SELF-RECOMMENDING!

Open Thread 95.25

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

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

949 Responses to Open Thread 95.25

  1. Thegnskald says:

    A random thought for the weirdos still hanging out in the old open thread so we can argue about stupid shit:

    It is apparently a “thing” that the PornHub comment section is unusually supportive. It occurs to me that there might be a recipe for the perfect community there, since by and large anybody commenting there is self-awareness of the fact that everybody knows what they are doing there, and there is going to be a general assumption both of maleness and romantic failure.

    More, there is a thread of connection in many of the comments I see about the comments, that people reach out for help and get it. Which suggests a recruitment method for the community – helping somebody through a particularly dark time in their life by reaching out and saying “We care about you”, who then joins them, and respects what it is they are doing, and why, and continues it.

    I might be reading too much into a limited data set, but it a fascinating thought to me, and leaves me wondering whether the social technology there can be leveraged, or if it is too specific to the circumstances involved.

    • lvlln says:

      It is apparently a “thing” that the PornHub comment section is unusually supportive. It occurs to me that there might be a recipe for the perfect community there, since by and large anybody commenting there is self-awareness of the fact that everybody knows what they are doing there, and there is going to be a general assumption both of maleness and romantic failure.

      More, there is a thread of connection in many of the comments I see about the comments, that people reach out for help and get it. Which suggests a recruitment method for the community – helping somebody through a particularly dark time in their life by reaching out and saying “We care about you”, who then joins them, and respects what it is they are doing, and why, and continues it.

      Your description here reminds me a lot of what I saw to be going on on 4chan about a dozen years ago back when I used to spend time there. I’ve never found any community, online or offline, that was as loving and welcoming to anyone and everyone as 4chan was, and my suspicion was that it was exactly the kind of phenomenon you’re theorizing about Pornhub.

      I’m not sure there are any insights to be gained from 4chan to see if this could be leveraged to something useful. 4chan did end up giving birth to some neat works of fiction, like the porn visual novel Katawa Shoujo, but other than things like that, I can’t think of anything useful that came out of it.

    • Protagoras says:

      Which suggests a recruitment method for the community – helping somebody through a particularly dark time in their life by reaching out and saying “We care about you”, who then joins them, and respects what it is they are doing, and why, and continues it.

      Not saying this is an ineffective tactic, but this is a tactic popular with cults, which is probably worth keeping in mind considering the optics the rationalist movement sometimes generates.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Mainstream religions do this as well, though not usually from a conscious recruitment strategy so much as a belief that it’s the right thing to do. But I suppose that at some levels of analysis, there’s no real difference between those two.

  2. Thegnskald says:

    Orthogonal to the idea of gun control:

    Maybe the problem with regard to school shootings is the school system itself. Maybe the problem is anti-bullying initiatives that punish students for standing up to bullies. Maybe the problem is an authoritarian arrangement in which students have little recourse against unjust teachers. Maybe the problem is inherent in shoving human beings into the square hole of the education system; keep quiet, don’t talk, don’t act out, don’t move, don’t think, just do what you are told when you are told to do it.

    Maybe some humans just get mangled in the machinery, not fitting into what it is doing to them. Some commit suicide. Some commit suicide in a more notorious way.

    • So is the US education system orders of magnitude worse than everywhere else’s?

      • Thegnskald says:

        No. I’d say Asia’s is worse than ours, but their culture is one in which suicide is the obvious choice.

        Ours, with it’s celebration of outlaws and antiheroes, is one in which killing people for infamy is at least a strongly visible option, made even more visible by media attention paid to such shooters.

        • So the problem isn’t school system, it’s schools system plus culture of aggression.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Sure.

            If you think the relatively small number of dead teens from school shootings is morally relevant in a way that the relatively large number of teens dead from suicide aren’t.

            Then yeah.

            If, on the other hand, you regard the teen deaths by suicide as morally relevant, then the “culture of aggression” becomes pretty clearly irrelevant; a school shooting killing ten teens makes the news, but the thousand teens who commit suicide without taking other people out with them are the bigger social problem.

            That they both result from suicidal ideation, expressed differently, suggests that the problem is better resolved at the “suicide” level rather than the “homicide” level, particularly given how vanishingly rare the latter problem is.

          • Randy M says:

            Do you have a source on the thousands of dead Asian schoolchildren point?

          • Thegnskald says:

            Randy M –

            No. I can prove it relatively trivially by pointing out that China alone has ~50 million teenage boys, and that any suicide rate among them greater than 2 / 100,000 results in more than a thousand teen fatalities. (Suicide rates are somewhat higher than that.)

            Which is to say, it isn’t reasonably in question, because “thousands” is quite low for Asia, relative to the population. I would hazard a guess the number might be closer to the tens of thousands, but that would require more work than I care to put in

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I might be totally off-base, but I thought you were trying to compare X = ‘number of teen deaths by suicide and mass shooting in Asia’ to Y = ‘number of teen deaths by suicide and mass shootings in America’.

            Looking back, I’m now not sure you were arguing this. Were you?

          • Thegnskald says:

            Oh, no, I wasn’t.

            Suicidal ideation is linked to mass shootings; a common theory is that mass shooting is a form of murder-suicide in which the victims are either targets, or stand-ins for an abstract target (society), who are perceived to have been part of a system of oppression.

            So correcting the suicide problem in this country might correct the mass murder problem.

            The Asia connection came up because I was suggesting that they have the same sort of issues with their educational systems – worse, maybe – but cultural elements encourage suicide itself rather than mass murder.

          • Randy M says:

            I can prove it relatively trivially by pointing out that China alone has ~50 million teenage boys, and that any suicide rate among them greater than 2 / 100,000 results in more than a thousand teen fatalities. (Suicide rates are somewhat higher than that.)

            Well, I know how to multiply. I know the population in China is very high. But to demonstrate your point you need to give the rates of suicide in school age children in Asia, not just assume it.

          • As of 1999, the Chinese teen suicide rate was 4 per 100,000.

            As of 2000 the U.S. teen suicide rate was 8 per 100,000.

            Source.

  3. Le Maistre Chat says:

    The latest from my Facebook feed:
    “A white liberal arguing that a white supremacist should be allowed to speak hatred is promoting white supremacy. Full stop.”

    This reminds me of something I wonder when I read Enlightenment deist/atheist philosophers, who make truth claims contemporary members of their tribe would disavow. Fallacy of the excluded middle may be a fallacy, but how much does that matter if the middle is not a live option in your society?

    • yodelyak says:

      Le Maistre Chat, do you ever go to the Portland meetups? If yes, next time ask for yodelyak–I’d enjoy talking about this problem with another Portlander in person. If no, well, why not?

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I am at risk of missing the next one because I don’t know when it is. I’d be happy to ask for you when I make it. 🙂

      • CatCube says:

        I’m generally not too big on going to in-person meetups from online spaces, but I should probably make an effort to get to one of these. Plus, it’ll give me a reason to get off my ass and go into the city on a weekend, which I generally don’t do.

  4. Well... says:

    I’ve read summaries of but never looked seriously into the arguments Jews use against the idea that Jesus was the messiah. What are these arguments exactly, and where are they rooted? Which of them come from the Torah rather than from the Talmud or other extra-Torahic sources?

    • Bobby Shaftoe says:

      Isn’t this something where the burden is on those who argue affirmatively?

      Part of the underlying structure of Judaism is that we are waiting for the messiah. If you accept that the messiah has come, you’re changing the basic idea of the religion. Sure enough, those that did so no longer consider themselves to be Jewish.

    • John Schilling says:

      Wikipedia lists seventeen Jews who claimed to have been the Messiah and who are notable enough to have their own wikipedia pages. At least sixteen of these must have been false, so with p>0.94 any arbitrary but notable Messiah claimant is not the Messiah.

      That puts the ball solidly in Jesus’s court. Sadly, he’ll probably leave the arguing to his followers, because if he showed up to present his “I am the Messiah” argument in person that would be pretty much a slam-dunk.

    • Brad says:

      “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war anymore. For all men both great and small shall know the Lord.”

      Does that sound like the last two millennia to you?

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      This is sketchy, but I think part of it is that Jesus isn’t a good match for the prophecies, which are of a successful ruler.

      Also, I think all the prophecies are in the prophets, who aren’t in the Torah, they’re the int Tanakh which includes the prophets and the writings and are part of the religion, but they aren’t as important as the Torah, which is the five books of Moses.

      So I typed [Jewish arguments] into google, and it autocompleted with [against Christianity].

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism%27s_view_of_Jesus

    • dndnrsn says:

      Speaking very vaguely, Jews of the time probably would have reacted to the claims that this guy was the messiah with disbelief. The Jewish messiah was supposed to be (note: for everything in this post, I’m recalling stuff I learned the best part of a decade ago, so, maybe a bit muddled/fuzzy) either some kind of kingly figure who would kick the foreign imperial occupiers out and create a new (and better than ever!) Jewish kingdom (“Make Judaea Great Again” sort of deal) or some kind of super-teacher who would perfectly explain the scriptures.

      The Christian claim, that the messiah was sent to suffer and die for the sake of humanity (this is really compressing down Christian theology, and even early on there were debates over how exactly this worked, to the point that each gospel has a different picture of who Jesus was and what it was exactly he did, but bear with me), would have made very little sense to Jews of the time, because being humiliated, tortured, and painfully executed by the foreign imperial occupier was not part of the plan. The Christian claim (that his messianic status was predicated on what happened to him) is itself probably a reaction to their leader having that happen to him – they needed to make it part of the plan.

      Additionally, an interesting question is, did Jesus himself (the historical figure – I think that it’s not implausible that the guy himself existed; nothing in the most stripped-down account of his life – think Mark without supernatural stuff, with hyperbole dialed down – is implausible) say he was the messiah? The argument against this is the “Messianic secret” in Mark (earliest of the 4 gospels, almost certainly) – Jesus keeps trying to hide his identity as the messiah. One explanation was that he had never said he was the Messiah, and the way he acts in Mark is an attempt by later Christians to obfuscate that. Personally, I think it’s plausible that he did call himself the messiah – as @John Schilling notes, messianic claimaints are not thin on the ground.

  5. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Some evidence that there’s a cultural aspect to mass shootings: acid attacks are somewhat common in a number of other countries, but not in the US.

    This doesn’t mean I have strong theories about how to change cultures to prevent either acid attacks or mass shootings.

    • Well... says:

      Steven Pinker suggests the media stop talking about the identities of mass shooters. I think this is a good idea.

      • johan_larson says:

        I’m a bit skeptical that having the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal quit the field and leave the matter to the partisans on Facebook and Twitter is going to improve the situation somehow.

        • John Schilling says:

          Facebook has something that it explicitly calls a “news feed”, and ought to be considered a part of the “media” for this (and almost every other) purpose. Arguably Twitter as well, and since they do have explicit rules against promoting violence, it is not out of the question that identifying mass shooters by name should be construed as “promotion”.

          I mean, none of this is going to happen any time soon (p >0.95), and I hope everyone understands that. And that includes gun control. But if we are going to talk about hypothetical approaches that aren’t completely ridiculous, Twitter and Facebook changing their TOS to not allow naming of mass murderers is at least as plausible as Congress passing a law saying “we’re taking away all the AR-15s”. And probably more plausible than the New York Times and CNN agreeing to the no-names policy. WSJ might go along with it.

          • CatCube says:

            The thing about it is they agree to not name rape victims. I’ve never quite wrapped my head around why this wouldn’t be an extension of that policy.

            I mean, obviously the government can’t compel this, but I’m not sure why they don’t voluntarily do it. It’s not even not publicizing the incident, so they can still have their “it bleeds, it leads,” just don’t give the guy the satisfaction of knowing his name will be splashed across every news channel in America for the next few weeks.

          • quanta413 says:

            @CatCube

            They don’t voluntarily do it, because if they don’t name the perpetrator they can’t get more clicks from low quality articles psychoanalyzing them. They’d still get “it bleeds, it leads” but that’s probably a few days of clicks lost compared to endless bullshit pretending to know the human mind.

          • Matt M says:

            Also, without naming them, how are we supposed to know the single most important thing about them (which political candidate they supported in the most recent Presidential election)

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            In the case of TV news, many of the networks also have sports divisions which have a long-standing practice of refusing to show nitwit spectators who run onto the field to get attention. So there’s some precedent.

          • Nornagest says:

            Also, without naming them, how are we supposed to know the single most important thing about them (which political candidate they supported in the most recent Presidential election)

            I think this debate’s acrimonious enough without bringing shit like this into it.

          • CatCube says:

            @quanta413

            Ehhh, I distrust explanations where “The people I disagree with are monsters.” Your reasoning doesn’t have a lot of daylight between it and “The media likes school shootings because it drives ratings up!” Just as I find it eye-rolling when people on the left say that right-wingers don’t care about dead kids so that’s why we’re against gun control, I’m reluctant to start with these kinds of explanations.

            I’d be more interested in hearing what their actual, stated reasons are. Maybe there’s a systemic reason that they can’t coordinate, or they really have a good reason for why they think it won’t work. Maybe they have reasons for those that are bad! But I’m not interested in declaring that they’re all vile deviants and divining what I think their “true” motivations are by psychoanalysis that doesn’t even bother to talk to the subject.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Nornagest

            You’d think so, but the partisan tabloids run that angle really hard. IMO this was not a troll point by Matt M, but a genuinely serious point.

          • Matt M says:

            I mean seriously, look at media coverage of any mass shooting. It’s almost the very first thing that gets reported, sometimes even before the name.

          • quanta413 says:

            @CatCube

            I’m not claiming that many individuals have these actual thoughts or that if you replaced journalists with other people anything would change. The opposite actually. The journalism market will tend to reward sites that behave this way. So you can feel free to blame the readers if you like. Markets can have ugly outcomes.

            I wouldn’t call journalists monsters for following the incentives their readers give them. Just imperfect like the rest of us.

            Sometimes the obvious boring explanation is correct even if horrifying.

          • Nornagest says:

            You’d think so, but the partisan tabloids run that angle really hard.

            All the more reason for us not to.

          • CatCube says:

            @quanta413

            I’m less interested in hearing “what the journalism market” wants, and am more interested in what specific journalists believe. If it’s “Well, that’s a good idea, but pointless for me to do because CNN/Fox News/MSNBC will just publish his name anyway,” that’s interesting information, and I’d like to hear how they managed to coordinate not publishing rape victim names and why that won’t work here.

            It would also be interesting to hear, “How dare you suggest we’re the problem?!”

            My prior here is that the media (or large numbers of individuals within it) don’t recognize their own culpability. However, couldn’t they say the same thing about me and my staunch support for the Second Amendment?

            But handwaving about “the market” is uninteresting without knowing what individual market participants believe.

          • Matt M says:

            that’s interesting information, and I’d like to hear how they managed to coordinate not publishing rape victim names and why that won’t work here.

            The thing stopping them from publishing rape victim names isn’t some sort of grand bargain – it’s that their own viewers would rebel in outrage and feminist organizations would lead boycotts against them. It’s entirely self-motivated. “No coordination” is required.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The thing stopping them from publishing rape victim names isn’t some sort of grand bargain – it’s that their own viewers would rebel in outrage and feminist organizations would lead boycotts against them. It’s entirely self-motivated. “No coordination” is required.

            And the opposite is true of mass shootings. The media and their political allies use the shootings to push a specific political agenda. A rape victim’s personal information doesn’t help them push a relevant agenda, but a mass shooter’s certainly does (unless it’s a muslim or a left-winger shooting up a Republican baseball practice in which case it drops out of the news pretty darn quick).

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            So in the last case, the left-wing media didn’t even spend a few weeks spouting variations on “I told you so” and “Served them right”? That … surprises me, for some reason.

    • Orpheus says:

      Maybe they need better acid control.

  6. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Any thoughts on whether Botnik is actually computer-generated or a hoax? Because I was just reading its Star Trek: The Next Generation thing and wondered if it’s too funny to be true.

    Relevant to Scott’s interests:
    Wesley Crusher: Here sir is a serotonin-coordinating sensor you could use to get bored all the time.

    That’s hilarious, I don’t care who you are:
    The Holodeck becomes intensely Hawaiian. Security bears enter.

  7. johan_larson says:

    Ten sequences. Find the missing elements.

    1. Aluminum, Silicon, ???, Sulfur, Chlorine
    2. British Columbia, Alberta, ???, Manitoba, Ontario
    3. 73, 79, ???, 89, 97
    4. Leviticus, Numbers, ???, Joshua, Judges
    5. Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, ???, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron
    6. John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, ???, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler
    7. Cambrian, Ordovician, ???, Devonian, Carboniferous
    8. Master and Commander, Post Captain, ???, The Mauritius Campaign, Desolation Island
    9. China, India, ???, Indonesia, Brazil
    10. Utah, Omaha, ???, Gold, Sword

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      2. Saskatchewan
      3. 85
      6. Martin Van Buren
      9. United States

    • johan_larson says:

      Anwers in ROT13:

      1. cubfcubehf
      2. Fnfxngpurjna
      3. rvtugl-guerr
      4. Qrhgrebabzl
      5. Pncgnva Nzrevpn: Gur Jvagre Fbyqvre
      6. Znegva Ina Ohera
      7. Fvyhevna
      8. UZF Fhecevfr
      9. Havgrq Fgngrf
      10. Whab

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      1. crevbqvp gnoyr, ebj guerr
      2. pnanqvna cebivaprf, fbhgurea gvre, yrsg gb evtug
      3. cevzr ahzoref
      4. obbxf bs ovoyr, ynfg svir bs svefg frira
      5. V qba’g pner
      6. yvar guerr bs “Wnzrf X. Cbyx” ol GZOT
      7. crevbq svir bs gur cnyrbmbvp ren – nycunorgvp beqre zvtug unir orra zber qvssvphyg
      8. V yvxrq gur zbivr ohg qba’g pner nobhg gur obbxf
      9. oevvp? – V qvqa’g ernyvmr gung vaqbarfvn jnf abj vapyhqrq
      10. abeznaql ynaqvatf, gunaxf tbbtyr

      This was much easier than I expected it to be when first glancing at #10.

  8. Matt M says:

    I’m not sure if we’ve hit exactly three days yet – but I feel like things will be more civilized if I post this now, in the dying embers of a hidden OT, than tomorrow at the start of a fresh one.

    I’m looking for a steelman by someone who favors gun control to address the following concerns:

    1. It seems to me that in the aftermath of most mass shootings, lots of people call for “common sense gun control.” If pushed, they are often even prepared to name specific legislation they would favor. Universal background checks. Closing the “gun show loophole.” Restricting access to the “mentally ill.” And so on. But it occurs to me that in the overwhelming majority of mass shootings, all of these such measures would not have had any sort of effect on the outcome. None of those things would have stopped the most recent shooting. None of them would have stopped Las Vegas, or Elliot Rodger, or Columbine. I would like to ask – are there specific gun control measures being proposed that actually would have stopped this specific mass shooting?

    2. One measure comes to my mind – a complete and total ban of all semiautomatic firearms. However, it also seems to me that whenever anyone who opposes gun control says anything that might indicate they believe proponents of gun control would favor this – they are loudly shouted down as paranoid and delusional. “Relax, Mr. Tinfoil hat, NOBODY WANTS TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY, we just want to make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get them.” But mass shootings do not seem to be carried out by criminals, or the “mentally ill” (unless you define “mentally ill” so broadly as to include about 1/3 of the total US population). So my question is – Is a complete and total ban of semiautomatic weapons “on the table” for discussion here – or isn’t it?

    • dndnrsn says:

      First: I’m pretty sure that by the numbers, if you take the “4 people shot” standard (that’s as close to an official definition as there is, right?), most mass shootings are committed by criminals with handguns – the median mass shooting by that definition is a drug deal gone wrong or whatever, and someone pulls out a gun and shoots four other guys. However, that just sort of gets folded in the public imagination into “gang violence” or whatever – this is a situation where the central example is not the median case. To most people “mass shooting” is “guy with AR-15.”

      However, if we’re talking about “guy with AR-15”, I would say, compare Canada to the US. The Montreal Massacre, in which a guy who thought feminists had ruined his life killed 14 women, led to new firearms restrictions.

      Canada’s firearms restrictions are fairly onerous compared to the US. You need a license to get anything, I’m pretty sure; there’s fairly small magazine limits on semiautomatic weapons, getting “restricted” weapons (which includes AR-15 variety weapons – a bit silly, since it includes .22 varieties, but Lepine/Gharbi used a Mini-14, which I believe is not restricted) requires a special license where you need to prove it’s for sports competition, historical-interest collecting, or a job. Storing and transporting guns is heavily regulated, and getting a license to carry one pretty much requires being an armoured truck driver or something of that sort. I think all firearms are registered also. It’s probably more difficult to get a .22 here than an AR-15 in the US, at least from what I’ve read.

      We don’t have anywhere near the sort of “guy with AR-15” mass murders the US does; not even relative to population. Is this because of gun control? I don’t know – it doesn’t seem we had a proportionate rate before the new restrictions came in; we might have had more onerous restrictions than the US before that point, though. I’m not sure what the various differences that would account for the disparity would be. Gun ownership in Canada doesn’t appear to be threatened, despite restrictions that would never fly in the US.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “on the table” – it’s unlikely to happen, it’s unlikely to really do much (there’s already so many weapons out there), and it probably wouldn’t be necessary – Canada has no such law.

      • John Schilling says:

        We don’t have anywhere near the sort of “guy with AR-15” mass murders the US does; not even relative to population.

        In the years since the Montreal Massacre, I count 17 mass shootings with a two-digit death toll in the United states, of which eight used military-style semiautomatic rifles. Based on relative population, we would expect to have seen 1.8 shootings with 10+ dead and with 0.9 using military rifles, since 1989.

        Instead, wikipedia gives two mass shootings with 9 dead and one with 8. So, less than the United States, but I don’t think to a statistically significant level and I wouldn’t use language like “anywhere near”.

        • dndnrsn says:

          But that’s double-digit vs. single-digit; I imagine the American numbers are bigger if you count high single digit. Set the cutoff at 5 dead, let’s say.

          • John Schilling says:

            Set the cutoff at 5 dead, let’s say.

            Why would we want to do that?

            The relevant metric is “shootings that people want to talk about”, e.g. by breaking the three-day moratorium here. Those are the shootings that maybe shape culture or motivate legislation, in ways that enumerated statistics don’t.

            I’d like to set the cutoff at “made the front page of the New York Times the next day”, but that’s a hard number to track down. But the median five-dead shooting is a local gang skirmish that only makes the local news, whereas shootings with 10+ dead almost always bleed enough to lead. And are more likely to fit the usual narrative of “disturbed loner with AR-15 goes on killing spree”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            According to Wikipedia:

            When the definition is restricted to four or more people dead, data shows 146 mass shootings between 1967 and 2017, with an average of eight people dead including the perpetrator.

            Based on the Wikipedia list for Canada (which is for massacres, not shootings; I’m excluding the ones that don’t seem to have involved guns) between ’67 and ’17 there have been (with the same criteria – 4+ dead including perpetrator) 14 with an average of 7. Cut out the gang-related ones and it’s 12 with an average of 7.

            I don’t know if 12 vs 146 is a statistically significant difference, given that our population is about 1/10 the US (at this point in time; in 1967 it was also about 1/10). I’m not sure what the numbers are like if mixed-weapon attacks are excluded. So, you might be right, that Canada does not have statistically fewer mass shootings. We might be less likely to do them, and they might be on average less lethal. I’ll retract my statement that we’re not anywhere near the US.

            However: We haven’t had a two-digit-dead mass shooting since the Montreal Massacre. The US has had at least 17 in that time – the top 20 deadliest shootings appear to start at 10; presumably they’d count ties. All of the massacres deadlier than the Montreal Massacre appear to have taken place between the 17th-19th centuries, and seem mostly/entirely to have involved conflicts between settlers and Aboriginals, and weren’t single-perpetrator, except for one case where a guy firebombed a bar for not letting him in.

            So, there’s a possibly-insignificant difference in number and death count, but the US has vastly more double-digit death toll ones.

          • John Schilling says:

            Cut out the gang-related ones and it’s 12 with an average of 7.

            Wait, did you just “cut out the gang-related ones” for Canada and not the US?

            I mean, it doesn’t make a huge difference in the outcome, but WTF?

          • dndnrsn says:

            The citation in the Wikipedia article leads to a Washington Post article, which states:

            There is no universally accepted definition of a public mass shooting, and this piece defines it narrowly. It looks at the 150 shootings in which four or more people were killed by a lone shooter (two shooters in a few cases). It does not include shootings tied to gang disputes or robberies that went awry, and it does not include shootings that took place exclusively in private homes. A broader definition would yield much higher numbers.

            I should have mentioned that.

            If we cut out shootings that took place exclusively in private homes, and robberies that went awry, the Canadian numbers get lower, although it’s debatable in a couple cases (eg, do the Dale Nelson killings count as taking place exclusively in a private residence? He killed some people in one house, other people in another, and killed another person somewhere else).

    • Guy in TN says:

      1. While its unlikely that an individual gun regulation would stop a mass shooting, in aggregate they can influence the gun culture of a given area. For example, if you were to introduce the gun laws of Alaska (essentially no restrictions) to Japan (high restrictions), you would not likely see Japan immediately switch to having Alaska-level gun deaths. This is because Japan has a culture that is unfamiliar with guns, people don’t go hunting or to shooting ranges, or carry guns as part of their job. And this culture has been cultivated by the laws of their government. It would take years, and perhaps generations, for a gun culture to develop, even if guns were legal.

      Likewise, introducing Japan-style gun laws to Alaska would not result in an immediate near-elimination of gun deaths. But what it would do is start shaping the culture. And even though the process may take generations, it would likely result in a decreased gun deaths. Its the little things that add up- no concealed carry, lengthy mandatory training, instant R-rating for guns in movies, highly regulated sale and production, that chip away at the acceptability of guns in society.

      2. I’ve never heard someone do the “we don’t want to take your guns away” bit in regards to semiautomatic weapons. Usually I hear it in reference to hunting or small self-defense weapons. Its all a spectrum of course, and I’m sure you could find a Leftist doing that sort of dance if you looked.
      But most Leftists I know are in favor of gun bans, semiautomatic or not, and aren’t shy about it.

      • John Schilling says:

        Likewise, introducing Japan-style gun laws to Alaska would not result in an immediate near-elimination of gun deaths. But what it would do is start shaping the culture. And even though the process may take generations, it would likely result in a decreased gun deaths.

        Or quite possibly a civil war, and those are usually associated with a major increase in gun deaths. Along with IED deaths and the like.

        Laws don’t get to shape culture if the culture won’t let you enforce the laws. See also prohibition, the 55 mph speed limit, etc. So you’re maybe going to want to find less intrusive ways of reshaping culture. Particularly if the law you want to enforce is guaranteed to lead to repeated conflict between people with guns on both sides.

        • Guy in TN says:

          I mean, there could be a civil war over not banning guns too. The Left is furious right now. The status-quo, and the laws that support it, is not necessarily the conflict-averting path.

          But anyway, I don’t think that “better do what we want, otherwise we will kill you all” is a particularly healthy counter-argument (to anything, gun-related or not). If civil war for not getting your way is on the table, then we have deeper societal rot at play than just guns.

          Laws don’t get to shape culture if the culture won’t let you enforce the laws. See also prohibition, the 55 mph speed limit, etc.

          I don’t understand this argument. Speed limits and drug laws do shape culture. Things can actually be banned, it’s possible. You can’t buy Salvia at the local grocery anymore. While some people still drag race down the highway, that activity is noticeably lowered where the police are present. While there will always be law-breakers, it’s not like the law doesn’t suppress antisocial activity.

          • Nornagest says:

            I mean, there could be a civil war over not banning guns too. The Left is furious right now.

            You’re angry that it’s possible to get a gun and shoot people with it, so you… get some guns and shoot people? Yeah, that makes sense.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “We did it! We beat those damn dirty gun-clingers! We…”

            [looks down at smoking gun in hands]

            “Oh… Oh no…”

          • John Schilling says:

            I mean, there could be a civil war over not banning guns too. The Left is furious right now.

            The Left has been furious after every mass shooting since 1990. Congress hasn’t passed any substantive gun control legislation since, yet there hasn’t been a civil war over it. The one time we did have a national ban on AR-15 style “assault weapons”, after a massacre in 1989, Congress waited ten years, said “meh”, and let the law expire. That didn’t trigger a civil war either.

            So I’m thinking the possibility of a civil war instigated by the Left over a lack of gun control, is an extremely low probability. The possibility of a civil war instigated by the Left over something else, is a different but not unrelated matter.

            But anyway, I don’t think that “better do what we want, otherwise we will kill you all” is a particularly healthy counter-argument

            Certainly not to the people who are likely to be killed. But since you bring it up, “better do what we say or we’ll say you are in league with the mass murderers” isn’t a terribly healthy argument either.

            And that’s half the argument your friends on the left are raising, at least as seen from the right. The other half is, essentially, “We insist that you should be left defenseless against enemies that the government has proven unable to defend you against. Most of whom are from voting blocks who support our party in the government. And please ignore our friends in the black masks swinging bicycle locks”

            There’s no way you can raise arguments like this and not have the debate colored by the obvious question of who is going to be shooting whom when it is all over.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @dndnrsn
            @Nornagest

            You’re angry that it’s possible to get a gun and shoot people with it, so you… get some guns and shoot people? Yeah, that makes sense.Report

            Why do we ban kidnapping, while at the same time involuntarily locking away people who kidnap?

            Why do we let the police run red lights to chase after people who…run red lights?

            Why was the U.K. mad at Hitler for invading Poland, when the U.K. would turn around and invade Germany in response? Hypocrites much??

            (Hint: Its about long-term gains vs. short-term losses)

          • Guy in TN says:

            So I’m thinking the possibility of a civil war instigated by the Left over a lack of gun control, is an extremely low probability.

            Agreed. But I also think that, realistically, a civil war from the Right in response to Japan-style gun control is a very low probability. There will be a lot of anger sure, and definitely some occupations and gun-waving. But when the rubber hits the road, people won’t want to throw away their happy lives over an ideology. They will lay down their weapons, just like (most) of the Bundy’s group did.

            But since you bring it up, “better do what we say or we’ll say you are in league with the mass murderers” isn’t a terribly healthy argument either.

            If you have the power to stop a murder, and you choose not to, the question does start to bubble to the surface. There could be legitimate reasons for not doing so (banning cars for instance, which kill lots of people, would cause the economy to collapse). What is the utilitarian counter-argument for maintaining access to guns? Is there evidence that banning guns increases the homicide/suicide rate? Or home burglaries, or rape? Maybe I’m in an ideological bubble and missing it.

          • John Schilling says:

            If you have the power to stop a murder, and you choose not to, the question does start to bubble to the surface.

            And if you propose to take guns away from tens of millions of people who don’t want to give them up, the question of civil war “does start to bubble to the surface”.

            Yet somehow it’s only one of these questions that is “unhealthy”. The one that says, as a matter of fact, policy X might lead to a bloody civil war, is unhealthy. The one that says, as a matter of moral judgment, your tribe gets to call the other tribe mass murderers, is perfectly OK because it “bubbles”.

            I reject both your moral authority to impose such labels, and your claim to have any clue as to what will prevent vs. cause lots of extra deaths.

          • Nornagest says:

            Why do we ban kidnapping, while at the same time involuntarily locking away people who kidnap? […]

            (Hint: Its about long-term gains vs. short-term losses)

            Yes, yes, you’re very clever. I’m pretty sure the concept of law has something to do with it, too. But leaving that aside, the last civil war we had killed nearly a million people out of a population of 31 million — two and a half to three percent of the population. And the country was a lot smaller then; an equally bloody war now would kill about nine million people. Your long-term gains need to be pretty fucking impressive.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Has there ever been, anywhere on the planet, a civil war that originated from a gun control measure?

          • Guy in TN says:

            And the country was a lot smaller then; an equally bloody war now would kill about nine million people. Your long-term gains need to be pretty fucking impressive.

            Yes, and that is my point: neither the Left nor Right have a particularly strong incentive to start a civil war.

            But at the same time, neither side could be accused of hypocrisy if they started a war to advance their interests. If the Right wanted to start a civil war over gun control, my argument wouldn’t be that they are self-defeating in doing so. I mean, they could win, after all.

          • John Schilling says:

            Has there ever been, anywhere on the planet, a civil war that originated from a gun control measure?

            A rather famous one, yes, though we prefer to call it a revolution.

            There were, of course, other grievances between the two parties in that conflict, which makes it totally different than the present US situation in which there are no grievances except over gun control. But if you do have the makings of a violent conflict, arguing about who should have all the guns is a great way to trigger it.

            Yes, and that is my point: neither the Left nor Right have a particularly strong incentive to start a civil war.

            “Our tribe can take whatever it wants, because your tribe would suffer too much if you went to war over it”, is actually a pretty strong incentive to start a war. Particularly if the first thing the other tribe wants is a monopoly on the tools for war.

          • Guy in TN says:

            If the Right insists on holding society hostage, and threatening to initiate a civil war if it doesn’t get its way, is that really an argument that we need to appease them more?

            Like I was hinting at earlier, if you are a hair-trigger away from going Rambo against your fellow citizens, for the purposes of undermining a law that would otherwise save lives, then the argument isn’t really about guns anymore. The rot goes deeper.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Your argument is “gun control won’t work, because right-wing militias would kill anyone who implemented it”.

            I appreciate the frankness, at least.

            (But I still think its all bluster)

          • Nornagest says:

            “X won’t work” and “X is politically infeasible” are two different things, and “some group feels so strongly about X that they’d literally start a war over it” is an example of the latter, not the former.

          • skef says:

            Your argument is “gun control won’t work, because right-wing militias would kill anyone who implemented it”.

            You’ve left out the hint of “I want to kill lefties. Just give me an excuse.”

          • Nornagest says:

            Not cool, skef.

          • Vorkon says:

            I don’t understand this argument. Speed limits and drug laws do shape culture. Things can actually be banned, it’s possible. You can’t buy Salvia at the local grocery anymore. While some people still drag race down the highway, that activity is noticeably lowered where the police are present. While there will always be law-breakers, it’s not like the law doesn’t suppress antisocial activity.

            Neither of those things are cases of culture being downstream from the law. There is still very much a demand for Salvia, and people still very much enjoy drag racing when police are not present. Neither law has changed the culture in any appreciable way, as far as I can see.

            Reading a few more of your comments in this thread, it seems like everything I disagree with you about on this topic stems from this utterly baffling (to me, at least) concept of culture being downstream from law. I’m sure there might be a FEW examples of of culture being downstream from law, but for the life of me I can’t think of any.

            I find that interesting, and it almost makes me wonder if this difference of perception might be at the root of an awful lot of disagreements between the right and the left in general, on other issues. That’s only a seed of an idea, though, and I’ll need to put a lot more thought into it.

          • Guy in TN says:

            I may have been unclear on my position, so I want to clarify it. It isn’t that culture is necessarily downstream from law. Culture affects the law, and the law affects the culture. They are both “downstream” and “upstream” from each other.

            If it feels like I’m constantly arguing about how important the law is, it’s because a common libertarian refrain here is “if there is a problem with the culture, then it can’t be solved by the law, because the two spheres are wholly separate.”

            This is a rather baffling position to me, because of course culture can be drastically shaped by the law. Throughout history, languages and religions have been variously banned or mandated, with the resulting cultural shifts. Professions are created (IP law, military, police), cities are zoned, entire nations can be displaced or genocided. The criminalization of drugs has drastically altered the culture around them- presidents don’t openly smoke opium anymore, though they might take prescription pain pills.

            If someone says:
            “It doesn’t matter if you want x, its against the law”
            Then I will demonstrate how the law can be shaped by culture.

            Or alternatively, if someone says:
            “It doesn’t matter what the law is, culture will be x”
            Then I will demonstrate how culture can be shaped by the law.

            Thinking in an upstream/downstream binary is a failure mode.

          • What is the utilitarian counter-argument for maintaining access to guns?

            It starts with the obvious point that legal restrictions on firearms ownership are more effective against law abiding people than against criminals. The next step, for me, is that the less able law abiding people are to protect themselves the more dependent they are on the police for protection, and the more dependent they are on the police protection the less willing they will be to restrict the powers of the police.

            Is there evidence that banning guns increases the homicide/suicide rate? Or home burglaries, or rape? Maybe I’m in an ideological bubble and missing it.

            Very likely. There has been a lively debate for quite a long time set off by the Lott and Mustard article offering statistical evidence that laws permitting concealed carry of handguns reduced the rate of confrontational crimes, with some scholars supporting and others rejecting the conclusion. The argument is made–whether correct I don’t know enough to judge–that burglaries of houses where the owners are likely to be home are more common in countries with less firearms ownership.

            It’s a politically loaded topic so figuring out what research to trust is hard–I gave up on following the statistical arguments on concealed carry years ago when they got beyond my level of statistical expertise. But doesn’t it seem inherently plausible that making it harder for people to defend themselves would tend to increase things such as rape and home burglaries, and that the effect of legal restrictions would be asymmetrical–stronger on the law abiding?

          • Guy in TN says:

            I’ll concede that a situation where guns are “available”, yet illegal to law-abiding citizens to use, is the worst of both worlds. I agree that a gun control measure that criminalizes gun possession, while not drastically eliminating tangible gun availability could increase deaths and crime (although I still contend that the downsteam cultural effects of de-normalizing gun use could decrease this in the long run).

            The home-bugulary argument is interesting, and would be a strong pro-gun utilitarian argument if the data ever clarifies.

            However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guns are creating a countering effect to offset this: A weapon that can be used to defend, can also be used to attack. If it’s easier to defend against rape if you have a gun, it’s also easier to rape if you have a gun. I know not all things are symmetrical, and the data will likely show that one of these outweighs the other, but it’s at least something to consider.

          • Jiro says:

            If it’s easier to defend against rape if you have a gun, it’s also easier to rape if you have a gun.

            Rape victims are a lot more likely to be physically weaker than the rapist rather than vice versa; not just because women are physically weaker, but because rapists get to choose their targets. So the gun will disproportionately help the victim.

          • Matt M says:

            Lott also specifically highlights that the benefits from concealed carry also carry positive externalities.

            If a potential rapist knows that there is a 10% chance his victim might be armed, he is less likely to rape. But he doesn’t know who is armed and who isn’t. The fact that some people choose to arm themselves also benefits those who do not.

          • John Schilling says:

            If it’s easier to defend against rape if you have a gun, it’s also easier to rape if you have a gun. I know not all things are symmetrical, and the data will likely show that one of these outweighs the other, but it’s at least something to consider.

            It’s something that has been considered, analyzed, and quantified.

            Unless the rapist is also a necrophile, it isn’t actually easy to rape someone with a gun. Which is why, according to the DOJ, only 3% of rapists use guns, and using guns increases the rapist’s chance of success by only 3% over using no weapons at all. By comparison, the use of weapons(*) in self-defense results results in an absolute ~22% reduction in the chance of rape (compared to other self-protection strategies) and a ~5% reduction in the probability of serious injury other than rape.

            You are right that there is an asymmetry. In rape, and indeed in most common crimes, the criminal fails to complete his objective if he efficiently kills his victim. The victim, by comparison, succeeds by efficiently killing her attacker. Given a nearly-instant means of efficient killing, uniform distribution of this means tilts the advantage strongly in favor of the victims in most cases.

            (*) Guns and knives combined; there was insufficient data on guns alone. At raping distance, there’s little difference between the two.

          • Guy in TN says:

            This power asymmetry would work backwards in case of burglaries, however. Since a burglar is often stealing from a place with multiple people, he would be outpowered, if not for his weapon.

            The 2005 justice department report you provided showed only a single instance of a rape victim defending themselves using a gun (page 40). To say that this has been “quantified” is a gross overstatement. Even if we were to extrapolate from this, that leaves us with a situation where 3% of rapists use guns, and (1/733) 0.14% of rape victims are defending themselves using guns.

            The hypothesis of “gun proliferation decreases rape” is only supported by this data is you assume that 99.86% of rapists would have raped with or without the gun.

          • bean says:

            The 2005 justice department report you provided showed only a single instance of a rape victim defending themselves using a gun (page 40).

            You’re ignoring the difference between “rape victim” and “rape target”. I’d guess that a very small percentage of rape victims tried to defend themselves with guns and failed. If the gun prevents the rape, then there’s no rape victim. And it’s probably pretty hard to tell the difference between potential rape victims saved by guns, and potential mugging victims saved by guns.

          • Guy in TN says:

            If the gun prevents the rape, then there’s no rape victim.

            This is not correct. The 2005 study explicitly includes people who successfully defended against rape as “rape victims”.

            I can’t speak for the 1990 study, because I don’t have JSTOR access. I would be interested to see what percentage of rape victims fought back using a gun, hopefully its higher than 0.14%.

            EDIT: And I know its meaningless, but in the single instance of a rape victim defending themselves using a gun in the 2005 study, they were unsuccessful at doing so.

          • John Schilling says:

            This power asymmetry would work backwards in case of burglaries, however. Since a burglar is often stealing from a place with multiple people, he would be outpowered, if not for his weapon.

            Burglars in places where firearms ownership is common, are empirically observed to mostly steal from places with no people, and most of the common burglary-prevention tips hinge around making your home look like there might be someone in it.

          • Guy in TN says:

            That does not address the question of whether gun availability in a society decreases total burglaries.

            With or without gun availability, burglars would rather steal from empty places.

          • Matt M says:

            That does not address the question of whether gun availability in a society decreases total burglaries.

            It doesn’t. Even John Lott concedes that while concealed carry leads to lower violent crime, a lot of criminals substitute property crime, which tends to rise.

            Whether that’s better or worse is a matter of subjective opinion, but I suspect most people would rather have their house burglarized when they aren’t home, than when they are…

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, if we start by talking about mass murderers, segue into violent rape, and end with “but maybe if we do it your way some extra people will get their windows broken and some of their stuff taken”, that seems like a pretty clear win to me.

          • bean says:

            This is not correct. The 2005 study explicitly includes people who successfully defended against rape as “rape victims”.

            Only in those cases where they could tell that rape was attempted. As I pointed out, it’s rather difficult to tell a rape thwarted by a gun from a mugging thwarted by a gun. The attacker is either dead or running away before they could tell if he was after her or her purse. So they don’t show up in the study. Other weapons could come to hand after it became obvious what was going on, and they made a big difference in the probability of the rape actually occurring. If fighting back at all helps, then having a good weapon not helping is frankly incredible.

            EDIT: And I know its meaningless, but in the single instance of a rape victim defending themselves using a gun in the 2005 study, they were unsuccessful at doing so.

            They also didn’t fire the gun, which makes me think that it was unloaded or the attacker took it away quickly. In either case, I’d expect that the base rate of rape targets having guns is higher than 0.14%, which makes me think the guns are doing something.

          • The fact that some people choose to arm themselves also benefits those who do not.

            A point discussed in Chapter 20 of my Price Theory. The passage starts “Suppose one little old lady in ten carries a gun.”

          • Guy in TN says:

            @John Schilling

            Yeah, if we start by talking about mass murderers, segue into violent rape, and end with “but maybe if we do it your way some extra people will get their windows broken and some of their stuff taken”, that seems like a pretty clear win to me.

            You haven’t shown that the prevalence of guns decreases homicide, rape, or burglary. The rape study suggested the opposite of what you claimed it did, if it suggested anything at all.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Question for all: Hypothetically, if there was solid evidence that an increase in gun availability in society increased violent crime, would you support severely reducing gun availability?

            If the answer is “no”, then I feel like we are debating about the wrong thing here. If you aren’t actually motivated by utilitarian reasoning, its hard to take your utilitarian advice in good-faith.

          • Matt M says:

            Question for all: Hypothetically, if there was solid evidence that an increase in gun availability in society increased violent crime, would you support severely reducing gun availability?

            No.

            My support for allowing firearms to be available is to serve as a last bulwark for the citizens to resist government tyranny. I consider this a far greater existential threat than individual criminality. I am significantly more afraid of the government than I am of mass shooters.

          • My position is analogous to but different from Matt’s.

            I don’t think guns are important as a protection against a tyrannical government. I think they are important as a way of reducing the willingness of people to put up with a tyrannical government.

            If the populace is disarmed and the police are not, the populace is dependent on the police for protection from criminals–more if the criminals are armed, but even if they don’t have guns but are capable of beating up the random victim. The more dependent people feel on the police, the less willing they will be to support restrictions on what the police can do–whether that means surveillance, no-knock raids by SWAT teams, civil forfeiture, or whatever.

            If disarming the populace reduced violent crime so much that people didn’t worry about it at all the argument would not hold, but I don’t think that is likely.

            @Guy:

            I don’t think it is illegitimate, in trying to persuade someone else of a conclusion, to use arguments that appeal to his values even if those are not the arguments that persuade you of that conclusion.

          • Guy in TN says:

            David and Matt,

            You bring up solid points, that I am somewhat sympathetic to. I’ll have to chew on this.

          • Vorkon says:

            I may have been unclear on my position, so I want to clarify it. It isn’t that culture is necessarily downstream from law. Culture affects the law, and the law affects the culture. They are both “downstream” and “upstream” from each other.

            Oh, certainly, I don’t think anyone is trying to argue that laws can’t have SOME effect on culture. I know I’m not, at any rate.

            I’m not trying to make an argument here at all, honestly, though it might be an interesting one to have at some point. I’m just making an observation. I mean, I’ve always known, at least in the back of my mind, generalities along the lines of “socialists mean well, but just don’t understand how their top-down utopian policies are destined to fail,” but I don’t think it ever really STRUCK me just how many disagreements are rooted in this disagreement over just how much people legitimately believe that laws such as, say, banning sugary drinks will actually change peoples’ behavior, until this conversation. I felt it was interesting enough to point out, and wanted to make a note of it, to make sure I gave it more thought later.

            That said, (at the risk of opening up a whole new can of worms) it still strikes me that every example you’ve brought up (drag racing, selling salvia over the counter, criminalization of drugs in general) has at BEST resulted in driving the culture underground and possibly even entrenched it more fully by driving up the demand. The failings of the drug war are well documented, and there is a thriving underground street racing scene, which is ingrained in the popular psyche to the point where probably the the most popular non-superhero action movie franchise right now is centered around it.

            I suppose you’re right that genocide is a pretty effective method of eliminating a culture, but I don’t think it’s really fair to equate that to “passing a law.”

            But yeah, “culture is never downstream from law” isn’t exactly the best way to describe what I’m talking about.

          • If the populace is disarmed and the police are not, the populace is dependent on the police for protection from criminals–more if the criminals are armed, but even if they don’t have guns but are capable of beating up the random victim. The more dependent people feel on the police, the less willing they will be to support restrictions on what the police can do–whether that means surveillance, no-knock raids by SWAT teams, civil forfeiture, or whatever.

            That’s a very theoretical argument. I’m not seeing much of that in my disarmed country. And if people are more dependent on police, why wouldn’t that just mean better police — more presence. faster response times — rather than more fascistic police.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m not seeing much of that in my disarmed country.

            Which country is that? Is it one of the ones where the police come and knock on your door if you post something unkind towards muslims on twitter?

          • Absolutely. But they don’t shoot you. or take your stuff.

          • Guy in TN says:

            The more dependent people feel on the police, the less willing they will be to support restrictions on what the police can do–whether that means surveillance, no-knock raids by SWAT teams, civil forfeiture, or whatever.

            Its worth pointing out that in the U.S., the subcultures that are the most armed, are actually the subcultures most likely to support the police (speaking from anecdote). Lot of overlap between NRA/2nd Amendment and “Blue Line” bumper stickers.

            I know that there are a hundred external variables that are probably a better explanation for this correlation. But its still worth considering, that perhaps gun ownership (having the power of life or death over others) might breed a more authoritarian worldview.

          • John Schilling says:

            Gun culture tends to look favorably on state and local law enforcement, less so on the federal variety. This is because state and local law enforcement is mostly a part of gun culture – something to remember if you’re planning to send the police out to round up all the AR-15s. But in this context, it means the police are part of “us”, united against the “them” that is violent crime and terrorism and whatnot. They are on the front lines while we are the reserves, but it’s still one team.

            If you give them the power of life and death over us, asking us to trust that they will use it against our enemies rather than against us, assuring us that this can’t happen because it would be strictly against the rules (that they alone are in charge of enforcing), then notice where the “us” vs “them” line has shifted.

            If we don’t want the police to be a “them”, and for the police to see ordinary citizens as “them”, then we really need to minimize the special powers and privileges of the police. And the right to keep and bear arms is too big to go unnoticed when we’re drawing that line.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Your hypothesis, if I am understanding you, is that unarmed societies will have more killings by police, while heavily armed ones will have less. This is due to the increased “us/them” divide in unarmed societies between police and citizens.

            The U.S. has the highest amount of guns per capita in the world. And, while I’m sure there are dependencies, the firepower which the average American is allowed to carry is comparable to that which an average street cop carries.

            This suggests that, if your hypothesis is true, the U.S. should have a very low police killing rate- one of the lowest in the world, perhaps, due to having the most readily-available firearms. I’ve not looked for data on this, but I suspect the U.S. ranks closer to the top in police killings, rather than closer to the bottom.

            The most obvious explanation for this is that the police are more fearful, and quicker to pull the trigger, against an armed populace. Giving the citizens guns doesn’t maker police view the public as an “us”- it makes the police view the public as an even more threatening enemy.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Guy –

            I have no hard data, but I have good strong priors that most people who kill police aren’t legally allowed to have guns.

            [Edited for linguistic clarity]

          • Guy in TN says:

            And the argument, just to make sure I’m following it, is that giving guns to convicted violent felons would cause the killing rate to go down?

            Color me skeptical.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Guy –

            The point being, the “gun culture” people don’t have the same level of problems with police, and are, from my anecdotal observations, generally friends with them. Arguing that the police are already against them is somewhat flawed in this regard; the police are them.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @John,

            […] we really need to minimize the special powers and privileges of the police.

            I would hope that part of the ultimate goal, if any such project were to ever be carried out, would be to get rid of the need for police to routinely carry guns.

            New Zealand police don’t carry handguns. That’s one of the reasons I’d be opposed to any significant liberalization of our gun laws; I don’t want them to have a reason to do so. I believe there’s a rifle in each vehicle, but I don’t think those are significantly different to the sort that ordinary citizens are able to obtain, if properly licensed.

            (We do have specialized armed offenders squads, of course. Not sure whether they get any special privileges. And we have an army of sorts, who definitely do, but that’s true of the US army as well.)

          • Guy in TN says:

            @Thegnskald

            I think it can be simultaneously true that 1. Gun owners are on average more supportive of police than non-gun owners and 2. Police are more likely to shoot people in a society with heavy gun ownership.

            This is because the extent to which police sympathize with gun owners is often less significant than other factors (race, in particular) that override that sympathy.

            In addition, there is still a significant portion of gun owners who don’t support the police. So even if (for example) 90% of gun owners support the police, and 10% of gun owners are against the police, the police are going to be on edge, knowing that 1/10 gun owners they approach is against them.

            Imagine two societies:
            Society 1 has with 100 people, where 50 people like you, 50 people hate you, and none of posses the means to kill you.

            Society 2 has 100 people, 99 of whom absolutely adore you, and 1 hates you and posses the means to kill you.

            I would think that society 2 would be the more frightening society to live in, and would put you on edge.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Guy –

            I don’t think guns have much to do with police violence; AFAICT, police are way more terrified of melee weapons than guns. (Which makes sense, if you have ever seen pictures of the aftermath, as melee weapon attacks are viscerally horrifying in a way gunshot wounds generally are not, and most attacks on police do not involve guns.)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Guy in TN

            I think it can be simultaneously true that 1. Gun owners are on average more supportive of police than non-gun owners and 2. Police are more likely to shoot people in a society with heavy gun ownership.

            How does that work out in Switzerland, where basically every able-bodied man has a gun? Lots of police shootings there?

            I think you’re making a strategic equivocation between “gun owners,” which is the positive-sounding meme for the millions of responsible adults with legally purchased firearms used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense, and the sorts of people who have guns that the cops wind up shooting. Those tend to be the underclass who have illegally obtained firearms they use as part of their other illegal enterprises, like selling drugs.

            The “us” in the context of “gun owners and police” is not “everyone who has a gun in their possession.” When I have been stopped by a rural police office for speeding or something, I’ve told him about the gun in my glove box, he took it out, admired it, and we shot the shit about guns and shooting for 20 minutes before he wrote me my ticket. Pretty sure we were an “us.”

            The US does not have a “gun violence problem.” It has an “inner city crime problem.”

          • Jaskologist says:

            There’s also Option 3: America is a big country which includes many societies.

            Picture gun culture. (Are you picturing red culture? You’re probably picturing red culture).

            Now, picture the places where all those prominent police shootings you’ve heard of have happened. (Are you picturing the inner city? You’re probably not picturing red culture.)

            These are not the same societies.

          • John Schilling says:

            Your hypothesis, if I am understanding you, is that unarmed societies will have more killings by police, while heavily armed ones will have less. This is due to the increased “us/them” divide in unarmed societies between police and citizens.

            Well, Mexico is by law an unarmed society and Switzerland is by law an armed society; I can’t easily find data on the number of police shootings in either nation, but I’m going to guess it’s roughly “lots” and “none”, respectively.

            You are confusing armed societies with armed criminals, when criminals are very nearly the enemies of society by definition. You seem to be assuming that criminal shootings (and the subsequent shootings of criminals) are the result of some random citizen of an armed society, some defecting member of “gun culture”, deciding to up and shoot someone.

            There can be some overlap between gun culture and armed criminals. The family in Appalachia whose vocations and avocations are mining, farming, hunting, fishing, shooting, and running the meth lab that recently replaced grandpappy’s old prohibition-era still, are both gun culture and armed criminals. But mostly, these are two separate populations.

            If you’ve got a large armed-criminal population, you’ve got lots of shootings – including lots of shootings by police. Whether you’ve also got an armed society with a gun culture (US) or not (Mexico). If you don’t have a large armed-criminal population, then you probably don’t have lots of shootings, even if you do have an armed society with a gun culture (Switzerland).

            As an American, I’m stuck with lots of armed criminals for the foreseeable future. But I’d much rather have America’s police, largely drawn from and aligned with America’s gun culture, than Mexico’s. And I think I’d rather have Switzerland’s police than e.g. Germany’s or France’s, but it’s probably a smaller difference and our European commenters may have more expertise than I.

          • John Schilling says:

            I would hope that part of the ultimate goal, if any such project were to ever be carried out, would be to get rid of the need for police to routinely carry guns.

            Also, how about that world peace?

            As with most disarmament proposals, the only sensible answers are “you go first”, or “how do we verifiably implement this across all relevant parties simultaneously?” So if the plan is to disarm the citizens, and then hope that this causes the criminals to give up their guns, and then maybe we disarm the police, then no.

          • Vorkon says:

            Imagine two societies:
            Society 1 has with 100 people, where 50 people like you, 50 people hate you, and none of posses the means to kill you.

            Society 2 has 100 people, 99 of whom absolutely adore you, and 1 hates you and posses the means to kill you.

            Are those 50 people all quadruple amputees, or something?

            Seriously, killing people isn’t that hard from a technical perspective. The main thing that prevents people from doing it more often are psychological barriers. Fear of failure and fear of reprisal are also issues, but much less so than the simple fact that, whether it’s innate or instilled by society, we’d just rather not kill each other. I would feel MUCH safer in a society in which only one person was willing and able to overcome that psychological barrier than a society in which 50 people were, even if that one person had a much, much more efficient means of killing me than any one of the 50 in the other society. The fact that he also has 99 people working against him works in my favor, too.

            That’s kind of a tangent, though, which I couldn’t ignore because addressing unrealistic thought experiments is like catnip ’round these parts.

            The main thing I wanted to say is that I think you’re misunderstanding John Schilling’s point re: the police being part of gun culture.

            He’s not saying “heavily armed societies, in general, will have fewer problems with the police” on a meta level. He’s making a note, specifically, about America’s gun culture. The only meta level point he’s trying to make is that “it’s better for the police to be part of Us rather than part of Them.” The overlap between the police and American gun culture is one way that is accomplished, which might not work everywhere, but explains why the most heavily armed locations in America are also the ones with the fewest shootings by cop.

            Basically, no, of course arming violent felons is not going to result in fewer violent confrontations with cops, in and of itself. Having felons hang out at the same shooting range every weekend as the cops, and taking firearm training programs given by those cops, and swapping stories about their favorite guns and/or arguing over their favorite caliber with cops, on the other hand, will do a pretty good job of reducing those confrontations. (So will any number of other things, as long as they integrate them as a single tribe, of course, but like I said, we’re not talking generalities here, we’re talking about a specific, existing culture, that many police in America are already a part of.)

            It’s why any concealed carry class will tell you to say “I have a concealed carry permit, and am currently carrying,” rather than “I have a gun,” or something similar. You’re conveying the same technical information, but at the same time signaling that you observe the same cultural shiboleths as the cop.

          • Thegnskald says:

            John Schilling (and others) –

            I suggest looking into a video called “Surviving Edged Weapons”. It is a police training video which will pretty much put everything into place.

            They won’t get rid of their guns if criminals get rid of theirs. If you got rid of all the guns, there are still lunatics who will shiv police in the face with a switchblade lighter.

            (I blame the drug war, but YMMV)

          • Your hypothesis, if I am understanding you, is that unarmed societies will have more killings by police, while heavily armed ones will have less.

            I’m not sure if this was a response to me or to someone else in the thread. If to me, “killings by police” is only one of the possible outcome variables relevant to my hypothesis. The broader claim is that such societies will be more willing to grant powers to the police.

            As usual, there is the problem that we don’t have controlled experiments, so have to worry about other variables. I would expect a society that was more violent for other reasons to have both more gun ownership by potential victims and more police shootings.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Or, for just the highlights, watch the RedLetterMedia guys watch “Surviving Edged Weapons.” It was horrifying and hilarious. I felt terrible for laughing at it, but I couldn’t stop.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @Conrad

            How does that work out in Switzerland, where basically every able-bodied man has a gun? Lots of police shootings there?

            Switzerland comes in at 18th in guns per capita, so the comparison isn’t quite apples to oranges. But the more important difference is that Switzerland doesn’t have concealed carry (for all practical purposes), meaning that the chances of the police encountering someone with a gun is significantly lower. And if police anxiety is what is making the difference, encountering guns in the flesh is a lot more relevant to this than them simply knowing that there’s a lot of them locked away in houses.

            I think you’re making a strategic equivocation between “gun owners,” which is the positive-sounding meme for the millions of responsible adults with legally purchased firearms used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense, and the sorts of people who have guns that the cops wind up shooting. Those tend to be the underclass who have illegally obtained firearms they use as part of their other illegal enterprises, like selling drugs.

            Like I said, it’s class, race, and culture,-not the absence of guns- that is doing the work in creating the “other”, who are the main victims of police violence. Giving people who the police view as an “other” guns will not transform those people into an “us” with the police. The police will instead view them as an even more dangerous “other”.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Conrad –

            Yep. It is the perfect video to explain why police are paranoid. ETA: Forgot my point. It is fascinating to watch people’s political opinions change after watching it.

            (Personally, I think the paranoia is dialed up a bit too high, and that training videos like that result in more violence overall. But it is a very understandable paranoia, and I doubt the makers of the training video intended it to increase police violence, so… thanks, Moloch.)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The broader claim is that such societies will be more willing to grant powers to the police.

            Not just the police, but government in general. Having an armed populace to prevent tyranny doesn’t mean “1776 shall commence again!!!!” It means in the back of their minds the politicians know there are some things they cannot do because the populace is armed. It’s a backstop against tyranny.

            And for those who still say that’s silly and “nobody needs an assault rifle for self-defense,” tell that to this shopkeeper during the Ferguson riots or the Tactical Rooftop Koreans during the LA riots. As long as there are riots and looting in America, handguns and shotguns alone aren’t going to cut it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            And if police anxiety is what is making the difference, encountering guns in the flesh is a lot more relevant to this than them simply knowing that there’s a lot of them locked away in houses.

            But it’s not “police anxiety.” It’s criminal malice. The cops aren’t jumping at their own shadows. The problem is we have violent gangbangers and crackheads who will shoot and stab their own mothers.

          • Switzerland doesn’t have concealed carry (for all practical purposes),

            It doesn’t have many guns in the home, either·.

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            It means in the back of their minds the politicians know there are some things they cannot do because the populace is armed. It’s a backstop against tyranny.

            If the only kind of tyranny that gun owners care about is the tyranny of confiscating guns then this logic is rather circular.

            Didn’t you and I just recently have a discussion about the surveillance state? Why didn’t our high rate of gun ownership prevent that from happening?

            But it’s not “police anxiety.” It’s criminal malice. The cops aren’t jumping at their own shadows.

            Is there some empirical metric we could use to distinguish between these two hypotheses?

          • Thegnskald says:

            Brad –

            Sure. Do CCP holders get shot more or less often by police than average non-CCP holders?

            And we can’t even limit it in this case to non-criminal CCP holders, which we would normally do because CCP requires you to be a non-criminal, because criminals are an important reference class of comparison for cultural reasons.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If the only kind of tyranny that gun owners care about is the tyranny of confiscating guns then this logic is rather circular.

            How do you figure gun owners only care about the gun seizure mode of tyranny? The same type of people who scream SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED are the same types of people who mock other countries for their “hate speech” laws and who scream about government confiscation of their tax dollars.

            Didn’t you and I just recently have a discussion about the surveillance state? Why didn’t our high rate of gun ownership prevent that from happening?

            And you’ll notice I’m strongly for the 2nd amendment and strongly against the surveillance state. I’m certainly not alone. There are several other pro-gun posters on SSC. Are any of them fans of the surveillance state?

            And these days it seems to me the Democrats/left are the ones waving pennants for the Deep State. Indicate they’re plotting against Trump and all of a sudden Dems love them some FBI, NSA, and mass surveillance of US citizens.

            It wasn’t prevented because they did it in secret. As for fixing it, well as the saying goes, “there are four boxes to use in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order.” We’re still on soap and ballot pretty much.

            TBH, after the Snowden revelations I thought The Big Topic of the 2016 elections was going to be government surveillance, but with the media circus we got instead it wasn’t an issue at all.

          • Brad says:

            @Thegnskald
            Maybe I’m missing something, but I fail to see how that will tell us if police are overly paranoid or really are in constant danger. I’d think something along the lines of injury/death rates (from assault, not e.g. car accidents) would be a better indicator.

            @Conrad Honcho

            It wasn’t prevented because they did it in secret. As for fixing it, well as the saying goes, “there are four boxes to use in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order.” We’re still on soap and ballot pretty much.

            The point is the only time we hear about the ammo box is when it comes to even the mildest proposed increase in gun control laws. Gun owners may disproportionately mock hate speech laws (but not flag protection laws), but that doesn’t ever seem to translate to darkly hinting about civil wars the way gun control and only gun control do.

            I guess the closest counterexample is something like Waco, which involved child custody, but that was a very long time ago now.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Brad –

            It isn’t the amount of danger, it is the amount of perceived danger.

            Seriously. Watch Surviving Edged Weapons. Or the review if it.

            A lot of things may fall into place.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The point is the only time we hear about the ammo box is when it comes to even the mildest proposed increase in gun control laws.

            This is just your own selective memory. It is said about all sorts of government malfeasance and corruption. Also, general leftist malfeasance and violence. Every time there’s a leftist riot (like after the election, Antifa) or race riot, every conservative blog will have comments about “haha, they burn down their own cities because they know if they came to our red neighborhoods they’d get shot.” I’ve made those same comments on this blog.

            So, I guess I’m suggesting you pay better attention to thinly(?) veiled threats of right-wing violence…?

          • Brad says:

            If there’s a big difference between actual danger and perceived danger then that’s just another way of saying that paranoia on the part of police is the problem. That means we either need different personal, people that aren’t as subject to paranoia, or different training or both.

            N.B. Your review link is broken and I don’t ever watch video.

          • Brad says:

            It is said about all sorts of government malfeasance and corruption.

            Can you point out some prominent voices on the right darkly hinting about civil war and second amendment solutions in response to the Snowden revelations? Selective memory is certainly a possibility.

        • Guy in TN says:

          Well, Mexico is by law an unarmed society and Switzerland is by law an armed society; I can’t easily find data on the number of police shootings in either nation, but I’m going to guess it’s roughly “lots” and “none”, respectively.

          Comparing first-world nations to developing countries doesn’t tell us anything. I mean, Yemen has the 3rd highest guns per capita, and how is that place faring?

          If you’ve got a large armed-criminal population, you’ve got lots of shootings – including lots of shootings by police. Whether you’ve also got an armed society with a gun culture (US) or not (Mexico).

          I’m lost here- you start out by saying that Mexico is an unarmed society, and now you are saying that Mexico has a large armed-criminal population? If it has a large armed criminal population, then its not an un-armed society, and the resulting killings by police are to be expected.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        “We don’t want to take your guns away” won’t, and shouldn’t, reassure anyone unless it’s in regards to the guns people actually have. (Most small self-defense weapons are semi-automatic.)

        • Guy in TN says:

          It’s a silly argument and Democrats should stop making it. I don’t know why they are so often afraid to actually articulate a worldview and follow through with it.

          It’s symptomatic, I think, of the belief that “real America” is conservative and liberals are outsiders, and therefore you must constantly be vigilant to appease “real America” (despite the numbers looking more like 50/50 in practice).

          • quanta413 says:

            It’s probably related to the fact that a lot of Democrats are also gun owners. And most people’s beliefs aren’t linked to the effect of guns on the homicide rate. Almost all murders are handguns, but that gets very little coverage except when there’s a rare murder spree with a rifle.

            The number of Americans who actually want to ban all guns is not a majority (my high end estimate is 28% from the poll I’m about to link which has a question about banning handguns) even if the number who want gun laws to be stricter is a majority (60%). And the number of people who want to ban handguns has decreased drastically over time. See this gallup historical report http://news.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx

            Back in 1959, 60% of Americans polled wanted to ban handguns except for police and other authorized persons. That was down to 50% in 1965 and has since cratered to 28%.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Interesting link, thanks for posting it. I wonder what the explanation is for people in the mid-20th century being gun-averse.

            One under-explored facet of this, I think, is how the emphasis politicians give issues can push opinion. Trump, for example: Was he the result of sweeping changes in the way Republicans viewed immigration, or is the change in immigration opinions the result of him? While politicians can reflect the views of the people, I think the degree in which the people reflect the views of politicians is under-appreciated.

            If Dems made a full-throated defense of gun control: “We’re going to take away their guns, and make the NRA pay for it!”, I think we’d see those numbers change.

            Instead, we have the weak “no one is going to take guns away, come on guys don’t be silly”, and the public becomes ambivalent on the matter.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If Dems made a full-throated defense of gun control: “We’re going to take away their guns, and make the NRA pay for it!”, I think we’d see those numbers change.

            You know why the Assault Weapons Ban wasn’t renewed? Because it resulted in a bloodbath of the figurative sort, of anti-gun Congresspeople being voted out of office. There are a lot of people strongly anti-immigration (or at least anti-illegal-immigration) right now. There are a lot of people strongly pro-gun. These people will vote single-issue. The people on the other side of those issues will not vote single issue. So the most likely results of the Democrats adopting such a policy as a whole are

            1) Party revolt, with many Democrats in contested areas repudiating it

            2) Fewer Democrats in office.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Guy in TN

            I don’t think you appreciate how far in the minority your position is. Most democrats really don’t want to ban all guns although politicians would likely change their minds if voters did. And like The Nybbler says, currently if democratic politicians made a lot of noise about it, they’d either be replaced by more gun-friendly democrats or Republicans would do better.

            Gun control was famously used to try to keep African-Americans unarmed so it was easier to keep them down, so my guess is that’s probably somewhat related to opinion in the 50s. Have you read “This Nonviolent stuff’ll get you killed” By Charles Cobb?

          • Nornagest says:

            Mostly the Sixties and early Seventies, I think — there was an earlier wave associated with Thirties mob violence, but the modern gun-control movement essentially got started with laws intended to defang the Black Panthers in California. At the time, they liked to openly carry weapons matching or exceeding the firepower the cops had, which made a lot of people nervous given how a lot of their rhetoric, then as now, was about resistance to police violence. Some of their associated militant groups actually did try to start a shooting war with the police, although I don’t think the Panthers themselves ever did.

            On the other hand, a much earlier law was aimed at banning repeating pistols other than “Army and Navy revolvers” — meaning a few specific expensive, high-quality models intended for military use. The idea was to price out the restive poor, although I don’t know how much the lawmakers were concerned with race as such.

          • Guy in TN says:

            It seems too easy to me, to point to the 1994 U.S. legislative elections as evidence that gun control is politically non-viable.

            I still think you are underestimating the degree in which culture can be downstream from politics. If Bernie Sanders released a campaign ad saying that a nationwide gun ban was one of his core policy positions, you would see support for gun control spike upward IMO.

          • Nornagest says:

            If only those pesky politicians would stop listening to their constituents!

          • quanta413 says:

            I still think you are underestimating the degree in which culture can be downstream from politics. If Bernie Sanders released a campaign ad saying that a nationwide gun ban was one of his core policy positions, you would see support for gun control spike upward IMO.

            If you could give some evidence for your claim, I would find that helpful. In the last 50 years, things have moved rather the opposite direction from how you’d like even as the media has gotten more shrill and mass shootings have become national news. And this against a backdrop where the government managed to violate all sorts of other rights because “we have to protect you from terrorism”.

            Making noises about gun control may be helpful for getting elected in some places. Making serious motions towards blanket banning something that even in states like CA, 1/5 of the population own or even among groups with lower ownership like African-Americans, 1/4 own? Sounds like political suicide for most politicians to me.

            Politicians follow voters. Voters don’t follow politicians.

            EDIT: Well, voters and well connected lobbies.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Guy –

            From my perspective, hoplophobia is the odd man out.

            Guns advantage the physically weak. Full stop.

            If five guys decide to beat up one, and all are unarmed, the one doesn’t have much recourse. If all six people have guns, suddenly the proposition looks ugly for the five.

            There is this really weird tendency for people to think guns create bad force equations. No. Guns level the playing field, putting a handicapped woman in a wheelchair on more equal footing with the two hundred pound dude. They aren’t a full fix for bad force equations, but they do at least alleviate the issue.

            I regard replacing armed civilians with more police the way vegans view butchers; you aren’t removing the violence necessary to deal with violence, you are outsourcing it. Which is to say, violence is a necessary function of society.

            Which is one thing, but there is a heavy degree of overlap between “society doesn’t need guns” and “police shouldn’t use violence”, which turns the entire enterprise into a farce; it isn’t a strategy for dealing with societal problems, it is just hoping the societal problems go away. Which, as demonstrated by knife-crime-island, doesn’t work.

            Guns are power. Which means that the people you want to have guns are those who don’t want to use them.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Which is one thing, but there is a heavy degree of overlap between “society doesn’t need guns” and “police shouldn’t use violence”, which turns the entire enterprise into a farce; it isn’t a strategy for dealing with societal problems, it is just hoping the societal problems go away. Which, as demonstrated by knife-crime-island, doesn’t work.

            I mean, there are societies where neither the police nor the citizens carry guns. It’s possible to create such a place. And it reduces the social problems it seeks to reduce. Namely: death by homicide, suicide, and the police.

            How many deaths by knives are there in the UK? How many police beat people to death with batons? I don’t understand what your example seeks to show.

            Guns are power. Which means that the people you want to have guns are those who don’t want to use them.

            This is why the use of guns needs to be tempered by some form of democratic consent (i.e., the military, under a democratic government), in the same way that we temper the use of bombs, chemical weapons, and tanks.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Right, because, as the case of Brian Deneke demonstrates, democracy works perfectly to ensure violence is only used against acceptable targets, where “acceptable” means “people we don’t like”.

            (Also, votes don’t pull triggers. You’ve just hand-waved away the problem of agency in violence.)

            And, incidentally, the fact that you know what knife-crime-island refers to IS my point. Violence didn’t stop being a problem; it may, with a great deal of uncertainty, have gotten worse, in a nation which historically didn’t have a lot to begin with. Guns are not the problem, and as long as police have reason to fear being stabbed in the face, they aren’t going to stop shooting people who they think are going to try stabbing them in the face.

          • Guy in TN says:

            democracy works perfectly to ensure violence is only used against acceptable targets, where “acceptable” means “people we don’t like”.

            A majoritarian democracy requires at least >50% levels of dislike before violence can be used. Which is a lot better than non-democracy, which requires only a single person.

          • Guns level the playing field,

            They lower the baseline, too. Its like saying “never mind that everyone’s poor, everyone’s equally poor”.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Lower what baseline?

            Because the areas with the most guns don’t have the most homicides.

            Bluntly, my impression is that you would support gun control even if it raised the homicide rate, so long as the number of homicides using guns went down. You seem to treat gun crime as uniquely bad.

          • Lower what baseline?

            Public safety

            The area with the most guns don’t have the most homicides

            The US has a high rate of gun ownership, and a high rate of homicide.

          • Vorkon says:

            The area with the most guns don’t have the most homicides

            The US has a high rate of gun ownership, and a high rate of homicide.

            He’s clearly talking about the areas within the US. Quit being obtuse, unless you want us to start bringing up Mexico’s homicide rate again.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Public safety?

            I feel a lot safer in an armed society than an unarmed one. There is no substantive evidence either way; the studies on gun control are a wash when you don’t treat “gun crime” as uniquely bad, as you seem to.

            Because the thing is, if I get murdered, I am not more murdered if it was a gun rather than a knife (or a baseball bat).

            And there is variation within the US, which is the proper reference class for finding out what would happen in the US with gun control. And guess which way the correlation runs? (Hint: Gun ownership rates don’t correlate with homicide.)

          • He’s clearly talking about the areas within the US.

            Clearly. it’s just that he shouldn’t have been.

            I feel a lot safer in an armed society than an unarmed one. There is no substantive evidence either way;

            There is strong evidence if you use the evidence yo should be using.

            Because the thing is, if I get murdered, I am not more murdered if it was a gun rather than a knife (or a baseball bat).

            Non gun owning counties don’t have huge levels of non-gun crime. The UK had less knife crime than the US during he so-called knife crime epidemic.

            (Hint: Gun ownership rates don’t correlate with homicide.)

            They do internationally.

          • Thegnskald says:

            The right data being whatever data agrees with the conclusion you have already reached, as aptly demonstrated by you rejecting any data that doesn’t.

            No thanks.

      • Orpheus says:

        Likewise, introducing Japan-style gun laws to Alaska would not result in an immediate near-elimination of gun deaths. But what it would do is start shaping the culture.

        Its the little things that add up- no concealed carry, lengthy mandatory training, instant R-rating for guns in movies, highly regulated sale and production, that chip away at the acceptability of guns in society.

        You might as well suggest A Clockwork Orangeing them all. It is about as practical and as likely to happen as Japan-style gun laws in Alaska.

    • S_J says:

      Tomorrow’s OT is likely be a CW-free OT…which will make it equally hard to address that issue.

      As a total aside: if I pointed to pictures of two firearms, and said one was a semi-automotic and one was not a semi-automatic, would you be able to tell me which was which?

      Look at Item 1 in this picture from Wiki, and compare it to the picture in my post below.

      • S_J says:

        Comparison item 2: this picture from Wiki.

        [ Edited to add, in ROT13: Vgrz 1 vf n Ehtre Nzrevpna Evsyr, naq vf abg frzv-nhgbzngvp. Vgrz 2 vf n Ehtre 10-22, naq vf frzv-nhgbzngvp. ]

        • Protagoras says:

          Well, as someone not knowledgeable about guns, gur oynpx bar unf jung ybbxf gb zr xvaq bs yvxr n obyg, fb V’yy thrff gur oynpx bar vf obyg npgvba naq gur jbbq tenva bar vf frzv-nhgbzngvp.

        • Nornagest says:

          Gur Ehtre Nzrevpna Evsyr vf n obyg-npgvba pragresver evsyr, zbfgyl hfrq sbe uhagvat qrre be bgure zrqvhz-fvmrq gb ynetr tnzr. Gur Ehtre 10/22 vf n frzvnhgbzngvp evzsver evsyr, hfrq sbe gnetrg fubbgvat, cyvaxvat, be fubbgvat navznyf gur fvmr bs enoovgf be fdhveeryf.

          V’ir unaqyrq obgu thaf, gubhtu, fb guvf vf rnfl zbqr sbe zr. Vs lbh tnir zr cvpgherf bs gjb thaf V’q arire frra naq nfxrq zr juvpu bar jnf n frzvnhgbzngvp, V’q fgneg ol ybbxvat sbe n obyg unaqyr.

      • The Nybbler says:

        It was clear to me(Gur punetvat unaqyr bs n obyg-npgvba evsyr vf qvfgvapgvir). If you wanted to be even more confusing you could add this one to the mix.

      • Incurian says:

        As a total aside: if I pointed to pictures of two firearms, and said one was a semi-automotic and one was not a semi-automatic, would you be able to tell me which was which?

        Yes. Pick some hard ones.

      • Protagoras says:

        I did just have a thought about this; given the kind of people who engage in mass shootings, is it obvious that banning guns based on cosmetic features wouldn’t have any effect? Is it really inconceivable that those kind of people might be slightly less likely to carry out their crazy mass shooting plan if they wouldn’t get to look as cool (or at least think they look cool) doing it, so that banning black, military-looking semi-automatics but permitting wood-grain semi-automatics that look like a hunter would use them might actually be of benefit, even if there’s no difference in performance between the two?

    • John Schilling says:

      I’m not sure if we’ve hit exactly three days yet – but I feel like things will be more civilized if I post this now,

      Such discussions are pretty much always “civilized” here, but I find it highly unlikely that they will be productive enough to be worth the bother even if it didn’t require breaking a group norm at the outset.

    • Protagoras says:

      I’m afraid I haven’t kept up with the gun control proposals currently on the table. But from my unusual position as a leftist who thinks that my fellow leftists are a little overenthusiastic about this issue, I think I can nonetheless offer a steelman leftist position. Fully automatic weapons are extremely difficult to acquire legally in the U.S., and they are virtually never used in crime, so it seems that making fully automatic weapons illegal has succeeded in preventing their use (surely a submachine gun would have been more effective for many of the mass shooters, and some of them would have gone that way if they had been able to acquire such weapons). At least some of the proposals currently on the table seem to aim to carry the goal of the fully automatic weapon limits further; that is, to further reduce the availability of weapons that allow people to fire large amounts of shots in small amounts of time. Semi-automatic weapons with large magazines are better at this than, say, bolt-action weapons, revolvers, or semi-automatic weapons with small magazines, though the difference isn’t as great and line isn’t as clear and sharp as with fully automatic vs. not. But, for example, the laws which seek to limit magazine capacity for semi-automatic weapons do not seem to me to be inherently hopelessly misguided in the way that, e.g., the oft-mocked definitions of “assault weapons” that include irrelevancies like folding stocks and bayonet attachments are.

      • Matt M says:

        Of course, lower capacity magazines would not have stopped this attack, just slowed it down slightly. From what I’ve read, the attack lasted nearly 20 minutes, and the shooter carried more ammunition than he used.

        Lower capacity magazines would have caused him to take more time to reload, but we can presume he had to reload a few times already, and none of these were used as an opportunity for someone to disarm or otherwise stop him.

        How long does it take to switch magazines? 5 seconds? If we assume he’s firing one round every five seconds, that means he has to reload once every 2.5 minutes with a 30 round magazine. With a 10 round magazine, he would have to reload a little less than once a minute. At 5 seconds per reload, over the course of a 20 minute shooting, that increases his needed reloads from 8 to 20, with total reload time increasing from 40 seconds to 100 seconds, meaning one minute is saved. He killed 17 people in 20 minutes, approximately one person per minute. So, in this particular case, reducing magazine size from 30 to 10 can be assumed to have saved about one life.

        Is this what people have in mind when they say “CONGRESS CAN STOP THIS NOW IF THEY CHOOSE TO ACT!!!”

        • Protagoras says:

          Well, one less death would have been an improvement, and

          “CONGRESS CAN STOP THIS NOW IF THEY CHOOSE TO ACT!!!”

          sounds like obvious hyperbole to me. You wanted an example of something effective the leftists could be aiming for short of taking away everybody’s semi-autos; seems like I’ve provided a candidate for that.

      • Matt M says:

        surely a submachine gun would have been more effective for many of the mass shooters, and some of them would have gone that way if they had been able to acquire such weapons

        I forgot to respond to this part. I think it’s possible, but unlikely, that most shooters would prefer fully automatic weapons.

        It’s worth keeping in mind that police forces and militaries around the world, in a wide variety of circumstances and situations, very rarely issue fully automatic weapons as standard equipment. They are only used in very specific situations, typically the defense of a choke-point. Standard issue for US infantry is an AR-15 with a 3-round-burst mode, is it not?

        I don’t think it’s necessarily a given that many mass shooters would prefer fully automatic weapons, given their limitations.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          My guess is that most shooters would prefer full-auto for the sheer drama of it. But it’s not clear whether– as you say, given their limitations– they’d claim more victims as a result.

        • John Schilling says:

          Worth noting that Baruch Goldstein was armed with an assault rifle capable of fully-automatic fire, but chose to use rapid, aimed semi-automatic fire during his attack. I recall at the time at least one major media outlet expressing shock that the military had been training soldiers in this extra-deadly technique for causing pointless carnage.

          Woo Bum-Kon in Korea and Tian Mingjian in China also used selective-fire rifles and I believe chose semi-automatic fire but am less certain on that front.

          Submachine guns are best used with short bursts of automatic fire to compensate for the limited effect of their pistol cartridges, and the limited recoil of firing pistol ammunition from a heavy shoulder weapon makes this practical. But submachine guns have mostly fallen out of favor, and with good reason. With assault rifles, it is unusual for anything but the first shot fired with each pull of the trigger to actually hit anyone. The main purpose of the fully automatic mode is the psychological drama – whose effects, on both sides, can be of real military importance even if it doesn’t kill anyone.

          And yes, the exotic technique of “aiming” does make firearms “extra-deadly”. We should encourage spree killers to not do that.

          • Matt M says:

            Allow me to propose a “common sense compromise”

            1. All semiautomatic weapons are now banned
            2. All fully automatic weapons are now legal

          • hyperboloid says:

            The main purpose of the fully automatic mode is the psychological drama

            No, not really, at least not with assault rifles.

            Doctrine varies between countries, but for the most part the emphasis is on using dedicated light machine guns, and squad automatic weapons for suppressing fire. Sure, M4s, and AKs can be pressed into that role, especially if you have a whole squad of them on hand, but the limitations of a relatively light closed bolt infantry rifle mean it’s hard generate sustained automatic fire. If you’re using an assault rifle for suppressive fire at any significant range you should be using it on semi auto, with full auto reserved for emergencies, when you are trying hold off the enemy, and a proper support weapon is not available.

            So, other than using your rifle as a poor man’s SAW, why full auto?

            There are a few select situations. One is close quarters battle; if you are going room to room, and fighting at distances measured in feet, then getting a lot of bullets into the bad guys in as short a time as possible can mean the difference between life and death. Others scenarios would be things that you might otherwise use a grenade for; clearing out bunkers, and fighting positions, getting at people behind concealment, where you don’t have a line of sight, and can’t take aimed shots. And of course ambushes; if you, and your buddies can conceal your selfs in a position where you have a clear line of fire to a place where you know a large group of the enemy are going to come through, then switching your weapons to fuck-you-buddy mode, and filling that area with a whole bunch of nastiness is a good way to kill a lot of people before they can get to cover.

            School shooting tend to be close quarters affairs, almost by definition, and it seems to me that hosing bullets onto an unsuspecting crowd of people is exactly the kind of thing that a mass shooter would want to do.

            So I suspect that submachine guns, and assault rifles would incredibly useful to the average Eric Harris wannabe.

        • Protagoras says:

          Submachine guns are poor against body armor, which seems to explain part of their lack of popularity for military use (poor range is another defect from a military perspective). Spraying extra poorly aimed bullets around is undesirable in a police context due to the risk of collateral damage, which a spree shooter is more likely to view as an advantage than a defect. The military also expects to encounter long fights, and often repeated fights, so not wasting ammunition is more of a concern to the military than to a spree shooter.

          • Matt M says:

            A spree shooter has to carry all of his ammunition on his person, probably in a way such that it can be concealed by a trenchcoat or whatever. “Unlimited ammo” isn’t a cheat code that he enjoys, either.

          • Protagoras says:

            But the spree shooter doesn’t have to hike with it for ten miles, or make sure he still has enough ammo for the next fight and the fight after that if circumstances go that way.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Matt M: so a solution compatible with the Constitution would be to ban trenchcoats.

          • toastengineer says:

            Ban nontransparent clothes, then EVERYONE wins (except ugly people).

          • John Schilling says:

            But the spree shooter doesn’t have to hike with it for ten miles, or make sure he still has enough ammo for the next fight and the fight after that if circumstances go that way.

            Approximately all actual spree shooters have carried less than the US army standard combat load (210 rounds) for an assault rifle. The only exceptions I could easily find are Anders Brevik and Stephen Paddock. Paddock of course was holed up in a hotel room, and Breivik’s 300 rounds is probably on par with what soldiers actually carry when they are expecting a fight.

            Also, assault rifles tend to overheat and jam if you fire 100+ rounds through them on full automatic without taking substantial (several minute) breaks to let them cool down.

          • Aapje says:

            @John Schilling

            There is a guy that does ‘meltdown’ videos where he keeps shooting full-auto guns until they fail. Here is the video of a cheap AR-15. It made 440 rounds before it melted. He also tested a high-quality AR-15, which took over 800 rounds before it failed.

            So it definitely seems possible to do 200-300 rounds without having to take significant breaks, especially if you don’t care about the condition of the gun afterwards.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            You may be joking, but a lot of public schools actually did ban trench coats in the wake of Columbine.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Jaskologist: That so doesn’t surprise me.

      • The Nybbler says:

        (surely a submachine gun would have been more effective for many of the mass shooters, and some of them would have gone that way if they had been able to acquire such weapons).

        Having fired an MP-5SD, I think a submachine gun — that is, a light fully-automatic rifle firing pistol ammunition — would have been much less effective than a semi-auto AR-15. For one thing, it fires pistol ammo. For another, it tends to climb, so a lot of shots would have been fired into the air. I’m sure one can learn to control this, but training to fire full auto is going to be expensive. And it’s still firing pistol ammo.

        (note that the second issue doesn’t apply to Vegas, with the shooter firing into a crowd from above)

    • yodelyak says:

      The single best thing for fewer shootings is if they weren’t reported on as breaking news and important headlines outside communities where they happen. If we all read about shootings only in our local communities, and once in a while policy-minded folks read about the total number of gun deaths, by type, in the country, we wouldn’t be trying to have a therapy session/make-sense-of-senseless-violence conversation/sober-policy-discussion all at the same time, on the internet of all places, and being re-traumatized/radicalized/alienated when it doesn’t work.

      There is a copy-cat element to this problem. I don’t know what the best policy solutions are. I usually favor better mental healthcare, more meaningful lives for young people, sober-minded gun policies like bars on those convicted of some kinds of domestic violence from purchasing guns while restraining orders are in effect, bans on semi-automatics with large magazines, closing gun show loopholes, etc. I also favor making it easy for for national guardsmen and retired state police to get concealed carry permits. I also don’t really think this stuff is the main problem–the main problem is young people with few narratives for meaning, schools that feel like well-meaning prisons, etc.

      • Matt M says:

        I think I could go line by line here, but don’t really feel like it. All I will say is that I 100% agree that media obsession with these things leads to a copycat effect, and the core problem here is “young men who feel completely alienated from society and want to lash out and have been taught that shooting up a school is the thing that alienated young men do when they lash out.”

        Taking your second paragraph, I think if you looked at each of your gun-related proposals, you’d find that they either already exist, or do not apply, at all, to the vast majority of school shooters.

        • yodelyak says:

          So far, it looks like we agree, apparently violently. All the things I listed are all gun proposals that I think might do something at the margin, but wouldn’t so much solve the problem as slightly lessen the severity of specific shootings. E.g., Gabby Giffords’ shooter was brought down when he reloaded, and he did have a high-magazine gun that IIRC would have been covered by Brady if that had been renewed, so there’s a good chance there might have been a few fewer fatalities there if gun control were less lax/loophole ridden. As I see it, the fact that specific gun control suggestions either wouldn’t do much or are already in place is a grudging concession that gun control reduces gun deaths somewhat, and is worthwhile if it’s worth the political/regulatory costs.

          Re: political achievability, if I felt like making myself a spokesman for fewer gun deaths, I’d probably focus on gun safety (accidental kid deaths are so friggin tragic and so friggin’ preventable) and on mental health, because IMHO those are the places where there’s big gains available. I don’t really feel I’m expected to know a bunch of stuff about bump stocks and whether this-or-that specific shooting used a bayonet mount or what have you. I don’t *care*. What the heck, let’s ban lead ammo for hunting also, because let’s keep lead out of our wild places. I care about that about as much or more than I care about gun control.

          On the subject of school shootings, what I really care about is the fact that we make these into huge, nationally newsworthy events that spark ongoing acrimonious gun-control / mental health / etc controversies, and at the same time we’re not paying attention to the young people in our own communities, but steadily barraging them with a narrative for getting attention.

      • yodelyak says:

        When I find a good discussion about school violence, I often suggest that one concrete change I would like to see is for school districts to have their own district-resource-attorney, elected by the voters of the school district, or hired by the school board. By way of analogy to school resource officers–who work every day from an office at the school(s) they serve, and who are consequently mostly friends with teachers and kids, not other cops, and hence take a cooperative attitude toward their work (if things are going well) where they spend as much or more time making friends with students and working to keep them out of trouble in the first place… that’s better. One example I’ll point at is that when my school resource officer made an arrest for selling cigarettes, the attorney who’d end up with prosecuting authority over that case was (in my home town) something of a specialist (or so I was led to believe, at one point, as a sharp kid whose coping technique after his dad died was to readily recruit friends with 35-year-old fatherly men). He was pretty good at discerning which kids could be re-routed to being good kids with a good scare that their perfect lives could get screwed up (let ’em spend a night in jail near real criminals with really screwed up lives, that’ll put a good scare into a kid from a good family), and which kids were already convinced their broken lives would never heal, and viewed poverty, involuntary celibacy, and a checkered relationship with law enforcement as mostly inevitable… those kids, the trick was to show them real friendship and a better direction their lives could go.

        A school district’s attorney would, in my view, wield prosecutorial discretion over cases that happened on school grounds or directly relate to helping the schools function as communities where learning is valued, meaningful work is done, and recognition is earned via achievement–not least because once the office existed, the district attorney would be stoked to unload bit-stuff that related to schools (and could end up with the attorney dealing with angry parents) on a specialist. Of course the d.a.’s office would keep discretion over big cases like murders or arsons or rapes. It turns out a lot of communities *do* have things like this, under the heading “community prosecuting” but I think it’s hit and miss, across the country, and usually not tied-in to school districts… but there’s no one-size-fits-most solution.

        The main reason I think the reform is needed relates to how many counties are too big, such that the electoral check on the D.A. only works to make the D.A. pay attention to the attitudes of rich folks in the suburbs and/or high-profile child-murder Casey Anthony type cases. School districts already have attorneys (mostly for things like navigating angry parents with special needs kids, or with kids who’ve been bullied, or with tort claims.

      • CatCube says:

        …bars on those convicted of some kinds of domestic violence from purchasing guns while restraining orders are in effect…

        This is already a thing.

        • yodelyak says:

          You know, I was pretty sure it was a thing–I hadn’t meant to suggest that everything I listed was not already in place, jeez guys. I just meant that line of things I generally support to be an indication that I’m not an unreasonable opponent of gun control, but also (e.g.) see some gun promotion policies (like concealed carry for those with sufficient gov’t training) as worthwhile, because the problem of gun violence is not one that is solved with a ‘pro-gun’ or ‘anti-gun’ attitude, it requires thinking.

          I did read your link, and I didn’t have many expectations, so I wasn’t much surprised at what I found. I was a little surprised that “offensive touching” was the standard for misdemeanor domestic violence… but after a moment’s thought, I’m not sure what else it would have been.

          • CatCube says:

            Yeah, I guess in hindsight I read too much into your comment. I’m just tired of people pounding the table and demanding “X” as part of “sensible gun control,” not knowing that “X” is already the law! The level of ignorance can be astonishing.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Start with the moderate gun control and if that doesn’t work, keep going until it does. The way we talk about guns is insane, like mass shootings being an inevitability, even though no other first world country suffers to the same extent we do. If guns has nothing to do with it, then what exactly is the problem and what is the specific legislation in mind to deal with it?

      • John Schilling says:

        If guns has nothing to do with it, then what exactly is the problem and what is the specific legislation in mind to deal with it?

        The problem is a great many people living in economic and social despair, and a news media that promises to give them 15 minutes days of fame if they kill enough people.

        There is no legislative solution. There are many ways for the legislature to make the problem worse, and if you insist on playing “Something must be done! This is something, therefore this must be done!”, then your legislature will make things worse.

        • Wrong Species says:

          ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

          Why is America so different? Is there something about our economy that causes more mass shootings? Is there something about our “social despair” that is noticeably different than other Western countries? Someone a few weeks ago showed a study that they used to defend the notion that America is not different in regards to mass shootings. But looking at the data, the difference is insane. America had something like 183 mass shootings in the time period. The next highest was six, with the vast majority being somewhere between zero and two. Combine this with the fatalism being politically convenient, I don’t believe anyone who says that nothing can be done. It’s just a way of ignoring the issue. At the very least, come up with plausible ideas that don’t involve gun control.

          There is no legislative solution. There are many ways for the legislature to make the problem worse, and if you insist on playing “Something must be done! This is something, therefore this must be done!”, then your legislature will make things worse.

          So what is the standard for a new law? Sometimes we notice bad things, the legislature makes a law and it works out for the better. Sometimes it doesn’t. Does that mean the government has to be paralyzed because we don’t know with 100% certainty that some law will do good? It’s not like we’re just throwing random darts on the board to come up with solutions. There are plausible reasons for believing it will work to at least some degree. So why are we not allowed to even contemplate following this course of action?

          • Nornagest says:

            At the very least, come up with plausible ideas that don’t involve gun control.

            Don’t release names, pictures, or identifying features of the perpetrators. Get the TV news channels to play along if possible. Legally requiring them to is probably out of the question for First Amendment reasons, but it might be feasible if the perpetrators are minors. Apply whatever we’ve got in place to fight ISIS recruitment videos on YouTube.

            More generally, try to put the brakes on outrage culture. Mass shootings are a rounding error of a rounding error and pushing massive cultural changes to stop them is probably not justified in itself, but the culture that incentivizes them is the same culture that fuels a lot of other bad things.

            Might be a good idea to do something about our horribly screwed-up educational system, too. Once again this isn’t something we should do just to stop school shootings, but we’d probably see fewer of them if our high schools didn’t feel and function like minimum-security prisons.

          • The Nybbler says:

            At the very least, come up with plausible ideas that don’t involve gun control.

            Start promoting the idea in mass media that using two handguns and shooting them sideways is the best way to kill a lot of people? Won’t reduce mass shootings, might reduce the death toll.

            Get the FBI to spend more time investigating tips about mass shooters. No point in having a Stasi-like see-something say-something surveillance state if you’re not actually going to do something.

            Fight crime, shoot back; ensure there are armed and responsible adults wherever a mass shooting may take place.

            None of these, unfortunately, are particularly practical. Getting the media to show only less-effective ways of killing people is a massive coordination problem. The false-positive rate of FBI tips probably makes it impractical to investigate a reasonable fraction of them in a timely manner. Armed security is expensive and having teachers do double-duty is a large burden. But if there were an simple, obvious and practical solution, someone would have implemented it by now.

            Gun control that’s less than a near-total ban with confiscation isn’t going to do it. Also, probably approximately nothing could stop someone with as few warning signs, as many resources, and as much committment as the Vegas shooter; fortunately there’s few like that.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Don’t release names, pictures, or identifying features of the perpetrators.

            Yes, I think the over-the -top reaction of the media to every shooting is the main reason shootings continue to happen. The media is the main perpetrator of mass shootings. I wish this could become a bigger meme in the public discussion, although it is obvious that the media itself would like to quash such thoughts. The outrage about guns is a phony issue.

          • Wrong Species says:

            “Here are some far out ideas that even I don’t think will work” is scarcely better.

          • Nornagest says:

            “Here are some far out ideas that even I don’t think will work” is scarcely better.

            I think it’s fairly obvious that the fifteen-minutes-of-fame thing is a major piece of the puzzle. The bit where we ask TV news nicely and they stop cackling like hyenas from atop their giant pile of clicks is admittedly a stretch, but only because we have an amendment saying we can’t make them do it. Much like another amendment I could name. There might be another approach to the same basic goal that’d work; I only thought about it for five minutes.

            If we can actually pull it off, I expect the right kind of education reform would reduce the number of school shootings by 50% or better, but those are only a minority of mass shootings these days. Still think it’s a good idea, but mainly for other reasons.

            With any luck the Islamist-motivated subset will fall off on its own now that ISIS is more or less ineffective, but it’ll probably take a while and I can’t rule out other Islamist groups using the same tactics.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nornagest: There’s the rub, aye?
            If ISIS has been neutered such that practically no Sunni Muslim believes it’s the caliphate, there’s unlikely to be more than a brief pause in Western Islamic terrorism. We had home-grown Islamists taking up arms for the much more modest goals of al-Qaeda (“Hey believers, let’s bankrupt the USSR with a guerrilla war in Afghanistan, then bankrupt the other Satan too, so they don’t have the global military reach to stop our children from building a caliphate”).
            Unless you’re thinking there’s a psychological ratchet effect, such that once there’s been a caliphate preaching millenialism, Western Muslims won’t take up arms for anything less?

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            The bit where we ask TV news nicely and they stop cackling like hyenas from atop their giant pile of clicks is admittedly a stretch, but only because we have an amendment saying we can’t make them do it.

            Yes there isn’t a legal solution to this issue, but I think it would help immensely if the media at least felt GUILTY about this. As it is, the concept is so far outside the Overton window that I don’t even see it as a topic of discussion. That’s why I’d like it to become more of a meme. Right now the media thinks of themselves a saints for bringing up the outrage of each shooting to a peak to focus on the gun issue, and don’t seem to realize the outrage itself is causing most of the problem. I think the media would greatly tone it down if they got enough pushback that they were the problem.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Start promoting the idea in mass media that using two handguns and shooting them sideways is the best way to kill a lot of people? Won’t reduce mass shootings, might reduce the death toll.

            Virginia Tech shooter was dual wielding and he held the high score for awhile.

            (trigger warning: self-harm)

            As for the media, yes, I think the media coverage gives these people ideas and incentives. Teen suicide is contagious, so it’s kind of nice that media outlets generally don’t give sensational coverage to teen suicides. If they did, in order to “have a national discussion about teen suicide,” it would probably result in more dead kids.

            Definitely one of the things that’s different about America is that Columbine happened here first. If it happened in Germany, and the German media made the perpetrators as notorious as the American media made Klebold and Harris, I wouldn’t be shocked if more disaffected Germans were school shooters. And no, Brevik is not a counter-example, as his spree was not senseless like school shootings but purposefully politically motivated.

          • There’s always talk, half-jokingly (and less than that, lately) from people who want teachers armed. I have a friend in a position that far outranks my own whose resignation letter is ready for the day teachers are allowed to carry guns in the classroom.

            I mean, we’ve all known teachers who’ve had their cell phones stolen by students…

            https://www.thetrace.org/2018/02/florida-school-shooting-teacher-lockdown/

          • Vorkon says:

            There’s always talk, half-jokingly (and less than that, lately) from people who want teachers armed. I have a friend in a position that far outranks my own whose resignation letter is ready for the day teachers are allowed to carry guns in the classroom.

            I mean, we’ve all known teachers who’ve had their cell phones stolen by students…

            And yet, despite the obviously irrational administrator with the resignation letter described in this quote, every other line in that article describes a situation which would be improved by allowing teachers to carry concealed.

            Seriously, keeping screwdrivers, chair legs, and scissors as weapons of opportunity, when you could have something more effective? Opining that you’re fish in a barrel, locked into an inescapable choke point, when that same choke point ALSO allows you to set up a perfect ambush, provided you’re armed with something better than scissors?

            The line about stolen phones doesn’t make it any better. Phones get stolen because they get left in desk drawers, not because students mug their teachers for them. And even if students WERE mugging their teachers, you know what would come in handy in a mugging? A gun.

            The entire “your gun is more likely to be used against you” narrative is pure BS. That narrative exists because of cases such as an abusive household, where one person buys a gun for defense, and the abuser takes the gun out of wherever it’s stored and uses it against the person who bought it originally, not because of situations where the shooter actually took it off the victim’s person. Such scenarios are possible, of course, but they’re vanishingly rare, and only take place because the victim is unwilling to pull the trigger first. You’re not going to just pickpocket a gun out of a good holster without the owner noticing, much less a good retention holster.

            But all that is beside the point. The fact of the matter is, if I were a teacher conducting an active shooter drill, I would MUCH rather tell my students to hide and take cover where possible, while I position myself to shoot an attacker, than try to instruct 8 year olds on how best to employ scissors as a weapon.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The entire “your gun is more likely to be used against you” narrative is pure BS. That narrative exists because of cases such as an abusive household, where one person buys a gun for defense, and the abuser takes the gun out of wherever it’s stored and uses it against the person who bought it originally, not because of situations where the shooter actually took it off the victim’s person.

            Or suicide. The way the anti-gun people twist the stats on that one is the claim that you or a family member are X times more likely to die from a gun in your home than to shoot an intruder…because 20,000 people kill themselves with guns. They try to make it sound like the gun itself is so dangerous that it’s likely to jump out of your nightstand and murder you at any second, or that the criminal is going to grab it before you can and kill you. It’s just a scare tactic. If they presented the details behind the numbers one would just say “oh. Well so long as I’m not suicidal and store my gun safely it’s fine.”

            The “gun debate” is barely worth having, because I do not think it is waged in good faith at all. Practically every statistic you get from the anti-gun side is lying with statistics, from counting suicides and justified shootings by police or citizens acting in self defense among all the scary “gun deaths” that prove there’s armed maniacs running around mowing people down to counting among the “18 school shootings that have happened in 2018 so far” a guy who killed himself at an abandoned school. This is not good faith. At this point you might as well just scream “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!” and turn off the TV.

            All that said, if you or someone you know is suicidal and has access to a gun, it’s very important to remove that gun from their presence. Consensually and diplomatically, of course, but it just takes one bad night and easy access.

          • Vorkon says:

            Well, yeah, of course any anti-gun statistic is going to involve SOMEBODY trying to claim suicides. I was just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, here. :op

          • And yet, despite the obviously irrational administrator

            That isn’t an argument.

            If teachers don’t go along with “arm teachers”, what are you going to do…force them?

            with the resignation letter described in this quote, every other line in that article describes a situation which would be improved by allowing teachers to carry concealed.

            Or as situation which would be improved by removing the root cause.

          • Vorkon says:

            That isn’t an argument.

            And the rest of the post is. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

            If teachers don’t go along with “arm teachers”, what are you going to do…force them?

            Of course not. Mandating that teachers be armed has NEVER been the central example of the “arm teachers” argument. The argument has always been that if some teachers do wish to take that responsibility, we should not make it illegal for them to do so.

            For example, Aaron Feis, the assistant coach who shielded several students with his body during this latest shooting, was also a volunteer security guard at the school. Considering that he volunteered for that position, don’t you think it’s likely that he also might have volunteered to carry a gun, if it were legal for him to do so? And considering that he had both the time and foreknowledge of the location of the attacker to put himself between the attacker and the students, doesn’t that also imply he might have had time to fire on the attacker before he was hit?

            It’s true that there are some proposals in favor of mandating armed guards in schools, but that’s not nearly as widely held a position and runs into issues of funding, which might be better spent on other school programs. But that’s a very different position from mandating that every teacher be armed. There are also proposals to pay for firearms training for teachers, but again, this is not the same as mandating that teachers be armed. Obviously it’s a big responsibility, and teachers have plenty of responsibilities on their plate without forcing another onto them. Everyone I know of who is in favor of armed teachers agrees with this. But the one thing they all do agree with is that teachers should be allowed to be armed, if they wish to be.

            The article you posted is one example of a single teacher who doesn’t want to be armed, who gives very spurious, self-contradictory reasons for making that decision. And that’s his/her prerogative. But I know plenty of teachers who would love to be able to protect themselves and their classes from a potential mass shooter. That’s their prerogative, too.

            Or as situation which would be improved by removing the root cause.

            There’s a lot to unpack in this statement.

            First, you seem to be under the impression that there’s only a single “root cause.” If you try to solve this problem by only ever fixing one thing, you’re doomed to failure.

            Second, even if I assume you’re willing to accept there are multiple causes, you seem to be under the impression that the presence of guns is the most important one. This seems unreasonable to me for a variety of reasons, most notably the fact that there were plenty of guns in America 30+ years ago but these events were significantly less common, so something else must have changed, the fact that we have a much more sensationalistic media than we did back then, which plasters the killer’s face everywhere months, and the fact that the killers mostly all have a similar psychological profile, one which is hopeless and desperate to make a mark on the world, perfectly suited to craving the sort of attention the aforementioned sensationalistic media gives them, and which our mental health system is woefully unprepared to deal with. I could go into more detail about my feelings on all these causes, but considering that this entire thread is about making the argument over whether or not guns are the primary cause of these incidents, that seems a little beside the point here.

            Third, even if we assume that guns are the primary cause, what do you propose we do then? I’ve conceded on multiple occasions that, theoretically, a blanket ban on firearms, combined with a strict confiscation program and a massive push by law enforcement to eliminate black market firearms (to include strict border controls) has at least some chance to improve some of the various gun related problems in America. Do you really think that such a program is practical, either politically or technically? The sheer amount of money and bloodshed this program would waste is staggering to imagine, and any lesser program would accomplish less than nothing.

            Removing guns from America might solve some problems, but you’re not going to be able to do it. The current situation, on the other hand, in which the guns are present but law-abiding citizens are prevented from carrying them to protect themselves, is the worst of both worlds.

          • Second, even if I assume you’re willing to accept there are multiple causes, you seem to be under the impression that the presence of guns is the most important one. This seems unreasonable to me for a variety of reasons, most notably the fact that there were plenty of guns in America 30+ years ago but these events were significantly less common,

            Gun homicide in general was still very high.

          • hey try to make it sound like the gun itself is so dangerous that it’s likely to jump out of your nightstand and murder you at any second, o

            Or maybe they believe what you believe

            All that said, if you or someone you know is suicidal and has access to a gun, it’s very important to remove that gun from their presence. Consensually and diplomatically, of course, but it just takes one bad night and easy access.

            ..that guns facilitate suicide.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’m not even sure that teachers should be allowed to be armed in defiance of the wishes of administrators.

            But the administrators should be allowed to, if they wish, let some teachers, that they explicitly approve, arm themselves. Let them make that judgment call based on their own knowledge. If the principal doesn’t want anyone armed, okay, they are the ones who will face the music either way.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Or maybe they believe what you believe

            Then they could say it? Instead the anti-gunners always lump suicides in with “gun violence” and do not break down the numbers. I’m pretty sure they do this because if they broke down the numbers then normal, non-suicidal people would be less afraid of guns, and fear, not reason, is the goal.

      • cassander says:

        , even though no other first world country suffers to the same extent we do.

        Except this isn’t really true

        https://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/

        • Wrong Species says:

          If you look at the data, you’ll see how using the “rate” of mass shootings is incredibly misleading. They assume that mass shootings increase with population. For most things, like homicide rate or whatever, this works fine. But the correlation for mass shootings is incredibly weak. Most countries, whether they have one million people or 100 million people, have under 3 shootings, and the variation has little to do with population. So in cases like Norway, they take its one shooting back in 2011, extrapolate it out assuming that it would increase linearly with population and suddenly arrive at the conclusion that Norway has a higher “mass shooting rate” than the United States. Also, that case happened to be extremely deadly so that works further against Norway, which doesn’t tell us anything about the frequency of the events happening.

          • cassander says:

            I think the assertion that it has nothing to do at all with population size is patently absurd. That the statistical correlation is weak due to relatively low numbers, is not the same thing as saying that size is irrelevant.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            This is all just to say that sweeping conclusions drawn from sparse data sets can’t be relied on. The best way to act on that would be to avoid drawing sweeping conclusions from sparse data sets.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Absurd or not, it’s in the data. Norway had one shooting. I think the United Kingdom, with a population about 13 times the size of Norway, also had one shooting. Do you think that if Norway had the same size as the UK, its mass shooting rate would be higher? In which case, why do you think that its own rate would be so much higher? Is Norway just a violent place? Or do you think the problem comes from extrapolating from a small sample size? Why do you those countries with higher rates have generally small populations? Do small population sizes for countries cause more mass shootings? That’s much more absurd than what I said.

          • cassander says:

            Paul Zrimsek’s point is well taken. If you want to say that the numbers are too small for extrapolation, then that applies just as much to the theory that the US has more shootings as to the theory that it doesn’t.

          • John Schilling says:

            Do you think that if Norway had the same size as the UK, its mass shooting rate would be higher? In which case, why do you think that its own rate would be so much higher? Is Norway just a violent place?

            If the United Kingdom were as violent as the United States, we would expect it to have had approximately two mass shootings with 10+ dead in the past decade. That there was instead one such shooting incident, is probably of no statistical significance but may indicate that the United Kingdom is modestly less prone to such attacks – not an order of magnitude less likely or anything indicating a qualitative difference.

            If Norway were as violent as the United States, we would expect it to have had 0.15 such shootings in the past decade, or maybe 0.08 if it were as violent as we might naively calculate the UK to be.

            That Norway had a single mass shooting in the past decade says absolutely nothing about Norway, except maybe that it’s not Yemen. There are lots of countries that we would expect to have 0.1-0.2 mass shootings per decade; pointing one of the few that did and saying either “what’s wrong with that country?” or “what’s wrong with your stupid theory that didn’t predict/explain this?”, is pure mathematical illiteracy.

            Normalize for population and include statistical error bars, or you are not bringing reason or understanding to the problem.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @John

            I have no idea how you are coming up with your numbers. The US population is five times that of the UK. The US had 183 mass shootings. If the Uk had the same rate of mass shootings it would 36.6 shootings. That’s a big difference.

            Normalize for population and include statistical error bars, or you are not bringing reason or understanding to the problem

            There’s no law of logic that says you have adjust for population. Doing so when there is very little correlation with population size is just as misleading as saying that there are 5.9 popes per square mile. If you believe that adjusting for population is always right, it commits you to beliefs that have no rational basis, like small countries being more prone to mass shootings while no other data indicates this.

            @To everyone

            So do you all think that small countries are, by their very nature, more likely to have mass shootings than large countries? If that’s true, why don’t homicide statistics have this feature?

          • rahien.din says:

            I went to Wikipedia and looked at their lists of rampage killings. There are separate categories for familicides, workplace killings, sectarian killings, school massacres, and other rampage killings which do not fit into those categories.

            I calculated annual totals for Europe and for the US, from 1990 until the present day, for each of these categories as well as a total number of rampage killings. Then, I looked up the populations of Europe and the US, and calculated rates per billion persons for each of those categories in each of those years. I calculated the average yearly per-billion rate of rampage killings, for each category and for the totals. Then, I calculated 95% confidence intervals for those means.

            Here are my results :

            Familicide
            US : 1.542 – 4.015
            Europe : 0.246 – 0.981

            Workplace
            US : 0.294 – 1.807
            Europe : (-0.034) – 0.224

            Sectarian
            US : 0.075 – 1.681
            Europe : 0.166 – 0.771

            School
            US : 0.790 – 2.466
            Europe : 0.039 – 0.526

            Other
            US : 3.318 – 6.563
            Europe : 0.993 – 2.212

            Total
            US : 9.043 – 13.508
            Europe : 2.155 – 3.969

            The only set of confidence intervals that did overlap was sectarian shootings, and there was a strong trend toward these being more frequent in the US. Every other category of rampage killings was more frequent in the US.

            Edit : yes, I know, not exactly precisely the same thing.

          • quanta413 says:

            @rahien.din

            First, thanks for list. Not an insignificant amount of work.

            Second, I need more detail about procedure to compare. Like what’s your denominator for populations? Also, assuming normal distribution of the means to calculate confidence intervals? The wikipedia lists put Russia in Europe which I probably wouldn’t have done but let’s leave it alone.

            If I take the list and sum the number of incidents and divide by 27 (number of years) and by 300 million (rough U.S. population), I get 5 per billion. That’s within your range for the category you called “other”. But if I add up the total number of deaths I get ~44 per billion which is far too large to be any of the numbers you gave.

            I get similar results for the list for Europe. I use a denominator of 740 million for the population of Europe including Russia. If I count incidents I get 2 per billion which is in your range for “other”. If I count casualties I get ~15 per billion.

            So I assume you are counting incidents, but I get one number in the middle of the range you gave and one almost at the top. I assume we are using different population denominators, but there could be other discrepancies.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Different data set, but another guys makes the same point I’ve been making.

            @rahien.din

            The funny thing is that using his very own data, the US has more mass shootings. If you compare the US to Europe as a whole, then the US has twice the frequency of mass shootings. It’s only by disaggregating the data does the US appear to be in the middle.

            But apparently the author might be a fraud, in which case, his data in general is suspect.

          • John Schilling says:

            I have no idea how you are coming up with your numbers. The US population is five times that of the UK. The US had 183 mass shootings.

            The US has not had 183 mass shootings with 10+ dead. I think I have been very explicit every time I have brought this up that I am talking about mass shootings with 10+ dead. That is how I get my numbers, and I believe they are correct by that definition.

            I also believe that this definition much better represents the phenomenon that people are talking about here, and that it is much easier to independently verify across nations.

            For your claim of 183 mass shootings in the US, A: what is the time period, B: what is the definition of “mass shooting” being used, C: what is your source, and D: what is the source that gives the number of “mass shootings” for the UK by the same definition? Shootings of 10+ people I believe will be reliably tabulated in e.g. wikipedia.

          • rahien.din says:

            @quanta413,

            My data come from these lists :
            Familicides (Americas)
            Familicides (Europe)
            Workplace (all)
            Religious, political, or racial (All)
            School (All)
            Rampage killers not of the other categories (Americas)
            Rampage killers not of the other categories (Europe)

            My denominator is the population of region in question, for that calendar year.

            One error I made : I had not included Russia. In retrospect this is dumb. With Russia included, the only conclusion that changed is that the category of incidence of workplace killings now has overlapping confidence intervals, but with a trend for those killings being more frequent in the US.

            One thing that is debatable : I had initially used a normal distribution to calculate confidence intervals. Given the data, I should maybe use student’s t. I reran everything with student’s t, and no conclusions changed, but I left it that way.

            I had only examined the incidence of mass shootings, rather than fatalities or casualties. But, it would be easy for me to add those numbers too.

            Here are my results. The first confidence interval in each set is incidence of rampages, the second is fatalities per rampage normed to population, the third is casualties per rampage normed to population. Bold indicates the higher of non-overlapping confidence intervals. Italics indicates the higher of overlapping confidence intervals that trend a certain way (at least by my inspection).

            Familicide
            U.S : 1.5 – 4.1 | 10.4 – 27.6 | 10.7 – 29.5
            Europe : 0.3 – 1.1 | 1.5 – 6.8 | 1.5 – 7.5

            Workplace
            U.S : 0.3 – 1.8 | 1.3 – 13.4 | 1.8 – 21.8
            Europe : (0) – 0.3 | (-0.2) – 1.7 | (-0.3) – 3.3

            Sectarian
            U.S : 0 – 1.7 | (-2.9) – 22.9 | (-15.5) – 121.9
            Europe : 0.2 – 0.8 | 1.4 – 23.4 | (-4.5) – 116.9

            School
            U.S : 0.8 – 2.5 | 4.8 – 27.4 | 14.6 – 56.2
            Europe : 0 – 0.5 | 0.4 – 6.1 | 0.1 – 10.1

            Other
            U.S : 3.2 – 6.6 | 18.8 – 65.2 | 11.1 – 254.5
            Europe : 1.2 – 2.8 | 9 – 19.5 | 17.5 – 53.3

            Total
            U.S : 8.9 – 13.6 | 67 – 121.8 | 123.3 – 383.3
            Europe : 2.5 – 4.8 | 21.3 – 48.3 | 31.8 – 173.5

            ETA : minor clarification in data sources, initially forgot the italics

          • rahien.din says:

            Wrong Species,

            It’s only by disaggregating the data does the US appear to be in the middle.

            A very important point.

          • Matt M says:

            Is it though?

            Although the second amendment does provide an upper floor on what sort of gun laws are permitted at the federal level, by in large, a lot of the “tinkering around the edges” gun laws are enforced at the state level.

            If you tried to normalize for nation size by say, disagrregating every state – how would that compare to Europe? I’d guess that there would be some American states at the very top, and some near the bottom, and that the correlation of placement would not reflect the strictness of gun laws in the various states. At least, my perception is not that California has significantly fewer mass shootings than Texas.

          • rahien.din says:

            Matt M,

            It is. It does matter how you segment the data and what means you calculate, in order to answer the question.

            Say we wanted to compare Chicago, IL, to Richmond, VA, in order to determine which has the higher murder rate. If we compare one city to another as wholes, Chicago has a higher murder rate. That seems valid, even though Chicago is bigger than Richmond.

            If we compare Chicago to the various neighborhoods within Richmond, certain Richmond neighborhoods will have higher murder rates than Chicago as a whole. That seems invalid. Wrong Species is claiming that Lott (in cassander’s article) had made this invalid move.

            If we compare all the neighborhoods in Chicago to all the neighborhoods in Richmond, we have then made it more complicated to answer our initial question. There is now an additional necessary step whereby we calculate the centers-of-mass for the murder rates of Chicago’s and Richmond’s neighborhoods, and then compare those centers-of-mass, so that we can make a valid comparison that do not violate logic by inappropriately comparing means-of-means. One would have to provide a very good reason for adding that extra step, especially if this extra step resulted in some significant change.

            It’s the same thing with your suggestion that the US data be de-aggregated into data for each US state, then to be compared to the data for each European nation.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The whole thing is a bait and switch (not a motte-and-bailey, just a regular one):

            ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

            is the bait

            No other first world country suffers to the same extent we do.

            is the switch.

            Suppose the US really does have a twice-as-high rate of relevant shootings as the first world average. Now suppose the US institutes some measure, measure X, which reduces this rate of shootings by 50%. Is anyone (aside from statisticians and a few rationalists) going to notice? No, because we take each incident on its own as an indictment of the situation. The Onion will still be running that same “bait” headline after every incident, and everyone pushing measures W, Y, and Z will continue to push for measures W, Y, and Z, while the X people will be pushing for measure 2X.

          • Matt M says:

            Is anyone (aside from statisticians and a few rationalists) going to notice? No, because we take each incident on its own as an indictment of the situation.

            I’ve gotten in the habit (on another forum, not here) – of simply re-posting the link to that Onion article, without commentary, any time a mass-murder in a non-US country makes the national news.

          • Matt M says:

            It’s the same thing with your suggestion that the US data be de-aggregated into data for each US state, then to be compared to the data for each European nation.

            I’m not suggesting anything – I’m asking. Which jurisdictions are most relevant?

            Comparing the US to the EU, and each state to each member nation both seem like they would make sense.

            And my theory is that yeah, comparing the US to EU leads to the US looking bad, but disaggregating would tell a much different story. I’m not sure which of those stories is “better.” Both are probably relevant. The high-level story might suggest “Yes, this is a national problem, traceable to the second amendment.” While the low-level story might suggest something like “Tinkering around with magazine sizes is pointless and has no effect – the only real option is repealing the second amendment and taking all guns away.”

            Which is useful data to have. If the only difference maker is “Do we take everyone’s guns or don’t we?” then that’s the argument we need to be having – not this “better mental health! lower magazine sizes! gun show loophole!” nonsense…

          • quanta413 says:

            @rahien.din

            Not actually relevant to argument at hand but

            One thing that is debatable : I had initially used a normal distribution to calculate confidence intervals. Given the data, I should maybe use student’s t. I reran everything with student’s t, and no conclusions changed, but I left it that way.

            This appears to be giving confidence intervals that occasionally go negative. My instinct is that any procedure that has this result is having its assumptions violated so you’d have to do something more complicated. A bootstrapping procedure would work without making many assumptions about the true process generating the distribution. Not worth the work though.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @John

            I also believe that this definition much better represents the phenomenon that people are talking about here, and that it is much easier to independently verify across nations.

            If the definition of mass shooting doesn’t include Elliot Rodger, then it has no place in the debate.

            @Nybbler

            The Onion article was just snark. In my actual argument, I never said that it literally never happens in other European countries, which is obviously false.

            Is anyone (aside from statisticians and a few rationalists) going to notice?

            If we go from a mass shooting twice a year to every couple of years, people are going to notice.

            @Matt M

            Let’s say we have an idyllic village that is generally peaceful with a population of 100 people. Over a 50 year period, they have had one murder. I make the claim that it’s actually more dangerous than the most dangerous places today. Adjusted for population, the murder rate is 10,000 per 100,000, 200 times the rate of Venezuela. Would you feel more safe in the village or downtown Baltimore?

            And again, I should I point out that we’re using the data of a man who is known to have ethical issues, so there’s very strong reason to distrust it.

          • rahien.din says:

            Matt M,

            I see what you’re saying. And I agree that the larger picture doesn’t generate the actionable conclusions that we need – whether the correct action is “leave everything the way it is,” “beat our guns into plowshares,” or something in between. I think you’re right that the next step is tocreate a genuine hypothesis about causes. That hypothesis would tell you how to segment the data, and would help justify the techniques you used thereafter.

            But I worry when you state your theory so. The hypothesis can not be “the data will look different when disaggregated.” You’d run a significant danger of making an invalid comparison. Utterly crazy shit can happen when you segment data. Even if you find something correct, you’ll be hard-pressed to reject the null hypothesis of “this is an artifact of bad statistical technique,” or worse, you’ll be accused of p-hacking.

            Everyone on each side needs to be unimpeachable in their statistics. I favor a greater degree of gun control, but if I’m wrong, I want to have zero wiggle room when presented the truth.

            (Take this as a compliment : I’m not 100% certain what you favor!)

            quanta413,

            I agree, we know that the actual number can’t possibly be negative. And I agree with you that (at least from my standpoint) it’s not worth the effort to correct them to more “real” numbers.

            Absent that correction, I interpret those data as : the variance of those data and their low mean prevent us from distinguishing that mean from zero by this technique. That interpretation seems valid and useful. It also seems plausible that whether a bootstrapping procedure would effectively reduce the variance, or, effectively raise the mean, or both, it would not eliminate many of those differences. But correct me where I am wrong.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Wrong:

            If the definition of mass shooting doesn’t include Elliot Rodger, then it has no place in the debate.

            I will respond that if the definition of mass shooting does include Troy Blake or Charles Gilleo, then it also has no place in the debate. “Mass shooting” as commonly used is an ill-defined term that has a very fuzzy boundary, but those two (among many others on the list) aren’t it.

            If you want a statistical comparison across nations, which is what I was addressing, then any consistent and rigorous definition will do so long as it mostly encompasses the kind of killings most people refer to as “mass shootings”. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive.

            If you want an exhaustive list of what are commonly understood to be mass shootings, you are going to have to spend literally days pouring through lists of hundreds of shooting incidents in the US and around the world, and then defending your categorization of marginal cases from people who disagree with you. And you’ll have to do it yourself, because the subject is too enmeshed in the culture war to trust anyone who volunteers to do it for you.

            And if you want to talk about all shootings with 4+ dead, then you are referring to something different than what most people who use the term “mass shooting” are talking about and you should use a different term. And you are looking for a different set of solutions, because e.g. armed robbery gone bad isn’t going to be stopped by gun control or improved mental health care or by denying the criminal his fifteen minutes of fame. And you are doing it in the wrong place, because this discussion is an ill-timed response to a very very atypical example of a 4+ casualty shooting.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @John

            When people say that we are worried about gun control, they have certain incidents in mind. Not counting those incidents is a rhetorical sleight of hand. On the one hand, we want something that includes these incidents otherwise, we aren’t addressing their concerns. Not only that but the fewer data points you have, the more likely the remaining data is going to be noise. I could arbitrarily decide that mass shootings only include those with more than 50 deaths but that wouldn’t be meaningful. But on the other hand, we obviously don’t want to include things like gang shootings. So it has to be somewhere in between.

            But none of that is actually pertinent to the discussion at hand. From all the data I’ve seen, Europe has fewer mass shootings than the US, even based on the data from a shady guy who’s biased against the conclusion. Where is the data that compares the US with Europe as a whole and concludes that America doesn’t have more mass shootings?

          • John Schilling says:

            When people say that we are worried about gun control, they have certain incidents in mind. Not counting those incidents is a rhetorical sleight of hand.

            Counting other incidents that aren’t what people have in mind, is also rhetorical sleight of hand. And when you say that the United States has had “183 mass shootings” in some ill-defined time period, that is what you are doing.

            Or would you care to provide a list of all 183 alleged mass shootings, and defend each and every one of them as being among the “certain incidents” that people have in mind?

        • This has been linked before,and shot down (sorry) before as well.

      • toastengineer says:

        I don’t understand why you think successfully banning firearms equates to successfully banning killing. Why won’t people who want to cause mass death just resort to car attacks or gas or bombs (both perfectly easy to figure out how to make if you care enough to actually do it; the recipe for ANFO is literally the name of the compound?)

        Heck, with people saying “make media spread memes that will reduce mass murderer’s lethality,” I suspect the “guns are the appropriate tool for mass killing” message is already succeeding at that. Ramming a stolen semi truck or heavy construction equipment (both of which are rarely secured properly) into a building is probably going to be a lot more effective in terms of harm to people per incident. Look at the Killdozer guy.

        • Wrong Species says:

          I don’t know why people always say this. No one is making the argument that banning guns will immediately eliminate all killing. The argument is that it will reduce the total number of killings. The easier it is to kill someone, the more likely it is to happen. You can see this in suicide statistics, where gun control not only lowers the rate of suicide by gun, but it also reduces the general rate of suicide.

          • I don’t know why people always say this

            Where no good argument supports a claim, bad arguments are used.

            Make a comparison to medicine. It’s broadly true that if you
            cure one disease, people will die of something else, but it’s no motivation not to cure diseases one by one.

            If people start using machetes instead of guns, you can ban machetes.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Very, very few people are killed with “assault rifle” style weapons. Blunt weapons – stereotypically, baseball bats –
            are used in more killings – nearly twice as many.

            So maybe instead of banning rifles, or machetes, we should ban baseball bats – we could eliminate 400 deaths per year!

            Or maybe murder is more complex a problem than the weapon used.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      So my question is – Is a complete and total ban of semiautomatic weapons “on the table” for discussion here – or isn’t it?

      The way I’m seeing the issue framed by the local people (Portlanders) in my Facebook feed is “F*** your Second Amendment rights.” They want to ban all gun ownership, because other First World countries do and it’s evil that the Constitution matters when kids are getting killed.
      But we’re talking about a Berniebro bubble: I doubt that it’ll be on the table nationally. If Hillary Clinton had won, I’d give better than even odds that she’d be solemnly handwaving at “common sense gun control” rather than proposing any legislation that’d have trouble at the Supreme Court.

      • alef says:

        Yes, bubbles everyone , but “BernieBro” is rather dismissive, isn’t it?
        Agreed, it probably won’t be on the table nationally, ever. But here’s my speculative bubble…

        Australia is the often cited example of a western country that had relatively permissive gun ownership (if not US level), had mass shootings, and their society reached a point with said ‘enough’ – just over 20 years ago, without much objection (certainly nothing about new civil wars!). Conventional wisdom is that it has ‘worked’.

        Having lived in both for long periods of time, I think the cultural similarities between Australia and, no not the whole U.S., but California in particular, are just huge. Far far closer than the UK. Only Canada might come close, but I think on the whole more divergent. The populations are even similar (well, within factor of 2). So I absolutely can imagine California having it’s “Australia 1996” moment, complete with the lack of major dissent – if it weren’t for that 2nd amendment.

        How about a national agreement, leading to a constitutional change, that let states go their own way on gun control?

        • quanta413 says:

          The best I can find is that Australia’s gun ownership before and after gun buybacks is comparable (7% before to 5% after) to the lowest gun ownership of all 50 states (Delaware at 5.2%). But by the time we move up a whopping 2 positions to New York the rate is at 10.3%. And California is tied with Nebraska at 19.8%.

          I don’t think Australia is culturally comparable on this issue even to most of the least gun happy states.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            I’ve seen the compliance rate with the Australian law variously reported between 20% and 33%. A similar success here would, I believe, reduce ownership rates to about what they were in the early 1990s. Don’t expect miracles!

            The nice thing about trying it in California only is that they’ll be able to blame their failure on Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon.

    • CatCube says:

      One of the best pieces I’ve seen on the disconnect between sides on this was written by Ken White at Popehat.com:
      https://www.popehat.com/2015/12/07/talking-productively-about-guns/

      The whole article is worth reading, but his discussion of why the seeming lack of caring about terminology from the gun control side deserves special mention:

      It’s hard to grasp the reaction of someone who understands gun terminology to someone who doesn’t. So imagine we’re going through one of our periodic moral panics over dogs and I’m trying to persuade you that there should be restrictions on, say, Rottweilers.

      Me: I don’t want to take away dog owners’ rights. But we need to do something about Rottweilers.
      You: So what do you propose?
      Me: I just think that there should be some sort of training or restrictions on owning an attack dog.
      You: Wait. What’s an “attack dog?”
      Me: You know what I mean. Like military dogs.
      You: Huh? Rottweilers aren’t military dogs. In fact “military dogs” isn’t a thing. You mean like German Shepherds?
      Me: Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody’s trying to take away your German Shepherds. But civilians shouldn’t own fighting dogs.
      You: I have no idea what dogs you’re talking about now.
      Me: You’re being both picky and obtuse. You know I mean hounds.
      You: What the fuck.
      Me: OK, maybe not actually ::air quotes:: hounds ::air quotes::. Maybe I have the terminology wrong. I’m not obsessed with vicious dogs like you. But we can identify kinds of dogs that civilians just don’t need to own.
      You: Can we?

      • alef says:

        “Me”: Honestly, you are right, and I was being naive; sorry. But it’s a fact that a whole lot of people died last year from dog XXX attacks (to fit the narrative, I’d say Rottweiler, except it’s not true), and hardly any from all of these [… long list] breeds. Is there no way to draw a line the mitigates the harm, and still give most of the benefits of dog ownership to almost everyone?
        “You”: Absolutely not. First, slippery slope. And second, no clear lines, I’ll find a horrible stories involving quite a few of your supposedly safe breeds. Let’s talk when you have an unambiguous line in the sand to propose – although if you understand what I’ve said you’ll realize there never can be one.
        “Me”: I notice that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of appetite, in much of the country, to loosen restrictions on owning pure-bred wolves.
        “You:” So what. And you talk funny; what is this word “mitigates” anyway? But back to business, I’ll dissect (I mean discuss) your suggestion rationally when you can come up with a crisp proposal of the breed line you want to draw.

        • Jiro says:

          But it’s a fact that a whole lot of people died last year from dog XXX attacks

          In the analogy, the guy has no idea what traits dog XXX actually has or how they are connected to attacks on people. Why should we expect him to know what he’s talking about when he says that a whole lot of people died from dog XXX?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I’m not entirely sure what your point is here. Is “You” supposed to sound like he’s arguing in bad faith? Unfortunately it’s “Me” who has poor facts or a bad analogy.

          “Me”: Honestly, you are right, and I was being naive; sorry. But it’s a fact that a whole lot of people died last year from dog XXX attacks (to fit the narrative, I’d say Rottweiler, except it’s not true), and hardly any from all of these [… long list] breeds. Is there no way to draw a line the mitigates the harm, and still give most of the benefits of dog ownership to almost everyone?

          But what the left/media is going on about now is “assault weapons” or AR-15s. Except rifles are used in extremely few shootings, mass or otherwise. Your typical “mass shooter” is a gangbanger with a Hi-Point (cheap handgun maker) shooting up the competition in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, etc.

          So, no there is no way to draw a line that includes semi-auto handguns while still giving the benefit of gun ownership to almost everyone, because almost everyone who has a handgun for self defense is using a semi-auto handgun.

          Also, the whole “you can’t hunt with an AR-15” thing is silly. Lots of people hunt with AR-15s. Or pest control. I know of a guy with a farm who has to clear out wild hogs all the time. They breed like crazy, so there’s no bag limit. My brother-in-law and my nephews go to his farm about once a year with an AR, drive around, shoot as many hogs as they can see, and drag one back to butcher.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Here is an idea already in use in several states that probably would have prevented this particular incident and might merit wider adoption, though I worry that the due-process considerations the author insists upon might get lost in all the shouting.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I worry that the due-process considerations the author insists upon might get lost in all the shouting.

        Precisely. In practice such orders would be mostly used as weapons in domestic disputes of various sorts. They would essentially all be granted ex parte, they’d come up with some reason to make it permanent every time, e.g. “respondent continued to possess weapons in violation of GVRO”, even when GVRO was ex parte. Or “respondent was angry when we came to take his guns”. And even if one was beaten or expired, the guns would somehow not be returned. Having been the subject of such an order (even if lifted) would be used (like certain ex parte mental health committments) to disqualify the person from buying more guns. And you’d still have mass shootings.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          That’s not what happened in the first year of the CA system. Do you have a time frame in which you predict that the CA system will degenerate to that?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Well that 72 hours for a hearing thing is right out the window; California provides for a 21-day order before a hearing. There’s already a bill to expand the California law to “add employers, co-workers, high school and college staff, and mental health workers to the list of individuals who can seek a restraining order.” Law enforcement can already request an order on their own.

            There were 86 orders in California, 10 of which were extended to 1 year. I have not found information on what most of those orders were, or if the guns were indeed returned.

      • Matt M says:

        broadly speaking they permit a spouse, parent, sibling, or person living with a troubled individual to petition a court for an order enabling law enforcement to temporarily take that individual’s guns right away

        Which spouse, parent, sibling, or cohabitant of this shooter thought he was an imminent danger to others?

        What evidence do we have that depriving him of his guns “temporarily” would have caused him to reconsider his plan, or would have stopped him permanently?

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          Possibly none; the tip that the FBI blew off came from “an adult close to Cruz”. By all accounts, everyone who knew the guy was scared, though you never know how much store to set by these after-the-fact declarations.

          Even stopping him temporarily would have been an improvement. At least you’ve got a shot at making it permanent.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I’m posting tangential to your questions, but you’ve already got a lot of responses to your post already.

      I would like to see more organized, mandatory, training. And laws pertaining to storage and access.

      I’d like to see the training at the local (county) level by the county sheriffs. This would include everything from basic training to how to work together to identify and stop the actual wrongdoer without harming innocents and other do-gooders with guns (e.g. how you should react if a hypothetical gunman throws out some smoke bombs and starts shooting from concealment at a gun show, or if said hypothetical gunman claims to be a good guy).

      I’d like to see this training mandatory for everyone who has purchased a gun – maybe on the order of one mandatory training day per year. They could be slightly compensated (ala jury duty compensation). This would also give each sheriff a list of trained people to call up under posse comitatus when the need arises.

      Training and proper storage, regardless of gun control, would help in the prevention of those gun-related deaths which are accidents or suicides. It would also help enable lawful gun owners to actually halt mass casualty events. It might also help a few messed up people feel more positively connected to their neighbors.

      • Matt M says:

        I would like to see more organized, mandatory, training. And laws pertaining to storage and access.

        I mean this with no offense, but of all the things I hear recommended, this one seems the craziest.

        How would mandatory training have improved this situation? By making the shooter better at using his guns?

        Storage and access? The kid stored his gun in a locked safe.

        You’re talking about accidents and suicides… that has nothing to do with the outrage that ensues following mass shootings.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          If you think mass shootings are all the media and the left talk about when talking about guns, you aren’t paying attention.

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/31/kids-accidentally-shot-people-5-times-a-week-this-year-on-average/?utm_term=.3dd3f7da5866

          I said that my post was tangential!

          • Matt M says:

            If you think mass shootings are all the media and the left talk about when talking about guns, you aren’t paying attention.

            No, but I do think that the left and the media use mass shootings as justification to promote their other agendas vis-a-vis gun control.

            This is exactly the sort of “politicizing a tragedy” that I think is indefensible, BTW. I have no major qualm of, in the wake of a tragedy, proposing solutions that would be directly applicable to preventing that type of tragedy from happening again. But I have a major problem with using a tragedy to misdirect people towards supporting policy suggestions that seem vaguely similar but actually have nothing to do with the tragedy that just happened.

            To use a tribal-flipped example, advocating for “increased training requirements to prevent accidents and suicides” immediately in the wake of a school shooting is akin to “Some Saudis just committed an act of domestic terrorism, therefore we must invade Iraq to prevent it from happening again!” It’s rank emotional manipulation that we should wholly reject – not as members of any particular tribe – but as rationalists and rationalist adjacent people.

            Edit: I don’t mean to be personal here. I concede that you admitted your answer was tangential, and therefore, I do not accuse you individually of exploiting people’s emotions in the wake of a tragedy.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            To use a tribal-flipped example, advocating for “increased training requirements to prevent accidents and suicides” immediately in the wake of a school shooting is akin to “Some Saudis just committed an act of domestic terrorism, therefore we must invade Iraq to prevent it from happening again!” It’s rank emotional manipulation that we should wholly reject

            I agree with your post. In this particular case, the increased training requirements is a partial rebuttal to the frequent right-wing claim that arming more people would nip these active-shooter tragedies in the bud. There’s no reason to think that armed people, without specific active-shooter training, will make the situation better.

          • Matt M says:

            In this particular case, the increased training requirements is a partial rebuttal to the frequent right-wing claim that arming more people would nip these active-shooter tragedies in the bud. There’s no reason to think that armed people, without specific active-shooter training, will make the situation better.

            Hmm, not sure I agree with this part. I’m not aware of any high-profile incidents of a civilian trying to stop a mass shooter with a gun, but “making the situation worse” due to poor training or whatever (although it’s certainly plausible, as the police often seem to shoot innocent people when in pursuit of criminals).

            Suicides I basically dismiss as unpreventable. If someone wants to kill themselves, they’ll find a way (personally, I’m not convinced this is a problem at all, although I have some odd/unpopular views on suicide).

            Accidents tend to be of the “children, left unsupervised, getting their hands on guns” scenario. In which case “training” might work, although I think the relevant training is more of the “parents teach kids that guns are very serious things and not toys” variety than the “parents take a mandatory government class on how to shoot a firearm” variety.

            I haven’t heard of any such proposition – but something like “If you want to keep a gun in your house, your children are required to take a gun safety course” might make a meaningful difference – although it probably isn’t politically feasible.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I’m not aware of any high-profile incidents of a civilian trying to stop a mass shooter with a gun,

            Not yet, no. This is the NRA talking point, though. And if it eventually happens I’d rather it work well.

            In which case “training” might work, although I think the relevant training is more of the “parents teach kids that guns are very serious things and not toys”

            One sad case I read about was a three year old girl reaching for a snack in a cupboard, knocking a stored handgun to the ground (that she couldn’t see), which shot her in the stomach, killing her.

            Kids will get into things.

            Another, recent, case was a training accident while the father was distracted answering a phone call.

          • John Schilling says:

            There’s no reason to think that armed people, without specific active-shooter training, will make the situation better.

            Except that the current recommendation is that if you can’t get everyone clear of or locked down from an active shooter, even unarmed resistance by completely untrained people will make the situation better. Run. Hide. Fight. And with good reason – actual spree killers usually break off their attack when they face any significant resistance, going into “run, hide die” mode.

            If the fear is that “untrained” civilians will cause mass carnage by shooting at each other and/or firing wildly into the crowd, that basically never happens. Shootings of innocent bystanders by armed citizens are extremely rare, less likely even than shootings of innocent bystanders by policemen.

            ETA: That last isn’t an indictment of policemen, who face a more complicated threat environment. If a civilian has reason to shoot at someone, it will be really bloody obvious who the bad guy is.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            If a civilian has reason to shoot at someone, it will be really bloody obvious who the bad guy is.

            I hope so. And I hope it’s also obvious to everyone else around.

            The fact that the recent Florida shooter used smoke bombs makes me somewhat leery.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Volokh has a list of possible mass shootings stopped by armed non-police-officers here.

            #1, #2, #5, #6, and #8 seem rather convincing.

            #3, #4, and #7 leave open the possibility of the gunman having shot the specific people he intended to already. #9 and #10 it’s possible the shooting was over.

            #5 the gunman never opened fire, but I’m not inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who kicks in a door while carrying a shotgun.

            #6 involved a trained responder (a Marine)

            So by the strictest of criteria from Volokh’s list, three active shooter incidents stopped by an armed but not trained civilian. I’d say that’s reason to think armed people will make things better.

          • CatCube says:

            @John Schilling

            I know that “fight” is the last stage there, but I don’t know how much the people who wrote it expect that it’ll make the situation better. It’s only not likely to make the situation worse, and hey, maybe the horse will sing.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think that you should fight if backed into a corner; the advice is good*. However, successfully fighting back against an armed killer when you’re unarmed (or using improvised weapons) is a really low-probability-of-success strategy, and that’s why it should be done as an absolute last resort**.

            * I mean, if that ever happens to me, I’m planning to fight if I can’t escape or hide (I work for a government agency that occasionally is embroiled in controversy, so the probability is still really, really small, but slightly larger than for most offices). The problem is, that’s easy to say when I’m sitting in my chair in front of my computer, like most Internet Tough Guys™. So I hope that I’ll live up to my standards, but won’t really know unless it happens.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @The Nybbler

            So by the strictest of criteria from Volokh’s list, three active shooter incidents stopped by an armed but not trained civilian. I’d say that’s reason to think armed people will make things better.

            Thanks for the list.

            In all of these circumstances a key point is that there was exactly one firearmed good guy who took action. I think it’s plausible that even had there been more firearmed good guys in, eg, the bar situation, that the rest wouldn’t have responded after the first did, thus unintentional escalation is unlikely.

            I still think training is likely to be worthwhile even in incidences such as this. I could be wrong though, as training seems to have helped the Florida killer be as deadly as he was. Mandatory training might increase the number of armed and trained good guys, but it is also likely to increase the number of trained bad guys.

          • Matt M says:

            I know that “fight” is the last stage there, but I don’t know how much the people who wrote it expect that it’ll make the situation better.

            In the case of school shootings, I almost wonder if “fight” should be #1?

            When the shooter opens the classroom, what might happen if every student stood up and charged him at once? Some would surely be shot and killed. But if we’re talking 10-20 people, odds are someone is going to get to him and disarm him.

            It occurs to me that this might very well be a superior outcome to “hide under the desk and hope he doesn’t care to shoot you as he methodically walks by and shoots everyone, then goes to the next classroom and does the same thing.”

            Also, I mean, yeah, easy for me to say, right. I’m sure in that situation I wouldn’t have the balls to charge a guy with loaded weapons either, even if it was “for the greater good”

          • John Schilling says:

            In all of these circumstances a key point is that there was exactly one firearmed good guy who took action. I think it’s plausible that even had there been more firearmed good guys in, eg, the bar situation, that the rest wouldn’t have responded after the first did, thus unintentional escalation is unlikely.

            During the Texas Tower shooting, an unknown but large number of armed citizens returned fire. This had the effect of driving the mass murder to cover, ending the part of the incident where innocent people were gunned down, and involved zero incidents of armed citizens shooting innocent bystanders and/or each other.

          • CatCube says:

            @Matt M

            The “run, hide, fight” paradigm from the video is a little deceptive if you break it down to those three words alone; they’re mostly just a useful mnemonic to help you remember the training.

            What they’re calling “hide” is to turn off the lights in the room, silence your cell phone (to include turning off “vibrate”!), lock or barricade the door, and get under the desk. The guy is likely to just try the knob, or take a quick glance in, and if he either can’t get it open in a second or two, or his glance into the room reveals only darkness and he hears no people, he’s probably just going to move along. Time is his enemy and he’s probably not going to try to breach a locked or barricaded door, nor conduct an extensive search without hearing or seeing people in the room.

            Your situation, where the active shooter is in the room and methodically searching under desks, is probably in the “fight” category.

          • To use a tribal-flipped example, advocating for “increased training requirements to prevent accidents and suicides” immediately in the wake of a school shooting is akin to “Some Saudis just committed an act of domestic terrorism, therefore we must invade Iraq to prevent it from happening again!” It’s rank emotional manipulation that we should wholly reject – not as members of any particular tribe – but as rationalists and rationalist adjacent people.

            So do you have a rational, non-emotional solution or do you just want to maintain the status quo?

            PS preventing suicides isn’t like invading Iraq, because preventing suicides is good.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I believe that if concealed carry is allowed in school zones that the best case scenario is you will have more Vegas’s and Texas tower shootings, and other shootings from concealment.

            I don’t believe it will stop the number of mass shootings, though it might decrease the number of casualties in some thanks to the increased potential for concealment of victims, and increase the casualties in others thanks to the increased difficulty in taking out the shooter.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Suicides I basically dismiss as unpreventable. If someone wants to kill themselves, they’ll find a way (personally, I’m not convinced this is a problem at all, although I have some odd/unpopular views on suicide).

            Eh, this is one that’s really not true. Not all suicides are truly determined to kill themselves. They might have been having ideation for a long time, but it’s usually a “moment of weakness,” combined with having the means available. There are about 20,000 suicides by gun each year in the US. If you could snap your fingers and make all guns in the US disappear, that number would fall dramatically, because an awful lot of men, denied the fast and reliable way of ending it would instead find a way to go right on living. They would not instead switch to pills or jumping off roofs or banging their heads against the pavement.

            In Britain, people used to suicide by gas ovens, but once the technology changed to make it more difficult, lots of people just stopped killing themselves.

            The switch from coal gas to natural gas also had one unexpected effect. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, about half of the suicides in Britain were by coal gas. By the ‘70s, when the transition to natural gas was complete, the number of gas suicides had dropped to zero and the overall suicide rate was down a third. Even the suicidal appreciate convenience. If it’s too much trouble, as Dorothy Parker said, “You might as well live.”

            Some people switched from gas to something else, but a third of people just say “meh” and went on living. A similar thing would happen with guns.

            That said, of course, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED, cold dead hands, etc.

          • Suicides I basically dismiss as unpreventable.

            People can change their minds.

          • So by the strictest of criteria from Volokh’s list, three active shooter incidents stopped by an armed but not trained civilian. I’d say that’s reason to think armed people will make things better

            Better than what ? In the absence of stringent controls,
            you are not arming the good guys selectively, you are just making it easy for good and bad guy alike to get hold of a gun. The US has thousands of gun homicides a year, so a few preventions is a drop in the ocean.

          • Vorkon says:

            Better than what ? In the absence of stringent controls,
            you are not arming the good guys selectively, you are just making it easy for good and bad guy alike to get hold of a gun. The US has thousands of gun homicides a year, so a few preventions is a drop in the ocean.

            Two things:

            First, the list we’re talking about is specifically about mass shootings, and we’re talking about concealed carry as a potential solution to those. “Better,” in this case, means “more likely to stop a mass shooting before more people are killed.” Bringing the total number of gun homicides into the equation is beside the point; whether or not concealed carry helps with that is an entirely different debate, without any clear conclusion, but at the very least it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t make things worse.

            Second concealed carry laws don’t make it easier for anyone, good guy or bad, to get hold of a gun. It just makes it easier for them to carry the guns they’ve already obtained, something which is incredibly easy for anyone to break the law on, simply due to the nature of concealment. For all I know, you might even be right that it should be more difficult for people to purchase guns; I don’t agree with you, but there’s certainly a reasonable debate to be had about it. But once the guns are out there, making it illegal to carry them only benefits the bad guys.

          • In the absence of stringent controls,
            you are not arming the good guys selectively, you are just making it easy for good and bad guy alike to get hold of a gun.

            The point is that legal restrictions disarm the good guys selectively, since they are the ones more likely to obey the law. Removing such restrictions arms the good guys selectively because the bad guys are already armed.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Bringing the total number of gun homicides into the equation is beside the point; whether or not concealed carry helps with that is an entirely different debate, without any clear conclusion, but at the very least it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t make things worse.

            That puzzles me. Are there really no cases where someone panicked, or lost their temper, and started shooting unnecessarily?

          • The point is that legal restrictions disarm the good guys selectively, since they are the ones more likely to obey the law.

            Everyone knows that .
            Timescales make a difference.

            No, but I do think that the left and the media use mass shootings as justification to promote their other agendas vis-a-vis gun control

            As do the right. The obvious response to a school shooting with a legal weapon is to ban weapon sales to teens, but the pro gun side have sidelined that in favour of their existing agenda to extend concealed carry.

          • Vorkon says:

            As do the right. The obvious response to a school shooting with a legal weapon is to ban weapon sales to teens, but the pro gun side have sidelined that in favour of their existing agenda to extend concealed carry.

            Have they? The NRA’s official response to the age limit issue has been a resounding “eh, whatever,” Florida Republicans seem to be well on their way to passing an age limit increase, Trump has repeatedly stated that he’s open to anything, and I pointed it out in this very thread as an example of a policy which, while it probably wouldn’t have stopped any other mass shootings, might very well have prevented this one.

            Telling people that they shouldn’t IGNORE an important component of any real comprehensive solution to the problem, which has an actual chance to succeed, is not the same as actively opposing other peoples’ solutions. The gun control measures that get active vociferous opposition are the ones which won’t make any appreciable difference (which, admittedly, is almost all of them) and ones that call for blanket bans on just about everything. It’s true that there’s SOME opposition to the age limit increase, but it’s hardly widespread, and is mostly an artifact of the (well deserved) sense among gun rights advocates that their opponents are not arguing in good faith.

          • Telling people that they shouldn’t IGNORE an important component of any real comprehensive solution to the problem, which has an actual chance to succeed, is not the same as actively opposing other peoples’ solutions.

            You don’t know that arming teachers will succeed. But it’s part of your pre-existing agenda.

            their opponents are not arguing in good faith.

            ie, *their* pre-existing agenda is bad, yours is fine.

          • Vorkon says:

            ie, *their* pre-existing agenda is bad, yours is fine.

            Your argument was that the pro-gun side sidelined discussion of banning the sale of rifles to teens, in favor of their pre-existing agenda. As the part of my post that you conveniently ignored clearly pointed out, they did no such thing, and in fact have been doing the exact opposite.

        • How would mandatory training have improved this situation? By making the shooter better at using his guns?

          People get killed in accidents too. But training is pretty toothless without the ability to refuse someone a license at the end.

    • rahien.din says:

      The answer to your first question, of course, is no. Laws are not magic spells.

      IE, laws do not prevent specific instances of crimes. When I press on the accelerator pedal in my car, the law does not physically prevent my car from exceeding the speed limit. For a very pertinent example, the act of killing another citizen is very tightly regulated. It’s only permissible in extreme circumstances, and then, only de facto. The clear, unambiguous, and uncontroversial law against murder did not prevent these murders. Laws do not prevent specific instances of crimes.

      Laws do not prevent specific instances of crimes – everyone gets that laws do not prevent specific instances of crimes. Sheesh. But laws do have effects.

      For instance, the National Firearms Act part 26 U.S.C. 5845, 27 CFR 479, which classifies the M203 as a destructive device. You or I can buy an M203, training rounds, and live grenade rounds. If we wanted to get good at shooting grenades, we could legally accomplish that. It would be really difficult and expensive, and we would subject ourselves to lots of paperwork and governmental scrutiny, but it would be legal. I’m sure there are tons of people who would enjoy shooting 40mm grenades at the range on a Saturday afternoon, and if restrictions were relaxed, more people could enjoy that legitimate pastime – kind of like how you can go fire a 50 caliber machine gun at certain gun ranges. I sure would. That genuinely sounds like fun. I will pony up so we can buy a junk car to blow to smithereens. But, under the current regime, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

      It is my very plausible guess that if one could buy an M203 and a box of 40mm grenades for 500 bucks at the gun show, and if there were grenade-launcher clubs who practiced with each other at their grenade-launcher ranges, a shooter such as Stephen Paddock might be enabled to sling one under his rifle and wield live ammo with proficiency. These shooters aren’t trying to field-test their AR-15’s, eschewing all the more lethal options out of principle. They’re trying to maximize their kills. One of them would have blown the shit out of a crowd of civilians by now if it was at all feasible.

      So I am extremely happy that the laws regarding destructive devices are so very onerous. I prefer the world in which mass shooters only have AR-15’s to the world in which they have M203’s, too. Yeah, granted : it is still possible for a very determined nutjob to explode a Baptist congregation with a grenade launcher. But that is extremely unlikely. And to me, it seems that the only reason why is the law that makes it hard for a civilian to own, maintain, and train on a barrel-slung grenade launcher.

      So this legal framework is effective. I think we should apply it more broadly.

      I don’t want people to stop enjoying guns (the Australians certainly enjoy theirs!) or stop being able to use them proficiently (the Swiss sure can!). I just want these mass shootings to be very unlikely. And to answer your second question, that necessarily means I want it to be harder for everyone to get, keep, and fire guns. Maybe not as hard as it is to get an M203 and its munitions. But meaningfully harder than it currently is. That seems to be what works, here and elsewhere. And not because ink on paper somehow magically halts the violent outbursts of the criminally insane.

      • Vorkon says:

        There’s no way Paddock could have hit anything with an M203 at that range. MAYBE because of his elevation he might have been able to hit the very outside edge of the concert, but even that’s pushing it.

    • Matt M says:

      To attempt to recap the discussion here – I feel like I’ve heard three general themes of answers:

      1. Reduced magazine size. While my estimates suggest that the overall effect of this would be very low, I concede that it would provide some marginal benefit in terms of either forcing shooters to spend more time reloading (and less time shooting) and/or allowing additional opportunities for someone to forcibly stop the shooter when they are distracted with reloading. And when the metric we’re using is “lives saved” I’ll concede that even small effects are, in fact, better than nothing.

      2. Ban all semiautomatic weapons. I do not accept “assault weapons” as a legitimate category as nobody seems to be able to properly define it (here, or anywhere else). A complete ban on all semiautomatic weapons might serve to make them as rare as fully automatic weapons, grenade launchers, or other things that are wholly banned as of today. This would make shooters less effective as well (although it’s not as if you can’t fire a bolt-action rifle fairly quickly with some reasonable amount of training). That said, I think this is completely and totally unfeasible both politically, and constitutionally. It’s also rarely argued for in the mainstream, because it pretty much does look and feel like “Yes – we are coming to take your guns away.”

      3. A “mixed basket” of various “minor reforms.” I’m somewhat sympathetic to the argument of “no one individual law would make a difference – but five small changes together might.” In theory, this can definitely happen in some situations. I’m very skeptical it applies here though, as, when people start naming the things that would be in the basket, most of them either already exist, or do not seem remotely relevant to the typical media-outrage mass shooting.

      *4. Cultural changes unrelated to gun-control. I count this as a separate category because this was a question about gun control specifically. I agree that this is probably the best option. I may prepare an effort post on my own theory to answer the question of “Why does this happen here and not Canada IF NOT gun control?” I’m pretty sure I have an answer, which at a high level is “culture” and at a more detailed level is “Five different elements of culture that don’t seem huge on their own, but combine to create a prime environment for this sort of thing to happen (similar to the logic of #3 above). I may post this in the next CW-allowed OT, assuming I get around to actually writing it.

      • Guy in TN says:

        As for what is mainstream- Bret Stephens, a conservative columnist at the New York Times, ran a column titled “Repeal The Second Amendment“, after Las Vegas, and doubled down on it with a second column after this shooting in Florida.

        But I think both of you are underestimating the extent to which repealing the 2nd is necessary for banning semiautomatics. There’s no reason that DC. vs. Heller can’t be revisited, or even explicitly overruled by a future Supreme Court (the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision regarding gay marriage for example, was an explicit over-ruling of a previous Supreme Court decision).

        • quanta413 says:

          Sure the Supreme Court can technically validate any law. But in this case, it would just kick off a massive power struggle at the federal level because nothings less than federal level ban is going to satisfy people who want to ban semiautos. The U.S. is too geographically connected and has no internal interstate border control, so nothing less would work well unless you want to leave criminals just as well armed as now.

          And currently the power struggle still favors the pro-gun side since only ~30% of Americans even affirmatively want to restrict just handguns (see history of polls over time I linked earlier).

          • Guy in TN says:

            The idea is to overrule DC. vs. Heller, paving the way for instituting a federal ban. Of course there will be a “power struggle”, that is just politics as usual. My point is that none of this requires repealing the 2nd Amendment.

            Of course, this involves changing society’s attitudes towards guns, otherwise they aren’t going to vote for politicians to enact such laws. This isn’t a problem unique to my solution- has anyone else in this thread proposed “the solution is to just poll the majority of people and do whatever they vote for”? No? Changing hearts and minds is like, the whole deal here.

          • Guy in TN says:

            If you are looking for the answer to “how do we get people to the point where they support a federal gun ban?”, the answer is to gradually erode gun culture from every angle. That’s why the small things matter.

            It’s not:
            Restrict guns-> less guns -> less deaths

            Its:
            Restrict guns -> erodes gun culture (less gun familiarity, less glorification) -> less guns -> less deaths

            Eroding gun culture can involve social shaming, ostracism (can employers discriminate against gun owners?), treating guns in advertising like porn, outlawing open carry, having social media ban photos of guns, ect.

          • Matt M says:

            Its:
            Restrict guns -> erodes gun culture

            Well if you put it that way, how could red tribe possibly say no?

            “We’re not trying to take your guns! All we want is to destroy your culture!”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Matt M: “Uh, yes, we know. Now go away.”

          • Guy in TN says:

            That’s the dirty secret though, no? The problem is, at its core, gun culture. Which is primarily cultivated by the Red Tribe.

            Optimistically, since the Red Tribe was somehow able to reconcile with gay marriage, then perhaps they can change their minds about this too. Culture is malleable.

            Pessimistically, no change will occur until a demographic wave crushes the Red Tribe into electoral oblivion, rendering their opinion on the situation irrelevant.

          • rahien.din says:

            “We’re not trying to take your guns! All we want is to destroy your culture!”

            Perhaps speaking only for myself, I don’t think of it that way at all.

            I think that gun culture is a genuine and legitimate part of American culture. We shouldn’t get rid of it.

            But gun culture in its current form is helping the worst among us to slaughter the most vulnerable among us. I want gun culture to incorporate a larger measure of responsibility for ensuring that gun violence is made less likely. Gun culture is not eroded or destroyed by that – gun culture is validated, ennobled, strengthened, and codified.

            Consider licensing requirements for driving a car. If these didn’t exist, we’d have more dangerous roads. If drivers refused to do their part in (or accept any responsibility for) preventing roadway deaths, driving culture would be weakened. If children were allowed to buy liquor, and occasionally drank themselves into the hospital, drinking culture would be weakened. If people could buy and ingest any medication without restriction, people would misdiagnose themselves and occasionally would put themselves in peril, and medical culture would be weakened.

            I mean, I would really enjoy sport shooting. I’ve shot .22, black powder, shotgun, pistol, and I liked all of them. My sister moved to Texas and learned to shoot an AR-15 and that sounds like a lot of fun. But I feel there is a genuine problem, and I can’t in good conscience be part of it. I would probably join the gun culture if it didn’t feel like abetting a crime.

          • John Schilling says:

            Gun culture is not eroded or destroyed by that – gun culture is validated, ennobled, strengthened, and codified.

            By telling each and every gun owner, “You must never be allowed to own the sort of weapon that ordinary policemen carry in their squad cars, because if you were to have such a weapon that might ‘enable’ a mass shooting”?

            That is what essentially all of the relevant proposals on the table amount to, and I do not consider myself ennobled.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            That is what essentially all of the relevant proposals on the table amount to, and I do not consider myself ennobled.

            The Swiss model looks promising:

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/15/europe-had-school-shootings-too-then-they-did-something-about-it/

          • rahien.din says:

            John Schilling,

            I honestly don’t know what specific policies should be enacted, and that’s not the move I’m making. As a person who does not own or shoot guns, I’m not the one whose actions can help this problem.

            You say you don’t feel ennobled. Of course you don’t. You aren’t doing anything. You’re just letting things be done to you. What could be less ennobling than that?

            As a person who neither owns nor shoots guns, I can’t ennoble gun culture. Only gun owners can accomplish that.

          • The Nybbler says:

            But gun culture in its current form is helping the worst among us to slaughter the most vulnerable among us.

            In what way is “gun culture” doing this? Did a gun club instructor knowingly teach these killers to shoot? What can an actual member of the “gun culture” to help or hinder these shooters? How is Norman Nimrod, who goes out with his Bushmaster to bag deer every season, responsible for mass shootings? How are target shooting clubs who kill a whole lot of paper and nothing more, responsible? How are instructors in firearms self defense responsible?

            Guy in TN wants to destroy the gun culture(s) so he can get rid of the guns entirely; I understand that though I vehemently (if not violently) disagree. I’m not sure what you’re asking.

          • John Schilling says:

            I honestly don’t know what specific policies should be enacted, and that’s not the move I’m making.

            If you don’t know what specific polices should be enacted, but you are insisting that there are policies to be enacted, then you are implicitly supporting whatever is being proposed by the people who do bring specifics to the table. You are the person shouting “Something must be done!”

            If you don’t know, specifically, what is to be done, then have the humility to accept that maybe everything that should be done has already been done.

            You’re just letting things be done to you.

            Who do you imagine is doing anything to me?

            Gun control advocates and their allies are trying to do things to me and my culture, but we are not “letting” them do so and so far have been fairly effective in using the soap box and ballot box to stop them. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

          • rahien.din says:

            The Nybbler,

            Consider opiates. They are powerful, useful compounds, but also easily abused. Misuse of opiates harms people, their families, and their communities. All of that is true despite the fact that much of opiate use is directed by responsible physicians, treating their patients compassionately and legitimately.

            Now a hypothetical : imagine that opiates were unrestricted, in terms of their availability and their use. Their use would be widespread, and normalized, and constitute an industry. And their ill effects would be far more widespread, too. Someone might then propose we restrict their use to medical prescription, and that those who prescribe them legitimately would be subject to licensure and oversight.

            Imagine, then, physicians rising up in opposition to these regulations. Asking why should they be subject to any restriction, when they had never done anything wrong, and only ever used opiates legitimately? Who was the government to meddle in sacred medical practice, especially to solve an unrelated issue with deeper roots? What right could be more fundamental than choosing the substances you eat?

            They would very obviously be dead wrong. Their efforts would only serve to entrench the problem, and to bind them to it.

            I see the situation with guns as isomorphic : there is a legitimately useful but easily misused thing, and those who would use it legitimately are thus subject to a system that overall decreases their misuse. To the degree that they oppose the system, they abet misuse, and erode the legitimacy of their own use.

            Myself, I maintain a DEA license and I follow the law. I’m very glad for that system – it validates and codifies my access to these useful compounds, it keeps me from having to ally with criminals in order to treat my patients effectively, and it helps keep my community safe.

          • Brad says:

            Its:
            Restrict guns -> erodes gun culture

            Well if you put it that way, how could red tribe possibly say no?

            “We’re not trying to take your guns! All we want is to destroy your culture!”

            Let’s cut the bullshit. It’s not like the feeling isn’t mutual. No need for the faux outrage.

            When large numbers of people are asked why they supported Donald Trump say “political correctness” it means exactly “we want to destroy your culture”. More specifically you, Matt M, have a very large number of posts every open thread endlessly attacking blue tribe culture. It sure reads to me like you want to destroy it.

          • rahien.din says:

            John Schilling,

            If you don’t know what specific polices should be enacted, but you are insisting that there are policies to be enacted, then you are implicitly supporting whatever is being proposed by the people who do bring specifics to the table

            Identifying a problem does not mean I uncritically support any proposed solution.

            And my central claim is that the solution must be undertaken by gun owners, not despite them. We need you.

            If you don’t know, specifically, what is to be done, then have the humility to accept that maybe everything that should be done has already been done.

            Not knowing the solution does not imply that there is no solution.

          • rahien.din says:

            Brad,

            More specifically you, Matt M… [and then either this,
            this, or this brand of nonsense]

            Not useful. No one cares. Turn loose of your pearls and cut it out.

          • The Nybbler says:

            So in this counterfactual over a hundred million people are using opiates responsibly, many as part of some sort of drug culture, tens of thousands (annually) are killing themselves with them, and roughly ten thousand are somehow killing others with them, and you would want to restrict them to use by prescription? That’s not asking the drug culture to do something about the deaths, that’s asking the drug culture to cease to exist.

            (And we already have that situation with another drug, though the numbers are slightly less favorable. Alcohol, of course.)

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            The Swiss model looks promising

            The link had a tiny section on Switzerland. I am very curious what you think looks promising, because there were only two things it sadi Switzerland does: 1) Somehow the authorities knwo who might commit crimes and their guns get taken away, and 2) Switzerland has mandatory health insurance so supposedly the mentally ill can be “fixed.” The second item is just silly in my opinion. The first one sounds like something the US already does, since the authorities do deny guns to various categories already.

            Really, it sounds like Switzerland doesn’t have mass shootings because it is a much more insular society than the US and so the neighbors (and authorities) are more likely to know when you are a nut-so mass shooter type. That does not sound like a possible solution for the US.

          • Matt M says:

            More specifically you, Matt M, have a very large number of posts every open thread endlessly attacking blue tribe culture. It sure reads to me like you want to destroy it.

            I won’t deny that.

            But I will say that I don’t, for a second, expect that you’ll just shut up and go along with it. Nor have I tried to mask my feelings and desires under the false pretense of “common sense compromise.” Or hide behind dead children as a pretense for something I would have wanted all along anyway.

          • quanta413 says:

            @rahien.din

            Your argument goes the opposite way for me, although that’s not surprising since I’m not convinced banning opiates is a great policy either. I’m with Nybbler.

            The only way gun control could drop deaths from homicide that steeply would be for guns to be as tightly controlled as opiates meaning almost no one would be allowed to have them. This would kill gun culture very, very dead. It doesn’t make any sense for anyone who is part of gun culture to join in that. That’s basically Guy in TN’s position which is perfectly consistent but isn’t going to find any allies who have guns.

            On the other hand, if the goal is to mostly to stop rampage shooters, the death tolls you’ve calculated are on the order of .1-1 per million per year. If the government wanted to restrict opiates because that was the death toll due to them, I’d think the drug war was even more insane than it already is. 40 deaths per billion per year is a laughably bad reason to engage in massive social engineering. There are lower hanging fruit than that that would restrict less freedoms.

            @Guy in TN

            You are conveniently ignoring that it’s not just Red Tribe who own guns. 1/4 of African Americans own guns. African Americans vote 90-something percent democrat. And homicides per capita aren’t most concentrated in rural Iowa or Wyoming. They’re high in the South though and in some major cities. There may be a cultural component causing murders that is strong, but it’s not the culture you’re thinking of.

          • Matt M says:

            You are conveniently ignoring that it’s not just Red Tribe who own guns. 1/4 of African Americans own guns.

            Reminds me of a media interview with Ice T that did not go the way the interviewer was expecting, like, at all…

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            3) The majority of Swiss gun owners go through mandatory training once every year (as well as during conscription).

            Really, it sounds like Switzerland doesn’t have mass shootings because it is a much more insular society than the US and so the neighbors (and authorities) are more likely to know when you are a nut-so mass shooter type. That does not sound like a possible solution for the US.

            This applies to the most recent shooting in the US, it’s just that the standard for taking any action is much more stringent in the US. And mental health checks likely would have caught the Sandy Hook shooter.

          • quanta413 says:

            Correcting a thought before…

            There may be a cultural component causing murders that is strong, but it’s not the culture you’re thinking of.

            Well, there’s overlap between “gun culture” and say “borderer culture” or “Watch this! Hold my beer” culture or “black power” culture. But those things are all still different. Some gun subcultures don’t contribute much to violence (Utah Mormons) and others do (drug gangs).

          • rahien.din says:

            Nybbler et al,

            “Not a problem, certainly not my problem, and anyway you’re asking way too much because you [an extreme proposal is put into rahien.din’s mouth]” is the exact reason why this problem persists.

            But I acknowledge this impasse. It’s been good talking with you about this issue and I’ve learned some things.

          • quanta413 says:

            @rahien.din

            But I acknowledge this impasse. It’s been good talking with you about this issue and I’ve learned some things.

            Ok, let’s back up because I may have misunderstood. You’ve given highly varying signals from my point of view; you say you don’t necessarily want to ban guns but you’ve been pretty vague overall. But your last analogy was to opiate prescription. I can’t get an opiate prescription except through someone who has at least 8 years of (additional) schooling, and even then it’s temporary. On top of that getting opiates is a rule-in thing not rule-out (compare to alcohol or a drivers license; you can’t practically be refused those things unless you fulfill certain criteria). I could be in terrible pain and a doctor could still refuse me an opiate prescription if my only symptom was terrible pain (or he could function as a pill mill and dash that prescription off on nothing but my solemn word; it could go bad in a lot of ways). I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take from a comparison of guns to opiates besides guns being almost illegal.

            Like, maybe you intended something more akin to the requirements for a driver’s license or an insurance requirement? You mentioned something vaguely like this earlier but did not elaborate, and your later analogy with opiates was further towards the extreme. I suspect this would have little effect on rampage shootings, but it might lower accidental shootings or suicides. It might be possible to get a vague idea if that is true from other countries. For accidents, you’d have to calculate accidents per gun owner (or usage?) to make sure the effect was from gun owners behaving more safely, and not just from the number of guns decreasing.

            EDIT: Maybe a somewhat rude question, but under what moral theory are gun owners morally culpable for the behavior of other gun owners? Homicide definitely doesn’t fulfill the normal criteria that might imply a contractual obligation to be insured or something like that. If you want to talk about accidents, then yes, but that’s pretty far afield from the main thrust all these threads have been about so I’d like to know if we’re switching topics.

            Do I somehow have less moral culpability about gun violence because I have no gun?

          • Guy in TN says:

            @quanta413

            I admit I was too hasty in pinning gun culture entirely on the Red Tribe. I was wrong to do so. And you are right, that Black and Hispanic culture is grappling with a serious gun culture of their own.

          • Its:
            Restrict guns -> erodes gun culture (less gun familiarity, less glorification) -> less guns -> less deaths

            A while back I attended a city council meeting (San Jose) which discussed a proposed ordinance to require anyone who owned firearms to keep them either in a locked case or with a trigger lock when he was out of the house. Lots of people testified in favor. They listed very terrible things that happened due to guns–none of which, as best I could tell, would be prevented by the ordinance.

            My conclusion was that this was the equivalent of the right wing approach to Roe v. Wade. A state can’t make abortion illegal but it can make it inconvenient and thus reduce it. San Jose could not make it illegal to own firearms but it could make it a little more costly and inconvenient. Doing so would mean fewer people choosing to own firearms, slightly weakening gun culture.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @quanta413

            EDIT: Maybe a somewhat rude question, but under what moral theory are gun owners morally culpable for the behavior of other gun owners?

            The moral theory of harping the good and the need for guns, but whispering the safety of guns.

            This isn’t actually the case, but the right-wing gun message seems to be more about the last clause of the second amendment than about how to actually be a responsible gun owner. (They will say that so-and-so wasn’t a responsible gun owner after an event, but I’ve rarely seen them go into detail as to what makes a person a responsible gun owner – usually they say what specifically so-and-so did wrong in that particular event. The few times I’ve seen a full responsibility diatribe it has been preaching to the choir.)

            This should be reversed, ala the black box warnings on cigarettes.

          • Matt M says:

            The moral theory of harping the good and the need for guns, but whispering the safety of guns.

            This isn’t actually the case, but the right-wing gun message seems to be more about the last clause of the second amendment than about how to actually be a responsible gun owner.

            I dunno, purely anecdotal, but IME, gun nuts are far more fanatical about gun safety than rookies and amateurs.

            Ever go to a range and see someone run and scream at someone else? It’s almost certainly a rookie, treating the gun flippantly, while the rangemaster comes by to get in their face about never pointing at anything they don’t intend to kill, ensuring the safety is on, etc.

            Gun nuts take gun safety seriously, and they do see it as an obligation to behave responsibly to reflect well on gun owners in general. Concealed carry holders are among the most law abiding groups of citizens you can possibly distinguish. Has a single recent mass shooter been an NRA member?

          • John Schilling says:

            And my central claim is that the solution must be undertaken by gun owners, not despite them. We need you.

            To do what? My central problem is that you demand action without any specifics. I literally do not know what you want us to do, except “make it go away”. And we can’t actually do that.

            Also, why must the solution be undertaken by gun owners? Owning a tool used for a particular purpose does not give one the means or the responsibility to police everyone else who owns the same tool for a different purpose.

            But, OK, it is now more clear than ever that Russia used computers and political discussion on the internet to disrupt the 2016 electoral campaign in the United States. While not as spectacularly bloody as a mass shooting in the short term, it is likely to cause more damage in the long run.

            So by your logic, the solution must be undertaken by computer owners and internet users, as such. You own a computer, you use the internet – for political discussion, even – so this is your problem. We need you to solve it for us. What are you doing to solve this problem for us, or should we maybe start talking about banning political discussion on the internet?

            Look, over there, a woman who uses vicodin to manage pain from a severe injury. Clearly it is on people like her to solve the opioid abuse problem in the United States – she owns and uses opioids, after all. Right?

            Not right, not even close. I reject your claim that a mass murderer purchasing a gun for the immediate and sole purpose of mass murder is sufficient to make him a part of my culture, and I reject your claim that my owning a gun makes me responsible for stopping mass murderers except possibly insofar as I might feel obligated to shoot them if I see them try to commit mass murder in one of the places you’ll let me have a gun. If you have any other specific ideas of what gun owners might do to help, we can discuss those.

            But you’re going to have to come up with specifics, not “make it go away”.

          • bean says:

            I dunno, purely anecdotal, but IME, gun nuts are far more fanatical about gun safety than rookies and amateurs.

            Seconded. I’ve never seen a situation where you have members of the general public handing guns that didn’t start with a safety briefing. If you and your friends who you know are competent go down to the range, you may not do that, but it’s very much a part of gun culture.
            The last time I was around weapons in a demonstration setting (with the guns unloaded) it was painfully obvious who’d shot before and who hadn’t. (And this was off California, so there were a lot of the later.) A few people (me among them) kept the muzzle in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, etc. Most were a lot more casual.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Matt M and Bean

            I agree with you with regards to those who are really into guns, hence my “preaching to the choir” comment. But how many gun owners are “gun nuts” of this sort? How many people who buy guns go through a huge lecture beforehand? How much of the popular messaging is focused on gun safety versus the right to bear arms (with gun safety not mentioned, or mentioned in passing in a generic sense)?

            I don’t know. I’ve only fired a weapon a few times (young with my father’s hands wrapped around mine, JROTC, and a paint gun), and have never owned one.

            I do recall one of my father’s friends saying that if you ever do draw a gun on someone to shoot to kill, not shoot to wound or shoot to warn.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Pretty much anywhere people go to shoot guns with other people, safety is stressed. This is because nobody wants to get accidentally shot by a n00b (or anyone else). The right to keep and bear arms is only a big thing among certain subgroups.

            But it’s really irrelevant to discussions of mass murder. Stuff like keeping your finger off the trigger, keeping the barrel pointed in a safe direction, etc, is all irrelevant to someone who is deliberately killing people.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @ The Nybbler

            It’s not irrelevant for those armed citizens who would use their weapons to take out the killer. This is one of the selling points of the 2nd amendment and concealed carry reciprocity.

            And it’s not irrelevant to the slightly greater number of yearly deaths due to accident.

          • bean says:

            @anonymousskimmer
            Anywhere anything identifiable as “gun culture” is practiced, you have an emphasis on safety. (In fact, it would probably be the one unifying feature of the various American gun cultures.) The only time you’re not likely to get at least a quick “keep your fingers off the trigger until you’re ready to fire and your guns pointed in a safe direction” spiel is if everyone involved knows everyone else and knows that they know and follow the rules. Any organized shooting has clear and enforced rules. Any unorganized shooting by non-idiots follows the same rules. And the people who have concealed carry permits definitely follow them. Most accidental shooting deaths are from idiots who don’t follow the rules, probably because they were drunk. Or kids who don’t know better.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I get what you’re saying.

            I was thinking of “gun culture” as what the rest of society is seeing (e.g. the marketing by the NRA), not what those whose friends group are gun owners are seeing.

          • n what way is “gun culture” doing this?

            Preventing gun control.

          • Vorkon says:

            And my central claim is that the solution must be undertaken by gun owners, not despite them. We need you.

            It’s also worth pointing out that the central example of “what gun owners think must be undertaken to solve the problem” (eliminating gun-free zones and expanding concealed carry) is dismissed out of hand, with no attempt to even acknowledge it as a potential solution even if it’s packaged alongside other, more traditional, gun control measures.

            Gun people aren’t just suggesting this because we’re selfish and want to carry our toys around. We legitimately believe it is the best way to address the problem without a draconian, ineffective, and most likely bloody gun confiscation plan.

          • It’s also worth pointing out that the central example of “what gun owners think must be undertaken to solve the problem” (eliminating gun-free zones and expanding concealed carry) is dismissed out of hand, with no attempt to even acknowledge it as a potential solution even if it’s packaged alongside other, more traditional, gun control measures.

            That’s because “more guns” looks like dousing a fire with gasoline.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            I was thinking of “gun culture” as what the rest of society is seeing (e.g. the marketing by the NRA), not what those whose friends group are gun owners are seeing.

            What marketing are you talking about? Practically half the mission of the NRA is education and safety training. Everyone wants safe use of firearms. Who are the people against gun safety, or who don’t take gun safety seriously?

            I’ve been shooting my whole life, and have heard the rules (treat every gun as if it’s loaded; never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot; never shoot at anything you don’t intend to kill, etc) more times than I can count. I’ve taken many people shooting for their first times and drilled the rules into them myself. I’ve never been to a shooting range where anyone was behaving unsafely. Because everyone is watching everyone else. Shooting ranges are very polite places. Everyone talks to everyone else to make sure the range is safe when changing out targets or whatever. No one puts up with any unsafe behavior, and will calmly and politely explain to someone if they’re doing something wrong.

            Every gun store I’ve ever been in advertises safety training, and has safety literature, and handles the weapons properly for customers and shows them how to properly handle them also. Every gun I’ve ever purchased (all of which have been lost in tragic boating accidents since, unfortunately) came with an instruction manual that started with big, bold red warnings about safe operation.

            Absolutely no one who’s part of “gun culture” is not Serious About Safety.

            The shootings people are worried about do not come from “gun culture” people (i.e., the millions of legal firearm owners). The shootings come from criminals and nutjobs who are so disaffected they don’t believe in anything anymore. They certainly don’t identify with “gun culture.” I’m not sure they even identify as human anymore.

            ——-

            Also, I keep seeing people on twitter and the news screaming about campaign contributions to Republican congressmen from the NRA. This seems like a real failure to model to me. It’s not the tiny, monied special interest group that wants gun rights protected. It’s the gun owners. Ted Cruz is not against new gun control laws because the NRA kicked him a few thousands dollars last campaign.

            This isn’t like “Big Pharma” or something where a monied special interest group might be wielding outsized influence on particular legislation against the wishes of the populace (assuming the populace were even informed on the issues). Republican congressmen are doing what Republican voters want with regards to gun control (nothing), and almost certainly what aligns with their own opinions and values as well.

            It’s just weird for the left/media to be accusing Republicans of being “bought off by the NRA” when no, I don’t think there’s any amount of money you could give Ted Cruz to turn him in to a gun grabber.

          • Ted Cruz is not against new gun control laws because the NRA kicked him a few thousands dollars last campaign.

            So are all NRA campaign contributions wasted? Or are some pols more easy to sway?

          • I dunno, purely anecdotal, but IME, gun nuts are far more fanatical about gun safety than rookies and amateurs.

            You can act in favour of something at the local level, and against it at the global level.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            So are all NRA campaign contributions wasted? Or are some pols more easy to sway?

            I’m saying not all campaign contributions are about buying politicians. Some are about helping people who already share your views get elected.

            Look at the paltry amounts of support individual candidates receive from the NRA.

            Cruz received $11,900 directly from the NRA. But the organization spent $65,000 supporting Cruz during his 2012 Senate race.

            Do you think if you crowdfunded ~$80,000 to give to or spend on behalf of Ted Cruz he’d switch his votes? He’d be all “screw hopes and prayers ban assault murder guns NOW!?”

            No. The left acts as though the default position on guns is anti or neutral, and so the only way a senator could possibly vote pro-gun is because they’re bought off by a few grand from the NRA. No. How one feels about constitutional rights to self-defense is one of those core value things that exist, at least among the right (even among our slimy politicians). The NRA is giving a relatively small amount to people who already support their same goals.

            And I contrast this with lobbying efforts for, say, extensions on pharmaceutical patents. These are not things the public is aware of, or anyone really has strong opinions about, and so yes perhaps lobbyists can buy a favor here or there to sway otherwise neutral congressmen to their side.

            These are different animals. Start telling me about how shady pharma lobbyists are buying votes for regulations that are pro-industry and not in the interests of patients/consumers and maybe I’ll get angry. But when the Guardian is “exposing” how much money the NRA spends electing pro-gun congressmen I say “that sounds great, I hope they continue doing that on my behalf, to protect my constitutional rights as a gun owner and citizen. I should probably send another donation check to the NRA.”

            If you abolished the pharmaceutical lobby and congressmen just decided pharma regulations based on what their constituents believe is in their best interests, their votes would probably change. If you abolished the NRA, Republicans wouldn’t change their votes.

            Put another way, if NARAL were nuked from orbit tomorrow, would pro-choice women stop wanting abortion rights protected, and would elected Democrats stop protecting them?

          • So every penny the NRA spends is wasted, and no one changes their mind? May I remind you that the president has over the last few days wavered between the anti gun proposal of banning bump stocks , and the pro gun proposal of arming teachers?

          • Vorkon says:

            So every penny the NRA spends is wasted, and no one changes their mind? May I remind you that the president has over the last few days wavered between the anti gun proposal of banning bump stocks , and the pro gun proposal of arming teachers?

            So you’re saying America should model its society after lobsters?!?

            Seriously, did you even read Conrad Honcho’s response to the exact question you just asked, about whether or not the money the NRA gives politicians is wasted?

            The money helps politicians who agree with them get elected that’s the exact opposite of wasteful.

            And are you really trying to argue that NRA funding is the reason Trump endorsed both of those positions? He came out in favor of arming teachers BEFORE he came out against bump stocks. Did the NRA take money away from him in the interim, or something? Isn’t it possible that he might believe that both positions solve a problem, despite one being “pro-gun” and one being “anti-gun?”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            So every penny the NRA spends is wasted, and no one changes their mind?

            NARAL spends $10,000 to help elect a pro-abortion democrat to the Senate. It did not change that senator’s mind about abortion (since they were already pro-abortion). Did they waste their money?

            Do you think the only reason anyone votes pro-abortion or anti-abortion is money? Is that how you decided your political opinions? Who’s paying you? It’s not Putin is it?

            May I remind you that the president has over the last few days wavered between the anti gun proposal of banning bump stocks , and the pro gun proposal of arming teachers?

            How are those related? They’re two different proposals. It’s not like you have to do one or the other. You could do both, neither, one but not the other.

            I think allowing teachers to arm might be worthwhile in dissuading attacks. I’m not sure how great they’d be at actually stopping a mass shooter, but the thought “there are probably armed people at this school” may be enough to dissuade someone contemplating a school shooting, or at least switch targets.

            Bump stocks I’m kind of ambivalent about. I think it’s silly to be worried about those when no one even knew what they were until the Vegas shooting happened. Actually, when that shooting happened and everybody on the news and internet was saying “he had a full auto gun! Listen to it!” I was saying “no, that’s a bump stock. Or maybe a crank. Fast but too irregular for full auto.” Nobody else knew what these were because no one had ever used one for a nefarious purpose before, and now people want to ban them. Because one guy misused one once? Ehhhhh. That seems more like an emotional kneejerk response to me. Also, lol they don’t know about hand cranks yet.

            On the other hand, bump stocks don’t really serve any purpose other than having fun at the range. They’re too inaccurate to use for anything else (besides spraying a crowd, I guess).

            On the gripping hand, the left seems to think banning bump stocks is a Big Deal. So how about a compromise, we’ll trade a ban on bump stocks for either the ability for teachers and school officials to arm themselves if they desire, or national concealed carry reciprocity. Deal?

      • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

        I do not accept “assault weapons” as a legitimate category as nobody seems to be able to properly define it

        My uninformed impression is that the intended definition is “weapons designed for killing multiple people”, or perhaps just “weapons designed for killing people” depending on who you’re talking to. (I make no claim as to whether or not that’s a useful definition.)

        (It baffles me that people apparently need to be able to kill in order to feel safe; I know the US crime rate is bad, but is it really that bad?)

        • John Schilling says:

          (It baffles me that people apparently need to be able to kill in order to feel safe; I know the US crime rate is bad, but is it really that bad?)

          Not as bad as I suspect you are imagining. And we’d like to keep it that way without giving a blank check to our police.

          But you are right that the debate is specifically about tools designed for killing people, and will not be resolved with a compromise about target rifles and duck-hunting shotguns.

    • Vorkon says:

      As much as I hate to admit it, because I am very much against new gun control measures, I believe that raising the age limit to buy rifles in Florida to 21 would have prevented this incident.

      The killer very clearly wished he owned a handgun, but he didn’t, because in Florida you need to be 21 to do so, and instead he amassed a collection of airsoft guns, and one real rifle. There are a LOT of situations in which this wouldn’t have made a difference, and the killer could have just gotten their weapon in another way, but I don’t think this kid could have. He was a white (whatever his last name might be) boy from an affluent suburb without much of a demand for black market guns, so he would have been laughed out of anyplace he might have been able to acquire a stolen gun, yet despite his rich neighborhood, he, himself, was an orphan with few resources. He MIGHT have stolen a gun himself, but I don’t think whoever he was living with since his parents’ death had one, the way Adam Lanza’s mother did. I think, in this one instance, a higher age limit would have made a difference.

      And while I wouldn’t vote for it on its own, I can stomach the idea well enough that I wouldn’t mind too much if one got tacked onto a concealed carry reciprocity bill, or de-regulating suppressors. Whether they’re legally considered adults or not, our society does NOT consider 18 year olds as full adults, nor does it prepare them to be treated as such by 18.

      I also have some sympathy for the “ban and confiscate all semi-automatics” argument, because despite vehemently disagreeing with it on a personal level, understanding how impossible it would be to pull off on a political level, and expecting it to end in a literal bloodbath putting any of these mass shooting incidents to shame if anyone actually did try to pull it off, at least it’s intellectually honest, and would make mass shootings much harder to pull off if it actually were done successfully.

      That said, while it would have at least SOME impact, unlike most other gun control proposals, I think that its proponents are vastly overestimating how much of an impact it would have. It would also need to be “all semi-automatics, period,” not just “all semi-automatic rifles.” (which, admittedly, is a more sensible category than the hodgepodge of cosmetic features they’re currently trying to ban, but it still wouldn’t cut it.) With the exception of Vegas, the Pulse, and San Bernardino, every spree shooting in America that I can think of would have been every bit as effective if the killer had just used pistols, bolt-action rifles, and/or shotguns, and semi-automatic rifles were used primarily only because of their popularity. In this shooting and Sandy Hook, the shots were taken either at a medium range where disarming the shooter would have been difficult, or through a broken out window, and at most he engaged single classes, where he wasn’t so massively outnumbered as to make rushing him while reloading an efficient tactic and controlled the single point of entry, so he couldn’t be flanked. These are all situations where the increased capacity of an AR-style rifle won’t make much of a difference. Even at the Aurora shooting, the killer’s AR jammed because of the silly aftermarket drum mag he was trying to use, and most of the actual deaths were from his pistols and shotgun. All the other high profile spree killings that I can think of WERE carried out with only pistols or shotguns. Frankly, shooting fish in a barrel doesn’t take very high end equipment.

      Vegas, San Bernardino, and the Pulse are different stories, of course. San Bernardino and the Pulse both took place in locations were rushing the the attacker to disarm him WOULD have been a viable tactic. Vegas, on the other hand, while I would argue that well-aimed shots with hunting rifles could have theoretically produced even more fatalities, he obviously wouldn’t have caused as many injuries, or as much sheer chaos and carnage, which was his primary objective, without the weapons he used. However, in all three of those cases, the killers were not just resource-starved teenagers, and were very well prepared for their attacks. They all could, and would, have acquired their weapons by other means, as attacks in places like Paris, which do have strict gun control, prove to my satisfaction. So any attempt to stop attacks like those by banning semi-automatics would require a COMPLETE removal of semi-automatic firearms from society, and as I pointed out above, that would be a rather bloody affair.

      Another potential control that I would hate personally, but which might be effective to some extent, is strictly controlling the purchase of ammunition. It runs into the same “but what about the black market” issues as banning guns, but in the interest of fairness, I suppose I should point that one out too, since I haven’t seen anyone discussing it in this thread.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        This is a very good post.

        Likewise, I would not vote for any of those proposals, but it would at least be intellectually honest if those ideas were the topics of debate.

  9. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    This isn’t specific enough for a prediction, but how close are AIs to inventing games that people like? Not close at all, I should think.

    This might be interesting because it’s well short of taking over the world (though getting good at inventing addictive games might be disturbingly close to taking over the world), but it’s really hard. After all, a large majority of adults can drive, but very few can invent a popular game.

    Vague things about the challenge: How much do people have to like the game? How independent of human help does the AI need to be? How different does it need to be from other games?

    • skef says:

      DeepMind apparently now has a generic system for developing expertise in perfect-information board games*. So they could presumably start testing new combinations of boards, pieces, and rules, possibly modified from previous combinations with a genetic algorithm.

      I think it’s plausible that the playing quality of such games will be reflected in the time it takes the expertise to converge and the variation in games played at the expert level. (For example, are there any moves the first player can make that tend to determine the game outcome in their favor, as long as they don’t make a mistake?)

      One possible and interesting area of exploration are games with asymmetric rules but balanced outcomes. The starting-points of players in Go and Chess, and the rules that govern moves, are very close to symmetric. But presumably the space of possible games includes those with quite different pieces and governing rules but that are still competitive for both players. I think people would be interested in such games if they were invented, and DeepMind is in a position to explore that space now.

      (This is assuming that much of the interest in Go and Chess actually has to do with their characteristics of play, rather than their cultural associations.)

      *Perhaps it can be extended to games with chance — I’m leaving those out because I don’t know offhand.

      • Montfort says:

        The asymmetric game family of fox[es] and [blank] comes to mind, which I don’t think many people in my area play. But perhaps they’re unpopular because they’re deficient in balance, or more interesting versions could be developed with the aid of some kind of balance-oracle.

  10. honhonhonhon says:

    Over the years the amount of feminist blogs I’ve been following has dropped while the reactionary stuff has increased, leaving me with a skewed reading list. I need good blogs that are to the left of SSC for my RSS feed. Anything goes, feminism, communism, SJW, boring leftists.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Amptoons.

      Metafilter. This is a cool links discussion blog, but it definitely runs left politically.

      http://andrewducker.livejournal.com/ Daily link collection, is left when political

      Sample feminist link from there

      What reactionary blogs are you reading?

      • Aapje says:

        Opening to your sample link:

        My heart goes out to men right now. Actually, my heart goes out to all sorts of unsavory places these days, no matter how much I warn it.

        Jeez, straight to the misandry.

        At least it’s not all bad:

        It is not anti-feminist to talk about men’s emotions as if they matter.

        Jesus, I read the entire piece and she actually thinks that it is morally just to protect abusers (or used to), while she also believes that driving people into self-mutilation and self-hatred is not oppressive. Even writing that latter story is morally wrong, because she pushed a comment intended for consumption by a small audience into a national spotlight.

        • rahien.din says:

          We won’t get to [the better world] by continuing to infantilize men, nor by clinging to the curiously sexist belief that they are too fragile to cope with the consequences of their actions.

          I think this is her ultimate thesis.

          So much of romantic engagement for men boils down to “I am willing to be repeatedly rejected.” It isn’t entirely that men are fragile infants who can’t cope with their emotions. It’s that, when you get blown off for the umpteenth time, you just have to blow it off right back. You can’t let it get to you or you’re toast.

          Success in that environment either involves growing emotionally, or, Goodharting down to blunderous “Just go for it” style obtusity. The good get better, the weird get weirder. It’s easy to imagine a normally-distributed trait emerging, with the mode somewhere between “I’ll ask her even though I’m nervous” and “Devil-may-care,” with tails of “I’ll snivel my way into bed, and if women reject me it’s their fault for being bitches” and “grab ’em by the pussy.”

        • Alphonse says:

          I find it hard to believe that that someone who propounds that “Women — and I’m sorry to have to break this to you — are not put on this earth to make men feel better about how inherently awful they are” is really all that interested in the well-being of men.

          The lament “that it is not practically or economically possible to simply send half the species to a landfill,” so the author instead informs men to “Suck it up and let go” is about as informative as anything else in that diatribe.

          If that’s what passes as “sympathy” toward men in feminist circles, I simply cannot figure out why many men seem unconvinced by the pitch.

        • Mark says:

          I read the entire piece and she actually thinks that it is morally just to protect abusers (or used to)

          Yeah… that’s weird.
          I sometimes wonder if all of this stuff is a complete communication breakdown.
          I don’t know any men who would say “Oh… he’s a repeat rapist but we don’t want to ruin his life.”

          I suppose it depends on what definition of “rape” is being used.

          It’s like being constantly lectured by an alcoholic on the evils of alcohol, when you only ever have a couple of drinks at Christmas.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Aapje, for what it’s worth, I only skimmed the sample feminist piece.

          To some extent, I posted it because I was angry at your “standard victim narrative” reply to the piece about women writing.

          You’ve since walked back some of what you said.

          In individual households, either spouse might be overreaching.

          Among the people I know, there are some households where the husband is bringing in most of the money, and some where it’s the wife, whether temporarily or in general. Now that I think about it, in one where the wife is bringing in most of the money, *she* isn’t getting adequate credit for it, which may say something about how the male role is viewed as well as the treatment of actual men.

          • Aapje says:

            Sure, part of the gender roles is that men and women get less credit for the things they do that are not part of their gender role.

            My objection is that there is a bias to far, far more often note how women get impacted by this, than men & to put the onus for fixing this on men (both if it impacts women and when it impacts men).

            Among the people I know, there are some households where the husband is bringing in most of the money, and some where it’s the wife, whether temporarily or in general.

            The story was about writers and AFAIK, most writers earn fairly little money, even some fairly ‘famous’ ones. For example, Nick Stephenson argues here that only 150 ‘Big 5’ writers that earn more than $10k a year. That is 1/5th of the median household income.

            For gender role reasons, I would expect female writers to earn less than male writers on average, so it seems quite plausible that most the people that the Krista Ball talked to are in fact not earning very much, including the people whom she respects greatly in her field.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Aapje, another piece of the situation is that most writers have day jobs, and it isn’t necessary to neglect everything else to be a writer, even a professional writer.

            My bet is that most writers are writing for something like 5 to 10 hours per week, though I’d like to have actual numbers.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Sure, but they have day jobs because it’s one of these industries where many people want to create and the demand doesn’t really support that, but people do it anyway. Such industries have low wages because people are willing to accept low income for their work.

            This makes it into a hobby or a semi-professional occupation for many people, at which point it deserves the same consideration as other hobbies or semi-professional occupations, rather than the same consideration as a job that pays all/most of the bills.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Aapje, the original discussion was about women and LGBT from maybe a generation ago whose partners wouldn’t let them write, and the group spanned from hobby writers to people who were making money at it.

      • honhonhonhon says:

        Thank you, I subscribed to all except Alas/Amptoons, which I used to read a couple years back until it inspired in me a disdain for political cartoonists of all stripes.

        As for what reactionary blogs I read, looking at my feed the only one with recent posts is anepigone DOT blogspot.com.

    • yodelyak says:

      Could try “JoeMyGod” for a prolific gay-rights/gay-scene blog, written by a bear who lived through the AIDS epidemic back when it was killing so many gay men and Reagan wasn’t talking about it.

      Could try climateprogress (now americanprogress/climate or something, but search “climate progress” should get you there)… ignore stuff not written by Joe Romm. He’s disciplined and cogent; others there, IDK.

      Popehat is a neoliberal/neoconservative, whose focus is on free speech/civil society/limited government & etc.

      Hmm. Looking at this list, I apparently don’t read much SJW stuff either.

      • honhonhonhon says:

        Thanks, I’ll look them up. Never thought of Popehat as a leftist blog, I know the host is a leftie but he is so consistent about sticking to law commentary that it is hard to tell.

  11. johan_larson says:

    Is there some ancient language with a large body of discovered texts which are going unread and uncatalogued for lack of people who can read the language? I don’t mean texts in languages that we cannot read. I mean texts in languages where the available body of work completely overwhelms the available scholars.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I think this is true for all ancient languages in the middle east, where the dry conditions are good for preservation. Clay tablets are particularly long lived. There are tons of Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, but they are assumed to be boring accounting. I’ve never heard quite the same thing about ancient Egypt. Hellenistic Egypt has lots of unexamined Greek manuscripts. There are lots of people who read ancient Greek, but it’s not worth their time, since sampling suggests that they are largely duplicates. Eliminating duplicates would be a good task for a computer.

      • cmurdock says:

        That can’t be the whole story. Nicholas Sims-Williams told me once via e-mail that there are still Manichaean Sogdian, Uighur, etc. manuscripts in the Berlin archives which nobody has even read yet. Which, considering how ridiculously small the extant corpus is in Manichaean Sogdian, can’t just be scholars thinking “Meh they’re probably duplicates or something…”

  12. rahien.din says:

    Question folks: drunkposting SSC via iPhone? I know not if this is kosher and require consultation. At current time: half past Pilsner whoch**** my phone tried to correct to Plantagenet*** two hands required to hold a biscuit (American biscuit, Deiseach, it’s a savory baked perfection the likes of are only constructed in the American South*, baby). Please advise. I shall abide by your recommendations, which I await with bated breath and scant presumed decorum, ah, iambic’lly.

    Cheers!

    * This is the true-est definition of “biscuit” I’ll fight you
    *** Iswearit’strue**
    ** Out of order I acknowledge this is have a daiquiri
    **** Left the “whoch” in, ‘tis greater accuracy for your Bayesian updates notthatyouneeded’em*****
    ***** Still out of order, said the cactus person. Eternal love, saith the cactus person******
    ****** There are only cactus persons

    • Well... says:

      *looks at own drink and spits out contents of mouth*

      • toastengineer says:

        I’d do the “gazes at bottle for a moment and then pours it out” thing except it’d mess up my floor.

    • Incurian says:

      Maybe IRC or discord would be a more prudent option.

    • Protagoras says:

      This is mildly amusing, but I’m guessing that another Plantagenet or two and it will cease to be so. As a result, I’d recommend no more.

      • rahien.din says:

        If’n I wring a “mildly amusing” out of Protagoras (despite having substituted “saith” for the vastly more prosodic “spake”) I consider this an evening well-spent and whiskey well-drunk. As the saying goes, un Plantagenet dans la main vaut deux dans le brousse.

    • beleester says:

      Question folks: drunkposting SSC via iPhone?

      That’s not actually a question, or even a sentence, but I’d say the answer is “no.”

  13. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/what-color-tennis-ball-green-yellow/523521/

    The question of whether a tennis ball is yellow or green can be surprisingly fraught, but there may be a correlation with what color a person thinks The Dress is. Survey fodder?

    Discussion: https://www.metafilter.com/172437/And-dont-even-get-me-started-on-alligators#7321583

    • Thegnskald says:

      Freaking heretics. It is obviously yellow, albeit with the slightest tinge of green.

      • quaelegit says:

        The color of a tennis ball is so obviously green to me…

        However, stepping back a bit and comparing to, say, yellow highlighters, I’m going to guess this is an artifact of how I learned color groupings.

        (Also I like Nornagest’s answer.)

    • Nornagest says:

      I’m gonna go with “chartreuse”.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Neon yellow. Or generationally, dayglo yellow.

      Or possibly tennis-ball colored, considering nothing else (with the exception of small areas of black light posters) is the same color.

    • S_J says:

      According to one web-site, a tennis ball has the color 0xC6ED2C. But that notation only makes sense to people who use RGB values in that format…

      I don’t know quite what to call it, though my initial reaction is yellow. Against some backgrounds, it looks green.

      It’s close to a color that I’ve seen used on safety-vests. It is less common than blaze-orange for such uses. I’ve noticed that approximately-tennis-ball-color vests are more visible under low-light conditions than blaze-orange. Thus, that color is favored by bicyclists and joggers for twilight/night-time conditions.

  14. Paul Brinkley says:

    Something LadyJane just said in the “Even More Search Terms” thread gave me an excuse to start a new subthread here:

    The constant use of rationalist jargon can make discussions inaccessible to non-rationalists. Often unnecessarily so, since a lot of rationalist terminology is basically just reinventing the wheel anyway.

    A while back (a year or so, I think?), I asked if there was interest in an SSC jargon file. Glossary. Dictionary. Something like that. The point is to give newcomers a shortcut to learning terms like “Moloch” or “red tribe” or even terms from other fields used a lot here, like “utility monster”. ISTR I got a little interest.

    I haven’t done a whole lot with that project, but I’ve done some – every so often, I comb an SSC thread for terms that look likely, and add them to a list. It’s of decent size now: roughly 40 terms, despite my being rather picky. Maybe it’s time to push that string a little more.

    One blocker is deciding where best to host it. I could put it in an OT and link back to it every so often; I could finally get around to making a Reddit account and post it there; I could put it on wikia, and deal with ad spam; twist my arm (would probably take a lot), and I register a new site. None of these sounds ideal. I don’t know of a good answer.

    Then there’s the matter of content. I’d prefer public write access to fill it faster, but I’d also prefer quality in the first seed of terms. Meanwhile, I probably need more terms. Which sounds like the perfect time for LadyJane and anyone else to propose terms to add.

    Thoughts?

    • Matt M says:

      Part of the fun of posting here was learning the jargon, slowly, through contextual cues.

      Simply reading a glossary would be, like, cheating!!!

    • toastengineer says:

      The “motte & bailey” is one that comes up a lot that people get confused about. A surprisingly large number of people don’t know what a “strawman” is, let alone a “steelman.” “Ideological turing test,” “priors,” “attractor,” “statistical predictor,” “affective death spiral,” “halo effect,” “cognitive bias” (remember most people define “bias” as the set racism/sexism/etc… are in,) maybe explain set theory a little bit…

      • quaelegit says:

        As someone who has read SSC a fair bit and LW not at all, some of these don’t show up on SSC much — specifically “attractor” and “affective death spiral” (I actually don’t know what the latter means… will look it up). So if we’re being picky and/or SSC-specific those might not warrant including.

        The rest are great suggestions though!

        • toastengineer says:

          I definitely remember people mentioning attractors vs. categories. I wish people talked about affective death spirals etc… more, the “how societies fail” stuff was the best part of the Sequences.

    • Thegnskald says:

      HEY SCOTT… oh wait, yelling doesn’t work that way on the Internet.

      Engre musta Loca
      Tabularon veris contora
      Belial grovinshe Moloch
      Scott Alexander, I summon thee!

      Could we get a glossary page hosted here and linked somewhere at the top of the page, assuming somebody else compiles it for you?

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Yes that would be good. Not just phrases as toast engineer lists, but also acronyms. I have been reading SSC for several years, but it seems pretty frequent that I see an exchange with many people using acronyms or abbreviations that I just don’t get. I remember this happened with “incel.” I don’t remember how I finally figured out it meant involuntary celibate, but everyone commenting seemed to get it. So yes a glossary would be great, and a method of adding new ones too.

    • Incurian says:

      The LW Jargon File might be a good start.

  15. Thegnskald says:

    Random thought:

    The Doors song “People Are Strange” has the line “Women seem wicked / When you’re unwanted”.

    I was unaware this was not a strictly modern phenomenon. Color me amused.

  16. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I’m not making the source public, I’m just sharing this because I want it seen by people who I expect to be as horrified as I am.

    “I read the article and I get the point. However, as a healthcare researcher I think there are valid reasons for using this definition because it is simple and easy to apply. If you are making a comparison then what’s critical is using the same definition for all of your groupings and if we are arguing whether this case or that case counts then it is difficult to get that consistency.”

    • Thegnskald says:

      I think I need a little more context to know what I am supposed to be horrified by.

    • SamChevre says:

      Sounds normal to me. In many cases, we have the choice between (1) a “good” definition that we would find hard to get data to make, or that would be ambiguous some of the time and (2) an “OK” definition that we can easily get all the time, and is unambiguous, but wrong some part of the time.

      Almost every time, we use the consistent, easy to get definition because it’s consistent. (Birth certificate sex prior to concerns about falsified birth certificates rather than measured testosterone levels, self-identified race when dealing with race rather than DNA-based.)

      • gbdub says:

        Consistent definitions are fine, and critical to research. The problem comes when the label you apply to a definition, stripped of the specific context of the research, is misleading to the public.

        And we shouldn’t fool ourselves that this is always unintentional.

        Let’s say I’m doing research on criminal behavior by amputees. I have a category for “theft of property by persons missing one or both upper limbs”. I probably should not call this “unarmed robbery” in my press release.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        In this case, it’s about very few events and there’s public information about them. It’s not so hard to clean things up.

    • The Nybbler says:

      However, as a healthcare researcher I think there are valid reasons for using this definition because it is simple and easy to apply.

      Like the drunk looking for his car keys under the lamp-post (though he did not drop them there) because that’s where he can see?

  17. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I’ve heard that when sane people (reporters, people doing experiments) go into mental institutions as inmates, the fellow inmates recognize them as sane, and the psychiatrists never do. Is this at all true?

  18. Vincent Soderberg says:

    Question to yall: I’m high functioning autistic. I’ve heard a bit about Sulforaphane potentially being useful as a way to lessen Autism symptoms. I’ve tried to read the original study, but i just kinda get. bleh, when reading studies.

    I think this is the original study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217462/

    Apparently this one is a follow up study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5672987/

    I’m really bad at reading studies. What I’m wondering is: are these studies good? If it does indeed work as an autism treatment, does it work for both low-functioning and high functioning autistism? Or just the former? If they do work, is the cost-benefits worth it? And lastly, is there some way to actually use the findings?

    • Aapje says:

      The second study is not independent of the former, but is merely a follow-up for the same experiment. As such, we only really have a single experiment, which automatically should make us wary of trusting the outcome too much, even though the average improvement seems substantial. 2/3 of the participants continued who got the actual treatment decided to continue using it, which shows that the majority thinks that the cost/benefit is worth it.

      There were relatively few participants, mostly adolescents, with moderate to severe autism. So these are presumably not high functioning or in any case, we cannot say that the treatment will work for high functioning autism.

      The second paper notes that 5 more studies are being done, inspired by this one. One of these should already have been finished and presumably the wait is for the paper. The others will take more time, where the results probably don’t become available before 2019. None of these seem to look at the effect on people with high functioning autism.

      There are no known adverse effects of taking sulforaphane supplements and they are low toxicity. They also seem to be pretty commonly used already, with no reports of serious issues. So I would judge the risks to be fairly low.

      Supplements with sulforaphane are commercially available (as ‘broccoli sprouts extract’), so you should have access to these supplements. However, the paper notes that they tested commercial supplements and found that some supplements have the precursor to sulforaphane instead, the biologically inactive glucoraphanin. They advised the participants of the study about which commercial supplements they could use, that did have sufficient sulforaphane.

      If you want to try the supplements, you could try contacting the people who did the study and ask them which supplements they recommend and at what dose. If so, I would explicitly state that you are going to take the supplements anyway, even if they don’t help you, which should put them in the position where helping you is the most ethical choice.

      Finally, sulforaphane is heat-sensitive and reactive, so store the supplements somewhere cool and keep the lid on the bottle.

      • Vincent Soderberg says:

        Thanks. I’ll work on my depression as thats the best thing i can do for now. I’ll probably look into the other studies in june.

        (ps i’ve read the comments for a while and your comments/thoughts strike me as reasonable, considerate, and overall high quality. 1+)

  19. James says:

    As one of the most vociferous ‘I would never go to yoga just to meet women’ voices in that thread a few weeks ago, I’d just like to let you all know that I’m making plans to go to a yoga class next week, and, erm, not solely because of my abiding interest in yoga. What changed? I got invited by an attractive woman. I’m not sure whether she’s into me; if she is, the upside is clear, but even if she isn’t, being there with her helps me over that ‘who is this weirdo outsider trying to infiltrate our ranks?’ hump.

    What, did you think I had principles or something?

    • Aapje says:

      That seems fundamentally different, since you are not treating yoga as a way to meet girls, but rather, you accepted an invitation to hang out with a woman you like, where that invitation just happens to be to a female-dominated activity.

      If you are more or just as likely to go to a male-dominated activity that you are just as interested in as yoga, after being invited to it by a an attractive woman, then you are not in any way unprincipled.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      There are no principles in a fox hole!

    • Matt M says:

      I got invited by an attractive woman. I’m not sure whether she’s into me

      Either she’s really into you or you’re already ridiculously friendzoned and have no chance. I suggest making a move quickly. After Yoga, ask her out on a real date and make sure to use the phrase “go out” to eliminate any ambiguity.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Honestly, I suspect any girl who invites me to Yoga does not have me in the Friendzone, but in the Gay BFF zone.

        • Matt M says:

          How is that not the same zone?

          Friendzone = she does not see you as a sexual being and never will

          • Vermillion says:

            Gayzone = she knows you’re a sexual being and really wants to watch you makeout with your boyfriend.

          • Aapje says:

            Supposedly, women who watch porn relatively often watch gay porn (anecdotal evidence, though). This is interesting because men are regularly chastised for fetishizing lesbians.

            Alternatively, one could imagine it to be a benefit to heterosexual women to have a man to study without the danger/tension/necessary boundaries/etc caused by having the man be heterosexual.

      • James says:

        It’s a funny situation.

        I overstated it slightly by saying ‘invited’. It’s more that I expressed interest in coming along and she was enthusiastic about it. Also, she’s up for coming back to my place (very nearby) afterwards ‘for tea’. (Maybe this is the British equivalent of going back to one’s apartment ‘for coffee’.)

        We made the yoga plans when we were out having a couple of drinks last night, which wasn’t officially demarcated as a ‘date’ but in the event did feel quite date-y.

        She knows I like her, because I kissed her when we were hanging out a year ago. Although there were some indicators of interest before this, in retrospect I think it was a bit clumsy and premature, and it didn’t lead to anything then. But she seems more open and flirty again now. So I can’t quite tell.

        Using ‘go out’ is a good idea.

        We shall see.

        • Matt M says:

          It’s more that I expressed interest in coming along and she was enthusiastic about it. Also, she’s up for coming back to my place (very nearby) afterwards ‘for tea’.

          Congrats on the imminent sexy times you’re about to have.

        • gbdub says:

          Yes this does not sound “funny” at all. She is into you (especially given your past mutual history). At the very least, I would say she’s putting out enough signals that you should have no qualms about making a (respectful) move on her.

          • James says:

            Only funny insofar as I’d previously written it off since my previous advance was declined. But I guess things change–maybe her situation has changed, or it just took her a while to come around and realise what a hunk I am, or whatever. But yes, I agree that the signs are good.

          • Incurian says:

            Hope for the best, prepare for the worst (which is that you have a nice friend to do yoga with and maybe she introduces you to other nice friends in the future).

      • Orpheus says:

        Not necessarily. When I started going to yoga, I invited basically everyone I knew to go with me at one time or another, regardless of whether I was romantically interested or not. Although I am a guy, so the situation may not be exactly analogous.

  20. Odovacer says:

    Amy Chua of World on Fire and Tiger Mom fame has a new book coming out soon. Political Tribes: Group Instict and the Fate of Nations. It sounds like something up SSC’s alley:

    Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups. In many parts of the world, the group identities that matter most – the ones that people will kill and die for – are ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based. But because America tends to see the world in terms of nation-states engaged in great ideological battles – Capitalism vs. Communism, Democracy vs. Authoritarianism, the “Free World” vs. the “Axis of Evil” – we are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics. Time and again this blindness has undermined American foreign policy.

    In the Vietnam War, viewing the conflict through Cold War blinders, we never saw that most of Vietnam’s “capitalists” were members of the hated Chinese minority. Every pro-free-market move we made helped turn the Vietnamese people against us. In Iraq, we were stunningly dismissive of the hatred between that country’s Sunnis and Shias. If we want to get our foreign policy right – so as to not be perpetually caught off guard and fighting unwinnable wars – the United States has to come to grips with political tribalism abroad.

    Just as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been blind to the power of tribal politics outside the country, so too have American political elites been oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans – and that are tearing the United States apart. As the stunning rise of Donald Trump laid bare, identity politics have seized both the American left and right in an especially dangerous, racially inflected way. In America today, every group feels threatened: whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, liberals and conservatives, and so on. There is a pervasive sense of collective persecution and discrimination. On the left, this has given rise to increasingly radical and exclusionary rhetoric of privilege and cultural appropriation. On the right, it has fueled a disturbing rise in xenophobia and white nationalism.

    The only review I can find requires registration. Hopefully there will be more in the near future.

    • Aapje says:

      so too have American political elites been oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans

      I would argue that many have a tendency to ignore how their political desires are heavily shaped by what helps them personally, rather than society as a whole. The result is that they see opposition to their political beliefs not merely as a clash of interests, but as a clash between altruism and selfishness or even as a clash between good and evil.

      The result is that compromise becomes unconscionable, because a positive sum compromise is deemed impossible. So any concession is seen as leading to a worse overall outcome with no redeeming qualities.

      This becomes especially potent with identity politics based on an oppressor/oppressed dichotomy, because it rules out the possibility of a win-win scenario. The theory is that the oppressors have been fully in charge, so they already have got everything they could get through political means, while the oppressed had practically no power, so they have nothing beyond what the oppressors didn’t care about or couldn’t avoid granting them. Such a belief rules out making a deal where both groups come out ahead, since the oppressed have nothing to offer to the oppressors. So the oppressors must give up part of what they have with nothing in return.

      Of course, most people in the group(s) that are called oppressors tend to not agree with this and see it as a straight up attack on their well-being. This is especially true for the ‘oppressors’ who have are not especially well off. These people tend to get especially angry when they see people from the oppressed groups with far better prospects than them get aid based on their skin color or gender. To them, it is racism/sexism to judge a person to be in need of help merely for their skin color or gender, rather than need.

      Identity politics based on race, gender and such also makes for fairly immutable groups, which harms empathy and sympathy. If I grow up poor and with poor people around me, I or people I know who are poor may become better off and thereby gain an understanding of middle class life. If I grow up black and with black people around me, neither I or them are going to stop being black. So it is easier for poor people to have empathy and sympathy with the middle class or vice versa, than for black people to have empathy and sympathy with white people or vice versa.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups.

      God damnit, can’t people just make the legitimate claim that many people crave group belonging, and leave it at that. Why must it always be an absolute?!

      Are there any studies that actually look at the strength and prevalence of the group-belonging instincts in people?

      • Alphonse says:

        Because “Humans are typically tribal. Most of us feel a need to belong to groups” isn’t nearly as good writing? Quality of writing tends to be an important consideration when publishing a book.

        I think the normal way to read that sentence is not as an absolutist statement (“every human that has ever lived has felt a strong compulsion to belong to a group”) but as a firm statement about the vast majority of humans.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          But is it true of the vast majority of humans, or only of those who are most noticeable?

          • Alphonse says:

            Not the criticism you made previously, which is what I was responding to.

            That said, I think there’s pretty good evidence that the vast majority of people prefer to have social ties to other humans. The idea of “friends” is usually viewed positively. I expect the book would cover the topic though, and I don’t personally care enough about the issue to desire debating it any detail.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Second paragraph of my original response.

            But do “social ties” equate to “group belonging” in a tribal sense (which is the sense Amy Chua is using it – “ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based.”) for most people? Or is this only the loud ones?

            How many of the so-called tribe merely feel intimidated into going along (or don’t even realize that they’re part of the tribe), and would welcome a less ‘tribal’ connection to their neighbors?

            Fair enough that you don’t want to debate this, it is my hill to die on, not yours.

  21. onyomi says:

    Relevant to the “crypto postmortem,” Gavin Andresen (one of the early bitcoin developers) on why many early adopters of bitcoin aren’t as wealthy as you’d expect.

    I’m interested in thinking about the question in a more general way–a “why it’s always harder than it seems to strike it rich” curve. I describe it as a “curve” in part because of my own experience making a decent amount of money in crypto, yet also not becoming fabulously wealthy, despite having been interested in bitcoin earlyish-on (though I did not yet know about LessWrong back then)–and this experience felt to me sort of like chasing a curve that accelerated roughly in time with my willingness and ability to do so (maybe this is totally obvious and 101-level for people who study e.g. entrepreneurship, but it threw it into sharper relief for me).

    The curve you had to stay ahead of to accumulate large sums of bitcoin at a low price seems to have been something like this:
    2009: just use your cpu or know somebody into bitcoin
    2010-2011: buy a fancy graphics card or buy some bitcoin off someone who mined them or knew a guy
    2012-present: need a specialized miner (ASIC), can also start buying on line with fiat, but not super easy and increasingly expensive…and so on.

    In other words, there’s a curve of knowledge and willingness/ability to invest time/energy/money you have to stay ahead of to really strike it rich; what defines the curve is the fact that when the opportunity is really cheap, you have to do a lot of work to understand and take advantage of it, and, to some extent, be lucky just to even know it exists (and of course choose correctly among the many possible next-big-things that exist at any given time). The less work needed to get in on the idea, the more favorably-positioned, economically, you need to be, to take advantage of it in a big way (as e.g. Peter Thiel is trying to do recently, to the tune of hundreds of millions).

    I would guess there is a similar curve with most stories of crazy success, like:
    ground floor of Facebook: be Mark Zuckerberg or be classmates at Harvard with Mark Zuckerberg
    2nd floor of Facebook: have the money and foresight to be an early investor in Facebook
    3rd floor of Facebook: be lucky or insightful enough to start working at Facebook in early days
    4th floor of Facebook: be the person who happened to serve coffee at Facebook in the early days…

    At each stage there are a few people who are just really lucky, but also many who are probably kicking themselves (“Mark asked me if I wanted to help him with his new social website thing and I thought it was silly!”). In fact, even cases that make you want to kick yourself in retrospect for passing up “easy money” really demanded you be well ahead of the curve in knowledge and/or resources to exploit it… and then, as Gavin mentions, it’s always hard to get fabulous returns while simultaneously taking a low-risk approach: the prudent approach to seeing your magic internet money skyrocket in value is to turn a chunk of it into something less volatile each time it does that… yet doing so may prevent you riding that particular rocket to the moon.

    As for my own personal, future calibration take-away: it’s always harder than it seems to strike it rich, and going all-in on very speculative ideas is still probably a bad idea; however, the big opportunities almost by definition come at a time when you see something others don’t see yet, but which you think they can’t miss, given enough time. When you do see such a thing, it’s worth overcoming the trivial inconvenience to make a significant (but not more than you can afford to lose) investment. Of course, this kind of thinking also caused me to buy a bunch of gold and silver as inflation hedges years ago and that one hasn’t worked out so well, but in the alternate universe where gold and silver took off and bitcoin went to 0 I’d be kicking myself for wasting time and money on bitcoin, so I can’t say I’m that annoyed at past-me.

    Any other thoughts on better calibrating ability to see and take advantage of next-big-things in a responsible way?

  22. Was the sexual revolution a good thing?

    In most societies we know of, most women were reluctant to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage, engagement, or the equivalent. One result was that, for most men, marriage was the most practical way of obtaining sex. Over the past seventy years or so that system has broken down, at least in part due to the availability of reliable contraception. On net, are the consequences good or bad?

    The obvious good consequence is a much greater availability of the pleasure of sex for unmarried men and women. A possible good consequence is better marital choices, since people are no longer pushed into marriage by their desire for sex.

    Possible bad consequences include less stable marriages, both because (conjecture) the function of intercourse as producing pair bonds is weaker when the individuals have had intercourse with many partners and because leaving a marriage no longer means being much less able to obtain sex. They may also include an increase in the birth of children to unmarried mothers (the opposite of the effect that legal abortion and better contraception were predicted to produce). One explanation (Akerlof and Yellin) is that women who want children are no longer in a position to insist on a long term commitment in exchange for sex, since they are in competition with other women who want sex but don’t want children–and good contraception lets them separate the two.

    I expect there are other consequences, good and bad, as well. The question I’m putting up for discussion is what they are and what is the sign of the net effect of the change.

    • gbdub says:

      To the extent that the sexual revolution reduced the shaming of adults for engaging in (or even thinking about engaging in) consensual, mutually enjoyable activities, I would say that’s a plus from a libertarian perspective, no?

      • John Schilling says:

        Right, but the sexual revolution also reduced the shaming of adults for engaging in breach of contract, whether explicit (“’till death do us part”) or implicit (“of course I’ll still respect you in the morning”). Since those contracts appear to play an important role in human social interaction and shame was the principle mechanism of enforcement, that’s a negative from the libertarian perspective.

        And yes, I know that ethical polyamorists etc often say that people should be ashamed of breaking such contracts, but when it comes to actually delivering the shame I think the social conservatives were far more effective than the libertines in general.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Does it count as a breach of contract if no one expects anyone else to take the words literally?

          • Anonymous says:

            “No one”.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, we’ve had the discussion here before about how “no one” expects anyone to take marriage vows seriously. Survey says: wrong.

            Breaches of trust involving casual sex are also a real thing, albeit obscured by the insistence in some quarters that all sex is either Positive or Rape.

          • Wrong Species says:

            If people actually thought of marriage in this way, they would treat it a lot differently. The person asking for the divorce would automatically be considered at fault and any split in assets would be heavily against them. As far as I know, the laws don’t do that. “Til death is part” is in there for historical, sentimental reasons, not because we expect someone to be in a loveless marriage to satisfy a contract. If we took off that bit in the wedding vows, do you think people would suddenly change their attitude on divorce?

          • Barely matters says:

            I mean, there exists a sizable proportion of the population who are unpleased with the laws, if not an influential enough group to change them. I’d predict that once the second order effects start being felt, a lot of the rest will follow suit.

            At this point marriage still happens because people take ’til death to us part’ somewhat seriously. As people (Men in this case) realize that the words are actually meaningless, and the only part that is still binding are the legal support obligations, the whole proposition becomes less and less attractive.

            What we’re starting to see now is that women are in a weird situation wherein their reach exceeds their grasp, as they have lost the ability to make a commitment strong enough that they cannot trivially break it.

            I’m sure our resident economists can expound upon what happens in business environments wherein parties know that the other can break contracts with impunity.

            So, serious question: If we take “Til death do us part” out of the vows, which of the remaining parts make the concept worthwhile to you?

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @Barely matters, I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I got married, I wasn’t thinking of it as some kind of deal that needed a contract.

          • Barely matters says:

            @Harry Maurice Johnston

            I wasn’t thinking of it as some kind of deal that needed a contract.

            Oh yes, likewise. Which is almost word for word what I tell my girlfriend when she starts pushing towards marriage in the first place.

            So I’m asking honestly and non rhetorically here. If marriage isn’t a contract, what is it? Specifically, what benefits does it have over just not doing it and telling all your friends and family that you’re an item?

            Without things like ‘commitment to the long term, even in bad times’ to promote stability in rough patches and provide a stable environment for co raising children, I don’t see a whole lot of value. Further, the hit of asset equalization might be tolerable as a consequence of an unexpected and (ideally) rare breakdown, but to whoever is earning more it’s pure negative. If that shifts from ‘apparent black swan’ to ‘expected eventuality’ it changes the risk matrix significantly. So what are we still gaining here as opposed to technical bachelorhood with long term nonmarriage relationships?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Barely matters

            So what are we still gaining here as opposed to technical bachelorhood with long term nonmarriage relationships?

            Well, yes, if everything is transactional then a contract which mandates ongoing transactions between parties is a negative.

            But we are also beings with feelings and ideals. Accentuating those feelings and living in accord with those ideals provides a payoff too.

          • Aapje says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            That payoff turns into into the reverse if the feelings end and people turn transactional. And they do.

            Of course, you can argue that people emotionally need some romantic illusion, but then why should that romantic illusion be a contract with legal consequences? If anything, such a thing detracts from the romance.

            Why not just have a ceremony where you do a personalized ritual with your family and friends? At least then the thing is truly special.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Why did people swear to the gods? Mingle their blood?

            A sense of security and external permanency can be comforting.

            People are not gooses and ganders. There’s room for all preferences.

          • Barely matters says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Well yeah, but I can have feelings perfectly well outside of a marriage, and if the words are known to be historical nonsense (As some posters here are saying) then I don’t see what ideals are served by going through with the ceremony and resulting legal entanglement.

            I’m all for making it less transactional, but from this angle it looks like the historical artifacts of the hollowed out institution *are* the transactional parts. I’d be happiest of all if the default was entirely nontransactional: “All property belongs to whoever bought it, either party is free to walk at any time without penalty, thus we know that we are together because we want to be, and we intend to stay this way as long as we both are happy as a unit.” But at that point it doesn’t sound much like marriage as I understand it.

            I’m seriously looking for a solid argument for the merits here because I want to be convinced. This is a recurring stumbling block for me and I’d like to understand what people see in the process that I don’t. Coming around to seeing marriage as a good idea would make my relationships somewhat smoother and more in line with societal norms. Thus far, all I’ve really seen from asking (In this context and others) are extremely vague motions towards feelings, and attacks of status to ‘man up’. So I appreciate anyone who can try to put together a solid defense of marriage in the modern world.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            So I’m asking honestly and non rhetorically here. If marriage isn’t a contract, what is it? Specifically, what benefits does it have over just not doing it and telling all your friends and family that you’re an item?

            It’s traditional; people like ceremony; and it expresses a greater degree of commitment than just living together does. It may be largely symbolic, but symbols matter.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            “All property belongs to whoever bought it,

            This is impossible to account after a while. If it doesn’t become impossible to account, then either one party has no assertive backbone, or you have a relationship I really don’t understand.

            Marriage isn’t for everyone. If it’s not for you, just be honest about it and don’t sweat it.

          • Chalid says:

            If marriage isn’t a contract, what is it? Specifically, what benefits does it have over just not doing it and telling all your friends and family that you’re an item?

            If you aren’t married, and therefore economically linked, each partner has to worry about preserving their own individual “market value” as opposed to thinking about the good of the family unit.

            There are times when one partner or the other needs to sacrifice for the family. If there is no formal legal link between the two of you then this is a big risk for the person who is doing the sacrificing. Think of a woman taking a hit to her career to raise children, for example; it’s much easier for a woman to accept that loss if she knows that she has a right to her husband’s income.

          • Barely matters says:

            Hey, I appreciate you guys taking runs at answering this. Thanks.

            Marriage isn’t for everyone. If it’s not for you, just be honest about it and don’t sweat it.

            Yeah, that’s my default plan unless I come across a really convincing reason that makes it seem like a good idea.

          • Alphonse says:

            @Barely Matters:

            Some thoughts from someone who considered the rationales you listed in some detail, found them to be quite persuasive, but is nonetheless legally married:

            1. Social approval can be important. My spouse and I operate in social circles where unmarried partners living together is frowned upon. My spouse’s family in particular has strong feelings about this (e.g. we stayed in separate rooms, even when engaged, when visiting them).

            Even outside of family / community ties, it’s a helpful signal in general. When I tell a prospective employer that I want to work in “City X” because my spouse has a job lined up there, that carries more weight than if we were not married.

            2. Personal feelings also matter. I don’t particularly care about “marriage” as a legal status (and I occasionally felt sad that we’d be facing a marriage penalty on our federal income taxes, at least before the recent tax reform). My spouse cares quite a bit.

            3. To a degree, the legal ties are part of why the symbolic ties have power. If we could divorce and part ways as easily as if we were only dating, some of that signaling value would be lost. Costly signals express better information.

            4. The financial risks were also minimal for us — we have extremely similar (high) projected earning trajectories as well as similar spending habits. Commingling finances offers substantial risk mitigation without really changing either of our expected personal wealth.

            All that said, my spouse is amazing, and I am very happy to be married. Still, if my partner got hit by a truck in ten years and I met someone new after an appropriate mourning time, I seriously doubt that I would get legally married again, in large measure because of concerns about protecting financial assets.

            I think whether getting married makes sense depends a great deal on balancing the positive aspects in terms of community approval (and personal happiness) with the ensuing financial and personal risks, especially if you’re having kids. In the modern social and legal context, I certainly wouldn’t advocate as a general proposition for everyone (although most of the people I know who are highly accomplished, stable individuals, and dating someone are either married or appear to conceptualize their long-term relationships as moving toward marriage, which is informative to at least some degree).

            I do find the idea that no one really takes the “until death do us part” language seriously to be kind of odd. Obviously neither of us intends to stay in our marriage if circumstances change dramatically, such as the other person becoming abusive, but a significant reason that we got married was because we were expressing a firm commitment to stay together until one of us died. If everyone in our social circles understood that marriage was just “extra serious dating,” I’d have probably pushed the tax-optimization angle a little harder.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Barely Matters

            I didn’t say marriage was nonsense. I said the “tip death do us part” is. It’s a commitment that you can’t just up and leave the person on a whim, which is especially important if you have kids. But that’s a completely different expectation that someone staying married for the rest of their life because of five words.

          • Brad says:

            We need to distinguish between a relationship that does or likely will result in children and one that won’t.

            Here’s a legal philosophy puzzle:
            Suppose there’s an investment banker making $1.5MM a year and a doctor making $350k a year that have a child together out of wedlock. The investment banker has no interest in having anything to do with the child. Why does the court order child support? What and whose interests are being furthered?

            The standard answer is the interests of the child. But nail that down, from society’s point of view even with not one penny from the father, that child isn’t in any need. I would suggest instead that the answer comes from someplace a lot more Conservative. It’s about the state setting out a norm and regulating the behavior of the father. It’s akin to the justification behind the notion of unjust enrichment (which creates a quasi-contract) and is equally if not more about fairness as between the parents as it is about fairness between the father and the child.

            All of which is to say, that you can view the status quo as once there’s a child involved there essentially *is* a marriage and it’s the kind of old school marriage that you can’t get out of no matter what. Albeit only for about 25 years, not until death. Further, there’s no way to prenup or postnup around the terms of this implied marriage.

            So I guess part of the answer to your question is: if there’s going to be kids involved and you are get this quasi-marriage anyway, the zero point from which to analyze marriage vs non-marriage is different from one where you are just lovers living together.

          • John Schilling says:

            But that’s a completely different expectation that someone staying married for the rest of their life because of five words.

            And yet people in essentially every culture on Earth for most of recorded history have chosen to say those words instead of “until the children are grown”. They may not always live up to it, and they may have the foresight to leave an escape option. But there’s a vast demand for strong lifetime commitments, and of course a vast demand for brief, casual liasons. The demand for seven-ish year or “until the children are grown” partnerships is a much more recent and shallow thing.

          • Barely matters says:

            @Alphonse

            Hey, thanks for the detailed take. That helps clarify things a lot. None of those points really apply to me (No intention of having kids, no specific family objections to living in sin, and my partner earns a lot less than I do), but I can see that they could apply to some people. I’ll have to make a point of dating wealthier women in the future.

            @ Wrong Species

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth there! I was pointing to the ’til death do us part’ bit as my main contention here. I think that asset equalization can make some sense as a resolution to an unexpected and rare failure, but if it’s the anticipated end of the arrangement I think it’s absurd. I can see no reason whatsoever that society should design a body of law that says “People entering into temporary pairings should expect that at the end of each relationship, whichever spouse earns less is entitled to the difference between theirs and their partner’s assets.”. If one is worried that women will be disadvantaged by interrupting their careers to have kids, a norm that women negotiate childcare balance with their partners and choose their actions accordingly seems in all respects better.

            @Brad

            I think lot of the legal theory and philosophy is well above my pay grade, but it sounds like you’ve got a good point that the system doesn’t really behave as one would expect given the surface justification. I’m interested if you have any ideas as to where to look to build a stronger knowledge base here, even though I’m not in much of a position to act on the information or advocate for change either way. Thanks.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            That may play a role, but I think that the logical consequence of a system where the child support is reduced when the non-caring partner earns little, is that the courts will increase it when that person earns a lot.

            Furthermore, rich people tend to spend a lot on their children, so if the child support is not that high, the children may have to leave their very expensive school and such. The children are generally considered blameless and there is thus a desire to not upset their lives too much.

            So I don’t think that it is necessary for there to have to be a desire to regulate/punish the father*, to explain the child support rules.

            * Although I would argue that it requires an indifference to the father’s needs.

          • Brad says:

            @Barely matters
            I’d love to help but while I could point to a bunch of books about legal philosophy generally, I’m not familiar with anything on the philosophy of family law specifically. This is sort of my own pet theory.

            @Aapje
            American family law is absolutely littered with complex multi-factor tests. An “has become accustomed to” standard could easily have been in there, but it isn’t. Nor are there any attempts on the parts of family law to insure that child support is actually spent in any particular way. Once paid it is the property of the custodial spouse.

            Stepping back, there’s no rule that says that rich parents that aren’t divorced have to spend any particular of money on their children so long as their treatment doesn’t amount to neglect.

            I don’t think it is possible to square American child support doctrines with a premise that it is all and only about the needs of the child(ren).

          • I’m sure our resident economists can expound upon what happens in business environments wherein parties know that the other can break contracts with impunity.

            The classic article applying that to marriage is “Marriage, Divorce, and Quasi Rents; Or, “I Gave Him the Best Years of My Life”” by Lloyd Cohen.

            I have a discussion of the reasons for long term contracts, with the application to marriage, mainly in the context of explaining why the contract has become less long term than it used to be, in Chapter 21 of Price Theory. The relevant discussion starts at the subhead “What and Why Is Marriage?”

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I find Cohen’s argument very interesting, because it seems to explain the changes rather well.

            If female desirability goes down relative to male desirability by age, then women are incentivized to relatively early lock down the man with the best prospects and/or qualities who will have her, by marrying him, as long as marriage is hard to exit. The longer she waits, the more of her most desirable years are lost, like tears in rain, making a long term contract with her a worse deal. Historically, women wedded fairly young.

            With no-fault divorce, this logic has been upended, because now a woman who commits early to an equally desirable husband, is going to have a far more desirable husband some decades hence. So the husband is then incentivized to divorce and ‘trade up’ to a younger woman. So this strategy is disincentivized in an age of easy divorce.

            The best outcome can then theoretically be achieved by judging the potential of men and finding a man that has good prospects, but not so good that he will want a divorce. However, this only works as a strategy when it is possible to judge male potential well, which is probably not the case.

            As I argued as a comment on the Luna post, female desirability as a more casual partner is generally higher than their desirability as someone to have a child with. This enables an alternative strategy where the woman chooses to date relatively casually until male desirability is peaking and only then finds a man to have a child with.

            Of course, this is bounded by the decline in female fertility, which forces women to change their focus to finding a suitable father if they want children, around age 30 or so.

            A consequence of this strategy is that it decreases the incentives for men who are far better prospects for fatherhood than for casual dating, as they lose out on casual relationships with women during their most desirable years.

            It makes sense that these men, who are disproportionately impacted by the societal changes, become upset, not just at the bargain that they are being offering (which consists of giving the best they can offer during their life in return for less than the best that their partner can offer during her life), but also in the mechanism that society has to compensate women when they are divorced after having already spent their desirable years with a man.

            When women only start a family after their most desirable years have passed, such compensation seems unjust if it gets demanded from a man who only entered the relationship when both partners were already bringing the same amount to the table (a balance that will shift in more in favor of the woman over time, so overall she will already be better off).

            PS. It’s rather amazing that no matter what interesting theories I learn about relationships/dating, it pretty much always makes me more sad.

          • Barely matters says:

            @Aapje

            Agreed on all counts, with additional caveats.

            One thing that jumps out at me in this piece and David Friedman’s is the assumption that the nature of the demand for a husband’s services remains constant over the course of a marriage, which clashes with what I’ve observed from peers. With age a woman’s market value declines, but once she has secured children and an obligate bankroll the nature of her demand seems to become focused on the children, frequently leaving the husband as an afterthought or even a nuisance. David Friedman even jokes about this in Price Theory in his phrasing of “the burden of putting up with a husband”.

            As it’s been pointed out,

            There is no reciprocity. Men love women. Women love children. Children love hamsters. Hamsters don’t love anyone; it is quite hopeless

            For the next month or so, I still live in an area where the odds heavily favour women’s power, and the optimal move for women locally seems to be to get married, have a couple kids, divorce after a few years to secure children, cash, and freedom, then then return to the short term liaison market and leverage the lack of need for commitment to pair with with higher status men than their previous husband.

            Secondly, while I agree with the argument that women’s best strategy is generally to lock down an ascendant man at the height of her power, and thus society and family law feel obligated to legally facilitate the process, I feel this argument is self defeating.

            If the woman’s value is expected to decline over time and a man’s is expected to rise, a man should avoid entering into an exclusive and long term contract entirely, unless this is literally his only option (Which seems to have been the point historically). If a man wishes to have children, then the optimal play seems to be to hold out and screen casual partners as young as is legally allowable and ethically conscionable until the moment he is ready (Which also seems to be the theme historically) in order to maximize those ‘best years’. We already know this, but would experience significant pushback if we admitted to pursuing this strategy.

            Women under 35 and most of society seem to be in utter denial about the existence of The Wall, to the point where I’d be an asshole if I even acknowledged it in polite society. I had been under the impression that the idea is to make marriage look more attractive by assuaging male concerns that the sex kitten he is hooking up with now will see her sexual interest dry up not long after the rings are exchanged and degenerate into a nagging harpy. No, it’s cool, that’s a myth. Just buy the ring.

            Arguing that a woman must be entitled to a share of her husband’s income because her ‘best years’ are rare and to be privileged clearly states the expectation of looming decline and makes it impossible to ignore. The whole process only seems to make sense if one does their best not to think about it.

            To Aapje’s PS:
            If my BATNA weren’t “continue dating women decades my junior until I eventually go out in a motorcycle, parachute, or light aircraft collision, ideally well into my 70’s” I’d be sadder for having thought about it too. I think Skimmer’s right and I’m just not marriage material.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            The best outcome can then theoretically be achieved by judging the potential of men and finding a man that has good prospects, but not so good that he will want a divorce.

            The best prospect is to find a man who isn’t judging transactionally. These men exist, so why not go for one of them?

            Women (and men) are better conversational partners as they age. Is that not important to the likes of people on SSC?

          • Barely matters says:

            The best prospect is to find a man who isn’t judging transactionally. These men exist, so why not go for one of them?

            They definitely do, and they’re the ones I’m talking about as the ones who jump in without thinking. I’m just not sold that trying to convince people to enter into binding legal contacts without thinking about them transactionally is respecting their wellbeing.

            This is the kind of bargaining I expect from used car salesmen and shady mortgage brokers who tell you “Don’t worry about it! It’s just 6% and it’ll be rolled right into your monthly payment so you won’t even notice! Don’t think about it, it’s all just legal boilerplate. Just sign here, here, and initial here.”.
            Sorry salesdude, I can do just enough basic math to multiply 6% by a large number and know this is arrangement isn’t in my best interest.

            So sure they exist, but how many of them are there and in which direction is that number moving over time? What do we predict will happen when/if it becomes common knowledge that marriage isn’t necessarily expected to be long term anymore, and likely will cost them dearly? We’re not there yet, but it’s starting.

            As for conversation… one can do that freely with whomever they like anyway, so I’m not sure why it makes sense to sacrifice salary and sexual access for one designated conversation partner.

            Bringing this back around to David Friedman’s original question, the heart of this seems to be that everything that used to be women’s sphere of the marriage duties is now on offer from other sources for free to cheap. I consider my own sexual autonomy and the proceeds from my exorbitant work hours to be more valuable than regular sex and companionship that I can find easily outside of marriage, and domestic services that I can secure from a weekly housekeeping visit. Laundry is a half hour affair, and I own a 30$ slow cooker that can batch inexpensive, healthy, and good tasting meals for a week inside of an hour on sunday.

            So breaking up the cartel of social norms that made sure I was unable to find, if not sex (through prostitutes), and if not companionship (through good friends), *sexual companionship* anywhere but marriage, has significantly undermined women’s bargaining position to anyone but impulse buyers.

            I wonder if the next step is for women to start having to earn like men in order to make themselves financially safe to marry.

          • quanta413 says:

            I wonder if the next step is for women to start having to earn like men in order to make themselves financially safe to marry.

            I disagree with almost everything you’ve said, but yes to this. Men should think carefully before marrying women with much lower earnings potential than themselves. And vice-versa. It’s not a hard rule, but money is a big deal and life is easier if both partners contribute vaguely equally in the long term. Divorce also hurts less if neither partner depends on the others income. How close together the numbers need to be depends on income and each partners desire for money; the person who wants money more will ideally earn more money. The husband spending all his time making money and wife spending all her time raising children (or the reverse) seems like a less stable set up than it would have been when divorce was hard.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Barely matters

            Yeah, okay. The type of person you describe seems like they would be bad husband material anyway. Only women who are looking for a fling (or prostitutes) would be desirous in having sex, or spending time, with such a person. This elides the vast majority of women, just as the man you described is other than the vast majority of men (I think). So yeah, that person shouldn’t get married, and should be honest about what they are.

            It is not just “women’s bargaining position” which is negligible to such a man, it is also that kind of man’s bargaining position which is negligible to most women. But there are enough people around, including deluded younger women and prostitutes, that such a man won’t find it impossible to have flings and friends. Just as there are enough younger men around (~1% of men last I read) who are attracted to much older women, that single senior citizen women won’t find it impossible to have a fling or friend.

            There have always, always been playboys, and the women who find them attractive. Those playboys and those women have almost always been tolerated by society, sometimes even fondly (their behavior is even tolerated by the Christian bible, as long as adultery doesn’t happen). Don’t sweat it. Marriage isn’t for you, at least at this point in your life.

            Many people are actively attracted to an indefinite long-term relationship. This is part of the benefit to them, not a cost.

          • Barely matters says:

            @quanta413

            I disagree with almost everything you’ve said, but yes to this. Men should think carefully before marrying women with much lower earnings potential than themselves.

            It’s cool, I endorse everything you’re saying here. A shift towards the norm being two economically contributing partners rather than an earner and a dependent suits me just fine as well.

            @anonymousskimmer

            I’m interested, but I’m not sure I understand quite who you mean when you say:

            that kind of man’s bargaining position which is negligible to most women

            Did you mean the kind of man who jumps into contracts without thinking of them transactionally, or the description of myself specifically as being of low marriage value? (To which I should preface that it’s absolutely cool if you mean me, I really don’t take it personally). I’m trying to understand which parts you think make a man of lower value to women, such that they would be uninterested in spending time or sleeping with him.

            In my experience, failing to place much value in domestic partnerships hasn’t proven to be much of a hindrance. And credit where it’s due, younger women aren’t bad company, deluded or otherwise.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I meant you. 🙂

            I’d written it up generically before recalling that you were talking about yourself and not a hypothetical person.

          • Barely matters says:

            Fair game!

            I’m inclined to agree that I’m not a very good marriage candidate. We both know I’m a total dirtbag, and I’m pretty open about it with my partners too, but for some reason they seem to want to stick around, move in, and build a life together. So I guess I wish I had as much faith in their ability to make sound choices as you do!

            I think the most likely outcome is that they stick around for 6 or 7 years thinking I’ll eventually cave, before getting frustrated and wandering off complaining that I took the best years of their life. I really wish there were a better way that didn’t involve ‘just give her half your portfolio’.

            Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to talk candidly here.

          • Aapje says:

            @Barely matters

            I wonder if the next step is for women to start having to earn like men in order to make themselves financially safe to marry.

            I’m working on an effort post for the next CW OT, which will address this, but also how men can improve their prospects in the new situation. Both genders can do things to better fit within the new paradigm.

            @quanta413

            What seems to happen now (at least in America, less so in my country) is that a subset of women go full out for their career, until they decide to have children and then they fairly drastically u-turn into traditionalism/motherhood. This seems optimal for them from a transactional point of view in a low trust situation, if they want to end up with the best man, as women stay independent until it becomes advantageous to have the man provide, while the woman puts much of her effort into her children.

            It does seem extremely shitty for men who are not seen as good prospects in those independent years, because they get to play a role that is mostly as bad as the traditional provider status in how much sacrifices the man has to make and how his needs become subservient to his wife’s and children’s, except with less benefits.

            The downside to women is that this early career-oriented period is often quite shitty for them (as it often was/is quite shitty for men). I think that the u-turn to traditionalism/motherhood can be seen as a mid-life crisis of sorts, similar to how career-oriented men also regularly have a midlife-crisis when they realize that they’ve been doing things that they don’t enjoy.

            Although, the women in my country seem to generally choose a smarter path, where they just optimize to have a fun, casual youth (where they work part-time straight out of college) and then hope to find a provider husband. This means they give up on a harsh competition with other women over the best man, but collectively doing that might be the best solution for them.

            @anonymousskimmer

            The best prospect is to find a man who isn’t judging transactionally. These men exist, so why not go for one of them?

            That is the best solution from a selfish, abusive point of view, yes…if those men actually exist in sufficient numbers and they don’t misjudge guys like Barely matters.

            However, there are a limited number of men that are so foolish and who are good in other ways, especially at the top end and at more advanced age, so this will leave many of the most intelligent/achieving women proclaiming: where did the good men go?

            You also get delusional articles like this, where it’s claimed to all be the fault of men that they shun these almost perfect women and that they are unwilling to put a lot of effort in. No understanding at all that these men have probably seen and/or had to endure the transactional decisions that women made when the odds were in women’s favor and that they are not going to be suckers who don’t take advantage when the winds change. Selfish behavior that takes full advantage of the edge you have, simply doesn’t tend to result in altruistic behavior in others when the tables turn. If the selfish behavior is unintentional/not recognized by the people who are taking advantage, that doesn’t make the other side hurt less, it just makes the backlash a surprise.

            Money quotes from the article:

            “According to Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist and dating coach, there are an estimated seven new women for every man on the dating scene in the 40-55 age group, so availability is clearly a big issue.”

            “‘You’ve got to make the choice to be that one woman in seven. It’s tough but possible.’”

            And the other 6?

            Women (and men) are better conversational partners as they age. Is that not important to the likes of people on SSC?

            My social needs are low and they seem to be lower for the average man than for the average woman.

            It’s actually these delusions about what men should favor (which then just happens to be the things that are actually better for women to provide than men’s actual needs), that result in the misconception that women are providing more to men than they actually are. This in turn legitimizes selfish behavior that prevents equitable deals from happening as much as they could happen.

          • Barely matters says:

            I’m working on an effort post for the next CW OT, which will address this

            Looking forward to it!

        • gbdub says:

          I can certainly see the social value of a good, stable marriage. It’s much harder to see the value of a crappy marriage, that is, an unbreachable contract that both parties would prefer to breach.

          Maybe lifetime unbreachable contracts made by horny teens and 20 somethings are a bad idea?

          • bean says:

            On the other hand, norms against divorce almost certainly contribute to having stable marriages. If both parties go in with the understanding that they have basically no choice but to make this work, they’re a lot more likely to push through the rough spots than people who think that divorce is normal.

          • John Schilling says:

            Maybe lifetime unbreachable contracts made by horny teens and 20 somethings are a bad idea?

            Societies that enforced lifetime unbreachable(*) contracts made by horny teens and 20 somethings, created all the great empires of history. Landed men on the moon. Enacted the civil rights act. And created the prototype of the internet we are having this discussion on. Societies that have decided to dispense with such contracts, brag about achievements that mostly seem to involve how much sex is going on and in what novel permutations. And elect multiply-divorced presidents.

            Maybe tearing down that fence was a bad idea.

            * Modulo adultery, abuse, and abandonment

          • quanta413 says:

            I’d say we’d got some accomplishments since 1970.R

            Those accomplishments almost entirely belong to countries with “old” marriage norms by western standards (mostly China and India, but other places too) and not to the rich high divorce societies (U.S., Europe) on other continents.

          • Brad says:

            Not entirely. Those poverty reductions are largely a result of trade. It would not have happened without no-fault divorce societies’ cooperation and wealth. The growth of which has been substantial since 1970.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Societies that enforced lifetime unbreachable(*) contracts made by horny teens and 20 somethings, created all the great empires of history.

            Didn’t both Rome and the early Islamic caliphate have easy divorce, at least for men?

          • johan_larson says:

            Societies that enforced lifetime unbreachable(*) contracts made by horny teens and 20 somethings, created all the great empires of history.

            That’s a overstatement. The Romans had divorce, and quite a bit of it, sometimes purely for personal advantage. The Islamic Empire at its height had divorce which was famously easy to initiate for men. So did the Han Chinese, although there you needed reasons, but one of them was not getting along with relatives, which is a hole you can sail a junk through.

          • quanta413 says:

            Obviously, this whole thing is silly.

            But the no-fault divorce countries had similar growth rates before and after no-fault divorce.

            Clearly, the correct argument for no-fault divorce civilizations is that no-fault divorce is how we beat the communists.

          • John Schilling says:

            Not entirely. Those poverty reductions are largely a result of trade. It would not have happened without no-fault divorce societies’ cooperation and wealth.

            If China’s contribution to China not being massively poor any more was to go and make about twenty trillion dollars worth of useful stuff, of sufficient quality that Western consumers are willing to buy it but at a fraction of the price, and the Western contribution was to buy all the stuff they were going to buy anyway but buy it cheaper from China, then I think we’re on reasonably solid ground on giving 90% of the credit to the people who don’t have an ethic of no-fault divorce.

            As for Rome and the Islamic Caliphate, the existence of dowry as a hefty security deposit made divorce rather less than “easy” for anyone who wasn’t filthy stinking rich. Of course, most of the stories that are fun/interesting to read are the ones about the filthy stinking rich people (who are divorcing their starter wives to marry an even richer bride), so there’s a bit of reporting bias there.

          • Brad says:

            http://newyork.china-consulate.org/eng/lsqz/laws/t42222.htm

            Divorce shall be granted if mediation fails because mutual affection no long exists.

            Divorce shall be granted if mediation fails under any of the following circumstances:

            (5)any other circumstances causing alienation of mutual affection.

            I guess all progress stopped in 2003, and since then the only thing China has to be proud of is the novel permutations of sexual partners that its people engage in.

          • quanta413 says:

            Obviously there’s a time lag. As the Chinese divorce rate increases and their divorce laws become less strict, they too will eventually be able to defeat the largest and most powerful communist nation as the U.S. once did…

            Am I doing this right?

            EDIT: My extremely crude estimate for 2014, would be that the U.S. divorce rate is something like 3/7 and the Chinese one is about 2/10 from this data. So China’s got to double their divorce rate to attain true greatness. But I could be off an order of magnitude here.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @John Schilling

            We’ve replaced the dowry with the divorce court, but the risk is still there.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @bean

            they’re a lot more likely to push through the rough spots than people who think that divorce is normal.

            And it’s important to recognize that the life-skills such adaptations provide are a positive, and often even a necessity, outside of the marriage itself.

        • BBA says:

          I remain skeptical of the view that no-fault divorce was a fundamental change to the nature of marriage. Before no-fault, it was increasingly common to divorce on fictitious grounds – i.e., a contrived “extramarital affair” with both spouses’ knowledge, arranged so one could catch the other in the act and file for divorce on grounds of adultery. The primary argument for no-fault was that if this was going to happen anyway, the legal system might as well recognize what was really going on and end these elaborate farces.

          To me the bigger change, from a legal perspective at least, was the abolition of coverture.

          • John Schilling says:

            The important change is cultural rather than legal, with divorce becoming a thing that people aren’t ashamed of or shamed for. But that’s not a thing that you can point to a date on a calendar and say “this is when it happened”. In a democracy, at least, you can point to the passage of legislation reflecting the cultural change and saying “this is probably sort of in the middle of when it was happening”.

            Two more relevant data points would be the TV sitcoms Maude (1972) and One Day at a Time (1975), both of which were considered somewhat controversial at the time for featuring divorced women as protagonists but which became reliable top-10 ratings winners. Prior to that, the reality series Divorce Court (1957-1969) was based largely on identifying and shaming the villainous spouse of the pair.

    • SamChevre says:

      I’d say the sexual revolution was definitely a bad thing; it accomplished very few of the stated goals while damaging a lot of useful institutions. I think the previous systems did a better job of getting more people to make choices that they were more satisfied long-term.

      I’m not sure, though, that it was as revolutionary as it is portrayed; the post-WW2 era was a remarkably non-promiscuous time, not typical of 1700-1950.

    • Well... says:

      Sounds like an interesting paper abstract.

    • Anonymous says:

      Overwhelmingly negative from what I can see. Satan almost certainly involved.

    • Aapje says:

      @DavidFriedman

      I think that you are making a mistake by always comparing marriage to non-marriage, rather than being single to being in a long term relationship (LTR). Changing norms means that many people now live in an LTR that is identical to marriage relationships in most ways, especially when it comes to sex.

      Post-sexual revolution ‘unmarried’ is a different group to pre-revolution ‘unmarried.’ Unfortunately, many studies compare married to unmarried, where it would make more sense to either compare single to those in an LTR or to separate out three groups: single, married LTR or unmarried LTR.

      The obvious good consequence is a much greater availability of the pleasure of sex for unmarried men and women.

      On average, yes. However, I suspect that some groups actually became worse off.

      This is the trade-off of meritocracy/free trade/etc in general: it enables those who have certain qualities to really leverage those to great effect, but it also means that those who lack those qualities are more prone to be out-competed. So you tend to get more extreme difference between what people get in life, unless this is countered. For the job market, you can do various kinds of wealth redistribution for those who have a problem competing. We can’t/shouldn’t redistribute actual coitus, but I do think that we are now doing a partial redistribution of the sex experience in the form of porn.

      Furthermore, along with the sexual revolution we also normalized the use of sex toys for women, which gave women part of the pleasure of sex without having to find a man to assist. In general, the sexual revolution benefited people who have trouble attracting a sex partner by removing the ban on and by improving the experience of masturbation.

      because leaving a marriage no longer means being much less able to obtain sex.

      I’m pretty sure that this not the case for many men who comment here. If you are bad at wooing and/or don’t have traits that make wooing easy (like superior looks or extroversion), then obtaining sex outside of an LTR is much harder.

      In general, studies find that truly single people (not those who are cohabitating) are the least satisfied with their sex life. I also expect a strong disparity among truly single people, with a relatively small percentage of ‘players’ and a relatively large percentage of people who have sex very infrequently or not at all. People in an LTR probably tend to have far less deviation from the average.

      I expect there are other consequences, good and bad, as well. The question I’m putting up for discussion is what they are and what is the sign of the net effect of the change.

      Is this a sensible question? The sexual revolution was pretty much inevitable when fairly reliable birth control was developed & birth control was a huge boon. Medical advances resulted in far more pregnancies ending with a living mother & child and more children living a long life, so birth control was crucial to prevent a Malthusian scenario.

      • SamChevre says:

        I think we may be thinking of different things when talking about the “sexual revolution.” Here’s my thinking:

        Contraception was widely available, and widely used, by 1950; all those families with four children, the youngest of whom was born when the wife was under 30, are good evidence for its widespread use and effectiveness. What didn’t exist was a form of contraception that (1) enabled delayed child-bearing (2) was highly reliable (3)did not require attention shortly before intercourse. (The three common forms as far as I can tell were condoms, diaphragms, and surgical sterilization.)

        What changed between 1960 and 1975 was mostly about marriage norms and single motherhood. What it led to was marriages that were happier on average, but many fewer of them–with the remainder being replaced by various weaker forms of commitment or not replaced. So there are many more (something like 10x as many) children growing up with only one parent, and the average adult is much less likely to have a stable relationship that they can plan around long-term. I don’t see the general upside. Yes, there were some terrible, unhappy, abusive marriages; there are still terrible, unhappy, abusive relationships–they just aren’t marriages. Marriage used to be sufficiently important that people put up with a lot; now they leave, and generally end up just about as unhappy as if they’d stayed.

        • Aapje says:

          Presumably, a bunch of people abusive/unpleasant people now only make themselves unhappy, rather than a spouse & child.

          I don’t know if the upsides outweigh the downsides. It’s an apples to oranges comparison.

          • SamChevre says:

            That’s an assumption I disagree with: I think now in most cases they make their girlfriend unhappy, rather than their wife.

          • Aapje says:

            This Gallup survey shows that the decline in marriage is not compensated by an increase in cohabitation for young people. It goes entirely into people who live alone.

            For somewhat older people, 30-39, their data shows that about 2/3rds of drop in marriage can be attributed to cohabitation increasing and 1/3rd to more people living alone. So there we also have more people living alone.

          • SamChevre says:

            And my guess–just a guess with no data–is that the 30-39 year olds living alone are no more likely to be unpleasant than the ones who are cohabiting. So whatever proportion of people were unpleasant partners then, 2/3 of them are still partnered, 1/3 aren’t. But, on the flip side, the pleasant ones aren’t making a partner happy.

          • Aapje says:

            I would be very surprised indeed if the single people did not have a higher rate of less desirable traits, because that would mean that there is no agreement at all by those who select a partner on what traits are desirable.

            That seems rather obviously false. Pretty people are more desirable on the whole. Higher earning men are more desirable. Women who don’t yet have children are more desirable. People who aren’t mean drunks are more desirable. Etc.

            Desirability would only fail to reflect the chance of being in a relationship if the more desirable would increase their demands for a partner at least as much as their own desirability, but, while we expect some increase, such a strong correlation seems unlikely.

      • onyomi says:

        I sort of agree but would say that living with a partner today, while sort of like an old-fashioned marriage in some ways, nevertheless implies a much lower level of commitment than marriage did then and does now.

        I’m also not sure that contraception makes social acceptance of premarital sex inevitable, but it sure makes it a lot harder to avoid in the absence of widely shared, strong, probably religious values. For example, I know a few conservative couples who supposedly waited until marriage and got married quite young by today’s standards, and it mostly seems to have worked out pretty well for them. It is not impossible to imagine a world in which their values are the norm rather than the exception, though it probably implies a lot of other big social changes to imagine it working.

        • Aapje says:

          I sort of agree but would say that living with a partner today, while sort of like an old-fashioned marriage in some ways, nevertheless implies a much lower level of commitment than marriage did then and does now.

          Sure, but that still means that cohabitation and marriage of today are far more similar to each other than to being single. Marriage is harder to exit, but primarily because people tend to marry when they want children and it’s the presence of children that really makes divorce difficult. Unmarried people who have children and split up also have that difficulty.

          For example, I know a few conservative couples who supposedly waited until marriage and got married quite young by today’s standards, and it mostly seems to have worked out pretty well for them. It is not impossible to imagine a world in which their values are the norm rather than the exception, though it probably implies a lot of other big social changes to imagine it working.

          I just wrote a bit elsewhere on the problem with unrealistic expectations.

          I do agree that it is plausible that far more people would decide to marry young with a more realistic world view. On the other hand, young people are not known for being very realistic/wise & in much of history, society had to be quite forceful to get the vast majority of young people to conform.

          You will always have a group of youths who are so desirable that they are the winners in a very sexually permissive society & these are automatically going to have the strongest influence on youth culture (because the same traits that make people want to have sex with them, also makes people want to be friends with them).

          Arguably, we should be telling many people: with your face & other traits, you better have low expectations and marry ASAP to another person with low desirability. Holding out for Christiano Ronaldo/Miranda Kerr is just going to mean that you will end up with a choice from a smaller and smaller pool, who are not going to be better than what you can pick now.

        • SamChevre says:

          living with a partner today…implies a much lower level of commitment than marriage did then

          I’d add that even marriage today implies a lower commitment to stability than marriage did then; it probably implies a higher commitment to faithfulness, though. (Anecdata; talking to people who were married in the 1950s, it seems that a fair number of spouses of both genders were more likely to tolerate an affair by their spouse than is the case now.)

          • Aapje says:

            Sure, but that higher commitment was often not based on making an attempt at an objective decision, but a consequence of a societal taboo on separation. So this could mean that people would often stick with relationships that overall were negative sum, which is not good.

            In the modern environment, people do try to make that decision based a mix of the overall impact (which is why many stay together when the children are young, despite wanting to separate) and the impact to themselves, which in itself seems the most reasonable way to operate.

            The issue is more that there is a lack of good information, as well as the harmful influence of (temporary) emotion & infatuations, causing bad decisions to be made. However, bad decisions are made in both directions, so it’s not a given that going back to the earlier model would reduce the error rates.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Aapje

        I’m pretty sure that this not the case for many men who comment here. If you are bad at wooing and/or don’t have traits that make wooing easy (like superior looks or extroversion), then obtaining sex outside of an LTR is much harder.

        Much harder than what?

        I’d also point out that what an LTR is has changed. Once upon a time, the expectation might be marriage, or at least, engagement. Now you go out on three or four dates, text in between, and bam, people file that under “LTR” in their heads.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        In general, the sexual revolution benefited people who have trouble attracting a sex partner by removing the ban on and by improving the experience of masturbation.

        Dunno about that. The impression I get is that lots of young men have difficulty attracting a partner because all the women are sleeping with a small amount of very promiscuous, very attractive men. Presumably in a society where sex was only accepted inside marriage, we’d expect a much larger proportion to get regular sex, because each person would only be having sex with one partner* and so we wouldn’t get the phenomenon of a small number of people enjoying almost all the sexual partners.

        * Leaving aside affairs, prostitution, etc., for simplicity’s sake.

        • dndnrsn says:

          How do you get this impression? There’s a decent number of middle-attractiveness guys who do well with women, or well enough. They might not be constantly picking up women in bars, or whatever. The high-percentile-attractiveness-etc guys are not taking all the women; there’s still plenty of women for guys who are in the middle range, for LTRs or casual sex or whatever. There is no phenomenon of a small number of guys getting almost all the women – that’s a gross exaggeration.

          The guys at the top get more sexual partners than the guys below them, usually, but this isn’t a new thing. In traditional patriarchal societies of the sort where there’s polygyny, rich old men do take a huge share of the women, leaving guys at the bottom with nothing. This isn’t a creation of the sexual revolution; it’s better today for Joe Schmoe than it has been in a lot of societies.

          I think the issue is more a combination of, overall, messaging that one’s worth is heavily tied to one’s ability to attract partners (esp. for men), and on the one hand, messaging to women leading them to believe they have all the time in the world (it’s become moderately taboo to recognize that women’s fertility declines earlier and more than men’s) and on the other hand, various different forms of messaging to young men that leave them rather clueless as to what women are actually attracted to.

          Anecdata: Back when I was doing online dating, I didn’t have a hard time getting dates or relationships; I could have been having more sex if I’d wanted to, probably. Either I’m very attractive (flattering, but probably incorrect) or your impression is incorrect.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            My impression is based on statistics showing that on dating websites the top 5% or so of men get something like 80% of messages. Granted, that might not reflect the situation in face-to-face interactions, but I still suspect that most men would get more sex if they paired off with a wife than under the current situation.

            I don’t think polygamous societies are really relevant here; if we’re asking “Was the sexual revolution a good thing, on balance?” the relevant comparison would surely be the western world just before the sexual revolution (i.e., the 1950s), not ancient Egypt or wherever.

          • dndnrsn says:

            But is getting messages the measurement? Getting one’s messages returned, setting up dates, getting future dates/having casual sex/whatever seems to be the measurement.

            There’s a difference between “I can’t get any dates because those blasted chads are taking all the women” and “I am not so hot that women throw themselves at me.”

            Was getting a girlfriend or wife easier for unattractive, uncharming, etc guys in the 50s than it is now? Because the Redpill/adjacent narrative in which the sexual revolution let the most attractive guys have sex with all the women, who then no longer want relationships or whatever with average guys – I don’t think that’s accurate. Life has never been a picnic for below-average people, but a guy who’s average is not frozen out of the ability to find a woman roughly in his league by the hottest guys.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I think what’s going on isn’t that the most attractive men are getting all the women, or even all the fairly attractive women. This might be happening in some social circles.

            What might be going on is that the least attractive 10% or 20% of men (guessing at the numbers) have no chance at attracting any woman, or see themselves in that situation.

          • Aapje says:

            Not even just the least attractive, but also those with bad social skills.

            Ultimately, men usually have to woo, which is more difficult than to be wooed.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I was including skill at wooing as part of being attractive.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Something I’ve been thinking about, is that the sexual revolution “stalled” – we’re in a weird twilight zone between what the utopians in the 60s wanted, and what existed before that.

      What the most utopian utopians appear to have wanted was true sexual freedom – informed consent for everyone, no jealousy, free love, etc. The lesser version of this focused on informed consent and not being hung up about sex – people should be able to talk about it, it should be initiated through mutual consent instead of one party (in a male-female pairing, almost always the man) escalating things under the assumption that the absence of no is a yes.

      The situation now is one where people are more willing to have sex than they were prior to the middle 20th century. More willing to have sex within a relationship, and outside of a relationship. However, communicating clearly about it has not increased to the same level. The script is still that the guy initiates. Many people – male and female – think that seeking affirmative consent, etc, is weird. A lot of people don’t seem happy with the current way things are.

      Whether what the utopians wanted is possible is an open question. It might be impossible, for reasons biological, it might be so hard to change due to social reasons to be effectively impossible, or some combination.

      Caveat: the degree to which the sexual revolution made premarital sex more common is sometimes overstated – but it was less common in the past than it is today. Antibiotics reduced the effects of disease, the increasing availability of the pill reduced the risk of pregnancy, and society changed along with that. Anyone who tells you that people were having sex in the same patterns then as they were today is full of crap. Not the case. However, anybody who says that people were chaste before the pill showed up are full of crap too.

      • Thegnskald says:

        My impression of the early sexual revolution is that many/most of the people involved didn’t think anybody would say no – that is, they thought the only reason people weren’t having sex with anybody who wanted to have sex with them was weird cultural hang-ups about sex.

        The structure of modern consent looks like an ad-hoc fix on top of that system, rather than something that was built into it from the beginning

        ETA:

        Thinking about it, this attitude has been half-universalized. There are a lot of people out there who think not wanting to have sex with someone is an aggressive attitude, a denial of their humanity (like at least a subset of the earlier free love people, it is like refusing to shake someone’s hand). But it has become distorted and contextualized, so that it is only aggressive under specific circumstances.

        • Matt M says:

          Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, we have school dances where people are not allowed to decline requests to dance, because of inclusivity and hurt feelings.

          I keep wondering how strong individualist feminism can coincide with the general collectivist-minded left-wing narrative. How far away are we from “everyone belongs to everyone else” ala Brave New World?

          • Thegnskald says:

            The identitarian left is slowly shattering as these kinds of issues become more and more prominent.

            Like the idea that it is wrong and bigoted not to have sex with trans people.

            At a certain point, I just want to sit back and watch. It is fascinating.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Thegnskald

          That was a thing; you are correct. One of the complaints in second-wave feminism past a certain point was about a sort of what I guess today we’d call “woke misogyny” in the peace-and-free-love circles. I might be reading more recent sex-positive attitudes back in time.

          • Thegnskald says:

            It is an interesting perspective; what if they are right? What if social attitudes towards sex are the only reason people say “No”?

            It is kind of a moot point, I guess, as even if it is the case, I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Certainly I have little interest in adopting those kinds of sexual mores; social interaction is oppressive enough without adding that much expected work on top of it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            If sex was as consequence-free as shaking hands usually is, it could become like shaking hands. You’re not going to shake someone’s hand if you really don’t like them, or if they’re covered in sewage, or whatever. For various reasons, I think this is unlikely.

          • One way of looking at the question is to start by asking why intercourse is superior to masturbation, given that the latter option is conveniently available without all the search costs and potential problems of the former.

            I think one part of the answer is that someone’s willingness to sleep with you signals something good about you. Another part is that sexual intercourse has emotional concomitants–“make love” is both a euphemism and an exaggerated description of a real phenomenon. Both of those are reasons why having intercourse with anyone who wants it doesn’t work.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Thegnskald

          This got me thinking more, and I think you have something here. “Free love” in all its permutations generally seems to benefit men, or at least some men, more than women. The men who are complaining in today’s system are, by and large, the men who aren’t getting laid. The guys who are getting laid seem pretty happy; there’s maybe a tinge of fear for some of them that wasn’t there before, but that’s a recent development. In comparison, women unhappy with the current system vary widely in their specifics and complaints.

          What if affirmative consent, all that, is just an attempt to make more female-friendly a system that disadvantages women, at least sexually? The old way of doing things was extremely stifling for women in multiple ways, not just sexually. If the push for affirmative consent, the thinkpieces where women complain that their hookups were disrespectful and unkind, all that, is trying to put brakes on a sexual system that advantages men, or some men, over women…

          Let’s put it another way: what if instead of stopping to slut-shame women, society had started slut-shaming men?

          • Matt M says:

            In comparison, women unhappy with the current system vary widely in their specifics and complaints.

            Do they? I thought they all map pretty reasonably to “Men want more sex and less commitment than I would prefer”

          • Thegnskald says:

            I have a little trouble with this, because an environment in which men aren’t slut-shamed is kind of alien to me.

            This may get back to the “I grew up in a rural, conservative area”, but the few men who slept around were not well thought-of.

            And this still seems to be the case; society still seems to frown pretty heavily on men sleeping around. We don’t call them sluts, exactly, but the negative affect is still there.

            The weird thing is that everybody seems to think that everybody else likes men for sleeping around. Maybe this is still a bubble thing? But the closest thing I actually see to approving of men sleeping around is virgin-shaming, which is more like “There is a societal ideal for the amount of sex a man has and the number of partners he has had that is greater than X and less than Y”, where the equivalent Y for women is lower. Which I guess could look like society being more restrictive of women’s sexuality, if the only direction of restrictiveness you care about is viewing the upper limit of acceptability.

            But going back to the bubble thing – in which the conservative culture I grew up in frowned on male promiscuity – I have a vague “Aha” building in my head about one of the culture clashes: Maybe cosmopolitan culture is, in fact, accepting of male promiscuity.

            Maybe this is like the “racism” thing above. Maybe cosmopolitan culture is sexist in this way.

            In which case, the even more restrictive mores in rural culture would look worse – if you are only looking at the sexism your own culture engages in. Because they are more restrictive of women’s sexuality – but, and this is, I think the critical thing that is missed, they are also restrictive of men’s sexuality.

          • Matt M says:

            We don’t call them sluts, exactly, but the negative affect is still there.

            “fuckboi” is not exactly a term of endearment

            The weird thing is that everybody seems to think that everybody else likes men for sleeping around.

            I think men gain status by demonstrating that they are capable of sleeping with high-status women as often as they’d like (and of course, the surest way to demonstrate capability of something is to actually do it). Guys who get a lot of sex by approaching low status women, getting them drunk, and never calling back are not thought of very well – no. But, as you point out, these guys still enjoy significantly more status than virgins…

          • Randy M says:

            I do think young men who sleep around get respect for it from their non-religious peers, at least, in ways young women do not. I think older men (say, >30) have some disdain for their peers who continue to act juvenile. In no case, of course, is unintentional virtue respected in this sphere.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Leaving aside complaints concerning harassment and assault, which concern behaviour that is either criminal or at a minimum extremely sketchy (the guy who looks for drunk girls who wouldn’t say yes if they were sober may or may not be breaking the law depending on the jurisdiction, but he is 100% a shitty person) there tend to be a few different streams.

            There’s the one you mention. That one is tied up with what DavidFriedman mentioned above: a woman holding out for commitment of some sort is in a considerably worse bargaining position, so to speak, than she used to be. It’s a bad situation, and I feel sympathy, in the same way I feel sympathy for people who lost manufacturing jobs due to labour being cheaper elsewhere.

            There’s “the guys I have casual sex with are jerks” – not a claim of assault, but a claim that the guys are disrespectful, not hugely concerned with consent, don’t particularly care about the woman’s pleasure, etc. There’s something here – a lot of men are like that (I think it’s an inevitable result of “# of women bedded” being the main measurement of masculinity for many men today – say that five times fast) but it’s a complaint I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for – because the obvious solution is to only have sex with people after you’ve gotten a gauge on their character. Which, of course, generally means not having casual sex, or at least not having sex with people you don’t know. It’s also a complaint that’s rather clueless about the fact that the major way to stop these guys being shitty is to stop having sex with shitty guys. They’re not gonna change out of the goodness of their hearts. Boycotts work.

            There’s “I’m out of my 20s; where did all the guys go?!?” too but that one’s not really about sex.

          • dndnrsn says:

            With regard to social judgment of men who sleep around: there’s always been some judgment of cads, but it’s never been to the same degree as judgment of promiscuous women, and it’s of a different kind.

            People might disapprove of a guy who sleeps with a lot of women, but they’re judging him for something he does. In contrast, the judgment of a promiscuous woman is that she is letting something be done to her too easily. It casts her in the position of a morally disreputable victim, somewhat pathetic.

          • Nornagest says:

            “fuckboi” is not exactly a term of endearment

            I thought that meant “guy you’re sleeping with but whom you don’t respect”, not “guy who sleeps around a lot”? Sort of the equivalent of calling your girlfriend “my bitch”, but without the class connotations.

          • Matt M says:

            I thought that meant “guy you’re sleeping with but whom you don’t respect”, not “guy who sleeps around a lot”? Sort of the equivalent of calling your girlfriend “my bitch”, but without the class connotations.

            I always thought it was a bit of a combination. It’s a guy you’re sleeping with but don’t expect to be in a relationship with – often because he sleeps around and you don’t think he has any intention of wanting a relationship with you.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            In re slut-shaming men:

            https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/7vhldu/she_wrote_it_but_revisiting_joanna_russ_how_to/?limit=500

            Among other things, this is about romance not getting respect as a genre, presumably because it’s something women like. I’m not arguing with the claim, but it may be relevant that porn gets even less respect.

            I recommend the initial essay, though what I read of the comments didn’t seem to add a tremendous amount.

            Looking into the history of what art gets respect and what doesn’t, and how it shifts, is probably worth some time.

            My tentative theory is that anything people really like, especially if it’s relatively new, will be despised.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            That seems like one of these standard victim narratives based on cherry picked evidence to support a preconceived narrative.

            Right now, fiction is mainly read by women and seems the most respected genre, while non-fiction, which is more often read by men, is not seen as ‘high culture.’ SF is even more male-dominated and probably gets the least respect. It seems practically impossible for a SF novel to win a ‘normal’ literature reward. The more female fantasy & YA genre seems to get more respect (Harry Potter & Game of Thrones, for example, get broad recognition).

            Also, parts of that narrative are just maddening in their lack of empathy with men:

            Perhaps the most common interaction I have had with female authors (and gay male authors) of a certain age is how to get their male partners to “let” them write.

            Let me guess, the partner is actually earning real money, while the writer is not (the statistics suggest that most authors earn very little). In that case, is the partner wrong to regard the writing as a hobby that does not excuse the writer from making a contribution to the household that is somewhat on par with the money that the partner brings in?

            Not only does the writer not answer this question, she doesn’t even ask it, which I consider strong evidence of anti-male bias. There is no attempt to see the situation from the other perspective. It’s just: men have obligations, women have rights. That is not equality, that is a demand for benevolent sexism.

            PS. Also, the sexism is offensive: “Yet, we’re all human and we live in this culture where it’s still okay to insult female-for-female gaze.” Apparently, women may write things that men may not. Bye, bye, equality of opportunity.

            PS2. On second thought, this is probably not why you posted that link, but it pissed me off 🙂

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Aapje, there are at least a couple of possible scenarios for the having time/permission to write issue.

            One is the writer wanting to not do much for the household.

            Another is the non-writer demanding the writer’s attention whenever the writer seems to be settling down to write.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            What if affirmative consent, all that, is just an attempt to make more female-friendly a system that disadvantages women, at least sexually? The old way of doing things was extremely stifling for women in multiple ways, not just sexually. If the push for affirmative consent, the thinkpieces where women complain that their hookups were disrespectful and unkind, all that, is trying to put brakes on a sexual system that advantages men, or some men, over women…

            I think it completes the Victorian Reversal, as I like to call it. Women are now allowed to be as slutty as they want, but guys still have to be perfect gentlemen. So yeah, it’s trying to advantage women.

          • quaelegit says:

            @Aapje

            Sorry this got really long. Summary — you’re claims about which genres are respected do not match my experience/impressions (which I elaborate below). Can you explain/elaborate your thought?

            >Right now, fiction is mainly read by women and seems the most respected genre, while non-fiction, which is more often read by men, is not seen as ‘high culture.’ SF is even more male-dominated and probably gets the least respect.

            How are you measuring/judging respect? I’m not sure what a good way is that lets us compare, but my impression is that non-fiction and sci-fi get MORE respect than other types of fiction (romance? mystery? YA? not sure what clear other genres people point to). Obviously these are broad and heterogeneous categories but when I try to think of “central” examples [sorry these are probably all UK/American]:

            “Serious Literature” that wins the Pullitzer or Nobel or whatever prize — I think Donna Tart is in this category but I don’t read Serous Literatute so can’t name any other living authors (some older ones would be the ones my English Major friends write papers on — James Joyce, Henry James, Daphne Du Maurier off the top of my head). These ones obviously get a lot of respect, they’re the focus of the academy. I think you also age into this category — Dickens was probably not in this category when he was published (if Serious Literature was even a thing in the sense I’m thinking of back then) but I think he is now?

            — Non fiction — I’m thinking John McPhee and Eric Larson b/c they’ve been recommended to me, but its obviously a large and heterogeneous category. I can’t think of any examples that wouldn’t get respect though, at least from the general public (historians/anthropologists/most other academics might look down on you for reading Jared Diamond but the average reader will think you’r smart).

            — Sci Fi and Fantasy — at the “high respect” end you get really prestigious authors, like I think George RR Martin and John Scalzi get a lot of respect and the average person would judge you well for reading their books. At the low end there’s “pulp”, but I’m only familiar with that as a historical term and don’t know who modern “pulp” authors are. Authors that I’ve been mildly embarrassed to read include Eric Flint — mostly because the writing style feels unpolished to me and my friends and family are tired of me talking about the Thirty Years War 😛

            — Mystery and thrillers? Well Dan Brown gets no respect, but I think some others do — definitely Stephen King does (and Amazon puts his stuff in “Mystery and Suspense”.) I don’t think people would judge you negatively for reading James Patterson or Sue Grafton on the train? Also DEFINITELY a category were authors can age into respect — Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie are definitely respected these days.

            Romance — I read so little romance that I’m not sure what a good non-central example is. I don’t think anyone judged me for reading Outlander, but that much more SciFi/Historical Fiction/Adventure than maybe the typical romance? plus a guy might catch more flak for it (too bad, its a fun book).

            YA — definitely you’d get the least respect reading these as an adult. (Which is an attitude I’d like to push back on but I’m trying to describe what I observe not what I want.) I think YA romance most of all, although hard to disentangle that from the Internet Phenomenon of Twilight.

            ==========

            Also, to the extent that respect is influenced by popularity, sci fi and fantasy are The Most Popular going by box office and movie adaption attention. Even if I’m not sure how marvel fits in, Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, etc. are some of the most talked about media right now. And in books — hard for me to measure because I read a lot of SF&F and talk to people about what I read — but internet discussions are definitely dominated by SF&F — again GoT, Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, …)

            ======================

            I’m sure what I’ve described is heavily American-skewed, so if opinions are drastically different in Europe let me know 😛 (Also heavily book and nerd-skewed, b/c I get these impressions from talking to book-reading friends and the Books subreddit, but I’m not sure how to disentangle that — why should readers care what non-readers think about books? How can they even have coherent or useful opinions separate from copying readers’ opinions?)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @AnonYEMous

            And yet, that isn’t what’s happening. While there certainly is a school of thought that would like for women to be able to do whatever they want without risk of hurt feelings, let alone actual risk… It isn’t the case. Nowhere near. The message the actual men of the variety who do the feelings-hurting, and of the variety that do the actual assaulting, are getting, seems to be more “don’t get caught” than “this is how to behave.”

            Is there even a norm right now?

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Yet the writer doesn’t distinguish between reasons or notes that there can be any legitimate reasons at all. There is merely a demand that the man should be “in charge of the dishwasher, dogs, and kids” aka the entire household.

            I fundamentally believe that only a demand for quid-pro-quo can be reasonable and there is zero indication that this is desired.

            I also have trouble believing that in modern times so many men would be so demanding. Given the rest of her piece, my assumption is that the unreasonableness is at her end.

            @quaelegit

            I was using the standard of looking at the top end of the categories. Obviously any category is going to have a lot of disrespected books.

            The top end of fiction get respect as Art. The top end of fiction gets respect as a technical job well done, with perhaps an exception here and there that is considered Art. But most of the top tier non-fiction seems to garner less respect and less enduring fame.

            Anyway, this is just my impression. My point was mainly that I just don’t see some patriarchal system where all the works written by women or more often read by women get far less respect, while the works written by men or read more by men are all more respected.

            I see a persecution complex, not reason.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “However, Russ uses an example that rings modern. Marie Curie’s biographer, her daughter Eve, wrote how Marie and Pierre did their scientific work, but Marie also did the cleaning, shopping, cooking, and child care. Perhaps the most common interaction I have had with female authors (and gay male authors) of a certain age is how to get their male partners to “let” them write. How exactly, Krista, do you convince your husband to let you have uninterrupted writing time, whereby he is in charge of the dishwasher, dogs, and kids?

            It is such a fundamentally frustrating question because it has come from all kinds of writers. From twitter fandom theory writers to multi-published Big 5 authors, and boils down to, “How do you get your husband to respect your writing time?” It’s a question I have always been unable to properly answer, as I don’t know how to get one’s husband to respect you, your passions, and your pursuits.”

            Aapje, here’s a chunk of the text.

            Note that the author says things have gotten better on this front. Also note that the issue seems to have existed no matter whether the writing was bringing in money.

            I somewhat misremembered it– I thought the issue was more like wife starts to write, husband says “Come watch television with me”, but that wasn’t it.

            Do you believe that the partner who brings in less money shouldn’t be allowed to have any immersive hobbies?

            If the woman does bring in more money (this isn’t the default, but it isn’t rare either) should her husband be willing to guard her writing time?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            ““in charge of the dishwasher, dogs, and kids” aka the entire household.”

            I think the idea was that the husband should be the go-to person while the wife has her writing time, but not all the time.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            What is frustrating to me is that a key part of ‘patriarchy’ is the idea that men have a primary duty to earn the household income, which effectively means that men are pressured into sacrificing more pleasant career choices or more pleasant number of hours spent at their job.

            Her complaint that there are expectations on women to run the household is the other side of the gender norms coin: the way in which women are or were pressured to do what the gender norm considers to be the duty of their gender.

            Ultimately, it doesn’t work when no one earns an income and when no one does the work to run the household, so some sacrifice is needed. In just about every relationship there is going to be an adversarial component, where each person wants the other to sacrifice more and they themselves want to sacrifice less.

            This can result in conflict. There is no obvious reason why we should assume that the balance that is favored by the man is closer to reasonable than what is favored by the woman, or vice versa. It’s especially unreasonable to assume that there is no validity to what the man favors at all.

            Of course, in feminism, it is often taken as axiomatic that what the man favors is less reasonable and that the societally favored balance disfavors women on the whole. However, I reject treating these as axioms.

  23. Stefan Klaus says:

    Hi I wrote this post about (bad) incentives and would like to link it here — https://medium.com/@stefanklaus/rat-problem-3b3564e23195

  24. Mark says:

    People often say that opposition to open borders is motivated by racism, but I think that the most extreme modern racists have more or less given up on nationalism.
    They tend to be amongst the strongest opponents of strong central government. So, are racists actually opposed to open borders? I can imagine that if they could maintain a strong community, increased competition from other ethnic groups might appeal to darwinistic racialists.
    I suppose the danger is that those smaller communities wouldn’t be able to stand up to the power of the central government, so it becomes a battle of who wields that central power – though presumably if the constituent parts of the nation hate each other enough, that central power will itself collapse.

    Personally, I think the best argument for open borders was laid out pretty clearly in the 2004 predictive programming masterpiece The Day After Tomorrow. That is, establish the principle of open borders, make sure that we are in large part Southern-worlders, so that when environmental disaster strikes they’ll let us move in with them.

    • Matt M says:

      I can imagine that if they could maintain a strong community, increased competition from other ethnic groups might appeal to darwinistic racialists.

      This is… uh…. not my experience.

      The ones I’ve interacted with are strong supporters of pure ethnic enclaves – under the notion that over time this would “prove” the superiority of whites. Basically “they can take whatever geographic area they want and they’d run it in the ground, we’ll take whatever is left and build a paradise” sort of thing. They want competition among nations, but they don’t want other races in their own neighborhood, lest the other races end up taking credit for community success.

    • Urstoff says:

      Open borders sure gets talked about (and attacked) a lot for a policy that won’t ever happen and is not remotely on the political landscape with any major party in any first-world country.

      • Matt M says:

        Open borders is the de facto position of the Democratic party in the US right now. They wouldn’t use that term but they oppose any and every incremental effort to restrict entry, to deny government services to those who entered illegally, AND to remove anyone who entered improperly.

        • Urstoff says:

          This doesn’t seem true at all. Amnesty is hardly the same as dismantling borders. When Democrats call for the abolition of the INS and ICE, all legal immigration quotas, visa programs, etc., then your statement would be closer to the truth.

          • Matt M says:

            Which is why I said incremental, not absolute.

            They don’t call for the abolition of ICE, but they do pass laws intended to make it impossible for ICE to be effective in jurisdictions they control. They don’t call for quotas to be immediately abolished, but they vehemently protest any attempt to modify the existing quotas in any way other than “more people allowed” (including switching from random allotment to merit-based, because that’s racist).

            It would be interesting to try and corner any prominent Democratic politician on the record with a question like “What SHOULD the quota be?” I suspect they would refuse to answer. Because the answer their base wants to hear is, in fact, “unlimited,” but this would be considered unacceptable to large swaths of swing voters.

          • Urstoff says:

            You said they oppose any incremental effort to restrict access (from the status quo, I presume), which is not logically equivalent to “wants no restrictions on access”.

            It would be nice if both sides were more honest in the immigration debate. Then we could really see how many politicians are for open borders, and how many are for trying to achieve a white ethnostate.

          • Matt M says:

            You said they oppose any incremental effort to restrict access (from the status quo, I presume), which is not logically equivalent to “wants no restrictions on access”.

            If you ask them, “Do you want more or fewer immigrants” the answer is always “more.” I suppose it’s possible that at some point they’d hit a limit and say “Okay, now we have enough immigrants, and it’s okay to start stringently enforcing this new quota level” but nobody has ever volunteered even a guess as to what that level might be.

            And that’s leaving aside rhetoric such as “no human being is illegal” which certainly sounds a lot more like “anyone should be able to come who wants to” rather than “I favor slightly more immigration than we have now, but not too much of course! We have to draw the line somewhere!”

          • JayT says:

            When Democrats call for the abolition of the INS and ICE, all legal immigration quotas, visa programs, etc., then your statement would be closer to the truth.

            Sanctuary cities/states are basically that, no?

          • Urstoff says:

            If you ask them, “Do you want more or fewer immigrants” the answer is always “more.” I suppose it’s possible that at some point they’d hit a limit and say “Okay, now we have enough immigrants, and it’s okay to start stringently enforcing this new quota level” but nobody has ever volunteered even a guess as to what that level might be.

            Okay, but I don’t see how that supports the statement “Open borders is the de facto position of the Democratic party”. I’m not disputing the much more plausible statement “more immigration is the de facto position of the Democratic party”.

          • Nornagest says:

            Sanctuary cities/states are basically that, no?

            Border control still operates e.g. between San Diego and Tijuana. California’s just not going to fall all over itself to track down illegal immigrants within its borders, especially in its largest cities.

          • JayT says:

            Border patrol is Federal though, so the Republicans still have a lot of say in what they do. If it were left up to states to control their borders, I’m honestly not sure what California would do. I suspect at first they would stick with the status quo, but as time went on, I’d suspect that the border patrol would become more and more toothless.

          • Brad says:

            When Democrats call for the abolition of the INS and ICE, all legal immigration quotas, visa programs, etc., then your statement would be closer to the truth.

            Sanctuary cities/states are basically that, no?

            No. Sanctuary cities/states are cities/states telling the federal government it is responsible for enforcing its own laws, and isn’t entitled to commander state personnel for its own ends. As they perfectly entitled to do. Check your copy of the constitution, it should have a 10th amendment in there.

            A state government no more supports open borders because it doesn’t want to do the federal government’s job for it when it comes to immigration than a state government is in favor of the planes falling out of the sky because it doesn’t want to pay for air traffic control.

            They wouldn’t use that term but they oppose any and every incremental effort to restrict entry, to deny government services to those who entered illegally, AND to remove anyone who entered improperly.

            Even if this was true, it wouldn’t mean they are in favor of open borders. Open borders means just that, completely free movement of people. Yet another disingenuous strawman.

          • JayT says:

            No. Sanctuary cities/states are cities/states telling the federal government it is responsible for enforcing its own laws, and isn’t entitled to commander state personnel for its own ends. As they perfectly entitled to do. Check your copy of the constitution, it should have a 10th amendment in there.

            And none of what you said refutes my point, which is that the idea of a sanctuary state is basically the same thing as a call for the abolition of “INS and ICE, all legal immigration quotas, visa programs” because all of those are Federal programs.

            For what it’s worth, I’m in favor of far more open borders than we currently have. I just agree that “open borders” is the de facto position of the Democratic Party. I suspect that it is mostly posturing, and that they would soften on the issue greatly if they controlled the White House and Congress, but as of right now, I think it is true.

          • Matt M says:

            I suspect that it is mostly posturing, and that they would soften on the issue greatly if they controlled the White House and Congress, but as of right now, I think it is true.

            Totally agree with this too.

            I think immigration is to the left what deficits and high spending is to the right. A real easy thing to howl about to energize your base when you’re out of power – that then goes almost completely ignored when you’re in power.

            Trump is evil because he wants a wall (but pay no attention to the high deportation numbers and lack of comprehensive reform under Obama). Obama is evil because he spends too much money (but pay no attention to the massive spending bills under GWB and Trump).

          • BBA says:

            It’s actually becoming increasingly common on the left to literally call for the abolition of ICE. What they mean varies from thinking it’s a rotten institution and needs a full top-to-bottom replacement to carry out its functions to thinking its functions are inherently xenophobic and should be abolished.

            Sometimes they throw in “abolish CBP” too, which would actually mean open borders.

            In any case, I do have one overarching argument against open borders that only the most committed ancap would disagree with, which is that we need to be able to deport Piers Morgan.

          • Matt M says:

            which is that we need to be able to deport Piers Morgan.

            We already did.

            And weirdly enough, once we did, he seems to have converted from blue tribe to red.

            Maybe he’s a literal, professional troll.

          • gbdub says:

            A state government no more supports open borders because it doesn’t want to do the federal government’s job for it when it comes to immigration than a state government is in favor of the planes falling out of the sky because it doesn’t want to pay for air traffic control.

            Oh c’mon man. “Sanctuary Cities” have basically nothing to do with those cities being overburdened by the fiscal costs of immigration enforcement, and everything to do with the members of those local governments being fundamentally opposed to the mission of ICE being carried out in their cities at all, regardless of who pays for it.

            The only reason they don’t do more than not directly participate is because their rights don’t extend to actively obstructing the Feds.

          • Brad says:

            @JayT

            And none of what you said refutes my point, which is that the idea of a sanctuary state is basically the same thing as a call for the abolition of “INS and ICE, all legal immigration quotas, visa programs” because all of those are Federal programs.

            No, it isn’t. It is perfectly consistent to think that a state government shouldn’t do anything to enforce the federal immigration law and to think that the federal government should do some things to enforce federal immigration law.

            Where did all these shrinking violets on the left come from all of a sudden? People have no problem telling pollsters about all sorts of fairly radical political positions, like supporting hate speech laws for example, but all of a sudden when it comes to open borders there’s a conspiracy of silence? Is that a very likely hypothesis or or is more likely that alt right types like to beat up strawmen?

            I suspect that it is mostly posturing, and that they would soften on the issue greatly if they controlled the White House and Congress, but as of right now, I think it is true.

            How would your position ever be falsified then? It isn’t based on what people say their position is and you don’t actually expect them to do anything along those lines if they ever have a chance to actually make policy. So it what sense is it at all meaningful to say it is their “de facto” position?

            For what it’s worth, I’m in favor of far more open borders than we currently have. I just agree that “open borders” is the de facto position of the Democratic Party.

            Sorry this is bullshit. Open borders means just that, the free movement of people. No border controls, no visas, no registration, nothing. And there’s virtually no one that supports that. Just because you want fewer restrictions than the status quo doesn’t give you anymore right to create a strawman than our resident MAGA enthusiast.

            @BBA

            It’s actually becoming increasingly common on the left to literally call for the abolition of ICE.

            Sometimes they throw in “abolish CBP” too, which would actually mean open borders.

            You have a poll or are you extrapolating from four tweets a facebook share?

          • Brad says:

            @gbdub

            The only reason they don’t do more than not directly participate is because their rights don’t extend to actively obstructing the Feds.

            If that’s the prevailing ideology in those cities, then how come the congressmen that represent the same people that elected those mayors and city councilmen aren’t out there writing bills to eliminate all restrictions on immigration, abolish ICE, abolish CPB and have real open borders?

            Sure maybe those bills wouldn’t pass because you have more moderate democrats in suburbs or in other states, but that doesn’t stop the far right restrictionists from writing bills that play to their base. Or for that matter even on blatant unconstitutionality doesn’t stop states when it comes to abortion restriction laws they know will be struck down.

          • gbdub says:

            If that’s the prevailing ideology in those cities, then how come the congressmen that represent the same people that elected those mayors and city councilmen aren’t out there writing bills to eliminate all restrictions on immigration, abolish ICE, abolish CPB and have real open borders?

            Good question! That’s why I think, as I stated below, that the actual position of Dems is not “open borders” but rather “make a lot of noise about how nasty Republicans are for trying to aggressively enforce existing immigration law, to energize our base, but don’t actually attempt major structural changes to immigration law, lest we upset swing voters”

            But if you think Ed Lee would have been totally down with everyone in San Fran illegally being deported, as long as he didn’t have to pay for it, you’re bonkers. “Sanctuary” implies a lot more than that, and it was a freely accepted label.

          • Brad says:

            Good question! That’s why I think, as I stated below, that the actual position of Dems is not “open borders” but rather “make a lot of noise about how nasty Republicans are for trying to aggressively enforce existing immigration law, to energize our base, but don’t actually attempt major structural changes to immigration law, lest we upset swing voters”

            That seems pretty reasonable to me. I wouldn’t have called that a disingenuous strawman.

            But if you think Ed Lee would have been totally down with everyone in San Fran illegally being deported, as long as he didn’t have to pay for it, you’re bonkers. “Sanctuary” implies a lot more than that, and it was a freely accepted label.

            I don’t think that’d he be totally down with that. But that doesn’t mean he supports open borders.

            Sanctuary cities aren’t even going to the maximum they are allowed under the constitution. SF, for example, will notify ICE when it is releasing a prisoner that has been convicted of a serious or violent felony in the prior seven years. We don’t know exactly what policies they’d put in place if they controlled the federal government, but there’s no good reason to think it would be “the abolition of the INS and ICE, all legal immigration quotas, visa programs, etc.,”

          • BBA says:

            @Brad: I admit it’s weak anecdata, but the extreme rhetoric of the likes of Erik Loomis (who calls ICE a fascist organization engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing) does appear to be catching on.

            The “abolish CBP” types are much fewer and I suspect most of them haven’t really thought it through.

            Just to be clear: My own view is that ICE is structured to encourage maximum cruelty among its agents and therefore ought to be heavily restructured if it has to remain separate from CBP at all. Frankly, I don’t know what if anything the Bush-era restructuring of Customs and INS accomplished, or what it was supposed to accomplish.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t know about ICE and CBP, but the separation of USCIS further away from ICE then when both functions were part of INS has lead to noticeable improvements in USCIS. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that there’d be a corresponding deterioration in ICE.

          • gbdub says:

            Poking the bear a bit: So we’ve gotten really tied around the axle on the term “open borders”, but, excising the term, was Matt’s original statement actually that far off the mark?

            [Democrats] oppose any and every incremental effort to restrict entry, to deny government services to those who entered illegally, AND to remove anyone who entered improperly.

            It’s a bit of an absolutist / uncharitable exaggeration to be sure, and it ignores that Dems were mostly okay with Obama’s deportations (then again, so do the Dems), but if all you did was listen to current Democratic rhetoric on immigration, I can certainly see how you’d get the impression that that is the party line.

          • Matt M says:

            To be clear, I don’t think most Democratic voters actually want open borders.

            But as I’ve said, I have yet to ever, in my life, hear a single Democratic politician outline exactly how much immigration they want. They want more legal immigration than exists today, to be sure. And they want fewer deportations than happen today. They certainly don’t want any more border security than exists today (and the amount that exists today is poor enough to have allowed estimates of several millions of illegals to make it in). And they want amnesty for those who already got here illegally.

            To be fair, the opposite charge could be made about Republicans in the other direction, and often is! It’s true that most Republicans are also unlikely to tell you exactly what number the quota should be. It’s true that they universally want less legal immigration, more deportations, more border security, etc.

            But I think the rhetoric is very different. Democrats use phrases like “no human being is illegal” which seems to imply that we have no right to refuse entry to anyone. Republicans, meanwhile, still support the general theme that “America is a nation of immigrants.” Trump himself (who people in these comments have suggested wants a white ethno-state) specifically invited and praised multiple legal immigrants during his state of the union address. GOP rhetoric makes it plainly clear that they want some legal immigration. Democratic rhetoric does not make it clear that they want any deportations at all.

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s a bad move for either side to give a number they’d be happy with for the same reason that it’s a bad idea to open salary negotiations with a number.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Actually a lot of people on the left including prominent Dreamers which the Dems are all about right now do support abolishing ICE. I’ve literally read dozens of tweets with “abolish ICE” in them. I’m leftist in some ways but I’m not Abby Martin leftist so I expect its even more extreme farther to the left.

          • Randy M says:

            It’s a bad move for either side to give a number they’d be happy with for the same reason that it’s a bad idea to open salary negotiations with a number.

            Because one side would accept essentially infinity and the other would accept essentially zero?

          • Urstoff says:

            Because one side would accept essentially infinity and the other would accept essentially zero?

            I think there’s a lot more diversity than people are giving credit to the issue. Off the top of my head, there are at least five different mainstream stances:

            Identity politics left – lots of immigration, legal or otherwise, but official position underarticulated except in reaction to status quo

            Cosmopolitan neoliberals – much more skilled immigration, rather blasé about illegal immigration

            Labor left – reduced immigration in the form of tight quotas to protect American workers

            “Law and Order” right – eliminate illegal immigration, generally silent on legal immigration

            Anti-diversity right – eliminate illegal immigration, severely restrict legal immigration

            This is a rough taxonomy and there is, of course, much overlap (I suspect many who claim to be in the “Law and Order” right are really part of the anti-diversity right), but it’s more than just open borders vs. white ethnonationalism. The current existing coalitions are also rather tenuous; the labor left and the identity politics left conflict, if not very often in the open, and cosmopolitan neoliberals seem to be split between D and R around 60/40. The “Law and Order” right, insofar as they aren’t anti-immigrant in general, don’t want to be viewed as racist, but they don’t help their case by not promoting a streamlined version of legal immigration and embracing legal immigrants.

          • Brad says:

            @gbdub

            It’s a bit of an absolutist / uncharitable exaggeration to be sure

            You say tomato, I say disingenuous strawman.

            The characterization assumes there is a light our hair on fire problem and reasons from that premise to anyone that doesn’t want to adopt his “solutions” must be in favor of no restrictions at all.

            Translate it to a different domain. Suppose you had a party that opposed increases in military spending and often talked about cutting this or that military program. Politicians of this party never put out a white paper stating exactly how large they think the military ought to be. At least not one detailed enough to satisfy some troll. Would it be at all fair to try to paint that party as a bunch of pacifists that want to abolish the military altogether? I think not.

            If we enacted open borders tomorrow there’d be at least hundreds of millions of migrants within a few years. Today we have very significant restrictions on migration both in regulatory terms and in terms of how much we spend. Hence no hundreds of millions strong influx. Not supporting incremental new restrictions or enforcement efforts is not in any way, shape, or form tantamount to wanting to throw the whole thing wide open. That’s a disingenuous strawman which unworthy of a defense.

            @axiomsofdominion

            I’ve literally read dozens of tweets with “abolish ICE” in them.

            Come on. The response writes itself.

            Tobias Funke

          • Nick says:

            How common is the Labor left? I can’t think of anyone with that position, but I’ll admit I didn’t think about it very hard. Would socialists like Nathan Robinson fall in there? I’m not sure I’ve seen anything on immigration from him.

          • Urstoff says:

            Bernie is the main figure of the labor left to my mind, as he called open borders a “Koch brothers conspiracy” to get cheap labor. I think the populist left is much more hostile to immigration than people want to acknowledge.

          • Randy M says:

            I think there’s a lot more diversity than people are giving credit to the issue

            In the immigration debate, sure. In a salary negotiation? Not so much.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Urstoff –

            Yep.

            I remember when being opposed to immigration was largely a leftist position, with pro-immigration policy being suspiciously regarded as a Republican ploy to drive down wages by importing workers.

            I credit South Park with making people think it is a right-wing belief with the exaggerated southern-accent “They terk er jerbs”. Don’t know if that is accurate or not, but it did seem to be the point when it started being colored as a right-wing position.

          • Nornagest says:

            Because one side would accept essentially infinity and the other would accept essentially zero?

            Because both sides have imperfect information about what the other side would actually accept, and giving out that information reduces their leverage.

          • Matt M says:

            Because both sides have imperfect information about what the other side would actually accept, and giving out that information reduces their leverage.

            Is this true though?

            Hasn’t Trump presented the exact immigration plan he wants? Is he withholding information on this?

            And for what it’s worth, while I’m not sure the Democrats have done that, by denouncing and rejecting his plan, they are implicitly stating that they favor the status quo.

            The status quo, nominally, does not include “open borders.” But it does include:

            1. Border security so porous that millions of the world’s poorest people with limited resources seem to be able to bypass it (and not just once – many come and go on a regular basis)

            2. Arrangements where in areas sufficiently under the control of blue tribe politicians, immigration law is almost entirely unenforced

            3. Just about everywhere, government services are available to illegal immigrants

            Calling this state of affairs “open borders” is maybe a bit of an exaggeration… but not much. Especially when the side that often flirts with open borders style rhetoric is the one who favors the status quo over the side that explicitly rejects it.

          • Mark says:

            I’m kind of pro-immgration-restriction left.

            It seems like the parties have been forced into a kind of weird position, marketing wise, at the moment.

            Corbyn, complete eurosceptic, being forced to pretend to like the EU, while the Conservatives are painted as the boo-boo racists.

            If there were an old labour style party that would come out as pro-sensible immigration restrictions, I think they’d mop up.
            (The fact that people asking for immigrants to be assessed on the basis of their qualifications, ability to contribute, was dismissed as absolutely racist, means that I can only assume that the criticisers are aiming for open borders.
            I like the pro-immigrant (open borders) people (personally), but I honestly can’t understand why they are saying what they are saying, with that amount of vehemence, unless it’s basically brainwashing by the corporate mind control elites. )

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Matt M

            Because both sides have imperfect information about what the other side would actually accept, and giving out that information reduces their leverage.

            Is this true though?

            Hasn’t Trump presented the exact immigration plan he wants? Is he withholding information on this?

            You trust that that’s the plan he wants, and not an extreme for negotiation purposes?

            “MY STYLE of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”
            ― Donald J. Trump, Trump: The Art of the Deal

            I think he’d be happy with getting everything or getting nothing, but not with an actual compromise. If a deal fails he can say both that the democrats failed the Dreamers, and signal to his nationalistic base that he’s open to a situation they want (eventual expulsion of the Dreamers). However he doesn’t say that he’s happy with this alternative, even though he would be.

          • Matt M says:

            Wait… if the plan he presented is exaggeratedly extreme (as a negotiation tactic), then that is evidence that he would actually accept a far less extreme plan.

            Which seems to play to my point here, that Trump (and other conservatives) are not, in any way, demanding an all-white ethnostate with zero immigration. Even his “extreme” plan still has plenty of allowed legal immigration, including for nonwhites!

            What is the “extreme plan” Democrats have proposed?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Matt M

            I’m making two separate propositions here: one hypothesis based on Trump’s prior claims on how to negotiate, one belief of mine based on my priors.

            Democrats never claimed to negotiate the way Trump claims to negotiate.

            An extreme plan of the kind you indicate (an “all white ethnostate”) would lose voters immediately, even if it was claimed as an extreme negotiating tactic.

          • unless it’s basically brainwashing by the corporate mind control elites

            Any brainwashing of Bryan Caplan is done by Bryan Caplan.

        • gbdub says:

          The de facto position of the Democrats is “use photogenic / sympathetic immigrants to bludgeon Republicans with charges of racism, while refusing to spend the political capital to actually address the systemic flaws in our immigration laws”. They want to be angry at Republicans for trying to enforce existing laws, without actually having to deal with the problem of coming up with a better set of laws.

          The Republicans have basically the same policy, but their bludgeon involves the opposite extreme of immigrant quality.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Yeah, the Democrats are not going to implement open borders anymore than the GOP is. You might get some more refugees and some token gestures to make it easier for chain migration, and that’s about it.

            The median Democrat voter is best described as “I am not in favor of open borders….but I’m not quite sure why.”

          • Iain says:

            Can you point to a specific systemic flaw that the Democrats refuse to address?

          • gbdub says:

            The “Dreamers” only exist because of previous failures to enforce immigration laws on the parents of “Dreamers”.

            I would say a system of laws that encourages people to violate it, because they know that their children (or themselves) will be sympathetically exempted from it, has some serious flaws.

            And Democrats clearly feel that the system is flawed, otherwise they wouldn’t be so upset when the laws are enforced, and wouldn’t praise cities that go out of their way to make enforcement of the laws more difficult.

            Yet, so far, their actual proposed policy positions are just retroactively applying exemptions to certain favored groups. This is not stable.

            Stake a claim to what level of immigration they are okay with, and what measures they are actually willing to be enacted for enforcement, and how many current violators of immigration law we’re going to officially legalize, and we can have a policy debate.

          • RobJ says:

            I think this is one of those issues where partisan rhetoric has created a big fight where people’s actual positions aren’t nearly so extreme. I mean, I’m sure there is plenty of space between your median democrat and republican on ideal immigration policy, but the rhetoric from both sides is “keep out the non-whites” vs “welcome terrorists” and it makes everyone involved seem really stupid.

          • Iain says:

            Illegal immigration is a hard problem.

            On the one hand: America is a nation of laws, and should have control over who enters the country. If you let illegal immigrants stay, you encourage more in the future.

            On the other hand: the level of deportation you would need to completely deter illegal immigration is untenable, both practically and morally.

            Practically: the budget for ICE and CBP combined was almost $20B in 2016, which was enough for roughly 250K removals. These were disproportionately the easiest, cheapest illegal immigrants to deport: either convicted criminals, or people caught shortly after crossing the border. 99.3% of the removals met at least one of the priority characteristics laid out in this memo. (Not to mention the legal costs of immigration hearings. Nation of laws, remember?) There are roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.

            Morally: the reason that the Democrats keep using sympathetic immigrants as political props is because so many immigrants are so sympathetic. Polls show that 87% of Americans, and 79% of Republicans, want to let people brought to the US illegally as children stay in the country. If the cost of securing the border is deporting pillars of the community who’ve been in America for forty years and donate hundreds of turkeys every Thanksgiving, or people who’ve served two tours in Afghanistan, or this guy, or this guy — well, maybe that’s not a price worth paying.

            Republicans like to focus on the “nation of laws” part, and Democrats like to focus on the photogenic sob stories. The difference, it seems to me, is that one side is more willing to acknowledge the complexity of the situation. Take this Obama speech on immigration, for example. Contrary to the assertions of some people in this conversation, Obama is perfectly willing to talk about and endorse deportations. A few examples:

            Our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it. Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their wages good wages benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America.

            Today we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.

            First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over.

            Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable, especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why over the past six years deportations of criminals are up 80 percent, and that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security.

            Obama deported a ton of illegal immigrants. Whether he deported more than previous presidents depends on your definition of “deported”, but it’s clear that he didn’t shy away from aggressively defending the border.

            At the same time, Obama tried a variety of things to alleviate the second half of the problem. After the DREAM Act was repeatedly filibustered by the Senate GOP, Obama went with DACA and DAPA. There are a handful of Republicans who’ve been open to this sort of compromise, but the institutional GOP has been completely uninterested. Just yesterday, an attempt to trade off DACA for additional spending on border security was voted down in the Senate after Trump threatened to veto it unless it also cut legal immigration.

            People keep asking: why won’t the Democrats put a number on their amnesty? Or immigration levels? Or enforcement measures? But why is it only the Democrats who are expected to be specific? For years, Republicans have been claiming that “we must secure the border first“. What does that look like? What is the end point? More money is being spent on border security than at any other point in US history: 15 times more than was spent in 1986. The number of illegal immigrants in the US is going down, not up.

            More importantly: why should Democrats trust whatever answer the Republicans give now? The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001. Spending on CBP and ICE was more than doubled since ICE’s creation in 2002, but no meaningful immigration legislation has been passed this millennium. Only an idiot would think that this time, if Democrats just vote to fund Trump’s wall, the Republicans will definitely be willing to compromise.

            Every recent attempt at a bipartisan immigration bill has been taken down from the right, not the left. The implications of this statement are left as an exercise for the reader.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Gay marriage went from politically impossible to politically required in the span of 20 years. Considering the evolving position of the left on immigration, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if open borders became the official Democratic platform in less time.

        You know how Republicans have always talked about their opposition to illegal immigration but recently have talked about reducing legal immigration as well? One day, you’re going to wake up to the same situation with the left. It’ll turn out their support for borders was one of political pragmatism and nothing more.

    • Well... says:

      I think that the most extreme modern racists have more or less given up on nationalism.
      They tend to be amongst the strongest opponents of strong central government.

      Curious where you got this impression, unless the types of people you think of as “the most extreme modern racists” and the ones I think of do not overlap much. If for convenience’s sake we’re limiting this to white racists, as I imagine we are, then a pretty decent honeypot for the most extreme modern racists is probably The Daily Stormer, where 30 seconds’ perusal shows nationalism alive and well.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      They tend to be amongst the strongest opponents of strong central government.

      You are simply confused because you think the opposition to “strong central government” is ideological and not instrumental.

      The connection between opposition to strong central government and the prototypical white-supremacist (in the US) begins, roughly, with Truman’s first civil rights initiatives. They state opposition to strong central government because the central government is opposing their actual ideological goals.

      They are perfectly happy to have a strong central government enforcing rules against migration (and would favor strong federal prohibition against miscegenation if they could imagine shifting the window that far).

      • quanta413 says:

        I think you’re off by about 100 years. I’d say a strong group overlap between opposition to strong central government and white supremacy exists by the time of John C. Calhoun. Or maybe Thomas Jefferson would be a better person to use as the prototype although I’d say probably not because back then they hoped the problem would go away somehow when the slave trade across the Atlantic ended.

    • Fossegrimen says:

      Genuine racists in the west today number somewhere around the lizardman constant, i.e. too few to actually explain anything. Any significant phenomenon in current western society can be explained better by something other than racism and with far fewer epicycles.

      • Unsaintly says:

        That seems very implausible to me. I am a liberal person living in a very liberal city, and I could name more than a dozen people offhand that I regularly interact with who openly and proudly blame everything on The Blacks, and want to ship them all off back to Africa where they belong and who get visibly and vocally pissed off whenever media depicts an interracial relationship. Granted, this is all anecdotal and could be the result of weird clumping but I would personally rate the probability of racists being around the lizardman constant as very low.

        • Nick says:

          Yeah, I have got to guess weird clumping or something there, because I am a conservative person with lots of more conservative friends and I’ve met approximately one person like that, and he wasn’t even “open and proud” about said view. But then, different worlds and all….

        • Incurian says:

          That sounds bizarre to me. This kind of stuff might make good survey question for next year.

        • Thegnskald says:

          I met far more openly racist (white) people when I lived in liberal areas than when I lived in conservative areas.

          And the interesting thing, to me, is I met the same -sort- of person in conservative areas, but they weren’t racist. They were, instead, offensive in a way that pissed conservatives off.

          I think there is a subset of the population that thrives on shitting on sacred values, and it doesn’t particularly matter what those values are.

          ETA:

          Huh. I wonder if part of the increasing polarization is coming from increasing self-segregation by political beliefs, creating a more unified set of local sacred values, where locals interpret the defectors from as being members of the opposition tribe, or interpret the opposition tribe’s silence on the matter as being tacit support.

          So liberals see racists among themselves, and assume conservatives, who don’t really observe them, are silently supporting their own racists. But the conservatives don’t really have the same kind of racism, because conservatives have different sacred values to offend, and racism is just seen as that quaint attitude that your grandparents never fully got over but did at least eventually mostly stop talking about.

          (Seriously. That is what racism is seen as in the rural south. It is hard to convey exactly how bizarre and out of touch the obsession with racism looks from that perspective; it’s like, that is my grandma, and we know it’s wrong but she’s going to die any day now, so just get on with your life and stop yelling at old people over shit that was normal to them. Young racists are probably satan-worshipping metalheads with shaved heads, they just need some time in the army to straighten them out.)

          • Protagoras says:

            Interesting observation. I have long noted that the SJWs I actually know don’t seem very much like the SJWs conservatives talk about; maybe in line with your theory conservatives are more likely to encounter troll/edgelord SJWs.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Protagoras –

            …ah.

            And the Internet amplifies edgelord trolls.

            So we see the shitty people in our local communities, and we see the shitty people online, and naturally conclude that, yep, the shittiness we see locally is a national problem.

          • Incurian says:

            Reminds me of this essay on Status 451. Some people want to be rebels, some want to embrace the system, but what it means to be a rebel or to embrace the system is different depending on where you grew up, so we get weird results that aren’t in line with the naive left=rebel right=system that we expect.