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Open Thread 107.75

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

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967 Responses to Open Thread 107.75

  1. Nick says:

    Hey, you folks remember making fun of the Cthulhu-esque FIFA logo earlier this year?

    Well, the FIDE 2018 World Chess Championship has managed to come up with something even worse.

  2. Deiseach says:

    Since I appear to be having a tussle with HeelBearCub over this and the threads are getting tangled, let me put it plainly.

    HeelBearCub’s argument seems to me (however it seems to them) to be that the treatment of immigrants is inhumane. Now, were the argument phrased like that, I think we’d be a lot clearer: bringing in Othering and racism is confusing the matter (since they have submitted that you can Other people of the same race, and can be racist without Othering). So let’s put it like that – the way the Trump administration is treating immigrants is inhumane and should stop right now.

    Okay, so what’s the counter to that?

    (1) I note that HeelBearCub never mentions that these are illegal immigrants. I don’t know if they are of the opinion that “no human is illegal” or that all immigrants are equal whether they went the legal route or not, or what. I do note that in all the argument, they avoid the fact that these people are breaking the rules and circumventing the process in place for applying to immigrate to the USA.

    (2) HeelBearCub’s argument also turns on the point that the actions and policies of the Trump administration are making the experience of illegally immigrating exceedingly unpleasant, and appear to be deliberately designed to cause maximum discomfort, inconvenience, and distress. I respond that if they are engaging in deterrence, this is what you would expect. If the perception is “the experience as currently followed is too easy/is judged to have benefits outweighing the ill consequences by the illegals, we want to discourage illegals as much as possible”, then it naturally follows that “by making it very bad, by making the bad effects outweigh the benefits, we will discourage them from the attempt”. This is, after all, why we have fines and jail sentences for offences – even minor ones or misdemeanours. If a stern talking to about “don’t drive drunk” doesn’t work to reduce the incidences of drunk driving, you have to expect punitive measures to follow if the aim is to reduce drunk driving.

    (3) Many of the people objecting – and as I said, I don’t know HeelBearCub’s feelings on this, or what their opinion is – are very much of the “no human is illegal” mindset and do want open borders or what in effect works out to the same, they don’t think in terms of “illegal immigrants”, for them everyone should be allowed come in. So in effect whatever the administration might do as deterrence would be objectionable to them, and there would be no satisfying them. If parents and children were not separated, there would be an outcry about detention camps and I think there have been law cases about this? And it is inarguable that the “crying children” images are being used to garner sympathy and emotional reactions over thinking about the facts of what is going on, and since I’ve seen this exact same psychological tactic being used in real life by someone to game the system where the facts on the ground were very different, I am cynical about it.

    (4) It is presented as if everyone coming in illegally is a refugee/asylum seeker, therefore how inhumane to treat people fleeing oppression and violence in this manner. However, this is not true. Not everyone is a refugee. Not everyone claiming asylum is doing so out of genuine need, some are doing so to delay the deportation as long as possible and to find every chink in the rules to permit them to remain. Again, this does not seem to be taken into account.

    (5) Therefore, if we have people breaking the rules, and not out of real and present danger, and the state wants to deter them from doing so – what do you do? How do you deter them if you can’t make the ill effects outweigh the benefits? Appealing to their better natures isn’t going to work. If I could get an admission that “yes these people are illegal, no they shouldn’t be doing this”, then I would be a lot more inclined to “separation of parents and children should not be happening”. As it stands, if no-one is going to budge on “they are doing nothing wrong” then I’m not going to budge on “the administration has the right to detain lawbreakers, and as a corollary of that they have to separate those who consciously chose to break the law from the innocent parties, their children”.

    (6) Arguments over inhumane treatment are separate and can be made. It may indeed be terrible to separate parents and children in the manner the administration is doing, and it does seem a very cackhanded way. But again, it might be possible to do this in a better manner while retaining the deterrent effect.

    (7) Am I a Fascist Nazi for not being “the crying children! plainly the parents should be given a personal escort across the border to the city of their choice and left there in perpetuity with full citizenship the minute they cross the border!”, well maybe I am. “Fascist”, like “racist”, has been reduced to such a meaningless term of “I don’t like you” that I don’t care, to be frank, if you call me a Fascist over this.

    • Brad says:

      I find this to be very disingenuous. If someone had run for president on the issue of cracking down on those terrible lawbreakers that camp, ride ATV and snowmobiles, or otherwise make unauthorized use of national lands without proper authorization, got elected, redirected thousands of federal employees to tracking such scofflaws down, arresting them en masse, denying them bail, taking their kids, sending those kids god-only-knows-where, and then when finally they ordered to release them on bail couldn’t even match the parents the kids and instead of trying whined to judges that they shouldn’t be expected to — there’d be a very different reaction from the same people crowing about following the law now.

      Indeed, I seem to recall a year or so back not just ATV riding but illegal grazing occurring on federal lands, and a very different reaction. From you, among others, isn’t that right?

    • nkurz says:

      As you mention here, I was wondering how much of your “disagreement” with HeelBearCub is due to how much weight is attached to the law that being broken, and how important you each feel it is to obey the law just because it’s the law. Neither of you seems to be arguing that parents should be immediately be separated from their children because of a single parking ticket, and neither seems likely to be argue that convicted murders should always keep custody of their children. Presumably “illegal entry” is somewhere between these two, with the added difference between an arrest and a conviction.

      Trying to find some points of agreement:

      @Deiseach: If you came to believe that the law broken by the migrants was at the level of a minor administrative offense, say, at the level failure to have a current inspection sticker on your car, would HeelBearCub’s objections make more sense?

      @HeelBearCub: If you came to believe that the law being broken by the migrants was at the level of a serious crime, say, at the level of an armed robbery where shots were fired but no one was killed, would Deiseach’s objections make more sense?

      If not these particular levels of offense (and temporarily putting aside the question of what the appropriate comparison for illegal immigration actually is) is there some other comparable degree of severity where you’d both agree that the treatment is either justifiable or too severe?

      Edit:

      @Brad

      If someone had run for president on the issue of cracking down on those terrible lawbreakers that camp, ride ATV and snowmobiles, or otherwise make unauthorized use of national lands … — there’d be a very different reaction from the same people crowing about following the law now.

      Probably, but wouldn’t the obvious conclusion be that the reaction is different because at least one group views illegal immigration a much more serious offense than “unauthorized use of national lands”? I’d certainly be surprised if anyone supporting Trump’s border policies would equate the two, and thus I don’t see a contradiction if such supporters were to think the more serious offense should be treated more seriously.

      • Brad says:

        Probably, but wouldn’t the obvious conclusion be that the reaction is different because at least one group views illegal immigration a much more serious offense than “illegal unauthorized use of national lands”?

        Yes. Which is exactly why it is disingenuous for Trump defenders to pretend that they just think laws need to be enforced and don’t see why anyone is accusing anyone of being xenophobic. They are enthusiastic about these specific laws being aggressively enforced rather than other laws. They should stand behind and justify that enthusiasm rather than pretending it’s just about the rule of law generally.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          They are enthusiastic about these specific laws being aggressively enforced rather than other laws.

          This.

          The argument is not about general rule of law, but what laws are enforced, how and against whom. deontological cries ring hollow.

        • 10240 says:

          My opinion about “the law is the law” argument: If something is a crime, then the government has the right to strictly punish those who break it (assuming that the law itself is not a violation of fundamental rights). That doesn’t mean it has an obligation to do so, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea, and we can argue about whether the law should exist in the first place. Harsh punishment for a minor crime is something I may disagree with, but not something I consider outrageous or unacceptable — especially if a significant part of the population considers the crime in question a serious problem and small penalties are clearly far from maximally effective — even if I personally disagree that it’s a serious crime, or that it should be a crime at all. That is, the fact that it’s the law doesn’t imply that the policy is good, but IMO it implies that the extreme terms in which detractors describe it are unjustified.

          Someone who considers illegal immigration to be a serious problem presumably thinks that it’s against the interests of US citizens to let in foreigners who wouldn’t qualify for legal immigration, and wants foreigners to stay in their countries. That doesn’t imply that he is xenophobic (hates foreigners), much less that he’s racist (the thread this discussion spun off from was originally about racism). If we define xenophobia as aversion to foreigners (especially if they come to one’s country), probably many opponents of immigration are xenophobes, and many of them wouldn’t object to that characterization, only to using xenophobia (under that definition) as a pejorative.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @nkurz:

        armed robbery where shots were fired but no one was killed

        I don’t think we can find these things to be actually analogous, but assuming, arguendo, that this is true … I would not support making loss of children part of the intended deterrent effect for armed robbery.

        If the police started taking every child from every parent who was accused of armed robbery and placing them into child protect services, and did not even know which child went with which armed robbery suspect, I would still consider it a horrible, inhumane, abomination. If we announced that we were doing this because we considered it an effective way to deter armed robbery, this would make it quite a bit worse.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      @Deiseach:
      I think I have already responded to a number of these points, but let me strive more clarity.

      1) It is false that I have not mentioned illegality. I have mentioned that the illegality charged is on the level of excessive speeding. It’s a misdemeanor with a maximum of a 6 month sentence, which is similar to the kind of maximum sentence you might get for some levels of speeding.

      2) The policies are designed in a manner that cause not merely discomfort but harm, and avoidable harm, in pursuit of their objective. The administration knows this, it’s officials have testified to this fact, that the children in question are likely to suffer long term harm from the separation. The parents also are suffering harm. Loss of a child is harm. In fact I would argue that the harm it does is precisely why the administration enacted the policy, because this gives it more deterrent effect. The know that the parents fear all of these consequences and want them to be deterred by it.

      3) Seems to be a restatement of 1.

      4) The argument is simply that you can’t treat people claiming asylum, which is a right, as if they are not claiming asylum. There has to be some process, some fair process, for determining these things. You can’t make blanket pronouncements. You operate on the assumption they have no legal status.

      5) Generally speaking, deterrents for crimes need to be commensurate with the crimes committed. I submit that it’s barbaric to cut hands off for the crime of thievery, not withstanding that a law has nevertheless been broken. There is not any crime that I know of where the punishment for the crime is loss of child. Parents lose children for the benefit of the child, not the punishment of the parent. Unless the parent is a threat to the child, any separation of the child from the parent (due to being jailed or imprisoned) is a side-effect, not an intended one.

      6) See my answer on 5.

      7) Yes, clearly, those are the only two choices. How can I have been so blind. For someone who complains about hyperbole as much as you do, you surely love to engage in it.

      • Deiseach says:

        The administration knows this, it’s officials have testified to this fact, that the children in question are likely to suffer long term harm from the separation.

        I really want to know more about this. What is the average length of separation, what harm is meant – psychological?, are we talking about “ten years after being reunited with your parents, there are still effects”? and in which case, then putting a parent in jail for any crime is inflicting harm on their children and should not be done, yet it is done – do we have any studies on the long-term harm of separating incarcerated parents and children? Fathers working six-month shifts on oil rigs being separated from their kids is causing harm. Soldiers deployed overseas, sailors, anyone separated from their kids. Unless we narrow it down to “don’t be absurd, we’re talking about putting children in institutions not kids living in their own homes with one parent while the other is absent”, in which case the foster care/taking children into care also does damage. I’m not dismissing the idea that harm is done, but there’s a lot of harm done in a lot of ways that doesn’t have people protesting outside government offices about it.

        I’m not going to say it’s a perfect system and I do think it’s designed to maximise the deterrent effect, but I also think a lot of the anti-side is making the most extreme case it can, and I don’t know who to believe on this.

        As for the hyperbole, someone out there is always going to call you a fascist or racist or homophobe or commie or Marxist or libertine. You know this as well as I do. Waving your hands in the air doesn’t make it go away.

        You want hyperbole? I’ll give you this: everyone who is protesting the inhumanity and how nobody is illegal gets one of these families. You, the Occupy Portland lot outside ICE office, everyone. An opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. Congratulations, here is Jose and Maria and their three kids who came over the border and are claiming asylum, now they’re your responsibility to make sure they’re housed, help them get job(s), get the kids into school. And you can’t palm this off by telling Jose that there’s an apartment for rent in town on the other side of the river, that’s my job over and done with, good bye and good luck – if they don’t move in with you into your house, they live right next door. They’re your very own opportunity to put into action the right for immigration and assimilation. Instead of the government/some community/somebody should do it, you do it, since you asked for it and supported it and protested about sending people back over the border and separating families. i’ll be generous and put a limit on it, but for five years they are your family (or as good as), since they are now fellow citizens and you don’t Other your fellow citizens, do you?

        I really do wonder how many people who are willing to protest outside ICE and heckle people eating in restaurants would be willing if it came down to concrete “you do it, not some random government worker, not the city council, not let them move in to a city someplace, you personally get involved with immigrants” action? How many would change their tune or be all “but it’s not my job, it’s the job of The Government”? Yes, and the government is the people, and you’re the people, so start doing your part!

        • March says:

          I think it’s disingenuous to compare ‘putting a parent in jail’ with ‘splitting up an immigrant kid from a parent’ – usually, when a parent is put in jail, kids can say with the other parent or with family or with (licensed and monitored) foster homes that know how to deal with kids and can hug them and talk to them.

          These immigrant kids lose the one safe thing they still have left in the world, and yes, that’s known to be very traumatic.

          I also think ‘a case can be made that it’s being done inhumanely but it might be possible to do it in a better way’ is an odd thing to say. A case IS being made that it’s being done inhumanely, almost comically so or, worse, cruelty for cruelty’s sake. If that could be stopped right now, everything made right as much as possible with no ‘oops well these couple of hundred people have just fallen through the cracks, if anyone wants to keep caring about them, be my guest’, then we can talk about whether and how it is possible to do it in the right way. With proper transparency and oversight. Most people seem much more interested in discussing a potential ‘right way’ than they are to stop or even condemn the ‘wrong way.’

          • Deiseach says:

            Most people seem much more interested in discussing a potential ‘right way’ than they are to stop or even condemn the ‘wrong way.’

            I think the problem is that there is no perception of a middle ground; on one hand you have people (like me) arguing that laws are being broken versus those arguing “phooey laws who cares laws no law here”, and those saying a deterrent effect is wanted and needed since less rigorous methods are not working versus those arguing any deterrent is cruel and unusual punishment, no ifs ands or buts.

            If there could be agreed that yes, there needs to be a deterrent and you don’t automatically ‘believe the accusation’ (i.e. just because someone claims ‘oh I’m seeking asylum’ that is it, you have to believe them or you’re a human rights denying stormtrooper) so that yes claims get investigated, and in the meantime those being investigated have to be held somewhere and can’t be led out into the wider community for fear they’ll do a runner, then I think we could have both condemnation of the wrong way and discussion of the right way.

            But as it stands, we have a bloc of people arguing that there is no right way, any way is the wrong way, the only right way is let everyone through and accept on face value whatever they care to claim. That’s not going to get any progress or compromise from people who think that it is important that laws are being broken and even compassion has to be tempered with pragmatism to a degree.

          • Deiseach says:

            with (licensed and monitored) foster homes that know how to deal with kids and can hug them and talk to them

            Ah, I saw some passing mention of not being allowed to comfort hte kids – so that is what this is about? And you know why the no hugging no contact rules?

            Yes, because of all the sex abuse cases. Not out of cruelty or uncaring, but because an adult cannot be alone with a child or physically touch a child in an intimate fashion. Because a lot of abusers began by that kind of hugging/touching, and some even convinced themselves that (for instance) having a child sit on their lap while they had an erection was ‘harmless’ and only the ordinary kind of contact you’d have. (I read some of the testimony in investigations of clerical sex abuse in Ireland and paedophiles can convince themselves to believe in all good faith that the moon is made of green cheese to deny that what they are doing is harmful).

            So the policy swung very hard in the direction of “no adult can touch a child in an intimate fashion, even for the purposes of comforting” and is only shifting gradually back, and I’m not surprised detention centres still have this in place – it’s also to prevent false accusations e.g. ‘Mr/Ms Smith touched me inappropriately while hugging me when I was crying’ since some troubled kids do make accusations that are ungrounded.

            So it’s less to do with stony-hearted faceless functionaries deliberately letting children remain in distress and more to do with outdated child protection policies and procedures.

          • March says:

            I don’t personally, a priori, believe in deterrence, let alone a race to the bottom of increasing gruesomeness to deter people from doing stuff. The death penalty, I believe, has shown not to have much of a deterring function. Many countries have prison systems that aren’t aimed at being as horrible as possible; they don’t seem to have much more crime. I.e., if deterrence is necessary, it should be easy to substantiate that.

            As I understand it (and caveat I’m not from the US), the US law is ‘crossing the border anywhere not an official point is not OK; claiming asylum is OK no matter where you do that’. For decades, since it’s so hard to get to the official points (at some point during this whole fiasco I read they were more or less closed for days), the rational thing to do was ‘cross the border wherever you can (yes, this is a misdemeanor but the punishment isn’t harsh), turn yourself in ASAP to claim for asylum and show you’re willing.’ The ‘catch-and-release’ thing seemed to be working. So not sure that there’s suddenly a huge problem with laws being broken. If there is, it seems it should be easy to substantiate that.

            I do believe you should always believe someone when they say ‘I claim asylum’ because that’s not a statement that requires believing, that’s an action much like ‘I do’ is an action when getting married. Whether you’re then going to GRANT that asylum is up to the country. Definitely investigate and all that. Again, that catch-and-release thing seemed to be working: people, especially those with kids, seemed to show up at hearings at pretty awesome rates at fairly low expense. If it’s not working, it should be easy to substantiate that.

            Ah, I saw some passing mention of not being allowed to comfort hte kids – so that is what this is about?

            Of course not. It’s just the heartwrenching cherry on the shit cake of taking kids from parents without giving them a chance to explain/not allowing contact/not keeping track at all of kids young enough to not even know their parents’ full names or addresses/awful conditions AND THEN not even allowing physical touch, not even among kids. (And before you say it, I’m aware that a passel of traumatized kids is also not the safest place to be in; no reason to assume these kids will be wonderfully platonic to each other either.) Personally, I believe the no hugging thing would be acceptable if the rest were organized better; there’s plenty of non-hugging kindness people can share. But I believe that a country who takes responsibility of a couple of thousand kids should do so only AFTER the rest is organized well. And with the full acceptance that, yes, we’ll be causing some generational traumas here but it’s worth it and we’re mitigating where we can. There are reports of millions of dollars being spent. Those could’ve spent those better. (At minimum, on keeping a good database of which adult came in with which kid and allowing them to talk on the phone.)

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @ Deiseach:

            And you know why the no hugging no contact rules? Yes, because of all the sex abuse cases. […] to do with outdated child protection policies and procedures.

            It’s more specific than that. During the Obama administration there were a LOT of sexual abuse allegations specifically involving immigration detentions. That prior round of “won’t somebody think of the CHILDREN!?!” concerns caused new rules to be implemented, so now we’ve whipsawed directly from concern about detainees being touched too much to concern about detainees being touched too little. Regulators are in a Kobayashi Maru – there is literally no available policy option that DOESN’T result in large numbers of endangered children, enabling them to be demonized as evil monsters who don’t care about kids.

            Relevant quote:

            These allegations are just a sample of hundreds of complaints of sexual and physical abuse in immigration detention obtained by The Intercept […] in earlier responses, officials with the DHS Office of Inspector General indicated that the office received some 33,000 complaints between 2010 and 2016 alleging a wide range of abuses in immigration detention.

            If you DON’T detain immigrants-with-kids, more kids will be dangerously smuggled across an inhospitable desert and some will die in the crossing. (And some who don’t die will get trafficked, which we think is bad.) If you DO detain the immigrants this may serve as a deterrent but it violates the kids’ civil rights to keep them in jail so the kids have to be…somewhere else. Somewhere they either CAN be touched by random authority figures (leading to allegations of sexual abuse) or CAN’T be touched (leading to allegations of neglect due to lack of touch). There is no actually-winning strategy. Certainly there’s no actually-winning strategy the executive can implement UNILATERALLY.

            Though I did think Trump’s “fixing it” by issuing an “executive order” was a brilliant strategic move. His attackers were (incorrectly) claiming he could fix all this with a stroke of the pen, so he CALLED THEIR BLUFF and did what they seemed to be asking for, signing a statement that toothlessly says “yeah, we’re gonna fix this!” but doesn’t actually fix anything because HE CAN’T. So – just like Obama did so many times – he gets to bask in the glory of having claimed to fix something by signing a document with no actual legal force, thereby kicking the can down the road a bit further.

        • ana53294 says:

          Instead of the government/some community/somebody should do it, you do it, since you asked for it and supported it and protested about sending people back over the border and separating families.

          Canada already has a system like that, and there seem to be plenty of people and organizations who do it.

          If the US offered a system like that, where separately from the US government’s sponsorship (if the private money would be a substitute instead of an addition to public funds most people would be against it, because it wouldn’t improve the situation), private citizens could sponsor refugees, the amount of refugees would increase. Rich families would also sponsor family members from war-torn countries.

          • onyomi says:

            I like the idea of rich people sponsoring/vouching for immigrants and refugees they believe to be good people; I think it approximates what one might see in anarchocapitalism: not perfectly free movement, but rather if you wanted to move to a new area you’d either have to put up some kind of bond or else find someone already established in the community to vouch for you in such a way that e.g. if you turn out to be a criminal, they are on the hook in a big way financially. It seems both relatively just and to create the right sorts of incentives.

      • 10240 says:

        Regardless of the severity of the crime, it’s ridiculous to release illegal immigrants on bail because their very crime is attempting to enter the country, disappear somewhere in the country, and hopefully evade law enforcement. Releasing them on bail in their country of destination is like allowing a thief to keep the stolen goods while out on bail. Or cops inviting a drunk driver for a couple of beers before telling him to drive home.

        The argument that the family separation policy is wrong because its main purpose is to punish the illegal immigrant families with family separation would be more convincing if the alternative was to detain them but keep the family together.

        The severity of the current penalty is not necessarily a good measure of the seriousness of the crime, much less of how serious the supporters of the Trump administration’s policy consider the crime. A lot of factors other than the severity of the crime affect the punishment; one may think that longer punishments for illegal immigration wouldn’t be productive, while considering illegal immigration to be a significant problem. Indeed, if we were to determine the seriousness of a crime from the government’s response, we could even say “the administration is willing to separate families to fight this crime, so it must be a serious crime, so six months is certainly not enough for it”.

      • uau says:

        Being “commensurate with the crime” is not the only consideration for a punishment. Working as a deterrent is another important factor. Since especially left-wing commenters want to compare with how possible “rich-person” crimes are not punished the same way, it’s important to note that rich people have a much higher incentive to work “within the system” to begin with. If they disappear and go into hiding, they likely lose much of the advantages of their wealth. So you can likely rely on them appearing in further court hearings etc. Illegal immigrants were trying to hide from the system to begin with.

        And generally harsher methods start to get used when laws that are considered important keep getting broken. You can’t expect the government to just say “gently telling them to stop didn’t work, guess the only remaining option is to raise our hands and give up?”. If you don’t agree with the government moving to harsher methods when gentler ones failed (at least in general, in the sense that you might object to some specific method but not to the principle of using harsher methods and accepting doing increasingly significant harm to the criminals), you’re effectively arguing that the immigration laws are unimportant. But arguing that unimportance indirectly by just saying that harsh policies are wrong is dishonest IMO.

  3. Deiseach says:

    We’ve had a full and frank exchange of views on this subject here before, but here’s my favourite Australian Irish (ex)Catholic atheist mediaeval literary history guy on the topic of the Dark Ages, what those wretched Christians did and more importantly didn’t do:

    Yesterday Steve McRae and Kyle Curtis of the Non Sequitur Show were kind enough to have me back on, this time to discuss the myths around the medieval period as a “dark age” where Christianity suppressed Greco-Roman knowledge, crushed science, stifled technology, burned witches, banned baths and killed cats.

    Warning: as usual for Youtube video shows, there’s a certain amount of excruciating ‘banter’ and ‘jokes’ to sit through before you get to the good parts.

    Bias warning: As I mentioned, he’s Irish Catholic (Australian variety) so I know where he’s coming from and probably am that much more sympathetic to him than I would be if he were Dawkins-Anglican or American-999 variety non-denominational atheism, so I may be more inclined to give him credit than all you would be.

  4. Well... says:

    @johan_larson

    Replying down here because … well, it’s obvious why. In the midst of other commenters’ long side-track discussion I have no intention to read, you stuck to the topic and replied to my parent comment (kudos to you!), saying:

    Some guys really want sex or more charitably a wife, and Well… is calling them hypocrites or cowards for not being willing to join conservative religious sects to get sex or a wife.

    [Paraphrasing the rest: This is unreasonable because they’d have to join a religion they didn’t believe in and everything that goes along with that. It’s not just like moving to another house or something.]

    I wasn’t referring to those in the umbrella category “men who wish they had a girlfriend/wife but don’t”. I was referring more specifically to the “Dark Enlightenment” types Nornagest mentioned. They have done a lot of work articulating the way they wish society was structured, and with regards to sex and gender roles and so forth it matches the more traditional societies I mentioned (conservative Islam, the Amish) fairly closely.

    Let’s say we could snap our fingers and restructure our society so that the sex/gender stuff was the way they liked. The society we’d end up with would be so alien from what we have now, the culture shock would be as huge as going from modern western living to Amish or conservative Islam. First because you can’t ever change only one thing. But also because even if you could, that’s a HUGE change. Most people are not ready for it even if they think they are. People really haven’t thought through how much they’re accustomed to and even dependent on baseline social structures, even ones they think they dislike.

    But there’s another angle to this too: some of these “Dark Enlightenment” people seem REALLY unhappy living in the modern West. Unhappy enough to wish for things that are something like apocalyptic. They talk about our society and compare it to the fall of Rome, stuff like that. If those are their terms, converting to Islam or Anabaptist or whatever should be relatively a no-brainer. Islam and the Amish both accept converts. They could be living in an explicit unapologetic male-dominated patriarchy within a few months! Unless they’re way overstating their case, which is what I suspect is what’s really going on.

    • Nornagest says:

      the “Dark Enlightenment” types […] have done a lot of work articulating the way they wish society was structured, and with regards to sex and gender roles and so forth it matches the more traditional societies I mentioned (conservative Islam, the Amish) fairly closely.

      Not sure how well those examples fit. It’s a DE trope to wax lyrical about enforced monogamy, for one thing, and to rail against no-fault divorce (divorce rules in classical sharia are fairly lenient). On the Amish side, Dark Illuminati tend to be pretty long on tech, to the point where they talk about the social organization they want in terms of lost pieces of “social technology”. I don’t think they’d be comfortable with the level of communitarianism the Amish run, either, but that’s more speculative.

      The Mormons (mainline ones, I mean, not FLDS) are a pretty good fit, though, which is why I mentioned them.

    • Anon. says:

      This view of DE is missing the “historical materialism” aspect. Here’s Land for example:

      At a certain critical point of industrial acceleration, the human generational cycle becomes too slow to protect itself. Patriarchy dies. … We’re all still trying to work out what happens next.

      It’s not about personally living in such a community, and since belief in God has evaporated Amish/Islam/etc. are not real solutions.

      • Well... says:

        I don’t hear a lot of “trying to work out what happens next”. Instead I hear a lot of “opining about what should happen next, in dramatic language”.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m rolling my eyes rather at the “patriarchy dies” bit – do they really mean patriarchy, which hasn’t been an effective force in the West since the 19th century (conflating “patriarchy” with “men as socially dominant” is something that really needs to be examined, as they’re slightly different: we don’t have the same status of the paterfamilias who can control his wife and children and the household as formerly, but we’re still wringing our hands over gender pay gaps and so on) or do they mean hierarchy? A non-patriarchal society where we’re all gender-fluid, but there is still a pecking order of who is top dog and who is underclass is perfectly possible and not what they might want.

        Let’s say we could snap our fingers and restructure our society so that the sex/gender stuff was the way they liked. The society we’d end up with would be so alien from what we have now, the culture shock would be as huge as going from modern western living to Amish or conservative Islam.

        I wonder – it’s possible to return to a period where there wasn’t no-fault divorce, the man was the head of the household who held the pursestrings and made all the decisions, a woman’s place was in the home, nice girls didn’t, there was no abortion and no contraception and no sex before marriage, etc*. That’s within living memory (whether you want to place it in the 1950s or later) and in Ireland, for instance, we didn’t get all these changes starting until the 80s (it’s only this year we had the abortion referendum passed, after all).

        So you’d need to be quite young for it to be a startling shock about “what do you mean, I have to be married to have sex?” and it would not entail living like the Amish or the Islamic world with the other cultural and social prescriptions on non-sexual/gender related matters. You’d be going back to your grandparents/parents’ time, not the 15th century!

        *Theoretically – in reality, people were fudging up “adultery” cases so they could get divorced, people were having sex outside marriage hence mother and baby homes, and so on. There’s always been the discrepancy between the ideal and what is happening in practice.

    • ana53294 says:

      One thing I find confusing about the men who want to go back to the patriarchy model: do they not remember or understand that the pater familias was the oldest man in the family, and that everybody, including his male sons, had to obey him?

      Do these men want to go to a hierarchycal system where they have to go back to obeying their father/grandfather/whoever is alive? Sure they may eventually gain that status – if they happen to be the eldest son. Because most patriarchal societies also had mayorate systems where the eldest son inherited everything, and younger sons had to leave. South America is full of descendants of the younger sons, who only had the choice of joining the clergy, the army or emigrating.

      From what I have heard of traditional patriarcal societies, the pater familias still retains a lot of power in traditional Roma society (I once was at a hospital were the patriarch was; it was quite a sight); it also seems to be the same in Chechen auls.

      Or do they want to go back to that brief period where the power of the patriarch was broken, but the man still was head of his wife and kids?

      Breaking the mayorate system and spreading resources over all kids, male and female was one of the things that weakened the power of the patriarchy – because the patriarch stopped being the guy who owned all the land the family farmed on, and became just a man who has big aspirations of power – without the resources (land and money) to support that power.

      • John Schilling says:

        Do these men want to go to a hierarchycal system where they have to go back to obeying their father/grandfather/whoever is alive?

        But most of these societies didn’t have the reach to go after a disobedient son who decided to seek his own fortune in the army/circus/city/whatever. And for that matter, most of them didn’t have the sort of police forces that would rigorously investigate the death of a known asshole whose surviving family members all swore it was bandits, we saw them, they went thataway.

        So, in practice, not “you absolutely must obey your father”, but “if you wish to share in the benefits of your father’s wealth and status, such as they are, you must obey his not-completely-unreasonable commands, and if not you’re on your own”. Which is something I think rather more people would find tolerable and fair.

        Sure they may eventually gain that status – if they happen to be the eldest son. Because most patriarchal societies also had mayorate systems where the eldest son inherited everything, and younger sons had to leave.

        After which they don’t really have to obey their fathers any more.

        But how does this really differ from the modern version, where once your parents have raised you to adulthood (now defined as college graduation) you have to leave, or suffer from the social and economic penalties of being a thirty-something slacker living in their parents’ basement? I’m not seeing how the expectation of inheriting a modest windfall, equally and fairly shared with your siblings, when you are about sixty and ready to retire, really changes the dynamic.

        The patriarchy at least offered eldest sons the realistic expectation of taking over the family business as a going concern in the prime of their lives. Now almost nobody can expect that. Yay equality. But, it looks a lot like lowest-common-denominator brand equality.

        Except for the part where we got here by increasing life expectancy so that parents don’t generally die while their children are in the prime of their lives, which makes this a net good and is a serious obstacle to anyone who wants to bring back the benefits of the patriarchy.

        • ana53294 says:

          Sure, in the modern police state, patriarchs cannot kill their wayward sons – but neither can they kill their wayward daughters or wives. And surely, some of the power over the women came from the purse, but some of it came from the ability of the patriarch to punish the women and men who disobeyed him.

          Do they want the protection for the sons, but not their daughters and wives?

          Before the discovery of America, younger sons had to join the clergy; and, until the Reformation, clergy did not marry in Western Europe. Catholic clergy still do not marry, so in Spain, for example, joining the clergy meant never marrying. The other option was to join the army – and in most cases, that did not bring a good enough income to support a wife either.

          But most of these societies didn’t have the reach to go after a disobedient son who decided to seek his own fortune in the army/circus/city/whatever.

          From what I know of Chechen society, the only way to escape the patriarch’s power is to completely abandon your kin and leave the patriarchal system, joining the less patriarchal system where the state has more power. Also, you have to go far, far away, and hide from your co-ethnic members.

          And besides, most jobs nowadays are available to women, too. So, if in the past young men escaped patriarcal systems to go to America and make their fortunes there, nowadays young women from the Chinese countriside leave their family’s farms to go to factories – and make their fortunes there (such as they are).

          I just can’t see how we can go back to a patriarcal system without also harming men. I don’t see why we would. I think men wanting to go back to a patriarcal system is kind of how some people in Russia want to go back to Imperial Russia – they don’t imagine themselves going back to what was statistically most likely, i.e. being a serf; they imagine themselves becoming boyare with lots of land. But statistically, most men in patriarcal society did not have that much power*; and most people were worse off under a serfdom system.

          *What I mean is, if you have the option to travel to the past, to a patriarcal society, and become any random man, the probability of you being worse off than you are now is higher than the probability you will be better off.

          EDIT: about the life expectancy. If we assume we go back to a patriarchal society but keep the police who will investigate the death of the asshole son/dishonorable daughter. Doesn’t the fact that you only stand to inherit something by the time you have already been married, had kids, and send them off to college (the biggest expenses during a person’s lifetime; retirees can frequently live on much less than what they needed to bring up their kids) take away the patriarch’s power that comes from the purse?

          We can see in the case of Prince Charles, for example, that the inheritance may come so late that it won’t make that much of a difference. He may die shortly after his mother.

          • John Schilling says:

            Before the discovery of America, younger sons had to join the clergy;

            Citation very much needed, because I’m pretty sure you are presenting an absurd caricature of history here.

          • ana53294 says:

            Citation very much needed, because I’m pretty sure you are presenting an absurd caricature of history here.

            I don’t know if I am making the mistake of assuming that the system common in Spain also occurred in other countries, but this were really the options offered to most non-inheriting sons in Spain. When land was locked into the mayorate system, and other honorable* forms of employment were barred by guilds, there weren’t that many options for younger sons – called “hijos segondones”. The sons of the nobility, or the hidalgos, could join the clergy.

            I can give you dozens of sources into books that study the role of the clergy as a job opportunity in Spain – but they will all be in Spanish. Will that do?

            There are plenty of academic documents in Spain on that regard. I can also tell you that, in my family**, most second sons joined the clergy or emigrated to America – as shown by our family’s archive.

            EDIT: The Patriarch’s power does not come mainly from his ability to kill a wayward son – after all, even with modern medicine and healthcare, a 20 year old man has a pretty good chance of killing his 40 year old father – assuming none of them received military training. Farm work, especially in the past, was very physically demanding of men, and wore them out a lot. Younger men could easily physically overcome their elders. The power of the purse was always the more important one – that was the reasons sons stayed with their fathers, even when they were abusive. There weren’t that many options for sons – otherwise, the whole system would crumble. Indeed, the system did crumble when sons could make a better living going to work to a factory instead of toiling at farm work, for the eventual price of inheriting the farm.

            I cannot imagine a system where sons have plenty of opportunities to make a living and marry, outside of the patriarchy, and the patriarch keeps their power. Why would they stay and obey? The only reason would be that they were better off obeying – and that means that there weren’t that many opportunities outside the system.

            I am not sure how much of the limited opportunities available to second sons comes from the patriarchy, the feudal system (although XVIII century Spain was not really feudal anymore), or the mayorate system (which was an economic necessity; in places where there was no mayorate, everybody ended destitute, instead of having a well off first son and plenty of spare ones training to join the clergy).

            The job the sons got had to be honorable – it wouldn’t be good to have an hidalgo becoming a servant. That is why they joined the clergy.

            *Honorable meaning not becoming a servant – who also usually weren’t able to marry.

            **The clergy was also a good place to get an education. My uncles studied in a seminary – and although they did not become monks, they did receive an education that allowed them to get a good job thanks to that training. The clergy was also an option for women who didn’t marry – I know plenty of families where daughters became nuns.

          • ana53294 says:

            All sources are in Spanish:

            Here is a book paragraph that talks about how the opening of the Academy of Cadiz gave families the option of sending their kids to the Navy instead of joining the clergy – and that was in the XVIII century.

            Here is a discussion of how Castilian clerics
            prevented Catalan second sons from joining the Church.

            Another text talking about how the use of the family’s money to give their second sons a position in the Church meant that they could provide that position – and get back the investment in the form of inheritance, as they wouldn’t have kids.

  5. historiaekatharsium says:

    As of this very moment, the “intuitive” neural net chess-engine Leela is crushing the “ratiocinative” chess engine Bobcat, in the just-started Division 3 of the Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC).

    The live comments are plenty interesting, as commenters argue about which style of chess-engine to cheer for … on grounds that are sometimes intuitive, sometimes rational. Quite a few commenters are praising this years TCEC for being “lots of fun” and “by far the most interesting chess tournament that I have ever watched.”

  6. ana53294 says:

    I have been curious about what the big deal with “forced speech” when using pronouns is. Now, English is a wonderfully gender-neutral language. If you don’t want to refer to a person in third person pronouns that don’t suit their chromosome composition/genitalia at birth, why not drop the pronouns when referring to them? Just don’t use any of the pronouns he/she/they/ze/whatever, and use their name/profession/relationship to you to refer to them.

    For example:

    I saw Sarah yesterday walking her dog. She greeted me, and I had a great conversation with her.

    Can be rewritten to this:

    Yesterday, I saw Sarah walking the dog. After greeting each other, we had a great conversation

    You can reorganize any sentence to convey your meaning while avoiding to use pronouns. Avoiding references to gender is not possible in other languages. In Spanish, for example, most nouns are gendered. In Russian, verbs for first, second and third person singular are gendered (so you will have a different way of saying I (female) said “Ya skazala” and I (male) said “Ya skazal”). English is much less gendered, and most of the gendered words are being dropped anyway (firefighter instead of fireman, flight assistant instead of stewardess, etc.). But you can do it, although it will be slightly awkward. But, unless you happen to live in a place with a high concentration of transgender people, you will only have to make that effort for one person you know in real life (and for a lot of people, that number is 0; I live in a rural area, and I don’t know any transgender person). So why not make that effort, to avoid hurting that person, and not compromise your values (that a person’s gender corresponds to the genitalia they were born with).

    Also, since I don’t understand what the big deal is: is it also hard to refer to a person by the name they chose for themselves? If a person you think of as a man chose the name Sarah (and were originally named John), would you insist on calling them John? Can’t a man or a woman choose to call themselves by whichever gendered name they choose to?

    I propose a game: give me a text that can’t be rewritten to avoid referring to the person’s gender while still conveying all useful information (excluding for the first name).

    • Montfort says:

      One problem with this is that while it is possible, it’s often detectable. To the trans person, this still feels like a deliberate effort to avoid using their preferred pronouns, and some will be annoyed or distressed by this; especially when they hear the speaker refer to a cisgender person by the usual pronouns. To the speaker, this still runs into the costs of changing how you speak, which is another complaint often raised.

      • ana53294 says:

        Still, wouldn’t it be better than refering to a woman as he? Assuming you can’t refer to a woman as she, because she was born with a penis, wouldn’t it be less hurtful to just try to avoid referring to her gender? For some people, referring to a woman who was born with a penis as she is a lie they can’t see themselves saying, so wouldn’t that be a compromise?

        • Montfort says:

          I think we are escaping my limited knowledge of trans affairs. I would guess that for some it would be better but still objectionable, for some it would be just fine, and for others it could even be worse, since it means the speaker knows about but chose not to affirm their gender. You could probably get a better answer from someone else, maybe on Ozy’s blog.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It’s unnatural for a native speaker to avoid pronouns; it can be done, usually, but it takes considerable effort. So the question, as with oddball pronouns, is why everyone should be required to go through these contortions to satisfy a few people’s idiosyncratic preferences?

    • Deiseach says:

      Gender neutral language rewrites often come off sounding stilted; you get a lot of progressive religious cant tying itself in knots talking about how “God has a plan for God’s people and Godself’s plan shows how God cares for us” because oh no, we mustn’t use masculine gendered language for God, that would be offensive and exclusionary. Meanwhile the rest of us keep saying “Our Father who art in Heaven”.

      So you might get dialogue along the lines of “Sarah asked me to find Sarahself’s book that Sarah had left behind in my cubicle” as distinct from “Sarah asked me to give Fred’s book that Sarah had borrowed back to him”. As Montfort points out, if you’re going to say “I gave Fred his book back” but consistently talk about “the book belonging to Sarah which I gave back”, it’s not going to take Sarah long to feel that you are making an exceptional case of her/Sarahself and it is even more obvious than ordinary “he/she” language that there is Something Odd About Sarah.

    • Estera clare says:

      What about speech? It’s a lot harder to rewrite your sentences on the fly.
      Besides, how would you deal with possessives, like in this sentence: “Sarah would not leave her room.” Maybe you could say “Sarah would not leave the room that belonged to Sarah,” but that sounds oddly redundant/

      • ana53294 says:

        Yes, speech is harder. But if you are the kind of person who really, really cannot bring themselves to refer to a trans person by their chosen gender, I assume that you wouldn’t be close to any trans person, or that there would be just this one family member who you love too much to avoid them.

        The percentage of transgender people is very small; I would assume that the kind of person for whom gender is a really big deal would not select an environment where they encounter any transgender people socially or personally. And most professional relationships are not long enough for other people to start noticing speech patterns.

        Possesives are rarely strictly necessary. So, if I say “I returned the book to Sarah”, you can usually assume that it was her book. Unless ownership is the main point of the sentence, and not the fact that Sarah is refusing to leave the room, you can simply drop the possesive. If the possesive is crucial, then you use the awkward term (“Sarah would not leave Sarah’s room”

        • Deiseach says:

          that there would be just this one family member who you love too much to avoid them

          You greatly overestimate my devotion to family. I might call them “qualips/qualipso/qualipsicus” in order not to fight at a family occasion, but I am going to say and think “Cousin George is male, and it’s he/him/his” to anyone who asks me. By the bye, I hate this appeal to love to trump reason (and I saw the same thing with the gay rights/gay marriage campaigns); if Cousin George murdered the family next door, I might love him dearly but I do hope nobody would expect me not to call the police on the grounds “but you love him! he’s family! how can you be so heartless as to turn him in? So what if he’s a murderer, he’s your cousin and you should change your mind to think that the law is at fault, not him – all for the sake of love!”

          The same way that if someone asks me ‘what is this animal?’ and I say ‘it’s a dog‘ and they say ‘no, you are wrong! it’s a cat! and if you refuse to use the preferred terms, you are a felisphobe!’ I may concede (after being beaten around the shoulders with a knout) that okay, it’s a cat but I am not going to suddenly change my mind over what is a dog and what is a cat, even if the animal in question was raised with dogs and thinks it’s a dog and behaves like a dog.

          The percentage of transgender people is very small

          Exactly, which is why it’s they who should give in on this and not the majority. And if that sounds heartless, I don’t mind one bit. I don’t care about bruised feelings. Someone is physically intersex, that’s a recognisable condition, I will be tactful as to their preferences there. Someone is physically and functionally male, wants me to pretend they are not alone now female but have always, from the womb onwards, been female, they can go fly a kite. I’ve seen too much goddamn wabbling on this, from the “male and female brains are absolutely identical, there are no differences, and SCIENCE has proven this with MRI scans, so if you say men and women are different you are a SEXIST PIG” (when it suited feminism to deny that men and women could possibly have different interests or preferences or abilities or skills because of brain difference) to “The reason I’m trans female is because I have a female brain, SCIENCE has shown this with MRI scans, so if you say my brain is not different to a male brain you are a TRANSPHOBE” (now that it suits trans people who still claim to be feminists to have brain difference exist) has left me less than convinced about the power of SCIENCE to prove a damn thing one way or the other on this topic.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            “He whose works no man justly finds fault with, knows what He has done. … As for the Androgyni, or Hermaphrodites, as they are called, though they are rare, yet from time to time there appears persons of sex so doubtful, that it remains uncertain from which sex they take their name; though it is customary to give them a masculine name, as the more respected.” — St. Augustine, City of God XVI.8

            Intersex people exist and should be treated gently. The problem is that leftists want to weaponize this category to include biologically normal men and women (but mostly men!) who make little effort to pass as the other sex.

    • WashedOut says:

      The issue is not the adequacy of the English language to accommodate unusual demands, but about a law that can compel speech. Specifically, speech including a theoretically infinite set of user-defined pronouns that can change over time. From what analysis of the Canadian version I’ve read, such a law is unworkable and comes laden with various slippery-slope concerns.

    • baconbits9 says:

      I have been curious about what the big deal with “forced speech” when using pronouns is. Now, English is a wonderfully gender-neutral language. If you don’t want to refer to a person in third person pronouns that don’t suit their chromosome composition/genitalia at birth, why not drop the pronouns when referring to them? Just don’t use any of the pronouns he/she/they/ze/whatever, and use their name/profession/relationship to you to refer to them.

      Its a big deal because it attempts to shift ownership of people’s opinions. If I say “Trump is an idiot” he should not be able to prevent me from saying that by pointing out that he thinks of himself as very bright. One of those things is my opinion of him and one of those is his opinion and they don’t have to be the same thing. The leap from “I identify as X” to “you must identify me as X” is not a logical one, and outside of the slippery slope, poor incentive arguments it stands on its own as an objection.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I don’t think you actually mean this, as I think you would take offense were one of your teachers to decide to refer to you using a gender you don’t take as your own. I highly doubt that if a teacher was using “Ma’am” and “she” to refer to someone who was assigned male at birth, identified as male, wished to be referred to as male, and expressed dismay at being referred to as female, you would rightly regard this as evidence of some form of prejudice against that individual.

        • 10240 says:

          If someone is male by all common definitions, then it’s rightly considered weird if you call that person a girl or refer to him as ‘she’, and it’s going to be assumed that it’s an attempt at mockery or something like that. If that someone is male by some of the existing definitions, and female by others, then the same assumption is not reasonable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            But then the idea that the objection is about “attempts to shift ownership of people’s opinions“ falls away (as you are not relying on the teacher’s opinion of what is correct, but others).

          • uau says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Nope, that argument doesn’t work. If a teacher used “she” with someone that was obviously male by all definitions, people would assume that the teacher does not genuinely disagree about the gender, but is intentionally pretending to get it wrong.

            That’s not the case with trans people. People who aren’t willing to change pronouns are not pretending to make a mistake.

        • WashedOut says:

          I highly doubt that if a teacher was using “Ma’am” and “she” to refer to someone who was assigned male at birth, identified as male, wished to be referred to as male, and expressed dismay at being referred to as female, you would rightly regard this as evidence of some form of prejudice against that individual.

          This toy scenario doesn’t even address the argument being made by the person you responded to, let alone the thread topic. Identity is an offer you make to the rest of the world, and contains a set of predictive claims you assert about yourself, mostly about what kinds of transactions other people can expect to engage in with you. That you “identify” as Neil Armstrong doesn’t make it so. That you “identify” as a demigirl with pronouns “Zhe/zher/zhir” today and “fwe/fwo/fwi” tomorrow is an offer many people will not accept, and surprise surprise when no-one wants to talk to you. It is thus fairly abhorrent that a law should be put before a parliament to compel one party to accept an unreasonable offer being made by another individual.

          We can bikeshed all day about what words cause hurt feelings for whom but the concern remains about forced speech. Does government lawmaking to compel certain types of speech bother you? What if such speech is a moving goalpost of unique user-defined neologisms? This is the centre of the bullseye for most people debating the issue, myself included.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Exactly. You want to be identified as the gender other than your genitals? Pass well enough
            to earn it – It’s doable! But pretending that there are more genders with pronouns not in the English dictionary is right out.

          • Brad says:

            I agree that the law shouldn’t get involved. If you wish to go around calling transwomen he, I don’t think you should be fined or put in jail.

            However, I think other people, including people organized into groups other than those with a monopoly on the use of force, are equally entitled to disregard the fact that you “identify as” a decent human being, mentally place you in the bucket of “asshole”, and treat you accordingly.

            After all just as you “need” to be true to your own judgments and understandings of gender so to do the rest of us need to be true to our own judgments and understandings of the best ways to interact or refuse to interact with assholes.

        • J Mann says:

          FWIW, I don’t think I would take offense at all. When I had long hair, people would occasionally misgender me by accident, and I thought it was funny. If a teacher misgendered me, I would find it odd but not offensive.

          My understanding is that that kind of confidence is one aspect of privilege, and it’s one I wish I could extend to everyone else somehow.

        • baconbits9 says:

          I don’t think you actually mean this, as I think you would take offense were one of your teachers to decide to refer to you using a gender you don’t take as your own.

          I didn’t state that I wouldn’t take offense, nor did I state that Trump wouldn’t be offended or that people who are mis-gendered wouldn’t be offended.

          I highly doubt that if a teacher was using “Ma’am” and “she” to refer to someone who was assigned male at birth, identified as male, wished to be referred to as male, and expressed dismay at being referred to as female, you would rightly regard this as evidence of some form of prejudice against that individual.

          As washedout points out below this doesn’t follow even a little. What you are referring to is generally accepted as basic politeness or professionalism, what was asked was the big deal about compelled speech which would be about laws demanding that preferred pronouns are used.

        • Deiseach says:

          I highly doubt that if a teacher was using “Ma’am” and “she” to refer to someone who was assigned male at birth, identified as male, wished to be referred to as male

          But those are precisely not the cases we are talking about, HeelBearCub. We’re not arguing over people whose assigned gender, sex, and identified gender all agree. Personally, okay you want me to call you “he” or “she”, fine – but you can’t make me think of you as “he” or “she” if you are obviously not (and some people do fail to pass). The funny pronouns lot? Maybe, but that will make me even less likely to think in my own head that they are not “she” (or “he”, but the funny pronouns lot do seem to be overwhelmingly female).

          Passing laws can force people to use the pronouns but they can’t change minds, and I do wonder if it’s more about forcing acceptance (the same way that “gay marriage won’t affect you at all even if you disagree with it” went to “bake the cake or we’ll sue you” once it was legal; there is definitely at least part of forcing change by using the law at work there, and when one of the cases involved a baker in a state where gay marriage was illegal and gay marriages from other states were not recognised yet he was successfully brought before the courts, I do say ‘to hell with what you pretend you want, we can see what you actually want and it’s to force goodthink on people’).

          It would probably be easier to get social acceptance if there were a common non-regular pronoun, be it “singular they” or “xe” or whatever, instead of the mixum-gatherum that is currently in vogue, but that’s something that will have to be hammered out by the trans rights movement itself.

          And I wonder if there’s not going to be a split between the “call me he or she, can pass for male or female” part of the trans umbrella grouping and the “genderfluid/genderqueer/trigender/whatever, funny pronouns, do not convincingly pass” part down the line, the same way I see complaints about how the gay rights movement successfully made white cis gays the face of the movement and got the conventional acceptance of things like marriage for them passed so that the restrictions of straight society have been incorporated into the movement, meanwhile all the poor, queer, non-white, non-respectable people have been thrown under the bus in pursuit of wider social acceptance.

  7. Matt M says:

    In my social media feed today…. a prominent Mexican food chain in Houston found itself embroiled in controversy over their decision to host Jeff Sessions (and post about it on social media) for dinner. Nothing much new here, in and of itself… it’s the same controversy that has been debated exhaustively for the past few months in many other situations.

    What I did find particularly interesting was one specific part of the “revised” statement that the owner of the chain has since released:

    El Tiempo does not in anyway support the practice of separating children from parents or any other practices of the government relative to immigration. The posting of a photograph of the Attorney General at one of our restaurants does not represent us supporting his positions. The secret service contacted us that a government official was coming to dinner at our establishment and his identity was not know until he walked through the door. The man came to dinner and he was served without us even thinking about the political situations. We were preoccupied with the secret service and catering to their wants and needs. The only thing on our minds was serving great food and giving great customer service. It was posted without review or approval by ownership and this has lead to everyone jumping to conclusions that somehow we are involved in this political matter. We don’t approve of anyone separating parents and children.

    The bolding done here is mine. Is this not a rejection of all immigration restriction and a call for completely unpoliced open borders? I assume that’s not what they literally meant, but is that not the literal meaning of rejecting “any other practices of the government relative to immigration?” Is not the implication here that the government should then have no practices relative to immigration at all?

    I’m willing to shrug this particular example off as poor word choice from someone who faced a lot of bashing from the left and is looking to placate the mob, but I’m going to keep taking note of these things and watching for them much closer in the future…

    • The Nybbler says:

      The bolding done here is mine. Is this not a rejection of all immigration restriction and a call for completely unpoliced open borders?

      No, I think in context it’s merely a claim of non-endorsement, not of opposition. They don’t endorse any of the practices of the government relative to immigration because they’re a Mexican restaurant, not a political action committee.

      • Matt M says:

        But they seem to pretty clearly oppose “the practice of separating children from their families” do they not? And this is included alongside that with a simple “or.”

        I’m sure I can find many government practices they would enthusiastically support, despite not being a political action committee. I can’t imagine them releasing a statement saying something like “We do not in any way support the practice of providing universal public education to children” or something like that…

        • The Nybbler says:

          But they seem to pretty clearly oppose “the practice of separating children from their families” do they not? And this is included alongside that with a simple “or.”

          Again, they’re a Mexican restaurant, not experts at semantics or rhetoric. Most likely they were explicitly bashed for supporting that policy (by touting Sessions visit) and explicitly responded to it.

    • Deiseach says:

      Is this not a rejection of all immigration restriction and a call for completely unpoliced open borders?

      No, it’s preventative covering their backsides from being absolutely destroyed by the “punch a Nazi” lot who would arrange social media campaigns to try to drive them out of business (including encouraging people to leave terrible reviews on Yelp and other sites even if they never visited the place – a tactic I’ve seen recommended against Enemies of the People like this) and who knows, maybe even a visit from your local friendly black bloc crew to smash the place up.

      They have sinned and must make public confession and swear never to come into contact with heretics ever again, and they must say it in the approved terms and with the right wording, or else. If another of the unfavoured had been a customer, they would switch wording to condemning whatever the damned soul were accused of (e.g. Mike Pence being ‘the worst homophobe in the nation’, so they’d come out with rainbow flags a-waving and vows of how they love the LGTBQA+ cause).

      • Brad says:

        No, it’s preventative covering their backsides from being absolutely destroyed by the “punch a Nazi” lot who would arrange social media campaigns to try to drive them out of business (including encouraging people to leave terrible reviews on Yelp and other sites even if they never visited the place – a tactic I’ve seen recommended against Enemies of the People like this) and who knows, maybe even a visit from your local friendly black bloc crew to smash the place up.

        How many Nazis were punched during the trailing 12 months across the United States? How many companies have gone out of business because of social media campaigns? How many stores have been smashed up by black bloc crews?

        I hear shark attacks are a big problem this summer and Chinese cardiologists are terrible people.

        • Deiseach says:

          Well, Brad, how many gay torture concentration camps have been set up? How many battalions of Actual For Real Fascist Stormtroopers are marching through the streets? How is the mass exodus of “this time I swear it for sure if the election goes the wrong way” voters to Canada going?

          I think there has been a lot more “I’ll sweam and sweam and make myself thick” from the lefties on this, and they have the track record of real bike lock swinging and store window smashing. I’m not seeing Noted Progressives being hounded out of restaurants where they went to eat (and not deliver a political rally), for example.

          • Brad says:

            The difference between us is that I’m not citing gay torture concentration camps whereas you are citing non-existent threats as if they were pervasive.

            Maybe you should worry less about “lefties” writ large and more about being accurate and grounded in reality in your own writings.

          • Deiseach says:

            I agree that the gay torture camps are non-existent! Didn’t and doesn’t stop some people hyperventilating that Pence was going to do that.

            On the other hand, it really has happened that a bunch of antifa showed up to heckle and harass people at a restaurant, and the riots in the aftermath of the election where properties were damaged engendered a lot of responses along the lines of ‘lol you care more about windows than people’.

            So I think the odds of a bunch of friendly anti-fascists turning up to vehemently persuade you of the error of your ways is greater than zero, and any prudent business would pander to them in this PR release fashion by declaring they want fifty Stalins! in order to avoid any unpleasantness.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            So let me get this straight, people being literally separated from their children is no big deal, but the architects of that policy being heckled is the first sign of the apocalypse?

            Yeah, I’m going to call motivated reasoning here..

          • The original Mr. X says:

            So let me get this straight, people being literally separated from their children is no big deal,

            Pretty much every country has a long history of literally separating people from their children — sending people to prison and divorce come to mind as the big causes. If you only care about this sort of thing when it’s US border officials doing it, perhaps you’re the one with motivated reasoning.

            but the architects of that policy being heckled is the first sign of the apocalypse?

            Not the apocalypse, no, but when a country gets so polarised that members of opposing political parties can’t even eat at the same restaurant, that doesn’t bode well for a country’s future.

          • Brad says:

            I agree that the gay torture camps are non-existent! Didn’t and doesn’t stop some people hyperventilating that Pence was going to do that.

            Since you really seem to want to argue with these people, maybe you should find a forum where they actually exist?

            So I think the odds of a bunch of friendly anti-fascists turning up to vehemently persuade you of the error of your ways is greater than zero

            So is the chance of suddenly ceasing to exist because of quantum fluctuations. Do you suggest people worry about that?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            So is the chance of suddenly ceasing to exist because of quantum fluctuations. Do you suggest people worry about that?

            People have, in fact, got mobbed by Antifa activists in the past, and you’re doing your argument no favours by refusing to admit that.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            If you only care about this sort of thing when it’s US border officials doing it

            I care about when it is being done systemically as an intentionally negative consequence for the parents, designed as a deterrent. That can’t be said of state actions in other cases.

          • Deiseach says:

            So let me get this straight, people being literally forced to issue a mea culpa by howling protestors who attacked their patrons is no big deal, but lawbreakers being treated as such is the first sign of the apocalypse?

            Yeah, I’m going to call motivated reasoning here..

          • John Schilling says:

            Pretty much every country has a long history of literally separating people from their children — sending people to prison and divorce come to mind as the big causes.

            1. The part that has people upset is not that people were being separated from their children, but that children were being separated from their parents. It is the children, not the parents, who are being seen as the victims here.

            2. Sending people to prison is a thing that happens after someone is convicted of a felony. That children may wind up in state custody after their parents unambiguously commit felonies is regrettable, but something most people are prepared to tolerate for several obvious reasons. Imposing that fate on children because their parents are accused of misdemeanors, is a rather different matter. And one not in accord with our, or any other society’s, normal treatment of minor criminal accusations.

            3. When your tribe can’t keep itself from gleefully bragging about how this atypical treatment will surely teach those parents a lesson and how everything will be OK once those parents all start doing what you tell them to, that makes it look an awful lot like you are deliberately punishing children for the minor and sympathetic sins of their parents. Also, using the phrase “zero tolerance” in this context, really does make you look intolerant.

            4. Reasons why divorce is a completely irrelevant as an example here, are left as an exercise for the reader.

            If you only care about this sort of thing when it’s US border officials doing it,

            People don’t only care about this sort of thing when it’s US border officials doing it. You’ll find some of the same people complaining about, e.g., nanny-state social workers dragging free-range children away from their parents to punish the parents for their excessively permissive behavior. Really, anything that looks like punishing children for the sins of their parents will raise concern. Particularly if the parents’ sins don’t seem all that terrible.

            But, here and now, and thanks to their boss’s hyperactive twitter thumb, it’s the US Border Patrol that is by far the most visible offender in that area, so they are the ones getting all the heat.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          How many Nazis were punched during the trailing 12 months across the United States? How many companies have gone out of business because of social media campaigns? How many stores have been smashed up by black bloc crews?

          The relevant question isn’t “How many companies have gone out of business because of social media campaigns?” but “What proportion of companies which found themselves on the receiving end of a social media campaign ended up having their business harmed as a result of this?”

          • Brad says:

            The one is a good proxy for the other. If enough people get pneumonia people are going to start dying. If one winter no one dies from pneumonia it’s a pretty good bet that not many people are suffering with it either.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The one is a good proxy for the other. If enough people get pneumonia people are going to start dying. If one winter no one dies from pneumonia it’s a pretty good bet that not many people are suffering with it either.

            If you’ve got a patient with pneumonia and want to know how likely he is to die, “What percentage of pneumonia patients end up dying?” is obviously a better metric than “What percentage of the general population end up dying of pneumonia?”

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      David Friedman’s El Tiempo, serving authentic 16th century Mexican food?

    • WashedOut says:

      It reads to me much less a statement of policy/belief and more a statement of regret that they find themselves coming into contact with politics. The specificity of their disapproval for the separation of parents and children could be taken as a statement of position on an issue, but in this case it’s more likely to be a refutation of the exact wording they’ve had leveled at them by their critics/accusers on the left.

      How many Nazis were punched during the trailing 12 months across the United States? How many companies have gone out of business because of social media campaigns? How many stores have been smashed up by black bloc crews?

      Isolated demands for rigor aside, the great thing about antifa is that punching people is justified if you label them a Nazi. Guessing what proportion of assault victims harbored Nazi-compatible views is an exercise left for the reader.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        It reads to me much less a statement of policy/belief and more a statement of regret that they find themselves coming into contact with politics.

        “El Tiendo deeply regrets that we have come into contact with politics, but like most restaurants we do not have a policy of refusing service to officials serving in the executive branch. We disapprove of children being separated from their parents at the border and would prefer that they be together at our restaurant, a desire that should not be taken as a position on any subsequent immigration policy regarding them.”

        • Matt M says:

          Indeed. If their intent was to express complete neutrality, I can imagine many sorts of statements that would have more successfully conveyed that.

          Even if their intent was to express complete neutrality for everything except separating parents from children, they could have more effectively communicated that, too.

          To me, the intent of this statement is basically to communicate something to the effect of “We agree with you screeching protestors on everything EXCEPT our right to make money serving Republicans.”

          • Deiseach says:

            It strikes me that this is the counterpart of the gay cakes; if you cannot use liberty of conscience to refuse service but must treat all customers equally and cannot refuse the same goods to Republicans and/or people in office as you would to non-Republicans and/or people not in public office, then the screeching protestors are screeching on the wrong side. We’ve been told it doesn’t mean that you endorse the beliefs of the other side if you make money serving them in that instance.

            I imagine that they would have happily turned up to protest that pizza parlour not catering a gay wedding, for example. And suppose that Obama and Clinton had turned up at a restaurant which refused to serve them on the grounds of disagreeing with bombing Libya, those same protestors would be screeching about racism and politics and the rest of it.

            Or going back to the Civil Rights era, a restaurant that refused to serve and seat a black woman with a white man at the same table. Would the protestors be pro or anti that? But in this case, so long as the black woman and white man are Republicans, then discrimination is not discrimination. To make myself clear, my sympathies are all with the restaurant in this particular case; even if they are in fact in agreement with the protestors on the politics, they plainly were forced to put out this kind of “don’t shoot me I’m one of you” statement in order to avoid any unpleasantness or backlash – I can’t blame them for not wanting a picket line of screeching antifa on the pavement outside their premises until they were forced to shut down due to customers not being able to get past.

    • yodelyak says:

      You are taking a with-us-or-against-us attitude that almost no one but you takes. Normal people do not read a long paragraph by anyone who expressly disavows specific political beliefs to thereby endorse all beliefs polar opposite to the beliefs disavowed. E.g., I can say that I don’t endorse Pluto becoming a dwarf planet, and that doesn’t make me a fan of Pluto remaining a planet, or being blown into smithereens (and no longer a dwarf planet!), or any other damn thing about Pluto. It means *only* that I am not expressing an opinion.

    • rahien.din says:

      If everything you read is evidence of radical-open-borders-dogwhistling… then nothing is.

    • andrewflicker says:

      An old and fun thought experiment, but I’m firmly in the camp of “no, you can’t, because tastes between people are too varied”. Now, for an individual person- they might have an impossible triad. But many people do not, and what’s one person’s impossible triad will certainly not be everyone’s.

    • WashedOut says:

      Chocolate, Mint, Chilli ?

      Both chocolate combos are common, mint and chilli are used a lot in Asian cooking. But all three seems wrong.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Not sure if this qualifies , but spicy peppermint hot chocolate is a thing. To someone at least.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          The reviews included a lot of “sounds awesome”, but I don’t see evidence that anyone actually tried making it, let alone liked the taste.

        • Lambert says:

          As are https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chocolate-mint-chilli-truffles
          https://www.southdevonchillifarm.co.uk/online-shop/chilli-chocolate/mint-chilli-chocolate/
          and https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ghost-Pepper-Chilli-Chocolate-Mints-Chilli-Boiled-Sweets-100g-New-Product-/182342856280

          It’s an interesting question, in that it makes us think explicitly about how we model cooking.
          For things like herbs and spices, I think of it kind of as a graph, where the nodes are ingredients and the edges correspond to things that go well together.
          The edges probably correspond to shared classes of chemicals. So lemon zest, coriander seeds and fennel seeds all have connections between them due to them being rich in terpenes. Fennel is also linked to star anise due to the anethole content.

          For making sauces and stews, I implicitly use a vector model, where the basis vectors are the main tastes, and adding an ingredient moves the vector of the meal as a whole in the direction of the ingredient’s vector.

          So salt is in the direction ‘salty’, soy sauce is between ‘salty’ and ‘umami’, and lime juice is mostly ‘sour’ with a bit of ‘sweet’ and ‘aromatic’.

          When I taste a sauce, I’m trying to find the gradient of the scalar tastiness field, then move in that direction.

          I don’t think either of these models have much room for this kind of triad.

          • rahien.din says:

            How does your model account for (or predict) combinations that don’t taste good?

          • Lambert says:

            I find that when I make a bad meal, it tends to be due to over-doing it with one or two ingredients, such that it’s far too acidic or bitter.

            I don’t tend to run into bad combinations too often. Though that’s probably a lack of explicit modeling of bad meals (since I’m trying to optimise, not pessimise).

          • Deiseach says:

            How does your model account for (or predict) combinations that don’t taste good?

            Mentally balance out the ingredients. Take salted caramel/salted chocolate, for instance, a recent trend that flabbergasts me – if you’re making a salted caramel dessert, obviously you’re not going to dump in as much salt as if you were salting beef; you want the contrast between the sweetness and the tang of the salt on the tongue, you don’t want the overwhelming taste to be salt and nothing but salt. If you took the name of the recipe as indicating “the more salt, the better!” then you’d be mistaken. On the other hand, some recipes need plenty of salt or else they’re bland.

      • Deiseach says:

        Not necessarily; I’ve seen chili-flavoured chocolate and thought “that must be disgusting, I must try it!” and it wasn’t bad at all, so chocolate-mint-chili seems like it might be quite good if you get the proportions right.

        Silky strong chocolate base, heat/spiciness from the chili but not overwhelming, and delicate topnotes of mint – seems okay.

        Sickly sweet chocolate/too much mint so that it blasts everything/chili that burns and sears but adds nothing to the flavour profile – wrong way to do it.

    • David Speyer says:

      I once posed this question to a Russian mathematician who responded immediately “vodka, vodka and vodka”.

    • AG says:

      From personal experience: coffee, honey, ginger

  8. johan_larson says:

    Have another mission, folks:

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to design a system of surveillance and response that will protect us from extraterrestrial threats like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

    #WeAreCancellingTheApocalypse

  9. Chlopodo says:

    Does anybody know if there are any pre-Interstellar examples of a black hole being depicted with the accretion disk gravity-lensed around the event horizon so that it creates the appearance of a Saturn-like planet?

    When I first saw the movie, my thought upon seeing Gargantua was “Ah, yes, of course!” And if physics-illiterate me had that reaction, then it can’t have been too hard a thing for someone smarter to come up with. Yet from what I understand, nobody decided to make it look that way in the movie: they just plugged in their new physics simulator and that’s what came out. Which makes me wonder whether anyone ever had the idea before. If not, then it seems like a decent example of Obvious Only In Hindsight.

    • Iain says:

      The CGI team for Interstellar co-authored a paper with Kip Thorne about their work. It cites a fair bit of prior art, and the abstract makes it clear that it didn’t provide any new astrophysical nsights about accretion disks. That said, while I’m not an expert, it looks like it really did push forward the boundaries of science when it comes to gravitational lensing and caustics.

      In other words: people had already realized that the accretion disk would make a black hole look somewhat like Saturn, but Interstellar made real scientific contributions by nailing down some of the finer details.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      What is the relevance of lensing? Doesn’t the accretion disk make it look like Saturn under flat optics?
      Added: I guess the lensing makes the disk look like the body of Saturn as well as the ring, while without it the black hole would look much darker than the ring (but not invisible).

      • Another Throw says:

        Yeah, basically.

        But it is worth noting that they significantly derelativisticised their rendering of the black hole.

        Having the cool time dilation and stuff they were looking for and still be able to have a terrestrial planet in the Goldilocks Zone created by the Goldilocks Accretion Disk (because wouldn’t that be cool) required a 100 million solar mass black hole with an angular momentum of THEORETICAL_MAXIMUM * (1 – 1*10^-(MAXIMUM_PRECISION-1)). I haven’t been able to find a render of what this would supposedly look like because it was considered incomprehensible to audiences, but the best I can come up with from trying to parse the description I’ve seen is “sweet infinity shot.” [I assume the mechanism is that as a rotating black hole increases in angular momentum it generates larger gravitational waves, and as you approach the theoretical maximum these gravitation waves are large enough to create substantial lensing of their own.] So for rendering of the black hole in the movie used an angular momentum of approximately half the theoretical maximum (and that which would be required to model the system).

        Also, they ignored the Doppler shift. The accretion disk is apparently rotating fast enough to red shift one limb almost completely out of the visible spectrum. Which was also considered incomprehensible to audiences.

        But Re: the OP’s question, all the renderings of black holes I have seen have either lacked accretion disks or have been full blown quasars, which are a whole different animal than the Goldilocks accretion disk in Interstellar. ETA: Astrophysicists have known since the 1970’s that that is basically how it’ll play out and have been doing simulations every chance they get. The scientific contributions of the rendering for Interstellar were massively overblown in the popular media (no surprises there) and it kind of irritated Kip Thorne.

        • Chlopodo says:

          To clarify, I was indeed asking about the lensing of the accretion disk around the body of the black hole so that it appears to have an outline, not just the fact that it has an accretion disk.

    • Machine Interface says:

      I had seen that kind of representation in a pop-sci magazine at least a decade before Interstellar, but never in a work of fiction before.

  10. J Mann says:

    So New York has put a moratorium on most new Uber and Lyft licences for a year while it sets up a regulatory framework to make sure that drivers are making something like minimum wage,* and the roads aren’t unnecessarily congested.** NYC’s experts think (optimistically of course), that some smart regulation can raise driver wages for the drivers permitted to work and reduce congestion with minimal effect on passenger wait times and prices.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to design an experiment to allow cities to try different Uber regulatory schemes and measure the effects. Ideally, this experiment should capture if your personal suspicions are correct or radically wrong, and should provide data that is reasonably persuasive to any science oriented viewer.

    * A tough problem for gig independent contractors – it looks like they are going to try to restrict the number of drivers until utilization goes up far enough to approximate the $17 and change per hour that they want as driver profit.

    ** It sounds like they’re heading for some kind of utilization standard requiring a minimum amount of time actually driving someone, with extra credit for multiple passengers, but some people are pushing for some kind of general congestion pricing for all cars.

    • Christophe Biocca says:

      I think you’d get better data out of the before/after outcomes (before legislation is finalized or ideally even announced, 1 year after it’s in place) than by comparing distinct cities and their different Uber-targeted legislation.

      It’s still not a perfect experimental setup but most of these places seem to reach an equilibrium quickly, now that people know how to use the services.

      Things to measure:

      – Changes in the transit premium (if the transit premium increases this is an indication that people are relying on transit more than they did before).
      – Ridership numbers on all car services (including taxis, as one effect of making Uber more expensive is to drive some demand back to its substitutes).
      – Breakdown of price structure for a representative sample of all fares (if you do manage to drive down congestion, decreases in travel-time will partially compensate for increases in per-mile and per-minute costs, on the other hand a supply-limited Uber may well resort to more frequent surge-pricing to wring out every last hour of work from the smaller driver base).
      – Changes in distance travelled, or in frequency of endpoint pairs (cordon pricing would almost certainly encourage cost-sensitive travellers to split their trip into two parts, and walking past the cordon).

      • J Mann says:

        Thanks! On thing I was thinking was that you could design your interim regulations to capture data as well. For example, you could allow 5% less utilization on alternate weeks for a year or something to see what happens. Of course, Uber and Lyft’s response would also be highly influential and complicate the analysis.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Putting a cap on Uber and Lyft just turns it back into the taxi monopoly. Which is the whole point.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Because the fence taxi monopoly was put in place for a reason.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Sure, but it wasn’t a good reason.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think you are looking at the fence, seeing negative effects of having it up, and deciding those were the reasons for it being put in place.

          • Urstoff says:

            Sometimes an anti-competitive monopoly is just an anti-competitive monopoly.

          • quanta413 says:

            What Urstoff said.

            The fence already came down in many cities and any supposed negative effects should be easy to show off, but instead it’s mostly unconvincing or minor negative effects whereas the positive effects are pretty great.

            It’s even theoretically possible the regulations made sense in the past although I doubt it.

            It’s not even a new type of fight. Peru had a few rounds of political battles of unlicensed vs licensed taxis decades ago.

    • AG says:

      Meanwhile, the subway continues to languish…
      Apparently, Chicago just put a tax on ride-sharing to fund public transportation projects?
      There’s also the USPS approach in which you force private competitors to only offer premium services.

      Combining the two would be the government starting a ride-share service. This, of course, will fail because government and school software is always bought-via-nepotism junk.

      • idontknow131647093 says:

        Chicago’s public transit is in decent shape. Its problem is that it is confused. One of its purposes is to reduce congestion, but the bus lanes and excessively close bus stops increases traffic and also makes the bus no faster than walking in important areas (thus the only advantage is not getting sweaty in summer and not getting salty/wet in winter). They should close at least 1/2 the bus stops.

        The El, is less confused in its ostensible purpose which is to shuttle people to the Loop, but lacks the basic sanitation and policing to make people happy about using it.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          the bus lanes and excessively close bus stops increases traffic and also makes the bus no faster than walking in important areas (thus the only advantage is not getting sweaty in summer and not getting salty/wet in winter). They should close at least 1/2 the bus stops.

          Downtown, definitely. IME it’s quite effective in the more residential areas, even if being stuck driving behind a bus still sucks.

          The El, is less confused in its ostensible purpose which is to shuttle people to the Loop, but lacks the basic sanitation and policing to make people happy about using it.

          Wish they’d do more about the grifters and occasional feces but I’m still much, much happier using it than driving.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            IMO even in residential areas the stops are way too close together. By me its still like every 2-3 blocks.

  11. Deiseach says:

    Look, whatever you think about Trump or his policies or if this is a crazy idea that will go nowhere, you have to admit:

    THIS IS THE FUTURE WE WERE PROMISED! FINALLY!!

    We may not have the flying cars or lunar tourist resorts, but now it feels like I’m living in the 21st Century, just like all the SF stories of my childhood promised! In the far-flung year of 2020, you too can enlist in SPACE FORCE!!!! 😀

    • Matt M says:

      I don’t know, tweets like that make me think more and more that this whole thing is just an elaborate troll-job by Trump to distract his opponents and that all of this is going approximately nowhere.

      • John Schilling says:

        Trump doesn’t do that sort of thing. His projects go nowhere, like this will go nowhere, because he doesn’t understand that an enthusiastic “make it so!” does not in fact make it so, and he doesn’t have the bandwidth or inclination to follow through. But I believe the initial enthusiasm is sincere.

        Creating a new service would require an extraordinary amount of work, and the natural tendency of the bureaucracy will be to spend the next 2-6 years offering elaborately documented explanations as to why it is unreasonable to expect them to have advanced past the planning phase yet but that the plans are really really impressive and the bureaucrats involved all deserve promotions. Which will in any event be needed to carry out the plan, because see the fine print of the plan.

        • Randy M says:

          an enthusiastic “make it so!”

          Speaking of which, and not entirely off-topic, I can’t believe no one on this site has mentioned Patrick Steward announcing plans to return to the role of Picard in a series in development.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      If, by the future we were promised, you mean Idiocracy, sure.

      • Well... says:

        That’s not fair to Idiocracy, which was both more gripping and more likely to really happen.

      • Deiseach says:

        I realise this is probably going nowhere and is about as workable as the Reagan-era “Star Wars” missile shield but goshdurnit, nothing says “Livin’ in the future as depicted in an E.E. Smith novel” than “The USA is setting up its own SPACE FORCE by DIRECT ORDER OF THE PRESIDENT” (eagles fly aloft, Old Glory streams in the wind, fireworks explode in paroxysms of GO TEAM USA! joy, that fife and drum squad march by playing patriotic tunes) 🙂

        Yes, it’s ludicrous. But we were promised so much about the forthcoming Space Age in the wake of the moon landing, and instead the closest we’ve got is Elon Musk who right now prefers to have meltdowns on Twitter, let me have this tiny stupid moment?

        EDIT: I mean, if you lot don’t do it, what we’ve got is the grimly efficient Russian model who are regularly putting rockets up there and getting them back down, and the prospect of Putin being Space Czar is not striking joy into my heart.

    • Nornagest says:

      It’s a sexy name, all right. But it’s going to end up either not happening, or being a rebranded National Reconnaissance Office and/or Russian-style Strategic Rocket Force. Maybe some token orbital presence but none that’ll actually matter. None of those options are very sexy, even though I’ve spent more time staring at satellite images than is probably good for me.

      Granted, putting our ICBMs under a Strategic Rocket Force probably makes more sense than putting them under the Air Force where they’ll get neglected in favor of stealth bombers and supersonic fighter jets (which are actually sexy), but at this point I’m not convinced we get anything from a land-based deterrent at all.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        It seems to me they are maybe just going to rebrand the Space Command?

        In July 2018, the Air Force cyber mission transferred to Air Combat Command, which generated the greatest capacity for an integrated Information Warfare capability within the Air Force. This move allowed AFSPC to focus on gaining and maintaining space superiority and outpacing its adversaries in the space domain.

  12. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    It seems to me that the human race needs more math, more science, and more knowledge of engineering. Any thoughts about which directions of exploration are most likely to be productive?

    Specific example: Getting even somewhat better at purifying silicon would be a big deal. I recommend the article– I knew that making computer chips is expensive, but now I know a lot more about one aspect of the process.

    Also, it’s almost like alchemy– the only thing that won’t contaminate molten silicon is a vessel made of very pure silicon. And you can make sand into a metal. How cool is that?

    • helloo says:

      I think you mean getting somewhat cheaper at making high purity silicon. The fact that they can and do purify it to the 6th decimal place makes them rather good at it already.
      Semiconductor processing labs are somewhat known to be one of the “cleanest” places possible.
      Specs of dirt, even the skin flakes that are CONSTANTLY BEING SHED by you are too much for it and that they use chlorine trifluoride – something that basically reacts to everything as cleaners.

      That’s kind of like scientists needing centuries old lead to block radiation as newly created lead still has some isotopes in the lead itself. It’s impressive the length they’ll go to but not necessarily a good thing.

      As for your question – what do you mean by productive?
      Given the capitalistic sense, humans might be investing in greater than optimal effort in these fields already.
      There’s quite a few opinion pieces that point out if you remove the T from STEM, most of those fields are already overfilled and somewhat like lawyers, though it’s an attractive occupation, being a scientist is a rather risky endeavor.

  13. johan_larson says:

    Here’s a bit of news I missed the first time around. The Mormons are breaking up with the Boy Scouts of America. It seems likely this move was triggered either by the BSA’s decision to allow gay Scouters or the plan to make Scouting coed. The Mormons already withdrew from the BSA’s programs for older teens a year ago.

    • SamChevre says:

      The Catholics are moving in the same direction.

    • smocc says:

      I can only offer speculation, but there may have been other factors at play that shouldn’t be ignored. For one, I have heard that there were plenty of figures in the church that have wanted to split with Scouting for long time. It doesn’t make much sense of an official relationship when the majority of the church is outside the US and so need a different young men’s program, and “correlation” of official programs throughout the church is now a strong tradition.

      There’s also the fact that these decisions happened right near the end of President Monson’s presidency, who was known to have a long love of scouting.

      So it’s possible that these decisions have been a long time in the making and were helped along by BSA changes. Or not. My info is based on hearsay from friends in the church who sometimes know things. More in-depth reporting required.

    • Deiseach says:

      It seems to have been simmering away for quite a while; back when the Boy Scouts finally gave in on gay and trans and co-ed scouts, it seems that at least one alternative on traditional lines was set up – a story from 2013. I think there are other bodies/denominations who are thinking of, or trying, something similar, or already did – as mentioned in this story, the Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventist Church have their own versions of Scouts:

      The highly contentious issue of the Boy Scouts of America and gay scouts became a religion story because so many Scout troops and Cub Scout packs are sponsored by churches, synagogues and other houses of worship. Indeed, members of the Religion Newswriters Association voted it the ninth-most important religion story of 2013. So it is just as understandable that within the realm of religion there would be those who are none too happy with the BSA decision, and who have or soon will “opt out” of the Scouting movement. But to where shall these congregations go? Yes, various denominations – Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventist Church – have highly similar programs, but where does that leave other groups?

      The Dallas Morning News team has an answer, but in providing it the editors glide past a major element. If “Trail Life,” a new alternative group “modeled on” the BSA, wants to emphasize moral values different from the BSA’s position, then what are the specifics of those values? Why are they doing what they are doing?.

    • J Mann says:

      The YMCA has had their own program for generations – they recently changed their name from “Indian Guides (or Princesses)” to “Adventure Guides” for obvious reasons. My kids were in Adventure Guides, which isn’t co-ed, at least in my area. I don’t have any idea what the policy on gay or trans guides is.

    • Soy Lecithin says:

      It was my experience as a Mormon boy scout that the BSA programs for older boys (varsity and venturing) were rarely actually implemented. The Mormon Church withdrawing just made official what already existed de facto. In general, I always got the impression that non-Mormon troops took the scouting program more seriously.

      It’s also worth pointing out that official statements from the Mormon Church suggest that a primary reason for the split is the desire for a uniform youth program worldwide. I don’t see any reason to doubt this. In particular, I doubt this was precipitated by the change to allow openly gay scoutmasters, which didn’t actually affect Mormon troops at all.

  14. LadyJane says:

    Let’s say that a study came out proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that there were inherent genetic differences in intelligence between different racial groups, and you had the power to either publicize these findings to the world, or destroy them and silence the researchers involved to make sure that those findings never saw the light of day. However, through divine intervention, you can also see the future, and know for a 100% certainty that publicizing the findings would result in genocide and tyranny, with the most intelligent race exterminating the least intelligent races and keeping the others locked into a strict caste system. This draconian racialist oligarchy will be the dominant system of human governance for as long as humanity continues to exist, and no future actions of yours will be able to prevent it from coming about. What do you do?

    • WashedOut says:

      Such study findings have already been common knowledge for about 25 years and your hypothetical future scenario hasn’t eventuated. As it happens the Asians haven’t enslaved whites, and whites are more concerned with African American well-being now than any time in the last hundred years. Turns out the differences in intelligence within ethnic groups are larger than those between ethnic groups, and this matters.

      So yeah, publish away.

    • Baeraad says:

      That sounds like a highly unlikely scenario. But sure – if I knew for a fact that publishing would lead to badness forever, and suppressing would lead to goodness forever, then I’d consider that a solid reason to suppress.

    • disposablecat says:

      Publish. The truth matters because it is the truth. Abandon that to build on a lie and we might as well just go extinct.

      “Never compromise, not even in the face of Armageddon.”

      • Machine Interface says:

        And this is why I don’t treat “truth” as a terminal value. Any unbreakable moral principle that leads to your own destruction can be remorselessly discarded. You owe nothing to constructs.

        • baconbits9 says:

          The moral principle exists in a world where we don’t know the outcomes of our actions perfectly. In fact it is probably the fact that we need moral principles precisely for this reason.

    • Thegnskald says:

      Suppose all of that results from letting gay people marry and permitting transgender rights. Would you still support gay marriage and transgender rights?

      Suppose giving black people the right to vote would have led to the downfall of civilization? What if freeing the slaves would have resulted in the downfall of civilization?

      Asking people whether or not they would forsake their sacred values for imaginary utilitarian ends, particularly when those ends reflect your own sacred values and fears, doesn’t tell you anything useful, it just gives you a reason to be dismissive of their reasons for holding those sacred values by putting them in a framework where they are harmful, rather than helpful.

      Would you advocate for genocide if the alternative was worse? Would you admit this to your anti-genocide social group? What the hell kind of a question is this?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        What the hell kind of a question is this?

        It’s Pascal’s mugging.

        • Thegnskald says:

          I mean… I guess, yeah, it is a variant, but with certainty substituting in.

          I think the realists (not sure if the full term is banned) cherry-picking evidence that fits their beliefs – using IQ studies on Africa from the 60’s and 70’s showing values of 60-70, rather than modern studies which put I values firmly in the pre-Flynn effect range (and higher, in some cases, in spite of pre-Flynn effect conditions). They ignore the facts that Flynn IQ effects have stabilized for Asians, slowed dramatically for white people, but are in full effect for black people – suggesting the issue is inequal distribution of whatever nebulous thing causes the Flynn effect, be it medicine, education, nutrition, or something else entirely.

          But they aren’t a political threat, precisely because their information is so erroneous, and precisely because decades of similar thoughts promulgated for openly racist reasons have effectively vaccinated our society against them. They aren’t worth taking seriously or engaging – you don’t need to deny them a platform, just stop signal-boosting them with public displays of platform denial, because literally the greatest fucking threat they pose is that the people censoring them causes other people to go “Oh, hey, nobody bothers censoring crazy people spouting total nonsense, what truth do they have to impart?”

          And given that, indeed, nobody bothers censoring crazy people spouting nonsense, I pretty much have reached the conclusion that the people censoring them only bother to do so because they believe them.

          • Aapje says:

            A more generous explanation of the censorious behavior is that it only makes sense to censor things that are almost true, because those can gain a large following, while the blatant untruths generally can’t.

          • Matt M says:

            Right. Alex Jones’ crime isn’t telling untruths. It’s telling untruths that people believe.

          • uau says:

            Your point about the Flynn effect implies acceptance that some groups at least are stupider NOW. Are you only saying this about some African populations living in particular bad conditions, or is this supposed to apply to cases like blacks in US too? I don’t think it would be a mainstream politically correct view in the United States to say “Yes, the current black generation is stupider than whites and we shouldn’t expect them to perform equally at any intellectual tasks, but eventually future generations should perform better”.

            By the way, since you seem to strongly oppose associating race with intelligence, just what level of correlation do you mean here? I mean that obviously intelligence has a genetic component, and it’s very unlikely that “good” genes are spread exactly equally over the whole globe. And their distribution, whatever it is, will almost certainly have a nonzero correlation with characteristics like skin color (even just by random chance it’s very unlikely that any heritable trait would have exactly zero correlation). So even without discussing any particular mechanisms, the statement “skin color is correlated with IQ” can be assumed to be true at SOME level of correlation. What do you claim as the upper limit of such correlation?

          • Thegnskald says:

            uau –

            As measured by IQ, yes. The evidence on that point is reasonably decent (setting aside some also reasonable counterarguments, such as that IQ tests are also testing how much experience you have taking tests).

            This doesn’t get you to the point a lot of the “realists” take it, however. There’s a world of difference between “The difference between black people and white people in the US is likely caused by intergenerational poverty” (as would be the case if the Flynn factor is health/nutrition/education) and “Black people will be permanently behind white people and attempts to treat their poverty as an intergenerational problem rather than a genetic problem are doomed”.

            If the Flynn effect can still work, then interventions of the sort we have been undertaking are still warranted (which is not to say we can’t improve on them). If the Flynn effect cannot, then interventions of the sort we have been undertaking are misguided, and different interventions may need to be called for.

          • uau says:

            @Thegnskald

            This doesn’t get you to the point a lot of the “realists” take it, however.

            Then exactly which point do you consider the limit of plausibility? You wrote with strong wording about how erroneous all the people are who say that some groups are (noticeably) smarter. So I’d like to hear some precise limit you give for such correlations. If you just say that there exists some racist somewhere who totally exaggerates any differences, that doesn’t really mean anything.

            There’s a world of difference between

            I wouldn’t be so sure. If you admit that IQ differences are currently very real, does it really matter that much whether you expect the situation to change generations in the future? There’s a lot of rhetoric now saying “blacks are less successful in this area, it must be because of racism”. If you admit the Flynn effect explanation, this is obviously all baseless without correcting for IQ first. So common acceptance of this would be a significant change. Where would it actually make a “world of difference”?

          • Thegnskald says:

            uau –

            Yes. Because if the Flynn effect is real, then the central argument made by “realists”, on the basis of “realism” – that programs aimed at neutralizing advantages cannot succeed because one of the advantages cannot be made up for – is false.

            Suppose, for a moment, that IQ was directly tied to childhood nutrition, and nothing else mattered. Then interventions which do nothing more than force occupations to be unsorted by IQ will – insofar as they succeed in forcing occupations to be unsorted by IQ – eventually erase IQ variability.

            Given that the Flynn Effect is still in power, and given that the Flynn Effect is tied to middle-class lifestyles, affirmative action in the prerequisites to middle-class existence will, insofar as it is effective in creating pathways for the lower classes, eventually do exactly what it was intended to do.

            I think something like this is true. Which is not to say that affirmative action works. Because there are valid arguments to be made that affirmative action is fundamentally broken – I think, for example, that affirmative action benefits middle-class black people without doing much for lower-class black people, and in general the benefits are allocated primarily by class, with little available help to the lower classes. But I think this is a considerably more complex problem, involving how our society deals with criminality, how criminality intersects with poverty, and how our society has dealt with poverty in the past, with a large dose of “capitalism combined with a litigious society combined with minimum wages have made criminals not worth employing”.

            Which is to say, the problems remaining to be solved are fucking complex, and there are no easy solutions. My impression is that the “realists” just want to declare that the problem can’t be solved for genetic reasons, absolving themselves of the responsibility of trying. (I have far more respect for positions which just declare they have no responsibility even if they could do something, since I regard it as a far more honest position.)

            All of this is based on the idea that “realism” has something meaningful to say about current politics, that it is a politically meaningful position to hold; this is my response to the shallow political argument made on the basis of “realism” I have seen so far. If there’s something actually meaningful about current politics that “realism” implies, which isn’t just that we don’t need to try to fix the problems our society has spent the past few centuries creating anymore, you are welcome to tell me what it is.

          • uau says:

            @Thegnskald

            Not willing to answer the question about what level of correlation you’re considering plausible?

            Suppose, for a moment, that IQ was directly tied to childhood nutrition, and nothing else mattered. Then interventions which do nothing more than force occupations to be unsorted by IQ will – insofar as they succeed in forcing occupations to be unsorted by IQ – eventually erase IQ variability.

            Simple things like this have almost completely been ruled out AFAIK. It’s perhaps plausible that the Flynn effect could work through factors like epigenetics over generations. But just “better material living conditions” will almost 100% certainly leave existing IQ differences (standardizing nutrition et cetera would likely reduce any differences slightly, as people with lower IQ will generally provide worse conditions to children and magnify the differences – but AFAIK this has pretty conclusively been ruled out as “the” cause of differences).

            If there’s something actually meaningful about current politics that “realism” implies,

            As for general policy considerations, I’m not sure how much relevance it would have. Do you have to care about race on a policy level? Even if some racial group were a lot of stupider/smarter, general society would have to deal with some amount of stupid/smart people regardless. I think the biggest practical difference in current political discussion would be to stop claiming racism based on inequality of outcomes, and stop “disparate impact on minorities” claims in law (if an ability test rules out more members of some minority, you can’t declare it racist based on only that – the minority may be less able, and the test correctly picks more able candidates).

          • Thegnskald says:

            uau –

            The level of correlation is irrelevant to the arguments I am making. It could be that race is strongly genetically correlated with IQ while at the same time black people don’t have a significantly different post-Flynn IQ from white people. It could be there are two groups of black people – since “black” encompasses most human genetic diversity, there are far more than two – of which one is the smartest racial group on the planet, and the other is the dumbest. None of that matters to the argument I am posing.

            That you bother “correcting” me on nutrition suggests the reason you are harping on this argument, however: You don’t actually have a counterargument to my point.

            Your argument on affirmative action, for example, reduces everything to a simple one-dimensional analysis: Does this person fit the job requirements. It fails to consider how job requirements have changed as a reaction to affirmative action, as the most basic consideration of the matter, and how this might interact with our concept of a meritocratic system

          • a reader says:

            @Thegnskald:

            There’s a world of difference between “The difference between black people and white people in the US is likely caused by intergenerational poverty” (as would be the case if the Flynn factor is health/nutrition/education)

            It’s unlikely that poverty is the main cause:

            But income differences explain only part of the racial gap in SAT scores. For black and white students from families with incomes of more than $200,000 in 2008, there still remains a huge 149-point gap in SAT scores. Even more startling is the fact that in 2008 black students from families with incomes of more than $200,000 scored lower on the SAT test than did students from white families with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000.

            Source: The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
            http://www.jbhe.com/latest/index012209_p.html

    • Deiseach says:

      Even if you suppressed the research, if there really were one “superior” group out there then eventually they’d end up as top dogs not even by consciously pursuing a policy of genocide and slavery, just by out-competing the others and establishing economic, cultural and other influence and dominance (everybody wants to be like the cool kids, everybody copies the cool kids).

      I mean, this is why the Guns, Germs and Steel theory was floated, because otherwise the uncomfortable question is raised: so how exactly did the White Heteropatriarchy get to be the top dog oppressing all the nations even unto this day so concepts like structural racism and white fragility get bandied about? Telling Race Q that they are indeed the Indigo Star Children who will rule the Sevagram might influence them to decide to take over and rule with iron-fisted jackbooted ruthlessness, but not telling them is not going to make them less intelligent and less capable, unless the idea is that otherwise they would all devote their time to knitting tea cosies if they thought they were just average folks and only by being told they were super-smart would they all suddenly become storm troopers, which does not seem very likely.

      This question is like asking ‘if we suppress information about Yersinia pestis and don’t let researchers work on it, the Black Death will never happen!’ Nope, if it’s true and it’s out there as a physical reality, it will happen whether or not you stick your fingers in your ears. It’s not the telling that’s the problem, it’s the deciding what to do now you have the information. You can maybe delay things by saying “this new explosive is so mighty it would make war intolerably horrible, I will burn the formula and dissuade anyone else from discovering it or, if they have independently discovered it, from working on it” but it won’t hold back the tide until you change the moral and ethical views.

      If Race Q is indeed inclined ethically to be conquerors and tyrants, whether you tell them they are the destined master race or not will not stop them from acting like tyrants or conquerors.

      • Shmooper says:

        Well what might happen is Affirmative Action might become a permanent thing then and weaker races might still survive, even if they are non dominant in society.

    • lvlln says:

      Well, one open question in this scenario is, how much genocide and tyranny will occur in the situation that the findings are silenced forever? Having 100% certainty that there will be genocide and tyranny and a draconian racialist oligarchy if the findings are publicized gives me information about one side of the scale, but I have no idea about the other side of the scale; it’s easily possible that the genocide and tyranny that results from the findings being silenced forever easily outstrips that. Without knowing which decision will cause more human suffering, it’s hard to say.

      Instinctively, I’m drawn to suppressing the research and avoiding the guaranteed suffering in exchange for the risk of even greater suffering. However, I’m also fairly risk averse, so I might consider the guaranteed known suffering to be the safer choice. And there’s also the fact that I perceive truth to generally create better outcomes in the long run, which makes me lean toward believing that the genocide and tyranny and racialist oligarchy might be the better of 2 horrible forking paths.

      Honestly, I don’t know how I’d answer. If I had a gun to my head, I think my optimistic side would win out and choose to take the bigger risk by suppressing it.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Your scenario is completely on rails and there’s no point in engaging with it.

      • LadyJane says:

        Sorry you don’t care for it. Personally, I think it’s a useful way to gauge people’s moral intuitions. For instance, just look at the contrast between Baeraad’s response and disposablecat’s.

    • Jaskologist says:

      How large is the genocide? Higher IQ is correlated with higher happiness, so reducing the number of dumb people for all time is almost certainly a utilitarian gain. But we’ll need to do the math to be sure.

      Let’s try with some fake stats, in the spirit of SSC. Let’s also assume Total Utilitarianism.

      Let’s assume we’re eliminating the dumbest 20% of humanity. Assume further that life for these people is 90% as good as it is for the rest of the population. To simplify the toy problem, we’ll say each dummy is worth 9 utils in their life, and everyone else averages 10. And assume that the genocide costs 100 utils per dead person.

      So losing 1/5 of the current population loses us
      -15,000,000,000 utils

      This is where it gets tricky. We have 6 billion people left, compared to the counter-factual 7.5 billion. We’ll call these SmartWorld and DumbWorld respectively, and use these population growth numbers.

      Dumbworld 2030: 8.2 billion people
      = (8.2 billion * .2 * 9utils) + (8.2 billion * .8 * 10utils)
      = eighty billion three hundred sixty million utils
      = 80,360,000,000 utils

      Smartworld 2030: Effectively the population is lagging about 20 years, so 6.8 billion
      = 6.8 billion * 10
      = 68,000,000,000 utils

      Dumbworld 2040: 8.85 billion people
      = 86,730,000,000 utils
      Smartworld 2040: 7.58 billion people
      = 75,800,000,000 utils

      Dumbworld 2050: 9.3 billion people
      = 86,730,000,000 utils
      Smartworld 2050: 8.2 billion people
      = 75,800,000,000 utils

      It doesn’t balance out in the near future, and population projections past then are dicey, we should probably suppress the information.

      On average utility, of course, the gain is almost immediate. I’m not sure how you trade that off against the one-time hit from all the deaths, but given that we’re talking about the future of humanity for all time, I’m sure we come out on top overall.

    • Well... says:

      Other comments so far have been good.

      there were inherent genetic differences in intelligence between different racial groups

      But of course there are, just as there will be inherent genetic differences in intelligence between members of different families, employees of different companies, and if you look closely enough, coin-flippers who landed on heads vs those who landed on tails. Nothing in the universe is distributed evenly, or evenly randomly.

      Also, what does “inherent differences in intelligence between different racial groups” even mean in practical terms? That all members of racial group A are smarter than all members of racial group B? Of course not. That the dumbest member of racial group A is smarter than the dumbest member of racial group B? Unlikely. That there are relatively more people in the top few percent of intelligence in group A than B? Maybe, but saying “If we held a congress of genuises that was perfectly attended, then an obvious majority or plurality of attendees would hail from group A” doesn’t really mean much for everyday people.

      What matters is what kinds of interactions most people in groups A and B can expect to have with one another, and the answer to that question involves so many other factors that the genetic component is basically a matter of academic interest only. Or the interest of stirring up controversy and conflict, which happens to appeal to exactly the types of people who use “genetic differences in intelligence across races” to do that in real life.

    • Reasoner says:

      Suppress.

  15. lithp says:

    My ask is: if there’s something in the cryptocurrency space that you’re curious about (I know the most about the network protocols and consensus algorithms but I’ll try to answer anything) I’m happy to either tell you what I know or do the research for you and return with an answer.

    The background is: I’m pretty excited about cryptocurrencies. In some ill defined way humanity is now a little more powerful that it was before. I don’t expect this new power will change the world or disrupt more than a few industries but I’m excited to see what happens and I’m having fun trying to predict just how big of an impact it’ll affect.

    I’m thinking of starting a blog/newsletter where people ask me anything (about cryptocurrencies) and I attempt to answer them, first doing some research if necessary. I think it’s valuable to do exploration I don’t control the direction of, and I also want to help explain these surprisingly misunderstood protocols.

    Some questions I’ve answered for friends:
    – “Can you explain the ideas behind Filecoin’s ‘proof of space time’ and why you’re skeptical of it?
    – “How are the prices for ethereum transaction fees determined?”
    – “What are some of the failure modes of Bitcoin? What would a cryptographic break look like?”
    – “I think I understand zk-SNARK’s but I’m not good with abstract things, do they have a simple intuition?”
    – “As I understand it, bitcoin has a maximum number of coins possible — so a sort of digital gold standard backing it. ETH has something a bit more subtle, but similar. I’m not an economist, but it is noticeable that there isn’t a single major currency left that is on the gold standard. As I understand it, being able to inflate or deflate your currency is a pretty useful monetary tool. Are there any coins that have built more mainstream, or even keynesian-type economic models into their algorithms?”

    Happy to answer any of your questions!

    • FLWAB says:

      When I first heard about Etherium I thought it was going to outpace BTC for sure because it actually is designed to be used in applications and stuff. But then my brother who is more into crypto said that Etherium was designed poorly and blockchain based applications of the future are not likely to use it. Is anything I just wrote correct?

      • BeefSnakStikR says:

        That’s sort of conflating two things. The market cap/total value of Bitcoin is greater than that of Ethereum ($105 billion to $33 billion), but Ethereum is already the dominant platform for blockchain app development.

        In other words, whether Ethereum’s competitors overtake Ethereum dominance in development is completely disconnected from whether Ethereum overtakes Bitcoin’s market cap.

        Ethereum does have problems — the network is getting bogged down as it is getting bigger — and its competitors are selling themselves as improving on that rather than as imitators. Whether Ethereum is overtaken depends on a lot of things: the competitors’ marketing, and country of origin.

        (There are also a ton of competitors, so Ethereum could be overtaken minority-majority style…maybe it already is, I’m not sure.)

        • FLWAB says:

          Do you think Ethereum is a sustainable as a platform, or are there underlying problems which will cause it to stop working when it gets too big?

          • BeefSnakStikR says:

            Well, since Ethereum runs on peer network (ie. miners), it’s not going to stop working unless it’s abandoned…which won’t happen in the forseeable future. The only thing that can really happen is for transactions to become slow and carry expensive fees. The only danger is that another competitor is going to overtake it and be better.

            Ethereum has been getting a lot of flak from users about high fees and slow transactions, but the truth is that it’s still fairly cheap most of the time. Fees and speed fluctuate a lot and get worse when some blockchain startup goes viral. Ethereum has plans to fix things, but it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry (and I don’t think it needs to be).

          • BeefSnakStikR says:

            As for “underlying problems,” the short answer is: there are no essential features, and the Ethereum network can change its underlying features anytime it wants to — and it does.

            The long answer is: most cryptos can change any time the miners want to. This is called a hard fork; the miners just have to vote on whether they’re going along with it.

            In fact, hard forks have already happened for reasons that are not to do with performance — Ethereum made some fundamental changes, but the dissidents maintained the old version, maintained their network, and called it Ethereum Classic.

            Whether the new Ethereum is the “real” Ethereum because it kept the vast majority of miners/users/coinholders on board, or whether Ethereum Classic is “real” because it maintains Ethereum’s fundamental principles is a “Ship of Theseus” style problem.

            More simply though, yeah, Ethereum can and will change to maintain its functionality if necessary…and as far as coinholders and market analysts are concerned it’s the real Ethereum.

    • dick says:

      Thanks for offering to do this, I have some things I’ve been unclear on that I’d like to get guidance on.

      1) How does ETH deal with the oracle problem? For example, suppose Alice wants to write a smart contract that pays Bob some ETH if the price of GOOG is above a certain threshold on a certain date, how does the contract find out the price of GOOG?

      2) My gloss on BTC is that it’s more or less failed to deliver on the promise of anonymously buying a cup of coffee, because a) on-chain transaction costs are too high to use BTC for small purchases, and b) off-chain transactions will require trusting a large financial company, which implies no anonymity. Is this essentially correct?

    • WashedOut says:

      1. To what extent are cryptocurrency values amenable to the same fundamental and technical analysis as vanilla stocks?

      2. The ownership of most cyptocurrencies (esp. BTC) is extremely fat-tailed. From memory I think less than 10% of BTC owners control 90% of the trading volume. What problems may this pose, e.g. for longer term store-of-value applications of mainstream coins?

    • BeefSnakStikR says:

      I’ve looked this up several times, but I still don’t understand it…what is the difference between gas fees and transaction fees?

    • ana53294 says:

      I have heard (although it is really confusing for me) that some companies set up ICOs as a way to have an IPO but avoiding the market regulators. I don’t know if it’s true, but sounds interesting.

    • March says:

      What do you think of the energy consumption behind bitcoin?

      (See https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption or https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/07/09/why-bitcoin-uses-so-much-energy)

      Is this reporting correct? Do you think it’s a problem (with an eye on climate change, or just on costs)? Where do you see the energy trend going?

  16. Shmooper says:

    I have a theory based on no evidence whatsoever : Human Tribality is recursive. For example, if somehow Christianity, in a final crusade, completely dismantled and removed every trace of every single other religion, making Christianity the One And Only True Religion, a few years later, you’d start to see enmity and hatred between Christians of different sects. You’d start to see the non-dominant sects be punished and marginalized my those in the dominant sect. Eventually someone would declare a war ‘for the true Christ’ and you’d start to see the same kind of culture war we see today between different religions. Same goes for race. Make everyone white, and a few years later everyone will have chosen sides based on culture, language, economic status, etc. Nobody will think, ‘hey, wait a minute, this guy I’m fighting is just like me!’ on the basis of whiteness, because whiteness is the norm and literally every single person belongs to the ‘white tribe’. Right now everyone is ideologically divided between the left and the right. I feel that no matter which side ‘wins’, a century later people are still going to take up opposing sides, but the line of contention will have changed. If the right wins on abortion, it’s going to become ‘Should we outlaw contraception?’ with conservatives arguing that contraception should be banned as it circumvents God’s directives to go forth and multiply, and liberals arguing that …. contraceptives should be legal. So it’s not so much that any side ‘beats’ the other so much as it assimilates it, kinda.

    • Nornagest says:

      Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

      He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

      He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

      Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

      – Emo Philips

    • onyomi says:

      I do think there is a tendency for any group of people of any size to factionalize, but I don’t think that means endless, bitter partisan struggles are inevitable. Every time I visit Japan, for example, I’m struck by what a broad sense of high-trust and widely shared agreement on values exists as compared to almost everywhere else I’ve lived. This doesn’t mean there are no fault lines within Japanese society, but they feel a lot less deep and important compared to many other such divisions in the world.

      • Shmooper says:

        I feel that the Japanese have a strong sense of identity and mutual trust precisely because of the outside world, i.e, because they see things in terms of Japanese v/s the rest of the world. If Japan somehow became isolationist again, it would be interesting to see what kind of rivalries develop internally

        • onyomi says:

          It was pretty peaceful internally (by the standards of the rest of the world c. 1650-1850) when it was closed off, as was the Joseon Dynasty.

    • SamChevre says:

      This theory seems likely to be correct to me. The 700 quarrelling factions of Plain People seems like strong support, as do the highly hostile comments about Catholics/Protestants by the other side of that inter-Christian split.

    • Deiseach says:

      You’d start to see the non-dominant sects be punished and marginalized by those in the dominant sect. Eventually someone would declare a war ‘for the true Christ’ and you’d start to see the same kind of culture war we see today between different religions.

      You mean the Reformation and the Wars of Religion (depends if we’re counting the Great Schism as part of this or not, or do we go all the way back to those heretics who refused to accept Chalcedon)? Yeah, I think your imaginary example already happened 🙂

      • Shmooper says:

        Yes, what’s interesting is that people don’t think about this. It’s all about ‘let’s genocide X group and then everything will be fine and dandy forever’

    • xXxanonxXx says:

      By “no evidence whatsoever” did you mean all of human history and all life experience as well? There are already endless rival religious denominations murderously hostile toward one another. I grew up in New England, which put us at odds with southerners, but also at odds with every state that was not Connecticut, every part of Connecticut that was not the valley, and finally those wicked residents of the southern valley. If everyone outside my town died of a mysterious plague on a Monday, we’d be divvied up by street and shooting at one another come Sunday.

      • Shmooper says:

        Haha, yes, that sounds about right.
        Although I don’t think this is very common knowledge to most people, people seem to think everything would be great, once you get rid of the blacks, then the mexicans, then the socialists and so on and so forth. They don’t seem to realize that once you get rid of them all, you’d just turn around and fighting with your neighboring white town which is slightly more economically prosperous than yours, and then they’re the ones who are literally Hitler.

    • Lambert says:

      I agree.
      And things also change in the other direction. People will put aside their differences in the face of a greater external threat.
      Mao and Chiang against the Japnese, all different Christian denominations in the face of a secularising society etc.

      • Shmooper says:

        Yes, I think this is true as well. Ironically, every nationalist’s strongest allies … are other nations.

  17. Shmooper says:

    In your opinion, is there, or has there ever been, a political party that has been dominant, in American politics. Let me explain what I mean. As an outsider, when I first encountered American politics, I got the feeling that the Republican Party was the dominant, united, powerful party, and seemed like they would win most elections just by default. Whereas the Democrats seemed always the scrappy underdogs and every Democrat victory was due to special factors and good luck overriding Republican dominance.

    I don’t know why, but it always felt like the Democratic Party was a frail organization compared to the Republican Party. Republican Presidents outnumber Democratic presidents 19 to 13 even though the latter has been around for longer.

    Does anyone else think this? I am not from the US and would like an insider perspective.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      The parties aren’t consistent over time. The names are the same but the politics radically shifted. So when you say the party has been around longer that has no meaning.

      • Eric Rall says:

        My favorite illustration of that is a comparison of the electoral vote map for the 1896 Presidential Election vs the 2004 Presidential Election: with a handful of exceptions, Bush (Republican) carried pretty much the same states that Bryan (Democrat) had carried a century and a bit earlier. The issues of the two elections were so different as to defy analysis, but voting patterns in both elections broke out in strongly urban vs rural lines with the “urban” interests aligning with the opposite party.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      The Democratic Coalition from the elections of 32 to 44 was extremely dominant, although each of those election was F.D.R. as the presidential candidate, so it may not count in your eyes.

      As a measure of the power of that coalition, the Democrats didn’t lose party control of the house until 1994, some 62 years later. However, because of the (single party Democratic) Southern states opposition to the civil rights of blacks, which began to be an issue in 1948 election, the Presidency slipped from Democratic dominance and the coalition was under strain ever after.

    • Eric Rall says:

      The standard view is that there have been 5-6 distinct “Party Systems” in US political history, separated by “realignments” where the interest/cultural-cluster coalitions represented by the two major parties shift or a major party dissolves and is replaced by another. It probably doesn’t make sense to talk about a party being dominant across realignments (since it’s not really the same party in terms of interests represented, even if the brand name is the same and the party institutions are continuous in a Ship of Theseus sense), and within any given party system, usually one major party has a major advantage over the other in national politics but each party has areas where it’s dominant in state or local politics.

      Wikipedia has a decent series of articles on the various party systems. Here’s the first article. You can find links to the rest at the bottom of the page.

    • Wrong Species says:

      That’s such an odd view. It’s a lot easier to name Democrat victories than Republican ones. Maybe the Republicans are more organized but that doesn’t translate in to some kind of domination. They could be punching above their weight.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Huh? What do you mean by “it’s easier to name” them?

        That sounds like availability bias. I think you need to do the actual enumeration .

        • Wrong Species says:

          Democrat victories since the 60’s:

          Civil Right Act and related legislatiion
          The Great Society programs and all that encompasses, including programs related to education, welfare, healthcare and the environment
          Gay marriage
          Abortion being legalized
          Obamacare

          Republican victories:
          Some of these things are slightly rolled back
          Tax cuts
          Expansion of gun rights

          And yes, we can argue all day about what counts and what doesn’t and how much weight to give to certain issues but I don’t know how someone can come to the prima facie view that Republicans are somehow dominant.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, that mistakes the current ideological polarized nominal coalitions as if they were always so. Both the Democratic and Republican parties were split on a number of those issues. Neither the CRA, nor the great society, are strictly Republican or Democratic legislative victories, they are just (mostly) signed under Johnson. Also think about how weird it is that you basically jump 40 years from Johnson to Obama.

            I’m not going to try and make any sort of counter list, but treating Reagan as some sort of chump is kinda weird.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Between 1968 and 1992, that is, a quarter century, Republicans held the presidency for all but four years–and the Democratic interregnum isn’t regarded very well; if someone encountered American politics during this time, or even shortly thereafter, they might well come to the conclusion that Republicans always win, just by observing control of the Presidency.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @HBC

            I wouldn’t say Reagan was a chump but he didn’t really achieve many conservative victories. The period between Johnson and Obama was mostly Republicans slightly reducing the Great Society programs with few major victories, other than the ones I mentioned. Trump has done more against the regulatory state in the last year and a half than Reagan ever did.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            but he didn’t really achieve many conservative victories.

            Are you saying that no true Scotsman admires Reagan?

            Conservatives generally regard Reagan as quite accomplished, “our greatest President”, etc.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Ask them to name Reagan’s concrete conservative accomplishments and they’ll come up short. There’s the end of the Cold War(debatable about his impact but for the sake of argument just assume it was important). That’s great but it’s not a domestic issue. There’s tax cuts, which I already mentioned. What else?

          • dick says:

            I feel like if you want to know what right-wingers consider to be Reagan’s greatest conservative achievements, demanding that the left-winger you’re arguing with provide them is not the best way to go about it.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m not going to try and make any sort of counter list, but treating Reagan as some sort of chump is kinda weird.

            HeelBearCub, are you forgetting Bonzo Goes To Bitburg? Bonzo of course from the movie he made in 1951, “Bedtime for Bonzo”, providing the irresistible nickname for the opposition to use (Bonzo being the chimpanzee star of that movie).

            Calling a Republican president a chump (or chimp) didn’t start today!

          • Wrong Species says:

            It’s not about Reagan’s greatest conservative achievements, it’s about any of them. The fact that no one is coming up with anything is telling.

          • cassander says:

            tax cuts aren’t a victory. Taxes have gotten more progressive, not less, (republicans aren’t really against this, but they certainly aren’t for it.) and the overall rates measured as share of GDP haven’t declined.

            @HeelBearCub

            Well, that mistakes the current ideological polarized nominal coalitions as if they were always so. Both the Democratic and Republican parties were split on a number of those issues. Neither the CRA, nor the great society, are strictly Republican or Democratic legislative victories, they are just (mostly) signed under Johnson

            If you prefer, we could say blue tribe and red tribe, or progressive and conservative and make pretty much the same list.

            Also think about how weird it is that you basically jump 40 years from Johnson to Obama.

            There are plenty of things you could use to fill in those gaps. Numerous expansions of the welfare state, endless expansions of the regulatory state, and most of the feminist movement,

            Are you saying that no true Scotsman admires Reagan?

            It’s my opinion that Reagan’s accomplishments are dramatically exaggerated by both his critics and his supporters.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Conservatives tend to think the collapse of the Berlin wall and Soviet Communism owe something to Reagan, which if correct should count as some sort of serious accomplishment.

            I also think he is credited by conservatives with ending the stagflation of the ’70s, deregulation, increasing spending for the military, appointing SC justices, and fighting communism abroad.

      • Eric Rall says:

        It occurs to me that it may be a factor of when Shmooper first took serious notice of American politics. If, for example, it was during the Reagan/Bush-the-Elder years (especially in the period between Reagan’s landslide reelection in 1984 and Bush the Elder’s peak popularity around the time of the 1991 Gulf War), I can understanding how Republicans might seem dominant. You have to squint and mostly ignore Congressional elections (at least pre-1994) to make it work, but that’s an easy mistake to make even for Americans (since the Presidency tends to get more media attention), and it’s even easier for a non-American since the President’s role in foreign policy makes the Presidency more relevant than Congress to non-Americans.

        So looking at Presidential politics from 1984-present, you see a Republican getting reelected in an overwhelming landslide, then his VP succeeding him in a substantial landslide four years later. And since then, there have been two Republicans and two Democrats, with the Democrats non-consecutive and easy to excuse as aberrations (both had very strong personal charisma, and both won their first election due to their Republican predecessor catching the blame for a bad economy) once you’ve already formed the impression (based on the 1984-1991 period) that Republican dominance is the normal condition.

        But that ignores Democratic dominance in Congress for much of the Reagan/Bush years, and it also relies on using 1984-1991 to anchor your priors: if you anchor your priors on a different period, it’s just as easy to see the Reagan/Bush era as the aberration based on personal charisma and the timing of the business cycle relative to elections.

        • Shmooper says:

          One of the reasons I might have gotten that idea was because of a blue-and-red map of the continental United States, with a sea of red and tiny islands of blue. I remember thinging LMAO Democrats are fucked but I didn’t think that those were some of the most highly populated cities in the US. Post that, I guess it was just confirmation bias!

          • John Schilling says:

            Fortunately for the Democratic party, the United States has long since dispensed with any requirement that voters own land, and never did anything like weighting one’s vote by the acreage of land owned. So a geographic map like this is the wrong display format.

            If you weight the map by population, it looks rather different. And much bluer.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            I think this map is even better, because it removes the tendency to think of individual counties as “red” or “blue” but rather composed of “red” and “blue” voters.

            This set of maps has much that is interesting.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Nah, as HBC noted, the Democratic coalition held the House for a long time, and was damn near hegemonic in the mid-20th century. Quick look at Wiki says they had near or above 60 senators for the entire period 1960-1980.

      The Republicans may have been ascendant post 1968, but it took quite a while to chip away at Democratic control, and the Reagan Revolution never achived the kind of partisan dominance that even the 60s Dems did, let alone the FDR coalition.

    • aristides says:

      Yes, during the Era of Good Feelings, the Federalists lost essentially all political power, and the Democratic-Republicans dominated. Now that only lasted from 1815-1825, when the Democratic Party arose and was able to elect Andrew Javkson in 1828. But during those 10 years the DRs were very dominant.

    • Matt M says:

      I’ve long had a theory that the left and the media (lol, same thing) in both Europe AND the US have a vested interest in perpetuating the “the US is so far right-wing compared to Europe!” stereotype, without bothering to actually examine the issue in much detail at all.

      Under this theory, it makes sense that Europeans in particular would believe in Republican dominance. I imagine the European media signal-boosts Republican victories over Democratic ones, as a mixture of outrage/disaster style news “If it bleeds it leads” and “LOL aren’t we so much better than them” style superiority.

      • Shmooper says:

        I don’t live in Europe, but I think exactly the opposite happened with me : When Obama won peope were all OMG wtf how the fuck did this happen, damn the Republicans really shit the bed on this one they should have won easily.

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      This image gives you a sense: it shows Senate, House, and Presidential control going back to the 1850s.
      You can clearly see a Republican dominance from 1860-1932, with a few windows of Democratic control, especially in the House; a Democratic dominance from 1932-1980 or so; and since then, a bit of a mix: Republicans have held the presidency 6 terms since 1980, Democrats only 4, but the Democrats still dominated the House until 1994, and Senate control has been closely split.

      The stereotype of Democrats being in “disarray” goes back a long ways: Will Rogers said in 1935, “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat”–this at the beginning of an era of Democratic dominance. However, I think the modern version dates probably to the 1968 Democratic convention and chaos there, and solidified during the Democrats’ poor White House performance from 1968 to 1992. Note though, the Democrats difficulty winning the White House didn’t mean they were completely shut out from power.

    • onyomi says:

      The Democratic Party of the United States is the oldest active political party in the world.

  18. HeelBearCub says:

    I contend that if we can’t describe the George Wallace of the civil rights era as racist, then the term has essentially no meaning.

    And this is my basic problem with how people here (Scott as a prime example) deal with the idea of racism.

    If we look at George Wallace’s 1963 inaugural speech, the famous “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” speech ( text, video ), we will find only scant evidence of explicitly named racial animus, yet we can’t doubt that this speech was intended as a full throated endorsement of a system that was certainly motivated by racial animus.

    Yet when see him dealing explicitly with this subject, Wallace essentialy denies it, saying:

    And so it was meant in our racial lives . . . each race, within its own framework has the freedom to teach . . to instruct . . to develop . . to ask for and receive deserved help from others of separate racial stations. This is the great freedom of our American founding fathers . . . but if we amalgamate into the one unit as advocated by the communist philosophers . . . then the enrichment of our lives . . . the freedom for our development . . . is gone forever. We become, therefore, a mongrel unit of one under a single all powerful government . . . and we stand for everything . . . and for nothing.

    The true brotherhood of America, of respecting the separateness of others . . . and uniting in effort . . . has been so twisted and distorted from its original concept that there is a small wonder that communism is winning the world.

    We invite the negro citizens of Alabama to work with us from his separate racial station . . . as we will work with him . . . to develop, to grow in individual freedom and enrichment. We want jobs and a good future for BOTH races . . . the tubercular and the infirm. This is the basic heritage of my religion, if which I make full practice . . . . for we are all the handiwork of God.

    And indeed, later in his life, when he explicitly apologized for his actions at the time he said “‘I never hated anybody; I never hated any black people.” We can easily theorize that he would have said the same at the time he made this speech.

    In many other contexts we understand that this is how bias works, we are blind to our own biases, and claim to be serving virtue even as we impose those biases. Al Capone (according to Dale Carnegie anyway) said, “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.”

    Almost everyone thinks they are one of the good guys. Expecting someone who is motivated in part by racial animus to self-confess is too tall an order, let alone expecting them to state it plainly to the world. Instead they will profess to be serving the best interests of all, even those whom they actually regard with animus.

    • Brad says:

      I contend that if we can’t describe the George Wallace of the civil rights era as racist, then the term has essentially no meaning.

      My understanding of “Against Murderism” is that it intentionally defined ‘racism’ such that it had no meaning with the purpose of driving its use down and the ultimate goal of preventing civil war.

      I don’t like that essay, don’t think that it is a good idea to stop using the word racism, or that doing so will prevent any kind of civil war; but I don’t think it is a valid critique to say that the definition advanced therein gives the term essentially no meaning. That was the point.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Fine, then taboo the word each time someone else uses it and deal with the substance of what is being charged.

        Scott, and many others, seem to think that you can just say “racism has no meaning” and ignore the xenophobic, nativist, nationalism that is being pursued. That if you just plug your ears when you hear the word racist, that the bigots will, like some mythical Bugblatter Beast of Traal, shamble off and cease to exist.

        ETA:
        As a further point, regardless of what exactly you call it, I think that the “otherism” required to separate parents from children, with no thought or plan or care as to how or whether they will ever be reunited, needs to be acknowledged. Perhaps I missed it, but Scott still seems to be maintaining his stance in “You Are Still Crying Wolf” of denying this.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I don’t think you can read people’s minds and know that everyone who condones border enforcement is an “otherist” motivated by racial animus. I mean, something like 40% of Latino citizens voted for Trump… American Latinos would have to be 40-79% white and a majority of white Latinos racist for that to be possible (and race is enough of an artificial construct that we’d need a long-ass sociological discussion rather than reducing it to simple math).
          If President Trump takes pleasure in separating adults who try to violate immigration law from their children, that would make him an eccentric outlier. In the main, people willing to vote for him are just against open borders and it’s a confused issue with no easy answer.
          Charge adults with attempting to immigrate illegally and you have to choose between holding children with their arrested parents when they’re innocent or holding them separately. If you’re told that both options make you literally Hitler, then your cheater detector goes off and you think about how this is a rule set that lets any foreigner break our laws without possibility of arrest by toting a minor around.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You are conflating several different things.

            1) At no point did I say (or even intimate) that everyone who voted for Trump was motivated by racial animus. (I’d also challenge your Latino vote percentages, but that is a different conversation having to do with exit polls actually attempt to do).

            2) Trump taking pleasure is immaterial. Trump is presenting overwhelming evidence that he is engaged in “othering” these people. Objecting to calling Trump racist on this is to miss the point completely. His actions are reprehensible.

            3) It is not merely Trump, but everyone who is defending Trump’s actions. Yes, immigration is complex and difficult. Yes, I can understand arguments that asylum law is gameable, although I think that argument is too facile. None of that makes the Trump administrations actions in this particular matter, which are definitely not Trump alone, defensible. Yet plenty of defenses have been raised, both by his administration, but also by many outside the administration.

          • hyperboloid says:

            something like 40% of Latino citizens voted for Trump

            No he didn’t. Early exit polls indicated that he won something like 29 percent of the Latino vote. Exist polls are subject to strong participation bias, and subsequent analysis indicates that Trump’s true share was likely less than twenty.

        • idontknow131647093 says:

          I think this is a general misunderstanding to the anti-anti-racist (in the Scott Alexander kind of way) way of thought. Rather, the argument is that “Racist” has a very particular definition and proving that someone is a racist has a very particular set of steps, otherwise the definition of racist is no longer the same, or even similar, and thus it shouldn’t be a derogatory term. I’ll try my hand, although probably not with great skill.

          Racist: a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another and discriminates against or is prejudiced against people of said race.

          How to prove someone is a racist: A) They admit they are a racist; B) They act consistently in ways that can only be explained by racism; or C) They act sometimes in ways that could only be explained by racism + consistently make statements that are more likely than not to be derived from racism.

          The argument then emerges when you have someone like Charles Murray who cannot be fit into cats A, B, or C, thus it is unknowable if he is a racist under the “powerful” definition of the term. If we are to change the ways we prove someone is racist, adding D, E, & F (so we can call murray a racist), we too need to change the definition. That definition would be something like:

          Racist(b): a person who is from a race having majority or plurality political power, and who engages in conduct that may result in disparate impacts against another race.

          Racist(b) is not a word that should be used as an insult (in fact doing so is racist under the initial definition posed), thus using racist(b) in your rhetoric is a combination of lying and devaluing the word.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Again, proving the internal mental state of someone else is too much to ask. It can’t be done for basically anyone (and not for Wallace).

            Trump and his supporters are “otherist”. We can see this by many examples, with the crowning example being their callous disregard when separating children from parents of those crossing the boarder. I don’t need to prove the specific mental state that lead to this disregard. The disregard itself is enough.

            It is not enough to say “I think this term was misapplied to Charles Murray”. You can’t then simply forever ignore the actions of others who aren’t Charles Murray. Nor can ignore the kinds of rhetoric that long presaged those actions.

            Much of Scott’s critique of Trump’s rhetoric would have applied to Wallace.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            Just because a critique can be applied to subsets of two people doesn’t mean that it categorically excludes others.

            It seems to me your argument is simply a “there is no slippery slope” argument, but including an inability to identify where the slope begins, thus actually not refuting the slope. Its akin to people who say they want “common sense gun control” but won’t say what the end of that is. Indeed, there is evidence with both the “racist sayers” and “common sense gun controllers” that “racist” means “Charles Murray” (and probably people even more moderate than him) and “common sense gun control” means a ban of all guns. So people say, “we see the slope it ends at Berkley and Chicago” and then the response is???

            With regard to the separation of children, I think that is simply always going to be a fact of life if there is a border and children are presumed innocent while adults are not. This is why many times drug dealers use children as mules.

            So back to Wallace vs. Trump, we have to understand that there will always be overlap between politicians if you look for them, and they will often be quite compelling. The FDR-Hitler overlap is perhaps the strongest in American history, but few people cite that currently. And sometimes the lack of overlap itself is an indictment (such as the Clinton-Clinton lack of overlap).

          • Brad says:

            idontknow131647093 wrote:

            I think this is a general misunderstanding to the anti-anti-racist (in the Scott Alexander kind of way) way of thought. Rather, the argument is that “Racist” has a very particular definition and proving that someone is a racist has a very particular set of steps, otherwise the definition of racist is no longer the same, or even similar, and thus it shouldn’t be a derogatory term. I’ll try my hand, although probably not with great skill.

            From Against Murderism:

            Am I saying everyone like this is schizophrenic? Not diagnosably, no. But I notice that there are a lot of not-diagnosably-schizophrenic people who believe in the Illuminati, the New World Order, the Freemasons, and – yes – lizardmen. Is it really so outlandish to say that the same faulty reasoning that concludes that Freemasons run the world could conclude that Jews run the world, and for the same reasons? Does it really make sense to just blow one off as paranoid conspiracy-mongering, and the other as originating from a completely different process called “anti-Semitism” or “racism”? Remember, “healthy” people with paranoid and conspiratorial beliefs have the same kind of fronto-striatal prediction error signal that schizophrenics do, only less so, suggesting that their odd ideas probably come from the same kind of disturbed reasoning process.

            Fine. Schizotypal conspiracy-mongerers are a noncentral example anyway. What about, I don’t know, rural Republicans in South Carolina who wave the Confederate flag all the time and think blacks and immigrants are ruining the country.

            Here I would point out that this is pretty much the demographic that elected Nikki Haley … Maybe this is more like the daycare situation than it looks – people using race as a proxy for something they care about, until they get direct information.

            And I’m not saying that there will never be a case that’s impossible to break down into non-racist motives. Heck, I’m not even saying there aren’t some honest-to-goodness murderists out there. But I am saying we should at least try. Not because it’s necessarily costless. Not because there isn’t a risk of false negatives.

            We should try because it’s the only alternative to having another civil war.

            It’s a definition deliberately designed to be as narrow as possible so as to virtually eliminate usage, not just some arbitrary ” very particular” definition by someone that happens to think narrow, precise definitions are great in general.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            @Brad

            While that is one possible way of defining it, I think you can broaden the definition as I did without the side effects Scott warns against. However, I think there still needs to be delineations that ensure the “racist” label has an incredibly low false positive rate, otherwise you do get the issues I talked about.

            Its just like common sense gun control. If it means anything more than universal background checks, its not really all that common sense.

          • Brad says:

            However, I think there still needs to be delineations that ensure the “racist” label has an incredibly low false positive rate, otherwise you do get the issues I talked about

            As I understand it there are two sets of “issues”.

            The first, is Scott’s argument that continuing to use the current colloquial definition of ‘racist’ will lead to a civil war. Given the evidence and bringing my own judgment to bear, I consider that possibility outlandish. I could be wrong, but that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn.

            The second, is that a bunch of people don’t think it is fair that they themselves, or public figures they are fans of (e.g. Charles Murray), are called racists for doing or saying things that are within the current colloquial definition of racist. To that I say: too bad.

          • Matt M says:

            What about the issue of potentially watering down the term?

            The wider the net you cast with it, the less impact it will have. If you use the same term to describe David Duke and Charles Murray, one possibility is that this becomes very harmful to Murray, to which your response may be “Who cares? He should get better beliefs then. Not my problem.” But of course, another possibility is that this rehabilitates David Duke, such that when you try and de-platform him, the public shrugs and says “Why should we be afraid of someone who has the same views as a respectable college professor?”

            Realistically, both things will happen, but to different groups. This also comes up in the argument that part of Trump’s victory was attributable to the left abusing such terms, such that when they called him a racist, a lot of people rolled their eyes and said “Yeah, yeah, you call everyone a racist,” at which point you end up in a “But this time we really mean it” style of argument, which leads us to You’re Still Calling Wolf

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            @Brad I don’t think its 2 set of issues.

            The first, is Scott’s argument that continuing to use the current colloquial definition of ‘racist’ will lead to a civil war. Given the evidence and bringing my own judgment to bear, I consider that possibility outlandish. I could be wrong, but that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn.

            No. The argument is that there are two colloquial definitions of racist and if they are preserved it will result in a civil war.

            While running the risk of engaging too many SSCisms this is Scott (and me) saying that this particular Motte and Bailey is very dangerous because the Motte is very strong, whereas the Bailey is very weak.

            So going back to my recent post:

            Motte = Racist: a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another and discriminates against or is prejudiced against people of said race.

            Bailey = Racist(b): a person who is from a race having majority or plurality political power, and who engages in conduct that may result in disparate impacts against another race.

            The contention is that there are many people who want to continue to employ punishments appropriate for the motte when applying them to the bailey, and that application will lead to civil war. I think that at the extreme this is correct.

            The second, is that a bunch of people don’t think it is fair that they themselves, or public figures they are fans of (e.g. Charles Murray), are called racists for doing or saying things that are within the current colloquial definition of racist. To that I say: too bad.

            This is related and not separate. People like Murray and those that agree with him on Race/IQ think that the original stigma of the old definition is being applied to them, whereas what you call the “colloquial” definition of “racist” is actually a compliment.

          • Brad says:

            The contention is that there are many people who want to continue to employ punishments appropriate for the motte when applying them to the bailey, and that application will lead to civil war. I think that at the extreme this is correct.

            I don’t know what “at the extreme” is supposed to mean exactly. If the status quo with respect to the word ‘racism’ continues then I think the probability of a civil war arising from it is extremely low. If people that are considered racists are put reeducation camps, that obviously changes the probability of civil war, but I’d consider the probability of *that* to be extremely low. Summing up all the possibilities wherein something about the ‘word’ racism leads to civil war, I consider the total probability very low.

            I acknowledge I could be miscalibrated, but simply saying you disagree doesn’t move the needle much.

            This is related and not separate. People like Murray and those that agree with him on Race/IQ think that the original stigma of the old definition is being applied to them, whereas what you call the “colloquial” definition of “racist” is actually a compliment

            I certainly don’t consider it a compliment. Based on the caterwauling, it doesn’t seem like the recipients consider it a compliment. If you think it is a compliment, you should be happy it is being thrown around.

            @Matt M
            I find in general that tactical suggestions from people on the opposite side of a desired outcome are not fruitful or interesting. I don’t tell pro-life people how to most effectively go about their protests and if I did they should probably disregard me.

          • Matt M says:

            I find in general that tactical suggestions from people on the opposite side

            Eh, I think this might actually be a rare opportunity for a meaningful bipartisan compromise.

            The left gets to keep the ability to use “racism” as a term that provides an instant credibility kill-shot against its opponents.

            The right gets to sleep soundly knowing that the term will only be applied to legitimate racists and not to everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            There aren’t really rhetorical killshots. Not when the interlocutors are reasonably sophisticated.

            Arguments of the form “Checkmate, Nazi!” aren’t really good ones.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The left gets to keep the ability to use “racism” as a term that provides an instant credibility kill-shot against its opponents.

            The right gets to sleep soundly knowing that the term will only be applied to legitimate racists and not to everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton.

            That’s not a stable compromise. It will immediately be broken by either someone the left using it as a kill shot against someone who is not a “legitimate racist”, or someone on the right objecting to someone on the left using it as a kill shot against someone who is a “legitimate racist”.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          “Fine, then taboo the word each time someone else uses it and deal with the substance of what is being charged.”

          This is what I ask for in the murderism post, and if people did this there would be no (semantic) problem.

          “As a further point, regardless of what exactly you call it, I think that the “otherism” required to separate parents from children, with no thought or plan or care as to how or whether they will ever be reunited, needs to be acknowledged. Perhaps I missed it, but Scott still seems to be maintaining his stance in “You Are Still Crying Wolf” of denying this.”

          I’ve been trying to wade through the conflict about whether Obama also separated families. As best I can tell, the answer is “occasionally, but less often than Trump”. If this turns out to be true, and some of the immigrants were white (as many Mexicans are), would you conclude that Obama must be an anti-white racist? If not, I feel like “if you separate families, surely you are a racist” is one of those ad hoc principles that disappear once you use proving-too-much on them.

          Here is an uncontroversial, confirmed example of Obama-era immigration policy:

          “Videos and photos at the time showed children in tears, many of them still wearing dirty clothes, in detention facilities where they were kept with their families. The conditions — which ranged from six adults and children sleeping crammed on two mattresses laid out on concrete floors, to sick minors not receiving medical care — were documented in many news accounts and reports by human rights groups.”

          Again, if you’re saying this kind of thing can be due to any number of causes and wouldn’t make you suspect Obama was racist, but the family thing proves Trump is racist, it seems kind of like making up rules of evidence as you go along. I think this general pattern of starting with something bad, then assuming nothing but racism can be the cause, is part of what I was arguing against and pretty quickly shot down by all the horrible things that happen in situations where nobody suspects racism.

          My feeling is that the 34% of whites who describe themselves as unsympathetic to illegal immigrants feel that way for the same reason as the 19% of blacks who do, but that for some reason this factor affects whites slightly more. I don’t think it makes sense to say the blacks feel this way for completely understandable economic reasons, but the whites feel this way because they’re infected by a nonsensical and uncaused ideology of murder and hatred.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You seem to me to either not be fully engaged with my argument, or not fully engaged with the subject matter. Of course I could be mistaken, but this doesn’t feel like you are on the right foot here.

            When does the article you pointed to mention separating children from parents? Under specific conditions wherein the parent was not merely crossing the border, but crossing the border smuggling drugs or other contraband and the father had to be detained, rather than monitored.

            “ICE could not devise a safe way where men and children could be in detention together in one facility,” Fresco said. “It was deemed too much of a security risk.”

            This is not a blanket policy. This is not separating families intentionally for the specific purpose of discouraging immigration. And it’s definitely not doing so without planning for reunifying them.

            As I have acknowledged elsewhere, these issues are complex. There are bad incentives in the system. Certainly we can expect that some (many) of those seeking entry will attempt to game the system. The overall system is broken. Bringing the overall system to some better state is badly needed, and requires legislation.

            But that doesn’t change the callous way in which the administration is treating immigrants, from the first implementation of the travel ban right through to this abomination of a policy.

    • The Nybbler says:

      We can describe George Wallace as racist. But we can’t describe George Wallace as racist, and every white American as racist, and expect to apply conclusions drawn from the former “racism” to the latter, or vice-versa.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        The point I’m making is that even George Wallace claimed he was a friend to the negro. Saying you have no racial animus doesn’t make it so. Even being internally convinced you have no racial animus doesn’t make it so.

        Yes, there is a difference between the quite overt and explicit nature of the racism of Wallace and the broad structural racism that can impact nearly everyone. These are different things that require different remedies. But even still, there are blatantly “otherist” actions being promoted right now.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Saying you have no racial animus doesn’t make it so.

          Yes, politicians lie. But if you want to claim George Wallace (or anyone else) is lying about racial animus, you can’t switch to “structural racism” or “symbolic racism” when he denies it. And that’s what happens often enough.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’m claiming that Wallace, like most people, doesn’t have particularly consistent internal views. When he says he doesn’t hate black people, he is telling some version of truth. But that still doesn’t mean we can’t easily detect the racial animus in his rhetoric and actions.

            Can you agree that the actions of Wallace and his government were racist?

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Exactly. We can have a philosophical conversation about what collective nouns mean, just like medieval Schoolmen, and reach a consensus that George Wallace was a racist. But there can’t be TWO definitions of the word, with one including every white person and a plan by activists to weaponize the fallacy of equivocation.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Nonetheless we can say that affirmations that one isn’t racist, that one wants good things for X race, or other pleasantries, aren’t really evidence that one isn’t actually racist.

          Regardless of whether you want to call it “racism”, there is a profound “othering” that is happening right now. The evidence has built and built, but certainly separating parents from children without any plan or even thought to reuniting them is “otherist”. Defending the actions because “Well, these aren’t our kids. They aren’t the kids of Americans.” should be profoundly disturbing.

          But, just like Wallace, they will claim they truly care and have no animus in them.

          • Matt M says:

            You don’t seem to actually believe that Wallace truly cared though.

            Let’s suppose he did. Let’s suppose that, in his heart of hearts, he really did believe that both blacks and whites would be happier, and would live more useful and fulfilling lives, in a segregated society.

            Would it still be correct to call him racist?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Regardless of whether you want to call it “racism”, there is a profound “othering” that is happening right now. The evidence has built and built, but certainly separating parents from children without any plan or even thought to reuniting them is “otherist”.

            The question is the identity of the “other”. Trump and his supporters claim outright it’s because they’re unlawful alien entrants to the United States. His detractors tend to claim it’s because they’re Hispanic.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:

            … and when Trump and his supporters start coming after legal immigrants? What do you say then? When they complain that legal immigrants are causing demographic change such that the “US we love” is ceasing to exist?

            Even if we were to grant that they only care about illegal immigrants (which I absolutely will not), even if we took that the Trump administration had magical powers to separate legal immigrants from illegal ones, what do we make of them separating children from parents with no thought or plan to reunite them? What do we make of those who defend this by saying “It’s not like they are doing it to U.S. kids”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:

            You don’t seem to actually believe that Wallace truly cared though.

            From my original post:

            Almost everyone thinks they are one of the good guys. Expecting someone who is motivated in part by racial animus to self-confess is too tall an order

            In other words, I think it is entirely possible that Wallace at various times felt like he was doing the best that could be done for black people. But he also suppressed the other feelings that would have told him what he was doing was wrong.

            We rationalize our actions. All of the time. The question you are asking is the wrong one. It wants to plumb the depths of his soul to know if he was “really” a racist before he we can say “Hey, that stuff that is being done is racist.”

            Many Hutus thought they were in dire peril from Tutsis. Their belief of such didn’t mean that the genocide can’t be said to be racist. That is part of the package, the manipulation of your sense of what is good and warranted to allow you to do what you otherwise wouldn’t.

          • The Nybbler says:

            … and when Trump and his supporters start coming after legal immigrants? What do you say then?

            That would be be evidence that the animus was not based on being illegal.

            what do we make of them separating children from parents with no thought or plan to reunite them?

            Irrelevant to the question of whether the policy is racist.

          • Matt M says:

            But he also suppressed the other feelings that would have told him what he was doing was wrong.

            How do you know that?

            The way I see it, there are four possible scenarios:

            If we have segregation:

            1. Racial segregation results in whites oppressing blacks, net gain for whites, net loss for blacks (clearly racist, favored by only blatant and open white supremacists)

            2. Racial segregation results in races living separately, to the benefit of both races, net gain for both whites and blacks (Wallace’s claimed position)

            If we have integration:
            3. Racial integration results in significant benefits for both races as they intermix, net gain for both whites and blacks (current standard mainstream belief)

            4. Racial integration results in strife and conflict as the races continually struggle against each other despite being unable to fully integrate, net losses for both whites and blacks

            Now, we can dispute whether 1 or 2 is accurate, or whether 3 or 4 is accurate. Someone who believes in 1 is clearly racist. But someone who believes in 2, it occurs to me, is not necessarily racist. They just believe that if we have integration, Scenario 4 is more likely to occur than Scenario 3.

            If someone simultaneously believes that 2 is more likely than 1, AND 4 is more likely than 3, then pushing for segregation makes sense, because it is the utility-maximizing position for blacks, entirely independent of its effect on whites.

            The present-day demand for “POC-only” spaces and events strikes me as evidence that this is a reasonable claim, NOT restricted solely to racist white supremacists. The entire justification for such spaces is premised on 2 > 1 and 4 > 3 type of thinking.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            How racist (or doctrinaire integrationist) a person is would also have something to do with how willing they are to accept evidence that they’re wrong about who’s benefiting from what.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:

            Irrelevant to the question of whether the policy is racist.

            The treating of certain classes of people in an inhuman way is a textbook example of othering behavior. I don’t understand how you can maintain this position.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Matt M: Heh, exactly.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            How do you know that?

            Because we can see by his later behavior, in asking forgiveness for his actions, as well as his statements that he specifically engaged in the behavior because otherwise he was would not be elected.

            More to the point, believing that one class of people, and their children, and their children’s children, must be forever relegated to second class status “for their own good” is to de facto regard them as inferior. We don’t need to examine his “true” motivations.

            Your claim basically amounts to “but what if he thought blacks actually are inferior, what about that?”

          • The Nybbler says:

            The treating of certain classes of people in an inhuman way is a textbook example of othering behavior. I don’t understand how you can maintain this position.

            Because “othering” and “racist” aren’t the same thing, and further the whole thing is an attempt to put a rational veneer on an emotional argument. Any time you detain parents, you’re either separating the from their children or detaining children, and either one sounds bad.

          • John Schilling says:

            Any time you detain parents, you’re either separating the from their children or detaining children, and either one sounds bad.

            If I place a parent under house arrest, in the same house as their children, which of these sounds-bad things am I doing?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @John Schilling

            OK, you found a loophole. Doesn’t apply, however, to the detainees who didn’t have homes in the US.

          • Matt M says:

            OK, you found a loophole. Doesn’t apply, however, to the detainees who didn’t have homes in the US.

            CLEARLY the only humane thing to do is provide free housing to any immigrant caught crossing the border illegally with a child.

            I, for one, can’t think of any possible negative consequence of such a policy. Surely the only thing preventing it is Trump’s racism.

          • dick says:

            The fun police ask you to do less of this.

          • Nornagest says:

            @dick — Didn’t you get the picture from the last thread? Matt M likes tweaking you; that’s why he’s doing it. Whining about it doesn’t incentivize him not to. It does annoy the rest of us, though.

          • Matt M says:

            And from a mere marketing perspective, literally calling yourself the fun police probably isn’t the best way to rally people to your side.

          • dick says:

            To value “tweaking the other side” over constructive debate is what HBC meant by defection, yes. I think pointing it out is the equivalent of asking people not to litter in a park. If this is the sort of park where littering is more acceptable than asking people not to litter, then you are correct that I should just fuck off to another park. My hope was that that was not the case.

          • John Schilling says:

            OK, you found a loophole. Doesn’t apply, however, to the detainees who didn’t have homes in the US.

            I’m guessing a bordertown Motel 6 and a GPS anklet would be cheaper than our current detention schemes.

          • Brad says:

            @Nornagest
            Somehow people don’t complain about “Go away John”. Hmm.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think pointing it out is the equivalent of asking people not to litter in a park.

            A neutral third party asking to tone the snark down can get results. (The traditional phrasing is “less of this, please”.) But that’s trading on neutrality, or at least respect. If you’re fighting on the other side of the culture war, complaints about coarsening discourse work a lot less well: partly because they come off as self-serving, and partly because people want to avoid pissing off bystanders and don’t want to avoid pissing off their ideological foes. Plus, it means bias is more likely.

            Somehow people don’t complain about “Go away John”. Hmm.

            John’s pretty unusual. He’s not going to go away, but we need a succinct way to communicate what’s going on with him, before people who don’t know better start responding and the thread balloons out of control. And it needs to be something that he can’t take as a prompt. Even then, we can only get away with that phrasing because John’s so clearly persona non grata: it would come off as incredibly rude with almost anyone else.

          • rlms says:

            Plus, it means bias is more likely.

            Maybe left-wingers are just (genetically?) less likely to make low quality snarky comments.

          • Matt M says:

            Somehow people don’t complain about “Go away John”. Hmm.

            Now hang on, I *do* take offense to this one. I’ve never even gotten so much as a warning from Scott, much less repeated total bans.

            If Scott asks me to knock it off, I’ll knock it off. In the meantime, I don’t think a few harmless jokes here and there are that big of a deal. And I don’t think I’m the only one who occasionally makes them.

          • dick says:

            A neutral third party asking to tone the snark down can get results.

            I don’t think this is a left vs right issue, it’s a “constructive debate” vs “trolling the libtards/republicunts” issue. If you think that arguing has value beyond the opportunity to be perceived as having won something, that it’s the best way to understand and refine your own positions, and that it only works when you can find someone smart and informed who honestly disagrees with you and is willing to discuss it while upholding certain basic norms like the principle of charity, then you’re already on my side. Meanwhile, let me remind me what you’re defending:

            CLEARLY the only humane thing to do is provide free housing to any immigrant caught crossing the border illegally with a child. I, for one, can’t think of any possible negative consequence of such a policy. Surely the only thing preventing it is Trump’s racism.

            If that’s the kind of content you came here for, great, enjoy it. It’s not for me, and not because of which side of the aisle it comes from.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @The Nybbler:
          Taking this to a different sub-thread.

          Because “othering” and “racist” aren’t the same thing,

          I would argue that racism is simply one form of the more general practice of othering.

          From Wikipedia:

          The term Othering describes the reductive action of labelling a person as someone who belongs to a subordinate social category defined as the Other. The practice of Othering is the exclusion of persons who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the Self. Likewise, in the field of human geography, the action term to Other identifies and excludes a person from the social group, placing him or her at the margins of society, where the social norms do not apply to and for the person labelled as the Other.

          McMillan defines it more succinctly:

          Treating people from another group as essentially different from and generally inferior to the group you belong to

          I’m not sure why you think racism is somehow different from this?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I would argue that racism is simply one form of the more general practice of othering.

            Assuming this arguendo, this doesn’t allow you to move from “othering” to “racism”. If “illegal entrants to the United States” can be defined as an “Other”, then any enforcement of immigration policy is an instance of “othering”, but not necessarily “racism”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I specifically used the word othering to preclude that argument. The point I was making in this sub-thread was that reducing “racism” to meaninglessness doesn’t let you ignore the behavior.

          • uau says:

            @HeelBearCub

            But you still seem to be implying some kind of link to “racism” under some definition of that word, without really justifying that.

            Even now you say ‘reducing “racism” to meaninglessness doesn’t let you ignore the behavior’, as if 1) it was behavior that was both somehow obviously bad, and 2) calling it “racism” would be the “obvious” way to recognize its badness. You haven’t really justified 1 (what’s the alternative if the adults are arrested?), and particularly have not justified 2 in any way at all. Compare with ‘reducing “racism” to meaninglessness doesn’t let you ignore the way the mafia runs waste-disposal business by dumping hazardous chemicals directly into the sea’. You agree that the silliness is obvious in this case, yes? You haven’t really justified any more link to “racism” in your case.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @uau:
            From a response to me in another sub-thread:

            My understanding of “Against Murderism” is that it intentionally defined ‘racism’ such that it had no meaning with the purpose of driving its use down and the ultimate goal of preventing civil war.

            From a different sub-thread:

            HealBearCub says “Fine, then taboo the word each time someone else uses it and deal with the substance of what is being charged.”

            Scott Alexander says: “This is what I ask for in the murderism post, and if people did this there would be no (semantic) problem.”

            So, I am saying that the actions in question are treating people arriving without a visa on our souther border (who are overwhelmingly non-“white”) as generally different and inferior.

          • uau says:

            @HeelBearCub

            So, I am saying that the actions in question are treating people arriving without a visa on our souther border (who are overwhelmingly non-“white”) as generally different and inferior.

            This alone does little to justify talking about “racism”. In the USA, people who strongly identify as either Democrat or Republican widely consider people in the other party as generally different and inferior. This is widespread behavior.

            The treatment of people attempting to illegally enter the country can be explained without needing to assume any hatred towards the group(s) of people they belong to. And identifiable groups of people can hate each other without any race differences. Why do you have to insist on an explanation based on race in particular?

            And you seem to both consider the treatment of the people trying to illegally enter the country to be “obviously wrong”, AND think that the only kind of wrongness that could be recognized is the word “racism”, while at the same time saying the definition of that word doesn’t matter. If it’s so obviously wrong, why would even intentionally ignoring any racist angle (even by the strictest definition) matter?

            “The people in country X are building concentration camps and gassing millions of people!”
            “What! Are they RACIST?!”
            “No, they have a policy of selecting victims strictly equally from all racial and cultural groups!”
            “Oh, I guess I can’t see anything wrong with it then. Tell them to carry on!”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @uau:
            I’m not the one making a demand to avoid the the word. I’m responding to a demand to describe what is going in a different way.

            The people arriving are being treated in a way we would not treat them if we did not regard them as in some way inferior. And I don’t mean their simple lack of citizenship.

          • 10240 says:

            So, I am saying that the actions in question are treating people arriving without a visa on our souther border (who are overwhelmingly non-“white”) as generally different and inferior.

            People who commit illegal acts are, in some sense, different and inferior to those who don’t. Even if they happen to be overwhelmingly non-white. That’s why the term “othering” doesn’t add much to the discussion: unlike racism (under the more narrow senses of the word), othering is justified in many cases.

            It also seems to me that the concept of “othering” is very prone to motte-and-bailey tactics, as its meanins range from considering someone to belong to a different group from oneself in some way, to unjustified ill-treatment of such “others” bordering on racism.

          • Matt M says:

            HBC,

            Is it your assertion that if a white person named “John Smith” was caught illegally crossing the border, with a 7 year old girl in tow, and neither of them had any form of ID or documentation, that they wouldn’t be detained, or that they would somehow be detained together without any separation?

          • keranih says:

            @ HBC

            The people arriving are being treated in a way we would not treat them if we did not regard them as in some way inferior. And I don’t mean their simple lack of citizenship.

            You are assuming povs drive actions in other people’s minds the way that they do in yours. I suggest that all the people who have told you, repeatedly, that their primary problem is the lawbreaking, those people are not actually lying to you, nor are they engaged in self deception.

            Consider that just as you feel those people have an incorrect judgement of illegal immigrants, that your judgement of those you label as racists is also not correct.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Yes, how would our government treat a white non-citizen named John Smith carrying a 7-year-old trying to enter at a port vs. a white non-citizen named Juan Herrero trying to cross the Rio Grande with a 7-year-old vs. an American Indian-looking Juan Herrero ditto? That’s the sort of hypothetical you have to reason out to figure out the role racism plays.

          • Brad says:

            I wonder if all these people so terribly concerned about law breaking, and nothing so mundane as race or ethnicity—perish the though!—think we out to beef up enforcement of the criminal law against evading taxes by a few orders of magnitudes, throw a few of thousands of parents in jail pending trial, and send the children of those criminals to orphanages? The law is the law, right?

            Or how about tipsy drivers? Their kids should definitely be in orphanages, right?

          • March says:

            @uau,

            The alternative if adults are arrested would, IMO, at the very minimum be:
            – keep a good record of which adult and which child belong together (instead of ‘whoops, we don’t know who this kid belongs to, ah well, sucks to be them, not our problem’)
            – allow adults and children to phone each other at least once a day (for free and not at the extortionate prices we’ve heard about)
            – understand and try to mitigate the effects of traumatic separation on kids (instead of keeping them in places where nobody speaks their language and ‘caregivers’ are not allowed to comfort the children; many people already think parents who send their kids to daycare are heartless monsters, so let’s take at least the standards for daycares – this is just good sense, if these kids do end up staying in your country you want them to be able to develop into healthy, productive citizens and not into traumatized shadows)
            – don’t starve, beat, drug or otherwise abuse the kids
            – don’t threaten or coerce the adults (by telling them they’re never seeing their kids again unless they sign away their rights to due process)
            – don’t ‘release’ the adults 3000 miles from their kids with no way to get to them; don’t deport the parents without their kids (or vice versa) unless you’ve taken some kind of extraordinary measure to ensure that the parent WANTS the kid to stay and that the kid can go to family, not ‘foster homes or whatever’
            – allow organizations like the Red Cross and the UNHCR to visit and monitor the detention facilities (at the very least, they have awesome record keeping skills for reuniting families)

            At the VERY minimum.

            Sure, all of that may cost money, but apparently the contracts for housing those kids are already ridiculously expensive, to the tune of a couple of hundred bucks per night? You can buy a lot of good-quality care for that money.

            Anyone who’d rather spend that kind of money to perpetuate (rather than alleviate) the misery has his or her priorities out of whack. If you want to deter parents from coming in, the fact that you’re separating them from their kids is enough of a deterrent without going out of your way to damage the kids.

          • Deiseach says:

            So, I am saying that the actions in question are treating people arriving without a visa on our souther border (who are overwhelmingly non-“white”) as generally different and inferior.

            See, this is the thing here, HeelBearCub – those people are ARRIVING WITHOUT A VISA. That is to say, they are breaking the rules/the law.

            So in effect you are claiming that “people tasking with enforcing the rules, enforcing the rules against people who break the rules, are engaged in Othering which is Racism”.

            Now, there is a genuine problem here! There isn’t a comparable influx of white non-visa holding illegal immigrants on the northern border to compare and contrast, so it’s easy to say “they treat legal, illegal, citizen and non-citizen brown people all the same and that is based on racism and nobody can deny that with a straight face”. But your statement assumes that a constant flood of illegal Canadians would not be treated the same, i.e. would not be held in detention, would not have their children taken away, etc because they would be white and so would be treated differently.

            And we can’t make that comparison because it’s not happening. Maybe it is all racism! But so long as it also remains the case that those southern brown people are ILLEGAL, then it also remains that they are breaking laws and being treated as law breakers.

            Again, if legal immigrants at the border are being held in camps, have their kids separated, etc. then yeah, that’s racism. Is that happening? You see my problem here? You’re ignoring the BREAKING THE LAW part of all this, and while your whole Othering may or may not be true, it is irretrievably tangled up with “the whole reason these people are being detained is because they didn’t go the legal route”.

            Now you can say “nobody is illegal” and all the rest of it, but so long as the law is in place about this, then they are breaking the law. And we separate ordinary white law-breakers from their kids all the time. Change the law, let them be legal in accordance with applying legally, and if they are still treated like this to discourage them then sure, tell me all about how it is Othering and Racism and I won’t squeak about it.

            EDIT: If it makes you any happier, I’m not thrilled about the amnesties for illegal Irish, either. If you went to the USA on a student or tourist visa, lied about “oh no, only here for a visit” while fully intending to stay all the time, and then immigration catches up with you and wants to deport you, tough. “But I’m twenty years in the country! My family, my business!” You didn’t try regularising your situation in twenty years? America does not owe you a living.

          • keranih says:

            @ Brad

            think we out to beef up enforcement of the criminal law against evading taxes by a few orders of magnitudes, throw a few of thousands of parents in jail pending trial, and send the children of those criminals to orphanages?

            Who do you think the border patrol/ICE should call, when they catch an adult suspected of a crime accompanied by a minor?

            Or how about tipsy drivers? Their kids should definitely be in orphanages, right?

            I am assuming that you are not aware that Texas CPS takes the kids of people caught blowing positive for any degree of alcohol with a kid in the car.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            1. No, everyone who has been separated from their children is is not here illegally. Entry to ask for asylum is not illegal.

            2. Entering illegally is a misdemeanor. It’s on the level of driving 95 mph in a 65 mph zone. This is not actually even comparable to a DUI.

            3. The othering going on here is xenophobic othering. Yes, law applies to all immigrants … because xenophobia is being stoked against immigrants. When the poor immigrants were German, we hated the Germans. When they were Irish, we (including the Germans) hated the Irish. When they were Italian or Polish or Chinese … the same scripts applied.

            The issue here is simply that they are seen as different, and therefore frightening. Fear becomes anger. Anger becomes hate. None of these sentiments are ever exclusive of the others.

            This plays out time and again, around the world. It’s human. It’s not actually about “race”, or “skin color” or your nose, or your hair, or your eyes. It’s about difference. The Hutus were perfectly capable of killing the Tutsis despite them all being “black”.

          • Deiseach says:

            It’s about difference.

            Then while it may be Othering, it’s not racism as commonly understood, if it would be equally applied to white people considered undesirables. You’re switching the language around here a little bit; it started off “the treatment is motivated by racism, and racism and Othering are the same thing” and now it’s “you can both be black and still Tribe A can Other Tribe B”.

            So if we’re not having racist whites being racist to southern non-whites (and you’re the one who made the explicit point of them being non-whites) on the grounds of ethnicity but they are Othering them, then why are we talking about racial discrimination?

            And yes, it really makes me want to say “yes, they are different; they’re not citizens of the country they’re trying to enter”. Maybe sneaking over the border then pleading you want asylum in order to avoid being deported is only a misdemeanour and they will all be responsible (nearly) citizens afterwards, but how would you feel about a friend who took money out of your wallet without asking you and without your knowledge on the grounds “oh but I knew you would have lent it to me anyway if I asked, so I didn’t bother asking”? Maybe not so trusting of that friend afterwards? Or maybe you’re fine with that, who knows?

          • Matt M says:

            But they are “others” to the extent that they are non-citizens, right?

            Do you foresee anyway to prevent this sort of “othering” aside from abolishing the very concept of citizenship and allowing wholly open borders?

          • Brad says:

            @keranih

            Who do you think the border patrol/ICE should call, when they catch an adult suspected of a crime accompanied by a minor?

            You’re dodging the question. Why is it that border patrol/ICE is catching and arresting so many adults suspected of a crime and IRS-CI so few? Do you think there are multiple orders of magnitude more people making illegal entries than cheating on taxes?

            I am assuming that you are not aware that Texas CPS takes the kids of people caught blowing positive for any degree of alcohol with a kid in the car.

            I don’t see why a kid needs to be in the car. Drinking and driving is against the law, and people that break the law should be put in jail and have their kids sent to orphanages, right?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            I’m not sure if you are intentionally misunderstanding or not. It feels like you are.

            Racism isn’t some super special thing, it’s garden variety inter-tribal hatred. It’s the same thing whether we it’s White/Black, Tutsi/Hutu, Serb/Bosnian, Catholic/Protestant, Hindu/Muslim, Christian/Jewish, Irish immigrant/German immigrant, etc.

            All of these animosities will manifest differently when one side has a great deal more power than the other. The racism of the U.S. typically had this as part of its dynamic.

            I don’t know why you are insisting that racism is somehow different.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Brad:
            In order to make it roughly analagous, we would need it to be a DUI first offense, where both parents were driving different cars and both were charged.

            We don’t put them directly in jail with no bail, nor pull the child immediately from the home as a blanket policy.

            But I don’t think DUI is actually a good example, because it does endanger people.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            That’s a fairly sophomoric argument. Someone being merely someone other than yourself does not indicate that othering is occurring. You aren’t engaging with the argument at all.

          • Controls Freak says:

            @HBC

            Someone being merely someone other than yourself does not indicate that othering is occurring.

            Could you spell some of this out in more detail? Earlier, you cited two definitions:

            From Wikipedia:

            The term Othering describes the reductive action of labelling a person as someone who belongs to a subordinate social category defined as the Other. The practice of Othering is the exclusion of persons who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the Self. Likewise, in the field of human geography, the action term to Other identifies and excludes a person from the social group, placing him or her at the margins of society, where the social norms do not apply to and for the person labelled as the Other.

            McMillan defines it more succinctly:

            Treating people from another group as essentially different from and generally inferior to the group you belong to

            Starting with Wikipedia. To say that someone is a non-citizen without right of entry is to label a person as someone who belongs to a subordinate social category. Here, I take the label “non-citizen without right of entry” to be the definition of a social category, and I think you would call it a subordinate one. We practice Othering by excluding non-citizens without right of entry from the social group of the United States.

            Moving to McMillan, we certainly treat non-citizens without right of entry differently (not sure how much weight you’re putting on “essentially”), and I think you would call that treatment inferior.

            AFAICT, merely holding that there are folks that are non-citizens with no right of entry qualifies as othering, under the definitions that you cited. While I may have degrees in other areas, I am apparently but a sophomore in this area. Perhaps you could help a poor student out?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:
            Allow a slight digression from your question.

            The way you are interpreting that definition would make my argument immediately something like laughable. “People who speed are forced, under color of law, to pay fines and maybe go to jail, unlike people who don’t. This is to treat them as subordinate and different. This an example of othering, too.”

            Frequently in these kinds of debates people will “play dumb” as a way to get into semantic debates so that they can then parse definitions very carefully and thus avoid talking about substance. Although your question is framed somewhat carefully, it still feels extremely disingenuous to me unless something is going on, like you are well out on the spectrum somewhere (which I certainly need to allow for, especially here).

            So, I’m going to ask you to attempt either charity or steel-manning or something, reading those definitions in the way most people would, and see if you can come up with a better definition or question to which I could respond.

          • Controls Freak says:

            I literally asked you the question that you could respond to – can you spell out your particular definition in more detail?

            I think most people wouldn’t view our policy toward folks who speed as an “othering”, but I do think some folks think that our policy toward felons is. I think I have some idea of how I would draw the difference, but non-citizens without right of entry fall on the latter side rather than the former. (EDIT: For example, at least your Wikipedia definition spoke of ‘exclusion’ twice, which would be an easy way to distinguish fine-paying speeders from non-citizens without right of entry. It’s not in your other definition, which is even more simplistic and overbroad.)

            And since we’re “feeling” our intuitions of disingenuousness in public, I’m going to say that I think that either you have a very particular interpretation of those definitions in mind and/or are otherwise playing the game of, “This is really simple, guize!” “But wait, your simple definition implies ____.” “You’re being disingenuous in thinking that my definition actually means what my definition says.” Specifically, by forwarding a simplistic and overbroad definition in order to make your point and then retreating from it without explanation when pushed on the fact that it’s simplistic and overbroad, you’re playing a little two-step that prevents us from ever meeting on common ground.

            So, I’m going to ask you again – why, specifically, do you think that we can’t apply othering to non-citizens without the right of entry? (You can also explain how your interpretation applies to some other category such as fine-paying speeders, but that’s really an aside, given the context.) Do you find these distinctions within the definitions you cited, or are they additional rules that complicate the simple picture (and therefore, might come into play when considering other possible examples of othering, as well)?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:

            I literally asked you the question that you could respond to

            And I literally asked you to ask a better one.

            I want you to steel-man what you are reading, rather than repeat a weak claim that differentiating between citizens and non-citizens in any way is othering.

            You seem to think I am making a “bright line” claim, which I have not. I fully admit that these things are complex and analog, not simple and binary.

          • Controls Freak says:

            I want you to steel-man what you are reading, rather than repeat a weak claim that differentiating between citizens and non-citizens in any way is othering.

            Maybe you missed my edit. I think the steelman is that “exclusion” is important to the definition (and citing McMillan is more simplistic, overbroad, and wrong). Therefore, fine-paying speeders are a no; felons and non-citizens without right of entry are a yes.

            You seem to think I am making a “bright line” claim, which I have not. I fully admit that these things are complex and analog, not simple and binary.

            …and I’m giving you a blank check to expound upon the complexity therein. In my area of expertise, I love when someone is interested in the complexity that lies beneath. I’ll be even more straightforward about my “feeling” now – I think you’re intentionally avoiding giving any indication of how you would resolve the difficulty, because it demonstrates how untenable your simplistic definition is, and you were banking on the simplistic definition to sneak in normative claims which are unjustified.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:

            From the first definition, I would say that the following is something that you seem not put any weight on, which I think you are avoiding.

            where the social norms do not apply to and for the person labelled as the Other

            The normal rules, cares and concerns the society observes in treating each of it’s members don’t apply. These are removed at the group level, not at the individual level.

            As I said elsewhere this isn’t some super special thing, it’s garden variety inter-tribal hatred (which, of course, is not inevitable):

            It’s the same thing whether we it’s White/Black, Tutsi/Hutu, Serb/Bosnian, Catholic/Protestant, Hindu/Muslim, Christian/Jewish, Irish immigrant/German immigrant, etc.

            If you don’t like “othering” as a term of art to describe the ascribing of unwarranted negative properties and the denying of civil intercourse that routinely occurs when these conflicts escalate, what would you use?

          • Controls Freak says:

            Thanks for answering.

            I’m still not sure how this applies in the instant case. I think the core class we’re dealing with are non-citizens with no right of entry, and on the one hand, the social norms for citizens don’t apply to them – they can’t enter, have no right to be here, and will be deported if discovered. Nevertheless, I take you as thinking that this is insufficient for othering for some reason.

            Perhaps you’re weighing heavily on “cares and concerns” (which is a bit of an innovation), thinking that we don’t separate families for other routine crime without good reason. Well, I think this devolves into a factual question, and one with multiple possible groups responding. I think you’re responding viscerally to a group who you think is viscerally responding, “I want them punished in whatever way possible.” I think there is another group who instead says, “Actually, we have a good reason why this is happening.” It stems from the core nature of the class we’re dealing with – non-citizens with no right of entry. In order to prosecute their crime, we have to either hold them or let them loose in the interior, where they have no right to be. (Tweener solutions like GPS monitoring and a nearby hotel room likely collapse to “hold them” in practice.)

            The comparison I’d like to make is enemy combatants. No, not because I think, “Immigrants are terrorists.” Because it was a genuinely unique situation that wasn’t trivially settled. Sure, you could probably point at some dumb folks who said, “They’re terrorists! We wouldn’t have them in custody if they weren’t terrorists! I don’t care what you do to them.” You could probably also point at some dumb folks who said, “Damn neocons! Killing and imprisoning brown people just because of oil!” Instead of either of those, the optimal thing to do is to actually engage with the complicated, unique situation (which the Supreme Court actually did, if anyone was paying attention).

            I’m sure there were some situations where folks actually did really bad things to some of these people. I also believe DHS when they say that they try to follow the law and don’t separate families when they lawfully present themselves at the border to claim asylum (with typical exceptions for the health and safety of the child and such). I’m sure things still go wrong sometimes; I’ve read a whole lot of circuit court cases on qualified immunity; shit goes wrong surprisingly regularly in lots of areas. Most people don’t scream to the rooftops about them, so I’m generally skeptical when folks suddenly start caring in an area that happens to align with political positions they want to push.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:
            Do you agree that we don’t remove children from parents for purposes of punishing the parents for any crimes they have done? That the purpose of separating children and parents is practiced out of concerns fro the welfare of the child?

            Tweener solutions like GPS monitoring and a nearby hotel room likely collapse to “hold them” in practice.

            Legally they don’t collapse to that. That’s how this issue had been resolved up until this point.

            And you seem to have refused to engage with my question about your preferred language.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Do you agree that we don’t remove children from parents for purposes of punishing the parents for any crimes they have done?

            That depends on the crime and a variety of circumstances. Do you deny that we actually do do this sometimes?

            That the purpose of separating children and parents is practiced out of concerns fro the welfare of the child?

            In the case of legal asylum-seekers, yes. This is the law, and I believe it is the practice.

            Tweener solutions like GPS monitoring and a nearby hotel room likely collapse to “hold them” in practice.

            Legally they don’t collapse to that. That’s how this issue had been resolved up until this point.

            That would be all well and good… if Vox didn’t also immediately link a variety of groups who are literally claiming that this type of thing violates Due Process. If the result of this kerfuffle is that everyone gets together and agrees, “Ok, GPS monitoring is totally an acceptable solution to this unique situation,” then I’d be quite happy… even though some folks would consider it a win for Trump. Are you willing to say, “Those people who are claiming that it’s a violation of Due Process are wrong, and this is an acceptable solution?” Are you willing to tell your Congressmen that they should vote for a law that makes it standard practice?

            And you seem to have refused to engage with my question about your preferred language.

            I mean, your question was kinda ridiculous, changing definitions yet again (we had nothing about “ascribing unwarranted negative properties” anywhere above), and pretty much the entirety of my comment was focused on promoting the civil intercourse that routinely occurs on such matters… sooo…. I’m considering it “engaged with”.

          • albatross11 says:

            Controls Freak:

            I don’t think I’d want to use the way we handled enemy combatants as a model for any other decisions, because it looks to me like an utter clusterfuck. We have a bunch of people we can’t try in a civilized court, pretty clearly because we tortured them to get the information that proves their guilt. But we can’t let them go, both for political reasons and because many of them probably really are seriously bad dudes. And the special-different-rules courts (military commissions) we’ve tried to set up and try them in have been a series of embarrassing fuckups, probably because all the lawyers involved have been raised in civilized court systems and aren’t okay with abandoning those norms.

          • Controls Freak says:

            No, not because I think, “Immigrants are terrorists.” Because it was a genuinely unique situation that wasn’t trivially settled.

            Focus on “it was a genuinely unique situation that wasn’t trivially settled”. That’s the object of the analogy, not any of the other things you mentioned.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:

            That depends on the crime and a variety of circumstances. Do you deny that we actually do do this sometimes?

            Do we actually separate children from parents? Yes. Is this itself intended as punishment or deterrence for a crime? No.

            I thin you are trying to make the case that illegal immigration itself is child endangerment, but you aren’t being clear about it. If that were the case, if the administration really was trying to make this case, then they would be actually trying to make that case in court, seeking judicial orders to separate the children from the parents. They haven’t tried to make the case, but simply executed as if it had already happened.

            As to my question about inter-tribal conflict, I think you are being “ridiculous” by dismissing it. Dehumanizing rhetoric and actions are par for the course in human history. This, in no small measure, is why individual rights are enshrined in the Constitution. We have ample evidence that these kinds of attitudes and conflicts do arise. I see no reason why you should dismiss the question out of hand.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Do we actually separate children from parents? Yes. Is this itself intended as punishment or deterrence for a crime? No.

            If you legitimately think that you can detangle the various purposes of and justifications for punishment and apply it rationally and consistently across all of our population and legal system, you’re basically the Time Cube Guy. Nevertheless, I don’t personally think we do that for most crimes, nor do I think we’re doing that here.

            I thin you are trying to make the case that illegal immigration itself is child endangerment

            Allow me to clarify – I am not making this case.

            As to my question about inter-tribal conflict, I think you are being “ridiculous” by dismissing it. Dehumanizing rhetoric and actions are par for the course in human history. This, in no small measure, is why individual rights are enshrined in the Constitution. We have ample evidence that these kinds of attitudes and conflicts do arise. I see no reason why you should dismiss the question out of hand.

            That’s fine as far as it goes. Sure, people have had inter-tribal conflict. But this is a good chance to get back to the reason why I responded in this subthread – your use of the term “othering”. I think that inter-tribal conflict can come with othering, but it is not a sufficient condition. Suppose I said, “The Russian tribe has harmed my tribe, and I’m comfortable with engaging in various acts which constitute conflict against them in order to deter them from pursuing those harms again.” Starting from the definitions of “othering” which you cited above, would you classify this as “othering”?

            Also, sure, people have used dehumanizing rhetoric… but notice yet another change in terminology – you had asked about “ascribing unwarranted negative properties” (which was itself a departure), and now you’ve changed it to “dehumanizing rhetoric”. I’m loathe to bother engaging with an ever-changing target, because you’ve long since left any root within the definitions that you started with, and you’ve move to just stretching toward a bundle of concepts which you think are vaguely related.

            I thought we had started to make a bit of progress in that you focused on “the normal rules, cares[,] and concerns”. It allows us to actually dig into a factual question – is this really within the normal scope of our legal concerns? Like with enemy combatants, does it really just kinda fall in a weird factual setting, which requires us to make decisions in context of our normal legal concerns? And thus, we had a short back-and-forth about GPS monitoring, which resulted in me asking a couple questions that you completely ignored:

            Are you willing to say, “Those people who are claiming that it’s a violation of Due Process are wrong, and this is an acceptable solution?” Are you willing to tell your Congressmen that they should vote for a law that makes it standard practice?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:
            I sense a distinct lack of charity and too much in the manner of formal debate tactics in your responses. You say you like you want to “dig into the details” and get a clear picture of what I mean, yet, each attempt at further clarification and additional descriptive information is being met with cries of inconsistency. This is quite frustrating.

            Human behavior and prejudice exists in a continuum. At the far end of that continuum is enough prejudice to lead to things like slaughter of 1/2 to 1 million of one’s countrymen in about 3 months. The idea that there is some bright line that you cross over between here and there isn’t born out by the evidence. I have used different words in an attempt to get you to respond to the question – what name do you give to this process of increasing prejudice? I am using “Othering”, but you seem not to like it.

            I’m not trying to define fully exactly what “Othering” is, how exactly to say when it is occurring, etc. I’m merely first trying to get you to be charitable enough to admit that this process exists.

            GPS monitoring

            I don’t know enough about the specific arguments around GPS monitoring. To the extent that other means of ensuring compliance to the legal regime, like community monitoring, can be shown to be sufficiently effective, they may be preferable if they are less intrusive. I don’t know what the relevant case law is.

            Broadly speaking, our immigration process is in a state of brokenness. As one example, it takes far too long to resolve immigration cases. As another, we (as a unitary nation) don’t actually want to stop illegal immigration, as if we did we would have pursued employers as well the migrants themselves, which has mostly been non-existent. Nor have we been willing to acknowledge that wealth disparities among nations can’t waved away by mere laws. De facto, the unitary nation has been comfortable with illegal immigration.

          • Controls Freak says:

            I imagine you find it frustrating that your simple picture has gotten complicated. Can you believe that I am also frustrated with your responses, and am detecting a distinct lack of charity within them, as well? I think that some of your responses have been attempts at further clarification, but some of have been bald departures from the definitions you cited, and I’ve called those out (with supporting examples which you have refused to respond to). I’m not sure that you can ask for more charity from me than trying to preserve your best arguments while also giving specific reasons to reject your stranger claims.

            I’m fine with your general “there’s a continuum” business, but that doesn’t just paper over any possible flaws. It’s handwaving of the highest order, and incredibly distasteful. You gave a definition. The question was posed as to whether or not that definition is overbroad, and now you’re doing your best to change what the definition said, gesture at other concepts, and avoid the question of whether it applies more broadly than you’d like. In fact, this continuum business makes it even more broad. What possible criteria could we use to determine whether treating non-citizens without right of entry differently than citizens is “othering”? What possible criteria could we use to determine whether the hypothetical response to Russian-tribe activity that I mentioned is “othering”? Are they “on the continuum of human behavior and prejudice”? You’re bathing in vagueness, which is really killing the effect of the term at all.

            I’m merely first trying to get you to be charitable enough to admit that this process exists.

            To be 100% clear, I have never claimed that various processes in your continuum don’t exist. I’m confident that they do. Instead, I’m trying to probe how broad this continuum is (for if it’s as broad as I think, it loses a lot of effect when applied to non-central cases) by trying to figure out how to apply it to actual cases.

            RE: GPS monitoring

            Sure enough, you immediately retreat. This is why Matt M made the claim that kicked this whole thing off. Can you apply a modicum of charity and understand this? What is vastly more important for the question about “othering” is that you acknowledge that standard cares and concerns of laws are what is in play. This is not some radical departure (just because some folks hate “the other”). Instead, it’s a pretty unique problem that is being addressed squarely within the bounds of normal discourse (even though you claim ignorance of details). While I don’t expect that we’ll come to agreement on the political solution, I’m considering the “othering” question answered – it is not necessarily a feature of your opponents’ arguments on this topic. You simply haven’t made a sufficient argument to that effect, especially not one that actually stems from the definitions you cited.

    • WashedOut says:

      I contend that if we can’t describe the George Wallace of the civil rights era as racist, then the term has essentially no meaning.

      This reads to me as: “If George Wallace isn’t racist, then I don’t know what is.” Is that how you intended it?

      Two follow-up questions:
      1) Why make George Wallace the benchmark for what we must describe as racist? Seems there are plenty of people throughput history who are more forthright about their racial animus.

      2) Do you view racial segregation policies as inherently racist? Can you make a case for racial segregation that isn’t racist?

      Comment around no. 2: Some Libertarians would be fine with racial segregation in certain spaces e.g. restaurants. I would hesitate to label these restaurant owners racist if they were ‘merely’ responding to consumer demand for such spaces without any political axe to grind of their own.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I using Wallace as an easily available and well known central example. Yes, there are people who are more forthright, but that has no bearing on whether we can easily conclude that Wallace was, in fact, a racist. If your definition of racism doesn’t include Wallace as a member of the set, then you should be quite honest that your definition is so non-standard as to be useless in conversing with the broader public.

        Enforced racial segregation on a societal level seems to me to be racist. If we look around the world, we will find examples where ethnic conflicts have first required separation before reconciliation could be possible, but I think any ossified, legal racial segregation imposed by a dominant party will be racist. Regardless, the segregation of the Jim Crow south was racist, notwithstanding any other examples in the world.

        I’m not particularly interested in spherical, libertarian cows who own restaurants. I don’t think they are particularly useful. However, in the real world, merchants were actually forced to choose between having any business in the future or serving blacks in the now. It really doesn’t matter whether in their heart of hearts they wanted to be able to serve blacks and keep their business. The effect is the same, the society as a whole was racist, and the shopkeeper operated as a racist. Society as a whole had to be moved, because it’s overall structure was deeply racist.

        • WashedOut says:

          From earlier:

          If we look at George Wallace’s 1963 inaugural speech… we will find only scant evidence of explicitly named racial animus, yet we can’t doubt that this speech was intended as a full throated endorsement of a system that was certainly motivated by racial animus.

          From this I gather we are being asked to impute racial animus onto Wallace despite the direct evidence being ‘scant’. And yet:

          If your definition of racism doesn’t include Wallace as a member of the set, then you should be quite honest that your definition is so non-standard as to be useless in conversing with the broader public.

          You stop short of saying the definition would be ‘wrong’, but settle for ‘useless’.
          So a definition of racism that does not apply to someone for whom the evidence that they are racist is scant…is useless? I don’t find that compelling at all.

          At risk of dragging you into a debate over word-usage rather than principles: My concern with your top-level post centres around people’s willingness to ascribe motives and beliefs to people in the absence of direct evidence. I do not know Wallace’s story apart from what you’ve provided here, but I hope you share my general concern.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You will need familiarize yourself with Wallace. The argument depends on understanding Wallace in the context of the Jim Crow South and Civil Rights movement. If you aren’t willing to condemn this by some name, I’ll simply be comfortable saying you should be an outcast.

            And again, internal perceived motives and beliefs are suspect and contradictory. I don’t really care whether the officer releasing the German Shepherd on peaceful black marchers can be proved to be internally motivated by racial animus. That is far too high a bar to clear.

        • Christophe Biocca says:

          However, in the real world, merchants were actually forced to choose between having any business in the future or serving blacks in the now. It really doesn’t matter whether in their heart of hearts they wanted to be able to serve blacks and keep their business. The effect is the same, the society as a whole was racist, and the shopkeeper operated as a racist.

          But now you’re back to having a very broad definition of racism-by-consequences, one that includes the East Louisiana Railroad, which helped challenge initial Jim Crow laws in court (and lost), because it ultimately ended up obeying those laws.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yes, the world is complex, and there aren’t easy answers.

            Nonetheless the East Louisiana Railroad was carrying out racist acts of their own volition. You want to say they had no choice? Of course they had a choice. MLK and the non-violent resistance movement showed at least one other choice that was available. “I was only following orders” only gets you so far.

            However, to the extent we can see from actions how willing a participant they were, we can certainly say demonstrated unwillingness is mitigating. Racism is much like “salty”, we may describe something as “salty” and others may infer this to be a binary quality. But saltiness is not, it’s both analog in nature as well as relative.

    • historiaekatharsium says:

      … We are blind to our own biases, and claim to be serving virtue even as we impose those biases

      For rationalists especially, in-depth support for this principle is provided by Sanford Segal’s 530-page history Mathematicians Among the Nazis (Princeton University Press, 2003), which turns out to be a survey not of Nazis, but of mathematicians, both as individuals and as a professional community.

      During the 1930s, the “George Wallace” of German mathematicians was the mathematical prodigy Oswald Teichmuller (1913–1943), whose views in regard to the desirability of race-based apartheid strikingly paralleled George Wallace’s, and who presented a moral, professional, and political rationale for those views that was argued more closely and more rationally even than Wallace’s:

      [in an udated letter from Teichmuller to his colleague Edmund Landau, written during the autumn months of 1933]  “I am not concerned with making difficulties for you as a Jew, but only with protecting — above all — German students of the second semester from being taught differential and integral calculus by a teacher of a race quite foreign to them. … a German student should not be allowed to be trained by a Jewish teacher.”

      Endowed with both a brilliant mind and the physical courage to defend his Nazi racial convictions, Teichmuller volunteered to serve on the Eastern Front, where he was killed in battle, near Kharkov, during the deadly Nazi defeats and lethal retreats, of September 1943.

      A shorter account of these same years is Saunders Mac Lane’s personal account “Mathematics at Gottingen under the Nazis” (Notices of the AMS, 1995):

      On March 5, 1933 [following the Reichstag Fire Decree] the government coalition held a second election, preceded by a vast propaganda effort. … My landlady regularly provided me with evening tea and talk; I rapidly discovered that two weeks of propaganda had converted her from mild conservative views to ardent Nazi discipleship.

      As with Mac Lane’s landlady, so too the brilliantly rational mind of Oswald Teichmuller was susceptible to the cognitive temptations of “ardent Nazi discipleship.”

      SSC readers in general, and rationalists in particular, are invited to reflect upon the moral lessons that this tragic era of history presents — an era whose dark workings Segal’s history so painstakingly deconstructs — both for George Wallace’s post-WWII generation, and for the 21st century’s resurgent nationalist/racial political movements.

      To summarize these points in the provocative rhetorical style of the original comment: “If we can’t describe mathematicians like Oswald Teichmuller as rationalist-racists, then the term ‘rationalist-racists’ has essentially no meaning.”

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      It’s worth noting that George Wallace may genuinely not have even been acting out of racial animus: as Wikipedia informs us, Wallace was a racial moderate as a judge in the ’50s who spoke out against the KKK when running for governor in 1958. The important point is that, after he lost that election (to an opponent who was endorsed by the KKK), he “determined that in order to be elected governor he would have to change his position on racial issues”.

      He famously is supposed to have said “You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about n—–s, and they stomped the floor”, and attributed his loss to having been “out-n——-ed” by his opponent, John Patterson, and vowed never to be out-n——-ed again.

      The best part, though, is that Patterson also wasn’t a bigot at heart! Here he is endorsing Obama in 2009:

      “When I became governor, there were 14 of us running for governor that time and all 14 of us were outspoken for segregation in the public schools,” Patterson said. “And if you had been perceived not to have been strong for that, you would not have won.
      “I regret that, but there was not anything I could do about it but to live with it.”

      This is why I think, especially when talking about politicians, “personal animus” is a useless standard (for anything, not just racism).

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Proving the internal mental state of anyone is impossible.

        It essentially doesn’t matter what Wallace’s internal mental state was. As I said, he likely was self assessing contemporaneously as not hating anyone. But he is consistently committing racist acts and engaging in racist rhetoric. Internally or extrinsically motivated, it amounts to one and the same if they play the part.

        This speech is widely regarded as a central example of of the form in which racism manifested as state power. Yet if you parse the text itself too finely you will find only a few examples of anything directly stated. The statements themselves are primarily elliptical in nature. The meaning is in the subtext.

        Yet we can see Wallace, and the society in general, acting in in accordance with that subtext. We see the Trump administration doing the same.

        It’s a grave mistake to ignore the subtext.

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          Right, just to be clear, I’m agreeing with you. “Internal mental state” definitions are useless for public figures and politicians; if tomorrow we discovered the long-lost diaries of Hitler that showed that his antisemitism was not heartfelt, only politically expedient, it wouldn’t change my view of him as antisemitic even the tiniest bit.

        • Deiseach says:

          So some seem to be saying that Wallace could be defined as a structural racist (as discussed in the wars of definition over “what is racism?” burbling away online) rather than the old-fashioned kind, and HeelBearCub is very definite that no, Wallace was a racist pure and simple.

          And this is why I think terms like structural racism are in effect useless, because they are a difference that is no difference as far as most people are concerned. HeelBearCub is not interested in examining the internal state of Wallace over his motives and whether or not he hated black people in his heart or just went along with the dominant social paradigm for the sake of his political career, and I’ll congratulate him for being honest on this. When he calls someone racist, he means racist as is commonly understood.

          The next person who tries “no no I don’t mean you’re a racist racist when I call you a racist, I mean you’re a structural racist” – let’s all remember this exchange and be instructed by it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You want to define me as saying “racists are racists, irredeemable and completely foul of soul”. I am rejecting this. Wallace was human, and like most humans desired to do what is “right”.

            Trying to extract mental states and pass them through a sieve to find the “true” racism is the entirely wrong approach.

          • Deiseach says:

            Oh, please don’t think I’m accusing you of anything. I’m actually trying to praise you for your honesty: you know what you mean by racist, you apply it consistently, and you’re not obfuscating by “yes but we’re all racists in that sense, you know” while still nodding and winking “but he was really bad while we know we’re not that kind”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Racism is bad.

            Racists are human beings. As human beings, the capacity for animosity of all kinds is nearly boundless. Rationalized animosity even more so.

            Saying racists “are” bad is to ignore all of the other things that go in to making a human being. Attempting to reduce racism to something that is the defining essence of the person doesn’t comport with reality.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Trying to extract mental states and pass them through a sieve to find the “true” racism is the entirely wrong approach.

            this is entirely fair

            there’s supposed to be a but here and by god there is but, it’s completely fair, and I think “Against Murderism” and similar from Scott have been a bit glib and disingenuous

            anyways though the main issue with this line of thought is that it’s hard to find a way around this; if you indict people based on their actions, you have to actually know the consequences of their actions. Just as an honest example, if black people flourished tremendously under segregation and outshone white people in every aspect, basically becoming like some Asians tend to be today, would Wallace still fall under your definition?

            the other main issue is that a lot of people don’t agree, there are differing definitions, et cetera

            just kidding though, the main issue is that the word has acquired so much power that all of these things actually matter a lot. of course, it did so in order to stop racism, so stripping it of that power might not be the best idea; that might be what leads me and others to focus on other issues as opposed to this one

          • HeelBearCub says:

            that might be what leads me and others to focus on other issues as opposed to this one

            Shit’s complex, yo.

            As I said elsewhere, racism is bad. Racists are human. I’m not denying the fundamental humanity involved. Some of the worst offenders probably are actual sociopaths. But some are just relatively average people who think about “others” the way most people think about pedophiles, or drunk drivers, or people who use marijuana in the privacy of their own home.

            But it’s mistake to think that you should ignore it because it’s complex.

        • Aapje says:

          @Deiseach

          In Social Justice terminology, structural is not the same as heartfelt. Instead, it is the opposite of incidental.

          For example, imagine a person who is born with a mental illness and one day decides to randomly start stabbing people, with no encouragement of any kind. This is incidental violence. Now imagine a person who is told by the government go to war and kill people. This person is engaging in structural violence.

          A person who is racist because it gets him elected is actually more structurally racist than a person who adopted racism due to a bigoted personality.

          In practice, it is of course very hard to determine why people do what they do and many behaviors seem to have both structural and incidental causes. So claims about what is structural and what is not tend to be rather silly, based more on what helps a person’s argument, than a consistent and fact-based application of a (single) definition.

          • Deiseach says:

            A person who is racist because it gets him elected is actually more structurally racist than a person who adopted racism due to a bigoted personality.

            Yes, I believe that is what I indicated about the argument re: was Wallace really racist in his heart, or simply playing the game according to the rules of the time?

            For HeelBearCub (and many others), it doesn’t matter: what he did resulted in racial discrimination, ergo it was racism and he was a racist. And that’s admirably honest, because it’s not the kind of obfuscation and beating around the bush that some engage in, where they use the term “racist” and rely on the emotional affect of the term, then when challenged on “but how can you claim X is a racist when this, this and this?” fall back on “Oh I never claimed he was a bigot, I just meant that as a white person living under a system of structural racism which has given him all this unearned privilege, he of course has imbibed such attitude and is a racist – in that sense! – as long as he does not work towards dismantling that system!”

            HeelBearCub says “Wallace was a racist, and yes I mean he was a bad guy and I don’t care what was really deep down in his heart”. That’s clear, and that’s worth gold for its clarity, instead of the dishonest “call my enemies racists out of one side of my mouth, knowing this will be taken to mean they are bad guys, while claiming I only meant in the social not personal sense out of the other side of my mouth”.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          Did Wallace support a system that was very bad for blacks? Yes, obviously.

          Was Wallace motivated by a personal conscious hatred of blacks? I don’t know anything about him, but it sounds like you’re assuming for the sake of argument he wasn’t.

          Was Wallace “biased against” blacks? If you’re asking how he would score on an IAT, that’s not correlated with behavior, so I revert to my prior and say he would probably score about average. If you mean some other specific bias, tell me the bias and I’ll answer. If you’re trying to use “bias” as a word to gesture at a vague idea that somewhere in his mind there was a brain cell unconsciously firing “No, really, I hate blacks!”, I think the vague gesturing is hiding everything we care about. (Are you “biased against Republicans?” Does the question make sense and seem immediately answerable to you in a non-loaded way?)

          If you tell me which of these questions you’re asking, I can probably give you a good answer. My point in “Against Murderism” is that you can’t combine all of them into one question, label the question “Is this person racist, ie hateful, ie bigoted?” and expect to get a good answer out of it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t know anything about him

            This seems like an admission of failure to do appropriate investigation on your part.

            How much have you read and studied about the history of the civil rights era? You should know something about Wallace if you have even a passing familiarity with the history of racism in the U.S.

          • BBA says:

            Co-signed. Writing about racism without knowing anything about Wallace is like writing about the Roman Empire without knowing anything about Julius Caesar.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Writing about racism without knowing anything about Wallace is like writing about the Roman Empire without knowing anything about Julius Caesar.

            I strongly disagree. If he was writing about the history of Jim Crow, or the Civil Rights era, he needs to know about Wallace. Understanding current day racism does not require knowing in detail all of its history.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Point 1:
            If Scott wants to be able to contend, as he seems to be, that he knows racism so well that he can conclude that we can’t determine if Wallace was racist, we can’t conclude that the Jim Crow South was racist … I’d say he has established a requirement to be familiar with the history.

            Point 2:
            What can we say about communism? No need to go to the history books.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Could we reasonably say that the voting public in Georgia included a lot of people who were consciously committed to racism?

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          Wallace was Alabaman, not Georgian, though of course there are equivalent figures in Georgian politics.

          I’m genuinely not sure if we can say that: how would you measure “conscious commitment to racism” among the electorate, at least if reference to the content of their voting decisions is out-of-bounds?
          I think more accurate would be to say something like, racism was a campaign issue that was capable of mobilizing Georgia voters; but whether this was because of a “conscious commitment” strikes me as irrelevant.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          consciously committed to racism

          I actually wonder whether you could.

          They believed blacks were inferior, and many would have said this explicitly. They would have said they believed this it because of its truth. Many would have claimed to hate blacks. They may not have been able to articulate why, other than to vaguely indicate they deserved to be hated.

          I’m not sure they would have self-described as racist.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Politicians follow the voters, yes. So in the case of Trump’s treatment of attempted illegal immigrants and their children, we can surmise
        A) He was a Republican because they had an open primary.
        B) He got on the stump and said a lot of things to feel out what was popular.
        C) Build a literal border wall like ancient China was popular, because white proletarians disliked having to compete with workers who don’t even speak English.

        And it snowballed from there when he won the election. Whether we’re talking about Patterson, Wallace, or Trump, it all starts with sussing out what a Red tribe crowd wants. Just like a pro wrestler, really.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Trump’s timeline on this doesn’t start in 2015.

          He has been playing this kind of game for a long time.

    • Aapje says:

      @HeelBearCub

      In the speech, Wallace seems to favor a pillarized form of multicultural society, where different subcultures are segregated, allowing them to dictate the norms in ‘their’ spaces, while cooperating in ways that don’t violate the norms of the various subcultures (too much).

      For most of history, this solution to cultural diversity was the progressive and tolerant one. For example, the Peace of Westphalia changed the political order in Europe to one of co-existing sovereign nations who would not interfere with each other too much. Catholic nations would enforce Catholic rules in their own country and Protestant nations would enforce Protestant rules in their own country, but they would not go to war with each other to force the other country to adopt their own religious rules.

      The Netherlands was fairly exceptional in that it also (increasingly) practiced this system within the nation, which made it a good refuge for persecuted religious groups who didn’t have their own nation, like Jews and the Pilgrims.

      A good argument can be made that the founding fathers wanted a sort of mixture between these solutions, where the states had strong autonomy to allow for different subcultures to enforce their own norms, while still allowing these states to be part of a larger union with a shared army and such.

      Where the speech is racist, is when it asserts and/or strongly implies that black people have a distinct culture from white people, that this culture is very violent and that this is unchangeable (‘segregation forever’ only makes sense if the culture cannot change to become less violent).

      I would argue that the belief in unchangeable (cultural) behavior that is permanently tied to specific races is truly racist. Without that belief, one cannot defend permanent racial segregation and one is instead merely left with a rejection of cultural relativism*. Since it is obvious that cultures do change, people who demand permanent racial segregation usually resort to claims that the problematic cultural aspects are due to biological differences, so these cannot be changed.

      * If one believes that it is racist to prefer one culture that is linked to race over another culture linked to race, then the social justice advocates who claim that white culture (or ‘whiteness’ as they often call it) is particularly problematic are also guilty of racism. In general, ‘loose’ definitions of racism are usually applied hypocritically, since applying them consistently leads to truly absurd conclusions.

      And this is my basic problem with how people here (Scott as a prime example) deal with the idea of racism.

      I don’t think that it is reasonable to argue that Wallace’s argument doesn’t count as racist by the standards of Scott or other commenters, merely because Wallace refused to make some parts of his argument (very) explicit, making it harder to see where exactly he makes racist assertions.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        “Whiteness” has an issue because it’s only truly salient unchanging feature is “not black”.

        As to pillars, Jim Crow basically said “Yeah, pillars, that’s it. But let’s lay them on their side and stack them. Oh look, the white one is on top.”

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Revealed preferences.

      I say Wallace’s policies noticeably discounted black welfare, and on that basis we can call him racist.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        Yes, this is my argument: George Wallace defended segregation rhetorically and substantively while governor, going out of his way to stand against attempts to allow black people to register to vote in Alabama.

        Promoting segregation and denying black people the right to vote are racist; George Wallace did those things in his capacity as governor, hence George Wallace was racist.

        The fact that he did those things out of political expediency is perhaps interesting, but not material to this judgement, any more than I would say that Ted Cruz is only a conservative conditional on his heartfelt belief in conservative principles, or that Ted Kennedy was a liberal conditional on a heartfelt belief in liberal principles. Politicians are judged on their political programs, not what’s in their hearts.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Promoting segregation and denying black people the right to vote are racist; George Wallace did those things in his capacity as governor, hence George Wallace was racist.

          That’s a bit too simplistic. I probably need to s/policies/decisions/ above.

          Like, imagine a Nazi official who was supposed to send 100,000 Jews to camps, and made excuses all war and got away with only ever sending 20.

          That’s not an antisemite, even though he sent 20 Jews to camps, because he risked his life to drastically reduce that number. Because he clearly was not discounting Jewish lives in his utility function, and was in fact valuing them way higher than most people value any strangers’ lives.

          I don’t think Wallace is automatically a racist for supporting racist policies. I just think it’s quite suspicious how quick he was to throw racial justice under the bus, and in particular to build a national political persona around throwing racial justice under the bus.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I should have said something like “George Wallace went out of his way to do those things as governor”; does that cover it?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Like, imagine a Nazi official

            Damnit, I was working really hard to not bring those guys into this.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Why? They’re a great test-case: Adolf Eichmann

            had Jewish friends, was employed by Jews as an oil and kerosene salesman, had Jewish relatives by marriage. In 1932 he became a Nazi not out of anti-Jewish conviction but, Arendt says, because he was a joiner. Cesarani stresses issues and personal connections more: Eichmann liked the Nazis’ position on the Versailles Treaty. But he shares Arendt’s opinion that it wasn’t anti- Semitism that led Eichmann into the party.

            On the other hand, Eichmann was responsible for the deportation of millions of Jews to extermination camps. He almost certainly didn’t have personally anti-Jewish beliefs, and yet it seems to defy reason that the term “antisemite” should exclude him.

            A definition of antisemitism that doesn’t encompass a man responsible for the literal Holocaust is useless.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Eugene Dawn:
            The reason is that a corollary to Godwin’s Law is simply that conversations usually become much less productive once they come in.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            ‘Went out of his way’ comes close. To be precise, though, you have to talk about utility functions.

            (out of respect to OP, forget I mentioned Nazis)

            But I do think that to be racist, it’s not enough to be evil towards the race in question–you have to be disproportionately so.

            For instance, if a plantation owner were found to have also engaged heavily in illegal enslavement of whites, they’d have a fair claim that they weren’t racist.

          • Aapje says:

            @Eugene Dawn

            Eichmann did not try to minimize the deaths and suffering, though. He could have made many different choices if he actually cared about Jewish lives. For example, he prioritized extorting money from Jews over having them migrate, so he could pay for his own department, giving him financial independence (and thus power). By doing this, he went against orders to maximize emigration. He also participated in the Kristallnacht. These things were witnessed by the Viennese Rabbi Murmelstein who dealt with Eichmann and his aids.

            He told his deputy Wisliceny that “he would leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had 5 million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction.”

            During the Stassen interviews, after explaining that if 10.3 million Jews (rather than 6 million) had been killed, he said, “I would be satisfied, and would say, good, we have destroyed an enemy.” He then said, “I too am partly to blame for the fact that the real, complete elimination, perhaps foreseen by some authority, or the conception that I had in mind, could not be carried out.”

            One can argue that Eichmann was a sociopath who saw the lives of others as meaningless, an easy sacrifice if it brought him personal advantage.

            What one cannot argue IMO is that he merely did the minimum necessary to stay in power.

          • uau says:

            @Eugene Dawn
            A definition of antisemitism that doesn’t encompass a man responsible for the literal Holocaust is useless.
            Why would this be the case? IMO a sentence like “the people planning and carrying out the genocide were just doing their jobs, and were not personally motivated by antisemitism” is perfectly sensible (regardless of its degree of historical accuracy). As is the distinction “Holocaust was motivated by widespread antisemitism” vs “direct antisemitism played little role in the Holocaust; the Jews just happened to be convenient group of victims for other reasons”.

            Better keep words like “antisemitism” to refer to personal attitude towards a group of people, and participation in genocide separate. If you think these are the same, what about other groups besides Jews that were killed in significant numbers? Were the camps significantly less efficient at killing gypsies (as could be expected if the people working there were directly motivated by antisemitism)?

          • dndnrsn says:

            The image of Eichmann as this apolitical functionary who vass only follovink orders – is that still standing? It kind of ignores the fact that while plenty of people joined the party for reasons of mere advancement, the SS was rather more of a commitment, and he joined the party and the SS before they took power. He doesn’t need to have been someone driven entirely by anti-semitism, or even for anti-semitism to be in his top 3 or however many drives, for him to have been an anti-semite. A belief in racial struggle as a (if not the) driving element of history, with the Jews on the other side, was a big element of Nazi ideology. A lot of people try to boil national socialism, or fascism more generally, down to just racism but more racist, and that’s incorrect (even more incorrect is seeing racism and calling it fascism – George Wallace was a racist, but he wasn’t a fascist). But it was a big part!

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            @Aapje
            I don’t disagree with any of that–but none of your information provides evidence that he was personally motivated by dislike of Jews.

            @uau
            I agree that they might not have been “personally motivated by antisemitism”, but don’t see why that doesn’t mean they weren’t antisemites–they were just antisemites of convenience.

            Better keep words like “antisemitism” to refer to personal attitude towards a group of people, and participation in genocide separate.

            Why?

            The usual argument is that the first is common usage, and the latter is not–but I would be very shocked indeed if the common usage of the term “antisemite” did not include the literal architects of the literal Holocaust; Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, etc. are more or less the central examples of antisemitism.

          • uau says:

            I don’t think “antisemites of convenience” is a particularly useful concept, at least not in the meaning of any people whose actions harmed Jews. (A meaningful use could be describing someone who for example explicitly presented himself as an antisemite for social gain, without being motivated by personal views.)

            Jews were not the only group of people targeted by the Nazis, just by far the most publicized. For people participating in the general running of the concentration camps etc, I don’t think that participating in genocide makes it meaningful to call them “anti-XXX” for whatever groups of people that were killed.

          • 10240 says:

            The usual argument is that the first is common usage, and the latter is not–but I would be very shocked indeed if the common usage of the term “antisemite” did not include the literal architects of the literal Holocaust; Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, etc. are more or less the central examples of antisemitism.

            It sounds shocking if the definition of an antisemite doesn’t include Eichmann because one usually assumes that a man who was instrumental in massacring millions of Jews most likely hated Jews, and we define antisemitism as hatred of Jews. If it turns out that Eichmann didn’t hate Jews (which seems far from clear to me), that’s an unexpected and interesting finding, but the claim that one of the architects of the Holocaust wasn’t an antisemite doesn’t strike me as more implausible than the claim that one of the architects of the Holocaust didn’t hate Jews.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Does one need to define it thusly? Someone who thinks of history as driven by conflict between racial groups doesn’t necessarily need to hate a group they consider as in conflict with their own, or hate members of that group – but “it’s us or them” can lead to terrible crimes nevertheless. Such a person can easily be considered an anti-semite, in that they are against Jews, see their group as set against Jews, etc.

            It’s also not surprising that major Nazis had connections, including close and friendly connections, with Jews; German Jews were some of the most assimilated in Europe.

          • 10240 says:

            Does one need to define it thusly?

            Well, it’s not necessary to define it thusly (though I’ve always defined antisemitism/racism as hatred of Jews/a certain race). The important point of my comment was that if Eichmann didn’t hate Jews, that doesn’t make the definition of antisemitism as hatred of Jews ridiculous: while saying that Eichmann wasn’t an antisemite sounds weird, it doesn’t sound any weirder than that he didn’t hate Jews.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Someone who hates Jews is an anti-semite, and someone who thinks that their people are locked in an epic struggle with Jews for survival (where one group will lose and be destroyed or otherwise laid low) is also an anti-semite, and someone who is both is an anti-semite.

          • keranih says:

            someone who thinks that their people are locked in an epic struggle with [outgroup] for survival (where one group will lose and be destroyed or otherwise laid low) is also [a racist]

            I don’t know if I am entirely happy with that definition, as it goes a bit too far into calling all of us racist, which makes the label useless.

            I would rather go with racist = a person who supports differential negative treatment (social or government) of individual members of a racial group based on stereotypes (real or supposed) of that group as a whole.

            A bigot would be the same, only without the ‘racial’ qualifier to the outgroup.

            A biased person would be the same as a bigot, only without the negative qualifier to treatment.

            To me, this makes the label power-neutral, includes Wallace, and permits people to judge others individually without being labelled as holding group animosity. It also emphases intent, talks about actual treatment rather than outcomes, and doesn’t suppose that actual differential treatment takes place.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @keranih

            I don’t know if I am entirely happy with that definition, as it goes a bit too far into calling all of us racist, which makes the label useless.

            How does that call everyone racist? The worldview that the national socialists had, in which struggle between biologically determined (and thus immutable – no changing definition of who’s white or whatever) racial groups, a zero-sum game, was unavoidable and was one of the (if not the) driving forces of history… That’s not a very common view, is it?

            Besides this, most Nazis did believe in biological superiority and inferiority. The need to emotionally support the struggle through propaganda would lead to race-hate, as would the need to justify to one’s self the bad things one was doing to other people (just world fallacy – the Nazis presented the horrible conditions in the ghettoes they’d forced Jews into as proof of inferiority!)

            The definition of racism you propose would count Nazis as racists, but the definition you give doesn’t include personal animus, which is the topic of discussion here. The issue at hand is that, of Germans who were directly involved in the mass murder of Jews, at least some appear to not have had personal animus or hatred – that is one account of Eichmann (however, I have reason to doubt this – the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 may have been only following orders regardless of their personal beliefs; accounts of Eichmann’s life where he just sort of stumbled into joining the SS because he was a follower, etc etc, seem a bit unbelievable). Regardless of how he personally felt about Jews, Eichmann surely supported “differential negative treatment” of individual Jews – after all, he willingly played a part in the murder of several hundred thousand individual Jews.

          • nkurz says:

            @keranih,

            I would rather go with racist = a person who supports differential negative treatment (social or government) of individual members of a racial group based on stereotypes (real or supposed) of that group as a whole.

            Why do you prefer a definition of “racist” that requires negative treatment? It would seem truer to the word if you dropped “negative” and simply said that a racist is someone who believes it is appropriate to treat people differently according to their assigned race rather than by their individual characteristics. If you restrict “racist” to only negative treatment, what word is left to to describe the belief that racial differences are real but discrimination should nonetheless be avoided?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            @uau

            Jews were not the only group of people targeted by the Nazis, just by far the most publicized. For people participating in the general running of the concentration camps etc, I don’t think that participating in genocide makes it meaningful to call them “anti-XXX” for whatever groups of people that were killed.

            This is sounds completely insane to me: if I go out and commit genocide against XXX, I am not necessarily anti-XXX?! To be clear, we are talking about the top-level organizers of the genocide here, not a guy who replaced the train tracks that took the Jews to the camps or something.

            I find it hard to imagine I’m not misunderstanding you.

            @10240

            It sounds shocking if the definition of an antisemite doesn’t include Eichmann because one usually assumes that a man who was instrumental in massacring millions of Jews most likely hated Jews, and we define antisemitism as hatred of Jews.

            Whether “we” define antisemitism as “hatred of Jews” is precisely what’s at issue: I suspect, though of course can’t prove, that a large number of people would include “was a top-level organizer of a massive genocide against Jews” in their definition of antisemitic.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yeah, this whole conversation is why have a huge distrust of the “civil war” reasoning of against-Murderism.

    • onyomi says:

      @HBC

      yet we can’t doubt that this speech was intended as a full throated endorsement of a system that was certainly motivated by racial animus

      Why can’t we doubt that? Is it obvious to you that the people who created that system hated black people, even if its later defenders did not? If you define “hate” as “think oneself superior to” then I’d concede probably most of the original white architects of segregation “hated” blacks, but that seems a very broad definition of “hate” or animus not tallying with colloquial usage. Is it not possible to prefer the company of one’s own group, even consider one’s own group superior, without feeling animus toward another group?

      Related, is there an important difference between policies intended to enforce separation of groups within a state, as compared to policies intended to enforce separation among states? To reductio ad absurdum, are all borders animus-based?

      I would not go so far as to claim to know that e.g. the particular case of racial segregation in the US was not motivated by animus to a small or large degree; I am simply saying it isn’t obvious to me that any system aimed at enforcing separation of groups is necessarily based in animus or a sense of superiority, nor even that a sense of superiority, where it exists, necessarily implies animus.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I would not go so far as to claim to know that e.g. the particular case of racial segregation in the US was not motivated by animus to a small or large degree;

        I think my answer to you can simply stop here.

        If you need a primer on race relations in the U.S. from 1607 forward, that seems like far too big an ask, and fairly silly. If you want me to prove that racial animus was wide spread in 1963, this seems like simply an excuse to engage in formal debate tomfoolery.

        If you have some genuine ask in there, I’d just like you to deal with this question first. Why do you question the consensus view of the existence of widespread racial animus in 1963?

        • onyomi says:

          I mean, I’m from the South, grew up in a majority-black city, and while I wasn’t alive in 1963, my parents and grandparents were. Maybe they buried all their hatred sometime between the 60s and the 80s, but of all the older white people I’ve known, I can’t think of any whose opinion of black people I’d describe as “animus.” Which is not to say they wanted to live in the same neighborhoods or go to the same schools as black people. Though one wouldn’t have to dislike black people to hold such an opinion in my hometown’s case, since there are few majority-black neighborhoods which are not also poor and high-crime or majority-black schools with a good academic record. That is to say, of the white Southerners I know who were adults in 1963, I think many, if not most of them, desired de facto, if not de jure, separation from black people in most private and social spheres for what they saw as pragmatic reasons, even though I rarely heard anything like “hatred” expressed. Honestly, I think race relations are worse know, since all the fuss about monuments, etc. than they were when I was a kid.

          Put another way, if you define racism as “race-based hatred or resentment” I have witnessed very little of it in my lifetime; if you define racism as “preference to live in a neighborhood, send your kids to a school, etc. with a majority of one’s race” then it was, and is ubiquitous. Of course, I wasn’t around in 1963, but I think resentment about the push to make “racism definition B” harder or impossible is a separate issue (that is, the kind of hate you see emanating from white people protesting e.g. integration of schools, for example) from inherently race-based hatred. That is, people resenting that you tried to force them to integrate with a group they didn’t want to integrate with cannot be taken as evidence that resentment was the reason they didn’t want to integrate in the first place.

          More generally, my problem with “racism” as a term is I think its motte is “race-based animus,” which almost everyone agrees is bad and which one rarely witnesses in real life, but its bailey is things like “failing to acknowledge how you benefit from a system we assume was founded on race-based animus because how else could people of the past have acted as they did.” In fact, the bailey inherently includes everyone because to deny you’re in it is only to prove that you’re deeper in it, maybe even approaching the motte, because “everyone’s a little bit racist.”

          Of course, my experience may not be representative, and I’m not saying resentment of blacks on the part of whites and resentment of whites on the part of blacks did not and does not exist or affect polices; I’m just saying I don’t see the evidence that the system you’re describing was based in “animus.” When I think of “animus”-based policies by one group towards another I think of internecine warfare, internment camps, forced relocations, and the like. If you’re looking for animus-based policies in US history I’d say treatment of Native Americans and Japanese Americans pattern match far better. The interactions between whites and blacks I witnessed in daily life growing up in the South were not characterized by anything I’d call resentment or animus, though I also wouldn’t claim they were usually on an equal footing, socio-economically speaking. I’m not even sure I’d describe slavery as an “animus-based” system, though obviously it involved a low respect for the other’s humanity.

          That said, I do think the case of black Americans is special in that slaves were brought against their will to the US, so for white Americans to say to their descendants: “we mean you no ill will; we just want you to build up all your own institutions separate from ours and leave us alone,” even if the lack of ill will was completely sincere, was unreasonable, at least in the short-to-medium term.

          Since I answered that question, I’d like to ask you to answer my question, abstracting from the particular case of US white-black relations: does an argument in favor of separation of one group from another, politically, socially, geographically, or etc. inherently come from a place of hatred, resentment, animus?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’ll answer, but I find your answer to be the kind of answer that isn’t actually dealing with the easily available evidence, favoring hagiographic tales and pleasant fictions. The idea that blacks weren’t subject to internecine warfare, forced relocation, and internment relies on a figment of semantics. The idea that you would defend chattel slavery as without animus …

            To your question:
            When the minority seeks to separate itself from the dominant majority, it inherently indicates that they feel threat.

            When the dominant majority seeks to forcibly separate the minority from them, it also indicates a sense of threat. When that separation is not mutually autonomous, the forced separation of the minority within the society necessarily leads to animus. Even self-isolating minorities within a majority will eventually be resented, to the extent that they maintain interaction with the larger society.

            This is the common pattern. There may be some exceptions, but Jim Crow South wasn’t one of them.

            ETA: One thing to consider is the necessity of violence in order to maintain the unequal status of the non-autonomous minority.

          • onyomi says:

            @Heelbearcub

            I’ll answer, but I find your answer to be the kind of answer that isn’t actually dealing with the easily available evidence, favoring hagiographic tales and pleasant fictions.

            What sort of evidence are we talking about? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist; I’m just not sure what sort of quantifiable evidence you’re referring to, and how it would be taken as evidence of an animus-based desire for separation as opposed to a desire for separation+animus towards those fighting it (e.g. Yankees and carpetbaggers, towards whom, my impression is, post-bellum white Southerners felt a much stronger resentment than the recently-freed slaves themselves).

            Re. hagiography and pleasant fictions, I think that runs both ways: certainly in the post-bellum period there was romanticizing of slavery; I would argue that today there is a reverse tendency whereby, having decided that slavery and Jim Crow were moral abominations, we rarely depict the societies that practiced them as anything but a seething pool of hatred, cruelty, and injustice.

            The idea that blacks weren’t subject to internecine warfare, forced relocation, and internment relies on a figment of semantics. The idea that you would defend chattel slavery as without animus …

            Now I feel like we are having a semantic debate about “animus,” which I am basically taking as a less loaded word for “hate,” but I think the difference between forced relocation to a place and forced relocation from a place is more than semantic. As a general rule, you forcefully relocate people you hate away from you, not to you, right? I’m not claiming white Southerners, as a group, had a lot of respect for the blacks they enslaved, but it seems odd to say they enslaved them because they hated them, which is how I parse “animus-based system.” Ultimately I think US slavery was an attempt by Cavalier types to replicate something like serfdom or land-based aristocracy on the new continent. Would you call serfdom an animus-based system?

            When the dominant majority seeks to forcibly separate the minority from them, it also indicates a sense of threat. When that separation is not mutually autonomous, the forced separation of the minority within the society necessarily leads to animus.

            I think I agree here, though it doesn’t prove the point that the separation George Wallace desired was based in hatred of black people, as opposed to hatred of being pressured to integrate with black people on equal footing. Somewhat tangential, because I don’t disagree with your general principle here (though would note that in many Southern regions blacks were actually a majority, if not a politically dominant majority–certainly not a small minority comparable to e.g. Romani in Eastern Europe), if whites hated blacks so much, why was the desire for separation not mutual?

            Even self-isolating minorities within a majority will eventually be resented, to the extent that they maintain interaction with the larger society.

            This is the common pattern. There may be some exceptions, but Jim Crow South wasn’t one of them.

            I am curious to hear what other sorts of examples you’re thinking of; again, not that I’m saying they don’t exist, only it’s not immediately obvious to me exactly what you mean.

            ETA: One thing to consider is the necessity of violence in order to maintain the unequal status of the non-autonomous minority.

            Isn’t violence or the threat of violence needed to enforce any particular legal order? I do agree that attempts to keep one group in a “second-class citizen” legal status within a state are probably fundamentally unstable, long-term.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I should also note that the forced separation doesn’t have to be imposed by a majority, we have plenty of examples of stronger minorities enforcing separation on ethnic lines and the animosity is even worse.

            ETA: we have crossed postings.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            Is lynching something you regard as a myth?

            Do you think the KKK, allied with the local police, was bombing those churches out of love?

            Do you think separate water fountains were some sign of respect?

            Do you think being sentenced to hard labor on charges of “vagrancy”, to then die of disease and be buried in a shallow grave is significantly different from a concentration camp?

            I don’t know, but it seems like you haven’t ever learned the actual history of blacks, and the violent repression of blacks, in the South.

          • quanta413 says:

            I don’t think the personal motivation for shoving someone down in a ditch and then holding them down is actually as morally relevant as it first appears. I think it can even be a convenient lie people tell themselves to think that the potential for evil is not inside them. A sort of “well I don’t feel any terrible hatred towards X; therefore whatever I’m doing can’t possibly be that evil”. But it’s not hard to engage in deeply evil actions without any unusual feeling of hatred. There are probably people who believe in the caste system who don’t feel hatred towards Dalits but rather superiority. Similarly there were probably people who believed in segregation who weren’t animus driven but were instead driven by a similar sense of superiority. Animus can come and go but the actions remain totally horrible either way.

            I don’t really see how it would be comforting to me if someone shot me without feeling hate about it. Or if I shot someone’s dog because the dog disobeyed me and “what’s a dog’s life to me?” I don’t think anyone is going to find it a meaningful excuse that I didn’t hate the dog while doing it.

            The society of the South of the 1950s was racist in a somewhat distinct way from the North (although the North was racist too; the South was also more strongly so). The modern U.S. is still more racist than a hypothetical 0, but way, way less racist than the 1960s to the point that there are few places with multiple distinct ethnic communities that do significantly better.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            Based on my back-of-the-envelope calculations, according to this, between 1882-1968, there were about 3,900 victims of lynching in the former Confederate states, about 600 of them white and 3,300 of them black. So, of black and white lynching victims in the former Confederate states, about 85% were black, and about 15% white.

            According to this, the black population of the South during the period of peak lynching, was around 30%. So a black person in the South during this period was roughly 2.8-3 times as likely as a white person to be lynched.

            According to this, of deathrow inmates in the US today, almost 42% are black, though blacks only make up about 12% of the population. This could be confounded by blacks living at a higher rate than average in states where the death penalty is applied, but to look at just one example, the black population of Texas, where they execute the most people, is right about proportional, around 12%. So that means today, a black person is about 3.5 times as likely as a white person to be executed by our justice system.

            Lynching is basically vigilantism–an extrajudicial execution, and as the Wiki says, most perpetrators accused the victim of having committed a serious crime like murder or rape, though there were some cases of “crimes” that sound like flimsy excuses and I would be surprised if the rate of executing innocent victims–white or black–weren’t much higher in such cases.

            But the point is, unless our current justice system is as biased and as intent on terrorizing black people as the lynch mobs once were, we would expect black people to have been lynched at a much a higher rate relative to whites than they are now executed by our system if, indeed, lynching in the antebellum South was primarily a tool of terror wielded to enforce separation and/or as an expression of racial animus.

            On the other hand, if lynching had not primarily been a tool of racial terror and animus, but was mostly vigilantism–a blunt instrument of extrajudicial justice wielded against both races in rough proportion to their rate of committing serious crimes, albeit obviously much more prone to error and injustice than a legal proceeding, then I imagine we’d see something like the numbers seem to show, unless black people commit a much higher proportion of violent crimes now than they did then, or our justice system is somehow more biased than lynch mobs.

          • nkurz says:

            @onyomi

            according to this, between 1882-1968, there were about 3,900 victims of lynching in the former Confederate states, about 600 of them white and 3,300 of them black. So, of black and white lynching victims in the former Confederate states, about 85% were black, and about 15% white.

            According to this, the black population of the South during the period of peak lynching, was around 30%. So a black person in the South during this period was roughly 2.8-3 times as likely as a white person to be lynched

            I think you have made a math error here. If 30% of the population accounts for 85% of the lynchings, they must have more a 3x chance of being lynched than the 70% of the population that comprises 15% of the lynchings.

            If for ease we went with a total US population of 100,000,000, each of the black citizens would have a 3000/30,000,000 = .000100 chance of being lynched, and the white citizens would have a 600/70,000,000 = .000009 chance, yielding a greater than 11x odds ratio.

            If we stick with the logic of your comment, I think this corrected number does imply that that, indeed, “lynching in the antebellum South was primarily a tool of terror wielded to enforce separation and/or as an expression of racial animus”.

          • quanta413 says:

            @onyomi

            In addition to what nkurz said, lynching also often involved ritual torture, mutilation, and celebration. Lynching goes way past vigilantism and into ritual torture and murder. Also, according to Wikipedia, the Tuskegee institutes counts of lynching victims lumped all non-black people into the white category which inflates the number of white people lynched. Other counts may suffer from a similar issue.

            There were lynchings announced ahead of time where children were let out from school to attend. Blacks were looked down upon so much, people would take pictures with the dangling corpse of the lynched and turn them into postcards. Sometimes they’d cut body parts off the victim to keep as souvenirs.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:

            Pointing out the public executions were treated as celebratory events doesn’t really establish anything, as public executions of all sorts have been treated this way throughout history. The fact that torture was involved, while certainly evidence of animus, doesn’t tell us much past evidence of animus towards “criminals”, as this has also been a somewhat regular feature of extra-judicial killings.

            @onyomi:
            The fact that extra judicial killings weren’t solely reserved for blacks and blacks alone is to be expected. Making a mistake on incidence rates is understandable (although it certainly hurts your argument a great deal). Ignoring the year by year data seems just as large.

            The year by year overall data shows lynching of non-blacks as falling while lynching of blacks is rising in the 1800s. Over half of the total non-black lynchings come from the first 8 years of the data. From 1886 forward, lynching of blacks always exceeds whites on a yearly basis. By 1936, the lynching of non-blacks is almost essentially zero, while the lynching of blacks, although having fallen greatly, is still a yearly occurrence.

            The failure to think about why the lynching of non-blacks may have occurred is also an issue. Take the last lynchings of non-blacks in 1964. Two white men and a black man were lynched because they were attempting register black voters. Another issue is that we see the Western states comprise the bulk of non-black lynchings, whereas lynchings in the established Northeastern states was nearly non-existent, most of them having zero or 1 lynching total.

            Let’s take Texas, according to Wkipedia “Of the 468 lynching victims in Texas between 1885 and 1942, 339 were black, 77 white, 53 Hispanic, and 1 Native American.” We can see that separating into “Black” and “White” over counts Whites. We also don’t know when those “White” lynchings occurred, and, again, given that over half of all the “White” lynchings are before 1890, we can surmise that a bunch of these lynchings were related to either Western expansion or the end of Reconstruction (and subsequent reassertion through violent means of the rejection of Yankee rule).

          • dndnrsn says:

            Actual question: would a Jewish lynching victim such as Leo Frank have been considered “white” in the South of the time? Anti-semitism surely played a role in his lynching. If he wouldn’t have been considered white, or not as white as a gentile, counting him as “white” for statistical purposes now obscures historical reality.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            The earlier you go in the Southern history, the more you will see reference to “Anglo-Saxon” as the marker of superiority. Although, “White race” enters into the lexicon at roughly the same time as the Atlantic slave trade does, in the late 1600s, I don’t think that really matters in the context of antisemitism. It’s enough that Jews were labeled as unlike and somehow inferior (while also being seen as super-powerful, a common trope in tribalism). You can still easily see this by adoption of the term “Aryan” which simply seems to mean “White, except for the people I don’t like that other people might say are White”.

          • quanta413 says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Sure, true. One could add up details about how often people lynched were tortured or their body parts cut off as souvenirs or pictures were turned into postcards though. A difference there between people who got lynched from different racial and ethnics groups would be a sign of racist motivations.

            @dndnrsn

            Jews in the South plausibly counted as more white than anybody else but Anglo-Saxons. It’s not obvious that Jews were disliked more than Germans. In many areas pre-civil war, recent German immigrants tended to be relatively anti-slavery. For example, in Missouri.

            This guy was a Louisiana senator pre civil war and then war minister of the confederate states government. If that isn’t a sign that Jews counted as white, I’m not sure what possibly could be.

            It doesn’t really make sense to remove Jews from the white category even though there were tiers within the white category. Unlike Chinese or people with Native American blood (including some Mexicans) who obviously didn’t count as white.

          • onyomi says:

            @Nkurz

            If for ease we went with a total US population of 100,000,000, each of the black citizens would have a 3000/30,000,000 = .000100 chance of being lynched, and the white citizens would have a 600/70,000,000 = .000009 chance, yielding a greater than 11x odds ratio.

            @Nkurz

            I was calculating the level of over/underrepresentation. I shouldn’t have stated my conclusion in terms of odds of victimization. The way I phrased my conclusion should have been “black people were overrepresented among lynching victims by a factor of 3.” For example, if there are 3,900 lynching victims, and blacks were 30% of the population, then 1,170 victims would be proportional representation. Since 3,300 victims were black, they were overrepresented among victims by a factor of 3. With 3,900 victims and whites as 70% of the sampled population there should be 2,730 victims, but there were only 600; thus, underrepresented by a factor of 4.5.

            If we calculate the odds of being a deathrow inmate your way: according to my link, blacks are 12% of the population but 40% of the deathrow inmates, while whites are 77% of the population, but also about 40% of the deathrow inmates (I also failed to take into account underrepresentation of whites among deathrow inmates today relative to population in my previous comment), 77/12 means 6.4x times the odds a black person will be a deathrow inmate.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            The failure to think about why the lynching of non-blacks may have occurred is also an issue. Take the last lynchings of non-blacks in 1964. Two white men and a black man were lynched because they were attempting register black voters.

            I am agreeing with you that resentment at being pressured to integrate when they desired separation was real, and probably motivated some lynchings (though my interpretation of the data is still that a majority of lynchings were motivated by a desire for extralegal punishment of serious crimes we would still recognize as serious today; the fact that a not insignificant number of whites were lynched, as well as blacks by blacks, proves that vigilantism was just more common in general back then). What I keep saying is that that doesn’t prove that hatred motivated the desire for separation in the first place.

            If I start a “brunettes-only” club and blondes keep trying to join the club and/or showing up to protest/disrupt the club meetings, and then I say “I sure hate these blondes who keep trying to mess up our club!” It would be strange to then say “ah hah! So you started the brunettes-only club because you hate blondes!” I might have, but it doesn’t follow.

          • onyomi says:

            Post-edit window addendum to the post @Nkurz

            I grabbed that 77% white population figure quickly, but I think that is probably using a more capacious definition of “white” than the deathrow statistics; for non-Hispanic whites may be more like 63%, so 63/12=5.25 the odds of being executed by the state today versus nearly 12x the odds of being lynched back then.

            So while I think I was misled somewhat by my first look at the numbers (conflating proportionality and odds ratio), I still think the numbers, contextualized by the fact of higher black crime rates, are not what people would expect based on the common narrative about lynching. Also, I think the numbers are pretty small, taken over the span of 80 years, as proof of “widespread animus.” Around 150 black people were killed per year during the worst years; 500 white people were murdered by black people last year. I know extrajudicial killing is different from say, a mugging gone wrong; I’m just saying the amount of violence in historical perspective is not that great.

            None of this is to claim that there weren’t significant tensions between the groups, or incidents of violence motivated by a desire to police the boundaries of the groups; only that I am still seeing more of “resentment at being pressured to integrate” than “a desire for separation based on hatred.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            I am agreeing with you that resentment at being pressured to integrate when they desired separation was real, and probably motivated some lynchings

            You said internecine warfare would be evidence of hate. I said that you were arguing semantics and gave you evidence. Now you claim that it would need to be motivated by hate to “count” (as evidence of hate). This is circular reasoning.

            Now, in the sense that blacks didn’t have the power to actually fight back it wasn’t warfare, that is true.

            You also aren’t dealing with my other points.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            So far, I see you have mentioned lynching, the KKK, and sentencing blacks to hard labor; which of these are you saying is tantamount to internecine warfare? Or are you talking about something else?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I’m saying that the KKK along with others used threats, intimidation and outright violence including murder and lynchings as a means of terrorizing and subjugating the Black population. This is essentially low level warfare, the kind that dominant governments or orders have used regularly to achieve these ends. The fact that it was not “internecine”, because the Black population lacked the strength to mount opposition does little to mitigate it. The fact the Black population was relatively peaceful and compliant makes this worse, not better.

            You also pointed to “internment camps” and “forced relocations”. Work camps, similar to internment camps, I gave you evidence for. Segregation is not so much forced relocation as forced location. You don’t have to relocate them if you keep them separate from you in the first place. This segregation extended even to regarding that Whites to not be forced to drink the same water they did.

            Now, I admit that, so long as Blacks did nothing to question, or even seem to question, their subjugation, relations would be relatively peaceful and convivial. But of course, this is not a steady state. The lesson is required to be taught and retaught. The Black population, any population, does not intrinsically accept subjugation, and thus animus is a necessary and natural companion to that subjugation.

  19. johan_larson says:

    It’s time to nominate candidates for the SSC Literary Awards in the category of Sounds Sexy But Isn’t. Nominees may have been written anywhere and anywhen, but must be available in English.

    Let me begin by nominating Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
      Ragged Dick is actually just the original Horatio Alger story.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Scoring off Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
      The Brown Hand by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
      Insert Knob A in Hole B by Isaac Asimov. Also Silly Asses and Time Pussy.

    • The Nybbler says:

      _Time Pussy_, Isaac Asimov. They’re cats.

      _Insert Knob A into Hole B_, Asimov again. Get your mind out of the gutter and think Ikea.

      _The Adventure of the Two Women_, A.C. Doyle. (weak, but I wanted a Holmes story)

      • Deiseach says:

        _The Adventure of the Two Women_, A.C. Doyle. (weak, but I wanted a Holmes story)

        Ah no, Nybbler! I thought “I don’t recognise that title”, looked it up, and it’s by Adrian Conan Doyle. Doesn’t count, I’m afraid!

        Let’s drop back into the gutter and see if we can’t insert some double entendres or prurient meanings into the real ACD stories!

        The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb
        The Crooked Man
        The Adventure of the Dancing Men
        The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist
        The Adventure of the Second Stain
        The Adventure of the Creeping Man (does have a sexual sub-plot or sub-text in canon)

        • The Nybbler says:

          Harumph. Well, I don’t suppose you’d buy a mash-up of _The Pursuit of the House Boat_ (not even by a Doyle at all) and that one. _The Adventure of the Two Women and the Single Vessel_, it would be called.

        • Lambert says:

          “Doesn’t count, I’m afraid!” ejaculated Deiseach.

    • Aapje says:

      Games you can play with your pussy (and lots of other stuff cat owners should know)
      Still Stripping After 25 Years (Quilt in a day)
      The Missionary Position (Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice)
      Invisible Dick, Frank Topham
      Scouts in Bondage

    • Nornagest says:

      The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Actually a culture-clash book about Kiribati. No cannibals, very little sex.

  20. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    Can anyone actually follow the following Robin Hanson signalling explanation of healthcare paternalism? (source)

    It turns out that this selective concern can directly produce paternalistic attitudes regarding health. Here is how this works: You care about your allies, but you care about them conditionally on their remaining your allies. They care about themselves unconditionally, however. If you are uncertain about whether your allies will remain your allies, you want them to make choices as if they were sure to remain allies with you. Furthermore,
    if they would be more likely to remain allies with you if they had numerous other allies, you would want your allies to act as if they were confident they would have many allies. And if we think of having high status as being equivalent to having many good allies, then you want your allies to act as if they are confident of being of high status. Those allies, however, will make their choices with reference to the actual status they
    estimate that they have, not the status that you want them to have.

    What choices make more sense for someone with many allies than for someone with few allies? For most primates, being of high status tends to protect one from crisis events that discourage investments in health. This
    is because mammals have a common “stress response” that suddenly heightens awareness and turns off the body’s systems of growth, digestion, and immunity. This response can help a mammal escape from a predator, though at the expense of the mammal’s long-term health. Social primates also invoke the stress response when their social status is low or threatened, since having a low social status is typically correlated with suffering crisis events such as beatings or worse. High-status primates, in contrast, invoke the stress response less, and therefore invest more resources in improving their health. Hence, if you want your allies to act as if they are of high status, you want them to invest a lot in improving their health. In fact, you want them to invest more in their health than they would choose to do themselves, given their own best estimates of their individual future social statuses.

    I think my biggest issue is the assumption that all forms of investment in health are similar to not-being-stressed. IIUC chronic stress trades off long-term health against crisis preparedness. It’s correlated with low status (mostly?) not because status affects the value of long-term health but because it affects the likelihood of crisis. Other investments in health should have similar relationships to status only if their costs are also primarily in crisis preparedness, which Robin doesn’t seem to even bother to argue.

    • Christophe Biocca says:

      I think the argument is that the kinds of health-care investments that were relevant while we evolved our intuitions did present that trade-off (of being disproportionately beneficial to higher-status apes). Current investments may not have that trade-off at all anymore, but that doesn’t change the internal logic we’re using.

      Of course without a clear notion of what those investments would have been there’s no way to judge the validity of the claim, but this is pretty common in my experience with Hanson’s writing: lack of data will not stop him from building a hypothesis and privileging the shit out of it, until definitive contrary evidence is brought up.

      In this particular case it’d be good to look at other costly signals (Zahavi handicapping) and how we paternalistically push people into spending all their money on expensive cars, massive weddings celebrations, and Everest climbs, instead of forcing them to save for their retirement, because this is how we’d expect our allies to behave if they actually were high-status.

  21. rlms says:

    Thoughts on the parallels between Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn?
    The two current ones are protectionism and accusations of racism (that seem to me to be about equally accurate).

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Corbyn and Trump are wildly different on this issue. There are left Labour members who are anti-Semites but Corbyn isn’t one of them.

      • kieranpjobrien says:

        I have to disagree here.

        Corbyn doesn’t actively want to kill Jews. Sure. But he makes friends with everyone he finds who does.

        He silences Jewish voices wherever he can, denies them agency. He loathes Israel and engages in conspiracism to attack it.

        My attempt at some volume on this:

        Someone else’s effort on the detail of his racism:

        He surrounds himself with those who engage in anti-semitism within the party, ignores their racism and defends them until it’s politically impossible to continue. He attacks Jewish journalists and anyone who questions him. He gaslights Jews by saying they’re just getting very excitable and exaggerating things rather than listening to them.

        He’s at best passively racist and lies when he says he always opposes racism in all forms. At worst an active anti-semite. Corbyn isn’t Trump. But he is a racist.

        • Aapje says:

          My attempt at some volume on this

          You seem to conflate anti-semitism with anti-Zionism and/or anti-‘what the current Israeli government is doing.’ Remove those and your list shrivels to a fraction of what it is now.

          Your point 15 is especially silly, you are not doing yourself any favors with absurd accusations of gaslighting.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            A comparison of the state of Israel to the Nazis as Corbyn has done multiple times (video released earlier today) and allowed to be done in-front of him multiple times without challenge is anti-semitic according to the IHRA definition, which is the definition.

            Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

            let alone an “existential threat”, to Jewish life in Britain, as three Jewish newspapers recently claimed. That is the kind of overheated rhetoric that can surface during emotional political debates.

            This is gaslighting. The three main Jewish newspapers all said he was a threat to Jews, one would think that Jewish voices are the ones that should be listened to on this matter, and instead of reassuring, he denied it was a problem.

            And then two days later said no one should dismiss their concerns.

            Some of them are anti-semitic in themselves, they all point to a pattern of behaviour of a man who loathes Israel and at best disdains Jews.

          • ana53294 says:

            Dislike or indeed hatred of Israel does not mean a person is anti-semitic. Comparing them to Nazis is also not a sign of anti-semitism.

            Israelis are actively trying to commit genocide by expropriating Arabs’ lands and killing those who disagree. They are not using gas chambers, alright. But they discriminate against Arab citizens, they don’t allow Palestinians to develop their economy or agriculture (they bomb wells dug by Palestinians, for example). They have blocked international aid to Palestine several times. They have assaulted and imprisoned aid workers trying to help Palestinians. They intimidate journalists who visit the Gaza strip.

            There are a lot of reasons to dislike Israel that have nothing to do with being anti-semitic.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            I’m not getting into a debate about Israel and Palestine. Your arguments aren’t honest at first look but I’m simply not getting into it.

            Sticking to Jeremy Corbyn and his conduct:
            Comparing Israel to the Nazis is anti-semitic. According to the definition of anti-semitism it is anti-semitic.

            It’s not quite that simple, context and intent matters. But Corbyn’s intent is to compare Israel to the Nazis, he doesn’t mean it jokingly.

            It is certainly possible to dislike Israel without being anti-semitic. And we shouldn’t conflate anti-zionism with anti-semitism. But once you cross into direct comparisons between Israeli and Nazi policies, you’re being anti-semitic.

            Comparing Israel to the greatest crime in history is anti-semitic. According to the definition.

          • ana53294 says:

            Comparing Israel to the Nazis is anti-semitic.

            The thing is, everybody is compared to Nazis nowadays. People regularly call Trump a Nazi. “Nazi” has become an insult that is used to refer to racist/anti-inmigrant politicians. If we compare everybody whose policies we find contemptible to Nazis, why should we make an exception for Israel?

            You can say that we shouldn’t compare everything and everybody to Nazis, and I agree. Whatever his faults are, Trump is not a Nazi. But a lot of people do, and you won’t be able to change it, so saying people who insult Israel are anti-semitic is incorrect. They are just prone to exaggerate and use emotionally charged insults against people they dislike. And there are a lot of reasons to dislike Israel that have nothing to do with anti-semitism.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            We shouldn’t make an exception for Israel, and I’m not suggesting we should. Doing it at all is ridiculous. Doing it for Israel, is by the IHRA definition, anti-semitic. That’s not an exception for Israel, it’s ridiculous for all, and it’s additionally racist to do so with Israel.
            And Corbyn knew this. He’s not in a fit of pique or particularly excitable when he does this. He’s cold and calm.

            Corbyn is, by the definition, racist. It’s why he can’t let the IHRA definition stand for Labour – because the first thing people will do is hold him up to the standard and find him to be the racist that he clearly is.

          • ana53294 says:

            If you use the IHRA definition, then yes, comparing the acts of the state of Israel to Nazis is anti-semitic.

            The IHRA definition clumps so many things together, from the most contemptible of acts to the lesser ones that the anti-semitic term looses its bite.

            I view discrimination of Jews, or Holocaust denial, as different degrees of evil. A person may think that the Holocaust never happened, and still hire Jewish workers, have Jewish friends and even marry a Jew. They would be anti-semitic according to the IHRA definition, but they wouldn’t be anti-semitic in the sense commonly understood by most people (evil people who would deprive Jews of all opportunities).

            I think that in this case, anti-semitism is the same as racism. There is a discussion in this thread over whether it is useful to mash “structural racism” with racism, as they are perceived differently by people.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            If you use the IHRA definition, then yes, comparing the acts of the state of Israel to Nazis is anti-semitic.

            And to go back to the point of this discussion, Corbyn is a racist. Donald Trump is a racist. Both are protectionists. The similarities are strong. Even in the people they have around them being varying degrees of racist/conspiracist.

            Yes, obviously there are degrees of anti-semitism. But I’d say casual dismissal of Jews is less bad than Holocaust denial. So we have the scale backwards to one another here.

            The IHRA definition doesn’t lose its bite. It says X, Y, Z are anti-semitic. Examining the context is important, as is intent. And it was arrived at after years of negotiation and discussion. It is measured.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The IHRA can bite me. If Israel starts marching Palestinians into death camps, or even so much as making them wear symbols denoting their status as Palestinians, they’ll be rightfully compared to Nazis. A definition which claims Nazi comparisons are “anti-semitism” without first considering if they are justified is worse than useless.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            If Israel starts marching Palestinians into death camps, or even so much as making them wear symbols denoting their status as Palestinians, they’ll be rightfully compared to Nazis.

            “If” is doing a huge amount of heavy lifting in that.

            And in that case, the IHRA definition wouldn’t stop you – because context matters when it comes to the IHRA definition. It’s not an automatic “Comparing Netanyahu to Hitler” means social ostracism. It takes the context and intent into account. So your example fails.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The IHRA examples of anti-semitism include

            Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

            It seems unlikely this was intended to mean a snapshot of the policies at the time the document was written. And it includes no qualifications. So I conclude that they do, indeed, wish to make it out of bounds to compare Israeli policies with Nazi ones, full stop. And I reject that.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            You’re simply ignoring that context and intent are taken into account. It says so on the website.

            Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include

            You’re doing so deliberately at this point. I’m officially bored.

            And until Israel does start gassing Palestinians, if you can’t criticise Israel without being anti-semitic – you’re being rather unimaginative. To be generous.

            PS – reject it all you like, if you live in a country that uses the IHRA definition and you fall foul of it – it’s on you. Especially in the UK where MacPherson also comes into play.

          • ana53294 says:

            Nazis did not start by sending Jews to death camps to be gassed. Nazis started by forcing Jews to wear yellow badges.

            Somebody can compare the color-coded IDs for Palestinians with the Nazi yellow badges.

            I don’t think that makes the critics bad people. If that makes them anti-semitic, then I don’t think anti-semitism is a bad thing.

            And it includes no qualifications. So I conclude that they do, indeed, wish to make it out of bounds to compare Israeli policies with Nazi ones, full stop. And I reject that.

            Precisely.

            For example, one of the definitions of anti-semitism:

            Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

            What if the Jew in question does spend a huge amount of his money to further Israel’s interest? They do not qualify this by saying unless that concrete citizen is working to further Israel’s interest.

          • John Schilling says:

            Israelis are actively trying to commit genocide by expropriating Arabs’ lands and killing those who disagree.

            Not for any definition of genocide that matters, and you should feel bad for using one of the definitions that don’t matter, You might as well call the Israelis “Nazis” and be done with it.

          • J Mann says:

            @ana53294 – one correction on the ID cards – prior to Israel turning ID cards over to the PA, the sleeves the cards were in were based on geographic origin and citizenship status, not ethnicity. As far as I can tell, ethnic Palestinians who were citizens of Israel had the same color sleeve as ethnic Jews, while residents of the West Bank, Gaza, and card holders who were legally barred from entering Israel had green sleeves.

            It’s true that colors were involved (compare the US “green card” system), but I think there were some important differences from using an ID system to mark ethnicity.

          • rlms says:

            Everyone calls their political opponents Nazis, so doing so with Israel in particular isn’t a strong signal of anything other than a strong dislike of Israel. Since we want “anti-semitic” to be useful we therefore shouldn’t use definitions of it that include calling Israel anti-semitic (unless you consider a strong dislike of Israel to be anti-semitic, which is not completely unreasonable).

          • Well Armed Sheep says:

            To state what I’m sure plenty of others are thinking: arguments from a specific organization’s definition of a contested term are unpersuasive.

            And no, the IHRA’s definition is not “the definition.”

          • Aapje says:

            @kieranpjobrien

            The problem with calling it racist when a Nazi comparison is made to a specific government policy, administration or leader, is that you then need to conclude that:
            A Turkish Newspaper is racist against Germans
            A Greek newspaper too
            A Mexican magazine is racist against Americans
            A German paper too

            So if we apply your reasoning that these comparisons create a threat to the entire citizenship of nations who are criticized like this, we then ought to conclude that Germans & Americans have to fear for their lives. Right?

            When you (and IHRA) demand that Israel is not criticized like this, but ignore that it happens to many others & do not speak out against that as well, I see a demand for special treatment (and thus bias on your & their end).

            Note that fights over definitions are pretty common political struggles, because it is very useful to get biased definitions accepted by seemingly impartial institutions, so you can win debates by appealing to authority (as you are trying to do here). Not that I think that you are knowingly doing this, because biased people tend to believe that biased definitions are neutral/correct.

            Anyway, just like Ana, I think that your hyperbole merely trivializes the insult of antisemitism. There is plenty of clear antisemitism around to object to. By doing what you are doing, you may succeed at making fairly mild behavior less acceptable and easier to shame people for, but you make the more extreme behavior more acceptable and harder to shame people for. This seems counterproductive.

        • rlms says:

          He certainly has a lot of dubious friends, but I think it’s very unlikely that he’s anti-semitic himself in the sense of believing bad things about or having bad intentions for Jews in general.

          • kieranpjobrien says:

            The leading charity on the matter says he is. This thread is just things from the last fortnight of his own racism.

            He doesn’t have bad intentions, as in want to kill Jews, but he believes in Jewish conspiracies and attacks Jewish journalists and others who criticise him in the slightest.

            And with that many “dubious” friends who he’s never considered challenging when they’re racist in front of him, his record of “always challenging racism” looks like the opposite.

      • rlms says:

        I agree and disagree. Corbyn isn’t anti-semitic, but I don’t think Trump’s racist (see You Are Still Crying Wolf)! On the other hand, they both have a lot of dubious friends and dance round the edges of racism, although in different ways; Trump has a lot of outrageous racist rhetoric that I don’t think he really believes, whereas Corbyn never says anything bad himself but privately probably wouldn’t be too sad if Israel suffered an unfortunate accident.

        • kieranpjobrien says:

          Agree largely on Trump. Though story today from stone Apprentice contestant suggests hardening of racist qualifications necessary in his case.

          With Corbyn – he says plenty of things that are at the least racist adjacent. It’s just that he comes across as a cuddly magic grandpa so what he says is so often dismissed.

  22. Le Maistre Chat says:

    So this is a real thing. I had to make sure Gavin McInnes didn’t fake it as a funny hoax, but it’s real.
    Short of successful entryism by the other tribe, comedy is dead in our culture.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      To me, this post is an example of defection.

      I contend this board would not react well if I started posting examples of the “daily outrage” from a left wing perspective.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      “Comedy is dead” seems like a bit of a leap?

      Not sure if you object to a specific part of this, or just to the sheer quantity of policing happening… but I feel like with a bigger perspective, this isn’t any more restrictive on comedy as a whole than deciding that blackface is Not OK Ever, and comedy obviously survived that?

      • The Nybbler says:

        I feel like with a bigger perspective, this isn’t any more restrictive on comedy as a whole than deciding that blackface is Not OK Ever

        “We made this one restriction, therefore this next restriction is justified”… this is why the slippery slope isn’t a fallacy.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          I’m a bad progressive who agrees the slippery slope isn’t a fallacy. But to me this looks like a slope with pretty good traction and not too scary a bottom.

        • Machine Interface says:

          Well, in a different perspective: movie making survived the Hays Code just fine, and a large part of what is today regarded as the best American movies ever made were made within those often drastic restrictions.

          Eventually the restrictions lessened and crumbled upon themselves, as directors from the 60s started to quietly ignore them, with little reactions from people in charge of enforcing them.

          If really “don’t make fun of transfolks” is all that it takes to kill american comedy, the latter must have been of quite feeble health to begin with.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Not sure if you object to a specific part of this, or just to the sheer quantity of policing happening…

        Both. The specific parts are anti-grammar and endorse double standards that you can’t logically analyze without getting called a bigot. If you tried to change the specific wording of this demand to anti-racist rather than transgender, this is how bad it would sound:

        By Chloe Koser (ble/bler/blers), Bloom David (bley/blem/bleir) & Zach Stephens (ble/blim/blis).
        Can a white woman play a white man and vice versa?
        Yes! So long as it isn’t a joke i.e. ‘white woman in policeman’s uniform looks non-threatening for an cop.’

        Can white people play black roles?
        NO. It is that simple.

        Can black people play white roles?
        Yes! Black people can play any race role they feel comfortable playing.

        Etc…

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Are you saying you’ve independently verified that this is both real and sincerely meant? Because that line “So long as it isn’t a joke” still makes me strongly suspect a piss-extraction attempt.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I have verified it to the extent of uncovering that Chloe Koser is in a Twitter argument that looks straight-faced with Gavin McInnes, and her Twitter account looks like a real transgender virtue-signalling account with 701 followers.

        • dick says:

          Is she supposed to be someone important? Why are we supposed to be worried for the survival of comedy over something she said? Meanwhile, Joe Rogan has a routine about Bruce Jenner being hypnotized in to transitioning by literal demons in his Netflix special, and he seems to be doing okay…

          I’m with HBC, this seems like an outrage-du-jour that will affect nothing and no one.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          That does look sincere enough. On the other hand, comedy will never be dead as long as people keep coming up with material like that.

    • WashedOut says:

      All of these PC rules seem completely unnecessary since the proportion of entertainers that are trans is negligible. You can argue that this kind of policing kills comedy, but the social justice sphere is not known for it’s sense of humour anyway. If anything it’s a separate, tiny scene that oscillates between self-satirisation and self-destruction.

      Meanwhile, thousands of quality entertainers and comics continue to write and perform fantastic theater and comedy as they always have done, the world keeps spinning.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        So what you’re saying is that demands like this are irrelevant because entertainers and comics can disagree without getting kicked out of the Blue tribe and/or can get a platform even if they’re Red?

        • WashedOut says:

          They don’t strike me as demands per se. They seem like made-up rules for a game that is in its infancy and is only played by 0.05% of the population. The game is called “superimpose sketch-comedy onto a social justice framework” and will never be as funny as other forms of comedy that happen to disregard such rules.
          Therefore I argue the ‘problem’ solves itself.

          I’m open to being convinced that the swirling maelstrom of politically-charged ‘demands’ on entertainers will have a chilling effect on the whole industry, which is the point I think you are angling for. However this seems to assume a massive reduction in market demand for un-PC comedy, which I doubt.

          • The Nybbler says:

            However this seems to assume a massive reduction in market demand for un-PC comedy, which I doubt.

            Not “demand” but “platform”. If all the producers, comedy clubs, and other venues refuse to countenance humor which does not follow those rules, it will not be much made or enjoyed. Particularly if anyone who breaks the rules gets not only thrown out but blacklisted.

          • Nornagest says:

            There’s a lot of “all” in the world. You know I’m no fan of social justice, but I can’t see it managing to stamp out un-PC humor in the near future; there’s too much of it and not enough SJ ideologues.

            It could conceivably take over the New York comedy scene, which would be a shame, but there are other cities.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It could conceivably take over the New York comedy scene

            I find that highly unlikely? The Berkeley comedy scene perhaps.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Well, Twitter solved that problem; they permabanned McInnes, no reason given.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        … of course they did. Anyone want to still argue
        “Is she supposed to be someone important? Why are we supposed to be worried for the survival of comedy over something she said?”

        • Matt M says:

          From what I’ve read, they banned Gavin (as well as the official Proud Boys account) for violating their “violent extremist group” policies.

          Which strikes me as absurd as the official PB account has always gone well out of its way to denounce and condemn violence on Twitter.

  23. dndnrsn says:

    Roleplaying games thread: Culture Edition War Edition!

    Which D&D edition is the best? Retroclones count as what they are replicating or imitating (eg, if you love Labyrinth Lord, that’s B/X). Which is the worst? Which is the most “crowd-pleasing” (eg, if you’re recommending D&D to someone without knowing what their tastes are, which do you recommend?)

    Your choices:

    Original (aka 0th edition, 1974)

    Holmes Basic (1977)

    1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (1977-79)

    Moldvay Basic/Expert (aka B/X, 1981)

    Menzter Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortal (aka BECMI, 1983-85; the 1991 Rules Cyclopediawas similar enough to be considered as one thing)

    2nd Edition AD&D (1989)

    3rd Edition (2000)

    3.5th Edition (2003; different enough from 3rd to be considered a separate thing, I suppose; Pathfinder is more or less a clone of this)

    4th Edition (2008)

    5th Edition (2014)

    I think that B/X probably captures the sweet spot of D&D. It is fairly light on options compared to some of the other versions, it doesn’t have the unified systems of 3rd and later editions, and it’s arbitrary and weird in places. However, the level of simplicity makes it very easy to tinker with, it isn’t as wild and wooly as earlier editions, and it’s fast: character creation is fast and play is fast. This makes it very good for sandbox adventuring, which I think is a very rewarding style of play, and really revelatory if you’re used to the more story-based and often railroad-y style which starts to take root in the mid-80s.

    4th Edition is the worst. It plays wildly differently from other versions, it is just as complex as 3rd and 3.5th were (hey, don’t you love it when a session with 4 combats takes 6 hours and leaves little time for anything else? Me neither), and the problem it was supposed to solve (magic-using classes being OP) was a problem caused by that complexity (when generating an encounter takes a long time, it’s part of the incentive to stop using random encounters; when there’s less threat of running into unexpected enemies, magic-using classes can blow all their spells in an encounter then take a nap) which created more problems (giving everyone per-encounter and per-day powers, so everyone is using the same sort of powers as a magic-using class, creates weird questions like “why can I only do my special attack once per day?”). It sacrificed a lot of non-combat options in order to deliver a product based around prepared encounters.

    5th Edition does what 4th probably should have. It takes the basic mechanics of 3rd and simplifies it, both for player choice (no longer do you have to learn which feats are good and plan your character in advance; choices are generally one-time and are roughly equivalent) and for speed of play (a lot less number-crunching). My major beef with it is that monsters are still fairly complex in their stat block, so harder to tinker with than B/X or whatever.

    • Randy M says:

      I’ve only played 4th edition. 3rd edition looked way to complicated to run. Prior editions were before my time, 5th I haven’t needed yet.

      I’m not really interested in debating the relative merits beyond that. I’ll give my evaluation of 4th for the likely minority positive perspective.

      4th was tactically interesting and very easy to run after I ignored the advice on skill challenges, treasure parcels, and … basically I ran the game with the character builder and the monster manual. The balance was such that it was easy to know if an encounter would be easy or hard and there was some breathing room.
      Due to logistic or personal issues I haven’t played into the teens yet, and I understand it gets complicated quickly after advancing.
      The bloat was real, for sure, too. Later on I would take out options, not for balance reasons, but just because expecting someone not in love with spreadsheets to pick an option from a menu of 100’s items is silly.
      I have an extensive homebrew version that will probably never be finished let alone played.

      • Protagoras says:

        The D&D game I enjoyed most was 4th ed. Certainly a matter of GM and setting more than the rules, but the rules mostly didn’t seem to get in the way. So count me as another tentative pro-4th ed vote. I do agree that the later additions to 4th ed were generally making things worse rather than better, so probably good that they gave up and moved on.

        And of course no version of D&D can hold a candle to GURPS.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I had the opposite experience with 4th and rules getting in the way – I found myself making decisions based on what the rules were, rather than what my character was trying to do. The mechanics were really dissociated – it felt kind of like playing a board game.

      • Perico says:

        Yeah, that thing with the huge, incomplete homebrew version of 4E happened to me, too. I started out shortly before the game died, and then lost my weekly gaming session to parenting and moving abroad. If I ever manage to finish it, it will probably look like a 4E retroclone.

    • Machine Interface says:

      I’ve played 2e and 3.5e. While 3.5e certainly was streamlined compared to 2e, I didn’t think it made a huge difference on my impression overall – which that the core of D&D has always been somewhat bloated and many of its concepts (alignment, levels, characters classes) are simplistic, constricting, and increasingly behind their time, and I’m kinda sad that D&D hasn’t been burried by more modern and flexible systems – something like Chaosium’s Basic Role-Playing system would have been perfectly fine and adaptable to all kinds of fantasy universes (seeing as it could be made to work just as well for games as different as RuneQuest and Stormbringer).

      • dndnrsn says:

        Is it that 3rd and 3.5th were streamlined, or that they were standardized? I would say that 3rd ed was about as complicated as 2nd ed out of the box (with the core books, let’s say) but that it was regular and it made sense. There was a core system that if you knew it you could learn other bits as needed. Whereas, with 2nd, there were different rules for different tasks: stat checks and proficiencies were roll-under, attacks used THAC0 to calculate your to-hit and rolling high was good, saving throws got lower and rolling high was good, etc.

        It was also arbitrary and weird. Instead of saying “you will take a penalty for xyz” it would be “you can’t do that”, and I defy anyone to explain what was up with multi-classing vs dual-classing.

        I think that the class-level system has its advantages over the BRP system and other such systems. It gives players something to work towards, and it makes it easy to quantify how powerful someone is.

        • Nornagest says:

          I defy anyone to explain what was up with multi-classing vs dual-classing.

          My take is that they were solving different problems. Multi-classing was originally AD&D’s way of letting old-school players play an old-school style Elf, and dual-classing was originally its answer for when a player says “I don’t want to be a fighter anymore”. Then they picked up some cruft and a bunch of bizarre racial and stat restrictions, because AD&D had a terrible habit of accumulating cruft and “balancing” things with bizarre racial and stat restrictions.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I don’t have any reference materials here with me to check, but Googling suggests that 1st Ed had multi classing – and it predated B/X, which seems to be where elf/dwarf/halfling as class came in. At least, Googling suggests that Holmes had race and class.

          • Nornagest says:

            You’re right — looks like classic D&D restricted nonhuman races to certain roles but didn’t do the racial class thing. Okay, that’s not it.

    • DeWitt says:

      I only ever played 3.5 and 5th, so I can’t really comment on anything else.

      5th is definitely a better game than 3.5, though. 3.5 has some terrible power creep in a game where martials are terribly gimped from the get-go. I dislike the feat tax, too, because it is very difficult to do any one thing well without dedicating half your progression to it, and doing something ‘wrong’ is a lot easier in 3.5 than it is in 5th edition.

      Also 2nd edition’s worldbuilding will always have a special place in my heart because Planescape and Dark Sun are absolutely excellent, but I’ve never played the actual setting so I couldn’t really comment on that.

      • dndnrsn says:

        2nd ed had some really, really good world building. While by the 90s the rules were really creaking, they were turning out some brilliant setting work.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          The Monstrous Manual was my favorite “mythic monsters” book as a kid because of how much ecology/worldbuilding they put on each one-page entry, and the fun of figuring out which ones were real folklore and which came from what TSR-created worlds.
          Kind of like a deeper version of Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings with that damn Peryton.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Yeah, the 2nd ed AD&D MM was great. Really favourably compares to what came after it.

          • Nornagest says:

            Agreed. From a design perspective I can see a case for not doing that — it implies a lot about the setting, and D&D’s lately been trying not to do that in its core books — but lately I’ve been starting to think of that perspective as more of a bug than a feature. Anyway, if it really concerned the designers, they could have added some disclaimers and some language like “In most worlds…”

            I always get the most out of sourcebooks when they’re dense with adventure and setting hooks, and the 2E MM had several on every page.

          • bean says:

            I experienced the same thing when I found the WEG D6 Star Wars books. Most of the D20 books were fairly heavy into mechanics and vague setting details, while the Imperial Sourcebook had whole sections laying out the organization of the Imperial Army. It was so much better than the fairly generic Wizards stuff I was used to, and I adapted a lot of it to the D20 system games I ran at the time.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The reason Pagan Publishing is so good is, at least in part, that they produce sourcebooks that don’t introduce any new crunch, or introduce very little, but that introduce tons of ideas and hooks. There’s a reason that the two best-reviewed RPG supplements are both for the original 90s Delta Green.

    • John Schilling says:

      I will always have a soft spot for 1st edition AD&D, because that’s what most of my formative role-playing was done with. But I’d have to give the win to 3.5e/Pathfinder. It breaks badly if anyone tries to min/max, munchkin, or rules-lawyer it, but I think if you are down to worrying about that you’re pretty much out of luck for a happy role-playing experience generally. Otherwise, it is a reasonably well-integrated system for providing all the rules you’ll ever need without forcing you to use the ones you don’t want.

      It may not be the best for inexperienced players due to a somewhat higher climb to the first plateau on the learning curve, but that’s not an issue for anyone in the target audience for your question.

      • dndnrsn says:

        While I personally care a lot about rules, but my experience is that in any group at least one of the players won’t care that much about rules. A system that’s too complicated means that either the GM has to hand-hold, or another of the players has to hand-hold.

        • John Schilling says:

          Compared to what alternative? If you have a rule for [X], and a player doesn’t want to learn the rule, then the GM has to translate that one player’s what-I-want-to-do into rules-defined actions, determine the relevant die roll, and say “roll Y to succeed”. If you don’t have a rule for [X], then the GM has to invent a one-off rule for the action and then proceed as above, for every player.

          3.5e/Pathfinder has rules for a very broad range of [X], in a consistent format.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The hand-holding mostly comes in for character creation and advancement – compare making a fighter in different editions:

            -by OD&D or any of the Basic versions, a fighter is a fighter is a fighter. There’s not really any choices to be made. You roll up your stats and put down the listed abilities and so on. Helping someone who doesn’t care much about rules make a character involves tossing them the book and saying “small children did this in the 80s so don’t whine.”

            -by AD&D, depending on whether it’s first or second edition and what optional rules you’re using and so on, it could get more complicated. I remember 2nd ed – you had to figure out your proficiencies, etc. Unless you’re using kits from the splatbooks and such, you have to make weird decisions to louse things up – like, make your guy an expert in the guisarme-voulge or whatever. Helping someone make a character involves telling them not to do that.

            -by 3rd, etc, you have to pick feats and you have to pick them right, thinking of what you will be taking down the road, etc. Helping someone make a character involves explaining what’s good and what’s bad and helping them plan out where they’re going to be in however many levels. This might get pretty involved if the party is charop-heavy.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            3E was the first edition published after TSR was bought out by the company that created Magic: The Gathering, and it really shows. It’s the first D&D to intentionally reward system mastery rather than having accidental charop exploits like the AD&D Fighter who becomes an unbalanced DPS machine by throwing darts.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          … and one player will care too much, meaning system’s that break when you try to min/max basically means the DM spends a lot of time saying “I don’t care if that’s in the rules … no.” (or just being really selective about who gets in the campaign if they can).

    • J Mann says:

      I’ve played 2, 3.5, and 5. I like 5 – it’s faster than the others and you can tell any story you want to.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Learned on AD&D, and have DMed for it, 3, 3.5, PF, 4th, and 5th (as well as a smattering of other RPGS).

      Prefer 5th by a good margin- it preserves a lot of the “flavor” of 3/PF but is streamlined in many wonderful ways. The class archetypes (that mostly unlock at 3rd level) do a really good job giving players interesting and fun choices that capture and redirect a lot of the usual drive to multiclass or prestige-class. Players really enjoy the Adv/DisAdv system as well, instead of even more fiddly bits of arithmetic.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      AD&D cruft makes it objectively inferior to B/X or BECMI. I’m vaguely aware of differences between those two but unfortunately haven’t had enough play time to care.
      The d20 System (3.0/.5/.PF) has some theoretical advantages over the OSR and 5E as a simulationist engine, but in real-life play you’d be a high-powered fantasy adventuring party with the worst balance this side of Rifts, so screw it.
      4E is a bad combat board game that doesn’t have the decency to sell you all the components in a box. Interestingly enough, the company actually produced D&D board games during the 4E and into the 5E era.
      5E is just better than 3rd or 4th.

    • pontifex says:

      Culture war edition, you say? Wasn’t D&D 1st edition speciesist? There was a level cap on halflings, or something? I can’t remember.

      Roll for initiative against the Social Justice Troll.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Look, just because now we have all these newfangled ways of making humans playable, like “giving humans some kind of special ability”, doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the days of yore, where humans were better at being rangers than elves were, or something.

    • Nornagest says:

      Stuff I’ve played only:

      B/X and its clones, in terms of bang for buck, are probably better than any other edition I’ve played for supporting fast-playing dungeon crawls. Ideal for pickup games or one-shots. But they really struggle with more sandboxy stuff, and Tiamat help you if you want to play a rogue. Settings, at this point, also tended to be uninspired.

      2E is… baroque. There are things I really like about it but it’s a mechanical mess and retains most of the bad design decisions from earlier editions. Still, it’s much harder to deliberately break than 3.x, and it’s got a certain charm despite the warts. With a good group and judicious houseruling, it can be as playable as anything. And I think D&D worldbuilding peaked here: this is where the best settings were introduced, even if for some reason everyone wanted to play Forgotten Realms, and their updates for later editions generally haven’t improved them.

      3.x is mechanically elegant and very flexible, but it’s the slowest of any edition I’ve played even when played well at low levels, and it gets even slower if new players, high-level characters, or optimization fiends are involved. Prep is a nightmare, and that turns out to lead to all sorts of downstream problems that I don’t think the designers anticipated. Feats were a good idea but implementation is poor. Goes best when restricted to core rulebooks. Pathfinder is an incremental improvement, but over time it’s developed most of the same problems that made 3.5 impractical.

      4.0 is a decent skirmish miniatures wargame.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        B/X and its clones, in terms of bang for buck, are probably better than any other edition I’ve played for supporting fast-playing, flexible dungeon crawls. … But they really struggle with more sandboxy stuff, and Tiamat help you if you want to play a rogue. Settings, at this point, also tended to be uninspired.

        Man, you need to get PDFs of the Gazetteers. The Known World/Mystara was the most inspired setting this side of Spelljammer. Glantri had a Wizard School and a principality ruled by a literally Scottish Lich back in the ’80s – and the school was built atop a cave system containing the nuclear reactor of a crashed spaceship that an Immortal had tried to helpfully save mortals from by changing the nasty radiation to magical radiation!

        • Nornagest says:

          I’ll check that out, but it might be a little too silly for me. Spelljammer’s hugely imaginative but I have a hard time keeping a straight face while I’m fireballing flintlock-wielding hippopotamus-people; as far as I’m concerned, D&D settings peaked with Planescape.

          But I love love love New Weird stuff, and Planescape is basically that before it was cool.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Fair enough, in D&D “imaginative” always equals “silly.”
            When I’ve DMed, I’ve always just used an Earth country in a time when folklore says the supernatural was common.

      • dndnrsn says:

        How do you mean B/X struggles with sandbox stuff?

        • Nornagest says:

          It’s not good at adjudicating any kind of challenge that you can’t handle with swords or spells; most of the stuff in that space isn’t modeled at all, and the resolution mechanics for the stuff it does model (thief skills, mainly) are so crude that they’re worse than useless.

          In some contexts that’s actually a feature. It means there’s no complaining when the GM needs to issue an ad-hoc ruling, and it leaves a lot of leeway for common sense. That’s probably better than the way e.g. 3.x does it, as long as all you need to do is run from the tribe of cannibals or win a drinking contest against the biggest thug in the tavern. But the first time you need to do something open-ended that’s too extended or complex for ad-hoc rulings or “roll Intelligence” to handle, it chokes. It has no sensible way of telling what happens when you want to forge a suit of armor or climb a mountain or investigate a crime scene. That isn’t strictly a problem with sandboxes, but I’ve found it comes up most often with them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            So, we might be using “sandbox” to describe different things. What do you mean when you call something a sandbox?

            When I say something is a sandbox, I just mean that there’s a bunch of toys in the sandbox, and players can decide what they want their PCs to interact with, go do, etc. They’ll run into random stuff. If they come up with something they want to do that isn’t one of those toys, I improvise something. At the end of the session, I ask them what they want to do next time, and get something ready for that. If they decide they don’t want to do some cool thing I put together, it probably didn’t take me that much time to put it together, so no big loss.

            I find that simple rules for building enemies really facilitates this – it’s easier to say “the merchant they are trying to rob is a sub-1 HD guy with INT, WIS, CHA 13 he can roll for anything a merchant could reasonably do; his guards are all 1HD with such-and-such weapons, one has 3HD and is the sergeant” than to make a competent merchant and his guards by 3rd rules or whatever.

            I ran an investigative scenario – I found that WIS checks to look for stuff, CHA checks to get info from people, etc, worked just fine – and it honestly wasn’t that different from the Spot Hidden and Persuade checks you’d be using playing CoC. For an investigative scenario, the job you do building the scenario is vastly more important than the rules used to interact with it.

            For climbing a mountain, a CON check or two, maybe a STR check, will probably suffice. Making armour is the tricky part – figuring out how much it costs and how much time it takes can be a hassle – but then again, rules for adjudicating this are often weak points in system design.

          • Nornagest says:

            I meant something analogous to a sandbox game in the computer world, viz. a scenario with a goal and a bunch of stuff in it but no plotted-out path from A to B. IME this is the sort of situation where players are most likely to come up with elaborate long-term plans that you need to roll with on the fly.

            Let’s say you’ve got a scenario where a bunch of bandits have fortified the abandoned keep on the edge of the lake outside town and are preying on passing merchants. You have notes for three ways in, but instead of taking any of them, your players have decided to build a catapult with trees from the forest nearby and batter down the walls. Now you’re stuck. You have no rules for deciding whether and how they can do it, or how long it’ll take, or what resources they’ll need. Even using it will be a little tricky — B/X D&D has mass combat rules with entries for siege engines, but they’re really designed more for battlefield use.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Would you call Masks of Nyarlathotep a sandbox? I wouldn’t. The overall frame of the story has still been determined. It’s definitely not a railroad – it would be hard to railroad it! If someone does railroad it, they probably should be banned from owning dice.

            A railroad is some variant on “the GM has decided the story, and how the story will go, and the players can’t really change that” and a sandbox tends to be the opposite – the story is constructed by events and is only really visible in retrospect.

            What you’re describing probably falls closer to the latter than the former, but the story still starts with the PCs finding out there’s a bandit problem, and ends with them either winning or losing. In a sandbox, kick it up a scale level: if the PCs wander into the part of the world where the bandit problem happens, then it’s that scenario – but they might decide to go in the other direction, or maybe they decide that they want to team up with the bandits, or any number of other things.

          • Nornagest says:

            I gotta admit I’ve never played or even read Masks of Nyarlathotep. Heard lots of good stuff about it, though.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It’s a masterpiece. The selling point is that it both has a structured story without the “one damn thing after another” type deal you get with sandboxes, while still not needing any railroading, and providing a lot of player freedom, and a lot of surprises for both players and GM.

    • Unsaintly says:

      To answer the question in short, 4th edition is by far the best. However, this question deserves to be broken down further as it could easily be asking two things.

      First, it could be asking “Of the editions of D&D, which is the best game”. This is the form I took it in for my answer. The reason I say 4th edition for this is because it works the best as a game. You can roleplay equally well in every edition of D&D, but 4th edition has the mechanics that work the best. While it is far from perfect – skill challenges have bad math, and initial monster HP was overinflated just to name the most well-known issues – it all works together on a mechanical level that the others fail on. B/X and 2nd edition are runners up here, as they are basic enough that the mechanical flaws are more easily ignored. I noticed that you listed 4th edition as the worst, and many people take issue with the mechanics of 4e. If you want, I can go into more detail on why I think its mechanics hold together the best.

      On the other hand, it could be asking “What version of D&D or its various spinoffs and clones is best for playing D&D”. This touches on the issue of what D&D actually is. For all its Tolkien-esque trappings or references to mythology and high fantasy, D&D is really a genre unto itself. In this view, I would place B/X or 2nd edition as the best. In these games, the focus was still on D&D’s identity as a dungeon delving game where you kill the monsters and loot the treasure and maybe have a story in the background. Later editions tried to accommodate more playstyles, but the fact remains that D&D is only good at being D&D and if you want to play something else, you should play something else.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Unsaintly

        I would argue that you can’t roleplay equally well in 4th Ed – the dissociated nature of many of the mechanics is the cause. If roleplaying is defined as making decisions based on your character’s, well, character, 4th Ed has a problem. Unless your PC is able to break the 4th wall and know that they can only use a special attack once per combat or once per day because of game balance – what decision is your PC making that leads to them only using that special attack once per combat? The end result is that the decisions as to what your character does in a combat situation are made, not by you (the player) declaring that the character doing what makes sense and the rules providing a way to adjudicate that, but by you deciding what makes sense based on the rules of the game, and the character’s actions following that.

        The mechanics don’t work badly – although the game slows down as badly as 3rd and 3.5th did – and there’s some cool stuff 4th lets you do – it’s fun to shift enemies to make them fall off stuff or whatever. And the dissociated mechanics don’t make it a bad game – there ear great games where the mechanics are completely dissociated (there’s nothing in Pandemic‘s rules that specifically model fighting epidemics – you could easily reskin it as an international anti-terrorist unit fighting against terrorists without changing any of the rules). I think they make it a bad roleplaying game, though.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I would argue that you can’t roleplay equally well in 4th Ed – the dissociated nature of many of the mechanics is the cause. If roleplaying is defined as making decisions based on your character’s, well, character, 4th Ed has a problem. Unless your PC is able to break the 4th wall and know that they can only use a special attack once per combat or once per day because of game balance – what decision is your PC making that leads to them only using that special attack once per combat?

          This is the exact question I faced when trying to play 4E. My Paladin ended up being a parody of shounen heroes (or rather, Samus Is a Girl presenting as one), because it was too hard to role-play anything more realistic in the decision space those rules created.
          “RADIANT DELIRIUM!”

          • Nornagest says:

            4E class abilities constrain roleplaying at the table a lot more than you’d think they do from reading the rules. The last time I played that edition, I rolled a ranger whom I wanted to play as an aging, world-weary war veteran type but who ended up being a guerrilla death machine; the other players started cracking Vietnam-movie jokes before the end of the first session.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I DM’d 4e and had a player who just had no imagination and couldn’t role-play. As a 4e player, I felt too constrained by the fact that death was incredibly likely that my role-playing was punished. (As a dragonborn paladin, I’d bravely put myself between the party and enormous threats, and end up sitting out for half the sessions because my character was killed to death so much.)

            5e looks to be getting back to what I liked about 1e (and I don’t really know or care the various kinds of 1e), which just let you play and combat was fun, not tedious.

          • Randy M says:

            As a 4e player, I felt too constrained by the fact that death was incredibly likely

            Wut
            One of the most frequent complaints about 4e is how hard it is to kill PCs. Compare PCs at similar level in other editions. It’s not called “carebear” for nothing.

    • Montfort says:

      3/3.5 would be the best in my opinion. I realize a lot of people don’t care as much about rules as I do, but 3 and 3.5 sourcebooks did the best job of giving players an idea of what their characters could and couldn’t do without having to guess at arbitrary decisions the DM would later make. Additionally, I like having mechanical representation of differences between characters of the same class/race, even at the cost of balance, which 3.x’s feat-splosion and skills work well with.
      Obviously the problem there is that it’s a lot of work to prep, and hard to get new players rolling along, but that’s a tradeoff I’m personally fine with.

      AD&D was the set of (my dad’s) books I read first, and I do like it, but I really liked reading it more than playing it. Honorable mention, I guess.

      nitpick:
      Disagree that lack of random encounters was the cause of (though it does contribute a bit to) inequality between magic haves and have-nots – at the end of the day, if your level 20 ambition is “I am exceedingly good at hitting things with this sword/stick/fist without dying” and you’re playing in the same game as someone who can cart in extraplanar beings to do his will, or teleport, or turn into a monster/mist/whatever and back, or conjure up lifelike illusions, at some point you’re going to be a bit outclassed. There’s only so many problems that can be solved with BRUTE STRENGTH a foot of steel through the midsection.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Montfort

        Most adventurers never make it to level 20 honestly (starting at level 1). Most attempts to do a “we’re gonna play this forever!” campaign fizzle at some point. The question becomes, when do wizards overpower everyone else? Level 5, 10, 15?

        There’s usually two different claims. One is that wizards can render other classes surplus to requirements for utility abilities: if a wizard can use a spell to open a door, then rogues are pointless. The other is just that wizards blow everyone out of the water in combat. (Clerics have the latter to a lesser extent, and not really the former.)

        The former, however, usually requires a wizard to give up a spell slot. If a wizard knows ahead of time they’re going to have to open a locked door, sure, take knock. But that requires it to be predictable what’s going to happen, and it’s a spell slot that can’t be used for anything else. If your wizard can plan ahead, and know nothing unforeseen will come up, sure, they can load up with the utility spells needed.

        The latter is true if the party can control the tempo of encounters. If the wizard never runs into the problem of running out of spells and there’s still enemies to fight, then the wizard overpowers everyone else very early on (again, clerics to a lesser extent get some nifty combat abilities). If the combat is going to be over in 5 rounds, and the wizard has 5 spell slots full of combat abilities, of course they’re going to overpower the fighter swinging a sword – if they can keep it at one combat per day. If they can control the tempo of encounters, get a nap somewhere safe, etc, wizards are very powerful.

        Random encounters provide the unforeseen stuff that keeps a wizard from being able to perfectly plan their spells out ahead, and prevent the party from being able to control the tempo of encounters. In the game I’m running, the players know full well that they might run into something as they move through the dungeon to the area they’re exploring, as they’re exploring, as they’re on their way out, as they’re going back to town, in the night if they camp.

        Magic-using classes, especially wizards, thrive on predictability and control; classes with unlimited abilities (a fighter never runs out of melee attacks and arrows are easy to come by, a thief never hits a limit of locks picked per day or uses of sneaking abilities) possess far greater insurance against the unpredictable. When people say wizards are better than the other classes, they’re saying it’s not fun to play the other classes, because you’re going to be eating the wizard’s dust. If this is true at very high levels, well, OK, but if you start at 1st level, chances are you are going to make it to 5 or 10; if you choose to start at a higher level, you knew what you were getting into. It’s only a problem for most people most of the time if it’s true at lower levels, and random encounters play a big role in keeping it from being true at lower levels.

        • Montfort says:

          20 is a little hyperbolic, yes. If your level 5 ambition is “I am exceptionally good at hitting people without dying,” though, you are still going to be shown up by the guy who can cast sleep and walk away, or conjure lifelike illusions, or turn into mist and back… but not as badly because of the number of spellslots, I agree.

          You can get around a caster owning combat by giving him a couple fights to wreck and then giving a few more where he has to sit back because he’s spent. I regard that as natural in the first few levels and doable to around level 5-6, depending on player skill and how well the party can survive without caster help. But even then, there’s a fine line to walk sometimes between feeling better because you’re more consistent and feeling like the casters’ escorts whose major contribution is protecting them until their spells come back .

          Batman caster (“I can do anything better than you”), to my mind, isn’t really solved the same way, because the problem isn’t that the caster is consistently better, it’s that he’s better occasionally, and seemingly for free. For example, the DM puts down a tough door for the thief to figure out (or the fighter to batter down) – so the wizard uses knock* when they fail, or the cleric stoneshapes a shortcut through the wall. Everyone knows the thief is, in many ways, better at this kind of task. And there may be many examples of the mundane class doing it while the casters didn’t have the slots or spells to contribute. But being shown that the caster’s peak in one of your areas of expertise is higher than yours leaves a bad taste.
          Adding more encounters can sort of reduce this, but only indirectly. Divine casters don’t normally have to alter the ratio of combat:utility too much – they just roll with it and use more or fewer casts for combat tricks depending on the day. Wizards use the trick outlined in the footnote, or divine beforehand, or use a dual-purpose spell (invisibility for stealth, summon monster for traps, etc). Sorcerers… probably aren’t your batman problem. To be fair, though, this does get more common at higher levels (>5), when utility spell slots become comparatively cheaper.

          To sum up, I think the more damaging thing isn’t that casters are better on average (though they are, after several levels). It’s that from level one, they almost always have the chance of being the combat guy, or the thief guy, or the scouting guy, etc. better than the mundane character whose entire job is that role for at least one encounter/task/puzzle. And when that happens, it’s extremely visible compared to the quiet competence of a fighter who deals his weapon damage each round. On top of that they have their own roles no one else can really do (buffing, debuffing, battlefield control, mindrape very effective social engineering).

          *and in 3e, at least, he could leave slots open for preparation later in the day, which is how batman wizard decides among knock and gaseous form and clairvoyance and suggestion, etc (though he wouldn’t have all of those in his spellbook necessarily). This is a slightly risky trick, as it requires brief access to reasonably quiet shelter, but that’s why it’s just a utility spell or two.

          • dndnrsn says:

            So, other elements in 3rd did play a role; I haven’t played 3rd or 3.5th in a long time, so thanks for pointing those out.

            In the retroclone I’m running, the wizard is going to hit 5th soon, and if anything he’s getting less powerful – due largely to the broken-ass way sleep worked back in the day/the way I have ruled on the incredibly vague spell description. Absolutely devastating against a bunch of 1HD enemies, but less useful the more HD they have, and useless on enemies past a certain point. He’s about to get fireball so we’ll see how that changes things. If I didn’t have random encounters, though, he would be completely overpowering, rather than being the artillery of the party (very hard to win without artillery, but you can’t win with artillery alone).

            Plus, fighters have always been the bodyguards for the rest of the party. To a lesser extent clerics (as they can wear heavy armour). It’s not hard to get a first level fighter to ~20 AC or equivalent in descending AC in any edition of the game; with that plus a d8 or d10 HD, being the tank/meat shield is part of the point of playing a fighter.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            When there are only 4 classes (Paladin and Ranger basically being prestige classes for Lawful/LG Fighters), you can really see the wargaming origin of D&D. Fighters are infantry, Wizards are artillery (a strange thing if you’re thinking in literary terms), Clerics are super-medics, and Thieves are underpowered infantry scouts (they should really have a D8 and just lack armor…)

          • dndnrsn says:

            Thieves weren’t even in the game originally, which explains why their thief skills run using a bolted-on, incompatible system.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @dndnrsn: Right. Thieves & Paladins were introduced simultaneously in OD&D Supplement 1.

          • engleberg says:

            Re: you can really see the wargaming origins of D&D-

            Right, point man in front, couple riflemen, radioman, medic. Thief, fighters, wizard, cleric.

    • Education Hero says:

      5e’s mechanics are comically broken due to the math not working at all.

      A more in-depth breakdown of 5e’s failures can be found here.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        OK, so 5E forces a player to play “mother may I” with the DM to get henchmen and Corporate Buzzword makes henchmen and hirelings possibly more powerful than Old School D&D.
        … unless they’re a Necromancer, who gets to break the system by spending 3rd level spell slots on an army.

        That’s still leaps and bounds less broken than the class system and feats in 3.5 … where most options you could write on your character sheet would be unfun to play if another player writes “Druid.”

        • Education Hero says:

          To clarify, by “broken”, I’m referring to the system not producing sensible/usable results, rather than overpowered.

          Individual options in 3.5 were overpowered, but the core system math at least makes sense in most cases.

          By contrast, in 5e:
          – bounded accuracy prevents scaling beyond level 1
          – bounded accuracy breaks combat between numerically mismatched opponents
          – encounter design doesn’t work; xp budgets produce absurdly varying challenges and CR’s are seemingly random
          – hit point bloat is worse than ever
          – exception-based monster design kills consistency between players and monsters
          – large chunks of rules are just completely missing, so you either use 3.5 rules or the DM just makes it up

          I get that 5e’s “rules-light” approach is appealing to casual players, but while a group that wishes to play Magic Tea Party can do so with an inadequate rule set, a group that wants workable rules has no recourse. If game designers can’t provide you with math that works, then what are you paying them for when you buy the game?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Great question, but I don’t think 3.5 is the answer. I say from experience running it from Level 1 to early Epic that it treats the DM as a CPU for processing the Rules As Written even though the wildly unbalanced range of outputs different RAW options produce can easily make individual players ragequit. So instead of using the rules as tools to tell a story, you become a feelings-management specialist who also has to do an ungodly amount of session prep in the role of a CPU powerless to change anything for the sake of your setting.

          • Education Hero says:

            I don’t think 3.5 isn’t the answer, either, but I do think it’s closer to the answer than 5e.

            To put it another way, were I to work on 6e, I would backtrack from 5e to 3.5 and try to develop from there, just as 5e backtracked to 3.5 rather than working from 4e.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Wait, there are game systems where handling a group isn’t about feelings management? What are these game systems, and where do you get them? (I get what you’re trying to say, but frankly, problems with the rules are far down on the list of problems with my gaming group).

            @Education Hero

            Is consistency between players and monsters a good thing? It can create a lot of work for the GM. One of the things I like about retro clones is that it is generally very easy and quick to make monsters and NPCs without player classes (I pretty much ignore player classes for NPCs, honestly).

          • Education Hero says:

            Is consistency between players and monsters a good thing? It can create a lot of work for the GM. One of the things I like about retro clones is that it is generally very easy and quick to make monsters and NPCs without player classes (I pretty much ignore player classes for NPCs, honestly).

            Consistency doesn’t require for monsters to use player classes, but you lose quite a lot of storytelling verisimilitude when NPC human wizards don’t follow any of the same rules as PC human wizards.

            Dispensing with rules to make something up on the fly is always an option for DMs, but again, if I’m paying game designers to provide me with TTRPG monsters, then I expect the statblocks and descriptions to provide some storytelling value rather than look like something out of an MMO. This is especially true if a previous edition figured out how to do this 18 years ago, and a newer edition breaks this for no discernable gain.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Let me put it a different way. 2nd Ed and previous had monsters running under different rules than PCs. They didn’t have stats, for example. Having everyone using the same rules had some advantages – it let you use monsters as PCs pretty easily, and it let you give monsters class levels. But it introduced a fair bit of complication in adventure design, etc.

            With regard to NPCs, they follow the same rules as monsters – but rather than building a level whatever wizard from the ground up (simpler in most retro clones than 3rd ed onwards) I just say that the NPC is however many hit dice and say that they cast spells as a wizard of however many levels.

            In 3rd onwards there isn’t really an option to just throw some numbers on the page. I thought of running something in d20 Modern (which was a bad idea for other ideas, such as d20M being terribly balanced, but bear with me) and gave up when I realized the amount of time it would make to create NPCs was just not worth the benefits of using the system.

            Using the same system to create and advance PCs as to create and advance everything else runs into a problem – each player usually only has one PC, and can afford to devote a great deal of time to them; the PCs are always present in the adventure, so taking a bit more time to give them more interesting abilities or more variation or whatever is often worth the time (I tend towards the low end of how complicated I think this should get, but I wouldn’t just say “OK you’re 3HD your attack bonuses and saves are calculated thusly”) but following the same level of complexity and so on for every NPC that must be created makes a lot of trouble for the GM.

            Some systems can use the same rules without a problem, but these are generally systems without classes and levels, and additionally within that category don’t make an attempt to put a points value on everything (like, say, GURPS does). Making an NPC in Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green is very easy, and even then sometimes I cheat by just saying “the cop has all 12s in his stats and 60% in everything he’d realistically be good at, 40% at everything he’d be OK at, 20% for everything else” or similar.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @dndnrsn:

            Wait, there are game systems where handling a group isn’t about feelings management? What are these game systems, and where do you get them? (I get what you’re trying to say, but frankly, problems with the rules are far down on the list of problems with my gaming group).

            Handling a social group from a position of authority is definitely about feelings management, but 3.X D&D is in a special space for me because the DM trying to either change the Rules As Written or execute them logically offends players, IME.

            Exhibit A: I initially ignored the Wealth By Level table and tried to give a mix of mundane treasure and minor magic items that didn’t tonally clash with Greek mythology. Then a player pointed out to me that this was unfun because loot that was realistic for the world was leaving them gold-starved, which prevented him from crafting the party the Magic Christmas Tree ornaments the CR system assumed they’d have (he was crafting for everyone because he was a Cleric* – caster supremacy!)

            Exhibit B: Once I started generating monster’s loot BtB, I had a player threaten to quit if I didn’t remove the Monk’s Belt from a devil with a high Wisdom score mid-combat, because it made them too hard to hit and the party already had all the Monk’s Belts they wanted, and the other two players said he was in the right.

            After running ~85 sessions of that campaign, I loathe 3.X from the DM side. I would play it for the lulz when it’s what someone I know wanted to run, but I’d be conscious of the extra burden it placed on me to help other players optimize so I wasn’t the only one having fun.

            *Another player had a Bard and took a Wizard cohort at Level 6. She had the decency NOT to have the cohort craft, which is RAW-legal as far as I can see but breaks the game because cohorts never lose or gain XP; they automatically gain or lose levels based on the higher-level PC’s leadership score.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’ve had people get pissy over rules, but it’s mostly larger-scale stuff than that. By and large the biggest problems tend either to be the other guy who GMs instinctively railroading (to the point where he will say “ok, you guys are complaining I railroad, so this scenario is more freeform” and then it’s another railroad, just by a different method) or more basic interpersonal issues (the sort that happen gaming or no).

          • Education Hero says:

            Using the same system to create and advance PCs as to create and advance everything else runs into a problem – each player usually only has one PC, and can afford to devote a great deal of time to them; the PCs are always present in the adventure, so taking a bit more time to give them more interesting abilities or more variation or whatever is often worth the time (I tend towards the low end of how complicated I think this should get, but I wouldn’t just say “OK you’re 3HD your attack bonuses and saves are calculated thusly”) but following the same level of complexity and so on for every NPC that must be created makes a lot of trouble for the GM.

            I agree that this is one downside.

            At the same time, I think it’s reasonably surmountable by providing plenty of premade monster and NPC statblocks for less experienced DMs, while experienced DMs can either quickly create complex NPCs or “quick create” simplified versions in the manner that you described.

            By contrast, I don’t want to pay WotC for simplified stat blocks when they should be providing me with complete ones.

            And yes, I do agree that the overall complexity and fiddliness of 3.X is too high, and would benefit from streamlining that would help both with the NPC design issue, as well as other issues like overly wide windows for optimization.

          • Montfort says:

            @LMC:

            to respond to your footnote, it’s legal to have your cohorts craft, but by the book cohorts do gain and lose experience. XP gain follows a somewhat arcane procedure detailed here, which ensures that the cohort doesn’t “catch up” unless the leader loses XP. So if the wizard cohort crafts 1000XP worth of gear, it stays (at least) that extra 1000XP behind the PC in addition to whatever the level difference was before crafting.

            Followers, on the other hand, don’t gain experience. They probably can lose experience, but AFAIK are not guaranteed to be PC classes at all, let alone crafting-capable. There’s a fair bit of latitude here for the DM, though, since the rules aren’t super clear.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Education Hero

            Even as an experienced GM, I found the number crunching involved in creating a high-level NPC a drag (I was going to make a couple of 10th level d20M NPCs to serve as patrons/quest-givers for a Cthulhu campaign; very quickly said screw it and just went back to BRP). The problem with using a cheating method is there’s no guidelines on how to do it, and generally, D&D has been really bad at explaining why the rules are the way they are – it’s a paint-by-numbers approach instead of explaining the reason to have a higher or lower attack bonus, etc.

            Nobody really had a problem with paying TSR for the 1st or 2nd Ed MM’s, which had relatively simple stat blocks. A radically simplified D&D would likely be one book, anyway, so the sting of having to drop $150 on three books would go away.

            It would actually be really nice to see something like the way that B/X and BECMI were multiple books going by level instead of topic; if you could get the first 3 or 5 levels for $20, get the next book when you hit that level, etc. I think that could conceivably be a better business approach than the three-book set, which is a holdover from AD&D, where at least originally the Holmes book was meant to funnel players to 1st Ed. B/X and BECMI both made gestures towards AD&D, although they were both more complete and more their own thing than Holmes’ was.

          • Education Hero says:

            3.X did a better job explaining its approach to monster design than other editions, but I agree that too much of it had to be inferred through pattern-recognition skills or hunted down in web articles.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I think a good example of doing a good job of explaining why things work the way they work, and how the GM should use the system, is the various GUMSHOE games. The Esoterrorists especially does a good job of this. While I don’t like a lot of the choices that GUMSHOE makes (I find that the points-spend aspect breaks immersion in the same way 4th Ed’s powers do, and the way investigative powers work is unclear and leads to weird player decision-making) I do like that it explains “this is why we did things this way, this is what the game is supposed to do, and this is how the GM should handle all this” in a very direct, no-BS way. Even if you never run a GUMSHOE game (I haven’t), the GM advice is generally pretty good.

            D&D, in comparison, never really seems to sit down and tell you “these are the tradeoffs we made, this is what the game is supposed to do, and this is how you should handle it” – instead, there’s always the pretence that what they’ve put together is the perfect game, no drawbacks, no need to keep in mind what it can and can’t do. 4th Ed was really bad for this – they turned it into a skirmish game, and never really came out and told you that; instead they just sorta pretended that it was the same thing as last time, but better balanced.

            EDIT: In general, the standard of this in the RPG industry is bad. There’s a lot of free stuff online that’s better at telling you what you should and shouldn’t do in running a game, than the “how to run a game” section in the back of the book.

          • Education Hero says:

            In general, the standard of this in the RPG industry is bad. There’s a lot of free stuff online that’s better at telling you what you should and shouldn’t do in running a game, than the “how to run a game” section in the back of the book.

            Definitely. It’s pretty telling about the state of the industry when amateurs frequently do a better job than the professionals.

      • dndnrsn says:

        5th Ed has a bunch of problems, but it’s my “crowd-pleaser” option. Were you to hand me a bunch of people who had never gamed before, I would probably go with 5th Ed. I’d be tempted by B/X or some similar retroclone, but explaining when you roll high and when you roll low, that some things get better as they go up and some things get lower as they go up, etc, is a hassle with people who have later RPG experience (one thing I will say about 2nd Ed – learning to play with it as a kid made me good at figuring out rules). So, I wouldn’t want to do that with a bunch of random non-gamers. Nor would I want to hand-hold them through picking fighter feats in a way they won’t be crappy later, or whatever.

        Once we’d gamed enough that the problems with 5th became apparent, that’s when I open up my coat and take out my wretched house-ruled retroclone mess and say “pssst… ya wanna play a REAL game?” Or I just bust out Delta Green.

        Most people want to play Magic Tea Party, or more charitably, Cops and Robbers but with a way to handle it when one kid says he shot the other and the other says nuh-uh. Ain’t nothing wrong with casual gamers; the design teams have mortgages to pay. Any RPG is going to have some level of GM fiat, “mother may I”, at one point or another – systems with less have their merits, but you can’t have none. The only way you can escape that is by having a game that is entirely “self-contained” like a board game or a wargame.

        • Education Hero says:

          I agree that the “rules-light” aspect of 5e would make it easier for novice gamers.

          As an experienced DM, however, I would run those players through a rules-light 3.5 campaign instead, and I believe that this is the direction 5e should have gone down instead of allowing innumerate designers to rework the math.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The biggest problem with 5th Ed is the compression of AC, attack bonus, etc. Is that innumeracy, or just a design choice (in my view, a bad one)?

          • Education Hero says:

            That would be the “bounded accuracy” concept that they introduced.

            It’s indeed a bad design choice, but one rooted in innumeracy (plus a failure to playtest properly, despite all the hype around D&D Next playtesting). Some applied mathematical thinking should have revealed that unbounded accuracy interacts poorly with larger numbers of combatants and breaks the skill system even with bog-standard tasks (I suspect that their realization that the numbers don’t work is partly why they left out a lot of rules in favor of “the DM may or may not allow you to make a roll, at a DC they pull from their behind”).

            The innumeracy shows up in other things, like ridiculously unbalanced monsters (banshees, mind flayers, devourers, hobgoblins, satyrs, etc) and encounter design that really wants to dogpile onto a single creature with CR equal to the party’s level (and wobbling at equal numbers). For an egregious example, take a look at the following analysis of some CR 4 monsters (note that the failure to balance, say, DPS is essentially a failure of algebra):

            The Gnoll Fang of Yeenoghu has 65 hit points and an AC of 14. He also has three attacks at +5 to-hit for reasons, two for d8+3 and one for d6+3 damage. He is almost literally the same as having three standard Gnolls, who each have 22 hit points and an AC of 15, having one attack each at +4 for d6+2 damage with a bonus attack that does d4+2 damage. The bulge this guy has over a group of 3 standard gnolls is very small, and he’s clearly and obviously less threatening than 4. But because he is CR 4, he takes the place of eleven standard Gnolls.

            The Lamia is a spellcaster who has charm person, geas, suggestion, and scrying with a few charges per day. The DC is only 13, but that’s pretty hard core. Also it has major image with an unlimited number of charges per day, which basically means you probably can’t fight it at all until she runs through her entire complement of seven mind affecting enchantments and could very plausibly also use its intoxicating touch that gives disadvantage on Will saves before doing that. I mean, very clearly the authors have no idea how ridiculously powerful at will major image is, but whatevers. After it runs through its spells and has a significant chance of straight up charming the entire party, it then personally has 97 hit points and an AC of 13 and gets two attacks at +5 for 2d10+3 and d4+3 (yes, one of it’s attacks is three times the size of the other, fucking deal with it). Despite being basically better than the Fang of Yeenoghu even in a straight fight and also having a very powerful set of spells that has a good chance of straight up enslaving the whole party, this is also a simple CR 4 with the same XP budget as the Fang.

            The Lizard King is a proper bruiser. 78 hit points, AC 15. Gets two attacks at +5 to-hit for d8+3 damage and if either or both of them hit it does an extra 3d6 life drain where the target takes 3d6 damage and the Lizard King gets 3d6 temp hit points.

            I’m not getting into the nitty gritty bullshit of alternate forms, but the 78 hit point Wereboar and the 120 hit point Weretiger are both CR 4.

            The Bone Naga is either a 5th level Cleric or a 5th level Wizard as a caster, and either way it has 58 hit points and an AC of 15. Also it has a poison bite that is +5 to-hit and does 5d6+3 damage (3d6 of which is poison damage if you care – which generally speaking you will not). Obviously it’s way more threatening for a damage dealing monster to cast lightning bolt than bestow curse, and you’ll note that for the same casters on the PC side one is a cloth wearer and the other is not. But there’s no change in threat level depending on whether it has evocations or not.

            The Black Pudding has 85 hit points and AC 7, which isn’t all that impressive, but it’s essentially immune to non-magical melee weapons and lots of spell types, which severely limits what you can do about it. Also it attacks at +5 for d6+3+4d8 damage.

            So what’s the take home? The Monster Manual is incredibly disciplined about making sure all the monsters have exactly +5 to-hit. But damage per round is still all over the fucking place because those attackers are sometimes doing 3 dice of total damage if everything hits and sometimes doing 5, and some of those dice are d4s and some are d10s. And the defenses are simply all over the place as well. And of course, as far as I can tell monsters are paying absolutely nothing for special abilities like “is a 5th level caster” which is not remotely defensible.

            The fact that there’s a distint number for a creature’s challenge rating and for their XP value means that at some point someone had the idea of setting Challenge ratings based on where creatures fit on the bounded accuracy treadmill and setting XP value based on how much of the encounter they were supposed to be – essentially like how 4th edition had Level 4 Minions and Level Elites. But then that was too much work and they ended up just assigning identical XP values to everything at each CR. Which makes the XP budget spending thing a completely pointless set of extra math and also gives us situations like where the Lizard King is just massively massively more threatening than the Fang of fucking Yeenoghu and they both have the same CR because they both have +5 to-hit with their grossly differently threatening attacks.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The play testing for 3rd was really good. I wonder what went wrong after then? I don’t know if 3.5th got a lot of play testing, but it wasn’t that different from 3rd. I gather that play testing for 4th Ed was based around giving specific scenarios to play testers, or something like that.

            (I haven’t been through the MM fully, and one thing that strikes me is how damn high the HP totals are)

          • Education Hero says:

            As best as I can tell, what went wrong is that they broke up the team composed of Monte Cook, Skip Williams, and Jonathan Tweet. Numerate, rationalist TTRPG designers that care about mechanics are hard to come by since the video gaming industry draws in most such talent, and it’s even tougher to build a talented team that works well together.

            Mike Mearls, who has been at the helm for 4th and 5e, actually gathered significant playtesting for both, but wasted it by either constraining the playtesting to limited scenarios(as you noted), making excuses for bad mechanics to preserve his sacred cows, and outright ignoring playtesting by implementing untested and unasked for changes at the end.

          • DeWitt says:

            Monte Cook

            I dunno that I’d call the one guy who loves his quadratic wizards more than anyone rationalist. He’s done it in D&D, he did it in Numenera, if anything I think 5th ed would be much worse off if he’d have been involved.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            It’s a common sentiment that Monte Cook thinks you deserve to be heavily rewarded for writing “Wizard” or “Cleric” on your character sheet because casters are nerds and Fighters are jocks.

          • DeWitt says:

            That, pretty much.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Education Hero

            What are people’s beefs with Mearls? I kinda stopped paying attention to D&D for several years and played other stuff.

            @DeWitt

            Is that really a factor in Numenera? I played a bit of it, and the wizard-equivalents didn’t seem wildly OP. Then again, I’ve mostly played a bit. My complaints about that game are mostly setting-related: it makes a big deal about how weird and strange the setting is and how the artifacts are bizarre, then gives the PCs powers and artifacts from the start, kind of spoiling the effect.

          • Education Hero says:

            I don’t believe that the Cook/Williams/Tweet team was perfect by any means. However, the team did better a job at designing mechanics than subsequent attempts.

            I agree that Cook loves casters a bit too much, but that’s a common failing due to the typical personality profile of a game designer (c.f. the historical design of blue in MtG, or Mages in WoD), and Williams and Tweet did appear to keep that somewhat in check. Pathfinder and 5e are even more caster-y editions than 3.X.

          • Education Hero says:

            @dndnrsn

            What are people’s beefs with Mearls? I kinda stopped paying attention to D&D for several years and played other stuff.

            – He spent an incredibly long time not making any progress on 5e. He was promoted to head of R&D and stopped writing articles on August/September 2011, made dozens of unrelated playtest documents from 2012-2014 that built from nothing and led to nothing, before finally releasing 5e in August/September 2014. This was in spite of the fact that 5e draws heavily from previous editions, and most of its new (and poorly designed/tested) features were added late in the development cycle. So what was Mearls doing for almost 3 years?

            – He ignores feedback. When confronted with detailed and mathematically supported criticisms of 4e’s skill challenges, he refused to address arguments and instead threw out ad hominems. He essentially ragequit out of of the D&D Next public playtesting when he could no longer parse the feedback through his confirmation bias.

            – He communicates publicly in a deceptive manner. During 4e, he had stuff like making extra tiny print runs so that he could truthfully claim they had gone through X many print runs, giving people half-off when purchasing through Amazon and then using Amazon sales to extrapolate total sales. With 5e, he’s made deceptive claims like “5e lifetime PHB sales > 3, 3.5, 4 lifetime” and only later clarifying that he meant each edition individually (and without disclosing that, as later investigation revealed, he was double-counting 5e’s PHB by including the free pdf included with each hardcover).

            – He enshrines Magic Tea Party into the rules, from 4e’s “you can’t attack walls if the DM says you can’t” to his defense of 5e’s bounded accuracy with skill challenges leading to DM’s randomly deciding whether you succeed or fail.

            – He demonstrates Cha 3 in his social media appearances. He comes off as a disruptive player: during the 4e preview podcasts, he shows up with a fourth-wall breaking joke character which he roleplays with an irritating in-character voice.

            – He’s deliberately memory-holed a lot of his embarrassing moments by taking his articles, etc down from the WotC website.

          • DeWitt says:

            Is that really a factor in Numenera? I played a bit of it, and the wizard-equivalents didn’t seem wildly OP.

            Yeah. It’s not so bad when you play a bit, just as playing 3.5 from lvl 1-4 makes wizard seem fine, but at later stages of play you become a machine god or Thor or what have you while your fighting buddy gets to swing his weapon about a little better.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Is “magic-users better” because game designers are nerds, and wizards are nerds, or is it because adding new powers is harder to balance than increasing a power?

          • DeWitt says:

            In the case of Monte Cook, at least, it is very much deliberate wizardly adoration from the man himself. It’s not a secret, it’s almost endearing when you look at the way he writes, but it does not for good game design make.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Apropos of nothing, but: it would be cool to run 3rd or 3.5th with the “NPC only” classes in the DMG, sans the magic-user one (so, warrior and expert?) and let them get their hands on spells from Call of Cthulhu d20. Low-magic, low-power fantasy world, where all the gods are Lovecraftian monstrosities, and all the magic is mind- and body-damaging sorcery you’re best off without.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’ve only ever run into, like, five people that’ve played it, but I was pretty impressed with Call of Cthulhu d20. It’s got some of the d20 weirdness going on, but it’s a solid adaptation overall, and the sample adventures in the back are very good.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It’s a solid adaptation and features much-better-than-usual advice on putting an investigative scenario together. The section that talks about the Mythos is also really good.

    • Tarpitz says:

      AD&D2e, and just throw out the bits you don’t like (level caps, for example).

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      People who prefer 3.X D&D:

      I want to play a Druid. Race is Anthropomorphic Bat (-4 Str +6 Wis -2 Cha, small, 5 ft/fly 20 ft average, blindsense EX) if the DM allows Savage Species, otherwise Gnome for +2 CON & small (to ride my Riding Dog until Level 5). I use my Wealth By Level to buy a Wand of Cure Light Wounds ASAP so I can heal other PCs.
      At Level 3, I bring up the issue that Druids are entitled to swap out their Animal Companion for a more powerful model at Level 4, 7, etc. and how abandoning my doggo is not very nice in-character, so may I take the feat Wild Cohort from WotC’s website?
      At Level 4, I can take a Black Bear, Crocodile, or my first big cat as AC. I xerox my character sheet.
      At Level 5, I can Wildshape into the same species as my AC and Share Spells.
      At Level 6, I take Leadership as my feat and present my Level 4 character sheet with a different name in the Name field as my cohort (I come from a big family and all my siblings are Druids).

      How do you keep the campaign fun for my fellow players besides the Wizard?

      • Education Hero says:

        – We will be using modified 3.5 rules, so we will disregard Savage Species because it is both 3.0 and terribly designed.

        – For the sake of both TTRPG logistics and equalizing playtime, we will only permit you to use one cohort/companion/mount/hireling/etc in combat. Additional allies can be swapped in and out and used for story-based advantages (e.g. using mounts for travel or a leadership army to run a base of operations).

        – As an experienced optimizer myself, I will assist the other players to ensure their characters have comparable combat capabilities as your druid, if not the same out-of-combat utility. This will entail recommending optimized builds (e.g. Gatling Chain Gun Tripper fighter instead of sword-and-board), more optimal choices with similar flavor (e.g. warblade instead of fighter), and DM-approved modifications (e.g. the Tome fighter instead of the PHB fighter).

        – I will adapt the lethality and optimization level of your opposition, as well as the noncombat challenges, to match the capabilities of your highly tuned party.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          – We will be using modified 3.5 rules, so we will disregard Savage Species because it is both 3.0 and terribly designed.

          Totally fair. Savage Species, the website feat Wild Cohort, or world-specific exploits (being from Breland in an Eberron campaign, etc.) are just nuts on the sundae of being a 3.5 Druid.

          – For the sake of both TTRPG logistics and equalizing playtime, we will only permit you to use one cohort/companion/mount/hireling/etc for combat purposes. Additional allies can be swapped in and out and used for story-based advantages (e.g. using mounts for travel or a leadership army to run a base of operations).

          ??? I don’t get this part. Players who write “Leadership” on their character sheet at Level 6 get a cohort to take into combat, unless they’re a Druid or Paladin?

          • Education Hero says:

            You can take a cohort or your animal companion/special mount into combat, but not both at the same time.

            This will prevent the logistical and equal play time challenges of giving a player more than two character sheets (before even factoring in mid-combat summons, etc).

            The Leadership feat will still more than pay for itself, but you are also welcome to opt for a different feat.

      • Education Hero says:

        That said, I agree with your underlying point that 3.X has overly wide windows for optimization.

        We do want to narrow this to a certain degree, e.g. exploits should be patched, overpowered character options should be nerfed, and underpowered character options should be strengthened. A lot of this will necessitate rebalancing the classes entirely.

        At the same time, we don’t want to go too far and eliminate the possibility for players to benefit from making good choices, because that’s inherently very limiting. I think Magic: The Gathering has the right approach: curbing excessive disparities while expecting players to find their own way to similar levels of optimization.

      • Montfort says:

        Just as a note, per RAW, and unlike other powerful feats like Natural Spell, Leadership comes with an explicit admonition to ask your DM first. Players who write “Leadership” down as their feat then enter into negotiations with the DM and there aren’t really rules about what you come out with other than “You’re free to disallow this feat” and “The DM determines the details of the cohort” (DMG p.106). Even if the DM decides to allow you a cohort, she is under no obligation to allow you your specific 2-levels-lower-clone cohort.

        This doesn’t bring the build down to fighter levels, by any means, and I acknowledge that keeping power levels relatively even across a party is a struggle.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          The character can attract a cohort of up to this level. Regardless of a character’s Leadership score, he can only recruit a cohort who is two or more levels lower than himself. The cohort should be equipped with gear appropriate for its level. A character can try to attract a cohort of a particular race, class, and alignment. The cohort’s alignment may not be opposed to the leader’s alignment on either the law-vs-chaos or good-vs-evil axis, and the leader takes a Leadership penalty if he recruits a cohort of an alignment different from his own.

          “Hey DM, I go to my large family of nature priest types and try to attract one of them – all my own race and class and various Neutral alignments – to adventure with me. Here’s a Level 4 Druid character sheet of my own race with a blank name field if you want to use it. The names of my sisters are Bambi, Celeste, Deirdre, and Esme. The names of my brothers are…”

          • Montfort says:

            Please read the quotes I helpfully provided for you from the 3.5 DMG.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            … I did. The character can try to attract a cohort of a particular race, class, and alignment, with a penalty for any alignment other than your own, and the DM can disallow the feat entirely or “determines the details of the cohort.” It’s not clear whether “details” include race, class, and alignment or only details less important than those three.
            If the DM allows Leadership but really wants me to have a Level 4 cohort weaker than a Druid, I suppose it collapses to a Rule 0 situation where I keep trying to attract a cohort of my own class and Neutral alignment until they tell me to stop.

          • Montfort says:

            Sorry, let me be a little more substantive. One can make a good case the “can try to attract” means the player can choose the race, class, and alignment of a cohort. The “details”, though, are presumably the actual ability scores, level, skills, feats, name, history, etc of the cohort. Hence, though you may be interested in a particular NPC, the DM is still entitled to say “ah, well, they don’t want to follow you, here, have Artur the first-level pacifist druid with a 4 CON, 6 STR, 9 WIS, and his friendly owl.”

            I mean, if the DM were going to do something that blatant and dickish, she might as well just deny you the feat, but technically it’s within RAW.

      • John Schilling says:

        How do you keep the campaign fun for my fellow players besides the Wizard?

        Set increasing amounts of the campaign in cities, which costs you 1D6 SAN/day until the rest of the party gets to have fun taking down a mad bear.

        More to the point, almost nobody really wants to play a druid. Some people want to break the game and know that playing an optimized druid is the way to do that. My first choice is to not play RPGs with these people. But, within the stock rules, Druids aren’t so badly broken below ~10th level that they can’t be sufficiently nerfed without too much trouble, and basically every version of D&D is broken above ~10th level due to the linear fighter / quadratic wizard problem.

        But we can turn the question around: How are you going to keep the campaign fun for your fellow players, and if you don’t feel like that’s a fair question, why should anyone want to play with you?

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          There’s no SAN in D&D! And there’s no crying in baseball!

          And I’m pretty sure every version of D&D is broken if you allow unrestricted choice in splatbooks and other supplemental materials, so no, no Anthropomorphic Bat or Wild Cohort for you.

          I already addressed this part. It doesn’t change much to be a Gnome and send my doggo to live with my parents in the woods when the rules offer me a more powerful animal. It’s not like the power level difference between Spirit Lion Barbarian (charge and full attack every round) and every other Barbarian.

          Also? I LIKE role playing a Druid. I find Druids and Barbs fun: as nomads or country bumpkins I can come up with their entire social history if the DM has put little effort into world-building their cities or without reading a lot of crap from a crappy published setting, because small kin-based social groups.

          • John Schilling says:

            There’s no SAN in D&D! And there’s no crying in baseball!

            There is if the DM says there is. But even if not, there’s role-playing, otherwise go play chainmail.

            And in role-playing, the moment you said “it’s not in character to abandon my dog, so can I…”, the answer was that you were stuck with a straight dog familiar for the remainder of the campaign. Among other things I can think of, some of which will approximate a daily SAN loss in urban environments.

        • John Schilling says:

          To give a less snarky and more detailed answer, and presuming I didn’t simply send you packing as an obvious munchkin:

          1. No splatbooks or special content, just a stock gnomish bard and animal companion. And no mid-campaign ursine upgrade without a compelling in-character reason, though if we somehow start at 4th level you can have the bear.

          2. Who is an NPC, not an extra PC avatar, and whom I will play as a generally loyal but snarky foil for the amusement of the other players.

          3. And who will insist on parking itself outside the tavern door loyally waiting for your return, earning a reaction penalty from the innkeeper which I will also try to manifest in amusing ways.

          4. I’ll probably let you have a druid cohort at 6th level, if we play at that level, but I’ll roll her up with a hawk familiar and no natural spell feat. And she’ll be the sort of person to constantly remind you that using nature’s bounty as tactically advantageous meat shields to further your murder-hoboism is the sort of thing that will lose you your Druid status, because it’s more fun if an NPC does that in-character than if the DM has to do it.

          5. “Communing with nature” requires a concentration check when done indoors or in any population center bigger than a hamlet, so your spell allotment may have to last more than a day.

          6. Before any of this makes you a net liability to the party, I’ll use it as a nudge to split the party so that you are investigating a secondary lead in the surrounding hills while the rest of the team investigates villainy in town.

          7. They and you will discover in parallel, across the same table, that the “secondary lead” is the primary antagonist and his minions, challenge-appropriate for the entire party and quite outclassing you and your mini-party.

          8. From there, the rest of the party gets an entertaining romp through town and country to see if they can rescue you in time, and you get the interesting challenge of trying to delay the efforts of a superior foe to e.g. burn down the tree in which you have taken temporary refuge.

          9. By the time of the climactic battle, your best buffs will have expired and everyone should be able to contribute relatively equally.

          10. Unless you were too foolish to climb the tree and wait, or your friends didn’t care to rescue you, in which case the next adventure will be based on avenging your first character’s death.

          That should I think be adequately entertaining for everyone.

    • Perico says:

      Here is a bit of background:
      – Played a bit of AD&D in the 90s, but never managed to get a long term campaign
      – Played a hell of a lot of 3/3.5 in my university days. Very little DM’ing, though
      – Got very involved with 4E, alternating as player and DM in a campaign that lasted until mid-Paragon, and a bunch of shorter games. Spent a lot of time in DM-related forums and blogs at this point.
      – Tried a couple sessions of the 5E beta, but never got hooked.

      4E is the edition for me. I am well aware that it has a bunch of flaws that are dealbreakers for many people, and I don’t think there’s a way around that: either you can ignore these, or they make you see the game as Literally the Worst, Probably not a Real RPG and Definitely Not D&D, etc. The game is not big on immersion, daily powers for fighters are too silly, there’s too much emphasis on combat, and a grid map with minis is just not what a lot of players want from their roleplaying session.

      I cannot refute any of these issues (not to a point that would convince someone who feels strongly about them, anyway), so I’ll just say that they never bothered me very much, and that my gaming group managed to enjoy the game despite them. In all, 4E is a niche game, only suitable for some players. I’m fine with that.

      On to the good stuff: I’m utterly in love with 4E combat. I find knocking monsters off ledges and lining up good fireballs to be extremely satisfying mechanics. Minion monsters, while not a wholly original idea, are a great fit. The resource management, enemy variety and overall balance are in pretty good shape, too (though more on that below). And I really liked how little preparation work was required from the DM.

      Balance-wise, I really like that the game had well defined and reasonable rules for what monster stats should look like. Granted, they missed the mark the first time and it took them a few years and a bunch of patches to get it right, but the revised guidelines meet most of the requirements I’d like to see in a monster/encounter generation system. Likewise, PC power level was kept within fairly narrow boundaries. Inevitably, things could get out of hand with enough optimization, but the worst cases looked more like ‘My PC deals 4 times more damage than I should’ rather than ‘My PC is an unholy aberration that can destroy galaxies single-handed’.

      That said, what one player sees as virtues can be drawbacks for others. For me, the systematic approach to building characters and monsters is balanced, elegant, and extremely cool. For others, it’s too bland, homogeneous and lazy. At the end of the day, it’s down to aesthetic preferences.

      Then there are the parts that are not that great, even for a convinced fan. The skill system is mediocre – not particularly worse than 3E’s, but I never cared for that one either. Skill challenges are an exciting idea that never lived up to its potential, though I still haven’t given up on the hope that some will eventually get a workable implementation. The economy isn’t anything to write home about – the framework for handing out rewards is fine, but most magic items are unexciting, and the generous crafting rules mean that you’re usually better off dusting whatever you get to craft the really good stuff. And as usual, the whole resource system hinges on the good will of PCs, since the optimal strategy is going to rest after the first encounter of the day, and nothing in the rules prevents that. That is one of the few D&D traditions that 4E preserved.

      And then you have D&D Insider (rest in peace). Building a character was easy enough with the digital tools, but quite the pain without. I wouldn’t recommend running this game unless you can get a copy of the software.

      So 4E is my favourite D&D edition. Is it the best? Who knows, I’m a terrible Culture Edition Warrior. 3.5 Is a pretty good game, which I enjoyed it for a good 7 years before getting tired of it – and it developed such a faithful fanbase that it remains commercially viable (as a spinoff) a decade after WoTC killed it. 5E didn’t do it for me, but as far as I can tell it’s been quite successful. And as much as I hate the rules for AD&D, that period brought us a lot of cool settings, and the best video game adaptations by far.

      • dndnrsn says:

        I’ll agree that one thing 4th Ed does well is movement within combat. It’s the only system that’s had a way to back your opponent off a cliff in a sword fight that isn’t horrendously clunky (SIFRP tried, but it was a mess, just like most everything else in SIFRP).

        I’d disagree that there’s nothing to prevent “one combat then rest” – wandering monsters prevent that, or at least make it a suboptimal strategy.

    • Plumber says:

      The 48 pages of the 1977 Holmes “bluebook” Basic rules D&D was my first “role-playing game” (how I hate that label, I much “Adventure game”), and I still regard it as the best.

      Besides the “bluebook” I’ve played Original + supplements (Greyhawk, et cetera), 1e AD&D, a tiny bit of ’81 Molvay B/X and “5th edition” (ir isn’t the 5th, that would be the ’91 “black box” WotC mangled the editions when they labelled their first version of their D&D “3rd edition”), and I’ve only glanced at 2e and 4e, but I’ve read a lot of 3 e, 3.5 (and Pathfinder).

      The strength of WotC “5e” is attracting new players, the weakness is in attracting new DM’s, because of it’s complexity.

      You can easily play 5e WD&D (just play a “Champion” Fighter), but DM’ing it is chore (unless you red line many options).

      The 1977 Holmes bluebook invited you to DM, and you need DM’s to play!

      The other versions of TSR BD&D are pretty good as well (original edition was the most fun for me to play, but it needed to be translated into clearer english before I could DM it!).

      As much as I loved it, AD&D was unnecessary, it should have been kept one game.

      I’ve barely glanced at 2e and 4e so I’ll ignore them, and address 3e and 3.5:

      I hate them.

      First off Wizards of the Coast owes me a refund for coming out with 3.5 and 4e so soon after I bought 3e!

      Next, the Fighter class should be simple, instead I have to choose a “Feat”!

      I hate that requirement of choosing Feats (5e made them optional).

      Next, Wizards are way to powerful, way too fast, D&D should be Aragorn, Conan, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser not Doctor Strange!

      And “Prestige Classes”?!

      If I’m invited to play any version of TSR D&D that is my first choice long term (from my glances at it 2e looks close to the D&D that I knew), so few play 4e that there’s no reason for me to bother to learn the rules, 5e is fun to play at low levels, but you level up too quickly for my tastes, and it’s too complex to DM.

      3.5?

      Too complex to play and as for DM’ing it?

      Never!

      • Randy M says:

        Next, the Fighter class should be simple, instead I have to choose a “Feat”!

        so few play 4e that there’s no reason for me to bother to learn the rules

        Yeah, that’s a good call for you.

  24. dark orchid says:

    In the last culture-war free thread, I posted:

    Today I learnt: the PUA community has a term “fool’s mate” for – it seems to me – exactly one of the examples of what the other side calls rape culture. “Drunk, alone and will be mad or embarrassed about it later … [guaranteed] not to last for more than one night” sounds like rape to me.

    By request of keranih, I repost it here.

    • Randy M says:

      Who is the fool in that formulation?

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think it’s best understood as “fools’ mate” — that is, they’re both fools.

        • dark orchid says:

          I don’t read it that way. Fool’s mate in chess occurs when one person is a fool and the other plays exactly the right counter-moves in that situation.

          The way I read it is that the PUA is “scoring a win” (the article goes on to say “a lay is a lay”), but they’re scoring an easy win against the “lowest difficulty opponent possible”. To continue with the metaphor, being able to complete the game on super-easy mode doesn’t make you a good player, and doesn’t even count as proper levelling up. (I dislike this terminology a lot personally, but it reflects my biases on how I think a PUA would view the situation.)

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            That seems to be the usage. Per quick google, this is the in-context use:
            “I didn’t even have to run any game to fclose that blonde last night. It was fool’s mate.”

          • A1987dM says:

            As a C programmer, “fclose” gives me pretty much the opposite connotation than intended.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Terming as “rape” what the PUAs are calling “fool’s mate” denies the women involved their agency. They’re out looking to have sex same as the men are; that’s what makes it so easy. It’s probably not a good thing to have sex you reasonably believe your partner will regret, but it’s not rape. Further, the term implies that while the wiser PUA (who does not engage in “fool’s mate”) knows she will regret it, the fool himself does not.

      • Well... says:

        Further, the term implies that while the wiser PUA (who does not engage in “fool’s mate”) knows she will regret it, the fool himself does not.

        The chess metaphor doesn’t map that way. The “fool” in chess is the person who moves 1.f3 and then 2.g4. In sex with strangers you meet at bars pick-up “artistry”, the “fool” is the drunk solo woman, not the PUA who takes advantage of her.

        Which is confusing because the whole PUA thing is foolish to begin with.

    • veeloxtrox says:

      Similar to The Nybbler I would say fool’s mate say probably falls into doing something immoral but is not rape. This is working on the assumption that drunk isn’t black out drunk but make dumb decisions drunk. I would put it in the same realm of wrong as talking a drunk person into a sucker bet for $50. Is it wrong? Yea. Is the “victim” blameless? No. Should we make it illegal? No. Should we discourage people from doing it? Yes.

      • Tarpitz says:

        I assume that the “Fool’s mate” formulation implies relative sobriety on the part of the, uh, mater. If so, I agree that this is contemptible behaviour but should not be criminalised.

        I would contend, though, that the majority of cases of drunken sex involving females who will subsequently regret it involve uncalculating drunken males, who often also regret it, and who are equally unlikely to anticipate any possible regret on their own part or their partner’s. Such incidents, it seems to me, are an unfortunate side effect of heavy drinking much like hangovers, and should attract roughly whatever degree of blame you assign to heavy drinking tout court.

        • dark orchid says:

          Why shouldn’t it be criminalised? (The situation in your first paragraph, not that in the second.)

          The steelperson version of the social justice argument is that the harm done to the woman in this kind of situation is large enough to justify making it an offence. As far as I can tell, people who have been on the receiving end of such behaviour tend to want a law against it.

          • Randy M says:

            Why shouldn’t it be criminalised?

            Taking this seriously, what would the law look like?
            “You may not have intercourse with a woman who you suspect has impaired judgment due to intoxication?” Too subjective. “You may not have intercourse with a woman who has a blood alcohol level about .08%”? How is this going to be checked if she doesn’t regret it until sober? “You may not have intercourse with a woman who is drunk, as determined by her feelings the next day.” Sounds mighty prone to abuse.
            “You may not have intercourse without express written consent given in the presence of a witness and a BAC breathalizer test.” Will never be followed, and so only exists for abuse.

            As far as I can tell, people who have been on the receiving end of such behaviour tend to want a law against it.

            That’s the standard? Someone once said “there ought to be a law”?

          • Thegnskald says:

            Short version:

            Because alcohol is frequently used as an excuse to engage in lower-inhibition behavior. (See studies on behavior when people are provided non-alcoholic beverages that they believe are alcoholic.)

            It will be effectively impossible to disentangle the two sets of behaviors. How do you tell the difference between a woman who wants to have sex, but owing to her socially-inculcated attitudes towards sex uses alcohol in order to justify it to herself, and a woman who… what, doesn’t understand what alcohol does?

            And who, exactly, are we trying to protect? Women who don’t know there are men who will offer them alcohol in order to get them into a state in which they are more willing to have sex? I suspect this is a sufficiently empty set that it makes no sense to enact society-wide restrictions on behavior to solve the problem.

          • John Schilling says:

            And who, exactly, are we trying to protect? […] A woman who… what, doesn’t understand what alcohol does?

            From some of what I have read, this is a disturbingly large set for women in their late teens and early twenties. I don’t think that a law is the appropriate way to protect such women, unless maybe it’s one that opens a legal path for learning what alcohol does in a safer and more controlled environment than a frat party.

          • dark orchid says:

            To the commenters who have replied:

            I am being serious, yes.

            I find it interesting that in many ways I feel close to the rationalist community – like preferring truth over “a member of my ingroup said it”, the kind of “nerdy” things I like – but on the issue of culture war, I’m much closer to the moderate side of social justice (yes we exist) than the average person here (as it seems to me). Possibly different filter bubbles as much as different worldviews?

            That doesn’t mean I endorse extremists who claim to be fighting for the same social justice goals as I have, which as far as I can tell are just the usual percentage of people for whom it’s simply about power and getting satisfaction out of hurting others, and social justice is what they’re currently latched on to (despite the sarcasm of hurting people in the name of making the world a better place).

            If I’m being a net drain on the community here, please tell me to stop. It won’t make me any worse off to not talk about my views on the culture war here.

            The thing is, I feel that there’s something deeply wrong with the current unwritten rules for – let’s say “college dating”. I agree that the model of “don’t have sex with someone until in a publicly affirmed long-term relationship” is no longer appropriate for everyone. But I think society should be putting more thought into working out a better model, and laws can be both an effective behaviour-changer for the better and an incredilby blunt instrument for the worse. Examples of the former might be seatbelt laws and banning smoking in restaurants; examples of the latter include Prohibition and pretty much every blasphemy law ever. Yet my gut feeling – definitely biased by seeing the harm some of my close friends have suffered – is that I’d be willing to try more legal regulation despite the risks, and can imagine such laws doing more good than harm.

            Replying to Randy M:

            I honestly don’t know what such a law would look like, and I’d expect it to end up similarly blunt as the one defining age of consent. In principle, I think coming up with a good law is possible for people with more experience than me on this matter. (And yes, “a group of people demanded a law on something, so we made one” is one of the ways that laws get made.)

            Replying to Thegnskald: I think of it not so much as trying to protect a particular group as changing the current social convention – ideally to one better for all parties. The men who go for one “fool’s mate” after another are criticised even by the PUA community, and the article linked in the last open thread which contained the quote recommends “co-dependent men” against going down the PUA route, claiming that it might give them more sex but will leave them worse off overall.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @dark orchid

            The problem isn’t the laws or rules, it’s the culture. The sexual revolution stalled halfway, and there is a mixture of promiscuity and prudishness (eg, people will hook up, but they’ll drink enough to not feel weird about it first; they won’t negotiate consent beforehand, and I’ve been told by a woman who would regularly meet up for sex with random guys off the internet that a guy seeking affirmative consent would be “weird”) that simultaneously both results in a lot of people hurt without anyone meaning it, and gives a smokescreen to actual predators.

            If this is the case on campuses – where usually the non-legal methods for addressing this are far less friendly to the accused than the criminal system out in the real world is, and still do not prevent there from being a fair bit of sexual predation – how will changing criminal law fix the problem? The rules on campuses haven’t changed the sexual culture; I can’t imagine legal changes will either. Seatbelt and smoking bans aren’t a good comparison: it’s easy to tell whether someone is wearing a seatbelt or smoking; no non-seatbelt-wearing smoker can plausibly say that it’s all a big misunderstanding.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Several issues that I haven’t seen mentioned.

            1. Women do this as well. Has no woman ever made a pass a guy she liked while he was in a rough patch with his girlfriend? What makes this materially different? Women manipulate situations much like men do to get favorable outcomes, and there is no clear line to draw here.

            2. None of the actions individually are illegal. If you drop a date rape drug in someone’s drink that is illegal on its own, even if you don’t use it to have sex with them. Refusing to let a woman go can be illegal even if you don’t have sex with them while holding them down. Trying to hold a woman down can get you attempted rape, as can spiking a drink, are we going to write a law that implies going up to a woman in a bar and talking to them can be attempted rape?

            3. Regret isn’t just about an encounter, a person might regret something because of how their friends reacted after the fact. Is it rape if one friend goes “you went home with him? Yuck” and not rape if they say “Well I guess he was kinda cute….”?

          • Aapje says:

            @baconbits9

            And a woman can also take advantage of a drunken man. A female American comedian told a story during a speech about having sex with a guy who was so “wasted” that his eyes couldn’t focus and who fell asleep during sex.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Aapje-

            That is already generally considered rape when a man does that to a women, and is probably considered rape in the other direction by a majority if it was put to them.

            The description in “fool’s mate” is one where the woman is being presented as having the faculties to make her own decision.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      In Christian morality, violating the chastity of someone who wouldn’t consent if sober is a big deal sin, but there’s still a clear difference between that and forcible rape.
      Pick-Up Art is what would traditionally be called being a rake or a cad. It’s explicitly designed around teaching men who can’t get laid how to pick up bar belles (maybe they should just hit the gym?). The men who need this sort of help are sympathetic human beings, but we shouldn’t jump from that sympathy to supporting being a cad.
      Oddly enough, apparently a few big names in the “manosphere” like Roissy are aware of all this and have made public statements like “traditional morality was better, but no individual can recreate it so my penis shall watch the world burn.”

      • Nornagest says:

        There have always been links between the more ideological side of PUA and the more traditionalist side of the Dark Enlightenment, probably because they both cater to nerdy urban men who’re frustrated with the dominant cultural narrative but who aren’t willing to just join the Mormons or something.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          That does seem simpler!
          I mean, practicing any religion seriously is work, but I definitely think there’s a sense of the word simple in which this is true.

        • Well... says:

          but who aren’t willing to just join the Mormons or something.

          I’ve pointed out something similar — that they aren’t willing to join the Amish or convert to conservative Islam — but my conclusion was it’s because they don’t really have the courage of their convictions — they don’t really want the things they say they want, or wouldn’t want them if they could have them — and instead have merely discovered something unpopular they can pick up and feel brave carrying around.

          • johan_larson says:

            Well, there is more to it than that. Living as a faithful Mormon or Muslim if you don’t believe in the fundamentals of the faith is living a huge and burdensome lie. It is a terrible trade if all you’re getting out of it is steady sex.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Since when have men found it terribly burdensome to tell lies for sex?

          • Randy M says:

            There’s more to it than mouthing a lie. Think of all the persecution Muslim men face in the west.

            And they can’t drink.

          • Matt M says:

            if you don’t believe in the fundamentals of the faith is living a huge and burdensome lie

            And yet, male feminists still continue to exist…

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Islam would be a bad choice for these guys anyway, because high-status men can have More than one wife. The LDS church is actually a very good choice, funnily only because it changed its doctrine on polygamy. The Fundamentalist LDS are night-and-day different.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And yet, male feminists still continue to exist…

            Defection.

          • Nornagest says:

            Defection.

            Is this going to be your thing now?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Is this going to be your thing now?

            Let me guess that you don’t like it. You find it annoying and dreary.

            My point exactly.

          • Nornagest says:

            Well, as long as you’re aware that it comes off as annoying and dreary…

            …actually, no, let’s stop there. Calling out bad arguments is one thing, but if you’re going to do it, do it with better arguments. No one asked you to be the Fun Police.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:

            Is there an argument in Matt’s post that I missed? I can’t offer a counter argument. He’s just putting up the boo lights. I thought that was supposed to frowned upon. It doesn’t satisfy any of the tripartite “suggestions”.

            What if I offer these kind of pointless jabs skewering right wing oxen, will this be met without comment? If I start offering comments about “male tears” or how racist rednecks are or something … yeah that’ll go over well.

            The other possibility is that I should comport myself as if I am a guest in a right-wing space. This seems anathema to the place, but rationalizations abound.

          • Nornagest says:

            Look, I dislike one-liners as much as you and I’ve called them out on both sides of the aisle, but I don’t meet them with more one-liners. That doesn’t make these comments better for anyone.

            I’m willing to tolerate a certain amount of low-level snark aimed at social justice shibboleths (this isn’t a right-wing space, but it is a space that’s generally unfriendly to SJ). I’d advise you to tolerate it too. If you’re not willing to, you can report it, or you can try to make an actual case against it. But please don’t sink to its level.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            In order to make the case that it shouldn’t be that way, I’d need to establish that it’s occurring. At some frequency. That is deleterious to conversation.

          • Nornagest says:

            So store them in a file offline or something, if you care that much. What you’re doing right now is also deleterious to conversation, and it doesn’t actually help you build a case — others will remember “HBC keeps accusing people of defection”, but they won’t correlate the times you do.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I have a feeling that if I kept them in a file and posted a laundry list, you would give me even more crap.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            It’s the snit-for-tat strategy!