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Open Thread 78.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden 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.

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1,011 Responses to Open Thread 78.25

  1. ManyCookies says:

    A silly hypothetical:

    For time immemorial, most burger lovers liked ketchup over mustard. But in 2017, there’s a sudden huge preference shift towards mustard.

    Burger Joint A has a singular Sauce Division to handle all their sauce production. When the 2017 mustard shift occurs, the Head Saucer has no particular reason to favor ketchup over mustard and reacts accordingly to the new preferences (doesn’t renew contracts with ketchup consultants and brings in mustard consultants, shuts down company ketchup factories etc.).

    Burger Joint B has their sauce production split into two divisions, a Ketchup Division and a (much smaller) Mustard Divsion. When the 2017 mustard shift occurs, the Head Ketchuper has strong reason to favor ketchup production over mustard and tries various strategies to ensure her division’s continued relevance (discredits pro-mustard studies, calls in some favors and convinces the board to mantain funding, poisons the Head Mustarder’s coffee etc.). Because of the further specialization in their corporate structure, Burger Joint B has an employee with perverse incentives and responds less quickly to the shift than Burger Joint A.

    =

    Is there a term for the costs incurred by Burger Joint B’s overdivision? A quick chat with Professor Google talked mostly about individual overspecialization, but I didn’t find anything on this more corporate level.

    • I think the issue is the principle – agent problem. That is, the interest of employees of a firm don’t necessarily align with those of the the firm as a whole. Of course this doesn’t hold just for firms, but for governments and non-profits too.

      In your example, Joint A will likely have some of the same problems as Joint B, because there are bound to be some folks in Joint A that specialize in ketchup, even if the head saucier does not. Perhaps the more general issue is that over-specialization in firms will tend to cause more political issues, since the principal – agent problem is exacerbated. On the other hand, specialization also has some great benefits, which is greater efficiency and effectiveness in those particular areas.

      One can see this issue best in the comparative differences between large and small firms. Large firms can pay their top people better, because their work is spread over greater operations. Also employees at large firms will specialize more, which makes them a lot more efficient at solving problems. But large firms have much greater coordination issues. I work at a large firm, and the result in almost constant meetings. How do you get stuff done when you always have to explain what you are doing to other departments, and get clearance from these other departments, many of which will make decisions based on their own provincial departmental benefits, not on firm benefits as a whole? Smaller firms avoid many of these coordination problems, but they simply are not as skilled in getting many of their problems solved. Thus they will much easier avoid the ketchup/mustard issue you referred to, but maybe have lower quality sauce for both. Different industries have different needs, so that will affect the dispersion of small firms vs large in a given industry.

      Maybe this response was greater than the question asked for, but there it is.

    • Matt M says:

      I’m not sure overdisivion is necessarily the problem, it’s how the divisions are specifically structured.

      We could imagine the same nominal amount of divisions, only instead of by product, they occur functionally. So instead of a VP of ketchup and a VP of mustard, the President of Condiments has a VP of condiment selection and a VP of condiment purchasing or something.

      Overspecialization on a corporate level is certainly a thing although I think it focuses more on inefficiency rather than conflicts of interest. I’d google things like “corporate organizational structure” or “spans and layers analysis” or something like that. You’re envisioning a fairly fantastical scenario of warring interests, but I think the common result is usually far closer to “you end up with a bunch of middle managers who aren’t actually doing much of anything other than costing you millions of dollars in salaries”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Drunk driving, speeding, etc, kills, this is obvious. But how often does it kill the guilty party, compared to lawful drivers? Suppose a by-the-book vehicle operator. What’s the risk this person incurs by driving, compared to general population? The latter statistics are easily found, but I haven’t been able to find the former.

    Has anybody?

  3. onyomi says:

    For obvious reasons, there is currently a lot of discussion among libertarians about borders, immigration, etc.

    Don’t know if anyone here’s discussed it yet, but this debate between two libertarians on whether or not border controls, immigration restrictions, etc. can be squared with libertarian commitment to non-initiation of aggression was pretty good.

    To attempt to summarize for those who don’t want to watch a 100-min. video:

    Roughly, they both agree that ancap (privatize everything) is ideal, but disagree on second-best solutions, given the continued existence of nation states. Chase argues that borders, at least to land somehow developed or improved by the government, if not to virgin territory simply “owned” by the government, are permissible because trespass is a form of aggression, and people who come into the government-improved territory without permission are, effectively, “trespassing” on the property of the citizens, who, though they don’t actually own it privately, nevertheless have the best private claim to the land of anyone, given that the government has been using their tax money, etc. to, in effect, “homestead” it.

    Larken basically says that Chase’s theory is unworkable because it ends up devolving into the same kind of preemptive aggression on the behalf of a collective libertarians object to.

    Chase argues against this point that it is even more “communist” to basically say that anyone in the world has access to the government land, as it becomes a tragedy of the commons. Though citizens of a nation state collectively “owning” land (in proportion to how much they’ve paid in taxes or been victimized, he stipulates) is problematic from a libertarian perspective, it’s still better than just defaulting to “everyone can do anything with this land.”

    Lew Rockwell offers a similar argument, which is also somewhat consequentialist (because he fears cultural destruction): basically, open borders is itself a socialist policy, because it takes some land which would have been privately owned and coercively turns it into a “commons.” Once it is a “commons,” presumably citizens with the best private claim to that commons have a right to choose a policy other than “everybody can come in,” insofar as they’ve been forced into this second-best solution by the existence of the state.

    Lastly, Robert Higgs has a kind word on behalf of the Mexicans. I tend to agree with him that, as immigrants go, Mexicans seem to be pretty nice ones. Threats like “a taco truck on every corner,” famously, don’t sound so bad at all. Of course, this only applies to the US case with respect to “building the wall,” etc. Personally, I don’t worry so much about losing American culture, which has long been a mishmash, as I do about the voting issue: I’d love to have more Mexican and Central American neighbors, but not if they’re going to vote to make the government of the US more like those of Central America, and not to the extent they’re going to become another identity group bloc voting for narrow group interests.

    Personally, I am inclined more towards the Chase viewpoint, since I don’t think one must naturally default to an “anything goes” policy just because the way the state does important thing x isn’t morally justifiable (the fact that government police authority is unjustifiable, for example, doesn’t mean that “no law enforcement officers of any kind” is the only acceptable alternative), but I also agree with Larken that the “country club” analogy (a nation state is basically like a giant club privately “owned” by its citizens) is problematic, especially when a nation state occupies half a continent.

    • Jiro says:

      I would ask the question: If you don’t think the citizens own the country, in the sense of having the right to exclude, then who does? It clearly doesn’t beling to individual citizens–I can’t claim the exclusion rights on a section of road–so how can we say that it doesn’t belong to the government?

      It doesn’t make sense to be in a limbo where individuals have no right to exclude foreigners, yet the citizens collectively through the government don’t have that right either, and neither is the right free for the taking. Where did the right go?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      From your summary, Chase has the Better case.
      I also think Mexican immigrants are fairly cool. I don’t think America is in existential danger from immigration, unlike poor mother Europe.

    • Wrong Species says:

      The libertarian case is not that hard to make. You think roads should should be privatized. But that doesn’t mean you think we should have no speed limits, no rules against drinking and driving or any other rules right? So while the government may not have legitimacy(from your perspective) to own those roads, they do own them which means there is no problem with creating rules. It’s the same with immigration. You may not think the government should own the land but they effectively do, so there is nothing wrong with limiting who is and isn’t allowed in.

      • AnonYEmous says:

        the libertarian case is actually hard to make because how do you justify limiting the liberty of others to enter your country?

        the libertarian answer is, don’t be a libertarian, or at least don’t allow your principles to overwhelm consequentialism to such a degree that you embrace open borders which coincidentally more or less demolishes libertarianism (not because of muh non white people mind, just because of cultural factors which are pretty unique to America and by the way have probably made it successful)

        which chains into another point: people from unsuccessful cultures seem to still prefer their culture, which is the main problem here. America’s culture has brought it great success, but you actually have to inculcate it, because people have their preferences and they don’t care about the larger effects, especially since they are just a small part in that machine.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Like I said, my point is that limiting immigration isn’t any more wrong than laws against drunk driving. From the libertarian perspective, the state shouldn’t exist but that doesn’t mean they can’t have any laws over the things they control.

        • Matt M says:

          the libertarian case is actually hard to make because how do you justify limiting the liberty of others to enter your country?

          I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the libertarian position.

          The libertarian position is that immigration restrictions are a violation of the property rights of property owners who would wish to allow non-citizens on their property. No one has any inherent liberty to go wherever they please. Freedom of movement carries an implication that you are only moving places where the owners allow you to be.

          • John Schilling says:

            The libertarian position is that immigration restrictions are a violation of the property rights of property owners who would wish to allow non-citizens on their property.

            And how many people are there, actually, who wish to allow non-citizens on their property and none other? Not counting business owners who want a population of cheap workers who aren’t allowed to leave, because that’s not really compatible with a deep respect for liberty.

          • Matt M says:

            John,

            I’m not sure what your point is. Who cares whether people want or don’t want non-citizens to be allowed on property they do not own? You get no say in who gets to be allowed on property you don’t own. Your opinion on whether illegals should be allowed in my home or not is irrelevant.

            As usual, this entire argument condenses down into a fundamental dispute over who really “owns” the “public” property in the United States. (spoilers: the answer is “the government”, which is a qualitatively different answer than “the citizens” or “the people”)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            We could clear up this confusion over whether the government is identical to the people by anointing a king.

          • albatross11 says:

            John Schilling:

            Around here, I don’t think illegal immigrants have a lot of trouble finding landlords to rent to them, stores to sell them things, or churches happy to see them come to their religious services. There isn’t an obvious reason to think most property owners object more to someone being on their property because they’re a Mexican who overstayed their visa than they do an American citizen.

            If you want to argue for immigration restrictions, I think you have to start with the idea that the population that’s allowed to live and work here is a kind of commons, and that immigration law is a way of the government managing a commons that would otherwise get trashed by individually-rational behavior (like illegal immigrants coming to the US in huge numbers, or employers giving illegal immigrants jobs and saving some money on wages.).

          • Matt M says:

            We could clear up this confusion over whether the government is identical to the people by anointing a king.

            It might improve the situation!

            (No seriously, read your Hans-Herman Hoppe!)

          • onyomi says:

            Related to this, Chase actually had an interesting proposal: something like, anyone can come here if they are sponsored by an existing citizen who basically has to agree to some level of responsibility for the behavior of the newcomer.

            On this example, US employers could hire immigrant workers so long as they agree to some kind of financial responsibility for them if they turn out to be criminals (at a minimum they would bear financial responsibility for imprisoning/sending home the offender+restitution to whomever they harmed; this would likely amount to buying an insurance policy for every foreigner you “invite”). This would ameliorate the “abused commons” aspect of hiring illegals (who would not be illegal in this case), since companies would have an incentive to screen candidates not only for being good e.g. fruit pickers, but also good neighbors.

        • John Schilling says:

          the libertarian case is actually hard to make because how do you justify limiting the liberty of others to enter your country?

          The same way we justify limiting the “liberty” of others to enter our houses. The same way those of us who own stock in corporations justify limiting the “liberty” of others to enter our factories and warehouses. Property rights are central to most sorts of libertarianism, and the ability to exclude trespassers is central to property rights. The public or common lands, at least, of a democratic nation, are the property of that nation’s citizens to do with as they please, to exclude others from or invite others on to as they please, in accordance with the democratic laws and procedures by which they decide on such collective matters. We may think it is a good idea to invite foreigners to come live in our country, but it isn’t an obligation.

          Also, finding a grammatical construction that allows you to attach the word “liberty” to something you want to do, doesn’t mean that libertarians have to let you do it or even justify why they won’t let you do it. And trying to tell us what we have to believe is as obnoxious as it would be the other way around.

      • You may not think the government should own the land but they effectively do, so there is nothing wrong with limiting who is and isn’t allowed in.

        Which land? Libertarians believe that my house is owned by me, not by the government.

        An old libertarian puzzle is to ask, if someone manages to buy up all the land surrounding my house, is he entitled to refuse me permission to cross it with the result that I starve to death. I think the usual answer is “no.” To justify that, one observes that the ability to cross your land is not a result of your or previous owners’ efforts but part of what was initially a commons, so keeping me from doing so when my crossing does you no harm is claiming something you did not “mix your labor with.” I leave expansions of that line of argument to other discussions.

        If you accept that, then the government is not entitled to prevent a would-be immigrant from crossing land it claims in order to get to the land of someone who wants him there. At most it can demand that he walk along the edge of the road while not impeding traffic, on the grounds that making the road suitable for vehicles was the work of labor to which it somehow claims the right.

        And if we have a private port or landing field, that problem disappears.

        • random832 says:

          The real puzzle, I think, is what if two or more different people own the land surrounding you, and each insists you cross the other’s instead of theirs?

          Or the general case, where there are multiple pieces of land that you (or the would-be immigrant) own or are invited to, separated by a patchwork of landowners who hate you/them or for some other reason don’t want you to cross it. Maybe there is a straightforward path, maybe it’s a twisting path that takes you miles out of your way, or maybe you’re ultimately surrounded – not by the neighbors of your property itself, but in a meandering path of contiguous landowners who for their own reasons don’t want you crossing their property, many miles out.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Libertarians believe that my house is owned by me, not by the government.

          Yes, you have the title to that land but who has sovereignty over it? Not including things like eminent domain, where the government straight up confiscates your property, the government has these myriad rules about what you can and can’t do. And even if they did repeal these laws, then it only takes a new legislative session to take away your property rights again. So really it’s the government who’s in control and as the owner, it’s not wrong for them to decide who can enter the country.

          • random832 says:

            But none of those things exist in the libertarian worldview of how things ought to be.

          • Matt M says:

            Wrong Species,

            Do you believe the United States is a socialist country? Why or why not?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @random832

            There’s a difference between how things are and ought to be. In a perfect libertarian world, there would be no federal reserve. However, it exists, so what should its policy be? In a perfect libertarian world, public utilities would be private. But since we’re not in that world, what should they set their prices at? In a perfect libertarian world, all property would be private and there would be no need for immigration policy. However, who should we let in until that world comes about?

            @Matt M

            That’s going to bring up a long discussion. We’re going to have to save it for the next thread.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Is a perfect libertarian world the eschaton?

          • So really it’s the government who’s in control and as the owner, it’s not wrong for them to decide who can enter the country.

            So if a car thief hotwires my car and drives away, meaning that he is in control, it’s not wrong for him to sell it?

            You are confusing power with moral justification. The fact that I can do something does not mean that it is not wrong for me to do it. The fact that the government can seize my land does not mean it has a moral right to.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            But that same objection can be leveled against the belief that the property owner must have very high levels of sovereignty of her property. Her legitimacy is surely more than a thief, but she didn’t make the land, so once upon a time the land was taken from the commons and privatized.

            In fact, you yourself claim that there is a limit to the power of the owner for the benefit of all/others, when you argue that land owners have an obligation to allow passage.

            My impression is that many/most libertarians believe in ‘obvious’ limitations to ownership, whereas I fail to see the obviousness.

            Earlier commenters have already described how the question of which neighbor ought to allow passage is a hard one to answer. I would add that:
            – If one property owner has prime traveling ground, there would be an undue burden.
            – Can the property owner ask for compensation for the passages? If not, doesn’t this prohibit privately funded toll roads? If so, doesn’t this allow for extortion?
            – What happens if people fence their land? Do property owners have an obligation to make a gate in the fence, which is necessary to allow passage, even though the owners of the fence don’t need a gate themselves.
            – Your obligation of passage is actually a major reduction in owner’s rights compared to now and highly problematic. Can I demand passage over an airport, military base, etc?
            – Can I demand passage of everything I want to move? If I want to drive a battle tank to my land, do I get to rip up your land with it?

            I see the belief in a clear set of rules that merely demand objective application as an illusion/Utopian thinking. The fuzziness of the world is why we need democracy and cannot design everything around property rights.

          • The fuzziness of the world is why we need democracy and cannot design everything around property rights.

            It’s why we need ways of settling disagreements about rights. Democracy is one such way, but not the only.

            On the general issue of property rights to unproduced stuff, the best I can offer you is the chapter on that subject in the third edition of my first book, but it isn’t very satisfactory.

    • John Schilling says:

      Chase seems to have the best of it on principles. Arguments of the form, “your claim to this land is not 100% morally pure, therefore it must be open to all”, have never carried much weight with me. A moral philosophy and/or political system for the real world has to deal with real, valuable things for which nobody has a 100% pure and righteous claim, and I’ve never seen anyone come up with a better system than whoever has the best claim gets to decide. Democratic governments generally have very good present claims to the land within their borders, and an obligation to use that claim for the benefit of their present citizens.

      Higgs sounds like he makes a good claim at the object level – most of the Mexicans who want to come here, are people I want to have as neigbors. But most, not all, and if you say that the American people don’t get to make that distinction and the final decision, I and most of the rest of the American people are going to push back. Hence, Donald Trump.

    • Brad says:

      The government owned land framing is quite odd. Wouldn’t it imply open borders from e.g. Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada) to Glacier National Park (US) and more generally open borders with respect to landing in and staying on any private property? The immigration laws would only be enforced on the public streets or parks or the like and not at the border per se? And even in the case of public streets wouldn’t the relevant sovereign would often be a state government rather than the federal. It seems to me the Chase position, as described, would mean opposing most existing immigration laws.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Maybe it would, but the Larken position entails that the right to keep out people you don’t want doesn’t exist, as you’re not allowed to enforce it individually or collectively.
        Another consequence of the Larken position is that, as long as the state exists, drunk driving must be legal. You’ll only have the right to enforce safe driving when the roads have private owners!

        • Brad says:

          As far as reductios go that doesn’t seem too absurd. I would have thought the libertarian position would be that drunk driving (on public roads) should be legal and only hitting anything constituting aggression.

          In any event, if both the Larkin and Chase positions imply opposing most current immigration laws and they span the principled libertarian positions on the subject then that implies libertarians should oppose the current immigration laws I would think.

          On a more general note, someone calling himsef a libertarian because he would like if ancap-land were to spontaneously appear, but meanwhile supports policies indistinguishable from those conservatives support strikes as similar to a neo-conservative calling himself a pacifist on the basis that he fervently hopes for the second coming and when Jesus comes back there won’t be any war.

          • Matt M says:

            I would have thought the libertarian position would be that drunk driving (on public roads) should be legal and only hitting anything constituting aggression.

            Some (myself included) do believe that and have made that argument!

            Technically speaking, drunk driving (without hitting anyone) is a victimless crime. Hitting someone due to negligence, meanwhile, is a serious crime that should be prosecuted regardless of whether the negligence was caused by alcohol, texting, lack of sleep, general poor driving skills, whatever.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Matt M: Technically speaking, but there’s an abundance of evidence that alcohol reduces your ability to safely operate a vehicle. AnCap deontology basically says you can’t forbid anyone from operating a speeding truck because they didn’t pass a drivers test, are distracted by texting, or their baseline ability to drive safely is reduced by alcohol, sleepiness, etc. You can only react after they’ve killed or maimed someone. That’s a pretty strict deontology to expect everyone to swallow.

          • Matt M says:

            I wouldn’t go that far.

            A private road owner would be allowed to exclude on the basis of pre-emptive action. The problem is that in this case, the monopolistic owner of roads is also the monopolistic owner of criminal prosecution, the prisons, etc.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Matt M

            Consequentially, that argument makes sense. But isn’t the debate about deontological libertarianism? We’re trying to figure out what the difference is, in principle, between a government that prohibits drunk driving and a private company. So why do you say that the government shouldn’t be allowed to prohibit drunk driving but a private company can?

  4. Zodiac says:

    Czech Republic nuclear power station hosts bikini contest to choose interns
    It has become a common joke on one of the blogs I read to say that reality is destroying the jobs of satirists. I tend to agree since I am losing my ability to discern one from the other.

    • Randy M says:

      Maybe it’s a sly comment on the low radiation levels.
      Or high radiation levels, depending on how quickly the applicants tan indoors.

  5. random832 says:

    Last week or so, @Virbie posted a link to a Washington Post piece about a survey in which 7% of Americans were said to have believed that chocolate milk came from brown cows. @biblicalsausage suggested this was a case of “only 93% of Americans given an earnest, correct answer when asked a stupid question.”

    Someone tracked down the actual survey. (Spoiler alert; it was multiple choice, and none of the answers were not stupid.)

    • Loquat says:

      Well, there was brown cows or black-and-white cows, or they didn’t know.

      Why do I suddenly get the feeling the dairy advocacy group that did the survey was trying to create this exact kind of result just to get everyone thinking about chocolate milk?

      • Matt M says:

        Didn’t someone post a link where they basically admit it?

        I mean not this answer specifically, but basically “we did a survey to uncover fun things about milk and we were as surprised as anybody when this went viral, whoops!”

    • Montfort says:

      While I suspect the actual question was stupid, the article you link does not give the actual question:

      A spokesperson for the Innovation Center told me the purpose of the survey was to “gauge some interesting and fun facts about consumers’ perceptions of dairy,” and the chocolate milk stat was apparently a winner. (She declined to respond to my queries about the wording of the questions, and said the full results of the survey were not intended to be published.)

      Instead you get what the president of the NDC said the question was in an interview with NPR, and I doubt she really cared enough to get it right.

      • random832 says:

        The fact that Food & Wine Magazine reported that 45% said they did not know where chocolate milk came from is strong evidence that that is exactly what the question was. As is the fact that the Post went with “7% said something stupid” rather than “45% said something stupid” – if 7% of Americans say something stupid, the natural assumption is to believe that either 7% of Americans really are stupid or that it is the Lizardman effect. If 45% of Americans say something stupid, most people are going to immediately realize that it was probably a stupid question designed to get stupid answers.

        • Montfort says:

          I wouldn’t call that evidence “strong,” since presumably Food & Wine didn’t see the question either. We can infer the choices included “brown cows” and “don’t know,” and at least one other choice which may or may not include “black and white cows.”

          I’m pretty sure the question was dumb, whatever it was. It just really annoys me that you sold the link as “someone tracked down the actual survey” and I read the whole thing and it’s nowhere to be found. I wanted the original wording, not speculation, and your further speculation isn’t helping.

          • random832 says:

            My interpretation of the evidence rests on the fact that there is no way 45% of Americans really in fact do not know how chocolate milk is made, so any question that gives this result necessarily must not have included the true answer as a choice.

          • Montfort says:

            I don’t really care about your interpretation of the evidence. My complaint is that you mislabeled your link. It’s not a huge deal, it just bugs me, and it also bugs me that you keep responding as if my complaint were about something else.

          • Aapje says:

            I agree with Montfort. A proper summary of the link is that the people who did the survey refused to hand it over and none of the media that reported the story included the actual question (suggesting a lack of vetting by all of them).

            So this very much looks like typical ‘media hacking*.’

            * Sending a press release to the media with a fun ‘fact’ that appeals to their desire to add levity to their reporting, but which is actually covert marketing, where frequently, the fun fact in question is made up.

          • random832 says:

            What is your justification for believing that the statement from the NPR interview was not a true statement of what the allowed answers were to the question? “I doubt she really cared enough to get it right” is not an argument, since there’s no reason to think she cared enough to conceal it either. Not being precise about the exact wording is one thing, but you’re going as far as to claim that this statement was a lie as to the claim that there were exactly three allowed answers that were, substantively, two different colors of cow and “don’t know”.

            A proper summary of the link is that the people who did the survey refused to hand it over and none of the media that reported the story included the actual question (suggesting a lack of vetting by all of them).

            To my mind, it’s entirely correct to use the term “Tracked down” to describe a process that ended in failure to obtain the questions and results; the important thing is that they definitively determined that they were not available. They put in the legwork that Food & Wine and the Washington Post did not. And the Post made an unforgivable error in asserting “The equivalent of the population of Pennsylvania (and then some!) does not know that chocolate milk is milk, cocoa and sugar”, which falsely implied knowledge that that was one of the allowed answers, which 7% of survey respondents did not choose.

          • Aapje says:

            OK, perhaps that is the actual question and the actual choices. But it’s still incorrect to state that: “Someone tracked down the actual survey.”

            The interview is testimony by someone who might not even have seen the evidence herself. Jean Ragalie-Carr is the president of the National Dairy Council and those people generally get executive summaries, which are named exactly that way because these people can rarely be bothered to look into details. She also has an obvious ‘angle.’

            We know that even first-hand testimony is unreliable and journalists & judges ought to vet it. This may be second-hand testimony, which is even less reliable.

            Neither first-hand testimony or second-hand testimony is “the actual survey.”

          • Montfort says:

            It is probably broadly correct but not exactly correct. Because there’s no real reason to think the president of the NDC personally read the survey instead of getting the review from the press release, or getting a verbal summary. And even if she did, I find it unlikely that she would repeat the question and all the answers word-for-word correct. In speech, especially during an informal interview, people tend to change wording around and make minor mistakes unless they’re reading from a script. Above all, when my expectations are the “actual survey,” if I see something less than the actual survey, I will feel disappointed.

            Personally, I find your phrasing misleading, but accept there is no way to demonstrate the merits of either position without a long argument about linguistics and common use.

    • PedroS says:

      “Spoiler alert; it was multiple choice”

      I do not think any spoiler alert was needed. I always assume (and I do not think I am an outlier at that) that all reports of a sizable number of people giving a “stupid answer” to a survey (like the ones a few years ago about Gandalf or Horatio Hornblower and the defear of the Spanish Armada) comes from the use of multiple questions with silly answers.

      • random832 says:

        Saying “spoiler alert: (something entirely obvious)” ironically is something of a meme, and providing no actual means of avoiding the spoiler (e.g. scrolling space, click through, rot13) is an effective way to signal that it was not a sincere spoiler warning.

  6. Mark says:

    Hi guys, I’ve just had a few glasses of wine, and I’d like to talk about faster than light travel.

    OK – So, I’ve already demonstrated that faster than light travel is possible:

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/25/open-thread-76-25/#comment-504492

    Here is the question – is there some relation between the amount of information that must be lost and the speed at which you can travel?

    Can you do a trade off? Like, I just send the information that represents me, without any of the other planetary stuff, and I can get some other info quicker than otherwise?

    (You’ve got line A——B
    What’s the shortest route between them?

    the shortest route is to send whatever it is at A that needs to experience B towards B and to send the experience of B towards A, and then they meet in the middle.)

    • smocc says:

      I was in that thread and you did not demonstrate that faster-than-light travel is possible. I thought we convinced you of that, but I guess I misunderstood.

      If you want to really know why faster-than-light travel is impossible you can turn to special relativity. One of the prime principle of special relativity is that observers that are moving with respect to each other can observe events in different orders. In particular, suppose observer 1 sees an event A happen, which causes a faster-than-light message to be sent that then causes event B. If observer 2 is moving very fast relative to observer 1, observer 2 will observe event B happen before event A.*

      Causal information traveling faster-than-light plus special relativity implies there can be no notion of causality. So if you think you have a scheme for communicating faster than light you are either mistaken, living in a universe where there is no causality, or living in a universe where special relativity is not true (and special relativity is true in our universe).

      * Note I say “observe” here, and I mean it. This re-ordering of events is not an optical illusion. According to observer 2 event B really does happen before event A, and vice versa for observer 1.

    • beleester says:

      There isn’t a trade-off – the method you proposed transmits literally zero information from A to B. Instead, it transmits information from both A and B to point C. You haven’t changed the speed of your transmission or the amount of information you’re sending, you’ve just changed the distance it has to travel.

      In general, bandwidth has no bearing on how fast the information travels. Even your channel has an upper limit on how much it can send at once, you could just add another transmitter and send it in parallel.

      (Also, I’d point out that since you have to be at point C to actually receive the transmission, you can’t act on the information at point A or B, which means it can only be used to send information that neither of you care about.)

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      This is in fact a famous and important example to emphasize the point that the cosmic speed limit is fundamentally about information transmission, and your twist on it – transmitting information that encodes yourself – is hella dope. I think the answer is that the copy of you at the end of the beam at one instant can’t causally interact with the copy of you at another instant, so there’s no reason to consider them the same person (in fact, it’s probably more correct to think of your 1000^th generation grandchildren as ‘you’, than it is to think of the beam-people at different angles as a single person)

  7. johan_larson says:

    I’ve been studying the relationship between prosperity and inequality by plotting GDP per capita vs the Gini Index (a measure of inequality) of a large number of nations and sub-national entities. Results are here:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TYZhHi43V89AfxvpNXOgvc79R1I039UbJs3QF20cW98/edit?usp=sharing

    I expected to find some sort of central peak in this data. the idea being that some inequality is a good thing because it gives the ambitious incentive to accomplish hard things, but too much is a bad thing because it puts too much power in the hands of the elite, and they start to tilt the rules and institutions in their favor.

    But that’s not what I found. To begin with, the data is very noisy. It’s just all over the place. For most any broad band of wealth, you can find both very equal and very unequal countries in it. Still, the broad shape of the plot is a wedge-shape, with a thick end at low levels of inequality and a narrow end at high levels of inequality. If you fit a staight line to the data (I assume Google Docs is using simple linear regression), it slopes down. There are also a few outliers out in the high-wealth/high-inequality quadrant: the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia.

    So what does this tell us? If the goal is economic development, policies leaning toward equality are probably better. Helping the poor climb out of poverty will get you farther than helping the rich climb toward the stratosphere. Still, this is a weak effect. The focus should be more on raising the average, and not on soaking the rich.

    • Anon. says:

      If the goal is economic development, policies leaning toward equality are probably better.

      I don’t think the data support this conclusion. What if the same factors cause higher growth and lower gini?

    • As usual, correlation isn’t causation–you can’t tell which direction the causation runs.

      Alternative explanation: Poor/high inequality societies are places where the people in power are getting rich off taxes, corruption, and foreign aid, and doing so is keeping the society poor. That’s the Permit Raj in India and the African kleptocracies.

      I would expect a system of secure property rights and low levels of redistribution and government intervention in the economy–the U.S. and U.K. in the 19th century, Sweden for the first half of the 20th–to lead to both economic growth and significant levels of inequality but not as large as in the systems I described above.

  8. BBA says:

    A note regarding the 1965 immigration act:

    Upthread, it was implied that abolishing the national origin quotas was a deliberate ploy by the Left to import massive numbers of Latin Americans and thereby, in the words of Brecht, “dissolve the people and elect another.”

    There is one minor flaw with this theory, which is that the national origin quotas never applied to Latin America to begin with. But the global limits on green card issuance that replaced them did. In other words, the 1965 act made it harder for Latinos to immigrate.

    (If it was a reference to Asia, the other major source of immigrants in the last 50 years, then I guess there might be a point to it. But I don’t think it was.)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I don’t know if it was a deliberate ploy or not, but nothing was said about Latin Americans. Pretty much every other culture in the world is more amenable to collectivism than the Red Tribe.

      PS. Oh and my only point in bringing it up was in the context of a “who broke the Sacred Trust of Political Fair Play first” tit-for-tat. It’s not a good game to play because anybody can always find something. We’ll end up back at Cain and Abel.

      PPS. I claim Abel for the Red Tribe. Industrious. Favored by God. Murdered by jealous, lazy Blue Triber Cain who hated God 😉

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        I agree that “who attacked first” is a waste of time. But why would immigration liberalization be an attack at all? What if it was utility-maximizing, or at least believed to be?

        Edit since my question was a bit disingenuous: I think you have an implicit claim that changing the citizenry in a way that affects politics is wrong. It’s not obvious why this should be true, and also it proves too much (for example, abortion restrictions in a red region will increase the number of reds, so runs afoul of this principle.)

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think you have an implicit claim that changing the citizenry in a way that affects politics is wrong. It’s not obvious why this should be true,

          Because that’s fundamentally what an invasion is. “This group of people who has different ideas about what should go on in this area is coming in and going to impose those ideas.” Moving those people in quietly over decades instead of immediately with swords doesn’t change the intent or outcome.

          From Scott’s death eater FAQ, imagine if I opened a portal from Fundieland and moved millions of Christian fundamentalists into your polity and then gave them the franchise (because “human rights” and “refugees”) and they (completely coincidentally) voted to ban abortion and force everybody to pray to Jesus 5 times a day. Would that be wrong?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            No it would not. Kansas is fundieland and Kansans are welcome here in [liberal stronghold]. When Kansans move here it is not an invasion, it is development.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Not moving them between states. I mean importing new voters from The Great Beyond.

            I propose a new immigration policy that we’re only taking Christian Europeans. And we’re going to declare them “refugees” from the Islamic invasion of European so we’re going to spend your tax dollars to transport them here, moving them into blue states. Reasonable? Not in any way a dirty political trick to ensure future demographic electoral dominance?

          • Zodiac says:

            Winning strategy for the red tribe: Accelerate the Islamic Invasion and ensure prosecution of Christians in Europe, thereby making these Christians refugees and eligible for import.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            why do you think that Europeans will not also dilute the strength of the red tribe

            “christian” still doesn’t answer the question

          • Matt M says:

            Winning strategy for the red tribe: Accelerate the Islamic Invasion and ensure prosecution of Christians in Europe, thereby making these Christians refugees and eligible for import.

            How many white Rhodesians did we get? How many South Africans are we trying to get now?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @CH: if these Christians really are threatened we should help them move here, and even if they are not threatened we should absolutely let them come if they can get here under their own power.

            The reason your proposal is bad is the “only Christians” part. In other words, it’s the freedom-decreasing part that is wrong, not the freedom-increasing part.

            The right metric is sometimes not “will this policy decrease my tribe’s power” but “is this policy good or bad for most people.” Your proposed policy is bad because it harms more people more than it helps, not because of any effect on electoral politics.

          • Matt M says:

            The right metric is sometimes not “will this policy decrease my tribe’s power” but “is this policy good or bad for most people.” Your proposed policy is bad because it harms more people more than it helps, not because of any effect on electoral politics.

            If we still take in the same amount of people we did before, we just prioritize differently, then by definition, the policy does not “harm more people than it helps.” Any reduction in Islamic immigration is compensated for by a gain in Christian immigration.

            I suppose you could argue that immigration is of greater benefit to Muslims than Christians, but that’s an issue of total utility, not of “more people are hurt now”

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Winning strategy for the red tribe: Accelerate the Islamic Invasion and ensure prosecution of Christians in Europe, thereby making these Christians refugees and eligible for import.

            We’ve already seen how that shook out: the blue tribe fought like demons to stop any preference for Christian refugees from the Middle East, despite the indisputable fact that relative to population sizes it’s Christians who are getting the lion’s share — so to speak — of the persecution. And they succeeded, because Trump or not the blue tribe is still running the show.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @hoghoghoghoghog

            @CH: if these Christians really are threatened we should help them move here

            Okay but that’s what’s literally going on. Whites in South Africa and in Zimbabwe are being subject to genocide, same with Christians in the middle east. The empathy of the left does not, at all, seem to extend to these people.

            They’ll all be massacred, and then after the fact the left will say “well, we would have helped them, if only we’d known…”

            It really seems as though the number one priority in immigration policy for the left is “will they vote left.” Are they needed, are they a burden, are they terrorists, everything else is a distant second.

          • BBA says:

            Whites in South Africa are being subject to genocide

            Citation needed. I was just there a few months ago and I didn’t see anything remotely like that happening. Julius Malema’s rhetoric is scary, sure, but he’s in third place and he doesn’t seem likely to move any higher.

            Zimbabwe, I’ll grant you, but almost all the white people have already left.

          • Matt M says:

            They’ll all be massacred, and then after the fact the left will say “well, we would have helped them, if only we’d known…”

            Even this may be generous. I feel like this isn’t what’s being said about Zimbabwe and South Africa and that “well that’s what you get for practicing colonialism” is closer to the response.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Matt M

            Even you are being generous. It’ll be “Good, those racist privileged white people deserved to be tortured to death”. Ask Kathy Dettwyler. Although at the moment, that appears to be a bit too far for a mere adjunct to go.

      • BBA says:

        All right. I’ve seen the meme making the rounds, and I know something about the history of immigration law, and something didn’t fit. Nothing personal towards you, or the context in which you brought it up.

    • national origin quotas never applied to Latin America to begin with.

      Following out on that. As best I can tell by a quick Google, there were no significant limits on immigration from the Western Hemisphere prior to 1965. The obvious explanation is the mechanics. Immigrants from other continents came through ports, so there was some ability to block them, although someone who really wanted to evade the block could land in Canada or Mexico and then come overland. Blocking a long land border is hard now, as we observe, and would have been harder in the past.

      Most of the modern illegal immigrant problem is a result of changing the law in 1965 to restrict immigration from Latin America.

      • BBA says:

        I’m having some trouble figuring out the “facts on the ground” on the Mexican border before 1965. I think there weren’t any illegal immigrants from Mexico at all before 1940, when the Alien Registration Act created green cards and required all entering foreigners, even from non-quota countries, to apply for a visa in advance. Still, since there were few limits on who could get a visa, this didn’t matter too much for a Mexican who intended to permanently move to America. It did matter for seasonal, migrant workers, who didn’t fit clearly into either “immigrant” or “non-immigrant” categories, and those were most of the Mexicans who came to the US at the time.

        There was the bracero program from 1942 until 1964, which was shut down for being too exploitative towards the workers. So, naturally, the response was to make all migrant workers illegal, which made them unable to seek protection from American law and allowed their employers to exploit them even more. And all this is well before the boom in illegal permanent immigration, which started some years after the law changed in 1965.

        Right now, I don’t think anyone thinks the current law, which is basically the 1965 law with a lot of extra cruft, is any good. But there’s never been any consensus on what to change it to, and it’s unlikely there ever will be, so it’ll stay this way forever, as we get further and further from the world in which the rules made sense to begin with.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          A legitimate guest worker program, that has caps that make sense and isn’t trying to push the number of current workers downwards. Actual teeth that hit employers (probably especially small ones, unfortunately) who don’t actually verify immigration status.

          My guess is that the sticking point on that, assuming you could get people to negotiate in good faith and not demagogue on the issue (not really possible in this climate) would be around how fast permanent status could be reached. Actual good faith negotiation could reach a compromise on that, I would guess.

          One big issue with the current rules is that it actively discourages people from traveling back to their home country. That means you are actively discouraging them from taking a job back home.

      • SamChevre says:

        That sounds plausible–that there were no national origin quotas. There have to have been limits of some sort, though, because Operation Wetback happened.

        • random832 says:

          As far as I can tell, BBA’s point is that the people targeted by that were not “immigrants”, in that they did not intend to, and did not, set down any roots – they just worked, and returned to Mexico after the end of each season.

    • Atlas says:

      Upthread, it was implied that abolishing the national origin quotas was a deliberate ploy by the Left to import massive numbers of Latin Americans and thereby, in the words of Brecht, “dissolve the people and elect another.”

      OP isn’t making this claim, but the whole “leftists are importing immigrants to steal elections” meme never really made sense to me:

      1) In terms of political economy, high-income countries that are very homogenous like Iceland and Japan have welfare states/state regulation of the economy very comparable, indeed greater than in many Anglosphere countries, to more diverse ones like the US and the UK. The development of the welfare state was fully evident in the ~1890-1960 period in industrialized countries before the post-WW2 waves of non-white immigration. In the US specifically, two of the most important periods of welfare state expansion were the FDR and LBJ presidencies, when the US was ~85% white/native-born.

      Indeed, I would say that the association of the American left with ethnic minorities and certain social issues (for better or worse) is what allowed the Nixon-Reagan era Republican coalition with strong working class white support to emerge.

      2) In terms of social issues, a major alt-lite meme is that Muslims are very conservative on social issues, so to protect gays/women we need to restrict Muslim immigration. This would seem to conflict with the meme that leftists are advancing their societal transformation project through immigration.

      So “the left” is often a pretty vague term. But on the two axes not directly related to immigration of leftism I can think of, I don’t think that immigration necessarily advances its cause.

      • Jiro says:

        In terms of social issues, a major alt-lite meme is that Muslims are very conservative on social issues, so to protect gays/women we need to restrict Muslim immigration. This would seem to conflict with the meme that leftists are advancing their societal transformation project through immigration.

        Upthread, it was implied that abolishing the national origin quotas was a deliberate ploy by the Left to import massive numbers of Latin Americans

        Latin Americans, not Muslims.

        Also, I’d question the effect of Muslims being socially conservative. Imagine a scenario where Muslims want X for themselves, but not for Christians, where X is socially conservative (prayer in schools, censorship of blasphemy, etc.) The Muslims would be allies of the left in getting rid of Christian-X, but have no allies in their bid to institute Muslim-X. The net result could be that even though the Muslims themselves are conservative, they get rid of Christian-X without being able to replace it with Muslim-X, so they have an overall leftwards effect.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        From Scott’s “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup” it would be like an alliance of immediate utility. German Nazis and their “honorary Aryan” Japanese allies.

        The Democrats are a coalition of ideological leftists and “anyone they can get with a grievance against the Red Tribe.” The All Trite believes this is long-term foolish: the left has in-grouped these tribes who have not in-grouped them in return, because the interest of blacks is blacks (not gay rights or left economics) and the interest of Muslims is Muslims (definitely not gay rights or women’s rights) so once the hated Red Tribe is vanquished, the various minority groups will turn on the leftists and you get chaos and fire and blood.

        Much like I agree with Marx’s criticisms of capitalism without agreeing with Marx’s solutions, I don’t agree with the All Trite’s policy proposals while agreeing with their criticism of the left. Virtue signalling white liberals have allied themselves with an awful lot of people who do not fundamentally share their political values and do not care about them at all for in exchange for short-term political gain.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          Liberals & Muslims are more like Quakers & Catholics in early America than they are like Nazis & Japanese fascists (though your preferred analogy is certainly flattering). It’s not just a temporary marriage of convenience – we both expect to be permanent minorities, and therefore have an interest in social atomization (as opposed to policies that treat individuals as members of certain conventional categories).

          (The flirtation with Black nationalism absolutely is a marriage of convenience though.)

          • Matt M says:

            we both expect to be permanent minorities

            Really?

            So much for all the “demographics ensure that the GOP is dead and conservatism has nothing to offer” talk then.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Are you saying the purpose of mass immigration is in fact the dilution of the Red Tribe vote? Appeals to human rights, concern for refugees or economics are just excuses for obtaining political power?

          • Jiro says:

            Things can have more than one purpose, so it can be all of those.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Righy, it’s called a win-win situation. Human rights require us to do this thing that will decrease Red people’s quality of life and dilute their democratic ability to do something about it.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @Matt: Those takes are obviously invalid but in any case they relate to blue tribe vs red tribe rather than liberals vs everyone else. Liberals are pleased that demographics will prevent the GOP from going pure-identity-politics, but they don’t expect this to make them a majority. If your ideology insists on giving pedophiles and terrorists their day in court it’s just unavoidable that the masses are going to despise you.

            @CH: Not sure where you got that from my comment.

            @le MC and Jiro: Yeah, pretty much. Analagously, Citizens United is good law, and the fact that it hurts the left is true but basically an accident.

    • Wrong Species says:

      The reason I’m not really buying that theory is that immigration only became a cornerstone issue for the left in the last 20 years or so. Before that, they saw immigrants in basically Marxists terms, scabs who are lowering wages for the working class. It’s only with the rise of “neoliberalism” that we really see the left deciding that they are more supportive of capitalistic efforts to help the global poor.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        “The left” is incorrect, here. You are describing only one part of the coalition (and remember coalitions can change). It’s union power that saw things in these terms (your use of the word “scab” is a clue to where you are drawing from).

        And old union power has been dying a long slow death, for many reasons. Modern unions are now trying to organize service workers (because factories don’t employ people in numbers anymore), so even the unions are flipping script on this.

        But the “bring me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses” left has also existed for quite a while. There is long tradition on the left of anti-xenophobia. It’s just not always been the dominant part of the coalition.

        • Wrong Species says:

          I don’t see any evidence of that long tradition, if it exists, being relevant to the left. It’s not like FDR was trying to increase immigration. Woodrow Wilson before him was notoriously racist. And yes, there was the 1965 Immigration Act but they didn’t expect it to change anything, they just repealed the old laws because of the general antiracism pushback. You only really see pushing immigration itself as good thing, from the left, very recently.

    • Mark says:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6418456/Labour-wanted-mass-immigration-to-make-UK-more-multicultural-says-former-adviser.html

      “the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date”

      So, in UK, some sense that the policy was intended to change the political landscape.

  9. Matt M says:

    Just gonna throw this here for people who keep insisting the police are totally conservative/red tribe

    • Brad says:

      Eh. That’s the brass. If you wanted something to demonstrate what you are claiming it’d have to be a PBA effort. Which there might be, urban hardhats aren’t the same as rural conservatives, but that’s not it.

      • Matt M says:

        As if the opinions of the brass don’t matter? How many street officers do you think are willing to openly defy orders from the brass?

        (I can’t speak for the police, but I WAS military enlisted for nine years, and in my experience, the answer to that question is “roughly zero”)

        • Brad says:

          Sure their opinions matters for lots of things. But I thought you were claiming that the police generally aren’t conservative/red tribe. For that it doesn’t matter as much.

          If 90% of flag grade officers were blue tribe and 90% of everyone else were red tribe, would you say that the military is red tribe or blue tribe?

          • Matt M says:

            If 90% of flag grade officers were blue tribe and 90% of everyone else were red tribe, would you say that the military is red tribe or blue tribe?

            I would say blue, but perhaps this misunderstanding is leading to difficulties, so I’d like to clarify. I believe that when a red complains that “all powerful institutions have been taken over by blues” he doesn’t necessarily mean that every powerful organization has a blue tribe majority by simple headcount.

            Certainly that’s not what I mean when *I* say it. What I mean is that a clear majority of the decisions made by the people in control are blue-tribe influenced and approved.

            What I would say matters is

            a) What high-level decisions are made
            b) To what extent these decisions are enforced at the lower levels

            So as an example, when the military comes out with a “transexuals welcome!” policy, I consider that a blue-tribe influenced decision. IF it were the case that we later found out that transexuals were being identified by NCO recruiters and carefully screened out such that they had a very small percentage of actually getting in (regardless of what the flag officers say) and this continues for some period of time without consequence for the people doing it, THEN I’d be fine with saying “the military is red tribe.” Sure the blues are making decisions, but the reds clearly have the real power and are ignoring them (in this case).

            But if a journalist catches a recruiter doing this and said recruiter is immediately court-martialed and it stops happening, then no, blue tribe is clearly in control.

            You could also use this model to justify claiming that the government, even right now, is under blue tribe control. Trump makes various red-tribe decisions, everyone else under him ignores and refuses to enforce them, and said people suffer no consequence for it. The blues are running the show.

          • Brad says:

            Granted I’ve never been in the military, but I wouldn’t think even there that enough rules and pronouncements and procedures could be put in place that the culture of the rank and file doesn’t matter at all.

            The brass might say “transexuals welcome” and the recruiters might not be able to keep them out, but once they are in day to day life is going to be different because 90% of the people they deal with comes from a culture that doesn’t like transexuals than it would be if they were surrounded by people that did.

            Likewise I think the fact that most rank and file police officers in NYC come from and live in Suffolk or upstate or maybe Bay Ridge, love recreational boating and fishing, voted for Trump, and love football makes a difference in people’s day to day interaction with the police even if Bratton knows which side of his bread is buttered on and acts accordingly.

            On the other hand, I agree that what you are saying that the leadership does matter too. So I guess maybe the answer is that it depends on the context the question is being asked in.

          • Matt M says:

            And I’ll concede that you have a point there as well. If you’re a black man who has just been pulled over by a police officer, you care a whole lot about any potential biases and prejudices possessed by the officer standing at your window, and very little that the department’s police chief made a big public show about donating a million dollars to the NAACP.

            That said, if the officer knows that if he’s caught doing anything racist, his career is over, you’re probably okay.

            My perception is that this is basically where the military is now (I got out four years ago, I could be wrong). Most people are red tribe yes, but they are VERY aware that blue tribe is in charge and resisting is met with pretty severe consequences. Sometimes, they even resort to blue tribe tactics to accomplish their ends. I had several co-workers who were trying to get rid of a boss who was, admittedly, a giant asshole. Just the worst kind of unrepentant jerk. They tried and tried to complain about him being a jerk, and got nowhere. Were told to suck it up and follow orders. Shockingly, what do you think happened next? His Hispanic subordinates reported him for racial bias, and his female subordinates reported him for gender bias. That got the machine turning real damn quick. A formal investigation was launched immediately. A whole team came down from our superior command and spent a week interviewing everybody about the guy’s supposed racist and sexist behavior. He was ultimately cleared (because there was simply zero evidence of discrimination, the dude was a jerk to the white males like me too), but the way the whole thing went down confirmed just about everything we suspected about the military brass’ true priorities.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            On the other hand, I agree that what you are saying that […]

            And I’ll concede that you have a point there as well.

            I do hope this doesn’t across as condescending: More of this, please.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Matt M, thanks for the anecdote.

            Do you think there could be adequate rules against being a giant jerk?

          • John Schilling says:

            That said, if the officer knows that if he’s caught doing anything racist, his career is over, you’re probably okay.

            My perception is that this is basically where the military is now (I got out four years ago, I could be wrong).

            You may be right where the military is concerned, but you are missing a huge difference between the military and police work environment. There’s no such thing as an Enlisted Man’s Union, with the power to make Colonels back down.

          • Matt M says:

            Probably not.

            Maybe something like “If 100% of your bosses, subordinates, and peers vote to remove you, you get removed”

            This was a very vexing case for me because, and I am not exaggerating here, EVERYONE hated the guy. I’ve really never seen another case quite like it. He had no support from anyone. No friends around to defend him. I was probably the closest thing to a supporter he had, in as far as that I was unwilling to lie to help have him removed, and would occasionally point out to people that, technically, he hadn’t broken any rules.

            The story does have a somewhat happy ending though. He was eligible for retirement and after the investigation, chose to leave (his original plan was to do two more years to increase the size of his retirement check) out of fear that if more accusations came, he might not be so lucky next time, and could potentially lose his pension.

          • Incurian says:

            I have a similar story. Had a commander who was a huge roid-raging asshole. Every officer in the company (I think there were six of us) called battalion on the same day to ask that they conduct a command climate survey. We got retaliation instead.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Chiming in to add that the officer/enlisted culture gap is sometimes startlingly large, especially once you get into uniformed politician range (anything above Colonel/Navy Captain) though it varies by branch.

            And there’s the classic example of Lt. Col. Germano

  10. HeelBearCub says:

    I found “murderism” to be mind numbingly awful. It primarily “preached to the choir”. Not only that, it signaled it would do so from the jump by starting off with a series of non-central examples of racism, and then trying to deduce the proper definition by only looking at non-central examples.

    Scott didn’t even try to seriously consider the arguments for concepts like structural racism, where essentially no-one need be motivated by racial animus today for the racism to persist. And yet equivocated between attacking racism as an individual action and structural racism.

    The chaff from all of the straw stings my eyes.

    ETA: and then the “hey guys don’t discuss this” … sheesh

    • AnonYEmous says:

      same actually

      like I said this topic is mind poison though, so it is what it is

    • Anonymous says:

      Scott didn’t even try to seriously consider the arguments for concepts like structural racism, where essentially no-one need be motivated by racial animus today for the racism to persist. And yet equivocated between attacking racism as an individual action and structural racism.

      I think that was much of his point: If no-one is motivated by racial animus, is it still “racism”? And his answer is “no”.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        That’s not an argument. Especially when it’s not even explicit.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m increasingly unsure what you mean.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Scott made no argument against the actual claims of structural bias, not even a poor one. Nor did he acknowledge that he was actually arguing against structural racism as a concept.

            He didn’t even acknowledge that the term “structural racism” exists.

          • Anonymous says:

            You mean, he didn’t acknowledge that the concept exists, right?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’m saying he tacitly argued against the concept, without acknowledging it’s explicit existence, and without giving the concept it’s correct definition, allowing him to argue against a straw man.

          • Anonymous says:

            I see. Thanks for the clarification.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            so question

            how can structural bias exist sans racial animus

            it seems like most of the answers are already-inflicted damage being compounded, but even then this is race-neutral and can be dealt with race-neutrally instead of invoking tribalism

    • bintchaos says:

      I was completely fooled. The mystery of the no comments, the noble aspirations…
      I thought it was a genuine attempt to model solutions to the polarization problem (where civil war is indeed one of the possible if not probabable outcomes), but instead its just more talk-therapy to try to get the tribes to get along.
      Epic waste of space-time.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        You aren’t modeling Scott correctly.

        Scott has noble aspirations, and he is trying to get “blue tribe” to change their behaviors (and thereby address polarization).

        I just think that that particular post is crap, rests on a very poor foundation, and fails to model the actual problem correctly. I also think that his internal model of “red tribe” is poor, as it is based primarily on the most intellectually rigorous members of “red tribe”.

        ETA: Plus, I don’t think he is all that motivated/interested in thinking very critically about the mainstream conservative movement. But he is motivated to think critically about the mainstream left. He applies his contrarian nature to things he finds interesting, which leads to some asymmetricness to his arguments.

        • bintchaos says:

          Getting the Blue Tribe to change their behavior is futile, because their behavior is a response to Red Tribe changes in behavior.
          Can I assume everyone here understands what a Nash equilibrium is?
          The Founders set up the Union to be a Nash equilibrium, I mean, not explicitly, but in the sense that compromise had a payoff. In the 90s the periodic equilibrium designed into the USG began to fail…in socio-physics terms, socio-entropic decay. A lot of factors were causal, but the greatest is the advent of internet and early forms of social media. We know its a periodic equilibrium because the system (as designed) gives control alternatively to the two camps. Now for a lot of reasons, driven by internet connectivity, globalism, social media, current events, the divergence of the two “tribes” (in complexity science we would say organisms instead of tribes) is accelerating. My hypoth is that Obama’s election was a trigger event, causing the rise of the Tea Party. But whatever the proximate cause was the Red Tribe changed game strategy to a 2person zerosum game, what I have explained as Iterated Sinner v Saint TfT. Now, the GOP isnt going to change its game strategy– they are winning. See Dr. A.’s post on that.
          So what is happening now is Blue Team is learning how to play Sinner TfT. And thats what all the whining is about — because all of a sudden the Blue Tribe isn’t playing “fair”.
          This is Dr. A.’s confirmation bias in action– the Blue Tribe (his tribe) should be more interested in compromise, in empathy, because of their orientation and shared ideology.

          • Thegnskald says:

            No. The right responded to Obama the way they did in reaction to a perceived violation of norms in the way the left responded to Bush, who in turn were reacting to a perceived violation of norms in the way Bill Clinton was attacked for sexual misconduct which shouldn’t have been, in their view, politically relevant, which in turn was the result of a shift in media policy and belief after Watergate, and so on and so forth.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            My hypoth is that Obama’s election was a trigger event, causing the rise of the Tea Party. But whatever the proximate cause was the Red Tribe changed game strategy to a 2person zerosum game

            How on earth do you go from noticing an internal conflict point straight into modeling the Red Tribe as a unified actor?

            Honestly, with all the discussion around here on the distinctions between liberals and leftists, it is baffling to me how few people acknowledge the massive intraconservative conflicts – I support better modelling of the various left-wing flavors, but then folk turn around and call the populist RINO we have in the white house emblematic of all republicans???

            Just look at To Understand Polarization, Understand Conservativism’s Failures. The GOP has been tearing itself apart for years now and are terrified of primary challengers. Modelling all conservative-leaning types as a single actor is a grave error.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Thegnskald
            No.
            Dr. A.’s post is incontrovertible evidence that conservatives are winning.
            Trump is the indisputable choice of the GOP base.
            The infiestimable fraction of the GOP that is “high information” did nothing to dissuade the base from voting for Trump.
            Running away like scalded cats or casting a protest vote for Johnson is not accepting responsibility.
            @Gobbobble
            That post is emblematic of the GOP’s success.
            Are you saying Trump isnt the avatar of the GOP base? You are delusional.
            There is a divide between the GOP establishment and the base, and a divide between the intellectual cadre and the base, but the base is undivided. And the GOP establishment is terrified of the base.

          • Thegnskald says:

            I have no idea who Dr A is, and I don’t care.

            Eight years ago the left (well, the Democrats, anyways) had “conclusively won”, and it would be thirty years before a Republican president was elected.

            O fortuna, velut Luna, statu variabilis.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Thegnskald
            Demographic shift is another thing driving the breakdown of the periodic equilibrium system designed by the Founders.
            Refusing to play the democracy game as designed is really the only option for Red Tribe.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Dr. A.’s post is incontrovertible evidence that conservatives are winning.

            They might be winning elections but they sure as hell aren’t winning policy. (ETA: At least not the policy they campaign on)

            Trump is the indisputable choice of the GOP base.

            So 44.9% of a staggered vote where other candidates kept dropping out is an “indisputable choice” but 46.1% of a one-time contest is a gerrymandered scandal, got it.

            The fraction of the GOP that is “high information” did nothing to dissuade the base from voting for Trump.

            I guess NeverTrump was just some strange fever dream I had. The establishment ignored the threat for too long and squabbled amongst themselves until it was too late. That’s incompetence, not “doing nothing”.

            Running away like scalded cats or casting a protest vote for Johnson is not accepting responsibility.

            Responsibility for what, exactly? Not having a backroom machine that had already decided on their candidate?

            That post is emblematic of the GOP’s success.

            Again, elections are not policy. Winning elections but conspicuously failing at policy is why the base is in revolt.

            Are you saying Trump isnt the avatar of the GOP base? You are delusional.

            44.9% delusional, maybe.

          • bintchaos says:

            Dude.
            The establishment was terrified of the GOP base– thats why no vetting.
            Or maybe there was vetting but never aired because of the base.
            NeverTrump was a snowflake in the path of a flame thrower. And all those people vote with Trump now, even Kasich.
            One of my bigs is that public intellectuals and elected representatives have a responsibility to educate. Not a responsibility to pander.

            Winning elections but conspicuously failing at policy is why the base is in revolt.


            The GOP base isn’t in revolt…yet. GOP legislators are still voting straight Trump albeit with a “furrowed brow.”
            A win is a win.
            When the base revolts against Trump, maybe if AHCA gets passed and starts to really hurt Trumps core voting constituency– older sicker Americans– or when the Russia investigation starts airing on TV– then legislators will start moving away from Trump.
            Until then, nope, just brow-furrowing and hand-wringing and plausible deniability for the future.
            All happened before during Watergate.
            But this time we are in the internet accelerando– everything happens faster.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            The establishment was terrified of the GOP base

            I already said that so I don’t know what you’re expecting to prove.

            thats why no vetting.

            I have no idea what you’re on about. Trump got on the ballots fair and square, and then through a combination of pandering showmanship (populism) and oppositional divisiveness and incompetence he won the primary. Where does vetting come in to play?

            NeverTrump was a snowflake in the path of a flame thrower.

            Well yeah, I already said it was too little too late. Incompetence, not lack of desire.

            And all those people vote with Trump now, even Kasich.

            That is how the incentives in a two-party system work, yes. That’s what party whips are for. It’s a dogshit system but it’s not some great moral failing to try and work within it (remember: it’s the Tea Party wing who like to throw hold-the-govt-hostage tantrums instead of compromise). And I haven’t seen much of “voting with Trump” as “voting with the party and Trump acts like it was his idea all along”.

            One of my bigs is that public intellectuals and elected representatives have a responsibility to educate. Not a responsibility to pander.

            I don’t disagree and I’ve already repeatedly criticized Trump for being a populist. So again I don’t see what you’re trying to prove.

            My main point was that the “Red Tribe” is much more multifaceted (complex, even) than it’s been presented as.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Gobbobble

            My main point was that the “Red Tribe” is much more multifaceted (complex, even) than it’s been presented as


            Oh, but I completely agree with that statement.
            My position is that both tribes are complex and different, both phenotypically and neurotypically. And that they are aren’t competitive in a traditional survival-of-the-fittest sense, but are both part of a Cooperation Competition Paradigm that is in breakdown because of 21st century environmental changes.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Getting the Blue Tribe to change their behavior is futile, because their behavior is a response to Red Tribe changes in behavior.

            Republicans haven’t changed that much. 20 years ago they were opposed to abortion, opposed to gay marriage, for lower taxes and fewer regulations. Today they’re opposed to abortion, (less) opposed to gay marriage, for lower taxes and fewer regulations. It’s not like “white privilege is bad” and transgender bathrooms rules were handed down from Moses and only now in 2017 have the Republicans gone crazy and have suddenly come up with these bizarre ideas that whites aren’t inherently evil and people should go to the bathroom that matches their sexual organs.

            And if we’re doing the “who defected first” thing, how about the Immigration Act of 1965? The left realized they’d never get white America to vote for collectivism, so they decided to flood the country with ringers to vote for them. Seems a little like a defection there. What evil did the Reds do that prompted that response?

          • bintchaos says:

            Polarization is documented to have started in the mid 90s.
            I’m only interested in events starting from there.
            And I am talking about the original Nash equilibrium of the USG. In 2008 the GOP legislature united as obstructionist to the Obama gov, culminating in refusal to consider a supreme court nominee in the final year of his term.

          • Randy M says:

            @CH
            Wanting less and more of x are bad ways to track changing party positions; the counter could be made that 60 years ago, Democrats were pushing for more civil rights and more minority protection; never mind that the rights they want now were barely conceived of then.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            And I am talking about the original Nash equilibrium of the USG.

            What equilibrium? The original POTUS was firmly against political parties and we had an actual civil war.

            Any pre-90s equilibrium was much more of a post-war “me and brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against the world Soviets” deal than a structural design.

            Seriously, the fall of the Berlin Wall coinciding (with a bit of a delay to make sure the dust settled) with polarization is not a coincidence.

            Sometimes I feel like we’re living in the equivalent of the post-Punic Roman Republic: lacking a peer rival and having vastly outgrown what our political system was designed to handle, we’re going to devour ourselves until a Caesar comes along.

          • bintchaos says:

            It was a periodic equilibrium, in that power changed hands every election cycle or 2.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @bintchaos

            Polarization is documented to have started in the mid 90s.
            I’m only interested in events starting from there.
            And I am talking about the original Nash equilibrium of the USG.

            These three sentences don’t really go together. You only want to talk about stuff since the 1990s, but not 1965, but you’re talking about 1787-1789.

            It’s not particularly helpful, anyway. Both sides earnestly believe that the other side was the one who broke the faith.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It was a periodic equilibrium, in that power changed hands every election cycle or 2.

            How’s that any different from now?

          • bintchaos says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            How do I talk about complex adaptive systems evolution over time then?
            How do I describe the inflection point in the 90s when the two sub-populations began to diverge?

          • bintchaos says:

            @Gobboble
            Establishment AND base.
            The only dissenters are the Red Tribe intellectual cohort, and they have either very publicly left the building or have been miraculously struck dumb on the issue.

            Because the periodicity won’t hold in the future when there is a liberal supermajority.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @CH: Interestingly, the 1965 immigration liberalization was kind of an accident, rather than leftist skullduggery: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2016/03/the_accidental.html

            (Although, if the left had simply won a majority and deliberately passed an immigration liberalization law, I don’t think that’s treachery. I mean, what if that were the utility-maximizing choice? Maybe the alternate universe leftists should also have given republicans 1.1 votes each to maintain the balance of power.)

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @bintchaos

            Disagree. If the base didn’t care about policy they wouldn’t have defenestrated the establishment when the Tea Party came along.

            when there is a liberal supermajority

            You can post school polls all you want, but I’m not convinced that this is a given.

          • bintchaos says:

            The base absolutely doesn’t care about policy or anything else except punching back.
            They voted for President Pussy-grabber.
            Read Hoschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land– the base votes for GOP candidates that are verifiably killing them.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @bintchaos

            None of that is an alternate explanation for the success of the Tea Party over establishment GOP. If all the base cared about was winning elections, they’d support the incumbents with a track record of doing so, not throw them out on their asses because some schmucks with no previous public service experience were able to convince them they were the real conservatives.

          • bintchaos says:

            Get real…the only policy the Tea Party ever cared about was winning.
            Tea Party perception–the establishment GOP lost the election to a black man because they weren’t conservative enough– the same position the Pepe-le-Frogs advocate today with their cucking.

            I’m sorry…I need a time out to think…
            This isnt some noble forum for rational discourse…I’m not sure what it is…maybe a wildlife sanctuary for vanishing conservative ideologies?

          • Nornagest says:

            I think your model of the Red base could use some work.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Nornagast
            You do. not. know. what my model of the Red base is.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ bintchaos

            The base absolutely doesn’t care about policy or anything else except punching back…

            They voted for President Pussy-grabber…

            The base votes for GOP candidates that are verifiably killing them.

            What exactly do you expect this sort of rhetoric to accomplish? What are you trying to prove, and to whom?

            We may not know what your model Red base is, but we can see were it deviates from observed reality. For instance, If you ask the average Trump voter why they voted for Trump the answer is not going to be “I like the way he grabs pussy”.

          • bintchaos says:

            Oh, noes! I violated the kumbayah law of permitted interactions with conservatives for SSC!

            Read the book.
            https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/arlie-russell-hochschild/strangers-in-their-own-land/

            Sorry, I’m about to get snippy.
            I need some time to grieve.

          • Nornagest says:

            You do. not. know. what my model of the Red base is.

            You’ve been talking about it all thread. I suppose it’s conceivable that there’s something buried in your head to justify the rather simplistic stuff you’ve been saying about it, but that’s getting less plausible all the time.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Get real…the only policy the Tea Party ever cared about was winning.

            That still is not an argument that the base doesn’t care about policy. The Tea Party may have only cared about winning (disputable, but setting that aside), but they won by arguing that they were better fighting for conservative policy than the incumbents.

            This isnt some noble forum for rational discourse…I’m not sure what it is…maybe a wildlife sanctuary for vanishing conservative ideologies?

            You should work on being less condescending. It is really trying my patience.

          • Polarization is documented to have started in the mid 90s.

            Earlier, when you made that claim, it was supported by the claim that a webbed graphic you had linked to showed the Republican median moving right from 1994 on. As some of us pointed out, that was not true. The graphic showed the Republican median moving left from 1994 to about 2004, then shifting to move right.

            You never explained why you misrepresented the graphic nor why it wasn’t evidence against the claim you have just repeated. That–not so much the initial false statement as the failure to respond to people pointing out that it was false, which you could easily check–was part of what made me conclude that you did not much care whether things you said were true.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Bintchaos

            Believe it or not, I’ve actually read that book. However, I’m still unclear on what you think it proves or what you you’re hoping to accomplish here.

            As for the rules they are not “interacting with conservatives” rules they are SSC rules.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @bintchaos

            What if I told you my model of the Blue base was that they didn’t really care about a woman’s right/ability to control her own reproduction and body, what they really cared about was murdering as many babies as possible to feed their demon god Moloch?

            You’re Blue, and you know your thoughts and what you care about, and other Blues and their thought processes.

            What would you think of me and my ability to model Blue Tribe thought processes and behavior?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            Look, as a left-wing Blue Triber, I can tell ya, Moloch gets mighty upset if you try to pass off first or second trimester fetuses as full-on babies. You might want to update your priors.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            Ahhh, so that’s behind the defense of partial-birth abortion!

            Priors updated.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I know right? Eldritch abominations get really picky about that sort of thing.

            My personal theory is that the Democrats never stopped being the party of segregation, they just became much more clever about it. The whole privilege framework + intersectionality schema seems purposefully designed to make it even more difficult for people from different cultural, economic, and racial backgrounds to coexist and cooperate with each other than it already is. You don’t need to fight integration if you rig it so minorities don’t want to integrate in the first place.

            😉

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Randy M:

            … the counter could be made that 60 years ago, Democrats were pushing for more civil rights and more minority protection…

            Let’s go to the tape:

            Civil Rights Act of 1957: House: 107 Democrats against, 19 Republicans against. Senate: 18 Democrats against, no Republicans against. Republican President signed it into law.

            Civil Rights Act of 1960: House: 94 Democrats against, 15 Republicans against. Senate: 18 Democrats against, no Republicans against. Republican President signed it into law.

            Civil Rights Act of 1964: House: 96 Democrats against, 34 Republicans against. Senate: 21 Democrats against, 6 Republicans against. Democratic President signed it into law.

            Who was “pushing for more civil rights and more minority protection” again? Looks to me like a whole lot of Republicans, plus LBJ.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Machina ex Deus
            I’m only interested in the polarization increase starting in the mid 90s and accelerating up to today.
            I get that you guys have some elaborate mapping of the iterated prisoners dilemma to prove that liberals defected most frequently, defected first, defected whatever.
            This whole blog is just a vast apologia for conservatives punching back at liberals.
            I totally get it.

          • Zodiac says:

            This whole blog is just a vast apologia for conservatives punching back at liberals.

            I am not involved in very many of the discussions here but making this sweeping generalization when there are quite a lot of different view points and ideologies represented here seems like a very stupid thing to say.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @bintchaos:

            I’m only interested in the polarization increase starting in the mid 90s and accelerating up to today.

            And I’m only interested in correcting the historical record. Seems like it should be easy for us to stay out of each other’s way.

          • Aapje says:

            Bintchaos seems to have a severe case of the out-group homogeneity effect.

          • I’m only interested in the polarization increase starting in the mid 90s and accelerating up to today.

            And you still have never responded to the fact that the graphic you linked to showed the Republican median shifting left for the first ten years of that, and only shifting right starting about 2004.

            Do you care whether what you say is true?

            I get that you guys have some elaborate mapping of the iterated prisoners dilemma

            Does this mean you have finally realized that the game you are talking about is prisoner’s dilemma rather than tit for tat?

            Earlier you wrote:

            But whatever the proximate cause was the Red Tribe changed game strategy to a 2person zerosum game

            Prisoner’s Dilemma isn’t zero sum. I can’t tell if you know what a zero sum game is or if you just like using game theory jargon to make yourself sound more impressive.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Machina:
            Are you going to make me go back and redo all my effort posts on the history of the movement of the Democratic and Republican parties pre and post CRA of 1964?

            TLDR, the Southern Democrats were against the CRAs. The FDR coalition broke up over the issue, the Southern Dems essentially ceased to vote for DEM president candidates and slowly fractured internally, flipping control of the Southern State houses to the Republicans.

          • bintchaos says:

            @AAPJE
            no, I don’t…
            But I’m not sure I have the energy to do tutorials on complexity science, evolutionary theory of games, complex adaptive games, Social Physics and changes to evo theory of cooperation stemming from the competition cooperation paradigm.
            Actually, I’m sure I don’t.
            @DavidFriedman
            idc. PD is not the only game there is…or maybe it is the only game there is in economics.
            Think what you want…tell D to come back.
            It’s all nothing.

          • Zodiac says:

            @bint
            So, if you’re not interested in actual discourse, what are you still doing here?

            Edit:
            What has Deiseach to do with this?

          • bintchaos says:

            no idea actually.
            I thought I wanted to be a SSC commenter and learn more about conservatives and of course, save the world while doing it.
            Against Murder just kindof broke my spirit I guess.
            That was brutal.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            If you have links to those comments, can you post them?

            My point was somewhat narrower: the original commenter said “60 years ago”, so I mentioned legislation from 1957 – 1964. Do you disagree with anything I wrote?

            @bintchaos:

            What result from complexity science do you think should be well-known, but isn’t?

            Relatedly, is Cynefin something academics pay attention to?

          • Nornagest says:

            I thought I wanted to be a SSC commenter and learn more about conservatives and of course, save the world while doing it.

            If you want to learn more about conservatives, don’t treat the commenters here as the thousand heads of the conservative monster, treat them as people. Listen to them when they tell you what they believe, and don’t tell them what they believe unless you have an exceptionally good reason to think they’re wrong (Rednecks in the Mist is not a good reason). You’ll probably find that many of the people you’ve filed under “conservative”, aren’t (I’m not, for example, and neither is Deiseach) — but more importantly, you might learn what you (say you) came here to learn.

            Don’t turn into a sullen excuse machine whenever someone pushes back on your grand theory, especially when you haven’t explained your grand theory beyond allusions to impressive knowledge that somehow never comes out in detail.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Machina:

            What do I disagree with from your original post?

            Who was “pushing for more civil rights and more minority protection” again? Looks to me like a whole lot of Republicans, plus LBJ.

            I think this badly misunderstands the dynamics in play.

            The Southern white supremacists were Democrats, that is absolutely true. The lion’s share of the opposition to the various civil rights acts came from them.

            But it is a huge mistake to think that LBJ was the only member of the Democratic coalition pushing for civil rights. Roughly speaking you can say “Union state = for the CRA” and “Confederate State = against the CRA” both for Democrats an Republicans. But Republicans in both of those geographical regions were less likely than Democrats in the same region to vote for the CRA. There just were hardly any Southern Republicans back then.

            ETA:
            The effort posts were in a long contentious sub-thread about 2? months ago.

            I actually have data that I still haven’t completed compiling on the effect of the civil rights movement on Southern presidential voting patterns. Maybe I will do a top level post at some point soon.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bintchaos:
            If you are going to flounce, do it and be done.

            Otherwise stop saying you are are flouncing, about to flounce, will shortly flounce. It’s just generally bad manners.

            If you stay around, you need to actually engage with the commentariat as individuals, not an undifferentiated mass, as Nornagest suggests. You will have a better time of it.

            If you want to understand, ask questions, don’t make statements.

            If you want to attempt to convince, make one argument at a time, and substantiate it.

          • PD is not the only game there is

            It is, however, the game that Axelrod used for the computer tournaments described in The Evolution of Cooperation, which is where tit for tat comes from.

          • bintchaos says:

            @HBC
            I’m not flouncing.
            I’m floundering.

            @Deus

            What result from complexity science do you think should be well-known, but isn’t?


            Cooperation Competition Paradigm
            and on Cynefin, no.
            Way more interest in Endor.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “I’m not flouncing.
            I’m floundering.”

            Ask questions, and answer the questions you recieve in as clear a way as possible. When you write an answer or a statement, try and anticipate any obvious answers it might prompt, and work them in as well.
            I have no idea what a “cooperation competition paradigm” is, or what Cynefin or Endor are either. I’d love to learn more, but acronyms or isolated jargon isn’t very useful to me.

            Any statement made here is going to draw questions designed to pick it apart. If the person making the statement doesn’t treat those questions as legitimate and worth discussing and respond accordingly, the regulars here react with strong opprobrium. Asking and answering questions is what this place is for. Making statements is a means to that end.

            You say:
            “Getting the Blue Tribe to change their behavior is futile, because their behavior is a response to Red Tribe changes in behavior.”
            and then you say:
            “I get that you guys have some elaborate mapping of the iterated prisoners dilemma to prove that liberals defected most frequently, defected first, defected whatever.”

            …So you recognize that we Red Tribers have a mapping of the IPD, and obviously you think that map is dead wrong. Isn’t the obvious corollary that you also have a mapping of the IPD, and *we* think it’s wrong? You get that at up to that point in the conversation your view has no more weight than ours does, right? And that the only way to change that is to provide evidence to back your assertion, right?

          • bintchaos says:

            @FC

            how can Red Tribe be “winning” anything but futile temporary victories?


            They aren’t– its a short term strategy.
            Some of this stuff is so bleeding obvious that I cant believe conservatives dont get it…you can stand on the tracks of history hollering slow down, stop…but if you stand on the tracks of tech you are just going to be run over.
            We are in a tech accelerando right now.
            And one of the things that is changing is conventional accepted ideas about game theory, evo cooperation, “survival of the fittest”, etc.
            Dr. Baranger–

            Finally, there is one more property of complex systems that concerns all of us very closely, which makes it especially interesting. Actually it concerns all social systems, all collections of organisms subject to the laws of evolution. Examples could be plant populations, animal populations, other ecological groupings, our own immune system, and human groups of various sizes such as families, tribes, city-states, social or economic classes, sports teams, Silicon Valley dotcoms, and of course modern nations and supranational corporations. In order to evolve and stay alive, in order to remain complex, all of the above need to obey the following rule:
            Complexity involves an interplay between cooperation and competition.
            Once again this is an interplay between scales. The usual situation is that competition on scale n is nourished by cooperation on the finer scale below it (scale n+ 1). Insect colonies like ants, bees, or termites provide a spectacular demonstration of this. For a sociological example, consider the bourgeois families of the 19th century, of the kind described by Jane Austen or Honor ́e de Balzac. They competed with each other toward economic success and toward procuring the most desirable spouses for their young people. And they succeeded better in this if they had the unequivocal devotion of all their members, and also if all their members had a chance to take part in the decisions. Then of course there is war between nations and the underlying patriotism that supports it. Once we understand this competition-cooperation dichotomy, we are a long way from the old cliche of “the survival of the fittest”, which has done so much damage to the understanding of evolution in the public’s mind.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Machina Ex Deus, HBC

            The relevant comment threads are Here (relevant bits at “The Southern Strategy is largely a myth”), and Here (Debate starts at “The Southern Strategy is largely a myth”), and Here (Debate starts at “Yes, it’s analogous to a real dog-whistle”, but the article and entire comment section is relevant).

            This wrangle has come up between HBC, Cassander, and/or David Friedman about once a month for at least the past three months. I didn’t bother checking back further than that.

          • cassander says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            Thank’s Trofim. I’ll just point out that HBC’s timeline remains off by almost 30 years and refer anyone watching to your links.

          • This wrangle has come up between HBC, Cassander, and/or David Friedman about once a month for at least the past three months.

            Checking your three links, I seem to have had any involvement in the Southern Strategy exchange in only one of them, where my involvement consisted of pointing out that HBC had made a false assertion of fact with regard to it. I think I made it clear there that I wasn’t offering an opinion as to the more general issue.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “They aren’t– its a short term strategy.”

            And thus a short-term victory only, gotcha.

            “Some of this stuff is so bleeding obvious that I cant believe conservatives dont get it…”

            Well, one option is that they’re just so much stupider than you are that they’re completely unable to grasp your brilliant insights. A lot of people certainly seem to think that’s why the world is the way it is, so if that’s your assessment, you’ve got a lot of company.

            On the other hand, historically, it seems to me that sort of argument has a pretty poor track record. Reality seems complicated. Grand unifying theories are often comprehensive, elegant, and badly mistaken. History stubbornly refuses to end. It seems to me that usually the reason people refuse to accept a grand unifying theory is that they find that it ignores big chunks of evidence that are obviously important from their perspective. I think I see that in your comments.

            You put forward an idea, say that the puppies defected first. Others point out evidence that the puppies didn’t defect first. You say you aren’t interested in that evidence. If you aren’t interested in who actually defected first, why bring the question up in the first place? You say you want to talk to “conservatives”, but every time conservatives respond you brush them off and complain about how unreasonable they are for having different views than you. You say you can’t understand how conservatives can’t grasp the bleedingly obvious… well, unfortunately, conservatives do not think the world is the way you think it is. If you want to change that, you’re going to have to engage with them.

            “And one of the things that is changing is conventional accepted ideas about game theory, evo cooperation, “survival of the fittest”, etc.”

            I read the section you quoted, and I think I understood it quite well. I’m pretty sure everyone understands that only competition is bad, and only cooperation is bad, and we need a mix between the two.

            “Once again this is an interplay between scales. The usual situation is that competition on scale n is nourished by cooperation on the finer scale below it (scale n+ 1). Insect colonies like ants, bees, or termites provide a spectacular demonstration of this.”

            …are individual ants, bees or termites cooperating or competing? What happens to the ant that sucks at digging or bringing in food?

            At a larger scale, it seems like the economy works in exactly the opposite way: small-scale competition between businesses works out to large-scale cooperation as a functioning economy. And within a business, it seems that employees frequently compete for promotions, raises, etc.

            “For a sociological example, consider the bourgeois families of the 19th century, of the kind described by Jane Austen or Honor ́e de Balzac. They competed with each other toward economic success and toward procuring the most desirable spouses for their young people. And they succeeded better in this if they had the unequivocal devotion of all their members, and also if all their members had a chance to take part in the decisions.”

            Isn’t the standard model of such families hard-handed patriarchy? how does that reconcile with all their members having a chance to take part in the decisions?

          • bintchaos says:

            @FC

            I’m pretty sure everyone understands that only competition is bad, and only cooperation is bad, and we need a mix between the two.


            No, that is not at all what the article said. There is no “bad” or “good” involved.

            Isn’t the standard model of such families hard-handed patriarchy? how does that reconcile with all their members having a chance to take part in the decisions?


            That is how you perceive it, not how it actually functioned.

            Others point out evidence that the puppies didn’t defect first.


            The equilibrium state was that everyone followed the normative rules of the Award nomination process. The puppies used an exploit to get around the existing nomination protocols. The counterargument was that liberals defected long ago by failing (?) to nominate adequate numbers of “conservative sci-fi” authors, presumably because of a liberal conspiracy to disenfranchise white male conservative authors.
            Also many argued that the Puppies “won” which also seems blatantly false to me. What did they win? George RR Martin held his own awards afterward and none of the Puppie choices won. Aurora won in the No Award category it would have been nominated for.
            A lot of people complained about John Scalzi, but no one responded to my question about George RR Martin– I asked “does that mean conservatives are obligated to denigrate Game of Thrones because Martin is a liberal sci-fi autocrat?” And what do conservatives want? Quotas?

            It just seems to me that there are all these tortured pretzel logic excuses for conservatives punching back at liberals. Social systems are adaptive, complex, evolutionary, and emergent. I agree that there are no “Grand unifying theories ” — and thus no grand unifying liberal conspiracy to repress conservative ideology and culture.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “No, that is not at all what the article said. There is no “bad” or “good” involved.”

            “Bad” being shorthand for collapse/reduction in complexity/death, “good” being shorthand for growth/increase in complexity/life. We all agree that growth/increase in complexity/life is preferable to the alternative, so these things are “good” and their opposites are “bad”. Likewise, everyone understands that we need both cooperation and competition to get growth/increase in complexity/life.

            The excerpt argued that competition at a larger scale is built out of cooperation at a smaller scale. I gave examples that seem to show the opposite. What does that mean for his thesis?

            “The counterargument was that liberals defected long ago by failing (?) to nominate adequate numbers of “conservative sci-fi” authors, presumably because of a liberal conspiracy to disenfranchise white male conservative authors.”

            No, the counterargument was that liberals were already using bloc voting, both to promote works they liked and to ensure works they didn’t like didn’t win. Corriea got into the business in the first place because members of the Worldcon clique engaged in a bloc voting campaign against him when he was nominated for the Campbell. He then put out a voting list in a way no one objected to when members of their own clique did so, predicting that they would engage in bloc voting against him, which they did. He did this to spotlight the hypocrisy, and it succeeded.

            By Sad Puppies III, the standard liberal talking points had devolved to admitting everything Corriea claimed at the start of Sad Puppies I: that the awards were not for everyone, that the awards were the personal property of the Worldcon clique, and that anyone that clique didn’t like wasn’t welcome and shouldn’t be allowed to win an award.

            “Also many argued that the Puppies “won” which also seems blatantly false to me. What did they win?”

            Corriea wanted to show that liberals would engage in campaigning and bloc voting to keep people they hate from winning awards. He succeeded.

            He wanted to show that the Hugo voting pool was vanishingly small and highly unrepresentative, and that its claim to represent fandom was therefore highly questionable. He succeeded.

            More generally, the Rabids wanted to destroy the prestige of the Hugo award within fandom. We can argue as to how well they’ve succeeded, but certainly considerable damage has been done, largely due to the actions of the liberal side.

          • The counterargument was that liberals defected long ago by failing (?) to nominate adequate numbers of “conservative sci-fi” authors, presumably because of a liberal conspiracy to disenfranchise white male conservative authors.

            That wasn’t their argument, as you would know if you had been willing to pay attention to the people here defending them. One result of being uninterested in hearing arguments from the other side is that you don’t know what those arguments are and so get to righteously rebut the bad arguments that you or your side attributed to them.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman

            That wasn’t their argument


            This is probably true. What is the Red Tribe mapping for the PD? what counts as defection?

          • @DavidFriedman

            That wasn’t their argument

            This is probably true. What is the Red Tribe mapping for the PD? what counts as defection?

            I wasn’t involved in the Sad Puppies controversy, so my information is second hand. As best I can tell, they claimed that the people dominating the process were doing the same thing they later did, just a little less openly–coordinating their voting. The difference (again as they saw it) was that the voting was being coordinated to eliminate works that showed the wrong political views, push ones that showed the right views, with relatively little weight given to how readable the works were.

            Do you agree that, if that view was correct, it was the incumbents who, in your terms, defected? If so, do you have any basis for your belief that that view was false? If not, why did you describe the process as the puppies defecting?

          • bintchaos says:

            If you are talking about the incumbents, they CAN’T defect from the Hugo award protocols.
            They established the protocols.
            So do the Puppies believe the incumbents were defecting from Tribe America? or Tribe White-people-culture? Or Tribe Sci-fi fans?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “If you are talking about the incumbents, they CAN’T defect from the Hugo award protocols. They established the protocols.”

            If the president does it, it can’t be illegal, right?

            Meanwhile in the real world, people can write rules, and then break the rules they’ve written. The Worldconners wrote a set of rules, and in addition had a set of unwritten “norms” against slate voting. The puppies followed the written rules every time, which is why they couldn’t be disqualified out of hand. On the other hand, the Worldconners regularly engaged in slate voting, particularly against people they didn’t like, and only started complaining about it when those people started doing the same thing themselves.

            “So do the Puppies believe the incumbents were defecting from Tribe America? or Tribe White-people-culture? Or Tribe Sci-fi fans?”

            Tribe Sci-fi fans, and from the rules they themselves claimed others should follow but gave themselves a pass on.

        • bintchaos says:

          @HBC

          he is trying to get “blue tribe” to change their behaviors (and thereby address polarization).


          So why doesn’t Scott try to change the Red Tribe instead of trying to make the Blue Tribe be nicer to the Red Tribe?
          Is it because he thinks the Blue Tribe is more malleable?
          I just don’t think “talk-therapy” works as a solution to polarization. To carry the clinical psychology analogy a bit further, doesn’t this require a cognitive behavior therapist?

          • Nornagest says:

            I can think of a couple reasons:

            – Scott’s a very Blue Tribe guy and most of his audience is also Blue. Even many of the conservative commenters here have Blue Tribe cultural backgrounds. He may believe he relates better to Blues, or understands them better.

            – Separately, I think Scott identifies different failures in the tribes. “Against Murderism” is about one specific thing he thinks Blue Tribe’s getting wrong; “To Understand Polarization…” is about something Red Tribe’s getting wrong. You’re Blue Tribe, so this one naturally strikes closer to home for you.

            If these comments are anything to go by, it’s not doing a damn thing, but I wish I could say I didn’t expect that.

          • bintchaos says:

            How is the Red Tribe getting anything wrong in the democracy game?
            They are winning.
            Unified obstructionism is a winning strategy in a 2person zero-sum game, as long as its Sinners v Saints.
            Its when the Saints learn how to play Sinner TfT that the payoff disappears.

          • Nornagest says:

            I fail to understand how that relates to anything I said.

          • bintchaos says:

            Winning elections is different than winning on policy.
            Why would the GOP change strategies? They are still winning even if their policies have zero correlation with their campaign promises.
            I would argue winning elections is what matters to the Red Tribe, and policy doesnt matter at all.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I would argue winning elections is what matters to the Red Tribe, and policy doesnt matter at all.

            Unpack this, please. Establishment or base? I would tentatively agree for the former, definitely disagree with the latter.

          • Nornagest says:

            The GOP is one thing, and the Red Tribe is another. The GOP wants to win elections, and in order to do this they cater to the Red Tribe’s wants and values. The Red Tribe wants lots of stuff — respect, jobs, stability, minimal interference in or encroachment on Red lifestyles, an exciting Nascar season — and in order to get it they vote for the GOP.

            But there are limits on both sides. The GOP understands that it can’t give the Reds everything they want, partly because they, like every voting bloc everywhere, want contradictory things, but also because they need to maintain a balance between different Red subdivisions, undecideds, and the non-Red voting blocs that’ve signed on to the GOP coalition. The Reds, meanwhile, always present a threat of voting for a populist insurgent (like Ross Perot in the ’90s, or our current president today) if too many compromises are made.

            The Reds are having a good season, but clouds are on the horizon for them, and they know it. And the GOP’s situation is very much mixed right now. It’s doing well in the states, but it just got smoked on the presidential level (Trump’s a Red-aligned guy, but not a GOP-aligned one), and its legislative strategy is obsolete now that Obama’s out of the White House. It has to figure out a way to manage that situation or it will start losing elections: the Reds in its base aren’t automata, and they aren’t stupid. Not many of them will vote for the Dems, but they may well stay home.

            I wouldn’t want to be a Republican strategist right now. About their only saving grace on the national level is that the Democrats are in shambles, too.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “How is the Red Tribe getting anything wrong in the democracy game? They are winning.”

            …In a ton of your posts, you talk about how Conservatism is inevitably doomed long-term, because conservative ideas are simply non-competitive in the current environment. If that’s true, how can Red Tribe be “winning” anything but futile temporary victories?

            In any case, are you familiar with the phrase “Cthulhu might swim fast or slow, but he only swims left”? It’s a fairly popular one around here; some people agree with it, some disagree, but most people here are quite familiar with it because it’s been behind so much of the debate we’ve had. Essentially it means that large, poorly understood but extremely powerful forces in society drive everything leftward, that these forces have been doing so for non-stop for hundreds of years at least, and that reversing this pattern is a much harder problem than even most pessimists in Red Tribe are willing to admit.

            A lot of people argue that this analysis is badly flawed or even completely false, but it has a lot of adherents as well as some fairly solid evidence to back it up. If you’d like to see the conservative views that align fairly closely to your analysis, it might be worth checking out.

          • Brad says:

            FC:
            Kudos for explaining that concisely. The first time I had it flung at me it came with no explanation. And if you google it, well you know.

          • bintchaos says:

            @FC

            “Cthulhu might swim fast or slow, but he only swims left”?


            Right now Cthulu is swimming faster and faster to the left, and I think one of the reasons is tech.

            large, poorly understood but extremely powerful forces in society drive everything leftward, that these forces have been doing so for non-stop for hundreds of years at least, and that reversing this pattern is a much harder problem than even most pessimists in Red Tribe are willing to admit.


            One force that we can understand is technology. Like I said, you can certainly stand on the tracks of history hollering stop, but if you stand on the tracks of tech hollering stop, you will just be run over.
            Another reason might be…(and I havent thought this through yet) systems tend to increase in complexity over time. Is there a correlation between liberalism and increasing complexity? I have to think about that one.

          • One force that we can understand is technology.

            We can understand that technology is changing rapidly. Predicting how it will change, except in the very near future, is much harder. Predicting the effects of those changes is harder still.

            Consider the internet and related technologies. Is their effect a drastic reduction of the ability of governments to control people along the lines of the cryptoanarchy Tim May sketched in Cyphernomicon, coming out of discussions on the Cypherpunks email list, or is it to greatly increase the ability of governments to control people via surveillance and databases as per Brin’s Transparent Society? Just at the moment, Ethereum is producing a bit of evidence for the former approach, since it provides a technology for self-enforcing contracts, hence one that reduces the need for state involvement. But we don’t know. As someone pointed out long ago on that mailing list, Encryption is not your friend. Or, of course, your enemy. Similarly for technology more generally.

            For a more general discussion of future technological change and its implications, see my Future Imperfect. For the short version, the talk I gave on it at Google.

            The bottom line is that we don’t know–the range of possible futures is very wide. Politically speaking, it ranges from propertarian anarchy at one end to A.I. tyranny at the other. Also from the elimination of our species to near immortality.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Encryption is a big boon to privacy, which makes it a defense against the surveillance state.

          • Is there a correlation between liberalism and increasing complexity?

            I think Scott is using “liberalism” in a sense which corresponds more closely to the 19th century meaning or the current European meaning, or to modern U.S. libertarianism, than to the current U.S. meaning of the term. In that sense, increasing complexity makes liberalism more desirable. Whether it makes it more likely is less clear.

            A simple system can be run from the top with less than catastrophic results. A more complicated system requires the decentralized control mechanism which private property and trade provide, government does not. A communist society on the scale of the Oneida Commune is workable. One on the scale of the USSR is not.

          • Encryption is a big boon to privacy, which makes it a defense against the surveillance state.

            I discussed its role in privacy a little over twenty years ago. It protects against surveillance of communications. But it doesn’t protect the privacy of acts in realspace which can be observed by video cameras, linked to the actors by face recognition, and kept track of by databases.

            I’ve already mentioned my Future Imperfect, where I went into the tension between technologies that increase privacy and technologies that reduce it in some detail.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman
            oh yeah, 20 years ago.
            That’s relevant.
            The next wave of terror is going to be cyber-anarchy– did you address that?

          • Zodiac says:

            The next wave of terror is going to be cyber-anarchy– did you address that?

            Definition and citation needed.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think Scott is using “liberalism” in a sense which corresponds more closely to the 19th century meaning or the current European meaning, or to modern U.S. libertarianism, than to the current U.S. meaning of the term.

            I think it’s something in between — not full-blown classical liberalism (I still think I’m somewhat to Scott’s right, and I’m basically a classical liberal), definitely not libertarianism. But not identitarian leftism or old-school class leftism either. Something more along the lines of “the thing Marxists are complaining about when they say ‘fucking liberals'” (cf. someone on Tumblr, I forget who).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “Right now Cthulu is swimming faster and faster to the left, and I think one of the reasons is tech.”

            Assuming “tech” means the internet, social media and so forth, how do you account for the hundreds of years of leftward movement when none of these things existed?

            “One force that we can understand is technology.”

            That seems like a pretty bold claim. Would you argue that you have a clear idea what technology and society is going to be like ten, twenty, thirty years from now? What’s your take on the strong AI timeline, for instance? And what’s your investment strategy for capitalizing on this understanding? If I’d had a clear picture on the tech changes of the next two decades in 2000, I’d be a millionaire right now.

            “Like I said, you can certainly stand on the tracks of history hollering stop, but if you stand on the tracks of tech hollering stop, you will just be run over.”

            This seems pretty true, but who is standing on the tracks? If Blue Tribe is dominant in the current system, don’t they stand to lose the most if that system is overthrown by radical technology-driven change? For instance, Blue Tribe has spent a great deal of effort ensuring total dominance of cultural institutions like Academia and the Entertainment industry, but it seems pretty clear to me that Academia and the college system it’s currently founded on are massively wasteful and ripe for disruption by more efficient tech solutions. Likewise, the internet has not been kind to the highly centralized portions of the entertainment industry, with numerous home-brewed alternatives sprouting up constantly. Ditto for Muggle Realism, which Blue Tribe seems very poorly positioned to grapple with.

            “oh yeah, 20 years ago. That’s relevant.”

            I hope that isn’t sarcasm. Things from 20 years ago are *highly* relevant.

            “The next wave of terror is going to be cyber-anarchy– did you address that?”

            Define cyber-anarchy, and explain why you’re so certain it’s going to be the “next wave of terror”? For me, I’m pretty sure bombs, bullets, trucks and knives are pretty likely to remain effective tools of terror for the foreseeable future. If I were to make a guess as to the next big thing in terror, I’d go for arson, not cyberattacks.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            You seem to want to talk about the effect of technology in aggregate, while I was talking about 1 specific technology.

            I think that the aggregate effect is not looking good for dissidents.

          • bintchaos says:

            Again, I think objectively and empirically we are seeing a clear rise in cyber-anarchy– things that were inconceivable 20 yrs ago — the increase in ransomware attacks like the hospital attacks and Wannacry, Russian activity during the election campaign, Shadow Brokers, the Podesta email hacks, etc.
            By wave of terror I mean the classical definition of terror– Robespierre’s:

            “Virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue.”
            ― Maximilien de Robespierre, Report on the Principles of Political Morality


            Again we are not talking about islamic terrorism here– Wikileaks are terrorists by Robespierre’s definition. Leakers and hackers are terrorists when operating ideologically, morally, or ethically against the standing order. Or criminals when the motive is purely profit.

            Blue Tribe has spent a great deal of effort ensuring total dominance of cultural institutions like Academia and the Entertainment industry


            I strongly disagree with this– dominance in academe is evolutionary and emergent, and largely (I think) the result of brute force selection for uppertail of IQ and g coupled with explorer phenotype. I think high IQ/g soldier phenotypes choose business careers rather than academia or research. There is no grand liberal conspiracy involved. Same for popular culture including entertainment and the arts. Culture doesn’t shape society so much as society shapes culture according to its needs.
            Where is the Appalachian Beyoncè for example?

            how do you account for the hundreds of years of leftward movement when none of these things existed?


            I didnt. I’m just speaking to the technological accelerando and the perceived increase in Cthulu’s speed. Maybe the general leftward tendency correlates with increasing complexity– but I havent really thought about that much and dont have a well-formed hypothesis on it.

            Would you argue that you have a clear idea what technology and society is going to be like ten, twenty, thirty years from now


            Yes…tech and society will be increasingly complex, unless of course, there is a collapse.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “I strongly disagree with this– dominance in academe is evolutionary and emergent, and largely (I think) the result of brute force selection for uppertail of IQ and g coupled with explorer phenotype. ”

            You are aware that academics openly admit that they heavily discriminate against conservatives/Red Tribe in hiring and promotion within academia, right?

            Likewise, if you believe that Conservatives are rare in academia because they’re innately bad at the job for genetic reasons, despite clear evidence of discrimination, what’s your explanation for the under-representation of People of Color in academia?

            I’m very interested in your reply to this, as it seems like an inescapable contradiction to me unless you’re considerably more muggle-realist than I’d guess.

            “There is no grand liberal conspiracy involved.”

            Again, there are numerous examples of people in the entertainment industry openly discussing and organizing discrimination against conservatives/Red Tribe, so I’m afraid I’m going to go with my Lying Eyes on this one.

            “Where is the Appalachian Beyoncè for example?”

            There isn’t one. Beyonce’s existence requires a massive, centralized entertainment industry to exist in the first place, and that industry is not interested in anything meaningfully recognizable as “Appalachian”, or in allowing the existence of a rival system that would be interested in such things.

            On the other hand, in sectors of the entertainment industry where the playing field can’t be dominated by a centralized hegemon, Red Tribe does very well for itself. Hence the Puppies, the Ants, and so on.

            “things that were inconceivable 20 yrs ago — the increase in ransomware attacks like the hospital attacks and Wannacry, Russian activity during the election campaign, Shadow Brokers, the Podesta email hacks, etc.”

            None of these were inconceivable 20 years ago. William Gibson built a career and a genre out of conceiving them, in fact. Leaks and document theft have been with us always.

            “Again we are not talking about islamic terrorism here– Wikileaks are terrorists by Robespierre’s definition.”

            Robbespierre was a failure in pretty much every way possible, wasn’t he? He destroyed an existing society, failed to replace it with anything better, got a massive number of people killed, and failed even to secure power for himself. Everything he touched turned to blood and shit. Why should I be interested in his ideas?

            “Leakers and hackers are terrorists when operating ideologically, morally, or ethically against the standing order.”

            What if the standing order is Just and Good, and they’re actively helping the forces of darkness?

            “Or criminals when the motive is purely profit.”

            So what they do is wrong if they do it for a paycheck, but okay if they do it out of hatred toward society and their fellow man?

            …In any case, I think this definition of terrorism is useless. Robbespierre, as noted above, was an idiot that burned a nation down around his ears. We have a currently-dominant definition of terrorism: intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror or fear, in order to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim.

            I’m happy to talk about grey-hat and black-hat politics like leaking, hacking, propaganda, and so on, but calling them “terrorism” is not productive to understanding.

            “I’m just speaking to the technological accelerando and the perceived increase in Cthulu’s speed. Maybe the general leftward tendency correlates with increasing complexity– but I havent really thought about that much and dont have a well-formed hypothesis on it.”

            Fair enough. I think it’s an area worth looking into, given your apparent interests.

            “Yes…tech and society will be increasingly complex, unless of course, there is a collapse.”

            …That isn’t really a meaningful prediction. It’s equivalent to “Things will be more, unless they’re less.” A reduction in societal complexity is by definition a collapse. Unless it suffers collapse, society is always increasing in complexity.

            Assuming no collapse, in *what ways* do you think society will increase in complexity? Again, if you have a good answer to this question, turning that into large profits on the stock market should be pretty trivial.

          • 1soru1 says:

            What’s the evidence for the supposed under-representation of conservatives/Republicans in academia?

            To a zeroth approximation, civilians of working age in middle-income credentialed jobs approximately never vote Republican (<10 %). Maybe that party might consider increasing its appeal to such people before it starts imposing quotas?

            Or this would probably work:

            http://johnquiggin.com/2016/10/10/if-professors-made-500kyear-would-they-be-republicans-crosspost-from-crooked-timber/

          • Brad says:

            $500k/year is not an exceptional salary for a college president. Do most of them vote Republican?

          • Aapje says:

            @1soru1

            There appears to have been a rather drastic change in the last 20 years, at least for psychology:

            https://heterodoxacademy.org/2015/09/14/bbs-paper-on-lack-of-political-diversity/

            We also have evidence for a very hostile climate & discrimination, which would obviously tend to result in under-representation. For example, Inbar & Lammers (2012) found that of the psychologists who identified as liberal, only 18% answered that they would not discriminate for hiring decisions. Note this is explicitly stated willingness to discriminate, not IAT results or other measures of unconscious discrimination.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @1soru1 – “To a zeroth approximation, civilians of working age in middle-income credentialed jobs approximately never vote Republican (<10 %)."

            could you link some statistics for that, and break down definitions for the terms involved? Near as I can tell, civilian is excluding military and police, and middle income means 30k-100k income, right? credentialed means… needs a PhD specifically, or a degree of some kind generally? Does credentialed include engineers, STEM generally?

            In any case, given that we have direct evidence of discrimination against conservatives, and given that even without direct evidence discrimination is assumed in disparate outcomes for other groups, I'm interested in hearing why two standards are needed rather than one.

          • 1soru1 says:

            Maybe you need two standards because there are more than two people in the world? Because given that, the set of ‘people who are not you’ are not obliged to hold to a single standard.

            Personally, I hold to a standard that to show active discrimination in a specific organisation, you need to control for socioeconomic status. There exist people who disagree with that; I disagree with them.

            Do you? Or are you using some kind of quantum argument where, by holding two logically incompatible views, you can rest safe in the knowledge that the set of people who disagree with you is similarly incoherent?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            1soru1 – “Personally, I hold to a standard that to show active discrimination in a specific organisation, you need to control for socioeconomic status.”

            well and good. I am arguing that using wildly different measures of socioeconomic status depending on whether the people under examination are ingroup or outgroup is foul play. You listed off a number of factors that would eliminate conservatives from the Academic candidate pool; I’m asking why those particular factors are likely to be more relevant than the fairly unequivocal evidence of outright discrimination, and whether those same factors are considered relevant when discussing representation of people of color. I don’t see why either question is out of bounds, but if you’d like to explain where I’ve gone wrong, I’d be happy to listen.

            At the moment, it appears that you are saying that academics are liberal, therefore it’s not surprising that academics only hire liberals. This does not seem to be a novel insight, nor a helpful one. Maybe more academics would pursue accreditation rather than unaccredited business, military and/or police work if they weren’t being actively discriminated against by the current accredited population, which openly admits to being in favor of such discrimination?

          • Aapje says:

            @1soru1

            You seem to insist that there can be only 1 viable way to show discrimination:

            Personally, I hold to a standard that to show active discrimination in a specific organisation, you need to control for socioeconomic status.

            Discrimination is an act, performed by people, which changes outcomes from what it would be without discrimination. As we cannot reliably make people stop discriminating, we cannot do an experiment where we determine the effect of discrimination by comparing a group who doesn’t discriminate with another group who discriminates normally.

            So…reasoning back from outcomes to determine the level of discrimination is fraught with problems, especially of the ‘bad assumptions’ kind. Like the assumption that without discrimination, outcomes would be fully representative.

            However, the evidence that FacelessCraven and I gave used a different method: it asked people about their intent/willingness to discriminate. This kind of survey has its own problems, like people giving socially desirable answers. Then again, if it is socially desirable to claim a large willingness to discriminate, that in itself seems very problematic. However, this method doesn’t suffer for not controlling for socioeconomic status.

            Of course, evidence for discriminatory behavior doesn’t mean that we know how much an effect this has on the outcomes, but the evidence seems sufficient to declare that the effect is very unlikely to be zero and very plausibly quite large.

          • bintchaos says:

            @FC
            I don’t think the Hugos have been damaged, and neither does George RR Martin.
            I think the US university system is the finest in the world (and so does the rest of the world) because its based on darwinian selection. Not saying there isnt within group selection against the outgroup for positions, but that is JMS EGT (John Maynard-Smith Evolutionary Games Theory) and its an emergent property of academic culture as a CSS (Culturally Stable Strategy), not some universal star chamber policy. Again, what do conservatives want? Quotas? They tried to do that in NC didnt they? What would that accomplish? Conservatives have been attacking academia since the 1930’s (founding of AEI conservative “think tank”) with what result?
            @Isoru
            The results of the last election show a correlation of liberal voting patterns with educational attainment, not income or employment.
            Silver
            Mccormak
            I understand that Silver is regarded as a liberal statistician with his thumb on the finger for liberals, so FC will ignore these stats, but I thought the mccormack study was really interesting.
            Theres a LOT more studies…
            Pew
            Brookings

            Bloomberg

            @FC

            We all agree that growth/increase in complexity/life is preferable to the alternative, so these things are “good” and their opposites are “bad”. Likewise, everyone understands that we need both cooperation and competition to get growth/increase in complexity/life.


            That is just a very facile and impoverished view of the CCP– its my fault, I’m going to have a write a better intro later– no time right now.

            “Things will be more, unless they’re less.”


            Same thing with complexity, chaos, entropy and collapse.

          • random832 says:

            @1soru1

            Personally, I hold to a standard that to show active discrimination in a specific organisation, you need to control for socioeconomic status

            Is it your position that it is impossible to actively discriminate by socioeconomic status itself (or to use it as a proxy for the thing you actually want to actively discriminate by)?

          • 1soru1 says:

            > Is it your position that it is impossible to actively discriminate by socioeconomic status itself

            No; consider a yacht club. If the club turns down yacht fanatics who spend 80% of their disposable income on a small yacht, but lets in the rich who spend 0.1% on a large yacht, then that is active discrimination by socioeconomic status.

            If present, which it might or might not be, this would be _in addition_ to the obvious fact ‘poor people are less likely to own a yacht’.

            And in an ideal world, that fact would be false. Any society that fails to provide a yacht for any citizen wiling to put a bit of effort into getting one has room for improvement.

          • The results of the last election show a correlation of liberal voting patterns with educational attainment, not income or employment.

            Silver’s point was that Hillary did much better than Obama in highly educated counties, much worse in low education counties. Obama and Hillary were both liberals. It’s evidence that Trump was less popular with educated voters and more popular with uneducated than Romney was which, given his campaign, is hardly surprising. A lot of educated conservatives were unhappy with Trump, as you could see by the National Review position on the campaign.

            For a Republican/Democratic split by education without Trump, take a look at the 2012 data. The biggest split was in the “some high school” category, which divided 64 to 35 in favor of Obama. High school graduate, some college, and college graduate split pretty evenly, with the last going for Romney 51 to 47. Postgraduate study went for Obama 55 to 42.

            As you can also see at the same link, people who self-identified as liberal mostly voted for Obama, as conservative for Romney, so the education pattern of the voting is at least an approximate measure of the pattern by liberal/conservative self-identification.

          • bintchaos says:

            I gave four other sources besides Silver.
            Mccormack, Pew, Bloomberg and Brookings.

            For a Republican/Democratic split by education without Trump


            Trump is a-priori data now…you cant just exclude him.
            I thought SSC were Bayesians?

          • Trump is a-priori data now…you cant just exclude him.

            The fact that Trump won the nomination and the election is data. The fact that he won the nomination implies that he had substantial support among Republican voters, not that his supporters have the same distribution of educational background as the Republican party or the red tribe.

            Isn’t that obvious? Trump ran a campaign successfully designed to appeal to particular segments of the electorate. Through most of it other segments opposed him. Do you think the distribution of educational backgrounds was the same in both groups? Romney ran a more generically Republican campaign, so his voters give a better measure of the distribution of educational backgrounds of Republicans.

            Is your point that red tribe and Republicans are different groups? That’s true, and I think Trump was targeting, among others, red tribe voters, some of whom were Democrats. But since he did so in a way more likely to appeal to uneducated members of the red tribe than to educated members, the educational backgrounds of those who voted for him give a biased sample of the backgrounds of the red tribe.

            What, by the way, do you mean by “a-priori data”? Are you referring to prior probabilities? Trump’s performance is data that lets us convert our prior probabilities for various things into posterior probabilities, which will then be the prior probabilities to be combined with additional data in the future to produce more posterior probabilities.

          • bintchaos says:

            Thats irrelevant.
            Trump repulsion syndrome may be convolved with educational attainment going forward…dont know yet.
            But Trump is part of the a-priori data collected for election 2016.
            A “given”.
            Trump happened…he is now the head of the GOP. You simply arent going to be able to scrape him off your shoe and get a do-over, sorry.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “I don’t think the Hugos have been damaged…”

            Your prerogative, of course.

            “and neither does George RR Martin.”

            Propaganda will be with us always. And yet, there’s always truth leaking in through the cracks:

            …But on Saturday, members of the World Science Fiction Society rejected the finalists for the Hugos in an unprecedented five categories, voting for “No Award” rather than any of the nominees backed by the Puppies…
            …The bestselling author of the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series has been a high-profile voice in what he has called “the controversy that has plunged all fandom into war”…
            …“No, not a great Hugo night – how could it be, with so many No Awards – but not nearly as bad as some had feared either. And my own reactions? Mixed,” wrote the novelist…
            …But he “hated” to see both editing categories go to “No Award”, rather than editors nominated by the Puppies, saying that “in my judgment the voters threw the babies out with bathwater in these two categories”, and adding that he “also misliked the roar of approval that went up at the announcement of the first No Award”…
            …“I understand it, yes … fandom as a whole is heartily sick of the Puppies and delighted to see them brought low … but No Award is an occasion for sadness, not celebration, especially in THESE two categories,” wrote Martin…

            He’s frowning at his own side’s antics. He’s disappointed at how things worked out. He wishes things were otherwise than the way they are. The worldcon types claimed they voted on the merits. The puppies claimed they voted on politics. And in your own article, Martin admits that even he thinks some of the works that got No Awarded deserved the award. That is what winning looks like in the culture war.

            “Again, what do conservatives want?”

            At a guess, to not be actively discriminated against in hiring and promotion due to their political views. That doesn’t seem like a terribly unreasonable demand, and yet…

            “Quotas?”

            If liberal academics are sufficiently bigoted that it’s the only way to stop them from discriminating against people who disagree with them, then maybe so. You’d have to ask an actual conservative, though; I’m more of a reactionary.

            What I want is to see Academia destroyed, root and branch, and then the place it grew paved over and turned into a hazardous waste dump. I’m optimistic that I’ll live to see this happen. The system is founded on widespread college education, ie Tulip Subsidies. That cannot last. It is too expensive, too wasteful, and the alternatives are simply too cheap and easy; sometime in the next few decades, that dam is going to break, and the colossal watershed of trapped value building up behind it is going to shake loose. On the research side, the Replication Crisis is hollowing out the upper stories of the Academic enterprise. Why is the Academy worth preserving, if entire fields can survive for decades without any connection to empirical fact? At some point in the relatively near future, the funding is going to collapse, people controlling the purse strings are going to start demanding solid ROI, the whole house of cards will come down, and society will be massively better off. No more sacrificing four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars per citizen for empty status signalling, no more rivers of money irrigating the sort of fraudulent “science” that fuels the culture war.

            “The results of the last election show a correlation of liberal voting patterns with educational attainment, not income or employment.”

            Entirely true. On the other hand, Red Tribe didn’t preside over the Replication Crisis.

            “Trump happened…he is now the head of the GOP. You simply arent going to be able to scrape him off your shoe and get a do-over, sorry.”

            Indeed! And some of us are delighted with this reality!

          • bintchaos says:

            Thanks.
            And yet, Martin organized a replacement Awards the next night and none of the Puppie books won. The simple explanation is that the Puppie books were political selections and just not very good sci-fi.
            The replication crisis is in the soft sciences and to some extent genetics. Big Data and social physics are solving that as we speak. SSC commenters are familiar with Dr. Hsu, right? The application of VLS (very large sample) data sets to cognitive genomics is featured prominently on his blog with studies featuring sets of 80k or even 1 million reps.
            And there is no replication crisis in climate science. There is no replication crisis at LIGO or CERN. I don’t think academe or the entertainment industry are going to collapse but that has more to do with socio-physics and complexity science…both are emergent adaptive systems that evolved in situ. For example, the financial sector didnt collapse in 2008…although it had what I would term “avalanches” it did not go flat (collapse).
            Your statement is revelation for me.
            Are you representative of what most conservatives believe? That there is some vast liberal conspiracy to suppress conservative culture and ideology? And hatred of liberals seems to be the motivating cohesive theme. Just like Hoschild’s Louisiana Tea Partiers.
            Some financial pundits have postulated that 4 year liberal arts degrees and 7yr car loans are analogous to the sub-prime mortgages of the Econopalypse. Those are potential avalanche country I guess. But I’m very doubtful that academe or entertainment will collapse– too much value. I really like Stockcats and E. Cantoni…zerohedge is a little too hysterical for me.
            I’m waiting for the .75 thread to give you the promised explanation of the CCP (Cooperation Competition Paradigm). And my take on complexity, chaos and entropy. I guess I have to include the calculus of selfishness too.
            But I think we (red tribe/blue tribe) can’t talk because we have no common language anymore…is that correct?
            I do believe liberals have huge confirmation bias against Trump. Thats one reason he won– it was simply inconceivable to liberals that a sane person would vote for Trump.
            And academic quotas would be a dreadful humiliation for the Red Tribe…students would just refuse to take their classes…unless forced student participation is part of the plan?

          • random832 says:

            On a completely different note:

            > “also misliked the roar of approval that went up at the announcement of the first No Award”

            I’ve only ever seen the word “mislike”, until now, in Martin’s dialogue, and read it as being part of the pseudo-medieval dialect of characters inhabiting his fantasy worlds. Is this in live usage somewhere I’m not aware of, or is this likely just a case of him getting into the habit of using it due to writing people using it?

          • bintchaos says:

            Its common in Shakespeare…
            “Mislike me not for my complexion…” Merchant, Othello, don’t remember which.
            He probably just thinks like that anymore. Like knowing a foreign language really well…

          • But I’m very doubtful that academe or entertainment will collapse– too much value.

            I don’t know if it will happen, but you were commenting quite recently on the effects of technological change. One technological change already here is the internet. One observable effect is that it facilitates low cost substitutes for the conventional form of education, such as the Kahn Academy. The availability of low cost forms of education might have an effect on the market for high cost forms of education.

            Similarly, one thing that has already happened, due to technological change, is to convert self-publishing of books from vanity press to a viable alternative to conventional publishers. If further technological change results in similar things happening in other media that could collapse the entertainment industry as it now exists. For an early example, consider the rise of web comics.

            Unlike you, I don’t know the future. But if you think seriously about technological change, the clearest result is that the future is much less predictable than you imagine. For more details, see. Webbed version here.

          • bintchaos says:

            low cost substitutes for the conventional form of education, such as the Kahn Academy.


            Khan academy is just through HS so != college+ … the proxy is educational attainment.
            Your book? One of your books? Havent read it, but looks interesting.
            A current debate in Science World right now is the fat tails, randomness, high uncertainty guys like Dr. Taleb versus the Social Physics /Big Data /Machine Learning guys like Dr. Pentland who believe that the study of idea and information flows will result in not just prediction of human behavior, but the ability to alter it for the benefit of human kind.
            Have you seen this essay on Frozen Accidents?
            I dont know the future…I’m studying the behavior of complex adaptive social systems in periodic equilibrium and in non-equilibrium. Large non-equilibrium systems (what Von Neuman called non-elephants) become vulnerable to collapse.

          • Nornagest says:

            And yet, Martin organized a replacement Awards the next night and none of the Puppie books won. The simple explanation is that the Puppie books were political selections and just not very good sci-fi.

            The simplest explanation is that the awards were run by and for people who were unhappy with the Puppies.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Nornagest
            Sure, but why did they become unhappy with the Puppies?
            This thread is just getting too unwieldy, but I want to explain what I think is happening (polarization) in terms of the CCP and reciprocal altruism.
            I’m waiting for the .75 thread.

          • Nornagest says:

            Sure, but why did they become unhappy with the Puppies?

            Well, you say it’s because they were attempting a politically motivated hostile takeover, and others say it’s because they had the temerity to point out an existing politically motivated hostile takeover. Probably both of these were true for different people, along with other explanations.

          • bintchaos says:

            Interesting.
            Do you see the bluing of academia as a hostile takeover?

          • Nornagest says:

            If we’re now talking about what I think and not about what GRRM’s friends think, it’s not really a good word for either one, but it’s closer for the Hugos than for academia. Big chunks of academia now seem to present a hostile ideological environment for conservatives, libertarians, and some species of moderates, but I can’t show you a clear turning point the way I can for SF fandom; more a slow creep over at least thirty years and probably more.

            There is probably not a single neat explanation for it — among other things, I think Cold War fallout, credentialism, whims of intellectual fashion, and regular evaporative cooling have all played a role.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Nornagest
            well…I think its the breakdown of the American CCP…
            but I’m going to need some space to explain that.

          • Nornagest says:

            Let me guess. You think there was mutual cooperation until the Nineties, and then the Republicans defected and now we’re locked into a retributive cycle, which the Republicans are currently winning because the Dems are naively still trying to cooperate but which they’re doomed to lose in the long run, partly because of demographic changes but mostly because they’ve set themselves up as the party of unreality? And that this applies to academia in that academia’s all about finding out reality?

            Because if so, that would be the kind of neat explanation that I think it isn’t.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            the breakdown of the American CCP

            Which is coincidentally related to the breakdown of the CCCP

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “The replication crisis is in the soft sciences and to some extent genetics. Big Data and social physics are solving that as we speak.”

            If we could trust the current structure of Academia to solve these problems, the replication crisis wouldn’t be playing out the way it has. I’m pretty sure the pioneers of Social Physics didn’t predict the crisis and didn’t assist in uncovering it, so I have zero confidence in their ability to deal with the problem.

            “And there is no replication crisis in climate science.”

            Hockey stick graph. Hide the decline. three to five last chances to stop global warming in my lifetime, and doubtless more in the future. Extremely open questions about actual costs of climate change mitigation. And now I look around and note that even people who believe that Climate Change is real think the welfare state is higher-priority than carbon taxes.

            “There is no replication crisis at LIGO or CERN.”

            Indeed not. And there’s no reason we need the existing academic system to keep running LIGO and CERN either.

            “I don’t think academe or the entertainment industry are going to collapse but that has more to do with socio-physics and complexity science…”

            Let’s start with Academia. Why is it necessary for 500 students to show up at a lecture hall for their 101 class, at hundreds of different halls in dozens of different campuses all across the country, when we can record the best goddamn lecturer in the country, put the lectures up on Youtube for free, and add a link to a PDF of the textbook? A quick google search tells me that colleges in the US spend half a trillion dollars a year on operating expenses. Americans owe 1.4 trillion in student loan debt. Meanwhile, standards drop, grades inflate, and degrees decline in usefulness in exact proportion to their usefulness. What is the point of a degree if everyone has one? When do we admit that this mad system isn’t worth the effort?

            As for the entertainment industry, when was the last time you paid money for music? The comics industry seems to be in decline. The publishing industry is facing serious competition from self-publishing. The games industry has gone through serious contractions, and the indie space is now where all the real action is. For the moment, there’s still logic behind a large, centralized organization; people like highly-polished blockbuster media, and we don’t have a way to make that material other than the Hollywood model. Yet. The tools just keep getting better and easier to use. All the trends are against the centralized model.

            “Are you representative of what most conservatives believe?”

            As I mentioned, I’m not a conservative. I fled the country to Canada to escape George W. Bush, and voted for Obama in 2004. I’m pro-gay-marriage, pro-abortion, don’t particularly like the rich, want to see the banks smashed, and am broadly disillusioned with libertarianism.

            “That there is some vast liberal conspiracy to suppress conservative culture and ideology?”

            “Conspiracy” implies a secret, and there is no secret about Blue Tribe hostility toward Red Tribe. I have already given strong evidence of this as regards discrimination in academia. Ditto the large number of people publicly cheering on left-wing political violence over the last six months.

            “But I think we (red tribe/blue tribe) can’t talk because we have no common language anymore…is that correct?”

            We absolutely still have a common language. I have lunch with some old coworkers every Friday to discuss politics, and both of them are deep Blue Tribe. There’s still a great deal of common ground to be found. Few people want more poverty, more misery; we just have a lot of disagreements about the best way to get less. But in order for conversation to be possible, you have to be open-minded enough to admit that you might be wrong, that people who disagree with you might be right.

            “I do believe liberals have huge confirmation bias against Trump. Thats one reason he won– it was simply inconceivable to liberals that a sane person would vote for Trump.”

            So what lesson do you take from that?

            “And academic quotas would be a dreadful humiliation for the Red Tribe…students would just refuse to take their classes…unless forced student participation is part of the plan?”

            Women and People of Color have managed to stand the humiliation, so I imagine conservatives can stand it as well. participation is forced by the fact that college is expensive, and seats in class are limited. Students take the classes they need to take to get their degree; I’d imagine the liberal students would lump it the same way the conservative students do now. I do enjoy the implication that liberal college students are bigoted enough to boycott any teacher who doesn’t flatter their preconceptions; this is why I prefer burning the whole edifice down. “education” that tells people only what they want to hear isn’t worthy of the name.

            “And yet, Martin organized a replacement Awards the next night and none of the Puppie books won.”

            A vote organized by a puppy-hater, and none of the puppies’ books won? I’m shocked to hear this.

          • Nornagest says:

            degrees decline in usefulness in exact proportion to their usefulness.

            Typo?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @nornagest – yup, should be “ubiquity”.

          • albatross11 says:

            Faceless Craven:

            I think the replication crisis is a lot less about the political biases in academia than it is about the incentives, particularly the whole publish or perish thing. People who must get a certain number of papers in top journals to get tenure (or a tenure-track job) have a lot of incentive to come up with new results, and not so much incentive to make sure the commonly-cited results in their field really work as advertised.

            The real doom of higher education, IMO, is the student loan debt bubble, which looks disturbingly like the housing debt bubble of a few years ago. Among the parallels I notice:

            a. All the received wisdom and reputable people in the society tell you that education is the key to your future/buying a house is the key to your future. And indeed that you should stretch, go all out, go deeply into debt to chase this dream.

            b. People who are clearly marginal to go to college/buy a house are encouraged to do so both by prominent public figures and by the colleges/realtors themselves.

            c. People making financial decisions that are really hard to justify based on all this advice, like someone who struggled i high school going into debt to try to get a college degree, or someone graduating with a liberal arts degree and lots of debt from some middling state college, and then ending up working as a barista at Starbucks and living in their parents’ basement.

            d. The higher ed/real estate and mortgage industry having effectively captured lots of legislators, leading to gimicky loan programs and incentives to keep the bubble inflating.

            e. A kind of amplifier common to bubbles–as house prices went up, people got desperate to buy before they were priced out of the market, and people started buying houses way outside of the city so they could afford them/ as more and more people get college degrees, the degrees pay off less and less, but are also used as filters for jobs requiring little more than literacy, and so more people have to get college degrees just to get crappy jobs their parents got with high school diplomas.

            f. Ever rising prices responding to the extra loan money and largee number of people trying to go to college every year.

            I don’t know when this bubble will burst, but I am convinced it will. And at the same time, I have kids who will soon be applying to college, and for whom higher education actually makes sense. And even knowing all this, it’s probably individually rational to push them to stretch to get into a top school.

            But there will probably be a “last fool” generation, where the marginal kids go to college and go into debt and graduate with English degrees from Mediocre State U. And they’ll get screwed the way the last fool to buy into a bubble always gets screwed–they’ll have $50K of student loan debt and be getting the same crappy clerk job as the next generation of kids who got some roughly equivalent credential from some kind of online education at a tenth the cost, or didn’t bother with college at all and still got hired.

          • Protagoras says:

            @FacelessCraven, How common are 500 student lectures even in 101 classes any more? University class size averages have been dropping over the years, and it was my impression that one contributing factor is more use of lots of small classes (often taught by adjuncts) for intro courses instead of a few huge lectures. The schools I teach at never seem to do the huge lecture thing.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @albatross11 – “I think the replication crisis is a lot less about the political biases in academia than it is about the incentives, particularly the whole publish or perish thing.”

            I’d agree that the incentives/publish-or-perish problem is the major driver, sure. But I think there’s a reason why so many of the initial problems turned up in areas like stereotype threat, student mindset and so forth. Further, ideological corruption in various fields made the problem apparent quite some time ago; the actual replication crisis itself just proves that the problem is systemic, rather than being a few bad apples.

            @Protagoras – “How common are 500 student lectures even in 101 classes any more? University class size averages have been dropping over the years, and it was my impression that one contributing factor is more use of lots of small classes (often taught by adjuncts) for intro courses instead of a few huge lectures. The schools I teach at never seem to do the huge lecture thing.”

            I’m given to understand that the adjunct thing isn’t really sustainable either, as adjunct work conditions and pay are pretty grim. In any case, does reducing the class size to 50 or 30 or even 10 really improve things? Even if the online format is only a fraction as efficient at… whatever the objectives of a university course are*… it’s effectively free. What does in-person instruction offer that offsets the massive advantage in availability and cost? Given that our goal is that this education system should be universal, what other option is there?

            *At this point, I’m legitimately unsure what values we’re supposed to be getting out of college. Raw knowledge transfer? A test of conscientiousness? Socialization? The mythical, often reported but never captured Critical Thinking Skills? Whatever it is, I’m willing to bet money that if we sat down with our current tech level to build a system optimized for those values from scratch, it would look nothing like our current Academic system.

          • Do you see the bluing of academia as a hostile takeover?

            You weren’t asking me, but I’ll answer anyway.

            No.

            I think academia became left wing for endogenous reasons, although not the same ones you seem to suggest. Once it got sufficiently left wing, large parts of it became a hostile environment for people who were not left wing.

            Consider a market niche, say L.A. donut shops, which has gotten dominated by an ethnic group, say Armenian immigrants. The situation can be stable for a fair while because donut shop owners find it useful to interact with each other (that guy looking for a job with me who used to work for you–was he any good? I’m having trouble with a supplier–is it just accident or a general pattern?), and it’s easier to interact with members of your ethnic group. If some of the interaction involves trust, ethnic group membership makes reputational mechanisms work better. The dominance of orthodox Jews for quite a while in the NY diamond market is a real world example.

            It isn’t impossible for someone not in the ethnic group to run a donut shop, but it’s harder for him–and it might be prudent for him to marry into an Armenian donut shop family.

            Similarly with large parts of academia. I doubt much of it is a deliberate attempt to keep academia left, although a little of that happens. But more of it is the result of ingroup bias. If you are sure your political views are right, it’s natural enough to assume that people who disagree with them are stupid, or possibly evil, which makes you less likely to want them as colleagues, or as graduate students working under you, or … . If you feel strongly about your political views, it may be hard to have friendly relations with people you see as the enemy–and who wants a department where the faculty don’t like each other?

            And, on the other side, someone who agrees with you is obviously a bright fellow, the sort you would want as a student or colleague.

          • Have you seen this essay on Frozen Accidents?

            I hadn’t, but it’s hardly a novel idea–the proverb “for want of a nail” is several centuries old.

            Part of it is what economists refer to path dependence. Also the Great Man theory of history.

            But my point about future uncertainty is not that. Accidents aside, how technology develops depends on details of reality we don’t know, such as the nature of the aging process or facts that make molecular nanotech easier or harder, ditto for AI and other technologies. A future with Drexlerian nanotech or one where aging can be stopped or reversed is going to be very different from one where those particular technologies did not develop.

            Going back to the question of technology and academia… . The Khan academy currently is mostly a substitute for high school, but there is no reason why similar things cannot substitute for college courses and quite a lot of people and institutions are working on the project. If it happens, one of the main functions of universities, teaching undergraduates, disappears.

            A different function is certification–grades, diplomas, and the like. It isn’t clear to me why there hasn’t been more of that done outside Academia–and of course some is. It isn’t hard to imagine developments, possibly involving the internet, that replace much of that too.

            That leaves Academia with one academic function, research, plus the social function of putting lots of young adults of similar age and interests together for flirting, mate search, social network creation, and the like. A lot of research is done in other contexts. One effect of greatly improved communication is to reduce the importance of geographical clustering.

            One effect of rising real incomes is to make amateur academic research more practical. If you look at the founders of various fields of science, a lot of them were amateurs. Darwin was trained as a clergyman. Ricardo was a retired stock market speculator. Geology was largely founded by a mining engineer and a gentleman farmer. From the late 19th century on, it’s been mostly professionals. It isn’t clear if that will continue to be true in a world of higher real incomes and much better communication.

            Let me give you a modern example: Robin Hanson. When he came up with the idea of idea futures, he was, if I remember correctly, employed by NASA on unrelated work. The fact that he had no credentials in economics didn’t keep me from corresponding with him about his ideas, because he was obviously a very smart and creative person. Generalize that and you don’t need a position in a top university to have top colleagues–you just have to demonstrate that you are the sort of person they want to interact with.

            I’m not predicting that Academia will collapse, merely pointing out that it could.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman
            For profit online schools just aren’t there yet though. The graduation rate is bad for one thing.

            Only 22 percent of full-time students seeking a Bachelor’s degree graduate, compared to 55% at public institutions and 65% at private nonprofits.


            Employment is also bad.

            Sadly, those who manage to obtain a degree do not fair much better: 72% of for-profit colleges produce graduates that earn less than high school drop-outs.


            Right now online schools are a scam. Online schools are not competitive.
            I think people here are convolving 4 yr lib arts degrees with STEM or pre-professional degrees. The job market is very good for the right kind of degree.
            Another analogy to sub-primes is 7-yr car loans– during the life of the loan the car decreases so much in value that its not cost-viable to pay the loan. Car loan debt in US is 1.16T. Lib arts 4 year degrees arent worth the cost investment, and they are not scarce.
            You just blythely skipped over my whole point about the Science World debate between the black swan/fat tails people and the social physics/big data people.
            I understand why many conservatives hate universities and colleges– like Dr. Alexander pointed out in Eternal Struggle traditional universities and colleges are places where the children of Red Tribe parents from Red Tribe environments change allegiance to Blue Tribe. You should just articulate that, and not the fantasy argument that online schools are somehow competitive to traditional post-high school colleges and universities.

            Let me give you a modern example: Robin Hanson.


            Are you aware of the MIT anti-disciplinary project? Where innovation happens on the “fringes”? Same thing.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Online university might work for paper-writing courses, but what about the lab portions of e.g. chemistry or electrical engineering? There are also project clubs of the sort MIT is famous for.

            Universities do definitely still have an advantage in bringing smart kids with similar ambitions (or get exposed to ones they didn’t know they had) together to work on things with resources they otherwise wouldn’t have.

          • John Schilling says:

            Let’s start with Academia. Why is it necessary for 500 students to show up at a lecture hall for their 101 class, at hundreds of different halls in dozens of different campuses all across the country,

            Are large undergraduate lecture courses central to “Academia”?

            I would suggest that, for about a thousand years, the central example of Academia has been professional researchers (whom we will call “professors”) and their apprentices (whom we will call “grad students”) coming together in institutions (which we will call “universities”) that support them in a wide variety of research projects which advance the sum of human knowledge and which enable the apprentices to advance to full professional status.

            Institutions built on this model have outlived most governments, many churches, and I believe all banks and corporations; I don’t think they are going away soon. If (and even this is doubtful) everyone decides that MOOCs and/or community colleges can handle all of their early postsecondary education requirements and stops attending the universities, I’d wager that the biggest response from Academia would be “Now we don’t have to teach 101 courses? Huzzah!”

            But maybe you want to define “Academia” as being primarily about early postsecondary education. Just, pick a consistent definition, because if you are talking about 101 courses here and replication crisis there, you aren’t talking about the same thing and only coincidentally talking about the same people.

          • bintchaos says:

            I would suggest that, for about a thousand years,


            Longer?
            The mathematikoi and the akousmatikoi?
            Are Red Tribers just the modern instantiation of Kylon wanting to burn the temple if they can’t get in?

          • Kevin C. says:

            This is a long thread here, but per Bintchaos’s point upthread about cyber-anarchy and terrorism, I’d note that Richard Fernandez of PJMedia has just made a similar point:

            Global terrorism and cryptoviral extortion may seem unrelated but they both rely on the feasibility of anonymous or encrypted cooperation between non-state actors. Ransomware is made possible not only by asymmetric encryption, which makes kidnapping files possible, but also by anonymous digital money like Bitcoin, which makes illicit payments practical. Terrorism needs secure messaging to reach out to “Lone Wolves.” In their own ways both ISIS and the Petya virus illustrate the weakness of the Westphalian State model by posing challenges that could formerly not be mounted by groups without territory.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think that’s straight-up wrong, at least re: ISIS. For most of the “lone wolves” claiming ISIS affiliation, there is no evidence that they’ve ever contacted the actual ISIS hierarchy, through secure channels or otherwise: the usual story is that they self-radicalized for one reason or another and decided to pledge allegiance to the org because that’s what the cool terrorist kids are doing these days.

            You don’t need secure communication channels for that. You don’t even really need YouTube, although it helps get your message out. There was a similar pattern of Marxist terrorism during the Cold War (some of these terrorists were Soviet-sponsored, but many weren’t), and anarchist “propaganda of the deed” even earlier.

            Ransomware existed before Bitcoin, but you do need asymmetric encryption for it to be effective.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Gobbobobble – “Online university might work for paper-writing courses, but what about the lab portions of e.g. chemistry or electrical engineering? There are also project clubs of the sort MIT is famous for.”

            What portion of the overall college infrastructure consists of labs? My guess would be, not very much. Obviously there’s no objection to using real-world facilities for things that actually require real-world facilities. The things that don’t require them shouldn’t use them, or at least certainly not by default.

            @Bintchaos – “For profit online schools just aren’t there yet though.”

            Sure, because at the moment most of the people putting effort into building them are optimizing for a quick buck. I linked you the Stanford Evolutionary Biology lecture series. Is your argument that watching that series on youtube is somehow less educational than listening to it in person?

            “The job market is very good for the right kind of degree.”

            Which is what percentage of total degrees? And none of this addresses the fact that the system costs into the trillions annually, when we could cut that cost to maybe 1/10th as much, or even less!

            “I understand why many conservatives hate universities and colleges– like Dr. Alexander pointed out in Eternal Struggle traditional universities and colleges are places where the children of Red Tribe parents from Red Tribe environments change allegiance to Blue Tribe. You should just articulate that, and not the fantasy argument that online schools are somehow competitive to traditional post-high school colleges and universities.”

            I’m given to understand that the Khan academy is reasonably competitive with conventional high school. If we can do high school education remotely, why can’t we do first-year college education remotely? Is there some magic property to college coursework that requires teacher and student to be in the same room for it to work? You’ve already admitted that Khan works. The Stanford lectures speak for themselves. Why exactly are you confident that successful online education is impossible?

          • bintchaos says:

            Why exactly are you confident that successful online education is impossible?


            I didnt say that– I just said its not competitive now.
            I’m a big fan of Coursera and MIT open courses. They are wonderful. But they wont help you get a job.
            Still don’t think you are being honest about hating on the US university system though. It doesn’t generate as many reps for your Tribe as it does for the Blue Tribe.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            What portion of the overall college infrastructure consists of labs? My guess would be, not very much.

            For engineering & chem degrees (probably also physics and some others I can’t name offhand) I would argue it is the most important 20-25%.

            Obviously there’s no objection to using real-world facilities for things that actually require real-world facilities. The things that don’t require them shouldn’t use them, or at least certainly not by default.

            Or, y’know, students could go to training&research versions of those facilities to study like they do now.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @John Schilling – “Are large undergraduate lecture courses central to “Academia”?”

            As noted above, the “large” part actually makes the argument stronger if removed. Lecture courses are an infodump. Apparently books weren’t good enough for dumping info, but we now have high-fidelity recordings of the best lecturers in the world, plus all the myriad connectivities of the net. What purpose does an in-person lecture serve, given current tech?

            “If (and even this is doubtful) everyone decides that MOOCs and/or community colleges can handle all of their early postsecondary education requirements and stops attending the universities, I’d wager that the biggest response from Academia would be “Now we don’t have to teach 101 courses? Huzzah!””

            Isn’t the research part of the institution pretty dependent on cashflow from the educational/undergrad part of the institution? Right now, it seems to me that the research part is growing fat on an endless river of money from the constantly increasing undergrad population. That easy money let them survive with far more limited competition than they would have otherwise, and the replication crisis is a result of that.

            @bintchaos – “Are Red Tribers just the modern instantiation of Kylon wanting to burn the temple if they can’t get in?”

            I’m advocating better education than we have now, available for near-as-dammit-to-free to anyone in the world with a net connection. The part where it burns your temple down is just a sweet bonus.

            @Globbobobble – “Or, y’know, students could go to training&research versions of those facilities to study like they do now.”

            If it serves a concrete purpose, sure. Just don’t make it the default if you don’t need to.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “Still don’t think you are being honest about hating on the US university system though. It doesn’t generate as many reps for your Tribe as it does for the Blue Tribe.”

            The best way to win Culture War is to come up with a better way of doing things that satisfies everyone’s values sufficiently to make fighting pointless. Blue Tribe likes education a whole lot. Red Tribe likes not paying absurd amounts of money for social programs of dubious value. Solution: universal, free education, by vastly expanding quality and access and cratering costs.

            If you’re right and Red Tribe is essentially a mental deficiency, modernizing education won’t change things; education will continue to turn people Blue, as reality’s Liberal bias asserts itself. If I’m right, and the Blue-Tribe bias is an artifact of historical accident, modernizing education has a decent chance of dissolving that artifact, and we see a shift to the Red as entrenched discrimination gets broken up.

            Either way, I’d like a better world than the one we have now, and it’s hard to see how making education an order of magnitude or two cheaper and easier to access wouldn’t achieve that.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            If it serves a concrete purpose, sure. Just don’t make it the default if you don’t need to.

            I guess. I’m just tryin’ to say that there’s still a baby in all this bathwater.

            ETA:

            Either way, I’d like a better world than the one we have now, and it’s hard to see how making education an order of magnitude or two cheaper and easier to access wouldn’t achieve that.

            FWIW I’m 100% on board with this. Just pushing back on the notion that MOOCs are a panacea.

          • Nornagest says:

            Just pushing back on the notion that MOOCs are a panacea.

            Definitely not a panacea, yet. I’ve taken MOOCs, and I’m not so old that I don’t remember college pretty well. The two are more comparable than not, and indeed there were some classes I took in school (that damn linear algebra course comes to mind) that basically were MOOCs running on crappy, buggy, proprietary education software and charging a thousand bucks for the privilege of attending; but you’re giving up a hell of a lot of flexibility with any MOOC platform yet invented. That’s not a disaster if all you need is to run a million problem sets, but it limits you quite a bit for many software engineering applications, and you basically can’t assign essays or anything like them at all.

            As it stands, you could replace maybe half an undergrad degree with them without substantial loss of content, assuming a quantitative subject that isn’t too lab-heavy. That ain’t nothing, but it ain’t a revolution either.

          • For profit online schools just aren’t there yet though.

            1. I’m not limiting my point to for-profit. The Khan Academy isn’t. Various universities, including some top ones, offer online courses, I think often free.

            For a lower level example, for years I’ve routinely had my classes recorded and webbed where anyone interested can listen to or view (depending on how it was recorded) the class. That means that someone sufficiently interested can get most of the experience for free. That doesn’t include asking in-class questions, but my email is easy enough to find and I generally respond when people ask me things.

            2. You say “yet.” My whole point was that we don’t know how technological change will affect things in the future, and one possibility is the destruction of Academia as it now exists.

            I understand why many conservatives hate universities and colleges– like Dr. Alexander pointed out in Eternal Struggle traditional universities and colleges are places where the children of Red Tribe parents from Red Tribe environments change allegiance to Blue Tribe.

            All three of my children went to elite colleges or universities. None of them changed their political views as a result. I doubt you could classify us as either blue tribe or red–grey comes closer. And I’m not a conservative, save in your imagination.

            You should just articulate that, and not the fantasy argument that online schools are somehow competitive to traditional post-high school colleges and universities.

            You should read posts before you respond to them. I was describing the potential effects of technology on the future as illustrated by the early forms of online education. And I was talking about online courses, not online schools.

            Currently provided by fly by night outfits such as Stanford.

          • If (and even this is doubtful) everyone decides that MOOCs and/or community colleges can handle all of their early postsecondary education requirements and stops attending the universities, I’d wager that the biggest response from Academia would be “Now we don’t have to teach 101 courses? Huzzah!”

            Except that the undergraduates are bringing in most of the money that pays the professors.

            I am reminded, however, of one of the Chicago professors back in the seventies, when there was a problem of student disruption. He commented that it was nice to have an undergraduate college as part of the university, but if it turned out to be too much trouble … .

          • I’d note that Richard Fernandez of PJMedia has just made a similar point:

            Issues I raised quite a long time ago. And Tim May probably earlier still.

          • Ransomware existed before Bitcoin, but you do need asymmetric encryption for it to be effective.

            Why can’t you do the same thing using symmetric encryption? Scramble using a single key, and offer to sell your victim the key.

          • Why exactly are you confident that successful online education is impossible?

            (Bintchaos responded)

            I didnt say that– I just said its not competitive now.

            You were replying, however, to my comment arguing that it might contribute to destroying Academia in the future.

          • Nornagest says:

            Scramble using a single key, and offer to sell your victim the key.

            Some early ransomware did that. It doesn’t work as well, though, because you need the key in the ransomware binary (which has to be on an unencrypted segment of the disk, because otherwise it goes away when the machine gets power-cycled and you don’t get paid) and that means you can pull it out fairly easily if you know what you’re doing. You can arrange for the malware to delete the key after using it, downloading another copy later, but that requires a command-and-control architecture (which is the hard part) equivalent to what you’d want for asymmetric encryption anyway. And file recovery presents another attack vector.

            Asymmetric encryption means you can have the encryption key in the binary but keep the decryption key safely offsite, uploading it only when your victim pays the ransom.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Sorry, I thought I was replying to Faceless Craven.
            Most unis offer online classes right now…just not classes that need labs or clinical hands-on training.
            There is still the credits-towards-degree/ payment-for-credits cycle which seems pretty unbreakable.
            I guess the only way I see future tech impacting that is VR labs added to online lectures?

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @John Schilling:

            I would suggest that, for about a thousand years, the central example of Academia has been professional researchers…

            I think your timeline is off by about an order of magnitude. Universities (Bologna, Oxford, then much later that upstart Cambridge) were much more about training priests/ministers, lawyers, and doctors until the 19th century, when Humboldt* gave the modern research university model a big push.

            Then you start to see old-style minister factories like Harvard and Yale scrambling to catch up to superior new-style universities like MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell.

            (* Either Alexander or Wilhelm; my Humboldt knowledge isn’t very current.)

          • bintchaos says:

            Doesn’t the model actually go back to Pythagoras and the mathematikoi ?

    • Matt M says:

      ETA: and then the “hey guys don’t discuss this” … sheesh

      We don’t agree often, but we DO agree on this one. This is a Fox News-style move (and I mean that quite literally, they enable comments as a rule, but often switch them off for any articles about race, crime or other things that are likely to be particularly controversial).

      It’s sort of insulting to the collective intelligence of the commentariat. If you think this is an important issue worth discussing, then let’s actually discuss it, rather than having a unilateral opinion-dump that cannot be responded to.

      I’ve stayed away from discussing it myself because once again, Scott’s blog, Scott’s rules – but I will take a brief moment to say that I think his rule is dumb.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve stayed away from discussing it myself because once again, Scott’s blog, Scott’s rules – but I will take a brief moment to say that I think his rule is dumb.

        He didn’t explicitly ban discussing it. He just closed comments on that one article. These are not synonymous.

        • Matt M says:

          Eh, then we have a letter/spirit issue. But I did not meant to imply misbehavior or ill intent on those who ARE choosing to discuss it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Fair enough. I still don’t think he minds *us* commenting on it, but rather people who would do him harm by pointing to some low-hanging rotten fruit in the comments section to smear him.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I don’t mind the comments being turned off on that thread, actually. Any time Scott mentions race as a top level topic it seems like a siren call to a bunch of people who bring more heat than light.

          But I was imputing a subtle scheme to Scott’s mislabeling of the hidden open thread. Perhaps that is wrong of me.

          • Jordan D. says:

            I agree that turning the comments off was a good idea. Threads like that turn into comment dumpster-fires quickly.

            But I really think that if Scott intended this thread to be culture-war free outside of the normal bounds, he’d have put that in the OP. I find the theorizing about that sort of baffling, honestly.

          • Anonymous says:

            Turns out it was a typo. Less malice, more incompetence!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Who says the “typo” was unintentional?

            It managed to shove discussion of the post far down the page.

          • Anonymous says:

            How devious.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It managed to shove discussion of the post far down the page.

            No it didn’t, andrewflicker set that precedent.

    • The Nybbler says:

      If the central example of a racism is agreed to be a George Wallace type saying “I don’t want any of them n-words around in my town, and if I see ’em, I’m gonna hang ’em”, there wouldn’t be much of a culture war around race. Stop calling disparate impact (Bob), cultural preferences (Alice and Carol), and observation of phenomena (Dan) racism, and all but maybe two or three of us here will be perfectly happy to tell racists to f- off. We can continue to argue about catering to racist preferences (Eric) and separatism without animus (Fiona).

      Scott’s examples weren’t particularly non-central. You bring up structural racism, which makes one racist for just being white; that’s certainly less central to the layperson than any of the examples Scott gave.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        It doesn’t make you racist for being white. It means you aren’t creating neutral outcomes when you act “colorblindly”. Its not about the individual racism of people.

        Its the same as rape laws. Basically it works like this. Humans are imperfect and pretty useless at parsing ambiguity. You can put the burden of the person claiming rape or the person being claimed as a rapist. There is a bit of a spectrum. Shallowly lefties think the burden is unbalanced against the victim. Righties think its unbalanced the other way or that its more or less in the best case spot. We can’t easily remove rapists and rapist tendencies. All we can do is decide whether the needle is pointing at the true center of the responsibility spectrum.

        Moving the needle towards the perpetrator end means more false positives on allegations/convictions of rape. Moving it towards the victim means more false negatives. Shockingly there is a bit of a gender divide on the way the needle points since, given the cultural situation regarding male rape, false positives hurt men and false negatives hurt women.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Moving the needle towards the perpetrator end means more false positives on allegations/convictions of rape. Moving it towards the victim means more false negatives. Shockingly there is a bit of a gender divide on the way the needle points since, given the cultural situation regarding male rape, false positives hurt men and false negatives hurt women.

          This is entirely true, but it is extremely rare to see people acknowledge tradeoffs in their preferred position, on this or any other topic.

          • Aapje says:

            To be fair, feminists often address this by claiming that intentional and/or accidental false accusations are extremely rare compared to the number of rapes that don’t end in conviction.

            The issue I have with these arguments is that all the numbers that make up this argument tend to be…non-true, with a fairly consistent bias in one direction.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            It’s not that the numbers are necessarily all-true, it’s that the nature of the crime means it’s hard to get accurate numbers. “False accusation” stats usually are statistics indicating accusations that, one, are made to the police, and two, are found to be provably false. So obviously you aren’t doing things right if you subtract that from a hundred and say the other 90-98% must be true.

            Going the other way, however – the bias doesn’t consistently go in one direction – the police have incentives (both professional and emotional) to close cases, and will do this by ruling accusations “unfounded” (not provably false), pressuring victims to withdraw, etc. Feminist scholarship tends to come up with unbelievably low rates of false accusation, but if you ask cops, they will sometimes come up with unbelievably high rates (like, 50% by some accounts).

            This isn’t even getting into the messiness of sex and the especially messy culture that currently surrounds it (caught in a limbo between prudishness and sex positivity), or that it is possible to have a situation where there was no mens rea exists on one person’s part but the other person still ends up traumatized – we recognize this with motor vehicle-related crimes, and we recognize it to some extent with the different grades of homicide/manslaughter, but not with sex crimes.

            There simultaneously exists rapists getting away with it, and thus victims harmed with no chance for recourse, and falsely or mistakenly accused people being run through the system.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            I broadly endorse everything you are saying there, and I want to reinforce the idea that the the sex-culture in the US makes these problems harder to ameliorate.

            We do have different gradations of sex crime though (assault vs. rape) but I think a number of factors contribute to cause a general trend to conflate them under the rubric of “rape”. Obviously, that’s a different point than the one about mens rea, which I think is a good one.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            IANAL, but under Canadian law, “rape” was replaced with different gradations of sexual assault, which I am pretty sure have more to do with exacerbating factors (was a weapon used?) and physical harm to the victim than to the actual sex act.

            The trend of it all getting conflated with rape is there. Jian Ghomeshi, for example, was charged with hitting women nonconsensually, and this was tried as sexual assault. When he was acquitted, many people talked about him “getting away with rape,” even though he was never accused of rape.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Going the other way, however – the bias doesn’t consistently go in one direction – the police …

            I argued that feminists nearly always err in one direction, not all people who investigate the issue.

            If you ask cops, they will sometimes come up with unbelievably high rates (like, 50% by some accounts).

            One of the issues is that there is no clear definition of ‘false accusation of rape’. From the perspective of the guilt of the accused, it doesn’t matter whether the rape didn’t happen, the rape happened but the wrong person was identified or the accuser was using an incorrect definition of rape.

            One of the issues with police estimates is that distinguishing between true and false allegations is somewhat counter-intuitive as false accusers tend to tell stereotypical stories, while actual rapists do not. A very interesting study was done where women were asked to make false allegations and these allegations were compared with likely true allegations. There were clear differences between the known false and likely true allegations. It is likely that some police officers will judge cases based on common stereotypes and thus judge the true allegations as likely to be false and the false allegations as likely to be true.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Scott’s examples were all individuals and the question asked was “Is X racist”.

        That isn’t how structural racism works. Structural racism does not require animus on the part of the individual. He and you are arguing against something that is a straw man of the concept.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Ok, so steelman it for us. What is it about structural murderismracism that makes its absence completely invalidate the conclusion:

          But it starts with rejecting the “murderism” framework. Rejecting the choice to attribute whatever we disagree with to murderism, even if it is murderist, and instead trying to trace it back to root causes that make sense that and humanize the people involved. Working to find the reasons liberalism is possible, rather than the reasons it isn’t. Unless we can do that, semantic confusion and our political polarization are going to build off each other in a vicious cycle into who knows where.

        • bean says:

          But even then, structural racism should be handled in a very different way from individual racism. The people who run around calling Trump and everyone who voted for him racist are not claiming that these people are merely following incentives which lead them to hurt minorities. They are claiming that Trump and his voters are acting out of hatred for minorities, and are bad people. This is a terrible response to structural racism, because the targets will legitimately protest that they aren’t doing anything of the sort, and will immediately classify anything involving the word ‘racism’ as stupid and bad.
          The way to attack structural racism is probably to start by making very sure that the other side knows that you know they aren’t doing it deliberately, and then explain to them how the things they are doing for perfectly reasonable internal reasons are hurting minorities, and how they can mitigate this harm at a reasonable cost. And it would probably help to recognize that some of these fears are totally legitimate and race-blind. The factory worker who is afraid of overseas competition isn’t going to stop being afraid no matter how nicely you ask. He’s as afraid of robots in Japan as of people in Mexico.

        • gbdub says:

          Actually, I’m pretty sure Scott is saying that what you call “structural racism” shouldn’t really be called “racism”, because attacking it as motivated by irrational racial animus is counterproductive.

          Scott is arguing for, basically, modifying the definition of racism (or rather limiting the scope of what we attack as racist). You claim he’s created a weak/limited definition in order to strawman, but he’s actually creating the weaker definition because he thinks it’s a better one to use. He’s describing ought to be and you’ve misunderstood it as a description of what is.

          (FWIW, that’s what I got out of the last section of the post. I think Scott should have put a stronger/clearer summary of the last section first, because by opening with the examples and discussion of them, it makes it easy to end up with the (mis)interpretation you have)

        • BBA says:

          The fact that structural racism has sometimes been the deliberate result of individual animus leads some sloppy thinkers on the left to conclude that it always is, and everyone who does the slightest thing to contribute to disparate impact is an irredeemable racist to be scorned.

        • Zephalinda says:

          That isn’t how structural racism works. Structural racism does not require animus on the part of the individual.

          This seems like a golden opportunity to ask something I’ve been wondering for a while: bracketing what racism is, why would you/ the mainstream Blue Tribe say that it is bad?

          So much of the discussion is vaguely consequentialist in flavor (or at least, hints pointedly at public and private social policies we should inevitably wish to enact if we are Anti-Racist), but then there’s also the “hate”/-phobia rhetoric that shades much more virtue-ethicist.

          I know the assumption is that there’s an obvious causal connection between unvirtuous thoughts and undesirable consequences, but it also seems like it’d be helpful, for clarity’s sake, to separate the two in theory. Put another way, given the following two options:

          A. Tomorrow, we magically remove every individual person’s capacity to discriminate superficially by race (let’s say we wake up in our identical beds, but all with bright-blue skins, feline features, bland Midwestern accents/names, diverse tastes in music). Obviously, the concrete legacy of slavery is not removed, but from here on out, it collapses to simple classism like the type faced by Appalachian whites. No guarantees about eventual parity of outcomes.

          B. Tomorrow, we magically equalize each race’s (populationwide) outcomes. For ever after, African-Americans will have exactly the same bell curve of incomes, family structures, crime participation and educational attainments as Asian-Americans. But everybody gets to keep looking at each other and forming ingroup/outgroup dynamics to the top of their evil little bent.

          Which of the two would the average Blue Triber choose? Or would different segments of the tribe choose differently? And why?

        • Anon. says:

          If you’re taking “racism” to mean “structural racism which requires no animus” then it makes no sense to call individuals or actions racist, since it is a property of the system and not the people. The antifa who pays taxes and thereby supports the system of structural racism is the same as Richard Spencer. Additionally, it obviously does not match every-day usage, where “racist” is used as an attribute or property of people, things, actions, events rather than some aethereal systemic quality.

          So this is just standard M&B, switching from the popular meaning to the special “structural racism” one whenever it’s advantageous. It’s bullshit.

          To demonstrate, here are some of HBC’s posts in which he uses “racism” in the popular sense rather than his super special “structural racism which requires no animus” meaning that he wants us to use now.

          I’ve always thought of bigot as a superset of racist. “Racism” except it’s not necessarily about race. Racism is a form of bigotry, but so is, say, a certain form of Anti-Catholicism.

          I mean, Trump is probably less racist in absolute terms than Lincoln, certainly in terms of public statements.

          So, unless you want to argue that every single 70 year old white guy is racist (in a way that Scott Alexander would consider to be racist, and not in an unconscious structural racist way), then Scott apparently does not think Trump is racist in the slightest.

    • Thegnskald says:

      You seem to be missing the substantive point:

      Don’t dehumanize people. Treat people as if they are good people acting in good faith, irrespective of how misguided you may think they are.

      That’s it. That’s the point of the post.

      “Structural racism” doesn’t negate the point of the post. Indeed, “structural racism” is pretty much exactly good people following good intentions with bad results – exactly the sort of people you shouldn’t dehumanize and treat like evil monsters.

      I recommend you take a break from culture war related material. You are getting a bit… arguments-are-soldiers-y, lately.

      • MrApophenia says:

        But that is only a good policy if you are dealing with people who are actually good people acting in good faith. But there really are lots of animus-motivated racists.

        I actually rather like the murderism analogy if you follow it through all the way. There are a bunch of people who actually are pro-murder for its own sake. Most (but not all) of them are smart enough not to openly admit it, but they make political choices based on their views. Maybe even worse, a bunch of mostly non-murderist politicians have made a devil’s bargain to build an electoral coalition that is strongly dependent on the actual motivated murderists, so murderist views creep into their policies even when the politicians themselves don’t share the motivation.

        And the suggested solution here is to pretend everyone is a good person acting in good faith, because otherwise things might get unpleasant!

        • Nornagest says:

          …wow. I mean, I violently disagree with this whole class of sentiment, but I gotta admire the bullet you just bit.

          In roughly the same way as I might admire a tornado, or a forest fire, but still.

          • Achilles_de_Remilia says:

            It’s nice to find out what people really think, isn’t it?
            Well, maybe not nice, but informative for future interactions.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            Are you familiar with this story of the reporter in 2012 doing some “man on the street” type reporting?

            Basically they were just walking from house to house in a town in the Midwest and asking people about the election, who they were voting for, etc. They get to one door, and they ask who they are voting for. The wife calls into the house “Who are we voting for?” The response comes yelled from inside “We’re voting for the n*****!” She turns to the reporter “We’re voting for the n*****.”

            Now, you might say that, because they were willing to vote for Obama, it means they did not have animus towards black people. I would say you are having a failure of imagination, or are misunderstanding the human condition.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’ve heard the story. I could question what kind of evidence a secondhand account of a single use of a racial slur is for serious racial animus, or I could point out that you can find an anecdote for just about anything, or I could say that the mere existence of an honest-to-God racist (or a whole population) doesn’t make much of a dent in Scott’s point, and those would all be true…

            …but they’d all be attacking a rather boring and conventional point. One that I happen to think is overbilled, but if I wanted to start a fight about that, I would have responded to your top-level comment. That wasn’t what floored me, and I find it kind of odd that you think it was.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            I thought you were remarking on:

            But there really are lots of animus-motivated racists.

            Past that, I’m genuinely confused about what you are floored by or what bullet you think was bitten?

          • Aapje says:

            @HBC

            The accusation that non-racist Republicans have willingly made a bargain with a large number of racists, I assume.

            It’s a very dangerous mode of thought, where the actual opinions of large numbers of people are erased and people are blamed for their general platform being closest to those of bad people.

            It’s an accusation can be made of everyone: a similar silly accusation is that Democrats have made a bargain with SJWs and are thus collectively seeking to achieve [bad thing common to SJWs].

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            But Republicans did make conscious overtures to those people. The Southern Strategy was real. Reagan started his campaign in Neshoba county talking about states’ rights for a reason.

            And Democrats also made conscious coalition with out and out racists, both before and after 1964. The fact that racists existed in strong numbers and could vote meant this was essentially a given. As Apophenia pointed out, this requires no animus be present in the politician. It’s just a numbers game.

            The only real question is how many of them exist and what messages will motivate them to vote without turning off too many other voters.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub says

            But Republicans did make conscious overtures to those people. The Southern Strategy was real. Reagan started his campaign in Neshoba county talking about states’ rights for a reason.

            We’ve been over the Southern Strategy before HBC and I won’t get into it again here, but the Neshoba county thing is beyond absurd. If 1 in a hundred voters could tell you what county Reagan gave his first campaign speech in, I would be beyond astounded. For a dog whistle to be real, it has to be something people actually heard at the time, and no one knew or cared what county reagan started his campaign in until after it became a convenient meme to denigrate him as a racist.

            And Democrats also made conscious coalition with out and out racists, both before and after 1964. The fact that racists existed in strong numbers and could vote meant this was essentially a given. As Apophenia pointed out, this requires no animus be present in the politician. It’s just a numbers game.

            this pre-supposes your conclusion.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            Reagan didn’t do it for no reason. He had a reason. It was a conscious signal.

            The Republicans didn’t internally talk about the Southern Strategy for no reason. Nixon and his campaign did things intentionally, and talked about what they were and why.

            You argument amounts to “well, maybe it didn’t work” even though the evidence is that he got those votes. And even if it weren’t to have worked it doesn’t change that they had an explicit strategy to attempt to appeal to those voters.

          • cassander says:

            @HBC

            Reagan didn’t do it for no reason. He had a reason. It was a conscious signal.

            To whom? a signal that 99.9% of voters aren’t aware of is a pisspoor fucking signal.

            The Republicans didn’t internally talk about the Southern Strategy for no reason. Nixon and his campaign did things intentionally, and talked about what they were and why.

            Again, nixon lost the south in 68, and won everywhere in 72. That’s not a southern strategy, that’s a whole country strategy. And a few random comments in one political campaign do not define the entire republican party for a generation.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:

            Again, nixon lost the south in 68, and won everywhere in 72.

            Lost in 68 to the 3rd party candidate running specifically on a platform of “segregation now, segregation forever”. And won the South in 72 when a Republican had never done this before.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            HBC: This raises the question, did Nixon drop his campaign strategists’ Southern strategy to look more enlightened to other demographics because Wallace was polling too well?

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            You’d need exit-poll crosstabs to tell what really happened, but the likeliest answer is that Wallace picked off the white southern vote, while blacks (who are finally getting to do some voting) cast their ballots for Humphrey. From 1968 on, we can no longer treat the Southern vote as synonymous with the white Southern vote.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Paul Zrimsek:

            That’s both right and wrong. From 1964 on, Democrats can’t count on Southern white votes for President, and Republicans can’t count on black votes nationwide. But the Southern white vote is still essentially what delivers up control in those states.

            Local votes gradually start following the presidential pattern and control of state houses and house seats starts flipping from Democratic to Republican control. This takes a long time. One could argue this process does not not come to completion until 2010 when NC finally flips.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And won the South in 72 when a Republican had never done this before.

            This should have said “before 1964”. Goldwater won in 1964 after voting against the CRA.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Le Maistre Chat:
            According to Wikipedia

            Writer Jeffrey Hart, who worked on the Nixon campaign as a speechwriter, said in 2006 that Nixon did not have a “Southern Strategy” but “Border State Strategy”, as he said that the 1968 campaign ceded the Deep South to George Wallace. Hart suggested that the press called it a “Southern Strategy” as they are “very lazy”

        • The Red Foliot says:

          There are lots of people with overactive amygdalas, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that people without overactive amygdalas often end up being grouped with them for spurious reasons. So Scott’s point still stands.

          I think the whole of your misgivings can be explained by noting that, for people who care more about immunizing society against ‘racism’ than finding truth in matters of racial differences or whatever, it makes sense to keep ‘racism’ a taboo. Taboos can’t exist if they are questioned and scrutinized all of the time, so you simply have to keep it ‘an area we never remark upon’. Otherwise the door of your ideology falls in; and with it, maybe the whole edifice.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          But that is only a good policy if you are dealing with people who are actually good people acting in good faith. But there really are lots of animus-motivated racists.

          Good point; you should check under your bed: there’s probably one hiding there right now, next to the skeleton of a Communist from the ’50s.

          And if you think “unpleasant” is a good descriptor for a civil war, go read something about a civil war (pretty much any civil war).

          • MrApophenia says:

            I find it astonishing that people got through 2016 and think all the proper racists vanished in 1970 or something. It was all liberal false flag agents screaming ethnic slurs at Trump rallies.

            I mean, hell, this blog couldn’t even get through a day after that article without someone arguing seriously that the only way to stave off that civil war you’re worried about is to get rid of all the minorities.

            (Plus, you know, if you grow up in rural America hearing people tell jokes about antique farm equipment and personally knowing people who train their dog to nuts at the N word, the conservative assurance that racism is a thing of the past is about as convincing as if someone came in here and tried to tell you guys there’s no such thing as AI researchers, it’s all just scaremongering.)

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            No one’s claiming “all the proper racists vanished”. The assertion is that the number of “proper racists” is dwarfed by all the various other non-central examples that should not be lumped into the same basket for reasons of both precision and to ensure the ability to deal with these issues short of pistols at thirty paces.

            You might have grown up in the rural US in the 80s. I can’t speak for that, but I’ll take your word for that. I’ve been living there for the past 6 years, and my experience is that while the number of “proper racists” is much higher than I would’ve expected prior to moving here (that expectation was basically 0 or single digits), it is far short of the picture you are trying to paint, and almost ALL of the few who are “proper racists” are 60+ years old.

            So, at minimum, there have been marked changes between the 1980s and 2010s…which isn’t that surprising since we’re talking about three decades.

          • Nornagest says:

            I also grew up in the rural US in the Eighties (similar situation to MrApophenia’s, actually). I did meet a few “proper racists”, but not very many of them, and the very few in my generation were the poor cousins of the kind of people who lurk 4Chan’s /pol/ these days: conscious, performative, and mostly interested in showing how edgy they were. Much more common were old people who’d fallen enough behind the times to think nothing of phrases like “that cute little colored girl”.

    • veeloxtrox says:

      I find your perspective interesting. In part because I thought it would be a good article to link to when trying to make the point that X isn’t motivated by hate toward people of a different skin color. Scott does a good job of laying out an argument on how to move toward less discrimination among different races. I see his conclusion as “If we just cry ‘racist’ when we see discrimination, will never understand the motivation for the discrimination. Thus, we will not be able to end discrimination.”

      I think you make a point in that he did not directly address structural racism but I think he did consider it. His example of daycares discriminating against black I would consider a structural problem. He even proposed a solution to the problem.

      You use the term “non-central examples of racism”. Without examples I do not think I can grok your distinction between central and non-central. Can you provide two or three examples of central examples of racism?

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      Yeah, my immediate problem with that post was:

      Alice is a real person, but even people who are big on labelling everything racism don’t get particularly personally upset with Alice. They may point out that when everyone acts like Alice, you get structural racism.

      Bob is a real person, but unless he makes 30 more decisions like that, nobody’s going to get super upset with him.

      Carol is essentially not a real person. The population of people like Carol is tiny fractions of a percent.

      Dan is essentially not a real person. The population of people like Dan is tiny fractions of a percent.

      Eric is not a real person anymore. Eric may have existed in the 60’s, he doesn’t today.

      Fiona is definitely not a real person even a little bit. There are maybe seven people in the United States of America who have views that are anything like Fiona’s.

      Meanwhile, missing from this discussion is George, who doesn’t go out lynching anyone, but feels pretty uncomfortable around black people, tends to think that black people are “thugs,” doesn’t think that hip-hop is “real music,” would have to be much more personally impressed with a black job candidate to hire him than he would an equivalent white job candidate, and is negative on black SOs for people he cares about, again unless those SOs impress him far more than would an equivalent white one. I don’t know exactly how many Georges there are in the United States, but I am morally certain that there are at least 10x as many Georges as there are Carols, Dans, Erics, and Fionas combined. And it may be 100x.

      And when you go, “Well, ‘racism’ is a shitty term for describing Carl, Dan, Eric, and Fiona, why do we even use it?” without talking about George, it feels pretty ridiculous.

      • Nornagest says:

        How do you know?

        • sandoratthezoo says:

          How do you not? Seriously, I need to justify why “a gay committed libertarian who’s two-issue” is a tiny fraction of the population? Well. Because gay people are a small fraction of the population, libertarians are a significantly smaller fraction of the population, and gays’ political orientation biases progressive, not libertarian. And most people aren’t two-issue voters.

          I get that we all like to be data-driven here, and I’m a fan of that. But this is an isolated demand for rigor.

          • Nornagest says:

            Not my point. The exact cases Scott presents are rare. But so are situations where you can save five people by pushing a fat guy onto trolley tracks, you know? It’s a thought experiment; these people are supposed to illustrate categories, and for that purpose clarity’s a lot more important than real-world plausibility.

            If you go out looking for gay free-marketeers who care about literally nothing else, of course you’re not going to find very many. But I can find plenty of people who’re against Muslim immigration or some other race-coded issue for instrumental reasons, and assuming they’ve all got some hidden for-real race hatred behind those reasons strikes me as excessively convenient.

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            If you can make the point with people who actually, you know, exist more than Carol, Dan, Eric, and Fiona, then do. When I see a list of people trotted out who are clearly thousands of miles from the mainstream, and nobody closer to the mainstream, I think there’s a reason for that.

          • Nornagest says:

            There is a reason, and it’s the one I just told you. I’m not sure how much clearer I can make this.

          • Randy M says:

            I thought part of the point of the post was to push back against the impetus to expand the definition of racism to include the non-central examples listed. Scott wasn’t saying “no one’s racist” but “these new boundaries include too many non-central examples.”

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @Randy: Scott seems to be making a stronger point:

            But it starts with rejecting the “murderism” framework. Rejecting the choice to attribute whatever we disagree with to murderism, even if it is murderist, and instead trying to trace it back to root causes that make sense that and humanize the people involved.

            But for George, racism really does seem to be explanatory and, above all, you can point it out in him without denying his humanity.

          • gbdub says:

            I thought George would be accounted for in the “racism by motivation” – he didn’t get a top level example, but I got the sense “Georges” were being talked about.

            I didn’t read Scott’s argument to be “George doesn’t exist”, but rather “Georges are relatively rare, and a lot of people you want to call George are not actually Georges. This is a good thing because I don’t have a good nonviolent solution to George”.

          • But for George, racism really does seem to be explanatory

            As you use the terms, is “racist” different from “racially prejudiced”?

            To me, they are different. George as described is racially prejudiced. He isn’t racist. He shows no inclination to want to hurt people of other races, to hope they meet with misfortune, even to dislike them. He has a set of factual opinions, possibly false, about them, but that isn’t racism, at least as I would use the term.

            And, the parallel question, does calling him racist depend on the opinions being false? Suppose it’s really true that, for the jobs he is hiring for, a black candidate will do worse than a white candidate given the same apparent qualifications–I could suggest reasons that isn’t impossible. Suppose it’s true that, on average, romantic involvements with members of the other race turn out worse than with members of the same race. Suppose … .

            If all of his prejudices happen to be true, do they still count as racism?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @David Friedman: The description of George is realistically ambiguous – one can’t tell whether he 1) holds false beliefs (or true beliefs with excessive certainty) about Black people,
            2) gets a purely unreasoning fight-or-flight reaction when he sees a black face, or
            3) follows the logic of banding together with your own kind without actually disliking or misrepresenting outsiders (like an enlightened nationalist).
            It sounds like a bit of each, and it’s unlikely that George himself can tell with any certainty. If we had finer-grained information we would be silly to use a concept as fuzzy as racism, and possibly we could refine our claim to “George is racially prejudiced”.

            As for the parallel question: to make ‘racism’ blameworthy (which we want, since its current purpose is blame and admonishment), we should define ‘racism’ so that beliefs held with appropriate certainty do not indicate racism. “Appropriate certainty” is doing a lot of work here. Many situations where we worry about racism are ones (like criminal trials) where we demand such a high level of certainty that race information has vanishingly little to contribute. In a setting like that any appeal to race information is very suspicious.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I get that we all like to be data-driven here, and I’m a fan of that. But this is an isolated demand for rigor.

            I don’t think you get to claim the mantle of rigor merely by complaining that someone else wasn’t rigorous. You’re going to need something more than “I am morally certain.”

            (Nice username, by the way.)

      • The Nybbler says:

        Alice is a real person, but even people who are big on labelling everything racism don’t get particularly personally upset with Alice.

        Yes, they do. They talk about all those horrible racist white people moving to white suburbs and sending their white kids to white schools.

        Bob is a real person, but unless he makes 30 more decisions like that, nobody’s going to get super upset with him.

        Nope they’ll make it right away. Bob would be politically more savvy to cut the most expensive majority-white bus route. If the whites complain, he can then just call THEM racist.

        Carol is essentially not a real person. The population of people like Carol is tiny fractions of a percent.

        Carol may be small in the population (all libertarians are), but she’s pretty well represented on the Internet.

        Dan is essentially not a real person. The population of people like Dan is tiny fractions of a percent.

        Dan is rather well-represented HERE.

        • sandoratthezoo says:

          The percentage of white people who live in white suburbs who get individualized shit over their decision to do so is a minuscule fraction. People talk about how the trend creates structural racism, for sure — because, you know, it does. Everyone besides whiny college students and warrior-types on the internet, and even most whiny college students and warrior-types on the internet, understands that it’s a reasonable personal decision.

          Every mayor in the country makes decisions like Bob does all the time. The fractions of mayors who get shit about it is minuscule, unless it’s an obvious pattern or they get someone who is deeply out for their head for whatever reason — which is a hazard of political office.

          Carol is a tiny fraction of a percent of US internet users.

          Dan may be well-represented here, but if the point of the Murderism post was to discuss charges of racism in the SSC comments section, then it’s pretty inside-baseball.

          And it’s still ingenuous nonsense to say, “I can think of lots of vanishingly-small types of people for whom the term ‘racism’ lacks explanatory power, and as long as I don’t think about the much larger populace of people for whom it has tons of explanatory power are not appearing in my analysis, that means that racism is a bad term.”

          • Gobbobobble says:

            as long as I don’t think about the much larger populace of people for whom it has tons of explanatory power

            But how much Georgism is actually terminally about race and not actually about poverty? The only difference from Alice is an overactive pattern-matcher.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @sandoratthezoo

            Everyone besides whiny college students and warrior-types on the internet, and even most whiny college students and warrior-types on the internet, understands that it’s a reasonable personal decision.

            Is it commonly and openly held to be a reasonable decision? Or is that a sentiment held privately, or a sentiment held unconsciously (there’s certainly overlap between “white person who condemns wanting to live somewhere mostly white” and “white person who happens to have paid extra to live somewhere mostly white”)?

          • Iain says:

            The only difference from Alice is an overactive pattern-matcher.

            As an alternative to the three definitions that Scott puts forward in the post, you could do worse than “Definition by Process: an overactive tendency to pattern-match race with negative characteristics”.

            It doesn’t matter how George feels about black people in his heart of hearts; if he’s going to subconsciously assume the worst of black people, and (for example) deny them job opportunities because of his over-active pattern matching, then that’s a problem.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Iain

            Yeah, I can get on board with that definition. I think that just brings us back to the daycare center scenario, though.

          • Iain says:

            Does it?

            The daycare example rests on two factors: that there is a genuine correlation between black people and some negative trait, and that people are prohibited from investigating the negative trait directly. It seems excessively convenient to assume that those two factors will be in place in every situation where George has the opportunity to pattern-match.

          • albatross11 says:

            sandoratthezoo:

            The fraction of individual white people who get individualized shit over moving to an all-white suburb is small, but the phenomenon is very often described as the result of racism. Including in top-level political arguments about urban planning and school voucher programs and bussing and such.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Iain

            Mmm, sure, it doesn’t apply in all cases. But a lot gets covered if there’s a correlation between class and race, and, either by extension or independently, a correlation between criminality and race. It’s a natural instinct to want to maximize one’s status (hiring, working with capable people increases profits increases income); one’s children’s status (SOs, you want them to marry someone capable); and minimize one’s chances of being a victim of crime (“thugs”).

            Of sandor’s examples, I think the hip-hop and general discomfort are the cases that aren’t isomorphic to the daycare center. Though they are weaker examples as the chains of correlation are weaker.

            This, like in Against Murderism, is not to say that any of those stances are morally correct. Just that it’s not productive to bucket it all as “well that’s racist so you’re a bad person so fuck you”.

          • veeloxtrox says:

            @Iain

            Would you mind giving two example of when George is applying discrimination and it is not valid pattern matching?

          • Iain says:

            What do you mean by “valid” pattern-matching?

            There are all sorts of assumptions that George might make about black people. Some of them might even be statistically justifiable; it really is true, for example, that a black man is more likely than a white man to have spent time in prison. That doesn’t mean any individual black person George meets is a thug, and it doesn’t prevent negative consequences for innocent black people if George happens to pattern-match “black” to “thug” while dealing with them.

            There is an important distinction between this conception of racism and Scott’s “Definition by Motive”. George doesn’t have any specific animus towards black people, or conscious desire to discriminate against them. It just so happens that he has a tendency to always assume the worst of them.

            It’s not reasonable to bucket George as “racist, so evil, so fuck you”. But it’s also not reasonable to let him off the hook completely. This is the sort of thing where a rational moral actor has a duty to engage in some occasional introspection to consider whether maybe they’re acting in a way that unfairly disadvantages other people. If George is unwilling to consider that possibility, and prioritizes feeling like a good person over actually being a good person, then he is genuinely in the wrong, and deserving of moral censure.

            The policy response to people like George is not obvious, but I think this is at least a useful way to think about the problem.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It’s not reasonable to bucket George as “racist, so evil, so fuck you”. But it’s also not reasonable to let him off the hook completely. This is the sort of thing where a rational moral actor has a duty to engage in some occasional introspection to consider whether maybe they’re acting in a way that unfairly disadvantages other people. If George is unwilling to consider that possibility, and prioritizes feeling like a good person over actually being a good person, then he is genuinely in the wrong, and deserving of moral censure.

            The policy response to people like George is not obvious, but I think this is at least a useful way to think about the problem.

            Yes, exactly. I could quibble over a couple things but I don’t think we have any substantive disagreement.

          • Matt M says:

            But it’s also not reasonable to let him off the hook completely.

            Why not?

            What if, instead of pattern matching to thug, he pattern matches to “26% more likely to be a thug, holding all other variables constant” and that, once he gets to know the person and find out they aren’t a thug, treats them completely equally from that moment forward?

          • gbdub says:

            I’m on board with Iain’s framework, but I think Matt M and Conrad Honcho (below) also have good points:

            The trick with using “overactive pattern matching” as your definition is that “overactive” is doing all the work. How you define that is a big part of the whole argument.

            Clearly, if George treats all black people exactly as he would if he knew them to be thugs, that’s overactive. But what if he only does that for say, black men wearing gang colors following him after dark in an abandoned alley? Where do we draw the line between reasonable and unreasonable pattern matching? How much more statistically likely is likely enough to be suspicious of somebody?

            And should we treat “overactive pattern matching” by race significantly differently than similar pattern matching by other characteristics (like “is from Alabama” or “voted for Trump” or “doesn’t know how to tie a bow tie”)? Is George a worse human than Conrad Honcho’s Howard? If so, how much and why?

          • random832 says:

            wearing gang colors

            I doubt someone like George has an accurate idea of what “gang colors” look like, so let’s widen that to “wearing any brightly colored outfit”

          • gbdub says:

            Fair enough, I wasn’t trying to create a super realistic picture, just pointing out that there is some level of “pattern matching” that could be reasonable despite having a racially disparate effect, and that it’s more of a continuum between that and Georgism than a bright line.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Everyone besides whiny college students and warrior-types on the internet, and even most whiny college students and warrior-types on the internet, understands that it’s a reasonable personal decision.

            This is like saying “everyone besides those nosy Stasi agents understands that it’s reasonable to not support the Leader.” Maybe they do, but only the Stasi get to decide what the consequences are for doing these things, whether or not most people consider those things reasonable.

          • Brad says:

            This is like saying “everyone besides those nosy Stasi agents understands that it’s reasonable to not support the Leader.” Maybe they do, but only the Stasi get to decide what the consequences are for doing these things, whether or not most people consider those things reasonable.

            It must suck living under such oppression. It’s a miracle you’ve managed to avoid being murdered by college kids on twitter thus far. Must be your impeccable online tradecraft. You do only post here from public IPs using burner phones, right?

          • BBA says:

            Over at LG&M, a blog I that I’ve gradually figured out that I’ve been hatereading, there’s an ongoing back-and-forth between Erik Loomis and his commenters. Loomis asserts that it’s a racist act to move to the suburbs, the commenters point to all the valid, rational reasons why they and their families left the city, Loomis says sure but it’s still racist.

            Now if even a blog on the left edge of progressive Democrats gets pushback from its readership on that point, I’m a little skeptical that it’s become part of overarching dogma that everyone is required to recite daily. But that’s just me.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            It must suck living under such oppression. It’s a miracle you’ve managed to avoid being murdered by college kids on twitter thus far. Must be your impeccable online tradecraft. You do only post here from public IPs using burner phones, right?

            I’ve got to ask how you’ve been on the internet so long without ever encountering an analogy.

            The point I’m making is that “Only a bunch of weirdos on Twitter care about X, so don’t worry about committing X” does not work very well when, at least in certain contexts, the weirdos on Twitter have demonstrated their ability to get people mobbed and, sometimes, fired for committing X.

          • rlms says:

            @ThirteenthLetter
            Calling people you don’t like Hitler is also an analogy. Neither of them are good (Trump isn’t going to commit genocide, and analogously college students are not operating a brutal surveillance state).

          • random832 says:

            analogously college students are not operating a brutal surveillance state

            The internet and social media in particular as they exist now are a far more effective surveillance state than anyone in the past could have dreamed of; all they have to do is use the tools it provides them.

        • Brad says:

          I can’t think of any Dans that post here. Scott himself is probably the closest, but despite himself he flunks the “avoids talking about this” part.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Isn’t George just Alice’s husband?

        ETA: Also sounds like provincialism. What’s also missing in this discussion in Howard, who feels pretty uncomfortable around rural people, tends to think that rural people are “hicks,” doesn’t think that country & western is “real music,” would have to be much more personally impressed with a job candidate with a southern accent to hire him than he would an equivalent urbane job candidate, and is negative on blue collar SOs for people he cares about, again unless those SOs impress him far more than would an equivalent white collar one.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        I would actually say it’s a poor term for talking about George, too. The problem is that the central example of racism, in the minds of most people, is something like the attitude of a person in the Jim Crow South. A large amount of effort has gone into making that kind of thinking extremely taboo. But then if you turn around and apply it to George, he notices he’s not that central example, and decides you’re full of shit. And it doesn’t help that there’s a vocal cohort of people who really do seem to insist that George’s racism is exactly as evil as Jim Crow.

        Now, by the numbers, is George the central example of racism (in the sense of racial animus) in the modern day? I’d say probably yes. But it’s still not what people think of when they hear the word racism.

        If you want to talk about structural racism, that’s fine. But there’s still two problems.

        1) If structural racism is the real problem, then there’s no sense in calling individual people racist. I realize you probably don’t do that, but you’ve probably noticed the large and vocal contingent that does so constantly. This appears to be the group that Scott is against in the article.

        2) People who hear structural racism will probably also think of the types of laws in the Jim Crow South, which we again don’t have. I think in general discussions of race are led astray by the (at this point) hyperbole of the word “racism”.

        Really this is just another of Scott’s articles that can be summarized as “Please stop casting your opponents as evil and actually think about how they see things.” applied to the specific issue of race-related politics.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Heh…

        For the record, I’m a “Carol”, though my position is not “ban on immigration from region X” but rather

        “ensure that immigration is limited to self-selected people who LIKE the underlying philosophical assumptions of the American republic and its associated culture, and don’t take in so many immigrants so fast that we compromise our ability to assimilate them, and don’t adopt too many policies that discourage or slow assimilation.”

        I think there are far more “Dans” out there than you realize, and the number appears to be growing. Certainly they’re well represented among the liberal side of the commentariat here.

        I know at of at least a couple “Fiona”s who’ve posted here and have known another dozen or two dozen online and IRL over the years, though it’s always a bit of a shock to run into them and be reminded “holy shit people like that exist”. I’d be surprised if there were ten thousand such people in the united states, but I would be surprised if there were fewer than a thousand given that a single white separatist organization had a 2,500 person membership role in 2002.

        Now, some of those people in that organization may well be “George”s, not “Fiona”s, but I’ve apparently been exposed to a broader cross-section of “racist” views, and I’d say they exist in about equal numbers.

        90+% of the “George”s I’ve seen are OLD. Now, part of that is probably because of the demographics I interact with, but it was novel trying to convince someone to come see one of the remaining Temptations or Chubby Checker and being told “Oh no, no no no, we don’t listen to THAT sort of music…” with heavy emphasis on the THAT.

        In short, do you have sources for your claims that there are hundreds of thousands, or even tens of thousands of “Georges” in the US right now beyond “Come on, isn’t it obvious, guys”? Because I grew up and formed my generally socially liberal cultural values in the heart of Blue Tribe California, have lived all over the country, spent the last six years or so in Rush Limbaugh’s home friggin’ town, and based on that experience it is by no means obvious to me.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Trofim_Lysenko
          @sandoratthezoo

          According to current polling, a large number of Canadians are “Carols”, at least for the second half of the equation. Most Canadians favour some combination of left-wing, and most Canadians think immigrants should share “Canadian values.” So there’s going to be an overlap there.

          EDIT: Realized I’d interpreted this wrong. Plus, consider, it is possible for someone to be a combination of multiple factors. A Carol plus a George, say.

        • MrApophenia says:

          I grew up in a small rural town in upstate NY in the 80s and 90s, and I was surrounded by Georges, with a healthy smattering of Steves. (Where Steve is a straight up old fashioned full fledged old Deep South style racist.)

          This is of course anecdotal and can’t say anything about nationwide population frequency, but it always makes it hard for me to take people seriously when they say this doesn’t exist at all anymore.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            If you’re going to make points like this, it would help to change your handle.

      • 1soru1 says:

        I prefer a two-axis model.

        People are individually racist to the extent that they believe falsehoods on the topic of race. The stronger the belief in wronger facts, the stronger the racism. For example, someone who thinks 20% of the federal budget is spent on minority welfare is pretty damn racist; someone who believes in Nazi-style racial occultism is extremely so.

        Independently, people are nice or nasty depending on how strong a perceived factual justification they require to harm others, or allow others to come to harm. A very nice person would literally turn the other cheek despite direct physical evidence of hostility, a very nasty one would kick off given a hint of an excuse, like Begby in Trainspotting.

        All the examples, taken at face value, are people who are neutral (B and C) to racist (the others), but neutral to extremely nice. The extreme case is F, who firmly believes white genocide is imminent, but considers any effective action to stop it immoral, like Gandhi faced with Hitler. In the same camp is D; they firmly believe black people are significantly inferior, but their niceness causes them to think trying to suppress that truth would be good.

        • Matt M says:

          For example, someone who thinks 20% of the federal budget is spent on minority welfare is pretty damn racist

          Wait what? Why does having a simple fact wrong make you racist?

          If I over-estimate the amount of foreign aid we send to Israel, does that make me anti-semitic?

          • 1soru1 says:

            A weakly held belief swiftly corrected when contradictory evidence is supplied would be a form of racism so weak to likely not deserve the name.

            Unfortunately such cases are not really the rule. Many people would double down in the face of even strong evidence. Others would temporarily accept the point, but not really internalize it, rapidly forget they ever agreed to it, and return to making the original claim within weeks.

        • Anonymous says:

          People are individually racist to the extent that they believe falsehoods on the topic of race. The stronger the belief in wronger facts, the stronger the racism. For example, someone who thinks 20% of the federal budget is spent on minority welfare is pretty damn racist; someone who believes in Nazi-style racial occultism is extremely so.

          I think that’s wrong. Merely being wrong is not grounds for heresy. One must also be public about the claim, and adamantly resistant to correction.

          (This doesn’t really match the common usage, but you’re not making that claim, so you get a pass.)

        • People are individually racist to the extent that they believe falsehoods on the topic of race.

          Don’t they have to be negative falsehoods about another race?

          Suppose someone believes that there is no difference in average IQ by race. Further suppose that the belief is false, as I think it is, and that the person is very resistant to abandoning it.

          Do you want to describe him as a racist?

          • 1soru1 says:

            Yes, anyone who deviates from the true facts of the matter is racist, to a greater or lesser degree. What alternative motive would you think they could have for having an emotional attachment to falsehoods?

            Nice racists are still racists.

            Obviously this would include me, if I am wrong. Though in my defense I would say I don’t have any very strong attachment to any specific position, so I am reasonably unlikely to be more than a little bit racist.

          • Yes, anyone who deviates from the true facts of the matter is racist, to a greater or lesser degree. What alternative motive would you think they could have for having an emotional attachment to falsehoods?

            In that particular case, commitment to some version of leftist ideology.

          • 1soru1 says:

            Leftist ideology plus racism is different from leftist ideology alone. ‘From each according to their ability (which in this case is very low because they are an inferior race)’ is a perfectly coherent position, so it would be strange if no-one held it.

          • albatross11 says:

            1soru1:

            I’ll admit I can’t see the logic in your definition of racism.

            Personally, in most conversations, I’d rather taboo the term and replace it with the actual belief in question, because it seems to me that fuzzy and changing definitions are a huge part of how the term is used in actual discussions. Sometimes, the fuzziness is an intentional tactic, but I imagine it’s mostly just reflecting an internal mental fuzziness about the whole subject.

            I think it is very common to label some factual statement racist, despite it agreeing with all available data, because it reflects badly on blacks. For example, blacks have a substantially lower average IQ than whites, a substantially higher crime rate than whites, and a substantially higher rate of unwed births than whites.

            None of these statements is in any doubt at all (at least in the US). They’re based on very solid data that’s been collected many times in many different ways. And yet, you can absolutely expect to be called a racist when you make those statements in public.

            As best I can tell, the reason this happens is that most of the time, people use your expressed beliefs about reality as a way to decide whose team you’re on. So when they hear those facts (especially the first one), they infer that you’re on the racist team.

            The only problem with this comes when you need to know whether those statements are true or false to understand some other thing. Like, if you want to understand why the black/white performance gap in schools is so intractable, knowing about that IQ gap would be really useful. If you want to think about the interaction of race and the criminal justice system, you’d better start out knowing about the difference in crime rates between blacks and whites, or you will be doomed to talk nonsense. If you want to talk about childhood poverty or the need for universal pre-K, knowing that a lot more black kids are raised by single moms than white kids might be pretty important.

            When those facts can’t be discussed openly without having the whole discussion shut down, we end up with discussions about the associated issues that don’t make any sense and can’t really make any progress. You end up with mainstream articles about closing the black/white performance gap in education that don’t talk about the single most obvious factor in that gap[1]. You end up having a “national discussion” on race and policing that doesn’t ever bring up the difference in crime rates, but does bring up the differences in arrests or prison time or police shootings per capita. It’s as though we were going to have an in-depth discussion of antibiotic resistance, but nobody was allowed to mention evolution or bacterial conjugation. Our discussions would all be nonsense.

            And most people don’t think deeply about this stuff. Most people have a very hard time thinking in terms of numbers or probabilities. When the respectable organs of public opinion won’t state the relevant facts, then very few people will go chase them down. Some of those who do will get a mixed-up version of those facts from someone with their own agenda, and will walk off a cliff in the opposite direction, as with Trump’s dismayingly funny quoting of incorrect black/white crime statistics[2].

            [1] IQ scores are better at predicting school performance than they are at anything else. That’s the purpose for which they were developed. It would be shocking if the group with the substantially lower IQ *didn’t* have worse school performance.

            [2] The correct statistics would have made his point as well as the made-up ones he tweeted. But this is Trump, so obviously spending ten minutes looking up the right numbers was totally out of the question.

          • Wow! albatross, that was a really great post on racism and reason it is important to use real facts and not pretend ones in people’s minds. I copied this post for my personal file, and may reference this in the future.

    • I liked the Murderism post quite a bit. I think he did a good job of showing lots of different examples of what might or might not be called racism. Maybe it was nothing new, but it was a good survey of why using the word “racism” kills any rational discussion because it is so ill-defined. I thought his examples were pretty central.

      HBC, I think you need to provide a clear example of how you define “structural racism.” Some of your comments below tell people they are using it incorrectly, but I don’t see you defining it yourself. Here is the definition I found using Google. But I find this pretty vague — it really needs examples to explain it. Unfortunately, it is Saturday night, so this thread is almost obsolete, and the next thread is CW-free I believe. But I would very much appreciate it if you (or someone else) started a thread with a definition of structural racism (probably 78.75). Yes it will likely get ugly responses, but it needs talking about. I guess I could start a thread asking for a definition.

      I admit that I expect to be very skeptical about whatever definition is stated.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Do you disagree that it lacked any central examples of individuals who are actually motivated by racial animus? (Note: Scott actually tacitly admits this in several places).

        As such, why do you think it is a good way to go about establishing what the true definition of racism is? It’s like examining a bunch of room temperature solids, noting that they are not “ice” and then concluding that it’s really improper to ever call anything ice (and implicitly arguing that should you never refer to “freezing” temperatures, as rocks aren’t ice).

        ETA:
        As to “What is structural racism”, sure maybe I can do that. But my actual argument was that Scott didn’t even mention it (let alone get the definition wrong), while tacitly arguing against it. This is generally poor argumentation. If someone does it intentionally, it is a cheap tactic.

        I’d like to say Scott didn’t do it intentionally. He really is absolutely not one for cheap tactics. But I also think he is familiar enough with the topic to know that the concept exists and he should have know what he was doing…

      • onyomi says:

        “Structural racism,” it seems to me, must be an example of definition by consequences (because if black people were unable to get housing in nice neighborhoods due to racist motivations on the part of landlords then that wouldn’t be “structural” racism, it would just be racism by any colloquial definition). And Scott deals pretty well with the problem of “racism defined by consequences”: it doesn’t match real-world usage at all. For example, I think the presidency of Barack Obama was, on aggregate, bad for black people. Does this mean I think Barack Obama is a racist? Obviously not.

        Also, I don’t fault Scott for not discussing it explicitly, because “structural racism” is not a central example of what people mean when they use the word outside of academia. The other examples Scott lists, like housing discrimination, citation of crime stats, promotion of immigration restriction, etc. are.

        • Matt M says:

          Right, this kinda feels like a motte and bailey. The motte being “I’m not saying someone is motivated by racial animus but they still engage in problematic behaviors that promote structural racism which is the main cause of most issues minority groups face” and the bailey being “these people are racists and racism is one of the greatest evils possible”

          “Structural racism” needs an entirely new name disconnected from “racism” in order to be taken seriously by anyone except the most die-hard blue-tribers imho.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The first mistake is in assuming that an individual must “be” (full stop) a racist in order for racism to be valid as a concept.

          The second mistake is assuming that a system must be controlled by people who “are” racists in order for that system to be biased against people of a certain race.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            The first mistake is in assuming that an individual must “be” (full stop) a racist in order for racism to be valid as a concept.

            I demand an immediate explanation for this statement.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @anonYEmous – “I demand an immediate explanation for this statement.”

            Demanding things immediately is rude and completely unnecessary.

            Is it just me, or have a ton of people around here, most of them on the right, gotten a whole lot ruder over the last, like, week? Catching up on the last few threads, I’ve seen a whole whack of casual statements of the sort that should have no place here.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            True, it was rude. I apologise.

            But a statement like that demands explanation. This is the very core of the argument, and it’s just been dropped sans justification.

          • Anon. says:

            If it’s a property of the system, why do you keep calling people racists?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @AnonYEmous:
            Try Ill Doctrine on for size. I’m also happy to explicate more.

            @Anon.:
            That statement needs more specification. Do I keep calling people racist?

            More to the point, I am specifically objecting to Scott continually framing the question “Is Xample racist?”

          • Matt M says:

            Do I keep calling people racist?

            No, but you’re one of the smarter ones.

            Would you care to respond to my motte and bailey allegation?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I’m also happy to explicate more.

            Good to hear, because that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

          • albatross11 says:

            It feels like this is all about definitions. Racism is a term that intuitively links to some internal motives or beliefs or preferences held by someone. That’s what almost everyone is going to think I mean if I call some person or policy racist.

            Structural racism, as I understand the term, is about stuff that hurts some racial minority without any need for intent, like having extra-harsh punishments for crack vs other drugs. But the fact that the term includes the word “racism” leaves the implication that it’s somehow someone’s intention or beliefs that are driving this.

            And this also lends itself to motte and bailey tactics, intentional or not. If I call the crack sentencing disparity structural racism, it’s a pretty short rhetorical distance from there to calling people who oppose changing those laws racists. And since racism is basically a modern version of heresy (for which you can be shunned and fired with a lot of people thinking you had it coming for being a no-good racist), that can quickly lead a whole discussion into a screaming, comminications-free hatefest.

          • albatross11 says:

            HeelBearCub:

            Is there a category for stuff where blacks have worse outcomes than whites, that doesn’t fit into the category of structural racism?

            For example, blacks do worse on average i school than whites. Is that enough to call the performance gap structural racism, or are there some other criteria that need to be considered. The performance gap clearly isn’t driven by intent, since it exists even in school systems where most of the administration and teachers are black, and where the whole school system is spending lots of resources to close the gap.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @AnonYEmous:
            I need your reaction to Jay Smooth first. it’s 3 minutes, not an extended documentary.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            My reaction is that what he says seems to support my point, but furthermore I don’t know what my point is until you define what yours is, so please just do that.

          • And this also lends itself to motte and bailey tactics, intentional or not. If I call the crack sentencing disparity structural racism, it’s a pretty short rhetorical distance from there to calling people who oppose changing those laws racists.

            This reminds me of Orwell’s discussion of an older example of the same rhetorical strategy. Stalinists described Trotskyites as objectively pro-Nazi. They would defend that as meaning that the effect of what they were doing was to help the Nazis but used it to imply that they actually supported the Nazis.

            The only change seems to be the replacement of “objectively” with “structural.”

          • random832 says:

            This reminds me of Orwell’s discussion of an older example of the same rhetorical strategy. Stalinists described Trotskyites as objectively pro-Nazi.

            That seems like an unusual thing for Orwell to call out, considering that the only example of “objectively pro-X” I’m personally aware of is Orwell’s own unironic condemnation of pacifism as “objectively pro-fascist”.

          • Orwell’s own unironic condemnation of pacifism as “objectively pro-fascist”

            Do you remember when and where the quote is from? I’m curious as to whether it was before or after the piece I referenced.

          • random832 says:

            Pacifism and the War, 1942.

            On looking into this more, I found what I think may have been how I first discovered that essay, a blog post by Eric S. Raymond, which mentions (and purports to refute) that Orwell supposedly repudiated this position in As I Please, 1944, which may be the piece you’re referring to.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @AnonYEmous:
            At this point I question whether you are likely to hear what I have to say. You appear to have taken your analytical hat off.

            Let’s switch gears slightly, have you ever heard a “Polak” joke? They all depend on the idea that Poles are incredibly stupid. Having no idea what a Polak was, I heard those jokes, laughed at them, and repeated them when I was in grade school.

            The jokes themselves are racist, and were (I believe) born out of racial animus in a period when low skill immigration from Poland was high. They are a memetic legacy from 2 or 3 generations before I grew up.

            I don’t think that the fact I told those jokes made me a racist, but that doesn’t change the fact that the joke was racist. The harm done was fairly minimal, but that has more to do with Poles having since become integrated rather than remaining segregated. Though, if I told that kind of joke to the wrong one of my Dad’s friends back in Chicago, I might have gotten a good bit of grief for it.

          • Zodiac says:

            @HBC
            Is it still racism if I as a German tell this joke? Is it racism when I make a similar joke about Italians being momma’s boys or a joke about French being pansies?
            Going a bit further with these: As a Swabian am I allowed to make jokes about Bavarians or Berliner?
            There are a lot of these jokes, some of them are related to a history of racism and war but it seems awfully 1984 to me if you want to associate these quips with the evil that is racism.

          • Matt M says:

            Right, the relevant question is: “Is it appropriate to put a child who tells Polak jokes without knowing what they really mean in the same general category as the Grand Wizard of the KKK?”

            And the point of calling it “structural racism” is that doing so does exactly that.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Do I keep calling people racist?

            Ehhh, I have to take issue with you here, HBC. You have repeatedly and passionately defended the legitimacy and validity of both the “Southern Strategy” model of GOP electoral strategy 1968-Present and “Dog Whistle” theory of GOP rhetoric 1960s-Present. Those theories, taken together, boil down to:

            (1) A significant subset, possibly even a majority, of the white working class and white middle class demographics in the United States are racist against non-whites, especially blacks. That is, they have feelings of personal racial animus and antipathy significant enough to affect their behavior.

            (2) The GOP’s successes among the WWC and WMC demographics post 1960 are can be traced to appeals to (1), especially in the South from the mid 60’s onward (the “Southern Strategy”).

            (3) In order to avoid national opprobrium and backlash, GOP politicians obscure their strategies and appeals in (2) by encoding them in statements and phrases that will be understood by their target audience to appeal to racial animus but not by the general public (“dog whistles”).

            If there aren’t still hundreds of thousands, if not millions of George Wallace-style racists still around not simply in the 60s and 70s but up to and including the present day (and by “a bunch” I mean “enough to swing entire state and national elections on multiple occasions”) then these interpretations you’ve spent quite a bit of effort and passion defending fall apart. Therefore, yes, I have to say that in my opinion you ARE calling hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans racists every time this subject comes up.

            Now, I am certainly willing to believe that you believe that there is both a problem of individual racism in large numbers AND a “structural racism” problem in America. But I cannot square your defense of those models with the way you appear to be retreating now to “It’s all about structural racism, I never called anyone racist and I dare you to prove otherwise”.

            Given our previous interactions I’m happy to grant that you may not have intended to equivocate between the two positions in any sort of strategic way, but if so then I think you’ve ended up doing so UN-intentionally.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            I think what HBC is saying is that while Scott is right in pointing out how the taboo of racism can cut against its user under some circumstances, Scott was disingenuous in paying so little attention to when it works properly. Racism re: Pollack jokes really can be squelched quite handily by placing it under the same all-encompassing taboo as Grand Wizardry, so there is, in fact, social benefit in having the taboo around. Whether it is overall good or bad is difficult to fairly say, and depends heavily on one’s own idiosyncratic perceptions and values. I would tend to say it is a net negative, but I am not so sure of my assessment as to harbor no doubts.

          • Matt M says:

            Racism re: Pollack jokes really can be squelched quite handily by placing it under the same all-encompassing taboo as Grand Wizardry

            Really?

            Because that seemed to be society’s strategy vis-a-vis Trump and it does not seem to have worked.

            By pointing at Polak jokes and shouting GRAND WIZARD, not only do people still keep making Polak jokes, but even the actual Grand Wizard starts to seem like he might be a victim of an unjustified smear campaign.

            I mean, ya’ll have pushed our happy little blue host here from “let’s be careful about calling everyone racists” to “racism probably doesn’t exist in any meaningful quantity at all and we should stop talking about it” so, ya know, good job on that one.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            I feel like what you’re talking about with the Polish joke example should be called something else (though I realize it wasn’t you who decided to start calling it “structural racism”): maybe “legacy racism”?

            That said, can you give an example where “legacy racism” is a big problem in the US today? Or, if you’d like to defend the term “structural,” is there an example of the structure of an important organization where you think bias lingers despite the people involved today no longer holding racist beliefs or motivations?

            So far as I can tell, most institutional biases in the US today, insofar as they exist, are skewed in favor of minorities (except Asians). The only examples of the reverse I can think of involve the criminal justice system… but I feel like most people bringing up this issue don’t focus on the government needing to be less racist…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Trofim:

            (1) A significant subset, possibly even a majority, of the white working class and white middle class demographics in the United States are racist against non-whites, especially blacks. That is, they have feelings of personal racial animus and antipathy significant enough to affect their behavior.

            The Southern Strategy was applicable post 1964 CRA, and applied, and was specifically about the South. And back then, the large majority of white Southerners were racists who thought that Jim Crow laws were right and necessary. The dogs and the fire hoses were real and motivated by animus in the extreme.

            And the white population of the country in general was a whole lot more racist than it is today. White union members were not paragons and examplars of race blindness, let me tell you. The atttides among, say, South Boston whites about blacks were absolutely vicious. Most major cities had plenty of racial animus that was not hidden. It was … common.

            Clearly, those attitudes are not common today in the way they were back then. The country as a whole has come a long way. Openly displaying the causally racist attitudes of 60+ years ago is not acceptable the way it was back then, and that is a pretty good indicator that deeply felt racial animus has waned as well.

            But it isn’t like these attitudes and feelings simply disappeared in a puff of smoke, either. Just as childhood malnutrition can permanently effect the adult, so to can the open racism of 60+ years ago affect the society of today.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I wasn’t describing what I would call structural racism in the “Polak” example. I was trying to separate out the idea of racist memetics persisting even in the absence of any motivating animus. Structural racism is different.

            Someone brought up disparate treatments of crack cocaine and regular cocaine, and that is one example of structural racism at work.

            If you want a different term, you might prefer “Institutionsl Bias”, which I believe covers much of the same ground. Because that is what we are really taking about here, just another way in which bias (in the “Overcoming Bias” sense) affects judgement and decision making at both a societal and individual level.

            I would suggest that we could also look at the differing treatment/attitudes about Meth and Opioid addiction. That to me looks like another example of bias (in this case, class based) dictating differing, and harmful, approaches to one and much less so the other.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            @Matt M
            Pointing out one example where the taboo ‘failed’ isn’t very persuasive in saying it has no effect, especially since Trump probably did lose a lot of votes over his alleged/perceived racism. He became a persona non grata for a large segment of the population (more so than most Republicans) and basically became a pariah to polite society (admittedly this is due to a whole bunch of factors, but the racism certainly played a big part). Overall, I would say most people remain chary about making racist remarks in public, regardless of Trump’s personal rollercoaster ride. So for a person who views it as a good thing that the Pollack style racism is ‘squelched’, as I put it, there is indeed something to be said for the Taboo’s effect.

            Our esteemed host has been analyzing these events as they’ve unfolded. His personal shift in viewpoint isn’t indicative of a broader shift among the public.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Red Foliot:
            I think you are misunderstanding my argument. This isn’t about a Machiavellian scheme to ensure a particular taboo is guarded.

            Rather it’s understanding that we can conclude that the sum total of societal actions can be racially biased, unjust, unfair, and harmful even while most individuals involved aren’t motivated by racial animus.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            Do you see “institutional bias” as a serious problem in the US today?

            Because I feel like most of those (not you) who frequently complain about racism are not talking about e.g. differing sentencing guidelines for crack convictions (or at least, something like that seems to be the motte; the bailey they return to as soon as no one’s looking is “racism is a big, deep, systemic problem that continues to plague many aspects of American life”).

            Like, when Scott is writing a post analyzing the use of the word “racist” in the common parlance today in the West, I don’t think lingering effects of bias enshrined in the drug laws are the central example.

            The idea of police abuse does seem to be a more central example, though I’m not convinced it’s a real example (not because the police don’t abuse, but because they abuse everyone), and, again, “make the government less racist” doesn’t seem to be the rallying cry. It’s “make society less racist,” and all that implies.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            @HBC
            My bad. I was probably interpreting your criticism of the article’s details as displeasure with its conclusion.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Red Foliot:
            His “conclusion” seems to be “whatever else you do, don’t use the word racist, because using the word racist will cause a literal civil war”. Let’s just say, I don’t feel convinced by his argument to support his conclusion.

            There is a motivation for the conclusion, which is that de-humanizing people doesn’t help, and I agree with that, but I also think it’s proven that ordinary humans can be pretty awful to each other for very human reasons.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            racism Institutional bias is a big, deep, systemic problem that continues to plague many aspects of American life.

            FTFY?

            Your M&B example doesn’t seem very M&B-ish to me.

            I mean, sure, it’s hard to disentangle the racist bias from the classist bias, but both of them affect Black communities and individuals, so I don’t think that really leads one to conclude that bias does not impact blacks.

            If we look at things like “How is the Ferguson PD funded” that’s instituional bias at work.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            And the white population of the country in general was a whole lot more racist than it is today.

            No argument at all. And while I’m not entirely onboard with the model of structural racism (and I am actively against ‘disparate impact’ as a valid metric by which to measure it), I won’t dispute that the effects of deeply and widely held attitudes that were held for centuries will linger.

            But that said, you haven’t just talked about appeals to racial animus as central to the GOP’s success in the Nixon-era. You argued it was Reagan’s electoral strategy too, and Trump. So, it seems to me you are still claiming that while there may be fewer people motivated by personal hatred/disgust of racial outgroups today, there are still so many as to make them a decisive factor in electoral strategy circa 2016.

            Have I misinterpreted you?

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            So you do believe that institutional bias is a big, deep, systemic problem that continues to plague many aspects of American life? Can you give me an example other than the criminal justice system?

          • Matt M says:

            There is a motivation for the conclusion, which is that de-humanizing people doesn’t help, and I agree with that

            I don’t think you’re paying enough attention to this part of the analysis.

            It’s not just that de-humanizing your opponents “doesn’t help,” it’s that doing so leaves you no alternative rather than brute force (or, “civil war”, in short-hand).

            Once you decide that your enemy is motivated by pure hatred and evil and cannot be reasoned with, what is left but to kill him? What other options do you have? And morally, why shouldn’t you?

            We should take EXTREME caution and care when assigning labels to people that basically categorize them as “pure evil and cannot be reasoned with” but instead, the opposite is happening, and said label is being applied to anybody who wears a sombrero on halloween or whatever.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            BTW, I apologize for not responding to your M&B queries. I was posting in little bits this weekend while moving my daughter and I never got back around to that one.

            Someone asked for an effort post on structural racism, which I will try to get to. Maybe that will answer your question.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Trofim:

            But that said, you haven’t just talked about appeals to racial animus as central to the GOP’s success in the Nixon-era. You argued it was Reagan’s electoral strategy too, and Trump.

            Reagan ran in 1976, 1980, and 1984, literally the three election cycles after Nixon. I’m sort of flummoxed that you would be confused by Reagan being directly connected to the early part of the trend.

            My specific statement on Trump has been that he ran as an explicitly xenophobic, nativist, populist with appeals to authoritarianism. I haven’t used the word racist, but I have said that concentrating on the word racist misses the forest for the trees.

            I don’t view racism as anything more or less than a particular instance of outgroup bias. I think the rationalist community generally accepts outgroup bias as endemic to the human condition, requiring particular mental discipline to overcome. As such, it is not surprising that we see leaders and groups that use outgroup bias to enhance their ingroup credentials and overall ingroup identification and cohesion.

          • Brad says:

            We should take EXTREME caution and care when assigning labels to people that basically categorize them as “pure evil and cannot be reasoned with”

            Are you talking about racist or social justice warrior here? It’s hard to tell.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I think there are many examples Any sort of exhaustive list even of categories needs to wait until I can make some sort of top level post. Although, I’ll note that many of them will tie into the criminal justice system in some way, which, if you think about it, is almost unavoidable.

            For example: Lowndes Country Alabama is 73% black and still has active hookworm cases due to the presence of raw sewage. The approach of local authorities to handling the issue has been to arrest people who can’t come up with the money to install a septic system.

            Is that merely classism? Or does the legacy of racism in Alabama have an outsize impact on who is affected by this?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            We should take EXTREME caution and care when assigning labels to people that basically categorize them as “pure evil and cannot be reasoned with” but instead, the opposite is happening, and said label is being applied to anybody who wears a sombrero on halloween or whatever.

            I don’t deny that there are people who equivocate between structural racism, racist acts and the state of being a racist.

            Some of this is purely disingenuous and done for ill gotten gain. But most people don’t think clearly about most things. This has been demonstrated over and over and is (or should be) a completely uncontroversial statement around here.

            But many, many of these same people will say things like “everyone is a at least a little bit racist. I’m racist too.”. Usually these statements are ignored by people who want to make the case that using the word racist indicates that you are always calling someone uniquely evil. So I think the equivocation or confusion of meaning is running both ways here.

          • Matt M says:

            Are you talking about racist or social justice warrior here? It’s hard to tell.

            Being outed as a social justice warrior (even the most extreme, totally un-nuanced kind) won’t get you fired from your job. Let’s not act like these two smears are even remotely comparable.

          • Brad says:

            Tell that to Saily Avelenda. I wonder why her story didn’t make the rounds in all the media outlets deeply concerned on a principled level about the breakdown of free speech norms in the United States. It’s a real puzzle.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Brad

            I assure you I have used extreme caution (in the sense we’re referring to here, not in the sense of avoiding trouble for myself) and done a considerable amount of investigation (including attempting to apply reason) before determining that SJWs are either incapable or unwilling to use reason on the many subjects impacted by their ideology. However, I think it’s “racist” under discussion here.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:

            SJWs are either incapable or unwilling to use reason on the many subjects impacted by their ideology.

            Am I an “SJW”?

            If so, is it fair to accuse me of being incapable or unwilling to use reason on the subject?

            If not, aren’t you just including “unreasonable” as part of the definition?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC

            Yes and no; I am including the “not amenable to reason” as part of the definition of SJW, but my claim is not just a definition but an assertion that the class of people which has those characteristics exists and are a significant social and political force in the US. And that furthermore, the people typically called “SJWs” (self-described intersectional feminists, Black Lives Matter activists, the Code of Conduct pushers in open source, etc) tend to deserve the moniker.

            The class of not-amenable-to-reason non-SJW racists exists also, but as far as I can tell they are not a significant social or political force in the US as a whole (I expect there are still a few pockets here and there where they are). And furthermore, most of those labeled racists are not in that category.

            As for whether you meet that definition, acceptance of the validity of “structural racism” is an indicator, but not strong enough. So I would have to say “no”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @AnonYEmous:
            To me that just looks like “No True Scotsman”.

            Sorry.

          • Being outed as a social justice warrior (even the most extreme, totally un-nuanced kind) won’t get you fired from your job. Let’s not act like these two smears are even remotely comparable.

            To which the response was:

            Tell that to Saily Avelenda. I wonder why her story didn’t make the rounds in all the media outlets deeply concerned on a principled level about the breakdown of free speech norms in the United States.

            To begin with, she wasn’t accused of being an SJW, so far as I can tell. She was criticized, in a note on a fund raising letter to her employer from a congressman, for political activities apparently trying to pressure him to oppose Trump.

            And she wasn’t fired–she resigned.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            Tell that to Saily Avelenda

            You are factually incorrect to hold this up as an example of someone fired for being a SJW, as:
            – Avelenda was not fired, she resigned.
            – I have seen no evidence that she is a SJW and especially not that she was targeted by Frelinghuysen for being a SJW. She just seems to be a politically active Democrat who opposed Frelinghuysen.

            https://newrepublic.com/article/142819/cost-activism-trump-era-job

            EDIT: X-posted with Mr Friedman.

          • Brad says:

            @DavidFriedman

            And she wasn’t fired–she resigned.

            So did Brendan Eich.

            To begin with, she wasn’t accused of being an SJW, so far as I can tell. She was criticized, in a note on a fund raising letter to her employer from a congressman, for political activities apparently trying to pressure him to oppose Trump.

            How does any of this explain the deep puzzle of why none of those deeply principled freedom of expression advocates saw fit to circulate the story? Or did you not want to address part?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Reagan ran in 1976, 1980, and 1984, literally the three election cycles after Nixon. I’m sort of flummoxed that you would be confused by Reagan being directly connected to the early part of the trend.

            I don’t want to rehash the same argument you’ve had with others here unless there’s something novel to add, because I think it’s a distraction to the main topic at hand. Suffice to say that my views fall somewhere between yours and Cassander’s.

            It’s relevant to me mostly in the way I find it illustrative that you feel so strongly about defending the premise that the GOP’s gains and popularity among white working class and white middle class Americans 1968-Present are in no small part due to their ability to use Dog Whistle phrases and rhetoric to communicate to an electorally significant number of racists.

            Again, have I misinterpreted or mis-stated your position? If so, please correct my misunderstanding. You didn’t give a direct answer before, and appear to be VERY reluctant to come right out state your opinion on the present day ratio of George Wallace-type racists to the various non-central examples already discussed. Except, as far as I can tell, to attack any critique against over-broad use of ‘racist’ as a label.

            And that’s where I feel frustrated reading your posts on this topic, especially when I take them one after the other as I have just now, going back to reread the last few months’ worth.

            You’re very concerned with the idea of structural racism, and very concerned that we understand that this is a category separate from personal racist beliefs and feelings and the actions that spring from them. I am still skeptical of it as a valid concept, and I certainly don’t believe that “racism” is the right label for the phenomenon to the extent it does exist.

            But set that aside for a moment and take it as valid. Fine, you are primarily concerned with making sure that those of us concerned with the overbroad application and the weaponization of labels like racist and racism don’t throw the structural racism baby out with the bathwater.

            …Except that EVERY instance in which Scott has attempted to draw similar distinctions since I have been a regular reader and commenter on this site (“Against Dog Whistle-Ism”, “You Are Still Crying Wolf”, “Against Murder-Ism”), you have been dedicated in your hostility towards any effort to critique this weaponization.

            Which means at this point I feel sort of like Brad seems to, when he criticizes various libertarian-leaning posters here and says they aren’t -really- libertarians because all they do is side with the conservatives and attack the liberals.

            When as far as I can tell you have yet take a single strong stance that was -against- the weaponization of ‘racist/racism’ in political and social rhetoric, or take a single strong stance -for- the people complaining about said weaponization, and instead are interested only in criticizing the people complaining…

            …it makes me question the degree to which you are “just” talking about Structural Racism.

            If you believe that Scott’s point is wrong because there are actually millions of would-be KKK members out there who only fail to act on their feelings and beliefs because they’ve been temporarily suppressed by peer pressure, then just SAY so.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @TheNybbler

            This is one of those times where I think that Brad and HBC actually have a point.

            That point is underscored, not weakened, when your response is “Oh no, not YOU, HBC, -You’re- one of the good ones”…

            @MattM

            She’s not a good example, but Manveer Heer probably is. I’m not going to get into which one happens more frequently, but it’s possible to leave the overton window headed left, not just right.

            @Brad

            Because she’s much, much less prominent than someone like Eich, mostly. I’m curious, do you take her statements that her resignation was mostly unconnected with the letter at face value, or are you choosing to believe she’s lying about that to preserve future employment opportunities in the financial sector or similar personal reasons?

          • The Nybbler says:

            That point is underscored, not weakened, when your response is “Oh no, not YOU, HBC, -You’re- one of the good ones”…

            Not actually what I said. Matt M suggested we should take extreme caution when labeling someone that way. Brad snarked about that applying to SJWs. I agreed that it applied to SJWs but said that the bar had been met. HBC asked if it applied to him and wondered if it was really definitional; I agreed that it was definitional, and explained that it was more than simply circular. And I said that the high bar hadn’t been met in his case. Just believing in the validity of “structural racism” doesn’t make one an SJW; it’s Social Justice Warrior, not Social Justice Discussor, and the distance between HBC and (e.g.) Coraline Ada seems pretty darned high. Just as the distance between Charles Murray and William Shockley is pretty high.

            So I agree that Brad has something of a point in that labeling people SJWs can be as thought-terminating as labelling them racists. But I disagree that this is as significant (since labeling someone an SJW is less harmful to them than labeling them ‘racist’) or as prevalent (though the prevalence is not zero).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Trofim:

            …it makes me question the degree to which you are “just” talking about Structural Racism.

            I don’t think I ever claimed that either.

            Racism is not a binary switch. It exists on 3D continuum. It is both possible for overall racism to come down, and the median level of racism present in a median individual to be greatly reduced and for it still to be an active ongoing issue.

            Again, I view racism as a form of outgroup bias. I think everyone is perfectly willing to admit that outgroup bias is endemic to the human condition. Why is this a frustrating statement if I point out that this applies to race?

            As to George Wallace, there are exactly zero George Wallace’s today. Arguably George Wallace himself wasn’t personally motivated by racial animus. He might have been ammoral on that question and simply was perfectly willing to use the extreme racial animus that existed at the time to secure political power. That level of extreme animus doesn’t exist in enough numbers to support a George Wallace.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            You’re not convincing me that racism is still a serious, widespread problem in American society today. All your examples are very isolated cases of local governments treating poor black people badly. I’m sure I can point to cases of local governments treating poor white people badly. Or rich white people badly. Local government mostly sucks.

            The point is, racism is treated in the media like it’s a HUGE problem. One of the biggest problems facing US society. To be called a racist is the equivalent of being called a heretic or apostate for a medieval European.

            It isn’t treated like “oh, hey, maybe there’s still lingering effects of old biases in some of these legal codes; let’s see what we can do about these” or “hey, maybe everybody has an outgroup bias and many Southern whites still see blacks as an outgroup, let’s see how we can encourage them to better integrate.” It’s always “we need to have a national conversation about race” or “racism is still a major obstacle to black people getting ahead.”

            You seem to be arguing the case that racism of some kind, of some severity probably still exists to some degree in the US. No question. But the question is, was Scott addressing the central examples of “racism” everyone means when they talk about “racism”? I think he was. The things you are bringing up, I don’t think, are.

            The other question is “are people calling each other racist too much or not enough?” Scott is arguing for the former, so obviously he’s not going to spend a lot of time describing the times when it might be a good idea to call someone a racist. Our society clearly doesn’t have a problem with that. And even you seem to agree your own examples would probably better be termed “systemic bias” or something. The whole point is that we all know when it is actually a good idea to call someone a racist (cases when someone unambiguously discriminates against someone on the basis of negative stereotypes about their race), and those times don’t match 99% of the usage in the media. His whole argument is to be more careful about the usage of this overused, radioactive term.

          • Aapje says:

            @HBC

            Again, I view racism as a form of outgroup bias. I think everyone is perfectly willing to admit that outgroup bias is endemic to the human condition. Why is this a frustrating statement if I point out that this applies to race?

            The frustrating part is that your use of the term doesn’t stand on its own, but is part of a cultural context where:
            – structural racism is blamed when there are outgroup biases that are not about race, but about class, culture, etc, which correlate to race.
            – structural racism is defined as something that white people do against black people, despite the evidence that many black people have outgroup bias against white people/culture.
            – many cases that are called structural racism are frequently (somewhat) correct assessments of actual group differences (on average). It’s wrong to call these mere outgroup bias.
            – structural racism is frequently simply equated to certain racial groups doing worse, which often results in a circular argument: certain races do worse because there is structural racism which obviously exists because certain races do worse.

            So the statement is frustrating because the common definition of the term is a simplistic & racist lie and ironically fuels outgroup bias against (certain groups of) white people.

            Of course, you may be rare exception who only uses the term ‘structural racism’ in a much more correct way, but in that case you can’t blame people from assuming that you are using the common definition, unless you make it very clear that you are not.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            If Scott had written a post about the difference between 1) people who “are” racists, full stop 2) racist acts and 3) structural racism, I could have been on board with it.

            But he wrote a post that ostensibly tried to find the the true definition of racism by providing examples that mostly fit none of these, and also concluded that the only true definition was for type 1, and further, that even if it’s true that such people exist, we should never mention that there exist people who meet that definition.

            In fact, he further puts the thumb in the scales, because the definition he settled on allows for type 2, but he implicitly rejects that anyone uses the word in this way.

            As to blacks being subject to outgroup bias, of course. Buy systemic racism, as a form of institutional bias, requires that the bias be put into effect by some institution. And the “acting white” phenomenon, where it exists, is a cultural institution, that punishes black people, not whites.

            But, where black people have institutional power, they can institute some form structural racism. There just aren’t many examples where blacks have power over whites in institutions that aren’t easily avilable to the whites.

            As to whether I am a rare person, I thought that was rationalism’s whole jam. That being correct was hard and incorrect common.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            You asked for an example (that did not involve police or the courts). I said I thought there were many, but the a list would need an effort post, but here is one.

            You then dismiss the example and conclude there is nothing to see.

            It feels like you defected from the spirit of the conversation. If I had known you were going to use anything other than an exhaustive list to conclude there was no “there” there, I would have declined until I could provide something more substantive.

          • rlms says:

            @onyomi
            “I’m sure I can point to cases of local governments treating poor white people badly. Or rich white people badly. Local government mostly sucks.”
            Can you? Bear in mind that for each example of mistreatment of black people, you need to provide several examples of mistreatment of white people due to racial demographics.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            But he wrote a post that ostensibly tried to find the the true definition of racism

            I disagree that this was his goal.

            also concluded that the only true definition was for type 1

            I disagree that he concluded this.

            even if it’s true that such people exist, we should never mention that there exist people who meet that definition.

            I disagree that this was his argument.

            From my perspective, Scott wants people to stop being mindkilled about racial issues. I think that his argument is that most people cannot simultaneously have nuanced definitions for one word, concurrently. When they think ‘racism/racist,’ they think of an archetype, not a spectrum. The result is that motte-and-baileys happen automatically. So you get statements that may make sense under one definition (all white people/everyone who voted for Trump is racist) and claims that may make sense under another definition (racists can’t be reasoned with and must be stopped with violence); where these things start to blur together even just for individuals, but especially when different groups start to debate and especially when ideas spread as poorly examined memes. One argument is made for one definition, another is made for another definition and a person then combines these memes as if the definitions were the same. And then suddenly all white people/Trump voters/whomever are racists who need to be punched because they can’t be reasoned with and will murder all minorities if they are not stopped.

            As to blacks being subject to outgroup bias, of course. But systemic racism, as a form of institutional bias, requires that the bias be put into effect by some institution. And the “acting white” aphenomenon is a cultural institution, where it exists, that punishes black people, not whites.

            But, where black people have institutional power, they can institute some form structural racism. There just aren’t many examples where blacks have power over whites in institutions that aren’t easily available to the whites.

            You are using a very restrictive definition of of racism here, which excludes many harms, only counting those where people from one race are harming another race. This is a mix of consequentialism and collectivism. The former makes it extremely subjective as harm and benefits are subjective and the latter means that you ignore that people can be racist to gain intragroup benefits.

            Low IQ people who engage in shaming smart people benefit by making smart people underperform, which improves the intragroup status of the less smart people. If they make smart people of one specific race underperform, how is this not racism, regardless of whether they share that race? If you don’t call it racism, you then have to conclude that a black person who specifically beats up black people with good grades, but doesn’t harm white people with good grades is not racist, while a white person who engages in the exact same behavior, causing the exact same harm, is! This is rather nonsensical if you define racism as treating people differently purely for their race and/or if you actually care about reducing the harm, rather than seeking to blame people along racial lines.

            You started off with structural racism, which merely requires a societal structure, which includes culture, but you now moved to reducing the scope to institutional bias.

            The common definition of structural racism would then logically be equal to institutional racism + non-institutional (structural) racism. So by moving from structural racism to institutional racism you have tossed out the non-institutional racism, which is exactly what I argued about. So by changing your definition along the way, you have excluded my example from its scope, but you don’t admit that you are doing so.

            By reducing the scope, you also weaken your claim that structural racism is a major factor, as many plausible causes of poor outcomes for certain races now fall outside of your definition. My issue with this kind of rhetoric is that I never see people admit to weakening their claim as they retreat to the bailey and accept that just because they eliminate certain harms to certain groups from the definition, these harms don’t go away.

            In general, this is what makes me upset about SJ. I see one way of looking at things which includes all harms and allows for us to address them effectively and I see another way of looking at things which only makes sense from a tribal point of view where everything gets reduced to group A harming group B. This latter point of view seems to have no advantages over the former to actually solve the issues, but appeals more to many because of its tribal nature.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:

            I disagree that this was his goal.

            I didn’t say that was the goal of the post. I merely said that his post tried to decide what the true definition was. Section 2 spends a long time trying to decide what the proper definition of racism is based on referencing 10 examples (confusing, when there are only 6 examples in section 1). Each of the example referenced ends with the question “Is [person X] racist?”

            If you examine the paragraphs under the heading “Overall We Probably Use A Combination Of All Of These, Weighted In Favor Of Definition By Motives”, you can see he clearly only thinks that people can be racist or not, and doesn’t consider the possibility that the question “Is [Person X] racist” can simply be the wrong question.

            From my perspective, Scott wants people to stop being mindkilled about racial issues.

            Shouldn’t this apply equally? In other words, don’t be mindkilled into not considering carefully the legitimate references to type 2 and type 3 racism. Scott brushes this in “Definition By Consequences Doesn’t Match Real-World Usage”, but his conclusion depends on only ever considering the phrase “Is [Person X] racist”.

          • albatross11 says:

            Re Sally Avelenda:

            I heard a little about the story, but I don’t remember where. I don’t think it’s a huge shock that the right-wing types who raise a big fuss when their side gets screwed over for saying the wrong stuff don’t raise a fuss when it’s the other side’s people getting screwed over. That’s exactly what I would have expected, in the same way that I don’t expect to see a lot of left-wing reporting about when someone on the right gets screwed over. Most people don’t have principles so much as they have a side[0].

            I am very much in favor of the principle that nobody[1] should lose their job for their extracurricular political activities or beliefs, and that someone having offensive political/religious/social beliefs ought not to be used as a reason to screw up their career or life in other areas. I think attempts to try to get people fired for having offensive political beliefs are evil, regardless of which side is on top.

            A world where weird, socially unacceptable ideas get you screwed over unless you’re independently wealthy is a world where almost nobody expresses any weird, socially unacceptable ideas, and the world will get poorer and more boring as a result. We should try to avoid that, even if we think most of the people being fired are probably bad people who had it coming.

            [0] Similarly, when lots of big companies have thrown their economic weight around (threatening to boycott a state, withdrawing important sporting events from the state, etc.) to pressure (say) South Carolina to change its transgender bathroom laws, mostly people on the left cheered. And yet, the general principle that big companies should throw their economic weight around in order to dictate to states what laws they should or shouldn’t pass doesn’t seem like a great one to me. How will that same principle seem when the big companies are throwing their weight around and threatening to close down offices and cancel events in opposition to a new proposed minimum wage law or change in the state income tax?

            [1] There need to be some narrow exceptions to this–for example, some government jobs come with explicit restrictions on political activity for good anticorruption reasons. But think it’s a good general principle, and we’d benefit as a society from adopting it.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I merely said that his post tried to decide what the true definition was.

            One form of logical argument is to derive a logical inconsistency from a set of premises and show that all but 1 of the premises are correct, leading to the conclusion that the remaining premise is false.

            I saw this as such an exercise, where the premises are:
            1. There is one objective encompassing definition of racism that accurately describes how people use it
            2. X is how people use it
            3. Y is how people use it
            4. Z is how people use it

            Scott then argues that X, Y and Z can’t be captured in one objective encompassing definition, so 1 must be wrong.

            If you examine the paragraphs under the heading “Overall We Probably Use A Combination Of All Of These, Weighted In Favor Of Definition By Motives”, you can see he clearly only thinks that people can be racist or not, and doesn’t consider the possibility that the question “Is [Person X] racist” can simply be the wrong question.

            I don’t see how those paragraphs argue that people can only be racist or not.

            The article explicitly argues that people can act in ways that can have racist outcomes without having racism as their terminal value. The point of the article is to make a distinction between acts with racially unequal outcomes and motives, as many racially unequal outcomes are side effects of motives that are not about harming certain races. Then arguing/acting as if people do have harm to certain races as their terminal value leads to miscommunication at best and civil war at worst.

            So I really think that you severely misread it as the claim that Scott “doesn’t consider the possibility that the question “Is [Person X] racist” can simply be the wrong question” is the opposite of that I read in his post. His rejection of the “murderism framework” is exactly the claim that it is useless to try to fix race inequalities by drawing a line between racists and non-racists and trying to shame people into the latter group.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Re: Saily Avelenda,

            That was the case I was thinking of on my bit about the Right not fighting the Left with their own tactics. I say that we need a whole lot more Saily Avelendas. For every “racistsgettingfired.tumblr.com”, we need multple “getting SJW fired” pages. For every single Eich, Richwine, or any of the other folks on this lengthy list fired, forced to resign, pushed out, driven off by harrasment, or otherwise “purged” for insufficient Lefism, we on the Right should be similarly “purging” a larger number (I’d say at least double) of Lefties from any institutions we can purge people from. For every person pushing “punch a Nazi”, there should be more of us pushing “punch a Stalinist” even harder. What’s that quote from Sean Connery’s character in “The Untouchables” that Obama referenced?

            We on the Right need to stop trying to “take the moral high road”, as it’s not working one bit to deter the Left from engaging in these tactics, and start “punching back” with those methods even harder.

          • Aapje says:

            Kevin C is showing exactly the tendency that Scott wants to avoid, IMO.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Aapje
            Kevin C. is demonstrating biology over Reason.
            Isnt that the core problem here?

          • Aapje says:

            @bintchaos

            I don’t understand what you are trying to say and/or I disagree. Biology and reason do not form a dichotomy.

          • bintchaos says:

            I don’t understand what you are trying to say and/or I disagree. Biology and reason do not form a dichotomy.
            Duly noted, but just not relevant to my academic “bubble”.
            Michael Tomasello and Karl Sigmund beg to differ.

          • albatross11 says:

            Kevin C:

            That might be a good way to win a culture war, but it’s a bad way to make a worthwhile culture.

            Your proposal leads to everyone powerful agreeing that people should be fired for having the wrong beliefs, and thus to nobody being willing to discuss any non-mainstream beliefs in public. The world gets massively poorer and more boring. It also doesn’t seem to admit of a lot of peaceable coexistence short of one side getting on top and crushing the other side entirely.

            I prefer a world where smart weird people can talk about their beliefs, even when those beliefs are non-mainstream and offend some people.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @albatross11

            I prefer a world where smart weird people can talk about their beliefs, even when those beliefs are non-mainstream and offend some people.

            That choice is not currently on the table. One who believes in that principle, when faced with repugnant views from people who would silence them, has two choices

            1) The High Road: Agree that it’s OK for them to speak, hoping that this display of morality will convince them that you are sincere and decent and your principle should be followed.

            2) The Low Road: Try to make the suffer for promulgating their views. One wrong word and they’re fired and disgraced. Events cancelled and disrupted. Worst case, nobody can speak in anything but platitudes. But, best case — they move towards your principle of free speech out of self-preservation.

            This is a Prisoner’s Dilemma setup. And IMO the High Road ain’t working, because the silencers do not believe in free speech; to them, allowing others to speak is NOT the high road to them. Furthermore, they do not think their opponents have the power to defect (take the low road), so they win by playing Defectbot. I see only two ways to get to a norm of free speech:

            1) Some group which believes in free speech gets enough power to enforce the norm and punish/prevent defection by either side.

            2) The current defectbot group finds they have to support free speech out of self-preservation.

          • bintchaos says:

            This commentariat is obsessed with the iPD.
            There are other forms of games.

          • Brad says:

            Yes, Kevin C., there’s clearly a problem with the right wing in the US being too high minded and principled. Marquis of Queensbury rules reign supreme over there.

            And I almost forgot, there’s a trivial number of politically inconsequential racists, but so called social justice warriors are hiding under every bed, poised to create a Stalinist state.

            Sometimes I wonder what planet you guys live on.

          • The Nybbler says:

            This commentariat is obsessed with the iPD.
            There are other forms of games.

            That’s exactly what Defectbot would say, as she defected, AGAIN.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Nybbler

            How does cooperation emerge among selfish individuals? When do people share resources, punish those they consider unfair, and engage in joint enterprises? These questions fascinate philosophers, biologists, and economists alike, for the “invisible hand” that should turn selfish efforts into public benefit is not always at work. The Calculus of Selfishness looks at social dilemmas where cooperative motivations are subverted and self-interest becomes self-defeating. Karl Sigmund, a pioneer in evolutionary game theory, uses simple and well-known game theory models to examine the foundations of collective action and the effects of reciprocity and reputation.

            Focusing on some of the best-known social and economic experiments, including games such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Trust, Ultimatum, Snowdrift, and Public Good, Sigmund explores the conditions leading to cooperative strategies. His approach is based on evolutionary game dynamics, applied to deterministic and probabilistic models of economic interactions.

            Exploring basic strategic interactions among individuals guided by self-interest and caught in social traps, The Calculus of Selfishness analyzes to what extent one key facet of human nature–selfishness–can lead to cooperation.

          • random832 says:

            @bintchaos

            This commentariat is obsessed with the iPD.
            There are other forms of games.

            The only reason people keep bringing up IPD is because you keep saying “TFT”, which is not the name of a game, but is the name of an IPD strategy (and is inapplicable to other forms of games except in so far as they can be analogized to IPD).

          • bintchaos says:

            sigh
            TfT is also a strategy in the Snowdrift Game, and can be in many other games as well.
            I didnt make this clear in my explanation of republican congressional behavior since 2008.
            Its my fault, I explained this poorly.
            I should have said the republican congress began playing an AllD strategy in 2008, the AllD strategy invaded a game where there were a significant number of AllC players (congressional democrats).
            Because of TfT, the AllC players are having to change strategy.
            Its important to understand that the iPD is based on the concept of artificial societies.
            Thats why I’m having trouble understanding the mapping of the iPD that SSC uses.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            TfT is also a strategy in the Snowdrift Game, and can be in many other games as well.

            Ok, we’re making some progress here. Could you unpack why Snowdrift is a more appropriate game to model politics than iPD? Or at least expand on what the salient differences between the games are?

          • bintchaos says:

            I don’t know that it is. Snowdrift models differential payoffs and differential capacity for interactions. Thers also Donation, Ultimatum, Dictator, Trust… different strategies like Pavlov, Staghunt, TfTT and Tit-for-Contrite-Tat… It depends on the granularity of the interactions being modelled.
            Also Axelrod’s tournament was based on the concept of artificial societies.
            Unlike the one-shot PD, theres no strategy that works against all comers.
            Its just a whole lot more complicated IRL.
            And since the early 2010s or so, we have to deal with the CCP (the Cooperation Competition Paradigm) and evolutionary games.
            I’m not sure, but SSC seems to use the iPD as a sort of universal template for cooperative games….is that correct?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @bintchaos

            I’m aware of the other games; I model this as Prisoners Dilemma rather than Snowdrift because it appears the payoff matrix matches best. Consider PD vs Snowdrift. The most salient difference is the Cooperate/Defect payoff is better for the Cooperator than the Defect/Defect payoff in Snowdrift, but the opposite is true in PD. In the case here, Tribe A is better off if both are suppressed rather than if Tribe A is suppressed and Tribe B is free to speak. Hence, PD, not Snowdrift.

            Of course, Tribe B may try to convince Tribe A that the game is Snowdrift and that Tribe A derives benefit from allowing Tribe B to speak without reciprocation. However, Tribe A is likely to suspect this is concern trolling from Defectbot, especially if Defectbot has been messing with the comment ordering even after it’s been repeatedly explained that this is against community norms.

          • bintchaos says:

            Sry, I still dont get it. Who is Tribe A and Who is Tribe B?
            What does my using wordpress email reply have to do with using artificial societies to model complex IRL interactions?
            Its just easier on these enormous threads.

            the opposite is true in PD.


            Only until there are enough AllC for AllD to invade.
            And I dont think ANY of these “toy” games are accurate models of what is really happening.

          • Nornagest says:

            different strategies like Pavlov, Staghunt, TfTT and Tit-for-Contrite-Tat”

            The stag hunt isn’t a strategy, it’s a game — related to the prisoner’s dilemma, but distinguished by the fact that the payoffs for both players in the Stag/Stag case (analogous to Cooperate/Cooperate in the PD) are higher than for the Hare player in the Stag/Hare case (analogous to Cooperate/Defect; the Stag player gets nothing here). Because of that, it has two Nash equilibria, one for Stag/Stag and one for Hare/Hare.

            It’s much less famous than the PD, but many situations in politics and elsewhere are better modeled as stag hunts than prisoners’ dilemmas.

          • bintchaos says:

            Ok, fine…sorry.**
            Its still a toy game, based on assumptions about an artificial society.
            What is the mapping SSC uses for the iPD? what constitutes defection? what constitutes cooperation?
            Using the email reply is “cheating”? Or just violating any norm is “cheating”?

            **note: I’m more familiar with JMS (John Maynard-Smith) predator/prey models and EGT (evolutionary theory of games) and ESS (evolutionarily stable strategy).

          • Brad says:

            What is the mapping SSC uses for the iPD?

            Mu.

          • bintchaos says:

            oh…I’m a defector from Mu then.
            I believe in the fractal nature of h. sapiens sapiens– the coarsest fractal scale of humans is N = 2 or more.
            We are not all one.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @aapje

            Kevin C is showing exactly the tendency that Scott wants to avoid, IMO.

            See my comment here with the von Clausewitz quote.

            @albatross11

            It also doesn’t seem to admit of a lot of peaceable coexistence short of one side getting on top and crushing the other side entirely.

            As The Nybbler said, “peacable coexistence” simply isn’t on the table. One side is already dedicated to “getting on top and crushing the other side entirely”, and appear to be inherently, unchangeably so. The “Puritan” strain (ala Albion’s Seed) is fundamentally incapable of allowing, long-term, any outgroup of “heathens” within their reach to persist in their “deplorable” ways (except for “tolerance” extended temporarily to “fargroups” who serve as useful clubs against the present outgroup, and who will become the next outgroup to be forcibly converted after the current one has been crushed). To quote Gore Vidal,

            The Puritans left England for America not because they couldn’t be Puritans in their mother country, but because they were not allowed to force others to become Puritans; in the New World, of course, they could and did.

            And in his The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, Stuntz talks about the “first culture war” of the post-Civil-War and “Progressive” eras, of which Prohibition is the most memorable, but least successful part. The spread of telegraphy allowed the New England Puritan types to read in their newspapers about how the Borderer folks were living out West, and they sprung into action to ban alcohol, gambling, prostitution, polygamy, “obscene materials (mostly meaning literature on contraception)”, and otherwise forcing those heathens into compliance with the Universal Culture, the One Best Way for all peoples everywhere.

            @The Nybbler

            Exactly. When the other guy is already punching you and shows now signs of stopping, your only choices are to “take the high road”, refuse to fight back, and let him punch you to death; or to start fighting back.

            @Brad

            Yes, Kevin C., there’s clearly a problem with the right wing in the US being too high minded and principled.

            Yes, it is indeed a problem. Because do you see right-wingers getting lefties “purged” at any level near comparable to the degree to which lefties purge folks to their right? “Doxing” lefties like lefties “dox” us? Do you see folks on the right going on about “punching Stalinists” like the left goes on about “punching Nazis”? Do we see Republicans getting popular Democratic legislation overturned by the courts (on any issue other than gun ownership)? I can name plenty of “landmark” SCOTUS cases that went in favor of the right that were overturned by a later court; can you name any landmark “left-wing” cases later overturned in favor of the right? Do we see violent, masked Right-wing mobs shutting down leftie speakers on college campuses? Where’s the right-wing Middlebury, right-wing Berkeley, right-wing Evergreen State? Where do you see prominent right-wingers openly cheering political assassination attempts the way notable lefties cheered Hodgkinson? Where are the right-wing “Reality Winners” or other “leakers”?

            Edit: where’s the right wing equivalent of these “Antifas” promising to “desecrate” graves of soldiers fallen at Gettysburg?

          • Brad says:

            @Kevin C.

            Because do you see right-wingers getting lefties “purged” at any level near comparable to the degree to which lefties purge folks to their right? “Doxing” lefties like lefties “dox” us?

            Be specific. What level are you talking. What’s the incident rate per 100,000?

            Are you really trying to claim that these are serious problems or are you going to come back with some meaningless nonsense about “the narrative”?

            Do you see folks on the right going on about “punching Stalinists” like the left goes on about “punching Nazis”?

            I don’t see “the left go[ing] on about ‘punching Nazis'” and I’m on the left and so is everyone I know. The difference between us is that I don’t go searching far and wide for things to hate-read nor read publications that hire people to do so on my behalf.

            Do we see Republicans getting popular Democratic legislation overturned by the courts (on any issue other than gun ownership)?

            Have you forgotten the medicaid expansion? I’d think that given how it has been in the news it would be top of mind.

            I can name plenty of “landmark” SCOTUS cases that went in favor of the right that were overturned by a later court; can you name any landmark “left-wing” cases later overturned in favor of the right?

            Sure. Just look at what’s happened to Bivens. Or Monroe v Pape for that matter. For something more explicit there’s Aguilar v. Felton I.

            Do we see violent, masked Right-wing mobs shutting down leftie speakers on college campuses? Where’s the right-wing Middlebury, right-wing Berkeley, right-wing Evergreen State?

            These are clearly watershed moments in American history. Evergreen state is a crucial american institution, everything that happen there impacts every last American!

            Where do you see prominent right-wingers openly cheering political assassination attempts the way notable lefties cheered Hodgkinson?

            Notable only to both extremes of the political spectrum online. You are in a baptist and bootleger coalition with these people to claim that your bugbears are prominent.

            Where are the right-wing “Reality Winners” or other “leakers”?

            There were a ton of leakers during the Obama administration. Leaking is the local sport in Washington.

            You never present anything with solid numbers — only anecdote after anecdote which get recycled for years. It’s a big country, lots of shit happens. Also I can’t recall any of your predictions actually coming to pass.

            Even without any data your prior should be against your thesis. You are talking about tens of millions of people on the dedicated right. Of course there are going to be terrible people in there. I mean you yourself want to go punch leftists, do you really think you’re the only bad apple in an otherwise pristine barrel? Also, I know you love to read jim and he’s an awful human being.

          • Nornagest says:

            The difference between us is that I don’t go searching far and wide for things to hate-read nor read publications that hire people to do so on my behalf.

            A student of mine showed up a couple weeks ago with a button reading “I Support Violence Against Nazis” on his gym bag. It’s louder on the Internet, but this isn’t being perpetrated entirely by five idiots on Twitter.

            Not that I’m drawing conclusions anywhere near Kevin’s.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            The difference between us is that I don’t go searching far and wide for things to hate-read

            One could argue that taking Kevin C’s posts seriously is an example of such… We’ve had whole threads of him convincingly arguing that his positions are non-central to basically anything, so it’s kinda annoying when the left-wing folks here jump at his bait and ignore higher-quality arguments from e.g. Aapje.

            Silver lining: I better understand now why lefties were annoyed at righties’ responses to Jill posts.

          • Brad says:

            One could argue that taking Kevin C’s posts seriously is an example of such

            You know I actually thought of that after I posted. And for a while I did have Kevin C blocked with the add on. But I found that I was missing some replies from posters I did like to read because all replies are collapsed and sometimes a thread drifts far afield. So I stopped using the blocker add on.

            I could do a better job of not taking the bait though.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Brad

            Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve got a long-standing self-imposed rule against using the addon because even the most obnoxious folks on CW can say interesting things on non-CW threads (and occasionally even on CW). I have been sorely tempted at times, though; there are certainly some where I just see the gravatar and read the first sentence before skipping to the replies to see if there’s anything worth reading.

  11. Eddy says:

    Apologies for making an exception of myself, but I feel this should be pretty uncontroversial point in response to ‘against murderism’

    Although there’s many valid points about usage of the word racism, rather than saying people are always confusing cause and effect, I think it’s more apt to say the word is ambiguous between a few different senses, and not all of them are reducible to motive.

    I think an alternative and legitimate definition is something along the lines of ‘unjustified differential treatment on the basis of race’ which can be either definition by consequence, or by action. Differential treatment can be unjust even if the act itself is totally fine, and that in some cases we need to appeal to counterfactuals to decide if an action is racist.

    Suppose a judge sentences a black man to 5 years for a crime, and suppose that this in fact is what the big ol’ book of sentencing prescribes, and that the judge honestly has no racist motive in doing so. Suppose however, that when the white defendant comes along, he only gets 2 years for the same crime, due to some unconscious bias or him ‘just seeming less likely to reoffend’ to the judge. I know there’s good reason to be sceptical of the data on unconscious bias, that’s not the point, the point is this differential treatment could aptly be described as racist even if the act (sentencing to 5 years) and the motives (giving the individual an appropriate punishment) are totally fine.

    What further complicates this picture is other ways this judge could come to this judgement. One of considerations in sentencing is how much the defendant has to lose. If the judge determined that the white person was going to lose their job and income, whereas the black person was unemployed, the judge might be more lenient on the basis of this punishment being harsher. But if the black person never had an equal chance to get such a job in the first place, again, this particular practice of taking into account what one has to lose could be considered unfair and in a sense, racist. It plausibly results in unjust differential treatment even if no-one intended it to and the writers of the law were committed egalitarians. To use the example in the post, what if it turned out that had the neighbourhood not been white, Bob and his co-workers would have ‘coincidentally’ campaigned a little bit harder to get extra funding? If this is the case, and we want to explain why the route got cut, ‘because racism’ seems to reveal something important as a partial explanation. Note: even if you think ‘because Bob is implicitly racist’ is a better explanation, we can always ask why Bob is implicitly racist, which will refer to his upbringing etc. which will be explained by the messages he received and the way society was set up for him to interact with black people, which could also plausibly be accounted for as ‘because racism’. It’s perhaps vaguer than many would like but the concept does track something that is explanatorily powerful.

    The problem with many counterfactuals is you can’t always prove what would be the case had things been different. You can only see the macro level patterns occurring – you have to look at all the Bobs with all their bus systems and see which neighbourhoods get to keep their routes. And this is just too high a bar to expect most people to do. I think the temptation here is to then say ‘Well we should control for all the other possible variables before concluding racism was a factor’ but in many cases that won’t be possible. I’m not saying this isn’t a reasonable position to take, I’m saying it’s inherently the easier position to defend regardless of whether there are confounds or not, and this should be taken into account when dealing with people who write about racism.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      . You can only see the macro level patterns occurring – you have to look at all the Bobs with all their bus systems and see which neighbourhoods get to keep their routes.

      But it’s also obvious that, because different races have different socioeconomic situations, and other differences (crime statistics, for one) that this type of analysis is going to lead to disaster. Witness the hilarity of disparate impact as a doctrine, for example.

    • Anonymous says:

      Suppose a judge sentences a black man to 5 years for a crime, and suppose that this in fact is what the big ol’ book of sentencing prescribes, and that the judge honestly has no racist motive in doing so. Suppose however, that when the white defendant comes along, he only gets 2 years for the same crime, due to some unconscious bias or him ‘just seeming less likely to reoffend’ to the judge. I know there’s good reason to be sceptical of the data on unconscious bias, that’s not the point, the point is this differential treatment could aptly be described as racist even if the act (sentencing to 5 years) and the motives (giving the individual an appropriate punishment) are totally fine.

      Is there any reason to believe that whites are given unjustified leniency? So far as I know, they aren’t.

      • Aapje says:

        It does seem that there is a racial bias, although it only hurts black men compared to white men. There is no significant racial gap between white and black women. Note that women get far more leniency compared to men, than white people compared to black people.

        So it’s much more accurate to state that there is a bias against men and then especially against black men, then to state that there is a bias against black people in general.

        Source

  12. Guy in TN says:

    Against murderism was intriguing. I saw many parallels between the term “racism” and the term “terrorism”. They are both de-humanizing phrases that confuse cause and effect, and ignore all the non-murderist motivations behind the actions. This quote in particular:

    It’s a powerful tool of dehumanization. It’s not that other people have a different culture than you. It’s not that other people have different values than you. It’s not that other people have reasoned their way to different conclusions from you. And it’s not even that other people are honestly misinformed or ignorant, in a way that implies you might ever be honestly misinformed or ignorant about something. It’s that people who disagree with you are motivated by pure hatred, by an irrational mind-virus that causes them to reject every normal human value in favor of just wanting to hurt people who look different from them.

    This quote makes just as much sense to me for those who describe others as “terrorists” or as having “terrorist beliefs”. I’m sure there are other “murderist”-type words that are in the midst of our language, unnoticed. Very good to see this concept crystallized.

    However, I felt like the article deteriorated when it moved on to a discussion of liberalism. Scott’s assumption seems to be that we are, or at least have been, a liberal society that honors ideas such as free speech, non-violent resolution of differences, and shared values with your fellow man. And in Scott’s view, we are falling from grace from this liberal framework that has been keeping the social peace since the late 1700’s.

    But when has the U.S. (or any country) actually upheld the ideal of liberalism in practice? It seems to me that liberalism is largely a myth, or at least takes place only within a certain window of socially tolerated groups. For example, the U.S. certainly couldn’t have been said to uphold the value of non-violent tolerance in the slavery era (and if you want to argue that this era at least was “liberal” between landholding white males, then liberalism’s Civil-War-preventing attributes should be called into question). So in what era did the U.S. ever uphold the liberal ideal? The early 20th century saw people routinely jailed for espousing political beliefs that today would seem mundane. You could point to a brief period in the mid-20th century where the Democrats and Republicans were similar enough in beliefs that they seemed to form a truce, but this period only saw the guns of anti-liberalism pointed towards anyone on the outside (specifically against Communists and other leftists).

    You talk like we need to prevent a civil war, but what if the bombs are already going off all around you? We are not, nor have we ever been, a “voluntary society” (pardon the libertarian phrase), where we solve our differences only through rational discussion. If I told people what I really believed, I would lose my job, be blacklisted from much of my family, and possibly jailed and/or killed by the state. And it would have been just this same way in 1950, 1850, and beyond.

    But where does this illiberalism come from? The only reason Scott gives that a person would turn to illiberlaism, rejecting both the safety and liberty of the general public, is “dark irrational hated”. But surely there are other reasons one would turn to illiberalism. The most obvious reason would be to amass power for themselves. For instance, the creation of slavery is (from the slave owners perspective at least) neither a rejection of their personal liberty nor safety, nor based on irrational hatred. They simply need workers and they don’t like paying them, and since slaves can’t really fight back, it is an obvious win. By creating the institution of slavery, the slave owners broke the liberal contract all while upholding a perspective of rational self interest. You can apply this same logic to modern day people who are seeking power over others, in both the government and the private realm.

    To me, the more relevant question is what should you do once you realize that the violence is already part of the system, the war is already being waged, and any brief flashes of “liberalism” have largely been a truce between the major parties based on fear of mutually assured destruction. A defense of maintaining non-violence based on an ideal of liberalism seems like it’s too late, the train has already left the station. It’s a defense based on a reality that one wishes ought to be, rather than the world as it is. When I’m getting punched in the face, and I want to punch the guy back, the last things I want to hear is cries of “but our liberal project!”.

    • bintchaos says:

      A defense of maintaining non-violence based on an ideal of liberalism seems like it’s too late, the train has already left the station.

      yup, its a non-starter–
      The slasher is calling from inside the house.
      The violence is in our genes.

    • Mark says:

      Speak softly and carry a big stick?

    • You can model liberalism as something that can be used to solve specific problems, rather than something that is wholly present or wholly absent. We don’t usually think of the Roman Empire as liberal, but they did use liberalism to handle religion — worship whatever god you wish don’t bother anyone else.

      • Matt M says:

        Well, sometimes.

        Other times they were feeding people who worshiped the wrong gods to lions.

      • Guy in TN says:

        @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z

        I agree, it is good not to think of liberalism as a binary on/off concept. Liberalism does exist, but it is confined to certain social groups who’s views fall within the Overton Window. For those who exist outside, they don’t get to experience the truce of liberalism. So from their perspective, arguments that they just need to continue to play by the rules and maintain the system are suicidal.

        I know this is basically of the opposite of the idea of “be nice until you can coordinate meanness”, but I think that concept is on shakier ground when applied to fringe groups on the receiving end of violence, for whom large scale coordination is out of reach.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      Principles of the civil liberties have never been perfectly, throughly implemented. If they were so commonplace and a standard of behavior that everyone really agreed about, nobody would have seen any point in arguing for them. But by keeping pushing for them, maybe we can keep the forces of the nasty kind of absence of them at bay.

      And while Western societies have never been perfectly ideally liberal (still in the classical sense of the word), often they have fared better than the even more illiberal ones (consider Russia, it seems that much of her problems today stem from the centuries of the system of serfdom that gave birth to a failed totalitarian project.)

      In the end, we all die, and the there’s no prize or award, just absence of consciousness. I’d rather be remembered for doing my best to argue against punching people in face (even if silly and futile) instead of not doing anything or even worse, punching people in face; that’s why I keep reading Scott’s blog and occasionally comment here. (If I’m remembered at all, but it’s the sentiment that counts.)

      edit.

      Apropos, speaking of classical liberalism, I recently read Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire, which was quite interesting read. Today we could probably manage a much more improved arguments and rip the text into pieces, but it’s remarkable that Voltaire saw a point in writing such an essay on “the Occasion of the Death of Jean Calas”.

    • albatross11 says:

      [Speculation alert]

      Imagine a society where powerful people employ slaves routinely, because they’d rather not pay their laborers. It would be natural for a lot of people in that society to be very uncomfortable about this–how do I know you’re not going to be trying to take me or my kids as slaves next year, when you have that new sugar plantation filling up?

      Making very clear rules about who can and can’t be enslaved, with lots of surrounding justification and argument, probably helps keep the general population from being too worried about being enslaved. If the powerful people have gone to great lengths to ensure that slavery only applies to blacks, then poor / powerless whites will know that they have little to fear w.r.t. being enslaved. In a more-or-less democratic country, that probably mattered.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Is that speculation or Roman history?

        • Matt M says:

          Might be in the bible, too?

        • It isn’t Roman history. Slavery wasn’t racial.

          If that was what you meant.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Nah, I know that. Albatross only mentions race once, and if you replace it with something era-appropriate, the rest works reasonably well for ancient Roman slavery. At least close to well enough for the joke to work 🙂 I considered mentioning that but thought it would kill the joke.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Pointing out illiberal situations in the past doesn’t actually prove what you think it does. Unless you’re going to insist that the level of tolerance in the United States is exactly the same right now as it was during, say, the Civil War, or slavery, or Wilson’s presidency, or McCarthyism, then all you’ve done is establish that things can get better or worse as time goes by. You certainly don’t have a contradiction for somebody who argues that things are getting worse right now.

  13. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    The title of the thread has been corrected, but the url is 78-5.

  14. Well... says:

    Why is there a widespread taboo against adult men wearing clip-on ties but not a similarly widespread taboo against cars with automatic transmissions–even back when automatic transmissions were consistently less efficient and more likely to break than manual transmissions?

    • skef says:

      Ties are almost entirely a status thing. Why wear a clip-on tie instead of not wearing a tie? (Or, to put the point more narrowly, why not wear the clip-on tie in situations that for whatever reason call for a tie and just not give a crap about the taboo?)

      There’s nothing to wearing a tie beyond “you’re supposed to wear a tie”.

      • Well... says:

        Ties are almost entirely a status thing.

        I disagree. Sometimes they just complete an outfit.

        Or maybe that was your point when you said

        There’s nothing to wearing a tie beyond “you’re supposed to wear a tie”.

        …in which case I’m not sure I understand your point.

        • skef says:

          I disagree. Sometimes they just complete an outfit.

          What does and does not constitute an “outfit” for American men is an absurdly constrained category. One dominated by a style that makes any sub-spherical and vaguely symmetrical guy look kind of the same as any other. There’s a much stronger “taboo” against straying from the category than there is against wearing a clip-on tie.

          If there were a social rule that everyone needs to carry a frobnitz with them when strolling, would it be at all surprising to hear that false-frobnitzes were considered tacky?

          • Well... says:

            I’m still not sure I agree. I often see guys with button-up collared shirts (top button open), and blazers over them, and no tie. And that’s been a look for a while, I’m pretty sure.

          • skef says:

            How do you feel about someone who has never owned a suit or blazer?

          • skef says:

            I suppose that’s part of the point.

            Look, we live in a culture where if the thing you put on over your shirt is not made of the same stuff as your pants, it occupies an entirely separate ontological category as it would if it were made of the same stuff as your pants. And choosing one of these categories over another is treated with some significance. So sure, it’s not a uniform, where there are no choices. But the space of acceptable “choices” is … abstruse.

          • Well... says:

            I’m still not sure I understand, but that’s OK because AnonYEmous has given a great answer that I think makes sense. Read it and let me know if he’s basically saying the same thing you were trying to say. And if not, what he missed. (You could reply to him directly of course…)

          • skef says:

            His take on the car situation seems sort of arbitrary. Given how many car factors are wrapped up in class and more generally status, I don’t see why “car driving” would be separate. Don’t many Europeans see the U.S. automatic transmission thing as kind of lame?

            I agree with the general point about ties and class, but associating it with difficulty seems like a stretch. I would buy an explanation based on effort.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I guess effort does play a large part in it. But the difference between that effort and the effort involved in operating a stick shift vehicle is that, back before automatic cars were invented, everyone who drove had to put in that effort, so it didn’t exactly mark you out as high-class. With that said, in this point in time said effort isn’t really expected – but like I said, at this point it’s mostly associated with truck drivers (and didn’t mention it earlier, but also vintage cars).

            Plus, I think there’s something high-class to putting in effort to look nice, but there’s nothing high-class to putting in effort to ensure that you reach your destination. If anything that seems a lot like “getting your hands dirty”.

            Also, I have no idea how Europeans feel about this subject so I can’t help there. Guess we’ll need some Europeans.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Well – “There’s nothing to wearing a tie beyond “you’re supposed to wear a tie”.”

        The pleasurable, soothing hint of strangulation?

        • The tie was a reasonable device for keeping you warm by sealing the shirt at the neck. It was made obsolete twice, once by elastics and once by central heating.

          It’s just taken a while for the custom to fade away.

          • bintchaos says:

            My sister is a Kappa…I can tell you what the kappas say.
            Clip on tie means job OR nerd.
            Windsor knot means much better job.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            central heating does not provide the pleasurable, soothing hint of strangulation. Elastics don’t really either, or alternately provide too much. Long may we wear our own brilliant noose.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      Didn’t we just have a discussion here about how formal clothing almost seems designed to make fighting more difficult? Wearing a clip-on tie when everyone else has a strangling cord already around their neck is clearly cheating, and therefore looked down on.

      Also, Sipowicz.

      And hell, yes, I drive a stick to my job where I don’t wear a tie.

      • Well... says:

        I wasn’t part of that discussion so I’m not up to speed.

        I think ties might be designed to make it harder to undress, as a way to put women at ease. Doffing the hat removes the false appearance of height, making the man less imposing. In sum, a lot of Victorian stuff is a non-verbal way for men to tell women “Don’t worry, I’m not here to rape you.”

        • onyomi says:

          Yet a tie also sort of hangs there pointing at your penis, so like a lot of clothing, it simultaneously conceals and highlights some part of the body you can’t show in public (not so extreme as the codpiece, of course).

    • AnonYEmous says:

      Here is my two cents: wearing a tie denotates high class. Crucially, putting on a tie correctly is difficult, so doing it correctly means you’ve done it a lot of times, or been around people who taught you how to do it, which correlates well with high class. A clip-on tie lets any shmuck off the street walk in and pretend to high-class status. Can’t have that!

      But driving a car seems pretty class-less; if anything you could argue it’s fairly low class. Although the very poorest people can’t even afford a car, most can, and in fact many high-class people have a chaffeur; also, stick-shift is well associated with trucks and other working-class vehicles. But at worst it’s class-neutral and so no one cares. (Also, it’s way more convenient and has become much more widespread probably as a result – imagine if you had to re-tie a tie every 5 minutes or something? In that case clip-on ties, which in this analogy don’t have that problem, would probably be much more widespread).

    • Mark says:

      In my land, there is a taboo against men driving automatic cars.

      • Zodiac says:

        Same for mine.
        Seriously, when I said to my family I would rather drive an automatic car they looked at me with a mix of disapointment and disgust as if I just declared that I want to be a ballerina wearing a pink skirt.

        • Barely matters says:

          I get the same thing with both my car and motorcycle.
          Each of the groups seem to take pride in overcoming arbitrary barriers, and resents things that lower the barrier to entry.

          • psmith says:

            Each of the groups seem to take pride in overcoming arbitrary barriers, and resents things that lower the barrier to entry.

            I’m not sure that a group whose members don’t take pride in overcoming arbitrary barriers and resent things that lower the barriers to entry is actually a group in any non-trivial sense.

            What bike tho?

          • Barely matters says:

            You might have a point there. Although I can think of a lot of groups that are falling over themselves trying to become more accessible to a wider audience, I can’t think of too many examples where it works out very well for the original members.

            I’m on a Ninja right now and am looking at trading up for a little more power. Any time I even academically mention that the Africa Twin seems to be just killing it out there, or that a DCT would make city traffic a lot less of a pain in the ass, the old hardcores look at me like I just shot their dog. Though I think this is more that if someone wants to punk you, they’ll find something to claim superiority on, and a good old fashioned dick measuring over clutch control is nice low hanging fruit.

    • gbdub says:

      Tying a tie is not particularly difficult, except in the learning phase. And ties are part of the Serious Professional Male outfit. So wearing a clip-on indicates that the wearer is not the sort of person who wears ties, and has not even bothered to learn the fairly trivial skill needed to look like one, and is therefore not a Serious Professional Male.

      Meanwhile manual cars are (in the US) limited to mostly high performance vehicles, and therefore to people who really care about the experience and performance of driving. Driving an auto will definitely get you looked down on among Serious Driver circles, but that’s a much more limited niche than Serious Professionals.

      Even when manuals were common, they seemed to be chosen either for practicality (cheaper and better mileage, though neither seem to be as true anymore) or for the aspirational driver who wanted to pretend his Corolla was a Lamborghini.

      • Brad says:

        Has this changed at all now that regularly wearing a suit signifies upper middle class at best?

        • gbdub says:

          People wear suits less, so maybe? As an engineer we basically only “suit up” for big presentations to customers, but you’re still expected to have the skill to credibly do so when called. Then again the worst you’d get for a clip on would be gentle ribbing.

          I’d have to ask someone who still wears suits everyday – I was taking the OP’s “stigma for wearing a clip on” as a given.

        • onyomi says:

          This is highly regional, though. South is more formal than East Coast, which is more formal than West Coast.

      • rlms says:

        This possibly predicts that bow ties will overtake regular ones as status symbols.

      • random832 says:

        They’re probably not better mileage anymore, with all the work that’s been put into fancy automatic transmissions, but from what I can find a manual (for cars that still have the option) is still typically about $1000 cheaper than an automatic.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Would you expect a manual to have lower repair costs in the long run?

          • random832 says:

            My guess would be that that depends on driving skill, since it’s easier/possible to screw up driving a manual in a way that damages the transmission or clutch.

            I don’t think that repair costs in the long run are the first thing on most people’s minds when they buy a car, though.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Would you expect a manual to have lower repair costs in the long run?

            Nowadays it might even be higher. Automatics are extremely reliable and will probably last the lifetime of the car, at least provided you change the fluid once in a while. The manual transmission itself is also quite reliable, but the clutch is an expensive wear item and the clutch hydraulics (though cheaper) also tend to fail in some cars.

          • Well... says:

            Repair costs are one of the first things on my mind when I buy a car. It’s why I won’t buy VWs–my wife had one and it was like 3x more expensive just to change the oil and do simple repairs on it, let alone when it needed serious work.

            It’s also why I wouldn’t buy a Mitsubishi or a Suzuki: they have reputations for falling apart quickly and needing lots of work.

            One of the reasons I like the Ford Ranger, even over other similar-sized/priced pickup trucks, is it is well-known for being easy/cheap to work on.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          While we’re talking about stick-shifts:

          My manual transmission lets me shift out of gear without using the clutch, which is pretty standard, I think.

          The thing is, it also lets me shift into gear without using the clutch, as long as the RPMs match—i.e. given the road speed and engine speed, the RPMs don’t change just from being put into gear.

          “Aha!” says I, “Now I can make the pads on my clutch last forever!” My question: am I screwing up the dog teeth by doing this? If so, am I still saving money?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t know about today’s manual transmission, but I ruined a transmission 20 years ago doing that. The synchro gears are made to work too much and you chew them up.

          • skef says:

            HBC said, you’re likely not wearing down the gear teeth themselves as the synchronizer rings.

  15. hoghoghoghoghog says:

    Suppose two people are arguing about policy, but person A thinks that fewer people/entities are morally considerable than person B. Usually they just squawk at each other. If they want to get along they usually settle on the least common denominator, namely A’s ethical system. That’s better than squawking, but it is still not good, since it results in B mis-representing their own beliefs.

    For example, many people think that foetuses are morally considerable. In order to talk to people who don’t think that, they need to appeal to ways in which not treating foetuses as considerable hurts people who have already been born (I think this is what culture of life rhetoric as used by George Bush is about). But this is much weaker than their actual case.

    I frequently hear animal cruelty laws justified by “being cruel to animals might make you cruel to humans, or indicate that you are cruel to humans, and should therefore be illegal”. That strikes me as a weak argument and an awfully slippery slope (should we outlaw violence in games as well?). Luckily no one actually thinks this – the people who favor animal cruelty laws believe that certain classes of animals are morally considerable. It would be better if they said what they actually think.

    • beleester says:

      Would it really be stronger? If the animal rights activist says “I think animals have moral worth,” and the other guy says “Well, I think they don’t,” then the argument just sorta… shuts down. Neither of them has a chain of reasoning to attack, they just have opposing moral axioms. Logic doesn’t get you anywhere if you’re starting from different premises.

      So if you want to keep arguing, your only option is to try a different angle – “Even if you think animals don’t have moral worth, you should still oppose animal cruelty because…”

      • Jordan D. says:

        Yeah, this.

        I think hoghoghoghoghog is thinking of arguments as a method of discerning truth, where if one person thinks animals are moral actors and the other doesn’t, they should discuss that because it’s the point where they really disagree with each other. But more frequently, arguments are made to persuade instead of discern- and if I can convince the other person that cruelty to animals offends some other belief they hold, then I win just as much as if I’d convinced him that animals are moral actors.

      • AnonYEmous says:

        yes, but do note that doing this is douchey and manipulative.

        Why not try and ask him what he bases “moral worth” on?

        • gbdub says:

          Why is it douchey and manipulative to frame a debate in terms of what your partner cares about? If you can both find reasons to care about the same thing, that sounds like a win-win.

          • Jiro says:

            Suppose I own a slave and I want the slave to obey me. I can appeal to what he cares about and say something like “If you, a slave, obey the orders of your master, your master will get indolent and lazy. Because you wish to cause harm to your master, you should obey your master for your own preferences.”

            It’s concern trolling (if deliberate) or usually motivated reasoning (if not deliberate), as discussed in previous SSC posts.

        • beleester says:

          “I give animals moral worth because they can feel pain,” says the animal rights activist.

          “Cool,” says the other guy. “But I don’t care, because I think only humans have moral worth.”

          You’re still stalled out. They’re axioms – they don’t have a reason beyond “That’s what I think is right.”

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        I’m less pessimistic, because people don’t really have moral axioms. They have moral evidence (how they feel about particular cases) and moral theories to fit that evidence. You can present them with moral evidence – for example if someone thinks dogs aren’t morally considerable you can show them Air Bud (of course true stories are a lot better than movies if you aren’t just trying to manipulate.)

  16. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Elon Musk vs. competition— who will win?

    Mostly about how it makes sense to try to start a monopoly because you lose too much of your returns if you’re competing.

    I’m not sure I want to live in a world where no one thinks it’s worthwhile to start a restaurant, but it was still a moderately interesting speech.

    • knownastron says:

      I can’t view the video due to my current location banning YouTube (can’t be bothered to turn on my VPN). But from what I gather this sounds exactly like Peter Thiel’s idea on competition vs. monopoly, which he lays out in his book Zero to One. Highly recommend reading that book if you haven’t already.

      Musk and Thiel are trying to push the marginal entrepreneur into creating a difference-making monopoly rather than the default entry into a competitive space that is already well served. Businesses become monopolies because they solve hard problems that no one else is able to do. I think this is the crux of their argument. They want people to “think big” and attempt to solve hard problems that will make a difference in this world.

  17. Kevin C. says:

    Does anyone here have any thoughts on Amazon buying Whole Foods?

    • The Nybbler says:

      I expect they’ll spin it off again in about 2 years.

    • Nornagest says:

      At first glance they’re bad partners: Amazon’s strongest with high-volume low-margin downmarket stuff, and Whole Foods is the opposite of that. Whole Foods could plausibly benefit from a better-developed distribution network, but aside from that they bring nothing to each other, not even market power since Amazon is not plausibly competing with Whole Foods’ competitors and vice versa.

      But I’ve seen some speculation that Amazon’s planning this as a testbed for its planned uber-turbo-self-checkout++ technology (go to store, grab stuff off shelves, walk out as if shoplifting; your phone and an array of software that probably has less to do with machine learning than the press release says tallies up your bill and charges your Amazon account). And from that perspective Whole Foods does make a lot of sense: it’s low-volume and high-margin, so maximizes the take relative to system stress; it targets demographics that probably don’t cause a lot of shrink, giving Amazon time to work out the security angle before it turns into a disaster; and it tends to be located in cities where labor is expensive, again making it more profitable.

      If so, it’s a big bet, though.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I was surprised that Whole Foods was in bad enough shape for this to happen.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Amazon has been trying to break in to the grocery business for quite a while. This is an excellent way to fix that deficiency. Not only that but they can also use it to promote their Amazon business in general. Amazon is big enough that they could coast off their size and still make an enormous profit but they’re still innovating more than anyone else. Zuckerberg and Musk have more name recognition but Bezos is probably the most shrewd businessman of our time.

    • Brad says:

      Niether make any money, so they have that in common. But Amazon continues to have strong growth while Whole Foods has been stalled for a while. And in terms of potentially making money, Amazon’s strongest business is in e-services which is high margin, while Whole Foods is in the notoriously low margin grocery business. Seems like an odd match.

      • Aapje says:

        @Brad

        One of the biggest costs for Amazon is delivery and delivery costs reduce greatly when scaling up. The cost per delivery is less if you deliver 5 packages in the same street every day vs 1 package in that street every day. If the future is that most people will get their groceries delivered, that gives a very high & consistent amount of daily deliveries. It seems to me that it can be very cheap to take advantage of that by sending other goods along with those deliveries.

        Of course, the question is whether Whole Foods is the best option for that, but I don’t think that Amazon can afford to acquire Walmart.

        PS. Isn’t Whole Foods in relatively high margin compared to ALDI/Walmart/etc?

        • Brad says:

          I believe Aldi is also relatively high margin as compared to smaller chains for the same reason as WF, strong store branded sales. Walmart isn’t really in the same business, or at least it is only a small part of their business.

          But my point is that relatively high operating margin for the grocery business is still not in the same ballpark as something like AWS. But I guess Bezos doesn’t see AWS as the core of his business, while I do.

          The delivery point is a good one.

          • gbdub says:

            Delivery could be it – Amazon has been pushing Prime Now, which I’ve used and works great, but I can’t imagine the volume is working all that well – you have to have contracted drivers on call just for Now service, so you want to keep them busy. There are very few things in Amazon’s core products that really need to be delivered right this second. The one time I used it, I ordered paper towels because I was out and didn’t feel like driving to the store, and also there was a movie where the Blue Ray delivered via Prime Now was actually the cheapest way to get it for watching that night.

            But add Whole Foods prepared foods and fresh groceries? Now that looks like something I might use at least a couple times a month.

    • AKL says:

      Ben Thompson at Stratechery argues that Amazon sees Whole Foods as a captive customer, not as a profit center. By using their pre-existing logistics infrastructure to supply Whole Foods with inventory, Amazon gets a revenue neutral way to “figure out” the back end of the grocery business while simultaneously learning about / experimenting with the customer facing “front end.” This mirrors the Amazon approach with AWS, where Amazon’s retail business was the first customer and funded the development of a platform that could be rolled out more broadly once it reached a certain level of maturity. It seems like this is the pattern in shipping too; would anyone be surprised if Amazon was directly competing with UPS / Fedex in the near future?

      In the short to intermediate run I expect the share price of restaurant suppliers / food distributors (Aramark, Sysco, etc.) to tumble, but do not expect big changes to Whole Foods itself. Probably we’ll see some experimentation on the margins, but not a transformation of the existing business.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        AWS still looks to me like an internal tool that was turned into a product, rather than intentional.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          I’ve heard that they actually had to apply pressure to a lot of internal products/services to move onto AWS, even after it was available to the public.

          Now that my buddy Mark Schwartz is going to be working at AWS, I’ll ask him about it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That could true at the same time.

            It’s just that the interface for AWS always has had a “skunkworks” feel to me, the way it would if you had something really useful internally, with a “kinda there” interface, and then you did enough to make it a product.

          • skef says:

            The overall AWS system was a somewhat aspirational take on the internal tools at the time. Basically, there was already an internal system to abstract away the server/services connection (beyond just having virtual *servers*), that had some adoption. AWS started as roughly where they thought everyone should ideally be a few years out, and went from there.

            (This is based on a) my working in the group that made tools to allocate servers while AWS was in development and b) my subsequent understanding of AWS.)

  18. Kevin C. says:

    Presented for the sheer WTF factor: “Ex-Comedian Michael Portnoy on How Performance Art Can Exorcise Your Alt-Right Demons

    His latest work, Progressive Touch—Total Body Language Reprogramming (2017), was performed in Berlin for 20 viewers, one spectator at a time. The performance required that each subject be a white male. The subject would then be escorted to an undisclosed location. Once there, the subject would strip down naked. Portnoy and collaborator Lily McMenamy would then sing directly into the participant’s pubic bone for 45 minutes in order to reprogram “the corrupted source code of the white male.”

    For the show at KW, the idea was to use the method to reboot the corrupted source code of the white male. Research in neurolinguistics has shown that every mental construct has a unique rhythmic profile.

    Directing sound into the pubic bone, which is the loudest resonator in the human body, causes the top of the cervical spine to pulse into the base of the skull at a frequency, which interferes with the rhythm of electrical pulses between neurons. Progressive Touch—TBLR overloads the particular circuits responsible for certain ingrained behaviors and attitudes—in this case prejudice, privilege, racism, and sexism—by flooding the system with overly complex and unpredictable vocal rhythms, similar to those of progressive rock.

    • Loquat says:

      It seems awfully inefficient to sing into white male crotches one at a time. Clearly, they need to record their 45-minute reprogramming song and sell it, with instructions and possibly some sort of custom speaker stand you can use to make sure the sound hits your pubic bone at the right angle.

    • Well... says:

      Hey, not all progressive rock is overly complex and unpredictable! And, not all overly complex and unpredictable rock music is prog rock!

      I kinda wonder what prog rock the writer had in mind.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Can it work the opposite way? Do we need to be worried about the alt right using hate sounds to crotch-blast progressives, turning them into frothing Nazis?

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        So that was Milo’s sinister plan all along…

      • Nornagest says:

        That sounds like the plot to a ’70s exploitation movie.

      • Well... says:

        The All Trite treats it as a foregone conclusion that white people are incapable of crotch-blasting of any kind. Thus, lots of effort is put into complaining about “white genocide,” comparatively zero effort into convincing white people to have more kids.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Oh God, please don’t make me steelman “white genocide.” Ugh. I believe as presented WG is essentially a different kind of structural racism. The “system” decreases white birthrates through things like feminism delaying marriage, student loans/high mortgage payments making the white middle class unable to afford more children, all the while taxing them to provide handouts to imported, high-fertility non-whites. If that’s your worldview, telling whites “go have more kids” doesn’t fix the problem because the problem is structural.

          ETA: Also, there do exist “have white babies” memes, as well as counter-memes from anti alt-right people that the alt-right is virgin neckbears in their mother’s basements posting angrily on the internet about white genocide while their sisters are out banging black dudes.

          • Well... says:

            (My comment was meant to have a somewhat tongue in cheek flavor; nevertheless…)

            I understand, but this is kinda my point: all these ways the “system” is claimed to be decreasing white birthrates–feminism delaying marriage, student loans, high mortgage payments, etc.–only have teeth because of the fact that white people apparently prioritize having fun independent lifestyles/disposable money/big houses/big TVs/smartphones/etc. over having lots of descendants.

            Penniless Guatemalan immigrants are having tons of kids, so “I can’t afford to have kids” isn’t really valid unless you add to the end of it “after I’ve paid for all the other stuff I care about even more, but which isn’t helping me win any demographic wars.”

            I think I mentioned this before, but although I spent 5 years patronizing All Trite websites I never hung around Fortch Ann, which is where I suspect these “have white babies” memes must have been, because I never saw them; they don’t seem to have been adopted as part of the program by any of the more prominent All Trite voices. I also never saw the counter-memes, but I find their accusations plausible.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Again, steelmanning, the term “genocide” implies something done to a people, not done by them. So the response would be that these forces are imposed from outside. So the reason white people are prioritizing the material things or having fun over family is because of TV/media/culture brainwashing or indoctrination through the educational system. The penniless Guatemalan immigrants are not exposed to such memes.

            As a Catholic I kind of sympathize, because yes I very much subscribe to Pope JPII’s “Culture of Death” critique of the western world. Obviously if you banish spiritual discourse from public life and replace it with crass materialism, abortion, casual sex, etc you’re going to wind up with low birth rates. While that is going on among “whites,” my racially diverse Catholic church is full of families and children, and I feel more at home among fellow Catholics of any color than among white atheists or heretics Protestants.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            If neckbears are bears who use their long necks to reach prey in tree branches, they sound awesome and we should help them with their virginity problem, like pandas.

          • Nornagest says:

            @Conrad Honcho —

            Thank you. That’s the image I was itching to post but didn’t want to search for at work.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            This is one of the things that really baffles me. To the All Trite (is this the new euphemism?), to white nationalists, etc, it’s as though white people are some kind of fragile endangered species. Like some kind of tree shrew, and a smog factory is about to destroy the forest glade where it lives, and there’s no way that tree shrew can possibly defend itself – while simultaneously talking up all the achievements over the centuries of Europeans. To get an image of white people as powerful and capable, you have to go to certain sorts of left-wing activists, the kind who often seem rather hostile to white people – being an evil oppressor is at least stronger than being a poor little bamboozled tree shrew.

          • Nornagest says:

            cf. the old joke about the Jew reading the Nazi papers.

            More seriously, I think victimhood is how you earn the moral high ground in the current political environment, and that’s so well established that all sides go to great and sometimes absurd lengths to paint themselves as victimized in all contexts, even if their explicit ideology enshrines power or independence or some other state that’s totally incompatible with it. And all without necessarily realizing they’re doing so. I’ve got enough of a hangover left from my college reading of Nietzsche that this bothers me, but it ain’t going away.

            Best illustrated in the case of MRAs vs. radfems, I think: there you have two sides that hate each other, pushing diametrically opposed goals, but each with almost exactly the same narrative as applied to its ingroup.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            I think that’s the argument. The time dimension. Europeans were the powerful, conquering explorers and now they’re hating themselves and losing power and numbers in their own lands. So you’re not really providing a contradiction because both things are true in different time periods.

            Epistemic status: my own massively religiously biased point of view. I don’t disagree that Europeans were vastly stronger and that their societies are now decaying, but I think the confounder is religious faith and not racial ideology. When your people abandon God, God abandons you. Of course I would think this, as I view the world through a theological lens. This is entirely my own bias, but if you want to save the west, embrace Christianity, not “the white race.”

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            I think that’s the argument. The time dimension. Europeans were the powerful, conquering explorers and now they’re hating themselves and losing power and numbers in their own lands. So you’re not really providing a contradiction because both things are true in different time periods.

            A key part of their thinking seems to be that white people are simultaneously still the heirs to all that and somehow tricked into suicide. It just feels to me like someone is pointing at a struggling corporation and saying “it deserves not to struggle.” Also, see below.

            Epistemic status: my own massively religiously biased point of view. I don’t disagree that Europeans were vastly stronger and that their societies are now decaying, but I think the confounder is religious faith and not racial ideology. When your people abandon God, God abandons you. Of course I would think this, as I view the world through a theological lens. This is entirely my own bias, but if you want to save the west, embrace Christianity, not “the white race.”

            I am not religious, but I studied it, and a de-supernaturalized version of this seems broadly correct. Religion appears to be a factor in birth rates (the groups worldwide with the highest birth rates tend to be among the most religiously observant), and other things that correlate with low birth rates correlate with a loss of religiosity: urbanization and social liberalism, for starters.

            Where the “white genocide” folks seem to be factually and provably wrong is that they are, first, modelling this as something happening only to white people, and second, appear to be modelling it at least partly as though it’s a conspiracy. The first bit is just trivially incorrect: in the US, Hispanic birth rate is barely above replacement rate, and after that, below replacement rate, in descending order: black people, white people, Asians, Native Americans (is that still the correct term?)

            This ties into the second bit: if it was a conspiracy, you’d think those sneaky conspirators would be able to target their birth-rate-lowering lasers or whatever more selectively. General historical trends appear to be enough to explain what is going on – to go further afield, you can see a clear correlation between type and duration of education of girls in Africa and the number of kids they have – the sort of K-12 education that kids get in the developed world makes birth rates go down significantly. Further disproving the notion of conspiracy, the group that is most often identified in far-right conspiracy theories as the conspirators has (at least in the US) a very high rate of outmarriage, and a fairly low birth rate (except the most religiously observant! Extra points!)

            It seems fundamentally weird to model this as a conspiracy against white people, when one could just as easily model it as a conspiracy against several other groups, and it makes the most sense to just model it as something that’s happening without anyone really intending it to, beyond a few attempts in developing countries to push birth rates down.

          • Nornagest says:

            Native Americans (is that still the correct term?)

            Think so. “First Nations” is common in Canada, and I’ve seen a couple of Tumblr types use it re: the US, but I don’t think it’s caught on in the wild yet.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nornagest

            According to Wikipedia, at least, “First Nations” is a technical term; all First Nations people are Aboriginal but not all Aboriginal people are First Nations.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I assume you’d be taking your life into your own hands if you asked what we should call the previous waves of migration which were pushed aside or wiped out by the groups now known as the First Nations.

          • onyomi says:

            I really hope “first nations” doesn’t catch on in the US, but only because it doesn’t make grammatical sense to me. Seems like it should be “first nationers” or something. Actually “aborigine” means exactly what “first nations” seems to gesture toward, but I’m assuming the euphemism treadmill doesn’t allow us to use a word that makes sense.

            Related, someone posted a meme meant to defend singular use of “they” by pointing out that, hundreds of years ago, people complained about the singular “you” replacing “thou.”

            My silent response was, “Yeah! That really sucks! Now, instead of having a standard, one-syllable 2nd person plural we have to pick between ‘y’all,’ ‘you all,’ ‘youse guys,’ etc. etc.” (Being from the South ‘y’all’ is my personal preference, and also has the advantage of being one syllable, but none of these are suited for formal writing).

            *Before you accuse me of harboring anti-Inuit beliefs and motivations, know that the Subway slogan “eat fresh” drives me crazy too. “Zombie: Eat Flesh,” however, is a good Hallowe’en slogan.

          • Matt M says:

            I moved to Texas last year and became a quick and enthusiastic adapter of ya’ll!

        • Randy M says:

          Is this a variant of “If my opponent really cared about X, he would show it by Y, thus X is not worth considering”?
          If Al Gore really believed Climate Change was a problem, he wouldn’t have such a big mansion or fly so much.
          If Christians really cared about poor children living, they would vote for welfare instead of opposing abortion.
          If you the right really cared about marriage, they’d be against divorce, not gay marriage.
          If liberals really wanted higher taxes, they’d write a check for extra instead of taking deductions.

          Is this recognized as a fallacy, or at least facile? It’s not outright wrong to bring up other actions that look hypocritical, but one must consider alternatives, like that the activist is trying to coordinate actions that only have effects in large scale, trying to devote their effort to where it will do the most good, or where the battle of the moment is.
          Less charitably, they may find whining easier than actually making sacrifices. But that doesn’t mean the whining is necessarily without merit.

          • Well... says:

            I’m aware of this fallacy. I don’t think I’m falling into it:

            The All Trite does plenty of work that seems aimed at convincing white people of things, so I know they think it’s possible and worthwhile to try.

            Now, priors: white TFT is declining; the character of society is largely determined by the genetics of the members of that society; it is desirable that our future society be whiter, genetically, than current trajectories suggest it will be; massacring all nonwhites is not a desirable or practical course of action.

            What else could possibly be more important, if you wholeheartedly agree with all the above priors, than trying to convince white people to prioritize having more white babies over other stuff white people might prefer to do?

  19. Mark says:

    If xenophobia exists, then xenophobia is entirely rational. It’s like a self fulfilling prophecy.

    I mean, xenophobia *does* exist – there are a load of racists out there – so I should be xenophobic too. If there are people out there who hate/fear me, I damn well better fear them.

    The only solution is to stop other people from being outsiders, to stop emphasising the differences. That’s why SJWs are bad, IMO.

    And if people are racist, that is an excellent reason to reduce immigration.

    Anyway, I think the whole thing about terrorism is pretty silly. The real problem is having people who are different to you in close proximity which could end up in a massive sectarian conflict. The terrorism is just a marker of difference.

    • beleester says:

      That argument is only true if there are no other costs to xenophobia. If it leads you to do silly things like put a giant wall along the length of your border, it’s a bad idea.

      Although your line about “stop emphasizing the differences” leads me to believe that you’re supporting something more moderate – just letting people assimilate naturally – and I’m totally fine with that.

      • Mark says:

        I suppose you will always have to have a cost benefit analysis of any measure, but one of the costs of immigration should be the danger of sectarian conflict. The more racist and xenophobic your society becomes the more likely that danger is.

        The kings of the world seem to assume that xenophobia is just so retarded that it’ll disappear and doesn’t need to be considered as a potential cost of immigration.

        Or they believe that xenophobes will be crushed. Which seems likely, to me, to enflame the situation.

        (You can see this in any debate on immigration where pro-immigration people seem to think that indigenous racism is an argument *for* immigration.)

      • Anonymous says:

        If it leads you to do silly things like put a giant wall along the length of your border, it’s a bad idea.

        Good fences make good neighbours.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        > If it leads you to do silly things like put a giant wall along the length of your border, it’s a bad idea.

        I’m curious if other countries’ border walls and fences are “silly,” or just the one proposed in the United States? And are the hundreds of miles of border walls and fences that already exist and have existed for years also “silly”? Along those lines, what is the threshold at which border enforcement stops becoming sensible and starts becoming “silly”?

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Your xenophobia argument hinges on using the word “xenophobia” in three different ways:
      (1) fear of different sorts of people as a matter of disposition
      (2) fear of different sorts of people as a rule of thumb or principle
      (3) rational fear, that happens to be attached to a different sort of people.
      Your argument successfully shows that if other people are type-1 or type-2 xenophobes then you should fear them, which makes you a type-3 xenophobe. It does not justify type-2 xenophobia, EDIT: which is what would be needed to make it self-fulfilling.

      • Mark says:

        Why wouldn’t it be a sensible rule of thumb to fear outsiders if most experience demonstrated that they would hate me?

        (An outsider needed refer to an immigrant, or any other particular group – it’s a state of mind. A group of people who are not with you. You don’t identify with them, and they don’t identify with you.)

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          I can imagine situations where type-2 is better than type-3, and in that case we would have a vicious cycle on our hands.

          But a situation like that would be pretty weird: you would need it to be true that (a) most outsiders really are out to get you, (b) you have very little information (so you can’t distinguish between different individuals or even between different groups of outsiders), and (c) whoever defects first gets a big advantage, so Nancy’s strategy doesn’t work.

          • Mark says:

            So, the argument is that xenophobia as a rule of thumb (ROTX) isn’t justified in the same way as rational xenophobia is.

            You view ROTX as a kind of cognitive bias. Well, I’d say that there have been excellent reasons for ROTX to develop as a cultural practice. Never mind the specific outsiders we encounter, look at the history of outsiders. It’s certainly common for differentiated groups to conflict.

            In order for my original argument to be true, it isn’t even necessary for ROTX to be justified rationally. It’s necessary for a tendency to xenophobia to exist.
            In fact, it isn’t even necessary for it to exist. It’s necessary for it to be probable that it does.

            I think your distinction about the ways in which xenophobia might be motivated isn’t actually particularly relevant to the argument I am making.
            I’m not saying that irrationally motivated xenophobia must also be motivated by rationality. The division of Xenophobia up into groups (1), (2) and (3), which must each be considered as separate entities, isn’t useful, since the motivation for a group’s hatred of me is less important than the fact of it.
            “Ah ha, this isn’t a vicious circle because group A hates you irrationally, and you hate them rationally!”

            Take the irrational hatred as the starting point (“If xenopobia exists”)

            So, in my original argument, I’m not saying that all xenophobia must be motivated by rational consideration, I’m saying that if xenophobia is likely (for whatever reason) then xenophobia can also be rationally justified.

      • Anonymous says:

        Any type of xenophobia is adaptive. In a game theoretic environment where actors are distinguished by strategy and a tribal marker, ethnocentrism will be the optimal strategy.

        There are four possible strategies that take into regard tribal markers:
        – Cooperate with everyone: Universalist.
        – Cooperate with those marked like you, defect against others: Ethnocentrist.
        – Defect against everyone: Criminal.
        – Cooperate with those not marked like you, defect against those marked like you: Traitor.

        Both universalism and ethnocentrism are good strategies, as opposed to crime and treason. In the long term, ethnocentrism wins against universalism, because of the marginal profits from interactions with foreign universalists and traitors.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Cooperating with strangers until/unless they defect has its advantages.

          I have a notion that living in cities gave a genetic advantage to people who could tolerate living with strangers. I’m not talking about absolute fairness or Social Justice standards. I’m talking about being reasonably comfortable around strangers even if you thought they were wrong/ridiculous/not quite as trustworthy as your own people.

          If I can believe the way some separatists talk, they’re *miserable* around outsiders.

          What if this is a real genetic difference with a lot of people on both sides?

          • birdboy2000 says:

            One major issue with this idea is that cities spent most of their history (until the 19th century, IIRC) as unhealthy population sinks replenished by continual migration from the countryside. Hard to see anything too genetically distinct developing in that context.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Fair point, but people in cities were still having children.

          • Anonymous says:

            unhealthy population sinks replenished by continual migration from the countryside

            They still are.

  20. Wrong Species says:

    Climate change skeptics, isn’t it time to admit something suspicious is going on? From 1998-2014*, global temperatures were essentially stagnant. Because climate change alarmists(for lack of a better word) were denying that this was actually happening, it seemed to be undermining their case. Eventually, they told us that this was just a minor blip and that we should expect increased temperatures. And then in 2015, we had the highest recorded temperature. Of course, that could just be an anomaly. But 2016 also set a new high and 2017 doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Isn’t this exactly what you expect if global warming was continuing its upward march?

    Graph

    Interactive map

    *Someone is going to say something about how misleading using 1998 as a start date is but this is from the perspective of a climate change skeptic.

    • The Nybbler says:

      To try to make the pause go away, they adjusted the global temperature sets in various ways. It’s hopelessly corrupt now.

      • 1soru1 says:

        > To try to make the pause go away, they adjusted the global temperature sets in various ways

        Mostly by burning fossil fuels that release gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. The conspiracy goes deeper than you think…

        • He is describing what was done to try to make the actual slowdown, starting about 2002, disappear from the record by adjusting the estimates of global temperature at times previous to that.

          We don’t have a thermometer that measures global temperature. The figures used by the IPCC and others are the result of a fairly complicated calculation, combining data of various sorts from various times and places.

          There is room for legitimate disagreement about just how it should be done. But when people go back and revise the calculations of past global temperature that they had been using only after doing so becomes a way of avoiding the conclusion that current temperature is not behaving as they predicted it would, there is reason to suspect motivated reasoning.

          Incidentally, the way you put your response suggests that you think that increases in current temperature are a result of current increases in CO2, that if we put lots of CO2 into the atmosphere last year that explains the warming this year. It’s true that long term equilibrium temperature is a function of CO2 concentration, but long term is in the thousands of years. If we stopped putting CO2 into the air, global temperatures would continue to rise for a considerable while, since the long term equilibrium at current concentrations is higher than current temperature.

          • 1soru1 says:

            Can you describe an empirical test that would falsify your ‘everyone in the world is faking all the data’ theory?

          • Can you describe an empirical test that would falsify your ‘everyone in the world is faking all the data’ theory?

            Who is that addressed to? I offered no such theory.

            I made two points. The first was that all figures on global temperature involve a complicated process for combining data. Everyone in the field would agree with that–the disputes are on the details.

            The second was that one group of researchers reanalyzed the past data in a way that made the slowdown in warming in the early 21st century disappear, and that doing that was suspect.

            Do you disagree with either?

          • 1soru1 says:

            I was primarily disagreeing with Nybbler, and his statement ‘global temperature data is hopelessly corrupt’, offered as a response to additional years of data from all the usual satellites and sensors.

            You seemed to be defending him, so if you not doing so, please say how and where you differ from him? If 3 years data from multiple satellites and various institutions isn’t enough, is there some finite point where there would be enough evidence?

            Or are your political and/or religious beliefs somehow so entangled in the details of atmospheric physics that they cannot be right unless the scientists are wrong?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I was primarily disagreeing with Nybbler, and his statement ‘global temperature data is hopelessly corrupt’, offered as a response to additional years of data from all the usual satellites and sensors.

            There’s a pattern with new temperature data. The new datasets come out, they show less warming than the old datasets, then they are “corrected” until they show the requisite amount of warming. This pattern existed before the “pausebuster” effort, but that effort really underscored what’s going on.

          • I was primarily disagreeing with Nybbler, and his statement ‘global temperature data is hopelessly corrupt’, offered as a response to additional years of data from all the usual satellites and sensors.

            What you responded to, and quoted, in the post I reacted to, was:

            > To try to make the pause go away, they adjusted the global temperature sets in various ways

            That accurately described work done reanalyzing the earlier data in a way that made the pause appear not to be an anomaly. As I explained. As best I can tell, most of the profession was not persuaded–at least, most people still seem to agree that warming had slowed substantially early in the century, although it may now be back on track.

            If you are responding to someone else in a post that shows in the thread as a reply to me, it’s worth saying so.

            If 3 years data from multiple satellites and various institutions isn’t enough, is there some finite point where there would be enough evidence?

            If you bothered to read my post you would realize that I was saying nothing at all about the current data but about the reanalysis of old data.

            Or are your political and/or religious beliefs somehow so entangled in the details of atmospheric physics that they cannot be right unless the scientists are wrong?

            I don’t think so. “The scientists” is a misleading term in this context. One paper made the argument I described, other climatologists disagreed with it.

            Has it occurred to you that people might sometimes disagree with you for good reasons, rather than because of their political and religious beliefs?

            I have been following climate disputes for quite a long time and was involved in the similar population dispute a very long time ago. If you are curious about my views and would like something more than your imagination to base them on, you can find them by searching my blog with a suitable keyword.

    • John Schilling says:

      *Someone is going to say something about how misleading using 1998 as a start date is but this is from the perspective of a climate change skeptic.

      I’ve been tracking this for several years, and my only concern with using 1998 as a start date is consistency. 1997-1998 and 2015-2016 are both classified as Very Strong El Nino Events, a rare and significant enough thing that it could justify discarding them as outliers in observing long-term climate trends. But both or neither, not just the one that favors your interpretation

      When I run the statistics including both VSEN envents, I get a statistically significant hiatus(*) from 2002-present. Throwing out both VSEN events, statistically significant from 2004-present. 2016-2017 was a weak La Nina, so if this year is as hot as 2016, that may be a significant change.

      * “Hiatus” meaning reversion to ~1.4C sensitivity, not a literally flat temperature profile.

      • Wrong Species says:

        2016-2017 was a weak La Nina, so if this year is as hot as 2016, that may be a significant change.

        Right. The evidence seems to be pointing to 2017 being above the 2002-2014 temperatures. I wouldn’t say anything definite but it’s does look like the pause is over.

        • Wrong Species says:

          For some reason I can’t edit above but what I mean is that although 2017 doesn’t look as hot as 2016, it still has significance by being above 2002-2014.

          • John Schilling says:

            2002-2014 is characterized by a slow warming trend with a sensitivity of ~1C, which is far enough below the IPCC consensus that “hiatus” or “pause” is a reasonable colloquialism, but not a literal cessation of all climate change. For any not-ridiculously-oversimplified understanding(*) of the pause, the expected result is always for next year to be the Hottest Year Ever (modulo noise). How much hotter is critical. Another year of 2016-hot would be significant; 2017-hot will probably not be itself but may start a new trend for non-VSEN years.

            * Approximately all real people, on both sides of the debate, will have a ridiculously oversimplified understanding of the issues.

          • Wrong Species says:

            This is where we were as of two years ago. The argument was that since temperatures were above the trend line then the pause never happened. But it didn’t a particularly discerning eye to notice that the reason it was above trend was because the 90’s had a particularly strong global warming and the time since then was sort of coasting off that. My thinking was that if temperatures didn’t increase soon, then they would be below the trend line and that global warming wasn’t as much of a problem as it was made out to be. 2015-2016 were particularly hot but that was an anomaly caused by El Niño. But if 2017 is quite a bit hotter than 2002-2014, then that means the trend line continues. Temperatures are continuing at the same pace as they have been which weakens the case for global warming skepticism. Again, it’s early and I’m not saying it’s settled. But if the trend continues for the next few years, it’s going to be harder to believe there is a pause.

          • But if the trend continues for the next few years, it’s going to be harder to believe there is a pause.

            But not harder to believe that there was a pause at the beginning of this century. The pause was not predicted, hence is evidence that the models were not as good as claimed.

            In any case, everyone agrees that there was a striking pause in global warming. For about thirty years, starting in 1944.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @David

            Sure, we can say that there was a pause, in that for 12 years, global temperatures were mostly in the same range. But just as a single year can be incredibly noisy, focusing on that 12 year period is myopic. Maybe the models didn’t predict that exact pause. But it’s all about the long run. The only thing that matters is the trend and it’s not looking good.

            I’m pretty skeptical about your claim that the evidence is against the models. Climate skeptics were pointing to graphs like this showing that models predicted, within 95% certainty, that global temperatures were going to go within a certain range. And the global temperatures, before 2015, were showing that temperatures were close to exiting that range but hadn’t done so. Now temperatures have risen so it looks like the models were proven right in the nick of time.

  21. sty_silver says:

    A friend of mine has an oral exam coming up with the theme: “The Gigafactory – a counter model to lean production?” Apparently it’s fairly important for them to be above a certain grade.

    They asked me for sources, but I don’t know anything about this. Does anyone else?

    • skef says:

      The term “gigafactory” is primarily associated with Elon Musk, who uses it to describe both some specific facilities he is building, and a more general approach. The latter has to do with using economies of scale to change the product landscape, such as building huge factories for batteries to drive the costs down and make electric cars more competitive.

      “Lean production” is a methodology for identifying what aspects of a manufactured product have value and what don’t, and trying to incrementally reduce the costs (or existence) of the latter. The stereotype here is Toyota.

      Assuming this is an economics course, my guess as to what the question is getting at is that massive up-front investment in infrastructure to change the product landscape is at least apparently at odds with incremental improvements in manufacturing. In the first case, you are taking the attitude that by making your plant you can change what has more or less value. In the second you are taking the attitude that what has value is determined by “outside” forces, and are optimizing against those forces.

      But whether these are really in conflict depends on how you draw the boxes around “production”. Toyota’s R&D identified value in batteries, and the company famously integrated them into the Prius, which has been a success. This sort of “depends on how yo divide things up” analysis might be what the question mark in the topic is hoping to prompt. (It is at least an interesting coincidence that the companies most associated with “Gigafactory” and “lean production” are also very associated with battery-based automobiles.)

      One serious risk in interpreting any of this is that I don’t know the course in question, and there may also be important contextual information that would suggest a completely different approach (such as the other topics on the syllabus).

      • sty_silver says:

        I linked them your response, they said it’s a geography class with economic focus.

        They have to do a presentation, so it’s up to them how to interpret it. As of now, the intended approach is “looking in how far the gigafactory is ‘contradicting’ lean production and analyzing in which situations it makes sense to do so (if it contradicts some aspects)”

        • skef says:

          Ah. That makes me suspect that it may be a premise of the Gigafactory concept that manufacturing starts with raw (or close to raw) materials and goes all the way to the finished product, although the info I looked at didn’t make that explicit. (That does seem to be true of the batteries (probably minus the charging logic chip), but batteries are a lot simpler than cars.)

          If that’s right, then the main geographic contrast would be between a number of manufacturing steps at different locations (and likely multiple suppliers) and sending raw materials to one location for the whole deal.

          (I’ll add that I’m aware that the original request was for sources, not direct advice. That’s tricky, though. Lean production is a well-documented and widely discussed thing, but “Gigafactory” is basically a recent publicity term. I didn’t turn up anything on the latter that could be called “scholarship”. So unless the assignment came with a reading list, or the instructors specifically chose the topic for that reason, it’s not clear what to point someone at.)

  22. Kevin C. says:

    Is anyone else having trouble accessing SSC because of recurring “Protocol error (NSPOSIXErrorDomain:100)”?

    Also, is anyone else getting a “Cheating, huh?” alert when they try to report a comment?

    • Mark says:

      Um… I just accidentally reported this comment when trying to generate the error.

      So… no.

    • rlms says:

      No (although I think I have in the past).

      The reporting system no longer has a confirm box, so if you double click report because you weren’t sure if it worked then you’ll get that message. I think I’ve also got it when single clicking a few times though.

      • beleester says:

        I get it whenever I single-click on the report button. Using Chrome, if that helps diagnose.

        • random832 says:

          Not only do I not get it, the message that I get when I actually do click the report button on the same post twice is not “Cheating, huh?”; it is “It seems you already reported this comment.”

    • phil says:

      Out of curiosity, how many comments are you reporting?

      Why report a comment instead of simply state your objection as a reply?

      (for context, I think I’ve reported 1 comment my entire time here, and I wrote a reply so the original author could plainly see what my problem with it was)

      • gbdub says:

        I’d actually say it’s a service to the blog to report comments that legitimately violate Scott’s rules – he only very rarely, as I understand it, will take action on a single report, so if someone really is being nasty it’s good to establish a pattern.

    • Nornagest says:

      Yeah, the report button is still broken, at least for some users on some platforms. I think it’s incorrectly maintaining some kind of state, because when I log out and back in I can report one comment before it goes away.

      • random832 says:

        It seems to work for me (I reported your comment, sorry)… oddly enough, after reloading the page, the report button disappears from your comment (and only yours).

        The relevant function is in “ajax.js” if anyone wants to figure out why it might behave wrong on some browsers.

  23. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    I’ll hold no Ill will of this is deleted, but it may not be too toxic if we talk strictly about murderism?

    The Catholic notion of Culture of Life, opposing abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment as results of a “culture of death”, could more or less be described as anti-murderism. And I don’t think the Catholics are making the error Scott describes; they’re correct that mainstream culture does not ascribe intrinsic value to life the same way they do. And rather than using culture of death to exclude all other explanations, they have some ability to distinguish which deaths are more products of Culture of Death than others, and get more worked up about euthanasia than gangland slayings.

  24. random832 says:

    Why does the URL for this thread say “open-thread-78-5”?

    • Anonymous says:

      Incompetence theory: It’s a typo.

      Malice theory: Scott wants to ban anyone talking about yesterday’s piece under the forbidding of culture war topics in .5 threads.

    • Eltargrim says:

      This OT was originally entitled 78.5. Apparently Scott has corrected the title, but it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to fix the URL.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Scott, very nice article yesterday!

    You’ve pretty much convinced me that racism doesn’t substantially exist, apart from obviously deranged cases of self-damaging insanity – which aren’t common.

    • bintchaos says:

      ok, i can comment again.
      I dont think racism as defined exists in the US today. All the different flavors Dr. A. describes are just tribal code-words. It doesnt even make sense to say “racism” regarding muslims and jews– who are indigenously actually racial semites. How can religion be a race?
      Racism is a cultural taboo in America. Calling someone a racist is a slur– hate speech I guess.
      Its just an identity marker for tribal polarization.

      • Prejudice is a thing.

        • bintchaos says:

          yeah, but that isn’t really how its used in modern American culture. Racism is a big social taboo, so calling someone a racist is a heavy slur in cultural norms. The anti-racist-racist stuff is just pushback. Its tribalized identity codewords now.
          Like “liberal fascism”.

        • Well... says:

          Prejudice…to pre-judge…to judge based on a low ratio of facts to assumptions derived from those facts.

          Seems kinda useful, even if some of the assumptions are sometimes wrong.

          Maybe you meant some other term?