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Open Thread 78.75

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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1,069 Responses to Open Thread 78.75

  1. @ Barely matters :

    The comment monster troubles us all equally. The rest of us fight it by copying our comments into a notepad and then editing them if they fail to post. This is not an excuse.

    Really? I have never found it necessary to do that here.

    I’m not making an argument in the conversation where that quote appeared, rather, I am startled that y’all need to insure against a high probability that a good-faith comment will be auto-rejected.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      There are words that will eat the post. Many of them. Not even just the SSC specific banned words, but some other common “no, you shouldn’t post that word” words.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Yep. I got very frustrated trying to create a post with a lot of links a couple OTs back and eventually created a google doc with the links and quotes and linked to -that- instead. It’s annoying as hell.

    • Barely matters says:

      Really I only do it when I’m writing something long enough that I wouldn’t want to retype in full. I don’t hit the filter often (Partly as a function of not posting very often in the first place), but it’s enough that I’m wary that it exists and take the low effort precautions.

      The main thrust was more that if someone were frequently having trouble with comments disappearing, it’s not rocket surgery to come up with a viable workaround.

  2. DavidFriedman (who is a lawyer after all) should understand this argument

    I have no law degree, have never taken a bar exam, have never practiced law. I am an academic economist one of whose specialties is the application of economics to law.

    What O’Keefe practices is catalepsis — like a defense lawyer who introduces some outrageous claims which he knows will be overruled, but which will still remain (even after instruction) firmly lodged in the jury’s understanding– at least in the understanding of jurors who are inclined to initial belief in O’Keefe’s narrative.

    Sounds plausible. I think we saw another example in a Vox article discussed here, and more generally in the practice of giving deceptive headlines to articles or of publishing something that isn’t true and then retracting it later in a less prominent part of the paper.

    So that leads to my thoughts on this…is the Red Tribe basically a defendant in a murder trial? Does the Red Tribe deserve and be entitled to every defensive move possible? Is that what SSC really is? A court where the Red Tribe is allowed to defend their positions with best means available, whatever those means should be?

    This is referred to here as steel manning and isn’t restricted to red tribe arguments. It is, among other things, a way of defending against the natural human tendency to misread arguments we disagree with in a way that makes them look weaker than they are.

    • Charles F says:

      Is that what SSC really is? A court where the Red Tribe is allowed to defend their positions with best means available, whatever those means should be?

      This is referred to here as steel manning and isn’t restricted to red tribe arguments.

      I think steel manning is supposed to be the best possible defense of a position we can make with accepted strategies, and @bintchaos is saying catalepsis shouldn’t be an accepted strategy, which seems fair to me. When we spend dozens of posts debating exactly how unsurprised we would be by a news station milking a fake story for ratings, (they’d milk a true story for ratings too, so the fact that they’re milking it doesn’t tell us that much) and how deceptive, exactly, the editing was, we’re sort of letting a shady biased provocateur lead the conversation instead of investigating the claims with people who might know what they’re talking about. [ETA: I meant Trump/Russia here, CNN execs might know a few things about shoddy journalism]

      I don’t like the idea of treating any documentation a shady person has handled as if it were radioactive waste. It should be possible to look at whatever evidence is actually there while trying to avoid letting context-free comments by people whose incentives don’t exactly point towards truth-seeking gain too much importance in our heads, but it’s hard and I appreciated some of the reminders that James O’Keefe is definitely at least a little bit radioactive.

      • Brad says:

        As I understand it steelmanning is supposed to be taking a position you disagree with and putting it in the strongest possible terms so as to give your own views the best possible challenge.

        There’s a different version that’s sometimes used here, where a conservative or libertarian poster — or in any event anti-blue tribe — takes something that Trump or a Fox News anchor said or a red tribe man-in-the-street position, one that on its face looks very bad, uses the steelman technique to spin up a reasonable sounding justification, and then at least implies that the steelmanned version is probably what the original really meant even if they couldn’t articulate it that way.

        I find this version to be significantly different from the original concept, and somewhat disingenuous.

        • Matt M says:

          As I understand it steelmanning is supposed to be taking a position you disagree with and putting it in the strongest possible terms so as to give your own views the best possible challenge.

          Agree with this. It’s supposed to be the exact opposite of a straw man. You make the opposing argument sound as intelligent and reasonable as possible. Perhaps you go out of your way to be more charitable to it than you think it deserves.

        • Charles F says:

          In retrospect, maybe adding “with accepted strategies” was not a great choice. Maybe what I should have said was that some forms of argument, like ad hominem attacks, are generally thought to not be very good, and should rarely appear in a steel manned argument, and starting with a very strong, dishonest claim to color the discussion should also be considered not very good. My point is that steel manning doesn’t work as an excuse for “defending their positions with best means available, whatever those means should be” if those means don’t promote niceness, community and civilization, and that maybe catalepsis doesn’t promote those things.

          I’m having trouble telling whether I’m expressing myself poorly, or if not, which part is being disagreed with. (Or if I’m failing a reading comprehension check and there isn’t actually a disagreement.)

          implies that the steelmanned version is probably what the original really meant even if they couldn’t articulate it that way.

          Is it that I’m doing that a little bit? Is it rude here to try to voice what I think might be another commenter’s opinion?

          • Brad says:

            I wasn’t disagreeing with you, more so with DF, but even there not entirely. Your comment was more like a jumping off point. Sorry if you thought I was calling you out as rude. That wasn’t my intention at all.

            Since we are here anyway, on the meat of your original position, I’d guess I’d come down on the side that says that we collectively should never listen to anything James O’Keefe or Jayson Blair has to say again. Life is short and I don’t see why we would want to spend time listening to known liars. If no one else in the world can find evidence of whatever it is and so we can’t get at that truth — oh well.

            That doesn’t mean they need to be shunned from society and forced to starve to death — but there’s plenty of other jobs out there besides journalism.

        • bintchaos says:

          Thanx.
          How it seems to be used here is to shut down discussion of underlying motivations when there is no public evidence of that motivation. For example…all parents would like to believe that their child has infinite potential and the only thing that is keeping them from a Harvard or MIT scholarship is bad schools and bad teaching. That is the underlying sentiment behind NCLB votes and demonizing the teachers union. eg: DeVos is not going to say publicly that one of her goals is to defund public education in poor ethnic communities like inner city school districts in Denver with the use of choice vouchers.
          When I was just observing SSC I thought it espoused a noble goal– an open forum where ideas had an equal standing whether the ideas were Red Tribe or Blue Tribe, a kind of New Athens. But its not– its more like sewing Athens and Sparta into a sack and throwing them in the river. Pretty sure the Spartan would win that argument. But because of evolution over time, selfselection and the weaponizing of steelmanning arguments… it seems like SSC has been infiltrated by witches– not because Red Tribers are over represented here . But because conservatives are louder and more vehement here than liberals– even though representation in self polling and SSC surveys is about equal. I have tried to explain my CCP model… “soldier” phenotype means that loyalty and cohesion are more beneficial in some environmental situations. Like this one.
          And the other reason is that steelmanning is not persuasive, at least not how its used here. It never persuades any one to the other side.
          The increasing polarization of the electorate is what I’m really interested in.
          Degen implies steelmanning wont work to persuade because conservatives and liberals prefer their own ideological bubbles (5 studies).
          I agree– at SSC “steelmanning” seems to have been weaponized to provide impenetrable defense to an ideological castle.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t know if I can usefully engage with you, HBC tried and s/he has a ton more patience than I do.

            But if I could give you one piece of advice and hope you hear it:
            Quit going meta and posting about what SSC is or isn’t, how people do things here, what is or isn’t good about how conversations work here, what people should know and don’t, asking about customs, hypothesizing about other posters, and so on. At least for a few more months.

            The closest analogy I can think of is if you just joined an existing group of friends — they invited you out once or twice — and now all you want to talk about is the group’s dynamics.

            Post about battleships, post about game theory, post about politics if you must, but don’t post about SSC, or Scott, or David Friedman.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Brad
            But I’m not your friend.
            That was crystal clear from day 1.
            I’m a pledge that failed the hazing.

          • Incurian says:

            If you just knock it off, all will be forgiven. It might take a couple weeks, though.

          • bintchaos says:

            I’m sorry…but why on earth would I want to?
            I came here all excited about UNSONG and Eternal Struggle and Strangers in Their Own Land …
            I wanted to share social physics and big data and complexity theory and evo theory of games…
            and…I got accused of being Sidles and Moon sock-puppets and anger stalked by Deisaech and accused of being an Islamist and basically jumped every time I opened my mouth.
            This commentariat has validated everything the Blue Tribe ever warned me about.
            So no thanx.

          • Incurian says:

            Leaving forever is another popular option.

          • Charles F says:

            @bintchaos
            rereading through the CCP thread, it looks like you got a lot of nice, earnest and appreciative responses from people who wanted to explore the ideas further with you.

            Obviously some places devolved into criticisms of you and your communication style. But I think you can reasonably expect future posts explaining interesting ideas in social physics to also be met with curious/positive reactions.

            If you decide it’s not worth it, leaving’s an option, but the impression I got isn’t quite so gloomy.

          • all parents would like to believe that their child has infinite potential and the only thing that is keeping them from a Harvard or MIT scholarship is bad schools and bad teaching. That is the underlying sentiment behind NCLB votes and demonizing the teachers union.

            The main reason that people in the voucher movement don’t like the teachers unions is that every time there is an attempt to institute a voucher program, the teachers unions spend lots of money opposing it.

          • I’m a pledge that failed the hazing.

            “Hazing” defined as people objecting when you say things that aren’t true? As people wanting substantial arguments and evidence in favor of things you say that might be true?

            You have entered a community where people are not easily awed by claims of expertise, technical terms thrown around, often incorrectly, and claims about grand theories that explain everything.

          • Aapje says:

            @bintchaos

            You got way nicer treatment than people who can’t or don’t want to follow the unwritten rules get in most other places. But you will see push back in any social community when you violate their rules.

            Multiple people have kindly given advice to you on how you can express yourself in a way that works better here.

            This is despite various people being obviously very irritated at your writing style, your resistance to adapt it, your tendency to make claims far beyond the evidence you present, etc. I even noticed exasperation from David Friedman, who is far from the kind of person who easily gets exasperated or lashes out over trifles.

            Finally, your oft-repeated accusations of this forum seem to serve no purpose and you should reflect on why you engage in them. Forums tend to work for the people who frequent them, or they wouldn’t frequent them. They are not just going to change in nature when a single individual demands this, unless that individual manages to convince the establishment. You can’t even manage to convince the most blueish commenters here, like Brad, despite him being already disenchanted with some aspects of this forum.

            You might want to read the story of Don Quixote, an idealist who was out of sync with his environment and because of this didn’t manage to convert his ideals into positive results, for him as well as for those he tried to help.

        • I agree that I was imprecise. Steel manning is doing what was described for a position you disagree with. Bintchaos apparently believes that most of us are red tribe, or conservatives if that isn’t exactly the same thing, and is accusing us of doing the same thing for positions we agree with–at least, that’s how I interpret her, although I could well be wrong.

          I think what’s actually happening that she reacts to is usually something in between. Let me take an example that is real, but not from exchanges here (I think).

          I am not a Trump supporter–I didn’t vote for him, and my final blog comment before he was elected was that the least bad plausible outcome was probably Hillary in the White House with a Republican House and Senate. But I get irritated by what seem to me exaggerated attacks on the Trump administration made by people who were astonished and horrified at his winning. Sometimes I point out the exaggeration, arguing that, on a possible interpretation of the evidence, the attack is unjustified. That pattern done by people here may be what Bintchaos is reacting to.

          Example. Someone on Facebook had a post in the course of which he asserted that Pence believed the world was only six thousand years old. I concluded from a little googling that, while it wasn’t impossible, his public statement was that he believed the world was created by God and did not know whether evolution was the way God did it–no evidence I could find that he was a young earth creationist. So I pointed that out.

          • Jiro says:

            Saying you “don’t know” whether evolution is true, in a context like that, is like saying that you don’t know whether the Nazis killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust. You’re doubting something that’s so well-established that pretty much the only people who doubt it (ignoring edge cases) are people who *at best* are engaged in motivated reasoning to deny something that’s really inconvenient for their worldvview.

          • John Schilling says:

            Saying you “don’t know” whether evolution is true, in a context like that, is like saying that you don’t know whether the Nazis killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

            Please don’t do that. The list of things that are “like” Holocaust revisionism is approximately the null set, and does not include creationism of even the young Earth variety. Nor any other active political dispute, and using the Holocaust analogy is usually just a sleazy way of smearing someone with “…like Hitler!” while pretending to be just conducting an academic discussion about weight of evidence.

    • Atlas says:

      DavidFriedman (who is a lawyer after all) should understand this argument

      I have no law degree, have never taken a bar exam, have never practiced law. I am an academic economist one of whose specialties is the application of economics to law.

      Perhaps valued commenter bintchaos confused you with the lawyer David M. Friedman who was appointed US ambassador to Israel by president Trump?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Our Friedman teaches at a law school, if I am not mistaken.

        Which does not make him a lawyer, but it might be an easy enough mistake to make, depending on how much context there was when this was mentioned.

        • That was my interpretation as well.

          But when Trump appointed someone with my name as ambassador to Israel, some confusion did arise. I got an invitation to a social event in Washington from, I think, the Indian embassy. Some news stories had my picture instead of pictures of the relevant David Friedman, probably because I was easier to find online than he was. And I got a few emails obviously intended for the other David Friedman.

          • bintchaos says:

            Friedman said he was a professor who wrote about law and game theory/econ/islamic law.
            I assumed he was a lawyer.
            Which created the perfect opening for the weaponized steelman defense– brcause I was wrong about his profession he could discard my O’Keefe/catalepsis argument in its entirety.

          • JulieK says:

            Come visit Israel. You might get VIP treatment! 🙂 (Or not. There are about 12 David Friedmans just in the Jerusalem phonebook.)

    • hyperboloid says:

      I think the issue here is that despite the SSC commentariat self image as a “rationalist(..ugh) community, what it really is is a rationalizing community. It exists as a from of group therapy for intellectually sophisticated people on the hard right.

      At least in the original sense of the term, which was cultural and not political, almost all of the commentators here are members of the blue tribe, that is to say highly educated coastal elites. The truth is that the largely rural, white, and poorly educated American right is by and large part of a completely different intellectual culture, one that does not embrace the best practices of rationality. To borrow a concept from his former holinesses pope Benedict, it is a radically dehellenized understanding of the world.

      As evidenced by the rise of Donald Trump, the mainstream American right is dominated by a personality driven conspiratorial world view that does not allow for rational discourse, or a systematic causal under standing of human events. One of the most puzzling things about the Trump phenomenon is his continued support from evangelical Christians; how can the self described moral majority defend a thrice married philanderer who brags about grabbing women by the pussy?

      I think the answer lies in a belief system that is more fundamental than their family centered moral values, a deep anti-rational weltanschauung that sees the mundane facts of human life as the direct and result of divine will unmediated by any natural law. Many of them believe that the biblical account of creation is literal truth, that we are living very near to the end times, and that material fortune and misfortune are signs of divine favor or disfavor. That kind of thinking translates into the secular world as a kind of national mysticism that disdains political institutions and believes that American exceptionalism is an innate property of the American people, rather we continue to the traditions of liberal democracy or not.

      To this way of thinking the idea that we should look to historical precedent set in other societies to guide public policy is somewhere between treason and sacrilege. The American right believes that intellectualism is a sign of effeminacy and weakness and that we should put our faith instead in the intuitive decisions of great men of action. To them the source of our nation’s problems can only be a conspiracy by her enemies, real or imagined, and the only solution to empower great men who will ‘murica like no one has ever ‘muriced before.

      I think most intelligent people how anti rational most of the American right is, but some who hold right wing views for other better thought out reasons are compelled to engage in constant apologetics to defend the doctrines of their political allies. Thus we have constant pleas to take them “seriously but not literally”.

      What SSCers would have you believe is that the beliefs of American conservatives are expressed in an obscure metaphorical language and must be interpreted like the words of the oracle of Delphi.

      When people say that sharia law is about to be imposed on America, what their really doing is expressing a sophisticated critique of multiculturalism. When they say Mexicans are rapists and murders they are bringing attention to the economic costs of low skilled immigration. When they say that national health care will lead to death panels they are advocating for efficient free market solutions. When they say that Obama was secretly born in Kenya they mean to critique is foreign policy.

      The one defining feature of this community is an ongoing enterprise of self delusion as to the reality of the American right.

      • bintchaos says:

        In my observation Red Tribe SSC commenters are isomorphic with Hoschild’s Lousiana Tea Partiers on the defining issues of the Red Tribe– punching back at the Blue Tribe and “winning.”
        This is probably true.

        The one defining feature of this community is an ongoing enterprise of self delusion as to the reality of the American right.


        SSC Red Tribers ARE part of the American Right.
        When Hoschild came out with Strangers in Their Own Land, a critic mused “why not just wait them out (the hard right lower part of the SES distribution that votes consistently against their own interests) and let them and their children die of voting for the poisoning of their own environment?”
        I feel that way about the Red Tribers at SSC. I am offering a window into new emergent technologies and new emergent scientific paradigms that are reshaping our understanding of the world. And I am offering a model that doesnt require the assumption that conservatives have mean lower group IQ than liberals.
        The first time I said “social physics” here I was just mocked and humiliated. Ditto complexity science. I would have liked to discuss Tomasello but I didn’t even get to link a Dr. Hsu post on rachet effects, Tomasello’s most famous paradigm before I was buried under a torrent of crits.
        I get that the Red Tribe feels besieged and paranoid, and are unwilling to accept unproven cutting edge science and tech. But like I pointed out, you cant punch back at cultural evolution and tech advances.
        I mean you can do it, but you cant do it and “win.”

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @bintchaos:

          I would have liked to discuss Tomasello but I didn’t even get to link a Dr. Hsu post on rachet effects, Tomasello’s most famous paradigm before I was buried under a torrent of crits.

          If you want to discuss these kinds of things here, you are likely to be able to do so.

          But you won’t be able to discuss them in the “amateur imparts to neophyte” manner (which is by far the most pleasurable mode of introducing concepts to someone else). You should expect that many people will be skeptical of most claims and attempt to poke holes in them. This is most especially true if you set it up as “clash of ideologies” as you prefer to do.

          But, if you really want to discuss things, I think you will need to slow way down. Edit each post. Try and write more formally, perhaps as you would an essay designed for submission to a publication. This might require you to respond to fewer posts.

          Rein in your tendency to digress from the response to the critique into new subject areas or unrelated counter-critiques. Leave those for different posts. Try to limit the number of topics you address in one post.

          You might try and limit yourself in responses to one topic per response, attempting to fully address one point, in one or two complete paragraphs, well written, without slang, lingo or textual abbreviation. Try and be both clear, but also concise.

          I offer this in a spirit of “welcoming advice”. This is neither mandate, nor criticism, but rather a light on a path to a place you have expressed interest in seeing. The path itself may not be one you wish to tread.

        • cassander says:

          (the hard right lower part of the SES distribution that votes consistently against their own interests)

          This group largely does not exist. Let’s say you’re a white guy without a college degree, what does the modern left offer you? You don’t benefit from subsidies to higher education, you didn’t go, and if you or your kids tried you’d be actively discriminated against.

          You don’t benefit from the means tested welfare state becasue you make too much money, but you do have to pay moderately high taxes to fund it.

          You are much more likely than any other demographic to work in a brown industry like resource extraction that the democrats openly brag about legislating out of existence, and if you don’t, you probably know or work with people who do.

          In what way is it rational to vote for people who will tax you, give the money to others, make your job illegal, and do it all while lecturing you about how privileged you are because of your race and sex?

          • rlms says:

            What about unemployed young white men?

          • John Schilling says:

            The ones whose resource-extraction jobs were regulated out of existence by the EPA, the ones whose manufacturing jobs were offshored, or the ones who were replaced by immigrants right here in America? Not a lot of love for the left there.

            And if that’s not an accurate assessment of why they are unemployed, it is still a convenient and appealing one and we are almost by definition talking about people who never even took Econ 101.

          • rlms says:

            @John Schilling
            Of course that isn’t an accurate assessment of why the the majority of unemployed young white men are such (or if you think it is, show some evidence). It might be a convenient and appealing explanation, but so are a lot of wrong things. Just because they believe they are voting in their own interests doesn’t mean they are.

      • The Nybbler says:

        It exists as a from of group therapy for intellectually sophisticated people on the hard right.

        Yep, that’s SSC… monogamy, modesty, and drug war, Christianity and law and order policing and isolationism. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

        almost all of the commentators here are members of the blue tribe, that is to say highly educated coastal elites

        I object to “highly educated”. I have only a bachelor’s degree.

        • rlms says:

          “isolationism”
          My impression is that there is pretty widespread support for non-interventionist foreign policy here.

          • Protagoras says:

            Well, I’m of the opinion that the track record of U.S. interventions is terrible, that the interventions tend to have confused motives of fixing the world and self-interest which, combined with the world being more complex than planners expect, often lead to outcomes that undermine rather than serving any of the original intentions. There are exceptions, but that seems to me to be the usual pattern, so I tend to default to thinking we should meddle less. I do not know how typical that view is among my fellow leftists around here, or how many rightists have similar (or functionally equivalent) views (the libertarians probably should, on their principles). But if the view were widespread, that would actually explain it not being discussed as much as some other issues; we mostly talk about things that can get good arguments going.

          • rlms says:

            Yes, I think non-interventionism is common amongst both liberals and libertarians/libertarianish conservatives, which is why I expect it to be popular here.

          • “Isolationism” describes two quite different ideas. One is a non-interventionist foreign policy. The other is a system of trade barriers designed to make a country as nearly economically self-sufficient as practical.

            Libertarians tend to be in favor of isolationism in the first sense, are almost always against it in the second sense. I suspect a good many of the non-libertarian commenters here share that pattern.

      • The Red Foliot says:

        I think you are right that the SSC has a penchant for creating pro-conservative arguments that no conservative has ever uttered, and those arguments being a thousand times more persuasive than any conservative argument uttered.

        But you are wrong about motivation, at least when Scott does it.

        Whenever I see Scott giving a pro conservative argument, like his frequent asides about conservatives wanting to ‘protect cultural institutions’ and so forth, I am usually wont to infer it as being a reprimand against leftists for their ‘delusions of grandeur’ in proclaiming (as they frequently do) their beliefs ‘objectively true, logically unassailable, and opposed only by the most stupid and evil’. He is saying, in effect ‘here is one plausible argument, which is not only persuasive but perhaps even better than your own, standing in opposition to your own. So you had best take care not to be so self-assured of your rightness’.

        It is like that literary trope of ancient Rome, which grew prominent in Rome’s decadent years, where the various scholars, when reflecting on the barbarians of Germania and beyond, would laud the barbarians for their virtue; not in a sincere way, as to say they were truly great, but rather to castigate Romans for their own failings. Here, Scott propounds pro-conservative arguments, not as a way of advancing them, but to point out to fellow leftists their own deficiencies. There are other ways of looking at things, he says.

        It comes up frequently when he’s railing against the harsh response leftists take, or want to take, against right wingers.

      • cassander says:

        As evidenced by the rise of Donald Trump, the mainstream American right is dominated by a personality driven conspiratorial world view that does not allow for rational discourse, or a systematic causal under standing of human events.

        The most of the mainstream right opposed donald trump.

        >One of the most puzzling things about the Trump phenomenon is his continued support from evangelical Christians; how can the self described moral majority defend a thrice married philanderer who brags about grabbing women by the pussy?

        The same way self described progressives and social justice warriors can defend a multi-millionaire whose political career is a product of her marriage and whose privilege and wealth allowed her to evade the laws lesser people have gone to jail for, I imagine.

        > Many of them believe that the biblical account of creation is literal truth, that we are living very near to the end times, and that material fortune and misfortune are signs of divine favor or disfavor. That kind of thinking translates into the secular world as a kind of national mysticism that disdains political institutions and believes that American exceptionalism is an innate property of the American people, rather we continue to the traditions of liberal democracy or not.

        “The tens of millions of people who disagree with me are all literally inane” is not a good argument.

        To this way of thinking the idea that we should look to historical precedent set in other societies to guide public policy is somewhere between treason and sacrilege. The American right believes that intellectualism is a sign of effeminacy and weakness and that we should put our faith instead in the intuitive decisions of great men of action. To them the source of our nation’s problems can only be a conspiracy by her enemies, real or imagined, and the only solution to empower great men who will ‘murica like no one has ever ‘muriced before.

        The paranoid theory of american politics is by no means confined to the right. But please, tell me how “To them the source of our nation’s problems can only be a conspiracy by her enemies, real or imagined, and the only solution to empower great men who will ‘murica like no one has ever ‘muriced before.” was any different for the trumpers than the bernie bros.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        To convince righties to defect left, you have to do more than point out that there an awful lot of dumb righties. That just leads to the sort of “ah, but I’m not that dumb” and various justifications for why the dumbdumbs have adjacent opinions.

        No, to induce defections, you have to actually make a good case for leftiness. Which some commenters around here actually try to do (and I, for one, greatly appreciate). But every so often we get a new cycle of folk popping to go “…oh, ew… righties. WTF I thought this place was supposed to be smart. Everyone knows righties are dumb, ergo y’all are just delusional dumbdumbs”. Which works out about as well for polarization as handing out shovels and sandbags.

        IMO, the root of this is in the fuckawful false dichotomy our politics is trapped in: well if you’re not left, you must be right, right?

        Lefties are perfectly justified in protesting definitions of Leftiness that are skewed towards communists/SJWs/whathaveyou, because the blind idiot 2-party filter monster just shoves every idea it encounters into the nearest bucket. It is smug asshattery to deny the same to Righties. We’re all forced to use definitions of left & right that serve our purposes because introducing new categories is somewhere between useless and forbidden.

        Toss in a few helpings of “well I’m not about to give you the satisfaction because while you may be right, you’re just trying to hurt me” and, hey, you’ve got a polarization stew cookin’

        If there was one thing I could have everyone get out of this board’s mix of viewpoints and (desired) dynamics, it’s “Remember Kids, Say No to Moloch.”

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        Our personality-driven conspiratorial worldview didn’t just appear by itself, you know. Putin put it there!

  3. bintchaos says:

    @all
    Thanx for the replies…I think I understand better what is happening here. To go back to James O’Keefe, I guess I would say yes, he is slimy.
    DavidFriedman (who is a lawyer after all) should understand this argument. What O’Keefe practices is catalepsis — like a defense lawyer who introduces some outrageous claims which he knows will be overruled, but which will still remain (even after instruction) firmly lodged in the jury’s understanding– at least in the understanding of jurors who are inclined to initial belief in O’Keefe’s narrative.
    So that leads to my thoughts on this…is the Red Tribe basically a defendant in a murder trial? Does the Red Tribe deserve and be entitled to every defensive move possible? Is that what SSC really is? A court where the Red Tribe is allowed to defend their positions with best means available, whatever those means should be?
    Because, as a Science Triber, I know neither Tribe is amenable to persuasion…theres beaucoup research on that.
    And I guess the court is evolution. Will the Red Tribe go extinct (be sentenced to death)?
    Because you cant fight evolution.
    I mean, you cant fight evolution and win.

  4. bintchaos says:

    Someone had a question about whether Pinker and Haidt are still scientists. Haidt is a sociologist/psychologist and I think his “moral psych” ideas are in decline. Pinker’s evolution can be followed in his answers to the yearly Edge question.
    2006
    SSC is interested in basilisks and pandora boxes, right?
    2016
    Hilarious that Pinker is just now discovering the Second Law, but it actually represents a buy-in to social physics.
    Both are more what I would term “public intellectuals” than actual research scientists.

    • bintchaos says:

      Speaking of trends in ScienceWorld– is there a basilisk hiding in the recent attempts to revive interest in MI (Multiple Intelligence) Theory?
      Wired article makes reference to MI

      2010 paper on MI

    • Hilarious that Pinker is just now discovering the Second Law

      The fact that he wrote about it in 2016 demonstrates that he wasn’t aware of it in 2006?

      • bintchaos says:

        lol no…Pinker just wasnt interested in entropy in 2006– he was more interested in basilisks.
        What do you think Pinker wrote about 2017 for Edge?
        More on the Second Law
        The question was really about Scientia–

        Science—that is, reliable methods for obtaining knowledge—is an essential part of psychology and the social sciences, especially economics, geography, history, and political science. Not just the broad observation-based and statistical methods of the historical sciences but also detailed techniques of the conventional sciences (such as genetics and molecular biology and animal behavior) are proving essential for tackling problems in the social sciences. Science is nothing more nor less than the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be the human spirit, the role of great figures in history, or the structure of DNA.
        It is in this spirit of scientia that Edge, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, is pleased to present the Edge Annual Question 2017. Happy New Year!


        I was just showing the evolution of Pinker’s thought– a lot of mathematicians and physicists have disputed Pinkers decline of violence theory– he has pretty much discarded that eumeme.
        Pinker is now on the board of the Long View Blog. I would say his interest is primarily in presenting himself as a public intellectual.

        • a lot of mathematicians and physicists have disputed Pinkers decline of violence theory

          His theory that violence declined or of why? I would have thought the evidence that it happened was pretty clear and an issue for historians and anthropologists, not mathematicians and physicists.

          • bintchaos says:

            How do you not know about this?
            John Gray disputes Pinker philosophically (I have no standing to judge philosophical argument), and Nassim Taleb disputes Pinker mathematically.
            This has been going on for like…4 years?
            Taleb’s argument is that time series isnt an accurate modelling of violence, and power law would be a better model. Because of uncertainty and fat tailed distributions, Pinkers “long peace” could just be a blip between major violence events. Lots more at Dr. Taleb’s fooledbyrandomness blog.
            Heres a layman’s piece by Vox– I know how you guys love Vox.

          • Bintchaos wrote:

            “a lot of mathematicians and physicists have disputed Pinkers decline of violence theory”

            I expressed puzzlement as to why mathematicians and physicists would be involved in a historical question. Bintchaos responded:

            John Gray disputes Pinker philosophically (I have no standing to judge philosophical argument), and Nassim Taleb disputes Pinker mathematically.

            Neither of whom is either a mathematician or a physicist, although Taleb does use mathematics in his work.

            I haven’t read the Pinker book and don’t know how much of his argument hinges on the long peace, which seems to be the part Taleb is disputing. I am familiar with evidence from two sources–English murder rates and warfare among primitives–which support the idea of a very long term decline in violence.

        • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

          Pinker’s reply to Taleb (“The statistical acumen of Nassim Taleb would be put to good use in a evaluation of the risks of war and terrorism in the context of the recent history and current state of the world. This would require a careful reading and fair-minded assessment of the findings of other scholars, which so far Taleb seems unwilling to do.”). Having read Pinker’s book makes me think Taleb is trying to pick small points apart with a vengeance while ignoring the overall conclusiveness. Maybe being a public intellectual incentivises for searching emotionalized battles.

          • bintchaos says:

            The dispute is really about the underlying structure of organic reality (Nature). The fractalists vs. the gaussians.
            And you are correct, I should neverever make reference to back channel discussions that I am unwilling to cite publicly or name the people I have had them with.
            Because I have learned my lesson on that at least.

          • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

            “The dispute is really about the underlying structure of organic reality (Nature). The fractalists vs. the gaussians.
            You don’t perchance happen to have some internet source(s)* for introductory reading on that? I’d like to understand more of that … idk, dichotomy?

            *or pertinent google bait terms

          • bintchaos says:

            I would read Per Bak “How Nature Works” and Yaneer Bar-Yam “Making Things Work”– slim books, good intros.
            I like Taleb’s “Antifragile” but “Black Swan” or “Fooled by Randomness” are also good.
            A good starter undergraduate textbook is Strogatz “Non-linear Dynamics and Chaos”.
            A graduate level textbook with applications to different disciplines is Bar-Yam “Dynamics of Complex Systems”.
            Necsi website has current research– and there are free online courses in complex systems dynamics at several several university sites– it just depends on how deep you want to go.
            The origins go back to the fractal geometry of Nature from Benoit Mandelbrot in the 80s I think…
            But its basically the Von Neuman model–

            “The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work – that is correctly to describe phenomena from a reasonably wide area. Furthermore, it must satisfy certain esthetic criteria – that is, in relation to how much it describes, it must be rather simple.”
            ― John von Neumann

          • Brad says:

            Taleb’s Black Swan is not a bad place to start.

          • bintchaos says:

            There are often debates in science and mathematics… my big take-away from Pinker’s sudden discovery of the Second Law is that he is dipping a toe into social physics waters.
            Dr. Taleb is notoriously combative in public forae.
            Heres a better explanation of his views, but note this is still in draft form.

          • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

            Thanks!

          • And you are correct, I should neverever make reference to back channel discussions that I am unwilling to cite publicly or name the people I have had them with.

            You have repeatedly made factual claims that were demonstrably false. Given that, why would you expect anyone to trust claims you make that there is no way of testing?

          • my big take-away from Pinker’s sudden discovery of the Second Law

            Your evidence for the “sudden discovery” being that he recently said something about it?

  5. Tarhalindur says:

    One personal distressing realization of the last year or so, brought back to mind by this Douthat article: JK Rowling is the twenty-first century analogue of Harriet Beecher Stowe, and both Rowling and the first seven Harry Potter books are going to be taught in future history books. A bit of a blow to the pretensions of my youth, that.

    (Hopefully minus the apocryphal “little woman who authored this big war” comment, but early returns are not promising. )

    • bintchaos says:

      A comment got disappeared here after it posted.
      Editorial control I guess.
      Whatever.
      That Douthat article is spot on.

      • Brad says:

        It’s unlikely that you post was manually deleted. It happens only very rarely, if for no other reason than Scott is busy and hates moderating. It’s far more likely that the highly capricious spam filter kicked in. Did you happen to edit the post and it disappeared after you saved the edit? The spam filter takes that as a separate post and checks it again.

        In addition to the spam filter, which really doesn’t like links, there’s also a hard filter on posts that contain specific words. The trick is that there isn’t an official list of the banned words — but it is things like H B D & N R X. There’s is a pastebin link with all the known ones floating around but I don’t have it.

      • keranih says:

        Bint –

        For serious, woman, cut it out with inserting comments out of chronological order.

    • JulieK says:

      The most severe proposals of the immigration restrictionists are nothing compared to “We’re afraid muggles would make too many demands on us, so we don’t tell them that the wizarding world exists.”

      • Wrong Species says:

        The wizards approach to muggles is really odd if you think about. Wizards are basically the superior being. Why should they care what we think? Maybe we have the numbers but their magic easily trumps that and there is nothing stopping them from using our technology. It’s even weirder when you realize that muggles had the edge in medieval times and there wasn’t even the issue of differential technology.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Also it’s really strange that muggles still outnumber wizards. Think back to how much more productive magic makes you. You could feed far more children than a muggle. Even if wizardry wasn’t introduced until the Middle Ages, they still should have had superior numbers within a hundred years.

          • bintchaos says:

            Not if there is a wizard/muggle CCP.

          • Charles F says:

            This seems perfectly normal to me. Don’t we see in the mundane world that developed nations and rich people have few children while undeveloped nations and poor people have many more children? In the modern world many of us could comfortably feed and clothe a small army of children, but instead we have one or two kids and move on, why would the magical world be any different?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Charles

            Because Malthusianism was the norm until recently. The well-off passed off their genes while the impoverished died. If there was a serious famine, who is more likely to die, those with magical powers to help keep themselves alive or those without it? This whole concept that the rich have fewer kids than the poor is a consequence of a wealthy society having enough resources to be able keep all of those poor kids alive.

            The modern world exploded in population size during the Industrial Revolution. Wizards have basically had all the perks that came from industrialization long before muggles. Why didn’t it affect their population? The only plausible explanation I can think of is that they have some kind of magic birth control.

            Edit:
            Also, Wizards live longer than Muggles, which just adds another complication.

          • Aapje says:

            @Wrong Species

            Perhaps the use of magic produces infertility, just like the use of leaded gasoline caused issues.

  6. johan_larson says:

    Quick test. Try to name the US presidents going backward from Trump. Post your first miss.

    Me, Hoover.

    • Protagoras says:

      I forgot Harding. Of course, who wouldn’t want to forget him?

    • Mark says:

      Harding.

    • Brad says:

      Calvin Coolidge. I guessed Harding instead.

    • BBA says:

      I can get all the way back to McKinley, then it’s a blur of Gilded Age nonentities.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Harding.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      All the way back to Washington. Then I draw a blank at the AoC presidents.

      I had to think for a while after Cleveland (first term), because I’d goofed and shifted my sense of when McKinley had been elected by four years, and something wasn’t adding up.

      (I have a general system for memorizing US Presidents and their election years.)

    • johan_larson says:

      OK, thanks to everyone who replied. It seems most of us are fading out somewhere in the early twentieth century. Everyone gets the Cold War, everyone gets WWII, but sometime around the Great Depression or WWI it gets fuzzy.

      The question worth asking is, why? I’m a Canadian, so I never studied American history formally; everything I’ve picked up came from scattered reading and various documentaries I watched over the years. I was born in 1970, so my personal memory stretches back only to Carter; everything before that is history, at least for me.

      My working theory is that popular history, the part that gets talked about in at least middle-brow culture, stretches back approximately one lifetime. It may cover highlights further back, like the Vikings and the Roman Empire, but it only covers living memory +/- systematically.

      That would explain why I and others could confidently reach back to WWII but not WWI; Overlord and Barbarossa are part of living memory and popular history in a way that Jutland and Vimy Ridge just aren’t.

      • Mark says:

        I can remember back as far as Reagan as personal memory, and I’ve heard things over the years about Carter.
        I’m familiar with Ford because of the Simpsons and I kind of guessed he must have been the guy who took over when Nixon was impeached (which I just know about from the general culture.)
        I’ve obviously heard of JFK and I know Johnson took over after him, so I guessed there wasn’t anyone between Johnson and Nixon. I’ve heard of Eisenhower being President, but I really know very little about it, and Truman, Roosvelt I know because of the war.
        I know Hoover came before Roosvelt because I studied the Great Depression once, I think that’s where I knew about Coolidge – Harding I’d just completely forgotten.

        I knew about Wilson from WW1, I had heard of Taft, and obviously Teddy Roosvelt very famous.
        I know none of the 19th century Presidents except Lincoln and I’ve heard of Grant (and Andrew Jackson).

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          You’ve probably heard of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, all of whom were American founding fathers. They were elected in 1800, 1808, and 1816 respectively.

          Most Americans probably don’t remember much about presidents between Jackson and Teddy, except for Lincoln. We know of Grant mostly just because he led the Union Army (it was almost Robert E. Lee). If you’re from Texas, you have a somewhat higher chance of remembering Polk – arguably our most successful one-term president. (He promised to annex Texas… and did so, in 1845.)

          When I was in grade school, 19th century American history class basically talked about expansion, IndiansNative Americans, and the Civil War. Railroads and Reconstruction are also somewhere in there. Oh, and farm politics, which tends to be pretty dry stuff that only your great-grandfather could relate to.

          It’s hard to remember what any Presidents were up to, often because they weren’t very powerful. With the exception of Polk, everyone between Jackson and Lincoln was a one-termer (or less), getting slapped around by the slavery issue. Nearly everyone between Lincoln and Teddy was getting slapped around by Reconstruction or problems that arose from that.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Correction: I meant to say “with the exception of Polk, everyone between Jackson and Lincoln was an unsuccessful one-termer (or less)”.

      • onyomi says:

        The American Presidency became a more powerful and culturally significant office since the Roosevelts. I think TR was the first one to make a big deal of representing the will of the American people in some abstract way above and beyond his role as first among many elected representatives. In between TR and FDR you get a couple more, seemingly forgettable figures in the more traditional mold (Taft and Coolidge, not Wilson), but after the extremely larger-than-life FDR, they’re nearly all pretty memorable (and due to chronological proximity, of course).

    • random832 says:

      I gave up at the point Harding would have been next (and was successful until then), so put me down for him too.

    • John Schilling says:

      Another one for Harding, had had him before rather than after Wilson. What a way to be remembered, as the last President that nobody bothers to remember. Hmm, he gave us the first naval arms control treaty, and indirectly some first-rate science fiction, but other than that what should we be remembering him for?

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        Since grade school, I’ve mainly remembered Harding as being embroiled in the Teapot Dome scandal.

  7. J Mann says:

    I was curious about New York’s shift away from arrests and towards summons and diversion, and came across this adorable page:

    http://www.ideas42.org/blog/new-behaviorally-informed-nyc-summonses-hit-streets/

    Ideas42 used “behavioral science” and a wheelbarrow full of jargon to look into why as many as 40% of people given summons don’t show up and end up with an arrest warrant. They learned that people find court and sentencing unpleasant, and that in many cases, they feel that even showing up is an unfair punishment for a minor offence. (Because they’re behavioral science-y, they refer to everyone’s opinions as models.) Also, the poor often have less resources to appear.

    Their solution: redesign the tickets so the appearance date is more visible, and increase the size of the warning that failure to show might lead to an arrest warrant.

    (To be fair, the second idea is sort of related to the issues they found, which are that no shows don’t really balance the risk of arrest versus the unpleasantness of showing up).

  8. Well... says:

    Sort of a math, or maybe a physics, or maybe a psychology question…

    A 25-story company headquarters building is situated in a downtown area. I’m not sure how many people work on each floor, but each floor has an area of approximately 32,000 square feet. (So, can we say…100-150 people per floor?)

    They are expecting traffic problems because of an upcoming holiday celebration, so the company sends out an email announcing a floor by floor early release for the day. Floors 20-25 are released first at 3:45, then floors 15-19 at 4:00, 10-14 at 4:15, and so on.

    It’s clear, both from the email and common sense, that they don’t expect everyone to follow this exist plan exactly. It’s also likely the company expected the early release to ease–rather than eliminate–a huge rush at 5pm which would be followed by a totally clogged parking garage and surrounding traffic jam.

    What I’m curious is, is releasing 5 floors at a time, 15 minutes apart, enough to do anything? Or was the email only sent out as a psychological trick to encourage people to leave early because if you just came out and asked them to do it they wouldn’t?

    Also, if this is a serious attempt to get everyone out of the building easily, are they doing it the right way? (E.g. should the bottom floors be cleared first, airplane-style, etc.)

    • Thegnskald says:

      Traffic capacity behaves oddly; adding 5% more traffic can bring everything to a crawl, where it worked perfectly before. Think about red lights; as you add cars-per-light-cycle, nothing really changes in traffic patterns, until you add the car that doesn’t make it through the light. Now each cycle adds one additional car of backup, bringing the system to a grind.

      So it is entirely plausible the plan would work perfectly.

      • Well... says:

        Hm, that’s true.

        This kind of stuff (e.g. traffic patterns and the design/engineering decisions that make them work better) has fascinated me for a long time, but I’ve never studied it. Is there a book or several that serve as a good introduction?

        • bottlerocket says:

          There’s a decent intro in this short article:

          http://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown/2013/11/12/traffic-waves/

          The neat thing is that you can model the physics of drivers as “tries to match speed of car in front with some delay” and produce simulations of traffic flows that look uncannily real. This equation (and other models like it) let us cross-apply all of our knowledge about fluid dynamics to traffic, limited mostly by how unpredictable humans feel like being and local zoning laws.

          Perhaps this means we can have super optimized roadways if most cars are autonomous in the future?

        • littskad says:

          You might find the Federal Highway Administration’s Revised Monograph on Traffic Flow Theory useful. Also, although I’m not an expert in the topic, my understanding is that a recent important contribution is three-phase traffic theory. A gentler introduction is “An Introduction to Traffic Flow Theory”, by Lily Elefteriadou.

  9. Thegnskald says:

    Question for anyone who might know:

    Is the Big Bang Theory actually well-(edit) supported?

    A quick rundown of my understanding of the evidence:

    The theory predicted a specific cosmic background radiation. A different background radiation was detected. This was resolved by positing cosmic inflation (“dark energy”). This in turn is supported by the fact that galaxies are accelerating away from one another, mostly. Question there: Given such a cosmic redshift, what would the background radiation from an infinitely old infinite universe look like? Naively, it seems like you would expect to see something like what we see, but I don’t possess the math skills to calculate the expected radiation.

    The second major piece of evidence is that the galaxies we have looked at are mostly about the right age, given their distance from us – but there are a number of galaxies we’ve seen which are not, with various explanations given for young galaxies in old clusters and old galaxies in young clusters.

    As far as I can discern, that is pretty much it; two pieces of moderately strong evidence, given the exceptions that have to be explained away. But many people seem to behave as though the theory is nearly ironclad at this point. Is this tribe -oriented signaling about how pro-science they are, or is there additional evidence I am ignorant of?

    • Jiro says:

      The second major piece of evidence is that the galaxies we have looked at are mostly about the right age, given their distance from us – but there are a number of galaxies we’ve seen which are not, with various explanations given for young galaxies in old clusters and old galaxies in young clusters.

      That’s a very odd way to phrase it because it puts undue emphasis on the ones that are not. It’s not as if for every 500 galaxies that match there are 499 that need to be explained away.

      • Thegnskald says:

        With regards to testing the theory of gravity, a helium balloon is more interesting than the one million previous test cases which fell neatly to the ground.

        Likewise, if we find a galaxy older than the universe should be, it doesn’t matter how many other galaxies we have seen in the right age range – the age of the universe isn’t correct. (Or something else interesting is going on, as with the helium balloon)

        • Jiro says:

          I am unaware that we have found a galaxy older than the universe should be.

          • Thegnskald says:

            We have found a few – if they are indeed as old as their location suggests they should be. (As the age of a galaxy is a combination both of how old it “looks” and how far away it is) The current explanation, as I understand it, is that they drifted there from somewhere else.

          • Nornagest says:

            that they drifted there from somewhere else.

            That doesn’t make sense to me. As far as I know, the most distant galaxies we’ve seen are in the neighborhood of 13 billion ly away (as far as we can tell from redshift on standard candles, angular size, etc.); we are therefore getting an image of them 13 billion years old. If one looks like it’s at a developmental stage that’d place its birth before the consensus origin of the universe, how on earth can where it drifted from matter?

            I suppose its motion relative to its neighbors could affect redshift, but that’s all I can think of.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Imagine a galaxy is.moving .1c towards Earth. Over the course of ten billion years of development, it moves such that, considering it’s distance from Earth, it should only be nine billion years old. It would thus appear to be one billion years older than the universe.

          • Nornagest says:

            That makes sense. Didn’t know that galaxies moved fast enough for relativistic effects to be more than a rounding error.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Owing to cosmic expansion, the galaxy wouldn’t have to move anywhere close to that fast, as I understand it, but my understanding is kind of weak; I mentally process it as “The underlying coordinate system is changing”.

          • Thegnskald says:

            …wait, that still makes no sense. Sorry, I was misinterpreting your questions, and not noticing the problem.

            I need to do some research tonight to figure out what I am misremembering there.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Ah, no, I had it right.

            It is considered to be resolved now with more recent data.

            I was confusing that with another issue, which is inconsistent ages in galaxies in galactic clusters. They should all be approximately the same age, but some of the objects are older or younger than they should be. Which is what I originally referenced, until I misremembered what I was talking about and started talking about something else entirely.

            My apologies.

    • Randy M says:

      Given such a cosmic redshift, what would the background radiation from an infinitely old infinite universe look like? Naively, it seems like you would expect to see something like what we see, but I don’t possess the math skills to calculate the expected radiation.

      I don’t know about the predicted radiation, but galaxies shouldn’t be moving apart in an infinitely old universe, unless it was oscillating.

    • Anatid says:

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#Observational_evidence for a rundown of the evidence.

      The theory predicted a specific cosmic background radiation. A different background radiation was detected. This was resolved by positing cosmic inflation (“dark energy”).

      You have mixed things up a bit–inflation and dark energy are two different things.

      The cosmic background radiation strongly implies a big bang–it’s exactly the radiation you’d expect to see if a long time ago the universe was just a bunch of glowing hot gas. Inflation is a way of explaining a worry people had, which is, why was the gas the same temperature everywhere? Because when we look in any direction, the background radiation has almost the same temperature. Inflation–a period of extremely rapid expansion during the first tiny fraction of a second of of the universe–would explain that, as discussed here under “Horizon problem.”

      Dark energy is different. The motivation for introducing dark energy is that when we look at the speed with which galaxies are moving apart from each other, we find that the speed has been increasing for the past few billion years. This can be nicely explained by adding a simple extra term to the equations of general relativity. But physicists find just adding this term rather unsatisfying from an aesthetic point of view and would like to find a deeper explanation for why that term should be there. Perhaps to motivate themselves to do that they give this term the dramatic name of “dark energy”.

      Given such a cosmic redshift, what would the background radiation from an infinitely old infinite universe look like?

      Ignoring the background radiation for the moment, it’s hard to see how the universe could be infinitely old, and also have the observed galaxy redshifts. Redshift means all the galaxies are moving apart from each other. If we extrapolate their motion back in time they all collide 14 billion years ago.

      Returning to the background radiation, it’s also hard to see where it would come from in an infinitely old universe. Maybe you’d see something like it in a static universe full of gas at a temperature of 2.7K. But instead the universe is full of stars at temperatures of thousands of K.

      Is this tribe -oriented signaling about how pro-science they are, or is there additional evidence I am ignorant of?

      I think you probably don’t appreciate how strong the cosmic microwave background evidence is — we can make a lot of numerical predictions about the properties of the CMB which have been verified to high precision. For example, in the big bang model we expect there to have been “acoustic fluctuations” (giant sound waves) in the very early universe that led to some areas being slightly denser and hotter than others. So we expect to see some slightly brighter, hotter patches in the CMB, and indeed we do (above I said above that it’s the same temperature everywhere, which is still basically true because these temperature fluctuations are very slight). We can calculate what the frequency spectrum of the acoustic fluctuations should be, and from that we can calculate how the bright spots in the CMB should be distributed, statistically, on the sky. When we do that we get amazing agreement with maps of the CMB made by satellites. The graphs look like this. The dots are from satellite data, and the green line is the theoretical prediction. This sort of stuff has physicists absolutely convinced of the reality of the big bang.

      The Wikipedia article will give you the other lines of evidence, for example “big bang nucleosynthesis”: we can do the math to figure out which fusion processes should have happened when the universe was dense and hot enough for that (the first few minutes). This correctly predicts the ratios of elements that we observe in the universe.

  10. HeelBearCub says:

    It might be too late in this OT to make any headway on this, but … old college try and all.

    One of the topics I return to frequently is the idea that headlines are inherently unreliable, that most everyone knows this, and discounts accordingly. For those who don’t discount, this means that only reading headlines will result in a some large skews to points on their map of reality.

    Scott has at various points inveighed against headlines which are misleading in some way. I’ve always thought that his criticism, while perhaps containing some meritorious points, was basically flawed. Specifically, I think those who are inveighing particularly heavily against the incorrectness of headlines are engaging in a kind of fundamental attribution error, assigning particularly negative causes to others when headlines are somehow misleading.

    Why do I bring all this up?

    “WHY ARE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IMMUNE TO OPTICAL ILLUSIONS?”

    Is there anything in the article to back up the idea that transgender individuals, full stop, are “immune” to optical illusions? No.

    Rather the nuanced picture is that susceptibility to optical illusion and transgenderism are negatively correlated to a fairly mild, though statistically significant extent. 14% of people overall in the survey do not see the mask illusion, whereas 21% of transgender people do not. That is a full 79% of people who DO see the illusion.

    In addition the form of the headline, a question taking the form of “Why is X true?” assumes that X is indeed true, when that is in no way established.

    None of this is to suggest Scott was wrong to right the headline/title as he did. It’s perfectly understandable. But charity demands that an equal amount of understanding be applied when hyperbolic or otherwise incorrect headlines appear in other fora.

    • Charles F says:

      The main thing that jumps out at me is that nobody is very attached to how affected transgender people are by optical illusions. If somebody goes and tells people at a party that trans people can see through your trickery, no big deal. If there’s a vote a couple days after a NYT headline says such and such policy has reduced the number of foreign students we’re getting by 40% (actually reduced in 40% of schools, and increased in 30% or something, I think) or that only some smallish percentage of economists think school choice is a good plan, that might actually affect things.

      Maybe my feelings have something to do with the idea that I think the NYT titles were motivated by ideology, trying to convince people using hyperbole, while Scott was making an article about a weird theory about neurochemistry sound interesting.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        That is not the only time Scott (and the commentariat) has made this mistake.

        Nor was the conversation around it in that case nuanced.

    • Zephalinda says:

      I, for one, noticed the headline and was annoyed by its inaccuracy. Sloppy writing encourages sloppy thinking. (And I say that as someone who’s particularly prone to sloppy writing myself! 🙂 )

    • AnonYEmous says:

      can’t help you here, I skimmed through parts of the article and really thought trans people were way more immune to optical illusions than they turned out to be

    • Corey says:

      On media sites, headlines are usually written by someone other than the article author. The headline writer may have more of an eye towards SEO, Facebook engagement, etc. than faithfully summarizing the article. I’ve seen complaints from authors about this before (from Noah Smith wrt Bloomberg View IIRC).

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Sure.

        Which means Scott should be even more charitable to other source/less charitable to himself on this front. He knows exactly what he found and it’s limits, so if even he is willing to bend things to make it “interesting” ….

    • IrishDude says:

      I’d prefer to see more consistency in the form of everyone (including Scott) being more careful about making accurate headlines, not in the form of people being more charitable towards misleading headlines.

      • Randy M says:

        I thought tongue-in-cheek titles were a thing Scott did, but looking through the archives, it really isn’t, so I’ll forgive him this while agreeing it was poor form.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Scott switches between serious and tongue-in-cheek all of the time, but it’s not always clear when he does it.

          He does it to make his product more appealing. To increase the likelihood someone will get pleasure out of reading his posts and return to read more.

          It wouldn’t matter if he had a habit of this, as that is the same motivation everyone has for juicing their headlines.

          • Randy M says:

            Look through the archives. There are joke titles, but not many that are actually misleading, even hyperbolic.

    • Incurian says:

      I didn’t like the title either, and he should hold himself to the same standard he holds others, but he DOES have this little thing right under the title:

      [Epistemic status: So, so speculative. Don’t take any of this seriously until it’s replicated and endorsed by other people.]

      So it’s not as bad as it could be.

      • Jiro says:

        If people really believed that disclaimer, there would be little to discuss about it.

        The whole reason you write an article that says one thing and has a disclaimer contradicting it is that you expect people to ignore the disclaimer. The disclaimer is only there for plausible deniability, so that when someone believes the misleading headline you can act as though it’s their fault and not yours. This is basically how clickbait works.

        • albatross11 says:

          How else would you suggest he speculate on some weird thing he’s noticed while acknowledging that he doesn’t have good data on this and the whole thing may be made of fog?

        • Aapje says:

          @Jiro

          The disclaimer is not contradicting it, it is claiming that people should not treat the article as a hard claim, but as a hypothesis.

          • Jiro says:

            If he wanted people to treat it as a hypothesis, he wouldn’t have needed to use a survey.

          • Aapje says:

            Many hypotheses are based on some evidence, just insufficient evidence to be confident in them being true.

            I don’t think that people generally come up with a hypothesis by making random guesses.

    • thepenforests says:

      I mean, I’d be quite happy to agree that that’s an inaccurate headline, and that Scott should have probably gone with a different one.

      Having said that, I think my main concern when it comes to inaccurate headlines is how well they dovetail with confirmation bias, and its ability to exacerbate extreme polarization/the culture war. Ultimately, I feel like political polarization is the result of a feedback loop where the more one subscribes to the beliefs of a particular tribe, the more lenient one will be evaluating evidence in favour of those beliefs, and the more stringent one will be in evaluating evidence against those beliefs. It kind of leads to a runaway process where one becomes more and more sure of one’s positions, regardless of how good the evidence is for them. The end result is that both tribes have beliefs that they’re completely certain of, but are (at least some of the time) completely detached from reality (and moreover, people end up believing that anyone who denies those beliefs must not just be incorrect, but morally deficient – because why else would they refuse to accept such an obvious truth?).

      Inaccurate headlines contribute to this in that they make it even easier for people to find “support” for their positions than it might otherwise have been: in Liberal-land, you’re hit with a non-stop barrage of headlines saying things like “New study proves that Industry X is sexist” or something, and it doesn’t matter if Scott does a really thorough debunking of each of the studies in question: the vast majority of people only ever read the headline, and now it’s out there, providing yet one more tick mark in peoples minds that confirm their beliefs. Meanwhile, over in Conservatopia, you’re constantly exposed to things like “Climategate emails prove that climate scientists falsified their data” or whatever. And even though that turns out to be completely false, republicans end up saying “Aha, I knew it was all just a liberal conspiracy.” Repeat ad nauseam and you have the culture war.

      All of this can now happen at rapid-fire pace without people even having to read the articles in question – instead, it’s just “I saw five headlines today that reaffirmed my beliefs” and then everyone ends up with this really frightening sense of vindication: exactly what they thought was true has been “proved.” And not just proved, but proved multiple times over – sure, everyone thinks, one headline might be wrong, but what are the chances that all of them are? (I think this might actually be my main concern, really – everyone sort of treats the sheer number of headlines out there supporting their position as good evidence, but I don’t think that’s true at all) Anyway, the point is: all of this just serves to make everyone a little bit more sure that they’re right, and that the other side is either willfully ignorant, or inherently evil. And I do find this legitimately scary, no trace of concern trolling or anything like that.

      Things like Scott’s headline, on the other hand (and others pertaining to similarly esoteric subjects) don’t really concern me as much, at least not in the same visceral way. Like, I see tons of misleading or incorrect headlines when I read science stories on phys.org, but I don’t really *care* about them. As long as they’re not contributing to the culture war or other toxoplasma-of-rage-type stuff, they just don’t strike me as a huge priority. Sure, they maybe contribute to the public being misinformed about science or whatever, but at least they’re not hastening the downfall of civilization.

  11. Le Maistre Chat says:

    I’m planning to post a read-through of Western epic poems, starting with the Iliad and ending with Paradise Lost. Is that something y’all would be interested in discussing here, or should it only be on my blog?

  12. Thegnskald says:

    I have just noticed I code “Treating the behavior of others as a personal attack” as a female-gendered behavior.

    Which is interesting to me, because it is the first such gender coding I have noticed in myself. I know where it came from – the women in my close family are mentally unstable – but I don’t know what to do with it now that I have noticed it.

    Anybody have any experience updating their unconscious heuristics?

    • Well... says:

      Why are you so sure about where the coding came from? Is every single female in your family mentally unstable? Does their mental instability consistently manifest as “Treating the behavior of others as a personal attack”? Have you no reason to internalize that coding from male relatives, or from persons unrelated to you?

      My experience has been that “Treating the behavior of others as a personal attack” is common among:

      – younger men more than older men
      – adult women more than adult men

      Not sure about younger men vs. younger women…

      My point is, you might have gotten those “unconscious heuristics” from somewhere besides your particular family members. Ascribing it to them might be “unconscious heuristic” on its own!

      • Thegnskald says:

        To your questions about my family, correct on each count.

        And yes, that is definitely where my heuristic came from.

        I am not particularly interested in whether or not the heuristic is correct, I want it gone. I didn’t put it there, it doesn’t belong.

        • Well... says:

          I understand a desire to get rid of a heuristic that misleads you because it’s wrong (by which I mostly mean “improperly calibrated”), but I’m not sure why you want to get rid of one simply because you didn’t consciously put it there. It might be part of your cognitive immune system. Shouldn’t the emphasis be on whether it helps or harms you?

  13. Zodiac says:

    Today in news that 0.005125% of human society pertain:
    Germanies parliament voted for absolute equality of same-sex marriages to normal marriages. They were already the same in many ways. The changes now are concerning adoption and inheritances law.
    Only problem now: some of the Christ-Democrats are planning to go before our supreme court because this might be unconstitutional. I predict failure since our constitution doesn’t define marriage and merely states that it enjoys “special protection”.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What is the evidence for and against greater male variability in g?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      This is a quantitative question, so you shouldn’t ask it as a binary. You could ask a binary question of whether the variability is great enough to explain some particular other phenomenon, but that will depend on what the other question is!

      Janet Hyde says that there is “equal” variability, but I believe she finds standard deviation ratio of 1.1. Whether this is the same as 1.0 depends on the application. Larry Summers says that if the ratio is 1.2, that is enough to explain the observed sex ratio of Harvard science professors. But even that probably isn’t enough to explain the sex ratio of science students. Also, this argument relies on an assumption of a bell curve distribution going out many standard deviations, which is dubious.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is a quantitative question, so you shouldn’t ask it as a binary.

        In order for it to be a quantitative question, the phenomenon needs to exist. I want to know if it exists, rather than presuppose that it does, asking instead “how much?”.

        Do you have any good studies you can link?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          The ratio of the sd of males to the sd of females is a number. It exists.* The null hypothesis is never true. It is not exactly 1. Given the existing literature, it is unlikely to be less than 1. But how much more than 1 does it have to be to be worth talking about? Hyde and Summers may appear to disagree, one calling it “small” and the other “large,” but I don’t think that they disagree on any facts, only the focus of their attention.

          Janet Hyde finds 1.2 for math and calls it similar, while Lynn and Kanazawa get 1.1 and emphasize that it is bigger than 1.

          * Well, actually, I might dispute that g exists. In some sense it exists, but maybe not precisely enough to pin down this number to 1 significant figure. The number does depend on the choice of IQ test in a range of maybe 1.05-1.2. I use 1.1, because that’s what I got from NLSY.

          • random832 says:

            The ratio of the sd of males to the sd of females is a number. It exists.* The null hypothesis is never true. It is not exactly 1.

            Never is a hell of a word. Nothing’s *exactly* 1, but if it’s close enough to 1 that it can’t be measured, and can be moved by random births and deaths (as, suppose, the ratio of the sd of people whose names begin with the letter “A” to that of people whose names begin with the letter “B”), that’s statistically insignificant enough for your ‘truths’ to be vacuous.

            There is obviously no mechanism (except perhaps heritability combined with the popularity of particular names with smarter or dumber parents) for IQ to be affected by names. There may or may not be a mechanism for it to be affected by gender.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            If you deanonymized Hyde’s data set, I think you would find a statistically significant difference between A— and B—.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Douglas Knight

            Thank you! This is what I was looking for.

        • Charles F says:

          There’s this study Scott posted in a links post a while back. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289616301003

          It finds no difference in average intelligence or variance.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            While Scott described it as “very big,” it is actually smaller than most studies. Most of the tests of statistical significance are for tiny subpopulations. Eyeballing the numbers, it looks like it has a lower ratio than most studies, but I don’t see a confidence interval for the ratio of variance of a large aggregate population.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Charles F

            Any chance of a full text?

          • Charles F says:

            @Anonymous

            I found it on ResearchGate

    • cassander says:

      I’m not saying one doesn’t exist, but I’ve never seen a single objectively measurable human quality for which male variability wasn’t higher than female. It would be remarkable if men were more variable in every human quality besides G.

  15. Atlas says:

    I hope this is allowed, but if it’s okay I’m going to repost a comment I made towards the end of the last OT, because I was hoping to hear what pro-minimum wage folks think, but I didn’t get any responses. Also, I have a thin pre-text of adding some culture war content I didn’t add last time.

    After reading both the article in the NYT’s business section about the Seattle study and (coincidentally) some of Ron Unz’s pro-minimum wage increase writings, I would very much like to hear what pro-minimum wage/pro-minimum wage increase people have to say about this objection:

    So, the minimum wage is pretty much as clear a violation of the material I studied in Introductory Microeconomics as one could imagine. We learned that price controls, where the government dictates a maximum or minimum price in a market, are bad ideas, because, if binding, they lead to shortages or surpluses, bad in the short run because welfare increasing mutually beneficial trades are prevented, bad in the long run because they send inaccurate signals to suppliers causing inefficient shifts in the supply curve. Like, literally, after writing that I got out my Intermediate Microeconomics textbook, and double-checked that, yup, this is exactly what’s cautiously yet definitively stated in chapter 1.

    If I was the son of Kryptonian parents, sent to Earth as a teenager, not knowing anything about “politics” or “economics”, and I took an economics class at Smallvile High, I would have walked out assuming that maybe in the pre-Enlightenment era, foolish uneducated monarchs instituted price controls, but in the modern world of course our societies are rationally organized according to basic principles agreed upon by our learned scholars.

    But then I would have been proven to be a total chump, because apparently, not only do politicians ignore the scholarly consensus, the scholars ignore the scholarly consensus. Not only do we have a minimum wage, but many prominent economists, even though generally notably less supportive than the general public, actually support raising it. See e.g. the IGM panel survey on a $15 minimum wage or the letter signed by 600 economists in support of a $10.10 minimum wage. (Just from scrolling down the list of signatories briefly, I see multiple economics Nobel laureates.)

    (THIS FOLLOWING PART IS THE ACTUAL OBJECTION YOU CAN IGNORE THE OTHER PARTS IF YOU WANT)

    So…why? Well, as best as I can understand, the arguments are:

    (I’d like to include links, maybe will do so in follow up comment, but adding them seems to get comments banished to the circle of the digital Inferno reserved for spam.)

    1) Efficiency wages: because people aren’t inanimate objects, paying them more incentivizes them to be more productive.

    Please enlighten me if I’m missing something, but this makes no sense to me: if paying people more is a self-fulfilling productivity prophecy on some margin, why isn’t that already incorporated in the demand function for labor? (That is, if paying people more makes them produce more, why do business owners need the government to tell them to do that, rather than just doing it to gain an advantage themselves?) What collective action problem does government intervention solve (or ameliorate) here?

    2) The effects won’t be that bad.

    Okay, sure…but that’s not really an argument for raising (or having) the minimum wage.

    3) It will save ordinary taxpayers money by reducing welfare payments. It will reduce corporate profits, not increase prices, and who cares if it reduces corporate profits?

    The thing is, even though a fair amount of people pay some taxes, a hugely disproportionate share (relative to population) of taxes are paid by the very wealthy, whose income/wealth is at least partly due to said profits—according to the Tax Foundation, in 2013 the top 1% of earners paid ~38% of income taxes, and the top 10% paid around ~70%. Even if you think the wealthy should be taxed more, the logic is still the same: the potential tax base for the government could just as plausibly be decreased in proportion as the welfare expenditures are (allegedly) decreased.

    4) (what I think is the most serious argument) The demand for the kind of low-productivity service sector labor that tends to be around minimum wage is inelastic, so hopefully the minimum wage will result in mostly a transfer rather than a reduction of the pie, and that transfer will hopefully be from richer capital-owners to poorer workers, thus increasing utility.

    So to me, that sounds like in the absolute best case scenario for the minimum wage: a transfer of income from the richer to the poorer. However, this transfer may cause involuntary unemployment, higher prices disproportionately harming the poor, unnecessary redirection of research into automation of areas that a relatively adequate supply of labor is already available for, etc. So it’s a tricky problem, huh?

    Well, instead of doing that, couldn’t you just…have/expand a transfer of income from the richer to the poorer like the EITC? People say “well why not do both?” but my point is that I don’t see what a minimum wage could do that is good that an equivalently high EITC could not, but I see things that are bad that a minimum wage could do that (I think) the EITC could not.

    Now, the culture war angle to this that I didn’t mention last time is one that’s at least implicit in Ron Unz’s campaigning for a higher minimum wage: namely, for Unz the market distorting effects of the increase are a feature, not a bug, because they prevent, particularly Hispanic, immigrants from finding employment, thus discouraging Hispanic immigration. And I suppose Unz thinks that the indirect approach,as B.H. Liddell Hart might have put it, is superior here than just campaigning for immigration restriction. Which I guess is something that pro-immigration, pro-minimum wage liberals might want to think about, at least.

    P.S. An extra bonus problem with price controls is that they may lead to either equal or inferior outcomes through substitution. (The classic example being rent control leading to poor apartment quality/maintenance.) For example, a worker might be “paid” both in terms of the cash he receives and the relative (in)convenience of his working schedule. So if a worker is paid $8 per hour at a certain schedule, but would be willing to work a less convenient schedule at $10 per hour, if the minimum wage is raised to $10 per hour the employer might be able to get away with demanding that the worker abide by the less convenient schedule for the worker, leaving the putative beneficiary indifferent between being “paid” $8 and $10 an hour. (This is of course the concept captured graphically in indifference curves.)

    • So, the minimum wage is pretty much as clear a violation of the material I studied in Introductory Microeconomics as one could imagine. We learned that price controls, where the government dictates a maximum or minimum price in a market, are bad ideas, because, if binding, they lead to shortages or surpluses, bad in the short run because welfare increasing mutually beneficial trades are prevented, bad in the long run because they send inaccurate signals to suppliers causing inefficient shifts in the supply curve. Like, literally, after writing that I got out my Intermediate Microeconomics textbook, and double-checked that, yup, this is exactly what’s cautiously yet definitively stated in chapter 1.

      What about controls that are very close to market prices? Shouldn’t they have a minimal effect?

      1. I think the point here is not that the employee will make more effort, but that the employer would be incentivised to make the job a higher-quality one through training, automation and so on. The benefit is a general push in the direction of high quality, well payed jobs. The flipside is that if you allow very low wages in an advanced economy, as David Friedman recommends, you reach a situation where it becomes cheaper to hire people to sweep floors or wave fans than to buy machinery, which is the situation that is actually found in third world countries. So the argument is about what direction you want to go in., whether you want a downward spiral or an upward spiral.

      2. I suppose you mean the macro effects. Obviously. the effects for the people getting wage raises would be good. SImplistically, good+neutral=good. Less simplistically, the catch is that you can’t assume that everyone in a low wage job will get the increase, since employers might respond by downsizing. As to whether minimum wages actually cause unemployment, I would recommend empiricism over textbook arguments

      3. The argument here applies only if you have a welfare system and it allows top-ups for working people. By a simple argument, a homo economicus employer would want to pay $0.01 an hour to an (easily replaced) employee, even if they valued them much more than that, if they knew the government would take up the slack. So the minimum wage could be seen as counteracting distortions introduced by the welfare system.

      4. Are you quite sure that automation is a bad thing?

      Well, instead of doing that, couldn’t you just…have/expand a transfer of income from the richer to the poorer like the EITC?

      See (3). That’s getting fairly close to UBI: individuals are essentially supported by the state, and someone somewhere, presumably the corporations, has to pay a lot of tax. I’m not saying that is necessarily bad, but compared to minimum wage policies, it’s pretty radical.

      • I think the point here is not that the employee will make more effort, but that the employer would be incentivised to make the job a higher-quality one through training, automation and so on.

        If the increased output from the changes paid for its cost, it would be in the employer’s interest to do so at the old wage. If not, providing it would make the employee worth less than before, not more. The employer is now losing money on his marginal low skill employees so will reduce his employment of them. By how much is an empirical question.

        The benefit is a general push in the direction of high quality, well payed jobs.

        More precisely, it is to reduce employment opportunities for low skilled workers, substituting for them higher skilled and more expensive workers.

        It’s rather like the argument that we would all be better off if only Cadilacs or the equivalent could be sold, since the average quality of automobiles would go up.

        So the argument is about what direction you want to go in., whether you want a downward spiral or an upward spiral.

        An upward spiral meaning the creation of a society divided between people permanently on welfare because they have been priced out of the labor market and reasonably well payed skilled workers–who would have been well paid without the minimum wage law, although they may do a little better now that they don’t have to compete with low cost, low skilled workers. And the former group is likely to grow over time, since a high minimum wage blocks the entry path for new workers–other than graduates of law school, medical school, … .

        2. I suppose you mean the macro effects. Obviously. the effects for the people getting wage raises would be good. SImplistically, good+neutral=good. Less simplistically, the catch is that you can’t assume that everyone in a low wage job will get the increase, since employers might respond by downsizing.

        The usual effect of increasing the price of an input is to decrease quantity bought. It isn’t an issue of downsizing but of substituting inputs whose cost has not been raised for inputs whose cost has been.

        And you are ignoring the fact that you have raised production costs, hence raised the price of goods, especially goods produced with low skilled labor, thus making everyone poorer qua consumer, although some people are richer qua producer. You seem to be assuming that the extra money for the higher wages comes out of nowhere.

        As to whether minimum wages actually cause unemployment, I would recommend empiricism over textbook arguments

        The question is whether they cause unemployment for low skilled workers. Workers currently making at or below the federal minimum wage are about 4% of hourly paid employees, so less than 3% of the labor force. Even quite a large increase in their unemployment rate has an invisibly small effect on the national unemployment rate, lost in the noise from other causes of variation.

        There has been a good deal of evidence in the past that the unemployment rate of groups such as teens, many of whom are at the minimum wage level, increases with increases in the minimum wage. There is one prominent study which found no such effect in a specific case. It’s been extensively criticized, and I haven’t followed the argument so don’t know if the criticisms are justified or not. But it’s worth noting that the coauthor of that piece has said that his result only applies to small increases in the minimum wage, and that he would expect the sort of increase being talked about currently to have a negative effect on unskilled employment.

        It’s also worth noting that back when Krugman was an academic economist instead of a professional leftish public intellectual, he expressed the same view on the subject as most other economists. This is an issue where there has been a tension between what liberals want to believe and what economists expect to be true for a very long time.

        The argument here applies only if you have a welfare system and it allows top-ups for working people. By a simple argument, a homo economicus employer would want to pay $0.01 an hour to an (easily replaced) employee, even if they valued them much more than that, if they knew the government would take up the slack.

        You are assuming that supply and demand have no effect on the price of labor, unlike all other inputs. Doesn’t that imply that, with a minimum wage, everyone will be paid the minimum wage? Is your theory that the natural level of wages is subsistence? If so, isn’t it a little odd that average incomes in the developed countries at present are twenty to thirty times what the world average was through most of history?

      • Wrong Species says:

        The flipside is that if you allow very low wages in an advanced economy, as David Friedman recommends, you reach a situation where it becomes cheaper to hire people to sweep floors or wave fans than to buy machinery, which is the situation that is actually found in third world countries. So the argument is about what direction you want to go in., whether you want a downward spiral or an upward spiral.

        This seems to be mixing up cause and effect. Third world countries don’t pay low wages simply because they can get away with it compared to first world countries. They pay low wages because their workers are very unproductive. If the “downward spiral” was a plausible consequence then why don’t more companies pay less than they already do? BlS reports only 2.7%* of hourly workers(a fraction of total workers) are being paid at or under minimum wages. Even if the minimum wage was eliminated, only those people would plausibly have their wages lowered so it’s not like we would have an entire economy of low wage workers.

        *People who make less than minimum wage usually make tips, which are variable but generally end up as higher than minimum wage, so it’s debatable whether that should even count.

        • Wrong Species says:

          After writing this reply, I realized a possible objection was that most states have higher minimum wages than federal law so eliminating all minimum wages would clearly affect more workers. Luckily, the BLS includes state data so it’s not hard to simply look at the states that have the same minimum wage as the federal minimum. I’ll list some states and there corresponding percentage of hourly workers making minimum wages:

          Idaho 4.6
          Oklahoma 3.1
          Kentucky 4.8
          Texas 3.9
          North Carolina 3.6

          If you think I’m cherry picking(I’m not), you can check it yourself under table 3. So yes, in those states, more workers are at or below the minimum wage but it’s not significantly higher. Also, keep in mind that most states with minimum wages at the same level as the federal government are lower productivity states, which could partially explain why more of their workers are being paid at the minimum wage.

    • onyomi says:

      This recent FB post by Eliezer seems somewhat relevant.

      tl;dr:

      Bryan Caplan thinks the left hates free markets and the right hates the left. Actually, the left doesn’t hate markets, since most of them acknowledge they’re great wealth generators; rather, the left wants market outcomes to accord with morality of the sort which prevails among friends, family, and close associates.

      Example: among friends, family, and close associates, people are taken care of. If they’re not taken care of, it means someone is being mean and selfish. Among close associates, gifts, rewards, and quid pro quos have something to do with your past history with those people and a mutual evaluation of how much work it took them to do it. If your low-skilled friend labors for many hours to create you a gift which, on the market would be worth very little, you are nonetheless expected to be very grateful, since it’s the effort relative to the person doing it and your past history with them which counts, not an abstract analysis of the broad societal supply and demand of the type of labor and materials deployed.

      Thus, the left looks at something like a fast food worker being paid $7/hr and says “this means you don’t value these people! The people who are making your food! It’s not possible to live with dignity on $7/hr, so if you oppose raising these wages by mandate, it must mean you think these people don’t deserve basic human dignity!”

      Eliezer’s point is that prices aren’t moral judgments, they are information. They are valuable signals for economic coordination. Thus, distorting them in the name of producing a “moral” outcome is pretty much always a bad idea. If you want poor people to have more money, you can just give them more money (this is probably part of the thinking behind a lot of the UBI support around here: help the poor without distorting economic signals).

      But for many on the left, even direct transfers to the poor would be a second-best solution, because it wouldn’t “fix” the immoral market outcomes. I think that in some sense, the left also buys into the same sort of myth they frequently accuse the right of believing: that one’s market wage is an indicator of your worth as a person. Therefore, they’d rather mandate employers pay fastfood workers $12/hr than let employers continue to pay them $7 while the government contributes an additional $5, because the former seems to lead to a more just society, even though the economic consequences of the latter would likely be less harmful.

      • skef says:

        Eliezer’s point is that prices aren’t moral judgments, they are information. They are valuable signals for economic coordination. Thus, distorting them in the name of producing a “moral” outcome is pretty much always a bad idea. If you want poor people to have more money, you can just give them more money (this is probably part of the thinking behind a lot of the UBI support around here: help the poor without distorting economic signals).

        Why isn’t giving poor people more money a different distortion of signals for economic coordination?

        • onyomi says:

          Well, pretty much any state action whatsoever introduces some kind of distortion in markets.

          But prices are the key point here. Minimum wage laws distort the economic signals sent by the price of labor. Taxing the rich and distributing it directly to poor people distorts who’s spending/saving/investing the money, but it doesn’t distort the coordination of supply and demand accurate prices enable.

          Poor people doing different things with their money than the rich would have will have some effect on prices, but the signals sent by those prices will still be accurate so far as the “we tax the rich to give the poor more purchasing power” economy is concerned.

          • skef says:

            A UBI would almost certainly change who seeks jobs and who doesn’t, and therefore change the supply of labor and the price of labor. How isn’t that a rather direct “distortion”?

            When you say “accurate”, what is the standard of accuracy? A minimum wage doesn’t muddy the waters on the level of communication.

            the signals sent by those prices will still be accurate so far as the “we tax the rich to give the poor more purchasing power” economy is concerned

            And otherwise the signals will be accurate so far as “the minimum wage is X dollars” is concerned.

            More specifically, if the issue isn’t one of accuracy of communication, the concern seems to be that if we set the minimum wage at $X, we lose track of what the price of labor would be if the minimum wage were not $X. Why is that important, and particularly why is it more important than losing track of what the price of labor would be if there were not a UBI as compared to if there were a UBI?

          • onyomi says:

            The difference is between a law which has some effect on some prices and a law which actually outlaws certain prices. The former is producing a different result than an unfettered market would, but isn’t messing with the prices within the system that law is a part of. The latter is directly messing with a specific price signal.

          • beleester says:

            The signal a market gives you is “The equilibrium cost of the thing is $X,” or to rephrase it, “If the price of the thing is $X, suppliers will produce exactly as much as people are willing to buy.” If the price deviates from that, your economy is either producing things people don’t want, or failing to produce enough.

            The market also has some baked-in mechanisms to drive things to the equilibrium price – produce too much, and you fail to turn a profit and go out of business. Produce too little, and prices go up and it becomes profitable to enter the market. You don’t have to consciously “read” those signals, just do whatever makes money.

            Giving people money will shift the demand curves – more people will be able to buy a thing at a given price – but the equilibrium price will still fall at the point where supply and demand intersect, so the market will be able to adjust using its built-in mechanisms.

            We usually don’t care what people are buying with their money – they know what they want better than the government does – but we care a lot about if the market can fill those wants efficiently, which is why economists hate price controls so much.

            Labor deviates from the Econ 101 model in a couple of ways – for one thing, you can’t “leave the labor market” without starving to death – but that’s generally the “signal” a market is sending.

          • the concern seems to be that if we set the minimum wage at $X, we lose track of what the price of labor would be if the minimum wage were not $X. Why is that important

            The concern is that we are losing track of what wage equalizes marginal cost and marginal value, maximizing net value. You have workers who would rather work at $7 an hour than be unemployed at $10 an hour but are not permitted the former option, which loses the gains to both them and the customers of their potential employers from their productivity.

          • skef says:

            The concern is that we are losing track of what wage equalizes marginal cost and marginal value, maximizing net value. You have workers who would rather work at $7 an hour than be unemployed at $10 an hour but are not permitted the former option, which loses the gains to both them and the customers of their potential employers from their productivity.

            Good!

            So, accepting part of the premise: People on the left support raising the minimum wage for moral reasons, and their confidence that this will actually improve material conditions often rests on empirical evidence that is at best dubious.

            People on right, particularly of a libertarian bent, support eliminating the minimum wage for moral reasons that might be summarized as “freedom of contract”. Those reasons could also be used to argue against a UBI, but a UBI is seen as interfering less and therefore as being a better compromise position. Their confidence that replacing the existing mechanisms with a (likely stingy) UBI will actually improve material conditions often rests on empirical evidence that is at best dubious.

            When describing this debate, people on the right, particularly of a libertarian bent, will describe the left’s position as a moralizing and unrealistic. They will then attempt to erase the moral framework underlying their position entirely, and instead describe the reasoning in terms of neutral “information” and “valuable signals”. But as it turns out, what is better or worse “information” just depends on the moral framework, and can’t be defined without appealing to it, as David Friedman helpfully illustrates.

            Am I following?

          • But as it turns out, what is better or worse “information” just depends on the moral framework, and can’t be defined without appealing to it, as David Friedman helpfully illustrates.

            Am I following?

            I’m not sure. Do you think that the desirability of increasing net value is a debatable moral position? Obviously one could reject it–a sadist might argue that having people be miserable was a good thing. But not many people do. From what moral position is it desirable that someone willing to work for $7/hour for an employer willing to pay him that be unemployed instead?

            I agree that the opposition of libertarians, myself included, to the minimum wage is partly based on a moral preference for freedom of contract. But that wasn’t the argument I was making in the comment you responded to.

          • Aapje says:

            willing to work for $7/hour

            It’s interesting that this is presented as some kind of free choice, on par between choosing between a coke or a cappuccino.

            In reality the bottom end of the job market involves a ton of coercion, either by need (to not starve), various pressures to force people out of welfare, sexual selection, etc, etc.

            It ought to be pretty clear that the left generally doesn’t accept the natural free market outcomes that would result without any intervention, with low productivity people dropping below some level of well-being.

            Do you think that the desirability of increasing net value is a debatable moral position?

            The free market maximizes satisfaction of demand, which is not the same as maximizing well-being.

            Common sense is that people will generally satisfy their most valuable (to them) demands first, where richer people will make decreasingly valuable purchases.

            Imagine two people with equal desires. They both want X which to them has value 100, Y with value 50 and Z with value 10. Imagine that X, Y and Z all cost the same, $1.

            Bob has $3, Alice has $1. Now Bob will satisfy his entire demand, increasing his well-being by 100+50+10 = 160. Alice will get X for value 100. Total well-being increase due to market purchases is then 260.

            Now imagine wealth redistribution to Alice for $1. Now Bob and Alice will both have $2 and will buy X and Y, increasing their well-being by 150. Total well-being increase due to market purchases is then 300.

            Of course, wealth redistribution has a cost, etc, etc, but the basic point stands that maximizing the free market doesn’t automatically maximize well-being.

          • skef says:

            Do you think that the desirability of increasing net value is a debatable moral position?

            If the subject is value in the sense ethicists use the term, then a concept of net value is already begging the question of whether such value can be summed, and may therefore be incoherent. Regardless of that question, if the subject is value in the way economists use the term, then yes, I do consider that proposition debatable, because I’m not at all confident economists have much idea of what they’re talking about.

            Anyway, you’re just transparently and without argument making a jump from judgments of value to value. If the idea is to define value in virtue of judgments of value, then whoever does that definitely doesn’t have much of an idea of what they’re talking about.

            From what moral position is it desirable that someone willing to work for $7/hour for an employer willing to pay him that be unemployed instead?

            I guess one example would be if 100 people are going to be murdered if that person takes the job. I suppose you mean “all other things being equal” which, given that we’re talking about a minimum wage that some people would earn, does not apply to the present topic.

            I am not arguing that every possible minimum wage is defensible. If the paper in the OP’s claim that the total amount of money going to low-income people has dropped holds up, that seems like a good criterion by which to judge that the level is too high. But absent the freedom of contract point, which you claim not to be relying on, the isolated fact that such a deal was prevented demonstrates nothing.

          • onyomi says:

            @Aapje

            That is an argument for wealth redistribution, not an argument for wealth redistribution by means of a minimum wage. Why not just offer direct transfer payments to people with low wages and thereby avoid messing up the labor price signals?

            For example, imagine the minimum level necessary for a socially-acceptable standard of living in a place is $12/hrX40 hrs a week. Imagine instead of setting the minimum wage at $12, the government says anyone working a full time job for less than $12/hr will receive a transfer payment and/or in-kind benefits to make up the difference. Though this may cause some problem with fraud (people working a fake $1/hr job to receive $11 from the government), isn’t it otherwise better?

            Right now, if you are someone whose work is only worth $7/hr to any employer and the minimum wage is $12, you will simply be unemployed and the government may have to shell out a full $12/hr worth of welfare payments and benefits to keep you from going homeless, without medical care, etc. Also, the employer foregoes the economic opportunity of your labor.

            But if you’re allowed to take the $7/hr job and the government makes up the difference you are now participating in the economy, producing value, etc. etc. and saving the government $5/hr worth of welfare.

          • skef says:

            Where is this sudden emphasis on a comparison between a policy that has been around at the federal level since the 60s and an idea that people kinda sorta have been farting around with for the last few years coming from?

            One of the reasons that minimum wage laws are politically viable is that most people aren’t employers. Yes, the expense winds up being passed along in different ways, but people aren’t great at judging those ways.

            Suppose a federal UBI referendum were proposed next week at, say, $11, and all minimum wage laws were repealed at the same time. What percentage of libertarians are you confident would vote for that law if it increased their taxes a few hundred dollars a year?

            Why don’t we get a few of these proposals on an actual table before we’re confident about what people on the left or the right would support? A lot of the support for raising various minimum wages is that when one is already in place its a matter of changing a number or two. Lots of support for a UBI comes from an assumption that total expenditure will be cut one way or another.

          • Jiro says:

            From what moral position is it desirable that someone willing to work for $7/hour for an employer willing to pay him that be unemployed instead?

            I am tired of, in lots of contexts, people saying “every individual in the current situation is made better off by this, therefore this is better”. That doesn’t follow. It’s not rational.

            Actions create incentives. It’s entirely possible that everyone in the current situation would be made better off by something, but putting it into place creates incentives that change what situations are likely to occur.

            Consider a similar argument in a non-minimum-wage context: “We should nationalize all foreign property in our country and give it to the people, because the people are starving and would gain a lot more utility than the foreign companies would lose.” If you do that, you’re never going to get foreign investment again, and everyone is worse off.

            (And don’t think I’m just talking about minimum wage here. The argument is fallacious regardless of where it appears, as long as there is a serious possibility of creating incentives. I see this bad argument used all the time by libertarians who say “oh, that’s a voluntary transaction, and those never happen unless both parties are better off, so how can they make anyone worse off?” Incentives, that’s how.)

          • In reality the bottom end of the job market involves a ton of coercion, either by need (to not starve), various pressures to force people out of welfare, sexual selection, etc, etc.

            An odd definition of coercion, since you make it identical to self-interest. The top end of the job market also involves people working because they have strong reasons to do so. Starvation isn’t very relevant to either–a full nutrition minimal cost diet comes to about $600/year, which is a lot less than $7/hour. The desire to appear attractive to members of the opposite sex, which I am guessing is what you mean by sexual selection, applies to both.

            Now imagine wealth redistribution to Alice for $1.

            I am aware of the implications of declining marginal utility of income. So, I expect, is everyone else in this conversation. But we aren’t discussing wealth redistribution. Making someone unemployed at $10/hour instead of employed at $7/hour doesn’t make him richer, it makes him poorer.

            Is your argument that without a minimum wage the low skilled worker will have to work for $7/hour because he can’t collect welfare because he could get a job, and that the minimum wage makes him better off because now he can’t get a job so can collect welfare? That’s the only version that I can see any sense to. But if that’s your point, surely you should be arguing either for changing welfare rules to make it available to anyone who can’t get employment at a wage of more than X or for something like a negative income tax to supplement the $7/hour, not for a minimum wage law.

          • Brad says:

            I’m not sure. Do you think that the desirability of increasing net value is a debatable moral position?

            I certainly do. If we were talking about a Pareto improvement that would be thing, but a minimum wage has winners and losers. That makes the moral question much more contested.

          • Aapje says:

            @onyomi

            Employers don’t pay employees a little below the amount of value they produce, they pay them as little as they can get away with (just like sellers in a market don’t price at just above the cost of production if they can get away with asking more).

            @DavidFriedman

            The top end of the job market also involves people working because they have strong reasons to do so. [etc]

            Yes, but at the top end employees tend to have more alternatives and tend to be more scarce a resource.

            Making someone unemployed at $10/hour instead of employed at $7/hour doesn’t make him richer, it makes him poorer.

            In the absence of welfare, yes. However, he may also become a $10/hour employee if he was actually producing over $10 in value, but got $7 because of his weak negotiating position. I think that the left tends to assume that this is fairly often the case, while you don’t.

            Is your argument that without a minimum wage the low skilled worker will have to work for $7/hour because he can’t collect welfare because he could get a job, and that the minimum wage makes him better off because now he can’t get a job so can collect welfare?

            He might be better off, it’s not necessary for the overall outcome to be superior. As I argued above, you are only looking at one possible scenario and hang your entire judgment on whether a person in 1 specific scenario is better off.

            But if that’s your point, surely you should be arguing either for changing welfare rules to make it available to anyone who can’t get employment at a wage of more than X or for something like a negative income tax to supplement the $7/hour, not for a minimum wage law.

            I never argued that a minimum wage increase would be a panacea for the issues of lower class Americans, nor did I advocate for it. I criticized because I saw a flaw in the reasoning, which doesn’t mean support for the opposite point of view.

            My point was that various mechanisms play a role, where some may mainly be affected positively by the change and others negatively; where the overall judgment of the effect depends on what parameters you use. Do you assume that many people are underpaid and that many companies are making large profits, more of which should go to the workers? Do you assume that there are a lot of workers that would be automated away, outsourced or otherwise replaced if the minimum wage goes up? The exact size of these effects and various other effects makes a big difference to how certain groups are effected and there is no clear scientific evidence that we can base a very good prediction on. There are also interactions with many other laws and policies. So the various people with their various preferences seem to mainly base their position on their biases.

          • onyomi says:

            @Aapje

            Employers don’t pay employees a little below the amount of value they produce, they pay them as little as they can get away with (just like sellers in a market don’t price at just above the cost of production if they can get away with asking more).

            Yes, but they won’t hire anyone with a negative marginal revenue product.

            I don’t know if you’re making this error, but it’s still common enough that I’ll mention it: Marxists think that employers pay employees the minimum amount necessary for them to survive, but that’s not the case. They pay them the minimum amount necessary to convince them to do the work. Outlawing someone doing work they’d be willing to do for a given price just creates unemployment.

            And any government backstop (if non-contingent) strengthens the worker’s bargaining position because he is less desperate to accept the first offer that comes along.

          • onyomi says:

            @Jiro

            What kind of negative incentives are created by abolishing minimum wage?

            Also, there is a positive which rarely gets mentioned: say I am thinking of starting a small business and hiring a few people but fear the red tape and minimum requirements involved in hiring anyone (well, except illegal immigrants, our own country’s safety valve on excessive labor regulation). I am much more likely to actually try the idea in the absence of minimum wage and other mandates since the cost of failure is much lower.

            People tend to always talk about minimum wage in the context of employers like Wal Mart who obviously could afford to pay more if they had to. But the businesses no one ever starts go unseen.

          • BBA says:

            And any government backstop (if non-contingent) strengthens the worker’s bargaining position

            Yes, that’s the point. I see it as an indirect form of collective bargaining, which is also horrendously inefficient from a pure economic perspective, but eminently reasonable given the context in which it arose.

          • In the absence of welfare, yes. However, he may also become a $10/hour employee if he was actually producing over $10 in value, but got $7 because of his weak negotiating position. I think that the left tends to assume that this is fairly often the case, while you don’t.

            I make the same assumptions that other economists do. In equilibrium in a competitive market, price equals both marginal cost and marginal value. If anyone can hire a worker for seven dollars and get ten dollars of income from him everyone will want to hire more workers, and they will keep doing it until wages are bid up, or the extra productivity from one more worker down, to the point where they are equal.

            You seem to be imagining a world where each potential employee has only one possible employer. That isn’t the real world that low skilled employees live in.

            I can’t tell from what you write whether you are familiar with the standard economic analysis of markets and don’t believe it or are going on economics you invented for yourself. The latter doesn’t work any better for economics than for other sciences, although it seems to be more common.

          • rlms says:

            @onyomi
            “Marxists think that employers pay employees the minimum amount necessary for them to survive, but that’s not the case. They pay them the minimum amount necessary to convince them to do the work.”
            Those amounts can be the same (if there is only one company that employs people with the potential employee’s skills).

          • onyomi says:

            @rlms

            Or the second amount may be lower. Or higher, of course. Really, I don’t think there’s much connection.

            @Jiro

            One other arguably negative incentive created by minimum wages is to encourage employers to speed the replacement of workers by machines, often in cases where customers might prefer to deal with a person, but the extra cost can’t be justified at the higher wage scale compared to the ever-lower costs of e.g. computerized checkout counters.

          • Aapje says:

            @onyomi

            Marxists think that employers pay employees the minimum amount necessary for them to survive, but that’s not the case.

            That seems like a straw man, because it is obviously wrong. Everyone would earn minimum wage if it were true. I’ve seen a marxist argue that the margin between the wages and the value produced for the employer is theft, as it is value that the worker produces but where someone else profits.

            @DavidFriedman

            If anyone can hire a worker for seven dollars and get ten dollars of income from him everyone will want to hire more workers, and they will keep doing it until wages are bid up

            That’s highly simplistic/often false. If I build houses, I need different forms of labor and materials. If the wages of roofers go down, I won’t react by building houses with two roofs. The roofers cannot create an independently useful product, they are a cog in the machine. My profits will go up, making it profitable to build slightly more houses, but the benefits of this don’t just go to the roofers, but to all professions that contribute to building a house.

            So what can happen then is that I make 3 dollars of profit on the roofer, but lose 1 dollar on another laborer. What matters to me as a hypothetical builder is the overall profit.

            What can also happen is that there is a shortage of electricians, but a surplus of roofers, resulting in an inability to produce more houses. This then tends to drive up the wages of electricians instead of more houses being built. Perhaps this will eventually result in more people getting an education as an electrician, although labor supply seems far less responsive to wages than many assume.

            In general, complex production processes can result in bottlenecks where some kinds of labor are in limited supply and others are in large supply. Those in the latter group tend to be susceptible to see their wage driven down to very low levels, up to minimum wage (or even below).

            You seem to be imagining a world where each potential employee has only one possible employer.

            I don’t see how this is necessary for my claims to be correct. There merely needs to be a surplus of that profession compared to demand for their labor.

          • rlms says:

            @onyomi
            In this simplified model where an employer negotiates wages with each employee individually, they are not going to pay less than the amount needed for survival (for a full-time job) since if the potential employee is going to die anyway they can probably find a better use for their time than slaving away in a factory. Certainly, the employer may pay more (for instance if they need to attract employees away from other employers). But in the situation I described, where the employer is the only factory in town, any increase in pay above the subsistence amount comes out of the goodness of the factory owner’s heart, hence there will be no increase.

          • JulieK says:

            Aapje wrote:

            Employers don’t pay employees a little below the amount of value they produce, they pay them as little as they can get away with (just like sellers in a market don’t price at just above the cost of production if they can get away with asking more).

            Let’s say you and I are both restaurateurs, raking in profits by paying our workers as little as we can get away with. I can cut my prices and attract your customers, while still making some profit. To compete, you have to cut your prices as well. The end state will be that there isn’t much headroom after all between the wages we pay, and the wages we can afford to pay.

          • Matt M says:

            But in the situation I described, where the employer is the only factory in town, any increase in pay above the subsistence amount comes out of the goodness of the factory owner’s heart, hence there will be no increase.

            This also assumes the people in town have absolutely no means to leave town and seek out employment options elsewhere, AND that the employer is not overly concerned with ever needing to recruit people outside of town and convince them to move to the town.

            Most of these “but what about company towns!” analogies break down under serious scrutiny. Or at the very least, they devolve into “well the employer lies about the conditions in the town and then people move there and are out of money and have no choice but to be slaves for the rest of their lives” which would count as fraud, and which having a higher minimum wage is nearly powerless to prevent.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            Yes, so? I agree that the extreme version of this where the choice is between employment and death is rare in modern developed countries, but unemployment causing unavoidable premature death isn’t unknown historically or globally.

          • Matt M says:

            The point is that if your main criticism of free markets pre-supposes some incredibly specific and relatively rare combination of various worst-case-scenario conditions, then it’s a poor criticism.

            It is not logically sound to say that we need a minimum wage everywhere because a few company towns in the middle of nowhere sometimes pay lower wages than we believe the workers of the town deserve (and may engage in fraud, which is already illegal, even under free markets, to get people to show up in the first place).

          • Aapje says:

            @JulieK

            Once the restaurant is full, you will have to turn away those customers that the lower prices attract. There is no reason to do that. What is more likely is that new restaurants will open.

            Of course, it doesn’t change the outcome much. In practice we see that since the barriers to entry are fairly low and the basic personnel to run a restaurant is plentiful, the business is very competitive and in many places it’s hard to run a successful restaurant.

            And yet some restaurants make huge profits…so the uniformity in outcomes that simplistic theories predict is not there.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            That’s certainly not my main criticism of markets (or more specifically, unregulated markets of labour). I’m just disputing onyomi’s framing where the amount of money a person needs to survive is unconnected to the amount a company needs to pay to get them to work. Preventing someone starving is a very good persuasion mechanism.

          • Matt M says:

            You need to pay someone the minimum amount it takes to get them to agree to do the work.

            To the extent that what is needed to survive is part of this equation, it exists merely as one factor in the equation that the worker processes in his mind to determine whether he is willing to work for X wage or not.

            The employer doesn’t really care one way or another. First of all, there IS no “minimum amount needed to survive.” This will vary from person to person depending on circumstance and attempting to assign a base value to it is pointless. Secondly, every person values things differently. Some may value freedom over mere survival (see: slavery/prison escape attempts). Some may view survival at subsistence level as unacceptable.

          • BBA says:

            fraud, which is already illegal, even under free markets

            Why? You could say it’s the mark’s fault for believing the fraudster, and the principle of caveat emptor (or in this case caveat servus) applies. Eventually reputational effects and market forces will eliminate fraud, so there’s no need to ban it.

            (No, I don’t actually believe this, but when I was a libertarian I grappled a bit with this line of thought.)

          • Matt M says:

            Eventually reputational effects and market forces will eliminate fraud, so there’s no need to ban it.

            Well, to be clear, my definition of “free market” is essentially AnCap, and something being “illegal” really just means “will harm your reputation a lot and nobody will do business with you anymore”

            The point is, if you have to rely on “but corporations lie to get employees to sign bad contracts” as one of your “reasons why we need to have a minimum wage” then you’re doing it wrong. You can punish lying independent of a minimum wage.

          • “Marxists think that employers pay employees the minimum amount necessary for them to survive, but that’s not the case. They pay them the minimum amount necessary to convince them to do the work.”
            Those amounts can be the same (if there is only one company that employs people with the potential employee’s skills).

            The latter situation is unlikely for the low skilled workers affected by minimum wage laws, since they don’t have specialized skills. There are a lot of farmers hiring grape pickers, low end construction labor, and the like.

            Your initial point about Marxists is of some interest in the history of economics. It’s a simplified version of the iron law of wages.

            The basic argument, going back to the early classical economists, was not about the individual employer but about population equilibrium. If wages were below subsistence–more precisely, below the level at which the working population reproduced itself–the number of workers would fall, the labor to capital ratio would fall (not their terminology), and wages would rise. If it was at a level at which the working population more than reproduced itself, the opposite effect would push wages down.

            Ricardo, who was the most sophisticated of the classicals (and, I think, the only economist who Marx showed any respect for) pointed out that the level at which the working population maintained itself wasn’t defined by biological subsistence but by willingness and ability to have children. Hence his point that the lovers of mankind should want the poor to have expensive tastes since that would mean they would be willing to bear the costs of producing and rearing children only when salaries were reasonably high, giving a high long term equilibrium wage level. He also, of course, noted that the relation only held in the long term, that wages could be above that, and population increasing, for a long time.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Did Ricardo account for the fact that many people in poorer nations see their children as their pensions?

            It’s incorrect to model children as pure expenses in a situation where they are treated as investments with a positive ROI and/or as a good way to produce time-shifted income.

          • Jiro says:

            In this simplified model where an employer negotiates wages with each employee individually, they are not going to pay less than the amount needed for survival (for a full-time job) since if the potential employee is going to die anyway they can probably find a better use for their time than slaving away in a factory

            Expenses are lumpy, so an amount less than that needed for longterm survival may still be okay for day to day survival until a long term problem pops up. The employee would stil work at those wages because longterm reduction in survival is still better than starving today.

      • Brad says:

        This exists as much on the right as it does on the left.

        Look at the entire debate over trade barriers, implicit subsidies, and the nonsensical concept of “shipping jobs abroad”.

        There’s plenty on the right that have the exact same notions about the relationship between pay and worth, right down to rejecting direct transfers as an inferior option. The only difference is that they think the market gets it right for those lazy city folk but not for us hard working, American heartland, salt of the earth types. Sure they don’t support a minimum wage, because that would include the wrong people, but they definitely want wildly inefficient amounts of money to be spent making sure their region / industry has “good jobs”.

        The real cleavage is between a tiny number of technocratically minded people of various ideologies and everyone else.

        • Incurian says:

          I agree. Someone made a similar point in the comments at Caplan’s blog, and there were some responses with varying levels of persuasiveness. http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2017/06/what_is_resentm.html#comments

          • Brad says:

            Interesting, but I didn’t see any particularly persuasive replies to Ted though.

            The best answer seems to be that the left is mostly anti-market, conservatives are mostly anti-market and libertarians are mostly pro-market. I’m not sure why the left gets singled out.

          • bintchaos says:

            Rightists are anti-leftist. On an emotional level, they’re critical of leftists. No matter how much they agree with leftists on an issue, they can’t bear to say, “The left is totally right, it would be churlish to criticize them.”

            This is the most perfectly accurate description of the Red Tribe that I have seen anywhere.
            Also true of Hoschild’s Lousiana Tea Partiers, and especially the woman who described Limbaugh as her “brave heart” because he took it to the liberal elite that she perceived as mocking her and her culture.
            Like the Sad Puppies, it doesnt really matter if “punching back” turns into punching themselves in the head, as long as they can plausibly claim some blows landed on the Blue Tribe too.

          • Rightists are anti-leftist. On an emotional level, they’re critical of leftists. No matter how much they agree with leftists on an issue, they can’t bear to say, “The left is totally right, it would be churlish to criticize them.”

            This is the most perfectly accurate description of the Red Tribe that I have seen anywhere.

            Don’t you see the same pattern to a similar degree in the other direction? Making birth control pills available over the counter looks like something people who are in favor of giving women control over their bodies would be in favor of. But since it was a Republican proposal, the democrats are against it. School vouchers ought to appeal to people who claim to be in favor of decentralization and diversity. Part of the reason the left is against them is that the teachers’ unions are one of the strongest interest groups in the Democratic party, but part is that they were being pushed by people the left considers conservatives.

            On the other hand, it isn’t that hard to find examples of people on the right agreeing with people on the left. Consider the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The Drug Policy Foundation has had support from both left and right for a long time. Going back a bit, the Vietnam war was a bipartisan project.

          • The best answer seems to be that the left is mostly anti-market, conservatives are mostly anti-market and libertarians are mostly pro-market. I’m not sure why the left gets singled out.

            Possibly rhetoric. The left frequently says it is anti-market. Conservatives say they are in favor of the free market, they just find lots of convenient exceptions to that position.

          • Charles F says:

            Making birth control pills available over the counter looks like something people who are in favor of giving women control over their bodies would be in favor of. But since it was a Republican proposal, the democrats are against it

            That doesn’t sound right. Do you know which democrats are against it? It looks like Mother Jones, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post have all expressed support for it, and the articles tend to say there’s strong bipartisan support (with links to sites that don’t seem to say anything like that), and the only point of contention seems to be about whether it’s paid for by insurance, with left and right very predictably divided on that issue.

          • bintchaos says:

            Yeah its disengenuous–
            Like school vouchers aren’t really about enabling choice but about starving public schools in poor areas of gov funding and increasing the privitization of education in general.
            There has been plenty of argument against public schools, colleges, universities AND private colleges and universities on SSC. The current education system is perceived by the red tribe as just churning out more blue tribers.

          • bintchaos says:

            @David Friedman
            That is not the purpose of school vouchers.
            The purpose is to destroy the public schools system by starving public schools of funding in areas of low SES/ low interest parents.
            I have never seen any support by the Red Tribe for over the counter birth control or for plan B.
            If there is support for OtC birth control I suspect its in order to support defunding Planned Parenthood.
            Red Tribers are violently opposed to the day-after pill.
            citation needed.
            ‘Nam and OIF/OEF both had liberal support in the initial stage. So did bombing ISIS and the Syrian redline. Many liberals approved Trump bombing the Syrian airfield.
            Unrelated argument– involves patriotism– a cooperation portion of the Red Tribe/ Blue Tribe CCP.
            re Teachers Unions…can I ask your opinion of No Child Left Behind?

          • @David Friedman
            That is not the purpose of school vouchers.
            The purpose is to destroy the public schools system by starving public schools of funding in areas of low SES/ low interest parents.

            You know this how? Mind reading? Or because conservatives support them so they must be bad? Rather like the red tribe response to blue tribe supported policies.

            I have never seen any support by the Red Tribe for over the counter birth control or for plan B.

            Then you are not looking. Bobby Jindal, Corry Gardner, and Kelly Ayotte were all Republicans last time I looked, and the latter two have a bill in Congress. It’s being opposed by Democrats on various grounds, mostly that since Republicans are doing it there must be evil motives behind it. Rather like your attitude to vouchers.

            re Teachers Unions…can I ask your opinion of No Child Left Behind?

            I haven’t followed it in detail–our two kids were unschooled first in a very small and unconventional private school and then at home. My impression is that it has worked badly, but I don’t know enough to be confident of that.

          • bintchaos says:

            You know this how? Mind reading?


            Betsey Vos is how.

            bill in Congress.


            A bill to support selling Plan B over the counter?
            You should research NCLB.
            Its the reason US is 28th in OECD rankings.
            NCLB tried to make all US children above average. Even Murray said thats statistically impossible.
            Merit pay for US teachers is just trying to make all teachers above average. Equally impossible.
            Here is our basic dichotomy, and why both-sides-do-it-ism doesnt work with me.
            Red Tribe and Blue Tribe are not the same.
            And discovering that is the biggest basilisk of all time– a basilisk the size of Okja.

          • Barely matters says:

            @Bint

            You’re doing it again.

            Try it one more time, clearly, concisely, and comprehensibly. Show all your work, or people who don’t already agree with you just think you’re being asinine.

          • Bintchaos wrote:

            Like school vouchers aren’t really about enabling choice but about starving public schools in poor areas of gov funding and increasing the privitization of education in general.

            I responded:

            You know this how? Mind reading?

            She replied:

            Betsey Vos is how.

            And she, of course, is all of the voucher movement. If I find one person who supports policies you agree with for bad motives, that settles the matter? For what I think are bad motives?

            How did you read her mind to discover her bad motives? Judging by the wikipedia article she is an advocate of both vouchers and charter schools, but what is the evidence that her objective is “starving public schools in poor areas of gov funding.”

            Obviously vouchers are intended to increase privatization of education, but why is that a bad motive? Do you similarly oppose food stamps on the grounds that they privatize agriculture, that the government should be producing food and distributing it instead? That’s a fairly close equivalent.

            You should research NCLB.
            Its the reason US is 28th in OECD rankings.

            NCLB went into effect om 2002. Did the U.S. rankings sink strikingly thereafter?

            NCLB tried to make all US children above average. Even Murray said thats statistically impossible.

            That’s obviously impossible, which is why I don’t believe you when you say that is what NCLB tried to do. It sounds like a sound bite, not a description. Can you support your claim?

            Merit pay for US teachers is just trying to make all teachers above average.

            No. It is trying, whether or not successfully, to raise the average performance of teachers. Is your assumption that the performance of a teacher is set in stone the day the teacher is born and cannot be affected by anything thereafter?

            Red Tribe and Blue Tribe are not the same.

            Correct. As everyone agrees. But they are both tribes, hence behave in a tribal manner.

            Earlier you claimed that you were not blue tribe but science tribe. If that is true, your support for the standard blue tribe attack on vouchers must be based on evidence. So far the only evidence you have offered is that you believe, for reasons not explained, that one prominent supporter of vouchers has bad motives.

            What’s clear from the Wiki article on deVos is that people on the left don’t like her and say bad things about her, people on the right like her and say good things about her. Believe only members of your tribe and you will indeed conclude that members of the other tribe are bad people doing bad things for bad reasons.

            If you theory of the motives of voucher supporters is correct, what predictions does it imply? Which of them have you tested and how? With what results?

            Those are the questions a believer in science would want to answer.

          • That doesn’t sound right. Do you know which democrats are against it? It looks like Mother Jones, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post have all expressed support for it

            I was reacting to reports of Democratic opposition to the bill that two Republican legislators had actually offered. Your information suggests that I was mistaken in generalizing that to the left more generally.

          • Charles F says:

            [Corry Gardner and Kelly Ayotte] have a bill in Congress. It’s being opposed by Democrats on various grounds, mostly that since Republicans are doing it there must be evil motives behind it.

            Thanks for the pointer. That seems like a fair characterization of the response. (I didn’t actually find any democratic opposition to their current bill, but an identical bill was introduced last year and I found some articles on that). It looks like the proposed evil motive was that it was a sneaky way to stop paying for women’s birth control, since the ACA only mandates reimbursement for prescription drugs, but I’m pretty sure(?) the provision says that the relevant criteria is whether the drug was prescribed to that person, not whether it requires a prescription, so the objection was kind of meaningless? Since anybody who wanted reimbursement still had the option of getting a prescription for theirs.

          • bintchaos says:

            Before NCLB US was 5th and 7th in science and math in global ranking…has declined precipitously and steadily since 2001.

            DeVos was roundly criticized in Denver when she told obvious lies about the Denver public school system.
            She has no educational standing and was only rammed through with the usual mix of arm-twisting and bribes by the GOP majority congress.
            I have to go.
            Murray & NCLB will just have to wait…or you COULD google it yourselves.

          • Before NCLB US was 5th and 7th in science and math in global ranking…has declined precipitously and steadily since 2001.

            Your link gives an error message. I don’t know what your source is, so I googled for relevant information. The PISA in 2000 found:

            “Overall, 30 nations had higher percentages than the U.S. of students at the “advanced” level of mathematics. The only OECD countries with worse results were Portugal, Greece, Turkey, and Mexico. Six percent of U.S. students were “advanced” in mathematics compared to 28 percent in Taiwan.”

            There are a variety of different measures of international education quality, but it looks as though at least some found poor results for the U.S. prior to NCLB. If you provide a working link to the source for your claim, I will be happy to look at it.

            DeVos was roundly criticized in Denver when she told obvious lies about the Denver public school system.

            Your link tells us that DeVos criticized the Denver school for not offering enough options and the Public Schools Superintendent disagreed. It provides no evidence that DeVos told “obvious lies,” as you can see by reading it. If you are going to claim to be “science tribe,” you need some way of deciding what is true better than “people on my side are right, people on the other side are wrong.”

            Murray & NCLB will just have to wait…or you COULD google it yourselves.

            The Murray article you appear to be referring to is here. Your claim was:

            NCLB tried to make all US children above average. Even Murray said thats statistically impossible.

            Please point to where in the article he said that NCLB tried to make all US children above average, or to wherever else you claim he said it.

            He has a very low opinion of both NCLB and various other attempts at fixing the educational system, perhaps correct, because he thinks they overestimate the effect of environment relative to that of innate ability. But he doesn’t say that NCLB tried to make all US children above average, which would indeed be a statistical impossibility.

            At least on these issues, you come across as a bog standard blue tribe member.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Davidfriedman
            The text of the law– Statement of Purpose:.

            The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.


            Proficiency defn.
            In education, the term proficiency is used in a variety of ways, most commonly in reference to proficiency levels, scales, and cut-off scores on standardized tests.


            In practice, proficiency on a standardized test means “above average”. If you read the Murray article then you understand his criticism? The law mandates minimum proficiency on standardized tests. On a standardized test, proficient means above average, above the mean score.
            In practice this means there are only two ways to accomplish proficiency on standardized tests– one is lower the standard– the other is to teach to the test. Unfortunately the rest of the world doesn’t take America’s test.
            PISA scores for OECD countries come out every 2 years, and are compiled and released at years end. So the last scoring we have is for 2015.
            If you want more professional teachers why not pay a market competitive wage?

          • Charles F says:

            Your link gives an error message

            FYI: For almost all of the broken links in these comments (including that one), you can get to the thing they were trying to link to by clicking the link, going to your URL bar, and deleting the SSC-related stuff from the beginning.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I was able to find a link claiming the US was 28th.

            It says nothing about a precipitous drop.

            I dug up an article about the 2001 test

            It claims the US scored in the middle of a 32-nation study. The later study involved 76 nations. So these rankings are not comparable.

            On a standardized test, proficient means above average, above the mean score.

            Err, no. At least, it is not defined as that way; the NAEP exams use cutoff scores for proficiency levels, not percentile rankings.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            And, having fixed the link in the manner described, you will be astonished to learn that the CNBC article gives no support whatever to the claim about declining PISA scores.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            P.S. Pre-2015 PISA rankings available here.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            In practice, proficiency on a standardized test means “above average”.

            No it doesn’t; or at any rate, all the tests I’ve ever taken measured proficiency with reference to some sort of fixed criteria (“Can this person do x, y and z?”), not to somebody’s relative rank compared to their peers.

            In practice this means there are only two ways to accomplish proficiency on standardized tests– one is lower the standard– the other is to teach to the test.

            If “proficiency” really does mean “above average”, neither of these things would make any difference, since you’d still have people with below-average scores.

          • bintchaos says:

            I was explaining Murray’s argument to Friedman.
            That is why Murray claimed NCLB was an attempt to “make all children above average”.
            Why is Murray a steelman on between group differences in IQ here, but wrong about his interpretation of NCLB?

          • Aapje says:

            @bintchaos

            That proficiency has to mean a performance above average doesn’t even follow from your own definition and there is no reason why Murray would necessarily have to use that particular definition.

            In the context of improving performance across the board it makes little sense to look at relative performance, rather than absolute performance.

            It is generally considered poor form in these circles to assume that a person is using a definition that makes his argument wrong, rather than a very plausible definition that makes his argument right.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @bintchaos

            Frankly, I doubt you read beyond the badly-sourced quote in Wikipedia. And you weren’t explaining Murray’s claim, you were using him to back up your own. As it turns out, Murray did not say the goals NCLB was trying to achieve were statistically impossible; he claims they’re impossible because kids just aren’t inherently smart enough. The statement you quoted referred to the pre-NCLB average. I would agree that it was misleading polemic, but that’s all it is, not a literal claim that Congress was trying to break the laws of mathematics.

          • bean says:

            In practice, proficiency on a standardized test means “above average”. If you read the Murray article then you understand his criticism? The law mandates minimum proficiency on standardized tests. On a standardized test, proficient means above average, above the mean score.

            Now you’re just spewing nonsense. That is not what proficiency means, and it never has been. “Proficiency” is the standardized testing equivalent of passing classes. It is not and never has been pegged to the average of results. It’s based upon the level that a student at a given grade level should be able to perform at. I suppose you can say that an average student should be proficient, but that’s not necessary, and setting a specific standard keeps us well out of Lake Wobegone territory. (You may be confusing how they grade SAT/ACT with NCLB testing. They are not the same.)
            And no, I’m not a supporter of NCLB. But your characterization of it is just absurd. It’s not mathematically impossible to meet, just impossible on a practical level.

            As for your claims about the US educational system entering a steep decline after 2001, I fixed your link, and it simply doesn’t support that claim in any way, shape or form. Honestly, this is the last straw. I’ve tried to be nice to you, but you just lied about a source with no possible justification.
            I tracked down better data, and (second table) it does show that we’ve seen significant improvement in scores of proficient across every category since 2000. So unless the test is being made easier (and I will check any sources you provide very thoroughly), we are actually seeing progress in the US educational system since NCLB came in. It’s possible others are making progress faster (another thing I will check if you claim it), but that’s still not the same as a claim that NCLB wrecked the school system.

          • @Davidfriedman
            The text of the law– Statement of Purpose:.

            The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.

            Proficiency defn.
            In education, the term proficiency is used in a variety of ways, most commonly in reference to proficiency levels, scales, and cut-off scores on standardized tests.

            In practice, proficiency on a standardized test means “above average”.

            That is not what it means–you are redefining the word in order not to concede that what you wrote wasn’t true. It isn’t logically impossible for all students to (for instance) learn to read well, although there may be no practical way of doing it.

            pro·fi·cient
            prəˈfiSHənt/
            adjective
            adjective: proficient

            1.
            competent or skilled in doing or using something.

            You don’t get to establish facts by making them up.

            PISA scores for OECD countries come out every 2 years, and are compiled and released at years end. So the last scoring we have is for 2015.

            You gave a link which you claimed supported your figures not only for the current U.S. ranking but for the 2001 ranking, since your argument was that NCLB was responsible for a drastic fall. The link didn’t go anywhere. Do you have a source for the numbers you gave, and if so what is it?

            If you want more professional teachers why not pay a market competitive wage?

            Paying higher wages only works to get better teachers if there are mechanisms to hire and retain the good ones, not hire or not retain the bad ones. Public schools mostly lack such mechanisms. In California, teachers are granted tenure after two years, with the decision made and the teacher notified after sixteen months. Thirty-two states grant tenure after three years.

            Since 1949-50, per pupil expenditures in the public school system, inflation adjusted, have increased more than four fold. Have we observed a comparable improvement in quality?

            Possibly relevant anecdote:

            A very long time ago, I spent a summer in Washington as a congressional intern. I ended up being lent out four days a week to a group producing a fact book on state and local finance to provide interested lay readers with the relevant facts. The group was simultaneously a project of George Washington University, of the Governors’ Conference, and of the Joint Economic Committee (by memory, but I think correct).

            I discovered a fact. It was unquestionably true, since it was a demographic fact about people already born. It was unquestionably important, since it affected the cost of public schooling, which was the largest single expenditure of state and local governments.

            Unfortunately, it was a fact that implied less need for money, not more. The people I was working with didn’t deny that it was true or important, but they refused to include it in their fact book.

            The fact was that the ratio of school age children to taxpayers was peaking. It had been rising for the previous couple of decades as baby boom children reached school age, would be falling for the next few decades as they came out of school and into the labor force.

            That was my loss of innocence–the discovery that professional academics whom I liked were willing to be deliberately dishonest in their work for political reasons. It’s one of the reasons I don’t take seriously claims that research proves something that some people would like others to believe unless I have looked at them pretty carefully.

          • That is why Murray claimed NCLB was an attempt to “make all children above average”.

            Where does he say that? Give a quote. I found what looked like the Murray piece you referred to, and I could not find any such statement in it.

      • Actually, the left doesn’t hate markets, since most of them acknowledge they’re great wealth generators; rather, the left wants market outcomes to accord with morality of the sort which prevails among friends, family, and close associates.

        Yudkowky’s simplistic theory of the left is that the left want to apply personal morality about the markets…but the left are capable of articualting a more sophistcated and rational objection to just letting the market dow what it wants.

        Eliezer’s point is that prices aren’t moral judgments, they are information

        In an *ideal* market they are, but ideal markets don’t exist. If the price of bread is set at 1$ by the government, then what is the information that bread is worth 1$? All real markets are distorted: what does information mean in the context of a distorrted market?

        PS: And how did he get to be an expert on economics, exactly?

        • onyomi says:

          In an *ideal* market they are, but ideal markets don’t exist. If the price of bread is set at 1$ by the government, then what is the information that bread is worth 1$? All real markets are distorted: what does information mean in the context of a distorrted market?

          This seems to be a common talking point: “real free markets are a fantasy.”

          They’re only a fantasy insofar as governments not interfering with any buyer-seller and employer-employee transactions is a fantasy. Which it de facto is right now, but it’s not logically inconceivable, especially not when it comes to implementing or not implementing any particular new law.

          The “ideal” market outcome is simply the outcome we might expect minus a given state intervention, or, really ideally, minus any state intervention. If the government sets a price ceiling on gas at $3/gallon, but it would be $4 a gallon without that law, then $4/gallon is the “real” or “ideal” price, which we don’t get to find out because of the law. Shortages ensue.

        • That still doesn’t mean that wage levels are information, and it still doesn’t mean you shouldn;t implement minimum wages in the situation you actually have.

          • J Mann says:

            If wages have no relationship to the value that a given employee is believed to produce, then you’re right that they don’t contain information.

            However, I feel pretty comfortable that wages do have a significant but imperfect relationship to productivity. My a-prior first take is that over time, employers who pay considerably more than employees produce in value will go bankrupt, and employers who pay significantly less will see many of their under-compensated employees leave for better opportunities.

            It’s possible that there’s no correlation between wages and productivity, but I would want to see some pretty good evidence.

          • Nornagest says:

            Pretending that wage levels aren’t information is arrant nonsense. Of course wage levels are information. They might be noisy information, but that is not at all the same thing.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          You’re treading perilously close to the Inverse Fallacy of Markets. (“In an ideal market, prices are information. However, the market is not ideal. Therefore, prices are not information.”)

      • J Mann says:

        I don’t think EY is wrong, but a simpler and also true explanation is that people prefer solutions that involve someone else paying for just outcomes to solutions that involve they themselves paying for them.

        • onyomi says:

          Though I think this also relates to the argument about morality: many people, left and right, but I think, especially left, tend to want employer-employee relationships to abide by the sort of interpersonal reciprocity we would expect of more personal relationship. People seem to think that, by employing someone, you are also implicitly agreeing to make sure they’re taken care of, or at least “fairly” compensated, for an intuitive rather than economic definition of “fair.”

          Hence claims that low wage employers are burdening the welfare roles. Which is ridiculous. If Wal Mart is paying someone $9/hr with the result that they need $6/hr in welfare payments and benefits to get by, Wal Mart isn’t costing the state $6, they’re saving it $9. Yet there is still some sense that, once Wal Mart has taken someone into their “tribe,” they should be the ones responsible for making sure they’re taken care of.

          Which is a bit odd, given that the same people prone to make these sorts of arguments tend to dismiss arguments about private, local charity, depending on tight-knit family structures, etc. That is, the left seems to have a tendency to absolve many people of their traditional expectation to take care of their own at the same time as they extend that expectation to people really only interested in an economic relationship?

          My best explanation is that they are again buying into the “market wage=worth as a human” idea (which, again, I’m not saying is exclusive to the left; it’s probably more prevalent on the right; I’m just saying it’s prevalent on the left, too) because your family taking care of you doesn’t prove anything about your worth to society, but Wal Mart doing so seems to, precisely because Wal Mart isn’t your buddy. Either that, or it’s just that Wal Mart has money and poor peoples’ relatives usually don’t.

    • Corey says:

      My take is that job markets just don’t work very well; if you don’t have significant experience job-hunting or employee-hunting, ask around and horror stories abound.

      More formally, there are features we can observe that are incompatible with the classic frictionless free market with uniform spherical consumers. For example, there’s significant downward nominal wage stickiness even at levels well away from the minimum wage (that is, if you look at wage changes during a recession, you’ll see a smooth-ish curve that suddenly stacks up at 0 and has little area less than zero).

      I think economists are coming around to including significant search frictions in job market models; damned if I understand what those models say though.

      • Corey says:

        Another market failure I just remembered: usually when employers complain of labor shortages people roll their eyes and reply “just raise your offering wages, and qualified people will appear, or, crazy idea here, train someone”. That’s indeed what the 101 theory predicts, but in addition to training time/costs there’s another factor unique to job markets.

        If you raise your offering wage to more than existing employees are making, you’ve just detonated a bomb on your morale. Keeping salaries secret helps alleviate this, but doing that means you couldn’t advertise the higher wage in your job postings. So, to draw qualified people out of the woodwork, you might need to give existing employees raises, which then could make the marginal cost of hiring the newbie greater than the value they add, pushing you to an equilibrium of hiring nobody.

        • J Mann says:

          Yes, as Sumner recently pointed out, employers who can’t get unlimited workers at the market clearing wage are better modeled as monopsonists than as acting under perfect competition. There’s still a model for that, though.

        • Civilis says:

          If you raise your offering wage to more than existing employees are making, you’ve just detonated a bomb on your morale. Keeping salaries secret helps alleviate this, but doing that means you couldn’t advertise the higher wage in your job postings. So, to draw qualified people out of the woodwork, you might need to give existing employees raises, which then could make the marginal cost of hiring the newbie greater than the value they add, pushing you to an equilibrium of hiring nobody.

          Most models seem to be simplifications that don’t take Economics 101 theory to the complete end. If I’m running factory A, and paying $8/hr, and factory B opens and can pay $9/hr, it won’t just affect my hiring new workers, but also my existing workers, who have an incentive to quit and work for company B. The same forces that affect the cost of hiring new workers will also affect the cost to retain existing workers.

        • The Nybbler says:

          That’s not all that different than any other item used in production. On the one end you have durable equipment: maybe it wears out, maybe you need more, but if the price of new equipment goes up, you don’t need to pay more for the stuff you’ve already bought.

          On the other end you have your consumable inputs. You need X of this per Y output, and if the price goes up for new items, it goes up for everything. You can hedge against this in various ways (by buying futures contracts or literally holding inventory), but at the simplest level, a increase in consumable costs means an increase in cost across your whole operation.

          Labor is closer to the latter. You’re purchasing your employee’s labor day-by-day. The market is less liquid than the commodity market, but it is liquid. This isn’t market failure. Why would it make sense for higher employment prices to be captured only by new entrants?

      • J Mann says:

        You’re not wrong, but the question is whether minimum wages improve the market or make it even worse.

      • Anon. says:

        Does a minimum wage fix sticky wages or search frictions?

      • Wrong Species says:

        Sticky wages is more about macroeconomic failure to adjust to recessions than microeconomic failures at price efficiency. You’re comparing two completely different economic issues.

    • Matt M says:

      Well, instead of doing that, couldn’t you just…have/expand a transfer of income from the richer to the poorer like the EITC? People say “well why not do both?” but my point is that I don’t see what a minimum wage could do that is good that an equivalently high EITC could not

      I think this is largely a political/cultural thing.

      You can occasionally get the red tribe to reluctantly go along with minimum wage increases, because at least the beneficiaries are people who are actually working. Even if it technically violates free market principles, it doesn’t trigger the disgust mechanism that a UBI would, and it’s a simple enough concept that your average rural voter can understand it (as opposed to tinkering with the ‘earned income tax credit’ which sounds like some complicated accounting thing which nobody knows what it actually is).

      If your intent is to redistribute from the rich to the poor, the minimum wage is probably the best way to get some red-tribe buy-in, if you need it. Even if you don’t need the red tribe masses, (like say, if you’re Seattle), you probably have some rich business owners that you need to appease, and they’re likely to favor the minimum wage over things like, say, a higher corporate income tax – because they have better options to avoid it (you can replace workers with slightly more expensive robots, but there’s not a whole lot you can do about a tax hike).

    • Corey says:

      As for solutions: I think a lot of trouble with jobs springs from the dual way we think about them:
      A) As a straightfoward economic exchange of labor for cash and benefits
      B) Something necessary for survival, self-worth, moral worth (think “deserving poor”), etc.

      Side A pushes us towards minimal regulation of employment, to maximize economic efficiency and overall value. Side B pushes us towards heavy regulation to limit how arbitrary and capricious employers can be, for humanitarian reasons (including minimum wage, but also sexual harassment prevention, recent movements towards mandating predictable schedules and the like).

      Personally I think a UBI would neuter a lot of side B, and would support removing most employer regulations (including minimum wage) in exchange for one. Some of side B is cultural though (Puritan work ethic) and could only change slowly.

    • MrApophenia says:

      I think the issue boils down in large part to the fact that people don’t actually believe economists know what they’re talking about. In part because doing what economists said to do in terms of trade over the past few decades has resulted in economic catastrophe for a huge portion of the American population, instead of the sunshine and unicorns results predicted by economic theories.

      If doctors spent the past 30 years telling everyone that the key to good cardiovascular health was to smoke cigarettes, and then millions died from lung cancer and doctors started sheepishly publishing papers about “Tobacco Shock,” everyone might take them a bit less seriously when they also told us not to eat fatty foods. (Even if not eating fatty foods actually is a good idea.)

  16. bintchaos says:

    So I was wrong about US-made Godzilla being America’s kaiju eiga.
    Blompkamp’s second Oats Studio production (also released on Steam) is.
    Firebase
    Pretty amazing.

    From Against Murderism.

    I don’t want civil war. I want this country to survive long enough to be killed by something awesome, like AI or some kind of genetically engineered superplague.


    Not me–I want this country to be destroyed by River God.

  17. IrishDude says:

    I don’t consider myself patriotic, but something kind of adjacent. I feel very fortunate to have been born and live in the country I do compared to most others, I generally appreciate the broad culture of the people where I live, and I feel affinity toward my country’s military members (I grew up on air force bases!). But given I support the dissolution of nation-states, including my own, and am generally not supportive of the political apparatus of my country, I think I’m dq’d from being patriotic.

    Do you consider yourself patriotic? If you don’t, do you feel anything kinda patriotic towards your country?

    • Mark says:

      It’s kind of arrogant to not be patriotic – you’re assuming that your preferred culture has a more-than-local significance, and/or you’re someone who just does things without any reference to those around you.

      So, yes. I’m patriotic.

      Rule, Britannia. (please)

      • Kevin C. says:

        What about the scale problem? Like that, I feel loyalty to my particular state and it’s local culture, but not the United States as a whole?

        • Mark says:

          Hmmm… well I definitely love my city more than my nation, but I don’t think there is such a great difference that Northerners have become completely alien to me.
          There is room in my heart for them. They fit into one of the concentric circles of love.

          On the other hand, a distant stranger is probably preferable to a familiar enemy…

          • rlms says:

            “I don’t think there is such a great difference that Northerners have become completely alien to me.”
            Wish I could say the same (joking, everyone not on the wrong side of the Pennines has a place in my love circles somewhere).

      • beleester says:

        Huh. I’d say not being patriotic is being humble – “I don’t know what the best country is, but I do know that my country isn’t perfect.” Sort of like making an antiprediction.

        It would be arrogant to claim that some other culture you like is better, but I don’t see how an absence of patriotism alone is arrogant.

    • @IrishDude

      And is that country Ireland, or is your username misleading?

    • AKL says:

      I feel lucky to be born here, and like IrishDude “generally appreciate the culture of the people where I live,” but I’m not sure I would describe those feelings as “patriotism.”

      I’ve always interpreted the idea as a tribal marker that has perceived value independent of a state’s other good-making properties. So “America is the best because it’s the land of opportunity” != patriotism, “America is the best because AMERICA” == patriotism.

      Depending on the definition you choose, I’m either one of the most or least patriotic people I know.

    • Zodiac says:

      Considering I am German I am not patriotic. It is basically part of the German identity to be anti-patriotic at this point. Anyone saying he is proud of Germany will immediately be suspected of being a literal Nazi.

      The only time I personally was kinda proud of Germany was when Merkel opened the borders and seeing the ensuing way many communities reacted. Note: I am not for or against the refugees staying (that issue goes way over my head) but accepting them at least temporarily was the right thing to do.

      • Jiro says:

        The only time I personally was kinda proud of Germany was when Merkel opened the borders and seeing the ensuing way many communities reacted.

        This sounds to me like “the only time I was proud of Germany was when Germany did something that agreed with my political beliefs”.

        If you’re going to decide you can never be proud of Germany because of the Nazis, then why not just never be proud of Germany, instead of making exceptions when you really like the politics?

        • Matt M says:

          This sounds to me like “the only time I was proud of Germany was when Germany did something that agreed with my political beliefs”.

          Michelle Obama, eat your heart out!

        • Zodiac says:

          What I tried to say with the first part of my comment is that as a German you will have a hard time even seeing the possibility of being a patriot since you will be ostracised if you are open about it.
          If I were to hang a flag out of my window and it isn’t championship year, you can bet there will be gossip about me being a Nazi.
          It isn’t that I decided that I can never be proud of Germany because of the Nazis.
          It’s that society has decided that.

          Besides in the case of the refugees in wasn’t primarily about the politics. It was seeing the people who took up work in the refugee camps voluntarily and the communities that readily set up camps.

          • Matt M says:

            I’ve also seen this photo captioned as something like “Local Germans become alarmed at the obvious prevalence of neo-nazism in their neighborhood”

          • Protagoras says:

            But one of the first things the Nazis did was ditch and replace the tricolor German flag. Surely it should be a symbol of anti-Nazism in Germany.

          • Zodiac says:

            Perhaps to a history buff that knows the flag was raised by another history buff. Otherwise no. Average Joe Michel does not know history that well.

          • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

            If I were to hang a flag out of my window and it isn’t championship year, you can bet there will be gossip about me being a Nazi.

            Really? Some Germans I talked to said at least since the football event (2006?) that has changed. Probably changed gradually before, but now it had become visible and the new good-natured patriotism had gotten much media coverage. Nazis usually identify themselves with variations of the black-white-red imperial flag, IIRC.

      • Yakimi says:

        “The only time I was proud of being German was when Merkel destroyed Germany as a nation.”

        (Sorry. Im sorry. Im trying to remove it)

        • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

          For those interested in data: analysis (“All of this suggests that the movement of refugees to Europe had begun long before Angela Merkel made her much-discussed decision that night in September“) and reconstruction of events [English version available, requires registration, highly recommended].

    • dodrian says:

      To quote GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy:

      “Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing – say Pimlico. If we think what is really best for Pimlico we shall find the thread of thought leads to the throne of the mystic and the arbitrary. It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico; in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico; for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful. The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love Pimlico; to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles […] If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence. Some readers will say that this is mere fantasy. I answer that this is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great. Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find them knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. People first paid honour to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”

      I love where I live (town, state, and country) because I want to see her and her citizens grow and succeed. I’m proud of our cultural heritage, and the unique contributions we’ve made to humanity. Those should all be celebrated.

      I also recognize that we have have a flawed history. We’ve gotten things wrong in the past, we’re definitely not perfect now. But love and pride for country should be a motivator to fix what’s wrong now, not a defense of those wrongs.

    • Aapje says:

      I think I live in one of the better run countries in the world, but that says more about the other countries than than my country is perfect.

      I grew up in this culture, so it matches me relatively well.

      I try not to be proud of the good parts of Dutch history, so I don’t have to feel bad about the bad parts (neither of which have anything to do with me personally).

      The level of reverence to random members of the military in the US seems quite absurd to me. Perhaps an artifact of the US army being at war so often.

      I support people (including myself) redirecting their tribalism into fairly harmless ventures like being biased to their national athletes (as long as they are’t being too nasty to other athletes).

      • keranih says:

        The level of reverence to random members of the military in the US seems quite absurd to me. Perhaps an artifact of the US army being at war so often.

        Probably not. Soldiers have not been universally lauded in the US, and have gone through periods of getting no more respect than the typical members of their social class (see: American frontier to WWI). However, given the universal volunteerism that traditionally fed the American military, plus it’s tendency to not lose wars, soldiering was not seen as all that despicable a job, even at the low points.

        This changed drastically during the Vietnam era, when the military both drafted men en masse, and was engaged in long and not victorious war. *Particularly* on the left, and among the upper class elite, soldiering was despicable to consider. As a result, the number of left-leaning people in the military – particularly the officer corps – dropped significantly.

        Reagan set a far more belligerent tone towards the Soviet Union, and appeared ready to both fund the military and to employ it productively, increasing the relative shift towards conservationism. The first Gulf War saw a strong, preemptive outpouring of vocal support of military members by ‘Red Tribe’ America, which pretty much drowned out any lingering taunts from the left. To the extent that Blue Tribe disdain for the military is expressed now-a-days, it tends to stay to “pity” rather than revulsion. There was also some hill-taking on the part of anti-kyriarchy elements to expand military membership to include women, homosexuals, and transgender, so opening despising the military whilst trying to join the club would be counterproductive.

        So at this time, the respect is largely cultural. It remains to be seen how long that lasts. Red Tribe is already shifted to be less pro cop than it was.

        • johan_larson says:

          … given the universal volunteerism that traditionally fed the American military …

          There were drafts for the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and Korea. Could you explain what you mean by “universal volunteerism”?

          • keranih says:

            Firstly, that the tradition of “volunteers only” has a long history in American culture, and that impressment was one of the (many) issues highlighted in the Declaration of Independence. Both the Union and the CSA shifted to drafts late and with reluctance, given the large negative effects. The draft riots in NYC were an ample sign of the backdraft – in fact, the most destructive war in American history was fought nearly entirely by volunteers (*) on both sides.

            After the Civil War, the US military went back to a volunteer force. The resistance to the draft in WWI was of less note, (Wilson having deliberately shut down presses who advocated against the draft) and the volunteer force returned again after that. The Cold War draft should then been seen as non-typical in the American tradition of war, and it is worthy of consideration that the US is a solitary superpower – and indeed won the Cold War – with an all-volunteer force.

            Having said all that – the US isn’t 1800’s Prussia. And it would incorrect to suggest that the American public supports its military personnel because the US military fights “so often.” In contrast, the US can exert military force across the globe because it’s military members are supported by the public in their attitudes and mission. Where public support wans, the ability to use the military shrinks.

            One could assign nefarious motives to various left-leaning media organizations and public figures who encourage contempt for military personnel, assuming that this approach is at least partly driven by the desire to hamper the efforts of the American military abroad, and by the wish to see those efforts fail and those military personnel defeated, in order to set back the domestic agendas of the generally conservative politicians who support effective military action. But that would be, imo, assuming one perfectly knew the motivations of other people. And we’ve already discussed how that’s not really a good idea.

            (*) Volunteers who signed contracts, with issues of bounty fraud, men who reneged on their contracts, and States who extended contracts involuntarily.

          • Aapje says:

            @keranih

            And it would incorrect to suggest that the American public supports its military personnel because the US military fights “so often.”

            The American/red tribe reverence for the military often involve ‘thank you for your sacrifice’ type of statements, which only make sense if the military is actually fighting.

            I don’t think they are being thanked for doing training exercises, but rather, for dodging (or not dodging) IEDs.

          • Matt M says:

            The American/red tribe reverence for the military often involve ‘thank you for your sacrifice’ type of statements, which only make sense if the military is actually fighting.

            Even if “they” are fighting as a group, a whole lot of individuals aren’t. It also implies not just that they are fighting, but that they are not being adequately compensated for doing so (otherwise, how is it a sacrifice?)

            I was in the Navy for nine years. I never once stepped foot on a ship, went overseas in an official capacity, or came anywhere close to anything combat-related. For the job I was doing, I made about 3x the market wage (this is not a joke). People did, and still do, “thank me for my service” which is bizarre. I am often quick to tell them I didn’t do much of anything. I didn’t fight, I didn’t go anywhere, I was VERY generously compensated (and then some). Nobody cares to hear this. They insist on thanking me anyway. It’s truly bizarre.

            And I’ll note that this is HARDLY just red tribe. Plenty of people who I am quite sure have never voted anything but Democrats their entire life do this too. You have to go to the VERY extreme left (or left-leaning libertarian) to find someone who doesn’t consider it clearly and obviously a good thing to “support the troops” even if you oppose the war.

          • Charles F says:

            It also implies not just that they are fighting, but that they are not being adequately compensated for doing so (otherwise, how is it a sacrifice?)

            FWIW I see about a 90/10 split in favor of saying “service” over “sacrifice” unless you’re talking about somebody who died or was seriously injured. (google ngrams kind of supports this, unless there are a lot of other contexts where people use “for your service”). Service avoids the implication that they were fighting, and even if somebody is being compensated, it’s pretty normal to thank them if you think their service was valuable.

          • Matt M says:

            Does anyone ever thank a garbageman for their service?

          • Protagoras says:

            @Matt M, I don’t know when you get up in the morning, but I never see my garbagemen.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            That is exactly how I feel. Even those on a ship right now seem to have less risk of death than many civilian jobs. A truck driver probably has a greater chance to die than anyone on a ship.

            Without truck drivers, many people would find empty shops and thus have no food. So why not say: “thank you for your service” to truck drivers?

            EDIT: X-posted and this is getting creepy. Are we the same person?

          • bean says:

            I will add that the culture of thanks is a bit weird from my perspective, too. I’ve always liked hats, and the current hat I wear is my volunteer hat from the Iowa. It looks like the crew hats for Iowa would if she was still in commission. I often get asked if I’ve served and have even on occasion been thanked for my service. (I usually use it as an opportunity to tell people about the ship.) I’ve even had people insist on thanking me for what I do there, which I feel is a bit weird, as I don’t do it out of selfless motives. (Seriously. People listen to me talk about fire control? Worth it even without the trips to the plotting room.)
            I suspect it may be sort of a national reaction to Vietnam, when everyone in a uniform got spat on.

          • Jiro says:

            It also implies not just that they are fighting, but that they are not being adequately compensated for doing so (otherwise, how is it a sacrifice?)

            No, it implies that their monetary compensation is not adequate–in other words, that they put non-zero utility on serving their country and that this non-monetary increase in utility is part of why they serve.

            Even those on a ship right now seem to have less risk of death than many civilian jobs.

            The risk of death also includes the risk that the military situation will change and US ships will then be attacked even though they are not being attacked right now. Calculations of risk of death normally don’t take this into account.

          • Matt M says:

            No, it implies that their monetary compensation is not adequate

            If we immediately doubled the salary of all combat troops, do you think the “thanks for your service” stuff would stop?

            Nobody even knows what their monetary compensation is. It is assumed to be inadequate. And yet, there’s no shortage of people willing to sign up for it. Strange, that!

          • hlynkacg says:

            Random people be thanking me for my service and I be like…

          • Jiro says:

            Nobody even knows what their monetary compensation is. It is assumed to be inadequate.

            Most people would not take on risks and working conditions that resemble central examples of military jobs for any amount of money not several orders of magnitude better than anything else. They may not know the exact military salary, but they know the military doesn’t pay a million dollars a year. So yes, they know it’s inadequate, and doubling compensation wouldn’t make a difference.

            Consider what bus drivers would have to be paid if all bus drivers had to go to six weeks of boot camp with military discipline.

            And yet, there’s no shortage of people willing to sign up for it.

            Because they consider serving their country to be positive utility, which is non-monetary “compensation”.

          • Montfort says:

            Most people would not take on risks and working conditions that resemble central examples of military jobs for any amount of money not several orders of magnitude better than anything else.

            Don’t PMCs pay something like 125k a year for “grunt” level? And they don’t get tax breaks, housing, GI bill, post-employment preference for government jobs, etc.

            Because they consider serving their country to be positive utility, which is non-monetary “compensation”.

            They get that compensation whether anyone thanks them or not. Just because some of a person’s job compensation comes from non-monetary sources doesn’t imply they’re making a sacrifice.

            If the “thanks” implies anything about their compensation, it would imply their non-thanks-related compensation (but including other non-monetary factors, such as a feeling of doing the right thing) was inadequate.
            If everyone stopped thanking soldiers tomorrow, how much would you predict wages would have to rise to maintain force levels?

          • Jiro says:

            Just because some of a person’s job compensation comes from non-monetary sources doesn’t imply they’re making a sacrifice.

            This is contrary to what most people mean by “sacrifice”.

            If the “thanks” implies anything about their compensation, it would imply their non-thanks-related compensation (but including other non-monetary factors, such as a feeling of doing the right thing) was inadequate.

            This is contrary to what most people mean when they thank someone.

          • Montfort says:

            This is contrary to what most people mean by “sacrifice”.

            I find this doubtful. What do you think most people mean by sacrifice? I mean, in a trivial sense they’ve sacrificed some salary for other benefits, but by the same definition a large fraction of the workforce is “sacrificing” salary for benefits like better work hours or a company car or higher status work (or, conversely, sacrificing those benefits for a better salary).
            Are you contending a military career is less well compensated overall than the comparable civilian career, including intangibles like “feeling good about serving one’s country”?

            This is contrary to what most people mean when they thank someone.

            I agree, that’s why the “if” is italicized. I don’t think people thank service members as a calculated form of payment because they feel the job isn’t rewarding enough. Instead I find it more likely to be a mixture of genuine appreciation, patriotism, acculturated habit, etc. Obviously the proportions vary between different people.

          • Jiro says:

            Are you contending a military career is less well compensated overall than the comparable civilian career, including intangibles like “feeling good about serving one’s country”?

            Most people’s idea of sacrifice does not count such intangible compensation against the sacrifice.

          • Brad says:

            What exactly is supposed to be the point of all these naked assertions about what most people think?

            Either they matches our own experiences, in which case they are pointless, or they don’t, in which case no one is going to trust Jiro’s assertions about what most people think over their own observations of most people.

          • Matt M says:

            I mean, in a trivial sense they’ve sacrificed some salary for other benefits

            For the record, I think, in most cases, even this probably isn’t true.

            Using my own case as a start, I was making well above the market wage in raw take-home pay not even counting things like “unbelievably generous medical benefits” and guaranteed defined-benefit retirement after 20 years (who the hell has that anymore?).

            I can imagine certain jobs where the military would pay you less than the private sector equivalent. I’ve heard this is true for the IT guys and the nuclear engineers. Probably true for a decent amount of officers.

            I think the biggest “sacrifice” made by people in the military is that of personal freedom and autonomy. You can’t live wherever you want. You can’t dress or style your hair or get tattoos whenever you want. You can’t just up and go wherever you want on a weekend. And these restrictions apply not just on-duty but off-duty as well. How much is stuff like that worth? My guess would be quite a lot, and ever increasing, as it’s the only logical explanation for why the military has to offer such a high wage premium, even for jobs where the risk of physical danger is near zero.

          • bean says:

            Don’t PMCs pay something like 125k a year for “grunt” level? And they don’t get tax breaks, housing, GI bill, post-employment preference for government jobs, etc.

            I think a large part of the weirdness is that the military by and large doesn’t pay different rates for different jobs. Yes, there are some groups which get extra pay, but I think that’s usually for retention reasons (pilots are expensive to train) and your typical infantryman doesn’t make that much more than your typical logistics tech of the same grade, although they’d price very differently in the free market. So yes, I do think that some members of the military are objectively undercompensated. But they’re a minority, and there are more people getting paid several times the going wage for their jobs.

          • keranih says:

            @ Aapje –

            The American/red tribe reverence for the military often involve ‘thank you for your sacrifice’ type of statements, which only make sense if the military is actually fighting.

            Late coming back into this but…

            It’s a cultural tribal thing. It doesn’t have to make sense. It didn’t make sense for the Left to treat random uniformed service members as baby killers, either. I think it’s enough to recognize that one tribe makes songs like The Ballad of Balad and I Drive Your Truck and Letters From Home and the other mostly doesn’t.

            Secondly, the phrase I hear is “Thank you for your service,” not “sacrifice”. Which does include, by most accounts, those who only stand and wait.

            Thirdly – as I said above – the respect offered service members is not easily linked to “fighting so often” – the respect sharply dropped off in the 60’s and 70’s, while a great deal of fighting was going on, and the Korean War veterans did not have much account taken of them.

  18. Mark says:

    If people are susceptible to persuasion, isn’t increasing polarisation entirely explained by the internet? Maybe combined with some sort of ‘first-mover’ advantage for winning over someones heart/mind.

    • Sanchez says:

      This is my thinking as well. Imagine a simple model where people tend to match their opinions with their neighbors, people are grouped into small clusters of neighbors, and there is some noise/randomness. The noise will lead to some of the clusters having different opinions from each other. But if you increase the size of the clusters or the connectedness between clusters, the effects of the noise will be less likely to persist. You’ll eventually get large “domains” with well-defined borders, like in an annealing process.

  19. albatross11 says:

    I don’t think I can steelman the whole anti-free-speech movement on campus, because it’s a multi-headed beast. You’re not dealing with a single person or small group that has a coherent intellectual position. Nor are you dealing with random sampling of what activists say–everyone reporting on those protests wants something sensational and offensive, so we surely aren’t seeing the best side of their arguments. Connor Friedersdorf has tried to actually engage some of the campus anti-free-speech people, and my take was that their position didn’t actually come off too well. (But then, I *would* think that, wouldn’t I?)

    Here’s my attempt to steelman the one thread of this sort of argument I think I *do* understand. Around here, I think Ilya Shipster has argued something along these lines, but I don’t know how well I’m capturing his POV. Also, this is an attempt at steelmanning a position I don’t agree with, so I may or may not do it well.

    Suppose you want to evaluate factual claims and political arguments, not just on a single axis of “how likely is this to be right,” but on two axes: The Y axis is likelihood of being true; the X axis is social impact of the idea being widely heard/believed.

    We now have four quadrants. On the top right, we have things that are both very likely to be true and are socially beneficial. From a mainstream Democratic POV, an example of this might be global warming–it’s probably really happening, and it’s probably a net win for people to believe in it either way, since it will get people to move from coal to solar power. Those are discussions you want to encourage.

    On the bottom right are things that are probably not true, but are still socially beneficial. An example of this would be “There’s no biological meaning to race” or “Differences between women and men are all socially defined.” It’s not really true, but it would be okay if lots of people believed it, because it would lead them toward good actions (encouraging women to play sports, breaking down sexism).

    On the bottom left are things that are probably not true, and are also socially destructive even if true. An example of that would be the idea that vaccines cause autism or other major health problems. It’s pretty sure to be false, and belief in it leads people not to vaccinate their kids against measles.

    On the top left are things that are probably true, and are also socially destructive whether or not their true. An example (from the mainstream Democratic POV) would be racial differences in IQ. Those exist, but having people know about them and talk about them will encourage bad actions and bad policies.

    If you accept that ideas and facts should be evaluated on both these axes at once, then you have a problem when someone like Charles Murray wants to talk in public. You don’t want to engage him intellectually, because:

    a. He’s probably right
    b. Whether he’s right or wrong, discussing the matter in public gives it more attention, which is exactly what you want to avoid.

    In that case, what can you do to respond to him? Something like the VOX hit piece doesn’t work, since they ended up basically saying in careful scholarly terms about 90% of the stuff you think nobody should ever say in public, for fear of bad social consequences[1].

    So the only two choices left to you are either:

    a. Ignore him in hopes nobody listens.
    b. Try to no-platform him, shout him down, and send the signal that bringing up this topic will get you a bunch of unpleasant consequences.

    Short form: If you believe that there are many political/social ideas which are socially damaging independent of their truthfulness, and should be suppressed to prevent that social damage, then no-platforming and protests that shut down speakers looks like a reasonable strategy. This is also a pretty good argument for formal censorship–banning the publication of some ideas or research or arguments.

    Is this a fair summary of this point of view?

    [1] I infer that they wanted to push back on the idea that discussing IQ or racial IQ differences was taboo, and that attacking Murray in Vox was a reasonably safe way to do so. But this may be me being uncharitable about their true motives.

    • Aapje says:

      On the bottom right are things that are probably not true, but are still socially beneficial. An example of this would be “There’s no biological meaning to race” or “Differences between women and men are all socially defined.” It’s not really true, but it would be okay if lots of people believed it, because it would lead them toward good actions (encouraging women to play sports, breaking down sexism).

      If women have less desire to play sports, it doesn’t seem a good action to put social pressure on them, making them do things they like less over things they like more.

      • rlms says:

        More people playing sports probably means greater population health, which is correlated with happiness.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          “Playing sports” is healthy, “playing sports at a competitive level” often isn’t. Plus, there’s a lot of excercise that isn’t “sports”.

        • lvlln says:

          But how does that presumed greater happiness correlated with more people playing sports weigh against presumed less happiness due to people being pressured into doing things that they would otherwise not have done? Furthermore, how does the cost of putting that pressure on people compare against the cost of providing different means of people achieving the same level of population health?

          Honestly, I’m not sure they CAN be answered. How to even measure happiness, or to create an exhaustive – or at least sufficiently large – list of means by which to improve people’s health, along with measuring costs of things implemented socially/culturally, measuring their effectiveness?

      • Iain says:

        By the basic nature of action and inaction, social pressure is far more likely to prevent a person from doing a thing than to force a person to do that thing against their will.

        Even in a hypothetical world where 95% of social messages were “women should be encouraged to do sports” and 5% were “doing sports is unladylike”, it seems quite likely to me that the number of women who would enjoy sports, but abstained due to perceived social pressure, would be higher than the number of women who did not enjoy sports, but nevertheless actively participated out of a sense of social duty. Is there anybody out there saying “women should do sports, whether they like it or not?” (Excluding things like high school gym, obviously.)

        • Matt M says:

          Is there anybody out there saying “women should do sports, whether they like it or not?”

          I think this sort of blatant pressure is very uncommon, when it comes to most anything. It’s usually wrapped in a blanket of something like “every woman should find some sort of competitive physical activity that she enjoys!”

          At least this is how we generally treat exercise. Any time I tell anyone I hate exercising, the conversation then immediately proceeds to the other person insisting that I just need to find “a type of exercise I enjoy” and they essentially refuse to believe that there is no such thing.

          And when it comes to children, the general logic of “make them do things that they might not want to do in the short-term but will benefit them in the long run” (sports, music, boy scouts, whatever) is still quite popular.

    • lvlln says:

      I’ve never seen this spelled out in this way, though the orthogonality of the “true/false” and “socially beneficial/destructive” dichotomies has occurred to me before. The issue here for me is that this doesn’t seem principled. Specifically, “socially beneficial/destructive” seems to be a fully arbitrary measure, so that the “social impact of the idea being widely heard/believed” is “destructive” if it’s [idea I don’t like] and “beneficial” if it’s [idea I like], with no actual reasoning required. In fact, I’ve observed that in practice, the idea that reasoning ought to be applied to show that [idea I don’t like] is indeed “socially destructive” rather than just taking my word for it is often treated as a “socially destructive” idea.

      It can sometimes be incredibly difficult to figure out “true/false,” and my guess is that most people in most things have far higher confidence in where things are on this spectrum than is warranted, but at least we have systems that can get us closer to figuring it out (though even this idea, that we can get closer to figuring out whether something is true or false through things like independent parties reaching similar conclusions consistently using transparent and repeatable processes has been treated as a “socially destructive” idea, from my observation); with “socially beneficial/destructive,” it just seems completely subjective and unprincipled.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I don’t think very many people sort things into “true, but dangerous enough to be suppressed” except for stuff that is very neutral and “hard science” in nature. The knowledge of how to make nuclear or chemical weapons, for example: nobody said circa the breakup of the USSR “we need to find a way to keep ex-Soviet nuclear scientists from spreading their false ideas about how to build nuclear bombs.” But for something that is far more speculative, like Murray’s research, how many people are actually saying sorting it into that corner?

      • albatross11 says:

        The argument that these issues should not be talked about has come up in SSC comment threads, as well as in the big wide world. I think Murray said at one point that when he described the chapter on race and IQ to a colleague, the colleague said something like “No good can come of discussing this.” I have also personally heard this argument, by a smart friend of mine who compared discussing the race/IQ differences with discussing recipes for making biological weapons.

        In the past, similar arguments have been used to suppressing open discussion of atheism or the theory of evolution, and a few years back there were fairly prominent people arguing against open discussion of pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, for fear that this would embolden our enemies and frighten our friends in those countries.

        So I think this is a thread of argument that is widespread enough to deserve thinking through.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      On the top left are things that are probably true, and are also socially destructive whether or not their true. An example (from the mainstream Democratic POV) would be racial differences in IQ. Those exist, but having people know about them and talk about them will encourage bad actions and bad policies.

      But it seems that having people not talk about these things also leads to bad policies. For example, if racial differences in IQ turns out to be a real thing, it follows that current affirmative action policies are misguided and harmful: at best they’ll reduce the efficiency of businesses and important institutions by forcing them to hire less-capable people, and at worst they’ll lead to a lot of racial resentment as people are encouraged to see perfectly legitimate differences in outcomes as evidence of widespread hostility against them.

      • and at worst they’ll lead to a lot of racial resentment as people are encouraged to see perfectly legitimate differences in outcomes as evidence of widespread hostility against them.

        And, in the other direction, as people observe that the minority students in their elite schools are mostly at the very bottom of the ability distribution, and reach exaggerated conclusions about racial differences. Or as they observe that underqualified members of the minority group have positions they are incompetent to fill, because the employers need tokens or were afraid of discrimination lawsuits.

    • On the bottom right are things that are probably not true, but are still socially beneficial. An example of this would be “There’s no biological meaning to race” or “Differences between women and men are all socially defined.” It’s not really true, but it would be okay if lots of people believed it, because it would lead them toward good actions (encouraging women to play sports, breaking down sexism).

      It would also lead to taking bad actions–interpreting differences in outcomes by race or gender to discrimination when they are actually due to differences in the distribution of abilities. You then impose lots of costly restrictions on freedom of association in order to eliminate a problem that may be imaginary. And you punish honest scholars for telling the truth, because you have to do so in order to keep it from getting out.

      The pragmatic argument for freedom of speech and inquiry has two parts:

      1. On average, believing false things makes you less likely to take correct actions.

      2. Even if there are exceptions to point 1, there are no mechanisms for targeting the exceptions that can be counted on to target correctly, given all the other reasons to want to suppress true information if you can.

      • albatross11 says:

        I agree–remember this was my attempt to steelman a position I’ve seen argued.

        In general, I think the category of ideas and factual statements whose social cost are high enough to justify suppressing them is really, really small. Like if you know how to separate out U235 from ore in your basement undetectably, or how to engineer a virus that will kill off 99% of the human race, yeah, you shouldn’t publish that and we should probably try to keep you from publishing it if we can. (Though there may not be any law that can be used to stop you publishing it, and it would probably be impractical to suppress publication if you were smart about how you spread it across the internet.)

        But this covers essentially none of the actual cases people want to use this sort of argument for. When the argument is “don’t discuss racial IQ differences because it will fan racial hatred,” the case for wanting to suppress the discussion seems extremely weak to me. And as a practical matter, if we can’t discuss the matter in public without doing damage, there seems to be no good way to come to agreement on what topics mustn’t be discussed in a way that anyone who doesn’t completely trust our wisdom and good intentions would want to rely on.

  20. ParryHotter says:

    Scott, in the essay “Against Murderism” there were a few minor typos that I thought you’d want to fix up:

    “…but a usually result of…” (usually a)
    “When people ask whether immigration restricts are really…” (restrictions)
    “IF you tried to solve this by firing these people…” (IF is in all caps)
    “…but you can’t liberalism with people…” (You can’t use liberalism)

  21. Kevin C. says:

    So, has anyone else here read The Guardian‘s “Why have four children when you could have seven? Family planning in Niger

    But Hamani is unusual in that three babies are enough for her. Despite having the highest fertility rate in the world, women and men alike in Niger say they want more children than they actually have – women want an average of nine, while men say they want 11.

    To combat the health issues that come with high birth rates as well as the burden many young and out-of-work people place on a fragile economy and vulnerable security situation, the Nigerien government has turned to the solution: modern contraception. What they haven’t figured out, though, is how to get women to use it.

    “A large family size is a cultural ideal in Niger in a similar way that in the US or UK, a romantic relationship is a cultural ideal,” says Hope Neighbor, a partner at consulting firm the Camber Collective, which has researched increasing contraceptive use in the country. “We need to be more thoughtful in how we communicate family size and desires,” she says.

    • Kevin C. says:

      As a couple further points of discussion, I’d first note that a lot of people — not those in the article, but elsewhere — seem to assume that wealth alone is a solution. That however strong these pro-natal cultural norms are, that once these people become more “developed” and attain improved material conditions, that alone will cause these deep attitudes to shift. (Yes, the “demographic transition”, but don’t both American Hasidim and the Amish and associated groups provide at least limited counterexamples?)

      On the other hand, I did see a comment criticizing this article (keeping in mind Poe’s Law and the near-ubiquity of trolls), on the grounds that it’s at least a little bit racist for white people to be discussing the fertility of foreign black people like this. And that trying to pressure shifts in these authentic cultural norms toward Western ones at least smells slightly of cultural imperialism. (I seem to recall asking here once before how one tells the white people pressuring other cultures toward WEIRD cultural norms that are “defending universal human rights” from the white people pressuring other cultures toward WEIRD cultural norms that are engaged in “cultural imperialism”.)

      • Mark says:

        Yes. I think that an accusation of racism is basically the same as saying “be nice” or “that’s not nice”.
        That’s what it means.

        And actually, the world would be a far better place if we could find some way to replace every mention of racism with “not nice”.

    • bintchaos says:

      Well…
      pallets of cash are the obvious solution…don’t you watch Teen Mom?

      • Kevin C. says:

        don’t you watch Teen Mom?

        Never heard of it. [Googles] Oh, “reality TV” on MTV, that’s why.

        Also, not sure how that’s relevant, either.

        • bintchaos says:

          You should watch it, its really a fascinating social experiment. You have these wildly disadvantaged teenagers, mostly low SES, some parents drug abusers doing prison time, some parents that are upper middle class. These girls are also unwed mothers and you know the statistics on unwed mothers…so in the beginning they do terrible things, like porn or drugs. But after 7 or 8 years of cash transfusions (250k per year I think) they have all transitioned to being successful citizens with nice houses in upper middle class suburbia, good parenting ethics, marriages, savings accounts and profitable businesses.
          So yeah, pallets of cash.

          So of course this doesnt scale to Kevin’s problem. But infusions of cash can change a country’s or ethnic group’s culture. Consider what Hamas did in Palestine and what KSA is currently doing in Indonesia.

          • Randy M says:

            This contradicts the usual story about lottery winners ending up rapidly in worse off situations. While that may be partly myth, I’d be quite wary to believe the workings of MTV reality show producers constitute a firm foundation for truth (a priori.data. you know?).
            Secondly, do you really think “pallets of cash” scales to an entire nation? How does foreign aid to third world nations usually work out?

          • Well... says:

            Reality TV is not real.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Randy– its a mini-socio-lab with a sample size of 8.
            It neither scales or maps. But it does contradict the cw on lottery winners.
            @Well…
            The pallets of cash are real.

          • Randy M says:

            If it does not scale, what’s the relevance to Kevin C’s excerpt?

            As to the rest, I must say your comparison paints sociology in a rather unflattering light.

          • Well... says:

            @bintchaos:

            Maybe–maybe! But the results are produced by movie crews.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @bintchaos

            You should watch it, its really a fascinating social experiment.

            Don’t have MTV, or any of the non-broadcast-TV channels. Can’t afford it. And not interested an pretty much all of them anyway. Probably at least 30% of the “visual media” I consume these days was made in Japan or Korea.

            Plus, yes, all the points everyone else made: “reality” TV isn’t, non-representative, non-scaling.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Kevin
            That wasnt my point– my point was buckets of cash can fix problems.
            For example– scolding Americans to have more children probably won’t work. But you could bribe them– big tax breaks per child, extended maternity/paternity leave, subsidized child care, free college educations, etc.
            OOps! Those are all anti-conservative ideology!
            Next optimal strategy– recruitment of outgroup chidren– like immigrants and college students.
            OOps again! Banning immigration and forced reeducation on Racial Theory of IQ are going to alienate your target demographics.

            Now what could work is what Hamas did in Palestine and what KSA is doing in Indonesia. Religious charity as a delivery vector for buckets of cash. But I guess that isnt appealing either because you are an atheist.

            Probably at least 30% of the “visual media” I consume these days was made in Japan or Korea.


            Shingeki no Kyojin?

          • Very Interesting says:

            You should watch it, its really a fascinating social experiment. You have these wildly disadvantaged teenagers, mostly low SES, some parents drug abusers doing prison time, some parents that are upper middle class. These girls are also unwed mothers and you know the statistics on unwed mothers…so in the beginning they do terrible things, like porn or drugs. But after 7 or 8 years of cash transfusions (250k per year I think) they have all transitioned to being successful citizens with nice houses in upper middle class suburbia, good parenting ethics, marriages, savings accounts and profitable businesses.
            So yeah, pallets of cash.

            This isn’t remotely true, last I saw. I haven’t seen the current season, but I did notice this little news article.

            Same old teen mom screw ups.

          • bintchaos says:

            Dr. Alexander, who is VERY INTERESTING really?
            Are sock-puppets against the rules for SSC?

          • Very Interesting says:

            @bintchaos

            Like I said before, I haven’t seen the most current season, but the Teem Mom wiki page does a decent job of contradicting your claim that cash infusions solved all of these peoples problems. One thing the wiki page doesn’t capture is all of the horribly depressing scenes where these people are caught in physical/verbal altercations while their children sit terrified on the ground, screaming and crying. Or where their parents nod off during drug binges while the kids try to get them to play with their toys.

          • Nornagest says:

            Are sock-puppets against the rules for SSC?

            No. The only explicit rule here is Victorian Buddha Sufi Lite, which boils down to “don’t insult people and don’t shitpost, but if you have to, at least make sure it’s well-sourced”. Implicitly, there might be another rule, which is “don’t piss off Scott”. Good ways to piss off Scott include insulting his ex-girlfriend and associating unsavory things with SSC in PageRank.

            The rules for sockpuppets are the same as the rules for regular users, although not many people use them. (At least, that’s the mainstream view. There is a minority view that we’re all John Sidles sockpuppets, including you and me.) Very Interesting seems to be behaving himself here.

          • bintchaos says:

            Very Interesting seems to be behaving himself here.


            if you mean behaving himself by “outing me” on Dr Hsu’s blog and then accusing me of choosing a chinese name there to ingratiate myself with him.
            Then yes, his paranoid behavior is consistent with the accusations of being Moon or Sidles I got from the commentariat here.
            My Disqus ID comes from my twitter account (protagonist of 3Body Problem) and my SSC ID from my wordpress blog.

          • Well... says:

            One thing the wiki page doesn’t capture is all of the horribly depressing scenes where these people are caught in physical/verbal altercations while their children sit terrified on the ground, screaming and crying.

            It also doesn’t cover the producer, just off camera, feeding lines to the talent and asking them to perform pieces of blocking so that the scene comes together the way he wants it to. (Both things I saw constantly while working on reality shows.)

          • Nornagest says:

            I mean behaving himself in this thread. The cross-site stuff he did earlier is at least questionable.

          • Very Interesting says:

            @bintchaos, Nornagest

            I don’t recall exactly what I wrote, but I’m sure you can look it up, if you’re so inclined. The way I remember it, there was rampant speculation about who this new bintchaos person is, and some people suggested a Sidles alt. I frequent this blog and Hsu’s and noticed the same idiosyncratic posting style with bintchaos here and her disqus name on Hsu’s blog comments. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “she doesn’t add any value but at worst she’s just annoying (and I doubt she’s Sidles) – just be like Steve Hsu and ignore her.” I didn’t out you, bintchaos, I guessed you were the same person, you confirmed it, and then everyone stopped speculating about whether or not you were someone that deserved to be instantly banned. Not the best deal, not the worst. Sorry.

            I regretted making the post suggesting you chose your disqus name as a way to ingratiate yourself to Hsu. Honestly, I still believe it, but I shouldn’t have posted that here.

            Since everyone is being so patient with you here, bintchaos, I’ll do the same, even though it’s not my style. If it weren’t for you, I probably would have continued to forget to order a copy of 三体. I’m reading the English version while I wait until next month for the Chinese version to arrive, but the translation is so good that I don’t think I’m missing out on much. Thanks for reminding me.

  22. lvlln says:

    Occasional SSC commenter Freddie DeBoer published this post on Medium a few days ago, about the slippery lack of principles in the current anti-free-speech behavior and rhetoric of some leftists. I must admit, the fictional conversation he wrote is rather stilted and clearly designed to make him look like the better party. But overall, I find his characterization of such arguments completely accurate based on my interactions with others and observations of others’ interactions within the leftist communities I inhabit. Thus I find his post quite convincing.

    But of course I would find DeBoer convincing; I’m in his tribe, and I already agree with almost all of his ideology and political views. The fact that I find him convincing when he says “There’s no there there” doesn’t tell me that there actually is no there there. And when I perceive something as having “no there there,” I believe the healthy thing to do is to lean towards the belief that I’m being blind to some important principle, rather than that the people I’m looking at really are just being unprincipled and tribal (I certainly don’t consider “my side gets to do whatever” to be a legitimate underlying principle). That’s way too convenient an explanation that anyone can jump to for any reason.

    So what I’m curious about is, does anyone know strong counters to DeBoer’s post? Where does he make errors, or where does he miss important points that the real people upon whom he bases his “Pro-censorship leftist” character might make which show that actually, they do have a principled pro-censorship position? I’ve looked for such principles, but so far I’m still stuck at the “no there there” phase, and I’m at a loss as to if there’s a way out. Unfortunately actually talking to these people hasn’t gotten me anywhere, because from my experience, conversations go like the fictional one DeBoer wrote up in his post, along with being called a Nazi sympathizer (I’ve been fortunate enough not to be called a literal Nazi, at least).

    I would rather avoid rah-rah-ing about how correct DeBoer is and how much those “Pro-censorship leftists” suck. All that would do is to feed my own confirmation bias. Also completely uninteresting is whether or not there exist just as many people on the right wing that are just as censorious. What I’m really interested in is what principles those on the left who are pro-censorship are holding which I believe I’m missing.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Nice article, thanks for sharing. I lean center-right and this is further evidence that, while I disagree with several of his object-level ideas, Freddie DeBoer is admirably principled and coherent. Much respect. I wish more Twitblr lefties were more like him and less like the PCL caricature.

      I would also be interested in a steelman of the PCL if someone has it.

    • albatross11 says:

      As an aside, I don’t really agree with Freddie De Boer on political principles very much, but I find him worth reading because he’s a smart person who seems to me to be honestly trying to think about the world and discuss it. IMO, one of the best ways to avoid sealing yourself into a self-congratulatory bubble is to find serious thinkers with whom you disagree on many fundamental ideas, and read them. (Randy Waldman, who writes the interfluidity blog, is another thinker on the left who I’ve come to take very seriously, for the same reasons.)

    • John Schilling says:

      Where does he make errors, or where does he miss important points that the real people upon whom he bases his “Pro-censorship leftist” character might make which show that actually, they do have a principled pro-censorship position?

      I suspect DeBoer’s caricature departs from reality with:

      “What, you want to give “mainstream conservatives” a place to speak on campus? Any conservative contributes to racism, war, and poverty!”

      Milo and Spencer and Condoleeza and Coulter and the rest aren’t entirely mainstream conservatives. Some of them are only half a standard deviation or so from the mainstream, but I’d expect most of the pro-censorship left to articulate reasons why any particular speaker is objectionable, and to assert that they would be entirely amenable to a truly mainstream conservative speaker but that somehow the conservative students’ groups never invite those speakers.

      And they are sort of right, because in the political spectrum “truly mainstream conservative” maps to “boringly milquetoast and uninteresting to college activists”, hence either not invited or not noticed when they are. This would merely make the would-be censors’ argument unfalsifiable, not correct, but even that much DeBoer won’t allow them (at least in this essay).

      • bintchaos says:

        I think its way simpler than that.
        Conservative ideology is simply not competitive in 21st century academe, and conservative ideologues are just seen as accessible proxies for the Hated Donald Trump.
        De Boer is just a high-verbal panderbot.

      • Jaskologist says:

        How does Condoleeza belong in that group?

      • The Nybbler says:

        “What, you want to give “mainstream conservatives” a place to speak on campus? Any conservative contributes to racism, war, and poverty!”

        I’ve seen that from non-campus SJWs, perhaps not quite word for word (less poverty and war, more oppression of marginalized people).

        Best I can tell, they wouldn’t accept anyone to the right of Kasich.

        • bintchaos says:

          I have seen a couple of articles on Middlebury suggesting that Murray was just an accessible proxy for Trump, even though Murray doesnt support Trump– do any conservative intellectuals support Trump?
          One article also stated that the student union voted against disciplinary action for the protestors but the administration imposed it anyways.

        • Matt M says:

          And they only accept Kasich during the GOP primary. Once he wins the nomination, they don’t accept him anymore either (see: McCain, Romney)

        • The Nybbler says:

          @Matt M

          I suspect you’re right, but I don’t have direct evidence.

          • Matt M says:

            The most liberal guy with something of a shot in the GOP primary becomes a mainstream media folk hero just about every cycle. Unless they actually win.

    • schazjmd says:

      The Liberal Pulpit post Free speech on campus didn’t convince me, but it did lay out some principles that the writer felt supported protesting/blocking/disinviting speakers on campuses.

      • lvlln says:

        Well, at the least, that post actually attempts to make an argument based on principles, which is very much appreciated. Thanks for sharing!

        From that post, I find the following passage most legitimate and convincing:

        Third, dehumanizing or delegitimizing groups of people reduces free speech. We cannot remove ethos from public discourse — and, insofar as we can coherently imagine what that would be like, we wouldn’t want to — but we can reduce barriers to access to ethos based on group membership. Free speech is maximized when all members of a given community can participate as fully recognized members of that community. Speech that functions to diminish the character and credibility of others because of their membership in a racial, ethnic, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religious group diminishes free speech.

        Indeed, I find convincing the idea that if you fraudulently reduce someone’s credibility in others’ eyes – and reducing credibility on the basis of demographic characteristics is merely one small type of this – this reduces free speech.

        There are still a few issues here, though. One is that, in practice, “dehumanizing or delegitimizing groups of people” is used as equivalent to “any opinion stated by someone I want to shut up.” It’s not as if the people who are being violently attacked in order to be prevented from speaking are the ones going around saying “members of X race or Y ethnicity or Z gender or A religion, etc. have no credibility and thus no one should listen to them.” It’s always a tenuous connection, starting with some political belief they’ve stated, which gets interpreted as being dehumanizing, whether such an interpretation is reasonable or not. In fact, given that interpreting it as dehumanizing justifies shutting them up, it seems that such an interpretation is motivated by this fact (this doesn’t imply any sort of cynical, underhanded motives, of course – since honestly, genuinely interpreting someone as being dehumanizing is so useful, people will naturally end up doing so honestly and genuinely).

        And when it comes to principles, many colleges, in fact, do have people who loudly and proudly proclaim that “members of X race or Y ethnicity or Z gender or A religion, etc. have no credibility and thus no one should listen to them.” Those people tend not to be violently attacked by the same people who are violently attacking the people listed in that post. So these violent attackers don’t seem to be principled in this regard.

        • schazjmd says:

          Agreed. I think albatross11’s quadrants make more sense as an approach for deciding whether or not to protest a speaker.

          On the other hand, I think SJW-types (as compared to people who merely agree with some SJ stances) feel that their chosen SJ issue overrides all other principles. So arguments based on “freedom of speech and thought” are easily shrugged off.

    • Brad says:

      I don’t know if this answer is satisfying or even welcome but I’m pretty much here:

      PCL: Look, does any of this matter? It’s just happening on college campuses. Who cares?

      and as for his response:

      Me: I am a leftist and an academic; therefore it’s natural for me to be interested in left-wing discourse in academic spaces. For those individual students and professors who suffer the consequences of these censorship pushes, these issues are a big deal. Besides, it’s very weird that you’d be ostensibly defending campus activists by asserting their irrelevance. I take student activism seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I’m willing to treat those activists like adults, which means honestly engaging with their ideas and tactics.

      To take it in two parts, yes I could see how you would care very much about the issue since it is your workplace. Likewise for the individual students and professors involved. But I’m not an academic or a college student, so those reasons don’t apply to me.

      As for the second part, I guess I’m not really defending student activists so much as pushing back on the meta-level against the notion that collectively we need to spend a lot of time, energy, and worry thinking about them. I don’t take student activism seriously. I think by and large it hasn’t accomplished much or been very influential. There are a handful of exceptions, but they are exceptions and I don’t think the current bunch has what it takes to replicate even those modest successes. Nor do I fervently wish that they could be reformed and harnessed into something powerful and positive. I suppose that implies I don’t fit the leftist part in the way FDB means either.

      Even with respect to college campuses, I think what professors are writing is far more important than what undergraduates are doing. Look at Middlebury — Charles Murray wasn’t coming to present his political science research in a seminar to other political scientists. It wasn’t a serious academic event — it was the type of high middlebrow event sometimes put on by the local NPR affiliate or a public library. Academic freedom is fundamentally about research at the bleeding edge of human knowledge, not about the little status games undergraduates play with their student organizations.

      Like everyone else I think “triggered” and “unsafe” is beyond dumb, but tell me that things like that are *the* major problem facing the United States and could easily lead to an existential crisis, and now I’m going to bucket you in the same general category as people that tell me seeing a rainbow flag with a star of david on it makes them unsafe.

      • albatross11 says:

        Brad:

        I think you are making a really fundamental error here in your assessment of the impact of no-platforming some speakers and ideas. Research is important, and obviously we want scientists to have unfettered flow of good information. But it’s also very important for people making decisions (including people who are now at Middlebury and in a few years will be elected governor somewhere, or will be working as a congressional staffer, or will be a midlevel manager at a big company, or just will be voting) to have good information available to them.

        When I was a kid, I was able to read a lot of popular books on evolution (and lots of other areas of science). That helped shape my worldview, and led me to read and try to understand further as I got older, even though my field is nowhere close to evolutionary biology. But that was possible only because there wasn’t some successful campaign to shut down people spreading the idea of evolution to impressionable bright ten year olds. I would be a much poorer human being now if such a campaign had kept those popularizations out of my hands, lest I get the wrong ideas about morality or religion or something.

        That’s not to say that a protest at Middlebury is anywhere in the top twenty political issues facing the US today. But there *is* something important going on there–deciding what college students will be allowed to hear or read or learn about or discuss is a way of influencing what the next generation of people making decisions will be allowed to know.

        • rlms says:

          But no-one is seriously proposing banning Charles Murray’s books. They are proposing to not let him speak at a single university, and their mildly boisterous method of doing so is objectionable. The amount of people whose access to Murray has been shut down is probably actually negative, given the publicity he’s got, and so far as Middlebury was a step down a slippery slope towards widespread violence against political enemies, it was a pretty small one (in my opinion). It is relevant to principled left-wingers who don’t want ingroup members doing bad things, and relevant to right-wingers (both principled and not) who like to point at outgroup members doing bad things. That doesn’t make it important.

        • Brad says:

          @albatross11
          To follow up on what rlms is saying, and without trying to to be too cynical or channel Robin Hanson too much, the event really wasn’t about learning what Charles Murray had to say.

          It was about the conservative student union doing something to justify its existence, hopefully poking the eye a bit of their fellow students, networking with each other and maybe with Charles Murray, being able to tell other people that they saw Charles Murray speak and so on. The invitation and speech was more performative than anything else.

          Because of the Streisand effect it is far more likely given what happened that undergraduates at Middlebury are aware of Charles Murray’s basic view than they would have been had the speech went forward exactly as planned, with the the twelve members of the conservative student union plus a handful of significant others as the only students in attendance. It is true that those students are also aware that many of their contemporaries strongly disapprove of Charles Murray, but that would presumably also be the case if the student activists were to follow FDB’s preferred policy of engagement.

          Information flow has literally never been freer than it is today. There’s absolutely no way to stop undergraduates at Middlebury or anywhere from going back to their dorm rooms and looking up Charles Murray on the internet.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It was about the conservative student union doing something to justify its existence, hopefully poking the eye a bit of their fellow students, networking with each other and maybe with Charles Murray, being able to tell other people that they saw Charles Murray speak and so on. The invitation and speech was more performative than anything else.

            What would you think about, hypothetical example, students pulling the same move on a university rally during the presidential campaign? Does the specific party/candidate in question affect your answer? Such events were for broadly the same purpose.

            the twelve members of the conservative student union

            Apologies if this is an overactive pattern matcher, but this strikes me as unnecessary snark that makes your argument look more partisan-ly motivated.

          • Brad says:

            What would you think about, hypothetical example, students pulling the same move on a university rally during the presidential campaign? Does the specific party/candidate in question affect your answer? Such events were for broadly the same purpose.

            There the situation is even clearer. Nothing at all to do with academic freedom — the college is just a venue.

            Apologies if this is an overactive pattern matcher, but this strikes me as unnecessary snark that makes your argument look more partisan-ly motivated.

            Fair enough. But it is also true. I should know, I was one of them.

            I’m willing to bet that the CSU at Middlebury is small and even big student groups don’t get high attendance at their non-controversial events.

          • albatross11 says:

            Would you accept the general principle here that it’s not a big deal to disrupt / make impossible in-person meetings and speeches, because everyone’s ideas are available on the internet? That seems like a pretty awful principle to me. If I heard of some country where no books or websites were banned, but political rallies and speeches by some political parties/movements always got disrupted and shut down and the police never bothered arresting anyone for it, I would not think of that country as a place with strong freedom of speech.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            There the situation is even clearer. Nothing at all to do with academic freedom — the college is just a venue.

            So the Heckler’s Veto is fundamentally okay? I guess props for consistency, though I definitely disagree.

            Fair enough. But it is also true. I should know, I was one of them.

            I’m willing to bet that the CSU at Middlebury is small and even big student groups don’t get high attendance at their non-controversial events.

            Yeah, it was hard to tell if I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I went to a big uni with big clubs (even my moderately niche group could reliably pull 30-40 people for meetings) so it was a biased assessment. It just scanned as mocking the group for being unable to pull higher membership, which given that it’s explicitly a partisan group pushes certain buttons… Apologies if that was not the intent.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Brad

            The idea that the event was intended as a publicity stunt for a political minority makes its violent suppression a bigger issue than otherwise, not a smaller one. Even Robert Bork agreed that freedom of political speech was important.

            Blithely dismissing it as unimportant because after all, people can still buy Murray’s book is missing the point.

          • Brad says:

            @The Nybbler

            Even Robert Bork agreed that freedom of political speech was important.

            Freedom of speech in the sense that you are using, or the sense of that virtually everyone else uses (i.e. as against the government)? Because I don’t recall Bork ever writing about the former and I’ve read at least two of his books.

          • Brad says:

            @albatross11
            I think you are, perhaps unintentionally, moving the goalposts.

            I started off by endorsing the view:
            “Look, does any of this matter? It’s just happening on college campuses. Who cares?”

            In response you said “if college kids, our feature leaders, don’t have access to these ideas it would be a bad thing”.

            My sur-reply was “college kids are going to have access to these ideas”.

            Your sur-sur reply goes off in a new direction about whether or not we’d say that such a place has strong freedom of speech. That doesn’t have to do with whether or not college kids have access to the ideas. Are you conceding that point?

            As for the substance — first, I never used the term freedom of speech because I think it is a category error to use in the context of a private university and second that leads me right back to “”Look, does any of this matter? It’s just happening on college campuses. Who cares?”

          • albatross11 says:

            I guess as another example, suppose it developed that gay pride parades in some blue collar city always got busted up by protesters. I mean, yeah, some people trying to support the gay pride parade get hospitalized, but no big deal, right? I don’t live in that blue collar city, and even if I did, there’s no censorship on the internet so gay people can communicate to their hearts’ content there.

            Or suppose it developed that on some college campuses, whenever a bunch of black students invited controversial black speaker to campus, the white students showed up and disrupted the speech and sent one of the professors trying to host the event to the hospital.

            Maybe neither of those would be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, either. I’m pretty sure they would be reported as major stories in the news media we have now, though, quite possibly with a Justice Dept investigation triggered.

          • The Nybbler says:

            1971 Bork would have excluded it:

            The category of protected speech should consist of speech concerned with governmental behavior, policy or personnel, whether the governmental unit involved is executive, legislative, judicial or administrative. Explicitly political speech is speech about how we are governed, and the category therefore includes a wide range of evaluation, criticism, electioneering and propaganda. It does not cover scientific, educational, commercial or literary expressions as such.

            1984 Bork had softened up a bit, and would have covered it:

            I do not think … that the First Amendment protection should apply only to speech that is explicitly political. Even in 1971, I stated that my views were tentative and based on an attempt to apply Prof. Herbert Wechsler’s concept of neutral principles. As the result of the responses of scholars to my article, I have long since concluded that many other forms of discourse, such as moral and scientific debate, are central to democratic government and deserve protection.

          • Brad says:

            Bork in both quotes is talking only about freedom of speech as it applies to restrictions or punishment from the government. I.e. the only thing anyone ever meant by the phrase ‘freedom of speech’ until not very long ago.

            They are completely inapplicable to the discussion at hand.

          • Nornagest says:

            the only thing anyone ever meant by the phrase ‘freedom of speech’ until not very long ago.

            This tired old meme again? It is astonishing how sensitive people can be to non-governmental power when it comes to economic issues, while forgetting all about it when it comes time to consider rights that aren’t property rights.

          • Protagoras says:

            @Brad, I certainly am no expert on Bork (nor any kind of fan based on what I do know of him), but your sweeping generalization on what “freedom of speech” has always meant will not stand. John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty is not particularly recent, seems to be regarded as fairly influential, and champions freedom of speech. It is by no means exclusively concerned with government-imposed restrictions; Mill is quite explicit in discussing other threats to the freedom he advocates, and indeed seems to be more concerned about the non-governmental threats (as he seems to have thought his own government was mostly behaving itself in this area in his time).

          • Brad says:

            @Protagoras
            I’d be happy to discuss JSM’s take on liberty of thought and the contradictions it gives rise to in an appropriate thread. This isn’t it. Bork was referring to the First Amendment. Bringing him up was a red herring. Assuming arguendo there is a universally applicable ethical requirement in play, there’s no reason at all to believe its contours happen to track the First Amendment as interpreted by Bork or anyone else.

          • Because of the Streisand effect it is far more likely given what happened that undergraduates at Middlebury are aware of Charles Murray’s basic view than they would have been had the speech went forward exactly as planned

            Don’t you think most of them got a false picture of Murray’s views, along the lines of “if so many people objected to him as a racist he must be a racist,” rather than the idea they would have gotten by hearing his account of his views? How many do you think actually responded by reading one of his books?

          • Brad says:

            @David Friedman

            Don’t you think most of them got a false picture of Murray’s views, along the lines of “if so many people objected to him as a racist he must be a racist,” rather than the idea they would have gotten by hearing his account of his views? How many do you think actually responded by reading one of his books?

            Very few. But what’s on the other side of the balance?

            You are a prominent non-left wing professor. I’m sure either advice a non-left student group or have been asked to so. Probably you’ve introduced an invited speaker or ten over the years.

            If Bryan Caplan gets invited to speak at your university by the libertarian student society — no one protests, no writes a letter to the editor denouncing him, there’s no controversy — how many undergraduates show up? How many that aren’t already familiar with his positions?

          • If Bryan Caplan gets invited to speak at your university by the libertarian student society — no one protests, no writes a letter to the editor denouncing him, there’s no controversy — how many undergraduates show up? How many that aren’t already familiar with his positions?

            A fair question, but I’m afraid I don’t know. My only public lectures at my school were to law school audiences, and long enough ago so I can’t tell you how many came.

            But San Jose State has a lecture series that I have spoken in, and I think tends to invite libertarians, judging by other people they have invited. My memory is that there were a couple of hundred in the audience when I spoke for them.

            I’ve just gotten back from a speaking trip in Europe, mostly eastern and central. My memory is that there was one talk in Sweden at which there were only fifteen or twenty people in the audience, but most of them were much larger than that. Maybe fifty to two hundred?

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        But I’m not an academic or a college student, so those reasons don’t apply to me.

        Two responses: first, as albatross11 pointed out, academics influence the culture and elite college students eventually will govern you, whether through official positions or corporations, so this is at best equivalent to saying that the hole is at the other end of the lifeboat. And second, this mentality may be at its height among college students, but it has infected virtually every knowledge-based field. You can be a software engineer or a writer or a journalist or a moviemaker or a scientist, and there are still perfectly mainstream views which will put your employment in jeopardy if it’s a slow news day and enough Twitter zampolits find out about them.

        I’ll agree with you that this isn’t the major problem facing the United States, but it is certainly a problem, and it’s the sort of problem that makes all the other problems worse by increasing the general atmosphere of mutual hostility and/or self-censorship in this country.

        • Brad says:

          Two responses: first, as albatross11 pointed out, academics influence the culture and elite college students eventually will govern you, whether through official positions or corporations, so this is at best equivalent to saying that the hole is at the other end of the lifeboat.

          The historical evidence overwhelmingly shows that when college students cease being college students they cease acting like college students. It turns out that a whole generation didn’t turn on, tune in, and drop out but instead elected Ronald Reagan.

          And second, this mentality may be at its height among college students, but it has infected virtually every knowledge-based field. You can be a software engineer or a writer or a journalist or a moviemaker or a scientist, and there are still perfectly mainstream views which will put your employment in jeopardy if it’s a slow news day and enough Twitter zampolits find out about them.

          You are pointing to something that happens about as often as shark attacks and telling me it is certainly a problem. Sorry I’m not buying it. I feel bad for people that get attacked by sharks, but it’s a big country and lots of weird and unlikely shit happens.

          • albatross11 says:

            Suppose you are a prominent social scientist, someone at the level of Pinker or Haidt. And suppose you find that the question of IQ and meritocracy and cognitive stratification really interests you. My claim is that given the example of Murray, you are substantially more likely to decide to go study something less contentious. Or you will decide not to publsh some analysis that you are pretty sure is true, because who needs the heartache?

            That has consequences. Convincing researchers to go into some other field that is less likely to get them ostracised and no-platformed, that has a cost. (How interested are you in being a tenure-track assistant professor who studies heritability of IQ, in an environment where sometimes, people in your field gr a huge political backlash from the overwhelmingly liberal/progressive/socialist faculty?) Making it clear that making certain true and well-sourced statements can get you fired, that’s a good way to make sure that there are few accessible to the public discussions of that issue. Visibly establishing the norm that some questions and some subjects are outside the realm of allowable discussion, that can have consequences long after everyone’s forgotten about your kinda embarrassing protest-everything phase when you were 19.

            I think incentives matter a lot. Just as a lot of journalists are effectively controlled by the threat of loss of access, I think a lot of researchers and prominent public intellectuals are effectively controlled by what ideas are controversial enough to get you shut down, make it really hard for you to give a speech, etc.

            As a thought experiment: We rewind the clock to 2004, but make one change: Anyone who speaks in favor of gay marriage on a college campus can expect a good chance of being shut down, potentially having a riot start. Occasionally, someone is outed as being in favor of gay marriage, and then is visibly hounded from his job.

            My guess is that in that world, we wouldn’t have legal gay marriage today. Becoming an open supporter of it would simply have been too risky, and so it wouldn’t have become something that most people were openly okay with.

            Incentives matter.

          • Brad says:

            Somewhat off to the side of your point, but are Pinker and Haidt even scientists anymore?

            To your main point, I do think academic freedom is important. Faculty hiring being based in part on ideological litmus tests is a problem Something like this: Theology professor pressured out of Duke after protesting liberal racism ‘training’ program is concerning.

            If yall were talking about actual academic freedom, I’d be right there with you. But the focus is instead on “freedom of speech” (with a very strange definition) and on the last crazy thing some undergraduates did somewhere — or in some cases not even undergraduates but random outside agitators.

            Yiannopoulos was not a faculty member, Murray wasn’t a faculty member, Nicholas Christakis was faculty member but the incident had nothing to do with his research (didn’t even really have to do with him so much as his wife). If its chilling effects on research you are worried about these are not the examples that should have so much prominence.

            I know that there is a wide range of ages of posters on here, I’ve seen the surveys and individual posters have mentioned their ages, so I don’t know why the obsessions and viewpoint are so often those of 20 year old beleaguered campus conservative that spends a lot of time on twitter.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Brad, you’re arguing that people shouldn’t be scared, and that’s just not how it works. It doesn’t take that many high-profile examples of folks punished for having the wrong politics to get everyone else to keep their damn heads down. Who wants to be at the center of the next Donglegate because they didn’t realize a cheka was in the next row of the audience eavesdropping on their dumb joke and composing a report to Buzzfeed and Gizmodo? It’s just not worth it, so you keep your joke to yourself. As well as your opinion of the cheka, because why take chances?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Over in the latest thread, abc is making dark remarks about the elephant in the room. Over here, we have Brad pointing at the rampaging elephant and saying “There’s no elephant! It’s just a harmless little mousie. Besides, it’s really far away and even if it bites, what harm does a little mousie do?”

          • Brad says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            cheka

            You can be as scared as you like by Stalinists hiding under every bed. And your counterparts can be triggered and unsafe by the Nazis that are lurking everywhere.

            So it goes.

          • schazjmd says:

            @Brad

            The historical evidence overwhelmingly shows that when college students cease being college students they cease acting like college students. It turns out that a whole generation didn’t turn on, tune in, and drop out but instead elected Ronald Reagan.

            Kim Stanley Robinson called them out on that in Sixty Days and Counting:

            “…you old hippie, you got lucky and were born in the right little window and got to grab all the surplus of happiness that history ever produced, and you blew it, you stood around and did nothing while the right reaganed back into power and shut down all possibility of change for an entire generation, you blew it in a ten-year party and staggered off stoned and complicit. You neither learned to do machine politics nor dismantled the machine. Not one of you imagined what had to be done. And so the backlash came down, the reactionary power structure, stronger than ever.”

            My favorite part of that is stoned and complicit – lovely phrase.

          • Nornagest says:

            Somewhat off to the side of your point, but are Pinker and Haidt even scientists anymore?

            Haidt might be. I would call most of what Pinker’s doing these days “philosophy” before I called it “science”.

          • albatross11 says:

            I’d include popularizers in the broad category of scientists. I think they do an important job, making different areas of science accessible for people not in those fields. (So I think of Neil Degrasse Tyson as a scientist, even though I don’t think he does a ton of physics research these days–his last academic publication looks like 2008.)

            Also I think both Haidt and Pinker continue advising students and teaching classes and doing research. Pinker’s website shows his last academic publication happened in 2014, so it’s not like he’s totally abandoned science. Haidt’s shows several publications in 2015, and several more in the pipeline. And both men have written books involving a fair bit of research.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Brad: I don’t know what to tell you, man. I suppose if you don’t work in one of the afflicted industries, you have no reason to just take some rando on the Internet’s word for it.

            But it’s worth considering who acts like they have the greater need to remain anonymous: random people in tech or academia who mildly support the social justice movement, or random people in tech or academia who mildly don’t.

      • Kevin C. says:

        But I’m not an academic or a college student, so those reasons don’t apply to me.

        Beyond the points made by albatross11 and ThirteenthLetter, I’d also like to quote a bit I saw recently on Tumblr to address this point:

        fatpinocchio:
        Twitter, Tumblr, and the culture war industry in general represent a loud minority. In my experience (and I went to a small liberal arts college in CA), the regressive left isn’t even that popular there, so I expect that what we see is the result of the media seizing on unusual incidents because that’s what gets the clicks. In the broader world, it seems to basically be a non-factor. It’s more common to passively share posts with a regressive-left message, but most of those people are still reasonably normally tolerant in real life. Consistent liberalism is rare, but the norm of at-least-minimal liberalism through apathy still looks very strong. Free speech issues aren’t on most people’s radar, but they’d see punching “Nazis” as politically motivated hooliganism – if it were ever relevant to them.

        I think if someone wasn’t directly subscribed to the culture war (or following someone who really cares about it), they’d see very little of it. Even if they’re interested in politics, the culture war may only rarely come up. While the left gets a lot wrong, in practice, it looks more like “Senator So-And-So introduced the Safer Pencils for America Act and some people support that” and less like the kind of illiberal SJ that Scott is concerned about. Republicans controlling everything means less influence for Senator Safer Pencils, but it doesn’t make a significant difference for the antifa cluster, because they wouldn’t have been able to do much anyway.

        Which is not to say that the culture war is completely irrelevant for everyone. Maybe if you do IQ research at a university, you’d like to be able to talk about it without worrying that someone might come down on you. If you’re a conservative in a generally progressive industry, you’d like to speak your mind without being viewed as an idiot. And in the regular political sphere, both sides keep finding new ways to damage political liberalism. But as far as cultural liberalism is concerned, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.

        brazenautomaton:
        it must be nice to exist somewhere that is yet undevoured, so you can pretend those who saw it happen are all just stupid and contemptible

        fatpinocchio:
        Considering the variance in places I’ve existed that are all undevoured, including what are supposed to be the main SJ centers/battlegrounds (liberal arts college, tech company), I’m skeptical of the extent of the devouring. And I don’t think that people who think otherwise are stupid and contemptible. I have a great deal of respect for Scott, whose post inspired my original comment. The problem is that there’s enough culture war content to surround yourself with it, and then it seems like it’s everywhere, so it’s easy to overestimate its importance.

        This isn’t the greatest analogy, but it’s kind of like alcohol. Not only the addictive aspect, but also because if you’re in a peer group where heavy drinking is normal, it can seem like an inescapable part of socialization and takes up some of your mindspace, but if you stop engaging with it and find different people, you see that you were part of some weird group and that it’s actually not important.

        brazenautomaton:
        Yeah, if alcohol explicitly colonized all of the places where you could do the thing you wanted, and it was no longer possible to do the thing you wanted to do that had nothing to do with alcohol, due to the knowing, malicious, and deliberate actions of alcoholics; and alcoholics were currently colonizing another related thing that you wanted to do and making it their explicit mission to make it impossible for you to engage with it without being showered in alcohol and everyone was helping them and nobody was permitted to notice it was happening and every time you point it out people call you a hysterical liar who should be punished because you hate alcohol-drinkers.

        • Brad says:

          fatpinocchio comes off as quite reasonable and brazenautomaton comes off as unhinged. The whole “aren’t permitted to notice” thing is especially nonsensical.

          YMMV

        • Reasoner says:

          +1 to everything fatpinocchio said

      • The original Mr. X says:

        The future ruling class is disproportionately likely to come from today’s students. If these people are picking up the kind of narrow-minded, censorious views shown by the student activists, that is a pretty serious problem, because they’re likely to carry them over into their future careers. Whilst being ruled by a class of narrow-minded, censorious people might not be the single biggest problem a country can face, it’s surely somewhere in the top tier .

        • albatross11 says:

          They’ll be calmer and have more of a sense of proportion in their 40s as people with some actual power. On the other hand, their understanding of the world will still be profoundly shaped by what they saw and heard and thought about and discussed in college.

  23. Kevin C. says:

    There are some interesting bits of data that can be dug out of the US Department of Homeland Security’s latest quarterly “Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report“, covering the six-month period from October 1 to the end of March:
    •560,150 legal immigrants got green cards, for an annual rate of about 1.12 million/year. By comparison, the US annual birth rate is 3.98 million a year, only 3.55 times higher.
    •286,541 new temporary workers and their families, with 167,510 being “temporary workers and trainees” specifically, arrived during the Oct.-Dec. 2016 quarter, for a rate of about 670 thousand per year. As best I can find, the number of people turning 18 in a year in the US is roughly 3.9 million, about 5.8 times higher, or roughly one new temporary worker for each five to six residents entering the workforce*.
    •Add these two, and you get something like one new foreign worker for every 2.2 Americans entering the work force.
    •Further, if you look at the break-down of the temporary workers by profession, about half are fairly high-skill “white collar” jobs like engineers, accountants, doctors & nurses, professors, and designers**.
    •Of those 560,150 new green card holders in the six-month period, only 75,262 got in based on their work or their skills (“employment-based preferences”), or roughly 13.4% (about one in 7.4). 375,274 got in as family (“chain migration”), or 67%, and the rest are mostly refugees, asylees, and the 20,516 listed simlpy as “Diversity”.

    Remember, this all refers legal immigration. So, some hard data on present flows, for understanding what is meant with regards to more or less legal immigration, more or less skilled or unskilled immigration, the relative proportions of family-based entry, and so on.

    *Yes, not everyone turning 18 is entering the workforce, as many are going to college, but the older cohorts who will be either graduating or dropping out from those same colleges are only slightly smaller, which would serve to push the temporary worker/”native new worker” slightly upward. Also, at least some of the people who get in as “spouses or other family” of temporary workers will probably be entering the workforce as well, also nudging up that ratio.

    **Not exactly the sort “taking jobs Americans just won’t do.”

    • baconbacon says:

      Of note you want to use net immigration, not gross. A cursory reading makes it appear that you are just using total immigrants, when some portion of them return to their home country (and I would wager than % is higher than that of US born moving out of country).

    • dndnrsn says:

      So, the US immigration system (67% family, 13% work/skills, 20% others, mostly refugees and asylum claimants) is near the opposite of the Canadian, as far as those numbers go? In 2010, says Wikipedia, the numbers for Canada were 22%, 67%, and 11% (of whom 9% refugees/asylum claimants).

      It seems weird to, instead of bringing in high-skilled immigrants, bringing in temporary workers instead to do high-skilled jobs.

      • albatross11 says:

        Yeah, the especially crazy bits of our immigration policy, to my mind, are:

        a. We take in a lot of foreign grad students/postdocs, often in STEM fields. When their studies are done, their visas expire and they have to go home. This makes no sense to me–if there’s anyone we can be pretty sure isn’t going to be a major drain on the public treasury, it’s someone who has just gotten a PhD in molecular biology or computer science or something.

        b. We take in a lot of guest workers on H1B visas that chain them to their employer, creating a kind of serf class of employees that can’t negotiate on pay or move between employers. Again, this is nuts–if they’re worth letting in to work as programmers or engineers or whatever, we should give them flexibility to work wherever they like. That would also make the competition between foreign and domestic workers a lot more even, since the foreign workers wouldn’t be chained to their job. (Making them somewhat more appealing to some employers, and giving high-tech employers a big advantage in negotiating salaries with domestic employees.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          What is the point of this system? Is it just the way it’s evolved? It seems like it benefits universities and industry more than the US as a whole.

          The big flaws with the Canadian system, as far as I can see, are: one, that letting someone with Qualification X in doesn’t mean that the British Columbia X Association or whatever will let them practice, because their incentive is to keep the number of people doing X down to keep wages high. Two, the immigration court system is badly backlogged, and what judge someone gets seems to be the decisive factor over any others.

        • Brad says:

          We take in a lot of foreign grad students/postdocs, often in STEM fields. When their studies are done, their visas expire and they have to go home.

          We take in a lot of guest workers on H1B visas that chain them to their employer, creating a kind of serf class of employees that can’t negotiate on pay or move between employers.

          As it actually plays out in practice, those STEM grad students get two years of OPT work authorization. That gives their employer two shots at the H1B lottery to get them a visa, or if they aren’t Chinese or Indian directly apply for an employment based second preference greencard.

          And as for those H1Bs, portability is a very real thing that H1B holders are very savvy about in my experience.

          The system has some really dumb features, but the problems you point out are not nearly as bad as you are making them out to be in practice. At least as things stand right now — growth mindset!

    • SamChevre says:

      A statistics note: very few people getting green cards are new immigrants: almost always, they previously had legal temporary visas. I think that you are double-counting: of the 167,51 temporary workers, 75,262 will eventually get green cards.

    • Or in other words, the total number of legal immigrant was about what it was a century or so ago, into a population three times as large.

  24. Kevin C. says:

    So, I ran into a friend earlier this week, whom I’ve known since the start of high school, and we got to talking and catching up. And I brought up the whole discussion on here about me having kids (as the best way to fight for my tribe’s survival and to get Hlynkacg, Deiseach and co. to stop calling me a perdiferous traitor). He, laughing, agreed that my becoming a parent is impossible, “because that would require you to talk to girls,” and that I’d fail even if I tried my best, because I am “visibly uncomfortable talking to anyone with an IQ under 130”, and detailed the specific body language I display and how it visibly says “why do I have to bother talking with you?”

    Add in that I despair at least a little whenever I contemplate the fact that I’m smarter than something like 99.9% of the population (and most of them, a lot smarter than), despite the fact that I’m really not all that smart. (If I was, would I be such a total unemployable loser?)

    So, I ask my fellow 150-range IQ types here, how do you do it? How do you tolerate having to put up with the “normies”? Particularly when they are (comparitively) so, so stupid? Or the fact that there’s just so, so many more of them than us?

    • Matt M says:

      despite the fact that I’m really not all that smart. (If I was, would I be such a total unemployable loser?)

      See, you say this, but your attitude suggests to me that you don’t really believe it. Particularly when you go on to say stuff like this…

      How do you tolerate having to put up with the “normies”? Particularly when they are (comparitively) so, so stupid?

      While I’ll admit to being occasionally frustrated with difficulties I have in interacting with most people, I really don’t have this attitude at all. Throwing people into harshly judged categories like “people like me” vs “normies” does not help your life whatsoever. I suggest you stop doing it.

      My perception is that you see yourself as obviously superior to most people. Your attempts to reconcile this with some of your personal failures come across as forced and half-hearted, as if you don’t really believe them. Under truth serum, I suspect you would say “I am so much better! It’s everyone else’s fault my life sucks! If only I had been born in a better society which would properly appreciate my obvious genius!” And I concede that this may, in fact, be true. But such an attitude essentially ensures that you will be miserable forever.

    • baconbacon says:

      I don’t know, perhaps I should ask my wife (IQ in the 145-150 range) why she puts up with me (IQ in the 130-135 range).

      Actually I do know, her life doesn’t revolve around her intelligence, between the facts that she gets lots of mental stimulation at work and I am smart enough to give her some distilled information on subjects she has some interest in but that she doesn’t want to follow intensely and that I have some domain specific abilities, the gap though it would be notable in some situations isn’t noticeable in most daily interactions. There is still plenty of room to enjoy each other in the facets of life that don’t require matching IQs to get along.

      If your whole life revolves around intellectual ability then you will have a hard time getting along with people several standard deviations below you in this regard, but if you are able to enjoy things that don’t revolve around it then you can connect with people far more easily.

      • dndnrsn says:

        145-150 to 130-135 is not a huge gap, though. My entirely unscientific hypothesis is that a gap of about 30 points is the point just before the smarter person starts thinking “this guy doesn’t understand me; what an idiot” and the dumber person starts thinking “I can’t understand this guy; what an idiot.”

        It’s no coincidence that politicians seem to fall into the 120s-130s range: it means they can communicate both with the average voters (people below a certain IQ tend not to vote, it would appear) and the occasional hypergenius who’s telling them about the atomic bomb research that will let them win the war or whatever.

      • If your whole life revolves around intellectual ability

        The original post implied two questions–how to get along with people and how to find a mate. I’m not sure anyone’s whole life revolves around intellectual ability, but intellectual matters are important to some.

        After my first marriage broke up, I concluded that one requirement if I married again was a wife whom I could talk with about ideas without feeling as though I needed a translator. Part of the reason for that requirement is that creating and working with ideas is a good deal of what makes me feel good about myself so I want to be able to share that with the person sharing my life. What I was looking for wasn’t only IQ, also the degree to which ideas are real and interesting to a person, but IQ is part of it.

        The requirement was satisfied and we’ve been happily married for something over thirty years.

        But that requirement doesn’t exist for everyone I interact with, not even for all friends. It’s nice to share what feels most important to me with others, but there are lots of other interactions I enjoy as well. I enjoy interacting with small children. With people online who see the world differently than I do. With people interested in learning something I can teach, not necessarily something to do with ideas. With people I like and admire for reasons not having to do with intellect.

        Going back to the original issue of finding a wife … . The IQ distribution is tighter for women than for men, so if you are male and near either tail, there are fewer women than men in the same location. On the other hand, I have at least heard it claimed that many men don’t want smart girlfriends or wives, especially not smarter than they are, so the number of smart women looking for smart husbands might well be as high as the number of smart men looking for smart wives.

        And, of course, there are lots of institutions that effectively filter by IQ, so you don’t have to interact with a random population either for courtship or other interactions. You are, for instance, interacting with people here. If you go to a good university, a chess club, or any other setting that tends to attract higher IQ sorts, your odds improve. Of course, if you are looking for a mate and are heterosexual, it also has to be a setting with a substantial number of women.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Thanks to geographical sorting by intelligence, there’s no real shortage of reasonably intelligent people to talk to in places I’m likely to be. As the saying goes, “Thank God for Mississippi”, and I don’t live there. Nor in Newark, nor in any of the other places the less-intelligent tend to end up. I suspect your particular circumstances have landed you in a place where you’re in more contact with the low and average IQ than would be usual for a high-IQ person.

      Of course, it also helps to try to control your tendency to be arrogant.

    • bintchaos says:

      Mostly avoidance and sticking to my bubble.
      My attempt to be a SSC commenter is an experiment that may certainly fail.
      My real language is LaTeX.
      Hard to convey.

    • genisage says:

      detailed the specific body language I display and how it visibly says “why do I have to bother talking with you?”

      Start with that. Stop doing all of the things your friend told you about. It can’t be helping your ability to cope with the IQ gap if they’re also picking up on your body language that’s saying they aren’t valuable. If somebody is enjoying talking to you, and you don’t give them a reason to think you can’t wait to get away from them, you’ll probably find it much easier to give them a pass for saying some dumb things. You might end up with a bit of eye strain when they start talking about one of your areas of interest, but they might also appreciate hearing a more knowledgeable person explain some of their misconceptions.

      • Kevin C. says:

        How do you control unconscious body language? For that matter, how do you even notice it?

        • Mark says:

          You don’t.

          You have to change your thinking.

          Having said that, you could force yourself to do something to calm yourself, or whatever, but it’s more the effect that a physical action will have on your internal state.

          If you feel hatred, contempt, weariness with someone, you’re never going to be able to fake the body language to a necessary degree.

        • James Miller says:

          Just a guess, but study acting.

          • Kevin C. says:

            I tried in high school with a drama class… after the first couple of sessions I was permanently exiled to working backstage. Much like how when I took dance in high school, I ended up after a couple of weeks permanently on soundboard duty.

          • johan_larson says:

            Or if not acting, then perhaps strict observance of formalized social protocol. This would be easier in a society that has formal manners, but it should be possible even in our own.

            My own Rock-Bottom Rules for the Socially Incompetent go like this:
            1. If you can say nothing, say nothing. (It’s hard to give offence by being too quiet.)
            2. If you must say something, punctiliously observe the rules that have been taught to you by parents and teachers as good manners. (You won’t be sincere about it, and people will be able to tell, but in good manners, effort counts.)
            3. If your best attempt at good manners aren’t getting it done, just say what you want clearly. (Now you’ve done it. Someone is going to get upset. Clarity is the best you can hope for.)

        • genisage says:

          ETA: @James Miller’s advice is probably better.

          It depends on the body language. Something like unconsciously glancing around for more interesting things might be really hard to change, but other things like having a closed-off sort of posture are easy to stop doing when you make an effort, and the only hard part is maintaining it, so you just have to remind yourself to take control of it periodically.

          Noticing it might also depend on the body language, but generally having somebody else notice it for you is probably easiest. If it’s hard to notice even after you’ve been told about it, you can spend some time in front of a mirror trying to get a better feel for it.

          I’m possibly being overoptimistic here, but hopefully a small decrease in standoffish body language will result in a small increase in the enjoyableness of interactions, which will make the next decrease in standoffishness easier.

          • Mark says:

            I think the acting/control route is a bit of a hard ask, and not just for an asperger person.
            You certainly get people who are good liars, but, in general, most of us are naturally fairly transparent, at least when it comes to strong emotions (I feel bad/ I feel good).
            As a natural skill it’s almost another extreme of mental illness to be able to detach from your emotions to such an extent and have complete control of your expressions.

            And if you are going to learn to do the social thing through acting, you’re going to have to be doing pitch perfect, improvisational movie acting in one take.
            It’s become the best actor in the world vs. try and change your attitude.

          • genisage says:

            I think we broadly agree. But I might be more optimistic about how much a small behavioral change could influence interactions. I did try to be clear that I didn’t think acting was a good long term solution. My hope was that a little bit of acting could produce slightly more pleasant conversations, and then in future interactions there would be less acting required.

            We both think that in the long term, an attitude change is what will improve interactions. I’m suggesting that one way to initiate that attitude change is by faking it to whatever degree you can, and then seeing that the results are more positive than what you’re currently getting.

            And I do think (absent proprioception issues) it’s not that difficult an ask to have somebody periodically do the opposite of some bit of body language they’ve been told about during a conversation. Whether small changes will have any noticeable results, or if you really would have to get to a high level of acting before people didn’t see through you and treat you exactly the same, I’m less confident about.

          • Mark says:

            Yeah, I agree.

            I don’t think acting classes would be the best way to achieve that though – probably better to find some way to record yourself having a social interaction, and see if there are any big body language no-nos going on.

            I recorded myself doing a job interview practice and I realised I was rubbing my legs a lot while grinning insanely. It looked mental and I was completely unaware I was doing it.

            As you say, trying to consciously adopt relaxed body language can make a bit of a difference as a stepping stone to addressing the underlying emotional issue.

            I’m not too sure how that applies to aspergers, but a somewhat inept but well meaning person would probably be better than an inept and irritated/condescending one.

          • genisage says:

            I don’t think acting classes would be the best way to achieve that though – probably better to find some way to record yourself having a social interaction, and see if there are any big body language no-nos going on.

            You could be right. I’ve never tried one; I just assumed they would have figured out some better strategies than I could come up with myself. I would be shocked, though, if recording yourself and studying it wasn’t a major component of any decent acting class.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          How do you control unconscious body language? For that matter, how do you even notice it?

          It’s like breathing, once you have it pointed out to you, it’s possible to make a conscious effort to manage it.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @genisage, @Whatever Happened To Anonymous

            See, when I started out in preschool, I was in Special Ed for speech delay and both gross and fine motor skill difficulties. The latter were given a diagnosis of what was then called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (tactile-defensive subtype), now Sensory Processing Disorder. I’ve, over the course of my life, had to train myself to resist the powerful instinct to sit on my feet, which instinct occurs because otherwise my brain loses track of where they are. While I can mentally plot parabolic trajectories, I can neither throw nor catch things with any real skill because of the difficulties of trying to move and position my body so as to produce or respond to said trajectory. I schedule trips to the bathroom because my ability to perceive the need to use it is somewhat limited compared to the average person. I have difficulty telling when I’m ill. In short, I have lousy proprioception compared to the average person.

            Edit: I and my brothers also took Gōjū-ryū karate as a kid for a time — because it was the cheapest option for an athletic activity — and was never even able to get the first kata down.

          • bintchaos says:

            Aspies as a rule are not physically graceful.
            That’s why I had extra-curricular forced classical dance training from the age of 5.
            A dance studio wont switch you to soundboard.
            I took AP classes or independent study my senior year in HS.
            The company of animals also worked very well for me. Volunteer for dog or cat rescues, or for horse rescues if those exist in Alaska.

          • genisage says:

            @Kevin C.
            Ah sorry about all that. That probably puts your situation outside of my abilities to predict what might work, but one thing that could be worth trying is to find some body language you can manage to do deliberately that might be weird, but at least isn’t whatever is currently causing problems. Like, instead of being my normal, hunched over, fidgety self when I end up in a social situation, I’ll juggle, or stand on one foot, or do card tricks. No idea what specific things might be applicable for you. But if there’s something that’s easy to do without focusing much, and incompatible with whatever particular body language you’re trying to avoid, it might plausibly help.

          • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

            For what it’s worth: Do something proactive when meeting people?
            I read about an asperger person with face agnosie (couldn’t recognize anyone by face) who always handed out a leaflet explaining the asperger condition and some relevant concrete consequences of his difficulties, along the lines of “when I meet you on the street (i.e., in a different context situation) and do not greet you it is not my intention, please tell me who you are. If you have altered your hairdo/glasses/shoes I will certainly not recognize you unless you give me a strong clue.” etc. it was a double-sided sheet, IIRC.

            If you happen to have any diagnosis that can be whittled and massaged into similar excuses (maybe putting a bit of ‘unconventional cognitive processing style’ blame onto yourself) that may go a long way of people accepting you and not reading too much into your body language. This in turn should ease some of the problems you have in accepting them — not being able to fine-control your body language does not mean you’re not sending, nor reading theirs unconsciously! Once people realize you are a penguin in their savannah the interaction becomes less tense, it may even open into a friendly curiosity (there will still be lions trying to eat you, but also flamingoes trying to show you their oase lakes [this metaphor starts to fray…]).

    • Randy M says:

      If you can’t stand being around your intellectual inferiors, how do you expect to deal with children?

      • Kevin C. says:

        I don’t. That was my point in the earlier discussion. But I’ve got folks around here like Deiseach and Hlynkacg telling me that accepting that my tribe is utterly doomed is despair, and therefore Absolutely Forbidden under penalty of being denounced as a perdiferous traitor, and thus I have do something no matter how futile to fight for my side, and folks like Well… going on about the best way to do that is reproduction: ‘if you want the world to have more people like yourself, use the means nature equipped you with for making more people like yourself,’ or something like that.

        So, if having kids is not the way for me to do my duty to fight for the survival of Borderer Kyriarchy, what is, then?

        • johan_larson says:

          You are intelligent, articulate, and you have a lot of time. You want to propagate your values, some of which overlap with more mainstream groups, and others which do not.

          I think you should become an online essayist for some collection of topics that the general conservative readership is interested in and overlaps with your own values. Become the absolute expert on those topics. Write lots about all sorts of aspects of them. And whenever anything concerning them comes up in the conservative blogosphere, join the conversation and link to your work. You’ll know you’re succeeding when others start pointing people to your writings and (ideally) mentioning your ideas directly.

          Also, you need to start presenting yourself in different terms. “White Monarchist Kyriarchy” isn’t going to fly right now, even among distinctly conservative people. It’s way outside the Overton Window. Tone some of that stuff down as much as you can without feeling like a liar.

          All of this is going to be the work of years and will require some compromises on your part. But you might actually succeed, and if you did you would shift our cultural meme-cluster slightly in the direction of your ideals. And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

          • bintchaos says:

            Do you mean Kevin is going to have to become a missionary and prophet?
            And wander in the wilderness for 40 years?

          • johan_larson says:

            @bintchaos

            Do you mean Kevin is going to have to become a missionary and prophet?

            No. Since he is an atheist, those terms are definitely inappropriate. More apt words would be blogger, essayist, advocate, or political commentator.

            And wander in the wilderness for 40 years?

            Again, no. I am advising him to find common ground with more mainstream conservatives so he will gain an audience more easily and won’t have to figuratively wander the wilderness for forty years.

          • bintchaos says:

            Aren’t Dawkins and Harris missionaries of atheism, then?
            And arent they creating prophecy with their claims that atheism is inevitable?
            Maybe Kevin should move to Australia.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @johan_larson

            I think you should become an online essayist for some collection of topics that the general conservative readership is interested in and overlaps with your own values.

            I’ve thought a bit about this the last few days, and I’m coming up dry with regards to any such topics. The more I look at it, the less I seem to have in common with “general, mainstream conservatives” except our common enemies on the left. And I’m especially coming dry with any such thing where I have the means (within my limited mobility and budget) to “become the absolute expert on the topic”; not an expert, but the expert, literally the absolutely most knowledgeable on the entire planet expert.

        • Aapje says:

          My armchair psychologist opinion is also that it would probably be a very bad idea for Kevin C to have children. Ever since Moldbug quit, I’d say that there is a niche for him there (Kevin Moldbug?).

      • baconbacon says:

        If you can’t stand being around your intellectual inferiors, how do you expect to deal with children?

        If you define intellect by knowledge then children are dumb as shit. If you define by ability to learn then even children who will measure at a standard deviation or two lower than you in IQ will be superior to you for stretches of your life.

        If you don’t like kids, don’t have kids, but don’t assume that just because you don’t like adults with an IQ sub X that you won’t like kids with an IQ sub X, they are very different beings.

        • Randy M says:

          It depends on what is the salient point in Kevin’s interactions with others. I assumed it was something like “an ability to converse about complex topics” which a bright five year old isn’t likely to be able to do much better than a 105 IQ grown up.
          Yes, it’s quite possible that any given child will have a greater potential than a brilliant adult, but the adult will still require patience in their interactions. There’s a reason “explain it to me like I’m five” is a saying.

      • Some people find that dealing with their own children is different.

        A friend of ours agreed with his wife that their children would be primarily her responsibility for the first few years, then when they got older his, because he knew he didn’t like small children.

        It turned out that he was mistaken. He even ended up creating children’s stories. Good ones.

    • Urstoff says:

      Just be a nice person? Listen, be polite, don’t put them down, etc. Also, don’t divide up the world into “smart people like me” and “stupid people not like me”. That’s just a bad perspective to be carrying around.

      • albatross11 says:

        +1

        I suspect this is a common side effect of both bullying of smart kids in school and also the fact that sometimes people end up with high intelligence test scores + few accomplishments. Both of those encourage a kind of self-serving mental model of the world in which intelligence is the really important thing that determines the value of people.

        • Kevin C. says:

          At one point in high school, I was in serious danger of being unable to graduate. Why? Because, thanks to my accelerated pace in math, I took calculus, the highest-level math course the Anchorage School District, as a freshman. How is that a problem, you ask? Because one had to take two and a half years of math (2.5 math “credits”) to graduate, no exceptions. I had one year’s credit, and no classes left to fill the other 1.5 years. What were the teachers and administrators’ response? The same one I got throughout my youth when these sorts of problems came up, and I quote: “if you’re so smart, Kevin, you figure it out.”

          So, clearly, the fact that I’m unable to solve my problems means I’m not really that smart. Is this not the community that understands that a computer with nothing more than an internet connection, or just a text interface, could still take over the world and wipe out humanity if it’s smart enough. That any obstacle short of the laws of physics themselves can be overcome with enough intelligence?

          • baconbacon says:

            Did you graduate?

            Who figured it out?

          • Matt M says:

            The same one I got throughout my youth when these sorts of problems came up, and I quote: “if you’re so smart, Kevin, you figure it out.”

            Suck it up, take pre-calc, and cruise to an easy A while reading comics and playing tetris on your calculator during class.

            There, I figured it out for you.

          • genisage says:

            @Matt M
            I don’t know about others, but my high school didn’t allow you to take courses they thought you were already past.

            With a sympathetic teacher, an individual curriculum with them could count. Or if there’s a local community college, taking math there might work.

          • Urstoff says:

            Also, be less bitter. Bitterness repels people of all levels of intelligence.

          • Matt M says:

            My guess is they didn’t allow him to take a course his freshman year which would then make it literally impossible for him to graduate, then, when this was pointed out to them, shrugged their shoulders and told him to “figure it out.”

            But I could be wrong.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Matt M

            They don’t let you move “backwards” like that.

            The answer for how I graduated:

            You could take courses at UAA or APU (the local colleges) and, under certain conditions, use them for high-school credit, at a reduced conversion rate. However, being poor, my family could not afford these, and the administration knew it. (In a different battle with an ASD administrator, his explicit attitude when pointed to a provision in state education law was “so what, we know you can’t afford the lawyers necessary to make us comply with it.”)

            What happened then was the “Anchorage is a small town” effect, whereby, my mother, in the course of, with the free daytime hours that came with being a housewife, making herself a persistant and belligerent irritant to the ASD administration, caught the attention of a kind-hearted individual in the Gifted Program personnel (who, as it turns out, was passingly professionally familiar with my retired-Special-Ed-teacher grandmother due to the Gifted Program being administratively grouped under Special Ed in Alaska, and who is also a second cousin of a childhood friend of mine) finally, out of charity, personally paid out-of-pocket for me to take two years of college calculus (whereupon, when asked by classmates to join them in study sessions thanks to being near the top of the class, I had to remind them that I was under eighteen, being driven by my mom, and still had a bedtime), which converted to the necessary year-and-a-half so I could graduate. Had said woman not stepped forward and given so generously, I would not have graduated.

            Edit:
            @urstoff

            How do you do that? I mean seriously, I don’t know how. Same as how I just don’t get how to “let things go”.

          • Urstoff says:

            Counseling / therapy would be a good start. It really can help people get over anger and bitterness (assuming they want to).

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Urstoff

            I’ve been receiving various psychiatric care since my 2004 suicide attempt. Remember, everyone, this is me with therapy and on antidepressants.

          • Urstoff says:

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            For overcoming bitterness perhaps some Stoicism?

    • baconbacon says:

      If I can suggest an exercise, dedicate a day or two to turning off all the electricity where you life (if possible). Spend most of your day there without lights, heat/AC, internet etc. The guy that wired your house probably had an IQ 3-4 SDs below yours, and yet he was able to be a major piece in providing you with comfort and entertainment for years just by doing his job. There is so much more to the world than just being smart, and if you honestly feel like you are an unemployable loser perhaps trying to appreciate some other valuable qualities will be a good step forward.

      • Zodiac says:

        I second this.
        It also helps if you can rewire your concept of “smart” to include forms that don’t hinge on being an intellectual. A carpenter might have a lower IQ than a top-linguist but he will be to do the things the linguist can not accomplish.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Baconbacon, Zodiac,

        You might not have read any of my comments where I shared this information, but I spent time growing up in a rural locale with no electricity, running water, sewer, and with only a woodstove for heating (in Alaska). And for longer than I’ve been alive, my father has worked in building maintenance and carpentry-type work (he used to be the maintenance guy for the very apartment building I live in back when it was owned by a different landlord).

        (Then again, it was primarily undianosed dyslexia and ADD that led to his dropping out of high school and entering blue collar trade.)

    • johan_larson says:

      Sounds like you need to find an environment where there simply are not many intellectually low-performing folks. A top law firm, college, or major tech company would be the sort of place where you would feel at home. And if you were also to live in a place where most work at such places, you would only rarely need to deal with the left-hand side of the distribution.

      • dndnrsn says:

        If he actually does have a problem interacting with people below IQ 130, you will still find plenty of people in the 120 range in good law firms, academia, etc.

        • johan_larson says:

          Oh sure. But the distribution will be much more favourable. It will be like a hay-fever sufferer moving from a farmhouse to a big-city highrise.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Unfortunately, first, as I’ve explained before, I’m pretty much stuck where I am, for multiple reasons not readily remedied. And second, while I’d probably fit in better to the sort of places you list in terms of intellect, I would be even more likely expelled over the tribal/political differences.

        • On the other hand, the internet makes it possible to be part of non-geographical social groups.

        • Reasoner says:

          Unfortunately, first, as I’ve explained before, I’m pretty much stuck where I am, for multiple reasons not readily remedied.

          Share the reasons and see if we’re creative enough to find a solution you didn’t think of?

          I would be even more likely expelled over the tribal/political differences.

          Discussing politics at work is generally taboo. I wouldn’t worry about it.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Reasoner,

            I shared the reasons I can’t move before in an earlier open thread. But to summarize:
            First, I’m on disability, and at least some of the benefits I live off of don’t transfer with me if I move to a different state (one, my rent subsidy, is lost if I so much as move to a different apartment in the same apartment building, and has a waiting list that runs literally years to get (back) on).
            Second, my entire social support network — family and friends — are all here, and the last time I tried to go without them and live in a different state, I was psychiatrically hospitalized twice in a roughly six month period.
            Plus, there’s overlap of these two, in that my SSI requires me to have a Representative Payee who recieves my govt. funds for me; this job is done by my mom, and it would be nigh-impossible for her to do so if I was in a different state.

    • Mark says:

      If I could turn it around, what is it about normal people that irritates you?

      I would say I’m in the medium intelligence category (nearer the top of “normal person” ( though I did end up in the top 1% for the Cambridge brain science test thing, so who knows?)) – and I find it very annoying when people are really amused by simple vulgarity, or when they take ideas seriously when they aren’t really prepared to think about them.

      Examples that come to mind are non-respectible working class, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. How I cope with these people is to look for good intentions, and I also try to make their lives more enjoyable, as the purpose of the interaction.
      If you end up looking like a stick-in-the-mud, or an unbeliever, sometimes people can enjoy that. So, be an honest misunderstood genius and think about all the fun normies are having out-grouping you.

      • Kevin C. says:

        If I could turn it around, what is it about normal people that irritates you?

        They seem to mostly care about, spend their time talking about, paying attention to, etc. so much pointless nonsense (celebrities, sports, fashion, “reality TV”, whatever it is the other kids were discussing on the playground while I wandered around by myself in elementary school, the weather, and so on). Innumeracy. Difficulty connecting cause-and-effect alternating with confusing correlation with causation. Having to be walked through the most basic logical reasoning. Emotion substituting for reasoning. Inability to recall previously learned information. But I guess the strongest is still the fact that (as ISTM) that about 90% of what “average people” discuss is not only of no interest to me (while what I tend to focus on is of no interest to them), but seems like pointless wastes of time and energy that could be spent on much higher pursuits. Pretty much nobody has any good reason for caring about anything involving the Kardashians, which team won a basketball game, or “who wore what best on the red carpet”.

        • The Red Foliot says:

          You should probably look for productive things that don’t involve other people. For example, you could take up art or writing. You could write clever political satires in the form of science fiction novels, innocent enough to find a publisher, but secretly infused with your political ideas. At the very least, it would give you a purpose in life.

          • Kevin C. says:

            You should probably look for productive things that don’t involve other people. For example, you could take up art or writing.

            Kind of already trying, as it were. But fine motor skill problems (and financial and space limitations) get in the way of most art. And as for writing, particularly fiction, I am trying, but “characterization” is both key and difficult, and most writing advice boils down to “write what (and who) you know”, so when one’s life experiences are as limited, and social circle as small and stagnant, as I am, it isn’t very useful advice.

            (It’s why probably my most “creative” activity with any sort of productiveness is conlanging.)

          • The Red Foliot says:

            I think a better adage is: “great artists steal”.

            Seriously, I’m in much a similar situation to yourself, and I’m finding fiction writing is a lot more about understanding established tropes than drawing from life experiences. That and practice. Huge amounts of practice. I drink coffee and practice 2-3 hours every day — that’s done the most to augment my skill, and let me tell you, I was a shit writer starting off.

          • I think a better adage is: “great artists steal”.

            One of my favorite secondary characters in Salamander, my second novel, is stolen from Dorothy Sayers–my female protagonist’s mother, based on Peter Whimsey’s mother.

            Some other characters are based on real people. After I finished my first novel I concluded that I had based the personality of the protagonist largely on my father.

            I think both approaches work. So if you want to write fiction, reading fiction would be one substitute for experiencing life.

            At a slight tangent. Charley Stross is a moderately successful sf writer. At least one of his novels has an anarcho-capitalist society as part of the background. I knew Stross online long ago and am reasonably sure that, at least at that time, he knew nothing about the literature on the subject. My guess is that his A-C society is based not on Rothbard or on me but on the A-C societies portrayed by other sf authors such as Vinge. Political theory at second hand. It should work for characters too.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Red Foliot

            I think a better adage is: “great artists steal”.

            I suppose. I mean, that does pretty much explain E. L. James, yes?

            That and practice. Huge amounts of practice. I drink coffee and practice 2-3 hours every day

            How exactly does one practice fiction writing. Yes, “sit down and write”, but sit down and write what?

            @The Red Foliot, @DavidFriedman

            Sure, tropes and other fiction; I’ve read a lot, yes. But that still doesn’t help with the basic problem of character-driven over plot-driven: how to figure out how a given character will act, in a given situation, as a product of their personality/character (rather than “because the plot demands they do X”). How do you know how this made-up person — who isn’t you, and doesn’t have your reactions — will react in a given situation?

            I’ve read plenty of authors talk about how their characters “speak to them” or “take over the story” or such. For example, I remember a bit from Tite Kubo about how at times writing Bleach, he felt like Aizen was using his “Absolute Hypnosis” on him. Or Thomas Harris talking about how writing often feels like “looking in” and watching his characters — and how he can never totally shake the feeling that Hannibal Lecter may just be looking back.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            My very first practice story was about some medieval people who find an abandoned castle in a forest, decide to shelter there for the night, and then get attacked by living shadows. A crude story and poorly written; but by writing schlock like that for an extended time, I was eventually able to progress to things more complex and meaningful.

            Some other things I did were write down lists of things I had seen in published fantasy works, analyze them for similarities, and then conjecture on what was needed for them to work.

            For instance, characters who form the basis for serials, such as Conan the Cimmerian or Elrik of Melnibone, all need to have cool names, all need to have forceful personalities and strong beliefs, and can stand to have a wide variety of ‘quirks’ such as sword canes or ‘big appetites’ or whatever. In other words, they need to be really colorful. And speaking of stealing, one doesn’t even have to mine extant fiction for ideas for quirks or strong beliefs–there is already a catalog in the form of TVTropes. Also, those characters are often derivative of others from older works. Conan is something of a Western cowboy hero transplanted to a medieval world, and Elrik derives his appearance from some albino detective hero of the 1930’s, while his existential conflict comes a 19th-century gothic novel called Melmoth the Wanderer.

            I also write down theories I have about storytelling. One that I wrote down recently was about how character trajectories are better imagined as pieces of wood being whittled down rather than them being blown out from a cannon.

            And this is besides just writing down stupid stories I imagine. Even if a story I write is bad, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am getting practice that will eventually allow me to write better stories. I critique my work in the margins of the page so that I know what I should do to improve during my next practice session, and I make sure to get at least some writing done every day.

            If you want to get some more in-depth info on how to write, there are a variety of good books available for storytelling. I will list some of my favorites here:
            The Art of Fiction, John Gardner
            The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand
            Scene and Structure, Jack Bickham
            Setting, Jack Bickham
            Screenwriting 101, FILMCRITHULK

            I’ve also come across lots of essays or brief asides given by authors about how they work. They are often highly idiosyncratic. I think true mastery comes when you’ve internalized and consolidated various storytelling methods to the point where you can fluidly recall them as you are writing. In the parlance of psychology, the term for doing that would be ‘chunking’.

            I don’t think it matters too much what your methods are, just that you have them, and that they have at least some level of efficacy. And that means it’s more about practice than what particular approach you take.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Red Foliot

            Aside from the list of books, I’m not sure how that was an answer to my questions. How do you figure out what to write for your writing practice? What do you do when you see that blank page and your mind goes equally blank? And how do you effectively “critique” your own work? How do you determine if your practice is, or isn’t, making you a better writer? And, again, how do you figure out your characters’ behavior?

          • How do you know how this made-up person — who isn’t you, and doesn’t have your reactions — will react in a given situation?

            I don’t think I can tell you this, anymore than I an tell you how I run or how I write poetry. I just do it. Once I know a character, who isn’t me but is someone I have observed in real life or well written fiction, I have at least some feel for what he will to in a situation.

            The way I sometimes put it is that no plot survives contact with the characters. In order for the story to work they have to do what they would do, not what you planned for them to do.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            The way I sometimes put it is that no plot survives contact with the characters. In order for the story to work they have to do what they would do, not what you planned for them to do.

            Apparently I’m not being clear. That bit I just quoted, that’s my problem. The characters “have to do what they would do”, not what the plot demands. The problem is that I don’t know what that is! I only know the plot, not what a given character does in a given situation. How do you figure that out? You say that you “have at least some feel for what he will do in a situation.” I don’t. So how do I get that “feel”?

          • The Red Foliot says:

            I don’t think characters have to be realistic or true to life to work. Just look at Stephen King novels, how wacky his characters so often are. Certainly, in the Conan stories the characters just do whatever the hell the plot wants.

            The conception of characterization you’re referring to sounds overly romantic literary to me. My own observation is that consistency is what you want to strive for, not ‘realism’, whatever that even is, and that ‘virtuosity’ is probably the most useful metric you could use in assessing a character’s actions (so as to keep them consistent).

            Virtuosity is of great relevance in determining a character’s actions. It comes up a lot; in fact, it is relevant to just about any situation where a character could plausibly take action. If you are wondering whether a character should lie or tell the truth, reference their virtuosity; if you want to know whether they would help someone out or not, look at their virtuosity; even if you want to know how hard they would study for a test, virtuosity can be the key, even exclusive, metric you consider. Most existing characters could be placed on a scale of virtuosity and have their story-actions reliably predicted. That is how key virtuosity is in considering fiction. But it is not all-encompassing; while much of character activity pertains to it, there is some that fall outside its realm, and for it, you must think a little bit more expansively.

            The basis for my woodcarving analogy was my idea that character essences can be captured by short character sketches or statements of theme. Jaime Lannister, for instance, is a handsome, competent self-assured knight whose virtue is quite poor. From that short summary, you can accurately predict most of his story-actions. He would always be ready for a fight, he would have little compunction for harming others or telling lies (or sleeping with the king’s wife), he would generally do competent things but rarely would he help others, besides his kin.

            So there is the piece of wood in the analogy–the sketch. Just like a true woodcarver, you might spot a certain ‘shape’ in a given piece of wood, waiting to be carved out. Maybe one piece of wood has the potential for a bow, maybe another for a model boat. Or maybe its just a piece of wood, whatever. Most secondary characters are just pieces of wood, in that they never change.

            But for a character like Jaime, you might see some potential. If virtuosity is such a key metric, then having him change his moral behavior would seem to be a great way to approach him and pretty much all other characters. In the books, since one of his key aspects was his competency, losing his hand was a devastating alteration. Without it, the world treated him differently, and he had to rethink his approach to the life. All that was required on the author’s part was to have Jaime contemplate his actions, whenever a relevant plot event arose, to note how he was now worthless as a knight, how actions he would previously have taken were no longer possible under his current circumstances; and from there to slowly adjust his philosophy to something better suited to his position. Basically, he is forced to reconsider actions he would formerly have taken for granted, and thereby alter his essence. That is how he was ‘whittled away at’ to be made into something new. His new sketch might be, ‘formerly-competent maimed knight striving to be more virtuous’. That sketch predicts pretty much all of his actions following his alteration.

            And it seems another key point here is simple consistency. There’s nothing really profound about having a character always acting a certain way until he loses his hand, then acting in a different way thereafter. The point is just to anchor the character so that there are recurrences in their behavior; until, at least, you begin to (consciously) whittle him differently. It’s less important to have a character be ‘true to life,’ than to simply be consistent. And I don’t think just ‘throwing your characters in the air and seeing where they fall’ would let you achieve this kind of character arc, so I would suggest forgetting about ascribing it all to intuition. A lot of fiction is based on your writerly caprice, but at the same time, I think you need rules in order to maintain consistency, as well as heuristics like ‘looking at virtuosity’ to help you easily recognize potentialities and to look at fiction more fluidly.

            I maintain that a lot of competency in writing and other crafts come from chunking the ideas you have so that you can access them fluidly as you work or plan.

            The way I come up with story ideas is either by just writing and seeing what comes up, even if its shit, or by using diffuse thinking to come up with good ideas. I’m the type of person who has to do things by iteration–a basher rather than a swooper, if you will–so my ideas tend to flesh themselves out more as I work on them and redo them and so forth. So it’s basically a lot of work, and I’m probably not yet good enough to be published under current circumstances, even after 500-1000 hours of practice, but I’ve seen substantial improvement in my work, and if this were 60 years ago and pulp magazines were still around and easy to get into, I probably would be good enough to get into print.

          • How do you figure that out? You say that you “have at least some feel for what he will do in a situation.” I don’t. So how do I get that “feel”?

            As I already said:

            I don’t think I can tell you this, anymore than I can tell you how I run or how I write poetry.

            Human beings have very good pattern recognition software. We use it, but we don’t know how it works. I am observing behavior, either in real life or in fiction, and getting from that a pattern, a personality, which tells me how that person would act in a situation.

            I’m currently working on a passage in my third novel where two men are conversing. I write something one of them says, look at it, and see if it feels like what that person would say. If not I try to change it so it does.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I am observing behavior, either in real life or in fiction, and getting from that a pattern, a personality, which tells me how that person would act in a situation.

            See, the problem is that I don’t have that. My “software” is defective. So how do I substitute for that deficit? Or is writing fiction, like so many other things, simply not for me? (Once again affirming that I am a useless defective with no redeeming features.)

            @The Red Foliot

            Have you read Poul Anderson’s essay “On Thud and Blunder“?

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Some of what he said is inaccurate, and I don’t agree with the thrust of his argument that fantasy benefits from historical accuracy, but overall I enjoyed Poul’s essay. It gave me an idea for a story that I’m excited about. A motif will be Viking seamanship. It will have an evil wizard named [redacted], will take place in a world reminiscent of Earthsea, and will have a theme concerning hardiness vs. decadence, illustrated by the contrast between pseudo-Vikings and a vestigial empire. Why do you bring it up, though?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Red Foliot

            You ask why I pointed you at that essay? Because you said things like this:

            Some other things I did were write down lists of things I had seen in published fantasy works, analyze them for similarities, and then conjecture on what was needed for them to work.

            For instance, characters who form the basis for serials, such as Conan the Cimmerian or Elrik of Melnibone, all need to have cool names, all need to have forceful personalities and strong beliefs, and can stand to have a wide variety of ‘quirks’ such as sword canes or ‘big appetites’ or whatever. In other words, they need to be really colorful. And speaking of stealing, one doesn’t even have to mine extant fiction for ideas for quirks or strong beliefs–there is already a catalog in the form of TVTropes. Also, those characters are often derivative of others from older works. Conan is something of a Western cowboy hero transplanted to a medieval world, and Elrik derives his appearance from some albino detective hero of the 1930’s, while his existential conflict comes a 19th-century gothic novel called Melmoth the Wanderer.

            At least a portion of Anderson’s whole argument is all about avoiding that sort of hacky pastiche of genre clichés and tropes. And whose advice should I give more weight to, a successful and well-known author, or some random person on the internet who admits they’re “probably not yet good enough to be published under current circumstances, even after 500-1000 hours of practice”?

            Edit: if you want to continue this conversation, we should probably take it to the new open thread.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Started a new thread.

    • JulieK says:

      The following passage offers inspiration that even if something doesn’t come naturally, you can compensate and learn to do it:

      …he walked very carefully, with his eyes on the road, and when he saw a tiny ant toiling by he would step over it, so as not to harm it. The Tin Woodman knew very well he had no heart, and therefore he took great care never to be cruel or unkind to anything.

      “You people with hearts,” he said, “have something to guide you, and need never do wrong; but I have no heart, and so I must be very careful. When Oz gives me a heart of course I needn’t mind so much.”

    • TheZvi says:

      I have a child and I think having kids, especially smart people having kids, is pretty great. So I support the idea in principle. It will take work to fix the problems and full advice would be very very long (you can email me at “theXXX@gmail.com where XXX is my first name if you want to chat about things, I had to go through some reasonably similar things, and I empathize enough that I want to devote a little time and try to help, if I can) but I’d say two things to start out:

      1. You should (partially) fix the can’t-tolerate-normies thing by treating normies as systems to learn from via observation, rather than an equal to relation. Dale Carnegie said he never met a boring person, and there’s wisdom in that. Yes, they can’t think like you can, but you’re trying to figure out what makes them tick, what made them who they are, what matters to them, how you can help, and how you can improve your world model, and also share their joy/sadness/whatever and maybe even make them like/love you. None of that requires them to be *smart*. When you have to deal with such people, you then don’t think of it as being forced to have an intellectual talk with a (relative) idiot. You’re sort of combination playing a (very deep and difficult to master) game and studying the (very complex) world. As you say, in an important sense you’re not all that smart – yet. Time to get smarter.
      2. You don’t want to actually marry a normie. Yes, this and age and gender and a few other conditions you clearly have given your other statements will together filter out 99.9%+ of the population but you only need one success and you have some rare positives to offer too. If you’re serious about this, you need to be in the places where you have a chance to meet people you could date and that wouldn’t bore you, so you can at least get the practice, and prioritize that, etc etc.

      I’d also assure you that yes, you can get pretty far along in life with all of these problems, overcome them, and have a great family at the end of it, if you want it enough and do the work. And you should want it. And you should do the work (and the work is worthwhile just to improve your own life experience on your own, with the rest as bonus).

      None of that is earth shattering or genius or even weird advice, of course. The work is the work.

      But what inspired me to actually start typing this comment is the part where someone these Hlynkacg, Deiseach and co. called you a perdiferous traitor and that this seems to be your motivation for going through the (by your current estimate, Shut-Up-And-Do-The-Impossible-Level-Hard task) so that these people would *stop calling you names*.

      I don’t know what kind of warped dynamic is going on there, but it sounds pretty freaking terrible. If you want to have kids so you can fight for the future of yourself, your family, your tribe, your memes, humanity, whatever, I have less than no problem with that. If those guys convinced you that this is the right thing to do, I have no problem with that either. But that’s not what you said! What you said was that this was so those people would stop calling you a traitor. This is very different from you thinking that not doing this would actually make you a traitor.

      You are taking on a task that will take up a huge portion of your remaining life even in the best case of huge outrageous instant success. It has great rewards. If your heart is in it, I encourage you to do it! But don’t do it so other people stop calling you names. As a general rule, don’t do ANYTHING so some guys on the internet stop calling you names. It’s a stupid reason, and if you try to have a family for that reason your heart will NOT be in it, it will be obvious to you and to everyone else, and it will… not go well.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Most of your numbered “advice”, and my objections, limitations, and barriers thereto, were covered in the previous discussion which started here. But, to quote from that opening post, I described myself as

        an unemployed, introverted, ultra-rightist atheist with Aspergers, who doesn’t drink for medical reasons (medication interaction), and who (for multiple reasons) cannot move from his current city of residence, who has a practically nonexistent sex-drive (even before antidepressants) and literally no dating experience

        And when I say I’m an “ultra-rightist”, I mean I think that, in terms of politics, culture, society, and pretty much everything but science and technology, the entire “Enlightenment” is a terrible, terrible mistake. That we’ve been going in the wrong direction for at least 500 years. That we should bring back feudalism and hereditary aristocracy. Forget gay marriage or no-fault-divorce, I think we need to roll back the whole “romance” thing toward arranged marriages again. Even though I’m an atheist personally, a fan of Arnaud “Kill them all and let God sort them out” Amalric and the Inquisitions. I’m a self-described Kyriarchist.

        So, I ask of you the question I’ve asked others: if marrying and having and raising White Monarchist Kyriarchist children isn’t the way for me, personally, to fight for the survival of White Monarchist Kyriarchy (as folks like Well… claim it is), then what is?

        • BBA says:

          I noticed you pulled a bait-and-switch. In those other discussions, where those other commenters ordered you not to despair, you were talking about the survival of “your tribe” or “your people.” But now you’re explicitly talking about the survival of “White Monarchist Kyriarchy.” The issue is not whether you have any chance of perpetuating your philosophy, the issue is that they disagree that everyone must follow your prescriptions to prevent the inevitable destruction of the white race, or whatever it is you’re actually arguing for. (I admit, I find your philosophy hard to follow, partly because the implications about (((my people))) make it hard for me to approach it objectively.)

          They aren’t saying “don’t despair, because there’s a chance that kyriarchy will spread and save the Borderers”, they’re saying “don’t despair, because your beliefs are wrong – the Borderers aren’t doomed.” But you’re stubborn about your beliefs and they haven’t argued against them, so instead we’re going back and forth over whether your beliefs are grounds for despair.

          Of course your beliefs are grounds for despair. You think everything is terrible and everyone is doomed. Now if I ever reached that conclusion, I would wonder if there was something wrong with my premises, but honestly I don’t have the patience or fortitude to engage with your beliefs any longer. I just want to make it clear what we’re really talking about here.

          • Kevin C. says:

            they’re saying “don’t despair, because your beliefs are wrong – the Borderers aren’t doomed.”

            And they’re clearly wrong.

            Now if I ever reached that conclusion, I would wonder if there was something wrong with my premises

            Why? Why is “everything is terrible and everyone is doomed” automatically always not a reasonable conclusion to come to when the evidence supports it?

          • BBA says:

            Because it means I wouldn’t enjoy every sandwich as much as I could.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            (((my people)))

            let (((my people))) gooooooo
            ————————————
            Kevin C, look, my guy. Under your philosophy, everyone is screwed.

            In reality, people will probably find a way to make it work. We’re adaptable. The current situation can’t continue on forever (and if it can, then we’re fine regardless). The worst-case scenario is usually that our society will collapse and we will fall back into some sort of Dark Age…but considering your outlook, isn’t that basically what you were looking for anyways?

            Not to mention that people are rebels. Many young people nowadays are going more “traditional” or “conservative” or “reactionary” or even just “anti-SJW”. I think humans are designed towards a pendulum effect, as an automatic corrective – thus, children rebel against their parents, and society constantly changes.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @AnonYEmous

            The worst-case scenario is usually that our society will collapse and we will fall back into some sort of Dark Age…but considering your outlook, isn’t that basically what you were looking for anyways?

            Except for the industrial technology that could potentially be lost for all time in the collapse of society. Because the Industrial Revolution is a once-per-planet event. See John Derbyshire, discussing John Gribbins’ Alone in the Universe here, under the heading “04 — Technological civilization is a one-way street.”

            If one of those dreadful things happened, [Gribbins] argues, to a civilization at our level or a bit higher, the survivors would not be able to rebuild back to our level. Why not? Because we have extracted and used up all the natural resources — like metal ores and fossil fuels — that were easy to get to.

            We’re still extracting all that good stuff, of course; but nowadays we need lots of technology, metals, and fossil fuels to do the job.

            My great-grandparents in mid-19th-century England, according to family lore, owned a “butty mine.” That’s a deposit of coal close enough to the surface that a man with a shovel could dig it out and sell it to his neighbors.

            There are no more butty mines in England. I doubt there are any elsewhere. To get coal now — or iron, or copper, or oil — you need lots of technology … and coal, and iron, copper, and oil. So the survivors of a major catastrophe wouldn’t be able to get technological civilization going again. We might get back up to the level of Ancient Egypt, but then we’d be stuck at that level. For ever.

            If this argument is right — it sounds right to me — the human race is performing trapeze without a net.

            (Emphasis in original)
            [edit:tag fix]

        • a fan of Arnaud “Kill them all and let God sort them out” Amalric

          There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that he actually said it.

        • Why is “everything is terrible and everyone is doomed” automatically always not a reasonable conclusion to come to when the evidence supports it?

          The evidence doesn’t support it. It can’t. Human society is too complicated and technological change too rapid and uncertain for the evidence to provide adequate support for either that claim or its denial.

          Which at least suggests that your belief in it may be due to things other than evidence.

      • hlynkacg says:

        @ TheZvi

        I don’t know what kind of warped dynamic is going on there

        I’m pretty sure he is referring to this thread here, which was in reply to this.

        I admit that I lost my temper there but I still stand by the content of my posts. Namely; Stop complaining about the decline of civilization and start building it up. If you tell someone that all is lost and they should give up on life, don’t be surprised if they see you as “doing the enemy’s work”. Be the change you want to see and all that.

        • Mark says:

          That twenty centuries of stony sleep
          Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

          I took the original comment/quotation to mean, “the ruthless logic of domination was held at bay by Christianity, but those times have come to an end”, but which kind of warped into “hmmm… so you’re saying I’m not playing the ruthless domination game well enough?”
          I was kind of a bit taken aback by Kevin’s interpretation, and I’m kind of amused that it’s still being discussed.

          So, I don’t know if this is what hlynkacg intended, but what I took from it was a vague sense of “the solution to our problems is to be really nice”.

          But yeah, I guess it all makes sense. It’s just funny how these things go.

        • Kevin C. says:

          @hlynkacg

          Be the change you want to see and all that.

          So, given that “the Well… solution” of having kids is out of the question, just how am I supposed to do that? Be as specific as you can.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Also, on second reading, I saw this:

        you have some rare positives to offer too.

        Really? Like what? Because I don’t see much there, really.

        Not to mention:

        I’d also assure you that yes, you can get pretty far along in life with all of these problems, overcome them, and have a great family at the end of it

        In the time I have left?

    • Barely matters says:

      So what immediately jumps out at me with respect to the difficulties of relating to people, is that you’re having trouble due to a *combination* of high self concept and low achievement signal, perpetuated by a broken humility system. (I really don’t mean this to be overly harsh, and I read you as having a thick enough skin that you can handle the gritty details without too much offense. Let me know if I’m crossing any lines.)

      Having *either* cocky arrogance or low achievement are acceptable in and of themselves in the sense that people tolerate a lot of bullshit from high status people and will frame that bullshit in surprisingly favourable light. But if you’re not packing high local status and hard to fake proof of competence, you’ve got to be humble, because people are going to emphasize any mistake you make and hold it against you. You can get away with talking down to people relatively freely, IF they believe that what you’re saying actually has real value to them. The key problem seems to be that they hear the words, look at your credentials, and conclude that you’re more deluded than smart.

      What seems to be holding you back is that your humility drive is turned completely off. The ample evidence that the majority of the population is flat out better than you are at some very important skillsets that you seem to genuinely wish to improve upon should engage those humility circuits and downregulate your sense of superiority. When it doesn’t, this is what people read as arrogance (At which people they’re likely to want to sabotage anything you’re doing). The fact is, raw intelligence without having the necessary supporting skillset is like having beefy quads over broken femurs.

      So from here, it looks like you have a few options:

      1) As suggested above, practice being nice and realizing that despite what the tests have told you, you’re no better than the normies you currently look down upon. They don’t understand the complex subjects you use your smarts for, but you don’t understand how to interact with other people well enough to accomplish your goals. Congratulations, you’re both humans with tangible and meaningful strengths and flaws. Welcome to the team.

      2) Get money, fuck bitches. If you apply those mental skills and succeed to the point where you can afford some good clothes, a sweet car, a big house, and cash to buy exclusive tables and bottle service at the local clubs, as depressing as it is, you can be as much of a superior dick as you like to people and many will love you for it. Success without talking to people is hard, but possible if you can code up a killer app, sell things online, play emotionless competitive poker or, fuck, run a suitable cryptocurrency mining botnet scam? I don’t know what your skillset is, but I do know that to get anywhere you’ll need to find a way to start leveraging it.

      3) A combination of the previous two. In that both of these strategies have positive synergy with the other. Relating to people gets easier when they’re inclined to give you more slack, and gaining the status that leads to them giving you slack is easier when you’re being cordial. It’s always hardest when you’re starting from no momentum.

      In answer to your final question, 3 is my strategy, and it works fairly well. I’m naturally a pretty big dick, often get frustrated when people don’t grasp things that seem obvious, and have to expend effort to keep it in check. I still run into trouble in places where I have low local status, and will come off as arrogant in those situations with the same behaviour that would be lauded as confident in places where I’ve had a chance to demonstrate ability. It’s going to be a long learning process no matter how you do it.

    • Well... says:

      Don’t force kids in your life right now. Sounds like you have other issues too work out first.

      Instead, start working harder to persuade other members of your tribe to have more kids.

      • albatross11 says:

        Or just accept that the people who should have kids are the ones who:

        a. Want kids, and so will less resent the huge amount of time and energy and money and attention that kids require.

        b. Can provide kids a decent stable home life from whcih they can grow up to be functional and happy adults.

        c. Can provide kids a reasonable set of genes and a reasonable model of how to live to give them a good start.

        Maybe you think the world would be better with more white kids or smart kids or whatever in it. But that doesn’t mean you will do the world or your potential kids any favors bringing them into the world, if you’re unable to do a decent job caring for them.

        • Well... says:

          a) I don’t have numbers on this but my hunch is that most people who have kids don’t resent it in the long run, even if they thought they would going into it or shortly thereafter. Reaching old age and having a troop of your descendants gathered around you must be a truly gratifying feeling for most.

          b) Statistically, Kevin C’s tribe has this going for them more than most other tribes.

          c) See (b).

          It’s true that there’s always the possibility of generating a mini-boom of white kids only for them to grow up into neopagans who live like dark-ages Europeans and end up fostering another black plague, but the odds of that don’t seem any less likely for other groups. I say, if Kevin C (or anyone in the All Trite) believes the world would be better with more white people in it, regardless whether they believe this rightly or wrongly, they should get busy having more kids or, as in Kevin C’s case, at least convincing others of their tribe to do the same, RATHER THAN whining about being genocided.

          • Aapje says:

            @Well…

            Cognitive dissonance combined with the stigma against hating your kids makes it rather hard for people to argue that they hate their kids and instead merely claim that they hate their life…which plenty of parents do.

    • Brad says:

      So, I ask my fellow 150-range IQ types here, how do you do it? How do you tolerate having to put up with the “normies”? Particularly when they are (comparitively) so, so stupid? Or the fact that there’s just so, so many more of them than us?

      Suppose you figure out a way to overcome all your problems, you are planning on using those new skills to more efficiently convince other people to … well to punch people like me, right?

    • skef says:

      And I brought up the whole discussion on here about me having kids (as the best way to fight for my tribe’s survival and to get Hlynkacg, Deiseach and co. to stop calling me a perdiferous traitor).

      . . . detailed the specific body language I display and how it visibly says “why do I have to bother talking with you?

      Would it be accurate to describe your goal as tricking a woman into letting you impregnate her, on the basis of feigned interest in her as a person? A child that she would then have to support entirely on her own, given that you have no job? You have a different outlook than many people, but you’ve never indicated that it is amoral. Why wouldn’t this simply be a wrong thing to do, as murdering someone else is (typically?) wrong?

      Your ongoing “SSC regulars have stated X, Y, and Z and therefore I must reproduce” shtick is beside the point.

      • Skivverus says:

        A child that she would then have to support entirely on her own, given that you have no job?

        Be fair, he could be the homemaker in that scenario.
        Granted, that’s more at odds with his desired culture, but that doesn’t automatically rule it out; culture isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.

        • Kevin C. says:

          Plus, there is also always government support. Plenty of groups manage to have lots of kids on “welfare”. Just look at the high usage rates of “government benefits” by the Hasidim of places like Kiryas Joel, New York, and the large number of children they manage to have. (Now, I know some on my side see this and rant about “Jewish parasites”, but not here, right?)

      • Kevin C. says:

        First, it isn’t my goal. (My goal is White Monarchist Kyriarchy.)

        You have a different outlook than many people, but you’ve never indicated that it is amoral. Why wouldn’t this simply be a wrong thing to do, as murdering someone else is (typically?) wrong?

        Fine, in case it wasn’t clear, I’ll make it more so: this would indeed be wrong. I agree that I’m not fatherhood material and that having kids like that would, beyond being effectively impossible, would also be immoral. I think all of us, my IRL friend included, are agreed I should not be biologically reproducing (with the possible exceptions of Mr. “the ‘All-Trite’ just need to focus on getting themselves and other white people to have more kids” Well…, and my mom’s faint hopes for grandkids). I’m not interested in having kids.

        So, then: how do I then, personally, advance the cause of White Monarchist Kyriarchy, since “laying down and accepting inevitable defeat by an invincivle Left” apparently remains an unacceptable option (if I want to be anything other than “(((Grima Wormtongue)))”, that is)?

        And further, to the other main question: how do other smart folks manage the difficult task of interacting over a >30 IQ gap, with all the differences in modes of thought, of interest, and everything else? Or handling the knowledge of being vastly outnumbered by said alien folks?

        (Further, I’d also point out that when I reference a particular trio of commenters, that’s because the post is at least partially aimed in their particular direction.)

        • Mark says:

          What would you have to do if your master told you that your ideas were stupid?

          • Kevin C. says:

            Probably get killed for being an infidel. Like I’ve said before, any government which is even moderately close to my ideal, to what I think is necessary, would almost certainly have me executed.

          • Mark says:

            That’s good. Psychologically questionable but ethically sound.

            (1) You have to persuade some people. There therefore has to be something appealing about your political ideas.

            (2) Aim to create the conditions where such a political system would be the only one that could flourish.

            (3) Just put it out there and don’t worry too much about doing anything about it. Leave that to social developments and more socially influential people.
            Write stuff. Given that you expect the masters to kill you, it might be for the best if it comes to pass after you’ve gone.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Mark

            (2) Aim to create the conditions where such a political system would be the only one that could flourish.

            How? What conditions would that be, and how does one aim to create them?

          • bintchaos says:

            @Kevin C.

            How? What conditions would that be, and how does one aim to create them?


            Start by reading the Handmaids Tale and study the rise of New Gilead.
            Sounds a lot like your complaints, except for religion part.
            Foster an alliance between the Militant Atheists and the Pence style Evangelical Christians.
            Make a Big Tent.

        • So, then: how do I then, personally, advance the cause of White Monarchist Kyriarchy

          Think up better arguments for it or better ways of putting those arguments. The biggest thing I’ve ever done to advance free trade was thinking up a way of describing the principle of comparative advantage that was more intuitive than the usual ways (“growing Hondas” for those familiar with it).

          how do other smart folks manage the difficult task of interacting over a >30 IQ gap, with all the differences in modes of thought, of interest, and everything else?

          Most interactions with other people are not about explaining difficult ideas.

          Or handling the knowledge of being vastly outnumbered by said alien folks?

          Why is that a problem? If most people are less smart than I am, that makes it easier for me to achieve status, and it provides me ways of earning income used, among other things, to pay other people to do things for me that don’t require a high IQ and that I don’t particularly want to do.

          Are you imagining that all of those people are a threat to you? Smart people different from you would be more of a threat. When someone calls up to offer, in an Indian accident, to fix my (nonexistent) Windows computer, it’s obviously a scam. If the scammers were much smarter, they might sometimes fool me.

          • Well... says:

            Bruce Schneier (I think it was him) explained that scammers deliberately come off as stupid as a way to weed out the people who are too smart (or, sadly, not old enough) to be easily scammed.

        • Well... says:

          Hey, I already conceded that maybe you, personally, shouldn’t be reproducing!

          But I do still think encouraging a higher white TFR is a better path than whining about dwindling white demographics and influence. And that kind of argument is totally something you’re capable of making convincingly and in the right circles, if you put your mind to it.

    • Nornagest says:

      So, I ask my fellow 150-range IQ types here, how do you do it? How do you tolerate having to put up with the “normies”?

      Find or create a shared interest. Outside the most abstract and intellectual skills, hard work beats IQ ten times out of ten, so if you have broad enough interests you can almost always find something the “normies” have to teach you. Especially if you’re talking to people who’re older than you are.

      If your friend is not just a “normie” but also an unskilled layabout, find better friends.

      • Kevin C. says:

        If your friend is not just a “normie” but also an unskilled layabout, find better friends.

        Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but my friend wasn’t talking about when I talk to him, but when I talk to others; he’s got a verbal IQ in the 150 range himself. (And he’s got a fifth kid on the way.)

      • genisage says:

        Outside the most abstract and intellectual skills, hard work beats IQ ten times out of ten

        My impression has always been that hard work is really really rare. I generally don’t count on finding it in groups that haven’t selected for it somehow.

        you can almost always find something the “normies” have to teach you. Especially if you’re talking to people who’re older than you are.

        While this is true, one problem I’ve always had with it is that when I’m learning from somebody a couple SDs below me in terms of IQ, I often feel somewhat constrained in the types of questions I can ask and actually have them understand. Or the range of concepts I can try to find analogies in. I think this is a good start to a strategy, but learning from somebody who isn’t as smart as you can be challenging. Do you have any advice about how to be taught by the “normies?”

        • Mark says:

          What kind of questions could you ask that people wouldn’t understand?

          • genisage says:

            Depending on the person, it could range from questions that involve math, to (it feels like) questions that take more than five words. Example from a recent conversation on real estate prices:

            How valuable is it for an essential repair to already be done? For example, if you could buy a house for $200k, but there was a crack in the foundation that you estimated would cost $20k to fix, or you could buy an identical house next door that had had the same problem, but the owner had fixed it and documented it, how much more would you pay for the second one?

          • Mark says:

            Unless I’m missing something (whoops!), that doesn’t seem conceptually difficult – it’s probably more a matter of language processing.
            (You also have to take into consideration how long a repair lasts?)

            I suppose the real limiting factor is keeping a number of balls in the air at the same time when dealing with a complex sentence. I think people can sense when something is pointlessly complex, as well.

            “I go to a shop, and they are selling four sweeties for 2p, but two of the sweets are inedible. What is the maximum price I should pay to a shopkeeper who is prepared to sell me two sweeties?”

            You can rephrase that as, “A shopkeeper will sell me two edible sweets for 2p. How much should I pay a shopkeeper for two edible sweets?”

            So I suppose less intelligent people are just less well able to parse complex sentences?

            I’ve definitely got a lower than 150 IQ. Can someone ask me a question (that doesn’t rely on specialist knowledge) that will bamboozle me?

            [ EDIT
            I can answer my own request here:

            Prove any line passes through at least two points using the axioms given below.

            Definitions:

            Collinear means lying on a common line

            Lines are parrallel if no point lies on both

            Three axioms:

            Any two points lie on a unique line
            If the point P does not lie on line L there is exactly one line, L’, passing through P and parallel to L.
            There exist three non-collinear points.
            ========================

            I don’t have the brain power to answer that question. Why not.
            Answers on a postcard.
            ]

          • genisage says:

            I also think it’s not conceptually difficult, but I didn’t get an answer out of them. There’s certainly a balance between specificity and simplicity and that phrasing tilts a bit towards specificity. In most conversations, I would probably have asked something more like:

            “How much value does a repair add to a house? E.g. would you rather buy a $200k house then pay $20k to repair it, or buy a house for $220k.”

            And trusted them to answer the version of the question that’s most interesting for somebody who cares about real estate to answer. But I’ve learned that the person I was speaking to will get distracted by details that I was really not trying to talk about (E.gl Whichever one has the better neighborhood)

            Anyway, phrasing choices aside. I don’t think my version is particularly hard to understand. Which is my point. It can be hard to learn from somebody with a much lower tolerance for complexity/math/pointless erudition than me, even if I know they are experts in the subject and I am a novice. I asked some questions I thought were more complicated and got perfectly good answers, but something about that one didn’t translate into their framework. And I was imagining that that sort of thing would only happen more for somebody with IQ 150 instead of ~120.

          • genisage says:

            Spoilers ahead

            @Mark

            1) Suppose you have a line L, we will show that there are at least two points on L.
            2) We have 3 points, A, B, and C, which are not colinear
            3) Therefore one of the points (WLOG it’s A) does not lie on L
            4) There is a line L’ which passes through A and is parallel to L
            5) Now either B xor C lies on L’ or neither does
            6) Case: neither B nor C lies on L’
            —-a. Then the lines defined by AB and AC are different lines from L’, so they are not the one line parallel to L
            —-b. So AB and AC must each intersect L at a point. And they can’t intersect at the same point, say D, because then both lines would contain AD, which would mean they were the same line, A, B, and C are not colinear
            —-c. So there are two different points that lie on L
            7) Case: B and not C (WLOG) lies on L’, and C does not lie on L
            —-a. The same basic argument as above applies. CA and CB are different from L’ so they’re not parallel to L, so they intersect L at two different points. So there are at least two points on L
            8) Case: B and not C (WLOG) lies on L’, and C lies on L
            —-a. Consider the line AC, and the point B.
            —-b. As we know, B is not on AC, so there is a line B* which passes through B and is parallel to AC.
            —-c. Since there is exactly one line parallel to B*, and it’s AC, L is not parallel to B*, so they have a point in common, but it’s not C, since C is on AC
            —-d. So there are at least two points on L

            In all cases, L has at least two points

            That was fun, thanks.

          • Aapje says:

            @genisage

            I’ve learned that the person I was speaking to will get distracted by details that I was really not trying to talk about (E.gl Whichever one has the better neighborhood)

            That seems like an answer as well, which translates to:

            “Your question is not worth answering because the two choices are so similar that other differences are almost certainly more important.”

            I’d suggest that the issue is not so much that they don’t understand the question, but rather, that they consider it a waste of time to answer.

          • genisage says:

            Your question is not worth answering because the two choices are so similar that other differences are almost certainly more important

            That could very well be what’s happening in some cases, it wasn’t what happened there. If I pointed at a couple of houses they could say what they thought they were worth, and they could talk about things to look for and about dealing with contractors and etc. But pose a hypothetical like that and they wouldn’t get it. They learned by doing and they teach by explaining what they do, not by overthinking everything.

            Also “Your question is not worth answering because [answers exactly my question] ” made me chuckle a bit.

          • Mark says:

            (1) There is always one, and only one, blurg that any Two Blibs both sperlib.

            (2) If a blib does not sperlib a particular blurg (blurg 1), there is just one other blurg (blurg 2) that it sperlibs which has none of the same blibs sperlibbing it as sperlibb blurg 1.
            OR
            If a blib does not sperlib blurb A, it sperlibs just one blurb, B, for which the following it true: none of the blibs that sperlib A, sperlib B, and none of the blibs that sperlib B sperlib A.

            (3) There are three blibs which don’t all sperlib the same blurg.

            Prove that any blurg is sperlibbed by at least two blibs.

            ————————
            (3) and (1) imply that there must be three blurgs, each of which is sperlibbed by two blibs. Each blib sperlibbs at least two blurgs.

            In order for there to be a blurg that isn’t sperlibbed by two blibs there must be at least four blurgs.

            The fourth blurg would have to be sperlibbed by either (a) zero or (b) one blibs.

            (a) I think it’s a little ambiguous as to whether a blurg (blurg x) that was sperlibbed by no blibs, would break axiom 2, as written above.

            None of the blibs sperlib blurg x. There is just one blurg that each of them sperlibs which none of the blibs sperlibbing blurg x sperlibb. But when there are no blibs sperlibbing blurg x, where does that leave us? It seems a bit ambiguous to me. I can’t parse it.
            Blurg a —-> 1, 2
            blurg b —-> 1, 3
            blurg c —-> 2,3
            blurg x —->

            (b) Blurg x is sperlibbed by one blib, which is a new fourth blib.

            blurg a ——> 1, 2
            blurg b ——> 1, 3
            blurg c ——> 2, 3
            blurg x ——> 4
            This contradicts axiom 2.

            blurg a ——> 1,2, 4
            blurg b ——> 1, 3, 4
            blurg c ——> 2, 3, 4
            blurg x ——> 4

            Can’t do this because of axiom 1.

            (c) Blurg x is sperlibbed by one blib, which is one of the original blibs.
            blurg a ——> 1, 2
            blurg b ——> 1, 3
            blurg c ——> 2, 3
            blurg x ——> 1
            contradicts axiom 2.

            So again, I don’t think it’s really a fundamental conceptual difficulty, I think the major problem I’m having is with the definition of parallelism and the complexity of the language used.

            So, yeah, lack of understanding is about difficulty parsing language, which can either be caused by an ambiguity that isn’t apparent to others (cultural/ emotional), or trying to keep terms in mind when the description is complex.
            Writing it out as above seemed to make it a lot clearer, while retaining the same information. So. Hmmm… lessons to improve understanding for the non-genius? Simplify? Get down to brass tacks?
            Appropriate notation can compensate for lack of brains?

          • Charles F says:

            So. Hmmm… lessons to improve understanding for the non-genius? Simplify? Get down to brass tacks?

            Good advice, though not quite as actionable as I would hope. Exactly what sorts of complexity a person can handle varies and balancing what you think you can ask without causing problems against asking the things that will keep you interested/learning still seems like a complicated process requiring a bunch of hard-to-explain social intelligence. It would be great if there were a couple of simple rules that could make it smoother, like…

            Appropriate notation can compensate for lack of brains

            Big fan of this one. I pretty much always try to find some set of basic terminology or a glossary or something before I start asking about something I’m unfamiliar with. It definitely seems to help.

            None of the blibs sperlib blurg x. There is just one blurg that each of them sperlibs which none of the blibs sperlibbing blurg x sperlibb. But when there are no blibs sperlibbing blurg x, where does that leave us? It seems a bit ambiguous to me. I can’t parse it.
            Blurg a —-> 1, 2
            blurg b —-> 1, 3
            blurg c —-> 2,3
            blurg x —->

            Each blib sperlibbs two blurgs, both of which are not sperlibbed by any blibs which sperlibb x.
            Blib 1 —> a, b
            blib 2 —> a, c
            blib 3 —> b, c

    • Shion Arita says:

      Me and my best friend have had a lot of conversations on this matter. The main thrust of it is he feels that despair that you describe pretty strongly while I feel it a lot less.

      It may be difficult to change because the difference in our outlooks comes largely from very core values. He seeks approval and understanding from others. I do not. I learned very early on that to seek this is a fool’s errand, so I stopped caring about it. I don’t know how easy or hard this is to change for someone later in life.

      The key to my finding peace with the situation was that I formed my values and preferences such that my happiness relies on other people as little as possible.

      The only real frustration I get is, predictably, when interacting with someone who has power over me who is also not as intelligent. For obvious reasons this is infuriating to anyone, but the more intelligent someone is the more often it’s going to happen.

      As for finding romantic partners, hell if I know what to do. Combine lack of practice, a little awkwardness, a crushing work schedule, and high IQ disastrously squelching compatibility, well, you know how things are going. I’m sure there are a lot of things I could be doing differently to help my chances. I even know what some of them are, but I feel like there are way too many problems for me to solve. That is, it’s bad enough that solving one or two of the problems probably won’t help very much.

      Maybe I should stop caring about my partner being of similar intelligence to me. I guess let me turn around and ask that as a question: can deep romantic relationships across a large intelligence gap work?

      • Aapje says:

        can deep romantic relationships across a large intelligence gap work?

        How many people without a large intelligence gap have deep romantic relationships? What is ‘deep’ anyway?

        In general, relationships can offer a bunch of things, like companionship, being pushed out of your comfort zone, getting to have/raise children, sex, having deep intellectual conversations, etc.

        Most people compromise in relationships, where they regularly seek the missing things outside of the relationship. Intellectual stimulation is especially one such thing, which people sometimes find at work, with their friends or on the Internet.

      • For what it’s worth, I think I had all of those problems except the crushing work schedule, and I managed.

    • Sanchez says:

      How do you tolerate having to put up with the “normies”?

      Do you want to? I’m dead serious. Do you actually want to have friendly/normal interactions with less intelligent people? Do you want to tolerate, much less appreciate, them? Or would that be a betrayal somehow of your identity? Are you sure you haven’t built a disdain for unintelligent people into your self-narrative? Think seriously about these questions.

      You have my sympathy. At a certain point in my life I realized I had to give up being a “smart person.” I consciously starting saying “stupid” things, having “stupid” conversations, making “stupid” small talk, listening to “stupid people” music, watching “stupid people” television. I changed my political and religious views to “stupid people” ones, etc. I found, of course, that none of this affected my ability to think deeply about math. That is to say, while being smart had some concrete practical benefits for me, it turned out to be completely nonessential to my identity.

      Remember that you’re a stranger in their land. It’s your duty to learn their language and assimilate. You’re being asked to sacrifice important aspects of your identity for something greater. And if the ideas you hold dear aren’t up to the task of inspiring you to accomplish this, they might not be worth the trouble.

    • sohois says:

      Maybe you should find yourself a mail order bride. One that doesn’t speak much English, so you won’t need to have conversations with her and suffer that issue.

      Though given you seem to hold some form of white nationalism (unless I’m mistaken) I suppose you wouldn’t want to have mixed race children?

      • Anonymous says:

        This is bad advice, since he doesn’t seem criminally savvy. Approximately all of the services that offer connecting mail order brides and grooms are scams. I figure there is a black market in I-can’t-believe-they’re-not-sex-slaves, but he’s unemployed, not a shady millionaire.

        • sohois says:

          I can’t say I have any familiarity with mail order brides beyond the handful of sensationalist news stories that pop up every now and again, but I did expect cost would probably be an issue for the guy given his status.

          But having seen a fair few of Kevin C’s tales of woe in past open threads, I’m not sure if there is good advice that he can follow. Every time people make suggestions they are rebuffed, sometimes with unavoidable reasons and sometimes because it seems he just won’t make the effort. So, I figure that some out-of-the-box ideas could prove more useful

          • Anonymous says:

            Lateral thinking is fine, but let’s shoot for things at least as likely to give him progeny as converting to Islam and joining ISIS in Syria.

      • Aapje says:

        @sohois

        Though given you seem to hold some form of white nationalism (unless I’m mistaken) I suppose you wouldn’t want to have mixed race children?

        White nationalism is extremely compatible with a bride from Eastern Europe, where many people have such beliefs.

        She would presumably also cope better with the Alaskan weather 🙂

        • sohois says:

          Was assuming that the most likely source of a mail order bride would be East Asia, though I suppose Slavic countries do also seem to be a source. The former is presumably a lot more obtainable from a financial perspective.

    • Anonymous says:

      So, I ask my fellow 150-range IQ types here, how do you do it? How do you tolerate having to put up with the “normies”? Particularly when they are (comparitively) so, so stupid? Or the fact that there’s just so, so many more of them than us?

      I’m just a counterfeit 135, but:
      – I’ve learned some of their “language” and can imitate it reasonably well.
      – I restrain myself from giving them advice, because they can’t handle any advice I can give them.
      – I avoid contact with those that compound low intelligence with bad personality. A well-behaved, pro-social dumbass is not hard to get along with.

    • veeloxtrox says:

      I think there is a lot of negative things in your life and want to put in my 2 cents to help out if I can.

      I think your friend pointed out something that you might not have thought about, most people are very good at detecting how others really feel. Quick question, when was the last time you had a server at a restaurant that was happy to serve you?

      The exact answer isn’t important but I am trying to highlight that you probably are able to detect real emotions in those you interact with to some degree. As someone with a ~150 IQ, emotions are really hard to understand because they are not based on logic. I would guess you have a very similar time with emotions in other people. The thing with emotions is that they are still real and important.

      Now, we established that people are good at figuring out how other feel. The thing is, when you interact with someone they realize that you uncomfortable. This makes it hard for you to have quality interactions with them because when you are uncomfortable, both you and them are going to be guarded.

      So, how can we help make you more comfortable around what you call “normies”? Well, I think the question you asked lets us know where to start. You put a large emphasis on IQ. IQ is not how we should determine the value of a person. I think the best analogy for IQ is clock speed on a CPU. Just because I am running at 4 GHz compared to the normal 0.5 GHz (or less) doesn’t mean I cannot have meaningful interaction with others. You have to find other things in people that make them valuable. I have it easy, as a Christian, my belief system says God cares enough about everyone to die for them, thus they have value. I am not going to preach at you, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had bad experience with preaching in the past. I bring up my value system because, if you believe people with IQ <110 are worthless, you are never going to be able to be comfortable around people. You think they are wasting your time.

      How do you stop thinking people are wasting your time? I would suggest you look at your value system and figure out to justify that the people you interact with have value. It might be that your religion says so, it might be like that you can learn something from them, it might be something else, but I think you need a firm foundation to say that yes this person has value. This is because I think that the heart cannot believe what the mind rejects.

      As for finding a wife, I think you will have to wait a little while. As the meme goes
      Be with someone who you happy.
      Get your life in a better place, then when things are looking up, have someone join you in life. That way when that person lets you down it isn’t the end of the world, because you can be happy by yourself.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Quick question, when was the last time you had a server at a restaurant that was happy to serve you?

        No idea, since I almost never eat out (too expensive), and generally more “cashier at McD’s” than “server”. And most of my interactions are as short as possible, since I just want to get my food and eat, then pay my bill and go, so I’m not exactly paying much attention as to the precise emotional displays of the employee I’m minimally-interacting with.

    • Reasoner says:

      If you want to wife up a conservative woman and have kids, consider converting to Mormonism: http://time.com/dateonomics/ At the very least get out of Alaska, it’s one of the worst states to be a single man.

      Re: communicating with less intelligent folks. It’s a skill you can learn if you put your mind to it. I think of it as a sort of “turning down the resolution” on my thoughts as I’m speaking. Reading smart writers who stick with short words (like Paul Graham and Robin Hanson) may be helpful. Communicating concepts in a way ‘normies’ can understand is actually a task that requires a fair amount of intelligence. Although, you are stretching your brain in a different way (learning to run increasingly high-fidelity simulations of “normies”).

      • Kevin C. says:

        See my comment upthread as to my reasons why I cannot move.

        And again, as for coverting to Mormonism… or Catholicism… or Islam… or whatever, the probem is that I really, convincedly do not belive in anything “supernatural” at all, let alone a Deity, and that I’m too poor an actor to be able to fake it. After all, if I could convincingly fake belief, would it not profit me even more to convincingly fake belief in the latest bit of ascendant Lefty nonsense? (Not to mention, isn’t there some issue in Christianity with someone who isn’t actually a believer taking Communion?)

  25. Kevin C. says:

    One thing I find notable (particularly around here, where risks and caution around possible future technologies comes up frequently) is the general lack of concern for the negative possibilities, as genetic technologies get cheaper, of home/DIY “biohacking” and gene engineering. I was reminded of this, in particular, when over in a political discussion space, someone on my side suggested our best hope for our side/faction/tribe would be some young biohacker doing something based of the results here and here. Now, recall that I’m “Mister Punching Back” here, and even I find that idea rather concerning — metaphorical comparisons to opening Pandora’s pithos come to mind. (I got the same feeling with Nick Land’s comments about secessionist entities defending against hostile existing states with “cheap deterrents” based on “$10000 smallpox” here.)

    • cassander says:

      Such possibilities exist, and have always existed. Technology is enabling, it always carries risks. But we have roughly two centuries of industrial civilization under our belts and life seems to keep getting better, on average, for most people. Will that trend continue inevitably? Perhaps not, but after two centuries of people making the same argument and being proven wrong, that’s how I’d bet.

  26. albatross11 says:

    Riffing on The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula LeGuin:

    There’s another pseudo-utopia, a few miles down the road from Omelas, called Le Samo.

    Le Samo is in a physically beautiful location, nestled in a mountain valley. The town square has nice restaurants and quaint fun stores. Crime is almost unheard of in Le Samo, and the few local police mainly end up hassling an occasional teenager for minor vandalism or underage drinking. There’s a very good hospital in town. Pretty-much all the houses are nice, the yards well-maintained, the quality of life very high. The schools are good, and the kids are all (literally) above average. There are nice parks and libraries, which are safe and pleasant for small children and new moms to use. There are chess games and sparkling conversations happening at the local coffee shop, alongside occasional poetry readings and musical performances. Families are almost always made of two parents raising their kids together.

    Le Samo isn’t Heaven, of course. There are local tragedies–the kid who died young in the car wreck, the man whose wife left him for someone else, the old man dying of cancer despite all that modern medicine can do for him. But it’s a really good life, somewhere close to the high end of what humans can get out of life at current technology levels.

    And you don’t even have to keep any crying children in a basement. Instead, they’re simply not let in. The poor and the dumb can’t afford to live in Le Samo, or anywhere close to it. Indeed, only pretty successful people can live there, and their kids (with the benefits of both genes and upbringing) end up being generally pretty smart and functional[1], so the schools are pretty good. The local police will run off any homeless people or crazies who come around, and they have a reputation for coming down so hard on criminals that all the criminals in the area wisely give Le Samo a wide berth. By design, there are no services for the poor or crazy or dumb that would attract or retain them.

    Now, other places have all those people. They have poor familes and single-parent homes, they have crime and poverty and dysfunction. But not Le Samo. The child crying in the basement lives down the road in some poor village somewhere, never having even seen Le Samo.

    My impression is that a lot of the good places to live in the US are more like Le Samo than they are like Omelas. We don’t need to torment any children to keep our near-utopia, we just have to avoid with the people who cost the most (in money and time and social friction) to deal with.

    Many of the people who walk away from Omelas seem to end up in Le Samo.

    [1] Though thanks to regression to the mean, they usually can’t afford to move back to Le Samo when they graduate college.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Le Samo isn’t a pseudo-utopia, it’s just a nice place to live. There’s nothing wrong with what it’s doing. The inhabitants of Le Samo don’t have any obligation to support all those other people, nor to constantly have to put up with the problems they cause.

      • Randy M says:

        Obviously you aren’t a consequentialist utilitarian who thinks there is no meaningful distinction between inaction and action. Likewise myself, but I think that is the point that will be under contention ultimately.

        • beleester says:

          Most of the people in Omelas are only committing inaction as well. They didn’t set up the system, they just live there. Their only participation in the project is not opening the locked basement.

          I think the main contention is different – should location matter in whether or not someone has moral weight? Omelas says they won’t let the child out of the basement because it’ll bring down the system. Le Samo says they won’t let the child in because it’ll bring down the system. The only difference is whether the victim already lives in the community or is outside of it.

          And on the one hand, Nybbler’s statement that you don’t need to feel obligated to support the whole world seems pretty reasonable. But on the other hand, making location an explicit part of your utility function, in some weird Newtonian Ethics system, seems absurd. So where does that leave us?

          • albatross11 says:

            I think one difference in how these two cases feel comes down to the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics, where simply by interacting with a problem you’re somehow more responsible for it. Walk by the homeless guy without feeding him, you’re responsible for his plight; live somewhere inaccessible to homeless people so you don’t have to walk by him, you’re guilt-free.

            Christian ethics certainly don’t lead you to the conclusion that it’s okay to leave the poor, halt, and lame to their fate and move to a really nice suburb where they’re all kept outside the gates. Though it’s not obvious what is needed there. Suppose there’s a village down the road from Le Samo that has excellent poverty programs, houses the homeless, feeds the hungry, etc. Suppose everyone in Le Samo pays a special surtax to support those programs. Does that change the moral status of people who decide to live in Le Samo?

            I think the most extreme version of Le Samo I’ve personally seen is the Yale campus, FWIW.

          • Kevin C. says:

            But on the other hand, making location an explicit part of your utility function, in some weird Newtonian Ethics system, seems absurd.

            How so? It doesn’t seem at all absurd to me. (But then, I reject utilitarianism in favor of a sort of duty-based-ethics built around “concentric loyalties” in a Confucian-style “society as network of interpersonal relationships” model.)

          • Randy M says:

            Most of the people in Omelas are only committing inaction as well. They didn’t set up the system, they just live there.

            Ah, yeah, that’s true, I was oversimplifying and missing an important distinction.

            Nybbler’s statement that you don’t need to feel obligated to support the whole world seems pretty reasonable. But on the other hand, making location an explicit part of your utility function, in some weird Newtonian Ethics system, seems absurd.

            If you do group the whole world into your utility function, you end up having to support each of those 7+ Nigerians being born to each family as Kevin C mentions downthread. Which removes any pressure for them not to continue that cycle. Exponential utility monster situation if having very large families are a terminal value and we don’t move to post scarcity.
            The better model is one of an expanding circle of duties outward, with diminishing responsibility as dependence, familiarity, relatedness, and relationship decreases. (ETA) Similar to what Kevin mentions just above me.

    • I really like this thought experiment – thanks!

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      Some points to consider, especially if we are trying to move Omelas to a slightly more realistic setting.

      Le Samo, as described, probably could let in a handful of the crying children, and given its general excellent economic conditions, integrate them without too much a hassle. The problem is that the world outside has more than a handful, and if they all were allowed to enter at once, at some point, Le Samo would stop being a nice place.

      And of course, turning the dial between allegorical stories and realistic scenarios for ethical analysis for more realism, there’s always once in a while statistical fluke and someone (even given the decent upbringing and all the silver spoons) who turns out to grow maladjusted. Or maybe someone loses their job and their life turns into downward spiral. (Are such cases kicked out?)

      Wait. Let’s go a back a couple of steps. Did I say economic conditions? Yes I did. Everything is nice in Le Samo, but how, exactly, is the all material worth (that enables the nice living conditions to exist) produced? The moral hypothetical, if it is supposed to be relevant in resolving real-life problems in ethics, must take these into account.

      If El Samo is 99% self-sufficient community of homesteaders, I doubt it can be argued that they are morally bankrupt if they do not welcome every crying child coming their way (there’s an upper limit of how much homesteaders can subside on area of a given size). However, such communities mostly disappeared in the course of industrialization (and seldom were perfectly self-sufficient even then), and they did not have the material benefits of modern human lifestyle.

      The nature of the hypothetical city changes quite a lot if it’s El Samo a walled community where all billionaire board of directors moved in from the outside, but the companies they direct still operate (and the customers and menial workers and all the other participants in the economy live) in the outside world.

      Of course, to throughly answer the question, we also need more details what is meant by “letting in” and the nature of the outside world. Do the police officers brutalize everyone who does not have an I.D. identifying them as a member of El Samo but nevertheless tries to enter? Or do the police let the decent-looking persons in but brutalize everyone who looks like a beggar? Or maybe buying a house or renting an apartment in El Samo is just very expensive?

      Somewhere along these lines we enter the realm of the traditional discussion of politics.

      • onyomi says:

        Re. the ability to accept a limited number of refugee babies into the gated community, but not a lot:

        A Canadian friend recently mentioned, somewhat offhandedly, something like “oh, you know how America makes everyone assimilate, but in Canada they just let people form all kinds of communities. I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone spoke Italian all the time.” Thinking about e.g. the Chinese population of Vancouver (friend is not from Vancouver, so seems to be a more general Canada thing), this seems roughly correct (I have met young people who grew up in Vancouver and have a heavy Cantonese accent), but I wonder why, exactly?

        I don’t think Canada let groups in in much bigger numbers, historically than did America. Or did they? Is there some other factor at work creating the difference between “integrate and become a mostly indistinguishable member of the local population in one or two generations” and “establish a little enclave where you only have to deal with people from the old country”?

        • hollyluja says:

          In the “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” book by Colin Woodard , he points out this dichotomy going back to the first European immigrants. The Frenchmen would marry the native women, exchange children for cultural education, etc. In general it seems to have been a relationship of equals from the beginning.

          Contrast that to the English just decimating the native population, or the
          Spanish enslaving it. You can see why the minority would be more pressured to assimilate and “pass”

      • The nature of the hypothetical city changes quite a lot if it’s El Samo a walled community where all billionaire board of directors moved in from the outside

        It changes, but perhaps not by as much as you think.

        Our intuitions of freedom work pretty well for a world of isolated homesteads where everything my family has we produced ourselves by our own hard work. Things get more complicated in an interdependent society where the reason I have lots of stuff is that I am buying inputs from other people, selling outputs to other people, and pocketing the difference.

        But what we learn from economics is that, to at least a first approximation, each person is receiving the net benefit of what he does. On the margin, I buy the inputs at a price equal to both the cost to someone else of producing them and the value to someone else of not getting them to use for what he is doing, sell the outputs for the value to the person who gets them–filling that out and explaining more precisely what it means takes a semester of price theory. So even though the system is interdependent, there is a real sense in which (again to a first approximation–I’m ignoring lots of complications) your income is what you produced, just as in the homesteading case.

        So your gated community full of rich people isn’t as far from the first version as it seems.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          I’m slightly amused about this response, given that recently we’ve spent considerable time discussing Polanyi-adjacent ideas how some features of communities are mayhaps not to compatible with being traded on market, and may in fact lose some their characteristics in the process.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The idea of introducing interdependence is to at some point to say “a-HA, all those nasty rich people in El Samo are making their living off the backs of the poor and dumb and the crying children, and therefore they DO have an unlimited obligation to them”.

        There will be some sleight-of-hand in the the argument somewhere, of course.

        I don’t live in El Samo; it’s the next town over. (My town borders several El Samos, actually; one demapped the one road leading to my town to keep the riff-raff out. It also contains one as an actually-gated community). But I can’t imagine what good would come of moving all the problems of the towns on the other side of mine into theirs. You can’t solve the problems; you don’t have the tools required and if you did the means would be morally questionable at best. You can only try to keep them contained.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          But I can’t imagine what good would come of moving all the problems of the towns on the other side of mine into theirs. You can’t solve the problems; you don’t have the tools required and if you did the means would be morally questionable at best. You can only try to keep them contained.

          This is why I said the details on what is meant by “letting the crying children in” are important regarding this thought experiment. Do they also boot out the “needy children” (/ people who develop troubles not in alignment with the harmony of El Samos) they manage to produce on their own? Do the pay (national level) taxes (or is the El Samos a Monaco) and if yes, what kind of politicians they vote for and what is their platform regarding the use of tax money and the issues of the crying children in the outside world?

          I’m personally agreeable towards an idea of “our community gets to decide what we do; we don’t need to fix all the troubles in the world”. However, if suddenly the well-off part of my community decides that they actually don’t want to be involved any more with the rest of the people who were considered a part of the wider community a generation or two ago, and build a wall around their well-off neighborhood and cease participating with the rest of the community, that’s quite different. Especially if the El Samosians are the beneficiaries of decisions made in the community some generations ago.

  27. I rather enjoyed Scott’s post on racism (Against Murderism), but I think there’s one important point he ignored: racism doesn’t have to mean actively wanting to harm a racial group; in common usage, it can also mean devaluing them. To put this in utilitarian terms, racism doesn’t necessarily mean assigning negative weight to one race’s utilities, it can also mean assigning a lower but still positive weight. When you view it this way, I think that liberals don’t come off as quite so out-of-touch with the world.

    • gbdub says:

      This seems to be a common misreading of Scott, and I’m confused by it.

      Scott is arguing against the common usage of “racist”. The fact that his preferred definition doesn’t match the common usage is the whole point, not a fatal flaw in his argument.

      • Iain says:

        This is a weird reply.

        If Scott is arguing against the common usage of racist, then he should address that common usage. If you want your preferred definition to win out, you should compare it to the definitions that people actually use. If Thomas Redding’s definition is indeed part of the common usage of the term, and it is not adequately discussed in Scott’s post*, that is a weakness in Scott’s post, and it is worthwhile to point that out.

        *: You could argue that valuing people of one race less than people another is a milder form of Scott’s definition by motives (“An irrational feeling of hatred toward some race that causes someone to want to hurt or discriminate against them”). If you do, though, that weakens Scott’s argument. It’s hard to believe that a large segment of the population have hatred of a particular race as a terminal goal, but it is depressingly easy to believe that a large segment of the population are willing to (consciously or not) ascribe lesser value to people because of their race.

        • gbdub says:

          I guess I read Against Murderism as addressing devaluing (as opposed to negative-valuing) people, but choosing not to call this racism / arguing it should not be. Scott’s examples I think cover the “not really being anti-whoever, just not valuing them quite as highly” e.g. the very first example. Or the last example, both of which are basically “not saying so-and-so are bad, I just want to be around people more like me”.

          And I therefore read Thomas Redding’s post to be “Scott, this is commonly called racism, but it’s not included in the definition of racism you propose we use”. If what he really meant was “I don’t think you talk about this at all” then I retract my objection, but would instead object that I think Scott did talk about it, or at least what he did talk about covers the situation.

          I confess this is colored by my reaction to HBC’s criticism of Scott’s post, which seemed to be that Scott didn’t talk about structural racism, despite that (in my mind) being exactly what the entire “racism by consequence” part was obviously referencing.

  28. p duggie says:

    Nice piece on a racism taxonomy. But the definition by consequences has a little bit more to say for itself, at least in terms of whether an injustice is intended to be redressed or whether the status quo will stay unchallenged.

    The term of art for the def by consequences is usually “structural racism’ or “institutional racism.” Because there were bad schools for blacks, less blacks get enough STEM training and the pipeline for black stem workers keeps getting narrower and narrower, but there are plenty of indians who can come here since there is a big pipeline of them. So Google is affected by structural racism. They can choose to do something about it, or they can ignore it. Once they decide to ignore it THEN the racism-by-motive definitions start getting deployed.

    That said, I notice that its hard for people to describe the “structures” of “structural racism” at any specified level of detail. If Castilles killer gets off it indights “the structures enabling the perpetrators to avoid prosecution” Like what? Juries? Blackstone’s maxim? Defense attorneys?

    Anyway, the problem is that correcting injustices usually doesn’t require killing ten million rich white people and taking their stuff. But it doesn’t involve zero disruption either, at least as imagined. And so white folks say “sure, racism and slavery and segregation and FDRs redlining HURT black people and they have less money now” but don’t take any money from me to even the score. And so the ‘structure’ of america, which had racist-by-motive actions in it (let white people live by themselves in whitopias) will remain racist. If you don’t care about fixing it, then you have to ask what your “motive” is. Do you like the status quo because you benefit?

    • albatross11 says:

      When you define structural racism or institutional bias by consequences, it seems like you smuggle in an assumption (by words like “racism” or “bias”)–that the observed differences in outcomes are the result of some external force which can be blamed for them and also can be changed to get rid of those differences in outcomes. That’s a lot more plausible for some differences in outcomes (higher unemployment) than for others (higher rates of unwed birth).

      Of course, it’s possible to define these terms in such a way that all differences in outcomes which can’t be ascribed to purposeful discrimination/racism are explained by structural racism, by definition. But then those terms don’t seem to have a whole lot of explanatory power, since they apply as much to externally-imposed stuff (employers not calling you in for an interview if your name is DeShawn Jones, whereas they’ll call Sean Jones in for that interview) as to internally-imposed stuff (unwed pregnancies).

    • Brad says:

      @p duggie

      That said, I notice that its hard for people to describe the “structures” of “structural racism” at any specified level of detail. If Castilles killer gets off it indights “the structures enabling the perpetrators to avoid prosecution” Like what? Juries? Blackstone’s maxim? Defense attorneys?

      There’s multiple justice systems acting in parallel. If you were to shoot someone you would not face the same justice system Yanez did. Not even close.

      For just one example, look at the number of grand juries that have returned no true bill in homicide cases involving police officers. That is completely unheard of in cases not involving police officers. The presentations that were made to those grand juries was fundamentally different from what happens in a normal case.

      I’m not sure I would call this structural racism, but that’s how it works.

      • p duggie says:

        I wasn’t aware Yanez was tried by a jury that differed in any substantive way from other criminal juries. Cite? Did the prosecutor not try hard enough?

        • Brad says:

          I wasn’t aware Yanez was tried by a jury that differed in any substantive way from other criminal juries. Cite?

          That’s what you got out of my reply? Did you really think I was claiming the jury was made up of of Yanez’s friends and family?

          • p duggie says:

            I couldn’t make sense of it. The jury made the call. Can you tell me what about the justice system differed for Yanez? Is it because he had a good lawyer? Is that the structural diff? public vs private defense?

            How does the difference in treatment by the nonjury parts of the justice system (which parts) cause the *outcome* of the case to differ so much?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @p duggie

            People in general seem to give cops more leeway to make the argument “I felt threatened so I shot.” This affects how they are treated by the justice system when they shoot someone in what they present as self-defence.

          • Brad says:

            Most cases never end up before a jury. More than 90% of cases are plead out. Do you think it is just a coincidence that this one did?

            The differential treatment starts from the very beginning. Normally, when one person shoots and kills another, the police arrive and immediately start trying to build a case. While the shooter is still in shock they start to question him to try to elicit incriminating evidence. Yanez wasn’t questioned until the next day, and then only in the presence of two attorneys. Of course everyone has the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney, but in most cases the police try to manipulate suspects to get them to waive their rights. Do you think that happened here?

            On the other end of things, juries aren’t the only actors in criminal trials. Judges, their rulings, their demeanor, and how they charge the jury play a big role too.

            The prosecutor can’t go all out against a police officer because he has to work with other police officers that are sympathetic to the defendant every day to build cases. In the Yanez case one of the defense’s chief witnesses was the St. Anthony Police Chief. How can a local prosecutor that will have to work with that chief cross examine such a witness to the full extent he ought to?

          • AnarchyDice says:

            There are factors like police officers getting mandated minimum amounts of time following a use of force incident before they can be questioned per the police union (I believe three days), which is a significant amount of time to collect ones thoughts, and get a consistent story on the incident whereas civilians are forced to give a testimony immediately or are at least arrested/detained in order to extract such. A seemingly small factor like this can allow use of force cases in the courtroom, which hinge on the officer or civilian credibly depicting true fear or threat as a case of self-defense, to turn on the fact that the officer gets three days to order their thoughts before giving their statement while civilians have to generally do with the scrambled thoughts right after an incident.

            Police generally get solid representation from their police union due to the incidents occurring on the job, while civilians get what they can afford or the available public defender. Experienced and competent defense can maximize the wording of any statements or situation to key directly to the state’s self-defense statutes, especially compared to over-worked or underprepared private attorneys a non-officer is likely to have.

            Neither of those factors require any malfeasance on anyone part either, so there could also be factors of prosecutors pushing for overreach against police knowing a jury will reject those charges, or fellow officers providing the accused officer with information about the suspect that they can provide during their initial statement that a civilian would not have access to. Evidence tampering by the officer’s buddies (“lost” phone footage or mysteriously appearing weaponry on bodies) is another possibility.

            There can be plain old bias in the minds of juries that police are in general upstanding people, which means their is a higher bar to clear before convicting one, and since use of force often hinges on adversarial testimonies, having the officer get a de-facto trust bonus swings things quite unfairly compared to a similarly accused civilian.

            Edit: Lots of states have varying minimums before police can be questioned. Wisconsin for example is 2 days, while places like Dallas are 72 hours, and Baltimore had as much as 10 days. Also, it isn’t illegal for them to view the evidence collected before making that statement, as I suggested, and is a common practice to let the officer view transcripts and video before making a statement. This is part of the non or less adversarial position they take to investigating a fellow police officer that Brad mentioned.

          • albatross11 says:

            Right. The non-crazy reason for this is that we expect policemen to go into dangerous situations sometimes, where we’d expect civilians to avoid them. However, I strongly suspect that (as others have said) everyone in the chain from police to jurors tends to treat policemen rather differently than other people in these cases.

        • Corey says:

          I think for police in particular the effects of different law dominates any effect of disparity in the justice system. If I understand correctly, the black-letter law and judicial precedents are such that there are approximately no situations where it’s illegal for a police officer to kill a civilian.

          • Brad says:

            No, that’s not true. The black letter criminal law with respect to deadly physical force is pretty similar.

            There are some differences, mostly having to do with dangerous felons fleeing from the scene of a crime or escaping custody, but those clauses rarely come into play.

            In the vast majority of cases the affirmative defense used by police officers that commit homicides is self defense–that the officer thought his life or occasionally the life of his partner was in imminent danger. The standard for that is generally the same for officers as it is for civilians.

            What is vastly different is how every actor in the criminal justice system from investigating officers all the way through to appeals courts treat police officers that have committed a homicide as compared to how they treat civilians that have done the same.

          • gbdub says:

            I generally agree that cops get away with far too much – the chance that any civilian would get away with shooting a guy (not to mention nearly hitting his kid and girlfriend) in public in broad daylight because “his hand was near his pockets and maybe a gun was there, not that I could definitely see it” is basically null. Maybe if there were no other witnesses and the shooter could get away with claiming a more definitive threat.

            So that’s structural. But is it structural racism or is it structural unfairness that happens to fall more heavily on one race? Because police interact with African Americans more often, and it is at least partially justified by increased rates of criminal activity. But cops seem to get away with an awful lot regardless of who their victims are.

            I’m very confident that Yanez would be going to jail if he were not a cop. I’m much less confident that he would be going to jail if Castille were white, which is what BLM and the strong version of the “structural racism” theory wants me to believe. In other words, I agree Yanez got away with a crime. I don’t agree that the race of his victim played a significant role in the verdict.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @gbdub:

            Yanez would probably have gotten off if Castile had been white, but Castile would have been significantly less likely to get shot if he had been white. So, bit of column A, bit of column B. I think it’s more column B than a lot of people do – the police in the US shoot plenty of whites – but you cannot deny that column A is at play.

            The biggest way it manifests is that the police seem to treat most black people as though they were dealing with obvious lowlifes, whereas the existence of white lowlifes does not mean the cops treat all white people as though they were lowlifes. I have zero chance of getting hassled by a cop unless I blow a stop sign or something like that – whereas black friends of mine who talk, dress, act like I do (basically, educated middle class people)
            do have stories about getting hassled by cops for no apparent reason.

            EDIT: I believe there was a post here a long time ago that showed that, while stats for police shootings are much less conclusive, there definitely is more police harassment of black people, proportionally speaking.

          • albatross11 says:

            dndnsrn said:

            … but Castile would have been significantly less likely to get shot if he had been white.

            I don’t think this is obviously true. It contradicts the best available information I’ve seen, which is available on that Washington Post page I linked to a few open threads ago. Basically, blacks and whites get shot in proportion to their fraction of arrests. Once you’re being arrested, you’re about equally likely to be shot whether your skin is black or white.

            Also Fryer had a paper that analyzed data from (iirc) three big city police departments. Stops of blacks were no more likely to lead to shootings than stops of whites, though they were much more likely to lead to all other kinds of unpleasant interactions (handcuffing, shoving to the ground, arresting, etc.).

            Now, it may very well be that someone in Castille’s situation was more likely to be shot with black skin than with white skin. But I don’t know of any actual evidence that says that. There’s a lot of implication along those lines in media coverage of police shootings of blacks, but it’s not what the data that I’ve seen says.

          • Brad says:

            If blacks are more likely to be arrested or stopped than whites then I don’t think the evidence you are offering refutes the underlying claim.

            The claim was about the probability of being shot based only on skin color, not conditional on already have been pulled over or arrested.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @albatross11

            What Brad said. If he’d been white he would have probably not been pulled over in the first place. He was pulled over for a busted tail light, and that’s something cops often use as a pretext.

          • gbdub says:

            but you cannot deny that column A is at play.

            What albatros11 says pretty much matches my understanding of the data, which is basically that black people are more likely to have interactions with cops, but not more likely to get shot. Maybe white Castile doesn’t get pulled over in the first place? I don’t know.

            What’s really difficult to suss out is the correlation vs. causation, and it’s also very difficult to determine what level of scrutiny / forceful policing is appropriate in the places that black people tend to live (which really are higher crime on average). Cops backing off does seem to increase crime to some degree.

            If I could switch off all racial disparities in crime rates (and instantaneously plant this knowledge in the head of every cop), do the disparities in harsh policing (but not apparently shooting) change? Do they go away? I think that’s a hard question to answer definitively.

            Anyway, I agree that police should be trained to escalate more slowly and be held more accountable for their use of force. I suspect that this will disproportionately help minorities, regardless of whether racial animus plays a role in the current numbers. The tricky bit is that such training and accountability will probably result in somewhat more cops getting injured/killed on the job. I believe the tradeoff will be net positive, but it would be a hard sell.

          • Iain says:

            It’s worth noting that Castile had been previously pulled over 52 times for petty traffic offenses. A previous study showed that black drivers were pulled over 310% more frequently than white drivers in the area.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @gbdub

            Yeah, white Castile probably doesn’t get pulled over. Black guy with a busted light, cop is far more likely to pull him over. Low-level stuff like drinking in public if you’re being somewhat discreet about it, weed in public if likewise, minor car-related infractions, etc, black people are much more likely to get hassled over it than white people.

      • J Mann says:

        After reading the thread, I basically agree with Brad.

        If you grant that (1) we have a legal system that for various de facto and de jure reasons, allows police officers a measure of benefit of the doubt when they shoot suspects; and (2) African-Americans disproportionately come into contact with police in situations where shootings are a possibility, then all other things being equal, African-Americans are going to be shot disproportionately more likely than other. You can call that structural racism or disproportionate impact – I won’t argue, but we all agree with those facts.

        Putting a finger on the causes and effects lets us discuss possible solutions or areas for possible future investigation.

        If you believe Yanez’s story, then he stopped Castile because Castile resembled a suspect in a robbery, and ultimately shot Castile because Castile kept reaching for an unknown object notwithstanding instructions to the contrary.

        Assuming that police shoot roughly in proportion to contacts, then you could theoretically fix that problem by adjusting the rules of engagement to reduce risk to suspects and increase risks to officers by some amount (for example, no shooting until you literally see a gun, or obviously too extreme, the suspect gets to take the first shot). These would reduce total shootings, but if African-Americans are still disproportionately coming into contact with the police, then the new smaller number of shootings will still be disproportionate.

        Alternately, you could have a race-specific correction – 1 time in 10 or whatever, when you would otherwise stop an African-American driver or respond to a domestic dispute called regarding an African-American, you just don’t. (That’s obviously unsatisfactory, at least in the latter case).

        • dndnrsn says:

          Google suggests that Castile was pulled over for a busted taillight. Yanez’ “ah he looked like a guy I’d been told to watch out for” thing sounded awfully post hoc.

          Forget about adjusting the rule of engagement: stop doing things like stopping cars and going up to the window for busted taillights! That would keep everyone safer. Cops would no longer worry about the guys they were pulling over shooting them, and thus, cops would be less likely to shoot the guys they were pulling over. Instead, take a picture of the license plate, and then find some way to communicate “your taillight is busted and you should fix it and if you haven’t in x time you’ll get ticketed” or something.

          Remove all laws that are unserious enough that the cops can easily justify not doing something. Either decide that smoking pot is so terrible that you have to bust everybody, or decide it’s no big deal and stop busting anybody. As it is right now, there are a lot of places where you can smoke weed in public, or drink beer in the park, and as long as you are remotely discreet, cops will only give you trouble if they want to. Whether they want to depends on a whole bunch of factors, including your race, your class, etc.

          These would also have the huge advantage of making relations with cops less confrontational. If fewer people get hassled by cops, they will be more likely to cooperate when they see an actual real crime happen. Fewer confrontational police-civilian encounters would do a lot of good, and a lot of the confrontational encounters are unnecessary if not counterproductive.

          • Randy M says:

            Instead, take a picture of the license plate, and then find some way to communicate “your taillight is busted and you should fix it and if you haven’t in x time you’ll get ticketed” or something.

            Eventually you’re just going to have to go after them for unpaid tickets. Unless you bite the bullet and

            Remove all laws that are unserious enough that the cops can easily justify not doing something.

            Oh, hey.
            Yes, that’s pretty much the key. It’s a hard change to make, since that cuts down on the revenue cities and police forces have at hand.
            Also because different people/cultures have different ideas on what is petty and what is serious. Do the cops go in to bust up the party at 1:30 in the residential neighborhood, or is that okay to let pass? Then do the neighbors take matters into their own hands and start brawling? Do you bust the guy selling loose cigarettes, or repeal the vice taxes?

          • J Mann says:

            @dndnrsn, I thought the recorded radio calls prior to the stop were clear that Yanez thought Castile resembled the suspect prior to questioning him. I can’t listen to the audio at work, but here’s the link.

            http://www.startribune.com/police-audio-officer-stopped-philando-castile-on-robbery-suspicion/386344001/#1

            Now it’s entirely possible that Yanez was less good at recognizing similarities in an African-American suspect – IIRC, there are studies that most witnesses aren’t as good at cross-racial recognition as they are within their own group.

          • Skivverus says:

            Remove all laws that are unserious enough that the cops can easily justify not doing something.

            This.

            Though on the other hand, “but this law (e.g.: speed limits) is an Important Exception” inertia (Chesterton’s Fence, etc.) is a thing, and often a sensible one: the impulse to throw everything out and start from scratch is not always, in fact, a shortcut, even if refactoring looks impossibly complicated.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            Yeah, it would be a hard change to make, but it would probably produce better results than the current situation, where some people can get away with raucous parties, and other people might get shot because the cop who shows up to shut the raucous party down thinks someone is going for a gun.

            As for selling loosies, I don’t get the prohibition. If someone wants to buy a pack of smokes, paying tax for them, and then sell individual smokes for a buck apiece of whatever, I’m not sure I understand why that is worth killing someone over.

            Far as I’m concerned, there’s only about seven things deserve the force of actual criminal law: murder, rape, physically attacking others short of murder or rape, theft (including fraud), trespassing, destruction of property, and threatening others with any of the previous.

            If a party’s really gotten raucous, probably some of those rules are getting broken. If it hasn’t, a healthy society can probably deal with it without men with guns.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            As for selling loosies, I don’t get the prohibition. If someone wants to buy a pack of smokes, paying tax for them, and then sell individual smokes for a buck apiece of whatever, I’m not sure I understand why that is worth killing someone over.

            Obviously the goal was not to kill him, so that is a rather biased way to put it. ‘Not worth risking killing someone’ is a more reasonable way to put it.

            Anyway, some reasons not to allow that sort of thing:
            – There may be rules for selling products that the street salesman is probably not adhering to, like not selling to minors.
            – People may dislike being solicited in the street or other inconvenience it causes.
            – It can work as a cover for drug selling. If you allow ‘Psst, do you wanna buy a cig’ then you just legalized something that looks very much like a drug transaction from a distance. So it then becomes harder to distinguish the two.
            – There may be a very high chance that no (or too little) tax was paid for the cigarettes. Cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting is a huge market. This even works interstate, as NY City has twice the tax as Pennsylvania and almost 10 times more than Virginia. It’s much harder to combat this for street salesman than for shops.

          • Randy M says:

            Aajpe makes good points why others may disagree with you (us, really); but I didn’t realize you were so libertarian-ish.
            I can see this leading to a situation where fines are levied automatically from your account, so the city/state can punish/extract revenue from you without ever risking escalation, and those without accounts are ignored for such minor offenses. Of course at that point we probably just have fines and fees deducted from our monthly UBI.

          • J Mann says:

            @dndnrsn – it turns out that’s a really interesting question.

            There are two answers:

            (1) Federal law requires that cigarettes be sold with the tax stamp to ensure the tax was paid. (And presumably by licensed dealers to minimize sales to minors).

            (2) Until the FDA assumed regulation of tobacco in 2010, ATF allowed sale of single cigarettes in individual tax stamped packages. Once the FDA took over, they forbade the practice, presumably in response to anti-smoking lobbyists, who had argued that single cigarette sales encouraged youth smoking.

            http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/need-to-buy-one-last-cigarette-too-bad-singlestick-sales-halted/

          • J Mann says:

            More officers should certainly go to prison. Just because I agree they aren’t being acquitted because of racism doesn’t mean that the reasons they are being acquitted are good ones.

            I completely disagree. IMHO, the cause of acquittals is that (1) we ask police officers to enter armed into dangerous situations on behalf of the community; and (2) we grant criminal defendants the benefit of the doubt.

            I wouldn’t change #2 – it would lead to more wrongful convictions along with more rightful ones, just like if you changed it for other defendants.

            I’m open to changing #1 by reducing the number of laws police are required to enforce, or by disarming police, or by changing the rules of engagement.

          • Brad says:

            I wouldn’t change #2 – it would lead to more wrongful convictions along with more rightful ones, just like if you changed it for other defendants.

            De facto it already has been changed for other defendants. Only police officers, the very rich, and celebrities (including temporary celebrities) get the justice system they teach you about in grade school.

            Whether we should have the cop system for everyone or cops should have the regular system — either way it is entirely unjust to have two separate systems. Far more unjust than it would be to subject cops to the flawed system the rest of us subject to.

          • Matt M says:

            either way it is entirely unjust to have two separate systems

            I’m not entirely sure this is necessarily true. Consider this a bit of devil’s advocate, but I think it’s logically consistent to say “Because we are asking cops to do this dangerous and undesirable (but highly necessary) thing, we are willing to be a bit more tolerant in giving them the benefit of the doubt when things go poorly.”

            At least, my impression is that’s what juries typically think. They are reluctant to convict cops, under the thought process of “If I ever need a cop to come save me, I don’t want him to be worrying about getting in trouble for excessive force.” Strictly speaking yes, that’s probably unfair, but it might still be a very good idea.

          • J Mann says:

            @Brad – respectfully, I think you’re mixing up two issues in the justice system, in particular when you put the rich on the side of the cops.

            1) It’s definitely true that if you’re rich, you can present a more effective defense than if you’re not.

            2) It’s also true that police are in a different situation than other shooters because the facts of most of their cases is that the officer was in a potentially dangerous situation in the course of his or her duties and is authorized to use force under appropriate circumstances.

            Those aren’t the same thing. It’s also true that if you take a injury before you shoot your assailant, you will experience “different justice” from someone who shoots in self defense without being injured. Whether or not their are witnesses will also change the course of your trial. But those are just different facts.

            Asking police to go to jail because you’re mad that rich people can afford better lawyers isn’t a good solution, so I wouldn’t conflate the two.

            I like adding a lot more cameras, and stamping down on any police officer who tries to prevent citizen recording. That’s a solution that lets us know more facts.

            In the Castile case, one of two things happened:

            1) Possibility one: Yanez is lying about Castile continuing to reach for an object after being instructed not to. If so, the solution is body cameras, so we know what happened in police-civilian interactions.

            2) Possibility two: Yanez is telling the truth. If so, the solution is either (a) rules of engagement that would require officers to hold off shooting until they see a gun, albeit at a higher risk of getting shot themselves, or (b) more education to obey police instructions.

          • Brad says:

            @J Mann

            @Brad – respectfully, I think you’re mixing up two issues in the justice system, in particular when you put the rich on the side of the cops.

            Respectfully, I have direct experience with the justice system and it is a grouping that makes sense. If anything cops are even better treated than the very rich.

            2) It’s also true that police are in a different situation than other shooters because the facts of most of their cases is that the officer was in a potentially dangerous situation in the course of his or her duties and is authorized to use force under appropriate circumstances.

            As I explained a few threads up, this is generally not a legally relevant distinction. Police officers are authorized to use non-deadly force in a wide variety of circumstances where civilians are not. But they are only specially authorized to use deadly force in a few very narrow circumstances that are not the ones that these cases have been arising in. Almost every last one of these cases has been the cop presenting a self defense or defense of a third party justification for using deadly force. Those defenses are virtually identical for police officers and for civilians.

            And in any event, even if the black letter law was different it still wouldn’t explain or justice having entirely different investigatory and adjudicatory mechanism.

            Unless your point is that every single actor in the criminal justice system ought to put their thumbs on whatever scales are available to him in favor of police officers, regardless of what the rules say, because they have a tough job then I don’t think this point is well made.

            Those aren’t the same thing. It’s also true that if you take a injury before you shoot your assailant, you will experience “different justice” from someone who shoots in self defense without being injured. Whether or not their are witnesses will also change the course of your trial. But those are just different facts.

            For the vast majority of defendants there won’t be a trial.

            I am not talking about a difference in degree. When a state’s attorney presents a case to a grand jury, he slants all the evidence to convince the grand jury to return a true bill and the grand jury returns a true bill. The grand jury today is a vestigial institution.

            Yet when a cop is on trial and the state’s attorney doesn’t want to take responsibility for not prosecuting a homicide, all of a sudden the grand jury “looked at the evidence and decided not to prosecute”. (E.g. http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-ohio-police-shooting-20170519-story.html) That’s not different facts producing different outcomes, that’s one criminal justice system for the privileged and one for everyone else.

            Asking police to go to jail because you’re mad that rich people can afford better lawyers isn’t a good solution, so I wouldn’t conflate the two.

            No longer respectfully, this isn’t a fair summary of my position.

            (a) rules of engagement that would require officers to hold off shooting until they see a gun, albeit at a higher risk of getting shot themselves

            The rules as written already require police officers to take on more risk than they have been. To wait until there is an imminent risk to their or another’s life. But many refuse to do so and the justice system refuses to hold them accountable for such refusal. Now what?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje/@Randy M
            It’s not that I’m a libertarian. It’s that I think the cure is worse than the disease. When you have armed representatives of the states enforcing petty little rules, it causes huge problems. Criminalization of acts should be limited to the acts that are so obviously bad, and so commonly recognized to be bad, that when cops (or other authorities) look the other way when someone’s molesting children/beating their significant other/stealing, it’s a scandal.

            The current situation feeds a vicious cycle: it’s easier to hassle people for minor petty crimes than to investigate murders, rapes, robberies, and so on. It’s easier to hassle poor people, certain visible minorities, etc. Those people then don’t want to deal with police, who are apparent mostly frisking them for looking suspicious and handing out tickets they can’t afford for their license not being up to date or whatever. So, investigating murders, rapes, robberies, etc in those communities (which tend to see more than the average of those) becomes harder…

            Perhaps little rules about what gets taxed and how, who can sell what and where, who can do what when, etc, could be enforced by non-cops, so when someone sees a shootout happen they have less reason not to tell the cops what they saw. If people start shooting at the Revenue Agency guys, then call the cops. The current situation is one where the police are trusted least, and behave the worst, where they are needed most, and where many laws are applied based on who you are, not what you did. This is socially toxic.

            @J Mann

            That’s interesting. Thanks. I’d never seen individual cigarettes sold in shops, but I’m up in Canada.

          • Randy M says:

            It’s not that I’m a libertarian. It’s that I think the cure is worse than the disease.

            I didn’t think you were a card carrying member, but you are making their case pretty well. I’m sure your point about the cure being worse than the disease (that is, many laws regulating non-destructive behavior for our own good is worse than letting people make bad decisions) is one libertarians here would appreciate.

            Thoughtful libertarians don’t think that there would be no costs, no social friction between citizens if the state took a minimalist approach, just that the state ensuring compliance, ultimately by force, is worse.

            Perhaps little rules about what gets taxed and how, who can sell what and where, who can do what when, etc, could be enforced by non-cops

            You can’t spell enforce without force. At least not yet, which is why I was speculating about automatic funds removal from electronic accounts as a way of not needing to involve physical force to punish people. Actually sounds like a quite reasonable way for a ‘dystopia’ to evolve.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            I didn’t think you wer