THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

Links 6/18: Linkonberry Jam

Scientists Share The Worst Stock Photos Of Their Jobs.

A subreddit for somnivexillology, the study of flags that appear in dreams.

In 1962, a pair of con artists claimed to be representatives of the Incan gods and used their charisma to enslave a small Mexican village. Then things got weird. Needing a fake Inca goddess to bedazzle the locals, they hired a nearby prostitute to show herself at the appropriate moment. But the prostitute got too into her role, became convinced she really was the Aztec goddess Coatlicue, took over the cult, took over the village, killed everyone who opposed her leadership, and led a string of grisly human sacrifices until the whole thing was finally broken up by police. The story of Magdalena Solis.

The latest exciting breakthrough drug for PTSD is…an unnecessary patent-protecting modification of cyclobenzaprine – ie it might be that cyclobenzaprine is an effective PTSD-sleep-disturbance drug for people who can’t tolerate prazosin. Link sent to me by a friend who reports unexpected dramatic improvement in PTSD nightmares when taking cyclobenzaprine for a muscle problem.

Some context for last month’s link on rare earths: China Can’t Control The Market In Rare Earth Elements Because They Aren’t All That Rare

In “primitive DNS hijacking” incident, Chicago man files change of address notice at the post office to change UPS corporate headquarters to his apartment, receives all their stuff and money.

Researchers claim that conventional statistics showing the War On Poverty didn’t significantly decrease poverty are calculated wrong, present alternative measurement methods suggesting US anti-poverty programs have been very successful.

New birth order study using Swedish records: “Firstborn children are more likely to be managers and to be in occupations requiring leadership ability, social ability, and Big Five personality traits.” Likely explanation is higher parental investment; not super-compatible with zero role for shared environment.

Volokh Conspiracy on good guys with guns: “Data from the FBI’s Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017 report [shows] legal civilian gun carriers tried to intervene in 6 out of 50 [mass shooting] incidents, and apparently succeeded in 3 or 4 of them.”

Gwern summarizes the idea of commoditizing your complement. This helped a lot of things about business snap into place for me.

Fun rabbit hole: “personality tests” that claim to be able to determine what neurotransmitters are dominant in your system, eg whether you’re a “dopamine type” or a “serotonin type”. See eg the Braverman Test and Brown et al. These show every sign of being about as accurate as their four-humors predecessors, even though in theory something like this ought to work. My guess is that there are so many different neurotransmitters, receptors, and brain regions where they can act that anything this broad is going to be able to explain a fraction of a percent of variance at best.

And while we’re talking crazy out-there psych hypotheses, Dual-gender macrochimeric tissue discordance is predicted to be a significant cause of human homosexuality and transgenderism.

Article on the tendency of places to play classical music to repel the unwanted. The default hypothesis would be that homeless people don’t want to sleep (and groups of ruffians don’t want to hang out and chat) in places with loud music, but the article seems to think (without really giving evidence) that there’s something more specific going on, where classical music’s high-class connotation has a specific anti-welcoming effect on poor people.

This week: Trump calls for elimination of all tariffs, endorses marijuana legalization, says he will talk to kneeling NFL players about pardoning the unjustly imprisoned. Next week: Trump defects from US, becomes President of Mexico, converts to Islam.

This article claims that a quirk of 1970s tax policy killed off smaller fiction genres. But see this comment, which casts doubt on some aspects of the story and clarifies a few things.

Up to 50% of daily marijuana users can end up with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition marked by constant vomiting relieved by taking hot showers or baths. Often dangerous insofar as people who have been told marijuana helps with vomiting try to solve their problem by taking more, perpetuating the cycle. If this is so common, how come we don’t hear about it more often?

In Missouri, the beef industry is pushing a bill making it illegal to describe vegetarian meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger as meat. Opponents argue that misleading labeling is already illegal, so this would mostly ban people from using terms like “plant-based meat” that clearly state the nature of the product. Philosophical dispute about whether the category “meat” refers to things that taste a certain way vs. things that were produced by a certain process mirrors other categorization debates.

Kim Jong-un reported to have said that he hopes for “Vietnam-style reforms”.

China is forcing hundreds of thousands of Uighurs into mass internment camps, where they are subjected to brutal re-education. “Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China’s new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party. When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.” It’s hard to know what to do about something so terrible and so under-discussed, but ChinaFile suggests that one starting point might be sanctioning Xinjiang officials under the Human Rights Accountability Act.

Somehow I never learned about Abscam, maybe the biggest federal corruption incident since Watergate. The FBI got some con artists to pretend to be Arab sheiks and try to bribe Congressmen to do various things. Most of the Congressmen agreed and took the bribes, and six were convicted and sent to prison – including John Jenrette, who when offered the bribe answered “I’ve got larceny in my blood. I’d take it in a goddamn minute.”

Very competent and well-funded German team tests the seemingly physics-defying EM Drive more precisely than previous experiments. Preliminary results suggest that its thrust comes from some of the electronics interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field, that there are no novel physics involved, and that it would not work in space.

Buddhist sources are silent on which direction the Wheel Of Samsara turns, but the evidence from salvia users who have weird visions of it (1, 2, 3) universally suggests it’s counterclockwise.

A post on the Effective Altruism forum discusses how funding vs. talent gaps are different for different charitable causes. Helped clear up some of my permanent confusion on what it would mean for causes to “not have funding gaps”.

You can now buy explicit placebo pills on Amazon. Professional-looking, very well branded, kind of convincing-seeming placebo pills, no less.

Popehat on free speech: courts will likely rule in favor of government employee fired for posting anti-Trump messages on Facebook on her own time.

A correction to my basic income post: some states will help financially support you if you are taking care of elderly or disabled relatives.

This week in headlines that would have sounded crazy just a few years ago: marijuana-based cryptocurrency PotCoin sponsors Dennis Rodman’s trip to join the summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Our World In Data shows The Effect Of Life Events On Life Satisfaction over time. Especially interesting since they start their time series a few years before the events. For example, men’s life is terrible the five years before a divorce, but immediately becomes better starting the year the divorce happens. I’ve been showing some of these graphs to my patients to help convince them there’s life on the other side of [personal catastrophe]. Also, the unemployment graph seems to confirm claim that it’s uniquely hard to habituate to in a way that’s not just a function of pre-unemployment problems.

In some traditional Chinese and Korean families, the founder of the family chooses a poem, and the nth generation of his descendants will always have names starting with the nth syllable of the poem.

Some people will like this essay as object-level social commentary, others as a window into the anthropology of weird inter-left disputes, but here’s a very strong take on the disability activists vs. Democratic Socialists of America argument/scandal/clusterf**k.

A list of the latest ICE scandals and atrocities, in case you’re having trouble keeping track. But see also this correction to the “1500 kids missing” story.

Washington Post on the truck driver shortage and why few want an $80,000 job. Mostly because it doesn’t actually pay $80,000 unless you get lucky / accept unreasonably awful conditions.

Interested to know what people think of this: Labour vote in England closely matches historic presence of coal mining.

New big paper on intelligence by Gail Davis and co-authors including Ian Deary and Stuart Ritchie, finds more genes for cognitive function, able to predict 4.3% of variance with polygenic score. But the fun part here is the genetic correlations, which note among other things that the genes for higher intelligence also seem correlated with poor eyesight, eg the “smart people wear glasses” effect. This is really interesting because I was under the impression that people had done some really good work showing the glasses-intelligence correlation was mostly due to smart people staying inside reading and not getting enough UV light for their eyes to develop properly. Either I totally screwed up my analysis of that one, or this is an unusually good example of a multifactorial trend. I hope this paragraph was good enough to avoid ending up in Stuart’s Hall of Shame for how this paper has been covered in the media.

Jacob of Putanumonit has an article on outgroups in Quillete that uses a really interesting concentric circles model I hadn’t thought of before.

DeepMind publishes a paper theorizing that the human prefrontal cortex is involved in “meta-reinforcement learning” and claiming to have created machine learning agents that can duplicate it. I haven’t been able to wrap my head around this yet; grateful to anyone who wants to explain it to me.

Related: Eliezer Yudkowsky asks believers in an upcoming new AI winter what sort of resolveable claims (suitable for bets) their hypothesis would entail.

And Eliezer (vs. David Chapman, sort of) on Toolbox Thinking And Law Thinking.

The latest in the DashCon / FyreFestival / etc genre of “fan conventions collapsing disastrously” is the marginalized-fan-community-centered Universal FanCon. I first read about this on Siderea’s blog and then found my way to this longer article. An interesting detective story / rationality practice to sort through the competing accounts and try to figure out what happened, and how so many seemingly trustworthy and well-intentioned people ended up running something that looks so much like a scam. Also possibly a good test for how paranoid vs. trusting you are, or how willing to resort to bad actor vs. institutions-are-hard explanations. Something like an answer (if you believe it) about what happened here

Giussepe Conte chosen as new Italian PM, ending months of standoff (and settling my prediction about whether a “far-right” party would take power in a major European country). Of interest here – the ruling Five Star Movement has a campaign promise to institute a basic income of 780 euros/month, even though this is even less financially realistic in Italy than it would be elsewhere. Related: populist anti-immigrant party with anti-Semitic links retakes power in Slovenia.

Bloom’s Two Sigma Problem: children given private tutoring will do two sigmas better than average (ie the average tutored student will be in the 98th percentile of nontutored students). But see here for some argument that the real value is lower, maybe more like 0.4 sigma. Some further discussion on the subreddit asks the right question – can we simulate this with some kind of clever computer-guided learning? – and gives the right answer – apparently no. TracingWoodgrains has a great comment. Especially interested in their discussion of Direct Instruction: “One of the few schools to use it as the basis of their program for math and English, a libertarian private school in North Carolina called Thales Academy, is reporting results exactly in line with the two-sigma bar: 98-99th percentile average accomplishment on the IOWA test. Their admissions process requires an interview at the elementary level, but no sorting other than that, so it’s not a case of only selecting the highest-level students.” (though note that IOWA is nationally normed, and Thales is in the well-off Research Triangle area). On the other hand, it costs half of what public schools do, so file this under “cost disease” too.

Find out where your hometown would have been on Pangaea.

Study on the political impact of immigration: when more high-skilled immigrants move to an area, the native voters shift more Democratic; when more low-skilled immigrants move to an area, the native voters shift more Republican. Effect is not dependent on immigrants’ country of origin.

England used to have free college tuition. In 1998, they decided it wasn’t working, got rid of it, and their colleges now cost more than the US. A team from the Brookings Institution discusses the English experience and what it can teach Americans, including the surprising role of English progressives in the anti-free-college fight.

A one parameter equation that can exactly fit any scatter plot. Though see the comment thread starting with Slocum on Marginal Revolution for discussion of whether this is as interesting as it sounds. Another commenter correctly brings up Tupper’s self-referential formula.

New study finds that, contra popular myth, people who believe in the genetic determination of human traits are more progressive, more tolerant of vulnerable individuals, and less racist. Likely just because more educated people are more likely to be aware of genetics, but still useful in slapping down a whole class of terrible arguments.

Related: in good news for progressivism and tolerance of vulnerable individuals, new study finds that some trait differences among Asians, Europeans, and Africans have significant genetic contributions. Genetic role was found for height, waist-hip-ratio, and schizophrenia risk; was not found for cholesterol, diabetes, or educational attainment.

Remember the mystery illness afflicting US diplomats in Cuba, possibly caused by some kind of weird infrasonic weapon? Now it’s happening to US diplomats in China too.

You’ve probably seen the graph showing that even as US productivity increases, US worker wages do not. A new study finds that productivity and worker pay continue to be correlated, suggesting it’s not so much that productivity doesn’t help as that some other force is keeping pay down despite the productivity effects. This might be beyond my pay grade, so interested in hearing if anyone has a good interpretation of this.

Zero HP Lovecraft: The Gig Economy

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791 Responses to Links 6/18: Linkonberry Jam

  1. gwern says:

    And while we’re talking crazy out-there psych hypotheses, Dual-gender macrochimeric tissue discordance is predicted to be a significant cause of human homosexuality and transgenderism.

    So he claims, in 2011, that something like 10-15% of people are big chimeras (and also that fraternal twins are identical twins or something because they come from the same egg???). There’s now been something like 1 million+ human whole genomes sequenced (Broad Institute alone claims to have done 100k) and somewhere around 10 million people SNP genotyped (23andMe+Ancestry.com are up to like 5m with 1m+ per year now). Wouldn’t people have… noticed? Instead, we get studies about mosaicism showing very small amounts of differences (eg https://www.gwern.net/docs/genetics/heritable/2017-mcconnell.pdf or https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/science/mosaicism-dna-genome-cancer.html ), which while important for some things, are nothing like huge 50% genetic differences from chimerism etc. (And actual chimeras remain big news, eg https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/a-human-chimera/ which has amazing photos if you haven’t seen it before.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      The person who sent me the link said: “Because the outer layer of the human embryo (the ectoderm) is most likely to absorb the cells of the other embryo and the ectoderm primarily forms the nervous system, I believe that in most cases the cells of the other embryo largely end up only in the brain and therefore not frequently detected, because most medical procedures do not involve a DNA test of brain cells.”

      I agree it’s implausible, but I don’t know if enough DNA tests have been done to rule out a small number of chimeric brain cells.

      • herculesorion says:

        Wouldn’t this be possible to test with posthumous studies of brain cells? If the other-embryo cells are present in sufficient quantity to affect behavior to such a degree they shouldn’t be hard to find.

        • Murphy says:

          In the brain bank we have frozen brains, when someone wants a sample they take a thin slice from the frozen brain. If it’s for DNA sequencing then it’s basically then mashed and DNA extracted and fragmented.

          If some small fraction of their cells are from a sibling then that’s going to look very similar to the much more common case where a few cells from the next sample over or someone in the lab slightly contaminate the sample unless you’re lucky enough to have samples from the siblings or trios with mom and dad.

          if it’s a very small population of cells then it’s likely that the number of reads with that sequence isn’t going to be sufficient to call variants in the sample unless you’re treating it like a tumor genome which comes with it’s own issues.

          It’s testable but the ideal cohorts aren’t terribly common and it would tend to look like a much more common case (mundane contamination) or (even more mundane) a certain level of incest.

          Unless there’s cause people rarely want to spend a lot of money to sequence multiple samples from the same person and if you have their brain they’re already dead and so if you’re lacking skin and blood samples you’re not gonna get any.

          • herculesorion says:

            me: (writes post about how if a number of cells indistinguishable from lab contamination can define someone’s gender identity to be different from the entire rest of their body then we’d see, like, women turning gay after gestating male fetuses)
            me: (searches for articles about that to provide a link for supporting evidence to my statement)
            me: (actually reads articles)
            me: (deletes post)

            https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/babys-cells-can-manipulate-moms-body-decades-180956493/

          • Murphy says:

            @herculesorion

            Oh ya, that’s a thing as well. Some diseases spontaneously go into remission during/after pregnancy and while many cases are probably due to changes to the immune system during pregnancy … there’s also the possibility that foetal cells have replaced some small but important population of cells lost to some cause in the past.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3365532/

            using mice with intentionally damaged heart tissue and a father with tagged genes the fathers tagged genes started turning up in the mothers damaged heart tissue.

            Also something about the phrasing “Mice were sacrificed at several time points” makes me imagine an altar with scientists making animal sacrifices.

      • Murphy says:

        If it adds anything, in a neurogenetics dept and genetic differences between blood and other tissue do come up every now and then. It’s pretty normal for brain tissue to fail to share a handful of mutations with skin or blood.

        Actual chimeras in the brainbank (we have a thing where we have samples of frozen brains from people who’ve died with rare conditions) tissue looking like a brother/sister is something I’ve never observed but wouldn’t be surprised if it happened very very rarely.

        Also there’s a fair chance that people would exclude the subjects from studies as an assumed sample mixup or contamination unless it was a very focused study where they’d double/triple checked the tissue samples since sample mixups probably happen far more often than chimeras with a siblings brain tissue.

      • Nornagest says:

        I wonder how hard it’d be to scrape up twenty or so cadaver brains for testing.

        Also, I love that we’ve identified a problem that legitimately needs large numbers of cadaver brains.

      • secondcityscientist says:

        Tetragametic chimerism (a term specifically disclaimed by the study’s author, though he doesn’t disclaim the underlying process and only suggests that there may be more than four gametes involved) is typically thought to occur prior to gastrulation, during the blastocyst stage. I say “typically thought to occur” but I would say more strongly that post-gastrulation fusion of significant portions of multiple embryos has not been observed in mammals.

        I guess the good thing about his hypothesis is that it’d be easy to test – look for an extra X chromosome, or even a Barr body, among nervous systems from gay men, or a Y chromosome from gay women. Karyotyping is still pretty easy and especially the presence of a Y chromosome among women should be obvious. He suggests it’d be difficult to do, and I suppose if he wants to test every tissue in the body for potential chimerism that’s correct, but for the main hypothesis in the title he doesn’t.

        On a different note, I haven’t read many psych papers but is it common to publish wild hypotheses backed up by basically no data? Seems like a good racket if you can get it.

        • is it common to publish wild hypotheses backed up by basically no data? Seems like a good racket if you can get it.

          I wouldn’t say it is common, but I know of a journal called Medical Hypotheses that is published for exactly that purpose. Until a few years ago, they didn’t even have peer review because the editor did not want to stifle authors’ creativity. Not surprisingly, this journal has received a lot of ridicule for publishing fringe ideas, as this blog post attests. The paper Scott linked to is published by Hypotheses in the Life Sciences. I had never heard of this one before. Their website says that “Hypotheses should be concisely stated and build on a foundation of robust experimental or observational results, and must make testable predictions.” I don’t how well they succeed in this respect, i.e. whether the hypotheses published are based on “robust” results or mainly on wild speculation.

    • deciusbrutus says:

      How many people have been sequenced by using different cells? If all the bone marrow is of one genome, all the blood is of that genome.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Sure, if you’re a chimera and you get genotyped by 23andme, no one will notice anything weird. But if you’re a chimera and you and your child are sequenced, the relationship will be messed up.

        • Murphy says:

          We do trio studies. Mother father child. The last one I was involved in had 30 trios and 2 had to be discarded because of apparent non paternity in one case and one child appearing entirely unrelated to mother or father in the other.

          That’s a fairly normal rate of exclusion. Part is likely sample mix up and part is likely family trees not being what people think.

          Other common cases are things like the kid showing significantly more than 50% relatedness to its siblings and parents. Aka parents are related.

          We aren’t allowed report such things back ethically of course. those trios are simply excluded from analysis.
          Fraternal chimerism would look like excessive heterozygosity. More het variant calls than there should be.
          But excessive heterozygocity is also sign of sample contamination.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            You don’t report these samples, but 23andme does. (There was a case where they rotated a whole tray of samples 180° and the first person who noticed was a mother whose child came back as unrelated.)

            30 is a small number. Is there some a published analysis of aggregate data? Probably not, because it’s probably dominated by handling error, which varies between labs. And because you probably don’t have random samples, the question of cuckoldry or inbreeding is not so interesting. But he’s predicting a very distinctive pattern, not a simple false pat/maternity, but replacement by a close relative. So you’d probably remember, so it probably hasn’t happened.

            I don’t think that chimerism would look like excess heterozygosity. Are you thinking that both genotypes would end up in the sample? What happens if you put a mixed sample in the machine? If it’s just a SNP chip, I’d think it would produce results, maybe with a high level of no-calls, but if you’re doing trios, surely you’re sequencing, and won’t that detect the mixed sample, rather than shoe-horning it into an answer?

            Anyhow, I don’t think that a sample from a chimera would be mixed. What kind samples do you use? A cheek swab is pretty localized. I suppose a left-right chimera could have mixed saliva. I’d expect that the sample would have one genotype and the germ line might be the other, making the parent look like an aunt/uncle. (Whereas a mixed sample looks even closer than that.)

          • Murphy says:

            Pcr-free illumina ngs whole exome *mostly*.

            Not my project but a teammate worked on some samples from an individuak with mosaicism: with a skin problem affecting only patches of their skin. They had to look for variants present only in the affected skin.

            But if you take a skin sample you also get blood and fat and a few other tissue types . They needed significantly more depth than most studies use and the identified SNP had tiny depth that would normally go entirely uncalled. Confirmed with sanger though and (extreme rare outcome) it even turned out to be druggable once pathway identified.

            But log story short: small cell population tends to end up well bellow call threshold, require deep coverage to spot and that’s when you can physically see the tissue you’re targeting.

            If there is enough tissue there for calls to turn up incidentally in other analysis… it would likely only be visible in routine QA at the stage where we check relatedness and they’d share more common snps with relatives than expected… but since excessive consanguinity is the norm in many families we’re looking at anyway ( rare genetic disorders and all) I could easily imagine it going under the radar completely.

  2. Anonymous Bosch says:

    And Tyler Cowen speculates that a major part of this week’s peace summit was to get a bunch of top North Koreans to see Singapore, a positive role model for how semi-authoritarian Asian states can embrace globalization.

    I’m not sure why Cowen thinks the North Korean elite are ignorant of the developed world. They visit Singapore to buy luxury goods. They stream movies via Chinese internet connections. KJU was educated in Switzerland!

    A new study finds that productivity and worker pay continue to be correlated, suggesting it’s not so much that productivity doesn’t help as that some other force is keeping pay down despite the productivity effects. This might be beyond my pay grade, so interested in hearing if anyone has a good interpretation of this.

    There is an ongoing debate among economists as to whether the rise in mergers/acquisitions, the corresponding dip in entrepreneurship, and the increasing ubiquity of non-compete + mandatory arbitration agreements has led to monopsony-like effects on the labor market. Krueger and Posner lay out the case here.

    In a new study for the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, we report survey results in which we find that one in five workers with a high school education or less are subject to a noncompete. A quarter of all workers are covered by a noncompete agreement with their current employer or a past one.

    I am grudgingly OK with non-competes for engineers or scientists whose jobs are directly linked to the R&D of intellectual property. Requiring them for sandwich artists is insanity. Companies have no reason not to make them as draconian as possible; even if they’re not enforceable, a guy who just got fired from Jimmy John’s isn’t going to be able to afford a lawyer to tell him (and a judge) that.

    (The normal cure for this kind of systemic malfeasance is for a group of would-be plaintiffs to band together for a class action whose combined damages might draw the interest of a plaintiff’s attorney on contingency. But thanks to arbitration clauses and last month’s SCOTUS ruling, that avenue is closed too.)

    I think there’s something to be said for a conception of “free enterprise” that’s broader than simply a bare lack of government sanctions, just as you’ve made a similar argument about “free speech.”

    • Tuesday says:

      I’m not sure why Cowen thinks the North Korean elite are ignorant of the developed world. They visit Singapore to buy luxury goods. They stream movies via Chinese internet connections. KJU was educated in Switzerland!

      Agreed. But there’s something new this time: the North Korean official newspaper (Rodong Sinmun) for the following day carried photos of Kim’s tour through Singapore – and even drew the readers’ attention to how developed Singapore is and said Kim intended to “learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future.”

      https://twitter.com/rpcward89/status/1006290818087473154

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/12/read-north-korea-state-media-plasters-front-pages-leaders-singapore/

      This seems like a deep change in how North Korea presents itself to its people.

    • DutLinx says:

      I think there’s something to be said for a conception of “free enterprise” that’s broader than simply a bare lack of government sanctions, just as you’ve made a similar argument about “free speech.”

      I mean, I’m pretty sure this is well understood among economists. For perfect competition/free enterprise to exist without government regulations, you’d need (among other things): Perfect information, no barriers to entry or exit, no externalities and no commong goods. None of these things are true in most market situations, so free competition cannot exist without regulations (or even at all, maybe).

      • ashlael says:

        You’re right, but not quite in the way you think.

        Some (not all) of those conditions are necessary for perfect competition to exist, but perfect competition isn’t the same thing as free enterprise. If you set up a lemonade stand and I set up a lemonade stand next to you charging a bit more with a sign saying my lemonade tastes better, that’s not “perfect competition”. But it is free enterprise.

        But it’s absolutely true that economists are very concerned about the role of institutions on an economy – particularly things like private property, the rule of law, sovereign risk, etc, etc.

        I’m not a libertarian myself so I don’t want to speak for them, but I could easily imagine a minarchist seeing a ban on non-compete clauses as one of a government’s few legitimate functions along with enforcing contracts, banning fraud, etc.

        Although the more hardcore libertarians would probably argue that the problem is minimum wage laws that restrict job availability to the point that workers are forced to accept whatever conditions they are offered.

        • baconbits9 says:

          If you set up a lemonade stand and I set up a lemonade stand next to you charging a bit more with a sign saying my lemonade tastes better, that’s not “perfect competition”.

          In what way is this not perfect competition?

          • Ghillie Dhu says:

            Perfect competition requires an undifferentiated product; branding moves you into monopolistic competition.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Perfect competition requires that consumers have perfect/complete knowledge. If the lemonade doesn’t actually taste better then consumers would know that, and the phrasing on the sign would have no impact.

        • peterispaikens says:

          The problem is that the economic efficiency benefits that free unregulated enterprise is supposed to provide according to economic theories *do* rely on key factors required for (semi-)perfect competition.

          So the argument is that free enterprise as such is good in (and only in) circumstances somewhat close to perfect competition. As soon as you get major deviations from that – massively distorted information; strong asymmetries in information; significant negative externalities; oligopoly/cartel ‘competition’ facilitated by large entry/exit barriers, etc – then free enterprise predictably results in scenarios that we know to be bad, ones that are significantly different (and worse) than what’s possible by modifying/regulating these aspects of market environment so that it’s less free but closer to perfect competition.

          • ashlael says:

            I mean, yes and no. There are certainly situations where a free market doesn’t deliver an economically efficient outcome, but these are quite a bit rarer than most people think. Even in industries with huge barriers to entry and few competitors we generally see competition rather than cartel behaviour – because even if you ignore potential legal penalties, it’s still a prisoner’s dilemma where all parties “defecting” is a stable equilibrium. And theoretically even a full monopoly can produce at an economically efficient price and output level if demand is sufficiently elastic.

        • Guy in TN says:

          I’m not a libertarian myself so I don’t want to speak for them, but I could easily imagine a minarchist seeing a ban on non-compete clauses as one of a government’s few legitimate functions along with enforcing contracts, banning fraud, etc.

          If the government choose to no longer involve itself in the enforcement of non-compete contracts, that would be a government retraction from this sphere of life, not an expansion of a “government function”. To not enforce something is to do less, not more.

          I suppose if your political point of view is that the government should be in the business of enforcing all private contracts, then you could describe this non-enforcement as a deviation from your preferred system. But I don’t see how this non-enforcement could be described as an expansion of government power.

          • It’s pretty common for supporters of the free market to believe that contracts in restraint of trade, typically cartel agreements, ought not to be enforced. I believe the English legal system stopped enforcing them early in the 20th century, am not sure of the timing for the U.S. but think earlier. One could argue that non-compete agreements are in the same category.

          • m.alex.matt says:

            It’s pretty common for supporters of the free market to believe that contracts in restraint of trade, typically cartel agreements, ought not to be enforced. I believe the English legal system stopped enforcing them early in the 20th century, am not sure of the timing for the U.S. but think earlier. One could argue that non-compete agreements are in the same category.

            I think the doctrine is more ancient than the 20th century. I’m going to have to search for references, but I’m pretty sure that ‘agreements in restraint of trade’ was one of the reasonings behind the Combination acts of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars eras.

            Combination in restraint of trade seems to have been something English common law has been against for some time. Quickly perusing the right wiki articles, it looks like this common law doctrine had to be explicitly over-ridden in the late 19th century to permit labor unions as fully legal entities. The roots of the practice seem to go back to the 17th century, so it’s not something that’s at all new.

            A non-compete contract wouldn’t have passed the sniff test in Revolutionary America, for example. Most libertarians I’ve dealt with have at least some romantic attachment to the American Revolution, so that should be good evidence that libertarians aren’t necessarily comfortable with non-competes.

        • DutLinx says:

          Thanks a lot for the clarification!

      • quanta413 says:

        I don’t think government regulations fix issues of information or barriers to entry (i.e. high fixed costs). If anything, regulations are for erecting barriers to entry. Depending on the effect of the barrier, that might be worth it.

        But I also don’t think the idea of free enterprise hinges on any of those things. Perfect competition is a distinct idea from free enterprise that’s really just a mathematical convenience that makes the life of certain economists easier.

        Externalities and common goods are tangential to the simplest conception of free enterprise. You could have free enterprise that makes these problems much worse or much better. I agree with the idea above that it’s good to build a concept that defines more which systems are more desirable examples of free enterprise. I would define “system” far more broadly than government regulations though.

        • Patrick Cruce says:

          Government regulations don’t improve information, but they can blunt some of the consequences of imperfect information. (eg lemon laws) Turning markets that would be dysfunctional due to information asymmetry into functional ones.

          And government institutions like the BLS and FRED are hugely critical for improving the quality of economic information.

          • pontifex says:

            Government regulations can and do often reduce information asymmetry. For example, the government makes car manufacturers include accurate miles-per-gallon information on new cars, and a list of ingredients on packaged foods. This allows consumers to make choices based on that information.

          • On the other hand, the biggest problem of adverse selection due to asymmetric information at the moment is probably in health insurance, where the asymmetry is a deliberate product of government regulation–the restrictions on how much prices can vary with age and the ban on taking preexisting conditions into account. The whole point of the mandate, from the standpoint of the designers, was to prevent the adverse selection that they were creating by forbidding either side of the transaction to use information that both of them had.

      • I think you are confusing three different things:

        Perfect competition
        Free competition
        A perfectly efficient market

        The last probably cannot exist, with or without government regulations, and since the conditions that lead to market failure–individual rationality not producing group rationality–are more common on the political market than on the private market, shifting decisions from the latter to the former is unlikely to result in increased efficiency.

        • DutLinx says:

          Thanks David. I actually don’t know the difference between perfect competition and a perfectly efficient market. Could you explain?

          However, I’ve seen people mistake free competition for perfect competition and I thought that was what Anonymous Bosch was doing. I apologize if I misunderstood.

          Also, I like your point about inefficiencies in the political market. It gave me some stuff to think about.

          • A perfectly efficient market is one in which no change could produce a net benefit, where costs and benefits are measured by how much the person affected would be willing to pay to prevent or get it.

            Perfect competition is a model where each firm is so small that it ignores the effect of how much it produces on the market price–ideally an infinite number of firms. I think people vary in how many additional conditions they include. To get it to imply economic efficiency you need to include perfect knowledge and the lack of externalities and the like.

            You could get economic efficiency from things other than perfect competition. Zero transaction costs, for instance, imply that all externality, public good, and monopoly problems are eliminated by bargaining. And a planned economy by a perfectly wise, benevolent and all powerful social planner could also give you economic efficiency.

            Most textbooks give the definition in terms of Pareto efficiency which in practice becomes potential Pareto efficiency, which I regard as a way of concealing the interpersonal comparison problem, not solving it. I prefer Marshall’s approach.

          • DutLinx says:

            Thanks for the explanation, that makes a lot of sense!

  3. Jaskologist says:

    What does it mean to “require Big Five personality traits?” Aren’t each of those an axis?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, that’s worded very strangely. Scott lifted that verbatim, so I guess it’s an artifact of translation.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Well, the axes generally are referred to by particular sides–generally we say ‘low openness’ rather than discussing closedness. I’m pretty sure these are arbitrary, though, so it would be pretty surprising if they all lined up with the jobs firstborns tend to get.

      Alternatively I guess it’s possible that firstborns tend to get jobs with marked preferences one way or another on the traits?

  4. Urstoff says:

    Vaguely related to the story about publishing: did the mean length of sci-fi novels balloon in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and if so, why? My subjective impression from perusing used book stores is that 200-page sci-fi novels used to be very common in the 60’s and 70’s but then pretty much died out in the 80’s. It’s pretty much impossible to find a non-self published novel of that length in a normal bookstore these days. What happened? From the way Robert Silverberg talks about 60’s/70’s, it sounds like putting out as many books as possible was how writers made money, and so that caused pressure to make them shorter. Did the publishing or compensation model change in the mid-70’s that relieved the pressure to write a larger number of shorter books? I myself miss the 200-page sci-fi novel. Most novels these days are too bloated, and I think there’s a consumer pressure to hit a 400-500 page length.

  5. oppressedminority says:

    Some people will like this essay as object-level social commentary, others as a window into the anthropology of weird inter-left disputes, but here’s a very strong take on the disability activists vs. Democratic Socialists of America argument/scandal/clusterf**k.

    I personally enjoy reading about inter-left disputes because they expose the pathologies of the left most vividly. The right certainly shares some of these pathologies, but the environment of the left is particularly fertile for them.

    In particular, whenever it is acceptable to shame others for not being sufficiently pro-X or anti-Y, this mechanism is abused by power hungry narcissists (quite common on the left also) to play status games at the expense of the cause these people allegedly work towards.

    This seems to be a textbook example of this behavior. A bunch of activists with a bone to pick with another activist use twitter mob tactics to shut down the other activists event on the pretext that the event was not accessible for people in wheelchairs.

    There is plenty of petty infighting and stupid ego showdowns on the right. But this specific behavior seems to me to be a leftwing thing in particular because the left is currently engaged in a purity/holiness spiral. A person’s worth is only a function of having correct beliefs on a few issues, and any deviation therefrom is not a mistake, a good faith difference of opinion, a different perspective, but a sign that the person deviating from the orthodoxy is a Bad Person. You can commit robberies, murders, …, that’s all excusable because of all the racism/oppression you suffered. But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years? YOU ARE IREDEEMABLY EVIL.

    From a design perspective, allowing this mechanism to function as it does is a major flaw which can only end in some kind of self-correcting event or the collapse of the movement, so I hope it goes on for quite some time still.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “From a design perspective, allowing this mechanism to function as it does is a major flaw which can only end in some kind of self-correcting event or the collapse of the movement”

      People have been saying this for years if not decades and this never happens.

      • herculesorion says:

        You’d think that after the entire history of the Twentieth Century people would have learned the lesson that the Beast grows as long as it’s fed, and even when it eats its own limbs it grows back new ones.

      • oppressedminority says:

        People have been saying this for years if not decades and this never happens.

        I somewhat agree. I think there have been small correction events that have delayed collapse. Or maybe this phenomenon is not as frequent as it seems but disproportionately visible when it does happen, and the core of the movement goes on regardless.

        Still, the USSR maintained a ridiculous charade for 70 years, so it might just be that we havent yet waited long enough.

        • beleester says:

          I disagree. Under the model that most people are using for a “liberal death spiral,” small self-corrections should be the expected outcome, not an anomaly that’s delaying total collapse.

          Liberal fringe group becomes more liberal -> insufficiently liberal members are forced out -> liberal fringe group gets smaller -> fewer people get forced out. The more extreme a “death spiral” gets, the fewer people actually get affected by it. There’s no way for it to cause a movement-wide collapse unless the most extreme members can set the rules for the entire left wing, which doesn’t really happen.

          I think the error is treating “the left” as an undifferentiated mass, and assuming that getting forced out means you are now persona non grata in the entire liberal movement. Rather than someone getting forced out of the local Communist party, so they hang out with the local Democrats instead. Or they stop hanging out politically at all and go hang out at the local D&D group, but still vote Democrat. There are lots of exits from the death spiral.

          • WashedOut says:

            Liberal fringe group becomes more liberal -> insufficiently liberal members are forced out -> liberal fringe group gets smaller -> fewer people get forced out. The more extreme a “death spiral” gets, the fewer people actually get affected by it.

            Under this model, the ‘liberalness’ is increasing whilst the size of the group decreases, due to people getting forced out. I’d propose an alternative model that I think is more in line with the observations:

            1) radical liberal group discovers rhetorical superweapon (accusations of oppression, demands for equality/equity/affirmative action)
            2) forces moderate liberals on the fringe to double-down or be ostracised
            3) radical liberal group gets bigger, but more ‘dilute’
            4) loudest voices within group use superweapon again, but with better PR this time due to bigger group size
            5) new people on fringe (even more moderate liberals) get drawn in under pressure
            6) liberal group now even bigger, more dilute, but with the agenda still being set by the wielders of the superweapon
            7) hardcore liberals realise that members of their own group aren’t as extreme or forthright as they are, and/or liberal group gets so big it starts to occupy most of their political field-of-view
            8) hardcore libs turn their attention on the members of their own group who aren’t left-wing enough
            9) infighting

          • dndnrsn says:

            What exactly is a “radical liberal” though? The people who indulge in either (now relatively old-timey) class-based leftist backbiting, or more contemporary identity-politics backbiting, do not call themselves or consider themselves liberals. “Liberal” is a snarl word for actual leftists (or those who consider themselves leftists; a lot are just liberals without the good bits) just as it is a snarl word for the American right.

            When I see right-wingers talk about “extreme liberal antifa” or whatever, it’s cringey, in addition to being an obvious case of outgroup homogeneity bias.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        Perhaps this is a point in favor of callout culture? Like, sure, you get a bunch of unpleasant false positives, but if you don’t get a catastrophic collapse, then you have to actually cost/benefit analyze these against all the false negatives (i.e. bad stuff that doesn’t get called out) of non-callout-culture before you can reject it.

      • Futhington says:

        I think there have been a lot of self-correcting events, or rather periods of self-correction as opposed to big ol’ explosions. You need only look at how different the optics, outreach and language of the left today are to how they were ten, twenty, thirty, eighty years ago etc. to see it. At some point it ceased being about “The workers” and started being about “The oppressed” and stopped being about fighting “The Bosses” and became about fighting “The Man” and later “The Corporations”, self-correction always happens eventually. Outright collapse is the one that never does because there will always be somebody willing to be a leftist.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Is the presence in movements of some number self-interested hypocrites undermining the general cause of the movement something that is more common on the left than the right? Has there never been a right-wing purity spiral? What is inherent about the left here?

      • oppressedminority says:

        My view is that it is more common on the left. Just from the top of my head I cant conceive of an equivalent to a Twitter CEO being castigated for eating at Chick-Fil-A from the right, but this might be a failure of imagination.

        There might be ideological reasons for this being more of a left wing thing, but my preferred explanation is that the left is currently culturally dominant and there is no social cost to being far left to the extent there is for being far right. Hypocrites, narcissists, and those with more ambition than principle know this, and choose the left as their vehicle for self-validation instead of the right.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          Just from the top of my head I cant conceive of an equivalent to a Twitter CEO being castigated for eating at Chick-Fil-A from the right, but this might be a failure of imagination.

          This sort of argument ends in an endless badminton match of “what about this” >–< "it's not the same because [special pleading]" approximately 110% of the time without some idea of what aspects of @jack being yelled at by lefties for patronizing a righty restaurant you consider to be vital for "equivalency."

          • oppressedminority says:

            The point is not that it’s impossible to come up with an example of right wing puritanism, it’s that there are a bajillion to choose from on the left and not that many on the right that I can think of.

            It’s not just that @jack got yelled at for going to Chick-Fil-A, it’s that Huffpo doubled-down and told people to choose between chicken and their progressive cred., James Damore got fired for saying men and women have different interests, Bret Weinstein got fired, chased by violent lunatics on campus (and police told to stand down), for opposing exclusion of white people from events.

            The list goes on and on and this sort of behavior has been a frequent topic on this blog.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The point is not that it’s impossible to come up with an example of right wing puritanism, it’s that there are a bajillion to choose from on the left and not that many on the right that I can think of.

            Well, I’m glad you moved away from the unfalsifiable claim of “there’s no equivalent on the right” and onto the equally unfalsifiable claim of “this isn’t as common on the right.” So how do we do this? Agree on a time frame and see who can come up with more examples? (I don’t recommend anything longer than a month or I’ll keep you here all day. Kurt Schlichter’s archives alone would probably break the WordPress comment tables.)

            Just yesterday we saw a successful primary of Congressman Mark Sanford, formerly a Freedom Caucus member in good standing whose political career survived fucking off to Argentina with his mistress, but wasn’t able to survive criticizing Trump. I posit that not only is such puritanism just as common on the right, it’s functionally more effective and able to extract much more consequential results than someone getting fired or subjected to a snippy op-ed.

          • poignardazur says:

            I posit that not only is such puritanism just as common on the right, it’s functionally more effective and able to extract much more consequential results than someone getting fired or subjected to a snippy op-ed.

            Not that I disagree, but what do you mean? Isn’t being fired pretty consequential and unpleasant already?

          • oppressedminority says:

            My general impression is that it’s more common on the left. Maybe I’m wrong, I did not conduct a study using empirical data.

            Your example is not that convincing because it involves a politician, not a regular person. A better example is actually found in the links of this post, in which popehat discusses the rights of an admin assistant fired for posting anti-Trump stuff on facebook. I still dont think it’s as widespread on the right, but as you said, that’s unfalsifiable and is only my general impression.

          • lvlln says:

            @oppressedminority

            Bret Weinstein got fired, chased by violent lunatics on campus (and police told to stand down), for opposing exclusion of white people from events.

            Bret Weinstein wasn’t fired. He resigned after suing Evergreen and settling with the college. I think the point still stands, because it seems reasonable to posit that his resignation was largely driven by violent lunatics on campus chasing him with the college prez explicitly telling the campus police not to protect him from them.

          • Jiro says:

            Just yesterday we saw a successful primary of Congressman Mark Sanford, formerly a Freedom Caucus member in good standing whose political career survived fucking off to Argentina with his mistress, but wasn’t able to survive criticizing Trump.

            He’s a politician. His political opinions are job-related. This isn’t like firing an engineer for a political opinion. You can *expect* that having political views that Republicans disagree with will get you fired from the position of “Republican politician”.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Not that I disagree, but what do you mean? Isn’t being fired pretty consequential and unpleasant already?

            I apologize in advance for the length, this is a bee in my bonnet.

            Scott and a disproportionate cross-section of SSC commentors live in blue bubbles of various types (in terms of location, in terms of profession, in terms of spending/having spent a lot of time at university). Scott is also a contrarian and tends to attract like-minded contrarians.

            When a non-contrarian is in a bubble, it’s harder for them to notice the faults of their ingroup and easier to notice the faults of their outgroup. When a contrarian is in a bubble, you get SSC. Or Quillette. Or “classical liberal” Youtube. (These are in ascending order of pathology; I obviously enjoy Scott’s writing on balance or I wouldn’t be here). Events that accord with their dim view of the bubble ingroup get Noticed. Things that don’t, don’t.

            So James Damore gets endlessly discussed, his views hashed out, his story learned by heart. Colin Kaepernick? Yeah I guess we’ve heard of him. Twitter CEO gets yelled at by HuffPost for eating homophobic chicken? Well, sure, that’s the regressive left for you. Koch CEOs get yelled at by Breitbart for being immigration squishes? Here I’d probably have to preface it with an explanation of intra-right distinctions.

            Left puritanism is very annoying. And in the bubble, I have no doubt it can be dangerous. I have heard stories about the capricious “justice” meted out by Title IX coordinators in California (here in Texas they mostly help the athletic departments cover up rape). I take people at their word that they are genuinely concerned about the direction of campus politics.

            But there’s campus politics and there’s politics politics.

            For the most part, the puritan left simply hasn’t managed to amass the political power that the puritan right has. The Tea Party was just as much a struggle against moderate Republican incumbents as it was against Obama. Guys like Eric Cantor and Bob Inglis were tossed overboard because they failed to hew to right-wing dogma on immigration (Cantor) and climate change (Inglis). Where are the center-left scalps? Take the DSA as an example. For all their performative wokeness and viral podcasts, their biggest win so far has been a state assemblyman in Virgnia. Federally, it’s all coming up establishment. The far-left couldn’t even dislodge Dan Lipinski, a pro-life anti-gay-marriage anti-Obamacare Dem who inherited a seat in urban Chicago that by all rights, if the far-left is ascendant, should be occupied by a sentient Twitter account spamming Full Communism Now memes.

            Perhaps I’m in a contrarian bubble too. I don’t discount that possibility. But to the best of my judgment, the puritan right has done a lot better for itself than the puritan left.

            One measure of that success is how much “puritan right” has become just “right.” 10 years ago you had John McCain endorsing cap-and-trade, and Newt Gingrich cutting climate PSAs with Nancy Pelosi. 20 years ago Republican Congresses were regulating corporate accounting and political contributions. 40 years ago Reagan and Bush were debating in the Republican primary over who would be nicer to illegal immigrants seeking public education for their children. I take no position on whether any of these are good or bad. I’m simply offering them as markers for things that cannot even be discussed in today’s Republican Party, not if you’re interested in winning a primary.

          • gbdub says:

            “10 years ago you had John McCain endorsing cap-and-trade, and Newt Gingrich cutting climate PSAs with Nancy Pelosi. 20 years ago Republican Congresses were regulating corporate accounting and political contributions. 40 years ago Reagan and Bush were debating in the Republican primary over who would be nicer to illegal immigrants seeking public education for their children.”

            On the other side, if you hold Obama’s 2011 position on gay marriage, you’re a homophobic bigot.

          • albatross11 says:

            Yeah, I wanted to make an argument that the right is immune to takeover by narcissists misusing identity politics to gain power, but then this one small counterexample came to mind….

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            On the other side, if you hold Obama’s 2011 position on gay marriage, you’re a homophobic bigot.

            The entire point of my post is that one side’s dissenters tend to get called names on Left Twitter and the others’ tend to get tossed out of power. I even cited a specific example of a specific Congressman dissenting on this specific issue in an attempt to forestall this shit gotcha and you still rolled it out. Here you go.

          • gbdub says:

            Side A and Side B both experience a shift in what the new “acceptable” positions on their side are.

            Side A kicks out all the people who hold the old position and replaces them with partisans for the new position.

            Side B doesn’t kick out as many people, but forces all their old people to kowtow to the new position and pretend they’ve held it all along.

            Either way, the new positions are now the respective dogmas of both sides – how does it make sense to call either Side A or Side B more “effective”?

            EDIT: addressing your specific example, it’s not as though Republicans have eliminated every “soft on immigration” type. There might be a higher mix of “primary ousters” to “old guard knows what’s good for them and toes the new line” on one side or the other, but both sides have had fairly significant dogma shifts such that “party platform 20 years ago” would probably fail to win in a lot of places. The fact that a recalcitrant anti-gay candidate in the Chicago machine has managed to hang on is hardly a full counter.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Bosch, you keep listing Republican politicians. Who lose elections (sometimes very close ones) because they hold positions that the electorate disagrees with. As for Sanford, the Republican electorate supports Trump, he doesn’t, and he only lost by 5 points or something. That’s hardly a purity spiral.

            And it’s not like it’s a new thing. The Republican electorate has never been A-OK with illegal immigration. The Narrative is that the right has gone off the deep end, full blown Nazi. But today, the Republicans are against illegal immigration, mostly think marriage is between a man and a woman, thinks abortion is murder, and wants lower taxes and fewer regulations. Which are the same opinions Republicans (and an awful lot of Democrats) held 20 years ago. But if you took a modern Democrat who’s 1000% behind gay marriage, wants the government to force Christians to bake cakes for gay weddings, thinks “no person is illegal” and that cities should be refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement and everybody should get free college and free healthcare and transported them to 1996 I think they’d probably get run out of the Democratic party for being some sort of bizarre communist nut job. I think to be in a purity spiral you have to be spiraling…and the left is, but the right not so much.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            All your examples of right-wing intolerance involve professional Republican politicians.

            Are there cases of random employees in stereotypical Red Tribe professions (do they even exist?) that were fired for saying that climate change is real? Were there CEOs publicly chastised by right-wing media for eating at a restaurant whose owner supports gun control?

            I can’t recall any.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Side B doesn’t kick out as many people, but forces all their old people to kowtow to the new position and pretend they’ve held it all along.

            Rather than put another dent in my table or find some way to hack big text or sparklee GIFs into my post I’ll repeat myself one last time and then tip out: “Forces all their old people to kowtow to the new position and pretend they’ve held it all along” is exactly what is not happening. If it was happening, Dan Lipinski would be out of a job. Instead he echoed Obama’s 2011 position this January to the Chicago Sun-Times. And went on to win his primary. He’ll be casting votes in Congress next year and Mark Sanford won’t.

          • qwints says:

            @vV-Vv, would teachers being fired count? Teachers have been fired for getting pregnant without being married, being gay or having done sex work in the past. I’d count all of those as violating right wing orthodoxy.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            If it was happening, Dan Lipinski would be out of a job. Instead he echoed Obama’s 2011 position this January to the Chicago Sun-Times. And went on to win his primary. He’ll be casting votes in Congress next year and Mark Sanford won’t.

            Just because it’s not happening uniformly everywhere doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Chicago politics could get a dead sheep a congressional seat if it was well-connected enough. Lipinski’s an incumbent, even! He’s been in Congress for over a decade so almost certainly has a lot of favors he can call in.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Teachers have been fired for getting pregnant without being married, being gay or having done sex work in the past. I’d count all of those as violating right wing orthodoxy.

            I would say so if it was happening now, but as far as I can tell, it’s in the past, and possibly long ago that this orthodoxy wasn’t particularly coded as right-wing, but was just what every respectable person believed.

            EDIT:

            Moreover, what you describe are behaviors, not opinions. Were there teachers who have been fired for arguing in abstract, not in the classroom, that being gay wasn’t an abomination?

          • qwints says:

            @vV_Vv, it’s happening now though I don’t have any solid numbers. Unfortunately, most searches seem to return large numbers of the same story. From 2017 and 2018:

            Lawsuit: Teacher at West Knox Christian school ousted over ‘out-of-wedlock pregnancy’

            Miami Catholic school teacher says she was fired for being gay

            Fired for porn past, ex-teacher wants her job back

            Edit: Your original comment involved a statement (climate change isn’t real) and a behavior (eating at a certain restaurant). I am unaware of any “teachers who have been fired for arguing in abstract, not in the classroom, that being gay wasn’t an abomination.” I can think of a couple incidents where people showing disrespect to right-wing institutions outside of work led to their firing (the woman who gave Trump the finger and the woman who took a photo of herself shouting and giving the finger at Arlington National cemetery). I am confident I can find more instances of people who right-aligned people called to be fired for speech.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            But today, the Republicans are against illegal immigration, mostly think marriage is between a man and a woman, thinks abortion is murder, and wants lower taxes and fewer regulations. Which are the same opinions Republicans (and an awful lot of Democrats) held 20 years ago.

            Being “against illegal immigration” is a vague elision of my point. Bush Sr. and Reagan were “against illegal immigration” too. Yet both of them pooh-poohed the idea of a fence while signing off on an amnesty. Bush Jr. had to be talked out of amnesty and talked into a partial fence. Trump’s not settling for anything less than a wall PLUS cuts to legal immigration. If a Republican today advocated amnesty and no fence as Reagan did while claiming to be “against illegal immigration” Breitbart would be calling in a tactical nuclear strike. The details matter.

            And I’ll give you taxes, but Republicans were not always as dogmatic about cutting regulation. I called out Sarbanes-Oxley and McCain-Feingold in my post above. Let me also throw in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments establishing a cap-and-trade system for sulfate emissions.

            (And this doesn’t fit with any of the above categories, but seriously: reparations. Reparations! Imagine it!)

            But if you took a modern Democrat who’s 1000% behind gay marriage, wants the government to force Christians to bake cakes for gay weddings, thinks “no person is illegal” and that cities should be refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement and everybody should get free college and free healthcare and transported them to 1996 I think they’d probably get run out of the Democratic party for being some sort of bizarre communist nut job.

            We don’t have to imagine your example when it comes to gay marriage. DOMA federally defined marriage as heterosexual, and was passed largely in response to a 1993 pro-gay-marriage ruling by a Hawaii state court, so everyone knew what the stakes were and it’s a pretty clear proxy for Congress’ views. Many of the nays on that vote are Dem stalwarts to this day, including John Lewis, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi. And while “force Christians to bake wedding cakes” couldn’t have been a thing, generalized Democratic initiatives for adding sexual orientation to public accommodations laws go even farther back than that; the first such bill was introduced in 1974 by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch, who went on to be run out of town as a Communist a beloved three-term mayor of NYC.

            Free health care? Harry Truman was there in 1949. Free college? Huey Long was there in 1934. The fact that you think “free stuff” is some newfangled strain of Democratic radicalism is kinda funny, really. You were on way more solid ground with gay rights; there was some pretty wild shit floated in the 30s and 40s that didn’t quite make it past Congress. If anything, the trend away from wonky neoliberal tax rebate schemes and towards direct public provision of services is Democrats returning to their roots.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Just because it’s not happening uniformly everywhere doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

            Then I suggest leaving the word “all” out of your post next time.

          • gbdub says:

            @Anonymous Bosch
            You’re getting awfully worked up over an argument that, even if you win, will be basically “nuh uh, your side’s worse!”

            To be perfectly clear, I am actually in agreement that “purity spirals” happen on the broadly defined right, and disagree with oppressedminority that they only (or even mostly) happen on the broadly defined left.

            But brass tacks: it’s silly to say that acceptable positions on “the left” regarding e.g. gay marriage have not profoundly and rather rapidly shifted. That you can point out an exception scores you one non-transferable blogpoint for my careless use of the word “all”, but little else.

            As to whether one side or the other has been “better” at effecting their dogma shift, I stand by my assertion that both sides have been reasonably effective even though it has been accomplished in somewhat different ways, in different contexts, and in different areas of the culture war. That’s an arguable point, but probably not productively. As a wise poster once said: ” This sort of argument ends in an endless badminton match of “what about this” >–< "it's not the same because [special pleading]" "

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            But brass tacks: it’s silly to say that acceptable positions on “the left” regarding e.g. gay marriage have not profoundly and rather rapidly shifted. That you can point out an exception scores you one non-transferable blogpoint for my careless use of the word “all”, but little else.

            I would not dispute for a minute that acceptable positions regarding gay rights haven’t profoundly shifted. I didn’t argue against that proposition, I argued against the proposition that a pro-gay-marriage Democrat (or a pro-free-health-care Democrat, etc.) would’ve been run out of the party 20 years ago. Which is false and historically ignorant.

            What I am arguing is that one side has been in a deeper purity spiral than the other. And this isn’t as intractable an argument as you might think. Check out the literature on DW-NOMINATE, a purely mathematical modeling of legislative votes which relies on spatial clustering rather than manual identification of roll call votes as “liberal” or “conservative” (thus making it useful to control for long-term shifts in party systems). Most of the ways you slice the data for polarization end up with something like FIG. 2 here.

          • cassander says:

            @Anonymous bosch

            . Check out the literature on DW-NOMINATE, a purely mathematical modeling of legislative votes which relies on spatial clustering rather than manual identification of roll call votes as “liberal” or “conservative” (thus making it useful to control for long-term shifts in party systems). Most of the ways you slice the data for polarization end up with something like FIG. 2 here.

            This is a pet peeve of mine, so I’m going to unload, but DW-Nominate does not measure what it claims to. Imagine there is only one political issue in the country, the number of buttons on military uniforms. extreme republicans want 8, moderates of both parties want 6, and extreme democrats want 4. Then there’s an election and all the extreme republicans are defeated and some new 2 button super extreme democrats are elected. The country would have unquestionably moved to the left, as would both parties. DW nominate would show everyone involved moving to the right. the average republican used to be a 7 on a scale of 4-8. Now he’s a 6 on a scale of 6-2, as extreme as possible. DW nominate cannot tell the difference between people moving and people sitting still and the world moving around them, and their results are perfectly consistent with the idea that republicans have generally sat still while democrats have galloped left.

            Now, it’s true that nominate does try to account for this by using anchor legislators, but their methodology there is fundamentally flawed. They assume that legislators votes and opinions do not change over time, but this is not a good assumption. A lot more things don’t get voted on than do in a legislature. Let’s go back to our button example, but say that instead of all the 8 button republicans losing, a couple manage to hang on. They still believe in 8 buttons, they might campaign for 8 buttons on the stump, but they’re never going to get a chance to vote on 8 button bills because they have no chance of passing and the leadership won’t bring them down for a vote. They’ll probably end up holding their nose and voting for 6 button bills. But if one of them is an anchor legislator, that means they’ll make the DW nominate score of their caucus look more extreme because they’re now voting with an avowed 8 buttoner, even though they’re not voting on 6 button bills.

            DW nominate is a useful tool, but it does not and cannot measure movement of the parties overtime in absolute policy space.

            For the most part, the puritan left simply hasn’t managed to amass the political power that the puritan right has. The Tea Party was just as much a struggle against moderate Republican incumbents as it was against Obama.

            Yep, and it failed, pretty miserably. Meanwhile the puritan left is passing affirmative consent laws, creating sanctuary cities and states, and driving the democratic party agenda to the left in a dozen other ways. The assertion that the tea party (wich is, in any case, basically dead) is more powerful than the puritan left is on I feel verges on the absurd.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, you can find someone somewhere who once said things that are current Democrat policy positions / talking points. But at the time, these people were extremists and few people seriously entertained their ideas. The former leftist extreme is today the leftist mainstream, while the former right wing mainstream is still basically the same right wing mainstream. About the only thing I would say has significantly changed on the Republican side is opposition to free trade. 20 years ago you had a vocal minority in favor of free trade and a smaller minority wary of free trade, and the vast majority indifferent. But after 20 years of closing factories and the hollowing out of the middle class the indifferent have moved heavily towards protectionism. Besides that, Donald Trump is basically 1992 Bill Clinton.

          • The Nybbler says:

            One measure of that success is how much “puritan right” has become just “right.” 10 years ago you had John McCain endorsing cap-and-trade, and Newt Gingrich cutting climate PSAs with Nancy Pelosi. 20 years ago Republican Congresses were regulating corporate accounting and political contributions. 40 years ago Reagan and Bush were debating in the Republican primary over who would be nicer to illegal immigrants seeking public education for their children.

            Not one of those is a “puritan” issue. 30 years ago you had Tipper Gore (D) and Susan Baker (R) working together to sanitize music lyrics; that’s a puritan issue.

          • Matt M says:

            And today – we don’t even need Congress. All the major providers of music have voluntarily agreed to censor whatever music the SPLC tells them to.

          • albatross11 says:

            Cite?

          • Matt M says:

            If you’re talking to me, here you go!

          • Montfort says:

            “All the major providers” = spotify? I didn’t know their market share was that dominant. Nor does your link provide any evidence all suggestions by the SPLC will be followed. But at least it says the SPLC are official partners with spotify, as opposed to, say, Apple, Pandora, bandcamp, Youtube, Google Play, Amazon, etc, which don’t seem to have any affiliation with SPLC.

            Most of these services put “hate music” by some description as content not allowed under terms of service, and will allow anyone to report violating content. But that is, presumably, subject to review.

          • albatross11 says:

            Matt M:

            Okay, I withdraw my complaint–that looks like at least one streaming service really is giving SPLC a veto on their recommendations. That’s utterly nuts as a business strategy, but sometimes people are just nuts.

          • This is a little tangential to the debate on right wing purity spirals, since I’m neither a politician nor an employee of a red coded industry, but I can provide a little first hand data.

            I have been openly supporting open borders, free trade, and drug legalization for about fifty years now. That hasn’t prevented me from being invited to give talks for the Federalist Society—I’m still on their list. It didn’t prevent me, quite a while back, from being invited to take the pro-free trade side of a debate at a high up right wing conference, where I had the pleasure of meeting Phyllis Schlafly, who I think of as the Grand Old Lady of the slightly nutty right–and found to be bright and interesting.

            One Republican congressman was a friend of mine when we were both much younger. It turned out that we were both speakers at the same event a year or so back, and his reaction to me was entirely friendly–although since he’s a libertarian Republican, perhaps that doesn’t count. I’m occasionally invited to do Skype interviews to be webbed by people some of whom feel a good deal closer to conventional right wing than I am.

            So far as my experience goes, the parts of the right I encounter, surely not a random sample, are not hostile to people who disagree with them on several important issues, agree on others, and are not hostile to them.

            And, on the other side, although on the three issues I mentioned my positions fit with the hard core left, I cannot ever remember being invited to participate in an obviously left wing conference, being offered a friendly interview for a left wing web site, or anything similar.

            I concede one friendly conversation with the husband of our Democratic congresswoman, who turned out to be a fellow Heinlein fan.

          • mdet says:

            (Accidentally reported Matt M’s link to Reason’s article on Spotify, in case it disappears)

            The Spotify story is overblown. Spotify said they would take steps to scrub hateful content. What they actually did was stop recommending music by a handful of artists who were accused of domestic violence. Their music could still be streamed, it just stopped being promoted in official Spotify playlists & recommendations (not a harsh punishment in my opinion). Spotify then dropped this policy after less than a month.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            This thread got really long and discursive so I want to just point out another current example of something that might fail to penetrate a meta-contrarian bubble: over the past week, cartoonist Rob Rogers, who had been drawing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 25 years, saw a bunch of his anti-Trump cartoons get spiked. As this CJR story points out:

            All editorial cartoonists deal with having their work killed at some point, says Rogers—a previous recipient of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ Golden Spike Award for a nixed cartoon. “But they usually only happen a couple of times a year,” he says. “I’ve never heard of anybody having more than two or three. Never in my career have I had two in a row killed, or six in a row.”

            (The story includes an example of a cartoon they spiked: someone in a KKK hood in a doctor’s office asking him “is it the Ambien?” I didn’t bust a gut laughing or anything, but it’s a pretty comprehensible liberal joke about current events. They don’t appear to be in especially bad taste by the standards of editorial cartoons, as opposed to when the Washington Post deservedly dropped Ted Rall for using retarded children as a metaphor for Bush voters).

            Today he was fired.

            I’m not claiming this is exactly equivalent to any other example on offer. Or claiming that they don’t have the right to do this. I’m simply offering it as an example of a news organization squashing liberal opinion that you might not hear about from Brave Centrist Speech Defenders whose brand is primarily complaining about organizations squashing conservative opinion.

          • oppressedminority says:

            I’m simply offering it as an example of a news organization squashing liberal opinion that you might not hear about from Brave Centrist Speech Defenders whose brand is primarily complaining about organizations squashing conservative opinion.

            Thanks I appreciate this. These kinds of stories do not make it through my usual filter and this most certainly distorts my views.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It appears from the previous coverage that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is taking a deliberate turn to the right. Possibly this is at least in part backlash, as the terrible awful horrible and universally condemned “Reason as Racism” editorial doesn’t have any ideas you couldn’t see here.

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          This came up in the last open thread when comparing social justice to the religious right, but I think there definitely have been right-wing boycotts of what most people think of as innocuous pop culture. For example. For something culinary, recall the animus against French food in the run-up to the Iraq War.

          As Anonymous Bosch says, it’s hard to know if this is exactly comparable, but the right has definitely endorsed consumer boycotts.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            You don’t even need to go close to that far back. In 2017 alone we saw Keurig, Starbucks, and the NFL all come under the baleful eye of #MAGA for insufficient ideological fealty.

          • gbdub says:

            We’re talking here specifically about in-group infighting. Everybody attacks the outgroup – all the examples you list are attacking the outgroup (except maybe the NFL, although the problem there was specifically outgroup participants in something popular among the ingroup).

            Better examples would be stuff like Koch vs. Breitbart, Never-Trumpers vs. MAGA (those might be blue tribe vs. red tribe Republicans though), the Tea Party vs. establishment GOP, and the entire history of Protestant Christianity.

        • dndnrsn says:

          The question of whether it is more common or not, at this time or at some other point in time, is a different question from whether this is a characteristic of “the left” or some segment of the left that can be considered to apply generally. You gesture towards this, but if your intention was to make a statement on the situation right now (which, we could try to quantify, or at least consider how one might do that), the blunt use of “the left” I think undermines that.

          I think it is very hard to pin particular types of behaviour on one of two broad categorizations of types of politics.

          • oppressedminority says:

            To me it seems so obvious that it’s more common on the left that I would expect it to be axiomatic in any discussion of the topic. But I realize this is my view and is unsupported by empirical data, so I am appreciative of comments that question this assumption.

          • dndnrsn says:

            See Bosch’s comment above. I think he makes the point well.

          • MB says:

            The fact that witch hunts are a left-wing characteristic can be proved axiomatically.
            1. Left-wing politics are based on resentment.
            2. Resentment causes people to be suspicious (leading to paranoia and to a siege mentality), be vengeful (against real or imagined enemies), and lash out in destructive ways.
            Leftists’ thirst for revenge is never satisfied, because they always feel inferior and oppressed (i.e. they never forget past wrongs, real or imagined), no matter what their current position in society is. They prefer historical narratives of oppression, where their ancestors were wronged by the powerful. There is always one more injustice to avenge.
            Leftists are a gnostic sect. They are the only pure ones in an evil, oppressive world, and persecuted for their goodness. But never pure enough; hence the need for constant purification.
            Their failures are never due to their own faults, but to their lack of purity, to saboteurs, and to their enemies’ evil eye. When something inevitably goes wrong, it’s time to start the witch hunts.
            This is the left-wing mentality. When leftists lose this mentality, when the witch hunts cease and the émigrés are allowed to return, a case can be made that they are no longer leftists (see: Napoleon, then the Bonapartists).
            When “rightists” have this mentality, a case can be made that they are not actually rightists (see: obvious).
            In general, this sort of a priori reasoning is dubious, but here it is abundantly supported by the facts. If one looks at contemporary leftist rhetoric, be it of Madero, of Malema, or of American leftists, one finds plenty of confirmation.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I mean, sure, if you take as axiomatic that left-wing politics are just an expression of rage and envy, you can prove that left wing politics are, uh, an expression of rage and envy. You can also equivocate wildly between “left-wing” and “leftist”, too! Why should this be taken more seriously than left-wingers who boil down the entire reason for right-wing politics to bigotry, pure and simple?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The fact that witch hunts are a left-wing characteristic can be proved axiomatically.
            1. Left-wing politics are based on resentment.

            This is the shit I am here for

          • LadyJane says:

            The fact that witch hunts are a left-wing characteristic can be proved axiomatically.
            1. Left-wing politics are based on resentment.

            Posts like this are exactly why I get so pedantic about the precise meaning of left-wing and right-wing. If there’s no clear and mutually agreed-upon definition for the terms, then people can just put everything they like on one side of the spectrum and everything they dislike on the other side, and tautologically “prove” that the other side is universally wrong about everything.

          • MB says:

            “Why should this be taken more seriously than left-wingers who boil down the entire reason for right-wing politics to bigotry, pure and simple?”
            I think that’s a fair characterization. At some level, right-wing politics are based on hatred, contempt, and mistrust of the other (foreigners, immigrants, people of different religions or creeds). At some level, left-wing politics are based on resentment: of the aristocracy, of the bourgeoisie, of the kulaks, of the 1%, of the “privileged”, etc..
            (Left-wing) resentment breeds a paranoid mentality that is quite rare on the right. From the Law on Suspects during the French Revolution to the hunt for saboteurs and Trotskyists in the USSR during the 30s to the bias response teams hunting for micro-aggressions in present-day US universities to the Chavez-Maduro government still unsure of its hold on power after more than 10 years, the left shows a fundamental lack of confidence in its own success (again, caused by its permanent resentment).
            Leftists often portray their enemies (e.g. White Russians or Wall Street capitalists) as champagne-drinking, cigar-smoking, caviar- and foie gras-eating elitists. The revolution is fragile, the enemy always has the upper hand, and its agents are everywhere, part of an invisible but omnipresent structure of oppression.
            Here is an illustration: “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” depict typical right-wing attitudes. “Beloved” and “Cloud Atlas” depict typical left-wing attitudes.

        • @OppressedMinority:

          This is close to my Rice Christian theory of political cycles. If the right is politically dominant, there are self-interested reasons for being on the right, so the average ideological quality of the right goes down. Only people who really believe in the left will be on the left, so their quality goes up. In addition, people on the left have lots of opportunities to hone their arguments against the right, people on the right fewer the other way, and people on the left who are not good at defending their position find their situation uncomfortable and drop out.

          The result is a world where the intellectual quality and ideological purity of the left are higher than of the right, which eventually makes public views swing left, at which point the process reverses.

          • oppressedminority says:

            Right, this is what I am hoping will happen on the right today. It seems clear to me that the left is bankrupt and full of opportunists in the way the right wing is not, so that part is happening. What is less clear to me is that the public will eventually swing right. The left has captured so many important institutions that the mere quality of arguments may not be sufficient for the pendulum to swing fully.

          • I think it happened on the free market right fifty years ago. One of the reasons my father had the reputation of being a very good debater was that he had been exposed to the arguments on the other side many times over, the people he was arguing with had never heard competent arguments against their views.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        I think the alt-right has been subject to some of this stuff; see for example concerns over someone’s Jewish wife; infighting between Richard Spencer and Milo (I seem to recall there was a big thing about this, possibly owing to Milo being part Jewish, but can’t seem to find a link); and more generally the worry that various members are “controlled opposition”.

        I don’t know if this is exactly the same failure mode, but I think it’s at least a close cousin.

        • quanta413 says:

          I think describing Richard Spencer and Milo as being in the same group is incorrect.

          It’s like saying Louis Farrakhan is in the same group as Steven Pinker or something.

          Spencer and Farrakhan are both way out there.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            The argument was specifically over membership in the Alt Right, though as I say, I can’t seem to find the details now.

          • Matt M says:

            Alt-right is a nebulously defined term. The point is that Milo and Spencer clearly have different beliefs on multiple issues.

            Reading this article, it’s unclear to me what the two “sides” in this dispute actually disagree on. Clearly the host of the event is, in fact, deeply concerned about and sympathetic towards people with disabilities.

            I think most intra-right disputes are, in fact, a difference of opinion in ideology. But this one doesn’t seem to be that…

          • quanta413 says:

            But Milo doesn’t call himself alt-right as far as I can remember.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I can’t seem to find the fight I was thinking of, so now I worry that I had the details wrong. So, instead allow me to provide a few more examples of right-wing spaces suffering dysfunctional group dynamics over purity vs outreach.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          But in Republican circles, absolutely no one cares what Richard Spencer has to say. The only reason anyone knows who he is is because the left-leaning media needed a “nazi” to put in front of a camera after the 2016 election. Spencer has never appeared as “friend of the show” on Hannity or Tucker Carlson, and never sat in as guest host for Rush Limbaugh, or been quoted approvingly by Ann Coulter or Pat Buchanan for his sharp political insight. And with good reason. Not only because nobody likes his racism, but also because all the rest of his policy preferences line up with the Democratic Party and not the Republican party. The only difference between Spencer and the average Democrat is that he’s a pro-white racist instead of an anti-white racist. Why would Republicans ever follow him or care what he has to say?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I am not arguing that Spencer is Republican; I am arguing that he is right-wing, as are other members or near-members of the alt right, and so infighting within and between these groups is an example of right wing groups suffering from similar if not identical dysfunction to that suffered by the left-wing group mentioned originally.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What about Richard Spencer’s preferred policies is “right wing?” Is it his support for universal healthcare? Is it his support for gay marriage, and his belief that homosexuality is part of “white identity?” Is it his extreme opposition to bombing Assad in response to his use of chemical weapons? Is it his support for transgender rights? Is it his support for Tulsi Gabbard for the 2020 elections?

            Or is this one of those “but you fuck one sheep…” things where the single criterion you need to be “right wing” is not hate white people?

          • Well Spencer’s to the right of me..

          • albatross11 says:

            I suspect the definition used here is that if you hate nonwhite people[1], you are by definition right-wing. That’s only kinda silly in US politics, but of course it’s utterly goofy in world politics, where the right-wingers are often at least as hostile to whites as anyone else.

            [1] I don’t know whether Spencer really hates nonwhites, as I’ve never read or listened to anything from him. But this seems like the way the definition is being used in practice–one who is labeled as racist is inherently right-wing, by definition, regardless of other policy positions.

          • albatross11 says:

            Eugene:

            I’m not sure who is on the alt-right, but for plausible candidates whose politics I can more-or-less evaluate, I’d say Sailer and Cochran are both more-or-less Republicans, albeit with a lot of criticisms of the party. I think Razib is also broadly on the right. Charles Murray is somewhere between moderate Republican and libertarian. I have no idea about h-dchick or Steve Hsu.

          • It’s not that Spencer dislikes non-whites as a personal foible, it is that he calls for white ethno state as a matter of policy. Or are we puzzled that Apartheid is coded right?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’m also not sure where you are getting that he supports gay marriage; Wikipedia says “Spencer opposes same-sex marriage, which he has described as “unnatural””; although he does seem not to consider homosexuality an important issue. I also can’t see anything on Spencer and transgender.

            But the answer is because his entire intellectual history places him on the right: from his time at the American Conservative, to Taki’s Mag, through to his founding of Radix all of which are right- or right-leaning publications. His organization, Alternative Right, obviously suggests a self-identification with the right-wing, and this is not just idiosyncratic: he was invited to speak at the Unite the Right rally by, presumably, other people who identify as right-wing to address a presumably mostly right-leaning crowd.
            He may have supported Tulsi Gabbard, but he also of course supported Donald Trump, was a Ron Paul supporter, opposes immigration, and is anti-feminist; all characteristically right-wing.

            His opposition to Syrian intervention and his support for a welfare state mean he isn’t mainstream right (hence “alternative right”), but there are plenty of paleoconservative and libertarian right-wingers who hold similar beliefs.

          • LadyJane says:

            I suspect the definition used here is that if you hate nonwhite people[1], you are by definition right-wing. That’s only kinda silly in US politics, but of course it’s utterly goofy in world politics, where the right-wingers are often at least as hostile to whites as anyone else.

            There’s the economic right and the cultural right.

            On the economic axis, being right-wing or left-wing has nothing to do with race whatsoever. You can be an economic far-rightist who’s 100% in favor of total racial equality, or you can be an economic far-leftist who’s completely bigoted against racial minorities. Since dominant racial groups usually tend to be more economically successful than racial minorities, it’s somewhat more likely for racial minorities to be economically left-wing, but that’s far from a universal trend. On this axis, Richard Spencer would fall somewhere between the center-left and mid-left, and I would indeed be somewhere to the right of him.

            On the cultural axis, being racist against non-dominant racial groups is inherently a right-wing trait. (It should also be noted that which racial group is dominant varies from country to country, so cultural right-wingers can indeed be racist against whites in places like Zimbabwe and North Korea.) Of course, the cultural axis isn’t solely about race; there are nationalists and social/religious conservatives and traditionalists and reactionaries who’d all be classified as part of the cultural right, despite the fact that many of them aren’t racist and some of them probably despise racism every bit as much as the average center-left liberal. And someone can be culturally left-leaning on issues like religion and LGBT rights while still being culturally far-rightist on issues of race, ethnicity, and nationalism. But I don’t think it’s unfair to consider a die-hard white supremacist ethno-nationalist like Richard Spencer to be right-wing in a cultural sense, given the extremity of his views on race and the degree to which he prioritizes that issue above all others, even if he’s surprisingly tolerant and supportive of non-racial minority groups like women, gays, trans people, and atheists.

            And yes, in all honesty, the terms “right-wing” and “left-wing” are pretty stupid, and can basically be redefined to mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean. But I’m going by the most commonly used definitions of the term, where the right vs. left paradigm refers to free-market capitalism vs. socialism on the economic axis, and hierarchical tribalism vs. egalitarianism on the cultural axis. (Myself, I’m firmly centrist on the economic axis – maybe center-left by American standards, and center-right by European standards – and far-left on the cultural axis.)

          • JulieK says:

            @LadyJane:
            Great comment!

          • Aapje says:

            LadyJane

            On the cultural axis, being racist against non-dominant racial groups is inherently a right-wing trait.

            That claim is only valid if you equate the left with Social Justice, which is a questionable thing to do.

            Both Stalinist Russia and Maoist China were fairly ethno-nationalist and saw minority ethnicities as a threat to their socialist ideals. For example, Stalin was not too keen on the Jews once he saw them as harboring Zionist ideas and thereby undermining Communist society. I don’t see how that is significantly different from people who oppose the (((Jews))) because of a belief that they undermine Gentile society.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Aapje: I would consider the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China to be culturally far-rightist, despite being economically far-leftist.

            I’m going by the three-dimensional model of politics, which combines the up-down ‘authoritarian vs. libertarian’ scale with two separate left-right axes, namely the ‘collectivist vs. capitalist’ economic axis and the ‘tribalist vs. egalitarian’ cultural axis.

            For the record, I think it’s a bad model, but it’s the only one that even attempts to define “left-wing” and “right-wing” in terms that are consistent with the ways in which they’re most commonly used, and thus preferable to a state of terminological anarchy in which right-wing means “whatever I like” and left-wing means “whatever I don’t like” (or vice-versa).

      • Douglas Knight says:

        There are two meanings of purity spiral. When I hear the phrase, I think of people having a single axis and one-upping each other by going farther on that axis, like libertarians calling for less and less government, leading to anarcho-capitalists. That’s pretty much the only right-wing example I have.

        But that’s not what’s going on in this example. Here there are two different issues, and the supporters of one demand that events for the other do something for them. If you think that there’s a coherent “left” then it sounds like one-upmanship to the “left,” but I think that’s a pretty different phenomenon and I don’t think “purity spiral” is a good description.

        While I’m at it, let me give some 19th century examples of the second phenomenon. There was a lot of overlap between activists for women’s rights and against slavery. So there were calls for anti-slavery conventions to admit women and for women’s rights conventions to boycott sugar. They sounded a lot less nasty than the present example, but that might just be twitter.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        I suspect this kind of thing (which I would’n call a purity spiral) is more common on the left, because “believe victims” is a left ideological pillar.

        (Not that the issue is one-sided. I’d expect the right to have fewer Twitter wars about people being excluded but more people being silently excluded)

      • helloo says:

        There’s two big ones on the right-wing side –

        Being called out as a homosexual (not so much now but still exists)

        Being pro-gun control (mostly political rather than individual)

        There’s also some others that are somewhat on both sides like being adulterous.

        Rather than on media, think about what might get you kicked out of church.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Non-rhetorical question: could a conservative group face a similar shitstorm if they scheduled a meeting at a venue that banned guns on premise?

          • Nornagest says:

            There was a minor shitstorm not so long ago after the NRA scheduled a convention at a venue that banned guns, but a lot of that shitstorm consisted of leftists pointing and going “see, even they think it isn’t safe!”

          • John Schilling says:

            Unless it was a gun-focused conservative group, or nearly so, I don’t think there would be much of an effect. Note that e.g. the Grand Ole Opry prohibits firearms, and yet retains I believe some status as a conservative cultural institution.

            More generally, most conservatives understand that guns, booze, and intense social interaction don’t mix, and they want at least some of their parties to have booze.

          • meiscooldude says:

            Yes, but the criticism comes from the left claiming hypocrisy.

            Generally speaking, most gun owners concerns about gun free zones will go away if it is also a ‘secure zone’. As in armed security is present and sufficient.

            The annual NRA convention where the vice president gave a speech was a ‘gun free zone’, but this was due to the secret service requirement. They also provided armed security, so technically it wasn’t a ‘gun free’ zone.

            The monthly Tanner Gun Show in Denver has a loaded magazine ban.
            You can bring in your guns to sell or trade (more importantly not leave it unattended in your car), but you aren’t allowed to have them loaded or have a loaded magazine. Everyone is generally fine with that because armed security is provided.

        • Tarhalindur says:

          You’re missing a few. Off the top of my head:

          – Tax cuts
          – Deregulation
          – Any position on abortion short of a total ban, except maybe rape/incest/life of the mother. This one’s a shining example because it’s hardened in the last decade or so – even the rape/incest/life of mother Schelling fence has been failing lately. (Remember the “legitimate rape” guy back in 2012?) As I understand it this spiral has gone even further in conservative Christian circles, to the point that I keep hearing scattered reports of women with life-threatening pregnancies pushed to keep the pregnancy.
          – “Tough on crime” probably goes here.
          – And, of course, one very recent and very obvious one: “Do you support Trump?”. (Also in play on the Left, of course, in the opposite direction.)

          Additionally, the conservative Christian churches that were the core constituency of the Moral Majority and remain Republican bulwarks have some internal purity loops of their own that are feeding into the broader Republican Party: in addition to the aforementioned abortion spiral, there’s the cluster of positions encoded in “Biblical marriage” and Biblical inerrancy including young-Earth creationism.

          The real telltale, though, is that the acronym RINO a) exists and b) routinely gets thrown against moderate candidates in Republican primaries. And, well… I know from personal experience that there are parts of the country where RINO has been a live acronym in primary challenges for at least fifteen years, if not twenty or even twenty-five.

          I mean, why is someone a Republican In Name Only?

          Because they’re not pure enough.

          (It’s there on the Left as well, though Blue Dog seems to be used more than DINO; IIRC it hasn’t been unseating too many Democrats yet, but then RINO didn’t either until sometime in the Bush II years.)

          • helloo says:

            Definitely considered mentioning RINO but I felt that even the gun control part was too restricted to politicians rather than the public which while can cause arguments, generally doesn’t result in them in being called out (as in, can you think of a proposition that if ousted that someone donated to it, would get them fired/boycotted?).

            Abortion could probably be one though I’m not sure if it ever “spiraled”.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            IMO the interesting elements of the leftist version are a) the willingness to advise people of things they deny and b) the willingness to jump straight to mandatory ostracization, both applied readily to non-politicians.

            If the right were mirror to the left in this, you’d imagine that if, say, Grover Norquist tweeted a somewhat anti-gun joke, then said he opposed gun control but just thought that joke was funny, you’d see conservatives saying anyone who supports ATR is anti-gun.

          • Matt M says:

            It’s a little nuanced – but I think the point of RINO is less “this person’s beliefs are not extreme enough” but rather “this person does not actually have the beliefs they profess to have.”

            It’s often hard to distinguish the two, but I think it is different.

            Republican Candidate X who runs on a platform of “deport illegals” but then votes against the “deport illegals” bill is a RINO.

            Republican Candidate Y who runs on a platform of “illegals are hard working people who just want to achieve the American dream like you and me” is something else. The issue isn’t that he’s “impure,” it’s that he has different beliefs altogether.

          • Jaskologist says:

            A purity spiral is not simply having a standard of purity. It’s having one that keeps moving.

      • moscanarius says:

        I can definitely see that there are many purity-obsessed hypochrites both Right and Left, but I sense there is a difference in frequency and flavour. It’s much like stupid arguments: you find them galore among Leftists and Right-wingers, but that sort of more pedestrian stupidity (“evolutiion is a lie cuz it’s not in the Bible!”) is more common on the Right; Leftist stupidity tends to be more sophisticate on average.

        What I see (usual caveats: it’s just me, I have my biases, I’m not a Leftist nor an American, and like everyone else here I don’t have empirical data on the subject) is that though purity demands and status games also happen on the Right, the Left is more trigger-happy about starting them and keeping them going, and thus has more of this specific problem. Right wing purity purges require a higher threshould of social control / consensus / offense level before being put in motion. At the level where Right-wing nutters are still calling each other names before a Right-wing audience that is either trying to calm them down or having fun watching the catfight, Left-wing nutters are phoning employers to fire their now-enemies and convoking a sore, resentful audience to join the fight on threat of excommunication.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @moscarianus

          The following question matters for this subject: were European witch hunters, the authorities in charge of the Salem trials, etc, left-wingers, right-wingers, or neither?

          • LadyJane says:

            The terms “left-wing” and “right-wing” originated in the late 1700s, and weren’t really used in the modern sense until the 1800s. They’re only really applicable in societies that’ve achieved some degree of urbanization and industrialization, and basically meaningless outside of that context.

          • moscanarius says:

            I’m inclined to say “neither”, mostly because I don’t know enough about them and I am absolutely sure they wouldn’t map perfectly into the commonly used definitons, which means trouble. We could spend weeks arguing over what exactly it means to be Right or Left, to nobody’s content. See what happens on discussions on Nazism.

            I don’t think it matters too much to my argument where it concerns to current creatures identified as Left or Right, but if you want to answer your own question and tell us what’s in your mind I’m not going to discourage you.

          • moscanarius says:

            @LadyJane

            I think the way “Left” and “Right” can make sense in most contexts is by making them refer to “Progressive” and “Conservative”. The “Left”, then, is whoever wants to destroy the institutions from the previous 100 years and preserve / expand the ones from the last 20 years; the Right wants the opposite, the dismantling of the new 20-years-old institutions and the preservation / expansion of the older ones up to 100 years old.

            (few people really remember or care about institutions even older, so they don’t really count)

            But that’s not Word Set in Stone, and I’m not even very sure it’s a good and useful model, so I don’t expect everyone to adopt this definiton.

          • LadyJane says:

            @moscanarius: No offense, but that’s a horrible definition, and not really consistent with how anyone on the left or the right uses the terms. The right/left model is pretty bad in general, but that conceptualization of it is particularly awful, since it completely prevents the terms from ever being defined in a concrete way. It also doesn’t map to modern conceptions of the economic right and economic left at all (for starters, it would make Bernie Sanders into an economic far-rightist, since he’s seeking to return the U.S. to an older economic model), and it only loosely maps to modern conceptions of the cultural right and cultural left.

            I don’t mean to sound harsh, but as a political theorist, I try to be as precise as possible with loaded terms like that, and I think that people using them in an inconsistent and haphazard way can be very bad for political discourse in general. If you’re curious, I tried to explain the left/right model in more specific terms earlier in this thread:
            https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/06/13/links-6-18-linkonberry-jam/#comment-638869
            https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/06/13/links-6-18-linkonberry-jam/#comment-638948

          • dndnrsn says:

            What’s on my mind is this: “the puritans were left-wingers/today’s left-wingers are the descendants of the puritans” is an old Death Eater (I think) concept.

            There’s a reason that “witch hunt” became shorthand for “hunt for enemies who may not even be there” – and the methods of the European witch craze were very similar to, say, the purges under Stalin: someone gets denounced/seems suspicious, grab them, torture them until they name other people just to get you to stop torturing them, grab those people, repeat.

            Now, personally, I don’t think that we can define them as either left or right; LadyJane is correct. Which I think shows that the “purity spiral” or the model of conspiracy-hunting in which your methods of hunting the conspiracy conjure an imaginary conspiracy or whatever, are not unique to a “side” but are rather human tendencies.

            You could make the claim that right now, in some parts of the world, the spaces where the whole purity-spiral thing happens most, are predominantly left-wing spaces. The claim might be true; I don’t know. “Left wing circular firing squad” is not a term that right-wingers made up. However, it’s a step from this to “purity spirals and circular firing squads are a characteristic of the left” and so on.

          • Eric Rall says:

            What’s on my mind is this: “the puritans were left-wingers/today’s left-wingers are the descendants of the puritans” is an old Death Eater (I think) concept.

            It’s older than the modern Death Eaters. Albion’s Seed was first published in 1989, and it traces a line of cultural descent from the Puritans and Quakers to modern liberals/progressives. There’s also an attempt to draw a left/right spectrum among the various religious groups in 17th century England, and IIRC the spectrum had the Quakers on the far left and the Puritans a step or two to the right (I think Methodists or Unitarians might have been between the Puritans and the Quakers on the spectrum).

            The notion of Puritans being towards the left of the political spectrum in 16th/17th Century England is not original to Albion’s Seed, either. I don’t know where it originated, but it seems a pretty ubiquitous assumption in stuff I’ve read about Tudor and Stuart England. Puritanism was by far the strongest among the minor gentry and the emerging commercial class and was strongly associated with political movements for institutional reform that are generally framed as “liberal”. The most prominent left/right political splits of the era are the 16th century split between the liberal “New Men” and the conservative court faction and the 17th century split between Roundheads and Cavaliers, and in both cases the Puritans were strongly associated with the “left”.

            By no means was this the same “left” and “right” as in modern politics, though. The New Men and the Roundheads were early steps towards what we now think of as Classical Liberalism (which developed in recognizable modern form from late 17th and 18th century liberals “noticing the skulls” from Cromwell, Cramner, etc), which has more in common with modern libertarians or with modern neoliberals than with modern progressives. And the kind of Conservativism that was represented by the Duke of Norfolk or Bloody Mary or Charles I is pretty much non-existent these days outside of the Death Eaters.

            The Death Eater innovation (apart from repeating the argument loudly in the context of discussions of modern politics as opposed to discussions of history and culture for their own sake) was to add on additional claims of strong links between Puritan doctrines and modern left-liberals. I think Moldemort has specifically argued that modern progressivism is just a non-theistic version of Puritanism. A lot of the claimed links are persuasive in isolation, but they’re heavily cherry-picked, and placed in the proper context they strike me as being more consistent with the Albion’s Seed model of cultural groups persisting across centuries of evolution and drift, than with the Death Eaters’ argument of progressivism just being Puritanism without God.

            IMO, the Mormons provide a pretty strong illustration of the flaws of the Death Eater version of the argument. Mormons also have a very strong linkage to Puritan cultural roots (Joseph Smith came from Vermont, and he recruited most of the early Mormons from parts of the Midwest that had been settled primarily from New England), and you can find lots of elements of modern Mormon culture that line up with the Albion’s Seed description of Puritan culture in the 17th century, but they’re different elements than the ones Puritans have in common with modern Progressives. And of course, Mormons are currently considered aligned with the right of the political spectrum for the most part.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Eric Rall

            It’s older than the modern Death Eaters. Albion’s Seed was first published in 1989, and it traces a line of cultural descent from the Puritans and Quakers to modern liberals/progressives. There’s also an attempt to draw a left/right spectrum among the various religious groups in 17th century England, and IIRC the spectrum had the Quakers on the far left and the Puritans a step or two to the right (I think Methodists or Unitarians might have been between the Puritans and the Quakers on the spectrum).

            Did Albion’s Seed go that far? I read it years ago, so my memory is fuzzy.

            The notion of Puritans being towards the left of the political spectrum in 16th/17th Century England is not original to Albion’s Seed, either. I don’t know where it originated, but it seems a pretty ubiquitous assumption in stuff I’ve read about Tudor and Stuart England. Puritanism was by far the strongest among the minor gentry and the emerging commercial class and was strongly associated with political movements for institutional reform that are generally framed as “liberal”. The most prominent left/right political splits of the era are the 16th century split between the liberal “New Men” and the conservative court faction and the 17th century split between Roundheads and Cavaliers, and in both cases the Puritans were strongly associated with the “left”.

            By no means was this the same “left” and “right” as in modern politics, though. The New Men and the Roundheads were early steps towards what we now think of as Classical Liberalism (which developed in recognizable modern form from late 17th and 18th century liberals “noticing the skulls” from Cromwell, Cramner, etc), which has more in common with modern libertarians or with modern neoliberals than with modern progressives. And the kind of Conservativism that was represented by the Duke of Norfolk or Bloody Mary or Charles I is pretty much non-existent these days outside of the Death Eaters.

            Were they recognized as “left” or whatever the contemporary expression would have been? Not a gotcha; English history of that period isn’t my wheelhouse.

            The Death Eater innovation (apart from repeating the argument loudly in the context of discussions of modern politics as opposed to discussions of history and culture for their own sake) was to add on additional claims of strong links between Puritan doctrines and modern left-liberals. I think Moldemort has specifically argued that modern progressivism is just a non-theistic version of Puritanism. A lot of the claimed links are persuasive in isolation, but they’re heavily cherry-picked, and placed in the proper context they strike me as being more consistent with the Albion’s Seed model of cultural groups persisting across centuries of evolution and drift, than with the Death Eaters’ argument of progressivism just being Puritanism without God.

            “Persuasive in isolation, but heavily cherry-picked, and supporting something else when considered in context” is apt… Moldy himself is a stunning example of how autodidacticism can be dangerous: he finds a bunch of primary sources and says “look, these primary sources disagree with the common secondary sources today; this is sign of The Priory” and does not consider enough that primary sources are untrustworthy little buggers a lot of the time.

            IMO, the Mormons provide a pretty strong illustration of the flaws of the Death Eater version of the argument. Mormons also have a very strong linkage to Puritan cultural roots (Joseph Smith came from Vermont, and he recruited most of the early Mormons from parts of the Midwest that had been settled primarily from New England), and you can find lots of elements of modern Mormon culture that line up with the Albion’s Seed description of Puritan culture in the 17th century, but they’re different elements than the ones Puritans have in common with modern Progressives. And of course, Mormons are currently considered aligned with the right of the political spectrum for the most part.

            True. Hypothetical counterarguments are fun though: eg “Mormons go and learn languages on missions, work for the diplomat and intelligence agencies disproportionately; therefore internationalists; therefore left-wing”

          • Eric Rall says:

            Did Albion’s Seed go that far? I read it years ago, so my memory is fuzzy.

            It’s been a couple years for me, too. I distinctly remember the left-right religious spectrum, and there was a chapter near the end about the cultural descent of the four folkways into 19th and 20th century politics. The general thrust of that chapter was that the major parties typically try to run “omnibus” candidates for President who appeal across multiple cultures, with varying degrees of success against the gravitational pull of the cultures. I think I remember the puritan-descendants (Fischer switches to calling them “Yankees” when talking about the more distant descendants, reserving “Puritan” for the original settlers and their immediate descendants) being aligned with modern liberals, but I’m fuzzy on exactly what Fischer actually said on the subject vs my own extrapolations of Fischer’s framework to the next 27-ish years between when he wrote the chapter and when I read it.

            Were they recognized as “left” or whatever the contemporary expression would have been? Not a gotcha; English history of that period isn’t my wheelhouse.

            Probably not, unless you’re pretty generous with aligning contemporary expressions with “left” vs “right”. LadyJane’s correct that the idea of a left/right political spectrum originated in the late 1700s. Specifically, it started out as a way of conceptualizing the factions among the National Assembly in para-Revolutionary France, based on the habits of the monarchists to sit on the right and revolutionaries to sit on the left, with the pattern being extended as the monarchists were defeated and driven out of the assembly and the revolutionaries split into factions based on how revolutionary they were.

            If you take the 1790s conception of “left” and “right” and extend it backwards, it’s pretty easy to make a case for Oliver Cromwell, Thomas Pride, Praisegod Barebones, etc being on the “left” as anti-monarchist and anti-clerical (*) revolutionaries. It’s less clear-cut to align the “New Men” faction of Henry VIII’s court with the likes of Robespierre and St. Just, since the former were anti-clerical and anti-traditional-aristocracy like the latter, but the former actually favored increasing the monarch’s power whereas the latter gave their monarch the chop.

            (*) This gets a little messy if you dig into the details. The Roundheads opposed the Church of England as Charles I and Archbishop Laud were running it, and the Church they were objecting to had a ton in common with French Catholic Church the Jacobins objected to, but the Roundheads were devout (and by modern standards, fundamentalist) Christians of their own flavor, who probably would have been appalled by Robespierre’s deism and the explicitly anti-Christian sentiments of the more extreme Jacobins.

      • Ketil says:

        I think this happens when people have a conflict as opposed to a mistake mindset – in other words, in this case, people on the left are trying to brand their opponents as evil for not caring enough about the disabled, or whatever.

        I imagine you would find more of this mindset on the right in small religious communities, where people would be shamed overtly or covertly for not being christian enough, or perhaps during McCarthyism, where people would be attacked for having socialist sympathies or being un-American.

    • poignardazur says:

      You can commit robberies, murders, …, that’s all excusable because of all the racism/oppression you suffered. But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years? YOU ARE IREDEEMABLY EVIL.

      Subtext: minorities are all predisposed to robbery and murder, and gay marriage is an aberration and a violation of natural law.

      I’m super against moral puritanism and all for freedom of speech, but you’re (implicitly) equating with your own right-wing personal views, and that’s not okay.

      • oppressedminority says:

        Is the “not okay” admonition sarcastic? Because, I dont mean to be disrespectful, but it sounds like a parody of a leftwing scold, in a thread discussing leftwing scolds.

        If it’s not sarcastic, I suggest you read my words at face value and try to respond using facts and logic if you are so inclined, and quit (hilariously) trying to shame me for all the implicit subtext you think you picked up from my comment.

        • poignardazur says:

          Ugh… this is so not going to be productive.

          The implicit subtext I “think” I picked up is you saying:

          But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years?

          I don’t think there’s ambiguity here. I think the part I quoted was making a dig at gay marriage in a passive-aggressive way.

          If I’m wrong, and you weren’t actually thinking about gay marriage when you wrote that, then I’m sorry (and also I’m puzzled because I don’t get what meant).

          I’m all for free speech, and I don’t think anti-gay-marriage people should be shut down. It’s the passive-aggressiveness that grates on me.

          • oppressedminority says:

            It’s the passive-aggressiveness that grates on me.

            Fascinating.

            Gay marriage is a particularly useful example in these discussions because it represents one of the more abrupt shifts in acceptable opinions in the history of manpeoplekind.

            Thank you for policing the subtext of my comments for passive-aggressiveness.

          • poignardazur says:

            And, not productive it is.

            Look, you know exactly what you’re doing. I have no power to police you or censor you, and if I had, I wouldn’t use it, but I do have the power to say this: you’re acting smug and playing social games, which is basically my definition of acting like an asshole.

          • oppressedminority says:

            Marriage has been between a man and a woman for 1000s of years. This does not mean that it should stay that way, but it does mean that it is understandable for some people to cling to that view without being hateful bigots.

            But the left now considers anyone who clings to that view hateful bigots, to the extent that a very progressive CEO of twitter cant even go to Chick-Fil-A because the owner of that chain is one who does cling to that view.

            Not only that, but simply by suggesting that it was not hateful to hold a view on marriage that was universal for 1000s of years, you decided that the subtext of my comment was:

            gay marriage is an aberration and a violation of natural law

            so that you could get on your high horse and admonish me

            NOT OKAY

            .

            Sorry, I’m still not certain whether you’re serious or a parody.

          • poignardazur says:

            If I’m wrong, and you weren’t actually thinking about gay marriage when you wrote that, then I’m sorry (and also I’m puzzled because I don’t get what meant).

            See also: social games.

            EDIT: Okay, that’s a little more snippy and unkind that necessary, sorry.

            Anyway, subtext does exist, and people do use it. Maybe I misread what you were saying, but I stand by my overall point. If you think people getting on their high-horse, and second-guessing hidden motivations is irritating… well, maybe you’re right and I should do it less.

            But you’re doing the same, or something nearly equivalent. The “hilariously”s and the “you sound like a parody”s aren’t any more conductive to a productive discussion than bigot-shaming.

            (tl;dr: you have a point but you’re acting like an ass and that undercuts your point)

          • oppressedminority says:

            I was definitely thinking of gay marriage. Your reading of “subtext” was extremely uncharitable and/or intended to create a strawman for you to heroically slay, but also a wonderful example of the exact pathology discussed in this thread, namely the need for leftwingers to express their moral outrage at the slightest deviation from progressive thought.

          • poignardazur says:

            You’re meta-policing my tone-policing, but you’re not addressing my point.

          • oppressedminority says:

            But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years?

            is not a dig at gay marriage at all. it’s a justification for people who still cling to the old view. I dont doubt that anti-gay marriage people have used that argument against gay marriage, and in that form it’s not convincing. But to me at least it is a convincing argument for the proposition that some good people will not necessarily change their mind in time to satisfy the twitter mobs.

            Subtext is definitely real but it should be used cautiously specially when accusing others of bigotry in a comment section.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Is there any evidence that Jack Dorsey was compelled not to go to Chik-Fil-A against his will, as opposed to forgetting that Chik-Fil-A was homophobic and once it was pointed out being like “oh, yeah, I guess I don’t want to support that with my money”?

            Because his response tweet really looks like the latter to me.

            I think it is pretty fucking toxic to assume that every instance of a person having principles is really them being coerced.

          • rlms says:

            No, we can tell that he was coerced because no right-thinking cis-straight-white-male would not want to support a homophobic business.

          • oppressedminority says:

            forgetting that Chik-Fil-A was homophobic

            Thank you for illustrating my point with a real live example of leftwing puritanism.

            Chik-Fil-A is not homophobic. Chik-Fil-A is a corporation and has no views on homosexuality or anything. The owners of the Chik-Fil-A are christians who believe in the traditional view of marriage, in accordance with christian teachings.

            If you choose to discriminate against Christian-owned businesses, that is up to you. But shaming anyone, for not participating in that discrimination is a whole new level of puritanism, where impurity of belief becomes contagious. What’s next? What if your dentist once ordered Chick-Fil-A, are you still comfortable supporting that bigot?

            Are we going to have two parallel economies where every good is labeled with “This product is guaranteed to have been produced, sourced, and marketed by 100% woke individuals” and “No libtard will benefit economically from the purchase of this product”?

          • Because his response tweet really looks like the latter to me.

            Given that he had gotten a lot of criticism for it, how can you tell whether the tweet was a genuine apology for violating his principles or a defensive move to protect himself from damaging criticism?

          • LadyJane says:

            Chik-Fil-A is not homophobic. Chik-Fil-A is a corporation and has no views on homosexuality or anything. The owners of the Chik-Fil-A are christians who believe in the traditional view of marriage, in accordance with christian teachings.

            No, the corporation is a legal entity that owned and operated a non-profit arm, the WinShape Foundation, which donated tens of millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups.

            Are we going to have two parallel economies where every good is labeled with “This product is guaranteed to have been produced, sourced, and marketed by 100% woke individuals” and “No libtard will benefit economically from the purchase of this product”?

            I don’t think LGBT activists boycotting a company that actively supports and finances anti-LGBT groups is anywhere near that level of ridiculousness. But I suppose a lot of things seem absurd if you take them completely out of context.

            You’re pushing a narrative where people are boycotting a company simply because its owner happened to hold views that are now considered controversial, despite being commonplace up until a few years ago. That narrative might be compelling for you, particularly if your agenda is pushing the idea that “social justice and political correctness have GONE TOO FAR,” but nonetheless, it doesn’t match the actual reality of the situation.

          • oppressedminority says:

            You’re pushing a narrative where people are boycotting a company simply because its owner happened to hold views that are now considered controversial, despite being commonplace up until a few years ago.

            Is that not the reality of the situation though? Also, boycotting anybody for any reason, valid or not, is totally fine by me. What I find objectionable is the shaming of others who dont participate in the boycott and how the ideological impurity is highly contagious.

            Chick-Fil-A has Christian cooties, so some LGBT activists boycott it. That’s totally fine nobody is forced to eat anything.

            But now anybody who goes to Chick-Fil-A also has the Christian cooties regardless of their political views. This is going way too far and only serves to further divide society.

          • albatross11 says:

            LadyJane:

            Thanks for explaining this. I don’t particularly feel obliged to boycott Chick-fil-a[1], but I get why you wouldn’t want to do business with a company that is taking a chunk of its profits and putting them toward funding political and social causes you hate.

            I worry about the way social media plays into movements to boycott businesses, but that’s entirely separate from the object-level question of why a progressive might plausibly be very unhappy to realize he was helping fund his enemies. (Perhaps in the same way that a very dedicated advocate of gun rights would be unhappy to realize he was doing business with someone who donated 10% of their profits to gun control advocacy groups.)

            [1] Though I think I’ve been accidentally boycotting them for the last several years.

          • LadyJane says:

            Is that not the reality of the situation though?

            Well, no. Did you actually read my post at all? There’s a huge difference between saying “I don’t approve of gay marriage” and donating tens of millions of dollars to anti-gay causes. You also made a point of distinguishing between the opinions/actions of a company’s CEO and the company itself, but in this case that’s inapplicable, because the company itself was the entity funding the anti-LGBT groups.

            I can think of an example that actually matches the situation you’re describing: when Duck Dynasty host Phil Robertson said in an interview that he doesn’t support gay marriage. And yes, people still got upset over it for a brief time, but it wasn’t a huge deal, the fervor died down within a matter of days, and his show continued to run successfully for another 3 or 4 years without anyone boycotting it or condemning its viewers. Maybe you think even that reaction was too extreme for someone simply stating a point of view that was commonplace less than a decade ago. Nonetheless, there’s still a huge difference between how that was handled and how the Chik-Fil-A situation was handled.

            At most, the fact that Chik-Fil-A’s owners made statements opposing gay marriage is a small part of why LGBT activists are boycotting the company. The predominant reason is because the company itself was actively funding anti-LGBT organizations.

          • Jaskologist says:

            donating tens of millions of dollars to anti-gay causes.

            This is a good example of the “impurity of belief becomes contagious” model mentioned above. From Wikipedia:

            Since 2003, WinShape has donated over $5 million to allegedly anti-gay groups,[11] including Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Family Research Council, Exodus International, and the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund, groups which seek to provide, among other works, an anti-gay interpretation of biblical teachings about marriage and sexuality.

            Many of these are organizations whose primary focus is on matters other than gay marriage, but do have opposition to it as one of their beliefs. So now any money at all donated to them is infected and declared to be for “anti-gay causes.”

            I’m not sure how $5mil turns into “tens of millions.” I guess any money at all that passes through the foundation itself is now also infected?

          • Randy M says:

            And yes, people still got upset over it for a brief time, but it wasn’t a huge deal, the fervor died down within a matter of days, and his show continued to run successfully for another 3 or 4 years without anyone boycotting it or condemning its viewers

            I’m not sure this is true; I think a big difference is the Chic-fil-a is very accessible and tempting to even blue tribe/homosexual people–there’s nothing red about eating chicken–while Duck Dyanasty is much more niche–hunting is pretty red.

          • oppressedminority says:

            At most, the fact that Chik-Fil-A’s owners made statements opposing gay marriage is a small part of why LGBT activists are boycotting the company. The predominant reason is because the company itself was actively funding anti-LGBT organizations.

            Boycotting something is completely fine. I dont even care that they have a reason to boycott it or not. I object that there is now a push to shame people who dont participate in the boycott. Like here. Maybe you can google some articles from lefties who think that’s dumb, and that would be great, but my point is not that all lefties think a particular way, I just want to register my objection to that specific strategy.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Jaskologist: I was wrong about the “tens of millions” figure, though the fact that they merely donated millions to anti-gay causes doesn’t do much to change my opinion.

            Many of these are organizations whose primary focus is on matters other than gay marriage, but do have opposition to it as one of their beliefs. So now any money at all donated to them is infected and declared to be for “anti-gay causes.”

            And how is that unfair, exactly? If the organizations simply took a theological stance against recognizing homosexual marriages within their religion, that would be one thing (the Catholic Church takes exactly that stance, and they’ve faced relatively little opposition from the left for it). But these are organizations that oppose LGBT rights as a matter of public policy, and several of them have actively lobbied the government and supported various politicians in an effort to prevent the legalization of gay marriage, prohibit gay couples from adopting children, push back against anti-discrimination laws*, normalize conversion therapy, prevent trans people from medically or legally transitioning, and otherwise disenfranchise LGBT people. The Family Research Council supported a Ugandan bill that would impose the death penalty for homosexual relations. I don’t see anything unreasonable about LGBT people and their allies refusing to give their money to any company that actively supports and finances those organizations.

            The fact that these organizations happen to do other things is irrelevant, especially since most of the other things they do (like opposing birth control, abortion, and pornography) are also things that I find morally abhorrent. But even if they were purely altruistic charity groups that spent 99% of their time and money helping to feed, clothe, and shelter the homeless, the fact that they’re making an active effort to legally, politically, and socially limit my rights would still be a dealbreaker for me.

            *I know a lot of people here oppose anti-discrimination laws for various reasons, some of which I’m sympathetic to. But let’s not pretend it’s the only issue here, or that any of these groups are principled civil libertarians who’d extend their supposed love of religious freedom to any group or cause they disagree with.

          • albatross11 says:

            One thing I notice here is a funny resonance between this issue of Chick-fil-a funding conservative groups that campaign against LGBT rights along with doing other things, and the issue of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. The situations are obviously different in an important way–boycotts are voluntary, taxes aren’t. But there’s a kind of connection in that the defenders of Planned Parenthood are at pains to point out all the good non-abortion work they do by providing free health care to poor women, whereas PP’s attackers feel like its involvement with abortion taints any other stuff it may do, and giving it any money is funding evil.

            I guess an entertaining test case would be if there were some random fast-food restaurant that funded planned parenthood out of its profits. Because I don’t think it would be nuts for pro-lifers to boycott such an organization, even though there’s no doubt that PP does a lot of positive stuff like gynecological exams alongside the abortions. And in today’s social media environment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see conservatives social-media-shaming one another over eating at such a restaurant.

          • LadyJane says:

            Back when I used to do fundraising, I was with Planned Parenthood for a while, and I remember one man who gave a donation of $9.70, saying that he was withholding 3% of his contribution to account for the 3% of PP’s budget that went to funding abortions. So there are sometimes ways of expressing one’s displeasure with some of an organization’s policies without condemning the organization as a whole, at least symbolically (in practical terms, it’s highly doubtful that anyone above our field manager gave any thought to the fact that he donated $0.30 less than average, beyond maybe “I hate when people give weird uneven donations like this because it makes the paperwork harder”). Although if someone genuinely believed that abortion was murder, I couldn’t blame them for opposing Planned Parenthood altogether, even if I strongly disagreed with their object-level stance on the issue.

            It’s also worth noting that my story happened in NYC, where there’s a significant population of Blue Tribe Catholics who are very strongly opposed to abortion on a moral level, but otherwise liberal on most political issues (including social issues like homosexuality and contraception, despite the Catholic Church officially taking a conservative stance on those things). I doubt you’d find a lot of pro-life conservatives in red states who’d be anywhere near as accommodating.

          • Matt M says:

            So would it be okay for the CEO of Twitter to eat 95% of a chicken sandwich?

          • LadyJane says:

            The CEO of Twitter can do whatever he wants. I support the boycott against Chik-Fil-A, but I could really care less whether or not he takes part in it. And if people want to boycott Twitter because its CEO supports the boycott, or because he briefly lapsed on supporting the boycott, or because he apologized for briefly lapsing on it, or whatever else people on either side of the Culture War might potentially be upset about here, that’s their right. Just like it’s my right to point out that they’re being ridiculous and blowing this whole thing out of proportion.

          • Jiro says:

            But these are organizations that oppose LGBT rights as a matter of public policy, and several of them have actively lobbied the government and supported various politicians

            But not all of their money or effort is spent on such lobbying, which means that you can’t say that Chick-Fil-A donates millions to such causes–you need to discount the millions by an appropriate percentage.

          • though the fact that they merely donated millions to anti-gay causes doesn’t do much to change my opinion.

            As you make clear in the rest of your post, they didn’t donate millions to “anti-gay causes.” They donated millions to organizations which were, among many other things, opposed to gay marriage.

            I’ve seen the same error in the context of climate disputes. There is an article somewhere that claims to give a figure for the total amount spent against global warming. It is based on the total budgets of organizations which the author believe—I think in at least one case he was mistaken—to oppose belief in AGW. But most of it is spent by organizations whose main focus is on other issues.

            If the organizations that millions are donated to spent one percent of their budget attacking gay marriage then, as a first guess, tens of thousands are being donated to that cause. To do better than that you would need to know why the money was being donated, what if anything the donors said it was being donated for, and similar things.

      • You can commit robberies, murders, …, that’s all excusable because of all the racism/oppression you suffered. But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years? YOU ARE IREDEEMABLY EVIL.

        Subtext: minorities are all predisposed to robbery and murder

        Coming into this a bit late …

        The subtext I read is “when minorities commit robbery and murder, leftists excuse it on the basis of … .” There is no implication that other people don’t also commit robbery and murder, just that this is the case that reveals leftist hypocrisy.

        • LadyJane says:

          It’s still a ridiculous strawman, or at the very least a massive assumption of bad faith, given that virtually no one seriously defends robbery and murder. (Many “leftists” oppose what they perceive as the wrongful imprisonment of minorities, but that hardly equates to supporting criminal acts, unless you’re convinced that the minorities in question are definitely guilty of the crimes they’ve been convicted of, and also that the “leftists” in question are aware of that fact and simply lying about it for their own ends.)

          • oppressedminority says:

            I cant imagine the NY Times writing an article like this about a racist or a homophobe.

          • brmic says:

            Your imagination is astonishingly lacking. It’s a classic redemption/social rehabilitation narrative, you’ll easily be able to find similar articles for former racists and homophobes, and even for former rapists and perpetrators of hate crimes.

          • albatross11 says:

            Yeah, I’ve seen mainstream news articles describing the redemption of white supremacists/neo-Nazis. The fact that someone did something horrible in the past is part of what makes a redemption narrative work.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I cant imagine the NY Times writing an article like this about a racist or a homophobe.

            They literally let him write it!

          • The Nybbler says:

            And yet Donna Hylton, torture-murderer, is hailed as a women’s rights activist, spoke at the Women’s March, and is lionized by many. A feature film starring Rosario Dawson is now being made based on her memoir.

          • oppressedminority says:

            This might not be a relevant distinction to some, but it is to me. All articles of the repentant racists types focus heavily on how horrible their sins were, and how they regret what they did. This is not the case for the murderer, where the focus is instead on how great a scholar she became in jail, with only a passing reference to the circumstances of her crime and emphasis on her terrible circumstances.

            I get the distinct impression that the NYT considers racism to be worse than murder.

          • LadyJane says:

            This might not be a relevant distinction to some, but it is to me. All articles of the repentant racists types focus heavily on how horrible their sins were, and how they regret what they did.

            Relevant distinction or not, it comes across like you’re moving the goalposts.

            I get the distinct impression that the NYT considers racism to be worse than murder.

            And if you stop and think for a minute, this assumption doesn’t strike you as being the slightest bit unreasonable? The idea that a mainstream, pro-establishment, slightly left-of-center publication like the New York Times would take an attitude in which racism was worse than literal murder, to the point of trying to justify actual murders (something I’ve never seen them or any other even slightly mainstream publication ever do) – that doesn’t strike you as even the slightest bit unlikely?

            The first step towards extremism is exaggerating both the influence and the malice of your ideological opponents. Your username suggests that you have the first part down, and your posts are a strong indicator of the second.

          • oppressedminority says:

            @LadyJane:

            I apologize if my thoughts were poorly articulated.

            The NYT is not justifying actual murder.

            Am I completely out to lunch in thinking that the NYT and similar publications have disdain for the red tribe/Trump voters/deplorables?

            And at the same time they strive to show their compassion by humanizing a murderer like Michelle Jones (and btw, they did a great job, and my objection is not to that piece per se).

            My objection is that I dont see them extending that same charity to “deplorables”. There are good reasons for that, some of which Scott explained very well here, but it’s still jarring. See in particular where people get upset at others celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher.

          • LadyJane says:

            My objection is that I dont see them extending that same charity to “deplorables”.

            https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/world/americas/a-reporter-retraces-his-steps-through-trump-country.html

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/07/the-incredible-crushing-despair-of-the-white-working-class

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support

            https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-22/penthouse-populist-why-the-rural-poor-love-donald-trump

            That’s just what I found from a cursory Google search. I can assure you, over the past three years I’ve read literally dozens of articles from mainstream left-leaning publications about the plight of poor rural Trump supporters and how they were really victims of economic disenfranchisement driven to vote against their own interests by right-wing propaganda. And yes, I’ve also read articles criticizing that narrative and claiming that Trump supporters are really just racists and sexists who are afraid of losing their privilege. But just the fact that it’s an ongoing debate within the mainstream left is proof that you’re wrong about leftists never showing sympathy for people on the right.

          • oppressedminority says:

            And yes, I’ve also read articles criticizing that narrative and claiming that Trump supporters are really just racists and sexists who are afraid of losing their privilege.

            Those are what I was referring to. I’m glad to hear some on the left dont share that view.

          • Futhington says:

            he plight of poor rural Trump supporters and how they were really victims of economic disenfranchisement driven to vote against their own interests by right-wing propaganda

            That’s not charity, that’s naked condescension. “Oh those poor benighted souls, if only it weren’t for all the vicious right-wing propaganda they’d see how stupid and wrong they are and how we know best.”

          • LadyJane says:

            @Futhington: Do you disagree that Trump supporters deserve sympathy? Do you disagree that they were voting against their own long-term economic interests? Do you disagree with the media’s opposition to Trump in general? Or do you simply dislike the tone being used in these articles? What would you consider a respectful way to show that you sympathize with the members of a political faction while still strongly disagreeing with their views?

            At any rate, there seems to be a lot of goalpost moving here. “Okay, so maybe the leftist media is sympathetic to former racists, but only if they admit they were wrong and denounce racism! Okay, so maybe the leftist media is sympathetic to poor rural Trump supporters, but it’s still critical of their decision to support Trump!”

          • Matt M says:

            At any rate, there seems to be a lot of goalpost moving here. “Okay, so maybe the leftist media is sympathetic to former racists, but only if they admit they were wrong and denounce racism! Okay, so maybe the leftist media is sympathetic to poor rural Trump supporters, but it’s still critical of their decision to support Trump!”

            The point is that the media considers “right-wing belief”, in and of itself, something that one must denounce and abandon in order to truly repent and be a respectable upstanding citizen.

            The “rehabilitated” racists are fine because they rehabilitated their racism. If the story was “Jim Bob lynched a black man in the 60s, went to jail, got out, and now makes a respectable living as a janitor who speaks to youth about the importance of not doing drugs, staying in school, and not murdering anybody. He still hates black people though.” he doesn’t get glowing approval and he has not been rehabilitated.

            Left-wingers never have to repent for their beliefs. Only for literal murder. They can kill a cop, then just say “whoops, shouldn’t have shot that cop I guess, but I still believe all the crazy lefty stuff that inspires people to shoot cops” and it’s totally fine. They get a glowing profile about how they’ve now become a quality college professor advocating for social justice.

            As far as the Trump voters go, that’s what all the stuff about Russian Collusion and Social Media Manipulation and Comey’s Obsession With Her Emails is all about. The point is to imply that these people were tricked by Trump and that surely, if everything was fair – if it wasn’t for Putin and Facebook and Fox News, they never would have voted for the obvious hitler-clone that is Trump.

            There is no room left for the idea that good people can legitimately agree with Trump. It is not considered possible. Either you’re being tricked by him and you just aren’t smart enough to know it, or you’re an evil nazi.

          • LadyJane says:

            The point is that the media considers “right-wing belief”, in and of itself, something that one must denounce and abandon in order to truly repent and be a respectable upstanding citizen.

            No, the mainstream center-left media considers Trump-style populist nationalism to be reprehensible in and of itself. It doesn’t condemn other forms of right-wing thought nearly as harshly: fiscal conservatives and neoconservatives and right-leaning centrists are all generally treated with respect, and even moderate forms of social conservatism are given a sort of grudging acceptance. Libertarianism is treated less respectfully, but that’s mostly just because it’s still seen as a silly and naive fringe ideology, not because it’s seen as inherently horrible and toxic; it may not be respected, but neither is it subjected to the derision and hatred that Trumpism and Tea Party conservatism receive.

            There is no room left for the idea that good people can legitimately agree with Trump. It is not considered possible. Either you’re being tricked by him and you just aren’t smart enough to know it, or you’re an evil nazi.

            Bringing this down to the object-level for a moment, Trump promised that imposing tariffs and getting rid of immigrants would bring back jobs and improve the economy, but empirical evidence has consistently proven those assertions to be incorrect. Virtually all credible economists – on both the left and the right -would agree that Trump’s proposed strategy of increasing tariffs and restricting immigration will do little to bring back American jobs, while causing a series of ripple effects that will ultimately hurt American consumers and the economy as a whole.

            Thus, it seems like the people who voted for Trump because he’d impose tariffs and get rid of immigrants were either factually mistaken about the likely outcomes of those policies, or they were aware that those policies wouldn’t help them economically but supported them anyway out of a dislike for foreigners (or a xenophobic belief that immigrants are a national security threat/are highly prone to violent crime/have values that are incompatible with American culture, all of which basically amount to the same thing). This is what drives the ‘misled victims or deplorable bigots’ dichotomy that defines the left’s view of Trump supporters.

            Of course, there were people who voted for Trump for a multitude of other reasons, unrelated to the immigration and trade policies that stood as the central pillars of his campaign. But these articles are talking about the poor and disenfranchised rural whites who comprised Trump’s core support base, not everyone who happened to vote for him.

          • Matt M says:

            This is what drives the ‘misled victims or deplorable bigots’ dichotomy that defines the left’s view of Trump supporters.

            And your point is what? That you agree with this assertion – and that Trump voters are necessarily either stupid or evil?

          • LadyJane says:

            My point was more that people who agree with Trump’s views on trade and immigration are likely either mistaken (which doesn’t make them stupid, since plenty of smart and educated people can be mistaken about things) or prejudiced against foreigners to some degree (which doesn’t make them evil, or even necessarily racist, but is nonetheless something I’d strongly condemn). That doesn’t apply to all Trump voters, since plenty of people voted for Trump for other reasons, but it does apply to a considerable portion of his core support base.

          • Erusian says:

            @LadyJane

            The economy is not evenly distributed. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, she won the supermajority of the economy. She also outraised Trump significantly (as the Democrats tend to do).

            Macroeconomic analyses look at the total economy. This ignores that parts of the country are benefitting at the expense of other parts. This can still be more economically productive than another arrangement, and so ending that arrangement will make the overall economy smaller. But the part that isn’t benefitting won’t like it very much.

            For example, immigration increases the agricultural labor pool, which decreases food prices. This is a benefit to consumers of food and a detriment to producers. Decreasing food prices causes consumer’s real income to rise… and farming communities’ to fall. It is thus economically rational for those communities to support tariffs and immigration restrictions.

            Now, in the long run, those communities can dissolve. Their members can scatter, become consumers, retrain into another profession, etc. Most research says that takes about a generation. The people who lost their industry usually never recover but their kids find a way out. Plus it usually involves moving, giving up significant social capital, etc.

            This nuance, by the way, is not lost on most economists. Their counter is that, in the long run, growth is better for everyone. They’re right but that doesn’t help people caught in the creative destruction for quite some time.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Erusian: Thank you for providing such a detailed and well thought-out counter-argument! Especially since it doesn’t rely on any of the usual Red Tribe/Anti-SJW Culture War arguments that tend to crop up around here so often. I’ll concede that there may be a rational economic argument to be made for supporting increased tariffs and decreased immigration, at least from a short-term local perspective. And I can’t entirely blame people in desperate situations for taking a short-term local perspective, though I still think it ultimately goes against even their own local interests in the long-term.

            That said, I still don’t think any of that justifies Trump’s trade and immigration policies. To quote Ayn Rand:

            No one has the right to pursue his self-interest by law or by force, which is what you’re suggesting. You want to forbid immigration on the grounds that it lowers your standard of living — which isn’t true, though if it were true, you’d still have no right to close the borders. You’re not entitled to any “self-interest” that injures others, especially when you can’t prove that open immigration affects your self-interest. You can’t claim that anything others may do — for example, simply through competition — is against your self-interest.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The point is that the media considers “right-wing belief”, in and of itself, something that one must denounce and abandon in order to truly repent and be a respectable upstanding citizen.

            All this time I thought Bari Weiss, David Brooks, and Bret Stephens were hacks, but it turns out they’re actually hackers! It’s the only explanation for their op-eds appearing in the New York Times.

          • mdet says:

            If the story was “Jim Bob lynched a black man in the 60s, went to jail, got out, and now makes a respectable living as a janitor who speaks to youth about the importance of not doing drugs, staying in school, and not murdering anybody. He still hates black people though.” he doesn’t get glowing approval and he has not been rehabilitated.

            Left-wingers never have to repent for their beliefs. Only for literal murder. They can kill a cop, then just say “whoops, shouldn’t have shot that cop I guess, but I still believe all the crazy lefty stuff that inspires people to shoot cops” and it’s totally fine.

            I don’t think this is a good comparison. Hating black people is bad in itself, so if Jim Bob stops murdering but continues hating black people, then I agree he is not reformed.

            In Left-winger example, what is the “crazy lefty stuff that inspires people to shoot cops” and why is it bad in itself? As far as I can tell, it’s the belief that law enforcement regularly use excessive violence, violate people’s civil liberties, and cover it up, and that this affects poor and non-white civilians in particular. Which is… not untrue? Even on the Right, people as mainstream as Kevin Williamson will write “Why do conservatives find it so plausible — obvious, even — that the IRS and the EPA and the Atlanta public schools are corrupt and self-serving, but somehow believe that the Baltimore police department isn’t? …[The] facts suggest that our police departments have the same problems as our other government agencies, exacerbated by the fact that police are, inevitably, in the business of violence.” So, yes, I will absolutely say that someone who believes this “crazy lefty stuff” (that some prominent conservative thinkers also agree on!) but whose methods are “normal policy reform” instead of “vigilante murder” is fully reformed.

          • Trump promised that imposing tariffs and getting rid of immigrants would bring back jobs and improve the economy, but empirical evidence has consistently proven those assertions to be incorrect.

            I think those assertions are incorrect, but empirical evidence rarely proves things, since we rarely have controlled experiments for such issues.

          • For example, immigration increases the agricultural labor pool, which decreases food prices. This is a benefit to consumers of food and a detriment to producers.

            A detriment to native hired labor in that industry. My guess is that it is a benefit to the farmers who do the hiring–labor is an input. My impression is that farm interests have generally supported easier immigration, especially things like the Braceros program intended to bring in farm labor.

          • Erusian says:

            A detriment to native hired labor in that industry. My guess is that it is a benefit to the farmers who do the hiring–labor is an input. My impression is that farm interests have generally supported easier immigration, especially things like the Braceros program intended to bring in farm labor.

            Correct, if you define farm interests as major agricultural corporations and large landowners. I avoided going into that because it distracts from my main point: that people could have an economic interest in opposing immigration and supporting tariffs, and therefore find Trump’s promises appealing, without being deceived, irrational, etc.

            In doing so I effectively made rural Americans a monolith. They are not. In fact, rural America has been a driver of illegal immigration and has absorbed a disproportionate amount of immigrant labor. This wouldn’t be the case if there was no place for them or uniform hostility.

        • j r says:

          LadyJane’s point is important. This idea that that people on the left routinely excuse minority crime is a bit of a rightwing fever dream. I guess that there was a moment in the 1970s when it was cool to have a few Black Panthers around to cement your radical credentials, but that’s largely gone the way of double knits and bell-bottoms. There are some folks that become cause celebres on the left. like Mumia or Asata Shakur, but the leftist narrative on them is that they were framed, not that they were right to be shooting cops.

          The minority view on these left-right fights is that they are largely about progressives and reactionaries fighting over who gets to be the right kind of white people, with people of color largely playing the role of totems.

          • quanta413 says:

            The minority view on these left-right fights is that they are largely about progressives and reactionaries fighting over who gets to be the right kind of white people, with people of color largely playing the role of totems.

            I don’t think this is most of it, or even an explicit motive for many people. But this is definitely an element in what goes on. Along this axis, I’ve personally met too many obnoxious 100% white people and yet ~0 obnoxious even-slightly-not-white people to think this isn’t going on to some extent.

            I don’t think that should affect moral judgements of arguments (although arguments using blacks or Asians or Mexicans as totems are pretty common and can usually be ignored), but realizing this really helps to make sense of some social situations if you’re around white people.

          • albatross11 says:

            I have seen a fair number of people on the left deny black/white differences in crime rate, and I’ve seen people all over the political spectrum argue that some stuff shouldn’t be punished so harshly (especially minor drug offenses). But I don’t think I’ve seen many people anywhere on the political spectrum argue that murders, rapes, or robberies committed by blacks are somehow justified. I think there was a thread of such arguments floating around on the fringes of the left 30+ years ago, probably generally taken about as seriously as the “kill all the white men” stuff from some SJW-aligned crazies/trolls now.

            Does anyone have current examples of an anywhere-close-to-mainstream voice justifying violent crimes?

          • LadyJane says:

            There are some folks that become cause celebres on the left. like Mumia or Asata Shakur, but the leftist narrative on them is that they were framed, not that they were right to be shooting cops.

            Exactly. The standard left narrative is that black people (and to a lesser extent, Latinos and other racial minorities) are judged and sentenced more harshly than white people, and that this accounts for part of the reason why those racial minorities are proportionately more likely to be incarcerated. As a result, it can be assumed that, compared to white people and less disenfranchised racial minorities, a greater percentage of the blacks and Latinos in prison are either innocent or serving longer sentences than would generally be considered fair relative to the crime they committed. This is very different than the ridiculous narrative you’re proposing, where leftists apparently just think that racial minorities should have free reign to commit whatever crimes they want because they are/were oppressed.

            In cases where a minority is clearly guilty, you’re not going to see a lot of people rushing to defend them. In fact, a lot of people on the left will condemn them just as vehemently as right-wingers. I don’t remember anyone defending Richard Ramirez or John Allen Muhammad. When that politically-motivated black sniper killed six cops in Dallas a few years ago, the majority of people on the left condemned it. A lot of them pointed out that it was the end result of years of police brutality against black communities, but that’s not at all the same as justifying it, no more than admitting that Al-Qaeda and ISIS were formed as a direct result of American intervention in the Middle East is justifying Islamic extremism. There were a few extreme far-left radicals of the who were conspicuously silent, or openly said they didn’t care about cops dying, but they comprise a very tiny minority of the “leftists” (especially by the broad definition you’re using, which seems to include centrist liberals). Grouping them together with mainstream suburban Democrats and the educated urban professionals who write the New York Times is an enormous categorical error.

          • mdet says:

            Some claims that I regularly see from the Left (some of which I have made myself) that serve to “downplay” or “excuse” crime by black people:

            —Black people and white people have comparable crime rates when you control for socioeconomic factors, so it’s wrong to talk about crime in racial terms rather than class terms. (Mostly True?)
            —Racist policies in the 1900s concentrated black people into very poor, very polluted, very high density neighborhoods, and high crime rates among black people are the result of these environmental factors. (I think this is correct, even if it doesn’t explain 100% of the disparity)
            —Similar to the above, any aspects of black culture that contribute to crime aren’t the culture that black people developed for themselves, but are the result of centuries of racism and dehumanization. IE, the culture of violence and aggression among poor black men is just them having internalized the violence and aggression that white people perpetrated against their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers. (Might be correct, but ultimately irrelevant)
            —Black people are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and receive longer sentences than white people, and this disparity possibly includes many black people who are wrongly imprisoned. (Somewhat correct, but not enough to explain the disparity on its own)
            —As recently as the Reagan administration, the federal government actually distributed guns and drugs to poor black people, disbanded black organizations and assassinated / arrested black leaders who tried to uplift their communities, in a racist plan to oppress and mass-incarcerate black people. (Conspiracy theory that you’ll sometimes hear from black people, but I think there’s some concrete inspiration to it)

            (LadyJane’s comment hits most of these points, but I had a few more so I thought I’d post anyway)

            I can’t think of any examples of someone on the Left actually saying something like “This murder was acceptable / less bad because an oppressed person committed it”.

          • Racist policies in the 1900s concentrated black people into very poor, very polluted, very high density neighborhoods

            Is it clear that that was the reason? The blacks in the North were mostly recent immigrants from the South. My impression is that large scale immigration typically produces ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods, sometimes remaining that way for a long time–much of Chicago is a patchwork of ethnic neighborhoods. And immigration of poor people coming into a city is likely to lead to high densities.

          • mdet says:

            I was thinking of the redlining described in Ta-Nehisi Coates Case for Reparations. Although even in the absence of racist discrimination, I guess you’re right the migration of poor black people to the North would’ve produced plenty of poor, homogenous neighborhoods anyway.

          • Redlining would only affect home sales, as I understand it. I expect most poor blacks would be renting.

            Beyond that, I’m not sure redlining was racist, as opposed to banks trying to figure out where mortgage loans were risky–but I don’t know a lot about it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @David Friedman

            Redlining was absolutely racist. This article goes into it, with links to primary sources.

            That it was racist doesn’t mean it wasn’t also the FHA trying to figure out where mortgage loans were more risky, though the extent to which they succeeded at doing so rather than creating a self-fulfilling prophecy is another question.

            Coates likes to present redlining as more than it was and as affecting blacks only, as part of his whole narrative that all the current troubles of black people in the US are a result of slavery, Jim Crow, and redlining, and so therefore the government should give black people a whole lot of money to pay off our “compounding moral debt”.

            Note that redlining had nothing to do with the race of the buyer; it was all about the neighborhood.

          • Matt M says:

            Redlining was absolutely racist.

            Note that redlining had nothing to do with the race of the buyer; it was all about the neighborhood.

            How does that work exactly?

          • LadyJane says:

            @Matt M: Presumably because neighborhoods were classified by racial/ethnic makeup, rather than by socioeconomic level or other factors. So despite the system going by neighborhoods rather than individuals, it was still racist, even if some black people living in predominantly white neighborhoods might’ve been unaffected.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Matt M

            To oversimplify, if the neighborhood had too many black people (and “% Negro” was right there on the top of the evaluation form) the FHA wouldn’t underwrite loans for mortgages there. Regardless of the race of the applicant.

            There were plenty of other things (like racial covenants or less-formal agreements not to sell to the “wrong” people) which did discriminate based on the race of the buyer, and the FHA rules took those things into account — positively — when evaluating neighborhoods.

          • mdet says:

            Redlining was absolutely racist.

            Note that redlining had nothing to do with the race of the buyer; it was all about the neighborhood.

            How does that work exactly?

            I read the article years ago, so from memory — The FHA decided that the higher the proportion of black people in a neighborhood, the riskier it was to lend to. So a white individual trying to move into a black neighborhood would have trouble getting a decent loan. A black person trying to move into a white neighborhood would have an easy time getting a loan, but would lower the property values for everyone else simply by being black, even if they were otherwise stable and well-off financially. (I’m assuming there’s a mechanism by which a neighborhood’s FHA credit score impacts the property values. High credit makes it easy to invest in things that improve the neighborhood?)

            So there was an incentive to move to the whitest neighborhood you could, and then turn around and shut out any black newcomers (racist), but this incentive applied to white and black people equally (not racist?).

            Edit: What they said.

            Coates’ conclusion is that for much of the 20th century, black people who had achieved some measure of middle-class success would try to buy homes in nice neighborhoods, only to end up having their wealth destroyed since any neighborhood they moved to would become worse off simply through their presence there. On the other hand, nice neighborhoods might actually welcome white people who weren’t quite as well off, because simply having more white people could raise the property values. This made it easy for poor white people to build wealth.

          • keranih says:

            Re: redlining as racist behavior…

            Several posts above speak of banks/FHA as attempting to identify the ‘risk’ associated with loans taken out for home purchase. To be clear, what these financial institutions were attempting to accurately measure was the number of loans which would go into default. One of the factors associated with default was the inability of a home buyer to sell the house in relatively good order in the occasion that the regular payments could not be made (death of head of household, illness, loss of job, etc).

            If the home owner could find a buyer at a price to cover the mortgage – all good, no loss to the bank. If not, welllll… probably not a good idea to make that loan.

            Redlining identified areas where resales were slow and cold, and the chances were high that the bank would end up eating the loan.

            In other words – the practice identified a pre-existing preference of home buyers to NOT buy homes in neighborhoods with a lot of ‘color’.

            One could find this annoying/ infuriating – I certainly did, trying to sell a house in a ‘transition’ neighborhood – but the rage should, I think, be focused on those unenlightened monsters who would cross that house off their list with out even looking inside, rather than the bank’s pencil necked geeks who (accurately) recorded this tendency of homebuyers.

            But people who drive on past houses in lower class/ethnic neighborhoods are rarely identified by name, the way the bankers are.

          • Redlining was absolutely racist. This article goes into it, with links to primary sources.

            For some reason your link doesn’t work for me.

            Define “racist.” In particular, suppose the FHA correctly believed that mortgage borrowers in largely black neighborhoods were more likely to default, ceteris paribus, and so included the percentage black, along with other variables that predicted default, in the formula for deciding what neighborhoods they would cover loans in.

            Is that racist?

            To see why I wouldn’t describe it as such, is it sexist for insurance companies to charge young adult men more for car insurance than young adult women? To charge a woman more for an annuity than a man, given that women on average live longer?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @David Friedman

            I’m not convinced they did the math, rather than acting from prejudice. If I’m right, that would be pretty centrally racism.

            In the case of insurance, it would certainly be considered sexist if men had the lower risk and got the better rates, so I believe it must be considered so in the true situation. But that’s at least a step less central than acting from prejudice.

      • moscanarius says:

        You can commit robberies, murders, …, that’s all excusable because of all the racism/oppression you suffered. But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years? YOU ARE IREDEEMABLY EVIL.

        Subtext: minorities are all predisposed to robbery and murder, and gay marriage is an aberration and a violation of natural law.

        Not a fair reading at all. The subtext is that when victims of racism/oppression commit crimes, they get a slap on the wrist, whereas officially non-oppressed people get moral condemnation for much less. Where did you get anything about frequency of offense from the quote?

        You could argue it’s an unflattering caricature of the actual thinking involved (as some are doing below), but trying infer this malicious subtext from the quote (plus all the “not okays” and “ughs” in your comments) is showing either that you didn’t read it carefully or that you’re trying to… show off your purity.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I wonder whether some fraction of this is agents provocateurs.

      • CatCube says:

        Ehhh. I think it more likely that there are just stupid and evil people on the left using their social power to be bullies.

        Reaching for the “false flag!” explanation isn’t much more convincing than when you see it being used to explain malevolence on the right.

        • albatross11 says:

          If you put a gun on the mantlepiece in the first act, sooner or later, some asshat in the middle of the play will use it to kill off one of his opponents in some local power struggle.

      • engleberg says:

        Heinlein said there were always a lot of agents provocateurs in politics.

    • Szemeredi says:

      But thinking that marriage is the way it was practiced for 1000s of years? YOU ARE IREDEEMABLY EVIL.

      I mean, there are lots of views humans held for 1000s of years that we now regard as irredeemably evil…

      • oppressedminority says:

        The point is that if a view was universally held for so long, maybe a bit of charity and tolerance towards those who havent yet come around 5 or 6 years after the change is in order.

      • quanta413 says:

        Other than slavery, I’m drawing a lot of blanks trying to think of things that switched from consistently being considered fine for 1000s of years to consistently being considered irredeemably evil.

        Humans are a lot more boringly consistent than I think is given credit for. They’ll swap words around a lot though.

        Wait, thought of another one. Some cultures practiced infanticide through exposure really long ago.

        • Szemeredi says:

          Hard to beat slavery, but I’d also consider previous views on marital rape, domestic violence, beating your children, wars of conquest, and public displays of inhumane punishment to have changed rather dramatically from the long-run mean.

          • quanta413 says:

            I’m not convinced the views on marital rape or domestic violence have changed as much as is sometimes claimed. Changes in the prevalence of a bad behavior are not the same as a full 180 turn in belief about what is right. The words used and system of punishment have changed significantly though. I agree the long run mean has shifted in the U.S. over time in terms of aggressiveness of punishment, although I don’t think the overall shift was quick.

            Wars of conquest don’t look different to me than the past. Large scale wars have not always been common so this may just be a local lull in time. The Soviet Union only fell apart 30 years ago. Military might still makes right at the international scale. If it wasn’t for U.S. hegemony and nuclear weaponry, I think the current pattern would fall apart really fast.

            And people still like public displays of inhumane punishment. Modern governments just tend to be stronger at holding back mobs and riots. I’m in disagreement that this has changed from the long-run mean. Unless we’re comparing Catholic Europe to Roman Colosseums.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Marital rape was legal in some parts of the United States until the early nineties. Admittedly, oppressedminority’s argument only suggests that we should have charity and balance towards people who rape their spouses until about 2000 or so; they’ve had like 25 years to get with the program at this point.

            Since women forcing men into PIV is ambiguously illegal in much of the United States, presumably we should at this very moment have charity and balance towards female rapists.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Ozy –

            Yes?

            I had a hard conversation with my own rapist about how her behavior had been unacceptable; she did not initially understand that she had done anything wrong. Should I have tried to get her imprisoned? Would failing to apply some charity to somebody whose fundamental fault was not grasping an extraordinarily recent and not even yet fully accepted moral proposition have been a superior path?

            This isn’t an impossible standard. Literally, I can practice it towards my rapist the day after being raped. And while I don’t hold other people to my own standards – I wouldn’t fault somebody in my position having a rather harsher reaction – I do hold them to a weaker version of it.

            More than that – yes, that is, pragmatically, how we have behaved with regard to other social shifts. And it is a pragmatic approach – stirring up resentment and anger by treating people poorly for not being on the cutting edge of social theory is not a useful path towarda converting people to a moral system you claim is more humane.

          • oppressedminority says:

            Admittedly, oppressedminority’s argument only suggests that we should have charity and balance towards people who rape their spouses until about 2000 or so; they’ve had like 25 years to get with the program at this point.

            Please continue to treat the millions of Americans who follow their Christian beliefs in good faith like if they were nazis. I’m sure there will be no negative consequences and they will eventually come around to your position if you spit on them and call them nazis enough times.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Ozy

            Marital rape was legal in some parts of the United States until the early nineties.

            Legal is not the same as “encouraged” or even “accepted”. Many things that are wrong are legal, and many things that are illegal are not wrong.

            This change has been gruelingly slow here compared to gay marriage, there’s been slow movement across the (Western) world for hundreds of years on this issue. The laws changed in the Soviet Union almost 100 years ago. The initial arguments against marriage including a conjugal duty (on the part of both partners usually) occurred over 150 years ago.

            This is not actually a good example of something rapidly switching from being coded “totally right” to “irredeemably evil”. Laws can give the appearance of things changing fast, even if culture has been gradually changing for over a century.

            Since women forcing men into PIV is ambiguously illegal in much of the United States, presumably we should at this very moment have charity and balance towards female rapists.

            We kinda do? Female teacher bangs male high school student, later they get married after she gets out of jail doesn’t really bother people nearly as much as the reverse would. And that’s bordering on child molestation.

          • albatross11 says:

            Ozy:

            Can you unpack that a bit?

            What I think you’re saying is that the legal definition of rape excluded the possibility of a claim of rape between a husband and wife. Is that right?

            This seems like a bad moral principle (if you’re raping your wife, you’re a pretty awful person), but not an unreasonable legal principle (assuming that it would be an unworkable morass to get enough evidence to prosecute a rape claim between a husband and wife).

            It sort-of feels like “marital rape was legal until X” is the maximal-emotional-valence way of stating this. Rather like saying “child marriage is legal in N states” when what you mean is that the legal age of marriage is less than 18 in N states.

          • LadyJane says:

            Should I have tried to get her imprisoned? Would failing to apply some charity to somebody whose fundamental fault was not grasping an extraordinarily recent and not even yet fully accepted moral proposition have been a superior path?

            I don’t know the particular details of your situation, and I have no right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t have done. But if someone had been raped by a woman and had tried to get her imprisoned for it, I definitely wouldn’t see anything wrong with that. I’ve personally known victims of female-on-male and female-on-female rape, and I’ve seen the psychological damage they’ve suffered as a result. It can be every bit as traumatic as acts of rape committed by men, and deserves to be punished accordingly.

            Please continue to treat the millions of Americans who follow their Christian beliefs in good faith like if they were nazis. I’m sure there will be no negative consequences and they will eventually come around to your position if you spit on them and call them nazis enough times.

            So you’re equating proponents of marital rape with “Americans who follow their Christian beliefs in good faith”? That seems far more insulting to Christians than anything Ozy said. Or are you just assuming their position based on tribal indicators?

          • albatross11 says:

            The original discussion was about opposition to gay marriage.

          • Randy M says:

            The initial arguments against marriage including a conjugal duty

            Wait, does believing spouses have a sexual duty toward each other–let’s say barring some psychological or physiological irregularity–equate to being a “proponent of marital rape” now? And this is brought up as an example of an irredeemably evil belief?

          • quanta413 says:

            Wait, does believing spouses have a sexual duty toward each other–let’s say barring some psychological or physiological irregularity–equate to being a “proponent of marital rape” now

            Depends who you’re talking too. A few might. A larger group of people wouldn’t say that but would say a couple should divorce if one partner doesn’t want to have sex (but that it’s not that anyone is at fault; they were just incompatible) or that the person who wants to have sex should suck it up and just go without.

            My basic point was the idea that “marital rape” wasn’t a category came from the idea that spouses have a sexual duty to each other, and thus have consented (in a contractual sense). I don’t get the impression that respectable opinion was that it was ok to physically batter your spouse or threaten to batter them for not agreeing to have sex at any given time. At least not for the last couple centuries in the U.S. People may not have called that rape, but it certainly would be viewed as immoral behavior.

            Anyways, my broader point was that the changes here have actually been fairly gradual. You can trace the ideas involved back a long time.

            @LadyJane

            I disagree with that. In addition to what Thegnskald said, Mens rea is important to a lot of criminal law. From Thegnskald’s description, I don’t think that condition was meant.

            I don’t think punishment or vengeance is unimportant to the criminal justice system, but there is more than those two things to take into account.

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            This change has been gruelingly slow here compared to gay marriage, there’s been slow movement across the (Western) world for hundreds of years on this issue. The laws changed in the Soviet Union almost 100 years ago. The initial arguments against marriage including a conjugal duty (on the part of both partners usually) occurred over 150 years ago.

            This is not actually a good example of something rapidly switching from being coded “totally right” to “irredeemably evil”. Laws can give the appearance of things changing fast, even if culture has been gradually changing for over a century.

            But, is “gay marriage” actually the right unit to consider? If you consider “gay marriage” to just be a small part of general “tolerance of homosexuality,” then the change also looks much slower.

            When I was in high school (in the early 90’s), in progressive California, the position that “gay people aren’t hurting anyone, but obviously they shouldn’t raise kids, and maybe shouldn’t like kiss their partners in public” was about the mean among people of my generation. Our parents were in general less tolerant. Dial it back another 30 years, and you had lots of anti-sodomy laws that were mostly not enforced, but probably most people thought that gays were inherently bad (even if they stayed away from kids etc.). Dial it back another 30 years, and anti-sodomy laws were enforced.

            We’ve had at least a century of pretty damn slowly liberalizing views of homosexuality. The people who freak out about gay marriage have seen the tides of history changing for their entire lives.

            It happens to be the point of legal change, but even looking at marriage and marriage substitutes, we’ve got decades from “hide the fact that you have a partner” to “have a boyfriend but obviously nothing else” to “domestic partners” to “husbands.”

          • Aapje says:

            My impression is that easier divorce and greater acceptance of divorced people was of far greater benefit to people who are (sexually) abused by their partner than extending rape and abuse laws to partners. The former stops the person from being (coerced into being) abused. I think that only a relatively small fraction of those who are abused by their long-term partner seek to have the partner prosecuted.

          • quanta413 says:

            @sandoratthezoo

            This is a good point. But even by a more generous standard, things happened a factor of 2 or 3 in speed faster for acceptance of homosexuality.

            Turing was chemically castrated in the 1950s for homosexual acts. Bowers v. Hardwick was 5-4 but still occurred in 1986.

            Furthermore, I think the gap between beliefs about what was appropriate sexual behavior in marriage before and after the change are still a far smaller difference than the change in acceptance of homosexuality. It wasn’t a positive to beat your wife in Western culture.

            I think the change in speed of the acceptance of gay marriage is more comparable to how quickly divorce rates have changed and how quickly rates of single motherhood have increased. I don’t think it’s coincidence that these events preceded the change in norms about gay marriage. Typical family structure has changed really drastically since 1960. Some conservatives would say gay marriage was just further degeneration of healthy norms about marriage; Andrew Sullivan would say the opposite that gay marriage was a conservative shift in mores (compared to the gay community before the push for marriage). Regardless of how you look at it though, I think the fact that a lot of related things changed a lot really fast is interesting.

          • aristides says:

            @sandoratthezoo

            Maybe in California it was slow. I wnt to high school in Purple Florida in th late 00s. At that time the average person thought homosexuality was evil and send you to hell. Faggot was a common insult, and the one kid that was outed was bullied. Just 5 years later, there was a full LGBT organization and they were relatively accepted. They could date publicly and go to school dances. In California it happened over 90 years, most of the country it happened in 10.

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            I think that Turing’s case was an outlier due to his involvement in high-level military secret stuff. Most gay men in the 50’s, even in Britain, were not in danger of being chemically castrated or imprisoned. But my confidence that I fully understand that situation is low.

            Change is always geographically uneven, but Florida gets the same television and federal laws and so forth as the rest of the country. Despite high school insults, the late 00’s in Florida were not like, I don’t know, the 70’s or 60’s in California.

            Tolerance of homosexuality seems to have spread largely geographically. There were gay scenes in San Francisco and New York and other big progressive cities in the 50’s, 60’s, etc, when probably much of the country would have been flabbergasted at the thought of it.

          • oppressedminority says:

            So you’re equating proponents of marital rape with “Americans who follow their Christian beliefs in good faith”?

            No, I’m equating opponents of gay marriage with Americans who follow their Christian beliefs in good faith.

          • skef says:

            This is a good point. But even by a more generous standard, things happened a factor of 2 or 3 in speed faster for acceptance of homosexuality.

            Although there’s plenty of space to argue about the specific social mechanisms, I think it’s pretty difficult to deny that the “accelerated schedule” of acceptance traces to the AIDS crisis and subsequent activism.

        • Note also that what is or isn’t irredeemably evil isn’t, applying your example to the argument, slavery, it’s believing in slavery.

          If I discovered that some historian believed that slavery in some societies was better than the alternative I wouldn’t conclude that he was irredeemably evil.

          • Szemeredi says:

            I’m not sure that’s fair, it seems clear to me that the example the OP had in mind was someone opposed to gay marriage, whereas your example doesn’t seem to suggest that the historian actually supports restoring slavery.

    • qwints says:

      [Expletive of choice], this blew up out of all proportion. I’m in DSA – this is seriously a feud between maybe a dozen people because someone got an email address wrong and another person responded badly.

      If anyone actually cares, here is one side and here’s a bit of the other..

      • Aapje says:

        A way to understand this might be that relatively many SJ people favor a very aggressive honor culture, where slights cannot simply be ignored, but people want their honor to be restored. So they either want an extensive apology or to hurt reputation of the person severely.

        • Ozy Frantz says:

          I mean, Scott is the one who’s signal-boosting a fight between a dozen people to his thousands of blog readers.

          • Aapje says:

            Scott had a very different purpose with that than the people who went after the SDA and who seemingly were unwilling to give any benefit of the doubt once they had identified an enemy of the cause.

            Some of these tweets had 500+ likes. So it seems to me that at least hundreds of people were involved/cheering this on.

        • qwints says:

          @Ozy, yeah, I’d love to know Scott’s connection to it. It was very weird to see it pop back up on a completely different section of twitter a month after it was resolved.

          • andrewflicker says:

            I think Scott came across it the same way I did- it was linked in other blogs we read. (MR, perhaps? I don’t recall where I came across it)

    • j r says:

      There is plenty of petty infighting and stupid ego showdowns on the right. But this specific behavior seems to me to be a leftwing thing in particular because the left is currently engaged in a purity/holiness spiral.

      This doesn’t quite make sense, as folks on the right tend to have much higher levels of concern over things like purity and holiness; which explains a few of the right’s current bugaboos (e.g. immigrants, people who don’t show enough respect for the police, and athletes who don’t stand for a magic song). I think that the tendency of far left groups to end up in these kinds of circular firing squads can be better explained by a multiple-axis mapping of the kind of people who end up in far-left activist groups.

      On the x-axis, most people who end up in radical activist groups, be it right or left, tend to exhibit a high level of resentiment. That is, they tend to be people who externalize a lot of their personal frustrations onto the outside world. On the right it’s immigrants and “libtards” and, on the left, it’s corporations and “the rich” or maybe just anyone who seems too comfortable or successful.

      On the y-axis, consider Haidt, et al’s moral foundations theory, wherein progressives tend to prioritize fairness and harm reduction while caring less about authority and in-group loyalty. So, a group full of far lefites is going to be composed of a lot of people who care very deeply and personally about the ideals of the group (if we don’t get this canvasing done, people are going to die!), but who chafe at attempts by supposed leadership to impose discipline (who do the DSA think they are to try and squash this separate attempt at canvassing just because it conflicts with their candidate event?), and who, at the same time, are going to be hyper sensitive about doing any potential harm or in some way being unfair (these people claim to be allies, but the obviously don’t care about the disabled).

      Far right circles have plenty of their own in-fighting, but with higher levels of in-group loyalty and respect for authority their groups don’t cleave as easily when or more parties dissent. Instead, whoever holds authority imposed discipline and the dissenters either come to heel or leave, while the group closes ranks around the new equilibrium. Or look at anarcho-capitalists or other hard libertarians. There tends to be a lot of infighting in that world, but it’s relatively easy for dissidents to simply walk away and start doing their own thing without disrupting the group, because the group is generally weakly organized anyway.

      By the way, my point is not to say that any of these groups is organizationally better than any other; it’s only to say that they each have their own particular failure mode.

      • oppressedminority says:

        Yeah that seems reasonable. But my point about the left’s purity spiral was not meant to mirror the right-wing preference for purity/holiness, which I agree is real. It was meant to illustrate the phenomenon where there is a competition to be the least racist, to respek waman the most, that kind of thing.

        Not being racist is an ideal of the left, and to a lesser extent in much of the right also, but only leftwingers seem to try and one-up each other in their impeccable lack of racism. Problem is once you’ve started treating everyone fairly, which is a pretty easy and low-cost commitment, the need to show that you’re even more non-racist than the next guy starts being pathological. It takes the form of trying to find racism in the most ridiculous and unlikeliest of places (did you know that outdoor activities are (gasp) “too white”? SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!), whites publicly expressing deep hatred of the white race , that kind of nonsense.

        Examples abound in other areas of leftwing thought, about women/sexual assault, LGBT rights, …

        I see that much less on the right. If somebody is an absolutist pro-gun guy unwilling to compromise on any gun regulation, I dont see that person having a higher status in rightwing circles than somebody who’s willing to entertain moderate regulations.

      • nameless1 says:

        >This doesn’t quite make sense, as folks on the right tend to have much higher levels of concern over things like purity and holiness;

        They don’t, for two reasons.

        1) Holiness in this sense simply means any moral virtue. If you meant Haidt, all five. People be holy about fairness or caring. In this sense “purity” is very misleading.

        2) Haidt seriously fucked up that research because he came up with too conventional examples. He didn’t really get environmental purity (which is a leftist concern), food purity (veganism and everything), and memetic purity. He didn’t get stuff like scientific authority ( consensus science) or ideological and not ethnic ingroup loyalty (also stronger on the left). So that study is a mess. He just really chose the most oldschool common normal kinds of authority, loyalty and purity.

        The disgust reaction and its politicization is a human universal. How many times do feminists tweet upon a sexist rant “this made me literally nauseous” ?

        Forget that Haidt stuff, it is entirely bogus, all five are universal. The real difference is mostly there being synthetic tribes on the left and on the right part synthetic part natural tribes.

      • j r says:

        @oppressedminority

        I’m not sure that I agree with how you characterize lefty status competitions. Those competitions tend to be about who is the most leftier-than-thou, with less focus on those individual elements, like less racist, less sexist, whatever. In fact, the status competitions tend to get out of control precisely because the people involve end up caring less about the individual elements and that irks other people in the group.

        For instance, one of the perennial complaints from women in lefty circles is that many of the men say all the right things about feminism, but then exhibit behavior just like every other man (i.e. talking over women, sidelining them in discussions, thinking insufficiently about family concerns in their planning).

        @nameless1

        I don’t view the kind of holiness and purity associated with orthodox religious practices or jingoism or ethnic nationalism as that much like the sort of thing associated with extreme veganism or environmentalism. Reactionaries tend to invest a whole lot of importance in individual elements of a practice (respect the flag!), while progressives tend to invest a lot of importance in the abstract idea (science! is important), but don’t tend to invest any of the particular trappings with much sacredness.

        A vegan might get upset if they see someone eating meat or hunting, but isn’t likely to get into a fit if they see someone paying insignificant respect to a piece of broccoli.

        • oppressedminority says:

          Re: vegans, I recall recently on twitter some guy was just taking another vegan to task (and I mean harshly, encouraging pile-ons, and everything) because the other vegan had bought non-vegan ice cream for a kid. It was a sight to behold.

          Story here.

    • SamChevre says:

      The medium is different, but this reminded me of nothing so much as the quarrels within and between Plain churches.

      For example, the group I grew up in, which had maybe 300 in 8 communities adults at its peak size, blew to fragments in an amazing quarrel between the “we can’t ignore sin” and “we can’t be more just than God” factions–which had a lot of the same elements of personality conflicts, historical alliances and grudges, and general unconstructive behavior. I think the largest remaining group is two communities with less than 50 adults.

    • sweeptheleg says:

      I heard a story on NPR today about a Democratic Primary for a Congressional seat in a heavily Democratic district in Denver. The incumbent seemed to be a progressive (white) female with some seniority in Congress. She is being challenged – and this was presented as a close race – by a South Asian female former Wall Street type whose sole issue seems to be that she is a “woman of color” and wants to defund I.C.E.

      That right there is a great example of a position – openly wanting to exercise no control over who or what enters the country at any land, sea, or air port of entry (!) – that would have gotten someone possibly expelled from the Democratic Party in 1996 or even 2006 on its way to becoming a likely purity test for electability in 2018.

      [The challenger’s background story is also something that would have been cooked up by Tom Wolfe. She was a Wall Street roller until she decided to quit that and promote children’s books by minorities, until she decided that life as a (presumably wealthy) woman of color in America was intolerable and she would have to run for Congress.]

      • qwints says:

        You’re wrong both about what it would mean to defund or abolish ICE and the historical position of the Democratic Party.

        ICE does not exercise any control over who or what enters the country at ports of entry, that’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

        ICE didn’t exist in 1996. There were massive protests against tougher immigration controls in 2006 which were endorsed by a significant number of Democratic politicians (example of a Chicago march).

        • Nornagest says:

          ICE didn’t exist in 1996, but that doesn’t mean its functions weren’t being performed. It was created with the DHS in 2002, during the post-9/11 shapeup of immigration, customs, and border enforcement agencies; previously most of the same stuff had been done by the INS, a branch of the Department of Justice.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            ICE didn’t exist in 1996, but that doesn’t mean its functions weren’t being performed.

            Why are you assuming “abolish ICE” means this? The candidate calls for “comprehensive immigration reform” on their website. This tells me they most likely want a similar reorganization and reform.

          • Nornagest says:

            Why are you assuming “abolish ICE” means this?

            I’m not.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Sorry, in my defense I’m very stupid.

          • Matt M says:

            Why are you assuming “abolish ICE” means this?

            Because most of their complaints seem to be complaints about the functions ICE performs, rather than complaints about the inefficiency of the bureaucratic structure under which they operate?

          • sweeptheleg says:

            Why are you assuming “abolish ICE” means this?

            When Republican primary challengers campaign on abolishing the IRS or the EPA it doesn’t mean that they still want to do all of that tax collecting and environmental regulating, just better. It obviously means that they want to limit the government’s abilities to carry out the functions carried out by those agencies. Campaign rhetoric to abolish government agencies implies something.

          • Randy M says:

            I agree with that the examples sweeptheleg gives of advocating for abolishing federal departments generally means opposition to the functions of the departments [but the post by Bosch below makes a good point that “abolish the IRS” is a flat tax talking point].

            As a potential counter example, when advocating for abolishing the department of education, I think this generally means state and local control (and funding) of schools, rather than complete elimination of public education.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            When Republican whackos campaign on abolishing the IRS or the EPA it doesn’t mean that they still want to do all of that tax collecting and environmental regulating, just better.

            Reuters, 2016:

            It’s a U.S. taxpayer’s dream: make the Internal Revenue Service go away, and the largest conservative group in Congress is endorsing just that.

            The Republican Study Committee, which counts over two-thirds of House of Representatives Republicans as its members, called recently for “the complete elimination of the IRS.”

            As part of a wider appeal for federal tax reform, the committee says simply: “This proposal takes the bold step of calling for the complete elimination of the IRS. Tax collection and enforcement activities would be moved to a new, smaller and more accountable department at the Treasury.”

            Not gonna lie, I’m a little amused you called over 2/3 of the R caucus “whackos”

          • The Nybbler says:

            In context, “abolish the IRS” meant to create a new agency just the same as the old IRS to do the tax collection, but don’t keep any of the current people or procedures. In practice this would be prohibitively expensive, of course, but the Republican Study Committee seems to be into bombthrowing

            http://web.archive.org/web/20160519091411/http://rsc.flores.house.gov:80/files/uploads/RSC%20Submission%20-%20Tax%20Reform.pdf

            In contrast, at least some those who call for abolishing the ICE really do want to abolish its function; here’s The Nation saying so in so many words.

          • BBA says:

            @Matt M: If only ICE’s bureaucratic structure were inefficient. I support eliminating ICE because its structure is inherently sadistic, optimized for maximum cruelty. When you had INS, which combined the people who went on raids with the people who stamped passports (now part of CBP) and the ones who reviewed visa applications (now USCIS), it may have been lousy at all of those things but it didn’t have an institutional goal of jack-booted thuggery for thuggery’s sake.

          • Matt M says:

            If only ICE’s bureaucratic structure were inefficient. I support eliminating ICE because its structure is inherently sadistic, optimized for maximum cruelty.

            How can the structure be sadistic? The fact that they are their own agency requires sadism? How is this the case? Is the EPA inherently sadistic? Would it be less so if we rolled it up and had it report under the Secretary of Interior or whatever?

            This whole line of reasoning makes no sense to me. I can easily theorize the existence of an independent ICE that is touchy feely on immigrants, and also the existence of a fully integrated immigration department that is just as cruel.

  6. beleester says:

    Re: Classical music. Your explanation that it makes it difficult to sleep there sounds reasonable, but talking? The places that I’ve seen do this aren’t actually playing it very loudly (which makes sense, since there are lots of people you want to walk through that area and you don’t want to deafen them). Any group of ruffians worth the name should have no trouble holding a conversation there if they wanted to.

    • Randy M says:

      It’s common to find a casual restaurant these days that is blaring pop music at a level that makes conversation impractical. One doing it with classical would be a nice change of pace.

  7. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    It’s hard to know what to do about something so terrible and so under-discussed, but ChinaFile suggests that one starting point might be sanctioning Xinjiang officials under the Human Rights Accountability Act.

    Or, and I think this one might be a winner, we could let the Chinese manage their own affairs.

    China has had an Islamic terrorism problem for a long time, and while they haven’t had a 9/11 scale attack yet they’re also a lot less tolerant of disorder in general. We might not pay much attention to their news but they watch the West closely and they can see how counterproductive our attempts to beat Islam have been. They really aren’t going to appreciate westerners trying to arm-twist them into copying those methods, especially since the cost of doing so is measured in Chinese lives.

    We have bigger fish to fry with China right now and wasting political capital on this is only going to weaken our positions on trade, North Korea, and the South China Sea. Not to mention that if this approach ultimately proves effective we might need to employ it ourselves not that too far down the line.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Is your position that countries should ever pressure other countries to stop violating human rights, that China’s current human rights violations aren’t bad enough to merit pressure, or something else?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        For me it’s more that Islam is the Mother of All Bad Ideas, so when I see it being suppressed on the other side of the world in a manner that is distasteful, the best I can muster is a “no. stop. don’t.”

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I feel like this is a more profound failure of universalization / Outside View than I would expect from a reader here. If they ever came to put you or me in a concentration camp, I guarantee they’d come forearmed with reasons why your or my philosophy is the Mother Of All Bad Ideas. I would rather cut off that strategy at the root – and since you do hold unpopular ideas, I would expect you to be extra-sensitive to this possibility.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m sorry to have disappointed you Scott. I agree it’s bad. But of all the injustices in the world, of all the injustices committed by the Chinese government, it’s hard for me to pick this one to get worked up over.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            I agree there are way too many terrible things in the world to concentrate on all of them and that in practice the ones most people think about (outside official Effective Altruism™) are the ones that resonate with them personally. I certainly admit I’m not going to drop everything I do to become a Xinjiang campaigner. I just hope that people realize it’s a bad thing and theoretically support efforts to fix it if possible.

          • Jaskologist says:

            It’s not that you’re wrong, it’s that this isn’t the root. “They” already have come for us. I have heard stories like this from China for my entire life.

            I don’t believe anybody is actually interested in attacking the root. I think they only want to deal with this particular branch touching this particular group.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            I just hope that people realize it’s a bad thing and theoretically support efforts to fix it if possible.

            I responded exactly the way you hoped. It didn’t seem worth posting any comments to that effect until I read this thread, though. So you might have a silent majority on your side here.

        • CatCube says:

          This is the same failure mode I see when people demand that I, as a member of the right, defend Trump. I care more about process than I do specific wins, since good process will set you up for success in the long term. So, here I care more about religious tolerance than simply sticking it to other religions, and I consider it a failure when somebody on “my side” starts sticking it to other religions. Similarly, I don’t consider Trump getting away with what the Democrats did for years to be a victory (Clintonian sexual immorality being the obvious one), since my goal is nobody getting away with it, not everybody.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I said “no” “stop” and “don’t.” I’m not in favor of what China’s doing.

            But my altruism increases when it’s reciprocated. The number of Muslims who would be horrified by Christians put in concentration camps is very close to zero. So I kind of feel like, by giving one solitary, incredibly small fuck about the Chinese putting Muslims in camps I am still ahead of the entire population of 1.2 billion muslims on the “concern for religious outgroups” scale.

          • JustToSay says:

            That’s precisely what Christians are meant to do! Being strongly opposed to other people getting hurt, even when they’re the people who would happily hurt you, is a core thing.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I know! It’s not easy! I have to dig really, really deep down to find that single solitary fuck to give about the imprisoning of people who would be A-OK with infidels like me being beheaded (or would gleefully do the beheading themselves), but I found it! So I’m doing okay in the “loving your enemies” department.

          • Szemeredi says:

            I’m not so certain you did find it…

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is the religious group that, everywhere it gains political power, persecutes everyone who isn’t it. Feeling sympathy when they get persecuted in ways far less horrible than they would do to absolutely everyone else if they could is hard.

            In the past, Jewish ACLU lawyers have defended the rights of Klansman or neo-nazis to speak or march. It’s not because they were super sympathetic to the poor, beleaguered nazis.

          • The number of Muslims who would be horrified by Christians put in concentration camps is very close to zero.

            You know this how?

            This is the religious group that, everywhere it gains political power, persecutes everyone who isn’t it.

            Islam was in power over a sizable part of the world for something over thousand years. Many of the countries where they were in power still have large non-Muslim populations. Consider, for one example, the parts of India that were under the Mughals.

            Historically speaking, you could make a better case for applying your comment to Christians. When much of Spain was under Muslim rule, there was no attempt to force either Jews or Christians to convert. At the end of the Reconquista, all of both were required to either convert or leave.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Historically speaking

            But I’m not historically speaking. I’m present speaking.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            When much of Spain was under Muslim rule, there was no attempt to force either Jews or Christians to convert. At the end of the Reconquista, all of both were required to either convert or leave.

            Shockingly, those who worked with the invaders aren’t welcome after the invaders are defeated.

            Maybe you could draw a lesson from this – at the minimum you could make some predictions.

          • broblawsky says:

            I didn’t realize that all Jews in Spain were Moorish collaborators.

          • @Honcho:

            You wrote:

            This is the religious group that, everywhere it gains political power, persecutes everyone who isn’t it.

            You then object to my pointing out lots of places where that religious group gained power and didn’t persecute everyone on the grounds that those were all in the past. Perhaps if you meant “everywhere it has gained power in the last ten years” you should have said so.

            Off hand, I cannot think of any place where Muslims recently gained power, although there are Muslim majority countries which have made more of a point of being Muslim in recent years.

            @Reasoned Argumentation:

            Shockingly, those who worked with the invaders aren’t welcome after the invaders are defeated.

            The expulsion was almost eight hundred years after the invasion. By that standard, the decapitation of King Charles counts as executing an invader.

            By “those who worked with the invaders” do you mean the Jews? By that standard, most of the Christian inhabitants of what had been Muslim Spain should have been expelled too.

            We are talking about one of the most striking acts of religious bigotry in history and you want to defend it? Your argument reminds me of Chomsky’s that the killing by the Khmer Rouge belonged in the same category as the French Resistance killing Nazi collaborators.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            So, the moors didn’t persecute anyone on the Iberian peninsula? No forced conversions, no jizya, no second class citizens?

            “Persecution” is a much broader category than simply “murders.”

          • rlms says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            Have you ever met a Muslim? If yes, do you think they would’ve been OK with your beheading?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @rlms

            Yes and yes. I’ve traveled in North Africa.

          • rlms says:

            What is your basis for that conclusion? Did anyone actually express intentions of killing you, or are you just drawing conclusions from polls? If the latter, I would be interested in seeing them as I’ve not seen any statistics on levels of support for killing infidels.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I feel like if you’re like “I’m doing pretty good on the loving your enemies front!” you are also kind of missing the point of Christianity. No one is ever doing pretty good on ethics. That’s why the Cross.

          • So, the moors didn’t persecute anyone on the Iberian peninsula? No forced conversions, no jizya, no second class citizens?

            Depends on your definition of persecution. A non-citizen legal immigrant in the U.S. isn’t allowed to vote, but I wouldn’t say he is being persecuted.

            Christians and Jews in al-Andalus had to pay the Jizya, assuming they were not women, children, or poor, did not have to pay the Zakat, which Muslims were supposed to pay. The penalty for killing a non-Muslim was lower than for killing a Muslim according to, if I remember correctly, three of the four schools of law–I’m not sure of the position of the Maliki school, which was dominant in al-Andalus. I’m not sure how much of the covenant of Umar, a fictitious agreement between the second Caliph and the conquered Christian populations, was being enforced. That, among many other things, would allow Christians to keep their existing churches but not to build more.

            I think second-class citizens is fair, but that isn’t what I would describe as persecution. Persecution is what happened after the Reconquista, when both Muslims and Jews were given the choice of conversion or exile.

            Forced conversions were certainly not the norm under Muslim rule–I can’t say if any ever occurred. The legal doctrine was that the other Peoples of the Book were entitled to live under Muslim rule.

          • moscanarius says:

            @ Conrad Honcho

            Yes and yes. I’ve traveled in North Africa.

            Even if you have a good basis to believe what you do from your experiences with them, I don’t think you should extrapolate from North African Islam to the whole Muslim religion. I remember reading somewhere (sorry, can’t find the link) that, for some reason, North Africans in Europe engaged in terrorist attacks at a higher rate than most other muslim groups.

        • mupetblast says:

          Secular communist Shahzahan Bachchu was just shot and killed very likely (if other recent murders of secular activists in Bangladesh are any indication) by Muslim extremists. In theory you can draw attention to and be upset both by what China is doing and by what happened to Bachchu. But in practice it’s rare. That’s because there’s something much deeper than procedural and civil liberties concerns going on here.

          • Randy M says:

            That’s because there’s something much deeper than procedural and civil liberties concerns going on here.

            What specifically? I mean “clash of civilizations” sure, but do you have in mind some larger trends specific to China?

          • rlms says:

            Obviously both are terrible, but I don’t believe there are hundreds of thousands of murders of secular activists in Bangladesh (although obviously murder is worse than imprisonment).

        • For me it’s more that Islam is the Mother of All Bad Ideas

          It killed a lot fewer people relative to the population it was in a position to kill than either Communism or Nazism. Currently, Islamic societies such as Iran seem to be doing a less effective job of keeping their populations poor than Maoism did.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m interested in the whole “human flourishing” thing, which isn’t necessarily measured by either death rate nor poverty rate. Islam could make everyone rich (it hasn’t) but still keep them controlled by threat of death for blasphemy (it does) or keep everyone alive (it doesn’t) but subjugated (it does) and still be awful (it is).

            David, love you to death, but your apologies for Islam are hard to swallow. It really is a uniquely bad system that would gleefully murder you, specifically, for dozens of reasons given the chance. There is a reason you don’t live in Iran.

          • And your (implicit) apologies for communism? You did write:

            For me it’s more that Islam is the Mother of All Bad Ideas

            Do you think that the average inhabitant of a Muslim society was at more risk of death for blasphemy than an inhabitant of Stalin’s Russia or Pol Pot’s Cambodia? It was and is legal in Muslim societies to openly not be a Muslim. It was risky in communist societies to openly not be a communist. It’s true that al Ma’mun killed some Asharites over the issue of whether the Koran was create or uncreate, but the numbers were tiny compared to communist purges.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            It’s really not fair making me choose whether I despise communism or islam more. Can communism be the Non Gender-Binary Co-Parent of All Bad Ideas?

          • Aapje says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            It’s weird that you pick Iran as an example, when they have the third largest population of Jews, after Israel and Turkey. Jews don’t necessarily get treated very well there (although minority Muslim sects are probably similarly treated), but they don’t typically get murdered.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t personally live in Iran, but I think I’d be fairly indifferent between moving there and many non-Muslim countries with a similar GDP/capita (e.g. Mexico). The not-particularly-observant Muslims I know who moved back there from the UK, and the Christian I know who enjoyed a holiday there seem to agree. I think I’d actively prefer Uzbek/Tajikistan to many of the Christian countries with economies.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Thank you for the clarification.

            Regardless, an awful lot of Islamic governments (or governments in majority muslim countries) treat their non-Muslim populations in ways vastly worse than the Jim Crow south treated blacks, but when you point to this as a reason why you’re very wary of growing muslim populations exerting political influence an awful lot of westerners condemn you and launch into apologetics for the Muslims.

          • SamChevre says:

            I’m a fairly-devout Catholic. I find Islam a far less pressing threat to open Christian belief and practice in the west than secularism.

          • It’s really not fair making me choose whether I despise communism or islam more.

            It is if you want to defend your claim that Islam is ” the Mother of All Bad Ideas” (italicization mine). By any reasonable criterion it is a much less bad idea than Communism. Whether better or worse than Christianity is unclear–it looks worse because you are comparing extreme versions of Islam to the very watered down modern Christianity.

            If the judgement is of the idea, it’s appropriate to look at all of the data, not just recent events.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m a fairly-devout Catholic. I find Islam a far less pressing threat to open Christian belief and practice in the west than secularism.

            The current pope is the biggest threat to Catholicism.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        My position is a mix of all three.

        I’m very skeptical of this story, and most stories about Uygher oppression, because they’re being told to me by people who I have repeatedly caught lying about events I’m more familiar with. Even on your own link page here we can compare and contrast these supposed atrocities with “ICE atrocities” which we know are misreported if not outright fabricated.

        Taking one step back, even if we accept the story at face value is this really what we want to pick a fight with the Chinese over? We have a lot of issues with them that actually impact Americans’ lives in a more pressing sense than making people feel bad when they read the news. We really can’t afford to make this our priority right now.

        I also don’t like that the US government has elected itself the world policeman. Should we stand by our allies? Sure. Should we protect our trade and our citizens abroad? Sure. Should we start fights on the far side of the world because someone somewhere violated someone else’s human rights? No, that’s not any of our business. Americans and American businesses are free to divest from or boycott China themselves if they feel so strongly about it but it shouldn’t be our national policy.

        Finally, as I alluded to, the West is failing to acknowledge the same problem that the Chinese are trying to deal with right now. The Atlantic and Pacific are much harder to cross than the Mediterranean, so for now we have more time to plan than Europeans do. If the Chinese manage to get Islam under control this way it will be the first way anyone has tried that works. Korematsu versus US is still law as far as I’m aware so it isn’t out of the question that we could implement something similar if we go the way Europe is trending.

        • Jaskologist says:

          4. Why are we only ever allowed to stand up for religious freedom for Muslims? If we’re going to take China on for their execrable stance toward religious freedom, I’d rather start with cases like this and this. But I know my progressive friends would never dream of speaking up in those cases.

          While Article 36 of the Chinese constitution ensures that citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief,” Wang said, “freedom of religious faith is not equal to religious activities taking place without legal restrictions.”

          • Scott Alexander says:

            If it makes you feel better, I was part of the Free Tibet campaign when I was younger, before I realized how ineffective it was. I can probably get my parents to dig up my old membership card, if that’s what it takes for you to believe I am against Chinese religious oppression in general.

          • Matt M says:

            And if half of Western celebrities weren’t able to get any relevant action done on behalf of the globally-idolized Dalai Llama, what makes you think a small Muslim tribe with no PR is going to do any better?

          • Vorkon says:

            Random note:

            One of my favorite shirts is the one that says “Free Tibet!” with a subscript that says “*with purchase of another Tibet of equal or greater value”

          • Brad says:

            Tibetans aren’t, by and large, Christians so that doesn’t seem to meet the objection.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          “Taking one step back, even if we accept the story at face value is this really what we want to pick a fight with the Chinese over?”

          Yes! Yes it is! Not putting people into internment camps and torturing them because of their religion is exactly what I want to use whatever limited resources I have on. Maybe this is just because I’m Jewish, and a couple of times ago when they tried this they ended up killing off most of my extended family, but I really don’t know what’s more important than this.

          I can respect a principled Schelling fence against ever interfering in any other country’s business, but if I were going to go that route I would want to combine it with a strong sense of personal outrage and desire to do something individually which it doesn’t seem like anyone here feels. Also, if someone doesn’t break the fence for this, I am calling them on it the second they ever break it for anything else.

          Also, this isn’t exactly “declare war on China” level. I think this is the same human rights sanction we used last year for some kind of random Chinese police brutality case.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            This is an excellent example of exactly what’s wrong with our “national conversation” about immigration.

            Holocaust symbolism has become a Procrustean bed where serious political issues are stretched and mutilated into morality plays. The People’s Republic of China is not Nazi Germany, and the Uyghers aren’t Jews. Forcing the Chinese to stand by and ignore Muslim violence is, if anything, going to make Jews less safe. Do you really think the Chinese Communist Party is going to be more likely to try to exterminate the Jews than the guys who sent armed volunteers to support ISIS?

            I understand that, from your perspective as a Jewish person, you see this as a personal threat. But I’m not Jewish and neither are 98% of the American public. If you want to fight the Chinese go ahead, but leave me and mine out of it. I like Axis & Allies as much as the next guy, but I don’t have any interest in endlessly re-fighting World War II.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            I don’t see this as a personal threat – I’m nowhere near China and neither the Uighurs or the Han have any good reason to hurt me.

            The lesson of the Holocaust isn’t “be very sensitive to things that threaten you personally”, it’s “remember that oppressing people is really bad, and other people are just as human as you are and it’s bad when it happens to them too”.

            I guess the main way the Judaism thing comes into it is that the lesson “this could have been you” is easier to internalize when it was you the last time.

            I agree this is not as bad as the Holocaust, but “not as bad as the Holocaust” is a pretty low bar.

          • albatross11 says:

            +1

            China mistreating religious minorities is awful, and it’s not less awful because it’s happening far away or because the victims (in this case) aren’t my religion.

            How much should we prioritize human rights in our foreign policy? I don’t know a good answer to that. Not war or embargo, but if there’s some way that we can encourage better human rights in China at reasonable cost, that would probably be a good policy to pursue.

          • tcheasdfjkl says:

            +100000 for Scott’s comment. I don’t have a strong opinion about what’s the best thing for the U.S. to do in cases like this because idk how to international politics and it’s totally possible that any possible action will be counterproductive, but I’m horrified by the idea that what China is doing is in any way okay.

          • quanta413 says:

            Obviously it’s not ok; it’s horrible.

            But the list of horrifying political regimes is long. The U.S. supports many of these regimes by supplying them weapons. And this isn’t out of character for China. They also brutally persecute Christians and the Falun Gong. The whole country is under a giant layer of repression. The police might show up at your house in China for posting one questionable comment online.

            Our best shot at changing China is to slowly corrupt them with our culture. It probably won’t matter whether or not we sanction a few officials.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            The lesson of the Holocaust isn’t “be very sensitive to things that threaten you personally”, it’s “remember that oppressing people is really bad, and other people are just as human as you are and it’s bad when it happens to them too”.

            But of course when Muslims blow people up in markets and run people over with trucks and massacre scores of people that’s just random chance, right?

            After all, more people in China are killed by falling off chairs than in internment camps and that’s what matters, isn’t it?

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            . Maybe this is just because I’m Jewish, and a couple of times ago when they tried this they ended up killing off most of my extended family, but I really don’t know what’s more important than this.

            There’s an ethnic minority that holds to an ideology that justifies any kind of bad treatment up to and including rape and murder of those who don’t hold it. Adherents of this ideology commit these acts everywhere in the world across multiple cultures whenever they live in societies with non-adherents. No other treatment of these people has been successful in getting them to cease acting this way.

            The choice is between taking measures that might be cruel but likely on balance will result in more order and a better civil society with less rape and murder than otherwise but this will require that a minority religious group bear the brunt of these policies.

            The alternative is that the majority suffers so no member of a religious minority is mistreated. I speculate that the more likely reason you oppose this “as a Jew” is because if you have to decide if a minority population or majority population has to suffer violence and depredations you automatically think that it’s better for the majority to suffer because your group will always be a minority.

            If you don’t want to invite this type of counter-argument, don’t oppose a majority exercising self defense against a hostile minority specifically “as a Jew”.

          • Randy M says:

            I think this is the same human rights sanction we used last year for some kind of random Chinese police brutality case.

            Gao, 54, is currently president of the Beijing Police College.

            Well that was sure effective.

          • Andrew says:

            The choice is between taking measures that might be cruel but likely on balance will result in more order and a better civil society with less rape and murder than otherwise

            Please present your evidence that torturing people makes them want to kill you less.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            Please present your evidence that torturing people makes them want to kill you less.

            Please present your isolated demands for rigor elsewhere.

          • John Schilling says:

            Not putting people into internment camps and torturing them because of their religion is exactly what I want to use whatever limited resources I have on.

            Do you have some more specific plan for how to use those resources, and why it will be any more effective than your long-abandoned quest for a Free Tibet?

            Because this is sounding an awful lot like shouting “Something Must Be Done!” in the general direction of politicians, and waiting. That usually doesn’t end well.

            Also, this isn’t exactly “declare war on China” level. I think this is the same human rights sanction we used last year for some kind of random Chinese police brutality case.

            Of course not. Declaring war is so 19th century, and went entirely out of fashion in the 20th. And China is pretty good at skating on the fuzzy border of war and peace to get what they want without anyone quite admitting that all the dead bodies add up to a “war”.

            Cao Shunli is of course still dead, and AFIK Gao Yan is still profitably employed teaching the next generation of Chinese policemen how to handle troublemakers. So I’m guessing that particular instance of Doing Something was pretty much entirely inconsequential. If you plan to move on from there to things that are consequential, and whose consequences impact China’s internal security arrangements, and which are described with phrases like “pick a fight”, then it’s not entirely up to you whether the proposed significant intrusion into China’s internal security falls in the narrow range of “fight we picked but that totally isn’t a war”

          • There’s an ethnic minority that holds to an ideology that justifies any kind of bad treatment up to and including rape and murder of those who don’t hold it. Adherents of this ideology commit these acts everywhere in the world across multiple cultures whenever they live in societies with non-adherents.

            There may well be Muslims who hold that view, but it isn’t and never has been the accepted position of the ideology. Under Muslim law, killing a Christian or a Jew is a crime, although most schools hold that the penalty is lower than for killing a Muslim. As I pointed out in another comment, there are multiple examples of Muslim ruled societies which had large non-Muslim populations, and although there were various ways in which they were discriminated against (and one in which they were discriminated for–they were not obliged to pay the Koranic tax), it was nothing close to what you described, which is why there were still large non-Muslim populations after centuries of Muslim rule.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            David, it still sounds an awful lot like “Jim Crow laws are great and no one should object to such a government in power because black people in America still exist.”

            Sure, there have existed Islamic governments that don’t murder everyone but they’re still uniformly awful to live under if you aren’t a muslim (and frequently even if you are). You would never choose to live under such a government, yet you offer endless apologies for them. Why?

          • albatross11 says:

            reasoned argumentation:

            Do you have an explanation for the distinct lack of stuff blowing up here in the US, given the million+ Muslim population here? I’ll note that we are not, in fact, ethnically cleansing, torturing, or murdering our Muslim population here in the US. (Though we apparently spy on them quite a bit.)

            Because otherwise, your model of the world doesn’t seem to be generating a very accurate prediction. If all those million-plus Muslims in the US really believed in attacking non-Muslims for our infidel-ness, then I should be noticing some bombs going off now and then. Hell, I have several Muslim coworkers. The fact that none of them have blown me up yet is making me feel like maybe they just don’t take me very seriously, damnit.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Cao Shunli is of course still dead, and AFIK Gao Yan is still profitably employed teaching the next generation of Chinese policemen how to handle troublemakers. So I’m guessing that particular instance of Doing Something was pretty much entirely inconsequential. If you plan to move on from there to things that are consequential, and whose consequences impact China’s internal security arrangements, and which are described with phrases like “pick a fight”, then it’s not entirely up to you whether the proposed significant intrusion into China’s internal security falls in the narrow range of “fight we picked but that totally isn’t a war”

            I just want to second this point by John Shilling. You are looking to respond in a way that tangibly hurts China, to the point where they are dissuaded from doing something like this again. But this harm can’t qualify as a war-like act, because that would surely lead to much worse outcomes.

            It’s an achingly difficult needle to thread, perhaps even impossible to do so, against an adversary powerful enough to meaningfully punch back.

          • David, it still sounds an awful lot like “Jim Crow laws are great and no one should object to such a government in power because black people in America still exist.”

            More nearly “The claim that anywhere in America where whites are in power they persecute anyone who isn’t white is not consistent with the large number of blacks and Asians in America.”

            I’m not arguing that Islam is great. I’m arguing that it is considerably less bad than communism and, on the historical record, less intolerant than Christianity.

            I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare current Islamic fundamentalism to modern Christianity, given that in most of the developed world Christians don’t take Christianity very seriously. It’s more appropriate to compare Islam over its history to Christianity over its history.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            Do you have an explanation for the distinct lack of stuff blowing up here in the US, given the million+ Muslim population here?

            The distinct lack?

            Confining examples to one city and only looking at the last two years – so ignoring that memorable event with 3000+ killed – you’ve got a recent truck driving through a crowd of people event, a guy with a pipe bomb who blew himself up in the subway, and bombs planted in Chelsea.

            Sure, your odds of getting killed in this way are low – lower than the odds of falling off a chair to your death as our host helpfully pointed out but if that’s the standard then your odds of getting interned in China are really low also therefore nothing to be concerned about. Heck, you probably don’t even live in China at all!

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Here is a conservative Christian China scholar discussing the matter, saying that it is between one in six and one in twelve Uyghur adults is in a re-education camp currently.

            Even if you take all of China as the base population, with 400 000 to 1000 000 people in a camp (currently, I don’t know what the number is of all people who have passed through a camp at any time), odds of about 1/1000 of being interned are still 1000 times greater than the odds of falling off a chair. Wikipedia lists the casualties from the Xinjiang conflict as around 1200 killed over about 10 years. So the odds of being locked up in Xinjiang are two orders of magnitude bigger than being killed by Xinjiang-related terrorism.

            Finally, I’m not sure why you trust the Chinese state to limit its repression to Uyghurs in the west; it’s well-known that China is expanding its surveillance capabilities from Xinjiang to the rest of the country.

          • LadyJane says:

            @reasoned argumentation: A few dozen casualties, in a nation of hundreds of millions, over the course of several years? Yes, I would consider that to be totally negligible. Even leaving aside accidents and suicides, ordinary profit-driven and passion-driven killings comprise a far greater percentage of murders. In fact, you can limit the selection even further to only include spree killings, and Islamist terror attacks would still only comprise a minority of the crimes in question.

            Sure, your odds of getting killed in this way are low – lower than the odds of falling off a chair to your death as our host helpfully pointed out but if that’s the standard then your odds of getting interned in China are really low also therefore nothing to be concerned about. Heck, you probably don’t even live in China at all!

            If a government has a standing policy of interning racial and religious minorities in concentration camps, then that’s an enormous violation of human rights in itself, even if very few people actually end up being interned in practice.

            You can’t meaningfully apply the same logic to individual-scale criminal acts. Is it horrible that occasionally people are held against their will by kidnappers, as with the Ariel Castro case? Absolutely, but given how rare those cases are, I’d say it’s reasonable for people not to worry too much about it. But if any government made an active policy of kidnapping young women and locking them in basements, then I would find that extremely worrying.

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            If a government has a standing policy of interning racial and religious minorities in concentration camps, then that’s an enormous violation of human rights in itself, even if very few people actually end up being interned in practice.

            You can’t meaningfully apply the same logic to individual-scale criminal acts. Is it horrible that occasionally people are held against their will by kidnappers, as with the Ariel Castro case?

            All this reads to me is “Murders by my side don’t count because that’s ‘random’ but any kind of inconvenience that makes it harder for my side to murder people is an injustice that cries out to heaven for redress”.

            Progressives have “just happened” to have aligned with groups that commit “random” violence which can only be successfully combated with collective action then hold that random violence is something that just happens while collective action to stop random violence is the worst thing in the world leaves me entirely unmoved.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare current Islamic fundamentalism to modern Christianity, given that in most of the developed world Christians don’t take Christianity very seriously. It’s more appropriate to compare Islam over its history to Christianity over its history.

            Maybe if you’re writing a history paper. But if you’re looking at current politics, it’s more important to compare what things look like now. Would you rather be a Muslim under a regime like George Bush’s (either one), or a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Iran?

            As for Communism, certainly Islam is historically not as bad as Communism. “As bad as communism” is pretty tough, though; Stalin and Mao raised badness to new highs. However, even so, was it worse to be a Jew under Brezhnev or Krushchev in the old USSR than in Saudi Arabia today?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @albatross11

            Do you have an explanation for the distinct lack of stuff blowing up here in the US, given the million+ Muslim population here?

            Yes.

          • albatross11 says:

            Guy in TN:

            Yeah, it’s quite possible this is a bad thing that we can’t do much about, like millions of other bad things in the world. But it’s at least worth noting that it’s evil, and it’s not good to make excuses for.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Every time people torture people and put them into concentration camps they say “it’s justified because these people have a long history of being especially evil and there’s no other way to reform them.” This is the logic of Pol Pot, of Mao, and of Hitler. Today, we find it is possible for Jews, middle-class people, and people who have glasses to behave in an ethical way without being tortured at all even a little bit. Therefore, forgive me for being skeptical that this time it’s right.

          • Maybe if you’re writing a history paper. But if you’re looking at current politics, it’s more important to compare what things look like now.

            I was responding to Conrad’s claim about Islam as an idea. On that subject we have almost fourteen centuries worth of data. On Christianity as an idea about twenty centuries. On Communism as an idea about one century.

          • LadyJane says:

            All this reads to me is “Murders by my side don’t count because that’s ‘random’ but any kind of inconvenience that makes it harder for my side to murder people is an injustice that cries out to heaven for redress”.

            No, I was pointing out that there’s a meaningful distinction to be made between state actors following specific institutionalized government policies, and individuals acting outside the bounds of the law. Illegal human trafficking occurs within the U.S., that doesn’t mean that America should be considered a slaver society on par with ancient Sparta.

            I also don’t know why you think Islamic fundamentalists are “my side,” considering that I find everything about their belief system to be utterly barbaric and incompatible with the principles of basic human decency. I’m just capable of drawing a distinction between Islamic fundamentalists and Muslims in general, and also recognizing that even the fundamentalists are not a unified group with a unified set of beliefs and policies (unlike the People’s Republic of China, which has a rigidly hierarchical structure and can be meaningfully treated a single unified entity, despite any internal divisions that exist within it).

            And even aside from all that, I’ve always been strongly repulsed by the argument that “we have to violate human rights to preserve human rights, just against this one group, just this one time.” I find it hypocritical, self-serving, and morally abhorrent. In fact, I would still find it abhorrent even if the target was a racial or religious group that was actually as universally horrible as people think that [Muslims/Jews/Catholics/Latinos/Africans/Asians/Italians/Irish] are (although that’s purely hypothetical, since no such race or religion actually exists outside of high fantasy settings).

            I also strongly doubt that China will actually limit this policy solely to Uyghur Muslims, given the government’s rather dismal track record on human rights in general. It seems likely that this precedent will be extended to other ‘troublesome’ racial, religious, and political minorities sooner or later.

          • Are we sure that the activists are not exaggerating and misleading us about this issue? It seems far more plausible that China is cracking down on political Islam—i.e. Muslims who publicly use Islam as a justification for illegal actions or illegal proposed actions, such as having the Uighurs separate from China. I heard the same complaints about China’s crackdown on Opus Dei a while back. The problem was, Opus Dei really was doing illegal things.

            Heck, it’s the same issue with Tibet. Before falling under the control of China, peasants in Tibet lived under one of the worst, most exploitative theocracies on the planet. I certainly wouldn’t want to free that Tibet. But what about now that the Dalai Lama is all about sunshine and rainbows rather than milking the peasants? Well, do we want to apply a principle of encouraging civil wars and separatist movements any time we think there is a marginally better government in waiting? Or do we want to insist on a certain threshold of improvement before we sacrifice the principle of territorial integrity/sovereignty? In other words, consider a 3/10 vs. 4/10 government (measured in terms of some metric of “goodness”): I say, stick with the 3/10, allow them to suppress the separatists who are fighting for a 4/10 government. But 5/10 vs. 10/10? Perhaps take the side of the 10/10 separatists.

          • Rusty says:

            Just to say I passed through Kashgar a year or two back. From what I could tell it was a province of China 100% ethically and religiously separate from the rest of China. So they were in the process of bussing in Han chinese until the Uighur were in a minority. Struck by the truck loads of soldiers in black riot gear wielding batons. Struck by the massive statue of Chairman Mao. Struck by the demolition of about 95% of the Unesco World Heritage old town (replaced by tower blocks to allow the fire engines in but coincidentally easier to police). Struck by the fact that this is a dirt poor population on their way to threaten precisely nobody. Struck by the fact that our Uighur guide was careful to say nothing critical of the situation.

            So when I see people in any way supporting the Chinese in their horrible actions there it makes me wince. Go there and see for yourself. Its very beautiful. (And combine it with a trip to Northern Pakistan. Also fantastically beautiful, welcoming and safe.)

          • I just don’t see how this is different from what every other nation-state has done. The problem is, China is not yet a nation-state. They don’t have a single predominant mutually-intelligible spoken language (they are trying to make Mandarin that, but there’s still Cantonese, etc.) They don’t have a single dominant ideology (they have Marxism, which penetrates a thin veneer of Chinese society, and they have the official versions of religions that people can follow). Nation-states like to bring about this conformity because it promotes trade, cohesion, military power, etc.

            If China feels that they need to assimilate the Uighurs or Tibetans, I guess it sucks to be a Uighur or Tibetan who cares deeply about your culture, just like it sucked to be a Native American in the U.S. or a Breton in France or a Palestinian who happens to have the misfortune of living in Greater Israel. These things suck, but this is what nation-states do. China just has the misfortune (like Israel) of doing this in real time, whereas the butchery of other nation-states is safely accomplished in the past. (And Hitler had the audacity to practice this on fellow Europeans, which people cared about much more than when Germany was gunning down the Herero people in Africa).

            What I’m seeing in these threads reeks of isolated demands for rigor. Until we have international proletarian revolution and gay space luxury communism, nation-states gonna nation-state. And as Lenin said, our primary responsibility is always to oppose the barbarism of our own nation-state at home. Otherwise, we play into the hands of our own imperialist overlords by justifying their (self-interested) interventions abroad. So, I leave it to Chinese activists whether they want to raise this issue about the treatment of Uighurs. It is not helpful for me to get involved.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I think the argument is that, if we find it appalling when Germany does it to Jews and Slavs, we should find it no less appalling when other other nations do it, even if it’s done to victims to whom we are not othrwise sympathetic; the norm that “ethnic cleansing is okay when done to people like the Herrero, but not when done to us” is not great. From this point of view, the isolated demand for rigour goes the other way: if we hated it when it was done to people like us, perhaps we should hate it equally strongly in other situations.

            I am also skeptical that the issue is simply past vs. present: I suspect if South Africa made an effort to unite the country under Zulu language and culture, and too bad for any white Afrikaners in the way, a lot of people who shrug their shoulders at Palestine or Xinjiang would care a lot more–I know of very few people who think that opposing South African land reform means you are laundering the motives of imperialist interventionists (even though this was a talking point of the Zuma government).

            Finally, while I agree that one should be careful not to advocate for war that will likely be even worse than the ethnic cleansing, your description of who can be motivated to get involved is too narrow: people who have fled China for other countries might want their new countries to take a stance; diaspora communities like the Jewish diaspora have some stake in what happens in Israel/Palestine; neighbouring and nearby countries who harbour similar or related populations have a stake, like Bangladesh dealing with Rohingya refugees; and finally, to the extent that other countries trade with and engage in relations with China, citizens of those countries can ask their governments to minimize their complicity.
            Downthread we discussed the role of some American corporations in the surveillance state in Xinjiang. I think it’s entirely reasonable for an American citizen to use their influence at home to demand these companies refuse to help China in their project.

          • albatross11 says:

            Conrad:

            If Muslims in the US go with Scott’s proposed rule of refraining from persecuting infidels until they can win elections and impose that persecution via normal mechanisms of passing laws, that seems like exactly what we want. The country is *full* of groups of people who have evil ideas they’d like to impose by law. So long as they’re agitating for them via political organization and persuasion, rather than by truck bombs and shooting up nightclubs, they’re welcome to try. The risk that Muslims (a very small minority of Americans who are mostly not very well-liked) are going to successfully gain political power sufficient to impose Sharia law or something in the US is about item number one million on my things-to-worry-about list.

          • Matt M says:

            I suspect if South Africa made an effort to unite the country under Zulu language and culture, and too bad for any white Afrikaners in the way

            IF???

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            What events in South African politics would you regard as comparable to re-education camps in China or Israeli settlements in the West Bank?

          • BBA says:

            Zulu is the most widely spoken language in South Africa but it’s still less than 25% of the population. Uniting South Africa under Zulu language and culture would primarily hurt Xhosa, Tswana, and other non-Zulu black nationalities, as well as the mixed-race “Cape Coloured” who now make up a majority of Afrikaans speakers and aren’t considered “Black” in their racial system.

            So I imagine such a policy would generate a great deal of international outcry, even if the impact on the Anglos and Afrikaners is dismissed as “serves ’em right for apartheid.”

          • Tatterdemalion says:

            One of the most central points of liberalism and individualism is that you do not punish or persecute people for membership of groups other members of which have behaved badly, only for their own actions.

            “It’s OK because they’re muslims” is a truly shitty position to take on atrocities.

          • albatross11 says:

            Taterdemallion:

            +1

            This is exactly my complaint with that clickbaity op-ed we were discussing upthread.

          • Jiro says:

            Every time people torture people and put them into concentration camps they say “it’s justified because these people have a long history of being especially evil and there’s no other way to reform them.”

            Every time people torture people and put them into concentration camps, they’ve breathed, too.

            You should know that “bad people do X” proves nothing about X.

          • rlms says:

            @Jiro
            I’m sorry, what are you saying here? Ozy said (paraphrased) ‘Bad people put people in concentration camps and tortured them, and claimed “it’s justified because these people have a long history of being especially evil and there’s no other way to reform them”‘. So the only value for X in your comment I can see is “putting people in concentration camps and torturing them and using a certain justification for that”.

            Substituting that in, you are saying “It’s fallacious to say that just because bad people tortured people and put them in concentration camps, that means putting people in concentration camps is bad. Maybe torturing people and putting them in concentration camps because they are allegedly irredeemably evil is actually morally neutral or good, like breathing or drinking tea!”.

          • Every time people torture people and put them into concentration camps they say “it’s justified because these people have a long history of being especially evil and there’s no other way to reform them.”

            As best I can tell, that was not the argument for putting Boers into the original concentration camps.

          • Baja Roki Thompson says:

            There’s a lot of Han in somewhat comparable conditions. In these camps called factories.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Were the Boers tortured?

          • Not as far as I know.

        • If the Chinese manage to get Islam under control this way it will be the first way anyone has tried that works.

          Not a lot of Muslims in Spain by, say, 1600.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Fair point, I retract my previous statement.

            That said, while I don’t claim to speak for Scott I would imagine he would take a dim view of the Chinese government expelling Uyghers en masse. Spain also expelled it’s Jews.

        • adamsb6 says:

          I am also skeptical of some of the claims being made. I just spent three weeks in Rizhao, a small city (by Chinese standards) on the east coast. I saw people being visibly Muslim, and there is at least one big mosque, complete with three minarets.

          So, I don’t think the government’s policy is that Islam is not allowed. Given that, it wouldn’t make much sense for government re-education to require disavowal of Islam.

          • Montfort says:

            IIRC, the chinese government is specifically trying to control and perhaps reduce religious expression among Uighurs, who live mostly in Xinjiang, are a different ethnicity from the Han, speak a different language, and have some level of separatist sentiment. What you saw on the east coast were probably Hui, who are ethnically very close to the Han, generally speak mandarin, and are not geographically concentrated.

            The picture is obviously more complicated than “no Islam anywhere anytime,” but it wouldn’t surprise me if they made Uighurs they detained disavow Islam.

      • Nootropic cormorant says:

        It’s awful, but how would you propose dealing with violent insurgencies?
        It is very totalitarian, but it doesn’t seem that far away from what Israel and Turkey or even Spain and Northern Ireland do.

        If we try and stop all states from using excessive violence to fight rebels, I imagine we will end up with many small ethnostates locked in permanent ethnic strife or rogue states preemptively genociding any group that could muster an independence movement.

        • I believe the original concentration camps were created by the British during the Boer war.

          • Nootropic cormorant says:

            Indeed, but I wanted to curb my whataboutism.

            A point I wish to make is that weaking of a state doesn’t make its oppression less vicious, rather it will settle for cheaper forms of oppression, such as indiscriminate killings or outsourcing to local militias.

      • Civilis says:

        [Is your position that countries should ever pressure other countries to stop violating human rights, that China’s current human rights violations aren’t bad enough to merit pressure, or something else?]

        I would like it if we were pressuring other countries to stop violating human rights as a matter of principle. I would accept it if we were doing that in order of our own self-interest, but we’re not even doing that. We’re seemingly randomly pressuring different countries about human rights, sometimes contradicting ourselves, and we’re wondering why we’re getting nowhere. We’re going to need to examine what exactly a human right is, and prioritize which ones we want to encourage and what we’re willing to compromise on, to offer or to threaten to do to get them.

        In order to get China to care about some human rights, we’re going to need to offer something in return, because we can’t really threaten them. China wants its territorial integrity. We could offer China to support its territorial integrity in return for it respecting human rights. The problem is that we’ve established that some level of self-determination is a human right, and that directly contradicts China’s demand for territorial integrity. So we’re left with a choice: we can get rid of those ‘free Tibet’ bumper stickers and China might be willing to dial back the repression in other ways (assuming the Uighurs realize that China’s playing nice for our sake, because if they take it as an opportunity to push harder, China will push back and we won’t have anything left we can offer to stop it.)

        It’s worse than that, to a degree. Why should China assume we care about it’s territorial integrity when the West doesn’t care about our own? A deeply cynical and pragmatic part of me thinks the best thing we can do is force a two or three state solution to the Israeli / Palestinian problem, to get rid of the idea that if you keep a humanitarian crisis running long enough, eventually people will give in and give you what you want. And that takes us back to prioritizing human rights and what we’re willing to compromise on.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I think this one really is an “on the gripping hand” issue. That is, “on the gripping hand, China is a superpower and there’s not much we actually can do about it.”

  8. zqed says:

    Philosophical dispute about whether the category “meat” refers to things that taste a certain way vs. things that were produced by a certain process

    In Europe, the food industry settled firmly on the “process” designation decades ago. It helped that Europe had a long history of protected designations of geographical origin and protected handling of traditional specialities, and that there’s a large contingent of people who’d be mad if you called your pork product “beef”, even if you figured out a way to make it taste totally convincing. See also vegan “cheese” in Germany and the horsemeat scandals in the UK.

    No action is required regarding this matter. The market will handle the problem with the astroturf treatment: a brand of meat-substitute will eventually become popular or significant enought that its brand name will become a genericized trademark, synonymous with the general class of meat-substitute products.

    • mdet says:

      Philosophical dispute about whether the category “meat” refers to things that taste a certain way vs. things that were produced by a certain process

      Can we not define meat by “primarily contains tissue that would belong to a member of the Animal Kingdom”? That sounds like it would be most people’s definition, and isn’t about “taste” or “process”.

    • knockknock says:

      Soylent Green

  9. herculesorion says:

    RE: “New study finds that, contra popular myth, people who believe in the genetic determination of human traits…”

    This isn’t actually surprising to me, because liberals (scoring on tests as more progressive, more tolerant, less racist) are strong believers in the idea that whether you win or lose the game depends mostly on the hand you’re dealt. So of course they’d believe that human traits are genetically determined; that’s entirely in line with their idea that the purpose of society is to identify individuals who are Fundamentally Unable To Perform(*) and provide them with whatever assistance they need to get up to the same level as the rest of us.

    Note that you can believe that individuals’ characteristics are genetically-determined without concluding that certain genetically-determined characteristics are linked. Like, I can point to the genes that make someone dumb and the genes that make someone black, but that doesn’t mean that someone with genes that make them black will also definitely have genes that make them dumb.

    (*) which sounds pejorative, but it’s meant to be only descriptive; if society assumes a certain level and mode of cognition and physical ability, and you aren’t at that level, then you’re going to have a tough time taking part.

    • Aapje says:

      Some people are more prone to blame nature and see civilization as the solution to indifferent and unjust (semi-)random acts of nature, while others are more likely to believe that nearly all humans have grand abilities, but that unjust aspects of society are preventing people from using their abilities to the full extent.

      Both narratives can be used to argue for helping people.

  10. herculesorion says:

    RE: “Commoditize the complement”

    It’s a bit tough for me to take seriously an essay that approvingly cites Netscape’s business strategy.

    • gwern says:

      The Netscape business strategy was fine – lots of people made lots of money selling similar things and its IPO was successful. The problem was Microsoft.

    • Matt M says:

      In business school we were once assigned a paper about some particular strategy or other. The author cited three companies as examples of the success of this strategy. Two of the three were Enron and Circuit City (I forgot the third)

    • This is basically the positive version of the old debunking of the claim that tie-in sales let a monopolist expand his monopoly to inputs.

    • darkwingduck says:

      If (as the article says) Netscape’s strategy was to commoditize browsers so they could sell servers, why didn’t the growing popularity of the internet increase demand for their servers enough to make up for the death of Navigator?

  11. Aurélien says:

    The impact of high/low skill immigration on local politics is interesting, but it’s not clear to me from the abstract how the authors control for the fact that high-skills immigrants will go to high-skills communities which are likely to become more tolerant over time any way ?

  12. eqdw says:

    The latest in the DashCon / FyreFestival / etc genre of “fan conventions collapsing disastrously” is the marginalized-fan-community-centered Universal FanCon. I first read about this on Siderea’s blog and then found my way to this longer article. An interesting detective story / rationality practice to sort through the competing accounts and try to figure out what happened, and how so many seemingly trustworthy and well-intentioned people ended up running something that ended up looking so much like a scam. Also possibly a good test for how paranoid vs. trusting you are, or how willing to resort to bad actor vs. institutions-are-hard explanations. Something like an answer (if you believe it) about what happened here

    I don’t know anything about any of these things beyond what is quoted above, but with that, let me propose a novel hypothesis:

    1. Group of people wants to run a con

    2. Group of people dramatically underestimates the cost of running a con

    3. Group of people run the numbers and realize that if they charge what is necessary for running the con, they will alienate the core demographic they wanted to run the con for, as this demographic is unwilling or unable to pay the cost (note: this doesn’t have to be true, so long as the con organizers believe it to be true)

    4. Group of people frantically scramble to fix the problem, and fall into one or more failure modes:

    4a. Gullibility. A sociopathic bad actor comes along and sells them on a solution that won’t work. They buy it, it predictably explodes in their face. This ends up getting seen by the public as a bad actor situation

    4b. Cutting corners. The organizers try to do it on the cheap, think they can do it, but in the end they can’t. Things they thought would work out end up not working out. Costs balloon as they have to deal with the fallout. They eventually realize they can’t make this happen. They shut down, and are unable to refund costs. This ends up getting seen by the public as a scam.

    4c. Sell-out. The organizers look for extra sources of funding, but the only way they can get money is by betraying some deeply held value that they were using as motivation to run the con in the first place. This triggers drama in the underlying community that supported this group of people, and ends up derailing the conference. This ends up getting seen by the public as an institutions-are-hard situation.

    • Robert Liguori says:

      What is really happening here in that 2.5 step, though? When the iceburg is clearly looming from so far away, with so many warning signs, how do the convention committees in this situations not realize the situation?

      One random speculation I have is that conventions have been in decline generally as nerd culture has mainstreamed and alternate venues of discussion have bloomed, and that the Secret Masters of Fandom who have the practical experience in running a convention and knowing “No, you can’t just offer away guest time like that, that’s a terrible idea, pull that line from the ad copy ASAP and start on this plan to get a corrected official line out there.” haven’t been training replacements, with many of them likely pulling away from fandom due to Culture War drama.

      So, you get mistakes being made, by people who are running really tribally-affiliated conventions, who have really personal stakes in these conventions happening, and who really don’t want to say “At this juncture, we have discovered that we really don’t know what we’re doing and are going to cancel before we make this into more of a mess.”, and so without ever meaning to defraud people, just keep looking for patchwork solutions and putting off the day of reckoning as long as they can.

      Universal Fancon doesn’t look like it was a scam; I don’t see any evidence that the con staff were out to vanish with the funding Snidely-Whiplash style. But I do think that there were obvious signs of things going wrong enough that a reasonable con committee should have been communicating out “Things are bad, y’all, here’s our plan for de-baddening them.”, and the failure for this to happen basically means we shouldn’t trust any of these people to plan a con ever again.

      • poignardazur says:

        “At this juncture, we have discovered that we really don’t know what we’re doing and are going to cancel before we make this into more of a mess.”

        Oh yeah, the “We don’t know what we’re doing but let’s keep running into a wall to keep face” effect is strong in amateur projects.

      • herculesorion says:

        I think that you’re exactly right; that the institutional knowledge is either aging-out or quitting due to bad conditions, and the people picking up the reins are going to have to spend a few ugly years failing before they figure it out again.

        And to some extent, maybe cons are just over. The whole convention ideal was based on the fact that you *couldn’t* easily talk to people that weren’t in the same room with you. These days I can reach into my pocket and talk to just about any author I care about. I can get in touch with the business department of a publisher on my own, any time I like; I don’t need to go to a special place at a special time that only happens once a year. If an actors wants to interact with fans they can do it by livestreaming, they don’t have to make appearances at pre-arranged events.

        The things that you could Only Do At Cons are fewer and fewer every year, and the people who would push hard and pull together to make a con work despite itself are less willing to do that now…

        PS:

        [Butler said] “We all felt that everything would work out in the end, because the fans believed in our effort, and all of our effort would be worthwhile.”

        That’s…yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what I meant, that cons work mostly because everyone wants/needs them to work, and there are fewer and fewer reasons why anyone would need them to…

        • poignardazur says:

          I don’t know what people do at other cons for animes or bikes or whatever, but I still go to roleplaying and medieval-fantastic cons almost every year. They’re one of my only sources of non-work-related socialization (with new people). Also, tabletop RPG oneshots.

        • J Mann says:

          It feels to me like there are more cons all the time – as the article pointed out, these people should have started much smaller in some kind of scalable space.

        • mdet says:

          A lot of people seem to go to cons for cosplay. While it’s certainly possible to cosplay outside of a con, I imagine it’s much less fun / socially acceptable.

        • gbdub says:

          Other stuff you can more or less only do at a con:
          1) Shop at a bunch of small / local vendors you might not otherwise find of [theme of con] products and services under one roof, with instant delivery/gratification.

          2) Meet celebrities of [theme of con] in person

          3) Have in-person discussion of [theme of con] with usually much less of the toxicity associated with online spaces.

          4) Participate in hands on workshops for cosplay, writing, other [theme of con] activities

          Particularly if [theme of con] is anything in the physical world, whether model trains, comic books, or LARP, you pretty much have to meet up in person to participate / show off / swap, and it’s always going to be fun to do that at a big themed event.

      • CatCube says:

        As far as never ever trusting them to run a convention again, I’m reminded of the old chestnut about a new employee (I’ve heard it with various characters, with some going back to the early 1900s):

        “A new manager was entrusted with a project at his job. It failed, costing the company several million dollars. He was called into the CEO’s office. When he got there, he said ‘I guess you’re going to fire me, huh?’ The CEO replied ‘Fire you? Young man, I just spent 3 million dollars training you.'”

        Of course, these newly-experienced conrunners will avoid the same mistakes, but will likely make new and exciting ones. Reinventing the wheel organizationally is often a bad idea, rather than making use of experienced people. This con suffered from the fact that it seemed to be organized around the principle that all the existing cons hated the various groups involved rather than that they had hard constraints on running an organization, so not being able to take advantage of experience was baked in.

        That said, I like sidearea’s hypothesis that the new, naïve conrunners got taken in by a crook who embezzled the money. There are a few candidates in the list of people involved (including one who has a history of “cancelled cons after taking the money”)

        • Aapje says:

          Learning from mistakes is predicated on initially selecting a person/people with an ability to learn. Some people are just incompetent, also the second time around (and third and…).

      • John Schilling says:

        What is really happening here in that 2.5 step, though? When the iceburg is clearly looming from so far away, with so many warning signs, how do the convention committees in this situations not realize the situation?

        The Daughters of Mary simply do not grok the effort required to materially host a social gathering. Why should they, when they never actually have to do it? I wonder whether part of the problem is that the bubble-ization of Western society has lead to bubbles which do not contain a sufficient contingent of Sons of Martha, who can recognize the impending problems and make their warning heard. And note that the tradition of fan-run conventions started and grew among the sort of nerds who mostly weren’t very good at partying but were prone to read things like “Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army” for fun.

        OTOH, the Universal FanCon people seem to have vastly overestimated the number of people who would buy tickets, so they weren’t even very good at the purely human side of the equation.

      • The evidence that it was a scam, although not necessarily by all of those doing it, is in Scott’s final link on the issue, where someone who has just explained that they spent all the money they took in and more was not willing to provide any documentation of expenditures. It’s possible that that person wasn’t the scammer, just someone who believed someone else’s false claims about why they couldn’t make that information public, but I don’t see any plausible explanation in which everyone involved was honest.

        • herculesorion says:

          If I were looking at people angry enough to sue me, I *definitely* wouldn’t want to start waving documents around that might be copied and presented as evidence of Obvious Malfeasance. There’s no obligation to open your kimono for strangers on the internet, no matter how mad they are.

          • If they sue you, they get to use discovery to find the documents. If you don’t want them to sue you or to hate you, and you have really done nothing wrong, it would be in your interest to offer the evidence to demonstrate it.

          • Colonel Hapablap says:

            Opening up a whole lot of documentation like that is a great way to spend hundreds of hours answering questions and defending yourself from people who have no idea what they are looking at, but will presume your guilt anyway. And when they do find things that are inexplicable for whatever reason, either honest mistakes or legitimate things that just can’t be proven legitimate, then you look guilty.

            It is trivially easy to make someone look bad that way.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I never thought I’d write this but, David Friedman, that’s horribly naive.

            It’s true those documents would come out in discovery. But only if sued. When there is an angry mob, even if you are exactly right and have all the facts on your side to prove it, you can’t count on them listening to your facts.

            You could present them to an impartial third-party like a journalist, but you don’t know which journalists are actually impartial. Lots of people have been destroyed because they trusted the wrong journalist who already had decided on an agenda.

          • John Schilling says:

            If they sue you, they get to use discovery to find the documents.

            If they sue you, you’ve already lost. The great objective is to not get sued.

            And you don’t accomplish that by handing out a teaser of what people might find if they do sue you and go to discovery. They already “know” you are a crook, that as a crook you are hiding the worst evidence of your villainy, and that the truth is therefore worse than what you have chosen to release. So your choices are, worse than nothing, or worse than something – and you’re not a lawyer to know that your well-intentioned but dispassionately documented actions don’t include technical crimes or tortious acts.

            Handing out documents to people who want to sue you, is like talking to policemen who want to arrest you. Don’t do it without talking to your lawyer. If you don’t have and can’t readily afford a lawyer, shut up. And don’t assume other people are guilty because they have decided to shut up in the face of accusations.

    • IsmiratSeven says:

      Thank you for the 282 words about something you haven’t read up on. Are you perchance a journalist by trade?

      • Montfort says:

        I believe the purpose here was to register it as an advance prediction, so that eqdw’s model can be later evaluated without concerns it was made to fit this particular case. Of course, it would help if this analysis were actually performed by someone who did know about the incident.

    • AnteriorMotive says:

      I was once hired to help an incompetent person set up a Kickstarter.

      There’s a temptation to look at a Kickstarter as a huge bucket of free money. Many people see the primary obstacle between themselves and achieving great works as “not having the money to do so.” So anyone without a whole lot of self-discipline will just promise whatever they have to promise to get access to the free money, and worry about following through later.

      But it’s inevitable that anyone designing reward tiers to be attractive buys, without calculating back-end costs, is going to dramatically overpromise and underdeliver. A grounded, responsible pitch can’t compete with a pitch whose only limit is the creator’s optimism.

      The first rule of evaluating a Kickstarter is “what you see is what you get.”
      It’s tempting to think: “wow, what I saw is awesome, I can’t wait to see the rest of it!” There is no “rest of it,” or they would have shown that off, too.
      Another rule: anything not explicitly promised won’t show up.

      • Aapje says:

        I actually think that their major issue was that they wanted to make it cheap for their friends and expected huge sponsoring, which didn’t pan out.

        • AnteriorMotive says:

          I think we mostly agree with each other. They assumed it would be a cakewalk (to the point of negligence,) and acted completely irresponsibly when it turned out not to be.

          I don’t think they went into it planning to con anyone, but there are signs they thought there would be plenty of surplus money and fame to line their pockets with. I wouldn’t be surprised if they embezzled any unspent funds when they closed shop.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that many of the people involved had multiple motivations, hoping for a win-win-win-win-win situation:
            – Creating something pleasant for their ingroup and themselves (both by making a con specifically for minorities, but also by having the organizers be minorities)
            – Having much of it paid for by others, preferably their outgroup (see the tweet about having Starbucks pay as reparations to the black community)
            – Improving their resume
            – Gain experience/skills
            – Earning money

            Of course, this turned into a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose situation.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if they embezzled any unspent funds when they closed shop.

            Supposedly, they made a $45k down-payment to the conference center, which they may have lost. The Kickstarter income was $55k. I suspect that they spent the $10k that was left after the down-payment as well.

            So there may not have been any money left.

            In general, their financial & organisational incompetence seems genuine and would logically cause them to spend their money foolishly, rather than end up with a substantial buffer.

          • AnteriorMotive says:

            They definitely lost their deposit, but they made a whole bunch of money in post-Kickstarter ticket sales which were never refunded. I recall the article saying over 100k. Given that they closed due to being unable to raise the money to pay the hotel, I would assume they closed shop with 50% of a hotel bill in the bank. Their claim is that they spent all this to pay back debts and consultants. But their pattern of lies, opacity and greed makes it a legitimate concern that they overstated their debts and pocketed whatever was left.

            When they cancelled, disappointed con-goers built a replacement convention on a week’s notice and 0 budget. (though it was less ambitious and they were able to borrow a venue), so I don’t give all that much credit to their tale of “halfway organizing a convention put us hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole.”

            See also David Friedman’s comment above. Couldn’t let a journalist see any substantiation for your tales of financial woe?

            Note that I don’t actually assign a very high probability of them embezzling. Just think there’s cause for suspicion.

  13. sfoil says:

    Of course the Wheel of Samsara turns widdershins

  14. eqdw says:

    Bloom’s Two Sigma Problem: children given private tutoring will do two sigmas better than average (ie the average tutored student will be in the 98th percentile of nontutored students).

    Possibly dumb question but: after reading the wiki article on this, I’m not clear on what the _problem_ is. It seems like it’s just an observation to me? Is the “problem” that the results seem unbelievable? Or that the cost of implementing it at scale is impossible? What am I missing?

    • herculesorion says:

      The problems are that A: there aren’t enough tutors to provide one for every single child, and B: a lot of people have put a lot of self-worth into the idea that teachers don’t actually teach, that the students learn all by themselves and the teachers are more like referees (this view conveniently absolves them of any need to be actually good at teaching), and if it turns out that direct instruction actually *does* give results and actually *does* work (and it *does* require teachers to actually be good at teaching) then a lot of people’s whole lives turn out to have been wrong.

      • there aren’t enough tutors to provide one for every single child

        There are if you use a model in which older kids tutor younger ones. My sister taught me to read.

        And with that sort of model, you don’t have to have tutoring for anything like as long as the current school day, since a lot of learning can be done from books or equivalent sources using more modern technology.

        • herculesorion says:

          “There are if you use a model in which older kids tutor younger ones.”

          aka “the teachers don’t actually teach, the students learn all by themselves and the teachers are basically referees”.

    • J Mann says:

      My two sigma problem is that now I feel really guilty for not getting my kids a tutor, and after all that work Bryan Caplan did to make me feel better about not doing it!

      • Randy M says:

        My wife gets side jobs as a private tutor, so I’m hyped.

      • aristides says:

        I haven’t read Bryan’s book, but based on his blog articles, this would align with his conclusion. Teachers can have massive short term effects on test scores, the problem is the knowledge fades every year, and will have little to no effect on life time earnings. Now if those test scores get them into a better school that signals knowledge, they might earn more. In fact, Bryan is clearly supportive of tutoring, he homeschooled his kids after all!

      • Education Hero says:

        As a reader of this blog, it is likely that you are reasonably capable of personally providing your children with direct instruction.

    • toastengineer says:

      I spent a few months in tutoring and I learned more than I did in 12 years of public school; anyone who doubts the two-sigma thing is massively underestimating the incompetence of the school system.

      • I was a pesonal tutor for 10 different college economics students. After 2 weeks of lessons for a class I got them to skip every class and show up for only the midterm and final exam.

        All 10 got As in the class and thanked me for my service.

        Undergrad economics is trivial to teach i’ll admit. However I’m shocked at how badly it is taught in university. I spend a good amount of time reviewing calculus 1 and 2 with my students then spend a very short amount of time teaching the new material.

        There are only a few actual lessons to teach to most undergrad students and most of that can be learned via youtube with a small bit of guidance.

  15. Murphy says:

    News item.

    woman kidnapped and forced to witness her husband, a sergeant in the Salvadoran Army, dig his own grave before being killed by the guerrillas. She was then enslaved and by the guerrillas who had murdered her husband and made to do the cooking and cleaning “under threat of death.” Court rules that her coerced duties for the group constituted “material support” for a terrorist organization, and thus made her ineligible to be granted asylum. They are next deporting her back to the country where the group who killed her husband and enslaved her are in control of the government.

    “In fact, no court has held that the kind of support an alien provides, if related to promoting the goals of a terrorist organization, is exempt from the material support bar, and we discern no basis to import such a limitation,” Pauley wrote.

    Pauley also concluded there was no exception for support given “under duress” under US law and the actions do not need to be “voluntary.”

    So apparently if you’re enslaved and forced to work under threat of death and escape… you can be denied asylum in the US because your work as a slave helped the people you fled from.

    One hell of a Catch 22 there.

    Weirdly the story seems to be getting almost zero traction on social media, I suspect because no party has clean hands, the court case started under Bush and continued all the way through Obamas terms so neither the Dems nor even the “trump is a weird aberration” Reps can claim to have nothing to do with it and the majority judges were appointed under Clinton and Bush.

    So nobody really want to talk about it because it can’t be used as a simple bludgeon for the other party.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Just to add a detail people might not be aware of: the Board of Immigration Appeals is not a federal court in the usual sense, but an “Article I tribunal,” similar to the US Tax Court and the Patent Trial & Appeal Board. This distinction makes the story that much more infuriating because if it was an Article III federal judge saying “well, can’t find a coercion exception, nothing we can do about it,” then you could blame this on Congress.

      But Article I tribunals can be overruled by their superior executive officer (the Attorney General in this case) to change their interpretation of administrative law. In fact, Jeff Sessions did just this last week when he directed the courts not to interpret asylum law to encompass endangerment by non-state groups such as violent gangs.

      So this isn’t even something you can lay at the feet of Congressional inattentiveness hamstringing the judiciary into bad law. Any previous Attorney General could’ve directed the court to admit an exception for cases like this (probably by using the “material support” argument offered by the dissent). They just… didn’t.

    • sourcreamus says:

      Claims of coercion are easy to make and hard to disprove so maybe the lawmakers thought it would be better to have a few awful cases like that lady rather than be flooded with claims of coercion.

      • Murphy says:

        Something feels significantly morally wrong about a provision which would have banned the kids from schindlers list from getting asylum and required sending them back had they escaped.

        Many classes of claim can be made but that’s normally part of why we have judges.

      • Claims of coercion are easy to make

        Peter Leeson has an interesting book on 18th century piracy. By his account, they rarely forced captured sailors to join them. But it was common for sailors who wanted to join them to arrange to be “forced,” and have sailors who didn’t join them put ads in the newspaper announcing the fact–in the hope that if they were ever captured they could avoid hanging with the claim that they were forced to join.

    • mdet says:

      I’m not sure how many posts it takes to become “traction on social media” but I did first hear about this story from a handful of people retweeting it.

  16. Slocum says:

    In the Jacob Putanumonit piece in Quilette, I particularly liked the distinction between ‘contextualizers’ and ‘decouplers’. I wonder if being a ‘decoupler’ is really the defining characteristic of what Scott has called the ‘grey tribe’? My own politics are libertarian-leaning, but I feel that my in-group includes decouplers across the political spectrum but not what strike me as tribal libertarians (e.g. Randians or Rothbardians). Would it be reasonable to say that the grey tribe is a group defined by epistemology rather than politics?

    • Jacob says:

      Good question!

      My preferred model of tribes is of course Scott’s The Ideology is not the Movement. I don’t think that decoupling is the defining characteristic or the grey tribe, but it formed the original flag we rallied around.

      If you’re a decoupler, you do decoupling. And if you start decoupling any question related to genetics, society, poverty, race, gender etc. you start clashing with the progressive blank-slate-based ideology. I think that the grey tribe started forming around this flag of rejecting progressive orthodoxies on scientific issues that are amenable to decoupling, and is now moving to the stage of just self-perpetuating based on people hanging out with others like them. I think the grey tribe is now a home for people who don’t know a lot of red-tribers but are also starting to feel that the blue-tribe isn’t their friend, whether they have the capacity and inclination for rationalist decoupling or not.

      Of course, since it is still our flag the grey tribe does admire wise decouplers like Scott, Robin Hanson, and the more serious IDWers.

    • adder says:

      The ‘decoupler’ concept is a good one, but I think the attribution of it to all the IDWers is way off. Jordan Peterson, e.g., can’t talk psychology for ten minutes without bringing up Hitler or Stalin or SJWs or free speech.

      • DavidS says:

        Yeah, I’d agree with this (and it may help explain why I find Peterson so weird).

        It’s a really helpful tool, and even better that the person setting it out is on the other side of the gap to me. Pity that ‘cognitive decoupling’ is next to ‘elite’ though, for the purposes of using it as a link to explain how I believe I may think differently to them (hey, I’m one of the elite!)

      • WashedOut says:

        Several people on SSC have already demonstrated that their knowledge of JP is based on a few hot-takes in interviews rather than his comparatively uncontroversial – but more voluminous – psychology-focused lectures and material.

        I interpret the point being made is that the IDW is home to intellectuals whose curiosity about certain empirical claims (‘true’ or otherwise) leads them to pursue lines of inquiry that would be out-of-bounds for other people more concerned with being PC. If that isn’t true for Peterson i’m not sure who it is true for.

        Re: mentioning Stalin – I’m reminded of the interview where he recounts the experience of trying to give a psychology lecture at a university whilst being drowned-out and verbally assaulted by a rabid mob of guess-who carrying a gigantic hammer and sickle flag.

  17. Anonymous says:

    New birth order study using Swedish records: “Firstborn children are more likely to be managers and to be in occupations requiring leadership ability, social ability, and Big Five personality traits.” Likely explanation is higher parental investment; not super-compatible with zero role for shared environment.

    How is that not rather obvious? If you’re born first, you are older. Differences in age are more important the lower the actual ages are. A five year old and a four year old are quite different. Being born first pretty much guarantees that for a long time you will be bigger, stronger and more experienced. Good practice for being a leader, compared to subsequent children, who will naturally be in place to be bossed around by their developmental superiors in childhood.

    I think the same effect is involved when you check the birthdates of competitive athletes – most often, they will have been born early in the year. And they probably became athletes, because at school, they had up to almost a year’s physical development lead on the later born classmates. So they perform better, and get the idea that they’re good, and get into professional sports at greater rates than others.

    • Matt M says:

      you will be bigger, stronger and more experienced. Good practice for being a leader, compared to subsequent children, who will naturally be in place to be bossed around by their developmental superiors in childhood.

      It’s not just “development”, it’s also societal expectation. “Take care of your brother,” and so on. Probably much more common in the olden times than now when most American families have 1.5 kids or whatever. But being the eldest child in a family with many children with significant age gaps pretty much guarantees parenting-lite experiences.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure, sure, but it also naturally follows from the simple difference in age.

        I wonder if there are any studies comparing these traits in identical twins, based on which one came out first.

    • sammy says:

      This study comes as a pretty big surprise to me. Behavioral psychologists have conducted many birth order studies (and found little of import) to respond to the near zero shared environment effects found by behavioral geneticists. They were hoping try and defend the idea that a parent’s influence on child outcomes came from how they raised them by showing that children with a particular status in the family develop certain traits. There hasn’t been too much evidence for influence on personality traits:
      Examining the effects of birth order on personality

      I have to say that the study Scott linked would be pretty convincing without all of this other literature, I can’t see many obvious confounders besides the slight differences in maternal education from 2 child to 5 child families. Though they couldn’t correct for the fact that later-borns experience a different environment in the womb.

      But more important is the small scale of these effects:

      “The effects of birth order on noncognitive ability are reduced by almost 40% with the inclusion of controls for cognitive ability. However, there remain sizable effects of birth order on noncognitive ability, with a move from firstborn to third born resulting in 0.11 standard deviation decline in noncognitive ability.”

      • ThomasStearns says:

        “not super-compatible with zero role for shared environment.”

        Why not? Judith Rich Harris and others think that children are socialized through the non-shared environment almost exclusively. When I was born and went to school, my parents made connections, friends, and play dates through my friends, and I was socialized through them. My younger brother basically inherited those connections, and there’s reason to think they made a less good socialization machine for him than they did for me (I was socialized through them and they were simply thrust upon him). All of this is a non-shared effect.

  18. Lawrence D'Anna says:

    I don’t have PTSD, but I just want to say cyclobenzaprine is magical. I had these horrible muscle cramps for months and months. I couldn’t turn my neck. My head was locked in place looking straight forward. A couple days of cyclobenzaprine made the problem go away permanently. cyclobenzaprine is the best.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Ah, Flexeril. Agreed, good stuff. Had a muscle spasm after surgery, and it made it go away. It came back a few times, but eventually stayed away.

  19. Anonymous says:

    A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours.

    At the risk of being indifferent to the suffering of others and the brutality of communist re-education camps, that sounds extremely mild, unless he was already paper-thin. I deprive myself of food for 23 hours on a daily basis. The “5-10 meals a day” paradigm that’s coming out of the dietary powers that be is a horrific crime on the human race.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t think it’s supposed to imply this is the worst thing that happened. Lots of people may have had occasional days when they eat less than the average concentration camp inmate, when they worked harder than the average concentration camp inmate, and days when they’re in more primitive shelter than the average concentration camp inmate. The problem comes when you put all those things together, force people to be in that situation for a long time, and add the factor of mild tortures and arbitrary punishments that people can’t escape or that pressure people into breaking and conforming.

      • Anonymous says:

        Right. That’s more understandable.

        If the communist overlords read caloric restriction studies and optimized their camps towards maximum misery, they would a) slice the caloric value in half, b) feed inmates many times a day in tiny portions. This leads to constant hunger, low energy and abnormally low body temperature. Very unpleasant.

    • herculesorion says:

      yeah

      um

      if you were hungry you could have gone and got a snack

      you didn’t have a dude with a machine gun saying no snack for you

      • Anonymous says:

        if you were hungry you could have gone and got a snack

        Any craving for snacks is a temptation that I ought to resist.

        you didn’t have a dude with a machine gun saying no snack for you

        That dude would probably help me avoid snacking, if my willpower and self-discipline alone weren’t up to the task, which they are.

        • poignardazur says:

          … You’re being really insensitive about this.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes. I have already noted my awareness how this may sound. My objection is that the quote sounds like “Arson, Murder and Jaywalking”. I don’t quite understand what herculesorion wished to accomplish with his reply. Besides trying to shame me in some way, I guess?

          • poignardazur says:

            Uh uh. Was that part:

            if my willpower and self-discipline alone weren’t up to the task, which they are.

            really necessary?

          • Anonymous says:

            Probably not, but helps illustrate where I’m coming from.

          • Szemeredi says:

            Probably not, but helps illustrate where I’m coming from.

            More what you’re like, I think.

          • Anonymous says:

            That too!

          • Nornagest says:

            More what you’re like, I think.

            Fewer comments like this, please.

          • herculesorion says:

            Fewer comments like this, please.

            Really? *This* is the side you’re taking in this thread?

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m not taking a side in this thread. This thread sucks and I don’t want to get involved in it.

            But as bad as it is, your comments, Bosch’s, and gray anonymous’s are all on topic, such as it is. Szemeredi’s on the other hand is attacking gray anonymous personally, and not even bothering to back it up. If I pounced on every snippy exchange of gotchas, I’d never have time to do anything else; but drive-by callout posts are exactly the kind of thing I don’t want to see on here, and they’re fortunately still rare enough that putting social pressure on them could conceivably do something.

            Does that clarify my position to you?

          • herculesorion says:

            “I don’t quite understand what herculesorion wished to accomplish with his reply. Besides trying to shame me in some way, I guess?”

            “it’s not nice to imply herculesorion is a troll, though. He may simply be clueless.”

            But, hey, the first monkey the teacher sees is the one that gets the stick, that’s nothing new.

        • herculesorion says:

          You ought to resist, but you don’t HAVE to resist, there’s not an external force MAKING you resist. There’s no third party deciding that you’re going to be required to resist despite your feelings on the matter.

          I don’t believe that you genuinely do not understand this.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            This entire exchange is a pretty good illustration of how trolls weaponize charity norms by affecting or exaggerating moral obtuseness.

          • herculesorion says:

            yeah, I got about halfway through that second comment before I realized what I was feeding 😛

          • Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            Yeah, but it’s not nice to imply herculesorion is a troll, though. He may simply be clueless.

  20. Tatu Ahponen says:

    A tweetstorm on Uighurs and the China I saw recently. The poster is a Marxist living in China; take it as you will.

    Also, LA Times appears to be unavailable for Europeans, probably due to GDPR.

    • quaelegit says:

      Ian Goodrum is Digital Editor of the China Daily, and English-language newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China.

      I don’t know to what extent this background indicates concordance with the CCP. He mostly seems to be relying on official publications (laws, press releases) to support his points. To comment on two aspects of his discussion I’ve read about before:

      1) Education: the official rules mandate “bilingual education” (I think in Mandarin and Uighur, although there are about a dozen other minority languages spoken in the province none by more than a few percent of residents). In practice everyone agrees that this means that most classes are taught in Mandarin, with Uighur basically restricted to a single “foreign language” type class (like Spanish in the U.S., or maybe a better comparison would be English in a country like Israel, I’m not sure). Linguistics blogs (especially Victor Mair on LanguageLog) argue that this amounts to suppression of Uighur and is intended to lead to Mandarin replacing Uighur as the everyday language in the province. There were some new rules that made news last year, link text, but there’s disagreement over what they are (banning Uighur entirely at all levels? at some levels? codifying the “only teach Uighur in one class period in the style of a foreign language” status quo? banning Uighur-only materials, books, posters from schools?) and I can’t read Chinese to try to puzzle it out for myself. And as always there may be a big difference between the published rules and what’s actually implemented. Anyways, I think Goodrum is favoring the CCP’s view on this issue but he’s not obviously wrong from what I can tell.

      2) Coercion of Uighurs living abroad to return to China: this is the most clearly concerning piece of the story (and easiest to verify because it’s taking place outside China). I can’t tell if Goodrum addresses this specifically, but it might be lumped under his “increased security measure for counter-terrorism/counter-insurgency” discussion. But “come back to China or we’ll send your family to the re-education camp” is pretty scary. China watchers seem to think its about some combination of fearing the students are being radicalized and/or exerting greater control over their activities. The latter reason reminds me of this analysis of the tight CCP control over student groups and political organizations in New Zealand and Australia.

      Finally: I don’t have an article for this, but Goodrum talks about the Hui as a “model minority” and counterexample to the claim that the CCP opposes Islam in China. I’ve definitely seen Western media reports of repression of Hui (I think religious practices?) but I’m too lazy to dig them up and try to figure out if they amount to something real. Maybe it suffices to say they have less run-ins with the gvt than the Uighurs? Idk.

      Conclusion: I think the evidence suggests this conflict is about political control and autonomy rather than religion per se, so Goodrum’s main thesis seems sound. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t political repression of the Uighurs, and on this matter it seems like Goodrum is taking the CCP’s side.

  21. Walter says:

    I tend to agree with Siderea re: a failure mode for inexperience is attracting scoundrels.

    I do want to take advantage of the SSC’s general friendliness to unpalatable opinions to say that I speculate an extra factor at work here.

    To wit: People who are looking past the problem are easy marks.

    Like, in order to pull this scam on a convention you would normally have to persuade them that they should/can trust you. You’d need to provide evidence of being good at running stuff. I suspect that in this case the bad actor needed to provide evidence that he was against bigotry.

    Geek Social Fallacy 1 (Oppressors are evil) will do the rest. If you can turn any question about your credentials into attempting to silence your truth then you can play the game every which way.

    I have no evidence of this, it arises entirely from my own experience with similar endeavors, but I’d be entirely unsurprised if the bad actor’s qualifications were mostly just a long screed on how hard they’d had it and how bad Trump was.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I think one thing the United Fan Convention runners didn’t understand is that fan-run conventions are as much as mostly middle-class or better-off white people can afford. The UFC folks knew they were a marginalized community, but they didn’t realize how much that meant in terms of having fewer resources for running conventions and proportionately fewer people who can afford to attend.

      Here’s an idea I’ll credit to Jason Miller, a very sensible occultist. People who are good at money are comfortable with thinking about money. I’d say this is an underlying issue that doesn’t often get mentioned explicitly.

      • Walter says:

        +1

        Also, “very sensible occultist” would be an awesome thing to put on a business card.

      • Zeno of Citium says:

        +1 to the insight that people who are good at money are comfortable with thinking about money, although I bet the causal relationship is “comfortable at thinking about money leads to being good at money” rather than the other way around. A lot of people have ugh fields around money, including a ton of middle class and better people, that prevent them from being good at managing it.

        Also +1 to the phrase “very sensible occultist”, those are words I do not think have ever been put together. What does he, erm, occult?

  22. herculesorion says:

    DSA: The writer seems not to understand that A: the people’s grievances about disability access were legitimate, and B: it’s possible for people with legitimate strongly-felt entirely-justified grievances to nonetheless be disruptive and destructive influences.

    Like, to me, this is one of the more illuminating things here–the the liberal writer needs them to have been bad people in order to justify their feelings of frustration. That it’s not possible for this person to say “sorry, you’re causing a problem” without inventing a moral heirarchy and putting themselves at the top.

    • poignardazur says:

      the liberal writer needs them to have been bad people

      Yeah, I think that people really struggle with tackling conflicts with a lot of grievances on multiple sides. Like, we have this instinct to label a right side and a wrong side.

      I was making this presentation recently on the Rohyngia genocide + refugee crisis, and my partner wanted to take the perspective of the Burmese, and it was like… she kept digging up how the British colonization created social tensions, how the Rohyngia used to be the ruling class (sort of), how Buddhist were persecuted by the government too, how some Rohyngia were terrorists; as if that somehow made the fact that these 100’000s of people were being deported and 1000’s of them had been tortured and killed better or justified.

    • gbdub says:

      ” The writer seems not to understand that A: the people’s grievances about disability access were legitimate”

      Were they though? I mean, superficially it’s fine to be interested in event access, but “we’ll do what we can but a large part of this event involves visiting places that probably aren’t accessible” is a totally reasonable answer.

      I don’t think it’s a big jump to assume bad faith given the vehemence of the response, and the whole “look what you made us do” tone really is “bully language”.

      • herculesorion says:

        Being angry about something isn’t “bad faith”.

        The issue is that the writer of the medium column seems to need them to have been wrong, rather than just disruptive fools who’d have been better ignored. Like, they can’t just make a value judgement about whether certain contributors are useful, they need that moral absolution. “I’m certainly not excluding disabled voices from the conversation,” they want to say, “it’s just that these are bad people and therefore it’s all right to ignore what they say.”

        I mean, that’s the liberal nightmare scenario–the right sort of person acting the right sort of way and still being utterly wrong.

        • gbdub says:

          I basically read the exchange laid out in the Medium piece as:
          1) disability advocate asks question about access
          2) DSA person makes reasonable but not fully accommodating response
          3) disability advocate makes extremely uncharitable (to the point of what I would call bad faith) assumption that DSA person is attempting to silence disabled voices
          4) it escalates etc.

          So the criticism you point to the Medium author could I think more accurately be leveled at the disability advocate who initiated the kerfluffle. I think the author is likely correct that 3) doesn’t happen if the disability advocate is acting reasonably – it was the response of an uncharitable bully and it’s probably fair to call them on that. Really the only debate is over whether the disability advocate’s initial lack of charity was intentional/motivated or not, but even if it were driven entirely by temporary righteous anger, I don’t think it fully excuses the escalation.

          • qwints says:

            So 3 takes place in a context that is missing from the medium article. I don’t think anyone involved, including the organizer, was surprised that a disability advocate believed the organizer was trying to silence disable voices because that’s been a common criticism of that organizer for the last six months.

          • herculesorion says:

            You’re doing the same thing the author does; you’re needing bad faith to justify an exclusionary act. You’re declaring that inability-to-accomodate is a moral choice that demands moral authority.

            What I’m trying to say here is that people who need moral justification for every act cause more trouble than those who say “sorry, can’t do that”. Like, imagine if the organizers hadn’t taken the attitude that certain persons’ hurty feels were always morally superior and couldn’t be criticized or ignored; do we really think that outcome would have been worse than what we got?

  23. Anonymous Colin says:

    The Labour/coal mining association will come as a surprise to precisely no-one who follows politics in the UK. “The coalfields” is actively used as a term for an informal political geography to describe the Labour heartlands, much like you might use “rust belt” or something similar in the US.

    • ana53294 says:

      In Spain, miners have historically been revolutionaries/socialists. In Biscay, miners had what was later seen as the beginning of the union movement in Biscay with the link text strike of 1890 (link in Spanish).
      In France, miners also seem to have a tendency to strike; there is even a very famous book about it! To me, striking is a leftist thing; conservatives rarely engage in it. So the more surprising thing seems to be, why are US miners not leftist/union friendly? Are US conservatives moro friendly to unions than european ones are?

      • Slocum says:

        So the more surprising thing seems to be, why are US miners not leftist/union friendly?

        Economic self-preservation. Leftists in the U.S. are now very unfriendly to mining in general. Leftist support of unions is not helpful to miners if the mines are shut down.

        Are US conservatives more friendly to unions than European ones are?

        No, but they are much friendlier to the mining business.

      • CatCube says:

        US miners were extremely leftist and union-friendly, and struck often. My uncle had trouble getting a security clearance when he was in the Air Force in the 60s because his father (my great-uncle) was literally a card-carrying member of the Communist party. I believe Trump is the first Republican to win in the mining area I’m from in many decades.

        However, two things changed. The biggest is that mining has dropped off a cliff in the US, because of high labor costs, large environmental burdens, and dropping prices of raw materials. A secondary thing is that the “left” used to be very comfortable with social conservatism, whereas now being a card-carrying union member more than willing to strike to stick it to the man, but also not liking gays will get you exiled from the movement.

      • IsmiratSeven says:

        In Europe, there’s a sense that the left has their backs and is “one of them”. In the US, what passes for the “left”-party, when given complete control over legislative and executive branches, gave them… Obamacare. And the previous “left” wave (Clinton I) is what’s seen as responsible for all the outsourcing in the first place.

        If it’s a choice between the smarmy crook who lies to you and the crony crook who at least gets the goat of all those irritating urbanite other-tribers while letting you get just as equally screwed over as crook #1, well, at least you can smirk a little while Rome burns.

        Also, in the US, there’s a tendency (fairly or not) to associate labor unions with mob (as in Godfather, not as in Twitter) activity. Which may or may not play into the apathy a little.

        • Anonymous Colin says:

          On the subject of unions…

          Okay, so this requires a bit of setup. In the UK, there is a tendency for anyone even slightly left-of-centre to view unions as this utterly unalloyed good. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-union, but there are weird problems that come about because of unions, which are important to acknowledge, and which require quite a bit of background knowledge in order to parse.

          (The most glaring left-conflict-driven union problem in the UK, to the best of my knowledge, is GMB threatening to pull funding to the Labour Party – about 15% of the party’s funding – if it didn’t vote to renew Trident, the UK’s nuclear deterrent programme. Regardless of how you feel about Trident, a single trade union shouldn’t carry that much influence on whether we do or do not maintain a fleet of submarines lying stealthily in wait ready to flatten Moscow if the BBC goes quiet).

          The problems with unions in the UK are all quite… integrated. It sometimes requires considerable subtlety to spell them out. But in the US, the union problems are a lot more obvious and tap into established progressive concerns (e.g. police unions negotiating additional legal protections for police officers). There’s a much more obvious sense that unions are special interest groups looking out for themselves. And it’s fine for special interest groups to look out for themselves, but when it’s framed like that. it’s easier for public opinion to go either way.

        • ana53294 says:

          I guess the union/leftist tendency is different in different countries. But it still seems to me that even if industry specific unions may have common interests with rightist parties, that’s only for narrow segments of the unions. Coal miners in the US, arms producer’s unions…
          In regards to police unions, at least in Spain, the frequently rightist government is in conflict with police unions, so, although police unions may not align well with leftist parties, they align even less with rightist governments. Especially because police unions frequently demand the government to follow the law regarding inmigration. The spanish governments like to do a lot of shady stuff with inmigrants, and police officers end up taking the fault if caught; so it is generally in their interest to follow the law, instead of goverment pressure to reduce inmigration.
          Of course unions that represent a narrow segment of the population are a problem. They will be able to vote in block, and create problems for everybody else. Nobody likes strikes; that’s what they are for. But at least leftists are slightly more friendly and understanding about the inconvenience of e.g. not being able to buy milk, because truck drivers deserve to sleep at home and not spend so much time in the road.

        • Aapje says:

          In Europe, there’s a sense that the left has their backs and is “one of them”.

          We don’t have any miners in The Netherlands more, but the ex-miner heartland is Wilders country now.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I know that, it just seems shocking that it should have so dramatic an effect decades later.

      • Anonymous Colin says:

        The median voter age for the 2015 UK General Election (actual turnout, not just the electorate) was about 46. For most voters in these areas, the miners’ strikes were personal experiences.

        In most places, the demographics work in the Tories’ favour, as their core vote tends to skew older. In these areas, all the voters entering their fifties who’d naturally be thinking “hmmm, those Conservatives look like they know what they’re doing” have memories of their community industries being dismantled by a Tory government.

      • Eric Rall says:

        There are other examples of similar effects lingering for decades or longer. As late as 2007, the political map of Poland showed a dramatic correlation between party votes and the pre-WW1 border between Imperial Germany and Congress Poland. This is despite the Soviets chasing the German population out of what’s now western Poland in the aftermath of WW2.

      • pansnarrans says:

        Bear in mind that Labour are essentially a wary coalition of people who come out of the old socialist tradition and more liberal people who just disagree with the Conservatives (which is why London’s getting them lots of seats without any coalmines), and that the latter are far less loyal to the party as they’ve historically had more options to vote for instead (Liberal Democrat, Greens).

        Also, for reasons I’m not confident of, there seems to be a notable tendency among working-class Labour voters of “I always vote Labour, like my father before me and his father before him”. I think it’s stronger for them than any other UK party, although I’m happy to be corrected. Maybe when your vote is that regionally consolidated to begin with you never get the chance to make any non-Labour friends?

        (I’m sorry if I’m explaining the obvious, I don’t know how well-known this stuff is outside of the UK.)

      • Steve Sailer says:

        As late as the mid-1980s, Margaret Thatcher had to fight a fierce battle for control of the economy against the Stalinist boss of the large coal miner’s union, Arthur Scargill.

        It wasn’t surprising that the decisive battle between Thatcherism and the left came in the mines. In the U.S. a century ago, miners’ strikes featured extraordinary levels of violence on both sides. Going underground together bonds miners like soldiers going into battle together, providing their unions with more solidarity. Mining was always radicalizing because working conditions were so harsh, as Ali G (Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen’s first character) realized during a visit to a Welsh coal mine:

        Ali G: Check dis. I is now in a coal mine which is where the Wales people used to live, underground. Millions of years ago miners lived under here before they became human beings.

        Miner: They never lived here, they just worked here.

        Ali G: They worked in ‘ere? What a crap job.

        In the U.S., however, miners became less and less a force for radicalism as the success of John L. Lewis, boss of the United Mine Workers of America 1920-1960, at winning higher pay lowered both their leftism and their numbers.

        Lewis acknowledged that he was driving miners’ wages up so high that his union would be much smaller in the next generation. But if his members were paid enough today, they could afford to educate their kids to do something less miserable with their lives by the time the bosses had figured out how to do without them.

        The often-brutal saga of mining in America has thus had a happy ending that would have astonished and frustrated Joe Hill. Today, mining is a small, reasonably well-paid profession.

        https://www.vdare.com/articles/the-axis-of-amnestys-ideology-of-cheap-labor

    • engleberg says:

      C Northcote Parkinson said coal miners faced enough danger to provoke higher fraternity than usual in left movements. Say everyone in town grows up knowing all their grandparents knew someone dead or maimed working the coal face, and some large percentage are thinking of their own granddad. Could make a lasting impression.

    • Tarpitz says:

      I’d be interested to see the equivalent map for the most recent election. The narrative at any rate appears to be that Corbyn is a big turn-off for the traditional Labour base in mining areas (Mansfield, for example, has its first ever Tory MP).

      Also worth considering: some of the mechanism is likely to be that mining led to urbanisation and urban constituencies vote Labour even where there was never any mining.

    • Jack V says:

      This is roughly what I was going to say. I think a combination of “people moved there for the jobs, that’s why there’s a city there, cities are more left” and “lots of areas that used to be coal mining got stuck in a hole when the mining stopped, if you’re worse off, you’re more likely to vote left” and “people voting the same way their family always voted” and “people in those areas (and elsewhere) still revile the conservatives”.

      The comparison to America left/right is interesting. I think the (extremely simplified) situation here in the UK is that the labour party was founded by miners and other workers explicitly as a workers’ party. So for quite a while there was that split, and even now, labour is still massively supported by unions. And labour has tried to include other supporters as well diluting that history, but it’s still how people think of it. And I think there has been a little bit of the same switch that happened in the US, of “people who live in areas that used to have manual jobs, got more desperate, and many people were willing to vote out of desperation for a more extremist party”. But here that was mostly UKIP, who drew their support from bigots (notably rich ones) and desperate people — UKIP had a lot in common with the right wing of the conservative party, but painted themselves as “man of the people”, “make britain great again” type thing. I can imagine the conservatives abandoning their “economically competent” pretence and standing working-class-friendly frothing MPs instead, but they haven’t quite yet. (They have plenty of frothing racist MPs, but they’re mostly rich.)

  24. dark orchid says:

    Lots of Joel Spolsky’s posts are worth reading (they’re at Joel on Software now) in addition to the orignal “commiditize your complements” one. His “reading lists” could almost be called “sequences”.

    • SamChevre says:

      Second this: you do not need to be primarily a programmer to benefit from Joel Spolsky’s writing. “Smart and gets things done” as a hiring criterion, “works the way the user expects” for interfaces…I’ve learned a lot from Joel on Software.

  25. knockknock says:

    As a former business editor with space to fill and desperate for photos, I always got a laugh out of those hi-techy lab and cleanroom pics. It was either one of those or run yet another photo of some trader yelling and gesticulating on the NYSE floor

  26. vV_Vv says:

    DeepMind publishes a paper theorizing that the human prefrontal cortex is involved in “meta-reinforcement learning” and claiming to have created machine learning agents that can duplicate it. I haven’t been able to wrap my head around this yet; grateful to anyone who wants to explain it to me.

    Training an artificial neural network usually requires observing lots of training examples from a substantially stationary distribution (in the case of reinforcement learning, a “training example” means an instantaneous interaction with the environment). What if you have a large number of different, but similar tasks, each with only a few training examples available?

    One solution is the so called meta-learning: You consider each of these tasks as a meta-example of a larger learning task, and you train your neural network on this task, for which you hopefully have enough data. There are various ways of doing this, a simple one is to use a recurrent neural network which maintains a state between the different examples of the individual tasks. For each task (meta-example), the network state is initialized, then the examples are presented and the state is updated while the “synaptic” weights remain fixed, and at the end of the task the total reward or error is computed, the weights are updated and the state is reset. This means that the recurrent neural network has to learn its own specialized learning algorithm to process the examples within each task, and hopefully this internal learning algorithm will not need many examples because it can exploit the similarities between the tasks.

    DeepMind tested this on something similar to a classical psychological experiment, and claims that this model is consistent with neurological evidence.

  27. Eponymous says:

    New birth order study using Swedish records: “Firstborn children are more likely to be managers and to be in occupations requiring leadership ability, social ability, and Big Five personality traits.” Likely explanation is higher parental investment; not super-compatible with zero role for shared environment.

    Zero role for shared environment is too extreme. There are at least two strong pieces of evidence for non-zero environmental effects on IQ: birth order, and the instability of national IQ scores across time.

    Also, this study didn’t look at IQ, but at career choice, which is less heritable than IQ. I believe career choice shows shared environmental effects.

    • Given my understanding of how twin studies, etc, are conducted since being born first is evenly distributed across families that wouldn’t correlated with a particular family and would show up as unshared environment in the study. And if studies are conducted at a particular time national IQ score changes won’t show up at all. If you do a study in the US and all the kids involved grow up with iodized salt there’s no way the effects of iodized salt will show up in your study.

    • sammy says:

      Don’t forget that behavioral geneticists have been doing twin studies and adoptive sibling studies for decades and consistently found near zero shared environment effects for things like IQ. Of course even if shared environment really was zero, because it can’t be negative any random fluctuation will push it positive.

      Good point about shifting national averages given the recent Flynn effect reversal paper:
      Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused
      Wonder if the environmental changes in the womb caused by earlier siblings have an effect?

  28. Szemeredi says:

    Regarding gay chimera, would this not imply that children born from IVF would all be heterosexual?

    • gwern says:

      Not necessarily, I don’t think – IVF is often done with multiple embryos implanted, in the hope that at least one of them will work out and yield at least one live birth. If chimerism is so common etc, you could say that IVF offspring might be even [i]more[/i] likely to be homosexual. You would have to have data on the exact number of embryos implanted and split between singletons and multiples, and then you’d expect to see a difference from IVF. But given the low base rate of homosexuality, measurement error, homosexuality probably being caused by other things as well, and it taking a lot of time to manifest, you’d have to go back to at least before 2000 and get a sample of a minimum of n=304 total for a reasonable test (proportion test with 80% power for p1=0.00 vs p2=0.05).

  29. danarmak says:

    I’m not familiar with the literature on birth order. What about explaining birth-order differences as evolved behaviors, i.e. strategies rather than pure qualities like “being good at something”?

    Primogeniture has been near universal for most (?) recorded history. This creates evolutionary selection pressure for the firstborn to seek out leading positions (of the family / business / fief / …) and to be good at leading; and for the secondborn not to seek out the position (to avoid dangerous strife) and to be less good at it (because of selection for different qualities).

    • IsmiratSeven says:

      How would an embryo know it was the firstborn? Do secondborn individuals not produce firstborn offspring?

      • danarmak says:

        How would an embryo know it was the firstborn?

        The mother’s body remembers / is changed by a pregnancy, and it could certainly signal this to future embryos – as long as it was against the mother’s interest (i.e. if mothers don’t experience selective pressure to hide it). Such signals probably do exist.

        But my idea might also be restricted to strategies that kick in a year or three after birth, when the child knows if it has older siblings. (After all, we started by discussing effects on adult achievement and behavior.)

        Do secondborn individuals not produce firstborn offspring?

        That’s why I’m describing it as an evolutionary strategy to be-leader-if-firstborn, rather than an inherited ability or disposition to just be-leader. Strategies are the same genes behaving differently in different circumstances.

        • IsmiratSeven says:

          So, just to make sure I’m understanding, basically a magic gene that’s coded “IF ELDEST, BE LEADER”, being selected for on the basis of those without it being too unsuccessful to breed (or getting murdered by their sibling)?

          Not exactly trying to mock it, though I think it’s really unlikely, especially considering the largest Western civilization of the premodern era (Rome) was an inheritance free-for-all. Not to mention families with this gene would be pretty vulnerable to the eldest dying in freak circumstances, forcing siblings genetically unfit for leading to do just that.

          • danarmak says:

            There’s nothing magic about it. That’s how selection works and there are certainly many genetic (heritable) strategies (if X do/be Y), driven by selection.

            It’s true that Roman law didn’t enforce primogeniture, but most inheritance was based on wills; I would expect most wills to have favored the oldest (surviving) son. Do you know of data for this?

            Regardless, there’s been plenty of time since Roman times (and plenty of non-Roman people during Roman times whose descendants now populate Europe and the Americas) for selection to have had a chance to drive such an adaptation, even if it didn’t exist then and there.

            Not to mention families with this gene would be pretty vulnerable to the eldest dying in freak circumstances, forcing siblings genetically unfit for leading to do just that.

            That’s the point of it being a strategy, not an immutable genetic disposition or aptitude. A genetic strategy can change in response to circumstances, but is not conscious behavior.

          • IsmiratSeven says:

            It’s true that Roman law didn’t enforce primogeniture, but most inheritance was based on wills; I would expect most wills to have favored the oldest (surviving) son. Do you know of data for this?

            Primogeniture was mostly a Chinese and Indian thing (outside of royal customs in Europe). It’s far more encountered in folklore (due to the influence of the Old Testament in later myth-building) than in history.

            A quick glance of Wikipedia confirms:

            Inheritance customs do not follow clear ethnic, linguistic or geographical patterns. Equality between all sons and a subordinate position of women, with the exclusion of daughters from inheriting, are prominent aspects of Hungarian,[29] Albanian,[30] Romanian,[31] Armenian, and most Slavic[32][33][34] or Latin American cultures.[35] While many studies show the privileged position that the eldest son traditionally enjoyed in Slovene,[36] Finnish[37] or Tibetan culture.[38] The Jaintia, the Garo and the Khasi, on the other hand, traditionally privileged the youngest daughter. Some peoples, like the Dinka,[39] the Arakanese,[40] the Chins of Myanmar,[41] or the Karen, frequently show a compromise between primogeniture and ultimogeniture in their inheritance patterns. Although among many Chins of Myanmar, the advantage that the eldest and the youngest son have over other sons is really small, so it is not correct to speak of a true pattern of mixed primogeniture and ultimogeniture. The advantage of the eldest and the youngest son is somewhat more ample among the Dinka and the Arakanese. The compromise between primogeniture and ultimogeniture was also found among the Kachin and the Dilling, as well as among the Sherpa to some degree. This pattern of inheritance is also reported for many Fulbe villages in the Republic of Guinea,[42] though it seems that in past times the eldest son inherited all in Guinea.[43]

            Sometimes inheritance customs do not entirely reflect social traditions. Romans valued sons more than daughters, and Thais and Shan showed the reverse pattern, though all practiced equal land inheritance between all children. The Shan people, who live mostly in northern Thailand and northeastern Myanmar, are markedly matrilocal.[44][45]

            Regardless, there’s been plenty of time since Roman times (and plenty of non-Roman people during Roman times whose descendants now populate Europe and the Americas) for selection to have had a chance to drive such an adaptation, even if it didn’t exist then and there.

            Evolution doesn’t manifest over 1,000 years – not to the degree you’re claiming, especially not given the diverse cultural customs, especially not without some actual bottom-line benefit – I’m not sure how your proposed notion would result in any drastic difference in the amount of offspring between gene-havers and non-gene-havers.

      • herculesorion says:

        See the above discussion re: maternal chimerism (summary: cells from the fetus enter the mother’s body and survive)

    • quanta413 says:

      This is highly implausible if you’re going to invoke things unique to humans (like primogeniture) because that is historically contingent and unlikely to have strong effects. Your proposed mechanism would seems very unlikely to boost reproduction of the various children compared to no differentiation in sibling strategy at all. Unless strife is a whole lot of murder, then I don’t see much reason for this. Keep in mind that murdering siblings is often selected against for inclusive fitness reasons. On top of that, primogeniture wasn’t even the rule in all of medieval Europe.

      If I was going to give a biological explanation; it would be this. Age is correlated with being bigger in lots of mammals. Being bigger is correlated with being dominant. Part of being a leader is being dominant. Age is also correlated with experience. Mammals can learn partly by watching other mammals. Part of leading is leading by doing. This sort of broad hypothesis means we could look for birth order effects in other social mammals. Wolf packs. Monkeys. Etc.

  30. Yaleocon says:

    Re: Trump, tariffs, marijuana, and prison. There’s a pattern emerging here—or I might be overfitting. Eager to hear others’ take on what follows.

    Step 1: Take a tone-deaf position that resonates with your base, while pissing off your enemies to no end: instituting tariffs, enforcing federal marijuana law, and saying “everyone should stand for the flag”.

    Step 2: Without rejecting your initial stance, clarify it to imply the exact opposite policy position. Offer to drop your tariffs—only if your opponents drop theirs, making you the biggest champion of free trade in the room! Gotcha! Or, spin your support for the rule of law into ending federal prohibition on marijuana—making you the president most in favor of marijuana! Gotcha! Or, offer to pardon people who have been unfairly sentenced, if athletes will stand—making you a surprise deincarceration supporter! Gotcha!

    Step 3: Profit politically! You’re advocating for what you see as good policy, and doing it “in the name of” causes that will resonate with your base, even if they wouldn’t have supported you coming out with that position from the beginning.

    Big, extra plus, possibly the reason for the whole bait-and-switch: you make your media opponents look like idiots. Everyone who put the hate on Trump and Sessions for their policy on weed now looks like a fool. The NYT still hasn’t done straight reporting on Trump’s offer to drop all tariffs (unlike the Bloomberg link above), given that they’ve spent the few days before (and since) hammering the line that Trump’s an evil protectionist. And he’s put Kaepernick and friends in a bind: either they have to make a deal with the devil, or look like they’re not serious about their cause. This further discredits those people and institutions, at least to anyone who doesn’t already thoroughly despise Trump.

    None of this speaks to Trump having good character—we know he doesn’t—nor does it even require great political savvy. But in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and Trump can make the myopic media work to his favor. I think here, it’s worked particularly well.

    • CatCube says:

      The problem is the iterated prisoners dilemma that governing actually requires. Sure, Trump may have gotten what he wanted on marijuana (or, he mildly agrees with the marijuana prohibition but doesn’t care much about it) through a two-step dance, but he’s also backstabbed a bunch of people that really care about it. It might work in the immediate, and get good press right now, but in two years will anybody trust him to make an agreement?

      To actually effect long-term change you need to build a coalition, and part of that is being able to be trusted to be a part of a coalition.

      • Yaleocon says:

        Ok, this gets more into my own cockamamie theorizing, but: what’s the defining core idea of the Republican Party? Make sure that it encompasses libertarian neocons, values-focused church-and-family Christians, and angry populists who wear MAGA hats. It’s not easy.

        Now try with the Democrats. Make sure it encompasses establishment neoliberals (while excluding the very similar neoconservatives!), intersectionalist activists of various types, and angry populists of the unionist variety (once again, excluding the similar group who wear the (R) label.)

        Honestly? The best distinction I can think of is just this: Republicans hate/fear Democrats more than they hate each other, and vice-versa. Any unifying ideology is a convenient lie for election season, and these are purely Hobbesian alliances of convenience. The difference between a neolib and neocon is that the neocon thinks the biggest threat to liberalism comes from the left, and the neolib thinks the biggest threat comes from the right; otherwise, they are identical.

        So what’s an effective way to coalition-build? Simply put, make more people hate the other side. Our two parties are codependent, mutually abusive entities founded on hatred. And say what you will about Trump and his deceptive games, they might just work to make more people hate the other side (that is, his detractors). This might be a workable part of a long-term political strategy.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          The difference between a neolib and neocon is that the neocon thinks the biggest threat to liberalism comes from the left, and the neolib thinks the biggest threat comes from the right; otherwise, they are identical.

          This isn’t really true of neocons any more.

          • Yaleocon says:

            Do you mean that now, neocons fear Trump? That is probably somewhat true. But I think those who see Trump as the biggest threat to democracy have started voting (D), in line with my theory. And honestly, I think most neocons still think the bigger threat to civil liberties comes from antifa, SJW’s, and RBG.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            And honestly, I think most neocons still think the bigger threat to civil liberties comes from antifa, SJW’s, and RBG.

            Silly neocons, everyone knows those are all alt-boogeypersons that aren’t real outside college campuses

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Everyone who put the hate on Trump and Sessions for their policy on weed now looks like a fool. The NYT still hasn’t done straight reporting on Trump’s offer to drop all tariffs (unlike the Bloomberg link above), given that they’ve spent the few days before (and since) hammering the line that Trump’s an evil protectionist.

      Trump contradicts himself on an hourly basis. A tossed-off, detail-free offer to “drop all tariffs” the same week he actually imposed tariffs leaves me feeling pretty comfortable about the conventional wisdom here. I see zero reason to take this statement any more seriously than I took him talking about assault weapons bans and a clean DACA bill during his “open-door” discussions with Democrats, which is not at all.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        The whole point is to get people to realize that “free trade” is a sham. There is no free trade. Every nation is mercantilist except ours. So sure, we’ll drop our small tariffs…if everyone else drops their much larger tariffs. Which they won’t.

        • Matt M says:

          Exactly. The media behaves as if the natural state of affairs is complete and total free trade until that terrible Trump came along and started unilaterally instituting tariffs for no good reason other than his own stupidity and racism.

          At which point: “Fine, if you journalists all love free trade so much, presumably you agree with me that Trudeau should eliminate HIS tariffs” seems like a pretty damn reasonable argument, imho…

          • mdet says:

            The media behaves as if the natural state of affairs is complete and total free trade until that terrible Trump came along and started unilaterally instituting tariffs for no good reason other than his own stupidity and racism.

            As someone who reads “the media”, the argument I’ve absorbed is that imposing tariffs might help you out in relative terms, but it harms you in absolute terms. “If you think making America worse off, but making Canada worse-er off counts as a win, then go ahead.”

            You and Conrad both seem to be arguing with the assumption that responding to high tariffs with retaliatory tariffs is a win. If the journalists you’re talking about do not agree with this assumption, then it would be reasonable for them to view other countries’ higher tariffs as mostly self-inflicted wounds, and not really our responsibility to care about.

          • Matt M says:

            I favor complete and total free trade, up to and including unilateral abolishment of all tariffs internally, regardless of what other countries do.

            That said, I have zero stomach for anyone who reports on Trump’s tariff threats from the lens of “All economists agree tariffs are terrible policy” but fails to mention all of the tariffs we already had prior to Trump, or all of the tariffs that literally every other country on Earth has.

            This is just another in a long line of transparent examples of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Obama literally ran campaign commercials bragging about how many jobs he saved in tire plants by maintaining high tariffs on Chinese tires that Evil Capitalist Mitt Romney wanted to eliminate.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I have zero stomach for anyone who reports on Trump’s tariff threats from the lens of “All economists agree tariffs are terrible policy” but fails to mention all of the tariffs we already had prior to Trump, or all of the tariffs that literally every other country on Earth has.

            “Trump imposes tariffs” is a pretty clear and neutral statement of fact. “Trump imposes tariffs, which we have and every country has” is a sentence loaded to minimize the impact of tariffs. (I could just as well demand that we include context particular to these tariffs, like the baldly pretextual use of a national security justification against NATO allies, as opposed to something like the ITC rulings used by Bush and Obama.)

            This is just another in a long line of transparent examples of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Obama literally ran campaign commercials bragging about how many jobs he saved in tire plants by maintaining high tariffs on Chinese tires that Evil Capitalist Mitt Romney wanted to eliminate.

            How Obama’s tire tariffs have hurt consumers, by Dylan Matthews at WaPo

            Consumers could feel the squeeze from Chinese tire tariff by Aaron Smith at CNNMoney

            Obama’s China tire tariff smells like politics to some, by Frank James at NPR

            Obama’s tariffs on China’s solar products will cost U.S., official editorial by Bloomberg

            President Obama’s muddled plan to boost employment by hindering trade, by Matt Yglesias at Slate

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          The whole point is to get people to realize that “free trade” is a sham. There is no free trade. Every nation is mercantilist except ours. So sure, we’ll drop our small tariffs…if everyone else drops their much larger tariffs.

          If “mercantilist” means “has tariffs on at least one thing” then we’re no exception. The average tariff rates look like this:

          USA: 1.6%
          EU: 1.6%
          UK: 1.6%
          Italy: 1.6%
          Germany: 1.6%
          France: 1.6%
          Japan: 1.4%
          Canada: 0.8%

          What Trump wants is pretty clearly for other countries to lower their tariffs and us NOT to lower ours. There’s not a whole lot of other interpretations for him slapping on new tariffs while pointing to existing ones (and ignoring our existing ones). There’s a reason you’re drinking HFCS and not sugar.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Citing an “average tariff rate” seems like an ideal method to lie with statistics. Tariff on what? Against whom? Does the thing you’re putting a tariff on matter to the importing or exporting nation?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Citing an “average tariff rate” seems like an ideal method to lie with statistics. Tariff on what? Against whom? Does the thing you’re putting a tariff on matter to the importing or exporting nation?

            All products, all countries. Says so right there.

            Weighted mean applied tariff is the average of effectively applied rates weighted by the product import shares corresponding to each partner country. Data are classified using the Harmonized System of trade at the six- or eight-digit level. Tariff line data were matched to Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) revision 3 codes to define commodity groups and import weights. To the extent possible, specific rates have been converted to their ad valorem equivalent rates and have been included in the calculation of weighted mean tariffs. Import weights were calculated using the United Nations Statistics Division’s Commodity Trade (Comtrade) database. Effectively applied tariff rates at the six- and eight-digit product level are averaged for products in each commodity group. When the effectively applied rate is unavailable, the most favored nation rate is used instead.

            Surely you have your own source for “their much larger tariffs” that you could cite, one with a more detailed and scrupulous methodology than the World Bank’s. It would be very out of character indeed for someone to drop in and talk out of their ass to defend Trump while deploying a snarky “citation needed” elsewhere in the thread.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Germany has a 10% tariff on imported US cars. We have a 2.5% tariff on theirs. Is that fair?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Sad!

          • The Nybbler says:

            The joker with these average tariff rates is that a really high tariff which succeeds in its goal of reducing trade is automatically de-weighted as a result. In the limit, a tariff so prohibitive that no legal trade occurs in the tariffed commodity has no effect on the average at all.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, for instance the Canadian 270% tariff on US dairy products. They have a quota system such that X amount is not subject to tariff, but anything over X is subject to extreme tariffs, so no one actually pays the extreme tariff because it doesn’t make any sense to bother trying to export your milk to Canada once the quota is hit.

    • Matt M says:

      Master wizard.

  31. Mark Moores says:

    The Labour support in former coalfield areas makes sense given the history.

    It was a very bitter dispute between the miners and Margaret Thatcher in the 80s. The mining union was made an example of, the mines were closed and the communities effectively punished by lack of a good plan for replacement jobs and investments.

    The mining communities were very interesting places – the working class ethic was quite strongly towards self-improvement compared to much working class culture today.

    My Grandfather was worked in the mines in Northumberland (but not as a miner) and lived in a mining area.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I understand that it’s one factor, it just surprises me to see that all the coal mining areas are Labour and all the non-coal-mining areas are Tory. If there were no coal in England, would it just be a completely different and much more conservative country?

      • danarmak says:

        If there were no coal in England, the Industrial Revolution would not have taken place there and then it would have been a very different country indeed.

        • Eric Rall says:

          The early industrial revolution relied much more on water mills for power than for steam engines, and Britain was already a world power by the time steam power came close to overtaking water. I expect they could have imported coal and charcoal once they ran out of good places to set up water mills, the same way Britain historically imported a number of raw materials that weren’t produced locally (most notably cotton).

      • rlms says:

        Not all the non-coal-mining areas are Tory, it’s just the big rural ones that dominate the map.

  32. Walter says:

    China’s atheism always makes it awkward to call them out. Normally when a gov starts bashing on a faith you can always drop some hypocrisy bombs on them. You know, “how would you feel if someone did the same to YOUR fellow believers”, but these guys are screened off from that. Like, their position is already that they can do whatever they want, and if anyone has a problem there’s a ditch right over there.

    • Yaleocon says:

      Note, though, that they do have to swear loyalty to the Communist Party; and other nations very much could imprison any advocate for “Communism with Chinese characteristics.” I suspect China would view this as aggression against them. What’s missing isn’t a unifying ideological identity.

      Rather, there’s something missing from that ideological identity. If the US were to start persecuting CwCC advocates in that way, China might not be confused at all, in much the same way that you’re not confused when someone you’re at war with attacks you. You ask, “But what if we did the same to you?” And they respond “What, you’re not going to?” (Alternatively, in the case of the Uighurs: “You and what army?”)

      Metaphorically, what’s missing is the inclination toward or desire for peace. They neither value nor expect tolerance. In a word, China is not liberal.

  33. LIB says:

    Alternate proposal: The existence of a one-parameter function that can fit any scatterplot is really pretty darn cool. It just happens to be the same pretty darn cool fact as the fact that we can encode pictures (and videos and games and slideshows and shit) as binary strings. This latter fact is famous enough by now that everyone, on some level, already knows it. I still think it’s pretty rad! (I think, for example, that a culture without writing, or also, Kurt Goedel, would agree with me. Encoding stuff as numbers comes in handy!) I think this function is more an example of rephrasing something we already know so we realize how awesome it is, like the thing where dinosaurs and giant metal flying machines pass by overhead every day and no one even looks up.

    • LIB says:

      Upon further investigation, the paper is in fact pretty cool independent of the above! Not only is the function in question infinitely differentiable (basically… a really nice kind of function, a smooth wavy friendly graph-able-without-brain-hurting guy), but it’s specifically elementary, which is essentially mathspeak for “equation you can understand with what you learned in high school, not including calculus”. Which prevents even the sort of actually-cool-when-you-think-about-it trivializing munchinry like JPG encoding (from the comment Scott linked), because that stuff is not infinitely differentiable and is certainly not elementary (unless it is? does someone have an awesome image encoding format to share?).

      TL;DR Math is cool, friends! Don’t take it for granted!

      • rahien.din says:

        Tell me if I am off base here (and forgive me if some of this restates your OP)

        Basically, there is a 1:1 relationship between [given scatterplot] and [long string of numbers, named theta], mediated by a very simple equation.

        Any one of those scatterplots could be imagined as a dot matrix. Any dot matrix can be reconstituted by scanning in the manner of a computer monitor : plot the first row left to right, return, plot the second row left to right, return, … , plot the nth row left to right. The width dimension of the scatterplot (the maximal x value) is basically the period of the scanning protocol. Ultimately, this means any scatterplot can be described by a long string of binary values combined with a binary number representing its period. Arguendo, call this long string of binary values phi.

        The size of theta would seem to be naturally much larger than phi. If so, rather than performing the parlor trick of fitting any scatterplot with a sufficiently-large theta, one could use scatterplots (or some string of binary values, as above) to encode or compress much larger strings of numbers, via a simple and speedily-computable equation.

        So I don’t think it’s an image-encoding format, I think it’s an encoding-by-image format. Ultimately this may not be all that revolutionary. Certainly one would have to figure out the compression and throughput achieved by this protocol, and then it might not outperform our current methods.

        • LIB says:

          Neat idea! Why do you expect theta to be much longer than phi? I think they’re using pretty similar strategies, just theta is careful to do it in an infinitely differentiable sort of way.

          I’m not sure how you’d measure the compression of an encoding-by-image format like this one. Most things’ information-content is determined, as I understand it (which may be wrong), by seeing how long of a binary string you need to represent the thing. If your whole point is to turn a binary string into something smaller, we need a new idea of what is “compression”. That said, pictures are fun in non-information-theoretic ways, because I am a human and I like to look at pictures more than I like to look at numbers. So there’s that.

          It’s worth noting that one value of theta might fit multiple scatterplots. I didn’t read the paper in enough detail to determine if one value of theta can be *generated* from multiple scatterplots, but once you have theta, picking any set of points on the graph of your function will get you a scatterplot that theta fits.

          (My original point was mostly about appreciating cool facts even if you already know them, but more nitty-gritty discussion about encoding is always welcome. :D)

          • eccdogg says:

            I would think it would have to be the case that one value of Theta could fit multiple scatterplotts.

            Since the function can fit any scatterplot you could just take two plots and combine them into one and fit that combined plot.

            I guess the issue would be if there were two different Y values for the exact same X, but that seems to be a problem for fitting any data with a function.

  34. pansnarrans says:

    Buddhist sources are silent on which direction the Wheel Of Samsara turns, but the evidence from salvia users who have weird visions of it (1, 2, 3) universally suggests it’s counterclockwise.

    Can someone tell me if this is for cultural reasons? Like, I live in a country where clocks turn clockwise and you read left-to-right, and if you ask me to imagine a wheel turning it actually takes a small amount of mental effort for me to make it turn anticlockwise, because that’s ‘wrong’.

  35. baconbits9 says:

    I’m reading the LA times piece on poverty programs and either I am unable to process this, it is badly written or it is completely false.

    The official measurement indicated that the poverty rate fell by a scant 4.4 percentage points from 1960 to 2010, ending at 15.1%. Adjusting for flaws in the measurement however, Meyer and Sullivan determined that the percentage of Americans living in poverty had fallen by more than 26 percentage points, to about 4.5%.

    I guess a 4th option is possible in that they determined that poverty in 1960 was 50% higher than the official rate.

    Edit: Well never mind, I scrolled down and it was the 4th option.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Does anyone have access to this paper, the graph linked implies a horrific mistake in methodology, but the footnotes could prove my concern totally unfounded.

      • baconbits9 says:

        Ok, hopefully with the above caveat, and then this one here no one will read this thinking that I am declaring a fact in anyway, but reporting my suspicions based on partial data.

        Figure 1 in the article titled “Official and alternative income poverty rates, 1963-2010” has the official rate and the alternative rate with the note “after taxes” on the alternative rate. The tax rate that people near or below the poverty line experience is currently mostly due to social security and similar programs, and I believe this is also true going well back. If this is true then the authors are counting poverty that was created by SS taxation (by their definition) as being solved by SS transfers. This is double counting at best, doubling the impact of SS transfers, at worst (barring the faking of data or something else totally underhanded) they have set up a tautology where any program they look at will appear to reduce poverty.

        • blumenko says:

          You would have to prove that current poverty is largely caused by social security taxes, but anyways, the reduction in poverty due to social security is largely among the elderly, who don’t pay as much for social security as they get out, and generally, social security has redistributive effects, and isn’t just forced savings.

  36. zoozoc says:

    Re. effect of life events on life satisfaction

    I think the data is lacking to make much significant analysis, especially for any given situation. The reason is that none of these life events happen in isolation. For example, the marriage satisfaction is probably heavily skewed by the fact that a large number of marriages end in divorce after 5-8 years. It would be much more useful to compare “married -> divorce” life satisfaction with “married -> no divorce” life satisfaction. Or compare any other number of combinations. Also, the length of time for many of these events are not long enough. Kids are the obvious example since raising kids really is an investment that takes a long time to really pay off (if you do it right).

  37. Eric Rall says:

    it’s not so much that productivity doesn’t help as that some other force is keeping pay down despite the productivity effects.

    The other force is an artifact of compensation and productivity being indexed for inflation differently. Compensation is typically indexed by CPI-U (based on direct household expenses for urban consumers), and productivity is indexed by the NFB deflator (based on goods and services produced and sold by the non-farm business sector of the economy). If you chart compensation and productivity in nominal terms (raw dollars, not adjusted for inflation), there is no productivity gap.

    The big follow-up question is why the NFB deflator has diverged from CPI-U since ~1980, and to what extent this reflects a real problem of household consumption being disproportionately hard-hit by inflation. At least part of the gap is probably due to technical flaws in how CPI-U is calculated: CPI-U is generally suspected to overstate inflation by a small but significant factor, and newer indexes (PCE and chained CPI) have been proposed to replace it. It looks like PCE has grown faster than the NFB deflator since 1980, but by a much smaller amount than CPI-U.

  38. J Mann says:

    The lefty organizing/ableism fight is interesting.

    1. I’m not sure why the writer thinks the critics are being insincere. If you seriously believe that it’s important that every organization have an ASL interpreter on hand in case someone with a hearing impairment shows up, considers the handicap accessibility of the space, etc., why would you exempt this guy’s preferred organization. There’s an element of Measure for Measure in the story where if the rules are important enough to apply to Chipotle, then they’re important enough to apply here, and if they’re not important enough to apply here, then maybe not to Chipotle either.

    2. That said, I’ve never been a fan of enforcement by Twitter mob. It’s not an easily controllable force – if people are looking for someone to call out for bad behavior, there isn’t much of a court of appeal. (But see #1 – if everybody else is subject to Twitter mob enforcement, why not this guy’s campaign?)

    3. The other thing is for Twitter mob enforcement to work, it’s not really necessary only to punish the bad people. You want to punish enough people publicly enough pour encourager les autres. The point is to punish enough people so that everyone else knows that misbehavior has consequences, and I don’t like it personally, but I can’t deny that it seems to work.

  39. TracingWoodgrains says:

    The recent “smart people wear glasses” study falls in line well with the results found by the SMPY several decades ago:

    Six out of every 10 of the [gifted] children were nearsighted, which is four times as many as would be expected, reported Camilla Benbow, associate research scientist in psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, on Thursday at a neurobiology conference.

    The verbally gifted children tended to be more myopic than those gifted in mathematics.

    Sixteen percent of the children were left-handed, twice as many as would be expected. Two-thirds of the children had allergies or another condition related to an immune abnormality, again double the expected rate, Benbow said. “It’s just pointing to possible biological correlates to high abilities,” she said in an interview. “But environment is also very important.”

  40. James Miller says:

    If making a pill prescription only boosted its placebo power the FDA would be justified in forbidding the sale of placebos not prescribed by a doctor.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Better, you have Placebo, the full prescription strength version, and Placebo PB, the lower-strength OTC version.

      • albatross11 says:

        Also, there’s Placebo brand sugar pills, which cost $153.24. And there used to be a generic version, but the company that owns the Placebo trademark bribed them to stop selling it in the US, and no other competitor has gotten through the FDA’s approval process yet, so you’re stuck paying $153.24/pill unless you go across the border to Mexico, where they’re $1/bottle of 50 over the counter.

  41. DavidS says:

    On ICE: basically everyone I have read talking about this (who often otherwise disagree) is talking about it as straightforwardly horrific and bad.

    Then again, they tend to disagree because some are left-wing liberals who sometimes lean towards social justice and the rest are centrist liberals who get worried about free speech and stuff like that. So I haven’t really heard anyone likely to support ICE, and obviously you can’t look to the President himself for a clear statement of the reasons for and benefits of a policy. Is there anyone sensible saying ‘this is a good idea and the horrific news reports are super-overblown’, beyond the specific point in Scott’s link?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Do you know how in debates about capital punishment, the abolition side always makes the argument that keeping a condemned prisoner on death row costs more than a life imprisonment?

      It’s true, but it’s only true because the anti-death penalty side is constantly fighting for more and longer appeals. Executions, very humane ones, should be dirt cheap: as an admittedly crude eexample, kill fees for cattle are roughly in the range of $100, and that’s for humane slaughter. Nearly the entire cost of capital punishment comes from the regulatory burden put in place by its opponents.

      This is something similar.

      The way ICE operates is stupid and inefficient, but it’s stupid and inefficient because the rules they’re operating under were written by opponents of effective border control. Big businesses want cheap labor to undercut domestic workers, and the democratic party wants easily-led voting blocs. So it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that we’ve seen a bipartisan effort to restrict the effectiveness of our border control, from killing eVerify to increasing the cost of deportation proceedings beyond any sensible limit.

      The answer isn’t to get rid of ICE, it’s to get rid of the ridiculous rules hamstringing it.

      • qwints says:

        What are you talking about regarding killing E-Verify? It still exists, and all US employers still have to get I9’s for all employees, which is enforced by compliance audits.

        Deportation proceedings are obscenely efficient at the cost of due process. CNN reported it costs ICE about 11k for each deportation and that only 15% of detainees even went before a judge. There is no right to publicly funded lawyer, and in some cases not even a right to a hearing before a judge.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          The entire point of e-Verify is that it’s tougher than I-9s, where you can often gamble and win on not getting caught by an audit (or if you get caught, just pull your assets from behind the corporate veil and re-form a new company). Right now it’s just voluntary. I’m a pretty hardcore open borders guy but I’d take mandatory e-Verify for ICE abolition in a heartbeat. Republicans should support it because it’s far more cost-effective than a wall, Democrats should support it for traditional labor reasons, but Nabil probably isn’t wrong about why it’s usually the first thing chucked overboard by both sides when they try to hammer out a deal.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Anonymous Bosch already explained why e-Verify is toothless, so I won’t get into that. I hate these names btw, they’re not even real words so it’s hard to remember the proper spelling.

          Deportation proceedings are obscenely efficient at the cost of due process. CNN reported it costs ICE about 11k for each deportation and that only 15% of detainees even went before a judge.

          There are roughly 12.5 million illegal immigrants in the US.

          At $11,000 a head that comes out to 137.5 billion dollars. Admittedly that’s much cheaper than I would have guessed, but a hundred billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at.

          Not to mention that scheduling 1.4 million judge appointments is probably going to add a fair amount to that bill.

          There is no right to publicly funded lawyer, and in some cases not even a right to a hearing before a judge.

          Oops, make that 12.5 million appointments. Plus fees for 12.5 million defendants.

          Now that’s probably closer to the price I expected.

        • albatross11 says:

          One reason to want an actual hearing in front of a judge is to avoid errors where ICE deports a citizen. Cases like that occasionally make the news, and it’s exactly the reason you’d like some kind of actual hearing.

      • Jesse E says:

        Upper Middle Class White Dude has to go to a different college because of cac, and is still successful in adult life – “The horror! We need due process and these evil SJW’s want to destroy it, just because of their policy views.”

        Poor illegal immigrants tossed into camps with terrible conditions, being sexually and physically assaulted by ICE Agents – “See, the problem here is, it’s too hard to deport somebody and we treat them too nicely.”

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          They could also, maybe, I dunno, not come here illegally…?

          • baconbits9 says:

            The US could also declare that they are not illegals, and do so with far less expense, but that is never your suggestion.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @baconbits9,

            That was tried already. More people came in illegally after amnesty; if anything it encouraged illegal immigration.

            Unless your position is that anyone and everyone in the world is an American citizen, amnesty without border control cannot solve illlegal immigration. And the supporters of amnesty have shown that they will fight border control tooth and nail.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            far less expense

            citation needed.

            ETA: Also, the economic factors are only one reason to oppose mass immigration. It’s still generally a bad idea to let everyone in the world come into your polity and then vote for you to become their slaves give them government services.

          • baconbits9 says:

            That was tried already. More people came in illegally after amnesty; if anything it encouraged illegal immigration.

            Make it permanently legal.

            It’s still generally a bad idea to let everyone in the world come into your polity and then vote for you to become their slaves give them government services.

            Citation needed.

          • It’s still generally a bad idea to let everyone in the world come into your polity and then vote for you to become their slaves give them government services.

            Worked pretty well for the first 150 years. Longer for New World immigrants, shorter for oriental.

          • The Nybbler says:

            And then came the New Deal and the welfare state and that’s all she wrote. Panem et circenses, or “sit on your ass and light up a Camel, this IS the promised land” as the old joke goes.

          • Randy M says:

            Worked pretty well for the first 150 years. Longer for New World immigrants, shorter for oriental.

            Technology since makes is easier to immigrate over land and sea, and easier to retain the home culture. So it’s not obvious that the situation would be unchanged.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Worked pretty well for the first 150 years. Longer for New World immigrants, shorter for oriental.

            On that topic, Kontextmachine has a recent interesting bit on the Trail of Tears.

          • moscanarius says:

            @ David Friedman

            It’s still generally a bad idea to let everyone in the world come into your polity and then vote for you to become their slaves give them government services.

            Worked pretty well for the first 150 years. Longer for New World immigrants, shorter for oriental.

            I may be mistaken, but if I remember correctly the US has never let everyone in the world come ashore as they pleased.

          • Matt M says:

            Also, for most of American history, you couldn’t just vote yourself a share of other people’s money. The income tax didn’t exist and other taxes didn’t really work that way.