned with terrorism, in response to pieces like this. Throwing my own tentative ideas out there for some feedback, so criticize away.

    ——-

    In the grand scheme of things, Islamic terrorism is more of a nuisance rather than an immediate threat to the West’s existence. But that’s not actually saying much: in actual fact, we do take nuisances pretty seriously, because they are a threat to the norms by which a community functions.

    Terrorism is best viewed as a kind of extremely provocative insult. We might think of Islam as that guy in your community who is always starting shit. We would never tell someone to just put up with being pinched in the butt or smacked in the face every day at work, just because being pinched or smacked isn’t actually going to kill them. Violations of this sort will eventually get out of hand and provoke an extreme reaction. Analogously, we can see that Islamic terrorism has provoked some pretty overblown responses from our governments, such as the Iraq War and various other Middle Eastern adventures.

    Those who say that Islamic terrorism is just a fact of life now are asking people to continually put up with gross insults, and I can’t see how that’s going to end well.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      You are fighting a straw man. The most radical “don’t worry so much about terrorism” position is that we should handle it through normal law enforcement, not that we should ignore it. Admittedly, that does pretty much mean you ignore lone-wolf suicide attackers.

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        The problem is that normal law enforcement doesn’t seem to be stopping the terrorists from achieving one of their aims: provocatively insulting the countries they are operating in.

        • Murphy says:

          If your greatest concern in being insulted then you might want to re-order your priorities.

          In your comparison it would be more accurate to describe Islam as “that 50 people in your community who look kinda the same, amongst them there’s that asshole who is always starting shit, of course there’s that christian guy who’s always starting shit as well but he’s nothing to do with me but all those 50 Islamic people share responsibility for their asshole”

          Always remember to divide by the billion when making estimates of average-assholiness . Islam is a huge religion.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Sorry, but we don’t actually allow people to go around provoking people. We don’t allow people to pinch or smack someone else at work, even though that is not an immediate threat to their existence.

            And human nature is such that continual provocation simply will result in an escalation to violence. It’s not a matter of what my own priorities are.

            —–

            And your implication that Christian terrorism is just as much of a problem is empirically false.

          • VivaLaPanda says:

            @manwhoisthursday

            I don’t think the implication was that Christian terrorism was as much of a problem, it was that terrorists make up a tiny proportion of all Muslims.

            Not to be too LessWrongy but… From a Bayesian sense, the question is if we have a random person, there is some probability they are a terrorist. If we discover they are Muslim, how does the posterior probability change.

            The probability of a random person in the US is approx 1.8×10^-6 (Terrorist convictions / US Population). 6% of terrorist attacks between 2002-2005 were by Muslims according to this document. That may have gone up, so let’s be real generous and say 15%. .9% of the US is Muslim according to Pew.

            That gives us a posterior probability of 0.00003, or about 16.6 times more likely (Math).

            So ultimately, it seems like the answer is: Muslims are still really unlikely to be terrorists even being generous, but they are significantly more likely than a person taken at random.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I don’t think the implication was that Christian terrorism was as much of a problem, it was that terrorists make up a tiny proportion of all Muslims.

            but not as small a proportion as “christian terrorists” make up of christians

            or any other demographic group ever at all, in the past 20 years or so

          • Nornagest says:

            South Americans, maybe? Or Communists, though that’s diluted quite a bit by China. FARC, NLA, and Shining Path were all active in South America pretty recently, and we could add the New People’s Army (Philippines) under “communists”.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          It stops a great deal of potential terrorist attacks. You just understandably hear more about the ones it doesn’t stop than the ones it does.

          • albatross11 says:

            Do we have a good idea how many actual terrorist attacks are stopped by law enforcement? The datapoints/anecdotes I vaguely remember:

            a. I don’t think the TSA (US airport security) has ever knowingly stopped a terrorist attack on a plane. They’ve caught people trying to bring weapons or (at least once) explosives on planes, but never attempted terrorist attacks. However, they may have dissuaded terrorist attacks on planes by their presence–it’s not clear how we’d even measure that. And they may have made the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber use less-effective techniques that caused their attacks to fail.

            b. In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, there were initially claims that massive surveillance had stopped many terrorist attacks in the US. Later when an official panel with the appropriate clearances investigated this, they couldn’t point to any cases where they’d definitively stopped attacks. (But they may have held back some information to protect their methods, and maybe they’ve had an important supporting role in stopping some attacks we haven’t heard about.)

            c. In the US there have been several high-profile FBI arrests of alleged terrorist plotters. Some seem like they were serious attempts, but a large fraction look like an FBI informant getting together a bunch of hapless losers and providing the money, plans, and pretend bombs for a plot. It’s not very clear to me how many of these arrests made anyone safer. (On the other hand, maybe without this level of entrapment/infiltration going on, terrorist groups would be able to organize and recruit more effectively in the US.)

          • rlms says:

            @albatross11
            I remember reading a figure of 18 in the last few years in the UK somewhere.

          • Controls Freak says:

            In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, there were initially claims that massive surveillance had stopped many terrorist attacks in the US. Later when an official panel with the appropriate clearances investigated this, they couldn’t point to any cases where they’d definitively stopped attacks.

            The reporting I recall was that a particular member of a WH panel didn’t think Section 215 had accomplished much. 215 was the one legitimately controversial program revealed by Snowden (amist a massive number of unquestionably legal and uncontroversial programs), which collected domestic telephony metadata in bulk (constraints were provided on the query side).

            That program of bulk collection was ended by USAFA two years ago, but it is difficult to tell just how influential such reporting was in that decision. Congress tweaked it slightly, moving the querying constraints over to the collection side… so they must have thought that there was some non-zero benefit to a program in that vein (and the privacy advocates dutifully fell in line to decry the shift as being meaningful, even though it embraced pretty much exactly what they were asking for).

            I don’t really have much to say on this score, because most of the reporting uses strange metrics. I’ve seen things like, “Was the primary source for thwarting a major attack,” which has more loopholes than you can drive a truck through (215 simply isn’t going to be “the primary source” for approximately anything – that’s just not what it was for; clearly, whether or not a ‘major’ attack was thwarted is also problematic).

            The linked article used the phrases “stopped an imminent attack”, “achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature”, and “no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome [of a terror investigation] would have been any different without the program”. These are quite critical comments, but they still leave open a host of ways that such a program could have been useful (after all, calculating how situations would turn out differently given a small change at the lead-generation stage is an incredibly difficult problem to have “confidence” on).

            Anyway, even that reporting remarked on the effectiveness of other surveillance programs, specifically the ones authorized by Section 702. From the same linked article:

            The comparison between 702 overseas interceptions and 215 bulk metadata collection was “night and day,” said Stone. “With 702, the record is very impressive. It’s no doubt the nation is safer and spared potential attacks because of 702. There was nothing like that for 215. We asked the question and they [the NSA] gave us the data. They were very straight about it.”

            Of course, since Section 702 expires at the end of this year, all of the interested parties are gearing up for the reauthorization battle… so prior reporting about 215 not having a proven record are going to get rounded off to, “NSA surveillance is ineffective,” at least for the anti-702 folks.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      These kinds of analyses are never useful. Utilitarianism has no concept of moral desert which hamstrings any attempt to translate the intuitive logic of self-defense into a utilitarian framework.

      Think back to when you were in school. When the teachers punished the good kids who fought back just as harshly as the bullies then they were rewarding bullying. The good kids had something to lose from getting caught fighting. The bullies could care less: they didn’t want to be in class anyway, so a suspension was just doing them a favor. So when the good kids stopped fighting the bullies started hitting them that much harder.

      We should all remember this clearly by now. Bullies prey on weakness but they’re cowards at heart. If you sock them one when the teacher isn’t looking they’ll generally back down and look for easier prey.

      The problem with terrorism isn’t that it might provoke the victims to fight back and hurt the terrorists. The problem is that the victims are being prevented from fighting back effectively which just enables further attacks.

      • rlms says:

        What do you propose be done to fight back against terrorism? How can we identify the bullies?

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Raymond Westerling seems to have worked out the basics.

          Register all new immigrants from regions linked to terrorism, and infiltrate local communities so as to identify likely terrorists. Then surround neighborhoods harboring terrorists and publicly execute the suspects, with the remainder swearing on the Koran to renounce terrorism.

          It doesn’t have the best optics but it provably works.

          • Zodiac says:

            I know this isn’t the point of this discussion but having our (Germany) agencies “infiltrate” radical organisations has led to the infiltrators becoming the bosses of the organisations and funneling more ressources their way. It’s mind boggling.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Zodiac,

            Actually that does seem pretty relevant. And yes, very mind boggling.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            The wins security at the expense of destroying rule of law. This was fine for the Dutch, since they were destroying rule of law outside the Netherlands. But you are suggesting that this method be used in the Netherlands. In that case, it is an absurd price to pay.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            The given word or sworn oath of a Muslim is worthless by design – at least in matters of faith. This has a long tradition: Sunni scholars unanimously agree that ones who are forced to say words of disbelief are not subject to any blame before Allah or any Islamic court, and that one is most definitely not bound by such words.

            Seemingly, the inventors of the religion took efforts to render such strategies nonviable against Muslims.

            That said, surrounding neighborhoods harboring terrorists and publicly executing suspects may have an effect in itself. It sounds horrifying, and something like this done in the UK would probably make for the saddest chapter in Western history.

          • Matt M says:

            It sounds horrifying, and something like this done in the UK would probably make for the saddest chapter in Western history.

            Sadder than “can’t send your 8 year old to a concert without worrying someone will blow her brains out?”

            The choice here isn’t whether people suffer. It’s who suffers, and how much.

          • rlms says:

            @publiusvarinius
            I don’t think lying to police about being a terrorist is unique to Muslims.

            @Matt M
            Do you take the same something-anything-must-be-done attitude towards school shootings?

          • skef says:

            @Matt M
            Do you take the same something-anything-must-be-done attitude towards school shootings?

            No, rlms, remember that actual degree of danger isn’t the issue (e.g. bathtubs and such are irrelevant). It’s not what’s dangerous, it’s what people worry about. That’s the key relevant form of suffering.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m fine with the idea that “something should be done” about school shootings. I just disagree with what the conventional “something” is.

            And that’s sort of my point.

            The left’s position isn’t that “nothing should be done” about Islamic terrorism (even if they sometimes phrase it in ways that sound similar to this). No, they want something done. It’s just that the “something” is something they would have wanted anyway – which is, “enact more leftist policies across the board.”

            If you don’t believe me, spend a few minutes and google “[insert random leftist position here] AND terrorism” and see what you get. Aside from the standard stuff we already know about (poverty, islamophobia, etc.), you occasionally get really great ones like this…

          • INH5 says:

            No, rlms, remember that actual degree of danger isn’t the issue (e.g. bathtubs and such are irrelevant). It’s not what’s dangerous, it’s what people worry about. That’s the key relevant form of suffering.

            Are you trying to argue that people don’t worry about (non-ideological) mass shootings? Because I, at least, can personally attest to feeling a bit scared whenever I went to see a movie in the months following the 2012 Aurora shooting. I occasionally still do.

          • skef says:

            I would say that worry over mass shootings tends to be shorter lived and extend over a shorter distance than worry over terrorist acts, and thus has a lower political impact.

          • Matt M says:

            I’ll also add that we see this dynamic play out with the NRA following every school shooting. They’re PR savvy enough to NOT respond with statements like “School shootings are totally exaggerated by a bunch crazy lefties who are bigoted against guns. Technically speaking, your child is more likely to drown in a backyard swimming pool than be shot at school, but I don’t see you idiots whining about THAT!” Their position is not “This is just part of life and we just have to accept it. No, they come up with plans such as “allow teachers to conceal carry” or “have more armed security guards in schools” or whatever.

            And you can disagree with those plans if you want. You can even mock them, or suggest that they will make the problem even worse. And it’s not unreasonable to think critically for a minute and say (as many people do), “Gee, it seems that the NRA’s ‘solution’ to school shootings is more liberal gun rights… but the entire purpose of their organization is to encourage more liberal gun rights, which they would have been doing even if there was no school shooting, so I doubt whether they genuinely care about this problem or not.”

            And that is why I doubt whether or not leftists genuinely care about terrorism. Because their solutions to it are things like “curb the free speech of my political opponents” and “provide taxpayer funds for the purposes of importing and sustaining the lives of people who are likely to vote for my party” and things like that. Things they already would have wanted anyway.

          • tlwest says:

            Matt M:

            Sadder than “can’t send your 8 year old to a concert without worrying someone will blow her brains out?”

            Yes, without question.

            Fear of criminals is obviously bad for me and my child.

            Becoming criminal in order to make several million people clearly understand that we consider them “the enemy” – catastrophically worse.

          • “Gee, it seems that the NRA’s ‘solution’ to school shootings is more liberal gun rights… but the entire purpose of their organization is to encourage more liberal gun rights, which they would have been doing even if there was no school shooting, so I doubt whether they genuinely care about this problem or not.”

            Very much the same can be said about the movement to suppress climate change, as demonstrated by a cartoon popular with members of that movement.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            @rlms:

            > I don’t think lying to police about being a terrorist is unique to Muslims.

            That’s not the point. There are religions where swearing an oath on the holy book is explicitly meaningful. There are other religions where swearing an oath on the holy book is explicitly meaningless. Islam belongs to the latter category.

          • I’m fine with the idea that “something should be done” about school shootings. I just disagree with what the conventional “something” is.

            And that’s sort of my point.

            The left’s position isn’t that “nothing should be done” about Islamic terrorism (even if they sometimes phrase it in ways that sound similar to this). No, they want something done. It’s just that the “something” is something they would have wanted anyway – which is, “enact more leftist policies across the board.”

            Whereas the right want to respond to school shootings by arming terachers. Are you quite sure there is no equivalence?

          • Murphy says:

            I’m going to be perfectly honest, I’m not muslim but if the police in the state where I’m living started rounding up members of my ethnic group and executing anyone suspected of being involved in terrorism publicly I would start making plans for how to nerve gas the national parliament. If it enjoyed broad public support from the population I wouldn’t even be that discerning and would just aim for fractions of the general population who support murder-on-the-street-without-trial.

            Because at that point a civil war as been declared against me and I’m facing an existential threat.

            Whoever thinks that your plan is a good idea is stupid beyond words. They’ve turned off their brains and given in entirely to the Toxoplasma. It’s not a coherent approach intended to achieve any kind of goal, it’s rage, rage, rage, rage fucking idiotic rage.

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

            The idea is so bad that you should literally feel nothing but shame for thinking that it’s a good idea.

            Your approach “provably” worked so well at protecting Dutch control that within 3 years the country had declared independence. Such fucking victory. Wow.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            @Murphy:

            Whoever thinks that your plan is a good idea is stupid beyond words.

            I disagree. If your priors show that the only reasonable outcomes are

            1. A prolonged terrorist campaign ending with the victory of your perceived enemies.
            2. A short time of extreme oppression of religious minorities, potentially resulting in a civil war, but in any case ending with the victory of your perceived allies.

            then it seems perfectly rational (and highly illegal, for good reason) to advocate for the latter.

            Whoever thinks that your plan is a good idea is stupid beyond words. They’ve turned off their brains and given in entirely to the Toxoplasma. […] it’s rage, rage, rage, rage fucking idiotic rage. […] Such fucking victory. Wow.

            Whereas you have considered Nabil’s point charitably and calmly explained your POV on the matter.

          • Fahundo says:

            ending with the victory of your perceived enemies.

            What makes you think that? Has a war ever been won by people who were less dangerous than furniture?

          • Murphy says:

            @publiusvarinius

            Fully justified contempt and disdain is not the same thing as rage.

            I gave it as much consideration as it deserved. Did anyone else even read the source he cited? It’s a damning condemnation for the tactic. it’s great if you want to feel great about yourself for about 6 months. Awful and stupid if your outlook is any longer than that. As in the example where the dutch were kicked out a few years later.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Murphy,

            It’s interesting what people see as their sacred values.

            British schoolgirls are raped by the thousands or killed by the hundreds by jihadis, and to you that’s nothing to get worked up over. That’s a secular value, something to be traded for a decreased rate of auto accidents.

            A idea of a jihadi being shot, on the other hand, works you up into a such rage that you’d consider killing your countrymen more-or-less at random. That’s a sacred value, with any trade off being unthinkable.

            So what does it say about someone that the lives of our nations’ little girls aren’t sacred but those of our sworn enemies are? Personally I’d be ashamed to admit that.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            @Fahundo: I don’t know, since I’m summarizing the position of someone else. In the hypothetical where Nabil’s idea is acted upon, this is clearly a non-issue. And yes, I am fairly sure that civil wars are usually/eventually decided by other qualities than pre-war viciousness.

          • Matt M says:

            Whereas the right want to respond to school shootings by arming terachers. Are you quite sure there is no equivalence?

            What? Of course there’s equivalence. I’m saying there IS equivalence here.

            I’d LOVE it if general society and mass media looked at leftist “solutions” to terrorism (and, as David Friedman correctly points out, global warming) with the same level of skepticism and incredulity as they look at the NRA’s solutions to school shootings!

          • Murphy says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal

            You didn’t read my post did you. Or at least you half read it then decided it was too much work to think.

            I said if my own people started rounding up members of my own group and murdering them in the street then I’d fight back because at that point it’s a civil war with the end game being genocide against me and I would be perfectly happy to target supporters of that policy and not just the military.

            The idea of some random people being dragged into the street and murdered without trial (it’s not even an execution, it’s simple murder) to “send a message” pisses me off. Whether it’s jews, muslims or Christians that people want to drag into the street and murder without trial.

            Because it means that people have started listening to literal nazis and implementing their policy suggestions in my country.

            Thousands of girls? What the ever living fuck does that even have to do with anything related to terrorism? It’s like you’ve smooshed together everything you consider evil in the world and then attributed it to an entire ethnic group in your desire to get in some genocide before lunch. Some pedophiles were active somewhere, apparently in your head they’re indistinguishable to you from anyone else from the same religion.

            This isn’t SSC’s normal somewhat-right-wing-and-can-intelligently-justify-their positions stuff. SSC apparently now has literal nazis who advocate dragging people into the street and murdering them without trial to “send a message”. Fuck.

          • Matt M says:

            Very much the same can be said about the movement to suppress climate change, as demonstrated by a cartoon popular with members of that movement.

            David,

            I still remain amazed that this sort of thing hasn’t gained more traction on the right. It is the primary reason why I am an extreme skeptic on global warming.

            There seems to he a HUGE overlap between the following three groups:

            1. People who favored increasing the size and power of the state long before global warming was ever a thing
            2. People who are greatly concerned that global warming is about to destroy civilization as we know it
            3. People who believe the only feasible solutions to global warming involve increasing the size and power of the state

            Now I can’t prove there is any sort of hoax or conspiracy going on here. But if there WAS a hoax or conspiracy along the veins of “let’s manufacture a fake catastrophe that we can use to make the populace more willing to increase the size and power of the state,” well, I feel like this is pretty much EXACTLY what it would look like…