This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.
This 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.
“Some false accusers do press charges, however, and this brings us to an unpalatable point. Because real rape victims are often mistaken for false accusers, it can be uncomfortable to insinuate anything negative about either group. But these two groups are not at all alike. In fact, rape victims aren’t even a group; they have no unifying traits. They can be young or old, black or white, men or women, gay or straight, rich or poor—anyone at all. Even a 65-year-old man can be a victim of rape.
When one looks at a series of fabricated sexual assaults, on the other hand, patterns immediately begin to emerge. The most striking of these is that, almost invariably, adult false accusers who persist in pursuing charges have a previous history of bizarre fabrications or criminal fraud. Indeed, they’re often criminals whose family and friends are also criminals; broken people trapped in chaotic lives.”
The article also includes a sort of false accusation I’d never heard of before– a third party coerces someone into making a false rape accusation to get revenge.
I think Newman knows a lot more about this than I do, so she’s probably right, but I still wonder about one thing.
When Newman looks for patterns among false accusers, she is looking at exonerations at at cases where the police, after investigation, were definitively able to determine that an accusation is false.
I’m not sure Newman’s data addresses unresolveable accusations – for example, the mattress case in Columbia, where the artist argued that during otherwise consensual sex, the accused forceably committed acts over her refusal. That case hasn’t been found to be false, and how could it? It also hasn’t been found to be true, for the same reason. Similarly, in the Kavenaugh case, the accuser doesn’t remember where or when the party happened, so it’s very unlikely that she’ll ever be concluded to have made a false accusation unless something very unusual happens.
By focusing on cases where accusers were confidently determined to be likely false, Newman seems to be assuming by implication that all of the accusers who can’t be concluded to be false or true are therefore telling the truth. Maybe she addresses that in her research, but I’m not sure I see it in the article.
(I should say that I don’t mean to imply that Ford is a false accuser – I honestly have no idea how to judge).
Even if everything Newman says is true and valid and applicable to the Ford/Kavanaugh case (and it’s not; among other reasons Ford is not pressing charges), we don’t know if Ford meets the profile. For all we know she could have told her therapist many such stories.
Well, I don’t think Ford could press charges at this time, so I don’t know that you can conclude anything from that. Also, right, wrong, or indifferent, the standard of proof is much different in a court of law, so even if you’re completely in the right it doesn’t always make sense to pursue it in court. I think it was Voltaire that observed that he was ruined twice in his life: once when he was sued and lost, and once when he was sued and won.
What gives me pause is the timing of publicizing the accusations. I believe firmly that Roy Moore is guilty of what he was being accused of, since they made the accusations early, and plenty of evidence piled up. Here, it was trotted out at the last minute, rather than in July which is apparently when Senator Feinstein first found out. If she had confidence in the accusation, she’d have given it plenty of time in the public eye for other evidence to come out.
It is galling how Diane Feinstein has not been censured for her behavior in this. She had the chance to ask Kavanaugh about this, under oath, and even behind closed doors so as to preserve Ford’s anonymity.
“Congratulations, Sen. Feinstein: You’ve managed to make our politics even uglier”
– The Los Angeles Times
Censure is a formal procedure the Senate can use to discipline its members. It’s not just disapproval, it means the censured member has to give up their committee chairs; I’m not sure if it would mean she’d have to give up the minority leadership position as well. Not going to happen, though.
I think the fundamental reason why Newman’s observation don’t apply to this case is that the accuser has a strong reason to make a false accusation—in order to prevent Kavanaugh from being confirmed. That doesn’t mean that the accusation is false, of course. But it raises the probability of her making the accusation conditional on its being false, which, on straightforward Bayesian lines, means that the posterior probability that the accusation is true is lower than it would be if she did not have such a reason.
If she were making this up an accusation to block his nomination, do you think this is the accusation she’d make up? An assault with no penetration, brief enough that one could argue it was more mixed signals than malice, and with a named witness who disputes her story?
These people learned their lessons from Jackie. You can’t go too crazy with your fictional accounts or they’ll be discredited quickly.
This type of allegation is almost maximally designed to be as destructive to one’s public persona as possible while also being virtually impossible to disprove (complete with “not remembering” either the time or the location of where it supposedly happened)
I don’t give a very high prior to “she simply made it up,” but “she would have simply made up a better story” gets to an insane rabbit hole of brain geniuses on the internet trying to predict how other brain geniuses on the internet will interpret things, and then we have to listen to these brain geniuses talk about how they are masters of human psychology not seen outside of an Orson Scott Card novel.
Those are contradictory. An accusation can’t be as damaging as possible while also intentionally not as damaging as possible. Want to pick one before I respond? (Hint: pick the first one. The second one is way easier to disprove)
Also, it’s kind of weird that you shifted from talking about a specific person to “These people.” I presume you mean “false accusers” by that phrase? Are you at least still open to the possibility that she might be telling the truth? Not to put too fine a point on it, but “falsely accusing someone of a crime for ideological reasons with no evidence” is what you’re accusing her of, but if you’re wrong, it’s also what you’re doing to her.
I’d be willing to bet on the outcome, but this is absolutely certain to be a situation in which the outcome is never firmly established. There is literally nothing Kavanaugh can possibly do to “prove” his innocence to the satisfaction of his opponents.
Fair is fair, so I get to do that too. There is literally nothing this person can do to convince me she is being truthful. In an inescapable he said she said, I’ll go ahead and side with my own allies and against my tribal enemies, thank you very much.
If I have it right, the named witness is a self-described ex-alcoholic. Just the person one would choose if making it up.
Also, of course, a person more likely than average to have behaved in the way she describes.
I didn’t ask if you were open to being proven wrong, I asked if you were open to being wrong. On the one hand, you just said that the truth of the matter is unprovable, which seems logically equivalent to saying, “Yes, I might be wrong.” On the other, you talk about her as if she’s already been proven to be a liar, calling her account fictitious and grouping her with other false accusers. Which is it?
It sounds as if your answer is, “I am aware that she might be truthful, but I’m pretending otherwise because it helps my side.” Is that accurate? I mean, candor is great but that would be a pretty extraordinary thing to admit to on a forum that prizes rationality and clear thinking and collaborative debate, to say nothing of batting 0/3 on the “true, necessary, kind” meter.
Not a named witness. A named co-offender, also a Republican. So when he denies it, he has obvious selfish motives for doing so. Thus including him adds verisimilitude without providing a serious dispute to the story.
The bit about them turning the music up raises some suspicion in my mind that the scenario is cribbed from fiction. I imagine Republican researchers are poring through the literature (and movies and TV) looking for a match even now.
I think what was meant was not “as destructive as possible”, but “as destructive as possible under the condition that it’s virtually impossible to disprove”.
Bruce Sterling wrote somewhere that political sex scandals are either so icky that no one wants them mentioned or so anodyne that no one cares. If I wanted to get my story across family friendly mass media I might go with keeping things anodyne, whether what really happened was a lot worse, milder, or fake.
Edit- and the old Washington Post rule on milking a scandal was to trail your coat with a weak version of the scandal first, get the target to react so you could keep the story going, then hit them with your big reveal. Oh, now I remember the photos, the physical evidence and the police report!
Are you open to being wrong about Barack Obama being born in Kenya? About Seth Rich being murdered by operatives reporting to Hillary Clinton? About 9/11 being a false flag ordered by the US government?
All of those things are just as “possible” as this allegation. But respectable opinion says you must not believe them, because there is no evidence and because those making the charges have obvious political motivations in doing so.
The same is true here. I am aware of the fact that what she alleges is technically possible. It’s also technically possible that in 2005, Barack Obama tortured and murdered a homeless streetwalker in Chicago. So what?
There are tons of people in the mainstream, including elected Congressmen and journalists who are unequivocally stating “I believe the victim.” Well I believe Kavanaugh. Why is the former position acceptable, but the latter considered beyond the pale? Why do I have to justify myself, but they do not?
The answer is obvious.
Keep in mind what he’s actually being accused of here. He held a woman down, physically restrained her, put his hand over his mouth for a few seconds… and then stopped, got up, and left.
Prior to six months ago, this would have been considered “so anodyne that no one cares” but the left (and therefore the mainstream culture) has lost its collective mind recently that we’re supposed to treat this as the moral equivalent of forcible rape.
I think that the principle at work here is that no single person should have the power to derail another person’s career with this kind of stale, uncorroborated accusation.
So from my perspective, it doesn’t matter if this accusation is true or not. It should be disregarded absent corroborating evidence or independent, similar, credible accusations.
No they’re not. I think we’re done here.
Inverted stupidity is not intelligence, etc.
“I believe my tribe because my tribe” is a consistent moral philosophy, but it’s not useful in determining truth. I will say that at least it’s honest and not like a million other people who have magically discovered the ability to decide when a stranger is lying (and, for those who have been around a while, completely at odds with deciding when accusers have come against people like Clinton or Gore).
It would sound like pretty damned bad behavior regardless. It wouldn’t be totally shocking that it happened in a house party full of drunken teenagers, and I’m not convinced that a guy who did such a thing at 17 would be disqualified from being in a trusted position at 50, but if the allegation is true, it was seriously nasty behavior, potentially meriting a felony charge. (Though I’m not sure how likely anyone would be to charge him with a felony in this situation.)
I have a hard time believing any competent law enforcement body would charge you with anything for that sort of complaint. I mean technically it’s assault, in the same way that shoving a guy on the street is technically assault, but if one angry guy shoves another angry guy and then re-considers and walks away, I highly doubt the police are going to be interested in the shovee’s demand to press charges. Even if there are like, witnesses and stuff.
They aren’t contradictory at all. If lots of people would believe a less-lurid accusation and few people would believe a more-lurid one, the less-lurid accusation will probably be more damaging, even if the thing he’s being accused of is less bad.
Yeah, these observations may be proxy for “what sort of character evidence tends to cause police to throw out a case as definitely false”.
Well, sure. Because false accusers who tell such stories wouldn’t be deemed false accusers; they’d be deemed unproven at best and true accusers at worst. I believe Newman is at best mistakenly generalizing from false accusers who get caught because they tell obviously incredible stories onto all false accusers.
Yeah, it’s tough. Newman doesn’t have any data on how often unverifiable accusations raised for the first time 30 years after the fact are accurate, and how often they’re subject to shifting memories or other confounding issues. None of this is to say that Ford’s account isn’t accurate, but I don’t think we have much beyond our own priors to judge unless some more evidence turns up.
I would say that in the current climate, if you can get rid of a Supreme Court justice who is going to rule a way you don’t like by making an unverifiable accusation, I would expect to see more false accusations in the future. (Ford’s is more complex – she told her therapist something in 2012, but it’s not 100% clear that she named Kavenaugh, and Kavenaugh was in the news around that time as a dissenting vote against the ACA and when he was being suggested as a possible Romney pick for the Court).
I think we know from studies of eye-witness accounts, memory unreliability, etc., that they will never be accurate–the question is if they have any connection to reality at all.
Barring a large cultural shift away from the values associated with #MeToo, I predict that >75% of high profile Republican politicians will start receiving accusations like these.
If these accusations are so easy, risk-free, and effective, why hasn’t this happened already?
I think there is risk, but it is decreasing. Similarly the effectiveness is increasing, though it’s not certain.
I think it has. It is generally not effective. But it is easy and risk free. Kavanaugh is currently a test case about whether it is going to be effective going forward, if it is we will all be worse off for it (see Richard Epstein’s recent commentary in politico).
Of course, my prediction is made independent of whether this works on Kavanaugh or not.
Respectable mainstream opinion is that this should work on Kavanaugh. If it doesn’t, that’s just proof of how deplorable red tribe really is. They’ll keep doing it because they think that even if he’s still confirmed, this will harm Kavanaugh’s reputation.
Even before this, Paul Krugman was peddling a “the Republicans have immorally stolen two supreme court positions, therefore the court now has no credibility” narrative. This will just add further fuel to the fire.
As far as “why haven’t they been doing it already” my answer is they have. They tried it with Trump, and he evaded because he’s Trump. They tried it with Roy Moore and it worked. Batting .500 in the last year or so.
I’m old enough to remember when people sported bumper stickers on their cars stating “I believe you Anita.” The reference was to Anita Hill, a woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
Of course these same people changed their tune a few years later when multiple women indepdently accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment.
So the strategy has been around for quite a while and I doubt it will go away. What’s changed is that society has become more misandrous; less charitible towards men in general; and more credulous of these types of claims. So yeah, I would expect an uptick in these types of accusations.
One of my bigger disappointments in the #MeToo moment is how few people on the left acknowledged that the allegations against Bill Clinton were all probably true. Probably because it’d mean the Most Qualified Person Ever was a rape apologist, and since the 2016 election will never end we still can’t cede an inch on her. Ugh.
Speaking hypothetically, you don’t just need some random volunteer in America to sacrifice themselves for the cause. You need some volunteer who can be alone with the person in the past.
Mike Pence will never come under this accusation. Billy Graham never did, either.
 It is a “sacrifice” in a weird way, because while one side will despise you forever, the other side will venerate you forever.
The number of potential people becomes quite large when you don’t require a specific time or a specific location.
“In Maryland sometime in the 1970s” casts quite a large net.
How do we know Mike Pence has never been alone in a room with any woman other than his wife? Because he says so? That’s exactly what a rapist would say!
It would be utterly shocking if it only happened to Republicans.
If we accept the policy that an accusation of sexual assault N years ago by a woman that could conceivably have happened = disqualification for the supreme court, then we’ll get many such accusations. There are going to be a fair number of people willing to make such an accusation when the political stakes are high enough, and a certain number of people who are crazy or obsessive, and some who have a personal vendetta against a given person, and maybe even some who honestly convince themselves something happened when it didn’t. And likewise, there will be people who got away with some nasty thing and have it come back up when they become sufficiently prominent. But there’s not in general a way to tell these cases apart.
There is a genuinely painful irony in the fact that the current direction of popular culture and politics is pushing ambitious and powerful men toward the Mike Pence rule for prudence’s sake. This will not be a change that makes the world a better place, nor one that makes things better for women overall.
That’s not the policy being proposed. The policy is that an accusation of sexual assault N years ago by a woman against a Republican that could conceivably have happened = disqualification.
That’s why the same people who instantly decided to believe this victim still don’t believe the victims of Bill Clinton or Keith Ellison (I’ll grant that they caved on Al Franken very quickly, although perhaps because that one came with literal photographs).
Probably part of it was that it was known he would be replaced by another Democrat. That said, I think that sexual misconduct allegations are a weapon that could easily spin out of countrol. There is a wing of the Democratic party which would be happy to purge the likes of Al Franken, Joe Biden, etc.
I think both major political parties are huge magnets for Machiavellian types who will do just about anything to get ahead even if it means bringing down people in their own party.
My perception of the GOP is that it’s about 80% full of people who are playing an iterative prisoner’s dilemma wherein their opponent has defected 500 times in a row, but they keep cooperating because “everyone knows that overall, it’s best for everyone if we cooperate.”
Got any evidence this is happening?
How has he not been sued or something given $current_year and all this? He’s literally a meme of unwelcome attention.
As a conservative, I feel that way sometimes, but consider a year or two ago when the GOP-controlled senate obstructed Obama’s SC nomination. I would call that a “defect.” And I think that’s not anomalous.
I don’t follow these things closely, but my perception is that both the Republican and Democratic parties are largely owned by corporate interests; that most representatives pay lip service to their base but then turn around and stab their base in the back if it serves the corporate masters.
she told her therapist something in 2012, but it’s not 100% clear that she named Kavenaugh
Kavanaugh had been put into the news as a likely pick by Romney (who was leading in the polls at one time in 2012) who would ban abortion forever. She remembered when his name came up.
Obviously, this does not mean she is lying. It is also perfectly possible that the incident happened, and seeing his name come up reminded her how she hadn’t gotten over it. She had social interactions with him when they were in high school. So it moves the game from “anyone in the country can make an untestable accusation to stop one from getting onto SCOTUS” to “anyone in the country who met you can make an untestable accusation to stop one from getting onto SCOTUS.” Which is better, I guess, but not by much.
Even if you never met the person, if you lived in the same area as them for a few years you can claim you attended a party or social event together. Heck, you could claim that you were in their neighborhood visiting friends.
You are very charitable, my read is that she’s trying to whitewash well publicized false rape accusations as anomalous.
Well-publicized ones probably _are_ anomalous, something something toxoplasmosis. But we know that most rape accusations reported to the police (and note that Ford’s wasn’t) are neither deemed false nor result in conviction; claiming that we need only look at the ones which are deemed false to establish a pattern and conclude anything not matching that pattern is true is, to be less charitable, bullshit.
And yet, the second a defense attorney tries to bring up something like this, all the correct-thinking people in the press start yelling about how evil and despicable it is to “blame the victim” and how the victim’s long history of criminality and mental illness has absolutely nothing to do with the credibility of the case.
See: Duke Lacrosse.
So far as I know, the usual character issue that defense attorneys bring up is about the woman’s sex life, not whether she has a history of fabricating lies. Let me know if I’m wrong.
The discussion is really moot because, at least in modern criminal proceedings, the defense isn’t generally allowed to just bring up the defendant’s sex life, by the rules of evidence. Check Rules 412 and 413.
If a witness testifies favorably about a person’s character, that witness can be cross-examined about prior acts that conflict with that testimony. So if a third-party, arguing for the prosecution, claims that Lisa never had sex and so the sex was obviously against Lisa’s will because Lisa doesn’t do that, the defense can then raise evidence against that.
There also used to be the case where the accused could argue it was someone else’s semen but that is not relevant in the modern age.
I remember in the Duke Lacrosse case, it came out that the false accuser had previously made an uncorroborated accusation of gang rape a few years earlier.
Logically, this raises the probability that she is the type of person who just makes stuff up, but I do remember a lot of Leftist/Feminist types dismissing this evidence.
Anyway, I agree with Matt M and Friedman that there is probably some selection bias at work here. It’s difficult to definitively show a rape accusation to be false, but it’s a lot easier in the case of lurid accusations by extremely deranged people.
If you want to draw lessons from Duke or Jackie, you apply a lot more leverage if you don’t emphasize “some accusations are false” but rather “look at how much resistance there was to calling what-we-now-know-were-obvious-fakes as fakes at the time.” It’s not that some One Fact was revealed and every right-thinking person switched from “oh, of course it’s real” to “well, now I know it’s fake, but I couldn’t know without that One Fact.”
Things that should have made people extremely doubtful about (if not completely disbelieving) the Duke and Jackie stories were revealed fairly early on in their development, but anyone pointing them out was attacked. (This is a jezebel URL I have broken to stop back-linking, but the URL is all you need. is-the-uva-rape-story-a-gigantic-hoax-asks-idiot-1665233387 )
22 minutes, no transcript
Overview of the replication crisis (2016), update at the end about the replication crisis in economics.
More detail about replication of economics experiments.
I’m sorry to say I laughed at this.
“Zarghamee’s study, conducted with John Ifcher, an economist at Santa Clara University in California, focused on the effect of happiness on economic decisions. To induce positive emotions in subjects, they used a clip of stand-up comedian Robin Williams. Since that original study was conducted, Williams has committed suicide, so the emotional effect of the video may now be emotionally mixed, or even the opposite, Zarghamee says. And another confounding factor is the audience: The subjects in the original study were American whereas those in the replication were British. “We think it is more accurate to interpret the failure to replicate our result as a ‘treatment failure,'” Zarghamee says.”
How does abstinence-only sex ed look like? I want to make sure I don’t get a really distorted image of sex ed from movies.
In my school, we had a professional sexologist come and talk to us about sex (invited by the Parent’s Association). At 10th grade, we had a really comprehensive series of 10 1 hour lectures, of which only one was about anticonceptives (female/male condoms, the pill, IUD, and other methods). Most of it was about psychosexual information, love, consent, relationships, etc.
The way I see it, you can skip the part about anticonceptives, and still have a pretty decent, if slightly lacking, sex ed. You can talk about the rhythm method (which is approved by the Catholic Church; I don’t know how many of the other churches approve of it). You can talk about fertility, and about how, if you want biological progeny, you need to have kids before 40 (yes, even men). You can also talk about alcohol, and how being very drunk means that consent is unclear. Tell teenagers to avoid alcohol, and if they do go to a party with alcohol, to stay with their friends and to make sure the friends who are too tipsy are accompanied home. To make sure not to drink when a stranger offers you a drink, unless you personally witnessed the bartender mixing the drink, and the drink was given to your hands. How to say no to sex when you are in a commited relationship with somebody who wants sex when you are not ready for it. What sexual harassment is and how to report it, and protect yourself (this is especially relevant for those who use public transportion).
Does abstention only sex ed look like that scene in the movie, or is it actually comprehensive, and they just avoid mentioning condoms?
I know my older son had some kind of health class in Catholic school in 8th grade which explained where babies came from. My understanding is that they did not discuss contraceptives at all–one of my son’s classmates asked about condoms, and the teacher said he was not allowed to discuss the matter at all.
I was kind-of disappointed with this, when I heard about it (many years later). My daughter is in the same school now, and when she’s a bit older, we’ll make damned sure she has a good source of information about sex and contraception. I don’t know how this compares with public school abstinence-only sex ed. (I had the impression this was about the only time they ever discussed the matter in their school at all–not a whole class, just one section where the separated out the boys and girls and gave them basic information.)
 We’d already had that talk with him, and 13 seems pretty old to be first learning about it, but I guess it’s sensible to make sure there’s nobody with a working set of reproductive equipment who doesn’t know that doing this fun thing tonight might have a surprising consequence nine months in the future.
Can’t answer your question due to lack of first-hand experience, but I don’t want my kids to learn sex ed from someone with weird stone-age taboos about sex that I don’t have, even if they do a good job of explaining how rubbers work. Sex is too important and, due to it being so taboo, too hard to get accurate information about from books and movies and such.
Yes, that’s why my school hired a professional sexologist, who has counseled a lot of people through their difficulties with sex.
Just going to throw out that The Act of Marriage is a great accurate source of helpful and sexually accurate information that is whole from a Christian perspective/worldview. Both my wife and I read it before our marriage and it helped significantly in that area of life.
I’ve seen some mentions of having to do public speaking in school. To what extent were you taught about how to do public speaking? Or were you just told to do it?
I had an actual public speaking class senior year of high school, but it was pretty ineffective. It would have been better to have had many different presentation requirements spread throughout various subjects. That’s more or less how writing was taught—not just in English class but in history and science as well.
I don’t remember any classes in public speaking in school.
On the other hand, the problem has usually been to get me to stop speaking.
I took a “Speech and Debate” elective class when I was in high school, so I did get a little training on public speaking (things like taking off the ID lanyard that every student was required to wear in order to avoid unconscious fiddling, etc…). That was the only class that ever taught public speaking, though. Any other class, if the teacher wanted you to present something to the room, you were simply told to do it. No help or training involved.
Luckily, I have never had a fear of public speaking that seems to be so common among people. In fact, my high school presentations tended to be extremely bombastic; I deliberately imitated Adolf Hitler’s style, because I had heard so much about him being a great orator. It worked pretty well; sure, I got some laughs, but I always stood out compared to the people speaking in a shy monotone.
Did any teacher ever ask you where you got that style, and if so, did you admit it was Hitler?
My high school had a speech elective, which I didn’t take. It did require some actual public speaking, and not just presentations to a class of a few people, so I suppose that was a plus. I was required to take a speech class in college, which I took my freshman year. The lectures were on the kinds of presentations (expository vs persuasive, stuff like that) and most of the class was given over to us presenting our own speeches. Since it was to a class of under twenty students, and since the topics and format always felt pretty artificial, I don’t think I got much out of it.
I agree with Brad that it’s better when a class assigns a presentation as part of a project. And I had a bunch of those in high school and in college, which I did fine on. I haven’t really had to do any presenting at my job yet, though.
In Middle School we had a ‘biography day’, where we had to give a spoken summary to the entire year on the life of the person we choose, as if we were that person. We were given a lot of help in preparing that as it was one of the biggest projects of the year.
In High School I recall having to do some speaking presentations in classes, we were given advice on how to present, and feedback afterwards, but nothing really stuck in my mind about how to present.
At university I realized that I was bad at public speaking and presenting, and wanted to change that, so I volunteered to do that part of some group projects to help get better. There is a hilarious video somewhere in the dregs YouTube of me giving one presentation, it’s truly awful and watching it today I can barely make sense of what I was talking about (alas, I won’t link it because it reveals way too much of my personal information). Thankfully those presentations were just class updates, and not part of our grade.
I got much better at public speaking through the choir I joined. After two concerts I no longer had stage freight, and I learned how to switch into a performing mindset when I need to. I am now confident in public speaking, regularly lead classes and services at my church, have done open mic nights, etc etc.
I don’t think anyone “told” me, but I was 8 and given the opportunity to be a lector at church. I did that for the next 10 years. After that it just never occurred to me to be afraid of public speaking.
At school and, to a lesser extent university, it wasn’t uncommon to be told to research a topic for homework then present back to the class, either individually or in a small group. e.g. for History, we were once put in small groups, each of which was assigned a British colony to talk about. This didn’t formally count for anything academically.
We also studied public speaking a little in GCSE English Language, where a few percent of our grade was based on a presentation to the class.
IIRC, foreign languages also involved presentations to the class at a certain level.
Overall, I think this was a good thing, both in teaching us how to deliver presentations, and as a way for the teacher to get the class to teach itself the outlines of a topic without as much prep as would be necessary for the teacher to do all the teaching themselves.
Somewhat related to the above post about Trump, but tangential enough, imo, to warrant a new thread:
Where is the line, in a democracy, between “this is how democracy works” and “they’re undermining the will of the people!”?
I’m thinking of cases like the Scott Walker recalls or the current attempts to get Trump out of office before he’s even finished his first term. Not that this is something only one party is guilty of, though it does seem to have intensified on both sides in recent years: there is no “grace period” during which the newly elected politician is provided a fund of good will to squander. The losing party begins planning how to take out the winner as soon as the ballots are counted. I am also thinking of cases where a referendum on some issue keeps being “put to a vote” in various forms until powerful interests get the outcome they desire.
On the one hand, this is how democracy is theoretically supposed to work: I don’t blame either party for vigorously opposing the agenda of a new executive, especially when the victory is a slender margin. That’s what they’re supposed to do. On the other, one wants the average person not to need to pay attention to politics all the time. I don’t consider it a good thing if all the political victories go to those who are willing to agitate and lobby and protest and campaign constantly while Joe Sixpack goes to work, thinking he’s been granted a reprieve from the reality show for 3.5 years now that he’s expressed his opinion.
So, where to draw the line between “vigorously participating in democracy” and “trying to overturn the outcome of elections”?
Simple, there’s no such thing as the “will of the electorate.” There are just the rules of the game.
This is a very interesting topic, but I find it difficult to get a handle on the issues. There are several ways in which my views are often considered anti-democracy, but don’t seem that way to me. A couple of examples:
1) I really hate the in vogue idea these days of boycotting businesses with adverse political views. IF the business or the owner makes a political contribution one disagrees with, stop doing business with them. If they are against unions (or highly verbally in favor), stop doing business with them. If they do business with a political organization you don’t like, or sometimes just another business that expresses bad political views, boycott them. I hate this attitude. I think that consumers have the right to boycott whomever they want to, and I even think it’s a good idea if some company does some really despicable stuff that can’t be stopped any other way. But in practice you see people boycotting half the businesses in town, and it just makes the world more partisan, and it implies one should never do business with someone with which you disagree politically. While boycotts being one possibility makes democracy stronger, using them constantly makes it weaker.
2) Public demonstrations. I have no problem with demonstrators stating their piece in public places. I have problems with these protesters who feel they must disrupt the lives of others to say their thing. In my neck of the woods, the popular approach now is to shut down highways during rush hour. The protesters claim they are being totally law abiding and not destroying property, but in my opinion my time is as valuable as my property. They are stealing an hour of two of time from thousands of commuters, which is the same thing as destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars of property. To me this is kind of the point of civil disobedience — the protesters cause problems for the government or the public, so they are put in jail for some length of time. If the protesters accept this punishment and continue to do the deed, then there is deterrent to protesters doing this for small things. But now it seems the police don’t want to arrest the protesters and throw them in jail, because the politicians agree with the protesters, or that the arrests could get violent, etc. But that destroys the civil disobedience model, and protests become more frequent. This harms democracy, not helps it.
@Mark V Anderson,
Times and places where people would “Look for the union label” before buying things (like clothes) were times and places of a more broad-based and prosperous working-class that was middle-class and I much prefer that to our current individualist “casino economy”.
Buying union products is kind of an edge case. My impression of such campaigns in looking for the union label is that many folks favor such products, but they don’t go out of their way to boycott goods without the union label. Although it is true that buying only union goods is a pretty partisan action, and so I am not fond of the idea if it over-rides all other issues of the product value or quality.
Of course, I am not someone who would purposefully buy union goods anyway. If anything, if I noticed a union label, I’d assume it is likely to be over-priced and look elsewhere.
I’m just old enough to remember the grape boycott of the 1970’s, which was effective….
……for a time.
The unionized society was sustained by the mutual solidarity of folks not crossing each others picket lines, buying union-made products, et cetera, and it never extended to the whole nation (the old confederate states being the most prominent example of un-unionized regions), while mid-century Chicago and Detroit were “union towns”.
Come the “two gates” court decision of the 1960’s, the oil embargo sparked inflation of the 1970’s, the union busting and mass immigration of the 1980’s and it all crumbled away all too quickly
Are you claiming that the time with a broad based and prosperous working class was the 1970s?
“..Are you claiming that the time with a broad based and prosperous working class was the 1970s?”
Compared to now?
I’m saying precisely that.
The 1970’s was when
the decline started.
If we use education as a proxy for “working class”
wages for workers without college educations are markedly less than in 1979 (pdf),
if you are man, chances are you earn less now than a similar worker four decades ago
adjusted for inflation, the median male worker earns less now than he did in 1979,
C.E.O.s at the largest companies now make 270 times as much as the average worker, up from 27 times as much in 1980,
the percentage of Americans who are middle class is smaller than in 1970,
which is especially noticeable where I live
If the decline started in the 1970s why would you associate behaviors in the 1970s as being conducive to better outcomes? If anything they should be seen as casual or effected by the same causes of the decline.
Choosing male compensation is cherry picking, as women’s wages and lfpr have increased a lot during that span and median household income is 25%+ higher than it was in 1970. My personal income has dropped by almost 100% in the last 7 years, but my household income has almost doubled.
This is just more cherry picking, I can play that game too as median household income jumped by ~15% from 2012 to 2017. “The last few quarters” isn’t much of a metric (neither is 2012 through 2017, but its far better than the last few quarters).
And the percentage of Americans who are upper class is larger, unless you object to the middle class becoming “to rich” it is pretty disingenuous to complain about the middle class weakening when some of it happens by them moving to the upper class.
Union membership in California is 50% higher than the US average, so why aren’t you blaming unions for the issues there?
Couldn’t we forgo the ambiguity of this debate by looking at changes in income by income percentile?
My understanding was that at all but the top percentiles, incomes are flat or falling. Maybe I misinterpreted what I was looking at.
“.If the decline started in the 1970s why would you associate behaviors in the 1970s as being conducive to better outcomes? If anything they should be seen as casual or effected by the same causes of the decline?”
I absolutely concede your point.
While it would be easy for me to just cite statistics comparing say 1980 to now and concluding “It’s all Reagan’s fault”, honesty demands that I acknowledge that the decline started earlier than 1981.
Most of what I read marks 1973 as when wage income mostly stopped rising with corporate profits and productivity.
What was the cause?
The only things that come to my mind is the oil embargo and the end of the draft, but as to how they relate I’m very open to suggestions, but to put it plainly, while total wealth is much higher, the majority of Americans are less wealthy than the majority of Americans were forty years ago, and I’m still waiting for the “trickle down effect”.
“Choosing male compensation is cherry picking, as women’s wages and lfpr have increased a lot during that span and median household income is 25%+ higher than it was in 1970. My personal income has dropped by almost 100% in the last 7 years, but my household income has almost doubled”
Simply put, I think “the family wage” was a good thing.
“….the percentage of Americans who are upper class is larger, unless you object to the middle class becoming “to rich” it is pretty disingenuous to complain about the middle class weakening when some of it happens by them moving to the upper class.”
Actually I do complain, housing, education, and medical care are all less affordable for median wage earners, so someone is bidding those prices increasingly out of reach, and if making it so more families may own a single home means less may own multiple ones, I’d take that trade-off.
“Union membership in California is 50% higher than the US average, so why aren’t you blaming unions for the issues there?”
Because union membership has declined in California as well, and the correlation of “cost disease” and declining union membership seems clear to me.
I personally don’t think the family wage existed in any meaningful sense, as it was basically predicated on the wife staying home and putting in a full times worth of housework and child rearing.
Beyond that those days still exist to the extent that in most parts of the US (SF excluded) you still can make a ‘family wage’ if you lived a 1950s lifestyle, that is the sq footage of a 1950s house, one car of modest quality, rarely eating out, no cable bill, no phone bill and the domestic portion of your partnership picking up a half dozen new skills to save money with.
If union membership was fighting cost disease then you would expect states with the highest current membership to have lower than average price increases not higher than average.
The most likely candidate is the expansion of the welfare state that began in earnest under LBJ and expanded in the 70s. These are programs that are large enough to plausibly effect the whole economy, were initiated at around the right time to have the noticed effect, haven’t been scaled back (they have in fact been expanded), and fit the theoretical complaints of welfare systems.
Following income percentiles is very tricky to say the least. An incomplete overview of some concerns.
1. Age adjustments, wealth and income correlate well with age, if you had a larger than usual percentage of people entering the workforce at the same time then you would get a skew, pulling down the ‘median’ wage.
2. Along the lines of #1 you can have a larger age earnings skew than normal. If in one country everyone averaged $30,000 a year age 20-age 40 and then $60,000 a year age 40-age 60, and one country where everyone averaged around $40,000 a year every year then the former would look unequal despite everyone having the same lifetime earnings and lifetime distribution. Likewise if all income gains went to the age 40+ group and they made $10,000 more a year then it looks like the rich are getting richer and the poor making no more money rather than everyone getting richer as they got older.
3. Immigration can skew these results as well, if immigrants enter the country with lower earnings they can pull down the median wage without actually pulling down any existing wages if you follow percentiles.
“I personally don’t think the family wage existed in any meaningful sense, as it was basically predicated on the wife staying home and putting in a full times worth of housework and child rearing.
Beyond that those days still exist to the extent that in most parts of the US (SF excluded) you still can make a ‘family wage’ if you lived a 1950s lifestyle, that is the sq footage of a 1950s house, one car of modest quality, rarely eating out, no cable bill, no phone bill and the domestic portion of your partnership picking up a half dozen new skills to save money with..”
How’d you know!
One income, two adults, two kids, two bedrooms one bathroom house built in 1927, fifteen miles from my work in San Francisco, no cable, no land-line, and the car is a ’91 Honda.
“The most likely candidate is the expansion of the welfare state that began in earnest under LBJ and expanded in the 70s. These are programs that are large enough to plausibly effect the whole economy, were initiated at around the right time to have the noticed effect, haven’t been scaled back (they have in fact been expanded), and fit the theoretical complaints of welfare systems.”
I thought that welfare mostly ended in the 1990’s, do you mean the checks going to the elderly, their doctors, and their nursing homes?
I meant all social programs.
In 1970, about 10% of Americans 25 and older had a college degree. Currently, about 30%.
Unless you are claiming that more than 20% of the population is now in the upper class, your two statements are inconsistent with each other. The conclusion is not that the wages of the working class have declined but that the average wage of the bottom 70% (by education) now is lower than the average wage of the bottom 90% was then.
“In 1970, about 10% of Americans 25 and older had a college degree. Currently, about 30%.
Unless you are claiming that more than 20% of the population is now in the upper class, your two statements are inconsistent with each other. The conclusion is not that the wages of working class have declined but that the average wage of the bottom 70% (by education) now is lower than the average wage of the bottom 90% was then..”
That’s a very good point, and yes I do think more Americans qualify as “rich” than used to, and total wealth per capita is higher, a lot higher, but the majority are less wealthy than 40 years ago, and have less income (adjusted for inflation) per year than the majority of Americans had 40 years ago.
Is the trade off worth it?
I’d say yes if the total new wealth was being put to cool things like going to the moon, or better roads, but I can’t think of how the majority has benefited from the more liberal economy we’ve had after the 1970’s.
What I see is a greatly enhanced “brass ring” effect, and if you do well in the 21st century, you may do much better than you could from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, and if you pull up the view, and look worldwide, millions of non-Americans are climbing out of poverty now, thanks to free-market reforms, but that’s not where my loyalties lie.
What are most Americans getting from it?
The figures in the article you link to are for household income. The average household size is down about 10% since 1980, which means that per capita figures are about 10% higher (now relative to 1980) than per household figures.
That’s one of multiple complications in evaluating the claim that incomes for most people are flat or declining.
As cool as going to the moon was, it consumed a non-negligible percentage of GDP, and it did grand things by being able to take any problem and drown it in a bucket of money. The GAO investigated NASA prior to the first Saturn V ever taking flight, because the design concept for Kennedy Space Center turned out to be a costly mistake. Using a crawler-transporter to move a rocket from an assembly building to the launchpad only pencils out if you’re launching 12 Saturn V’s per year, rather than the 15 total we actually did. However, it was more important to meet the 1969 deadline than to revisit the design decisions. (As an aside, there was a significant amount of labor strife during construction as well.)
As far as roads, we also got a lot of roads and bridges built by making design compromises that turned out to bite us in the butt, and which are no longer acceptable in current practice. Through-truss designs are very efficient, but turn out to be susceptible to collapse, and are disfavored for new construction. If you do use them (or have existing ones in inventory) you have a much heavier inspection and maintenance burden. I’ve also got a project I’m working on (infrastructure, but not road-related) that was started in the late ’50s and running into the late ’60s that had significant cost-saving design compromises that we’ve been bashing our heads against the wall to fix ever since.
As far as the cool stuff you get? The computers we are using for this conversation is a big one. Deaths due to building fires are at an absolute low (down nearly half) since this table started in 1977, despite a population increase of almost 50% over that timeframe. (Edit to add: I’m not going to dig up the numbers, but road deaths have followed a similar pattern–at the cost of more expensive cars that are mostly totaled in the collisions)
One thing that’s been of interest to me is comparing a modern construction site to Hoover Dam. During that project they killed an “official” number of 96, which when you heard it as a kid seems sort of a distant statistic, but would be absolute fucking carnage on a federal jobsite today. Here’s the page for 1933–it’s sorted by cause of death, but look over the dates and you realize that during the first quarter of the year they were killing a dude almost every two weeks! Today, we’d fire a contractor with a record like that. (Edit to add–the final page has a rollup by cause, and they killed 23 people due to falls on the jobsite over a period of four years. Can you imagine what OSHA would do to a contractor who did that today?)
All of the fire and safety, better bridge construction, etc. comes at a cost. It may not look cool, being mostly things that you really can’t see, but we’re getting generally better stuff overall.
Consider even your own field, hasn’t there been a change in what’s acceptable for installation? I believe there’s been a change in how much water fixtures use, whether with faucets that automatically operate and low-flow toilets and showerheads. I believe they’re also more expensive. You can certainly believe (as I do) that these are not good uses of our money, but environmentalists have certainly fought to require them. If you believe that cutting down on water usage is a good thing, we’ve been spending more money on it.
@DavidFriedman, and @CatCube,
Thanks, you guys have very good points, and I just thought of something that’s better than forty years ago that didn’t occur to me before:
In room 303 (the press room) of the San Francisco Hall of Justice there’s a chalk board with the year by year numbers of murders in San Francisco which have for years been far lower than what they were at the height (1977), and I think nation-wide the most murders was in 1991.
I don’t know what extra resources are devoted to preventing murders, but they’re working.
Still it would’ve been cool to remember something like the moon landing when it was happening (I was alive, but too young to remember, plus my parents didn’t get a television set until after the Watergate hearings started).
One proposed reason for the decline in murders is relevant to this discussion: the lead-crime hypothesis. More or less it’s that high levels of lead exposure during adolescence will turn kids into violent idiots.
The two biggest sources of lead exposure were leaded gasoline and lead paint (leaded gas being by far the biggest). The drop in crime statistics tracks the reduction in lead due to the banning of leaded gasoline. Basically, 20 years after tetraethyl lead is banned in a location, the crime rate drops as the generation that was no longer exposed in adolescence grows up. Leaded gasoline started being phased out in the US in 1974, which about tracks your observation of murders dropping after 1991.
However, that did mean that we had to develop more expensive gasoline formulations to prevent knocking, which show up in your pocketbook when you pull up to the pump. Similarly, lead paint is excellent as a paint (we’ve got red lead primer at work that’s holding on like a champ 50 years on), but its bad at not poisoning workers and not turning kids into thugs, which means that it has been replaced with more expensive or less effective (or both) alternatives.
Note that there are competing non-police hypotheses for the decline in murders–another is the legalization of abortion could have meant that kids who would have grown up to be criminals were instead aborted.
I agree that it’d be awesome to see, and I wish that I had been around to work on the Apollo Program. If they were bringing it back, I’d probably knife-fight somebody to get to work on improvements to KSC. However, that’s more of an emotional reaction, rather than a considered position about what is economically best for the largest number of people.
One of the things that makes a diverse, free society work is that we can do business with people whose values we fundamentally disagree with. The whole notion of boycotting and refusing to deal with people with the wrong values/politics seems to me to throw sand into the gears of the stuff that makes that work, and that ultimately makes it possible to have a diverse, free society.
I would take away the word fundamentally. We can coexist with people that are reasonable citizens.
On the other hand, there’s zero reason me to give money under any circumstances to someone that espouses the desire to put me and my family in ovens. Any kind of meta level philosophy that leads to conclusion that I ought to do so is per se wrong.
Fair enough. I think the issue I have here is one of where those boundaries should be drawn, not that they should be drawn. I’m not buying dinner at the Adolf Hitler 88 Cafe, even if they have the best chili in town. But there sure seems to be a trend (maybe real, maybe illusory due to social media) to want to boycott people and businesses for far more minor badness/weirdness of beliefs, as with wanting to boycott some company because it donated some money to Republicans. That’s 100% the choice of the customers, but I think it’s a pretty bad thing if it becomes widespread.
Yep I agree with Brad (and Albatross).
The reason is that he gives you products or services in return, specifically ones that leave you better off than any alternative.
Another reason is that participating in boycotts legitimizes and advertises boycotts as a tactic in general, which may in turn make it more likely that others will also boycott people with legitimate opinions, perhaps even ones you agree with.
And there’s zero reason for me to give money to someone that espouses the desire to put me and mine in gulags.
Of course, almost nobody actually says either of those things, and the ones that do aren’t in a position to run any business worth boycotting. If we say that’s our standard for boycotting, either we are pedantically staking out irrelevant edge conditions, or we are admitting that we plan to boycott on the basis of having e.g. donated money to an organization which includes members who say things that are similar to other things said by a historical group that put people into ovens/gulags. And I don’t think that ends well.
It is rare, but it certainly seems to be becoming less rare. Making things up here, but I’d be willing to guess that the proportion of people who have ever called for members of their outgroup to be violently assaulted or oppressed in some way has risen, maybe by an order of magnitude, from something like 1/1000 to 1/100 or something like that.
This also strikes me as the same thing – yes it’s rare, but is becoming and will continue to become less rare. Particularly if you’re willing to relax the “run the business” rule to include prominent operational employees of the business. Start applying this standard to those who employ actors, musicians, and journalists, and I think you might start to have something…
Is it more common for people to say such things, or just more visible when they do. When some drunk guy in a bar rants about rounding up all the X and shooting them, nobody but the other folks in the bar notice; give that same guy a Twitter account, and thousands of people may read his words.
At only a slight tangent …
Fraser, in Stationed Safe Out Here, describes British soldiers in Burma in 1945 seriously arguing in favor of genocide of Germany–wiping out the entire population. That was after seeing films of the concentration camps, recently liberated. They didn’t expect it to happen, and they considered the possibility of having small children adopted somewhere else and never told they were German, but they thought that in some form it should happen.
Generally when people say there is no reason to do something, they mean no remotely sufficient reason. After all saving money on sneakers is a reason to cut off one’s legs.
It’s always so refreshing to be informed as to what I really meant when I wrote something. Thanks!
I kinda sorta used to believe this… but more and more I’m coming around to the boycott side. Mainly because it’s such a crowded marketplace in general. I wouldn’t make political beliefs my #1 buying criteria, but when you have a reasonable choice to make, why not let them be a factor? And in almost all cases, you have a ton of reasonable choices to make.
My own examples: I eat a lot of fast food, but I made a conscious effort to avoid Burger King after their idiotic ad campaigns about net neutrality and gender equality. By fast food standards, their food is okay, but there are a ton of other okay fast food places I could go to instead (same deal for the left with Chick-Fil-A or In-N-Out).
I’m not particularly outdoorsy, but Patagonia made my “avoid” list after their similarly-idiotic freak out over Donald Trump “destroying our national parks” (by which they meant returning some trivial amount of two minor national parks to state control).
As a kid I listened to a ton of hip hop and I loved Talib Kweli. I just can’t enjoy him now that I’ve noticed he spends most of his spare time publicly spreading hatred and vile insults against one of my intellectual heroes. Why should I continue to give him money when there are decent country and rock artists out there more in line with my own values?
These sorts of issues matter. The marketplace is crowded and offers a great deal of competition in almost every product category. Why not vote with your pocketbook?
I often also care about other things more–the quality of someone’s music or writing, the quality of a restaurant’s food, etc. And I tend to think of the political/social/culture war stuff as mostly irrelevant–why should I care that a singer has dumb political or economic views?
Thinking more about it….
I live in a pretty urban, diverse place. And I feel like I benefit from being willing to do business with people whose underlying views and beliefs are very different from mine. I can go get my hair cut by a Muslim woman, go eat in a restaurant run by Hindus, etc.
Now, if I dug down, I’d probably think a lot of the political, social, and religious beliefs of these folks are all wrong, and sometimes downright offensive. Some of them would probably prefer a political and social order in which I’d have to be quiet about my religious beliefs and my daughter would have to cover her head in public; others might feel that it would be a horrible shame if one of their daughters were to marry someone outside their caste/jati. And still others might hold any number of other offensive and evil beliefs–like that the world would be better under a Communist dictatorship, or that the police ought to beat confessions out of likely suspects to make sure they keep the streets safe, or whatever.
If I refused to do business with any of those people, I’d make myself a lot poorer. This sounds like pure loss, to me.
And the usual application for this kind of boycotting seems to me to be pure “I can stand anything but the outgroup” stuff. For example, boycotting conservative Christians for their opposition to gay marriage, but not Muslims who are probably far, far less okay with gay rights/gay marriage on average. This doesn’t look much like boycotting people who want to herd you into an oven; it’s more like trying to penalize people who vote or donate or organize the wrong way on political questions that have nothing at all to do with ovens or gulags.
I think there are two different questions being confused here. One is whether an individual should let the political views of a person or firm affect whether he buys from that person or firm. That seems like a reasonable enough thing to do, if only for symbolic reasons–just as one would be reluctant to shake the hand of someone who you knew had dumped his wife.
The other and different question is whether it is desirable to try to injure an individual or firm by organizing a mass boycott.
I don’t think it’s reasonable, especially if you don’t actually intend to injure the firm. The impulse to not buy from a firm whose actions you dislike comes from a form of guilt by association: the idea that it’s wrong interact in a mutually beneficial way with someone who is evil, or perhaps it’s wrong to interact with him at all. IMO guilt by association originates as an instrumental rule of thumb: benefiting someone who is evil might help him achieve more of his evil goals, while injuring him by not interacting with him might prevent him from doing so. But sometimes people seem to treat not (mutually beneficially) interacting with evil as a universal rule even if it doesn’t serve the aforementioned purpose in a particular situation. (Scott would call this a crystallized heuristic.)
There are several reasons you may not want to hurt a firm or a person who expresses a certain opinion: the opinion is not evil; or the opinion implies that the person is evil but expressing it doesn’t cause any actual harm; or it causes some harm, but establishing a norm where we punish people for their opinions causes more harm than the benefit of suppressing this particular opinion. But if you don’t intend to injure the firm or person because of its action (such as expressing a certain opinion), it also doesn’t make sense to not buy from it because of its action.
Personally, I endorse boycotting a company with the intention to hurt it in a limited number of cases. I endorse boycotting a company in order to counter a boycott by others. (That is, if others try to incentivize a company to do X by threatening to boycott it unless it does X, then I may threaten to boycott it if it does X, and perhaps preferentially buy from it if it doesn’t do X.) I can also support boycotting a company for making political statements as a company (if these are not directly to the company’s business, and especially if their purpose is to court customers with certain political views). However, I oppose boycotting companies for opinions expressed by their owners/employees as persons.
What’s your view on voting?
I ask because, unless you are much more altruistic than most of us are, voting in a national election is irrational as a way of affecting the outcome. But it isn’t irrational to vote any more than it is irrational to cheer for your football team–in both cases, what you are doing is consumption, taking an act that gives you pleasure, not production.
Similarly here. I would take pleasure in buying from a firm I liked, displeasure in buying from a firm I disliked. That’s a description of my utility function, based on my observations of it.
I think I basically agree with you – and should probably clarify. My examples were meant to illustrate that I’m not “boycotting” any company because of their opinions but, rather, I boycott companies that I deem to be bad actors.
I have no interest in boycotting every company who believes in false notions about the gender pay gap… just ones who create their own unintelligent and misleading propaganda about it and broadcast such to the public. I have no interest in boycotting every left-wing rapper, only those who devote a great deal of time and energy towards calling my friends racist Nazis.
And yes, to a certain extent it is guilt by association. I avoid Burger King and stop listening to Talib Kweli for the same reason I decided to leave the military once I became a libertarian. Because I don’t want to associate myself with things that seem completely antithetical to my own values. All three of those examples strike me as groups/people that don’t just “have bad opinions” but are bad actors.
I realize that voting has too tiny a chance of affecting the outcome for it to be in my interest, and I do vote. As a tiny charitable act it can be a pretty efficient one: if I assume that my political views are right, the expected value of its benefit to society (or possibly whatever subgroup I intend to benefit) is a multiple of my effort. But I do also get some enjoyment from having had my say.
But I vote for Party A because I’d like its share of votes to be bigger (with whatever consequences that would have). I’m a tactical voter: if I like Party A more than Party B, but for whatever reason I’d prefer the consequences of Party B’s vote share being bigger at the margin to the consequences of Party A’s vote share being bigger (by some Δ such that it actually makes a difference), I vote for Party B. I vote in a way that changes things (by however little) in the direction I’d prefer to change things, to the extent possible. If I liked one party more than the others, but I didn’t think the amount of votes they get had any actual consequence, I wouldn’t vote.
Analogously, if I dislike a company, but for whatever reason I think hurting it would be detrimental or neutral, I don’t boycott it. (And if I think hurting it would be detrimental, I might even preferentially buy from it if others boycott it).
Those are two parts of the same phenomenon: Social media collapsed all context and made it impossible to compartmentalize. Now you must be 100% in line with the agenda or you’re an enemy to be destroyed. If you don’t like #BLM activists interrupting your weekend brunch you are objectively in favor of dead children, and so on.
Now I’m wondering, when did political boycotts become a thing? I remember in 2004 some conservatives refused to buy Heinz ketchup because John Kerry had married into the Heinz family (though neither he nor his wife had any stake in the company at that point) and a novelty “W ketchup” was being sold in a few places. Then after the election that all went away.
Note: “That all went away” probably really means “The media I consume stopped reporting on all that.”
eh, once Kerry went back from presidential candidate to powerless opposition senator, there was no point in boycotting his wife’s first husband’s family’s company. The whole thing where we continue to demonize the loser of the last presidential election is an extremely recent phenomenon.
Now I have to find that Fraser book!
A 1971 novel by Michael Moorcock called A Warlord of the Air fits the bill of a story of a “preserved British Empire”.
It features a man from 1903 who winds up in 1974, but not our 1974, instead it’s one where the world wars never happened and the British Empire still creeks along.
I first read it in the 1980’s, and I looked at it again when it was recently re-published, and…
…it’s okay, but hardly great.
It’s available as a kindle, if you are comfortable reading books on a screen. That’s how I’ve been reading it.
One interesting detail. Fraser is very much an admirer of general Slim, who commanded the army he was a part of–approvingly refers to someone describing him as the best battlefield general since Wellington.
After India became independent, both India and Pakistan offered Slim the position of commander in chief. He turned both of them down.
I’ve just been reading, and very much enjoying, Stationed Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser, better known as the author of the Flashman books. It’s an account of his experiences as a nineteen year old soldier in the Burma campaign at the end of WWII.
It occurred to me, reading his comments on politics, that he reminds me a lot of Plumber. On the one hand he pretty clearly approves of the Labor victory in the 1945 election. On the other hand he strongly disapproves of a lot of the features of modern day Britain that people on the left generally approve of and conservatives generally disapprove of. Perhaps the proper label for him would be Labor reactionary.
One of the other interesting things about the book is that what he is describing is an imperial army, the last gasp of Kipling’s world. The division he is part of includes a lot of Gurkhas, the British soldiers are from the British army in India and many of them carry Kukris, the army includes units from West Africa and East Africa as well as Jats, Sikhs, and a variety of other Indian ethnicities. Fraser does not (so far–I’m not quite finished with the book) express an opinion for or against Indian independence, but it’s pretty clear that his emotional feeling is against, that he likes his memories of an imperial army with, as he says, more different ethnicities than the Roman army.
Which makes one wonder what the world would have been like if history had shifted in a way that preserved the British Empire, perhaps by WWI not happening.
I was reading a piece recently which this reminds me of.
It was argued that the arc of 20th century Britain is from the head of a global empire up to WWII, to an inward looking island nation (under a strong Labour party), before becoming more globalised again with entry to the EEC.
Not sure how accurate an assessment it is, but it’s an interesting perspective regarding the political history of local/globalisation.
Quartered Safe Out Here is out under a different title?
Kenneth Rexroth said the revolutionaries (of color) he hung out with in the 1920s liked the British Empire, they just wanted to be in charge. Maybe if Frank Harris had succeeded and got a bunch of Indians into an Imperial Parliament?
I’d recommend Lights Out at the Signpost if you liked Quartered Safe Out Here.
Tangential to the comments about literacy-as-declining-skill.
This probably gets me expelled from the Grand Millennial Conspiracy for heresy, but I don’t actually like podcasts as a medium. I’m perfectly aware there are very clever ones out there, with insightful commentary by people much smarter than I am on subjects I think are interesting, but I would literally always rather read the same information in essay form (even in transcript form). I can’t quite put my finger on why, beyond some nebulous dislike of the format that I can’t quite put my finger on. Is this just me?
It’s not just you. I find it far easier to get information out of text. Podcasts, if my attention drifts, I miss something, I have to go back, whoops I went back too far, etc. Reading, if my attention drifts, it’s not an issue the same way.
I prefer text over podcasts in most contexts, but podcasts do have the advantage that they can be listened to during my commute, which would otherwise be wasted time.
This position has a strong faction here. I like podcasts for listening to while driving, and for just feeling like you’re hanging out with people. It’s not great for in depth learning.
I really don’t like podcasts. If I had to say why I share your preference for essays, the obvious reasons are that I read much faster than people talk, and also if I miss something it’s a lot easier to look back at an earlier part of an essay than to search back in a podcast. And a surprising proportion of people who do podcasts instead of essays incomprehensibly do so despite not even having particularly pleasant voices.
You’re not alone, and we’ve discussed this before.
I particularly dislike the fact that several interesting bloggers I used to follow, have all but abandoned their blogs in favor of podcasting. I can’t even say it’s the wrong decision for them, in terms of reaching (and especially monetizing) the largest possible audience, but for me it is a pure loss.
Having a podcast is great for people like me who enjoy serious discussions but hate small talk.
I don’t listen to podcasts for information, but for entertainment. I enjoy Joe Rogan’s podcast on my commute, but have no interest in reading anything Joe Rogan writes.
I love podcasts as a way to get more use out of my limited time. I’m on a treadmill at the gym/washing dishes/driving*and* learning something about microbiology or economics or something. Also, for some utterly weird quirk of my brain I cannot explain, while I process written information better in English, I process spoken information better in Spanish. So when I can find something in Spanish to listen to, I’m *triple-dipping*–working out/washing dishes/driving, learning something about some interesting subject, and improving my Spanish.
I don’t drive, or have a whole family producing dishes for me to wash, so podcasts don’t have a niche to fill in my day. I listen to a few, though, like the History of Philosophy one, and the Daly Planet’s Ward stuff. And Conrad’s right that entertainment is different from educational—I listen to Alice Isn’t Dead and SFDebris. I guess I don’t have a terribly consistent philosophy for what I’m willing to watch; it’s a tradeoff between how much attention it requires and how much I want to listen, and some podcasts don’t meet it, and others do.
The only podcast listening I do is to my own recordings of my first novel, to entertain me while doing the walking my doctor recommends I do. I am left wondering whether the reason the book was not very successful and yet I very much enjoy it is that, having been written by me, it fits my tastes, or that there is much more to the story in my head than on the page—a general concern for authors.
Hello, and welcome to the ninth installment of my effortpost series. We are continuing to look at prophecy. So far we’ve considered Amos and Hosea and Isaiah. This time we’re going to look at four prophetic books which appear to fall between the destruction of the northern kingdom and that of the southern: Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk. All four are reacting to the events and occurrences of this tumultuous time.
The usual caveats: this looks at secular Biblical scholarship. I’m not an expert in this, though I did study it in university. The level of complexity I’m shooting for is around a 100/200 level – if anyone sees anything they want me to expand on, let me know and I’ll see what I can rustle up in my library. I’ll be providing a bit more summary than usual here, as the three books being examined today are relatively short and thus easy to summarize.
The historical period of these books is a turbulent one. The northern kingdom had fallen to the Assyrians, its capital destroyed. Significant numbers of refugees from the north had come to the south, especially Jerusalem. There was increasing aggression by the Assyrians, whose power and control peaked in the mid-to-late seventh century. Soon after this they collapsed due to internal intrigue, rebellion by subject peoples, and attacks by external foes. The Assyrian capital, Nineveh, was itself destroyed by the Babylonians, who became the dominant power. This is a relatively simplistic account of the international events at the time, but it will suffice as a backdrop. All four of the prophetic books considered today are, in the main, reactions to these events.
Micah, the historical figure, likely prophesied in the late eighth to early seventh century (estimates differ a bit) and scholars assign most of the book to the prophet himself or at a minimum to someone who lived near that time. Some date it later, based on possible references to exile – including one explicit reference to Babylon – but it would appear that only a minority of scholars date the text as a whole to this point, as opposed to thinking that the reference to Babylon was inserted later. Concerning prophecies of destruction, with the three we’re looking at today, there seems to be something of a relaxation of the common scholarly position that predictions of future events must, in their composition, postdate those events. The author(s) of Micah would have seen destruction and deportation happen to Samaria – that the same might happen to another city would not require supernatural foresight.
Micah’s prophecies juxtapose judgment and hope. He condemns idolatry and unethical social behaviour. The charge of idolatry is expressed in sexual terms, and the punishment is destruction. The charges on the basis of ethics accuse the rich, who take the property of others by force or fraud – their property will be taken by someone else. The leadership are especially condemned for their failure to do what is right. Past the disaster, however, the future is utopian. All the nations of the world will worship God, who will be their judge; war will cease. There will be a purge of God’s chosen people and a judgment upon the nations.
This is followed by a section reminding people what God has taught them to do – put simply, justice, goodness, and walking modestly with God – and a reminder of the wickedness of Jerusalem leading to its fall. The book concludes with an exhortation to trust in God despite the social chaos to come, and also in response to that chaos, and with the hopeful message that the relationship with God is still intact and that a restoration will come.
Micah is, in large part, a theological interpretation of the events at the end of the eighth century and the beginning of the seventh: the fall of the northern kingdom, the expansion of the southern kingdom (especially Jerusalem) due to refugees from the north, and increasing Assyrian aggression.
Nahum’s composition is generally dated by scholars to the middle to late seventh century. Traditional Jewish accounts place the prophet in the early seventh century – not far off. There’s a reference to the sack of Thebes, which was in 663. It’s used as an illustrative point in the past tense, which would suggest composition after that date. Some scholars argue that the description of the destruction of Nineveh means it must be after that time (612), but others disagree. Again, the possibility of an empire’s fall and the brutal destruction of its capital would hardly have been a remote one, in historical context, and Assyria was in trouble before Nineveh fell.
Nahum is a condemnation of the Assyrians and of Nineveh, their capital. God is about to relieve Israel’s distress and punish its oppressor. Nineveh is named and its destruction is announced, vividly described. It concludes by addressing Nineveh’s arrogance – an affront to God. There’s no self-criticism in Nahum, as in the other prophetic books we’re looking at here.
Depending on when you date it, Nahum is either a promise that the oppressor will be brought low, or a celebration of the oppressor having been brought low. In either case, readers after the fall of Assyria would understand it as an example of how God will, in the end, cast down oppressors.
Zephaniah is dated to, most likely, the late seventh century. Scholars tend to think that parts of it are from the monarchical period, some postmonarchical (after the fall of Judah). Generally, judging from the fact that the things condemned in Zephaniah line up with the things addressed by Deuteronomy and Josiah’s reforms, scholars date most of it to the late seventh century.
Following an introduction, God’s intention to punish Judah and Jerusalem is announced, condemning those who have been unfaithful by worshipping foreign gods and adopting foreign standards of dress (possibly in a religious context). A day of judgment is coming and it’s not going to be pretty, so repent while you can. Following this, some oracles against the nations precede a condemnation of Jerusalem and a prophecy of destruction, save for a remnant. It concludes with a message of hope for future restoration in which God is the sovereign ruler of Israel.
Zephaniah can be seen, in scholarly terms, as a link between the eighth century prophets and the Deuteronomistic reforms. If the Deuteronomistic reforms were, in fact, due at least in part to the message of the eighth century prophets, Zephaniah may have played a role in that. Also notable is the language used in Zephaniah – in the original Hebrew, there’s a considerable amount of wordplay, double entendres, and other such intentional ambiguities, that are hard to render in English.
Finally, Habakkuk. Scholars tend to date it to the period after the Babylonians were the dominant power (after 612) – iit assumes Babylon as the reigning power, and appears to show the concerns of Judah between then and the first deportation by the Babylonians, in 597. Some scholars think that sections of the text – especially the concluding prayer – existed before a book was composed.
Following an introduction, there is a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. Habakkuk complains that things are bad – there is strife and injustice; the wicked overcome the good. This could be about internal strife in Judah, or it could be about oppression by the Assyrians. God’s response is that the Chaldeans (dominant in the coming Babylonian empire) are being aroused to action as a tool of judgment; they are described in frightening terms. The prophet replies with a similar complaint – the Babylonians are no better. God’s reply is, essentially, to wait: with time, things will be made right, and the wicked subject to judgment. The book concludes with a prayer expressing confidence in God’s awesome power.
In conclusion: the books of Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah and Habakkuk, which date, at least in their original forms, to the period between the fall of Samaria and the Babylonian exile, all show reactions to an extremely disruptive period. Each has its own emphasis, but in each case, you can see a religious response to the events of the time. Next installment, we’re going to look at Jeremiah, a prophetic book which straddles even more dramatic events.
(as usual, if I’ve made any mistakes, please let me know, ideally within 55 minutes so I can edit)
Once again, thanks for putting together these effort posts.
What about these books makes you willing to drop the whole ‘prophets can’t predict stuff’ thing? Is it the plausibility of human prediction in these cases or are there additional factors?
I’ve got to admit that I am mostly unfamiliar with the secular scholarship on these books, certainly to the point where I don’t know the history of the scholarship. I suppose I’m holding out hope that you can see how the drift in the scholarship in this case might act as evidence that similar scholarship on other books is just as shaky as the claims on these books used to be, and might similarly be given up by the scholarly community some time in the future. Then again, I might be reading too much into your brief summary of the scholarship here.
On an unrelated note, I wish my Hebrew were good enough to spot all the wordplay you were talking about in Zephaniah. Care to share your favorite example?
Over in the polygenetics thread, people are repeating that intelligence differences are largely genetic.
If it’s genetic, it’s physical.
The argument that there’s some sort of limit keeping people from being a lot smarter is at least plausible. However, this may just mean that there’s no simple path to being a lot smarter– organisms might have to be doing something quite different than we are to get to a better local maximum, just as getting to living on land or achieving flight weren’t simple extrapolations for a long time.
There’s no such argument demonstrating that the majority of people couldn’t be somewhat smarter. After all, people with IQs of 120 exist. Is it plausible that some post-birth method of getting beyond the genetic limits of their intelligence for the vast majority of people is possible?
The upper limit is genetic, the lower limit is environmental.
“Enrichment” efforts by ambitions “UMC” parents have an increasingly marginal limited effect on intelligence (there’s only so much that can be done), but lead poisoning can definitely make you stupider.
I was assuming a physical intervention that we don’t know about yet.
Women have smaller brains than men, but about equal intelligence. Obviously, feminizing men’s brains would produce a bunch of super-genius girly-men.
Women have smaller bodies too. My impression from the animal kingdom is that the relevant statistic is something like the ratio of brain weight to body weight.
Over the years, I’ve come to be skeptical of claims like this. Part of the problem is that much of intelligence research uses children, and of course boys and girls mature at different rates. Another question is that in assessing intelligence, how much weight do you give to mathematical ability, which seems to be noticeably stronger in men than in women.
If, as I think is the case, women do better than men on tests of some sorts of intelligence and worse on others, I don’t think the statement “women have about the same intelligence as men” is meaningful. You can adjust the weights on different questions to make the average come out equal, come out with men more intelligent, or come out with women more intelligent.
How do you get an objective set of weights?
The average tiny girly brain is about 3/4 the size of the average giant manly brain. As you say, brain/body ratio is about the same. But since women don’t average a 75 IQ to the average man’s 100 IQ, it’s meaningful to say we have about the same intelligence.
My impression is that women’s brains are wired left and right, while men’s brains are wired front to back.
The Flynn effect raising IQ and declining sperm count correlate, sort of.
I’m not a neurologist, but a Google search indicates that the male human brain is about 10% larger than the female brain — not 33% larger as you seem to be claiming.
Not that it really matters, since even if IQ is correlated to brain size, it’s unlikely that the relationship is simple and linear.
By the way, I also did a Google search on male versus female iq differences in adults and apparently 1 paper gave men a 5 point advantage. Which is pretty consistent with my general observations — that men are slightly smarter than women with a big advantage in mathematical type reasoning.
My not-so-informed impression is that:
a. IQ positively correlates with ratio of brain mass/body mass.
b. Males and females have about the same average IQ, though as David pointed out, since IQ is an intentional construct, that may be partly the result of the starting assumptions used in constructing IQ scores from subtest scores.
c. Males do somewhat better on spatial/geometric reasoning subtests than females; females do somewhat better on verbal kinds of reasoning subtests than men. Also (I think this effect is smaller) Asians tend to do a little better on spatial/geometric reasoning than non-Asians.
d. Interestingly, according to something I heard on a Conversations With Tyler (Cowen) podcast, autistics do relatively poorly on some kinds of subtests but extremely well on others. The IQ scores are just poorly attuned to autistic brain function. One result is that autistics can get very different scores depending on the IQ test.
 IQ tests, as I understand it, usually give the testees several different kinds of questions, compute a score on each subtest, and use those scores to compute a kind of index score. Though I gather this isn’t true of all tests–some just use one kind of question of varying difficulties. And someone who knows more, please correct me if I’m misunderstanding this stuff–I am definitely not any kind of expert on any of this stuff!
Fortalezza, I googled it and you are right and I was wrong about 10%, not 25%. Looking at their pretty little heads I thought the brains were smaller, but apparently their gracile bones misled me. Still, girls don’t average 90 IQ to a guy’s 100.
Assuming that there is a positive correllation between brain size and IQ, why would you expect the relationship to be linear?
Even ignoring that problem, I’m still skeptical. The one reference I found put adult male IQ 5 points above adult female IQ.
Re: why would you assume a linear relationship?
A nonlinear relationship where average women and average men are about as smart while men get the Fields medals and more homeless sounds okay.
Still, smaller brains, about equal intelligence on average, if not for biology’s notorious shortage of mad scientists we might have super-genius girly men (or super-genius big-headed broads) to design our flying cars.
I don’t understand this at all, but I will offer an example to show what I mean: Perhaps IQ and brain size has a relationship of diminishing returns; adding 10% to the size of the brain nets you only about 5 extra IQ points.
I’m not saying this is how things are, just that it’s not necessarily a contradiction for male brains to be 10% bigger than female brains but only 5% smarter as measured by IQ.
Women seem to be better than men in terms of social intelligence, but that could also be because women mature socially faster than men. Hard to parse that out as you say.
I’m not so sure about that. What I’ve noticed over the years is that society is gynocentric, so that women receive an automatic level of deference and respect and value that men do not receive. Including in social situations. It’s easier to succeed when you are playing on easy mode.
We are talking about different things. I doubt that the deference to women is a new thing, depending on what you’re talking about. May need to give some examples.
If you take a group of 8th grade girls, they have formed very complex and competitive relationships and status games. They are quite nasty to each other in a way that men are not, and it could be that in that crucible some social skills are quickly formed. They will understand social situations which will go over the heads of most males. A 19-year old woman will be more mature about relationships and things than a 19-year old man, on average.
The counter-argument to that is that women understand female-centric social situations better than men, and that men have their own social side which they understand just as well. Certainly it is true that women don’t understand the male experience very well.
I would agree with that. Gynocentrism is as old as the hills.
That might very well be; admittedly the line is blurry between intelligence and skill. Having a tendency to be more interested in a particular subject at a young age to the point where your skills get honed for whatever reason might in many cases be indistinguishable from some flavor of intelligence. E.g. people who are gifted at mathematics will often report fascination with numbers, equations, etc. from a young age.
The issue shows up most strongly in mixed groups in antagonistic situations. Women can use the full panoply of their skills, up to (and sometimes including) physical violence against men in support of their goals. Men essentially can’t use any of them. If they raise their voice or use sarcasm they’re bullying. If they remain calm they’re condescending or mansplaining. If they solicit support from others they’re ganging up. If they do seem to be getting their point across somehow, she can act offended or upset and bring others to her defense.
There are places this doesn’t hold, of course; the US Congress comes to mind.
I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think people tend to have perceptual blinders to the unevenness of the playing field when men and women come into conflict.
What really brought it home to me was the mattress girl fiasco at Columbia University. In which a girl carried a mattress around to protest the fact that a male classmate had supposedly raped her. Even though the objective evidence seems to indicate pretty strongly that she is mentally ill and a liar, people took her seriously. Now imagine that a male student carried a mattress around to protest some perceived misbehavior by a female classmate. At best, nobody would pay him any attention.
A few years ago, I would have thought this was the result of feminism, but now I’m pretty sure what’s at work is gynocentrism. People instinctively accord a level of deference and respect to women which men simply don’t get. With automatic social status, it’s far easier to accomplish your goals in social situations than without. And I’m pretty sure that’s what accounts for the perceived social intelligence of women.
One could test this hypothesis with an online game which relies on social skills but there’s no way to find out the sex of any of your competitors. People are permitted and encouraged to lie about their sex if they want. In such a game, I’m pretty confident in predicting that men would dominate.
The thing with accusations of rape that’s difficult is that this is a crime that, when it happens, basically creates no evidence. A man and a woman go on a date, go home together, and have sex. The next day, the woman claims she was raped, and the man claims the sex was consensual and she’s just expressing morning-after regrets. Assuming you don’t have some extraordinary set of circumstances, there is basically no way to collect enough evidence to prove who is lying. (If the sex never took place, or if she’s covered in bruises, there may be enough evidence one way or another, but not for the normal case of either consensual sex or date rape.)
This is the thing that the campus tribunals have tried to address. And they’ve run into the same problem that the police have–there’s no evidence that’s going to show whether there was a crime or not. They can reduce the burden of proof so far that they more often manage to decide the man’s guilty in those cases, but they can do this only by capturing a huge amount of perfectly normal and legitimate stuff in their definitions of rape/sexual assault/sexual misconduct.
So, we know there are guys who are genuine predators in the world. We know they rape women. I’ve heard stories from women I know well, who I don’t believe would lie to me, for whom telling this story was absolutely not any kind of benefit to them, in which they were date-raped. I’m sure it happens, and probably happens fairly often. But we also know that we basically don’t have any way to punish predators who are reasonably clever and don’t leave obvious evidence.
So here’s a woman engaging in a very costly signal that says she’s been raped. She’s saying “I’m willing to make a big, ugly public spectacle of myself in a matter that most women will basically do anything to keep quiet.” It’s not crazy to take this as some evidence (still not enough for a criminal conviction) that she’s telling the truth, particularly for people who don’t know anything about the matter but the fact that she’s carrying this mattress around.
The exact same thing could be said about a false accusation of rape. And yet one could do a thought experiment where a male student who claims to have been falsely accused of rape carries a mattress around to protest the way he was treated. Would he be given the same level of deference and respect as mattress girl? Of course not, even though he is making a big embarassing demonstration of something most guys would want to keep quiet.
There is a huge double standard at work, which I used to think was the result of feminism. But I have come to believe it’s gynocentrism; women get automatic deference and respect.
Mattress girl has gotten lots of the attention she obviously wanted. Is this due to her superior social intelligence? Or is it just another case of “upvotedbecausegirl”?
The thing with accusations of rape that’s difficult is that this is a crime that, when it happens, basically creates no evidence. A man and a woman go on a date, go home together, and have sex. The next day, the woman claims she was raped, and the man claims the sex was consensual and she’s just expressing morning-after regrets. Assuming you don’t have some extraordinary set of circumstances, there is basically no way to collect enough evidence to prove who is lying. (If the sex never took place, or if she’s covered in bruises, there may be enough evidence one way or another, but not for the normal case of either consensual sex or date rape.)
In general, yes, but in the case of Emma Sulkowicz specifically there are texts and Facebook messages from after the alleged rape where she tells Nungesser she loves him and complains that she doesn’t see him enough.
So here’s a woman engaging in a very costly signal that says she’s been raped. She’s saying “I’m willing to make a big, ugly public spectacle of myself in a matter that most women will basically do anything to keep quiet.” It’s not crazy to take this as some evidence (still not enough for a criminal conviction) that she’s telling the truth, particularly for people who don’t know anything about the matter but the fact that she’s carrying this mattress around.
Eh, I’m not so sure. By all accounts she was lauded in the university for her mattress thing, and Nungesser was reviled and outright harassed. So it doesn’t really look like her signal was all that costly, at least not for herself.
I doubt that the deference to women is a new thing, depending on what you’re talking about.
I suppose the difference is that, in the past, men were expected to treat women gently because men were stronger; conversely, women were expected to behave in a way that merited gentle treatment. Nowadays, however, any suggestion that men are stronger or that women should moderate their behaviour is met with outrage, but men are still expected to treat women gently. Basically, women keep the benefits they got from the old system, without the responsibilities; men keep the responsibilities, without the benefits.
That’s probably true, but what’s so interesting to me is that for the man, there is little or no way as a practical matter to fight back. If he started carrying his own mattress at best nobody would care. At worst he would be perceived as a harasser. He tried suing the University but his case got thrown out (it was settled at the appeals court but settlements at the appeals court tend to be very unfavorable.)
It reminds me of how I would envision a dispute between a medieval peasant and a medieval aristocrat. At every turn, the deck is stacked in favor of the aristocrat.
And yeah, the objective evidence completely favored the male student in that situation, but it didnt matter much as far as public perception. People saw a damsel (seemingly) in distress and took her side.
It’s amazing that even in 2018 (especially in 2018) a woman need only point the finger at a man and she can cause him a world of problems with almost no cost or consequences to herself if the accusation is completely fabricated. Whereas the reverse is anything but true.
The reason for this, of course, is that society is gynocentric, i.e. priority is given to the wellbeing, needs, and desires of women. Women are accorded automatic respect and deference that men do not receive.
And to me, it’s pretty obvious that this is the reason women are often perceived as having superior social intelligence: They are playing the game on a much lower difficulty setting than men.
If you believe in what you wrote why wouldn’t you concede that gynocentrism is likely caused by higher social intelligence in women? That seems far more likely than similar social intelligence but with women winning all the time.
A couple reasons: First, there is a better-fitting explanation, which is that in the ancestral environment it was vital to give priority to the well being of women for the sake of tribal survival. Because women, not men, are the limiting factor in reproduction.
Men have always been seen as the expendable sex, and this carries through even today when you look at workplace fatality rates.
Second, it does not appear that the advantages women enjoy result from superior social intelligence. Again, look at the situation of mattress girl: She was able to get a lot of attention and sympathy by carrying around a mattress. If it were just a matter of social intelligence, the man she accused could have garnered sympathy by pulling his own stunt. Which obviously would not have worked.
Indeed, if you search for “women are wonderful bias,” you will see that there is actual research showing that people are biased in favor of women.
But even outside of formal scientific research, you can see this for yourself with informal experiments. The classic one being “Libertarian Girl” in which a blogger set up a new blog posing as a girl. Suddenly he got lots and lots of attention.
I don’t see how this is dispositive. Sulkowicz could just have been in denial at the time about what happened, and there are countless stories of woman staying with abusive men. (Sulkowicz no longer identifies themself as a woman, but for the sake of argument…)
I don’t see how this is dispositive. Sulkowicz could just have been in denial at the time about what happened, and there are countless stories of woman staying with abusive men. (Sulkowicz no longer identifies themself as a woman, but for the sake of argument…)
It’s not 100% dispositive, but it is evidence against Sulkowicz’s claims.
And speaking of deference to women, I think the fact that, when presented with evidence contradicting her account, your first reaction was to explain it away, is a piece of evidence in favour of the notion.
This argument holds no water because there isn’t one limiting factor reproduction. Without access to sufficient calories there won’t be reproduction, without access to clean water there won’t be reproduction, without sufficient protection from predation there won’t be reproduction.
If you ignore all other factors then yes, technically only one man is required for reproduction, but for almost all of our existence humans have been far closer to death than they were to enough wealth where single mothers could raise numerous children to childbearing age themselves.
This explanation of gynocentrism not only ignores these facts but ignores that the roles played by men were glorified frequently, but not the women. We know who Achilles is supposed to have been, but have few (no?) myths about women who had an unrealistic number of children.
Well, there’s that old woman who lived in a shoe…
I agree that technically there is not one limiting factor, but I think my point is pretty clear: As between men and women, women are the limiting factor. So for example, if a tribe loses 25% of its men, it’s not nearly as much of a demographic disaster as if the same tribe loses 25% of its women.
Ahh, but do we know the names of the hundreds of men who died violently and miserably in the same battles where Achilles earned his glory?
The answer is “no.” You are committing the fallacy of the peak, in which women as a group are compared to the most successful men.’
See, the way things work is that women get status automatically, whereas men have to acquire it — by hard work, talent, risk-taking, and sometimes by luck.
This is only true if women and men are equal in providing/preventing the other limiting factors. As long as whatever the cause of 25% mortality was mysterious and un-repeated this might be true, but if the cause was an war with a neighboring tribe, or famine like conditions or any of a number of possibilities then you can definitely come up with scenarios where losing a large portion of your men is objectively worse (for reproductive success) than losing a large portion of your women.
Do we know the names of the innumerable women who died during childbirth? Of the women raped after the fall of Troy? What is the ratio of the number of men mentioned by name in the Iliad to the number of women?
Men went to war because they are stronger by a lot. An army of men vs a similarly sized and armed army of women would end with a victory for the men an overwhelming amount of the time, you don’t leave the women at home because you need them to birth babies specifically, you leave them at home because someone has to be left at home and women had far less value in battles than men had.
Well, women can gather food, fetch water and fight off animals too — maybe not as well as men, but still well enough to replace a man in these activities better than she could replace a man in getting lots of babies gestating at once. And for most of history humans have lived cheek-by-jowl in extended family groups, so people wouldn’t be raising the children on their own, but in a group with their brothers, cousins, aunts, parents, grandparents, etc., who’d be able to provide some help if one of the child’s parents were dead.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding Fortaleza’s argument, but I don’t think he’s (she’s?) claiming, nor do I think his argument requires, that women are or were glorified more than men, but rather that men’s instinct to protect women was/is stronger than their instinct to protect men. Hence, when a woman says a man is hurting or mistreating her, another man’s first reaction is going to be to side with the woman. (Hence as well feminists have been able to advance their agenda extremely effectively by claiming to be oppressed by men, even though the statistical evidence for this is mixed at best.)
My first reaction was to stop and reconsider the narrative – maybe Sulkowicz really was hostilely reinterpreting events to fit a social justice narrative, maybe Nungesser wasn’t the d*debr* rapist he’s been portrayed as, maybe Columbia actually got it right.
But then I realized I was being androcentric. So in the name of countering my own bias, I decided not to express that reaction, and instead to counter it by toeing the social-justice line. (Also, judging from some family members’ experiences there, there’s no way in hell Columbia could ever get anything right.)
I’m no knee-jerk SJW. My instincts are more towards a sort of Rawlsian neutrality, and I often find it difficult to “believe all women.” But doing the right thing isn’t always easy. And (atypical mind fallacy?) I doubt many, if any, people on my side are doing this consciously or at all.
Is that along the lines of “reason and evidence are intrinsically male” or “assigning agency to women is oppressive” or “I know what is good for me”?
It’s a little bit of “I actually believe in left-wing values”, but mostly “self-loathing and depression.”
I mean, how is “believe all women” a value? Is it some fundamental principle that women always tell the truth, even when they contradict themselves or each other?
Don’t assault women–sure that’s a value. I get behind it. Ask for consent at every step–that’s a value, sure, even if I think it’s very hard to enforce or sell. But “believe all women”? That’s just propaganda.
Careful, the mirror image of Kevin C is not something you want to be.
I mean all the stuff about rape culture and how disbelieving lived experiences contributes to it. Maybe values isn’t the right term for it, I don’t know.
How common or likely are those scenarios? It seems to me that you don’t really dispute that in general, women are the limiting factor in reproduction compared to men. Nor do you dispute that in general, reproduction is a vital factor in tribal survival. To be sure, situations can arise where losing a large percentage of men is objectively worse than losing a large percentage of women, but playing the averages and common sense, that would be the exception and not the rules.
No, no, and I don’t know. Anyway, I am certainly not claiming that at all times, women had more social status than men. And in fact, I am pretty confident that the high status people have always been mainly men. What I am claiming is that in general women received (and still receive) a certain amount of social status automatically while men do not.
Without getting into the actual merits of her allegations, what’s interesting about this to me is that sending such messages is NOT a sign of high social intelligence. Part of social intelligence is organizing what you do and say so that you will be believed by other members of your social group. Getting caught making contradictory statements is necessarily going to undermine your credibility.
In short, it seems pretty clear to me that mattress girl was able to garner a good deal of sympathy and attention not because of high social intelligence but because she was an attractive young woman and gets to play life on super-easy mode.
Reversed stupidity is not intelligence.
But based on what evidence?
Her social group was going to believe her no matter what, therefore, any time and effort spent on ensuring that her behavior seemed consistent would have been wasted.
My general observations. For example:
1. Wrongdoing which is perceived as primarily a male perpetrator with a female victim (e.g. rape, spousal abuse, sexual harassment, failure to pay child support) are treated extremely seriously; wrongdoing which is perceived as primarily female perpetrators with male victims (e.g. paternity fraud, false rape accusations) typically have little or no consequences.
2. Illnesses which are perceived as primarily striking women (e.g. breast cancer, osteoporsis) receive far more attention and funding than illnesses which are perceived as primarily striking men (e.g. prostate cancer)
3. Discrepancies which are perceived as going against women (e.g. the wage gap, representation in tech fields) are great societal concerns. At the same time, discrepancies which go in the opposite direction (e.g. the workplace fatality gap, difference in life expectancies, suicide rates), receive very little attention.
4. When a woman uses her sexuality to get opportunities from men, few people care; when a man uses the offer of opportunities to get sex from a woman, people freak out. If such a trade is immoral, then logically both parties to the exchange should be condemned. And yet only the traditional male role receives most of the opprobrium.
5. Traditional male sexual preferences — such as preferring women who are healthy, thin, and young — are constantly lambasted from prestigious quarters. Traditional female sexual preferences — such as preferring a man who is tall and wealthy don’t receive this level of negative attention. There is a steady stream of news articles from women complaining about the lack of suitable men; analogous articles from men don’t get published.
6. People freak out about violence against women in video games, action movies, etc. even though those same games and movies typically feature far more men than women being the victims of violence.
I could go on, but everywhere you look it’s clear that society is gynocentric, i.e. the wellbeing, needs, and desires of women are prioritized over those of men. And as mentioned above, one aspect of societal gynocentrism is that someone like mattress girl is taken seriously (and her victim is not) even though the evidence strongly suggests she is a liar and is mentally ill.
Well it seems that the tribal elders (i.e. the Columbia disciplinary tribunal) didn’t believe her, which is why her victim was able to escape banishment.
It’s also worth considering – was her terminal goal actually to get this guy expelled?
If her terminal goal was actually to launch a successful career as an activist – she succeeded wildly.
Prediction: The Kavanaugh accuser is leaving this with a million dollar book deal. No matter what happens to Kavanaugh.
In trying to think of how and why a perception of “Gynocentrism” seems to be common and increasing (judging by the comments here) it occurs to me that most SSC’ers are probably young-ish college graduates.
There’s your problem right there!
Most college students are now women, so of course college and the white-collar world are “gynocentric”.
If you want a non “gynocentric” work environment, may I suggest a career in the building trades instead?
There’s an argument that most office work isn’t the proper occupation for an able-bodied free man anyway.
Perhaps, but again one can ask what would have happened had a 20-year-old man tried the same stunt. It seems very unlikely that he would have received the level of attention and sympathy received by mattress girl.
To the extent she succeeded at attaining her goals, it seems that it was mainly because she was playing on easy mode and not because she has exceptional social intelligence.
I would have to disagree with this. There are plenty of arenas which are majority male — the tech industry; Wikipedia editors; etc. And you still see the same gynocentrism you see everywhere else: People freaking out that there isn’t 50% female representation at the highest levels; people claiming that there is an anti-woman culture when the reality is 180 degrees opposite; people suffering severe consequences for daring to suggest that women may not be as competent as men; etc.
That’s a job?
Well, maybe because they’re outnumbered 50 to 1, but in my 11 years as a new construction plumber, and my 7 years doing repair service work, I haven’t seen it, though I suppose if enough women worked in the trades, even if not the majority, that could change, but not yet.
Your list is all modern, they might support an argument that society has become gynocentric, but not that society has been gynocentric for long periods of time. The first example alone is refuted as spousal abuse by husbands was not treated as a serious issue by society until relatively recently.
No, but neither is “college student.”
Wikipedia would seem to undercut the “majority rules” principle you are advancing.
Does the phrase “women and children first” ring a bell to you?
Anyway, let’s assume for the sake of argument that society has been gynocentric only for the last 30 years. It’s still consistent with my point that the achievements of people like Mattress Girl are more the result of a tilted playing field than superior social intelligence.
It does, it also is only about 170 years old, isn’t actual maritime policy, and was coined in a work or fiction. There have also been arguments made that it is a practical measure whereby getting passengers who might be prone to panic out of the way and allow those remaining to tackle the threat as best they can.
I think this is belied by experience, since the Titanic’s lifeboats set out with open spaces even as men stayed aboard and women were forcefully separated from their husbands and loaded into them.
@Randy M, Titanic’s emergency procedures were unusual in a wide variety of respects. Mostly in being extraordinarily bad, but just their generally being an outlier suggests that they probably shouldn’t be used as a typical example of anything.
Here’s another famous instance of W&CF. It doesn’t seem like the policy is intended for expeditious evacuation, but deference to the weaker sex. In any case, baconbits9′ justification doesn’t make sense to me, sense if the women and children are prone to hysterics, it would make more sense to make sure there were men aboard to take charge of the lifeboats.
Any other examples where women and children first led to more people surviving, or the converse where a “seat them orderly in the order they come, regardless of person” policy would have backfired from panicked passengers?
I don’t think you’re wrong about socially things being easier for women, but the mattress girl example isn’t too supportive. Initial accusations of any kind will always get more attention than the denials.
Regarding the social easy mode: you’ll find the below book excerpt very interesting and probably affirming. It’s by a lesbian who spends 18 months living as a man, and the vastly different social experience she encounters:
Norah Vincent – Self Made Man
Those rates don’t sound terribly different; it’s about what I’d expect if men tended to survive better in harsh conditions than women or children. You could spin a narrative of oppression out of it, but I don’t buy it.
In any event, it’s clear that order will increase survival, and giving deference to one particular class will increase survival of that class. Historically it seems (from this report which lacks much detail) that neither was the norm. It’s not clear, and I doubt, that W&CF increase total survival over “queue up, families together, fill the boats completely one at a time, crew stays to help until they are able to leave”.
Her subsequent career seems to have been as a marginal
hipster porn starperformance artist, which probably wasn’t her goal going into college and probably isn’t going to end well for her. I haven’t followed the matter closely, but I don’t think that “wild success” is the right description here.
No one is trying to spin a narrative of oppression of women in this thread, just refute “gynocentrism”.
That might be true (probably is) but the crew would have been all male through most of history, and such a situation would have looked a hell of a lot like women and children first.
I’m not sure what you mean by “actual maritime policy.” Are you disputing that in the most famous ship evacuation in history, priority was given to female passengers over male passengers? Are you saying that this was an anomaly and not a regular practice?
Anyway, as I mentioned above, you don’t seem to dispute that the achievements of mattress girl were more the result of a tilted playing field than superior social intelligence. Agreed?
I don’t know, but has there ever been a sinking ship (or similar disaster situation) where the crew decided to prioritize saving male passengers over female passengers?
Because it’s definitely happened that females were prioritized. It’s also happened that the situation was a total free-for-all.
I’m pretty confident that disaster situations where saving male lives was prioritized are either completely non-existent or very unusual compared to the reverse. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s never happened that any ship’s officer has seriously proposed to “save the men first.” That’s gynocentrism, folks.
In a similar vein:
Keig, a Coast Guard veteran, now works as a clinical social work case manager at San Diego’s Naval Medical Center. She started transitioning in 2005.
She told WaPo that she was encouraged to speak up loudly and often when she was a woman, but now that she looks like and identifies as a man, she gets accused of “mansplaining,” “taking up too much space” or “asserting my white male heterosexual privilege,” by outspoken feminists like her former self.
For what it may be worth, I have a family member with Borderline Personality Disorder and mattress girl strikes me as someone who is likely to have the same condition. Sexual promiscuity; childish attention-seeking; shameless (apparent) lying and manipulation; flipping from intense attraction to intense hate – these are all among the signature red flags of BPD.
In short, I believe that more likely than not, she is mentally ill and doesn’t have clearly defined goals. In that respect, she is not alone: Consider Crystal Mangum; Tawana Brawley; Jackie Coakley. Crazy women who caused a whirlwhind of destruction in other peoples’ lives, all with little personal cost compared to the trouble they caused.
So here is the question: Where is the male version of these girls? You see men once in a while with fantastic stories of persecution and victimization, but nobody takes them seriously, not without corroborating evidence. Is it because Crystal Mangum has superior social intelligence? No, obviously it’s because women get automatic deference and respect which men don’t receive.
Anyway, I would agree with you that things aren’t likely to end up well for mattress girl except that her parents are successful professionals who are in a position to shelter her to an extent from the consequences of her behavior.
It would be interesting to learn more about her interactions with regular people.
For what it may be worth, as part of my job I have to interview people over the telephone; naturally I have a problem with some interviewees who get off-topic and use a simple, focused question to jump into their life story. Of the worst offenders, about 75-80% are women.
I used to think that this was because women get used to being deferred to by guys who are trying to get into their pants and never get out of the habit. But it’s also possible that more women have difficulty with the cognitive task of listening to a focused question and giving a focused answer. Either way, I’m not seeing the supposedly superior social intelligence of women.
Well in the mattress girl situation, what got all the attention was mattress girl’s claim that the system had failed her by allowing the dude who had supposedly assaulted her to remain on campus. So one can imagine a situation where her assault accusation was upheld, the dude was expelled from school, and he tried to make things public by protesting in some unusual way. In that situation, it seems doubtful that he would have gotten the level of attention and sympathy she received.
Besides, it wasn’t just the attention that was so striking about the situation; it was the fact that people took her seriously and were sympathetic even though the objective evidence strongly indicated that she was in the wrong.
Anyway, I agree that women have a great deal of power in the sexual marketplace, however this is a tricky example because for a long time many societies had norms in place (and still have to an extent) to deal with this problem: Women were supposed to dress modestly; to refrain from sexual relations outside of marriage; to marry only one man and be faithful to him; to refrain from using their sexuality to advance themselves; etc.. Women who violated these norms were socially shamed or worse.
I think women’s power in the sexual arena derives more from market conditions (supply and demand) than the societal tendency to prioritize women’s wellbeing, needs, and desires.
That said, I do think female sexual power (including the male desire for female validation) results in a lot of advantages for women. So that when women get out of traffic tickets more easily than men, it’s more likely that it’s this factor in play than supposedly superior social intelligence.
Someone please clarify my data on this – on the raw scores for intelligence tests, average male scores are slightly higher, but during validation, the tests are adjusted so that the average scores are the same…
…or so I have been told. Accurate? Not Accurate?
In order to have a “raw score” you have to have a test, and designing the test involves a decision about how many questions of what sort to have. Suppose, for simplicity, that there are two types of questions. Men, on average, do better on type A questions, women on type B.
A test that is all type A will show men to be more intelligent, a test that is all type B will show women to be more intelligent. Which come out better on a test with both sorts depends on the relative number of type A and type B questions.
One way of deciding that is to choose a ratio which gives the same average score for men and women.
It’s true that how you weigh different sub-tests affects the “which gender is smarter” question, but that doesn’t mean the answer is arbitrary. We don’t really know what intelligence is or how to measure it properly, but we do know that it ought to correlate with things like job performance and salary and college grades and so forth, and when you’re tuning the weight of math/verbal/etc questions, you can see whether the correlation with other measures of intelligence gets stronger or weaker.
I’m not one of those people who reads a ton about this, but my impression is that this process of grading IQ tests by comparing them to other observed measures is well-understood and that the consensus is that the difference in IQ between genders is widely thought to be either nonexistent or very small, even according to those people who think there are large and important differences between ethnic groups that are being buried by the evil liberal whatever-you-call-it.
Just as a nitpick, the liberals in the relevant fields fully acknowledge (and discuss and investigate) the differences in average IQ scores between racial groups–they may prefer that some hypotheses about the cause of those differences remain unspoken before the masses, but it’s not like James Flynn or Paige Harden or Eric Tukheimer is trying to pretend there’s no race/IQ correlation.
This is a pathology of some popular writers, and nearly all mainstream publications (which will have a several-page story about unequal educational outcomes between blacks and whites without once mentioning the black/white average IQ difference that provides a pretty plausible explanation for those differences in outcomes). Those publications broadly lean liberal because mainstream publications in the US broadly lean liberal, but more conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal or The Economist seem to take the same editorial line.
 Note that these folks are serious researchers in the field, and as best I can tell, do good science in their field. I think they’re somewhat wrong on a social/political question surrounding their field, but maybe I’m wrong instead. And I think Harden and Turkheimer, in particular, are engaged in genuinely important work in trying to think through the implications of intelligence differences between individuals and average differences between groups from a liberal perspective. If indeed the human b–diversity view of the world is more-or-less accurate, we need smart, well-intentioned people from all sides to think through its implications and decide how to respond.
In principle what you are describing might be doable, but I don’t think it is practical. You would have to see what weighting of different questions gave the best correlation with outcomes. There are at least three problems:
1. The relevant data don’t exist. The authors of The Bell Curve had data for a large number of people on IQ and outcomes. But that data would not have included the scores each person got on each question, which is what you would need to try different weightings until you determined which was best.
2. Suppose you had the data. By assumption, women do better on some questions, men on others. If you found that a heavy weighting on type A questions gave you a better correlation with income, how do you know if that reflects anything more than the fact that men make more money than women? To solve that problem you would have to separately do the experiment by gender, and would almost certainly discover that the weighting that was optimal for one gender wasn’t for another.
3. There are multiple real life outcomes that matter and correlate with IQ and no reason to expect that the same weighting would be optimal (do the best of prediction) for all of them.
I said differences between ethnic groups, not between their scores. Anyone who can read knows there’s a difference in test results. The argument is over whether that differences is caused by a difference in underlying intellectual ability or something else. My point was that AFAICT both sides of that debate generally agree the difference in gender is too small to be interesting. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t seem like you’re disagreeing.
I don’t have a dog in this fight and I was not trying to bring up what appears to be the taboo-iest of taboo topics here. My only strongly held position on this is the exact opposite of your last sentence: I am not very interested in knowing whether black people are inherently smarter or dumber than whites, ditto for men vs. women, northerners vs southerners, righties vs lefties, etc, because of how distinctly un-useful the answer would be, both to me personally and for policy-making generally.
I am not very interested in knowing whether black people are inherently smarter or dumber than whites, ditto for men vs. women, northerners vs southerners, righties vs lefties, etc, because of how distinctly un-useful the answer would be, both to me personally and for policy-making generally.
A laudable attitude, although I’m not sure the answer would be un-useful for policymaking: most affirmative action programmes, quotas, etc., are premised (explicitly or implicitly) on the idea that there are no significant differences between groups, so if one group is under-represented, it must be due to discrimination, which we have a duty to correct for. If it turns out that there are actually good, non-discriminatory reasons for one group being under-represented, then these programmes lose their justification.
I bet you can think of reasons why it would be impractical to build the Hoover Dam, yet there it is. I don’t know a ton about psychometry, but from what I’ve learned I think these are reasonable responses:
1) If you’re trying to make or revise a test, and you want to know how well your test correlates with (say) the WISC, you don’t call up the person who designed the WISC and beg for spreadsheets, you just ask a bunch of people to take both tests. Then you ask them what their SAT scores were, how much they make, and whatever else you’re curious about, and hire some grad students and make them do statistical analyses for two years, and Bob’s your uncle!
2) You don’t, that’s why this field is so arbitrary: we cannot precisely define the thing we’re trying to measure, and are not even sure it exists in the form we imagine. But if you want to argue that one IQ test is better or worse than another IQ test, all you can do is compare it to proxies for IQ, which includes other IQ tests.
3) Yep, it’s a hard problem, there’s a lot of choices that must be made which can later be second-guessed or improved upon, which is why we have a bunch of different IQ tests instead of one of them.
This is not true. (Or rather, it is true the way you phrased it, but only because you forgot to mention IQ anywhere. I assume that you meant “no significant IQ differences between groups”.) Affirmative action programs are mainly supposed to offset systemic bias and racism, not differences in IQ. This should be blindingly obvious if you remember that the side which supports affirmative action is the side which tries to downplay racial IQ differences.
I concede that a small number of policy matters would be affected, but I think they’re pretty niche and inside-baseball, certainly too much so for me to have had any pre-existing interest in them. And when people on the internet say that they’re only interested in the race-IQ debate because of those policy issues (as opposed to only being interested in those policy issues because of the race-IQ debate), I generally don’t believe them.
Yes, but the existence or non-existence of innate differences gives some information on the (non-)existence and extent of systemic bias and racism, since both are possible causes (among others) of the outcome disparities we observe. In particular, bias and racism are often inferred from outcome disparities, relying on the assumption that other causes for the disparities don’t exist. We could agree that we don’t care about whether innate differences exist, we assume that they may or may not exist, and we don’t infer discrimination from outcome disparities, but many people don’t seem to want to agree to the last part.
What dick said: these researchers agree that there are racial IQ gaps, but may assume that these have societal causes. Under that assumption, these IQ differences can’t be called the cause of the unequal educational outcomes, just (presumably) another manifestation of the same effects that cause the educational differences. Then the IQ differences are not very important to mention. They are not completely irrelevant, though: the fact that even IQ tests that try their best to not rely on acquired knowledge show differences, that has implications on the causes of the outcome differences, even if these causes are societal.
Yep, agreed. But when I try to steelman a really good example of a policy that would clearly hinge on the outcome of the race-IQ debate, it ends up being pretty contrived.
If the outcome of the debate is that there is a sizable innate difference in characteristics relevant to job performance, most obviously intelligence, between races, disparate impact is no longer evidence of discrimination so employers are free to use tests that have different pass rates for different races. And the fact that the ratio of races in a company’s employees is not close to the ratio in the population they are hiring from can no longer be used as evidence of discrimination.
I’m not sure if you count that as a policy change, but it’s a change in how people interact with the legal system.
I don’t think researchers in psychometrics doubt that the average IQ differences across racial groups represent differences in actual intellectual ability. This all was described in a report (PDF) issued by the APA in 1996, describing the then-consensus position among working psychologists about IQ. And more recently in the Vox article (Harden and Turkheimer are authors on that one).
The basic question here is, if I know your IQ score, I get a prediction about your performance in various areas. If IQ scores mean the same thing for members of two different groups, then I should be able to make predictions using the same formula for both groups, and get about the same level of accuracy. As I understand it, this is how things work–a black guy with a 120 IQ performs about the same way as a white guy with a 120 IQ.
If IQ weren’t measuring the same things in the two groups, then you would expect that the predictions would be biased–for example, if IQ scores understate how smart blacks are relative to whites, then a black guy with a 120 IQ should perform better than predicted, while a white guy with a 120 IQ performs about as predicted. My understanding is that we don’t actually see that in the data.
 I am an interested amateur who has read a couple books and a few articles–not remotely an expert.
For dealing with individuals, the IQ difference almost never has much relevance. I’m not hiring a randomly-selected black/white/Asian engineer for my company, I’m hiring one specific engineer, and I can look at his work history and education and judge him as an individual.
For dealing with group differences, it has a lot of relevance:
a. The performance gap between black and white students in school is a major long-running issue in education. It touches on policies like desegregation, tracking, and gifted/talented programs. It’s commonly in the newspapers. The race/IQ correlation is extremely relevant for all these issues, as an answer to questions like “Why are Asians 5% of the local school population and 40% of the magnet school population?”
b. Affirmative action programs in school can operate regardless of any IQ difference, but the existence of an average difference in intelligence has a big impact on what we should predict will happen with those programs. If your AA program is bringing in minority students who are about as able as the rest of the student body, then we should expect everyone will end up with similar educational outcomes. If your AA program is bringing in minority students who are much less able, on average, than the rest of the students, then we should expect the minority students to do a lot worse, on average, in educational outcomes. More dropouts, more academic probation, lower grades, easier majors, etc.
c. The impact of using an objective paper and pencil test on racial numbers is something you can predict by knowing the IQ difference and also knowing that almost any kind of paper-and-pencil test is going to positively correlate with IQ. That means stuff like using a test of firefighting knowledge will pretty reliably get you mostly white guys getting hired. It also means that imposing a written-test-requirement for some occupational licensing scheme on hairdressers or flower arrangers will be a much bigger problem, on average, for blacks than for whites, and still less of a problem for Asians.
That’s three off the top of my head. Probably there are more.
If there is a difference in average intelligence between two groups, then that’s going to lead to different educational outcomes, regardless of its ultimate cause.
Suppose you have two equal-sized populations. Group A comes from a place with little environmental lead, group B comes from a place with lots of environmental lead, leading to an average 10 point IQ depression. This is a 100% environmental difference. And yet, we can very reliably predict that kids from Group B will do a whole lot worse in school than kids from Group A.
In that world, schools that track by ability will get the fast track being almost all kids from Group A, and the slow track being almost all kids from Group B. Adults from Group B will make a lot less money per year, on average, than adults from Group A. When people from Group A go to college, they’ll usually go to better colleges and take harder majors. There will be few people from Group B represented in intellectually demanding careers, relative to Group A.
If you swapped all this out and made the difference genetic instead of environmental (everyone has the same lead level, but Group B members lack some gene that provides some extra lead resistance), the world would look just the same.
The cause of the difference is important for when we want to try to do something about it, but not for what the consequences will be.
IANAL but I’m pretty sure this is flat wrong. If an employer or landlord’s rule excludes more blacks than whites, and it’s not a necessary rule, it’s illegal; doesn’t matter if it’s discriminatory or not. My source is the wikipedia page on disparate impact, first two paragraphs. Another clue is the name: “disparate impact“.
“Touches on policies” doesn’t do it for me. On the day that Charles Murray publishes his masterpiece and convinces everyone, what will change in the real world? What will someone do differently, as opposed to feel differently about?
The people who predict what will happen with those programs generally don’t have to make guesses based on demographics, they have actual test scores from the students in question. I guess that in some cases they wouldn’t, but that was actually one of the ideas I rejected for sounding too contrived and weak-mannish: “The race-IQ difference would be important if you were trying to measure the impact of an educational reform by examining how much improvement the students showed from one year to the next, but some of the data had gone missing and you had to fill it in with estimates based on demographics”.
I think you’re making the same mistake as David Friedman; disparate impact and discrimination are different things. If the Fire Department has a rule that candidates must be able to lift 100 pounds, and that rule results in less women being hired than men, they have to either abandon the rule or show the court that it’s necessary to doing the job. Proving that women are physically weaker on average than men does not change anything.
IANAL but I’m pretty sure this is flat wrong. If an employer or landlord’s rule excludes more blacks than whites, and it’s not a necessary rule, it’s illegal; doesn’t matter if it’s discriminatory or not.
When David said what he said, I read it as ambiguous, and became very afraid it would be interpreted as the much worse connotation, and it looks like that’s exactly what happened.
I interpreted “tests that have different pass rates for different races” as happening to have different pass rates. An example would be a test for mechanics that involves describing all the parts on an alternator and what they do. A non-example would be a test that checked the applicant’s skin color.
The latter would of course be illegal, and / or pointed out as extremely non-productive. The former might be okay, and if it were not, it would lead to other problems. Consider a policy where the result ends up as anything other than in lock step with demographic ratios. Practically every policy would be illegal, even if you allowed a slack factor of 5%!
If the Fire Department has a rule that candidates must be able to lift 100 pounds, and that rule results in less women being hired than men, they have to either abandon the rule or show the court that it’s necessary to doing the job. Proving that women are physically weaker on average than men does not change anything.
It changes quite a bit, if the main argument for the FD’s policy being discriminatory is that fewer women are qualifying. Or to put it more explicitly, it matters if the state’s position on whether its FD is in good standing is primarily based on whether it’s hiring people fairly, rather than on whether it is effectively putting out fires.
Which is not to say that fair hiring should never matter it all. It can, and should. The extent to which it does, however, will depend on the strength of the argument that two groups can be expected to do equally well on a given task.
It doesn’t matter whether the policy was intentionally discriminatory or “just happens” to produce an impact, the rule of thumb for it is 20%, not 5%, and tests that result in disparate impact are fine as long as they’re necessary for the position. Could we all just skim the wiki page on this before responding further please?
If we are talking about environmental causes that cause biological changes (e.g. lead), it indeed works the same way for this purpose as if it was a genetic difference. The question is whether IQ tests succeed in not relying at all on acquired knowledge or experience at all; if we assume that they don’t rely on such experience, you’re right.
An analogue: Let’s say you have the flu. Influenza means being infected with influenza viruses. We can say that your fever, runny nose and muscle pains are caused by influenza.
Now let’s say you have a headache. It wouldn’t make sense to say that your headache causes your head to hurt: headache is just another term for the fact that your head hurts (though of course there is a strong correlation between having a headache and your head hurting). Likewise, several diseases cause both gut pain and diarrhea. But if you have both symptoms, it wouldn’t make sense to say that your gut pain causes your diarrhea (even though the two symptoms correlate). Rather, some common reason causes both symptoms.
If we assume that IQ tests don’t depend on acquired knowledge or experience, then we can say that IQ is virtually synonymous with biological intellectual ability (which is affected by both genetics and environmental effects that cause biological changes), and we can say that IQ differences cause some of the outcome disparities. If the racial difference in IQ test results (as well as in educational outcomes) is caused by environmental, non-biological effects, then it makes more sense to say that the difference in IQ test results and the difference in educational outcomes are two separate (but similar and correlated) symptoms of some root cause.
The problem is that when we observe that black students perform worse in the magnet school, some people will still insist that this implies racism which we must root out (or sweep under the rug by enforcing equal outcomes in the magnet school’s grading too).
The problem is that in practice it seems pretty hard to convince courts that a test is necessary, even if it actually is. Plus, good performance on some test may not be quite necessary, but nevertheless advantageous.
Support for the disparate impact doctrine relies on the assumption that the outcome disparities we observe are mostly caused by discrimination, which is a pervasive problem; and that tests that have a disparate impact and which are not very obviously necessary for the job usually have discriminatory intent. At present it doesn’t matter if there is actually discriminatory intent or not, but evidence for non-discriminatory causes for outcome disparities would bolster the case for abolishing the disparate impact doctrine.
In my opinion, the disparate impact doctrine is wrong no matter whether there are innate differences between different groups. Some people believe that the doctrine is justified no matter whether there are innate differences, yet other people’s opinion would be changed depending on whether there are. But on the part of those who support the disparate impact doctrine, it’s a bit disingenuous to argue that we shouldn’t discuss innate differences because they don’t matter at all, when at present most mainstream discussion assumes that there are no such differences, and evidence for their existence would decrease support for their preferred policy.
One reason it’s important for policy decisions to know about the IQ distribution is because it shows a built-in problem with disparate impact. IQ scores both:
a. Positively correlate with performance in pretty-much every job ever.
b. Are distributed differently in different racial groups, with Asians on top, then whites, then hispanics, then blacks. (Unless you split out Jews of Eastern European descent–then they’re above Asians.)
These two together mean that there is a universally-relevant thing that predicts performance that is also highly racially skewed.
Another reason it’s important to know about the IQ statistics is because you, as a policymaker, would like to be able to correctly guess what impact your policies are going to have. For example, many or most of the local and state politicians who have imposed bullshit occupational licensing rules to protect incumbents added requirements for schooling and tests to get into professions like hair braiding and flower arranging. Knowing about the IQ statistics would have let them realize that by doing this, they were going to have a way bigger impact on blacks (who have lower average IQs, and thus tend to have a harder time with tests and schooling) than on whites or Asians. Maybe that makes sense–I’m fine with doctors and engineers needing to effectively pass an intelligence test to work in their field, for example. But it’s probably dumb to make hairdressers or tour guides do so, and this ends up making things worse for people the lawmakers involves probably wanted to help.
Knowing what the world looks like is *really useful* for deciding what to do.
What does this mean? What problem? You never explained, justified it or supported it. You just said it, explained what IQ means, and moved on to the next thing. Did you omit a paragraph on accident? (And once again, I implore you to read the wiki page on it because it seems to be something a lot of people have weird ideas about)
We already know that there are racial differences in test scores and graduation rates. Nothing about those scenarios depends on the reason for the differences. If blacks get highschool diplomas at a lower rate than whites, then requiring hairdressers to have a GED will impact blacks more than whites regardless of whether the graduation difference is due to genes, racism, income level, or sunspots.
Once again, the question you’re trying to answer is: “On the day that Charles Murray publishes his masterpiece and convinces everyone, what will change in the real world? What will someone do differently, as opposed to feel differently about?” For something that’s supposed to be easy and obvious, the forum is collectively like 0/7 so far.
This is another case where it’s well possible to argue that racial IQ differences shouldn’t matter: while licensing requirements hurt less intelligent people, who are already worse off in many other ways, it’s irrelevant whether these people being hurt are disproportionately black. But a lot of people don’t seem to think that that’s irrelevant; in particular, the sort of people who strongly oppose publicizing the IQ statistics also tent to think outcome disparities are relevant.
Some people will switch from supporting the disparate impact doctrine, affirmative action to opposing them. As I said, I don’t think they should, they should oppose them either way, but I don’t get to decide that.
The two are not separable. We feel differently about something -> we vote differently -> politicians do things differently.
Which parts, in what way, and why? Throw me a bone here. What affirmative action program would someone stop supporting, and why? In what scenario would someone no longer consider disparate impact the right doctrine for the courts to apply, and why would they do that? It doesn’t have to be you personally, it could be a change that would only affect someone you despise, but it does have to be a change – someone who previously would’ve done X will, after realizing the truth of racial IQ differences, do Y.
*Sigh* Yes, actions and feelings are related, but “Harvard would admit fewer black kids” is someone doing something differently, and “That jerk on the internet would finally admit I’m right” is someone feeling differently, and if this is important enough for a million keyboard warriors to argue endlessly about on a million forums, it shouldn’t be that hard to name a couple of substantial things that are clearly not just a feeling.
Look, I feel like I’m lobbing you a pretty big softball here. The battle is over! Your side won! The keyboard warriors can hang up their leather trenchcoats! The stupid liberals have not just been defeated, they’ve been convinced, they’ve drunk the koolaid and they behave accordingly. And now that this magical day has finally arrived, the result is… what? What fucking happens?
I believe the expectation here is “black people don’t get into (high-end/prestigious/any/etc.) colleges/jobs as often, but the ones who do start to graduate/perform at the same rate as white people. This erodes racism over time by making race no longer predict performance (so long as you can tell whether they have those other credentials). Additionally, headaches with HR on diversity-of-skin-color-and-genital-configuration can be forgone in favor of emphasis on diversity-of-creative-approach, or diversity-of-specialization.”
Prognostications about what will happen years in the future are technically a valid answer, but I feel like it’s kind of a stretch – you shouldn’t need to go that far or make assumptions that tenuous. So let’s stick to the first bit:
Why, specifically? Does Harvard abandon the idea of quotas and switch to a race-blind admissions? How does that follow from the premise? Remember that liberals didn’t suddenly stop caring about racism and systemic oppression and shitty schools in poor neighborhoods, they still care about diversity for its own sake, and they still care about equitable outcomes. (And, because my spider-sense suggests that you’re going to say something like, “Well, at the very least they’ll downgrade their expectation for the number of black kids Harvard needs to admit to not be racist,” I would point out that I don’t think the left has any clear notion of what that that number ought to be today, either)
It’s also unclear which jobs you mean. Which jobs would black people not get into as often? Virtually all jobs screen candidates individually, they have no reason to rely on demographics. Or was that just supposed to be a consequence of not getting into colleges as often?
The question you’re posing seems set up to have no adequate answer. For many issues, the appropriate policy changes are unlikely to be known immediately.
Notable exceptions exist, for example, in the medical realm. Thalidomide was clearly *the* culprit in a large number of birth defects, so medical policy changed relatively quickly (after a few years). The regulation of asbestos use is another example of a somewhat expedient policy change.
But health policies regarding cigarette use? Things are less clear. (1) Is tobacco *a* culprit when it comes to, say, certain types of lung cancer? Plausibly. (2) To what extent, relative to other lifestyle factors, does it contribute to lung cancer? Time to fund some big studies.
Note that (1) has to be open for debate before (2) can be answered.
In your hypothetical, society has already reached consensus on the analogy to (1): racial IQ differences exist. But asking people to list the policy changes that would immediately follow, and shrugging off prognostications, seems unproductive.
Reasonably, we can claim that the analogy to (2) would/should follow. Now that we know for a fact that racial IQ differences exist, to what extent to they play a role in disparate outcomes we observe? Studies and a lot of money would have to be thrown at the question before an answer and a potential policy change emerged.
Of course, today in the real world, I don’t think we can get to (2). Arguably, that’s a problem, and another reason I think your hypothetical isn’t very useful.
Eh, the problem is, what have they been convinced of?
If they’ve been convinced only that blacks have lower IQs than whites, you are probably correct that nothing changes – because they will explain this away by the test being racist, or by racist oppression forcing blacks into bad environmental circumstances that lower IQ over time, or by insisting that intelligence actually doesn’t matter that much, etc.
If they’ve been convinced that blacks have lower IQs and that IQ tests are fair and objective and that IQ meaningfully correlates with just about every positive outcome etc, etc then racial pandering and all affirmative action is immediately abolished.
This is one of the main problems with this issue. There are two debates, one over whether a disparity exists at all, and another over whether the disparity (assuming it does exist) tells us any meaningful information about racism in society. A whole lot of people are deliberately confusing and obfuscating the two.
@ Matt M.
I disagree. People can agree that racial IQ differences exist, and that IQ tests are fair and meaningful, but then still argue that affirmative action is necessary to correct for environmental factors or discrimination.
Instead, I can see a “dialed-back” affirmative-action policy eventually being implemented, but only after society comes to a second consensus on the question of “To what degree are racial IQ differences responsible for the disparate outcomes we seek to fix through affirmative-action policy?”.
Perhaps I phrased poorly. I don’t disagree with anything you just said.
Simply convincing people that IQ differences do exist will, as dick maintains, lead to very little action, if the other positions are not addressed.
In fact, I highly suspect that a lot of the people arguing against differences in IQ don’t really believe it (or maybe just don’t really care), but rather, are fighting something like a preventative war against the other positions. The intellectual equivalent of “fight them over there so they don’t fight us over here.” So long as enough people believe IQ differences don’t exist, we never have to even have the arguments about all the other stuff.
Might not need to, but I think that’s what’s being shot for here.
The end of racism is being shot for this way because affirmative action, disparate impact, and similar are seen as backfiring: on the one hand more black kids get As, but on the other hand a black kid’s A becomes worth less than a white kid’s A to someone who only sees the grade and the race.
Obviously grade inflation (and other credential inflation) isn’t exclusive to race, but I think that’s roughly the sentiment.
@ Matt M.
Yes, I suspect the same, and I like that phrasing.
It’s the policy change that I’m after. You can’t predict long-term outcomes of policy changes, and neither can I, but you ought to be able to tell me what will initially happen. On what planet, in what universe, is it unfair to ask what your side hopes will happen when they win?
This is the wrong analogy. Our current position – “We know various things affect IQ, but is race one of them?” is analogous to “We know various things affect cancer rates, but is smoking one of them?”. And the answer I’m looking for, the thing that would happen if you convinced everyone that the answer is yes, would be “People would smoke less.” See how easy this is? That’s all I’m asking for, along with an explanation of how one leads to the other (if it’s less obvious than “…because they don’t want cancer”).
I don’t think this is an unreasonable thing to ask for. There seem to be a hell of a lot of people who think it’s REALLY IMPORTANT that everyone admit the HARD TRUTH about racial IQ differences being genetic. They argue it ad infinitum, quote The Bell Curve chapter and verse, and bring it up at the slightest provocation. Steve Sailer has made a career out of it, such as it is.
Presumably some of those people just love bashing liberals, or have some other personal reason, but I’m (charitably, I thought) assuming that most people who argue this do so because there’s some policy or law or action that would change if they succeed. So what is it? Tell me the thing that’ll change as a result of your side winning the debate totally and in all ways, in the same way that “People will smoke less” would result from persuading everyone that smoking causes cancer.
Or, you can just admit that you believe whatever helps your side win. That is, as we’ve seen, an option.
From my response to you and then to Matt M.:
To reiterate, providing the details of a policy change is not possible given the hypothetical you’ve posed. And given the tone of your language, I suspect you’re more interested in a “gotcha” than in honestly considering the responses you’ve received from commenters here. I do not consider you to be acting charitably.
So, I’ve given my answer. That you’re not satisfied is unfortunate, but it doesn’t change my response.
For many people, affirmative action in the form of discrimination in the favor blacks or women, and the disparate impact doctrine, have both upsides (compensating for discrimination in the traditional direction, and perhaps other injustices against blacks/women) and downsides (the possibility that discrimination against whites/men exceeds discrimination in the other direction, companies not being able to choose the best candidate, companies not being able to use tests that are relevant to the job if they are not sure they can prove this in court).
People who see both upsides and downsides decide whether to support these policies by weighing the upsides against the downsides. If we think discrimination and other forms of injustice against black people/women is pervasive and is the main cause of the outcome disparities we observe, that strengthens the pro-arguments; if we think the opposite, that strengthens the counterarguments.
As I said earlier, a lot of people seem to infer discrimination from outcome differences, without considering other possible causes (or giving them proper weight). Convincing them that another reason exist would decrease their estimate of the extent of discrimination against black people/women. (Of course there are other possible causes besides discrimination and innate differences, convincing them of those would work too.) Other people think that any outcome difference that has societal reasons constitutes injustice, as well as wasted talent, and we should expect companies to compensate for it (but not if the cause is innate). For any of these people, their support for affirmative action or the disparate impact doctrine would decrease, as the arguments for them would weaken and the arguments against would strengthen.
If a lot of people’s support for affirmative action decreases, it’s likely that many programs (perhaps not all) would be abolished, or reduced in extent. Which ones exactly? I’m not an oracle. One bet would be ones companies engage in because they are de facto mandated/incentivized by law. These are not decided on exclusively by left-wingers: even a Republican president and congress haven’t repealed or amended Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act or Executive Order 11246, presumably because they think they would lose more votes than they would gain by doing so. That calculation would change.
How does law incentivize discrimination against over-represented groups? If an employment test has disparate impact, and the company is not sure it can prove in court that it’s necessary for the job, but it is, then the company is often better off continuing using the test and lowering the standards for the underrepresented group, rather than stopping using the test altogether.
Executive Order 11246 originally only requires non-discrimination, but administrative and judicial decisions have interpreted it as requiring numerical goals. While it’s not specified how a government contractor must increase the employment of underrepresented groups, a company will resort to discrimination in their favor if other methods don’t exist, don’t work or are too costly.
Indeed, not only some voters or political commentators think that a requirement of non-discrimination really implies a requirement of equal outcomes, but even courts often do when interpreting law. That, too, could change.
Uncharitable is “Haha that answer’s not good enough, so I’m right and you’re wrong.” Charitable is, “Sorry, that’s not quite what I’m asking, let me explain and clarify” which is what I did, and continue to do. You can imagine what tone my voice might be taking and make assumptions thereon all you like, but the plain fact is that I’m asking because I’d like to know the answer. Why else would I still be in a stale thread that’s only being read by three people who are all convinced I’m an asshole already? Honestly, I’m baffled by all this quibbling. I know there’s a ton of thought put into this on the right that I’m unaware of, and I genuinely expected to get a bunch of responses that were really strong and hard-to-rebut that would, if not actually change my position in an obvious way, at least force me to grapple with uncomfortable truths. I was not prepared for thirteen fucking rounds of restating the question. It seems like people just hadn’t really thought it out very far. And isn’t being forced to critically examine ideas sort of the point of the whole endeavor?
First, “I already answered this” is the exact opposite of “you’re asking an unaswerable question.” Second, the reason I want something more specific than “dialed back affirmative action” is because it’s just too ambiguous to respond to. “Affirmative action” can refer to a lot of things, and “dialed back” could mean a lot of things. Shall I make my own guesses about which specific programs you mean and how they would be dialed back, and then rebut those? I feel like that would lead to me being told I’m putting words in your mouth.
At any rate, 10240 went in to somewhat more detail than you but in the same general direction so I’ll just respond to him. In the meantime, feel free to pick a particular program or rule or law or wharever and a particular way it would change, if you like. I’m not going to do it for you so you can respond, “Haha, that’s not what I meant, stop being so uncharitable!”
Thank you for engaging very constructively. I wish you could just pick the specific program or rule or whatever you think is easiest to prove, rather than talking about “affirmative action” as if that was a thing with a definition we agree on, but you included some details that narrow it down somewhat so we’ll do what we can.
It’s true that a lot of people infer discrimination from outcome differences, but a lot of people also infer discrimination where the outcome differences are unclear or unknowable, and it seems to me like you’re really overestimating the extent to which anyone thinks about this numerically. We can’t quantify the effects of the things we definitely know affect outcomes (racism, poorer schools, incarcerated fathers, etc) and that hasn’t stopped anyone from having strong opinions about whether or not the present level of affirmative action is correct; it seems like the race-IQ stuff would just change the talking points and not the positions.
You mentioned voting patterns changing, so you’re not arguing that any particular politician would change their stance immediately, right? It’s not like Senator John Q. Republican will say, “Hey, now that we know about this IQ stuff, I propose [insert anything here]” and the Democrats will say, “Sure, that’s reasonable.” They can’t even do that to fix bridges. So I think what you mean is that the people in office will keep their present positions, but that, over the course of a decade or two, different people will replace them, and the anti-AA side will gain ground and some unspecified AA program will be abolished or reduced as a result, right?
That might happen, but you’re making an awful lot of assumptions. First, that voters really think about this stuff dispassionately, as opposed to voting by emotion and tribal affiliation. Second, that the opinions of the voters substantially affect which laws pass, which does happen sometimes but certainly not reliably. And third, possibly most importantly, has it occurred to you that there will likely be a significant amount of support on the left for the idea that the race-IQ stuff is a reason for even more unequal treatment? Doesn’t the right complain a lot that, despite their rhetoric about opportunity, what the left really wants is just equality of outcome? I don’t think that accusation is without merit.
More generally, this is a good example of why I don’t want answers that would happen a generation from now – they require so many assumptions that it’s not much of a debate, just us stating contradictory sets of assumptions that are too speculative to argue about constructively. Fortunately, the argument “the courts would administer challenges to AA differently” is very similar to the argument “lawmakers would pass laws about AA differently”, but with the benefit of not requiring us to see arbitrarily far in to the future, so let’s move on to that.
This is starting to sound pretty persuasive, but it’s not a slam dunk and it also sounds like a very small effect, and anyway I’m not certain we’re talking about the same thing, since disparate impact and affirmative action are related-but-separate things that you are conflating in a very casual way.
Affirmative action, a la EO 11246, as I understand it, required a handful of big federal contractors to come up with a plan that says, in essence, “Our mechanical engineering department is 1% black, but we looked at the numbers of graduating engineers and our applicant pool and we think we could get that to 3% in 5 years” and submit it to the EEOC, who would then accept it or argue about it. Bu the point of affirmative action was to remedy obvious and pervasive discrimination against minority candidates, which is way, way less common now than it was in the 50s, and I don’t think that’s really done any more except as a penalty for companies that have gotten caught discriminating in a large and pervasive way, which is rare. I presume that those kinds of mandates are not what you mean, and you’re using “affirmative action” to mean programs or rules that are designed to comply with the Civil Rights Act, right?
Disparate impact is a way of measuring compliance with the Civil Rights Act and related laws, and it does use a numerical ratio (protected class being hired at least 80% as often as majority class) as a rule of thumb to determine whether an accusation of discrimination has merit to be examined by the courts, which, to a lawsuit-phobic company might look like a quota. And there might well, as you suggest, be some employers who want to administer some test that they don’t think they can defend in court, who therefore accepts minority candidates at a lower standard in an effort to not get sued, and you’re saying they’d change to accept fewer of those low-quality minority candidates. Sounds reasonable! But also, rather rare.
First, I think this is quite uncommon. It’s super common to administer what amounts to aptitude tests and not get sued, because it’s super common for aptitude tests to be obviously relevant to the work being done. Also, most of the private sector is immune to this because they don’t have to hire people in a systematic way*, so, it seems like this is mostly limited to the civil service (and to some related fields that use the same hiring criteria because they’re so heavily regulated, like say, community college administrators). Second, disparate impact cuts both ways. Unlike affirmative action programs, it is just as illegal to unintentionally discriminate against the majority as the minority. So we’re not talking about the end of disparate impact, just an adjustment to the location of the line between “too many minorities” and “too many majorities”.
This is really long and I’m doing a lot of assuming. So I’ll stop here and ask, is this more or less what you have in mind? That, after the change described in the premise I suggested, the courts would change the ratio they use in deciding whether unintentional discrimination has occurred, on those occasions when someone sues an employer because the employer used the kind of IQ-like-but-not-provably-job-related test that in practice seems to be limited to a small subset of civil service jobs? And presumably, after some time that change would ripple out to affect other jobseekers that are in a similar position to the ones who brought those kinds of lawsuits?
*If this is not clear I can support it further but it’s kind of convoluted and maybe unnecessary so I’m skipping it for now.
I am not a licensed professional and am not giving anyone advice on what to do with their money. I will be documenting what I am doing with some of my money and why.
I am posting this here because there are a good number of people who like to discuss economics and finance, and I have posted here enough under this name and baconbacon that you should have an idea of who I am if you read comments.
I am restarting an older blog of mine with a new focus which will be synthesizing (and maybe improving) the Austrian Business Cycle Theory with the Efficient Market Hypothesis. I will be betting some of my own money on my predictions and tracking those positions, stating when I entered and exited them and why, unlike other blogging attempts I have made I have a backlog of largely finished posts that will aid the early momentum and fill gaps where I can’t/don’t/won’t post much. Reasons you might find this blog interesting.
1. You like to read fringe Macro economic views.
2. You like commenting on a blog where the author is likely to respond to your comments, and is willing to go back and forth on points in the comments section.
3. You are an active investor and are looking for a new viewpoint to evaluate and perhaps incorporate it into your own structure.
4. You don’t believe in the EMH and think you can beat the market by fading my positions.
Some reasons why you won’t want to read my blog beyond not finding the subject matter interesting.
1. I am not a great writer and am a poor self editor, I will put some effort into pre editing, and some more into fixing errors that people point out. My writing does improve with practice but I am out of practice and it will probably take several dozen posts to really get to what some would consider the low end of acceptable in terms of typos and clarity of expression.
2. You are infuriated by posts that just sort of end without a conclusion or summing up. I am working on a macro level view and many of my posts will be ‘look at this correlation, this reduces the strength of explanation X’, but few of ‘look at this correlation, this means X, Y and Z’.
The link to the blog is here, and my first (new) post is here.
I’m becoming increasingly suspicious that we’re on the verge of a recession. By “on the verge” I don’t mean like “next week” but more like “sometime in the next 1-2 years.” My reasoning is based on two primary things.
1. General optimism. We seem to have reached a point where everyone is generally optimistic about the economic future. Usually this means things are about to change. All my friends and family who 9 years ago were declaring that the stock market was a giant scam are now insisting that it’s an easy 10% return per year no questions asked. The “since 2009” chart is a pretty giant upward curve and P/E ratios are historically high. This sort of thing has never lasted forever before.
2. Conspiracy theories relating to politics. The anti-Trump forces in Washington are going to do whatever they can to crash the economy before the 2020 election. I’m not sure they’re competent enough to actually pull it off, but lord knows they’ll try. Part of me still considers it pretty darn suspicious that the exact timing of the popping of the housing bubble was right before the 2008 election. Another few months earlier or later and maybe McCain beats Obama.
The rational side of me knows that I can’t time the market, so I’m not making any drastic moves in terms of selling anything. But I have stopped my monthly contribution for the sake of dollar-cost-averaging. I’m now adding investments manually, and directing them at a consumer staples ETF rather than the S&P index. I feel like consumer staples is a nice point for still having stock exposure if things continue to go well, but having less direct risk at being tied to the highly cyclical tech sector (I suspect that in the event of a real recession, it’s the FAANGs that are going to get hammered fast and quick)
I have come to a similar conclusion, with a different timeline (my early estimate is 1.5-3 years) and for different reasons.
I also think your #2 reason is totally incorrect, the people who could theoretically do it are the people most exposed in the event of a crash as well. The powers that be generally hate dramatic change, and Trump isn’t nearly powerful enough or successful enough to make rocking their system worth it. If he was 50 and without term limits you could maybe justify it but it would be a huge reaction just to prevent 4 more years of Trump, especially when he isn’t near 100% to win without a crash.
Are the people who run the Fed highly invested in tech stocks?
As far as I can tell, they didn’t even suffer from a professional or reputational standpoint last time around. Does anyone besides the Austrians actually hold Bernanke, Greenspan, etc. responsible for any of this?
ETA: Even if we go to the private sector… hell… Jaime Dimon or all people seems to be on the verge of running for President. If the CEOs of the big banks during the crisis came out okay last time, what on Earth makes you think they wouldn’t try and do it again?
The people who run the Fed are highly invested in running the Fed, crashes bring lots of scrutiny down on them and some future blog posts will discuss how the previous crash narrowed its long term options and set up a showdown with the Federal Government.
Yes, the Monetarists blame them for not preventing the crash.
Really though? Aside from Ron Paul getting a little bit more popular, what exactly happened?
To be clear – I don’t expect they’ll crash things any worse than they did in 2008, and they all seem to have gotten through that just fine.
There is a pretty straight line connection between the crash, the slow and uneven recovery and Trump’s election. Janet Yellen ended up as the first Chairperson to serve only one term since 1979.
In general the Fed has less prestige than it did pre crash, Greenspan was held in extremely high esteem for a long period and generally still is (thanks at least partially to being out of office when it happened).
Except for Pat Buchanan it’s news to me that anyone on the right dislikes the Fed, I thought that was a left-wing thing.
Bernie Sanders has spoken against the Fed, and slightly left but mostly centrist economist Paul Krugman has called Greenspan “The Worst Ex-Chairman Ever“.
We must be getting news from different sources.
Speaking of which, check out this take on Greenspan, it’s hilarious!
Hah, thanks, I haven’t had a laugh this big in quite some time.
Another note that I would make is that the Fed has aggressively ‘fought’ every recession since the early 80s. Prior to the 2008 crash the Fed was easing as early as July 2007, which was months before the official start of the recession, the same with the previous recessions. Austrian capital theory basically states that a recession at this point is baked in, with only questions about the length and depth being under Fed control. The Fed would have to buy into Austrian theory to be able to time a crash without doing something really obvious and hard to justify.
“Hah, thanks, I haven’t had a laugh this big in quite some time” @Matt M,
In thinking about it, Krugman is “centrist” by Berkeley, California (which is near where I live) standards, but not by San Jose, California standards (I spent over a decade working in the Hellscape of “Silicon Valley”), so I edited my post to read “slightly left but mostly centrist” which, since he pretty much just advocates vintage 1940’s textbook Keynesian economics that were mainstream when I was born in ’68, I stand by.
I hear this a lot, but my conclusion is that you don’t need to make substantial moves to beat the market, you just need small positions and the right amount of leverage plus keeping the rest of your portfolio where it is. Big market downswings are driven by people who are unable to maintain their position in the face of headwinds.
Right. I think “timing the market” often gets interpreted as something like “You won’t be able to successfully flip a giant switch that goes from BUY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN to SELL EVERYTHING on the exact correct date.” Which is obviously true that nobody is equipped to do this.
That said, surely there’s some room for well educated and intelligent people to gradually adjust the composition of their portfolio in anticipation of long-term moves down (in a current period of strength) or up (in a current period of weakness).
Basically, if I was “calling a top” with 100% confidence, I’d sell all my stocks today and take up large positions in 3x short ETFs. But instead, I’m simply saying “I think we’re probably pretty near the top, so it makes little sense for me to continue throwing money into an asset that I think is likely to go down soon and is highly exposed to some fairly risky stuff” (I do have a small position short in FB, but that’s mainly for ideological and entertainment purposes)
This is true, however my buying/selling strategy is aimed at making that ‘buy as much as you can’ mode easier/more profitable.
People have been saying that the next recession is coming for the entire decade. I remember hearing in 2015 how the stock market trend was unsustainable. I’m not changing any of my behavior based on the possibility of recession because we simply don’t know.
Can your blog software produce an RSS feed? I’m interested, but probably not enough to poll yet another site – whereas if new posts appear in my general feed, I’ll read them, and maybe follow the link back to the original post and comment.
Here’s the rss link.
A lot of the time, things that seem like they should have an rss feed but don’t have a link to it will have a “link alternate rss” tag—look at the source and search in page for rss to find it
ETA: apparently there’s also a link to the Atom feed (atom is basically rss, afaik most things that do rss nowadays also do atom) at the bottom of the page…
Well thank you, I was just signing on to find it before I went to bed (after my wife explained what an RSS feed was of course).
For anyone that saw my second post before I fixed the formatting…. sorry, it is fixed now though.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is reduce the moral valence of innate intelligence in American society without seriously hurting innovation/productivity, so that we can have reasonable discussions about improving education without constantly getting derailed by identity politics.
This message will self destruct.
Inspiration: saying “group A is more intelligent on average than group B” gets you crucified, “group A is taller and faster on average than B” gets a shrug. Yet being tall and fast is, if anything, more immutable than intelligence, and the differences in finances and fame for being the absolute fastest, instead of just the 99th percentile fastest, are even greater than they generally are for intelligence.
Sorry, if Hollywood hasn’t been able to do it by portraying highly intelligent scheming villains being beaten by some naive fool in tights or a big guy with a square jaw and poor taste in cocktails, I’m not going to be able to do it.
eh, depends on who you are and who the groups are
Jimmy the Greek was, in fact, crucified for saying this
Cyberpunk option: do the opposite. Let moral valence of intelligence increase without limit until somebody invents an AI than can solve this problem for me, then do whatever it suggests.
Deconstructionist option: is this actually what’s going on? Certainly any discussion of why our education system is so awful inevitably turns into a screaming pit of nonsense, but I think that’s less because we’re valuing intelligence especially highly and more because measuring it is conflated with old-timey Fantastic Rascism. The way forward be to de-couple educational attainment from ‘can have decent life outcomes,’ i.e. through a basic income sort of thing, so that ‘let’s fix education’ doesn’t come off quite so much like ‘let’s mess with the system that determines whether your kids end up in horrible crushing poverty.’
Propaganda option: we’re not tracking kids based on IQ testing, we’re doing it based on learning styles. This way, kids can learn at their own pace, in the way that’s best suited to their own unique lived experiences! Pay no attention to the fact that one learning style is ‘all the math and philosophy, also computers’ and one learning style is ‘this is how to build a chair.’
Reactionary option: mandate required changes from outside the system, crush those who resist beneath my iron boot.
Vaguely plausible option: [error 404]
I like the propaganda option.
Honestly, so do I. All of these were supposed to be jokes, but I think I’d have a disturbingly easy time getting people to sign on for that one.
Really like the propaganda option, and will probably use it when able.
Pay no attention to the fact that one learning style is ‘all the math and philosophy, also computers’ and one learning style is ‘this is how to build a chair.’
Also, do your damnedest to get your kid into the “this is how to build a chair” classes, as the forthcoming inevitable rise of AI will mean all the programmers are now obsolete since computers are now designing, programming, and building themselves. So having a skilled artisanal trade means they won’t be begging in the gutters with “will code for food stamps” cardboard signs, instead they’ll be creating custom one-of-a-kind hand-made and eye-wateringly expensive pieces for the ultra-rich who make their money off the AI 🙂
If it’s friendly AI, they’re going to be using their computer-controlled equipment to build the chairs, so the chair-builder is out of luck too.
If it’s not friendly AI, those raw materials are put to better use than to have someplace a meatsack puts its rear end. And come to think of it, those meatsacks could be used as raw materials themselves.
I dunno, I’ve read two entire books about a chair-builder who’s a key – if sometimes recalcitrant – employee of friendly AIs.
That was a highly noncentral example of a handmade chair!
If it’s friendly AI, they’re going to be using their computer-controlled equipment to build the chairs, so the chair-builder is out of luck too.
In which case, places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes should be an unsustainable business model, much less Goop 🙂
See, this is the snob appeal, the same reason for the whole raw pure food organic free-range non-GMO etc and so on, which is why I said they’d produce conspicuous consumption for the ultra-rich. Think of all the fol-de-rol about slow food, artisanal products, genuine ethnic cooking with proper ingredients, and the corollary of all that, cultural appropriation – the insistence on authenticity, the sacred value of our day.
The mass-produced machine products are cheap and mass market. What’s the point in having one of seven billion identical chairs? But having a unique, one-of-a-kind art piece – now that’s different. See the slight imperfections and subtle lack of symmetry which demonstrates that this is all done by unaided human hand, eye and brain! As recognisable as the individual brushstrokes of a masterpiece! No two alike!
The AI could churn out art that is better than Leonardo, Michaelangelo or Mozart. So what? The oneupmanship is owning the last original Monet in private hands. And in a world where everyone (who is connected in the right ways to the social system as it is now constituted) can have anything and as much of it as they want, standing out from the crowd is the status symbol all will strive for. Owning the first AI-produced chair gives you kudos, but in a world where even the tramps begging in the gutters can have an AI-produced chair if they can scrape together the price, where’s the value to that?
Aluminium used to be used as a precious metal in jewellery, because it was only discovered in 1825 and early production methods were so complex that it was rare and in short supply – allegedly Napoleon III gave a dinner where guests of the most special rank were served with aluminium plates, the gold and silver plates being used for the less important! But now it’s so easy to produce, we use it as kitchen foil.
Same with AI-produced mass market goods versus human versions 🙂
EDIT: We had something of a discussion on a similar topic here a while back, and the point of the imperfect human version over the superior machine-produced version is not the product (the AI could cleverly introduce imperfections to mimic human-produced chairs), it’s the labour and the cost. The hours of time of a real human putting in sweat and effort is what you are paying for, and signalling that you can afford to have a human using their time in this way to produce goods for you. Did anyone ever buy a Bauhaus chair because it was comfortable to sit in? But it was the trend, the cutting edge, the marker of taste and sophistication and being above the common herd.
The ultra-rich of the AI-future can now all be their own little personal version of the Medicis and the great Renaissance patrons of the arts, with all the opportunity to peacock about it that entails -the same way that charities get them to donate by putting on galas where they pay for expensive tickets and wear designer clothes and jewellery and show off their wealth and status. It would be more efficient to simply write out a cheque or give a donation of the amount, but it would not enable them to mix with their peers, get their photos in the society columns, and have their egos stroked for being such wunnerful, wunnerful philanthropists.
For a different example of Deiseach’s point, consider the price difference between natural sapphires and synthetic sapphires.
Why wouldn’t the same apply to programmers? I can already think of one field where people prefer bespoke, wood-fired human-written code over machine learning, even though the latter is at least demonstrably comparable if not superior.
I think the folks who build chairs for the super-rich tend to have gone to a fancy college to get an art degree, rather than the local polytechnic.
And that after a certain point, you can’t really make a chair objectively any better. Success becomes a matter less of technical skill or artistic vision, and more of following the fashion and social games of the techno-plutocrats.
E.g. not being above the unironic use of the words ‘upcycling’ and ‘shabby chic’.
Er, huh? I don’t think comparing human-written and ML-produced code makes sense but unpacking why is kind of complicated. Do you work in software?
Bring back a belief in Christianity, which posits an innate and unique worth of human beings that is ineffable and not correlated with performance of any sort.
Absent this, “better suited to the current environment” is pretty much isomorphic to “better person”, and the current environment demands intelligence, among–but not equal to–some other traits
I recall reading somewhere that there are only two concepts which are insults in every language: “ugly” and “stupid.” If it’s that universal, it’s likely to be in our DNA.
I have a hard time believing that “slutty” isn’t on the list as well.
I would certainly agree that “promiscuous” is a pretty universal insult if (1) it’s directed against a woman; and (2) it’s in a culture which is patriarchical, i.e. one in which men are expected to contribute significantly to their offspring. But without those constraints?
Isn’t that all cultures? Can you give an example of a culture where men are not expected to contribute to their offspring?
“….Can you give an example of a culture where men are not expected to contribute to their offspring?”
Sure, here’s one, and it’s actually pretty common that in matrilineal cultures maternal uncles (mothers brothers) help raise their sisters children, and the fathers don’t.
Patriarchy is pretty widespread but it hasn’t yet conquered the world as far as I know.
In any event, what I was taught in anthropology class (and it makes sense to me) is that in patriarchal cultures, female chastity is valued since men don’t want to invest energy in children who might be some other guy’s. In such a culture, it makes sense that it would be highly insulting accuse a woman of sexual promiscuity.
Probably that’s part of the reason why an accusation of sexual promiscuity is far less of an insult when directed at a man than a woman. Sometimes it’s even seen as a positive if a man is seen as a “player.”
I’m willing to accept that there may be universal insults besides “ugly” and “stupid,” but I don’t think “slutty” is one of them.
Are there languages where implying a male is unable to perform sexually is not an insult? What about moral deviance, specific or general? I’m not really buying the claim I guess.
Sure, even in English it would not be an insult to a 7 year old child to state that they were unable to perform sexually. Although it would be insulting to assert that such a child was “stupid” or “ugly.”
I do agree that if we limit things to adult men, a statement that the man in question is not able to perform sexually is probably an insult in just about every language and culture, but it seems to lack the universality of “stupid” or “ugly.”
I’m skeptical myself, but it does seem that “stupid” (and “ugly”) are very much universal.
Dirty or unclean is a very basic category. And I think this tends to involve ritual or religious uncleanness–this might be inborn (untouchable caste, albino), or based on something that happened to you (leprosy, some kind of contagious bad luck), or something you did (killed your father, slept with your mother, sacrificed at the wrong altar). I suspect every human culture has insults related to this,
Dispense with meritocracy as an ideal, and bring back feudalism.
I should first note that I read the wrong statistic; it’s a 7% net drop, which is itself 39% of the pre-existing rate. This is much less immediately weird-looking to me.
I think the time lag is suspiciously long for the result (7% improvement is still huge in social-science world), and I don’t have any personal experience of elementary school teachers being vastly influential (which isn’t an argument; I could totally just be wrong here).
I’m also probably suffering from some kind of sour-grapes bias (real name unknown); I have a statistics-related degree, their tables really are so poorly laid out as to be basically illegible, so naturally I subconsciously assume this is for some nefarious purpose and not just me being less clever/well-read than I think I am.
Can anybody give an account of whether the article here is as earth-shattering as the NYT article about it suggests? The authors claim that having a black teacher in grades 3-5 can reduce high school drop-out rates by as much as 39% for persistently-poor black boys, but a) I don’t know very much about the specific techniques they used; b) the claim has very little face validity, to me at least, and c) between the attempts to control for everything else that effects educational attainment and the almost deliberately unintelligible layout of the tables, I can’t help but feel something either slipped or was slipped through the cracks. Thoughts appreciated.
EDIT: I quoted the percent-improvement, not the actual value – the intervention lowers dropout rates by 7%, which is itself 39% of the preexisting rate. Mea culpa.
I can’t comment on a or c, but why do you not think it’s at least a plausible claim?
Because over and over again we keep finding that improving educational results is really, really hard. Even slight effects. Any study that finds “one simple trick improves results by
39%7%” should be taken with heaping grains of salt.
Particularly when the metric is high school graduation (or dropout) rates, which is a textbook Goodheart’s Law example.
I don’t have time to read the study right now, but I’ll propose one alternative explanation conjured from my rectum: black teachers are more likely to be found in poorer, black school districts, which have a large incentive to bypass standards to improve their graduation statistics. i.e., the DC school systems previously discussed on SSC.
ETA: Corrected statistic as per Statismagician below.
The 39% is my bad, as noted below and corrected in the original post – that’s the relative improvement, net is a 7% drop. This is, it should be emphasized, still a much higher effect size than anything else I know about, and at such a trivial cost and such a long time interval that it just doesn’t make intuitive sense to me.
I’ll propose one alternative explanation conjured from my rectum: black teachers are more likely to be found in poorer, black school districts
I’m going to propose another, cynical, explanation: black teachers can impose discipline without the “that’s racism! you are being racist to me!” card played. LaShawn is goofing off in class? Black Mr Smith or Mrs Jones can tell him to get his lazy ass off to the principal’s office and let the rest of them learn, whereas white Mr Green or Mrs Robinson is going to be crucified as not understanding Black culture means being exuberant (mostly, from the descriptions I read, that seems to mean “yelling and shouting and slouching around and behaving in a way that would have gotten the báta (stick) back when I was in school“).
I don’t think that’s cynical. That would be a real, positive effect, that yes, you absolutely can improve legitimate educational outcomes by having black teachers for black students. If that is the method by which a diverse teaching staff improves graduation rates for black students by 7%, let’s start hiring more black teachers.
Conrad Honcho, but that also implies the improvement can come about by letting non-black teachers discipline black students by taking away the fear inspired by “you can’t do that to me, that’s racist!” That means that yes, LaShawn, I can tell you to sit up straight and pay attention and stop chatting with your buddies while I’m teaching and no, you can’t run to your social worker and say mean ol’ white teacher is being racist to you.
You really think that’s going to fly in Current Year?
Deiseach, all I care about is genuine educational outcomes. If black teachers produce better genuine educational outcomes for black students, hire more black teachers.
I’m skeptical the educational outcomes are genuine (Goodheart’s Law), but I’m more interested in genuine educational outcomes than I am in fighting the PC Police.
Deiseach, all I care about is genuine educational outcomes.
Well, I can’t argue with that. I do think it’s important to know why black teachers do better for black kids, though, and if it’s because of (a) discipline and not (b) same cultural background, then we should be aware of that, because then it’s not the cultural similarity that is the secret sauce.
If the practical outcome is “we don’t know or care how it works, but it works, so we’re hiring more black teachers” and that does have a positive effect down the line, great! What worries me is that educational psychologists and sociologists will then write papers that set policy about hiring ethnicity X teachers for ethnicity X kids for success, so you then get schools hiring black/Hispanic/whatever teachers but letting discipline go to hell, then the whole project is a massive failure because it turns out keeping a standard of discipline where you’re not counting “black students were excluded from school Y number of days because of disciplinary infractions, this is racist, stop doing it” is what enables better outcomes which you should have known from the start if you interpreted your data properly.
Race matching is plausible and there are a lot of plausible results. The NY Times article is pretty reasonable. But the specific result is phrased in terms of magic. Before asking whether race matching in elementary school reduces long-term drop out, you should ask if race matching in middle school does; and whether race matching in high school reduces short-term drop out, which has surely been studied.
Alternately, if race matching in elementary school improves short-term test scores, you should study how persistent this effect is; and whether the test scores screen off the effect of the intervention (eg, in predicting drop out). The paper seems to be motivated by this point of view, but doesn’t seem to actually measure it; and I think it claims a much larger effect on drop out than would be predicted by the scores. A lot of social science is generated by grasping qualitatively plausible results and not thinking about effect sizes. (It’s reasonable that the long-term effect on drop out is not mediated by test scores, but that brings us back to the first paragraph, where they should first study shorter term effects.)
There’s quite a few degrees of freedom in the paper (3rd grade teacher, 4th grade teacher, 5th grade teacher, a combination of any two, or all three, low income student versus all student, which phenomenon to measure), and quite a few degrees of freedom they might have chosen externally (did they try 1st and second grade or high school teachers and not get a result?), so I’m going to do the lazy thing and suspect P-hacking that won’t reproduce.
P(study replicates) = .05
In light of the most recent controversy, I am having to consider updating my priors on the intelligence and leadership skill of Pope Francis.
When he took over, one of the biggest threats facing the Catholic church was scandal relating to child molestation. The international and US media was hammering the church over this on a regular basis. So naturally, his reaction was to… go full SJW and spend all his time talking about climate change and refugees and the dangers of nationalism.
At the time this made little to no sense to me. But now I see the dividends. In the most recent round of child molestation charges, the media atmosphere seems… entirely different. When one of the Cardinals came out and said “We can’t let this stuff distract us from what’s REALLY important” the media response was basically: “He’s right you know.” Far less hostility and animosity.
He’s flipped the situation, in a matter of a few years, from “movie about relentless journalists uncovering church corruption is popular and celebrated” to “journalists completely disinterested in church corruption” solely by declaring the politically correct opinions on a range of topics. While this is morally offensive to the extreme, and while I myself would recommend all catholics leave the church over this scandalous behavior, I have to say, if his mandate going in was “Get the press off our backs about this molestation stuff,” then he has had incredible and tremendous success.
Completely agreed, except for your recommendation. When the Church is plagued by heretics, the faithful should remove the heresy rather than remove themselves.
I’m not convinced that Pope Francis is leading as he does as an intentional distraction from the Church’s other issues, but I could be convinced that the Cardinals elected him with that outcome in mind.
When one of the Cardinals came out and said “We can’t let this stuff distract us from what’s REALLY important” the media response was basically: “He’s right you know.”
Mmmm – I think the media response has a lot more to do with the original accusation (Vigano’s letter and statement) being all “it’s the fault of THE GAYS!” and involving (former) Cardinal McCarrick, who was liberal and (relatively) beloved by the Washington and Noo Yawk media as ‘one of their own’ sharing similar Blue Tribe values on important things plus being a native son for the New York lot. While McCarrick’s ultimate downfall was the accusation of grooming a young man from childhood by abusing his position as a family friend, the ongoing scandal was that he liked seminarians a little too much (in the gay sense of “chickenhawk”) and that it was an open secret he had a series of ‘nephews’ to stay with him and whom he squired around (if I believe what I’m reading online):
Gay rights activism having spent decades trying to break the attitude that “homosexual men are paedophiles” and having seen success in that (the acceptance of gay Scout masters etc.), naturally the media are not going to cover a scandal – however juicy – that plays right back on the “gay men are paedophiles” angle.
I think (a) Cardinal Cupich phrased himself unfortunately, as it has been interpreted as meaning at best ‘ignore this, sex abuse is small potatoes’ and at worst ‘keep covering up’ whereas I think he did mean the real important mission of the Church is the message of salvation which is for eternity, so the abuse scandal is not the whole story and certainly is not the definition of the Bride and (b) Francis, while liberal (hey, he’s a Jesuit), is not as liberal in some ways as the media thinks (they loved the ‘who am I to judge’ sound bite and ignored the context it was given in, where he was speaking in response to a question of one particular case and talking about – given someone has confessed, repented, and wants to live a reformed life, then who is he to judge they are not sincere? So while being a gay clergyman would not necessarily be a dealbreaker for Francis, the corollary there is “so long as you are keeping your vows and not fucking other men, much less teenagers”.
Also, Francis is liberal but to say he went “full SJW and spend all his time talking about climate change and refugees and the dangers of nationalism” is not quite the full story. The Church reliably offends the left and the progressives about sexual morality, but when the right is congratulating themselves on being in the driving seat, then the Church upsets them about economics. Think of all the Free Market Capitalist conservatives reacting “yeah the pope is a great guy but he’s wrong on this” when the last few popes spoke about Mammon 🙂
The problem with this is that while the church had a pedophilia problem, that was always over-hyped. It really had a homosexual pederasty problem that was covered as a pedophilia problem. If it wasn’t so we would have expected many more young female victims, and a lot more teenagers knocked up by their priest.
The Catholic church’s pedophilia problem has been over-hyped? That’s the church’s problem over the last two generations, too much attention being paid to pedophile priests?
Yes, the majority of clerical abuse has been committed against post-pubescents, but attention has focused almost exclusively on paedophilia.
Its a definition problem. There aren’t that many pedophile priests in the standard definition that normal people would think: Preying on pre-pubescent kids. That still is a problem, but the major problem is priests preying on teenage males who are developing or even in some cases fully developed (in a kind of Weinstein-y power position sexual assault).
idontknow is using a pedantically literal definition of “pedophilia” that does not match the common usage.
The Catholic Church has a roughly properly-hyped problem of Priests committing statutory rape against minors in their charge. In fact, this problem is more likely to involve 16-year-old boys than 8-year-old boys. Some of the reporting has given the misinformation that the proportions are reversed. So, in the most pedantically literal sense, the Church’s specific Priests-diddling-8-year-old-boys problem has been overhyped. And its Priests-cavorting-with-16-year-old-boys problem has been similarly underhyped.
Almost nobody other than pedantic literalists cares, though there are some narrow circumstances where understanding the difference will lead to more effective corrective actions.
Approximately nobody thinks of cavorting-with-teenagers when they hear “pedophile” – it’s almost always diddling-8-year-olds, if not younger. Both are literally pedophilia but it is useful to more precisely describe the problem because teenagers have a lot more options for protecting themselves if they’re made aware that they’re the ones at risk.
I think you are wrong. Most people react much more strongly to pedophilia than they do to sex with someone physically mature but below the age of consent in the relevant jurisdiction.
In the case of priests having sex with teenaged boys, there are four different issues:
1. How bad is sex involving someone below the age of consent. I think for most people the answer is “not very bad.”
2. How bad is homosexual sex. For some the answer is “not bad at all” for others it is “very bad.”
3. How bad is sex by a priest who has taken an oath of celibacy. I think traditional Catholics would view it as quite bad, many other people as not very bad.
4. How bad is sex obtained by abusing a position of some sort of authority. I think many people regard that as quite bad. In my experience, one of the most common arguments for making 1 illegal is that it is likely in practice to be 4. That’s part of the reason why many states make exceptions for cases where the partner is also young.
Note that, until recently, McCarrick was known to be guilty of only 2 and 3, although one could speculate about 4.
I wonder how many “male priest hooks up with consensual gay adult worshiper” stories there are out there that we never hear about, because the other party doesn’t see them self as a victim and therefore has no compelling reason to motivation to “come forward” with the story.
It’s all part of the same problem.
Men tend to prefer sex with young partners. Heterosexual men having sex with young (i.e., 15 year old) girls is illegal, socially unacceptable, and difficult, as few 15 year old girls are interested in casual sex.
15 year old boys, however, are very interested in casual sex. This is why when an attractive female teacher has sex with one of her male high school students, while yes this is illegal and is punished, an awful lot of men say “nice.” It’s treated as more of a malum prohibitum than a malum in se issue.
Gays feel the same way. Yes, it’s wrong when an older man has sex with a 15 year old homosexual boy. But, ya know, it’s kind of what 15 year old homosexual boys want, just like 15 year old heterosexual boys. Someone they find attractive to touch their penis. So how bad is it, really? Maybe don’t get caught? Just be a little more careful next time, eh?
The pederasty is an inevitable consequence of the male sex drive and homosexuality. You will not get rid of the pederasty without getting rid of the gay priests because gay teenage boys and gay adult men want to have sex with each other while straight teenage girls are not nearly so interested in having sex with straight adult men.
Actually, my usage matches the common usage. People do not call sex with people who you cannot determine are underaged by merely looking at them “pedophilia” except on Chris Hansen specials intended to be dramatic; they call it statutory rape.
Indeed, the chuch’s homosexuality problem goes beyond just homosexual statutory rape, and that dogma holds homosexuality and non-chastity fro priests as sinful: It extends to sexual assault of non-minor priest candidates by senior, homosexual priests in a type of priestly casting couch. It is fairly well known that there is a gay contingent in the church that was mainly responsible for the coverups etc.
Note that much the same issue came up previously w.r.t. Roy Moore. Part of the messiness here is that the whole point of an age of consent law is that it’s impossible to draw a clear line in these cases–there are presumably 15 year olds in basically reasonable sexual relationships and 20 year olds in awful exploitative ones. You can’t expect police and prosecutors and judges to get the right answer when looking at those, so it’s a lot simpler to just say “If you’re over 18 and she’s under 16, you’re going to jail.”
I’m not convinced it was mostly the “gay contingent” covering it up. Cardinal Law of Boston was a well-known conservative bishop who was as guilty as anyone of coverups, and as far as I know Law’s conservatism was no facade, nor is he gay. There is—or was, at any rate—a strong current among conservatives of protecting the Church’s image and of blindly trusting bishops.
Also, re the argument over the word “pedophilia,” did no one read my long and detailed post about the John Jay Report last time this came up? idontknow and David are right and John is wrong—it matters rather a great deal whether what we’re talking about is pedophilia or something else.
Is this really happening? I’ve seen attacks on the right-wingers attacking the Pope over this, but I’ve also seen left-wing sources agreeing that, yes, child abuse is bad and something has to be done right now.
My reading of the situation is:
Francis shares the modern view that there is nothing specially bad about homosexuality. He probably disapproves of priests being sexually active, whether homosexual or heterosexual, but doesn’t see it as a big issue. He may well believe that the church should permit priests to marry, hence that its failure to do so to some degree excuses non-marital sexual activities. McCarrick was known to engage in homosexual sex with adult partners, the previous Pope strongly disapproved of that, Francis mildly disapproved of that but thought highly of McCarrick in other ways, so was willing to ignore it. I think that account is consistent with the available evidence.
Either Francis strongly disapproves of priests having sex with minors or he recognizes that it is a sufficiently loaded issue that he has to appear to strongly disapprove of it. With regard to the latter, note that the minor in question was sixteen, so not a child. Hence when the new information came out he acted against McCarrick.
The split now occurring is between people whose moral views come primarily from the church and people whose moral views come primarily from conventional elite opinion. The latter group want, naturally enough, to move church doctrine to be more consistent with conventional non-Catholic views. The former don’t. The latter group strongly approve of Francis, the former strongly disapprove.
One question this raises for me is why did Benedict resign. Did he expect to be replaced by someone with views close to his? Was he forced out in some sort of invisible Vatican coup? Did he decide that the church would be better off if its views were closer to the secular mainstream and that, since he couldn’t support such changes, he should resign in favor of someone who could?
I know very little about church politics so have no good idea how this is going to play out–in particular, whether there is some sense in which Francis can be forced to resign.
I should probably add that as an atheist observer my sympathies are with the conservatives although my moral views on the central issues are on the other side. I disapprove of people claiming beliefs they don’t really hold. It was my impression that that was true of a lot of the mainline Protestant churches in the past–they were much more upset over a hundred people being killed by Apartheid South Africa than a million Ibos, more or less, being killed by black ruled Nigeria, because the former fit into the liberal image of whites oppressing blacks, the latter didn’t. They were conventional liberals (American political sense) first, Christians second.
It’s also my impression of some economists. I had a colleague and friend many years back who, as I saw it, only believed in economics in working hours. His opinions on policy issues were based on other things—at most he was willing, if pressed, to argue that you couldn’t rigorously prove those opinions were wrong via economics, which is true of almost any policy position.
I suppose I could argue that my view of these issues comes from a moral view in favor of honesty–even honesty with regard to a mistaken view of the world. If you claim to believe you are living in a fantasy–which, from my point of view, is what a religious believer is claiming–you should act as if you believe it.
Consensus view is that Benedict resigned because he had the early symptoms of dementia and no longer felt comfortable with the responsibilities of the job.
I don’t know if that’s consensus; the consensus I was hearing was that he never expected to become pope (he had a house picked out back home in Bavaria where he was going to retire with his brother and his sister to housekeep for them and keep his cats and play piano as soon as he hit the retirement age of 75), he was humble enough never to feel comfortable in the big job, and that mixed with a sense that he was rowing against the tide (constantly being presented as wanting to go back to the bad old days of conservatism and Church dominance and autocracy because of a thirst for power instead of the theological and doctrinal reasons he presented) along with his advancing age made him decide to resign.
This was a really big thing, the last time remotely like it was the time Celestine V renounced the papacy, and there was much discussion over was it even possible. I don’t know about dementia but he was visibly becoming physically frailer and I think he was just happier to retire to a life of prayer, contemplation, and out of the spotlight.
McCarrick was known to engage in homosexual sex with adult partners, the previous Pope strongly disapproved of that, Francis mildly disapproved of that but thought highly of McCarrick in other ways, so was willing to ignore it. I think that account is consistent with the available evidence.
I think that is the crux of this particular accusation – Vigano is very much exercised over McCarrick in particular. So it comes down to who knew what, exactly, when and what they did or didn’t do about it.
Problem is evidence – you can have very strong suspicions based on rumours and gossip that Uncle Ted likes the young men in a way that is more than avuncular and mentorly interest in their vocations, but unless somebody comes out to say “yeah we slept together”, there is always the defence that this is slander and reading more into things by malicious opponents and enemies.
I think it’s going to be rather unclear who knew what – what is not being taken into consideration, I think, is that Francis was an outsider. He’s South American, so he wasn’t plugged into the Italian Vatican network in the same way, and may not have heard all the rumblings on the grapevine. And there’s also the idea that he felt closer to bishops/cardinals from the Americas, which McCarrick as a North American was also one, so he liked him and was inclined to trust him.
Right now we have two separate grave scandals entwined – the ongoing child sexual (and other forms) abuse, and the gay scandal. Vigano didn’t do any help by mixing the two together in his letter about “it’s all the fault of the gays!”, so dealing with the whole McCarrick fallout (the accusations about engaging in grooming the eleven year old child of the family where he was a friend only came out in July of this year) is being lumped in with the child abuse. McCarrick was mostly rumoured/accused to like young adult men, not children, and the two accusations about minors really came out of the blue. There may well have been a whole ‘turning a blind eye to adult gay sexual misconduct’, particularly with the fall in vocations – a combination of “we’re all modern now and understand about human sexuality” with “we’re not getting enough straight guys as seminarians” meaning standards being relaxed, especially as accusations of homophobia over using psychological profiling to steer away potential seminarians with homosexual tendencies were making the rounds – I used to joke about if I were pope I’d slap the entire North American church under interdict and threaten to excommunicate them en masse if they didn’t pull up their socks, and I had no inkling of this kind of thing.
I think Wikipedia has a fair description of the whole McCarrick mess:
So a lot of gossip, a lot of “somebody told me that”, a lot of stories and rumours and ‘everybody knows’ but nobody actually coming out and making a public or on-the-record complaint. A bit like “But how could Harvey Weinstein get away with it for so long if everybody knew?” That’s how it happens – everybody knows but nobody says anything until the final straw breaks the camel’s back.
If I correctly followed the story, during Benedict’s papacy McCarrick was moved out of the seminary he had been living in to a different residence in a context which strongly suggested that it was done in response to reports that he was having sex with seminarians. So I think the core of Vigano’s claim–that McCarrick was disciplined in response to his having sex under Benedict and the discipline lifted under Francis–is supported.
My problem with Vigano’s claims is that the letter (which may be an artefact of being translated from Italian into English, I don’t know) has an awful lot of Vigano going “I knew by how his left eyebrow twitched that he was aware of what I meant even though we hadn’t discussed it yet, so I played dumb in order to draw him out”.
I think McCarrick was disciplined and I think he did flout that at home in the US as time went on. Whether we can say that Francis deliberately relaxed it or let him get away with it knowingly is another matter. Maybe he did think McCarrick was behaving himself so some of the restrictions should be lifted, that’s not quite the same as “I don’t think he did anything wrong”.
To be honest, the impression I get from Vigano’s Testimony is that he is a bit of a busy-body with a habit of firing off letters about everything and anything, so I’m not surprised he doesn’t get responses from the various bodies he accuses of ignoring his warnings. It’s perhaps a case of unfortunately crying wolf so often about petty matters (I imagine he’s referring to The Vagina Monologues when he talks about “a morally unacceptable event authorised by the academic authorities of Georgetown University” where yes, once again he sent off two letters of complaint to the Georgetown president plus copies of those letters and a third covering letter to Cardinal Wuerl) that his correspondence tended to get ‘filed in the circular file’ when he sent real warnings.
What don’t I know about chess?
My five year old seems to have caught the bug. He asked about the chess board in his kindergarten class, I told him I’d show him how to play, and now he won’t stop pestering me for games, playing the chess app on his pad, and he’s joined the chess club at school (which is run by people from…something that I can’t recall that sounds like “Academic Chess Society” that organizes tournaments throughout the school district).
I played a lot in junior/senior high, but just with all the other nerds at the nerd table at lunch with our pocket chess boards. Never competitively.
To the chess players on SSC, how can I help my kid? Any advice on books, websites, favorite chess computer programs/apps? Exercises? Youtube channels? Besides “play a lot of games,” what can I do to get less bad so I don’t wind up teaching him bad habits? Or is that not even a thing?
After learning the rules, you have to learn the basic strategies. Those are things like develop your pieces, play for control of the center, use castling, put your rooks/queens/bishops on open/half open (where they are blocked by no pawn/only one), have nice pawn structures and learn their tactics (you can play chess with only pawns, first one to get a queen wins). There are also the three basic motives fork, pin and skewer. That would be the content of a beginner chess strategy book.
After that you train opening, mid game and end game by learning openings or doing chess problems. It depends on the people running the chess club at your son’s school what they will do exactly. You should see if your son likes it how they do it, this is the only important thing at his level.
I don’t think there are any bad habits you can teach your son, but if you lack the basic strategic ideas, he will crush you rather fast.
Any you would recommend?
No idea, I’m German and haven’t played chess since 2010. But it shouldn’t matter which one you take, the beginner strategies are very canonized. Maybe you should look for one that is targeted towards kids so your son can read it too in the future.
This seems like as good an excuse as any to plug Really Bad Chess.
That looks like fun.
LICHESS is my preferred site: it plays unpredictably, but very effectively.
Thanks, will check it out.
My family got a lot out of the Fritz and Chesster series of computer games. I don’t recall all the content of the first one, but guess that you and your son could skip that and start with the second.
My other advice is to keep playing other games and don’t just play chess (on your own or with him). For kids, I think you capture the most meta-level benefits from strategy games if you try to get strong at one (or two), but have broad experience with many. FWIW, my family’s primary game is go, my older kids play chinese chess with their grandparents, and I make them play western chess when I really want to win the game.
If you want to look deeper at strategy, IM Silman’s books How to Reassess Your Chess, his Endgame Course, and his book of Complete Chess Strategy really helped me understand the deeper things going on in higher-level chess. Maybe a bit much for a 5-year old, then again, kids often are surprisingly good at this stuff.
I recently caught the chess bug too. The absolutely best guide for someone just beginning chess is this. Practice until you’re good at those. Also, actually play lots of games.
I play on lichess. It’s free to use and it’s an awesome site. Once you’ve got all the basic tactics on that site down, practice with lichess’s puzzles. You can also practice chess fundamentals there too; it covers a lot more basic mating patterns, for instance, than the site above does, but don’t overextend yourself here. It’s more important at the start to actually play lots of games.
When you’ve played a good game and you want to know where you or your opponent went wrong, the best thing to do is ask a more advanced player to go over the game with you. The second best thing is to use the analysis board. There’s a button on the right when you complete a game on lichess so you can go directly to analysis. If you request a computer analysis, it’ll show you which moves were inaccuracies, mistakes, and blunders (that’s in increasing order of seriousness) and alternate lines that could have been played. The +/- scores on there are centipawn loss: as that novice site above will tell you, pieces are given rough point values, with pawns valued at 1, bishops and knights at 2-3, rooks at 5, queens at 9, and kings undefined. A + score means white has an advantage and a – score means black has an advantage. So being down a pawn would put you at about a -1, but the exact position could change that number a lot; if your opponent can checkmate you in one move, you’re not just down a pawn, and the analysis board would just say #1 or #-1 instead. (The # means “checkmate” in algebraic notation.)
For lectures, my favorite are Ben Finegold’s, though the St Louis Chess Club has a bunch of other good lecturers too. If you go the Finegold route, prepare yourself for all the dad jokes and roasting of other players. He currently lectures at Atlanta.
For books, I can’t recommend any because I don’t own any. But I can tell you my more advanced friend recommends Yasser Seirawan highly.
Also, I’m pretty sure our own Chevalier Mal Fet is a teacher in St Louis, so I hope he has some good stories about the initiatives in local schools by the SLCC, or at least a few stories about visiting the place….
Wow, thanks, I have much reading to do!
There’s a fun book called “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess” that he might like! Teaches common checkmate situations for beginners.
Naval Gazing is getting closer to wrapping up the New England reviews with a look at the USS Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum in Groton, CT. It’s one of the very best I’ve ever seen.
There’s also an amusing story of one of the greatest procurement disasters in history, the aptly-named Nimrod.
This article talks about Montgomery County, MD’s school system making changes to its gifted programs, largely to make the racial numbers come out better.
As with essentially all articles along these lines in respectable publications, they don’t bring up any of the obviously-relevant statistics w.r.t. race and test scores, so the fact that whites and Asians tend to predominate in these advanced classes is either evidence of subtle discrimination and racism, or just some weird phenomenon nobody can explain. And as is often the case, there’s a surface-level positive coverage of what the school system is doing (which, of course, it on the side of all right-thinking people), but a few contrary facts leak out–like the teacher at the gifted and talented school commenting that with the new admissions criteria, her gifted and talented students aren’t always above grade level anymore, and they’ve implemented some tracking so the advanced students get to move faster. They also point out that admissions of Asians is down by several percent, which for some reason doesn’t thrill Asian families. (But blacks and hispanics are much more important voting blocs and mascots in US politics, so it probably doesn’t matter.)
MC is famous for its high-quality schools. I wonder if they’re wreck their whole famously-excellent set of magnet programs, in order to get the racial numbers to come out right.
This whole “I’m sorry, you can’t be educated to your full potential because it might make darker-hued students look bad by comparison” thing is, I suspect, a big part of why Horrible Banned Discourse successfully nerd-snipes a lot of the “grey tribe”.
Could you unpack that a bit? I’m not quite sure what you mean by Horrible Banned Discourse or nerd-sniping.
I think gbdub is saying that Horrible Banned Discourse is more appealing to people who feel like they get fucked over by the current system’s emphasis on rcial equality, which may disproportionately be composed of nerds?
But the phrasing is a bit odd, yeah.
Primate Life Differences
Organic Person Variation
Natural People Distinction
nerd-sniping means that the concept is somewhat more attractive to analytical types who coincidentally have negative memories of school than to the general population.
Sorry that was intentionally maximal SSC-jargon.
Randy and Thengnskald basically got it.
The point is that if you’re a student of an analytical bent, with maybe a touch of sci-fi conspiracy buff, seeing your education get potentially crippled by explicitly reduced or eliminated academic standards in the name of having the right color scheme (without admitting that “reducing academic standards” is what’s happening)… the idea that even educators recognize that some groups are intrinsically less capable, but actively suppress this knowledge in the name of “social justice” is maybe not the craziest theory out there.
“Horrible Banned Discourse” has the same initials as a label whose use is discouraged here–I’m not sure if it results in a comment not appearing or if it’s just people trying to help Scott keep the blog’s profile low from certain angles. The content of the doctrine is the idea that genetic diversity among human subpopulations is important.
And maybe more generally, the idea that biology as an explanatory factor in social phenomena is probably undervalued in the current world.
For example, there are strong social forces pushing back against anyone making an argument that the unbalanced male/female ratio in STEM fields is due to biological causes. Any specific argument along those lines (Damore’s memo, say) may or may not be right. But since those social forces do their best to both make it harder to make those arguents, and also to impose a high cost on anyone who does make them, we should expect that they’re underproduced in the world.
A lot of the so-called educators involved really think it’s the programs which make the student, that entrance to these programs are just being handed out as a reward for scoring high on an arbitrary test. They’ll go through and blithely wreck the programs in the name of justice, while never believing they’re doing so.
The politicians probably know better but don’t care, because pandering works.
I think teachers tend to be either very idealistic, or very jaded about student potential and it’s uniformity or lack thereof.
If by “educators” you mean ed school professors, curriculum designers, etc.–then yes, absolutely, it’s all about the program.
From a political perspective, seats in a really good school are a *wonderful* thing to be able to hand out to your supporters as patronage. Too much of that will wreck the goodness of the school, but most useful systems can support a certain level of corruption, and anyway, maybe by the time the magnet schools become famously horrible hell-holes, you will have retired and it will be someone else’s problem.
Yes, seats in a good school are great loot, and an opportunity for shakedowns, but there’s also a real difference in goals. If person A wants schools to educate all citizens, and person B wants schools to educate an elite, A will fight to put the asses of the masses in gifted elite programs, and B will fight to exclude.
Why have gifted programs at all if lot of the students you put into those gifted programs are at or below grade level? It kind-of sounded in that article (who knows how accurate this was) like the dodge they were doing was having a bigger gifted program, of which some of the participants were pretty normal students doing fine at grade level (who I guess are more skewed black and hispanic), and then the actual advanced students who are well above grade level (who I guess are more skewed Asian and white). (Thus, you have “tracks” within your highly gifted center. Hey, wow, you’ve magically closed the racial performance gap–suddenly, your highly-gifted center has the right racial numbers. And it would be utterly impolite and wrongheaded to look more closely and notice that the kids getting algebra in the fifth grade are all Asians, whereas the highly gifted and talented kids who are doing fifth grade work in fifth grade all somehow turn out to be black kids.
I spent the last week playing Mass Effect Andromeda, and I think it’s crazy under-rated. I’ve been a big fan of the Mass Effect series since the beginning, but I skipped Andromeda because of all the negative reviews. The two things I heard most were there were lots of technical glitches, especially with animations, and that it appeared to have been written by SJWs. After checking out the Battlefield V beta (it sucks), EA Origin enticed me to give Andromeda a try.
While the game has it’s problems, I thought the animations were fine (I understand they were patched shortly after launch), and probably my social circle is a bit hyper sensitive to the SJW thing, because while I could sort of understand the complaint (especially in the first couple hours of the game, though maybe that’s just how long it took for my preconceived notions to wear off) it seemed fine to me, and a lot of the dialogue options were definitely not SJW-friendly. My review follows, and it will have some very minor spoilers (more about gameplay than plot mostly), but the tldr is if you’re a fan of the series you should give this one a chance.
The bad: I hate hate hate hate hate the interface. You have to hold E to interact, no more tapping. It took me hours to get used to. Very frequently it’s hard to target the item or person you want to interact with. Putting mods on your guns is a pain and kind of difficult to figure out. You can only have three skills at a time. There is a “profile” system to allow you to switch between different sets of skills, but switching profiles incurrs a long cool down penalty, making it useless in combat, so hopefully you can predict the skills you’ll need for a particular encounter in advance. I wound up just choosing my favorite three and sticking to them. Several quests have you bouncing all over the map for no reason. You can’t skip the take off and landing cutscenes. The journal and map are atrocious, making pathing and planning very difficult, to the point that I began just doing quests in the order listed instead of bundling them by location. The plot is slightly derivative. The “scourge” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.
The good: I like the characters a lot, they have personality (the characters are probably the most important aspect of the series to me, and they got this one right, best in the series). The plot and villains and kind of interesting, and kept me interested throughout, I would really like a sequel to continue it. The combat is pretty fun, not as good as ME3, but better than ME2 imho. I like being able to cherry pick skills from different classes without being siloed into one. The game concept is pretty fun, although imperfectly implemented. The research, planetary development, and strike missions really made it seems like a living and connected area. It’s much less linear than previous games (and not just in the “pick the order you complete each planet” sense). The open worlds are great, they nailed it. Lots of stuff to do, unlike previous games in the series that basically had one main quest line and then lots of boring driving to complete stupid extra quests, and it has fast travel you can unlock across each planet. It feels much more like a Bethesda game than a Bioware game, but not boring like I find most Bethesda games. The ground vehicle is perfect, and not at all frustrating. The protagonist is inexperienced and unsure of him/herself, which I found endearing. There is swearing and nudity where appropriate.
Any fans of the series play it all the way through but hate it?
I liked it, though not even close to 2, never mind 1. 3, on the other hand, enraged me so much within the first hour or two that I just gave up entirely.
I absolutely loved Andromeda and talking about this makes me angry. I feel like a bunch of trolls decided, based on a few dumb screenshots, to hate and sabotage this game without actually playing it, and somehow it worked, and killed off what might be my favorite series of all time.
Played through it. Felt okay at the beginning, but quickly became “meh,” which quickly became a chore, which quickly became “oh my god will this game please end.”
Open World for Mass Effect does not work, IMO. They do not enough unique environments or opponents to make me want to explore the world. It’s a LOT better than the Mako+ME1 combo, but it’ll never compare to one of the flagship Bethesda products. ME2 worked really, really well with a tight storyline and a tight environment.
Especially since so much of the storyline of Andromeda involved retreading the same combat areas on the same planet. Like going to Havaral or whatever five times for different reasons.
The characters are okay, but not as good the original triology. I think the only person I actually liked was stereo-typical Jamaican alien race guy, and I still can’t remember his name. I can’t even remember the other crew, actually. Was there a Krogan? Some old woman who thought she was an Asari commando but was actually human or something like that? Oh, that annoying cheery nerdy guy who you go on a sidequest to get a couch or something.
Overall, I’d say Andromeda is a lot like Dragon Age 2: it’s alright, but it’s not anywhere near as good as the original.
The combat was great, only thing that made it worthwhile.
Decided to piggyback off this comment of the ones so far because it closely echoes my own thoughts about the game.
I loved the Mass Effect series, and played through the original ones 6 times (once for each class, experimenting with different choices and seeing the butterflies, obviously). Mass Effect 1’s gameplay didn’t really bother me, didn’t even mind the goofy vehicle sections once I figured out how the random planets were *meant* to be navigated (ie, actually studying the terrain, not just driving in a straight line from one anomaly to the next, the hell with the intervening terrain), and the story/worldbuilding was top notch. Mass Effect 2 was hampered by its criminally idiotic main plot, but the gun/powers play was a lot more polished and the side stories with your crew were the high point of the series. Mass Effect 3, same story – whoever they put in charge of the main story was sadly a total moron, but the individual character arcs were solid, had some really nice story beats (ie Mordin, Tali, and the whole Citadel DLC), and as long as I didn’t think too hard about anything it was fun.
Andromeda, though, I have no desire to replay. Gameplay was fun. I liked the shooting and the jump jets, I thought the jeep was the best yet, and honestly, the open world worked for me. I loved blasting into a random encampment and leaping out to wreak havoc.
What did NOT work in Andromeda is the story. The main plot is even dumber, somehow, than Mass Effect 2. The high concept of the faltering extra-galactic colonization mission is cool, and I would ahve loved a game about finding the missing arks and getting civilization started on the right foot – instead, I got this boring nonsense about the boring kett and the equally boring, uh, angari? I don’t remember the new aliens, sorry, and not nearly enough answers to satisfy. The plot was one long chase for a MacGuffin, with literal “Your princess is in another castle” moments, a villain nowhere near as compelling as Saren, and the side companions were only okay. This might be nostalgia bias, but I didn’t really connect with any of the crew the way I did with the crew of the Normandy.
Basically, I’d agree that Andromeda was so okay it’s average. Anodyne and sterile throughout, with fun kinetic gameplay but absolutely no soul.
Generally agree with this. The “establishing civilization” part of the story was cool (although it sucks that a lot of it was somehow already done and fairly well advanced before you woke up). The alien races part of the plot was very weak, particularly given that the whole setup with the alien races is largely derivative of Halo, Starcraft, and virtually every other sci-fi video game franchise ever.
I don’t know that it’s “nostalgia bias” but I do want to push back on this. People connected with the crew of the Normandy because you got to experience them for three games in a row which is somewhat unique in gaming (and in RPG dialogue-heavy gaming specifically). People remember Garrus and Tali based on their entire arc of ME1 – ME3. The simple fact of the matter is that in ME1, most of the side characters were boring as hell. Ashley being a straw-man fundamentalist Christian was probably the second most compelling side-plot they had. Garrus and Tali were boring as shit. Liara was awful (EMBRACE ETERNITY!!!) Hell, Garrus was optional, and a lot of people probably ended up with Wrex dead.
I get annoyed when people try to compare the characters from Andromeda to ME 2-3. That’s just so unfair. The proper comparison is to ME1 and ME1 only, and Andromeda’s story, worldbuilding, and characters are all far superior to ME1. ME1 was a freaking mess, that looks better in hindsight because the games and characters and plot in general got a lot better in the sequels. Andromeda was never given a chance to improve. It’s unfair I tells ya!
I quite agree. All the hate never made sense to me. I’ve tried to press a few critics on particulars for how, exactly, the mean ol’ SJWs had totally ruined the franchise, and the closest thing I’ve gotten to an explanation is that Andromeda is a bit lighter-and-softer than the original trilogy – there’s a theme of new beginnings and fresh starts, in contrast to the original’s galaxyful of festering grudges and ancient betrayals. Because optimism is now classified as liberal propaganda, apparently?
I mean, there’s a whole lot of blatant SJW pandering (most egregiously, the whole “HELLO I AM A TRANS PERSON” minor NPC that they had to patch out due to being egregiously stupid in every possible way).
But it doesn’t really “ruin the game.” It’s just a minor annoyance.
I recently Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland I’m curious whether other people here have read it, and what they think of it. I’d be particularly interested in seeing that response associated with people’s normal position on US politics aka the “culture wars”.
On the face of it, the book looks like it comes straight out of a “blue tribe” homeland, given the specific things it mocks, even while attempting to keep somewhat of a numerical balance in its later examples. It also fails to clearly show where it’s getting some of its claims, leaving this cynic asking whether they are cherry picked and/or outright false. (The anecdotes don’t seem sketchy to me, just the mostly implicit claims that they are representative and statistically common.)
That didn’t stop me from enjoying it. It mocked a lot of groups I don’t think much of, and did it complete with lots of anecdotal examples. Some of the historical anecdotes were unfamiliar to me, which is always fun. And some of the mockery was just plain funny.
But in spite of all these points – and my own generally ‘blue tribe’ attitudes – I suspect that there’s a lot here that rationalists would enjoy, regardless of tribe. Particularly if the rationalists in question are really grey tribers, with pink or pale blue leanings.
If you’re strongly religious, you probably won’t like it. The attitude to religious faith displayed comes straight from talk.religion.atheism or similar more modern forums.
But otherwise, he’s objecting to the gullible, and still more to those who profit from them, whether they are selling bogus patent medicine or confidently announcing the exact date for the end of the world. His thesis is that the US needs a balance between hopeful, optimistic belief and hard nosed, evidence-based rationalism, and that the balance is currently askew.
He dislikes a lot of things I consider to be harmless fun, claiming they contribute to the imbalance. I suspect those more red tinged than I might well agree with him about many of those things, which is part of why I suspect a lot of reddish tribers might also enjoy it.
So I’m curious what other folks who frequent SSC think of this book.
I haven’t read the book but I read the author’s article in The Atlantic Monthly that was adapted from it.
The article nicely confirmed my general “blame-the-baby-boomers-for-most-everything” attitude.
If you’re like me and seethes with resentment of Americans born from 1946 to 1963, and enjoys seeing the situation described as “….The great unbalancing and descent into full Fantasyland was the product of two momentous changes. The first was a profound shift in thinking that swelled up in the ’60s; since then, Americans have had a new rule written into their mental operating systems: Do your own thing, find your own reality, it’s all relative. The second change was the onset of the new era of information. Digital technology empowers real-seeming fictions of the ideological and religious and scientific kinds. Among the web’s 1 billion sites, believers in anything and everything can find thousands of fellow fantasists, with collages of facts and “facts” to support them. Before the internet, crackpots were mostly isolated, and surely had a harder time remaining convinced of their alternate realities….” and “…After the ’60s, truth was relative, criticizing was equal to victimizing, individual liberty became absolute, and everyone was permitted to believe or disbelieve whatever they wished. The distinction between opinion and fact was crumbling on many fronts….” then I say give it a read.
Interested in thoughts on this report (partially because I read this community as often broadly sympathetic with e.g. Jon Haidt, but also as having lots of people who didn’t like stupid teachers making them do stuff they didn’t want to do at school).
Group projects are the truly diabolical and cruel thing to assign to students. Speaking in front of people is stressful but at least it only lasts 5 to 10 minutes (at school).
I don’t really see why this is news though. Most children hate pretty much all schoolwork. A lot of schoolwork is pretty pointless long run.
I think there’s a feeling that schools are now more responsive to this sort of thing and that kids feel more entitled to demand their right not to feel stressed.
TBH I think it’s mostly been noticed because The Coddling of the American Mind is on the best-seller lists and it’s just such a neat fit!
Group projects are uniquely terrible as a means of evaluating individual competency and schooling is based almost entirely around this. So it’s a legit complaint.
That said, group work is super common in college and relatively common in corporate America, so it’s probably worth having students practice it in middle/high school. And the only way to ensure they actually put any effort into it is to grade it. So I’m not sure there’s an easy solution here.
Schools include people with very different IQs and work ethics. Universities and workplaces are quite segregated by these things, so group work after school is much less stressful than at school, and you are less likely to have a laid-back moron in your group.
Also, all the emotions of puberty make those experiences much worse than they are at adulthood. And the people who direct those group activities, the teachers, are people who have no experience at all working in groups. In my school, the math teacher did not coordinate with the physics teacher. They barely managed to coordinate the math curriculum across different years. Teachers are like cats, and they don’t work in groups at all. How could they help teach what they don’t do at all?
Eh… it’s a spectrum, sure, but I don’t think there’s all that large a difference.
Besides, it makes sense to practice in a difficult but low stakes context.
Some things you learn by doing, even if not optimally.
If you want to grade group projects right, you need to put in a lot more effort than a teacher practically can. You need to figure out, for each group, who is carrying the weight, who is slacking, and how the working group members are handling the slackers. You also need to have actually taught strategies for handling the slackers.
Which won’t happen. At least 50% of the reason group projects even exist is due to teacher laziness. If you have a class of 30, it’s a lot easier to grade 6 papers from groups of 5 than 30 papers.
If the teacher has to get involved in evaluating who in the group did what percentage of work, they might as well just grade 30 papers and be done with it.
I had a professor in college who put the work in to grade teams fairly. He kept pace of the group’s progress with regular meetings and code reviews, had everyone individually document what work they’d done, and had us submit detailed evals of ourselves and our teammates at the end of the semester. It was my impression he kept abreast of all the drama and the slacking, or lack thereof, that I heard through on the grapevine from other groups throughout the semester. It was a lot of work, though; he had to meet with teams individually a lot, and my personal journal for the semester ran 15 single spaced pages, so multiplying that by 30 students….
Agreed. Group work and public speaking are very valuable skills to develop, even if a large segment detests them (and another large segment loves them a bit too much).
Growing up in the US I took it for granted everyone hated group projects, but having taught in Asia I found that many students quite preferred them, probably due to not entirely inaccurate stereotypes about Asian culture being more group, consensus-oriented, as well as the fact of East Asian students being shyer, on average, than Americans in my experience, though with quite a lot of variability, as in the US (I have also noted big regional differences in apparent extroversion of students in US classes, leading me to believe culture is a big factor).
This also solves, to a certain extent, the problem of making students talk in front of their classmates: the more extroverted members of the group can “take the lead” when presenting the ideas the group, ideally, came to together (of course, if the same students always talk while others remain silent it becomes hard to evaluate the performance of the non-talkers).
I also have mixed feelings about whether ability to speak in front of groups should be a requirement of education. On the one hand, it’s not as if someone who happens to have crippling anxiety about presenting his ideas in front of others should have academic success entirely barred to him. Obviously, some people can be very successful, happy people doing things that don’t require that.
On the other hand, I’m also a big proponent of the idea that school, if we’re going to make every kid do it, should be about instilling more useful life skills than just ability to pass tests on a small, semi-arbitrary subset of human knowledge, and I think being able to express one’s ideas in person is a very valuable, important skill. Even in academia, where you can be more successful than most fields by barricading yourself in the library and writing books and articles, you’re going to fare a lot worse, all else equal, if your in-person presentations (and therefore also your teaching) suck.
And I also worry that if this problem is getting worse (though maybe it’s just a function of more being willing to speak up about the problem), it may be a result of e.g. kids spending more time with faces buried in cell phones and ipads and that accommodating the negative results of that, though maybe not bad in the short run, may be sort of like demanding more accommodations for the overweight rather than figuring out what’s wrong with our eating habits (and, to be clear, I’m not saying accommodating those with social anxiety or weight problems is bad, only that I don’t want it to mean giving up on solving those problems).
There are two different questions mixed here. One is whether it should be something that is taught. The other is whether successfully learning it should be a requirement. Your “have academic success entirely barred to him” suggests the latter.
There are lots of things that it’s worth trying to learn but not necessary to learn. Some people learn them and benefit thereby, others don’t learn them and end up doing things that don’t require them.
Well, this also relates to the issue of early education eschewing specialization by design. By the time you get to college or especially grad school, it’s not a problem if you are great at physics but terrible at foreign languages. But if you are terrible at foreign languages all through primary and secondary school it might hurt the GPA that constitutes part of one’s ability to get into a good college for studying physics.
Maybe primary and secondary school should be more like college and grad school in that you can enjoy success so long as you are demonstrating ability in something, but not necessarily everything we’ve determined is supposedly part of a “well-rounded” education. I imagine this would produce better results insofar as the current economy tends to be more rewarding to people who are really good at even an obscure thing (with some limits, of course) than those who are okay or even quite good at a wide range of skills. That is a much bigger burden on teachers, though, and one also expects that, given the choice, more students will choose the “competitive video game player” academic track than the market for that can bear.
Presentations don’t seem like stupid work to me because they are an actual useful skill in the workplace. Good presenters are worth their weight in gold. Bad presenters lead to poor communication, poor results, and repeated meetings because no one understood the presenter the first time around, or the presenter confused the audience with a bunch of irrelevant tangential information (a common failure mode).
Most people don’t like presenting because they are bad at it. But your teacher is most likely going to be far nicer than anyone you deal with in the working world, particularly a hostile manager who doesn’t like you pointing out his errors.
I got the sense most people were more worried about presenting in front of the class than in front of the teachers!
I think there’s an underlying issue here that some schools seem to be just incredibly terrible, dysfunctional little societies. Always makes me think twice about the ‘wouldn’t it be great to live in a village where everyone knows everyone’ thing: isn’t that the school experience that loads of people are running away from.
I’m one of those people that’s bad at it, and I agree entirely. It would be fantastic were I better at at, and inasmuch as I could have been if I’d be assigned more in high school I consider that a failure of the system.
I am basically bad at this, and requirements in school to do it were something I detested at the level of making me sick to my stomach, and as far as I could tell did no good–I did not stop feeling sick if I had to do it, and I did not get any better at it. What did help was situations in a hobby context, long after I was out of school, where I knew things other people wanted to know and were interested in hearing about, and my giving a talk/explaining things was actually useful to the people I was talking to. It still makes me nervous, but it’s something I can do.
I gather there are organizations for adults that are specifically designed for getting better at this (Toastmasters?) and where you can presumably expect a friendly audience to practice on.
I would also add that, while exposure therapy may not always work in every case in terms of reducing anxiety, public speaking and presentations are very much something that improves with practice. I am not a very extroverted person, but since getting and keeping my current job required I do a lot of presentations (lectures and academic presentations of my work), I’ve become both significantly more comfortable with and better at it.
I look forward to The Atlantic’s next hard-hitting exposé, “Schoolchildren Think They Shouldn’t Have to Eat Their Broccoli; Bathe.”
“…Shouldn’t Have to Eat Their Broccoli; Bathe.”
Thanks @Conrad Honcho,
That cracked me up!
Students have been hating high school since high school was invented. Adults have been ignoring them for just as long. Why are we paying attention now, just because they claim it’s “discriminatory against those with anxiety”?
I’m not opposing improvements to high school. There’s a lot of room for that. But this kind of thing is actually valuable in the real world, and saying “but anxiety” is a stupid reason not to do it. And while “but I’m not as good at speaking as other people, and will be graded lower” is true, this is how both school and the real world work. I’m sorry, but it just is. Being good at public speaking is powerful, and you should try to do it.
Actually, I think this is a social media problem. Someone saying “Students shouldn’t have to do things they don’t want to” is going to get a million likes from other students, and five from the Haidt/unschooling set. And none from anyone else. But it’s hard to tell a million likes/retweets from high schoolers from a million from the general population.
In conclusion, ignoring twitter continues to be a good life choice.
Because this generation has raised their kids to solve their problems by complaining to authority figures.
Since everyone’s linking articles from the new issue of the Atlantic to complain about them, I’ll join in. What you said is exactly what I thought of while reading Americans Aren’t Practicing Democracy Anymore. College activism is not “here’s an issue, let’s debate it, put together some compromises and vote on them” but “let’s browbeat the administration with histrionics until they give us what we want.” I’m not surprised when we wind up with Democrats behaving like they did during the Kavanaugh hearings last week.
It’s true in my case, I simply don’t stick around union meeting till they end like I used to (I’ve got a two-year old ar home!), and I haven’t precinct walked in years.
Not sure if it’s just that. There’s a sense that some cohort of people (in the UK v anecdotally this seems to apply to 25 year olds and not 30 year olds) grew up in a context that specifically focused a lot on mental harm and treating it equally to physical harm.
Which in a detached way makes sense: but the trouble is that it’s
1. Far more subjective
2. Massively open to either pretence of taking more harm or worse
3. conditioning yourself to take harm so you can impose your will
As I understand it The Coddling of the American Mind partially talks about the last and argues that there’s a set of attiudes/strategies that are basically reversed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. People are being encouraged to catastrophise, to be hyper-aware of potential signs of people attacking them etc. etc.
I think this is just an extension of turning to authority figures. Teaching kids never to hit another kid opens up the verbal harassment. If I call you names until you punch me who gets in more trouble? This opened up virtual free licence for name calling, almost no chance of being punched, and if you are the other kid gets it worse? Telling makes it obvious you are getting to them, the same as crying, plus it opens up a new avenue for teasing.
The ‘let the authority figure sort it out’ forced kids into a position of either lashing out or demanding that verbal attacks be taken as seriously as physical attacks. That generation grows up, has kids and views it as their sacred responsibility to stop their children from every having to face adversity. The only way they can do that is if their kid complains about everything they don’t like and eventually it gets to the point of “my child doesn’t like public speaking, school should be a safe space why are you making them do it?”. Hell the kid probably DID feel traumatized by standing in front of the class, doing something that they were uncomfortable with for the first time. It was probably the most intense feeling that they had ever experienced alone (without their parents consoling them right after the soccer game).
Indeed. IMO schools should be requiring more public speaking and practice communicating, not less. It’s far more important of a skill (and one that can be improved through repetition) than a whole lot of other stuff they spend time on…
I would have opted out of any public speaking assignment in high school that I could have; since then I’ve done intercollegiate debate, been a school teacher, and given product training to major customers.
I hated them myself (but then, I hated school in general), and being forced to do them didn’t make me any more confident, but it seems clear that public presentation is a valuable skill and perfectly reasonable to require.
There’s a difference between something that makes you uncomfortable because it’s new and unfamiliar and something that makes you uncomfortable more fundamentally, and I think that a lot of people who have experience the first kind of discomfort don’t understand the second. Sometimes it _never gets better_ and every time you have to do the uncomfortable thing it’s like sticking an extremity in a meatgrinder. But, even acknowledging that, you still often enough have to do it anyway; that’s life and responsibility and becoming an adult. Anyone who seriously believes “Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable” needs a good hard dose of reality.
Just because you didn’t manage to adapt to a situation doesn’t mean you cannot adapt, it just means mere exposure is not good enough.
Without any evidence that there’s some other way to adapt, I’m sticking to “can’t adapt”.
I’m not so sure that these are actually different things. I didn’t like public speaking in school. I wasn’t one of the people who skips school to avoid it, but I did quite a bit, and still was nervous and not that good. Then I started tour guiding, and about nine months later, I started to get rave reviews when I gave presentations at work. Not just the normal “good job”, but people going out of their way to give me compliments about it. I eventually realized that my gut had come to accept speaking in front of people as normal. And when you aren’t nervous, public speaking is pretty easy.
That said, this method won’t work for everyone. I didn’t realize I was doing public speaking for quite a while. I was just talking about battleships, and sort of trained myself out of it by accident. But most jobs require you to speak in front of people, so I don’t see any reason to waive this off any more than we do other aspects of school.
Edit: For a more rigorous example, take exposure therapy. I’m sure that the nervousness of a normal person around a spider appears different in kind, not just degree from full arachnophobia. But the latter can be treated by essentially having them practice being around spiders until they aren’t nervous. Yes, it’s in controlled conditions, but I don’t buy the difference.
As I said, people who have had the first kind of experience tend not to believe in the second. For actual phobias even the high estimate of exposure therapy puts it at 90% for significant reduction (not necessarily elimination) of symptoms; that leaves another 10% who it doesn’t work for.
Maybe there is some fraction who has some sort of genuinely different reaction which can’t be treated by exposure therapy. I’m not a psych person, but I also don’t know how you’d rigorously prove there are different types. But the odds are that anyone who fears public speaking can be helped by exposure.
Interesting. Couple of questions.
1. How much does ‘incurable’ correlate with ‘initially severe’? There are some people on the twitter thread talking about having what sounds like overpoweringly negative responses to public speaking but getting over it through exposure
2. Do you think there’s any way to spot the difference beyond just trying to break through with exposure?
There are absolutely some fears that do not respond to exposure. In my case, i’m scared of being unconscious, despite the fact that i’ve been doing it on a daily basis since before i was even born. What’s more, i wasn’t even afraid of it when i was a child, i just didn’t like it because it was boring. Somehow over time dislike became avoidance, and avoidance became fear, and now i seem to be permanently stuck with it.
Had a similar thing happen with bees, wasn’t scared of them even though one stung me in the hand. Hell i would gleefully kill them with that same hand. Then one day i was about to slap one when i noticed it was pointing its butt upwards, so i hesitated. Then it moved along a bit, and i could have killed it safely, but the fear was already in me, so i hesitated some more, than i dropped a book on it. Been terrified of bees every since. Knowing that bees could sting didn’t make me afraid, being stung didn’t make me afraid, being afraid made me afraid.
What i would surmise here is that exposure doesn’t work when what you’re really afraid of is your own fear. You can build a tolerance to specific fearful things, but you can’t build a tolerance to fear itself.
I don’t know if it corresponds to magnitude of initial fear or not; presumably for studies examining actual phobias, all involved were of fairly high magnitude. I do know there are some things (not public speaking but in the general neighborhood) which I’ve had to that are uncomfortable _every time_, and in fact get worse rather than better.
@Lillian, your example shows exactly that it is hesistation and avoidance that shore up fear. Just being exposed probably isn’t enough, but doing things might be, especially if successful.
Just about everything in life worth a damn requires being uncomfortable to get it. How is a guy who chickens out of a presentation going to ask a girl out on a date? And what girl is going to respect the guy who was too scared to do a presentation? Is he going to refuse to do any presentation for the rest of his life?
I feel bad for these kids because I think they have been set up to fail by a system of parenting that generates anxiety from an early age. It’s no wonder that teen pregnancy rates are down, kids are prevented from maturing in many important ways.
After reading How architecture-themed Twitter accounts became a magnet for white nationalism and rereading The Toxoplasma Of Rage, I decided Moloch recently said “YOU KNOW WHAT NOBODY HATES EACH OTHER ABOUT YET? ARCHITECTURE. LET ME FIND SOME STORY THAT WILL MAKE PEOPLE HATE EACH OTHER OVER ARCHITECTURE.”
Impressive how it manages to criticise ArchitecturalRevival both for excluding and for including muslim architecture.
_The Fountainhead_ demonstrates that Moloch got to that one a while back. He’s just getting around to it again now.
Oh, architecture was politicized long before The Fountainhead. There’s a long, long tradition of architects and urban planners trying to create Utopia by fiddling with the built environment.
Scott touches on this in his Seeing Like A State post, IIRC.
I remember hearing somewhere that I/O psych isn’t respected by other branches of psychologists. (Or something like that.) Can anyone verify one way or another?
Industrial/organizational psych is more like sociology really. It’s doing very different things than your more typical branches (clinical psych, cognitive psych, etc.)
Industrial psychology is union-busting. Despite the liberal betrayal of the old lib-lab alliance, it’s still sort of uncool.
Are there any professions that don’t use acronyms as part of their occupational spoken jargon?
I’m thinking maybe classical musicians or ballet dancers or whatever, except when they’re talking about unions and companies and things like that. I can’t think of any acronyms they would use that don’t represent proper nouns.
I think that holds true for acting. Lots of acronyms for institutions – RADA, LAMDA, BAFTA, etc. – but none that I can think of for anything else.
Teachers? Maybe they use lots around each other? IDK, I have many in my family, plus the obvious going to school thing, and didn’t hear many that normal people don’t know (like SAT/ACT).
My wife is studying to be a teacher, and there’s a lot of talk about ELLs, IEPs, KWL charts, etc.
Nope, not us. We’ve got to keep our 504s different from our IEPs, we’ve got ELL and SSD, PLCs, PD sadly does -not- refer to point defense…Teaching is a horribly bureaucratic profession and I suspect that those are especially prone to acronymic profusion.
It’s pretty much inevitable that every profession experiences some degree of linguistic drift. Heck, this even happens within companies if they’re large enough.
I’m interested in whether there are some professions that for whatever reason don’t use a lot of acronyms (apart from the names of organizations). If so, what is it about these professions that has caused them to lack acronyms? Lackronyms…
This article arguing that the many, many attempts to take out Trump are fundamentally similar to the sort of coup our (US) intelligence community has previously engineered in other nations is fairly convincing to me. Or, even if the particulars are not correct, it feels extremely obvious to me (but seemingly not to most, which is why I post this) that the DC establishment and media are, not to mince words, “out to get” Trump any way they can, and that the particulars of the various scandals they’ve tried to stick to him are ultimately irrelevant, since they aren’t the root motivation.
More generally, maybe someone can steelman for me the case that Trump is so uniquely horrible as president as to warrant daily headlines like “How Do We Rebuild Norms Of Reality After Watching Past Two Years In ‘Shocked Horror?'” or “the main consequence was to make life more difficult for the grownups trying to mitigate the damage of the Child Who Sits on the Nuclear Throne.”
Whereas so far as I can tell the NYTimes oped was about how Trump is not being bellicose enough for the “adults” in the GOP. After two years I feel much more convinced than before the election that we’re less likely to get into more unnecessary wars with Trump than we would have been with a continuation of the foreign policy status quo (albeit probably more bellicose than Obama) under President Clinton. For example, Trump has expressed much more public skepticism about e.g. the value of US intervention in Syria.
tl;dr, there are plenty of problems to point to with Trump, but the reaction to him in the establishment media/DC mainstream seems so out of proportion to those as to need alternative explanation. If you disagree, can you explain either why the reaction to Trump isn’t as overblown as it seems to me and/or why he is a lot more dangerous than he seems to me?
So I heard today that unemployment is down, inflation is down (despite tariffs), and the stock market is up. Also there’s some sort of hissy fit about hurricane death numbers.
I don’t think you need the intelligence community pulling off a coup; that’s just ripped from _Homeland Season 6_. Trump’s a crude and crass outsider who defeated the Democratic establishment’s darling… not much more to it. They hated Reagan almost as much.
Did they really? I mean, I was a little kid during his presidency so I wouldn’t remember much personally, but was it really even close to this extreme? That is not my impression, though I could be wrong.
It doesn’t seem a stretch to me. I recall what they said about Bush/Romney and they were insiders that happened to not think raising taxes was a brilliant idea.
Yes “they” really did!
I was a teenager in Berkeley and Oakland, California when Reagan was President and can absolutely confirm that he was very much hated back then, though I don’t recall any “Resist” bumperstickers, T-shirts with the “no” slash over Reagan’s face in a circle were sold on Telegraph Avenue.
He was hated from back when he was governor (read the “alternate history novel Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock for an early 1970’s caricature as a scoutmaster of Reagan).
Even when he was still just a candidate for President he was reviled (see the song “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now” by the Dead Kennedy’s for an example).
On this @The Nybbler is right.
There was a fairly popular punk band (by punk standards) calling itself Reagan Youth.
And there was a band called Jodie Foster’s Army as well.
Another example of Reagan era histrionics in punk is ” We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now” by Dead Kennedys, which is based on an earlier song of theirs, “California über alles”, that originally makes fun of Jerry Brown and is actually witty.
I can quote you the lyrics (written not by the singer) of a song by one of our singers (well-regarded, and I do think he’s a fine folksinger, but his politics are leftist and a bit too feel-good in that, for example, he uncritically swallowed the whole Burning Times myth and produced a song about it). This is from 1984 when President Reagan rediscovered his Irish roots and visited the small town where his ancestors came from (funnily enough, we didn’t get protest songs when President Obama did exactly the same thing). Oh, and just to clarify, the singer in question, despite the lyrics, is not black:
I remember the show twenty-one years ago,
When John Kennedy paid us a visit.
Now the world’s rearranged – not improved, only changed –
But our heart’s in the same place – or is it?
Hey Ronnie Reagan, I’m black and I’m pagan,
I’m gay and I’m left and I’m free.
I’m a non-fundamentalist environmentalist,
Please don’t bother me.
You’re so cool, playing poker with death as the joker,
You’ve nerve, but you don’t reassure us.
With those paranoid vistas of mad Sandanistas,
Are you really defending Honduras?
You’ll be wearing the green down at Ballyporeen,
The town of the little potato.
Put your arms around Garret and dangle your carrot,
But you’ll never get me to join NATO .
Do you share my impression the world’s in recession,
There’s rather too much unemployment?
Still with Pershing and Cruise we’ll have nothing to lose,
But millions in missile deployment.
We can dig shelter holes when we’ve bartered our souls,
For security then we can shovel.
While the myth of our dreams turns to nightmares, it seems,
From the White House straight back to the hovel.
Since the Irish dimension has won your attention,
I ask myself just what’s your game.
Do your eyes share the tears of our last fifteen years,
Or is that just a vote-catcher’s gleam?
Your dollars may beckon, but I think we should reckon,
The cost of accepting your gold.
If we join your alliance, what price our defiance,
What’s left if our freedom is sold?
I think the left/democrats definitely hated Reagan, GWB, etc. this much as well.
The difference this time around is that the mainstream Republicans also hate Trump that much, and they didn’t hate Reagan/GWB that much.
So in the past, what the left could get away with was somewhat tempered by organized pushback from the establishment right. This time, the establishment right is, at the very least, willing to stay silent and look the other way, and at the most, join in the sniping.
The NYT op-ed does not read like it came from a leftist. GWB was called Hitler too, but he never experienced attacks from his own side quite like this.
Also, I don’t think the Deep State was out to get Reagan.
My leftist relatives still hate Eisenhower. And he actually fought Nazis.
The left called Reagan a fascist when they were talking about South America, but the rest of the time they called him an actor. I don’t think the real left hates Trump more than usual. But he ran for office challenging the establishment consensus in favor of lower American wages through higher immigration, and the establishment hates hates hates him.
Personally, I see this as part of a continuum.
Every election, the set of people who aren’t reconciled to the democratic outcome seems to get larger, and the range of behaviour *not* shunned by everyone as off-the-wall gets broader. I know people who are still claiming that Bush stole the “hanging chad” election, and was never a legitimate president – but most people regarded them as pretty much off the wall, even among those who supported his opponent. With Obama, we have the Birthers, and those who claimed he was Islamic. With Trump, half the Democrats I know (*not* a representative sample) act like the only reason they don’t think he’s Satan incarnate is because they don’t believe in Christian mythology.
There’s been a similar progression in statements from various grades of supposedly “fair” media. The sorts of things that used to be said only by a newsletters for committed radicals, run off in the basement on a mimeograph, and maybe the odd self-published book, is now coming out of media outlets are neither generally recognized as mostly fantasy (National Enquirer and its ilk) or not recognized at all. Once again you can see a progression from Bush to Obama to Trump.
The case of Trump is made more complex by his attacks on specific media outlets, such as the New York Times, and sometimes on media in general. People who feel attacked hit back. I’d expect similar behaviour from e.g. Fox News, if major political figures started calling it “Faux News” and excluding its reporters from news conferences.
Add to this Trump’s self presentation as an outsider. People who feel attacked lash out. Lots of people feel attacked by Trump. Many of them are career pols or beltway bureaucrats. (The rest are probably immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, and citizens of allied nations being pressed for ever more concessions.)
What I don’t see is any more of a concerted attack than there was on Obama. Lots of pissed off people bad mouthing him to anyone who will listen – sure. Lots of politicians and would be politiicans openly planning to obstruct everything he does, even if the specific thing is innocent – sure, and much the same with Obama, and before. (Current US politiicans don’t compromise, AFAICT.) Ever more effective (and more shameless) opposition with every election – yep. The odd wingnut arrested for making threats, or even attempting to carry them out – yes again, and possibly more each election. Foreign agents sticking their spoon in the stew – quite obviously, this time, but probably not all that new, though maybe ever more effectively. Political partisans doing anything they can to discredit him, with ever less regard for truth – yes again.
Now personally, I’d dance on Trump’s grave – provided only that Pence pre-deceased him – and was merely somewhat disappointed with Obama. So I probably find it easier to notice “absurd” opposition to Obama than I do to Trump. But I don’t think that means I’m wrong in seeing a continuum here, and one that also included Bush.
Maybe it is just as simple as, due to the “Crying Wolf” effect, all rhetoric in politics tending to rise at least one, if not several steps above what a seemingly reasonable reaction would be.
For example, if standard operating procedure for both parties is to call any president of the opposing party, no matter how unremarkable, “a disaster for the nation,” then there isn’t much room left, rhetorically, if someone comes along who is both not of your tribe and also more so than average.
That is, because nobody saved a “10 of 10” on the outrage scale for a genuinely unusual president, even a slightly unusual president results in an unhinged-seeming “11 of 10.”
On some level I can understand the strong incentive for actual politicians to do this; I find it a bit more perplexing when people like Eliezer join in.
Yeah, but usually the outrage dials back down after the election. Particularly consider the primary to general election switch. The candidates warn everyone that disaster awaits us all if their primary opponent wins the party nomination, but as soon as the convention rolls around it’s all “this is the [wo]man for the job, and a finer leader and patriot there never was!”
I’ve told the story before, but I’ll do it again. When Trump won the New Hampshire primary HuffPo ran “WAR IN EUROPE” sized letters “NEW HAMPSHIRE GOES RACIST, SEXIST, XENOPHOBIC!!” I wondered if when Trump won the general election people would realize, “Oh, New Hampshire isn’t racist, sexist and xenophobic. There aren’t nazis everywhere. They just want somebody to do something because their friends and family are dying and you can’t get them clean when there’s $10 heroin on the streets.” Nope. It’s all nazis everywhere all the time.
I thought the Republicans were the party of personal responsibility?
To your original “steelman” question I think David Frum has a pretty good summary here:
tl;dr: we are trading short-term gains for tremendous long-term dangers, and though Trump has not gone full Orban on us, he clearly would if he were smarter and our institutional checks were less strong; and he has worn down those checks enough, by setting a precedent of getting away with Big Lies and extreme corruption, that they will be much less effective against a future, smarter Orbanist.
If you don’t think Orban’s regime is actually terrible this will not be so persuasive, of course, and I imagine some on here probably don’t; but for those that do, that’s the strong case as I understand it. On a scale of generations institutional quality really matters to sustainable prosperity and growth, and Trumpism degrades our institutional quality more than the alternatives.
His steelman doesnt appear all that strong on review.
For instance, he says something silly like this:
It seems quite clear to me that democracy is currently fragile because of all of the trends that preceded Trump/Brexit/Morawiecki/Orban, and they are simply a reaction of a subset of voters to the previous failure of democracy. I feel like embedded in this is some sort of conceit that 50 years of a rotating Bush/Clinton/Obama/Boehner consensus would strengthen democracy. To me it seems far from it. Those people were unable to effectively wield power abroad and unable to form consensus at home.
Simply false as far as I can tell. He is a potion of Clinton’s philandering and Obama’s lack of transparency. He just gets called out more.
Rhetorically I would agree, but in practice there is yet to be evidence that he has launched a war to avenge his father or used law enforcement/IRS resources to investigate political opponents, or really enriched himself significantly. Maybe one day we will see, right now he’s just a talker on this.
Pure idiocy. Its not just the lies that matter, its how much the lies matter that matters. “Keep your doctor”, “WMD in Iraq” even if these are only 1 like they are worth a million fabrications about a steel plant, or the size of a crowd. And those lies were repeated and AMPLIFIED by the media. Its really not possible for him to catch up to either without lying us into a war, or lying us into a major social policy change.
Yea, this isn’t aging well.
A silly lie that runs opposed to all evidence we have.
You might find this semi-hopeful, but I do not. It simply seems to me that he prescribes more people doing what he wants, which is a complex scheme of bilateral unilateralism, that is similar to what we had 1994-2016, but actually working. We can’t have that unless its a different kind of bilateral-unilateralism that, frankly, Frum would hate.
We cannot be caring abroad and at home, as the old way would like, because there isn’t enough money and good will to go around. We could be callous everywhere, but that will be unstable, even if many of us libertarians would like it at least for a while. What we have to do is recognize that there is going to be a tension between, “America for Americans” and “Global World Community” and not pretend that ignoring the former for a few decades (as we did) makes things work well. Particularly not democracies.
Indeed. “Democracy is in danger because people aren’t voting the way I want them to” is a weak argument.
If you think Democracy is dependent on people voting the way you expect, you should probably think Democracy is a bad system (as I do, because I know that most people will not vote the way I prefer)
Yes, I read Frum’s article yesterday and had the same reaction. Special pleading mixed with outright falsehoods.
I particularly dislike the whole “enriches himself” angle, as Trump’s wealth has fallen since the election. Trump is probably the only politician in the last 50 years who will leave Washington poorer than he went in.
On the other hand, the Clintons have a combined net worth a little over $100 million. “Public service” pays pretty well I guess.
A few points here:
— It is absolutely the case that the corruption, arrogance, and ineffectiveness of the neoliberal establishment paved the way for Trump. It doesn’t follow that Trump isn’t nonetheless much worse than the neoliberal establishment. The failures and sins of Tsarism paved the way for Communism but the Communists were still much worse than the Tsars.
— On why words matter more than you may think, see Jacob Levy: https://niskanencenter.org/blog/the-weight-of-the-words/
— It seems foolish to conclude, on the basis of Trump’s record so far, that his accession has actually decreased the likelihood of our blundering into a stupid, catastrophically destructive war. We had a very close call with N. Korea and could well again; and if actions speak louder than words, surely the appointment of John Bolton speaks louder than any number of expressions of skepticism about intervention.
— A point Frum doesn’t make, but which I think is a common driver of anti-Trumpism, is that norm corrosion extends its impact beyond politics. There’s historically been a strong norm that politicians make an effort to appear decent, knowledgeable, and well-intentioned. More often than not this appearance is a sham but it is still a very good thing that they feel compelled to put in the effort: hypocrisy, tribute, vice, virtue and all that. Trump breaks that norm: more than any other modern president he is openly, unapologetically a delusional, vindictive, bigoted, semiliterate asshole. In being those things while occupying such a prestigious office (and supporting other similar figures like the egregious Arpaio), he weakens the social stigma against being those things. This is bad, because that stigma is justified, useful, and important. There are always going to be plenty of people like that in the world, and for the sake of their betters’ welfare and safety, they ought to feel ashamed of themselves and pressured to hide their true nature.
Special pleading. Trump is worse for the beneficiaries of the neoliberal establishment but better for the victims of the neoliberal establishment. The neoliberal establishment argues for their self-interest behind a facade of virtue. e.g., the NLE wants mass immigration for cheap labor, their cheap landscapers and maids, but they don’t have their neighborhoods transformed by mean-mugging foreigners who drive their wages down. When the white working class elects Trump to alleviate these hardships, the NLE decries this as “racism” and “xenophobia.” Nah. You can get the money or you can get the virtue but you don’t get both.
This just makes me think of R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket (NSFW).
Again with the special pleading. When Obama condescends to the “bitter clingers” holding on to their guns and their bibles, well that’s decent, and knowledgeable, and well-intentioned. When Hillary dismisses a quarter of the electorate as “irredeemably deplorable” (irredeemably! She actually said that!), well, who’s to argue? Naked bigotry against the outgroup is decent, knowledgeable and well-intentioned after all.
This could be a reply, and my longer reply has been lost to the ether, but I;m really just going to focus on your first paragraph. The rest I think is kind of just namecalling or things I don’t much quibble with.
I agree Trumpism may end up being worse than Neoliberalism, but to evaluate the chances of that we need to create a coherent theory for what Neoliberalism actually is. I don’t think people like Frum can articulate what it is and what its goals are without either lying or ignoring its recent track record.
If anything it appears that the goal is a managed decline of the west (or as Frum’s fellow nevertrumper Jonah Goldberg calls the “Suicide of the West”, or Douglas Murray calls “The Strange Death of Europe”). Its not really that I think they think they are doing this, but the combination of traditional Neocons with traditional center-leftists as forming the dominant “middle” has caused some trends to emerge which make the declines in growth and social capital almost inevitable.
Most obvious is the fetishization of immigration and diversity. To me, these have gone past simple compassion and civil rights into something I cannot really identify any redeeming qualities in. When the most vocal and prominent people who speak on this appear to be cheering the end of whites as a majority in a country, simply for the sake of it, its not a movement that makes sense.
Second is the ridiculous modern attitude to war in both these camps. They treat them like a king would treat a jousting tournament. It appears they don’t understand what it takes militarily and politically to commit to and win a war, but still enjoy toying with the various incursions simply for the purpose of engaging in them to do international virtue signaling.
Re: ridiculous attitude to modern war-
Yes, I can’t see Jonah Goldberg ever considering that badmouthing Trump to a Never Trump audience isn’t all that risky compared to flying a plane maintained by men with dead friends on the Forrestal.
There’s historically been a strong norm that politicians make an effort to appear decent, knowledgeable, and well-intentioned.
You mean like Bill Clinton? Or Lyndon Johnson? Maybe Richard Nixon?
You really think Trump is more likely to pave the way for a future autocrat than Obama’s “if Congress won’t pass my bills, I’ve got a phone and a pen” rulership? I think Trump is simply using the tools that were left to him, which is why I tear my hair out about people not being able to think five minutes into the future about “yeah but suppose our thousand year reign of hope and light doesn’t actually eventuate and the other lot get in, should we really cut down all the laws and leave these tools for them to use against us?”
From an NPR online article, so presumably not one of the “Obama is the Great Satan” sources:
“Wielding A Pen And A Phone, Obama Goes It Alone” – that’s your smart person wearing down institutional checks, and that’s much more worrying to me than a blustering braggart (but not to the people at the time nodding and smiling at the Strong Independent President who didn’t need no Congress).
Yeah – Congress enthusiastically kept delegating more and more of its power to the executive throughout the Bush and Obama years, and anyone who questioned this was considered to be an unpatriotic libertarian extremist.
Yet again, the chickens have come home to roost.
What really disappoints me though is that they’ve learned nothing. Nobody in the establishment is saying “Gee, maybe we shouldn’t have such a powerful executive.” Instead, it’s all entirely focused on “HOW DO WE REMOVE TRUMP AND MAKE SURE SOCIAL MEDIA IS CONTROLLED SUCH THAT NOBODY LIKE HIM MIGHT EVER WIN AGAIN”
We’ve spent *decades* with Congress punting most of their decisions to the courts and the executive branch, and the executive branch getting increasingly powerful as a result. If only it had been forseeable that someday, someone not so committed to the previous ruling class consensus in the US would get elected….
I would also really like a definition of “authoritarianism.” The media keeps calling Trump “authoritarian,” but isn’t authoritarianism consolidating power, and making more rules, not removing rules? Trump has slashed the federal register by something like 30,000 pages. The Obama administration made a rule about how schools must manage their bathrooms. Trump rescinded that rule. Said people can figure it out for themselves. Isn’t the authoritarian the one who wants to tell you how to run your school bathroom from Washington? And not the one who stops telling you how to run your bathrooms?
Unless I’m delusion (entirely possible), I’ve always thought of myself as pretty anti-authoritarian, and I disliked Obama telling me what to do, but I like Trump not telling me what to do.
I in fact warned friends at the time who were enthusiastic about Obama’s executive orders that they should not support such arrogation of power to a single individual even for a cause they liked, because who knew what a much worse future president might do with it. And that was before anyone thought Trump would get in. So you’ll get no argument from me that the presidency has waaaaaay too much power and prestige. It is still worse for that power and prestige to be used– sometimes for good, sometimes for bad– by someone with some semblance of civilized moral standards than by someone who proudly flaunts his lack of them. I would like to think the anti-Trump backlash will result in more effective restraints on the imperial presidency but I’ve seen no evidence that that’s likely to happen.
Reread your second to last sentence.
Puff pieces about the Strong Independent Leader are a disturbing genre. See the sycophantic Fr. Rosica’s recent piece about Pope Francis being unbound by Scripture, Tradition, etc. and how great that is.
Trump is too ineffectual a president to be truly horrible. But if we listen to him tell us what he wants to do with the power of the presidency, that includes things like setting up a Justice Department that will explicitly make prosecutorial decisions based on what is politically advantageous to the Trump Administration and/or Republican Party. Please tell me you recognize that this would be an impeachment-level horrible thing if actually implemented.
When/where did he say that?
Starting during the campaign with “Lock Her Up!”, and down to the present with crap like this.
I thought the “lock her up” thing was inappropriate and crass, though obviously not serious and, to the extent it was serious, meant as an implication that Hillary was a “criminal,” not that the DoJ should lock her up despite her not being a criminal.
Re. the DoJ I read Trump’s comments about it and Sessions as understandable complaints that it’s biased against him and shouldn’t be, not expressions of a desire to use it as his personal attack dogs (though I think the idea of a truly non-partisan, independent DoJ is a mirage, given the current system).
Put another way, I don’t blame Trump for acting like everyone’s out to get him when… everyone’s obviously out to get him. Which is not to say I like every aspect of his behavior or policies or personal style, only that the reaction to him seems, at turns, completely unhinged and/or completely cynical.
But Hillary is a criminal. So is Donald Trump. So am I. And so are you. Everyone is a criminal. We have long since reached that great objective, but mostly by accident and the one thing that makes this country any better than Stalin’s Russia is that we have reasonably consistent and well-understood standards for which subset of criminals we prosecute and imprison. And a Justice Department that administers them without taking orders from the President on which of his political enemies need to be locked up and which of his friends get a pass on their crimes.
Sending classified information through a private email server and the like, is a thing we very consistently do not lock people up for. Insider trading, for better or for worse, we do. Trump’s “lock her up!” w/re Hillary during her campaign, and his demand that Collins should get a pass during his, and his wanting to fire anyone who even investigates him for his own crimes, add up to an undisguised assertion that Team Trump is above the law and that anyone who opposes them cower in fear of his unconstrained exercise arbitrary power. And that, yes, is uniquely bad as US presidents go.
If your defense of Trump is that none of these things ever actually happened and none of them ever will because Trump can’t pull them off, then that’s Trump saying he wants to be and ought to be Stalin but being too inept to be even pull a Nixon. Which I count as two strikes against the man, not a point in his favor.
While I don’t think Trump has only failed to imprison Hillary for lack of the power to do so (I take him “seriously, but not literally”), I don’t actually disagree too terribly with most of your criticisms of Trump.
I think the key problem is that I have a lot of trouble believing that most of the criticism I see of Trump is the critic’s “true rejection.” I think in most cases the “true rejection” is some combination of Trump’s personal style rubbing people the wrong way and, probably much more importantly, him attempting to actually change how things run in DC, including which federal agencies and military interventions get the funding they were promised, as well as, perhaps most importantly, the general triumphalist arc of the culture war.
And precisely because of the “everyone is a criminal” phenomenon you mention, those who want to take out a politician for reasons they don’t want to say because they sound bad can come up with an endless stream of “untrue objections” until something sticks, though this also introduces the “crying wolf” threat: Trump could do something actually impeachment-worthy and I’d be less likely to take it seriously because of all the times they’ve already tried to impeach him for fake reasons.
This relates to a rule I’ve previously suggested everyone should adopt wrt political scandals: “would this scandal make me not vote for my current favorite politician were I to discover it was true?” For example, finding out he was lax with his e-mail security at one point would not be enough for me to stop supporting Ron Paul in any of the elections he ran in, so I should not (and did not) ever argue that Hillary’s e-mail woes should disqualify her. Which is not to say being lax with e-mail security cannot be a point against someone when deciding whom to vote for, only that people should not engage in hyperbolic rhetoric about how damning a particular failing is if that same failing would not be utterly damning applied to their own favorite candidate.
Maybe I’m being too uncharitable to Trump critics? Maybe some of their stated objections are precisely their fundamental objections? I’m sure that’s true in some cases. But part of the problem with all the “crying wolf” is that it makes it very hard to pick out the genuine criticism from the disingenuous. As Michael Malice puts it: “Virtually every political claim can be regarded as a Jeopardy! setup for the question ‘What do I need to say to get you to do what I want?'”
trump was viscerally loathed before he was sworn in, the reaction to him has nothing to do with him trying to change DC and everything to do with him thumbing his nose at contemporary blue tribe norms.
What we have right now is a justice department making prosecutorial decisions motivated by harming people who support Trump. What I would like them to do is go after the other side with equal fervor.
He’s also why we’re getting hurricanes. From WaPo: Another hurricane is about to batter our coast. Trump is complicit.
ROTFL. The term “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is getting some hate on the subreddit, but it definitely applies to that headline.
Anyone remember when the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was going to become the ‘new normal’ due to climate change? Then we didn’t have a major hurricane hit the US coast until Harvey in 2017? Not only can no particular hurricane be pinned on climate change, no apparent _pattern_ in hurricanes can either.
In fairness, they did blame Bush for Katrina as well, didn’t they?
I thought ‘they’ blamed Bush – and FEMA in particular – for mishandling Katrina, not for causing it.
As I recall, the theory went something like “Global warming contributed to Katrina, Bush won’t fight climate change, Katrina is Bush’s fault!”
Apoplexy over who is now President isn’t new.
So there’s an established pattern of Republican presidents collaborating with hurricanes? Disturbing!
Anonymous sources interviewed by the New York Times claim to have a video of Trump secretly meeting with the hurricane.
To be fair, the hurricane *did* promise him some dirt on Hillary.
Anyone remember when the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was going to become the ‘new normal’ due to climate change?
I thought it was definitely happening? The news over here is having kittens because of the four – FOUR!!! – storms in the Atlantic at the moment, and while North Carolina is getting hit by Florence (good luck to the people there), there’s a suspicion the tail of ex-tropical storm Helene means next week will be a bit blowy and rainy (sample simultaneous headlines on my news feed just now: (a) tabloid newspaper – DEADLY STORM HELENE POSES ‘A THREAT TO LIFE’ WHEN IT HITS IRELAND (b) national broadcaster – STORM HELENE TO BRING WET AND WINDY WEATHER).
There’s a lot of pieces about how from now on we’re regularly going to get hurricanes and what-not because global warming, and I think this is because this year we had actual by-God weather happening in this country, not just climate: we started off with the winds from the hurricane, then REAL SNOW and blizzard (like) conditions, then the summer was HOT AND DRY FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD SO WE EVEN HAD SORTA KINDA DROUGHT. This is highly unusual when the usual pattern is “rain, rain, warmer rain, foggy, colder rain” 🙂
Personally, my favourite Trump Derangement Syndrome headline is: The week Trump went full dictator and no one tried to stop him
His horrible act of authoritarianism? He tweeted about the government’s official jobs report 69 minutes before it was due to be released in violation of the Office of Management and Budget protocol. Not official regulation carrying the weight of law mind, but simple written procedure. Yes that is it. Trump broke an administrative rule passed by an organization that he is ultimately the boss of, and this means he is now a full blown dictator.
So if he breaks a real Federal regulation does that make him a double-dictator? Does he get triple-dictator for breaking Federal laws? Like, how do you even go up from there? With this level of hysterics, i’m forced to assume that if the Philadelphia Inquirer publishes an article with the headline: “TRUMP OFFICIALLY WORSE THAN HITLER!” They just mean he ran over a dog.
Well Hitler loved dogs, so they would be literally correct in a narrow sense.
The article struck me as straight up silly. There’s a conspiracy to oust Trump which includes the CIA, FBI, and MI6 plus both Clintons, and the result is the Mueller investigation and the Steele dossier? To silly to rebut.
As for Trump being uniquely bad, I don’t believe that and I don’t think most mainstream Democrats do, though I’ll grant that the rhetoric against him might sound like it. I think that’s more because they really genuinely personally dislike him than because of his policy goals, insofar as he has them.
So… because they dislike his personality, a bunch of Democrats who actually don’t think he’s much worse than the average Republican outside his personality, are nonstop sending the message that the democracy is in deep peril because of our unprecedentedly bad president?
I don’t think the rhetoric against Trump is that much worse than the rhetoric against a baseline Republican would’ve been (say, Rubio or Cruz or whoever). Remember when Obama’s signing statements were evidence that that he was an autocratic despot who would refuse to relinquish the presidency and install himself as a dictator-for-life? Doesn’t seem any worse now to me.
But, given that people will always use overblown rhetoric against a president they don’t like the policies of, I think that rhetoric is somewhat more personal and petty when it’s also someone who is also unlikeable. But that’s not specific to Trump – if George W. Bush had been a braggart and adulterer, you would’ve seen a lot of the same stuff back then.
That’s going too far. Yes, every President draws fire, and some of that’s going to be overblown and irrational. Bush attracted some of the same tone of rhetoric, and so did Obama, and even Clinton in his second term. But there’s a real difference in scale, and in how it breaks down. Trump dominates news coverage like I’ve never seen in my lifetime, and the criticisms I’ve seen of him are like 80/20 personal over policy. Bush was more like 20/80.
Granted, Trump hasn’t started any wars yet.
I think the “dominates news coverage” is the main thing that’s different, and that’s not a change in Trump, it’s a change in how the media works. I mean, there’s nothing about Trump that would’ve kept him from being elected in 1980 or 1992 or 2008. But back then, the news wouldn’t even have reported on him as a real candidate – his candidacy would’ve been covered, if at all, by a chuckling Tom Brokaw right after a segment about a water-skiing squirrel. Today, there is no more “is this too dumb?” filter in the newsroom, clickbait rules, and if Trump says he doesn’t like brie we get serious op-eds in all the major papers about what it means for Franco-American relations.
So, for better or worse, the guy gets clicks, and the whole mainstream media now flogs him like Fox flogged Obama for 8 years. But I don’t think the people writing the “Trump falls asleep in cabinet meeting, is this the end of democracy?” headlines really believe it in their heart, any more than the folks at Fox really believed Obama would go door-to-door taking peoples’ guns away.
There’s no contradiction if they think personality is important in a President, which they do.
I’m confused by the confusion.
An analogy: if you think cursing is super cool and have nothing but contempt for those sheeple that think otherwise, fine. You do you. But sooner rather than later if you curse and curse and curse you will will run into some parent with his kids that will completely flip out at you. Maybe he’s in the wrong and maybe he isn’t but you shouldn’t be surprised.
You might not think having a President that throws temper tantrums on a daily basis is any big deal, but you shouldn’t be surprised that others do.
I don’t believe he does throw temper tantrums on a daily basis and see that characterization as part of a cynical strategy to get rid of him. I could be wrong, but at this point it’s very hard to know, because there’s already been so much cynicism (and I think a healthy dose of skepticism about popular portrayals of even less contentious political figures is probably reasonable, as with, e.g. the portrayal of Bush Jr as stupid–I think he was the worst president in recent memory, but he wasn’t stupid).
You don’t need insider accounts just go read twitter.
I struggle to maintain the assumption of good faith here.
Can you point me to a “temper tantrum” tweet?
I can’t imagine any other president in the modern era taking that kind of tone in public communication.
I’m not sure I’d take that as evidence of “daily temper tantrums,” but okay (I scrolled through a month of his tweets and that was worse than any I saw).
But maybe a big part of my problem is precisely what I perceive as a focus on style over substance in DC: one can authorize unjust, wasteful military interventions to appease military-industrial constituencies so long as one does so with dignity. But tweet intemperately and they’ll find some way to take you out (and I actually don’t find perplexing the editorials about how Trump is undignified, etc. I may disagree with their authors’ priorities, but at least they state their “true rejection.” What I find especially bothersome is the cynicism: e.g. investigations that wouldn’t be pursued against a president who better fit the DC cultural norms; arguably this was also the reason for the Kenneth Starr investigation; I thought that was BS too, btw).
They are not “blue tribe” cultural norms, they American cultural norms. Jimmy Carter had impeccable rural credentials and he was appropriately presidential. So was Johnson generally, at least in public. This isn’t a red / blue thing.
That’s our problem too. Right now, the top man in DC is one who has no substance under his odious personal style, who has accomplished nothing of significance before or after his election that isn’t ultimately just a matter of self-promotion.
Traditional Washington insiders may care more than they ought to about style, but they also actually get stuff done – stuff that an awful lot of Americans actually want done, even if you personally don’t. Trump, lacking in substance, gets nothing done. The swamp remains undrained, the wall unbuilt, Obamacare unrepealed and unreplaced, etc. But he tells his followers what they want to hear about what he allegedly wants to do, blames the lack of progress on somebody else, pure style, no substance, and they eat it up.
those norms are codified and enforced by cultural organs that are overwhelmingly blue tribe. Calling somalia a shithole in a private meeting is not a violation of american norms, but it was turned into a scandal of “unpresidential behavior” by a media that loves to be outraged by trump. Lyndon Johnson would literally wave his dick at subordinates, and that never made the news.
He did more deregulating in his first year than Bush did in 8, he’s getting judges confirmed, and got a tax reform bill passed that I like. Are those amazing achievements? Not by any means. But they’re not nothing and I like them a hell of a lot more than anything the opposition would have done in the same timeframe.
Plus pushback against Title IX overreach, and publicly supporting the lawsuit against Harvard for discriminating against Asian students. Yeah, those aren’t major accomplishments, but they are actions that go a ways to (re)establishing basic norms by publicly repudiating some of the sexism and racism now perfectly acceptable to some on the left.
Which specific assertions did you think are silly?
What I really want to know is why Carter Page is still walking around a free man. I mean, they got a title 1 FISA warrant on him. That’s for knowing agents of a foreign government. How exactly did Page go from being the FBI’s star witness is the prosecution of two Russian agents to being a Putin loyalist in the span of a few months? What exactly was the probable cause for that one?
And once the cat was out of the bag that Page had a FISA warrant on him, why didn’t the government move to arrest him? Or why didn’t he flee to Mother Russia?
It couldn’t possibly be that corrupt law enforcement officials, loyal to the party in power, fudged out a warrant so they could use the giant evil government panopticon to spy on the opposition political campaign. After all, agents of the federal government are beyond reproach, and the Democrats are saints. So why haven’t we executed Carter Page for treason already?
The main one of the article, that there’s a treasonous conspiracy of high-level bureaucrats trying to oust Trump in more or less the same way we’ve engineered coups in other countries:
Could this be happening? Sure, they’ve done such things in other countries, why not. Could the Mueller investigation be evidence of this happening? Pure bosh. Did these guys forget how to poison people and bribe mistresses and stuff? Mueller hasn’t even alleged any wrongdoing by Trump!
It’s about as compelling as, “I think the cops are plotting to murder me and make it look like a suicide – how else do you explain my second cousin getting three traffic tickets in a single month?”
I know a few mainstream democrats and they all seem to think that. Though, the mainstream democrats I knew also thought that bush was uniquely bad, and probably would have thought his dad and reagan were uniquely bad, so that doesn’t tell us all that much.
The thing about reading the tea leaves of Trump’s policy positions is that he’s taken both sides of pretty much every single issue at one point or another. He’s been skeptical about US intervention in Syria, he’s also reportedly asked why we haven’t tried to kill Assad himself instead of the current slap-on-the-wrist strikes. He’s held (symbolic) peace talks with North Korea and he’s also gone on tweetstorms about how his Big Red Button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s. During the campaign he asked why we have nukes if we aren’t going to use them. Yes, he’s said that he doesn’t plan on starting a war. I just have no idea why anyone believes him. On any subject, really.
(There may be good reasons to think a war is unlikely in general, such as the fact that we’ve already bombed all the likely candidates in the Middle East besides Iran, but Trump’s character isn’t one of them.)
But “not getting into a war” is a low-resolution metric – large wars aren’t common, and the pressures that start one are likely to be spread over several administrations.
So the thing people are looking at is how the Trump administration is using their soft power. Who are we threatening with sanctions or diplomatic pressure? What allies are we supporting? What nations are we treating as friendly and which as enemies? By those measures, Trump seems to be making lots of enemies and no friends.
Also, I think there’s a difference between “not being bellicose” and “letting other nations do literally whatever they want” and things like “imposing a minor diplomatic consequence for nations that assassinate people in other countries” fall on the correct side of that line. If we say that Russia can do anything they want so long as it’s not an actual military intervention (or even then, if you use “little green men”), will that incentivize Russia to do more or fewer political assassinations?
Because the guy that says he won’t start a war, even if he is somewhat unreliable, is still less likely to start a war than those who loudly declare that they will start a war?
All accurate conclusions, IMO.
When was the last time we had a president or major-party presidential candidate declare that they will start a war?
Declaring that one would go to war if [X] occurs, is an entirely different thing. And, for reasonable values of [X], one that reduces the chances of a war actually starting. It’s the guy who simply says he won’t start a war, that you have to worry about. Because that guy is lying. Either he’s flat-out planning to start/expand a war (Wilson, LBJ), or there are circumstances when they will start a war that they are trying to conceal.
Trump, I’m pretty sure, has never really thought about when he would start a war, because his diplomatic model is that he talks tough and the other side backs down, because America! and Trump!
Well, so far, that model has been more effective than the GWB/Obama models, so whatever.
The Hillary/McCain class of politician never met a war they didn’t like or didn’t want. Trump at least seems capable of identifying that sometimes war is a less than optimal outcome. That puts him apart from the rest of Washington.
So, if Hillary had been elected, you’d have expected her to launch simultaneous nuclear attacks against Russia, China, England, and France? Because I’m guessing not.
The next time you try to express anything like this, please dial the hyperbole down by at least 90%. As is, I read your statement as “People like Hillary and McCain are more enthusiastic than I am about some wars, and I’m too angry to be more detailed than that”. Which is neither informative nor persuasive.
Hillary was a well-known hawk who supported her husband’s war in Kosovo, voted for the invasion of Iraq, and supported the war in Afghanistan. Of course she supported bombing Libya during the Arab spring.
“Never met a war she didn’t like or didn’t want” seems factually accurate. I can’t recall any war in the last 20 years that the US was involved in that she opposed (except Iraq, once it had started and buyer’s remorse set in).
Obviously Hillary wasn’t going to “attack Russia, China, England, and France” but she might very well have intervened in Syria more than we have done. I wonder if she would have been brave enough to put boots on the ground there?
Yeah, Hillary and McCain are/were both on the hawkish end of consensus US policy. That’s not trying to start a war with Russia or China (though miscalculations are always possible), but it is bombing Libya and maybe starting a war with Iran.
During the campaign, Trump seemed less enthusiastic about that sort of thing than Hillary/McCain, but since it was also pretty obvious he’d spent massively less time and energy thinking about it, it wasn’t clear to me how much weight to give to his apparent lack of hawkish sentiment.
You understand that there’s a rather large difference between “a war” and “a war that the US was involved in”? Wars that the US are involved in are a very small subset of the set of all possible wars, filtered by the fact that a whole lot of Americans not named Hillary Clinton or John McCain had to also want the US to be involved in them.
I understand that “agrees with the more hawkish plurality of Americans as to which wars the US should be involved in” is a much less effective bit of rhetoric than “never met a war they didn’t like”, but the one is an accurate statement and the other is a hyperbolic lie, and this is a place I’d like to keep free of the latter even when it does make for clever rhetoric.
As an exercise, before Trump was elected, I tried working out the sign of the difference in probability of a nuclear war if Trump vs Clinton was elected. This probably reflects my ignorance as much as anything else, but it wasn’t at all obvious what the sign should be.
I think that has more to do with the rarity of a nuclear war than with either of their leadership styles. It’s hard to do math on tiny probabilities.
Although one thing you definitely could have noticed before the election was that Trump planned on tearing up the Iran deal, which seems likely to have a more direct impact on the probability of nuclear war than whatever general raising of tensions he gets up to.
This is a less subtle twist on Obama’s campaign strategy of “say nothing, and let everyone assume what they want.” But really nothing new for a politician. Remember John Kerry “flip-flopping”?
Maybe it is more significant for Trump and the complaint was overblown for others, but you’d have to show that.
*bias disclaimer: I don’t like Trump*
I have been reading a lot of US history recently. My conclusion is that
(1) it is common for the opposition party to try to tag their winning opponent with extreme labels and claim it is a disaster for the country.
(2) It isn’t rare for the winner’s party to also dislike him.
(3) Most US presidents have been pretty terrible
(4) Individual presidents (even whole administrations and iterations of government) usually don’t matter that much. Subpoints: (i) the country is very big, (ii) the actual range of options available to the strategic actors is pretty narrow, (iii) institutional constraints make the feasible range of options even narrower.
(5) Thus, the US has made it through and done pretty well (note: past performance is no guarantee of future results; also the Civil War could easily have been the end; also really great fundamental assets, both physical and human capital)
The article in question is substantially overstating the efficacy of CIA et al when it comes to backing coups. When was the last one of those we actually pulled off without military force? Maybe haiti in 91?
They’re out to get trump any way they can, as long as it doesn’t imperil their careers, disrupt their personal lives, or require them to change out of their pajamas after 9 at night. Which is not nothing, but it’s considerably less dire than “any way they can, full stop.”
This is probably true, but it also doesn’t say much. Clinton has a long record of being very hawkish, almost john mccain level hawkish.
The Clintons (and other sensible Democrats) would not want to oust Trump now; better have him in office to be voted out in 2020. The person with most incentive to oust him now, is Pence.
Were you really expecting to come to a better understanding of the coastal liberal media elite with this comment and ensuing discussion? You mentioned steelmanning, have tried a tiny bit of charity? You might be surprised at where that could lead.
What i’ve noticed in my neck o’the woods is how opposition to Trump seems to combine the different types of opposition that was against Reagan and Bush junior.
First off, my once upon a time Republican wife mostly seems aghast at the Putin connection, my brother (who grew up in Berkeley and Oakland, California like I did, but lives in Maryland now) is probably the most “Blue Tribe” person that I know well, and when he last visited he wore a “It’s Mueller Time” t-shirt, during the primary campaign my boss (a Republican who lives in Sonoma county) described Trump as “Not a real Republican”, the other guys at work are mostly blue-collar Democrats (if we vote we usually the way are union tells us) and mostly they just think Trump is funny, and they don’t seem particularly concerned but, judging by their signs, my neighbors (I live a stones throw from Berkeley, California) are a different matter.
Bumperstickers against Bush were common ten to fifteen years ago, and now I see “Resist” bumperstickers, a new thing however is the “In this house we believe….” signs listing various liberal beliefs that have been popping up, more alarming to me is that the far left (the RCP Avakianists) presence (judging by posters on telephone poles) is back to what I remember they were in the 1980’s, and now I see exhortations that “We need a revolution” again.
One vocally right-wing former co-worker (he got moved to another building so I seldom see him anymore) gleefully exalted over watching a video on his phone of “Antifa getting beaten up” (I had to ask what Antifa was) and shortly afterwards I noticed “The Anti Fa Handbook” in a prominent place at a local bookstore, and within a month I could hear helicopters that I presume were police over the University where “commies” and “fascists” were screaming at each other in an effort to look like that they’re going to reenact Weimar republic streetfights at “rallies and “counter-rallies”, so yeah it does look like vitriol is ramped up.
How do you recognize and deal with sophistic posts/sophists? Do you engage them? Try to refute them on things you know to be false or misleading?
I’ve come across numerous political/historical/economics posts by sophists. They’ll usually have some facts that they cherry pick or exaggerate to support a narrative, bring up a lot of strawmen and other fallacies. They can be fairly convincing if I don’t know anything about the subject or don’t critically think about what they say. Most times I’ll give the poster the benefit of the doubt, but if I see a pattern or certain words or phrases that trip my sophist-dar, then I tend to engage or just write them off completely.
Here’s a comment from the Marginal Revolution blog about China. It contains some kernels of truth, i.e. China graduates a lot of STEM majors. China is doing great work in some fields of biotechnology and has leads in some fields. Regulatory burdens can slow down economic growth and harm innovation. He seems to be painting a portrait of a dynamic, soon to be dominant in tech, economics and human capital China, compared to a stupid, lazy, sclerotic USA.
However, there are facts that counter his narrative. For example, more Chinese students choose to come study and work in the US than the reverse. While not exclusive to China, there’s a lot of fraud in their research due to poor incentives. There have been numerous scandals wrt food production in China, that could be reduced with better regulation.
This isn’t to say that his narrative won’t happen. The economic and quality of life growth in China over the past 20+ years has been amazing. China is a large country that is spending a lot on research and will continue to contribute to the world. However, the US also spends a lot on research and still has a lot of innovation in technology and management. It’s not like the US is standing still while China races ahead.
Maybe you can clarify what you mean by “sophistic”? It sounds at the beginning like you’re talking about people not arguing in good faith, but the example you give sounds rather more like someone arguing in good faith but failing to grasp nuance.
Just to play devil’s advocate, why do you think the linked comment is sophistry? He seems to have relatively medium strength arguments overall. Do you simply disagree with his view, or do you see a certain line of argumentation that is inherently dishonest?
As far as cherry picking evidence, are you not guilty of the same thing? You claim that more Chinese people coming over to the U.S. to study than the reverse is a sign that the U.S.’s STEM programs are better. However, one could argue that this actually shows that China is more dominate; i.e., that Chinese STEM majors have a mastery of both the English and Chinese languages (arguably the two most important lingua francas), whereas American students can not survive in a Chinese-language environment. From this perspective, the imbalance makes sense in favor of the Chinese, because not only are they better linguists and international citizens, but they also have the opportunity to learn science from both countries.
In my case please just call me on it.
I learn more that way.
I’m serious, if I don’t have all the facts, just tell me the facts!
Don’t assume malice instead of ignorance (full disclosure, I didn’t read the link you provided of the guy’s “sophist” argument about China because that’s not a subject that interests me).
I have heuristics for recognizing liars, idiots, and the willfully ignorant. I have other heuristics for recognizing those likely to be well informed, competent, and interested in getting at the truth. Neither set are infallible, but they help me reduce the noise to signal ratio.
I almost never engage with people I believe to be most likely “liars, idiots, and/or willfully ignorant”. I will sometimes engage with those whose ignorance seems likely to a result of insufficient experience, education and/or input.
Actually, that’s not quite true. If I’m in a sufficiently bad mood, I may play a game of “bait the trolls” or similar, and/or show off for a possible audience. But it’s not generally very satisfying, so I have to be in a pretty bad mood, not to be able to think of half a dozen rather more fun things I could be doing instead.
I think your usage of “sophists” implies something similar to my “liars, idiots, and/or willfully ignorant”.
Because you used the previously unfamiliar to me term “heuristics” I looked it up and learned it.
Now please share what “heuristics” you use.
Very useful term. Like a habit of the mind.
Explaining my heuristics is difficult, because they aren’t very conscious, or thought out. (That probably means they aren’t as good as they could be.)
I think I start by excluding some sources entirely. I’m not on Facebook at all. I don’t read the National Enquirer, though I may laugh at its front page when I pass it in a grocery store.
My next filter is for style, and is probably somewhat broken. Twitter-length utterances can’t contain a good argument, so ignore them. Some too-short statements show up as links, and I have a feel for when they are most likely to be misleading click bait – acquired by clicking through rather too often when I first started seeing them. If the language and proof-reading demonstrate incompetence and/or laziness, ignore unless there’s obvious reason for incompetence (second language writers, some dyslexics).
If the communication shows signs of not caring about truth, ignore it. If “truth” means “feels right”, if factual information is rejected, if digs are made against scientists, if claims are made that all beliefs are equally true – ignore.
If it sounds like the standard talking points of any group, ignore the author as probably parroting without understanding, or some kind of true believer. (Agreeing with various points from some group is fine; exactly matching them, complete with emphasis, is not.)
If the communication is essentially incoherent, and you can’t figure out what it’s trying to say, ignore.
If attempts are made to silence criticism, ignore.
If there are footnotes, citations, and references to data, it’s probably good. (But beware – one too well known author in the new age community includes fake footnotes – if you check the material cited, it doesn’t say what she claims.)
If the language used suggests significant education – i.e. they have vocabulary etc. – it’s more likely to be useful. (This is another one that may be a bad heuristic, and just select for ‘people like me’.)
If it covers something I know something about – does it give a balanced picture? Or are large swathes of relevant data completely missing?
Is the conclusion remotely plausible? Little green men from Mars probably aren’t controlling major political figures, ‘perpetual motion machines’ have a long history of bogosity, and there’s unlikely to ever be a panacea that solves all physical or mental distress. Does the argument match common anti-patterns – e.g. yet another conspiracy theory. Does the presenter have a financial interest in convincing me?
Is the presenter building on prior art? xxx is good, but also consider yyy – that’s a sign of a good argument.
Does the presenter appeal first to emotions and fallacies. xxx % of scientists agree – bad argument. (Though now we have people capable of better, who use that argument because there’s research showing it works very well in general.)
Does the presenter appeal to “science” as if it were holy writ? Do they talk science with no sign of understanding the scientific method? Are claims made for being “scientific” without any sign of a falisfiable hypothesis? – if so, ignore.
Does the presenter appeal to religious doctrine for questions of fact? If so, ignore. (Feel free to make an exception for people who share your religion.)
That’s all that comes to mind right now, but I’m sure there’s more I actually use.
Most people who are trolling are trolling to get you to expend more effort than them. If someone sticks around and advances an argument for more than a couple lines, its 99% probably not sophistry. There’s orders of magnitude more people on the internet that believe in weird and incomplete notions of things than there are wannabe puppet masters trying to maliciously engineer internet discussions
The troll can expend less effort while sticking around and advancing an argument. For one thing, they don’t care if their argument is true. For another… you know the one about wrestling a pig, right? You both get dirty and the pig likes it.
This wasn’t true for a former roommate of mine when he was actively trolling people. He had free time and was bitter and would bait (and admit that he was baiting people) for a reaction. The time relationship wasn’t a factor.
According to the rules codified by The International Troll Association at the 2011 convention, this makes him a loser and shaming him on this point, basically trolling him back, could yield results.
He was three levels above me as a troller at my best.
Rules? Trolls are usually Chaotic. (for those who remember, David Sternlight was a rare Lawful troll)
Instead of Lawful Evil, he was Lawful NSA.
“Rules? Trolls are usually Chaotic. (for those who remember, David Sternlight was a rare Lawful troll)”
I’m ignorant of who David Sternlight is, but I appreciate the Dungeons & Dragons reference.
85iqanddepressed on the subreddit is a counterexample.
I don’t think that guy is a sophist. Sophists win arguments by effective rethoric, that guy is just stuck on the narrative that China has a perfect political and economic system, while the West has become soft. You can easily point out areas where is narrative is wrong, like Chinas dept problem, their dependence on the world economy for export, etc.
He even digs his own grave by claiming China would have an advantage because of less regulations. Their current moratorium on video game licences shows that the Chinese goverment is willing to hurt it’s own companies for pointless reasons. The recent retirement of Jack Ma from Alibaba shows as well that being an entrepreneur in China has pitfalls Western CEOs can not image. Or could you imagine Jeff Bezos retiring for “mumble mumble” reasons?
A sophist would run his argument so it does not fall apart when someone introduces well known facts from last week’s news.
I’m not sure if what you mean by sophists. What I really detest are those arguing in bad faith. But you really can’t tell that this is true until you have had a few back and forths with them. A bad faith arguer is someone who pays no attention to your argument as a whole, but instead focuses on some detail in your argument and attacks it full force. A good faith arguer usually wants to at at least try to understand the other person’s argument, so they can determine where they agree and disagree, but a bad faith arguer just wants to score points. Once I realize that the other person is arguing in bad faith, I abandon the discussion immediately. No point in putting more thought into a wasted discussion.
So, I have an interesting dilemma that’s a bit philosophical and a bit medical.
Long-term, my girlfriend wants to have kids, and I’m becoming increasingly onboard with the idea. But there’s a bit of a complication. I have a genetic skin condition that has a 50% chance of passing on to any offspring.
It’s quite rare and frustratingly, nobody seems to give a single crap about it, because it’s “fortunately” not life-threatening or harmful to health in general. What it does is make me highly perceptible to getting quite large/painful giant red lumps (call them boils, cysts, carbuncles, whatever – they come in all shapes and sizes and consistencies) every so often. And I mean really big and really painful. I get them somewhat randomly – sometimes twice in two months, sometimes maybe a year between. On average, I’d say I average a big nasty one every six months or so, which causes about one week of really intense pain almost all the time (they’re usually located on my back, neck, or rear end, such that it’s almost impossible to sit down or move without aggravating them) followed by another week of drainage which is sort of off and on painful (but comes with a feeling of relief that the worst is over).
According to Google, there is no treatment and there is no cure. The entire internet has very little information on this whatsoever. As far as I can tell, the medical establishment doesn’t give a shit – because it’s “just pain” and it’s not “chronic” in the sense that I don’t have the pain literally all the time. I’ve seen several dermatologists, most of which ignored everything I said, misdiagnosed me, then gave up when their standard “cystic acne” treatment didn’t work. At my mother’s request, I even suffered through a year long course of Accutane, which did nothing long-term.
As a teenager, this was a very troublesome issue for me. I was embarrassed by it and during the worst of it, often had, not really suicidal ideations (never formed a plan or anything) but a whole lot of “I wish I’d never been born” type thoughts. I’ve learned to cope a little bit better as I got older, accepting it as just a part of life, and trying to avoid the “why me” sort of thoughts by maintaining perspective that everyone has problems and pain in their lives, and many are born into various sorts of circumstances far worse than my own.
All that said, the prospect of passing this on to my child horrifies me. My own father didn’t know he had this, but I do. My girlfriend wants two kids, which would put the odds of getting two children without this disease at 25%. Despite the fact that on the net of things, I’m glad I was born, I still can’t imagine myself being responsible for someone being born into the world with this condition. It doesn’t manifest itself until puberty – and I imagine myself having a child and spending their whole first 12 years of life in complete dread of the moment when they say “Daddy it hurts” and I have nothing to tell them other than “It’s about to get a lot worse” and “Get used to it because you’ll be dealing with this for the next 30 years.”
So one option is to go for it anyway, take my chances, hope the kids eventually feel how I do (that on net, it’s still worth being alive), etc.
Aside from that, what all other options are there? I’ve heard adoption is often costly and messy – that actually getting a white infant is incredibly complicated, and then there are risks of the birth parents returning and demanding custody. I suppose artificial insemination is also an option, but there’s also stories of that going poorly – I think it was here on SSC we discussed the story of the white couple who ended up with a black baby. Even putting the race stuff aside, I’m skeptical of sperm banks. Somehow, it seems like they all promise you tall, blonde, super-athlete, doctor sperm. And yet somehow, my perception is that most men who donate sperm aren’t… well… that.
And then there’s the question of – what am I having kids for if not to pass on my genes? Like many here, I believe heritability is a pretty big thing. That genetics explain a whole lot. Generally, the reason I want to have kids is to preserve my culture and values for future generations. Can I be confident in that happening if my own genetics aren’t involved?
I’m really not sure what to do about any of this.
Lots of stuff is going to hurt your kids, at least you’re prepared for this one.
Most of the other stuff won’t be directly caused by me though.
As horrible as this sounds, it may be that my primary concern here is probably my own guilt, moreso than the kid’s pain.
It seems you should also take into account the probability that there will be a better treatment for this condition in 10-15 years than there was when you were a kid (yes, you say nobody cares about it, but it might not take specific research on your condition to result in better treatment options as a side effect of future medical breakthroughs).
TBH, not to downplay your problem, but I am related (by marriage) to a family where everyone has like a fifty-fifty chance of developing Huntington’s Disease when they reach middle age. I feel like something like that might be enough to give one pause about having children (barring the case where you can e.g. select the embryos you know don’t have it). Your case doesn’t sound, to my subjective judgment, like it should.
I don’t get why you’d care about the kid being white but you don’t about it being yours. After all, being related to you and being of the same race seem like the same thing at different scales. And the difference between your genetics and average white genetics are probably greater than between average white and average black when it comes to academic success if that’s what you care about.
You seem to have achieved happiness, I would thus not discontinue the brand of your progeniture, your children can do so if they want to, or we might even already be editing genes by the time they become parents making the whole dilemma moot.
There are cultural implications of mixed-race families that I don’t care to deal with.
Assuming I go down this route, I’d probably want to keep it as secret as possible.
Putting aside the question of inheritable conditions, you might want to question some of the assumptions here.
Why? What is so valuable about your values and culture, specifically? Even if your own genetics are involved, how can you guarantee you will pass these things on in the first place? Many families have a dynamic of “My parent was a huge ***** of ****, I’m going to do the exact opposite of what they did.” If this is your major reason for wanting kids, why don’t you instead become a teacher? You can reach more people and potentially pass your values on to people who will be more receptive to them.
When you began to think about your child inhereiting your condition, you were thinking about them as individuals with their own subjective experiences of life. This is quite laudable, in my opinion. Will my children suffer? What will they think and feel, and how can I, personally, help them? Is it ethical to create a life knowing it will have specific challenges with potentially no solutions? These questions are at least attempting to struggle with the weight of what it actually means to have children. However, “I want to pass on my genes because that is cool for me” is the opposite of this, and ignores the potentiality of a human life to instead regard it as a genetic and cultural vessel for its parents.
I think you were on the right track thinking about your hypothetical children as people, but you lost the humanist bent when you brought up the genetic component.
This doesn’t look constructive.
Personally, I think this is something everyone should ask themselves. I find it very constructive to critically question my own assumptions and ideas.
And what did you find out? Are your values valuable?
Not all of them. I’ve found that I have some persistent, stubborn beliefs that are actually very detrimental to my day-to-day life, to say nothing of their philosophical ramifications. It’s been helpful for me to acknowledge them and work towards managing and, hopefully someday, replacing them.
But surely you treasure your metavalue of optimizing you beliefscape as otherwise you wouldn’t hold it?
Yes, because it is constructive.
Alright, presumably this is how everyone feels about their terminal values, so what’s the point of exhorting someone to question whether they should be preserved?
I’m not sure I understand your line of reasoning.
Are you saying that because questioning my values is a terminal value for me, I should’t need to question my terminal value of questioning my values?
But as I said earlier, I arrived at this value of questioning my values by questioning my values and realizing the process was constructive. I’m more than happy to question whether or not its valuable to question ones values. In fact, we’re doing it right now! You’re questioning my terminal values by asking whether or not its justified to question other people’s terminal values.
The very foundation of being a rationalist as an ideology is predicated on the idea that people have unconcious biases and thought processes that lead to mistaken or irrational beliefs and opinions and that this should be (to choose a word completely at random) overcome. I’m not sure its constructive for you to suggest that we should suddenly stop doing this at the point where it overlaps with people’s terminal values.
Granted, but it’s there’s a difference between questioning values, which can be useful, and promoting the value of questioning values which 1) doesn’t offer any solutions for this problem 2) Matt probably already holds given where this is posted.
You’re telling people not to be attached to their values or try to spread them, which actively proselytizing for your own.
This is an instance of the Null Tribe Exception.
This is very much a situation where questioning assumptions could potentially help Matt M as well as his hypothetical children.
The solution to this problem is to not have kids. The fact that this isn’t an actual conceivable option in this context maybe shows the limitations of what you refer to when you allude to “where this is posted”. I was under the impression that the rationalist community was open to rational yet non-mainstream ideas. Maybe I’m mistaken, and I should only tow the silicon valley-cultural line. In that case, you’re probably right.
It’s odd to me that we can (and should, as rationalists) consider the ethical and moral ramifications of versions of ourselves that a superhuman AI could potentially simulate, but not our own children. Fair enough, a quirk of rationalist culture, perhaps!
That being said, the very fact that Matt M posted this question shows he has enough moral awareness to understand that not having kids is a moral option. From that perspective, asking him to question his motivations to procreate seems reasonable, because (as written) his moral reasoning for wanting to have kids is flimsy. In real actual life, he will undoubtedly have kids (due to social pressure and pressure from his wife) and he is only looking for rationale to assuage his guilt. That much is obvious. But in the context of this blog and the rational community, how is this not a venue to at least argue an anti-natalist position? Are we censoring anti-natalist thought? Is discussion of the issue taboo?
Ah! “Questioning of terminal values for me, but not for thee”. How very clever 😉
Fair enough, but what I meant by the mentioning the context of this discussion is that you’re preaching to the choir by calling for more philosophical inquiry, Matt probably already thought a lot about his values and telling him to reconsider them again wouldn’t result in any new insights.
For full disclosure, I do not consider myself a rationalist and I come from a different social and ideological milieu than most rationalists and SSC commenters.
Who said anything about guarantee? It’s much more likely that a typical person would be able to influence his own kids than the kids of other people, which is 100% of who would inherit the future if he doesn’t have his own kids.
I used the phrase “guarantee” because Matt M’s ethical conundrum is between the chance (50%) that his children will suffer and the utility of passing on his values (probabllity unknown).
I agree with you that he has a higher chance of influencing his own kids, but I’m not convinced that is true only if they are his kids genetically.
Indeed. Which is why I am open to the sperm bank, and even the adoption solution. Nurture surely has some effect. But nature certainly does too.
I thought I remembered reading somewhere that the values of your biological parents are a significant predictor of your values, even if you were adopted. I could be wrong.
Can you select embryos or sperm that don’t have this? I’m guessing probably not – lack of research probably means lack of test development – but that would be the get out of jail free card. Especially sperm selection.
Extreme lack of research. I don’t even have an official diagnosis, because no dermatologist I’ve ever seen bothered to look into it. What I have is a sticky note with a couple latin words written on it that I got from a Nurse Practitioner who said “I saw a guy like you once, he got so angry and refused to leave until I found something new he hadn’t been treated for before. I found this in a medical index and it seemed to satisfy him, maybe it’s what you have too.” And when I googled it, it was a far better match for my symptoms than any of the common stuff dermatologists had always incorrectly tried to diagnose me with before.
(1) Is there any possible way to genetically screen for this, either your sperm or the embryo (going the IVF route)?Saw this has been asked above already.
(2) Does it manifest only in males?
(3) Do you have any brothers who you would be okay with donating sperm, and who would acquiesce to such a request?
2. From what I’ve read, it can occur in either gender, although in my personal case, I got it from my father, who got it from his father. I know my sister doesn’t have it. Unsure about aunts and uncles (my father is not on good terms with the rest of his family)
3. No, just the one sister. I have male first cousins on my mom’s side. I had never considered that. I’m sure my mom would be delighted to know that I’m carrying on her genes at least.
(2) Perhaps start mapping out your family tree, even if that meant mending some bridges (the rest of the family has friction with your father, but not you, right?). See if any women in the family have suffered from it; if not, perhaps aim to have girls (for example, through IVF).
(3) Forgot to add, crucially, that your partner would obviously need to be onboard with this. If you go this route, it would be nice to be as sure as possible that they don’t have the condition too. Could be hard to verify.
Follow up questions: you say you’ve googled your suspected condition. Have you gone further, and gone to the scientific/medical literature?
I would not put my faith in any single medical professional (nurse practitioner or otherwise). Have you received a second or third opinion from a dermatologist or other specialist? Given the importance of what you’re deliberating, this seems like the obvious move, but I have to ask…
If you want to have kids, have kids. If you give it to one of them you will probably feel guilty about it, especially during outbreaks. If you are a decent parent you kid probably isn’t going to hate you for it, and you should be going in with a good idea how to approach and take care of it as best it can be.
When I was in my 20s I found out that my parents had been sort of covering up (just by not talking about it) somewhat significant mental issues. Anorexia in one person, a mental institution stay for at least one, possible bi-polar in another. I was annoyed at having gone through depression and some suicidal thoughts/actions as a teenager without knowing this, but I wasn’t mad at the idea that they gave it to me.
See, I feel like this is different though.
My understanding with mental health is that it’s somewhat heritable in a certain way, but nobody really knows exactly how or to what extent.
In this case, it is considered absolutely certain that it’s a specific gene mutation that is dominant and therefore 50% chance of passing it on.
All situations are different, the issue here is one of two things. You either don’t want to have kids because of what the condition would do to the kid, or you don’t want kids because of what them having it would do to you or your relationship with the kid.
My answer to both is that if you managed to handle it and create a good life then trust that your kids will eventually be able to handle it. Their life will be harder than the average person’s life in some ways if they receive it, but that is hardly a reason to not have kids as their are many ways in which a person’s life will be harder than average, and most people will experience some. Hell Lebron James had to come home to his mansion with the n-word spray painted on it,
I’ve recently been taken my mom to some mental health clinics and got to hear her family history on the matter. Like you say, things that weren’t exactly covered up before, but never discussed in terms of the inheritance of her or my children.
Fortunately in these cases (as opposed to Matt’s) these are likely very highly polygenic and highly interactive with the environment.
If it’s not something you hate your parent(s) for, or wish you hadn’t been born over, then why assume your kid(s) would feel differently?
Well, it would be unfair to hate my parents for something they didn’t know about. In my case I *would* know about it. That might change the entire perception.
If your parents had known about it, would you hate them?
Hard to say. I’d probably hate them more for whatever that’s worth.
If the child does know you knew — I wouldn’t be so sure he would want to carry on your values that led you to this decision.
Well, I want you to have kids, because you and I have similar values, and I selfishly want the young people to have similar values to me when I am old, and for my kids to live among people who share our values. So, consider that your child’s potential suffering benefits not just you, but the rest of your tribe as well.
Right. I’m also genuinely sympathetic to the Julian Simon “ultimate resource” argument that every additional human mind makes the world better off.
…Find a friend who’s willing to be a sperm donor?
I guess that exposes you to some legal risk, if your friend later decides he wants your kid? I’m not a lawyer, dunno. But it seems like the best way to make sure you get good genes.
I think you would want to talk to a lawyer; the friend at least may end up on the hook for child support.
Perhaps the sperm could be laundered through a clinic to obscure legal obligations/risk. There’s a weird thought.
A child born within a marriage is considered the husband’s kid. In my understanding, there is also a limited time after the kid is born where the husband can ask for a paternity test and avoid child support (IIRC, it is something like 2 years).
So this risk is limited in time.
I believe you, but I’d still talk to a lawyer to see if there’s precedent the other way and how much discretion a judge has.
That probably very much depends on jurisdiction. And Matt M wrote girlfriend, not wife.
About the values: while I have seen some hints that being conservative or more liberal is a genetic trait, you have to take into account the environment. Because the world seems to move left, even your genetic progeny will probably be more left than you, even if they remain conservative.
Swedish conservatives (not the Sweden Democrats, but the other conservative parties they have), would probably be left-wing moderates in the US. If you get back in time enough, you would be a really radical leftist. My mother, who grew up in the Soviet Union, is always surprised how economically conservative I am (and socially liberal). Although my father is a leftist, I grew up in a very conservative town, and a lot of those values were absorbed by me.
So if you want your kids to have the same values as you, my guess is that prioritizing the community may be more important than genes for passing on values. So, for conservatives, the best thing would be to move to the Bible belt and stay away from cities.
Done and done.
Just closed on a house in the suburbs surrounding Houston, TX last week.
And to be clear, when I say “Pass on my values” I’m thinking more generic than specific. My dad is a hardcore lefty and I’m not, so clearly I appreciate that my genetic material is no guarantee my child will be an AnCap.
That said, I’m reasonably confident that they’ll be generally intelligent, law-abiding, etc. That they’ll be white, American, and either Christian or Atheist. That they’ll be reasonably wealthy (at least compared to the average child being born in Zimbabwe).
And you don’t have to be Richard Spencer to care about these things. You can be Mike Judge, writing Idiocracy 15 years ago. Generally speaking, I think the world could use more “people like me” and my specific political beliefs are part of that, but they’re far from the only part. I’m certainly prepared to be disappointed by my child’s eventual voting record, much as my own father is disappointed in mine!
If that is all you want, then a sperm bank donor would probably work. Black babies born from sperm banks are rare enough cases to be mentioned in the news, so they are pretty rare. Most white kids born in a middle class family will earn a reasonable income and will be law-abiding.
The possibility of your kid becoming Muslim or Jewish is also quite low, if they grow up in a tight, Christian community. The main reasons for conversion to Islam are community and marriage. Race is also a factor, with African American being more likely to convert.
Maybe you should do more research on your condition, including observing details of what happens before and between outbreaks. There might be some clues.
If they know what genes cause this you could use embryo selection. If not, you could use a sperm donor, perhaps a relative of yours who doesn’t have the gene. Lot’s of people have problems that they don’t want their kid to inherit.
I’m almost sure in vitro fertilization + embryo selection will be the solution to your problem. Maybe you should ask fertility clinics, maybe one of them already tests embryos for your disease or may be convinced to include it in its tests.
Just one anecdotal item:
I adopted a couple of kids from India. Not because of any genetic issue with me or my wife, just because the usual way wasn’t working. My kids are now in their twenties. I now cannot imagine going through life without having kids; it just seems like I needed to bring up a new generation. I also think as I get older the kids will become ever more important. One inevitably lives somewhat vicariously through one’s kids, and that may become more important as I become more infirm.
Yes with my own genes would have been better, but a whole lot better adopted than nothing. We had no racial issues for either kid. It really wasn’t any different than bringing up White kids. Research indicates that my adopted kids’ personalities have almost no correspondence with my own, but I am skeptical. I believe I helped them to become valuable humans.
Thanks for pointing out. And I actually grew up very close to a Korean girl about my own age who was adopted by white parents and things seemed pretty mostly fine for her.
How do you know that you have a 50% chance of passing on the skin condition, if they haven’t figure out what gene(s) are involved? If it’s a recessive gene, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Without knowing the specific genes, it may have been observed that kids of parents with the condition also have the condition 50% of the time. Dominant inheritance, recessive inheritance etc. of certain traits was known before the DNA was even discovered.
Since posting I’ve done a new round of Googling and it looks like they can identify the gene. Or at least 5-10 or so genes that it may be. It’s a dominant gene, that’s how they know it’s a 50% chance.
If they have identified it by the time you are having children, it should be possible to use IVF to produce several embryos and test to see which ones don’t carry it. That solves the problem, although at some cost in money, time and unpleasantness, unless you have moral objections to creating an embryo and then destroying it.
I agree that I would worry about passing on your skin condition; I gave up trying to have a third child when I reached the age where the odds got too high of Down’s Syndrome or other damage. And by now other people have made some of the obvious suggestions, including getting a competent doctor to look at you in light of the nurse’s diagnosis and your googled information, and getting a sperm donation from some male member of your family who doesn’t have the problem so that the resultant kid will be half your wife’s genes and some proportion yours.
Two comments: first, even if you have a kid who is genetically half yours, he/she will be very different from you in many ways, from your wife’s genes, sheer random chance, and cultural change over 20 or 30 years. An kid adopted or a mix of your wife’s and a donor’s genes will be more different, but it’s a matter of degree and you will have to adjust to differences you did not expect regardless. (I could tell stories about my two, but since they both read this blog…)
Second, from my observation of people I know, once you have the baby however you got it, it will be your kid. He/she will grow up as part of your family, you will be responsible for it, you will feel it is your kid, and he/she will feel you are his/her father, and you will be his/her father, day to day. And with reasonable luck you will find when you are 60 or 80 there are people in the next generation down who care whether you live or die.
Here’s a thing which I call The Alarm Paradox. Most likely other people have though of it before with a different name.
The moral of the story: Everything worked fine when the villagers could see the threat with their own eyes. In the beginning, whenever the boy sounded the alarm, the villagers could see that he was right because there was a wolf there for them to fight off. With the new wolf, however, that changed. Each time the boy warned of a coming catastrophe, the villagers acted to prevent that catastrophe. But for some catastrophes, preventing them means that you have no way of knowing whether or not they would have happened without your intervention. This was exactly the case for the new wolf. It took very few alarms before the villagers were lulled into a false sense of complacency.
This probably applies in many situations: A manager is told by an employee that the company’s software has a major security bug that needs to be patched ASAP. She assigns a team working overtime to the problem, and soon the bug is fixed. If this happens many more times, however, she may begin to wonder if these “major security bugs” are really as important as her employees make them out to be.
When I was just out of high school I was working in food service. I can’t say much good about my brief experience in that industry, but one thing going for it is you meet a lot of interesting people. One guy I worked with was a former crackhead who also was a former bike thief. (Ostensibly former. Maybe current on both accounts; neither would come as a shock.) His name was Kimmy and he didn’t have a lot of teeth.
One day I asked Kimmy what was the best kind of bike lock to prevent theft.
“Oh, they can clip anything. Soon as some newer stronger one come out, they find a way to clip it, just watch.” He nodded and kept mopping or running around. He had sort of a manic energy that I liked.
I had just bought a new bike after my old one was stolen — it was my sole mode of transportation, and the bastards who took it left nothing behind but the fancy U-lock I bought for it, its closure bar pruned like a rose stem. A little dismayed by Kimmy’s answer, I probed further: “So what’s the least worst bike lock?”
“Chains.” He held up his fists and made them tremble. “Thick ones. Sum’ real loud. People take bikes don’t wanna draw attention to they selves.”
He made a circular motion with his arms, like he was tying a scarf around an Easter Island head. “Run it all through the tires and the frame and shit.”
So that same day I replaced my bike lock with about six feet of somewhat heavy chain, secured by a sturdy padlock, and I used this to lock up my bike just as he said.
It worked like a charm and I had bikes for years after that, and never had one stolen.
Enough time passed for me to grow accustomed to mishearing noises and sort of hallucinating my bike was being stolen, but like phantom phone vibration I eventually learned to calm down and relax. My bike was always there waiting for me, draped in the length of chain where I left it.
In that time I uprooted myself again, I went to school, I got married, and my wife and I worked and lived in various parts of the state and then eventually moved across the country. I secured my bike, then our bikes, that way the whole time.
We’d been in our new apartment on the other side of the country for less than a week. One night around 9:30 or 10 while I was lying awake, I heard the familiar sound of the chains rattling and reflected on how it sounded — just like the real thing, I thought. I closed my eyes and waited for the sound to stop, as it always did. Then I went back to whatever else I was doing or thinking about. Bu