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OT112: Opentagon Thread

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread (there are also hidden open threads twice a week you can reach through the Open Thread tab on the top of the page). Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server – and also check out the SSC Podcast. Also:

1. I am retiring the scott[at]shireroth[dot]org email in favor of scott[at]slatestarcodex[dot]com. Please use the new email if you want to reach me. I prefer not to receive comments on blog posts by email. If you have a comment on a blog post, please put it on the comment section of the blog or the subreddit.

2. Comment of the week is this set of tweets on how the adversarial collaboration contest’s main benefit might not be to readers, but to participants and to democracy itself.

3. I am interested in publishing basically any good adversarial collaboration people do (this isn’t a promise, just an expression of interest). If you have one, let me know. If you’re thinking of doing one and you want to know if I would publish it beforehand, let me know. Also, I am slightly behind on paying some of the people who need payment, but I will take care of it later this week.

4. In some weird reverse of Conquest’s Law, any comment section that isn’t explicitly left-wing tends to get more right-wing over time. I am trying to push against this and keep things balanced, so I want to be explicit that I’m practicing affirmative action for leftist commenters. You may have noticed some leftists saying things that should have gotten them banned. After some thought, I’ve decided to keep them around anyway with warnings instead (this means you, Brad and Freddie). I will still ban leftists for more serious issues. This doesn’t mean other people will be able to get away with this kind of behavior, so consider yourself warned.

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1,303 Responses to OT112: Opentagon Thread

  1. I think Plumber may be right wing in Thegnskald’s sense, in which I’m not. He has even confessed to being a reactionary–although he only wants to go back forty or fifty years.

    He is also an alien here—although a very nice alien. Which is part of what makes him interesting. And which perhaps supports Thegnskald’s point. Plumber represents a point of view which must have quite a lot of holders in the population, if few as articulate, and has been almost entirely unrepresented here.

    • ana53294 says:

      To me, Plumber maps as a blue-collar leftist.

      I get the feeling that there aren’t many blue-collar workers in this forum – except for self taught programmers, I get the impression that almost everybody else has a college education. But that’s just the feeling I get.

      • A blue collar autodidact leftist and cultural conservative reactionary. I’m waiting for him to get into a thread with Deiseach, who is as much of an outlier in a somewhat different way.

        We’re better off for having both of them in the conversation.

        • Plumber says:

          @DavidFriedman

          “A blue collar autodidact leftist and cultural conservative reactionary. I’m waiting for him to get into a thread with Deiseach, who is as much of an outlier in a somewhat different way.

          We’re better off for having both of them in the conversation”

            Now I have to find Deisearch’s posts! 

          Thanks for “autodidact”, and it’s true that I never went to college (unless one semester with two academic classes at Laney Community College in Oakland, plus welding classes count), but my mom and my wife did. Among my wife’s books were some Marx anthology, “Social Darwinism in American Thought”, and Jon Rawls “Theory of Justice”, each of which I skimmed with interest, and though I doubt that I understand them fully they form the core of my what my ideas of “left”, “right”, and “liberal” are. My little brother did go to college (partially supported with my wages) and he was fond of quoting Burke for a while (though he’s now far more “Blue Tribe” than me), and my cliffs notes idea of Burke forms my idea of what I’ll call “classical conservatism”, which I basically think of as “whatever the destination turns should be slow and wide, otherwise they’re too dangerous”. Then in the mid 2000’s, at my unions apprenticeship training center, amongst old plumbing codebooks, there was a 1950’s book called “Labor’s Untold Story” which was a fascinating history of strike actions and the like, and I sought and read more books like that. At that time I started volunteering to do precinct walks and phone banking, but the texts we were supposed to read outloud to voters didn’t convince me so I went to the vice-president of my union (who practically lived at “the labor temple”) and asked him “Why are we supporting this guy?”, and he basically took me under his wing, including suggestions on books to read. In reading those books (some of which mentioned him) and listening to his stories l realized that if he hadn’t been a Stalinist in his youth he’d have to have been the fellowtravelist of fellowtravelers, and I have a weird position on the Stalinists: Stalin’s regime was a horrible tragedy of human suffering in Europe and Asia, but in the U.S.A. if you were a west coast longshoreman, or a Detroit autoworker (in their heyday) the leftist who organized the union you were a member of did you a good turn (assuming you came in after the organizing drive).

          Now this is were my perennial history intersects strangely, as there’s a picture of me holding an American flag as part of “The Berkeley High School Young Republicans” in a yearbook from the 1980’s. I don’t remember my thinking that clearly, but I’m guessing that I thought the Khmer Rouge were evil (because they were), and if you were against that in Berkeley High School at the time the Young Republicans were it.

          Further complicating this, is that I’m pretty sure my parents were Trotskyists (especially my Dad), though in the ’80’s I just thought of them as old stupid hippies (because they were stupid hippies!), as lots of my Dad’s rants back then fit that political label (as did what I could gleen from him while he was in hospice last year), and when I was 12 my mom handed me a book called “Marx for Beginners” which was basically Trotskyism in cartoon form (though I didn’t really think about it until long afterwards).

          Before anyone asks, no I’m not a Trotskyist, when he had power he showed himself to be a bloodthirsty monster as well, he just never achieved as much power as Stalin did, plus the idea of “Permanent Revolution” sounds awful to me.

          The problem with Communism is, well, the famine, and the terror, and the stiffililing of innovation (though I’m down for the last one, in the 1990’s I saw a brand new Russian motorcycle that was exactly the same as the ones they made in 1938, it was so cool! None of this check the VIN and engine number to see what piston rings to get!).

          The problems of capitalism is…

          …you know if you don’t feel it after working in private industry there’s really nothing that I can say to explain it to you, read some Dickens, watch “The Grapes of Wrath, see the tents of the homeless, et cetera, but know that a couple of decades of being an employee was enough to reconsider some of what I thought of as my parents craziness. 

          Fortunately laissez faire capitalism and gulag socialism aren’t the only alternatives, my grandparent’s lives and tales (another story in an already long post) show that there was also 1973 (my favorite year) and the “old system, most blue-collar and white-collar workers held stable, lifetime jobs with defined benefit pensions, and a career civil service administered a growing state as living standards for all social classes steadily rose. Gaps between the classes remained fairly consistent in an industrial economy characterized by strong unions in stable, government-brokered arrangements with large corporations—what Galbraith and others referred to as the Iron Triangle. High school graduates were pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment in a job that provided a comfortable lower middle-class lifestyle; college graduates could expect a better paid and equally secure future. An increasing “social dividend”, meanwhile, accrued in various forms: longer vacations, more and cheaper state-supported education, earlier retirement, shorter work weeks, more social and literal mobility” (the link is largely critical and assumes that it’s impossible to “turn back the clock”, but I’m not hearing of a better alternative, especially of anything that’s actually worked in practice).

          Anecdotally my experience is that immigrants  to the Bay Area in California (whether from Mississippi or Moldova) are largly doing better than their parents and grandparents (with some exception like Iranians who’s families were doing well before the ’79 revolution) but almost all of my peers who grew up with me in Berkeley and Oakland are less prosperous than their parents and grandparents were at the same age, most had to move out to cheaper places with worse weather, and I’ve seen one guy from the class of ’86 making a living pushing a shopping cart full of cans, but it may just be that we grew up in an area that’s become absurdly expensive and unwelcoming to those of us not in “the cognitive elite”.

          As for my being a “cultural reactionary”, what can I say? I’m 50 years old, I learned young that I hate the smell of marijuana, I still have a very big chip on my shoulder from that by the 1980’s my parents and the vast majority of my classmates parents had divorced while we were still children (or their parents had never married at all, and their fathers were absent from their lives), I think that judicial fiat is undemocratic, et cetera. 

          Why I pick 1973 is because the draft just ended (though maybe that was a mistake….), median hourly wages for non-supervisor men without a college diploma were the highest (adjusted for inflation) that they’ve ever been (yes women’s wages were lower, but check out “The Two Income Trap” by now Senator Elizabeth Warren and her daughter on why the rush of women into paid employment isn’t all good), unions were still relatively strong, just lots to like, plus well…

          ….my sons aren’t white and any earlier would be Jim Crow times so not good for them.

          I don’t deny that some things are better now, that the murder rate dropped is most prominent in my mind, but frankly I just don’t like casinos, plus when I first went to union meetings the close hand democracy of it really felt like a homecoming, and I want more people to have that experience.

          Like they used to.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      This is really weird. It’s one thing to recognize someone’s contribution but you’re describing the dude like an animal in a zoo or something.

      Besides, blue-collar union guys with old-fashioned values are hardly new. He sounds like he could have worked with my dad.

      • Gazeboist says:

        I believe this comment is a stray from one of the other threads that got into a discussion of what views are and are not represented on the board, where Plumber’s specifically came up. Like the humble blobfish, it makes a great deal more sense in its home context.

      • Plumber says:

        @Nabil ad Dajjal,

        “…..Besides, blue-collar union guys with old-fashioned values are hardly new. He sounds like he could have worked with my dad.”

        Maybe?
        Did he ever work construction around San Jose?

        In general I found that on average compared to the young guys working construction the old guys were more left as well as more old-fashioned, but just as with the white-collar workers I’ve spoken to, the biggest factor in terms of left/right is how high the rent is where you live, guys with long commutes tended to be more right, guys who rented rooms in town more left, but other factors like race and religion come in, and those that were promoted to foreman tended to be more right (but they usually decided that with “the truck and the buck” that they’d move to the ‘burbs), while those elected or appointed to be union officers moved left.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          No, that was rhetorical. He worked HVAC in New York City, only ever visited the west coast after he retired.

          Makes sense that commuters would be further right, because at least where I live commuters are much more likely to be parents. Renting versus owning is another obvious one.

    • toastengineer says:

      Mr. Plumber is my favorite commenter right now.

      My question is how he got here in the first place.

      • Plumber says:

        @toastengineer,

        “Mr. Plumber is my favorite commenter right now….”

        Wow, that is very kind, thank you!

        “…My question is how he got here in the first place”

        Some years ago a column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times linked to slatestarcodex.com, and I read further, was impressed, and then mostly forgot about it, then back in August I read this piece which linked here, and I was again impressed, but this time I had been posting to first a Plumbing tools Forum, and then a Dungeons & Dragons Forum, so I had some writing practice, but also those Forums ban political topics, plus instead of my working construction (and being jobsite union Steward) I’ve been working alone more doing plumbing repairs for my current job with The City so I had a lot of pent up political ranting.

        @DavidFriedman nailed my views (I’m a reactionary, I just pick a different year than most of them which puts me mostly on “the left”) and I plan a longer post in response to him.

        And as of right now my favorite commenter is the guy who posted: “If my hypothetical daughter ever wanted to date someone with blue skin, purple hair, covered in glitter and with a tattoo on his ass, his ethnic background wouldn’t exactly be the first thing on my mind” because that cracked me up!

  2. Jaskologist says:

    For reference, there have been numerous attempts to quantify the political slant of SSC commenters. I believe rlms’s is the most thorough and recent.

    The findings have pretty consistently been that the readership is very heavily on the left, but the more rightward people comment more. By the time you weight by comment frequency, right-wingers have a plurality, but not close to a majority. Libertarians are way over-represented. Ban David Friedman!*

    So, my challenge to Scott: you have a goal; quantify it. What numbers under what measure would count as successfully keeping the comments balanced?

    * Please do not actually ban David Friedman

    • Nick says:

      By the time you weight by comment frequency, right-wingers have a plurality, but not close to a majority. Libertarians are way over-represented.

      I would bet that SSC libertarians are with conservatives often enough on economic and even social issues* that left-wing folks are still pretty regularly outnumbered. But I’m using “with” here deliberately broadly; the libertarian doesn’t fully agree with the conservative about, say, abortion or gay marriage, but the two are on the same side more often on the debates that actually occur.

      • 10240 says:

        IMO on economy it’s very muddled as of late, as the protectionist subset of the right is very opposed to libertarians, and sometimes even sort of close to parts of the economic left. On social issues it’s more true.

    • Brad says:

      ^^^ and
      Reiterating my objection to the ideological categorization that underpins that analysis.

  3. Plumber says:

    I just got a “don’t assume” lesson:
    On my way to a police station boiler room I had to go through their Locke room and on a bench I noticed a stack of books, at the top was “An Anthology of Troubadour Poetry”.

    I would’ve expected Tom Clancy.

  4. johan_larson says:

    Just finished “Agents of Dreamland” by Caitlin Kiernan, a novella that ties in to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. An agent of a mysterious secret agency investigates a weird cult near California’s Salton Sea that has infected several members with something like Cordyceps fungus, the stuff that infects ants and briefly controls their actions before killing them.

    This is a good one. Kiernan manages to place the Mythos in a modern setting while establishing an eerie mood reminiscent of “The X-Files”. Definitely worth checking out.

    • Nick says:

      Is it me or does recent scifi/horror love Cordyceps? This the fourth recent take on them that I’ve heard, I think. Is there no other interesting fungus to write about?

      • Lillian says:

        Pretty sure you got that backwards. Recent scifi horror loves mind control fungus, of which cordyceps is the most salient real life equivalent.

  5. Thegnskald says:

    I think the issue with letting us leftists slide is that it gives a false impression of us as being much less rational.

    It is an issue that bothers me a lot, commenting here: Leftism seems to be given a major pass in terms of presenting terrible arguments, which, in aggregate, makes us look like we don’t have better arguments. In general, I despair that we are losing ground, not because our best arguments aren’t being made, but that they are drowned out by the loud crowds of voices making terrible arguments. And this isn’t unique to SSC.

    In my more optimistic moments, I think maybe there is a cyclical countercultural trend, driven by the most intelligent people of each generation mostly seeing terrible arguments for the current cultural movements and being driven to the opposition. In my more pessimistic moments, I worry that things just oscillate between extremes, and that the internet, by focusing laserlike on the worst arguments of both sides, might be pushing this oscillation into further extremes.

    • sentientbeings says:

      It is an issue that bothers me a lot, commenting here: Leftism seems to be given a major pass in terms of presenting terrible arguments, which, in aggregate, makes us look like we don’t have better arguments.

      I just wanted to say that I really like this comment, because I’ve recently been worrying about a similar sort of problem in a more ideologically homogeneous (at least superficially) online community.

      The community is a libertarian one and very much open to outsiders and disagreement, at least compared with other politically-oriented communities. Unfortunately, most members of the outgroup are relatively uninformed in their questions and critiques, so responses tend to become tedious due to repetition, and also tend to only need relatively unsophisticated explanations.

      Eventually though, the unsophisticated or superficial explanations are repeated so frequently (when compared to the deeper or nuanced ones) that they become the only ready tools most members of the community have at their disposal. They excise more and more of the important reasoning, and eventually people resort to rationalizing a poor justification for a position when challenged. Other members latch on to the poor explanation and repeat it, and the general quality of argument and body of knowledge declines.

      Recently, I think the immigration debate provides a good example of this trend. While libertarians are broadly pro-freedom of movement in an idealized scenario, there has been a split over actual border policy for a long time, mostly centered on the existence of the welfare state. The split still exists, but I’ve noticed that each side seems to be offering (as a mean or median, not at the top) worse arguments than before. They see one side offer poor arguments, and rather than rebut it effectively they assume that their own arguments are already good enough, use those, and explain away both the opponents’ initial position and subsequent non-persuasion as evidence of bad faith, which reduces the inclination to improve their argument.

      One way to counteract this problem is by trying to recruit ideological opponents who make the best arguments to be part of your community. Another is to discourage intellectually lazy, pat-ourselves-on-the-back type of participation (e.g. image macros, which I truly despise), perhaps to the point of an explicit policy. I don’t know how to completely counter the problem though, and some of the attempts might reduce the “fun” level for certain members of the community to the extent that it cannot maintain a certain size (though that is not necessarily a negative outcome).

    • dndnrsn says:

      A major pass here? I don’t have a measure of average comment quality, but I am fairly certain I see more low-quality right-wing than left-wing arguments. They get fewer boos from the audience; people who are left-wing, do low-quality posts, and want applause (most people want applause) will go elsewhere.

      • cassander says:

        I feel precisely the reverse. I humbly suggest that we’re both letting our bias get the best of us and in reality the quality is about the same.

        • Nornagest says:

          I feel like the two sides have different problems? The right of the board seems more prone to an annoying brand of performative edginess, but the left of the board seems more likely to start fights (not usually in the same thread as the edginess, interestingly). There are exceptions on both sides, but that’s the general pattern I see.

          • Nick says:

            I think the right side is more likely than the left to respond with a quip or snark in place of a substantive response, and at least one of the no-longer-commenters above complained about that. I’ve been unwilling, a lot of the time, to call folks out on this, so I guess I need to more consistently.

          • dndnrsn says:

            People who get snippy might be on the left wing here, more often, and I think that’s a reaction to that performative edginess, which is usually pretty… not low-content. More that it expresses ideas that are, to say the least, disputable, in these low-effort little one-liners. You can find left-wing equivalents to that, but you won’t find them here. I think it’s been getting more common here, too, and it’s getting really frustrating. Responding to them with a modicum of charity and any intellectual energy is basically trolling one’s self. You go to the trouble of showing that City X actually is very diverse and the public transit is still good, and… crickets; look forward to seeing the same one-liner later.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If someone does something low-effort for the sake of edginess or snark, a simple “less of this, please” helps.

            ETA: I think jokes/snark are fine, so long as they’re not the entire substance of the post. If you’re making a long argument, but throw in a quip, I do that myself and don’t hold it against anyone else.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “Less of this, please” is usually reserved for stuff that’s uncivil. I’m talking about stuff that’s perfectly civil, it’s just low-effort and rebuttals aren’t really addressed.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’ve been unwilling, a lot of the time, to call folks out on this, so I guess I need to more consistently.

            I’ve been trying these rules, not always successfully:

            “Do you think other people are going to dogpile this comment? If so, you don’t need to start the dogpile.”

            and

            “Do you think this comment needs a rebuttal, but that no one will rebut? You can take one for the team and do so.”

            That second reminds me to go back and ding some comments that need it in another thread.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t like to chime in with what has already been said, but I have been part of dog-piling at times. Almost always this is due to not refreshing the page before commenting (if I were to do so, it would change the highlighted comments below the thread).
            Sometimes I’ll remove mine, but if I’ve said something I think adds, I’ll leave it and not get offended if I’m not addressed directly.

          • Almost always this is due to not refreshing the page before commenting

            If I refresh the page I lose track of what comments I haven’t yet read, since only the new comments show as unread. I could copy the date in the upper right hand corner, refresh, look at other responses, write my response, then paste the date back in, but that’s a lot of trouble.

            Or I could wait until I had gotten to the bottom, refresh, and comment, but by that time I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say, especially if there are several comments I want to respond to.

            So in practice I try to read all responses to the comment I want to respond to in order to see if my point has already been made, but don’t refresh before doing so.

          • Randy M says:

            So in practice I try to read all responses to the comment I want to respond to in order to see if my point has already been made, but don’t refresh before doing so.

            And for long but recent threads, someone else will almost certainly have posted a reply in the time it takes you to read the whole thread. Hence, some dog-piling is unavoidable and should be forgiven.

        • dndnrsn says:

          The average quality, maybe. But if somebody just wanted to throw out low-quality left-wing talking points, ignore (maybe not even respond to) anyone’s responses, and then be repeating those same talking points next Open Thread, they would go somewhere that the outgroup is right-wing Americans, instead of (a particular variety of) left-wing Americans.

      • Thegnskald says:

        An example:

        “Right wing commenters make me uncomfortable with their evilness” is an argument that happened in this very thread. This gets zero push back.

        Think about a right-wing equivalent, and the push-back this would (and has) provoked. The most recent example I can think of is Conrad’s discomfort with the idea of one of his progeny turning out gay. That got a lot of pushback.

        But someone expreasing discomfort with the idea of one of their children turning out to be a Trump supporter would pretty much go without comment or pushback.

        The endless “This board is so right wing” comments are annoying and ignorant. This board is contrarian, and contrarian in a direction that would look unrecognizable to most people who are genuinely right-wing. The dominant culture here is left-wing; the only arguments we have, from the contrarian corner, is whether or not left-wing ideas are correct.

        There is zero debate about the validity of right-wing ideas here. None. Conrad got dogpiled for suggesting personal discomfort with the idea of gay people; nobody floats the idea of traditional marriage.

        We aren’t even that contrarian. Scott has effectively banned any discourse that truly questions left-wing values; the discussion that remains is just about what the best ways of achieving them are. So our immigration discussion includes me, for example, questioning whether taking the best and brightest from other countries is good. Nobody is arguing for explicitly mercantile practices, however.

        There is no real right wing here. Just leftists who aren’t entirely comfortable with the direction left has turned into, who are starting to feel like we have taken three turns to the left and are going in the wrong direction now.

        • John Schilling says:

          There is zero debate about the validity of right-wing ideas here. None.

          “Gun control is a bad idea and won’t work” is solidly right-wing and gets occasional object-level debate here.

          “YIMBY economics is a good thing that will result in lower housing prices”, I think mostly codes as right-wing in the current political climate and has been the subject of several top-level posts and extensive discussion.

          I think you may want to narrow that to social conservative morality gets zero debate here. And even that would be a stretch, as there’s usually a strong element of traditional social conservatism in the pushback whenever polyamory comes up.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Gun control isn’t a left-wing idea, it just finds more support among urban people. Don’t confuse urban with leftism.

            Likewise YIMBYism. It is arguable which way it codes, but it isn’t the red tribe pushing that, because they don’t even have those problems. It is the gray tribe

            I think you code anything that isn’t left as right, which isn’t correct. The spectrum isn’t “From those who agree with me to those who disagree”

          • John Schilling says:

            I think you code anything that isn’t left as right, which isn’t correct.

            I think you’ve just given yourself an absolute excuse to justify your claim that “there is zero debate about the validity of right-wing ideas”, by retroactively defining any idea we discuss as “not right-wing” no matter how strongly they correlate with e.g. voting for Republican politicians.

            The spectrum isn’t “From those who agree with me to those who disagree”

            When did I suggest it was?

            I think you need to come up with either a pointer to a comprehensive list of right-wing ideas, or to a rigorous algorithm for categorizing ideas as Right-Wing or Not Right-Wing. Otherwise, everything you are saying here starts to look like whiny zero-content tribal posturing

          • Thegnskald says:

            I have previously stated that my belief is that the only historically consistence conceptualization of “leftism” is an opposition to hierarchical power structures.

            But seriously, look into the history of gun control, particularly its judicial history, and tell me it was left-wing to disarm black people so they could be more easily lynched.

            If you want to use a personal definition of leftism which amounts to “Promoting the interests of urban populations”, you are free to. I am less interested, and particularly uninterested in a concept of leftism which basically amounts to “Things the Democratic party supports”.

          • John Schilling says:

            We’re not talking about the history of gun control, we are talking about the present reality. Where gun control codes as strongly left-wing and gun rights codes as strongly right-wing as pretty much anything else on the (USA) political spectrum.

            And you still haven’t provided the definitional tools we’d need to turn your claim into something falsifiable. Because if something superficially appears to be a claim of fact, but it’s not falsifiable, then it’s probably just posturing.

          • Thegnskald says:

            John Schilling –

            I have a definition. The fact that I can’t give you a rule to decide what does and does not satisfy it may not be impressive, but it is nonetheless more of a definition than “Whatever the group that decided it is the left approves of”.

            And I refuse to regard a set of rules which amount to “Politically well connected people get the privilege of being protected by guns while everybody else is deprived of them” as left-wing. If you want to call “Taking guns away from poor people so rich people, who maintain the protections of an armed police force and private security forces, feel more secure” leftism, then it can be by your definition.

            It just isn’t a definition which distinguishes itself from anything. I don’t have a hard rule – you have no rules at all.

          • Matt M says:

            And I refuse to regard a set of rules which amount to “Politically well connected people get the privilege of being protected by guns while everybody else is deprived of them” as left-wing

            Hmmm, that’s an interesting interpretation. I always thought of it as more “Guns, like all other resources, should be owned and managed by the centralized power which represents the will of the people.”

            Which seems plenty in keeping with the general principles of leftism to me. Under what coherent philosophy of leftism would private ownership of firearms be considered a positive virtue (aside from during the revolutionary struggle, of course)

          • John Schilling says:

            So, the complaint is that we don’t talk about things on Thengskald’s secret list of things we don’t talk about, which has some clear idiosyncracies that are at odds with common usage. Got it.

          • Randy M says:

            Gun control isn’t a left-wing idea, it just finds more support among urban people. Don’t confuse urban with leftism.

            In as much as left-wing is about collectivism, gun control vs self defense seems like it aligns logically on the left vs right axis.
            There’s more to the divide than that, of course.
            edit: Hmm, I think I’m dog-piling here? Sorry if offense is taken; I think Thegnskald can take it.

          • Thegnskald says:

            John Schilling –

            You are welcome to give me your definition at any time.

            Matt, Randy –

            Nationalism is also a form of collectivism, even if we don’t often think of it in those terms. Likewise racism. Indeed, collectivism seems to be a failure mode universal to all strains of political thought, we just have different names for it depending on who is doing it.

            It makes sense, and I think arises from the fundamental difficulty arising from the fact that government needs to operate on a fundamentally different code of ethics than individuals. Libertarianism is one form of rejecting of this ethical duality, demanding that government obey the ethical system of individuals. Collectivism is when we attempt to force individuals to adopt the ethical code of the government.

            The problem with collectivism is that it removes the individual ethical constraint. We need a government that enables missile strikes with collateral damage, but we also need individuals, both those launching the missiles and those who choose which individual launches the missiles, to be deeply uncomfortable and conflicted about doing so.

          • Randy M says:

            Nationalism is also a form of collectivism, even if we don’t often think of it in those terms.

            I don’t disagree with this (although it does seem less collective than internationalism), which is why I phrased it as awkwardly as I did.
            The conservatives I listened too in yesteryear were typically the “traditional liberal” American sort of conservatives, who stressed individual liberty, subsidarity, civil rights as binding on government, and so forth. In this sense, gun control is a restriction on the right of self defense.
            I think conversations like this are why two axis political compasses have proliferated.

        • Nick says:

          Conrad got dogpiled for suggesting personal discomfort with the idea of gay people; nobody floats the idea of traditional marriage.

          I think this is true, but it’s not the whole story. I said above that I don’t want to have the gay marriage debate, and I stand by that. It would be exhausting. I pick my battles, and I have the cake shop argument or something instead. But there are definitely issues here for which leftwing folks feel the same way. I’m sure some of them are exhausted when it comes to gun control or immigration.

          • Thegnskald says:

            The important thing, as far as determining how the board leans, is that we aren’t discussing right-wing ideas, we are basically discussing which left-wing ideas are good and which are bad. The culture war here is between different shades of left.

            That right wing people comment here isn’t in question, we just aren’t discussing right wing ideas.

            To members of the left to whom any idea that they perceive as leftist is obviously correct, this might seem right-wing, because we are constantly beating up leftist ideas we aren’t in agreement on.

            But the thing is – ALL we discuss are left wing ideas. That isn’t symptomatic of a right wing discussion space.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I don’t think YIMBY codes as really right or left wing.

          As to whether conservative ideas, like, say, public spending on education is pointless and wrong, or, regulations are wrongheaded at best and evil at worse, or, scientists are leftists who intentionally or unintentionally skew their own research … yes, those get plenty of work out here.

          • Thegnskald says:

            You do understand right-wing people have their own ideas, right?

            Everything you mention is, effectively, criticism of left-wing ideas.

            Where is the right-wing thought?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Huh?

            What counts as “right wing thought” to you? Give me some examples.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yeah, I’d like to know what the right-wing thought is that we don’t entertain. I mean, I want to build a wall and shoot strongly dissuade foreigners from illegally crossing the southern border. Is that “right-wing thought,” or is that merely a criticism of left-wing open/porous borders thought?

          • Thegnskald says:

            HBC –

            Things like banning stem cell research and abortion.

            Ramping up the war on drugs would be another.

            Technically, gun control has been a historically right-wing position, as opposed to the modern idea that it is a left-wing position. So maybe we have discussion of that idea, even while for some reason everybody pretends it is left-wing to forbid everybody who doesn’t have sufficient money or power to be able to acquire armed body guards from using guns to defend themselves. So maybe we are discussing THAT right-wing idea, but only because we are pretending such a gross and obvious injustice is leftist.

            Other right wing ideas include procreation as a moral imperative (or at least virtue), gender conservativism, marriage as a sacrament, children’s duties to their parents, individual duties to society and government in particular, military service included as a duty…

            Basically, a bunch of stuff pretty much nobody here wants to talk about. I doubt most people here would even recognize many of these ideas as inherently political, so far removed are they from people who do see them as important.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Except for banning stem cell research and ramping up the war on drugs, I’ve seen everything you’ve said on SSC. Some, like gender conservatism, are in this thread.

            Also, I don’t think ramping up the war on drugs is really part of mainstream conservative thought right now. Possible exception would be the opioid crisis, but even then that’s more of a holding action than a ramping up. There are lots of Republicans who think large parts of the war on drugs have failed, and are in favor of at least decriminalization of marijuana. I just saw something that John Boehner is speaking at a cannabis conference.

            So, “maintain” or perhaps “draw down” on the drug war, but nobody’s talking about ramping up.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m with Conrad on this one.

            I think we’ve seen most of that stuff here. I certainly see a lot more of it here than I do anywhere else I post (although granted, the other places I post are not explicitly right-wing either)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Thegnskald:
            Do you agree with the statement “classical liberals are the real liberals”? Because it seems to me that all of the examples you bring up are, roughly, anti-libertarian, and that is what you want to classify as “right wing”.

            How do you feel about federal power? Taxes? Defense spending?

            I also feel it necessary to re-iterate a point I have frequently made, which is that there are no intrinsic right wing or left wing positions. Right wing and left wing simply describe the bifurcated coalitions that occur naturally in political systems, especially majoritarian ones. You can describe particular ideologies more exactly, but not left and right wing. Usually there will be some grouping around “liberal” and “conservative” thought in those coalitions, but that’s very loose.

          • Thegnskald says:

            HBC –

            My answer to that is “It is complicated”.

            I used to be libertarian. I have mentioned this before. So I have a strong sense of the distinction between right wing and libertarian thought.

            Libertarian thought IS well represented here. Right wing thought is not. I know it is fashionable to treat them as the same thing, but they are not.

          • Randy M says:

            Other right wing ideas include procreation as a moral imperative

            I think a previous poster kind of poisoned the well on this one.

            Some, like gender conservatism, are in this thread.

            In Thegnskald’s favor, though, I don’t think there was a single post in favor of Patriarchy. (Of course, when you grant the detractors the right to define the term it doesn’t leave something easy to defend)

          • Nick says:

            In Thegnskald’s favor, though, I don’t think there was a single post in favor of Patriarchy. (Of course, when you grant the detractors the right to define the term it doesn’t leave something easy to defend)

            When the post went up, I briefly considered linking to Scott’s review of On the Road, which I vaguely recalled having some comments in favor of the pre-Sexual Revolution era. But again, I wasn’t really interested in defending pre-Sexual Revolution mores.

          • Nornagest says:

            In Thegnskald’s favor, though, I don’t think there was a single post in favor of Patriarchy.

            Being in favor of Patriarchy is a lot like being a Social Justice Warrior; it’s a concept defined almost entirely by its opponents. Almost all the people who believe in the concepts that “patriarchy” points to don’t think of themselves as such, they think of themselves as real men or feminine women or devoutly religious or some other thing. Sure, there are a few exceptions, contrarians who really do claim to support patriarchy, but you usually see that in disgruntled Blue Tribers who just want to tweak their former peers. Or who’ve come up with their own personal reconstructed traditionalism, but those tend to be pretty weird and to have a lot of holes in them.

            So if you say “defend the patriarchy to me” you’re going to get a type error in the people best equipped to do that defending. To get a real answer, you need to go down a level and ask about individual traditions.

          • Randy M says:

            The people who actually believe in the concepts that “patriarchy” points to don’t think of themselves as patriarchs

            Hey, actually I

            Or at best who’ve come up with their own personal reconstructed traditionalism, but those tend to be pretty weird and to have a lot of holes in them.

            oh, ah, er, nevermind.

          • Almost all the people who believe in the concepts that “patriarchy” points to don’t think of themselves as such, they think of themselves as real men or feminine women

            At a considerable tangent, but I can resist anything but temptation, what do you think the current last name of the author of this book is? Hint–the first name.

          • Nornagest says:

            At a considerable tangent, but I can resist anything but temptation, what do you think the current last name of the author of this book is? Hint–the first name.

            If you’re asking this question, the answer’s probably “Huffington”.

            That’s sort of the point of the SJW parallel, though. The social justice scene doesn’t have a name for itself. When its members think of the things that mark them, to outsiders, as belonging to it, they think of them not as ingroup markers but as standards of basic human decency. Similarly, a lot of people — not “just about everyone”, but not too far off — think of themselves as real men, feminine women, e.g., but the actual standards for that very quite a bit, and what some women think of as just being feminine, a HuffPo writer might think of as artifacts of patriarchal culture. Even though that HuffPo writer probably thinks of herself as feminine too, by her own standards.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Except for banning stem cell research and ramping up the war on drugs, I’ve seen everything you’ve said on SSC. Some, like gender conservatism, are in this thread.

            I’m pretty sure I’ve seen pro-WoD posts here before, or at least incidental statements that make the post author’s opinion on the matter fairly clear. It’s never been discussed in enough depth for me to really distinguish between “we’re good” and “ramp it up”, but “end it” and related positions are not the only ones represented.

            I’ve not seen anyone bring up stem cell research except to discuss IPP stem cells as an interesting news item, but the community has noteworthy roots in some transhumanist circles so you’re liable to run into people who like to mock stereotypes of professional bioethicists, and that’s going to contribute to the feeling that any debates that started up would be one-sided.

          • @Nornagest:

            You are assuming that the Arianna who wrote that book held the same views then that Arianna Huffington holds now. It might be relevant that I met Arianna Stassinopoulos at a Mont Pelerin meeting.

            A very long time ago.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          For the record, it has nothing* to do with “comfort.” Empirically, life outcomes for gays have a higher chance of being poor than life outcomes for straights. There is a greater prevalence among gays for depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and disease. “Straight privilege” exists. There is also a far lower chance of reproducing. My goal for my children is that they be happy, healthy, and produce grandchildren for me. I think this is the goal for the vast majority of people who have children. So if you were to ask a parent, “all else being equal, would you prefer your children have a greater risk of depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and disease and lower chance of producing offspring, or nah?” and you don’t answer “nah,” I think we might be in “moral monster” territory.

          You can change my mind by showing me empirical evidence that life outcomes for gays are not statistically worse than life outcomes for straights.

          * little?

          • Thegnskald says:

            I would really prefer we not rehash this.

            Suffice it to say the arguments against you were largely or entirely by people whose perception is that you are uncomfortable with gay people, and regardless of what you thought or think the arguments are about, it is a fundamentally different argument than the people arguing with you perceive it to be.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Just saying, if you’re going to bring it up, you could at least throw me a bone mention that Conrad has reasons for his preference beyond irrational ickiness.

          • Matt M says:

            Don’t they generally have slightly higher incomes than straights?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            1) Money isn’t everything.

            2) Any child coming from my family is likely to do fine financially.

          • Are the negative outcomes you mention true for both male and female homosexuals, or only the former? If only the former, would you be bothered by a daughter being gay? She can still produce grandchildren for you, although not being able to do it jointly with her partner (yet) might reduce the probability.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t know about the mental health stuff, but I know lesbians are about the most disease-free segment of the populace, so no that certainly wouldn’t apply.

            Beyond that I haven’t looked at the research so I don’t know.

            Also, this mainly came up in the context of not wanting to expose my kids to normalized homosexual media representations, and that seems to mainly be about gay males. Lots of gay males on Glee, Modern Family, etc. Not so many lesbians.

          • Randy M says:

            Ah, Conrad, you squish.
            If my daughters were lesbian, either they wouldn’t have children, or those children would not grow up in a home with a (monogamous) mother and father present. This is undesirable either way, even if they manage to pursue same sex attraction without the promiscuity and disease vectors that often mark expressions of male homosexuality.
            Then again, female homosexuality does not seem to be as fixed as the male version, so perhaps the same sex urge in daughters is not as bad as in sons, provided they are willing to repress it.
            None of this means a homosexual child would be shunned or hated because of it–but would certainly be a disappointed facet of their lives.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Ah, Conrad, you squish.

            Well that’s a first.

            If my daughters were lesbian, either they wouldn’t have children, or those children would not grow up in a home with a mother and father present. This is undesirable, even if they manage to do it without the promiscuity and disease vectors that often mark expressions of male homosexuality.

            True. I didn’t say it would be good. But David was just asking about the particular negative life outcomes I mentioned. I know those are higher for homosexual men, but I honestly do not know what the literature says about women.

            But again, it’s not something I really need to guard against. The people who make the TV shows want to make my son gay with TV gay rays. They’re not targeting my daughter. At least not with gay stuff. For the girls they’re bombarding them with interracial propaganda.

          • Matt M says:

            They’re not targeting my daughter.

            *insert Katy Perry here*

            Although I think you’re correct that in the case of females, the cultural push isn’t so much “become a monogamous lesbian” as it is “be a cool and open minded and sexy empowered woman who occasionally experiments with homosexual behaviors but then ultimately marries a sufficiently feminist man”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Conrad:

            The people who make the TV shows want to make my son gay with TV gay rays. They’re not targeting my daughter. At least not with gay stuff. For the girls they’re bombarding them with interracial propaganda.

            Encourage her to watch My Little Pony, where everyone is either straight or celibate and one of the characters is a royalist repenting for Marxism.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            But they’re all different colors!

          • Nornagest says:

            But they’re all different colors!

            If my hypothetical daughter ever wanted to date someone with blue skin, purple hair, covered in glitter and with a tattoo on his ass, his ethnic background wouldn’t exactly be the first thing on my mind.

          • Randy M says:

            Wait a minute, is there a connection between MLP and the clown-chic hair styles that are spreading like gene-spliced bacteria?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            If my hypothetical daughter ever wanted to date someone with blue skin, purple hair, covered in glitter and with a tattoo on his ass, his ethnic background wouldn’t exactly be the first thing on my mind.

            There’s yer comment of the week.

          • If my daughters were lesbian, either they wouldn’t have children, or those children would not grow up in a home with a (monogamous) mother and father present. This is undesirable either way, even if they manage to pursue same sex attraction without the promiscuity and disease vectors that often mark expressions of male homosexuality.

            If they had children, they would be likely to grow up in a home with two monogamous mothers, one of them genetically related to them. I believe the evidence is that ff couples are more stable than fm couples, which are more stable than mm couples–perhaps someone else can point at data. That makes sense, given that men seem to have a greater taste for sexual variety than women. If I am correct, than your hypothetical grandchildren are more likely to grow up in a stable two person household than they would be if your hypothetical daughter was heterosexual.

            For what little it is worth, I’ve observed one case of a child brought up in an ff household and she seems to have turned out just fine, with two affectionate parents in a stable long run relationship.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Encourage her to watch My Little Pony, where everyone is either straight or celibate and one of the characters is a royalist repenting for Marxism.

            My Little Pony has been veering left lately. S08E06 “Surf and/or Turf” is a thinly veiled allegory for divorce, while S08E10 “The Break Up Break Down” has both gay and lesbian couples in the background. And have you read the leaks? When G4 ends next season and G5 starts, Applejack is going to be re-imagined as “a more hardscrabble, urban” character from the “wrong side of the tracks” because “she 100% should not be associated with anything country/farmy/western/hick-ish/etc” (those are all direct quotes from the e-mail).

          • Lillian says:

            Wait a minute, is there a connection between MLP and the clown-chic hair styles that are spreading like gene-spliced bacteria?

            Those hairstyles, done properly, can be pretty damned expensive. The question for me isn’t why they’re spreading now, having a multicoloured fade is a pretty a good signal of being able to afford hundred of dollars of hair colour treatment and the multiple hours of free time required to have it applied. The question is why it took so long for it to happen.

            My best guess is that it’s mostly women who use hair for signalling value, and while these hairstyles are good at signalling wealth and leisure, they are bad at attracting men. Since women generally want to attract men, there negative attractiveness value cancels out the positive signalling value. As for why that has changed recently, possibly the continued liberalization of society is causing men to become more tolerant of multicoloured hair.

          • Evan Þ says:

            My Little Pony has indeed been going downhill since Season 6 ended. They don’t seem to know what to do with the characters anymore, the whole Pillars subplot in Season 7 ran roughshod over the hints of backstory they’d previously given, and the school introduced in Season 8 is a huge discontinuity with the previous character arcs.

            Ahem. What I’m saying is, don’t let that turn you off the previous seasons.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            On the other hand, Season 7 includes S7E13 “The Perfect Pear”, which is usually considered the best episode in the entire series (and for good reason), beating out other fan-favorites such as S2E26 “A Canterlot Wedding – Part 2” and S4E26 “Twilight’s Kingdom – Part 2” in IMDB ratings.

            On the gripping hand, “The Perfect Pear” is a standalone episode that can be set at any time after S5E19 “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” without continuity issues, so even if you decide to quit the show early you can still include it in your personal headcanon.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The crazy hair colors are definitely a type of signalling.

          • Randy M says:

            As for why that has changed recently, possibly the continued liberalization of society is causing men to become more tolerant of multicoloured hair.

            My theory was the opposite, that it is a trend being set by women who want to signal being unconcerned or hostile towards attracting men. Not necessarily lesbian, but in a “I shouldn’t have to change to meet your expectations” kind of way.

          • quanta413 says:

            I think y’all are overinterpreting the multicolored hair thing.

            Not all men find it a turnoff. Some men probably like it. It changes which mates you get. Like, if you want the sort of mate who has mutlicolored hair, then dying your own hair multiple colors can work out well.

            Also, I’m sure for some teenagers and college kids, it pisses off their parents and they view that as a plus.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Somewhere, deep in a Google data center, an emergent AI has formed. It is trying to understand the human condition with the best data it has available: pagerank and other search signals. Right now it is completely hung up on why a Wikipedia page on what should be a somewhat-esoteric biology term is linked from all corners of the web.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Did the poster actually say “evilness” or did the poster say that there were people whom they did not want particularly to be associated with, for reasons ranging from personal preference to public attitudes?

          What right-wing positions are banned here? Looking at the bans of the Death Eaters and so on, there was generally a strong pattern of personal disagreeableness in addition to their arguments.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Also, you can still discuss all death eater ideas. You just have to use the euphemisms. I understand that’s the opposite of welcoming, but the ideas themselves aren’t banned.

        • skef says:

          Except, Thegnskald, what actually happened was:

          1) Conrad got a lot of pushback on his personal theory of what causes homosexuality (which he argued was the only one consistent with science), and in the middle of that a surprisingly small amount of pushback on his more general attitudes. I recall commenting that if a son of his did grow up gay he would take learning of the subject matter ban poorly rather than neutrally. But otherwise I was arguing with an object-level theoretical claim that I felt had virtually no support.

          2) You yourself misrepresented that argument in the same way in open thread open-thread-86-75 and were corrected. Which means you are either extremely forgetful or consider this such an excellent talking point as to be worth making yet again, whether or not it’s, you know, accurate.

          3) The mischaracterization has been brought up over and over in these threads as an Eich-like shibboleth for how “leftists here’ are *the really bad ones*.

          4) In a place where the norms apparently call for serious pushback on someone accusing someone else of motivated reasoning, over all of this time no one other than my self and Conrad has said a word in my defense or tried to correct the record about that conversation. (Conrad noted once or twice that he did not “feel dogpiled”.)

          In light of these facts, I see the evidence as being somewhat more equivocal than you seem to.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Alternatively, I am entitled to my own perspective, and am not required to adopt Conrad’s or your own?

            And it isn’t like there is any other great discussion of even vaguely conservative thought going on here. I keep going back to that example because it is the only example I have obsetved, and it does not paint the picture of a left commentariat on the defensive, but rather more of a mosh pit of ideas in which any sufficiently unusual (from our local overton window) example of which will get pushback.

            I also don’t make a moral judgement about “dogpiling”, which, as the recipient of many times in my long years on the internet, I used to cheerfully refer to as “Whack-a-mole”. Granted, I actually enjoyed the logic and evidence-gathering then.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            You can have whatever opinion you want, but I do think you mischaracterized the nature of the argument. Since this is a meta-discussion about the nature of arguments on SSC, we should get the nature of the argument correct.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Also, “What causes homosexuality, biology or socialization?” would be a good adversarial collaboration.

        • Nornagest says:

          I’m generally on board with the idea that there are more liberal heretics and contrarians than genuine right-wingers here, but you’re overbilling their dominance. The “right wing dogshit” thread got plenty of pushback; maybe more in the form of snarky quips than actual arguments, and that’s partly on me, but it was there. Similarly, I’m sure that I’ve seen people talking up traditional marriage here, although I can’t think of any off the top of my head. (voxette_vk has boosted it on rattumb recently, though, and that’s a generally more left-leaning space than we are here.)

          Scott has effectively banned any discourse that truly questions left-wing values

          And I have no idea where this is coming from. Because the Dreaded Jim got banned? He was an asshole and he deserved it. Because we can’t say “aitch-bee-dee” without annoying circumlocutions? The SEO logic there is sound, if maybe futile, and we talk about the underlying ideas all the time.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I’m generally on board with the idea that there are more liberal heretics and contrarians than genuine right-wingers here,

            Aren’t heretics the worst right-wingers, though? Maybe I’m wrong, but at least before the forced-homosexual-cakes issue it seemed to me that Mencius Moldbug was more disturbing to the Left than silly Evangelicals in flyover country talking about a Marxist conspiracy, because the latter could be laughed off as hicks while the former was saying “I find it unfortunate that my grandparents were members of the Communist Party and their beliefs controlled USG.”
            IOW, it’s more important to stop heretics than to go around destroying the lives of every member of the outgroup, who may just hold beliefs out of lack of education. Again, until a few years ago.

          • Nornagest says:

            Mencius Moldbug et al. never enjoyed anything close to the cultural penetration that the gay-cakes case and its friends did. They might have been seen as more disturbing by the three or four pundits or wannabe-pundits that knew about them, but that’d be a tiny slice of the population — not many people had heard of them in the first place, and of those that had, most were contrarian nerds. The most I ever saw of them in the MSM was a couple of articles taking the “look at what these crazy Silicon Valley techbros believe in” angle, and not much ever came of those.

            Still, given that this is a board full of contrarian nerds, there might be something to your take here.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            might have been seen as more disturbing by those that knew about them, but that’d be a tiny slice of the population.

            Derp, right.
            I suppose whenever Evangelical Christians were able to get a platform for claims like “college professors and the mass media form a conspiracy to destroy our way of life” (like the old novel This Present Darkness), there was as much journalistic tongue-clicking as Moldbug’s existence got. I’m just not old enough to know.

        • Thegnskald says:

          Criticizing left-wing thought isn’t quite the same as having right-wing thought, though, which is kind of my point.

        • Nick says:

          Good catch; I’ve seen him say it several times, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an argument about it.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think the Catholic contingent on SSC does a pretty good job of extolling the virtues and benefits of traditional marriage. Is that “right-wing thought?”

    • engleberg says:

      If SSC is hurting the left with the soft bigotry of low expectations, it must be helping the right with stern, spartan high standards. Haven’t noticed that; the two righties here who are consistently smarter, more honest, more informed, and more charitable than anyone else were like that before they started posting here. I wish the place attracted some smart lefties, but there aren’t many left.

      Because today’s left is much dumber than even thirty years ago. And they like it. The SJW orthodoxy sniffing, pious fraud, and crimethink accusations at the dumb end of lefty posts here are not faults of personal temper or bugs in lefty systems. SJW is a catchall for a group of simple, often effective rhetorical ploys for dumb dishonest people to use on smart trusting people. It caught on in colleges when colleges lowered their standards. Now the graduates are out in the wild.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I wish the place attracted some smart lefties, but there aren’t many left.

        Hay-oh! Quality zinger.

        • quanta413 says:

          I know you’re being sarcastic, but maybe I should begin rating these too.

          I was giving rlms 3’s and 4’s out of ten, but sarcastically asking about genetic inheritance of everything is at least the sort of insult kind of tuned to the space.

      • quanta413 says:

        It says something that this is one of your longest comments in the OT and also the least productive. To put it generously. And not something good.

      • Thegnskald says:

        Setting aside the inflammatory nonsense, getting rid of the lowest quality right-wing posters doesn’t make the remainder smarter or nicer, but it DOES raise the average.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You have been tasked with getting as fat as possible in a year, in a competition with others similarly tasked. Assuming you’d take up this challenge, perhaps to obtain some prize for the biggest gainer, what would do? Results are measured by percentage points of body fat gained over your baseline.

    • onyomi says:

      Whole milk and peanut butter.

      These are two things with a lot of calories I can eat a lot of without getting tired of them or feeling very full, especially when eaten together (e.g. peanut butter sandwich with milk… or just eat it directly out of the jar). The milk cuts the richness of the peanut butter, as it does also with rich desserts, like cookies and pies, which would probably also have a place in an optimal fat-gain diet.

      Also, I suspect milk may have ways of stimulating growth beyond what one would one expect with a non-dairy food of the same nutrient profile, such as by stimulating human growth hormone or just having hormones in it. Would make sense given its biological function. There apparently are such contests, and milk plays a prominent role.

      And for this reason I rarely keep milk and peanut butter around the house! I like them too much and will consume an entire jar of peanut butter or gallon of milk in far less time than I should.

      • Anonymous says:

        Milk, that’s interesting and plausible. Didn’t think of that.

        What I myself was thinking was:
        – remove most or all fiber from the diet,
        – eat carbs, both simple and complex, up to around 3000 kcal’s worth,
        – snarf down as much fat as possible in addition,
        – eat very often, to the point of alarms in the middle of the night to eat some carbs+fats,
        – take insulin supplements.

      • metacelsus says:

        Most of the relevant hormones for growth are peptides, and thus would be very rapidly broken down to amino acids in the digestive system.

        Milk contains small amounts of steroid hormones (notably estrogen and progesterone) but I don’t think the levels are significant compared to the amount the body naturally produces.

      • Beck says:

        There’s an Ethiopian tribe that does something like this (link here). A mixture of blood and milk seems to be what works for them.

    • albatross11 says:

      Get a prescription for whatever (I think antipsychotic) medicine Freddie De Boer was taking for awhile–he described it as hitting the hunger signal so hard he’d be ravenously hungry even as he was physically full.

  7. Eponymous says:

    Given that we’re heading towards election season, I’ve been thinking about the best algorithm to decide who to vote for. I’ve been toying with an idea that I thought I would share here.

    Start with the observation that there is a lot of disagreement among smart people about policy, and about which party is best. You can dispute this point — depending on who you take as your set of smart people, you could argue that they mostly support one side or the other, or some positions against others. But I think the basic point is still valid. Overall this should lower our confidence that partisan affiliation or policy positions are a good basis for voting.

    By contrast, there’s a lot of agreement over what other characteristics make for a good candidate. Basically treat it like you were interviewing a candidate for a job: look at educational background, work experience and record of accomplishment, how smart/competent they seem based on interviews/debates, and character red flags (scandals, investigations, legal troubles).

    So my proposal is to completely ignore party affiliation and policy positions, except perhaps for people who are well outside the political mainstream, and vote based on these other characteristics.

    In addition to an epistemic modesty argument, there’s also a sort of categorical imperative that applies here: if everyone voted based on policy positions and party, then their votes would mostly cancel out since most people are split on these things; by contrast, since people mostly agree on personal characteristics they want in elected officials, if we all voted on this basis we would end up with better leaders.

    Thoughts?

    • andrewflicker says:

      You’re optimizing for convincing liars and sociopaths that can adequately shape their entire life to look upstanding. Better to decide on policy positions you want, and then vote for people that will act as closely as robots working towards that goal as you can.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Plus, it makes no sense in the current environment. At least at the federal and state level you are voting for coalitions and the individuals are almost irrelevant. The party positions are, by far, the the most likely outcome of successfully installing a candidate belonging to that party.

        There is a case to be made for voting in primaries to favor candidates that will move a party in a particular policy direction, but that really has no bearing on the general election.

        • At the presidential level, it makes some sense to vote for competence, and similarly for a governor. As long as you expect that a sizable fraction of the executive’s objectives will be ones you agree with (keeping North Korea from hitting U.S. cities with nuclear weapons, for example, or producing economic growth) you would prefer someone likely to succeed in accomplishing them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yeah, I agree that the approach to voting for the chief executive does need to take into account a measure of executive, and political, competence.

            That said, once you cross a minimum bar, the weight you should put on executive competence is minimal at the federal and state level. (This is far less true in smaller executive jurisdictions).

  8. johan_larson says:

    A farewell to Brazil, country of broken dreams

    For five years, Rio de Janeiro was Stephanie Nolen’s home base as she showed Globe&Mail (of Toronto) readers the lives and struggles of Latin America. Now, as she moves the bureau to Mexico, she looks back at the troubled nation she leaves behind.

    Man, the bottom end of Brazilian society is living in Mordor. Things were getting better, for a while, but then the economy turned and things got bad again. The system is too messed up to fund basic services, like schools and cops.

  9. Hoopdawg says:

    Speaking as a left-wing commenter, I find it hard to comment on posts (e.g. the recent “Nodrumia”) which are explicitly based on a right-wing philosophy. All the easy takes, like “garbage in, garbage out”, or perhaps a more informative “OMFG why are you using property rights to solve interpersonal conflicts, and stop advocating for feudalism, seriously your entire conceptual framework is irreparably broken”, are, obviously, extremely rude and unproductive (and for the record, there’s no need to give those kinds of posts a special treatment, they are useless). It makes even less sense to argue with commenters who came here with a (reasonable) expectation to be able to utilize said framework. An actual contribution would require putting a significant effort of constructing an alternative from first principles, hoping they’re shared, since otherwise it runs a significant risk of being ignored due to framework incompatibility. It turned out I’m just too lazy, too unprepared, and have too little time to try that, which I assume is common.

    • idontknow131647093 says:

      Im confused why Nodrumia or NIMBYism generally is seen as left-right from your POV.

      • Hoopdawg says:

        Wait, what? I did not take sides on the object-level problems discussed in “Nodrumia”, in fact I did not even mention them at all. (And if I would, I would certainly not treat them as a left-right issue.) The whole point of my previous post was that the idea of solving those problems with tweaks in property law made the discussion unapproachable for me.

        • nkurz says:

          I think the confusion is that you appear to equate “solving those problems with tweaks in property law” with “a right-wing philosophy”. I guess I’d put this particular case closer to the right than the left, but I don’t think that’s generally true. For example, would you consider “solving” global warming with carbon trading to be a primarily right-wing approach? For me, both are off-puttingly legalistic in their approach, but neither fits clearly on a left-right spectrum.

          • If “right wing” means pro-market and anti central planning, then carbon trading or a carbon tax is a right-wing solution, whether or not the problem is one that, from a right-wing standpoint, needs solving. Similarly, the Yugoslavian version of communism was from that standpoint to the right of the Russian version. The abolition of the draft was a right-wing policy, although one that lots of people on the left approved of.

            Part of the problem here is that “right-wing” gets used in different and inconsistent ways. Most obviously, it isn’t clear whether libertarians should be considered right or left, although at present they are generally counted as right.

            Getting back to the draft … . By my definition above, it was obviously a right-wing move. But if you identify right-wing with nationalism and militarism, you might reach the opposite conclusion.

          • Matt M says:

            If “right wing” means pro-market and anti central planning, then carbon trading or a carbon tax is a right-wing solution

            No it isn’t. It involves the state setting up, managing, and running a phony market that people are forced to participate in against their will under threat of violence.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Matt M –

            And what makes that not-right-wing?

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            All markets are set up and managed by the state. Natural markets do not really exist. Seriously. You settle purchases with government money, breaches of contract are arbitrated by the state, fraud and force are punished by the state, ect, ect. Not all markets are equal, and often it is a shit idea to set up a new market to solve a given problem.. but “Its an artificial market” is not a valid objection to anything. They all are. If you think cap and trade is a shit plan, you have to argue that point, not wave furiously at it. ´

          • All markets are set up and managed by the state. Natural markets do not really exist. Seriously. You settle purchases with government money …

            If that is intended as a claim about all markets it is wildly false. There are lots of examples of money not produced by governments. There are markets using barter rather than money. There have been markets involving participants in stateless societies. The old silent auctions in Africa were markets involving no money, no state, and no common language.

            Did you mean “all markets in the U.S. at present”? That’s more nearly true but there are still obvious examples in illegal markets.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Most obviously, it isn’t clear whether libertarians should be considered right or left, although at present they are generally counted as right.

            Yeah, probably true. It was not always so. When I first became Libertarian, my prize possession was the T-shirt with the donkey and elephant each pointing a gun at you, with the caption, “Your money or your rights!” The Democrats wanted to tax you out the wazoo but otherwise espoused, “If it feels good, do it!”, while the Republicans seemed obsessed with running your personal life. As the former triumphed, they decided they could take both my money and my rights, and the latter got a lot more mellow about my personal life.

            Edit: to be fair, the Republicans have also gotten a lot more willing to take my money.

          • Hoopdawg says:

            you appear to equate “solving those problems with tweaks in property law” with “a right-wing philosophy”

            Note that I referred to right-wing in the context of Scott wondering about lack of participation from leftists. I could spend a few paragraphs sharing my views about the left-right dichotomy and its complexities, but I’d rather realize it’s useless and stop right now. Moving on, let’s treat “left” and “right” as useful (in the sense that I feel they correctly classify my ideological position vis-à-vis this blog and its commentariat), but very rough approximations.

            The actual framework conflict here is better described as between proprietarianism and communitarianism; with, to use your example, carbon trading falling somewhere in between purely proprietarian solution of privatizing air, and purely communitarian one of treating it as a common. Of course the above examples are of surface level policies, not necessarily revealing their philosophical underpinnings – a property-based solution can be reached by community consensus, while proprietarians can sign contracts establishing commons – and I believe most of us are open to at least discussing merits and demerits of object-level policies on the theoretical level. This is not where the disagreement lies.

            The disagreement, rather, is over which framework is philosophically and empirically valid, and here, they’re inherently contradictory. An example of the incongruity can actually be observed between our posts. The discussion concerns markets instead of property (markets are something of a proprietarian motte, since the notion of exchange is much more defensible than the notion of unalienable right to a factory or swaths of land, much less IP, or someone else’s time, or air; also note the common false dichotomy between markets and central planning), but the disagreement is over the same basic question – are they a natural form of human relations, or are they a costly fiction that, in a generalized form, can only arise and be enforced with violence?

            If you think the answer is the latter, “Nodrumia” is an utterly frustrating read of someone who’s thoughtful enough to criticize and contrast his own proprietarian assumptions with [regular human values] to the point where he’s almost ready to ditch them, but then reverts right back and asks for a rich feudal lord to come and deliver him from the horrors of modern city.

    • Eponymous says:

      All the easy takes, like “garbage in, garbage out”, or perhaps a more informative “OMFG why are you using property rights to solve interpersonal conflicts, and stop advocating for feudalism, seriously your entire conceptual framework is irreparably broken”, are, obviously, extremely rude and unproductive

      While those aren’t the most productive ways to phrase those comments, I think the general point could be a very valuable contribution. SSC commenters (and Scott himself) lean towards an analytical framework that one might describe as centrist, technocratic, “neoliberal”, etc. (I know I’m using poorly defined words here; I’m trying to gesture at a vague concept). I think Scott and some of the better commenters would love to hear a strong version of arguments coming from a different framework, that are a bit alien to their natural thought patterns.

      Admittedly I won’t claim that the resulting discussions will be pleasant for you.

      My own theory is that SSC selects pretty heavily for a certain cognitive style and worldview, that doesn’t map very precisely to left/right as commonly understood, but that probably turns off many other sorts of people.

      • Jacobethan says:

        Very much second all of this. I’m always a little mystified by the people posting vehemently about SSC’s leftward or rightward tilt, because to me any left-right signal has always seemed much weaker compared to the overwhelming prevalence of the style of reasoning Eponymous is gesturing at, which for lack of a better word I’ll call “technicist.”

        I for one would be quite interested to read Hoopdawg cashing out his objections to the “Nodrumia” framework a bit more fully. Not because I’m necessarily expecting to agree — the virtue of property rights as a means of solving interpersonal conflicts is so intuitive to me that I’m at once bemused and intrigued to hear from somebody who sees it as obviously and hilariously wrong.

  10. Atlas says:

    Am I mistaken in perceiving that commentators on climate change frequently describe the potential effects of a 1.5-2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by 2100 as having plausibly apocalyptic effects that would lead to the collapse of industrial civilization…despite citing evidence that, when you actually read it, does not suggest any such thing?

    Are there (many) plausible projections by (many) scientists with (lots of) relevant expertise that suggest that climate change will make Earth uninhabitable for human beings, or at least force a complete global reversion to pre-industrial society, that I have just never seen cited?

    Or am I mistaken in thinking that many journalists and ordinary citizens who express concern about the effects of climate change often state or imply that those effects would be comparable to, say, a mass exchange of thermonuclear weapons or overnight multi-continental zombie pandemic?

    Exhibit A: A New York Times writer on Twitter describes her impression of the difference between a 1.5 C and 2 C rise as being the difference between the Hunger Games and Mad Max. She cites as a summary of the evidence this NYT article.

    Said article does not seem to contain any evidence suggesting that the effects of global warming will be anywhere near as immensely deleterious as to induce a mass collapse of current political and economic systems and gigantic reduction of Earth’s population, which would seem to be the logical implication of the analogy to fictional dystopias Mad Max and the Hunger Games. It cites possible effects, such as habitat losses for various animal species and increased prevalence of heat waves, that are negative and worth preventing through public policy; one can agree that these are bad while also stating that they do not pose anything close to an existential challenge to Homo sapiens as a species.

    Exhibit B: This New York magazine article with self-explanatory title “the Uninhabitable Earth.” However, none of the evidence cited—which frequently refers to extreme projections far outside the plausible range for the century’s end—seems to suggest that Earth would literally become uninhabitable for human beings. Taking uncritically the evidence that Wallace-Wells cites, there are many possible costs that global warming could inflict on humans and other forms of life, but none of these costs would be so extreme as to ruin human civilization. (“There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”.)

    Exhibit C: The Chapo Guide to Revolution repeatedly describes the effects of climate change as “apocalyptic” and “catastrophic.” It cites various effects such as ocean acidification and sea level rise that, while one may believe are negative and worth preventing, are not individually or cumulatively “apocalyptic” by any stretch of the imagination.

    (By the way, are there any other SSC Grey Wolves? I’m a huge fan of both SSC and Chapo Trap House, but I wonder if those things might be anti-correlated to some extent.)

    • James Picone says:

      (positional warning: I think global warming is an extremely significant problem; it is one of the top criteria I use when deciding to vote._

      Am I mistaken in perceiving that commentators on climate change frequently describe the potential effects of a 1.5-2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by 2100 as having plausibly apocalyptic effects that would lead to the collapse of industrial civilization…despite citing evidence that, when you actually read it, does not suggest any such thing?

      Presumably it depends which commentors you read. I don’t see a lot of that sort of thing; but I don’t read mainstream American media. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it was a thing; science is rarely well-reported.

      Are there (many) plausible projections by (many) scientists with (lots of) relevant expertise that suggest that climate change will make Earth uninhabitable for human beings, or at least force a complete global reversion to pre-industrial society, that I have just never seen cited?

      Not to the best of my knowledge. The clathrate gun hypothesis is probably the closest thing you’ll find. Natalia Shakhova would be an example. I believe Peter Wadhams is also considered somewhat extreme.

      By ~6c global temperature rise, you start getting long periods of the year in equatorial countries where the wet-bulb temperature is high enough humans resting in the shade suffer heatstroke. Fortunately, this is good for GDP, as everyone in India will have to buy air conditioning. Somewhat more seriously this isn’t expected to happen until very late this century and if we’ve taken that emissions path we done fucked up. Probably won’t end human industrial civilisation if it happens, but you could probably get some interesting wars and/or refugee crises out of it.

      If I wanted to construct an apocalyptic climate change scenario it would involve rapid methane clathrate releases causing a positive feedback of more methane clathrate releases and the discovery that ECS is ~4 to 5c, resulting in that sort of temperature increase over the course of a couple of decades, leading to mass displacement of humans, misery, war, etc.. My understanding of the current science is that the clathrate gun is considered to be unlikely and probably not utterly awful (see, for example, this realclimate link). ECS is generally given with a most-likely value of 3c and a likely range of 2c to 4c. Both of these things happening together is probably low-probability, but not vanishingly low.

      It’s worth considering some other things, though:
      – Scientists have a history of being overly conservative on large environmental issues like this. The ozone hole was famously something of a surprise, for example. What’s the equivalent of the ozone hole here, though? Dunno, would prefer not to find out.
      – Large climactic shifts have been implicated in mass extinctions in paleological research. ~96% of all marine species and ~70% of all land species went extinct during the permian-triassic extinction event, also referred to as the “great dying”. One hypothesis of the cause is basically the clathrate gun hypothesis.

      Basically there’s enough there to plausibly defend the possibility of extremely very bad outcomes. It’s not at all a mainstream position though.

      • albatross11 says:

        Ob SF reference: John Barnes’ _Mother of Storms_ centers around rapid release of methane from calthrate beds, and the consequences.

      • By ~6c global temperature rise … Somewhat more seriously this isn’t expected to happen until very late this century

        Where do you get 6° by late in this century as what is expected to happen? Looking through the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, I find:

        The increase of global mean surface temperature by the end of the 21st century (2081–2100) relative to 1986–2005 is likely to be 0.3°C to 1.7°C under RCP2.6, 1.1°C to 2.6°C under RCP4.5, 1.4°C to 3.1°C under RCP6.0 and 2.6°C to 4.8°C under RCP8.5.

        RCP 8.5 is the one with “very high” greenhouse gas emissions. Your “expected to happen” figure is higher than the top of its range.

        • rlms says:

          Where do you get that in James’ comment? The only plausible reading I can (given the “if”s in the latter sentences of that paragraph) is that *if* the temperature rises by ~6 degrees it will not do so until very late this century, not that that *will* likely happen.

          • What he wrote was:

            Somewhat more seriously this isn’t expected to happen until very late this century

          • HeelBearCub says:

            But he further added

            and if we’ve taken that emissions path

            All that means is that there IS an emissions path that leads to 6 degrees of warming, and even then it won’t happen till the end of the century. It doesn’t mean it’s the expected emissions path.

          • I quoted the figure for what the IPCC described as the very high emissions scenario, and it was substantially lower than 6°. Asserting that something is expected to happen surely means something more than “there is some imaginable circumstance in which it could happen.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            He was asked:

            Are there (many) plausible projections by (many) scientists with (lots of) relevant expertise that suggest that climate change will make Earth uninhabitable for human beings

            His answers are in that context, and he directly says he does not know any scenarios that result in this.

            I quick google shows that IPCC report of 2007 has “the best estimate for the high scenario (A1FI) is 4.0°C (likely range is 2.4°C to 6.4°C). [by 2100]”

            These answers are in the context of “how bad could it possibly get” not, “what is the likely scenario”

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            If 6C means only that it could happen if we turn emissions up to 11, it becomes hard to figure out what “isn’t expected to happen until very late this century” is supposed to mean (even apart from the question of who is doing the expecting): we can just as easily imagine emissions being turned up to 12, with the result that 6C is reached only kinda-sorts late in the century.

      • kaakitwitaasota says:

        It’s pretty mainstream given the most recent IPCC report that came out a week or two ago is begging the world’s governments to cut CO₂ emisssions by half by 2030 and go carbon-neutral by 2050 to avoid disaster.

        “1.5C” or “2C” is kind of misleading. Remember that most of the world’s surface is water, and water acts as a giant heat sink, so you will not get as much warming of the air above the oceans–and that means you’ll get a lot of warming over land. Positive feedback loops such as glacier melt and methane release from Arctic tundra are already occurring, and are very difficult to undo.

        Ecosystems are organic, bottom-up order, and small changes in precipitation or temperature can cause very large changes (consider the difference between a high of -0.5C and 0.5C in winter–that’s the difference between freezing and thawing! of rivers and lakes!)

        Possibly more worrying than temperature shifts are precipitation shifts. Parts of eastern Germany didn’t get any rain at all this summer between April and September. Many European trees can only take a summer like that once in a blue moon; if it’s every fourth summer, and then every other summer, they’ll start dying in droves, along with anything that depends on them.

        Human civilization will probably get through it, somehow or other, but as somebody who really likes winter, countryside and nature, I really fear for what I’m going to see over the next six decades or so of life I’ve got on this planet. I don’t want to get a five-month summer of 50-degree highs and East Coast-humidity in thirty years, but we’re on track for it.

      • Isn’t the ozone hole widely considered a success story? What other examples are there of scientists being overly conservative on environmental issues?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          It is a success story because, only once we found it, we took immediate action radically alter the release of the causative chemicals. It’s not clear to me that this same action could have been taken if science merely predicted that the ozone hole would occur.

          The success or failure of the response to the ozone hole is roughly orthogonal to whether science was conservative or aggressive in predicting the outcome of release of ozone depleting chemicals.

          • Ok, but the context is questions about the costs of acting vs not acting. When have scientists been too conservative about the dangers of an environmental issue?

          • What’s the history on lead? Scott seems to think it’s clear that environmental lead, from gasoline and presumably paint had large negative effects. How soon was there evidence on that and how long before it was acted on?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Wrong Species:
            I may be wrong, but interpreted Picone as saying that an aggressive approach to ozone by science would have been to have had models that said “well, here is a possible result of these chemicals being released”. It would have predicted the possibility of the ozone hole, rather than everyone being surprised by it.

            He is saying that the consensus scientific takes on global warming don’t spend much/any time pondering what a “surprising” bad result would be.

            In the context of “how many scientists predict the end of humanity” where he is answering “pretty much no one”, he is also giving the “but if they are wrong, here is potential reason they are wrong” answer.

          • nkurz says:

            @DavidFriedman

            What’s the history on lead? … How soon was there evidence on that and how long before it was acted on?

            Lead paint was known to be harmful to children since the 1890’s. It was banned for indoor use in parts of Europe before 1910, and in parts of Australia in the 1920’s. The US and Canada didn’t stop using it until the 1970’s, although indoor use had mostly stopped before then. Decorative lead paints are still sold in parts of South America, Africa, and Asia.

            Leaded gasoline was known to be harmful essentially from when it began to be used, although the main concern was workers who were in contact with it rather then the environmental contamination. It was temporarily banned in NYC in the 1920’s, until the federal government convinced them to reallow it. In the US it was finally phased out for automobiles the 1980’s although it’s still allowed for piston engine airplanes.

            I think most people agree that given what was known at the time, the use of lead paint and leaded gasoline should have been stopped earlier. I don’t know the whole history, but at a glance, it seems that independent scientists were pointing out the dangers, but industry backed scientists were able to prevent regulation from occurring until lots of damage had been done.

            Here’s a link with some more info: https://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Lead_in_Gasoline_e.htm

    • False says:

      Fellow Grey Wolf, reporting in. Sir, who is your commanding officer?!?!

      Not to highjack your thread about climate change, but I thought I’d chime in regarding the overlap of SSC and Chapo (Epistemic status: 100% uncut Facts and Logic).

      I actually think there is a strange connecting undercurrent between SSC and Chapo. I can only speak for myself, but I found and latched onto both of them at almost the exact same time in my life; namely, at the point when I realized I could no longer put my faith in mainstream ideas, ideologies, or politics. The way I viewed the world had always been relatively contrarian, but the period leading up the 2016 U.S. election was when the “state of things” from a “normal” perspective suddenly became far more warped. I was raised urban liberal and had celebrated in the streets of my college town when Obama was elected, but 8 years later, where were we? What could explain the hatred, uncertainty, and total sadness I felt inside and around me? If there was an answer, it certainly wasn’t coming from the democratic or republican party or any other sort of other pop ideology I was exposed to.

      I can’t remember how, but I was linked to “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup”. The hopelessness I had been feeling suddenly found a strange direction; my take away from that essay was that in no way are people’s tribal affiliations based on “truth”. They are these curiously half-innate, half-learned behaviors that we perhaps aren’t really in control of… and they blind us to the overall picture of other people and their ideas. I then read “Meditations on Moloch”, the big take away being that society is de-incentivized to do the right thing. It isn’t that people fall into the categories of good/bad/smart/dumb/left/right, and that’s why society can’t seem to get it together to create livable lives for people.

      These two essays lead straight into what the boys (and girl) on Chapo Trap House are saying; Libs and Cons are both bad, and the entire political conversation is absurd, because we are responding to the world within the context of (perhaps unchosen) ideologies that are all based on broken incentives, that is, the entire global capitalist system. Early Chapo was very much focused on this “Hell World” aspect (what I affectionately term Doomsday-Marxist Nihilism) of the post-2008 economic crisis where we have all suffered and therefore become much more extreme (for some in even in their Centrism).

      Obviously, libertarian rationality and Chapo leftism differ in the details. Felix would go off on the rationality project as a bunch of soggy-bread racist technocratic-neoliberal dweebs, and the commentariat here would most likely call Chapo and the gang millennial berniebro conflict-theory SJW communists (interestingly, both groups are most likely predominately made up of white, male, middle-class nerds). That being said, neither group reflects mainstream ideas in the slightest. I can’t discuss SSC or Chapo with the majority of my friends and family (I’ve tried; people hate it).

      I appreciate SSC for its epistemic approach to empirical data by which Scott attempts to cut through the bullshit, and I appreciate Chapo for its ability to connect historical and sociological narratives through which they attempt to cut through the bullshit. I trust Scott to delve into meta-studies of depression drugs and I trust Christman to analyze the historical rise of fascism. I think both have asked the right questions and wound up independently coming to the correct premise: “The car is on fire, and there’s no one at the wheel”.

      I think both also have a lot to disagree with, be it rhetorically (too dry and procedural/too sneering and acerbic) or within the content of the ideas themselves. They both have major blind spots regarding their own positions. I would put communism on exactly the same level as singularity-level AI in terms of probability of happening and also whether or not they are even good in the first place.

      The times where they have overlapped IRL have also been quite amusing. When Robin Hanson was in the news for “advocating legalized rape”, Matt immediately and correctly understood him to be making an ironic criticism regarding the redistribution of economic wealth (without even having read Hanson’s post, I might add). My secret belief is that the “manifesto against facts and logic” is a similarly ironic jab made directly against the rationalist community… but that’s probably more of a reference to Charlie Kirk.

      I actually think there is a strange connecting undercurrent between SSC and Chapo. I can only speak for myself, but I found and latched onto both of them at almost the exact same time in my life; namely, at the point when I realized I could no longer put my faith in mainstream ideas, ideologies, or politics. The way I viewed the world had always been relatively contrarian, but the period leading up the 2016 U.S. election was when the “state of things” from a “normal” perspective suddenly became far more warped. I was raised urban liberal and had celebrated in the streets of my college town when Obama was elected, but 8 years later, where were we? What could explain the hatred, uncertainty, and total sadness I felt inside and around me? If there was an answer, it certiantly wasn’t coming from the democratic or republican party or any other sort of other pop ideology I was exposed to.

      I can’t remember how, but I was linked to “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup”. The hoplessness I had been feeling suddenly found a strange direction; my take away from that essay was that in no way are people’s tribal affiliations based on “truth”. They are these curiously half-inate, half-learned behaviors that we perhaps aren’t really in control of… and they blind us to the overall picture of other people and their ideas. I then read “Meditations on Moloch”, the big take away being that society is de-incentivized to do the right thing. It isn’t that people fall into the categories of good/bad/smart/dumb/left/right, and that’s why society can’t seem to get it together to create liviable lives for people.

      These two essays lead straight into what the boys (and girl) on Chapo Trap House are saying; Libs and Cons are both bad, and the entire political conversation is absurd, because we are responding to the world within the context of (perhaps unchosen) ideologies that are all based on broken incentives, that is, the entire global capitalist system. Early Chapo was very much focused on this “Hell World” aspect (what I affectionately term doomsday-marxist nihilism) of the post-2008 economic crisis where we have all suffered and therefore become much more extreme (for some in even in their Centrism).

      Obviously, libertarian rationality and Chapo leftism differ in the details. Christman would scream that the rationality project is a bunch of soggy-bread racist technocratic-neoliberal dweebs, and the commentariat here would most likely call Chapo and the gang millenial berniebro conflict-theory SJW communists (interestingly, both groups are most likely predominately made up of white, male, middle-class nerds). That being said, neither group reflects mainstream ideas in the slightest. I can’t discus SSC or Chapo with the majority of my friends and familly (I’ve tried, people hate it).

      I appreciate SSC for the epistemic approach by which it attempts to cut through the bullshit, and I appreciate Chapo for its ability to connect historical and sociological narratives by which it attempts to cut through the bullshit. I think both asked the right questions to independently come to the correct premise: “The car is on fire, and there’s no one at the wheel”.

      I think both also contain a lot to disagree with, be it rhetorically (too dry and procedural/too sneering and ascerbic) or within the content of the ideas themselves. I would put communism on exactly the same level as singularity-level AI in terms of possibility of happening and also whether or not they are even good in the first place. And c’mon, let’s be honest here… both the rational community and progressive leftists are firmly up their own asses! But who isn’t.

      • False says:

        Sorry, my comment got horribly mangled up there, and for some reason I’m unable to edit it. Ignore the repeated sections, please.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          FYI, there is a one hour edit window. That’s probably why you can’t edit, you just noticed too late.

          As someone who edits most of my posts because I mangled something in spelling, formatting, or basic sentence construction, I feel your pain.

          ETA: For instance, I edited this post because I misspelled too as to. Fucking homonyms.

  11. rlms says:

    Scandals I’m surprised the Catholic church was involved in: stealing babies. Not because I have a high opinion of them (since obviously organised religion is stupid and dangerous) but because destroying (heterosexual) nuclear families doesn’t seem like their style.

    • Gazeboist says:

      Wait, this isn’t about the Catholic tradition of destroying Jewish nuclear families?

      • ana53294 says:

        This is about taking kids from single mothers, Republican* mothers, widows of Republicans, left-wing or atheist women and giving them to good Catholic right-wing families.

        There are not many Jews in Spain. Hitler was late by Spanish standards; we did the kicking out of the Jews in the late XV century, and then proceeded to kill the Jewish converts who did not eat pork with the Inquisition. He did surpass the Spanish Inquisition in scale, though.

        *So nobody is confused: in Spain, Republican means person who supports the Spanish Republic and does not want the Monarchy. It is a very left-wing position. Even the Socialist Party mostly supports the Monarchy, and the Republican wing of the Socialist party is radically left-wing.

        • AlphaGamma says:

          What I think Gazeboist is referring to is the case of Edgardo Mortara, which happened in the Papal States in the 19th century- a Jewish child was taken from his parents in order to be raised as a Catholic, because the family’s Catholic servant had baptised him while he was seriously ill.

          • ana53294 says:

            The difference here would be that the married parents got married in the Church (civil weddings were not a thing then, and the Catholic Church was the only church in most of Spain).

            Also, being Republican does not mean they were not Catholic. Not all Republicans were atheists. Although they were pro taking Church land, but hey, the Church is about souls, not dirty earthly money, right?

            So, while some cases of baby-stealing were single mothers or atheists, quite a few of them were Catholic widows or married Republican women.

      • quanta413 says:

        Yeah, I was surprised too when I read the link.

  12. rlms says:

    Things that were surprisingly facist in the 1950s: the EU (or rather, European superstate boogyman). Also, GK Chesterton had a more belligerent second cousin named AK.

  13. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Dungeons & Dragons thread, subtopic Monstrous Manual gushing:

    Aboleths are 20-foot-long fish with 4 10-foot head tentacles. They are highly intelligent (a standard deviation above human average) telepaths (oh boy, psionic rules) and hermaphrodites. They are not social, living in broods of a parent and 1-3 offspring, who presumably split up by the time they reproduce. They’re Lawful Evil and want to use their IQ and psionics to enslave surface people.

    Like… OK. There’s cool narrative potential here, but “evil fish with tentacles” is the most shallow cribbing from Lovecraft, so their role could be better filled by any of his original races you have a stat block for.
    This monster’s original context was the 1981 module Dwellers of the Forbidden City, which also introduced serpent men (yuan-ti), toad people (bullywugs) and mongrelmen (the product of generations of D&D interracial marriage) in the context of going to a lost city in the jungle on the trail of highway robbers operating on the jungle outskirts. Very Robert E. Howard with a tinge of his and Lovecraft’s older contemporary A. Merritt.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Aboleths are some of my favorite villains, although doing their concept justice is very difficult.

      One of the strengths of Lovecraft’s short stories is that his protagonists generally don’t have the perspective to understand or explain why the eldrich creatures are doing what they’re doing. Maybe they’re like animals acting on some primal instinct; maybe they’re plotting some scheme beyond human comprehension; maybe they’re thrashing around blindly in a world just as incomprehensible to them as they are to us. That uncertainty about their goals is essential to keeping them genuinely alien.

      As the DM, however, you really do need to think of some sort of motivation for your main antagonist if you plan on having them around for more than a single session. Being a human yourself, any motivation that you come up with is going to be comprehensible to humans. So you need to work twice as hard not to rob the creature of its alien mystique.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Bullywug

      I’m temporarily jumping beyond A here for the sake of context. Bullywugs are a human-size Chaotic Evil race of sapient frogs (INT 5-10, where 10-11 = IQ 100) who have learned how to make tools like weapons and armor and live in semi-settled tribes of 10-80 in swamps and marshes.
      The Society section says “all bullywugs live in organized or semi-organized socially fascist groups, cooperating for the purpose of hunting and survival” — wait, how is that fascist? They’re basically advanced foragers who leverage dense seafood resources to settle in tribes rather than be nomadic bands, like the Northwest Coast natives.

      “Males are the dominant sex, and females exist only to lay eggs. Though females and young make up about one-half of any tribe, they count for little in the social order. The only signs of respect that bullywugs ever bestow are toward their leader and their bizarre frog god. The race is chaotic evil, and totally lacking in any higher emotions or feelings.” Well, except they’re totally evil.

      “Bullywugs prize treasure, though it benefits them little. They value coins and jewels, and occasionally a magical item can be found amongst their hoard.

      On an individual level, bullywugs lack the greed and powerlust seen in the individuals of other chaotic races, such as orcs. Fighting among members of the same group, for example, is almost nonexistent. Some would say that this is because they lack the intelligence to pick a fight, and not from a lack of spite. The tribes are lead by the dominant male, who kills and eats the previous leader when it is too old to rule. This is one of the few instances when they fight among themselves.

      Ecology: Bullywugs tend to disrupt ecosystems, rather than fill a niche in them. They do not have the intelligence to harvest their food supplies sensibly and will fish and hunt in an area until its natural resources are depleted, and then move on to a new territory. They hate men, and will attack them on sight, but fortunately prefer to dwell in isolated regions far from human beings.”
      OK, I get it, they’re too stupid and evil and be Northwest Coast natives!

      Like I said, these guys come from the same 1981 module as aboleths, but the original context was A. Merritt’s 1919 novel The Moon Pool. In the novel, an advanced race developed at the Earth’s core and eventually begat the Shining One, a small-g god who pulls a Lucifer. Eventually only three individuals of the race are left, “Silent Ones” who “have also been sentenced by the good among their race to remain in the world, and not to die, as punishment for their pride which was the source of the calamity called the Dweller [Shining One], until such time as they destroy their creation—if they still can. And the reason they do not do so is simply that they continue to love it.” They raise up a species of frogmen who the modern Western protagonists encounter.

      • Rm says:

        (minor quibble) If someone plunders stuff from “an ecosystem” and you think they have no role within it, it’s not “ecology”. Consider forest fires – they make a lot of stuff drain away as salts or fly away as CO2, but they definitely have a role in the ecosystem. So do locusts, for that matter.

        • Nornagest says:

          It was the early nineties. Ecology, for anyone that wasn’t a professional ecologist or at least zoologist, pretty much meant stuff you picked up watching Captain Planet.

          • Rm says:

            Well damn, in the early nineties all “ecology” I heard about was Chernobyl this, Chernobyl that, so I guess I agree with your use of the word))

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Mongrelman

      “Mongrelmen are a mixture of the blood of many species: humans, orcs, gnolls, ogres, dwarves, hobgoblins, elves, bugbears, bullywugs, and many others.”

      I wouldn’t say this was inevitable: one can imagine an alternative where there are dozens of sapient species but they can no more interbreed than apes, hyenas and bears. But it does follow logically from the abundance of Standard Fantasy races, esp. with their half-elves and half-orcs.

      “Their appearance varies greatly, combining the worst features of their parent stocks. They are usually clad in dirty rags; they are ashamed of their appearance and try keep their bodies concealed, especially among strangers.”
      But interracial marriage is bad. Shun miscegenation; if everyone cegenated right these things never would have existed!

      Mongrelmen can imitate the sounds made by any monster or creature they have encountered except for special attack forms, pick pockets like a Thief, and spend a turn to camouflage their skin for 80% chance of not being noticed. That doesn’t sound too bad and shameful.

      “Because of their appearance, mongrelmen are seldom welcome in any lawful or good society, and are usually enslaved or abused by evil or chaotic groups. Thus mongrelmen are found as either slaves or serfs, working long hours for evil humans or humanoids in a dismal community, or as refugees living in abandoned ruins.”
      Refugee/free mongrelmen live in tribes of 1-100, have high infant mortality, and a lifespan of only 25-35 years (I hope they meant “life expectancy” and not “miscegenation makes them drop dead of old age by 35.”)

      • Nornagest says:

        I just want to know what the great-great-grandfather of the mongrelman in the Monstrous Compendium screwed to give it the lobster claw. Then again, maybe some questions are best left unanswered.

        Those guys were surprisingly popular for a while. I think I even saw rules for making mongrelman PCs somewhere, although I can’t remember where off the top of my head. (And they had such a bad stat block that you wouldn’t want to do it anyway.)

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I just want to know what the great-great-grandfather of the mongrelman in the Monstrous Compendium screwed to give it the lobster claw. Then again, maybe some questions are best left unanswered.

          There’s a “Lobster Johnson” joke in there somewhere.
          That’s pretty messed up, to be popular enough to go to that effort but give them such bad stats that no one would want to.

        • Gazeboist says:

          “Mongrelfolk” was one of the extra races in the 3.5 Races of Destiny splat, but they were scraping the bottom of the barrel for that book in my view.

          (I’ve never really been a fan of “diversity is the human shtick” in settings that take a bunch of races/species and give them all shticks, and thus humans in D&D and most other RPGs tend to annoy me.)

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m pretty sure this would have been in 2E. Most likely late 2E. I never read Races of Destiny.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Tasloi

      “Tasloi are long-legged, flat-headed humanoids. They walk in a crouching posture, touching their knuckles to the ground from time to time. Their skins are a lustrous green and are thinly covered with coarse black hair. Their eyes are similar to a cat’s and are gold in color.”

      Another original creation from Dwellers of the Forbidden City. These are nocturnal sapient beings of low intelligence who live in jungles in tribes of 10-100. They’re treated as close to monkeys and apes, speaking their languages, but have green skin. They have 1 Hit Die and AC 6, like the orc stat block. I like them well enough, but c’mon, just treat them as an orc culture and not a species.

    • Nornagest says:

      D&D’s Lovecraft pastiche has always been pretty shallow. Besides the aboleths, you’ve got mind flayers (dollar-store Cthulhus; enjoy brains, which they eat by tentacling them out through your nostrils), intellect devourers (chihuahua-sized animals with a brain for a body; also eat your brains, but at least they do it with a psychic power), kuo-toa and sahuagin (two different Deep One pastiches; kuo-toa are slimier, sahuagin are bloodthirstier, but neither one has the Innsmouth hook, so to speak), and gibbering mouthers (shoggoths, but without the size, unstoppability, or terror). I’m kind of sad that the Gugs didn’t make it until Pathfinder. They’ve probably got more of the D&D nature than any other Lovecraftian monster except maybe the Dholes, and unlike them they can’t be mistaken for a species of African wild dog.

      The aboleth in Baldur’s Gate II was one of its better scenes, though. And I hear Pathfinder’s been trying to do interesting stuff with them, although I never got deep enough into the Paizo adventures to know much about it.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I have a soft spot for the Mind Flayers. The brain on chihuahua legs, kuo-toa and mouthers are pretty daft. About the Gugs: that’s really weird, because they’re from the same passages of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath that Gygax took ghasts (ghoul-eaters) from!

        Baldur’s Gate I & II used a bunch of these monsters well.

        • Nornagest says:

          So that’s where ghasts came from? I’d always wondered. Guess I’ll need to reread those stories; I’d remembered the Gugs, but I didn’t remember them.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            “The ghasts try to come out when the gugs sleep, and they attack ghouls as readily as gugs, for they cannot discriminate. They are very primitive, and eat one another.”

            There’s no indication that they’re undead, but they die from any exposure to sunlight in the Count Orlok tradition.

        • Nornagest says:

          I didn’t really notice while I was playing it, but now that I think of it, Baldur’s Gate I used pretty much all the D&D stable of aggressive humanoid critters except for orcs and goblins. Kobolds, tasloi, gibberlings, xvarts, gnolls, ogres, half-ogres, ogrillions. It had hobgoblins, but not bugbears. I think that was a pretty good design decision; it made the world seem less generic.

          The second game had goblins and orcs, but only in minor roles.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Wrapping up the Monster Class of 1981 with Yuan-ti.
      These are obviously the Serpent Men created for the 1929 Robert Howard story The Shadow Kingdom, which Lovecraft officially included in his universe (cf. “The Haunter in the Dark”) as Earth’s dominant race some time after the Mi-go crushed the crinoid Old Ones.
      They’re Chaotic Evil genius psychics who also cast a few spells.

      “Yuan-ti are devout worshippers of evil. They also hold all reptiles in high esteem. The center of yuan-ti life is the temple. They tend toward old ruins far away from man, but have even been known to build underneath human cities. Their own works tend toward circles, with ramps and poles replacing stairs.”

      Their society is divided into three castes, with “purebloods” who look mostly human at the bottom. This caste “takes care of all outside negotiations, always pretending to be human”, unlike the original story where all Serpent Men could disguise themselves with a spell. The middle caste is “halfbreeds”, which the DM is supposed to create by rolling a die twice to see what their snake features are:

      1 = snake head, 2 = flexible snake torso, 3 = no legs, snake tail, 4 = snakes instead of arms, 5 = scales, 6 = legs + snake tail.

      Seems like you could get some decent action figures out of this. Anyway, then the upper, priestly caste are called “abominations” and are either all snake or have a human head, like the monster in a different Howard story (“The god in the Bowl”) — hey wait, there was a Marvel Comics Conan story where these two races meet, when the skull-headed bodybuilder sorcerer Thulsa Doom tries to become their leader…

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Arcane

      12-foot-tall lanky blue-skinned giants, a race of merchants, found wherever there is potential trade in magical items. They shun violence, using invisibility or a short-range teleport to avoid it, and if you try to kill them they might even barter a magic sword rather than stabbing you with it!

      “If entering an area that is potentially dangerous (like most human cities), the arcane hires a group of adventurers as his entourage… An arcane feels no concern about abandoning his entourage in chancy situations.”

      “Arcane have a form of racial telepathy, such that an injury to one arcane is immediately known by all other arcane.”

      “Nothing is known about the arcane’s origins; they come and go as they please, and are found throughout the known worlds. When they travel, they do so on the ships and vehicles of other races. Finding such ships with arcane aboard is rare, and it is suspected that the arcane have another way of travelling over long distances.”

      They sell high-quality items for high prices, and are indifferent to the consequences for other races, making deals with both sides in conflicts, etc. They’re so secretive that other races don’t even know how they reproduce.

      I dislike the SF cliche where every member of a sapient species follows the same occupation, so I’m going to extrapolate the telepathic knowledge of all Arcanes everywhere being hurt to say that these rich guys are effective altruists. Some ideological group popularized the belief that selling magic items is the most lucrative occupation, and the Arcanes encountered as merchants are just the ones who believe this. They donate all they can without getting physically harmed or going out of business to whatever charity back on the homeworld will most efficiently reduce Arcane suffering, to make their telepathic pain go away.

      • Nornagest says:

        One of the Monstrous Manual’s less charming quirks was its habit of assuming familiarity with all the campaign settings they’d pulled these critters from. Where I grew up, the one bookstore in town that carried D&D sourcebooks had never even heard of Spelljammer, so until a guy with a copy started playing in my group, references like these confused me mightily. I guess it made the world seem bigger, though, so it’s not all bad.

        I don’t know why the MM collated stuff from Spelljammer and not from, say, Dark Sun. I remember some Athasian stuff made its way into the Book of Artifacts, so it’s not like they had a consistent policy.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Putting psionic monsters in the 2nd ed MM when the psionic rules were in a hard-to-find supplement was pretty obnoxious.

          • Nornagest says:

            Weren’t there psionics rules in Player’s Option: Skills and Powers? That wasn’t a core book, but it wasn’t hard to find either. A lot of people bought it just for the kits it offered.

            Now, if you actually tried using those rules you’d probably end up gibbering and frothing at the mouth, but that’s another issue.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I guess it made the world seem bigger, though, so it’s not all bad.

          That’s pretty much it. What’s objectively a flaw made the world of Dungeons & Dragons seem bigger than the familiar Germanic, Greek, and other big mythologies it raided for monsters. “I am confused; what the heck is the deal with this thing? Is it from a more obscure source, or made up for this weird world?”

          I don’t know why the MM collated stuff from Spelljammer and not from, say, Dark Sun.

          No idea. Dark Sun, Mystara, Dragonlance, and the unique parts of Forgotten Realms (its non-European continents) seem absent. Not even all the legacy monsters from Planescape seem to be here, let alone anything new. I guess the compiler really liked Spelljammer.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Argos

      Argos Panoptes (“all-seeing”) was a servant of Hera in Greek mythology, slayer of Echidna and guardian of the nymph Io when Hera turned her into a cow to stop Zeus from having sex with her. “Panoptes” was also an epithet of Helios and of Zeus, associated with a particular archaic idol Pausanias describes as having a third eye (very Hindu). In Argos’s case, it was literalized as him having one hundred eyes all over his body that slept in shifts. To free Io, Zeus asked his then-youngest child, Hermes, to slay Argos, which he did by first putting him to sleep with a spoken spell. Outraged, Hera switched strategies to tormenting Hera with a gadfly, which caused her to run around the world, ending up in Egypt.

      Here, he’s been turned into a Spelljammer monster, an amoeba-like thing 10-20 feet in diameter with “one large, central eye with a tripartite pupil, and a hundred lashless, inhuman eyes and many sharp-toothed mouths. An argos can extrude several pseudopods, each tipped with a fanged maw that functions as a hand to manipulate various tools.”
      So, Shoggoth Panoptes.
      “Argos colors tend toward shades of transparent blues and violets; they smell like a bouquet of flowers.”
      It can grab and enfold as many victims as it can physically reach, also carries 1-3 weapons or tools, its evil eyes can cast 23 different spells on whomever it gazes upon (I guess I’d better skip ahead to Beholders…) and it can fly quite slowly via telekinesis.
      For when a shoggoth isn’t scary enough.

      • Nornagest says:

        Feed till consume 2×HD, then rest 2 hours/HD

        Wait a minute, does that mean these things are normally eating 10-12 HD a day? If you think of a HD as roughly equivalent to a human, that’s like one to two thousand pounds. It says they’re omnivores, but the fluff text talks about “creatures” and plants generally don’t have HD, so this is probably in meat? The baleful beholder nations must have a pretty well-developed ranching industry.

        I guess the good news is that even if you’ve been hit by a slow ray, you should still be able to outrun these things.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Wait a minute, does that mean these things are eating 10-12 HD a day? If you think of a HD as roughly equivalent to a human, that’s like one to two thousand pounds. It says they’re omnivores, but plants generally don’t have HD, so this is probably in meat?

          That logically follows, yes. Each of these things has to be fed 6 sheep or large sheepdogs a day.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Behold, Beholders!

      A levitating sphere of flesh with a chitinous exoskeleton, maw, central eye and ten eyestalks, this slug-bug… thing was created in 1975 as one of the first Dungeons & Dragons monsters not from folklore or a novel. I don’t know if it was created with a backstory, or just a bigger challenge for the original players who were used to killing gorgons and other “real” die-by-looking-at-it monsters. Some of its eyes hypnotize you, represented by Charm and Sleep spells. Three of them kill you instantly with petrification like Medusa, straight death like the traditional basilisk, or SF-style disintegration. Another has telekinesis, the central eye prevents all magic in a 90-degree arc in front of it, etc.

      Like I said, I don’t know how they were used in their earliest years. The original Dungeon Master’s Guide just puts them on the random encounter table for the lowest, hardest level of a dungeon. A beholder’s company included Demon princes, Archdevils, the toughest dragons in mated pairs, dragon gods, Talos from Greek mythology, “elder Titans”, and undead magi capable of casting 6th level or higher spells. That’s, like… the Eighth or Ninth circle of Dante’s Inferno, right?

      After a few years, some official writer came up with a backstory to explain why you always encounter them solo: they’re so xenophobic that they consider everyone not identical to them an inferior race. But by the time of the Monstrous Manual, there were whole nations of beholders in outer space, organized “under the dominion of hive mothers.”
      I feel like this is gonna be a long story.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Are beholders another monster based on a cereal-box toy like the rust monster?

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Nope. The four toy monsters are apparently the Bulette, Owlbear, Rust Monster, and Umber Hulk. 2nd Edition artist Tony DiTerlizzi blogged about them, with the revelation that he would have completed that bag of monsters if the company hadn’t kept him busy with Planescape.

      • Vorkon says:

        In Spelljammer, the Beholders in a single hive were all basically identical clones of each other, (except for the hive mother, of course) so the xenophobia explanation still works.

        That said, I always assumed that the xenophobia explanation was developed after Spelljammer, as an attempt to explain why they lived in hives in space, but were always presented as solitary before that. If the xenophobia angle predates Spelljammer, that’s news to me.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          In Spelljammer, the Beholders in a single hive were all basically identical clones of each other, (except for the hive mother, of course) so the xenophobia explanation still works.

          Ah, I see.
          And according to Wikipedia, the vicious xenophobia explanation dates from 1983, ~5 years after the original AD&D books just dropped them on people with the bare explanation “solitary monster, usually on the lowest dungeon level, Very Rare wilderness lairs.”

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        “Habitat/Society: The beholders are a hateful, aggressive and avaricious race, attacking or dominating other races, including other beholders and many of the beholder-kin. This is because of a xenophobic intolerance among beholders that causes them to hate all creatures not like themselves. The basic, beholder body-type (a sphere with a mouth and a central eye, eye-tipped tentacles) allows for a great variety of beholder subspecies. Some have obvious differences, there are those covered with overlapping chitin plates, and those with smooth hides, or snake-like eye tentacles, and some with crustacean-like joints. But something as small as a change in hide color or size of the central eye can make two groups of beholders sworn enemies. Every beholder declares its own unique body-form to be the true ideal of beholderhood, the others being nothing but ugly copies, fit only to be eliminated.

        Ecology: The exact reproductive process of the beholder is unknown. The core racial hatred of the beholders may derive from the nature of their reproduction, which seems to produce identical (or nearly so) individuals with only slight margin for variation. Beholders may use parthenogenic reproduction to duplicate themselves, and give birth live (no beholder eggs have been found).”

        Note that this would mean all Beholders are female.

        Then the MM lists the Death Kiss, which has ten 20-foot retractable tentacles to eat you with instead of eyestalks, and the central eye doesn’t cast an anti-magic field. Poor degenerate girls.

        “If they encounter one of their kin, the result is often a mid-air struggle to the death. The loser’s body becomes an incubator and breeding ground for the death kiss’ offspring. Within one day, 1-4 young will ‘hatch’.”

        Wait, what? How does this wasp-like Standard Evil Reproduction fit with what you said earlier about Beholder reproduction?

        An Eye of the Deep is a type of Beholder that dwells deep in the ocean instead of underground, having only two eyestalks but also a pair of lobster claws. They’re not nearly as powerful; poor degenerate girls.

        A Gauth is a Beholder who likes black eye shadow eating magic items. One of its eyes can permanently drain magic from items it stares at.
        They’ve got a terminal breeder thing going on:

        “Gauth are thought to live a century or so. Within a week of their natural death, two young gauth emerge from the corpse.”

        “Orbus is either a genetically bred or a stunted and immature form of the standard beholder. It is only found in space aboard the tyrant ships of the beholder nations. It is chalk-white and lacks functioning smaller eyes. The central eye is huge and vulnerable, occupying most of the upper body above a small, toothless mouth. This eye has the normal anti-magic properties, but is milky white.

        Despite their vulnerability, the orbi are the means by which the beholders travel through space. It is they that can funnel the magical energies of the other beholders into motive force – they are living spelljammer helms.”

        Very SFnal.

        “Another relative of the beholder, the spectator is a guardian of places and treasures, and capable of limited planar travel. Once it is given a task, the spectator will watch for up to 101 years. It will allow no one to use, borrow, or examine an item or treasure, except the one who gave it its orders. The spectator has a large central eye and four smaller eye stalks protruding from the top of its hovering, spherical body.”

        In this mutation, the central eye reflects spells back at the caster, and there are only four eyestalkers with less scary powers than the usual (Create food and water, Cause serious wounds, Paralyzation ray and telepathy).

        “A spectator, if blinded in all of its eyes, cannot defend its treasure and will teleport to the outer plane of Nirvana.”

        !

        “If properly met, the spectator can be quite friendly. It will tell a party exactly what it is guarding early in any conversation. If its charge is not threatened, it can be very amiable and talkative, using its telepathy.”

        Then there’s an undead beholder, but that’s not as interesting as your friendly Buddhist beholder.

        • Nornagest says:

          The spectator seems pretty attached to worldly possessions for a Buddhist.

          As to the death kiss, I’d like to think there’s a S’teve Irwinsson (human ranger 7, Neutral Good) running around studying death kiss reproductive patterns. Look at this one! Ain’t she a beaut’?

          …hang on, I have a new character sheet to write up.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I’m not a Buddhist and I’m still certain that saying these things are in Nirvana is heresy.

            As to the death kiss, I’d like to think there’s a S’teve Irwinsson (human ranger 7, Neutral Good) running around studying death kiss reproductive patterns. Look at this one! Ain’t she a beaut’?

            …hang on, I have a new character sheet to write up.

            That’s one of the best ranger concepts I’ve heard!
            (Ranger was a terrible “Aragorn class.” Tarzan would be a better pre-1974 archetype.)

          • Nornagest says:

            Ranger as a class is kind of a mess. It’s one of the ones (Rogue is another) that was designed to mimic a very specific character and kind of fell apart when it needed to be expanded into a full archetype; bonuses to fighting orcs and goblins make sense if you’re playing Aragorn, but how many other woodsy warriors can you think of that have a favored enemy of any kind? And let’s not even talk about the two-weapon fighting thing.

            Tarzan or Mowgli would be a better basis for the woodsy warrior archetype, yeah. They were the basis for a 2E kit, if I remember right, but it kind of sucked.

          • Randy M says:

            It’s funny that Ranger and Paladin got full classes, but Pyromancer or Illusionist got folded into Wizard.
            Eventually Magic User bifurcated too, but it might have been a good precedent to split some of the functionality out of wizard into other classes like was done to Fighter, or vice versa maintain more varied competencies in one martial class.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think the limitations of Vancian magic might have something to do with that. It’s pretty hard to build a pyromancer with D&D core rules; there aren’t enough fire spells on the list, and Wizards/TSR couldn’t put enough on the list without expensively inflating the core books. Especially in earlier editions, there are entire spell levels that don’t get any without a deep dive into splatbooks, and a lot of the ones you do get are distinctly underwhelming. An illusionist would be more viable but you’re still sacrificing a lot of versatility for your schtick, and the wizard class is all about versatility.

  14. The Nybbler says:

    I didn’t see this coming. The end of an era (or error, depending on your perspective)

    Google is shutting down Google Plus, ostensibly due to a security breech.

  15. Le Maistre Chat says:

    High Culture, not Culture War:
    In Hamlet, do you think Shakespeare set up the Ghost mystery to sneak in a “Catholicism is true” message, does the investigation end up confirming Protestant doctrine, or something else entirely?

    Part of the context is that while Amleth was a heathen prince in Saxo Grammaticus’s Danish history, the play is gleefully anachronistic and Hamlet and Horatio met as students in Wittenberg, Reformation Ground Zero.

    • Nick says:

      I haven’t read Hamlet, but I will say folks have been saying forever that Shakespeare might be Catholic. The Catholic Encyclopedia (over 100 years old now!) has an entire article on it. Unfortunately, it’s not optimistic:

      Taking these facts in connection with the loose morality of the Sonnets, of Venus and Adonis, etc. and of passages in the play, not to speak of sundry vague hints preserved by tradition of the poet’s rather dissolute morals, the conclusion seems certain that, even if Shakespeare’s sympathies were with the Catholics, he made little or no attempt to live up to his convictions.

    • engleberg says:

      I don’t know about Shakespeare, who wrote like a smarter Marvel Bullpen- he stole from everyone else, so he probably stole from crypto-Catholics. But there’s a persistent rumor that Marlowe got his for narking on Catholics to prods.

    • pontifex says:

      You can’t fool me. Catholics vs. Protestants is just the 1700s edition of the culture war.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        15-1600s: it was really cooling off in the 1700s. Read some of Boswell’s life of Samuel Johnson. Johnson, who was basically a one-man Académie française crossed with an autistic Fox News anchor, was pretty chill about all branches of Christianity, from the Catholics to those weird dissenters who let women preach (“Like a dog walking on two legs, it was not done well but one is impressed to see it done at all.”)

  16. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    Does anyone remember the tinnitus cure linked back in February? I don’t normally get tinnitus, but some just flared up, and this got rid of it right away.

  17. b_jonas says:

    To Scott: I see you named this thread “Opentagon”, but used a different image of the Pentagon from the one I linked to in “https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/08/26/ot109-opulent-thread/#comment-662834” . Is this because you didn’t like the image I linked to? Or did you just come up with that title independently of my post?

  18. VirgilKurkjian says:

    I know that adding additional people will exponentially complicate things, but future adversarial collaborations might benefit from having a third member who is truly agnostic about the issue. This person could keep the debaters focused on the big-picture issue, keep the discussion relevant for future readers, and can push points or raise questions that the debaters never would out of fear of seeming too confrontational. I think it would help with the “compromise on all points” problem, as well as with the “small-focus” issue.

    • Jiro says:

      There are plenty of positions where someone would have to be willfully ignorant in order to not have an opinion. I certainly don’t want a second collaborator who has no opinion on vaccination or on whether the Holocaust happened.

      • VirgilKurkjian says:

        That may be technically true, but in regards to the adversarial collaborations that were actually performed, I personally felt 1) like I was pretty agnostic towards the issues as they were framed, and 2) like no one did a good enough job to convince me one way or the other.

        More generally, I think there are more people agnostic on issues than you think. I propose that you and I enter into an adversarial collaboration, but first, we need to find someone who is agnostic as to whether there are people agnostic on the majority of issues… hmm…

        • Jiro says:

          I personally felt 1) like I was pretty agnostic towards the issues as they were framed, and 2) like no one did a good enough job to convince me one way or the other.

          That’s because the issues were framed in a careful way that tended to avoid the part of the issues that people actually cared about.

          • VirgilKurkjian says:

            Yeah, that’s a big part of it! And I think that’s something a neutral party could have steered them away from.

            “Let’s frame it like this.”

            “No way. As the agnostic party, that’s not a point I care about and wouldn’t convince me at all about the ‘real’ issue.”

  19. Jiro says:

    In some weird reverse of Conquest’s Law, any comment section that isn’t explicitly left-wing tends to get more right-wing over time. I am trying to push against this and keep things balanced, so I want to be explicit that I’m practicing affirmative action for leftist commenters.

    You should not do this.

    This is a case of disparate impact versus disparate treatment and it’s sad to see you trashing disparate treatment in order to avoid disparate impact. If there’s a difference in how the left and right behaves, that should manifest in a difference in how you treat them. If commentators on the left behave far more badly, that’s their own fault.

    It’s not just like affirmative action, it’s like affirmative action for sentencing. If you’re white, you get a longer sentence for the same crime than if you’re black. Only in this analogy, there isn’t actually anything that corresponds to prejudice by the police, black poverty, or anything like that, it’s just discrimination.

  20. baconbits9 says:

    I just want to put my complaint about the Kavanaugh situation here:

    It seems apparent to me that there is an obviously correct position as an outside observer to take, and that it is simultaneously impossible to be a part of a conversation while holding and conveying that opinion.

    That position is agnosticism. We do not have evidence that we can weigh in support of either side, we have no reasons to believe our individual intuitions about reliability of the involved parties, nor reason to think that broad statistics on false accusations apply to highly specific circumstances. Statements made about an event this long ago are either going to be vague or contain inaccuracies, and either is interpret-able as damning, so while I have formed an opinion (or an opinion has formed in me) I pretty much know its worthless. Not wrong, just not based on fact.

    What is most infuriating to me is the impossibility of convincing someone who holds a position that you are agnostic and convincing them that it is the correct position to take. The first is a function of their own opinion, if they have taken a side any refutation of the evidence that they claim supports them is seen as being the contrary position, and any attempt to be balanced and criticize the opposing side appears to help entrench their position by bolstering their arsenal of criticisms.

    None of this is original, but this episode has highlighted for me several points. Politics is the mind killer because decisions must be made and agnosticism cannot be exercised. Abstaining from voting, or commenting simply cedes power to those who are taking positions which means you either join a side or get ignored. I don’t think that tribalism is the driving force in politics and any degradation of discourse, I think that it is the natural outcome of marginalizing agnostics.

    • Brad says:

      I’m not sure if it had the same cause, but I had active disinterest. I couldn’t “get into” most of the articles or discussions of the accusations, including here. It just never sparked that “I have to know more” instinct.

      • Humbert McHumbert says:

        Same here. I found it hard to care because I quickly despaired of the possibility that I could form an opinion more reliable than a coin flip.

    • J Mann says:

      Thank you. I respect people who argue that based on the odds and their view of the incentives, we should go one way or the other, but I’m pretty concerned about all the people with a 95%+ confidence level in either conclusion.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      You can have an “agnostic” view on whether it happened.

      But the Senators can’t have an agnostic view on their vote, which is ultimately what is being debated. Presumably your view is actually, “we can’t know if it happened or not, so it should have no impact on the vote to confirm Kavananaugh” … which isn’t actually an agnostic view.

      • baconbits9 says:

        This is the point, politics in the US is actively pushing correct positions to the side. It is not obviously a fact that all voting/nomination systems must do this.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Huh?

          If someone shouts fire, what is the “agnostic” position on leaving the building? You can be “agnostic” on whether there is a fire, but you can’t be agnostic on actually staying in or leaving the building. Especially if you are about to lock yourself in a sound proof chamber for the next 35 years 3.5 hours.

          • Matt M says:

            but you can’t be agnostic on actually staying in or leaving the building

            But you can decide to base your decision of staying or leaving on whatever it was going to be before the announcement of fire. If you were already going to leave, you leave. If you were going to stay, you stay.

            And to my point below, this is exactly what about 95% of the Senators actually did. In a chamber of 100, we’re talking about 2-5 people whose votes may have changed due to these allegations. That looks a whole lot like “everyone was agnostic” to me.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Matt M, I don’t consider that “agnostic.” I consider that to be, at least in practice, concluding there is no fire.

            In real life, if I think there might be a fire – if I hear the fire alarms – I don’t stop to investigate but get out of the building. Even if I think it might be a false alarm, the risk is too high.

          • Matt M says:

            I consider that to be, at least in practice, concluding there is no fire.

            If I am a religious agnostic, and as such, I don’t go out of my way to obey the ten commandments, am I concluding, in practice, that there is no God?

            Surely the consequences of sinning in the presence of God are much more severe than those of not leaving a building in the presence of fire!

            I feel like by your definition, true agnosticism is an impossibility.

          • albatross11 says:

            This strategy breaks down when pulling the fire alarm is a tactic used adversarily.

      • Matt M says:

        I am curious. How different do people think the vote would have been in a hypothetical world where there were no sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh (but there were still Handmaiden protests, howls about how unfairly Merrick Garland was treated, insistence that Kavanaugh’s appointment will literally kill women, etc.)

        Because at the end of the day, I think it goes about the same. Party line with maybe 1-2 defectors on either side, still confirmed.

        So despite all of this hysteria, my view is that at the end of the day, these allegations actually didn’t have any impact on the vote to confirm Kavanaugh… for either side, in either direction.

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          I’d guess Heidi Heitkamp votes yes without the assault allegations. Tester, Murkowski, and Donnelly might also have been ‘yes’es.

          • Nick says:

            I think Murkowski’s way more likely to vote yes without the allegations. To be honest, I was shocked she voted no in cloture at all. Republicans knew before Trump nominated Kavanaugh that the nominee had to pass Collins’ and Murkowski’s “won’t roll back Roe” requirement, and Collins at least remains confident on that. (That’s one of the dangers with nominating Coney Barrett, incidentally; I think Collins at least is a lot less sure of her. But hey, maybe Hoosier pride sways Donnelly to a yes for Coney Barrett!)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I stand by my prediction from the beginning of the year (in the predictions thread) that the GOP picks up 2-6 senators in the midterms, most likely 4. If that comes to pass, Collins and Murkowski will not be an issue*, and we will no longer have to put up with Jeff Flake. That’s some nominative determinism if there ever was.

            * Assuming the next SCOTUS replacement comes in the next two years. But I haven’t thought about any numbers for the likelihood of that. And while in no way am I wishing anything ill towards RBG, she has not looked too spry in recent public appearances.

        • Plumber says:

          “I am curious. How different do people think the vote would have been in a hypothetical world where there were no sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh….. “

          @Matt M,

          One Senator from Alaska changed her vote.

          Maybe.

          I’ve kept posting that my opposition to Kavaugh has had nothing to do with this stupid “character” sideshow, and how annoying to me this distraction from the actual decisions made by and likely to be made by the man is.

          The priorities of the press are not mine and it’s way past time to acknowledge that it’s Kings not Philosophers being selected.

    • BBA says:

      To me it became obvious pretty early on that there was nothing to go on except her recollections and his lack of them. I had a sinking feeling that nothing could ever be proven to anyone’s satisfaction. When things spiraled into reviewing high school yearbook in-jokes with a fine-toothed comb in an effort to prove whether or not Kavanaugh was a drunken lout in the 1980s, I was left wondering, how did we end up here? I get that we have to care about this, the next few decades of American law hinge upon it, but is basing it on this really what anyone wants?

      I was, of course, against “whoever Trump picks” from the moment Kennedy announced his retirement, because I support the continuing legality of abortion and labor unions and all sorts of things that the Federalist Society exists solely to destroy. (And I’m sure if it were President Clinton appointing an American Constitution Society member and former Democratic operative the other side would be feeling likewise.) I know how important this all is, and it was perfectly sensible for everyone to go to the mattresses, but it feels like looking into the abyss.

      The object-level question of who was telling the truth wasn’t that interesting to me. They both were.

      • because I support the continuing legality of abortion and labor unions and all sorts of things that the Federalist Society exists solely to destroy.

        Judging by my interactions with the Federalist Society, which include giving talks for them from time to time, they don’t exist to destroy either of those things. My guess is that most members believe labor unions should be legal, although many may believe that current law is improperly biased in their favor. I doubt there would be any consensus on abortion.

        I suspect there would be a large majority against Kelo and similar decisions, against increased restrictions of firearms ownership, a good deal of division on legalizing marijuana.

        I’m not sure if it’s true but I was told that Kavanaugh was not on their original list, possibly because of his positions on executive power and the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. The Federalist Society is a conservative/libertarian alliance, which is why they sometimes invite me to give talks, and those are positions of his that libertarians are likely to be unhappy with.

        • BBA says:

          My basic understanding was that the FS was Law School Republicans and the ACS was Law School Democrats. (Also, the ACS was unnecessary because all law school students and faculty are Democrats except for the handful of FS members…) In both the GOP and the FS, the libertarians talk a big game, but it’s the conservatives that make up the bulk of the membership and call the shots.

          At least, that’s my impression as a former libertarian law student who became completely disillusioned with libertarianism and the legal profession in general.

          • In both the GOP and the FS, the libertarians talk a big game, but it’s the conservatives that make up the bulk of the membership and call the shots.

            What’s the basis for that impression?

            I don’t pay enough attention to judges and Federalist Society recommendations to agree or disagree. The fragments of evidence I can offer are:

            I get invited to give talks to Federalist Society groups. My talks are not conservative, although some of my topics are ones where conservatives would agree with my libertarian views. On the other hand, one of my favorite titles is “Should We Abolish the Criminal Law?”

            The Federalist Society is run by Eugene Meyer, who is the son of Frank Meyer, who argued for a conservative/libertarian synthesis.

            I was told, whether correctly I don’t know, that Kavanaugh was not on the original Federalist Society lists, possibly because of legal positions that libertarians don’t like. Reason had a piece criticizing him on those grounds.

      • Mitch Lindgren says:

        The position of your linked article is that Kavanaugh did sexually assault Ford, but he’s still being “truthful” in denying her allegations because he was too drunk to remember it. That’s certainly plausible, but it still means that the ground truth is that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault.

        Also, believing this entails also believing that he was lying when he claimed he had never blacked out from excessive drinking. Not to mention his claims that “boofing” refers to flatulence and “devil’s triangle” is a drinking game. Anyone who believes that, let me know, because I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

        I don’t understand how anyone can believe Kavanaugh. Half the time he was dodging questions, and the other half he was making bald-faced, unbelievable lies.

        • Nornagest says:

          Also, believing this entails also believing that he was lying when he claimed he had never blacked out from excessive drinking. Not to mention his claims that “boofing” refers to flatulence and “devil’s triangle” is a drinking game.

          It means believing he lied (or was mistaken, but that seems implausible) about blacking out, but I don’t see how it implies lying about slang. The slang stuff never made any sense to me — slang has a lot of regional and temporal variation, it’s entirely reasonable for a term that meant a drinking game in one prep school in the early Eighties to mean a sex act on Urban Dictionary in 2018.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            The “prior probabilities” that were all the rage around here a couple of weeks ago might come in handy on this one: specifically, the probability of a couple of 17-year-old guys getting themselves some hot 2-on-1 action versus the probability of a group of 17-year-old guys playing a game of quarters.

          • Mitch Lindgren says:

            Right, I didn’t mean that believing the hypothetical described in that article implies that he lied about the slang. I only meant that implies that he lied about blacking out (or at least forgot, which I agree seems implausible).

            Unrelatedly, I also think he lied about the slang, although I admit there are plausible but IMO unlikely alternative explanations there.

          • Mitch Lindgren says:

            (Can’t edit my existing comment, so I have to add a new one.) As to Paul’s point, the fact that the phrase was used in his yearbook doesn’t mean that he or his friends actually performed the act (whatever its actual meaning was at the time).

        • The Nybbler says:

          Both “boofing” referring to flatulence and “Devil’s Triangle” being a drinking game have been substantiated. The former in a book called “The Art of the Fart” and the latter in statements by some of Kavanaugh’s friends and friends of friends. So you might want to update your estimation of your ability to distinguish unbelievable lies from unlikely truth.

          • Mitch Lindgren says:

            Okay, I’ll grant that the devil’s triangle one is plausible. Boofing I’m more skeptical of; the book you reference was published in 2004, and the comment “Judge – have you boofed yet?” in his year book doesn’t make any sense if they really meant “farted.”

            But even if we assume that he was telling the truth about those two slang terms, I still think he lied about the extent of his drinking; the meaning of “Renate alumnius;” “Beach Week Ralph Club” referring to him having a weak stomach (as opposed to throwing up from drinking too much); Leland Keyser’s “refutation” of Ford’s claims; and possibly also various aspects of his personal finances.

            I can’t say with 100% certainty that he sexually assaulted Ford, but she seems infinitely more trustworthy to me, and I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that Kavanaugh perjured himself during the hearing which should be disqualifying in and of itself.

          • The Nybbler says:

            But even if we assume that he was telling the truth about those two slang terms, I still think he lied about the extent of his drinking

            Since he did not describe the extent of his drinking (other than to say that he sometimes drank to excess), that would be difficult.

            the meaning of “Renate alumnius;”

            I can’t be sure what it means. But given that two unlikely meanings have checked out, it seems unreasonable to declare that Kavanaugh’s claim was false. Anyway, he was very vague and IMO the most likely meaning — that Renate had gone out on at least one date with each of the “Renate Alumni” — doesn’t contradict it.

            “Beach Week Ralph Club” referring to him having a weak stomach

            It referred to him throwing up, which is what he said. He implied it wasn’t just drinking, but he didn’t say it wasn’t drinking.

            I can’t say with 100% certainty that he sexually assaulted Ford, but she seems infinitely more trustworthy to me

            What convinced you? Was it all the details in her story that changed, the whopper about being too afraid to fly to come to the hearing, the refusal to release the therapy notes, or the fact that none of the people she said were at the party backed her up?

        • BBA says:

          If anything my position (and Herzog’s) is even more damning to Kavanaugh: he committed sexual assault and forgot all about it because he didn’t think he was committing sexual assault. To him it was harmless horseplay. Maybe nine out of ten teenage girls would have agreed with him. Ford was the tenth, and it scarred her for life.

          I find this horrifyingly plausible. Of course, we can never be certain, memory being as fragile and unreliable as it is, and anyway I had sufficient other grounds to opposed the appointment that I need not reach the question. But if it were the only thing I had against an otherwise flawless nominee… I just don’t know where I’d stand.

          • Plumber says:

            @BBA,
            “….. if it were the only thing I had against an otherwise flawless nominee… I just don’t know where I’d stand”

            I was already against decisions Kavaugh had already made as Federal judge (it took me seconds to find a list) and expected that he’d make more such decisions on a Court that I was already against because of the Janus ruling, but if he just wanted to overturn Roe vs. Wade (which seems to be the Court decision most focus on) I’d be fine with that, and the accusations didn’t make me less (or more) supportive of him and both Ford and Kavaugh seemed to credibly report their memories, and I remain agnostic and uncaring about “what really happened” but, the hearings did reveal some details of Kavaugh’s prep-school, country club, Yale background, which wasn’t surprising, but what was surprising was him claiming at the hearing “I got there with no connections”.

            What?

            As others have pointed out, his grandfather went to Yale, his father was a multi-millionaire lobbyist, so “no connections”?

            The man’s a shill and to be that deeply ruling class and then deny that he is marks him as a scumbag.

            Am I clear?

          • The man’s a shill and to be that deeply ruling class and then deny that he is marks him as a scumbag.

            Two related points:

            1. If someone makes a false statement that everyone in the audience knows is false, he probably isn’t trying to deceive people. Either he is mistaken or he is speaking imprecisely. That point initially struck me with regard to Kavanaugh saying that the friend of Ford’s who Ford said was at the party had refuted (I think that was his word) her claim. Everyone on the committee would have seen the statement, and as I remember Kavanaugh himself had correctly stated, earlier in his testimony, that the woman said she did not remember such a party. So calling that perjury struck me as unreasonable.

            2. The same point applies here. My interpretation of what he said is that he takes his environment for granted, as most of us do. What he meant by “no connections” was that he didn’t know anybody involved in the Yale admissions process and, so far as he knew, his father didn’t either. It didn’t occur to him that his background gave an invisible connection that the random applicant didn’t have.

            Suppose someone asked you if you were rich. You would probably deny it. From the standpoint of a random inhabitant of India or Africa your denial would be false–by his standards you are rich. But you take for granted the background of your society, just as Kavanaugh, I suspect, took for granted the background of his much smaller society.

            Would your denial mark you as a scumbag?

          • Plumber says:

            @DavidFriedman

            To the Indian or the African it probably would!

            But thanks for the “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” reminder.

            As for the stuff with Ford you cited, I really didn’t pay enough attention to that many of the details, andwhat little I caught sounded unprovable either way, so I just don”t know, but the “no connections” thing grinded my gears, maybe more than it should have.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I think politics is the mind-killer, not just because a decision has to be made, but because people insantly reach to extremes. You can still be agnostic WRT the allegations and have opinions about how to proceed. The decision to insantly go to innocence or guilt is a decision you are not forced to make. People choose to so they can enjoy their own righteous indignation.

      I’m just really happy the Kav affair did not ruin my weekend. We went to a wedding with my in-laws, and my FIL is a Fox News-only “Lock her up” conservative, while my SIL is a fire-breathing non-profit lawyer liberal. Both of them are incredibly pissed about the whole affair and I had to catch my wife up on what was going on and suggesting to avoid the whole topic, lest the wedding end in some sort of fist fight (which has been very close to happening in the past)

  21. For some time I’ve been encouraging an online acquaintance of mine to post some of their writing online. I often find their ideas, though not always in agreement with my own, to be interesting and well thought out. I’m happy to say they recently wrote up an essay and gave me permission to publish it on my blog as a guest post.

    The Four Quadrants of Free Expression

    Their main intention (I think) is to break down different types of freedom of expression, with the intention to examine the legitimacy and consequences of any limitations on each. I think its the start of an analysis on a fairly important topic in light of the current failures in modern discourse. I think the writing style is great for a first online essay, and I think any questions or topics raised could be something they’d take into account if they end up doing further writing. I know free speech etc. is a topic that comes up on SSC from time to time, so perhaps some folks here would like to ask a provocative question or two.

  22. keranih says:

    So, as left leaning commentary is to be preferred…the New York Times just published an op-ed of rather astonishing vim and vitriol. “White women”, the post states, “put their racial privilege ahead of their second-class gender status in 2016 by voting to uphold a system that values only their whiteness, just as they have for decades.”

    I have two questions – first, for those of a left-leaning perspective, please explain what effect this column is *supposed* to have. I know how I’m reacting to it, I’m trying to figure out what the intent behind publishing this piece was. (Surely having me get out my list of old right-wing acquaintances and calling them up to chat about the pros of voting straight R and giving a ride to the polls to anyone who might do so isn’t what the NYT had in mind.)

    Secondly, and this is for anyone – I am resolved to not do that thing where I assume the most horrible individual examples of discourse and behavior of my opponents is the norm for that side. Please to point me in the direction of more nuanced and charitable (but still left-leaning) versions of this mess.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Yikes, usually I can find the valid points underlying this sort of thing, but this one is tough.

      My best guess as to the intended effect is “catharsis”–this one is probably for readers who are devastated or furious about the Kavanaugh confirmation, who might get something out of the Grey Lady having a good shout along with them.

      (I could write my own Social Justice rant about why women in particular have to get the brunt of that, but the rationalist space has been over it: you pick a target weak enough that you feel like your punch does damage, but strong in some way so you can pretend you’re punching up, hence white women)

      As for a better version… If you mean a better article about how white women are scum-of-the-earth gender traitors, I don’t think that’s the right thing to look for. I suppose you could observe that whiteness and maleness both predict conservatism, with the result that a slim majority of white women support Republicans generally, and due to polarization this all but guarantees a bunch of those white women will take the antifeminist side on a given issue. All true, and hang enough hatred in that skeleton and you’ve pretty much got that article.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        (I could write my own Social Justice rant about why women in particular have to get the brunt of that, but the rationalist space has been over it: you pick a target weak enough that you feel like your punch does damage, but strong in some way so you can pretend you’re punching up, hence white women)

        This just reminds me that one of my favorite parts of Cobra Kai is how it depicts teenagers of color not caring about this nonsense ethic of “punch up, never punch down”, instead caring about punching in general because they’ve been bullied. 😀

    • Aapje says:

      @keranih

      The intended effect is presumably to convince people to act less selfishly.

      A conservative variant might be to chastise people with a good income for not donating enough to their church, to be used to help people with little money.

      • keranih says:

        A conservative variant might be to chastise people with a good income for not donating enough to their church, to be used to help people with little money.

        Eh. To me, that reads like the conservative variant of EA. The NYT oped doesn’t fit that for me, at all.

        There are a few religion-based conservative analogies I could draw, but I won’t go there in this moment. Mostly because that’s beside the point – I’m looking for a more centralist, less inflammatory post that makes the “be less selfish by voting against this particular part of your self interest instead of against this other part” argument, only in a more sound fashion.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      A frequently employed phrase over the last 2 to 3 years, more elsewhere but here as well, is “This is how you got Trump.” If you understand that phrase, if it makes sense to you, then this article shouldn’t shock you or be unexpected.

      If you do understand how the Trump phrasing makes sense, but can’t process intuitively that this is flip side of the coin, I don’t think I will be able to persuade you of it, though.

      • keranih says:

        That the New York Times published it, is what I find unexpectedly shocking.

        As for the flip side…if you are saying that “refuse to accept unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault 35 years afterwards (and timed very politically conveniently) as indicative of action” as ‘how you get the Resistance’ – then, no, really, I can’t parse that.

        I can parse other rational for opposing Trump, but not this one.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Your comment about not being able to parse what I meant seems … uncharitable? Non responsive to what I wrote?

          People feel attacked, unlistened to, powerless and unrepresented. They get angry. They express their rage. They wish things to change and threaten to make it happen.

          “This is how you get” … Trump. The Tea Party. Radical feminists.

          As to being shocked that the NYT published it, that seems like a tangent unrelated to your first point. At a guess, you don’t even regularly read the NYT, but simply were pointed to something that outraged people?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m honestly not sure I understand you. When I read “this is how you got Trump,” I thought that was an expression meaning “over the top bashing of the Red Tribe resulted in the backlash of people voting Trump.”

            This article would be an example of that: the white women who support Kavanaugh do not do it because they’re protecting “white privilege.” They do it because either:

            1) They do not find the accusations credible.

            2) They believe someone should be generally considered innocent until proven guilty (as a cultural standard, not just a legal doctrine).

            3) While they’re concerned for their daughters, they’re also concerned for their sons/husbands/fathers, that anyone will be able to make an accusation against them with no evidence and wreck their lives and reputations.

            Instead of listening to those concerns and weighing them charitably, she concludes with:

            Meanwhile, Senator Collins subjected us to a slow funeral dirge about due process and some other nonsense I couldn’t even hear through my rage headache as she announced on Friday she would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

            And reading this kind of thing is how you got Trump.

            Are you suggesting that ignoring this author’s anger is going to get us a feminist backlash?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Are you suggesting that ignoring this author’s anger is going to get us a feminist backlash?

            No, I’m saying ignoring all of the crappy shit people in general have been forced to put up with caused all of that anger and backlash that is being objected to by kerinah.

            I swear. This is not a hard argument to understand. But, like I said, the fact that you don’t WANT to see the parallels makes it near impossible to see them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I could see what you’d be saying if you were talking about the Kavanaugh appointment itself as being “the way we got Trump.” That is, Republicans ignore the heartfelt anguish of women and appoint Rapin’ Brett to the SC anyway. But not the article itself.

            The article itself, where the out-of-touch author casts accusations of malice at huge swaths of the electorate with no basis in fact is how you got Trump, and with no awareness of that, how you will continue to get Trump. No Kavanaugh-supporting or fencing-sitting white woman is going to read that article and say “gosh, I was totally wrong, I had no idea how evil I was, I’m going to be good now and vote Democrat.” They’re going to look at it and say “these people in the media are delusional and insane as they’ve completely failed to understand why I think the things I do, and despise me based on false reasoning. I do not want them or their allies to have power over me so I will vote Republican because at least they don’t actively hate me.”

          • lvlln says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I think you’re still not following. From my read of HeelBearCub’s posts, the analog to “Trump” in “This is how you got Trump” is “that NYTimes op-ed.” That is, “This is how you got Trump” is sort of a catch-all claim about how people were sick of being treated like shit by the media and rebelled with an extreme POTUS who spoke to their resentment, and in this case, the SJW-types are sick of being treated like shit by what they see as the current right-wing power structure and rebelled with extreme rhetoric like the kind in that NYTimes op-ed which spoke to their resentment.

            How much one sees this parallel as valid and thus explanatory to the point of the op-ed will probably depend a lot on how accurate one thinks those perceptions of “being treated like shit” in those 2 cases are.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            No, lvlln, I think we’re agreed. The article is not “how you got Feminist Trump.” The confirmation of Kavanaugh is “how you got Feminist Trump.”

            But I think the manifestation of that will be a purity spiraling in the DNC primaries in 2020. I don’t think that will result in electoral victory, however, because while the left wing activists are loud, they are a minority. Trump won because as off-putting as his personality is, on an awful lot of issues, he was saying what an outright majority of voters believe.

            ICE is more popular than “abolish ICE.” Stopping illegal immigration is more popular than amnesty/open borders/”no person is illegal.” “Innocent until proven guilty” is more popular than “#BelieveWomen.”

            The primaries are really going to be something, though, because the DNC leadership knows a radical left-winger is unelectable. This is why they have super delegates, and why I knew from the start in 2016 Bernie had no chance. But an awful lot of Bernie supporters didn’t seem to understand that the system was implemented precisely to stop candidates like Bernie, and that no amount of passionate appeals or poll-flogging was going to get the super delegates to change their minds. They were super delegates because they were part of the party machine. I don’t know what’s going to happen this time. It may be “Feminist Trump” for the DNC nomination, but I don’t see Feminist Trump beating Trump.

          • Matt M says:

            Bernie wasn’t nearly as radical as whatever the Dems are going to come with in 2020…

            I really hope Creepy Porn Lawyer gives it a go. That’ll be quite fun.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Bernie didn’t want to say anything off-putting except the s-word. He existed in an un-electable space (atheist, submissively giving up his podium to BLM when Hillary brought her iron fist down on the same stunt), but he could have started going to church or his parents’s synagogue (assuming he’s not a second or third-generation godless socialist), not caved to SJWs, and been in a strong position. Everybody knew that Donald Trump was a godless bully who started paying lip service to Christianity at the last minute and that didn’t keep him un-electable.
            The 2020 Dem primaries are likely to produce a candidate who loves flogging SJ issues rather than economic ones, and that’s not who Bernie was.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            CPL has no chance. 1) He’s a white male, and 2) there are elements of the left already very mad at him because his client’s outlandish accusations detracted from Dr. Ford’s more plausible accusation.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            While there is a very good argument that Avenatti tanked the anti-Kavanaugh movement, and I agree with it, Democrats are more likely to over-emphasize just how bad he was because they want to stop him before he pulls a Trump.

            And I am totally on their side for that. We need serious people in each party.

          • Matt M says:

            I feel like he basically got Palin’d here. The person really to blame for this epic failure has been so reflexively worshiped for so long and has too much power and status to take the fall, so all the fault must lie with the overly zealous political outsider who was just a little too enthusiastic about attacking the enemy.

          • People feel attacked, unlistened to, powerless and unrepresented. They get angry. They express their rage. They wish things to change and threaten to make it happen.

            Thanks. I think that explains what you meant.

            You are saying that the OpEd reflects the same feeling on the feminist left that references to Flyover Country reflected among people who voted for Trump because they felt that the coastal elites were ignoring them.

            Do I have it right?

            A more general point … . One should not assume that people who are part of a tribe only do things that benefit that tribe. Within a tribe people have their own objectives, and sometimes that leads them to do things that promote their objectives but subvert the objectives of their tribe.

            Think of it as market failure at the tribal level.

          • albatross11 says:

            HeelBearCub:

            That’s an interesting take–not one I would have thought of!

            Basically, you have:

            a. Lots of people really unhappy about how things are going.

            b. Mostly they find that they don’t have much of a voice or enough power to fix things.

            c. They get more and more extreme and angry as a result.

            d. Someone manages to harness that angry energy to get power, say, by playing on his lifelong show business/media presence to become president.

            The implication I’d take from this is that you think that this sort of angry will drive a populist left wing response much the same way that the anger that came through during Tea Party rallies eventually got us Trump.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @albatross11:
            I’m not making predictions about what will happen, just trying to explain what has already happened. People feel left out, disregarded, and abused. They get angry. They express that anger.

            This isn’t a “right now” thing. It’s a “has always been and will always be” thing.

          • Matt M says:

            the anger that came through during Tea Party rallies eventually got us Trump.

            I’m not at all convinced these two things were correlated in any meaningful way.

      • Jacobethan says:

        OK, so the idea is

        “How you got Trump” : Trump :: Kavanaugh confirmation : Grenell op-ed.

        I can certainly follow that, and I find it a helpful framing. In that case, it seems to me there are a couple ways of developing keranih’s original question of “what is the intended effect of the NYT publishing this?”

        1. Given that the NYT is pretty much on record as opposed not only to Trump’s object-level positions but also to his reactive temperament, emotivism, and naked tribalism, how is publishing a piece recognizable even to sympathizers as “Trump”-equivalent supposed to mesh with that meta-level agenda?

        2. Supposing we set #1 aside and just accept that it’s going to be “How you get”-style lashing out all the way down, what actually is the expected strategic payoff from that when the purveyor is not a candidate for office but a prestige newspaper/website?

        It may be that I’m too old-media oriented and just can’t see that the answer to #2 is something really straightforward and obvious like “clicks.” Or that there’s a slightly more complicated thing going on where tossing red meat on the op-ed page gives you cover with your partisan subscriber base to do the kind of conventional reporting that sustains what’s left of your reputation for objectivity.

        But I still share keranih’s curiosity: does anybody putting this forward think that its actual net effect is going to be persuading people to vote Democratic, or even to have a better appreciation of a mindset from which voting Democratic would make sense? Or are the reasons for printing it entirely a matter of dynamics internal to the NYT’s economics and relation to its readership?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “How you got Trump” : Trump :: Kavanaugh confirmation : Grenell op-ed.

          Sigh. No. What the heck is wrong with all y’all?

          “How you got Trump” : Trump :: “How you got Grenell op-ed” : Grenell op-ed.

          Kvanaugh is one small turd in a larger pile of shit, the shit which people are tired of.

          As to what gets published in the op-eds, they are op-eds. David Brooks went off on avacado toast. It’s not the opinion of The Times, it’s only supposed to be of interest to Times readers. They also view their job as being a large cross section of opinions to the attention of their readers.

          • albatross11 says:

            Interestingly, I believe the Kavenaugh confirmation fight is seen that way by both sides. (The way things played out in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot worked the same way.)

            Basically, there was an ambiguous set of facts that could be interpreted in different ways, especially by people who lived in different media bubbles. And so you could get one group mad as hell that a rapist got confirmed to the Supreme Court by the goddamned Republicans, and another mad as hell that a decent man got smeared as a rapist by the goddamned Democrats. And, of course, both parties encourage that outrage, because they think it will drive turnout. And media outlets benefit from the outrage in terms of clicks and engagement. The country as a whole suffers, but that’s not really a consideration in very many powerful peoples’ actions.

          • Jacobethan says:

            “How you got Trump” : Trump :: “How you got Grenell op-ed” : Grenell op-ed.

            Kvanaugh is one small turd in a larger pile of shit, the shit which people are tired of.

            That is a fair point — I should’ve been clearer that I was using “Kavanaugh confirmation” as a shorthand for the much larger, harder-to-define pile of shit of which people are tired. To the extent that your point was that “How you got…” anger comes out of cumulative experience of numerous smaller slights and outrages, I can see how my way of putting it might have obscured that. I was more focused on the form of the equation than the specific objects in each bucket.

            From my limited anecdotal experience I do think you’re basically right about the nature of the anger.

            The place where I think the analogy breaks down somewhat is that (at least according to the standard “How you got Trump” narrative) Trump supporters pre-Trump had almost literally nobody with mainstream credibility and a national platform speaking up for their perspective and taking them seriously.

            Whereas viewpoints more or less like Grenell’s (in content as well as class-coding) are prominent to the point of ubiquity in many academic and journalistic spaces, and increasingly visible in commercial entertainment as well. In that case, I think the anger arises more from a sense of frustration that you can control all this cultural territory and yet none of it seems to matter in the practical terms you really care about, that the levers you’re holding don’t actually move the objects in the world that you think they’re supposed to.

            That’s not to say that either kind of anger is more or less real and legitimate than the other. But it might point to a somewhat different dynamic in terms of how each plays out.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jacobethan:
            Thank you for explaining your thinking. That makes more sense.

            Trump supporters pre-Trump had almost literally nobody with mainstream credibility and a national platform speaking up for their perspective and taking them seriously.

            This is just simply wrong. Sarah Palin was Trump before Trump. The writing has been on the wall about the approach and attitude the GOP base wants for quite a while. There are many, many people who have been giving voice to it, amplifying it, and had a presence with the GOP. Andrew Breitbart , Steve Bannon, etc. were popular and had pull before Trump came along. Eric Erickson infamously called Justice Souter a “goat fucking child molester” long ago.

            Trump himself was seen as a joke, but that is a different thing.

          • Matt M says:

            Sarah Palin was Trump before Trump.

            Agree with this, although I’d clarify that Palin got about 15 minutes before the establishment GOP (for obvious reasons of self-preservation) decided to make her the fall-guy for McCain’s embarrassingly large failure, at which point she lost her platform.

            I wish she would have fought back a little harder, but given the toxic media atmosphere she was subjected to, I can’t blame her for retreating.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’d clarify that Palin got about 15 minutes before the establishment GOP

            I don’t think this is correct at all.

            Sarah Palin had a nice long run as a popular right wing figure until her won weight pulled her down. She was keynote speaker at the first tea party convention 2010. She was totued as a potential 2012 presidential candidate all through 2010. She was very outspoken and active through that whole election cycle. I think she was still a regular Fox contributor in 2012.

    • Guy in TN says:

      I have two questions – first, for those of a left-leaning perspective, please explain what effect this column is *supposed* to have. I know how I’m reacting to it, I’m trying to figure out what the intent behind publishing this piece was.

      Its an opinion piece, which means the purpose of the article is to inform you of the author’s opinion. You are now informed of her opinion, correct? It seems successful in that regard.

      If you didn’t enjoy it, you might not be the target audience. In fact, unless you are a Democrat, I am rather sure you aren’t the target audience. So the question of “what effect is it supposed to have” should be looked at from the perspective her sympathetic regular-readers, not her conservative/libertarian critics who happened to stumble across it.

      • baconbits9 says:

        That might be the purpose of the person writing the piece but the question is what is the purpose of the NYT’s deciding to publish it.

        • BBA says:

          The left thinks the NYT is too soft on Trump (e.g., Maggie Haberman is the worst kind of access “journalist”) and this is throwing their readership a bone?

        • Brad says:

          Ideally to sell subscriptions, barring that to at least get ad impressions.

          I get that people think the NYT’s has a larger obligation, and I think the people that work there would agree with that, but at some point I think it is unfair for people to criticize the ethics of people in a lifeboat—especially if those critics aren’t helping to organize a rescue. (That’s just a general remark, for all I know keranih is a current and long time subscriber.)

          I’m not entirely happy with the changes I perceive to have occurred at the times over the last decade or so. But I let my subscription lapse and am unlikely to renew it even if they change course. So I don’t think my complaints have much force and I tend to keep them to myself.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            Heh, good point… OP’s reaction to the piece was to rally Republican friends, but also to post a link to the article in their online community along with a provocative question resulting in lots of engagement.

      • Nick says:

        If you didn’t enjoy it, you might not be the target audience. In fact, unless you are a Democrat, I am rather sure you aren’t the target audience. So the question of “what effect is it supposed to have” should be looked at from the perspective her sympathetic regular-readers, not her conservative/libertarian critics who happened to stumble across it.

        Good point. That’s probably why, in the part you’re quoting, keranih asked for said target audience to share their perspective by explaining said effect.

        Snark aside—you’re her target audience, right? What’s your read on the effect Grenell wants to have on you?

        • Guy in TN says:

          For what its worth, keranih’s phrasing was ambiguous:

          I have two questions – first, for those of a left-leaning perspective, please explain what effect this column is *supposed* to have.

          I’m unclear if this means “Leftists, please explain what effect this is supposed to have [on me]”, or “Leftists, please explain what effect this is supposed to have [on you]”.

          All that aside, I think the intended effects of the article are as follows:
          1. Inform the reader that political alliances don’t fall easily along gender lines, and that many women support GOP policies. “The gender gap in politics is really a color line” is contrary to some media narratives being pushed.

          2. Provide a possible rationale for why so many women are declining to vote for the party that emphasis their concerns (racial identity politics)

          2. Encourage her readers to consider the real-world impacts of white women voting GOP, and to not treat this decision as merely an innocent “preference”.

          The NYT probably published this because its timely, interesting, cathartic, and a rallying cry. Of course, it relies on a hefty pile of political and philosophical priors to make any sense at all. But if you are a regular NYT reader, especially a reader of her columns, you probably share a lot of these assumptions, so there’s no need to write a lengthy political dissertation that starts at square one.

          • albatross11 says:

            FWIW, I linked to this op-ed in the last open thread.

            It’s interesting to me that it’s acceptable to publish this (or the op-ed I linked to before about how it’s okay for women to hate men), but would be absolutely unacceptable (career ending for the editors of the newspaper) to publish exactly the same formal argument, but with the sides swapped. That is, an op-ed expressing anger at men who didn’t support Kavenaugh as “gender traitors” would absolutely never have been acceptable. And one that expressed anger at single white women for voting Democratic instead of Republican as “race traitors” would have probably caused a riot in the newsroom the next day.

            Now, I’m not arguing that we’d be better off with more appeals to let your identity override your beliefs and intellect. I *am* pointing out that this is the sort of article that, if written from the other side, would be seen by approximately 100% of America as offensive and horrible. But since it’s cheering for the right side and bashing the right targets, it’s all okay.

          • Guy in TN says:

            That is, an op-ed expressing anger at men who didn’t support Kavenaugh as “gender traitors” would absolutely never have been acceptable. And one that expressed anger at single white women for voting Democratic instead of Republican as “race traitors” would have probably caused a riot in the newsroom the next day.

            Yes, it would be very surprising to see white or male identity politics in the NYT. But there are good reasons why not all identity politics are given equal social footing. Its the same reason why there’s no White History Month, or why affirmative action doesn’t count for men (despite attending college at lower rates).

            Its because of the general social consensus (among non-conservatives) that men and whites are the power-holders in the society, and thus white or male identity politics only reinforces an unequal and unjust social hierarchy. Hence it is viewed as “offensive and horrible”.

            You can certainly disagree with this claim of unequal power (or disagree that social hierarchies are unjust), and a lot of people do. Rejecting these claims is one of the central features of conservative discourse. But the NYT (and most major publications) don’t disagree with these claims, so if you’re looking for the reason why white identity politics aren’t in the NYT, that’s it in a nutshell.

          • Jacobethan says:

            2. Encourage her readers to consider the real-world impacts of white women voting GOP, and to not treat this decision as merely an innocent “preference”.

            I apologize if I’m misreading or over-reading here, but I feel like I see variations on this kind of formulation more and more lately, and I find them both curious and disturbing.

            I would’ve thought it was obvious that in a democracy with competitive politics the whole point of having elections is to present voters with a choice between alternatives with real content and consequence. And also obvious that for democracy to be a functioning system rather than an ad hoc truce in a domestic cold war those on opposite sides of a closely decided question need to find ways of making social peace.

            There’s something quite chilling about an attitude that says, in effect, “Oh, it’s alright if you want to vote for the outgroup-party so long as it’s just a harmless form of symbolic expression that means nothing in practice, but as soon as there are ‘real-world impacts,’ well then I really think it’s time we stopped this charade and got the troops back in line.”

          • Guy in TN says:

            You are not misreading or overreading. Your understanding is accurate.

            We’re in a cold civil war, or at least in the build-up phase.

          • albatross11 says:

            Guy in TN: Can you unpack that? What do you mean by a “cold civil war?”

          • albatross11 says:

            I think one way to read the op-ed is that a lot of partisans and political operatives see the world in terms of gender/race/ethnic alliances. Thus:

            a. Some Democrats feel betrayed when members of groups they think are theirs vote or support the other party.

            b. Some Democrats would very much like to split white women off from the Republican party, and appeals to identity and team spirit and guilt for the sins of white women are all useful tools to do this.

          • Brad says:

            The tax bill is a good example. The SALT provisions look to have been included out of pure spite.

            We aren’t at the point of killing each other but enacting policy for the purpose of hurting the outgroup is getting there.

            I guess “bake the cake” laws/decisions look similar from the other side. (I’d quibble with that, but perception matters a lot here.)

          • quanta413 says:

            The GOP adjusted a lot of other tax rules and doubled the standard deduction last time I checked. Every graph I saw of the estimated effect on people’s taxes showed the tax reform was mostly a wash as net effect on personal income taxes paid.

            If Republicans taxing rich people roughly the same amount as before but in a different way is political warfare, all is lost.

            Policy to hurt an outgroup is something like segregation law or apartheid. Not getting less of a tax break than you felt entitled to.

          • Matt M says:

            The SALT provisions look to have been included out of pure spite.

            I think there’s a very legitimate philosophical debate to be had over the fact that states who desire to have high taxes should be made to suffer the full consequences of those decisions. That there is no particular reason why the federal government should “bail out” NY taxpayers who themselves voted for the high taxes. If CA and NY residents are upset about this change increasing their taxes, they can always vote for lower taxes. The fact that they are unwilling to do so speaks volumes.

            Although I will grant you that the right made no real attempt to articulate this position or actually engage in debate on this, so whatever.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @albatross11
            It’s a little lengthy, but…

            I think “cold civil war” its a good way of looking at the general zeitgeist in US politics. The reasons can be traced back to the political ideology spectrum changing from a bell curve, to ever sharpening double-peaks over the last 20 years. That is, where before you had “average Americans” and extremists, now the concept of the “average American” is essentially non-existent.

            This fundamentally changes politics. Firing up the base becomes the winning strategy, and appealing to the fence-sitters becomes the losing one. And once elected, the incentives shift from trying to find “middle ground” to trying to win a decisive legislative victory.

            This isn’t to blame the politicians, they are just responding to incentives. Their increasing brinkmanship, and “work-to-rule” in the form of abolishing social norms that are not codified into law, are just responses to being in a situation where if you lose, the stakes are enormous. All tactics get put on the table, when everything is on the line.

            The reason why I call it a “civil war” is because a lot of people are realizing that their biggest threat doesn’t come from people overseas, but from their fellow citizens. And I know, “aha, you’re just describing “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup” yes, but sometimes its true that your outgroup is your biggest threat. Slaves were correct to fear and hate slave-owners. Jews were correct to fear and hate Nazis. With the transition to a double-peaked ideological bell curve, “my biggest enemy is the other side” is becoming more accurate every year.

            So in reference to the op-ed, where before voting for the other side would elicit a response like “well, that moves the needle in a direction I don’t like, but we’re all Americans here…”, due to the rising stakes and higher polarization, now the response is “What you did is an attack against everything I believe in. I should treat you like an sworn enemy”. And I’m not sure they are incorrect to feel that way.

            A lot of the hand-wringing about this behavior, is essentially over people responding rationally to an environment of increased political polarization. So unless someone comes up with a strategy to get back to a single-peak bell curve, this is just the world we live in, as “disturbing” and “chilling” as it is.

          • Matt M says:

            I don’t know that “civil war” is the appropriate term but in general I think your post is correct.

            I certainly fear Antifa a lot more than I fear ISIS or North Korea or Iran or Asad or even Putin. Both in the “these people will enact political change I oppose” sense and in the “these people will hurt or possibly even kill me” sense.

          • Brad says:

            Although I will grant you that the right made no real attempt to articulate this position or actually engage in debate on this, so whatever.

            In constitutional law there’s something called the “rational basis test”. Not only will any reasonable explanation from the parties do, but if the parties don’t offer anything the judge is supposed to try to come up with any plausible explanation himself. If there is anything that is barely reasonable it is constitutional. Needless to say it is a test designed to avoid anything ever being found discriminatory.

          • johnstewart says:

            @albatross11

            I saw your post the other day (https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/10/04/open-thread-111-75/#comment-675904) about this NYT op-ed, and I’ve been ruminating over it. It struck me as a very very strong reaction compared to how I reacted; so much so that I found this post, and re-read the op-ed. I’m trying to understand better your strong, and my weak, reaction to it.

            I think concepts like “traitor to your gender” or “traitor to your race” are moral obscenities.

            On some level, I agree with you. And I think the Democratic Party’s strategy with identity politics is foolish and ineffective, as was shown with Trump’s election.

            And, yes, I concur that if this op-ed was written with “men” instead of “women”, it would have been almost universally condemned.

            However, consider the perspective of the author. She sees a political party, Republican Party, which is systematically anti-woman. Against reproductive rights. Supporting a presidential candidate who is on tape bragging about committing sexual assault. Pushing through a Supreme Court candidate without investigating credible claims of sexual assault against him. It is a political party which is strongly supporting one gender over the other.

            Seeing systematic discrimination against a class of people, why is it at all inflammatory to suggest that those in that class are traitors if they support the party that is continuing the oppression?

            Putting it in another perspective, would you take a similar position about black people in 1957? Would it have been a moral obscenity to call a black person a traitor to his race if he supported Strom Thurmond after he filibustered against the Civil Rights Act?

            Disagreeing with that is one thing. Saying it is a moral obscenity is another.

          • Matt M says:

            This is a bad comparison.

            I know that it’s weak to appeal to a popularity contest, but the overwhelming majority of blacks would have vehemently opposed Strom Thurmond.

            Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of Women support Republicans.

            It seems a little sketchy for you to definitively declare that a political party supported by tens of millions of women is clearly and obviously anti-woman. The fact that not all women have identical values, and may even have opposing ones, is worth considering.

          • johnstewart says:

            It seems a little sketchy for you to definitively declare that a political party supported by tens of millions of women is clearly and obviously anti-woman. The fact that not all women have identical values, and may even have opposing ones, is worth considering.

            I didn’t say that at all. I said the author of the article said that, and was an understandable reason for the author to believe supporting that party was wrong, and a reason to call them “traitors”.

            I don’t personally feel so strongly, but I do strongly believe the Republican party supports policies which appear to go against the interests of women.

            (And I was very much surprised that so many white women voted for an admitted sex criminal over a, you know, woman.)

            I’m trying to understand why albatross11 feels so strongly that this op-ed is a moral obscenity, not argue whether or not the Republicans are anti-woman. My point was that it doesn’t seem hard to see why the author would feel so.

          • Matt M says:

            *A woman who is married to a much more brazen and obvious sex criminal, and whose position on the matter is “All of my husband’s accusers are lying whores.”

  23. Aapje says:

    A report was published on the (Dutch) extreme right by the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service. Some things they noticed:
    – Neo-nazis have been marginalized and the mainstream is anti-Islam and anti-immigrant (where immigrants are often seen as all being Muslim), not anti-Jewish
    – After a decline, there is a small resurgence
    – The extreme right is attracting more women
    – There is a lot of online activity, but fairly little organized activity offline
    – Dutch extremists travel abroad for meetings & protests, but not really the other way around. So the Dutch extreme right are followers, not leaders.
    – There is little violence, unlike in Germany. However, online speech is becoming more aggressive and inciting.
    – Traditionally, antifa sought out right extremists. However, the extreme right is increasingly targeting antifa as well as ‘anti-colonial’ and ‘anti-racist’ groups, although rarely violently (unlike antifa).
    – They expect the extreme right to grow or decline based the developments that make more people become upset at Muslims, like terrorist attacks.

  24. Baeraad says:

    Hmm, I’d actually gotten the impression that there had been a recent influx of leftists here, since there seemed to be more spirited defenses of the liberal party line than there used to be. Not that that necessarily means that they’re not still in a minority, I guess, only that I’ve felt like SSC conventional wisdom gets questioned more than it did for a while.

    Well, I’m quite leftist in my own way and I’m still here, for what it’s worth… though I rarely feel like I have much to contribute beyond principled objections, and I’m not sure if those are worth much. I mean, there are a lot of times when I feel like replying with some variation of, “yeah, except life should not be and does not have to be a painful, dehumanising struggle for personal and collective advancement!” – but if I did, the poster I replied to could just say, “yes, it damn well should!” and that would essentially checkmate me. So I usually don’t bother.

    I still find this site to be a good source of information, though. Back when the whole Trump-is-putting-children-in-cages thing was in the news, this was the only place where I managed to find an explanation of just what Trump was doing, why he was doing it and why he was claiming that it wasn’t his fault. And because I got that explanation, I could feel secure that yes, Trump was in fact being a malicious buffoon, whereas if I’d relied on the media frenzy about it I would have had to wonder if perhaps I was missing something.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Back when the whole Trump-is-putting-children-in-cages thing was in the news, this was the only place where I managed to find an explanation of just what Trump was doing, why he was doing it and why he was claiming that it wasn’t his fault.

      Just out of curiosity, what was your impression of the “zeitgeist” of the comments’ section on the issue, regardless of what your conclusion was?

      • Baeraad says:

        You mean here, or elsewhere?

        Here, I eventually arrived at the impression that the illegal immigration situation is such that it’s necessary to either separate children from their parents, imprison children alongside their parents, or release them both pending trial and accept that a significant percentage of them will take the chance to make a run for it. Obama opted for the third option; Trump opted for the first (and later switched to the second in response to the general outcry).

        There was a lot of people claiming that Trump did just the right thing, which I consider to be a wrong-headed view (it sounds to me like Obama pretty much definitely chose the lesser of three evils; conversely, Trump’s behaviour is consistent with my overall impression of him as artless, heartless and caring solely about proving that how big his dick is), but everyone was more or less in agreement that those were the facts.

        Elsewhere it was pretty much just, “Trump is putting children in cages! Because he’s EVIL!!! And also a racist.”

        • David Speyer says:

          Do you follow Dara Lind at Vox? Two months before the child separation story hit the news, she had a clear explainer of the history and nature of “Catch and Release” and when the child separation story boomed she did Vox’s explainer on it.

          It is obvious that these pieces are written by someone who doesn’t care about stopping unauthorized immigrants entering the US. But I was pretty obsessed with this story last summer, and I thought Lind was by far the best at getting the facts and their causes right.

  25. WashedOut says:

    I am in the process of de-Google-ing my life in as many aspects as I can. I Started with browsers – have been using Brave for over 6 months now without issue – and will soon ditch all my gmail accounts (except a burner used for Youtube) and remove the last of my stuff from cloud storage.

    Has anyone else been through this process and could share some recommendations and alternatives that worked out well? One resource i’m planning to use is the Free Software Foundation website, but it looks like there could be a lot more out there than what the FSF is willing to endorse, but which would fit my needs.

    • Matt M says:

      I haven’t yet – but I’ve thought about it and would like to. Keep me posted as to how it goes?

    • pontifex says:

      Firefox, DuckDuckGo, iPhone, FastMail. You have to pay for the last two, but it’s well worth it. Get your own domain name for email.

      • WashedOut says:

        iPhone

        I’m currently using a Samsung S8 (Android), so this seems like a step sideways and probably backwards in terms of privacy and individual agency. Am I missing something?

        • pontifex says:

          Android sends a ton of stuff to Google, though. For example, your location. Chrome is basically spyware at this point.

          So there really is no option for avoiding the creepy tracking other than iPhone, or hacked Android ROMs. But nobody has the time to maintain their own hacked Android ROMs, and nobody wants to trust KewlDude666’s version from a random website.

          Don’t trust Google.

          • Nornagest says:

            I trust Apple more than Google to take its commitments to data privacy seriously, and not to collect too much gratuitous tracking data. But on the other hand I trust Google’s cybersecurity chops more than Apple’s. So it’s really a question of what your threat model is.

      • 10240 says:

        Why would you buy a device such that, after you’ve bought it for loads of money, its manufacturer decides what applications you may or may not run on it?

        • pontifex says:

          Why would you buy a device that tracks everywhere you go, everything you do, and everything you look at, and reports back to Google?

          Why do you care so much about running arbitrary software, when you can do that on your laptop, or via Javascript that a website delivers?

          We all choose from the best of a bunch of non-ideal alternatives.

    • albatross11 says:

      +1 on Brave, which seems to be working pretty well for me. Though there are definitely sites that just break, so I keep another browser up to date and ready to use when I need them.

  26. Brett says:

    What did everyone think of that news about a Neptune-sized moon? They put it through some pretty rigorous tests, although of course they want to keep on doing that for certain. David Kipping (the lead on it) pointed to some interesting modeling that suggests that the most likely moon mass for Jovian-style gas giants is around one-thousandth the mass of their parent planet, which in Jupiter’s case would be around 30% the mass of Earth (meaning Jupiter’s moons would actually be unusually low mass).

    But there would be larger moons, including Earth-mass and beyond (and if the Jovian planet is three times the mass of Jupiter, then its moons would most likely be Earth-mass or close). A small percentage of them would be closer to one-hundredth the mass of the parent planet, which in the case of the planet they studied in question would mean a moon with nine times the mass of Earth. A gas dwarf moon, or sub-Neptunian.

    I’m still skeptical that Earth-sized moons would be really habitable around gas giants, with the potential damage from tidal heating, from its radiation belts, from the greater impact rate (that gas giant will draw in comets and asteroids from all over), and from the long day/night cycle.

    • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

      I have no thoughts on this, being all-but-totally ignorant of astronomy, but I did find this post interesting to read.

    • andrewflicker says:

      If “habitable” includes ocean worlds, it might still work. Water is an excellent radiation shield, the tidal heating could be a plus, and impacts won’t matter as much since no land-fall means no giant dust cloud blocking out the starlight.

      • engleberg says:

        If ‘ocean worlds’ include a watery version of Niven’s Smoke Ring, it would be a great place for a waterslide park.

  27. idontknow131647093 says:

    Regarding specifically Conquest’s 2nd law aka Osullivan’s Law:

    Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

    It is best understood in context. Of the people who used it, most typically to discuss things like the Ford Foundation being to the left of Henry Ford.

    Two explanations were floated for this, initially. The first was that leftism is like entropy and anytime an institution becomes beleaguered and aimless, it will become leftist. That explanation does not fit well with comment sections moving right. The second idea was that organizations drift leftward through intolerance. That is, a free market conservative working at a charity might see merit in hiring a very qualified leftist, but the leftist does not have such feelings. In this paradigm leftism is seen as a qualification. In addition to charities like the Ford Foundation, Amnesty International, etc this is also commonly thought to be what happened in academia starting in the postwar period. This explanation that leftward drift is explicitly caused by exclusion would be supportive of a rightward drift in uncontrolled spaces.

    That all said, I’m not sure I believe in the statistical validity of any of these “laws”

  28. bean says:

    At Naval Gazing: The tale of the Washington Naval Treaty, which was a major influence on battleship design after 1921.

    I’d say that as a defense policy matter, this relates to the thread title, but the Pentagon wasn’t due to be built for another two decades. I could have fixed that if Scott had given me a heads-up.

    • bean says:

      Also, it’s time for Naval Gazing’s own Open Thread.

    • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

      the Pentagon wasn’t due to be built for another two decades. I could have fixed that if Scott had given me a heads-up.

      When bean travels back in time and arranges to have the Pentagon constructed 20 years ahead of time in pursuit of a pun, I will admit that I am impressed.

    • Evan Þ says:

      You mentioned in a footnote how the Treaty killed Britain’s private battleship construction industry – how much do you think that hurt the Royal Navy in the long term? If it’d still been around (whether because construction was continued at a reduced rate or some other reason), would it have made an appreciable difference in WWII?

      • bean says:

        It would have helped some, because they wouldn’t have seen the delays that they did in building a lot of their ships, due to a lack of yard capacity and particularly the special skills necessary for things like turrets. In some ways a more important factor would have been the fact that the battlefleet would have been more modern, with fewer QEs and Rs about. The British lost a lot of shipyards and armament concerns in the 20s and 30s, and though I just got a book on this, I don’t think it has a simple list I can pull from.

    • Lambert says:

      Not sure if you’re still keeping up with this OT, but the CAPTCHA image doesn’t load for me.

  29. ManyCookies says:

    so I want to be explicit that I’m practicing affirmative action for leftist commenters.

    Woo hoo! Door’s open boys!

    That reverse Conquest’s Law especially applies for Youtube videos. Some Last Week Tonight video will be like 2:1 up/downs with a shitshow in the comments, but look at Ben Shapiro videos and they’re at 15:1 up/downs and right-wing harmony in the comments. I gotta say it’s a pretty embarassing performance, we’re letting the comments of a political video on fucking Youtube not be an acrimonious shitstorm. Did we all get stranded on Reddit or something?

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I gotta say it’s a pretty embarassing performance, we’re letting the comments of a political video on fucking Youtube not be an acrimonious shitstorm.

      I feel like this could be a sequel to the “someone is wrong on the internet” xkcd comic.

      “Come to bed.”

      “I can’t! Someplace on the internet is being nice.”

  30. Anonymous Bosch says:

    The reason for the reversal of Conquest’s law is because SSC and spaces like it value a very broad Overton window in which no topics are inherently off-limits, and a logical, empirical bent to the discussion of these topics. These are not necessarily *bad* things. But in practice, they lead to what any meme-wise person recognizes as the Calm Hitler problem. One reason is what Scott has called “the witch problem” of people pushed out by other sites’ Overton windows concentrating here. Another is that people inevitably conflate a comment’s “correct-ness” in the sense that it won’t get you banned and generate fruitful discussion with “correct-ness” in the objective sense. Another is that negative association with emotional reactions bends discussion of systems against those who most keenly suffer from them. Lefties tend to be big on tearing down hierarchies, while righties tend to view them as either Chesterton fences or actively good things (this applies to both meritocratic capitalists and will-to-power reactionaries).

    Another (to use specific examples) is that while Scott and most commenters are consequentialist, many people are unwilling to come out and state, for example, that people’s utility should be worth less based on nationality or genetic distance, which leads to a lot of implausible and off-putting fish stories about, for example, refugee policy, because the utility gains to migrants are so massive you need a mechanism that over-weights a .001 reduction in average national IQ to avoid saying “I just don’t see why I should care” even though the latter would get to the crux quicker.

    I do not think the solution is either a narrowing of the Overton window or affirmative action for lefties. I’m undecided on what it *could* be, but it probably isn’t either of those.

    (This comment posted, then appeared to un-post as I was editing it. I refreshed to check, but apologies if it ends up here twice. Delete that one, not this one.)

    EDIT: Unrelated, but if “Freddie” means who I think it does they should really not be posting here, or anywhere, consistent with previously stated commitments.

    • engleberg says:

      Re: implausible and off-putting fish stories about, for example, refugee policy-

      High immigration, supply and demand lowers wages, employers rule employees schooled- fishy?

      • Aapje says:

        @engleberg

        I think that the point was basically that the YIMBY’s are right: the gain for newcomers is bigger than the loss for the oldtimers. So then utilitarianism would demand making the oldtimers accept a loss for the benefit of the newcomers.

        However, from my perspective this argument ignores that humans are not actually utilitarian at heart and if you try to force them to be, they will rebel. So I think that utilitarianism is not a realistic option.

      • If your perspective is utilitarianism, the gain to the immigrants is much larger than the loss to the low wage workers who they are directly competing with.

        If your perspective is egalitarianism, the prospective immigrants are mostly much poorer than the American poor, so benefiting the former at the expense of the latter results in a more equal world.

        • engleberg says:

          Seven billion people on Earth won’t improve their lives because a few tens of millions get to America. Wage earners in America have lower wages because of the fifty year bipartisan consensus to attain lower wages by mass immigration.

          • Seven billion won’t. Some tens of millions will.

          • engleberg says:

            Tens of millions gain, employers gain, employees pay for it.

          • Employers are mostly in a competitive market, so if labor gets less expensive output goods get less expensive too.

            Immigrants gain, consumers gain qua consumers, domestic workers gain or lose qua workers according to whether immigrant workers are mostly a substitute or mostly a complement to their labor.

          • hls2003 says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            Immigrants gain, consumers gain qua consumers, domestic workers gain or lose qua workers according to whether immigrant workers are mostly a substitute or mostly a complement to their labor.

            With regard to the above, I am not an economist, so I would be interested if there is an easy (or complicated, I guess) answer to the following:

            Money has diminishing marginal utility, which I’ve always heard as the argument for a graduated income tax. A head tax of $100, or even a flat tax of 1%, hurts the man with $10,000 much more than the man with $100,000. Lower-income folks consume a larger portion of their income, their consumption is more urgent, etc. Standard stuff.

            I would assume this same phenomenon would affect the benefits-of-immigration debate. Let’s take the immigrants themselves out of it for a moment – I realize that’s not a strictly utilitarian position (I’m not one anyway) but I’m specifically more interested in the question of allocation of benefits amongst the native citizens, who are presumably the ones deciding whether or not to admit the immigrants. The typical model I have seen is that yes, immigrants might lower wages in certain populations where they compete, but everyone gains by having cheaper consumer goods. That seems to be at least part of what you’re describing above.

            But if “consumers gain qua consumers” then the benefits will be distributed more heavily to heavier consumers – I gain twice as much from a price reduction in a product if I buy two of them instead of one. Heavier consumers will have higher income, one would assume. Furthermore, if “domestic workers [may] lose qua workers [if] immigrant workers are mostly a substitute… to their labor”, then you may have a situation where the lower-income domestic workers lose even more capacity to gain the consumption benefits by seeing reductions in their income.

            It seems apparent that an open-borders position would primarily attract immigrants who, in the current state of play, are mostly lower-skilled, and would thus be most likely to compete with domestic lower-skilled (and thus lower-income) workers.

            But even if one postulates equal competition with higher-skilled workers, the diminishing marginal utility issue suggests that lower-income workers will fare worse. Even if their loss is the same, they cannot consume enough of the benefits to make up for it. Conversely, if you simply suggest that competition will slide people down a rung on the ladder, it seems clearly worse to slide from “minimum wage” to “zero” than “100K” to “80K”, even if the absolute loss is (unexpectedly) equal or greater for the higher-income person.

            I realize we’ve removed the immigrant benefits from the equation, but if one is asking citizens to decide amongst themselves who will become worse off, doesn’t it make open borders a tough sell to the lower-income folks?

          • but if one is asking citizens to decide amongst themselves who will become worse off, doesn’t it make open borders a tough sell to the lower-income folks?

            Very possibly. It’s complicated for a number of reasons.

            1. The immigrants are a substitute for some low income workers, a complement for others. Most obviously, most of the current lower-income workers are fluent speakers of English, most of the immigrants will not be. That opens up possibilities for the former to work with the latter. This is particularly relevant for current Hispanics, many of whom are conveniently bilingual in English and the language many of the immigrants will speak. I already observe the pattern among current immigrants, where the young members of the family provide the interface with the non-Spanish speaking employer.

            2. One of the things people care about is status, and to the extent that the immigrants are coming in at the bottom, that lifts the relative status of those currently near the bottom.

            3. To a significant degree, low skill labor is a substitute for capital–if you can’t hire hard working people cheap you may replace them with machines, possibly machines operated by (many fewer) high skill people. So although I would expect the biggest negative effect to be on the low end of the labor market, even low skill immigrants are also competing with capital and high skill workers to some degree.

            In summary, I wouldn’t be astonished if open immigration made the bottom one percent of workers (roughly the percentage currently at or below minimum wage) worse off, wouldn’t be astonished if it didn’t.

            And, of course, it is very much raising the income of a large number of people currently much poorer than the bottom of the American distribution.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            Slight additional point, correct me if I’m wrong but –

            Lower-income folks consume a larger portion of their income, their consumption is more urgent, etc. Standard stuff.

            That makes sense for your reducing-their-income-hurts-them-more point, but shouldn’t it also mean that reducing the cost of consumer goods helps them more? Mathematically in dollars you’re right that the person who buys more saves more (dollars) from the lower prices, but the person whose consumption function is very clearly constrained may benefit more, strictly speaking, because the additional things they are able to get (whether consumption goods or just having-any-savings-at-all) are more valuable to them.

            Obviously whether that’s a net benefit to them or not depends on how much their wages drop versus the price of consumption goods which you already covered, but I still thought it was a piece both of you were missing.

          • engleberg says:

            Say you are 40-55, making 18 an hour, 50K annual with some overtime, middle class in the Midwest outside big cities. You get laid off and ordered to train your H1-B replacement or lose your benefits. You have a choice of getting a job that pays 10$ an hour or taking an impoverished early retirement. Your status has not risen, nor has that of your family. But donor party R and the whole D party agree you can suck it.

          • 10240 says:

            But even if one postulates equal competition with higher-skilled workers, the diminishing marginal utility issue suggests that lower-income workers will fare worse. Even if their loss is the same, they cannot consume enough of the benefits to make up for it.

            If we assume that immigrant’s skills are distributed the same as those of native citizens, the loss of lower-income workers from salary reduction is proportionately less than that of higher-income workers, just like their gain from lower prices — both the loss and the gain being proportional to one’s income. So no one’s salary changes in real terms. Actually it’s quite possible that there is no reduction to wages and prices in nominal terms either: while immigrants compete for jobs, they also consume and compete for goods, and thus indirectly create demand for labor.

            Say you are 40-55, making 18 an hour, 50K annual with some overtime, middle class in the Midwest outside big cities. You get laid off and ordered to train your H1-B replacement or lose your benefits. You have a choice of getting a job that pays 10$ an hour or taking an impoverished early retirement.

            It’s not realistic that immigration causes a 45% reduction in the market value of your work, especially suddenly. Citation needed. It’s possible that the imperfect nature of the labor market occasionally results in someone’s salary getting significantly reduced after a job change, but that’s not an average situation and not primarily caused by immigration. A gradual, much slower decrease in the market-clearing wage for your work is possible (though stagnation at worst is more likely), and immigration may contribute it, but nothing in the supply and demand for either labor or goods change that drastically.

            I also don’t see why they would replace you with an immigrant rather than require you to take a salary cut if you want to keep your job — which, again, would be much smaller than 45%.

          • Plumber says:

            “If we assume that immigrant’s skills are distributed the same as those of native citizens….”

            @10240,

            Why would an employer/manager assume that?

            Just as a college diploma is signalling a certain amount of ability so that now that they’re more college graduates employers are demanding diplomas to apply for jobs that didn’t used to require diplomas, so to does just being here signal that an immigrant was ambitious, clever, and healthy enough to get themselves here in the first place.

          • 10240 says:

            @Plumber I don’t think imigrants’ skills have the same distribution as the native population, I was answering to a hypothetical model of hls2003.

        • engleberg says:

          10240- I understand you to be saying workers don’t get laid off and told to train H1-B replacements in significant numbers.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            I have a canned angry rant about a decade of shameless and ubiquitous H1B fraud that mostly came to an abrupt halt for no apparent reason right around mid November of 2016.

            And I have more stories about hilariously panic-y cover-ups of H1B recordkeeping that started right about that same time.

            I changed employers soon after that time, and so now have no direct knowledge of any specific evidence

  31. Eponymous says:

    In some weird reverse of Conquest’s Law, any comment section that isn’t explicitly left-wing tends to get more right-wing over time. I am trying to push against this and keep things balanced

    I haven’t noticed such a tendency, nor noticed it on this blog (though I wouldn’t necessarily notice if such a trend were true). However, if it is true than I suggest an alternative explanation: the content of the blog is quite congenial to right-leaning readers.

    I realize that Scott identifies as non-right; but he takes a lot of right-wing positions, especially by internet standards, and especially on “hot” topics. For example, he ranges from skeptical of to strongly opposed to the “social justice” narrative, broadly construed; he has libertarian views on many issues; he comes down on the nature side of the nature/nurture debate; he’s a strong advocate of free speech; he is concerned about left-wing social media mobs; he’s open to Chesterton fence style arguments that underlie a generally conservative reasoning style.

    Moreover, where he doesn’t agree with conservative positions, he tends to be willing to engage with them in a very charitable way. When he discusses a topic, he presents both sides, often giving a strong presentation of the “conservative” viewpoint. All this is in stark contrast with most of what you find in “blue tribe” internet circles these days. Naturally, conservative commenters feel quite at home here.

    • Matt M says:

      “Skeptical of social justice” is not a right-wing position, it’s a neutral position.

      The right wing position is to oppose and hate “social justice” and consider it an elaborate front for communism. Scott does not do that.

      I’m a right winger and I don’t consider Scott a fellow traveler. I think he’s the closest thing to “neutral” I’ve ever encountered on the Internet. The fact that a whole lot of people map that to “right wing” is nuts.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I model Scott as left libertarian, but with the uncanny ability to strive for and often achieve neutrality.

        He is definitely not a Trumpist.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          He is not a Trumpist.

          But he does not want to make anti-Trump arguments.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Why would he, though? There’s no dearth of anti-Trump thinkpieces all over the interwebs.

            Does Scott’s audience need more convincing to be anti-Trump? I’m right about the only Trumpist here. Unless Scott’s going to shift the focus of his blog to be “Hey Conrad, You’re Wrong” then what’s the point?

          • Brad says:

            I don’t think that’s true, at least if we take Trumpist to mean voted for Trump or intend to vote for him next time. And probably not even if we use a definition that incorporates enthusiasm. What about—just off the top of my head—Matt M? LMS? The Nybbler?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Why would he, though?

            Given that we know that the bearing of our craft is heading out of the safe channel, why bother figuring out how close we are to the shoals?

          • David Shaffer says:

            He’s made plenty of anti-Trump arguments, just not for a while. Presumably he said his piece, and will say more if there is more to say.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But you don’t need to convince them that Trump is bad. They already think that. You need to convince them that the Democrats are not worse.

            I could be wrong, and perhaps they can chime in, but I think they would need more of a redemption of their opinions of the Democrats rather than further denigration of Trump. I doubt there’s anything Scott can say awful about Trump they haven’t already heard.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I did not vote for Trump. I support some of his policies (tax cuts, ending race-based preferences), oppose others (tariffs, drug enforcement) and have mixed views on his big one, immigration. I do like his confrontational style and find his idiocy on Twitter to be more amusing than horrifying.

          • albatross11 says:

            I guess I’m on the right for SSC, but I’m pretty horrified by Trump. I didn’t and won’t vote for him. I think some of his criticisms of the ruling class consensus[1] during the campaign were broadly right, but don’t remotely trust him to come up with anything better.

            [1] What Sailer calls “Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world.”

          • quanta413 says:

            I’m also on the right for SSC, but I didn’t vote for Trump and won’t unless the Democrats pick up necromancy, resurrect zombie Stalin, and make him their candidate. And even then, I’ll probably just stay home which I might have done anyways depending on who the libertarian candidate is and any local and state elections. I figure opposing Stalin in the past didn’t work out so well, why risk it now…

            Trump’s politics are incoherent, and it’s not obvious he has much of a preference besides advertising himself. His administration would not function if not for the mass of stodgy regular Republicans filling it up. I’ve found his style obnoxious since I saw a clip of the apprentice. I prefer not to take giant gambles with the power structure even though I might find that structure contemptible. Objectively, it’s a lot easier for things to get worse due to significant political change than to get better.

            I agree with albatross11 that a lot of elite consensus is off (I mean things largely agreed upon by Democrats and Republicans up until Trump won and some Republicans started peeling off). I would go further and say a lot of their ideas about domestic policy are downright stupid and their ideas about foreign policy are often evil (in effect, not intent; I don’t really care much about intent). But doubling down with a new type of stupid isn’t going to improve anything.

            But I don’t spend much time complaining about Trump here, because it’s on the news 24/7. Every thing important or unimportant related or unrelated must somehow be related to Trump. I’ve let my NYT subscription expire after my reading trailed off so much.

      • 10240 says:

        “Skeptical” is often used as a euphemism for “disagrees with” or “opposes”, even if literally it would mean something more undecided.

  32. johan_larson says:

    Are there any foods that are more convenient to eat with chopsticks than with any other utensil, set of utensils, or your hands?

    I can’t think of one.

    Hands: best choice for burgers.
    Spoon: best choice for soup.
    Fork: best choice for stir-fry.
    Knife and fork: best for choice for steak.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I assume that by “best” you’re referring to time-to-clear; east asian plating is often optimized for chopsticks, and as such chopsticks offer the “best” fit in many cases in terms of proper aesthetic, pacing, and eating with condiments/side dishes.

      Also, tempura and seaweed salad are probably less edible with anything else; additionally, my girlfriend and I eat tortellini with chopsticks and that works really well for us. In general, small bits of food with sauce seem well-suited.

    • cassander says:

      I find that it’s easier to eat sushi with chopsticks than any other utensil, but that’s the only one.

      • Brad says:

        Once I learned it was acceptable to eat sushi with my hands, I never looked back.

        • Lillian says:

          Tried that once, felt like an uncouth uncivilized barbarian, got soy sauce everywhere, don’t care to repeat the experience. At least not in public or with company. Home alone is a different matter, but my habits while away from other humans are best not discussed.

        • Nick says:

          The last time I used chopsticks, which was six months or so ago, I was sorta successful with the sushi and hilariously unsuccessful with anything else. I caved and asked for a fork.

        • dodrian says:

          I would agree with you for what I would call minimalist [real? Japanese-style?] sushi, which is just raw fish, rice, and maybe wasabi and/or seaweed paper, but I wouldn’t dare eat ‘American-style’ sushi with my hands. I’m talking about sushi with many types of fish, vegetables, multiple sauces, and ‘crunchy bits’ sprinkled on top, leading to something like this tasty abomination. OK, that one isn’t so bad because it’s still wrapped in seaweed paper, but there are plenty of restaurants around here which put the paper inside the roll. It’s chopsticks for those, please.

          • Brad says:

            Mostly I get nigiri which is the ball of rice with a slice of fish on top. If I do get a roll, I prefer hand rolls.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Thinly-cut slices of cured (or cooked) meats (or veggies) are easiest to eat with chopsticks, IMO. I’m not sure what the general term for such foods is — I could say “cold-cuts”, but that is too narrow.

    • WashedOut says:

      Convenience shouldn’t be the only metric worth considering. One of the good things about chopsticks is that they help moderate the pace of eating, by reducing both the mouthful size and rate of consumption. You also gain +1 Dexterity every 10 meals.

      But to answer your question, noodles and certain rice dishes (the ones where the rice is soft and clumped together). When used in combination with the traditional spoon, chopsticks are ideal for ramen.

    • quanta413 says:

      I much prefer chopsticks for eating hot pot.

      I think it also depends how much practice you have with your utensils; I find chopsticks roughly equally convenient to a fork for eating Chinese food. It’s varied over my life depending how often I was eating with chopsticks.

    • Evan Þ says:

      What makes you say a fork is the best choice for stir-fry? I’m an enthusiastic partisan of spoons, in that they let you scoop up rice as well as small chunks of meat without sacrificing either. Apparently this’s the usual Filipino practice; I adopted it from my friend who was raised there.

      Or, are we talking about the same sort of stir-fries? I almost always eat mine on top of a significant portion of rice.

      • johan_larson says:

        I find anything that comes in long strips hard to eat with a spoon. Stir-fry often contains things are long strips, particularly bean sprouts and sometimes strips of green pepper cut lengthwise.

        • Evan Þ says:

          I guess that’s the difference, then – my stir-fries usually don’t contain those; I chop my green peppers more finely and don’t use bean sprouts.

      • beleester says:

        Forks work just fine for rice, in my experience, and they also let you stab into larger pieces of food.

      • Gazeboist says:

        It definitely depends on what exactly you put into the stir-fry. I use a fork for my home-made stir-fries because I use fairly large chunks of meat, and I dice my onions, but with the more typical thin slices of meat and onion you get in a restaurant stir-fry I prefer chopsticks. I also happen to prefer to eat the meat and rice separately, despite serving them together, and I’ve never had a problem executing that strategy with either a fork or a pair of chopsticks.

        Definitely fork over chopsticks for (larger, dipped) dumplings, but they’re kind of a pain no matter what I’ve tried.

    • onyomi says:

      Noodles in soup.

      Yakiniku, shabu shabu, hot pot, and the like

      Sushi rolls and nigiri sushi (hands work just as well, but if you’re going to use a utensil, none function better than chopsticks); sashimi (gross to eat with hands, harder to pick up with a fork or spoon).

      Dumpling-like items like shumai, such as are served eating e.g. dimsum

      Any dish with food cut into medium-ish-sized chunks or strips (there is a lot of overlap here where a fork will work just as well or better, but some cases, such as with softer items that don’t take to spearing, but which are too big to scoop with a spoon, where chopsticks are ideal)

      Of course, I’m giving a bunch of examples of Asian food, but that’s obviously not a coincidence. There are reasons for the existence of chopstick besides eater convenience, though: stories vary, but some say that political leaders didn’t like their guests having sharp knives at the dinner table, others say it saves fuel to cut food into small, quickly-cooked chunks and strips that are then more easily picked up with sticks, and there’s also a Confucian idea that cutting and ripping one’s food at the table was uncivilized.

      Related interesting tidbit: supposedly there is a measurable change in the skulls of Europeans only 250 years ago but in many Chinese over 1000 years ago that may have resulted from the loss of the habit of ripping food with the teeth brought on by the widespread adoption of knives and forks/chopsticks and spoons.

    • lvlln says:

      I find chopsticks more convenient than forks for a lot of noodles. I haven’t tried spaghetti, and I imagine that might be a bit too heavy & slippery, but for something like ramen or yakisoba, I prefer chopsticks to forks.

      Most Korean side dish foods like bulgogi or kalbi are easier with chopsticks than fork and knife, I’d say. They’re structured on a plate such that stabbing them with a fork is ineffective and messy, because you’ll end up pushing the meat into other meat on the plate before you actually stab it through, whereas with chopsticks you can select the piece you want and pull it out without first pushing it into other food on the plate.

      • AG says:

        This is my experience. With forks, there’s a non-negligible risk of the food still sliding off, plopping back onto the bowl/plate and splashing sauce on the book I’m reading, or the stabbed piece just falls apart when I want to consume it in one piece.

        Really, though, is that chopsticks in their original setting (where food is served in a bowl, which is held close to the mouth) provide the functions of both fork and spoon. You can pick up individual pieces (fork), or you shovel the food up the edge of the bowl into your mouth (spoon). And does it much more effectively than sporks!
        You just drink the soup straight from the bowl.

        Also: barbeque. Note how the yakiniku/Korean BBQ model uses small bite-sized pieces (including steak), which doesn’t lend itself to being stabbed or scooped up off of the grill once it’s done, instead of using a chopstick pincer to pick up with.

        Ditto for leafy vegetables. The core premise of chopsticks is that it acts as its own backstop, so you can accomplish with one hand what you need two for with other utensils.

    • alveolartap says:

      I tried chopsticks with salad once and I’ve never looked back.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Cheetos. I don’t eat them but chopsticks means no orange stains on your fingers.

    • Hoopdawg says:

      I could ask the same question about forks.

      Obviously, there are cases where spoons and knives are useful and necessary, but I found chopsticks to be superior to forks for pretty much every food that the west traditionally eats with the latter. Simply put, clamping beats stabbing.

    • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

      Chopsticks are not more convenient for me but I do prefer them for exactly that reason – I eat too quickly otherwise and it’s nice to slow down and savour my food.

      I’ve also seen some research suggesting eating slowly boosts satiety and can therefore help with portion control & dieting. This isn’t something I’ve noticed particularly (and it’s based on nutrition research so grain of salt) but may be beneficial.

  33. angularangel says:

    I don’t think more permissive moderation is the right solution, here. I am one of the leftists who reads but doesn’t post, and it’s not because I’m afraid of Scott moderating my posts. I think ultimately, the problem is the usual evaporative cooling. The closest thing I can suggest is keeping people from being snipy at each other (On pretty much every occasion I’ve posted, I’ve been sniped at. At least one of those occasions was me responding to prior sniping, but it’s still not a dynamic conducive to further posting. -_-) and maybe encouraging people to take up the side in an argument with less people on it, so nobody feels like they’re facing down the barbarian hordes by themselves. :/

  34. Atlas says:

    4. In some weird reverse of Conquest’s Law, any comment section that isn’t explicitly left-wing tends to get more right-wing over time.

    As it happens, I actually wrote a fairly long comment about my observations of this exact phenomenon on various corners of the internet a few months ago. Caveat lector, I didn’t really do much research or editing, it’s just a bunch of random examples of and thoughts I had about this pattern.

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/04/26/open-thread-100-25-2/#comment-623468

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I might have forgotten and subconsciously plagiarized you, in which case sorry.

      • Atlas says:

        Oh, I wasn’t implying that it was at all likely that you had, to be clear. If anything, I’m gratified that you had the same (albeit minor) thought.

  35. Szemeredi says:

    When do we have the best understanding of a particular period?

    When should we expect to have the best understanding of the current day, for example? When did we have the best understanding of 33AD in Rome?

    On one hand, we tend to revise histories as we encounter new arguments, so there’s some hope that we’re getting better at understanding everything. On the other hand, we lose personal experience, we lose sources, we lose the language needed to decode sources, we lose ontologies needed to decode meaning.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I would imagine it would vary hugely based on communications systems, storage media, literacy, etc across time periods. There are certain questions about, say, France in the 14th century, that a scholar now might be better able to answer than anyone back then could. It’s not about new arguments, but that a scholar now, or even a hundred years ago, is better able to retrieve information, communicate with other scholars, etc than anyone was back then.

      • Rob K says:

        It’s really interesting the way the nature of historical research changes depending on the time period under consideration.

        I studied enough Greek history at one point to be relatively familiar with the sort of sourcing work being done there. One major 20th century innovation, for instance, is using the reconstructed records of who was sending tribute to Athens every year to attack historical questions like who was in rebellion when, and “was there a very important peace treaty between Athens and Persia.” So it’s clear that for that time period, knowledge about it peaked while contemporaries of the events in question were still alive.

        On the other hand, my sister is currently finishing up a PhD in American History, working on labor relations in the antebellum and reconstruction era South, and there she’s able to do things like review the Union Army’s pension records to fine examples of widows applying for the pensions of their husbands, slaves who’d escaped and enlisted in the Union Army, which include a description of the man in question’s life and career. Or, for another example, look at the archives of one of the earliest national credit rating agencies, which had investigators send annual reports on a great number of businesses around the country.

        In that case, we’re talking about information that existed but was fragmented, private, or not thought of as historically important at the time, now being accessed and synthesized. Which, I’d argue, means that while I’m sure we can’t feel the zeitgeist of that time like a contemporary could, but there are a lot of ways modern historians can shine a light on that time period that exceed what someone trying to write a definitive history would have had back then.

    • engleberg says:

      Lord Acton said you got the best historical viewpoint when everyone involved was too dead to tell more lies and the archives were opened.

  36. cassander says:

    I don’t think we have a right wing drift here. Do we have a any out and out trump supporters that are regular commenters? Not “I held my nose and voted for him” Not “well he was better than hillary”, but a straight up supporters? Anyone against gay marriage? Because 1/3 of the US still is.

    What I think we have is a strong libertarian streak, and a few out and out conservatives, and a lot of people who are basically blue tribe but anti-SJW in some way, which gives the appearance of us being more right wing than we really are. Our biggest lack is proper redtribers, not lefties.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Yes and yes, though I’m on a phone and am not going to deal with the SSC mobile experience for the sake of finding them. I believe I remember seeing Trump supporters in 111.25, and I believe some of the people freaking out about demographic growth rates in other OTs have used the topic as a basis for concern over homosexual marriage. I tend to notice because of fundamental disagreements over the importance of demographic shift.

      • Bugmaster says:

        FWIW, the “SSC mobile experience” can be bypassed on Android by using the Opera browser, and switching on the “desktop site” option. Opera is the only mobile browser I know of that handles wrapping correctly.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          The problem isn’t wrapping, actually (can be bypassed with portrait mode) but loadtimes, which are something like 4x as long as on desktop for me.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Hmm, it could be a combination of your hardware/software. On Galaxy Note 8, using Opera, I get maybe 1.2x, but definitely nowhere near 4x.

    • Nick says:

      Conrad Honcho has said multiple times he’s a regular old Trump supporter, but I think he’s pretty alone there. And several religious conservatives on here are against gay marriage, me included, though the issue doesn’t come up much, and I for one am not really interested in talking about it.

      • quanta413 says:

        Beat me to it. As far as frequent posters, it’s almost just Conrad as far as open, enthusiastic Trump supporters go. I’m sure there are some other less enthusiastic ones though, and some less frequent posters.

        I’m pretty sure I’d be coded as right wing here. I registered as a Republican in ’16 to vote for literally anyone or anything but Trump in the primaries, but I voted for Johnson in the actual election up top but Democrats down the rest of the ballot. And if my state had been a swing state, I would’ve voted Clinton up top. I pray for eternal gridlock, because I don’t see our politicians taking us anywhere positive when they get things done.

    • Deiseach says:

      Anyone against gay marriage?

      I am really conflicted on this. As I’ve mentioned before, my general opinion would have been one of apathy and “Eh, sure, let them have legal civil marriage, straight people have fucked over the concept of marriage so much that the civil contract is only a handy legal piece of paper for when you want to divide the spoils once the magic tingly pink cloud of Twu Wuv has dissipated”.

      But the campaign run in my country for this, where I was expecting to vote “Ah sure, why not?” if I bothered my arse voting at all in the referendum, so infuriated me that it instead galvanised me to make a special point of being sure to vote, and vote HELL NO! (This didn’t stop it happening, but it made me feel happier).

      So things like the gay cakes (and florists) court cases (that seems to have calmed down, at least I haven’t heard anything more about it) annoyed me in an American context because that seems to be less about the attitude promulgated in the run-up to legalisation, which was all ‘live and let live, gay marriage being legal isn’t going to affect you at all, it’s only giving people equal rights to Twu Wuv’ but which in the aftermath do seem to be deliberately taking test cases in order to force “Tolerance is not enough, you will submit or else!” about the matter. EDIT: By which I mean, there don’t seem to have been any cases where a gay couple went to a bakery and were told ‘fuck off perverts’, there do seem to have been “going to every bakery in town until we found the one that said ‘sorry, any cake but a wedding cake’ okay now we’re suing!” cases.

      So while one part of me is “Sure, it’s legal now, big whoop”, another part of me is still in angry ‘grrrr!’ mode.

      • Szemeredi says:

        By which I mean, there don’t seem to have been any cases where a gay couple went to a bakery and were told ‘fuck off perverts’, there do seem to have been “going to every bakery in town until we found the one that said ‘sorry, any cake but a wedding cake’ okay now we’re suing!” cases.

        Could you link to some cases of this in the Republic of Ireland?

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        there don’t seem to have been any cases where a gay couple went to a bakery and were told ‘fuck off perverts’, there do seem to have been “going to every bakery in town until we found the one that said ‘sorry, any cake but a wedding cake’ okay now we’re suing!” cases.

        You do realize that for logical reasons, there have to be at least as many bakers being sued for denial of service as gay couples denied service, right? You can’t sue someone for denying you service unless they, you know, denied you service.

        • Nick says:

          What are you getting at here? She’s not saying they didn’t actually deny them service; they definitely did. She’s saying these aren’t cases of cake shop scarcity, which is a concern when you’re giving businesses exceptions to public accommodations.

          Incidentally, I’m not actually sure she’s right about that—we saw some of those after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cake Shop, but as far as I recall the couple originally suing was sincere, and same for that flower shop case.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Unless I’m misreading, she’s saying instances of discrimination against gay couples are rare (no cases where gay couples were called perverts and told to f off), but instances of gays forcing others to submit is not rare (there are cases of gay couples going until they can find a homophobe to force into submission).

            Since the existence of a business willing to deny service to a gay couple is a necessary precondition for a gay couple trying to drag such a business to court and force them to submit, it cannot be the case that instances of the first kind are rarer than instances of the second kind.

          • Nick says:

            But she’s not contrasting “business denies service” with “gay couple forcing submission,” she’s contrasting gleeful homophobia/”f%^$ off perverts” with “gay couple forcing submission.”

            ETA: To be clear, I think I was too quick to characterize what she was saying the first time around. I think the argument in that paragraph is:
            1. The common appeal for gay marriage is tolerance, a live and let live, I do my thing and you do yours kind of appeal
            2. But the court cases after it have all been brought by folks seeking out grievances rather than folks wronged by overt hatred and hostility
            3. So these couples are the really intolerant ones after all.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Why is gleeful homophobia relevant at all? The point of anti-discrimination and gay marriage laws aren’t to reduce gleeful homophobia, they are to reduce discrimination.
            Denying someone service, even if not done with malice in your heart and a sneer on your lips, is still not living and letting live.

            Conversely, imagine I argued that suing someone for anti-discrimination doesn’t count unless the person says something bigoted about Christians as they leave the cakeshop.

          • Nick says:

            Denying someone service, even if not done with malice in your heart and a sneer on your lips, is still not living and letting live.

            This, I take it, is your real point of disagreement with Deiseach. I really don’t want to have this whole argument again, though maybe she does (Deiseach, I’m tagging you in!), but depending on how broadly you construe expression, coercing the cake shop is not living and letting live, and declining the job is within his rights.

            Conversely, imagine I argued that suing someone for anti-discrimination doesn’t count unless the person says something bigoted about Christians as they leave the cakeshop.

            I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Deiseach wasn’t saying that we should only get to sue if they’re really for real homophobic. The point is rather that if the cake shop owner is denying service out of sincere religious obligation, while the couple is only seeking out grievances, the latter is the intolerant one. I’m not trying to equate “being the intolerant one” with some kind of possible legal consequences for the people, to be clear; I’m only saying that, by Deiseach’s argument, gay folks being intolerant of the very folks they’ve ask to tolerate them is rather a betrayal.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            My real issue with her comment is that she has made no evidence to examine how many “f*ck you, pervert” incidents actually occur, and then after refusing to investigate this, holds up the fact that she has found none of them as evidence that intolerance of gays is now no longer a problem.

            Of course coercing someone into baking something for you isn’t living and letting live; but neither is refusing to bake something for someone! The argument relies on two different standards: a straight person is “living and letting live” so long as they do not say anything malicious and hateful; a gay person can be intolerant even if they do not say anything hateful.

            You seem to believe there’s a dichotomy between “sincere religious obligation” (and fwiw, do any religions obligate one not to bake cakes for sinful marriages? Can a Catholic bake a cake for a second marriage after a divorce?) and “lack of toleration”–the gay people suing bakeries also have sincere beliefs that motivate their intolerance, but it’s still intolerant.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Of course coercing someone into baking something for you isn’t living and letting live; but neither is refusing to bake something for someone! The argument relies on two different standards: a straight person is “living and letting live” so long as they do not say anything malicious and hateful; a gay person can be intolerant even if they do not say anything hateful.

            I would have gone with the “private power is still coercive” route. Its less obvious to see when looking just at the cake-baking, but more so when you consider the implications in employment, and access to more important goods such as food, housing, ect.

    • keranih says:

      Not a Trump supporter*, but I do think that the normalization of homosexuality – esp in the manner we did it, and with the over-compensation** that has accompanied it – is a mistake. I am not adverse to the decriminalization of homosexual relationships, and think that should go hand-in-hand with treating individual people decently.

      I think if we-as-a society were less accepting of infidelity and hyper-sexualization, that would be a good thing, and I think a general disapproval of homosexuality that embraces these aspects (instead of trying to reduce them) would be a logical ingredient of that less publicly sexualized ideal.

      However, I also think that this should mostly apply(***) to public actions and those things supported by the state, and I think we also would do well to broaden the concept of a private life which is no one else’s business.

      *not yet, but I am increasingly tempted

      ** cake baking, et al

      *** minors are, to me, an obvious place for intervention/involvement.

      • Bugmaster says:

        but I do think that the normalization of homosexuality … is a mistake. I am not adverse to the decriminalization of homosexual relationships, and think that should go hand-in-hand with treating individual people decently.

        At the risk of being banned for culture-warring: I’m super confused; what do you mean ? As far as I understand, “normalization of homosexuality” means, roughly, “treating homosexual couples the same way as one would treat same-hair-color couples”. That is, treating homosexual relationships as nothing special. Is this what you are opposed to, and if so, how does that align with “treating individual people decently” ? I do agree that glorification of homosexuality (or any other kind of sexuality) is a mistake, but that’s not the same thing as normalization.

        • keranih says:

          what do you mean?

          Thank you for asking so politely.

          That is, treating homosexual relationships as nothing special.

          Homosexuality is not “nothing special” – it is not the normally appearing, community-perpetuating, generation-replicating norm of human pair-bonding. It should *not* be treated as “no different than same-hair-couples” – especially if we treat ‘same hair’ to mean ‘same ethnicity’ and as the normal human preference for a partner of the same ethnicity and culture. To treat same-sex sexual attraction as no different than a Dane preferring a Scandinavian partner over a Slavic one is to very much misunderstand human biology and culture.

          IMO, it would be more appropriate to understand homosexuality as one of the less distressing fetishes that humans are prone to – certainly less harmful than many others – but not a ‘normal’ approach to pairing off.

          In this sense, there are a variety of ways to interact with people who are homosexual in ones social circle that are helpful – buy bread from them, if they make good bread, take your car to them if they are a good mechanic, don’t gossip about them in the market place, go to movies with them if you both like movies, argue about books with them in the coffee shop if you both like books and coffee. And there are less helpful ways – mocking them (to their face or behind their back) for their desires, excusing public hypersexuality, insisting that they date the opposite gender ‘for form’s sake’ or otherwise getting overly involved in their personal lives.

          I have less strong feelings about state involvement in marriages, because I think there are upsides to promotion and social support for heterosexual marriages that are not there for homosexual ones, but I am increasingly libertarian about this, and am willing to tolerate state support so long as social disapproval is still permitted on a personal level. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be one of the options allowed.

          • Bugmaster says:

            In this sense, there are a variety of ways to interact with people who are homosexual in ones social circle that are helpful – buy bread from them… And there are less helpful ways – mocking them…

            Again, I’m pretty confused about your opinion here. Everything you’ve listed sounds to me like, “treat homosexual people the same way you’d treat heterosexual people”, or perhaps “don’t use sexuality as a significant contributing factor in your treatment of people” — which is what I thought “normalization” means. Just to emphasize, I’m not saying I agree or disagree with you, I just genuinely don’t understand your position. However:

            IMO, it would be more appropriate to understand homosexuality as one of the less distressing fetishes that humans are prone to…

            Here I do agree with your wording, but probably not your intent. I see no problem with treating homosexuality as yet another fetish, but I also don’t think that fetishes are particularly interesting (or “distressing”) — as long as they involve fully consenting adults, of course. I don’t really care about all the various ways that people have sex with each other… I mean, I guess it might be interesting from the anthropological perspective, but that’s not my field. If you disagree, I’d be curious to find out why (though my curiosity is heavily moderated by the desire to stay unbanned).

            I have less strong feelings about state involvement in marriages

            Personally, I think that the term “marriage” needs to be decoupled into “a package of private contracts between individuals, recognized by the state” and “a traditional religious ceremony”. However, I see no way of actually accomplishing that, so my point is probably moot.

          • keranih says:

            Bugmaster –

            What do you think “not treating homosexual people the same way you’d treat heterosexual people” would look like?

            I see no problem with treating homosexuality as yet another fetish, but I also don’t think that fetishes are particularly interesting (or “distressing”) — as long as they involve fully consenting adults, of course.

            Do you have an opinion on adultry, or on sex outside of a committed union? And if you don’t care what people do with their sex lives, why does homosexual marriage matter at all?

            I would be more supportive of the libertarian pov that the state shouldn’t have an opinion on marriages, if I didn’t think that 1)marriages matter as a foundation block of society and 2) how society treats marriages matters to how well marriages work.

            If you don’t agree with either of those, then holding to the libertarian pov makes more sense.

          • David Shaffer says:

            @ keranih

            What does it actually mean for marriages to be a foundation block of society? The easiest way to support tradition unduly is to deal in generalities. Marriage provides a great many benefits, true. It provides homes for children (although are we sure we want to leave children at the mercy of two people who were never screened for competence or basic decency, without any possibility of outside help barring the most obvious forms of abuse?). It provides a stable source of love and lust alike. It reduces (ostensibly) competition for women; when everyone is paired off we don’t need to be always trying to get the girl. But are any of these things weakened by gay marriage? Be careful-every human society has had things it swore were essential, but which proved to be nothing more than needless stumbling blocks to our lives.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @keranih:

            What do you think “not treating homosexual people the same way you’d treat heterosexual people” would look like?

            Well, to use an extreme example, lynching people for holding hands in public with members of the same sex (I say “extreme”, but this is in fact the norm in some countries). To use a somewhat milder example, severing all social contact with a person once you find out that person is gay.

            Do you have an opinion on adultry, or on sex outside of a committed union ?

            Depends on your definition; I think that the difference between “adultery” and “extramarital sex” is that adultery is conducted in secret from one’s romantic partner, whereas extramarital sex is just sex outside of marriage. As such, adultery contains an element of betrayal, which I do find immoral — by contrast with mere extramarital sex.

            And if you don’t care what people do with their sex lives, why does homosexual marriage matter at all?

            Because, as I said above, marriage is (unfortunately, IMO) more than just a religious ceremony or an oath of mutual monogamy; it’s also a package of rights (and responsibilities, since rights usually imply responsibilities) that is recognized by the state. I’m talking about things like hospital visitation rights, property sharing, inheritance, etc.

        • SamChevre says:

          On “normalization” vs “treating people decently individually”–the analogy I find helpful is smoking.

          “Normalizing” open homosexuality is treating it like smoking was treated in the 1960’s; it’s routinely shown in movies, every office has ashtrays, a formal dinner party has ashtrays and matches on the table, etc, etc.

          De-normalizing homosexuality is treating it like smoking is treated in Massachusetts or New York City. You can’t smoke in the park, you can’t smoke in front of government buildings, you can’t smoke in big employers’ parking lots, some landlords won’t rent to you if you smoke, some employers won’t hire you if you smoke, and the government goes out of its way to make smoking expensive and stigmatizing. But if you are smoking in your own backyard, no one will stop you.

          And you can have friends who are smokers, and still favor de-normalizing smoking.

          • Bugmaster says:

            The categories are, of course, fuzzy; but I’d say that the smoking culture of the 60s is closer to the “glorification” end of the spectrum, than to the “normalization” end. Smoking was not merely tolerated or ignored, but actively encouraged; a person who chose not to smoke was always treated as the weirdo and an outsider.

          • a person who chose not to smoke was always treated as the weirdo and an outsider.

            I didn’t smoke in the 60s and don’t remember any such reaction. It might depend on what circles you moved in.

          • Matt M says:

            Some might suggest homosexuality is more glorified now than smoking ever was. I don’t recall any smoker pride parades. Or any police departments decorating their vehicles with tobacco-related symbols.

          • Nick says:

            Some might suggest homosexuality is more glorified now than smoking ever was. I don’t recall any smoker pride parades. Or any police departments decorating their vehicles with tobacco-related symbols.

            There’s a pride aspect to homosexuality that wasn’t there for smokers, true, but smokers were both commoner and required more accommodation than homosexuals do. Restaurants, for instance, should not much care whether their customers are gay, but I’m sure they care quite a bit whether their customers are going to smoke inside.

            Also, homosexuality is more set than smoking is. You don’t become gay by having gay sex as a teen, but you’re quite likely to become a smoker by smoking as a teen.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nick:
            Restaurants don’t care if you are a smoker, they care if you smoke in their restaurant (at one point only because they were made to, now, they might do so on their own initiative if the law went away, critical mass being a thing.)

            Gay or straight, restaurants have pretty much always wanted you to not have sex at the table.

          • Nick says:

            HeelBearCub,

            Restaurants don’t care if you are a smoker, they care if you smoke in their restaurant (at one point only because they were made to, now, they might do so on their own initiative if the law went away, critical mass being a thing.)

            Of course, but this distinction between what you are and what you do there breaks down at times with homosexuality. Not with the restaurant case, but with others: “We as a university don’t care that you’re gay; we just care if you’re holding hands with your boyfriend on campus.”

          • Matt M says:

            Restaurants don’t care if you are a smoker, they care if you smoke in their restaurant

            Except the restaurants that will kick you out for not being sufficiently pro-gay. Even if you aren’t actively legislating against gays at the moment you attempt to order dinner.

          • Matt M says:

            “We as a university don’t care that you’re gay; we just care if you’re holding hands with your boyfriend on campus.”

            And of course, today, they do care if you’re gay. They’re more likely to admit you and give you extra money.

          • Nick says:

            And of course, today, they do care if you’re gay. They’re more likely to admit you and give you extra money.

            Gays have been historically oppressed and even today have bad outcomes on a lot of metrics. Smokers are not and have never been oppressed.

          • Matt M says:

            They are forced to pay exorbitantly high taxes to obtain the products that they enjoy – products that non-smokers never purchase.

            Imagine the government instituted a 100% tax on gay bars. You don’t think people would call that oppression? What if gay bars were forbidden from advertising? Forced to include giant signs warning that gay people are far more likely to have HIV than straights?

          • Nick says:

            They are forced to pay exorbitantly high taxes to obtain the products that they enjoy – products that non-smokers never purchase.

            Imagine the government instituted a 100% tax on gay bars. You don’t think people would call that oppression? What if gay bars were forbidden from advertising? Forced to include giant signs warning that gay people are far more likely to have HIV than straights?

            I don’t actually think taxing gay bars is wrong*, though I’m sure it would be politically imprudent; it would be a sin tax, just like the ones on smoking.

            *Bear in mind I don’t know anything about the economics of sin taxes; if David or someone would like to weigh in on why they are a bad idea, feel free to. The point is that I don’t think they’re morally wrong.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            What if gay bars were forbidden from advertising? Forced to include giant signs warning that gay people are far more likely to have HIV than straights?

            These comparisons would make a lot more sense if being gay was a consumer choice people made under advertising pressure, and if advertising for gay bars was prominently featured all over the place. As it stands, without a ban, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gay bar advertised anyway.

          • Matt M says:

            I don’t actually think taxing gay bars is wrong*, though I’m sure it would be politically imprudent; it would be a sin tax, just like the ones on smoking.

            What makes it not oppression for the government to select and classify a certain recreational activity as a “sin” while leaving others untaxed, unregulated, etc.?

          • On the gay pride march vs cigarette pride march, I think the difference is that homosexuality used to be very strongly disfavored, hence once it became practical it made sense to publicly make the point that gays existed and were not ashamed of being gay. If policy swung from its present anti-tobacco state to one of neutrality on the issue but a lot of people still acted as if smokers were scum, there would be a reason for a tobacco pride march.

            On the question of sin taxes … . Even if homosexuality is entirely innate, male homosexuals can choose how to act on it. If promiscuous anal intercourse is a serious health issue there would be an argument for taxing institutions that facilitated it, which I think of as bath houses more than gay bars. From the same standpoint there is an argument in favor of facilitating gay marriage, since it presumably encourages homosexual monogamy.

    • ManyCookies says:

      Anyone against gay marriage?

      So I agree there’s a fair number of national left-right debates the OT is firmly on the left on. Like I don’t think there’s a creationist around, I’d say transgenders are overall treated seriously and nicely, gay marriage discussion leads pretty pro… but the thing is the OT doesn’t actually talk about any of those things on regular basis. Whereas stuff like immigration and gun control and especially progressive/SJW influence gets brought up way more often, and on those frequent topics yall are pretty hard on the right.

      • cassander says:

        As I recall, we have a pretty wide gamut of opinions on immigration, with a few pretty serious restrictionists, a few principled open borderers, and most places in between.

        But more importantly why do you think this is? The likeliest explanation to me, that there’s no point in discussing topics on which there’s broad consensus. If that’s the cause, then calling us right wing because we don’t talk about those subjects seems a bit like calling a marxist forum right wing because they never argue about whether capitalism is harmful. I’m open to other suggestions, though.

        • quanta413 says:

          In many places, reciting agreed upon dogma is pretty important.

          I think it actually is strange that we talk less than normal about things we agree about.

          • Aapje says:

            In many places, reciting agreed upon dogma is pretty important.

            To increase social conformity, yes.

            Is it a bad thing that this is fairly rare here?

          • quanta413 says:

            There may be a healthy medium between the two poles.

            We could still hash out finer grained disagreements. Although I suspect it would only look a little less acrimonious than bigger disagreements.

      • Whereas stuff like immigration and gun control and especially progressive/SJW influence gets brought up way more often, and on those frequent topics yall are pretty hard on the right.

        I would guess that supporters of open immigration are more common here than in the population as a whole, not less. It’s a position popular among libertarians, and we have a fair number of libertarians here.

        • Brad says:

          The funny part is that the immigration restrictionists don’t seem very eager to argue with the actual, present, proud open borders folks.

          • It’s harder to argue with an open borders proponent because their position has some logic to it, crazy as it is. The mainstream consensus is incoherent, just brazenly contradicting itself without any self-awareness.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I’d think that this would be obvious. When a restrictionist argues with someone who is a true blue open borders advocate they are simply disagreeing on fundamental values. In the end you are just talking past one another.

            On the other hand, subtle positions leave open obvious points of partisanship and deception to exploit.

            For instance, the restrictionist can point out that a subtle-open-borders-ist is hoping for political support from demographic groups, or low (or high) skill workers depending on proposals, or that they simply hate culture and want to transform it.

            These arguments work because the arguments employed by subtle-ists are generally incoherent or unpersuasive, but also open borders is viscerally unacceptable to a huge % of the polity. Thus, you either force opponents into illogical stammering, or have them be logical, but also unable to win because of ingroup preferences.

            I mean lets be honest, outside the existence of democratic systems the arguments against open borders are idiotic. On the other hand, without the Irish/Italian immigrant wave (which includes 3/4 of my lineages) the US would have better city governments, may not have been involved in WW1, thus avoiding a WWII and Great Depression and massive changes in government from the post Civil War norms.

          • When a restrictionist argues with someone who is a true blue open borders advocate they are simply disagreeing on fundamental values.

            I disagree. Values are one basis for disagreements, but factual questions are another.

            My guess is that open borders, along the lines I have suggested in the past, would make most Americans better off as well as making the immigrants much better off. That’s a factual claim, not a matter of values.

    • pontifex says:

      I’m not against gay marriage. I am a Trump supporter, though. Probably the main thing I dislike about Trump is his anti-environmentalism.

    • Walter says:

      I feel like ‘well, better than Hillary’ defines a Trump supporter, yeah? Like, that was my attitude. It is a closed system, you only get the 2 choices.

      • Evan Þ says:

        Not quite. There’s an appreciable difference between “okay, he’s better than Hillary” and the sort of person who’s enthusiastic enough to post on r/The_Donald.

        For a more personal example, two years ago, I was glad I lived in a safe state so I didn’t need to decide whether to vote for Trump. But, my uncle’s enthusiastic enough that I’m pretty sure he gladly cast his vote for Trump even though he lived in just as safe a state.

    • People on the left are so unused to seeing people on the right speak freely that any time they do, it automatically means a place is taken over by the right. I know this isn’t an original thought but I don’t think it’s really sunken in.

      • Matt M says:

        Indeed. And the entire reason that non-leftist comment sections “inevitably become right-wing” is because right-wingers have virtually no places where they are allowed to speak freely. Even ostensibly neutral places like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly hostile towards right-wing opinions (and carry a much higher risk of “mob tries to get you fired” than a place like this does).

        • Dan L says:

          And the entire reason that non-leftist comment sections “inevitably become right-wing” is because right-wingers have virtually no places where they are allowed to speak freely.

          Can you truly not think of any? I can name several, though they tend to be agressively horrible by other metrics. But then we’re left with Groucho Marx’s paradox.

          • Matt M says:

            Can you truly not think of any? I can name several, though they tend to be agressively horrible by other metrics.

            Fair and conceded.

            To modify, I would suggest SSC is the quite rare venue at which we can speak freely and interact with others who disagree.

            And it’s probably important, for both sides, that a few such places exist.

    • Even if you like Trump’s policies, it is really hard to be a full blown Donald Trump supporter. The guy is basically a parody.

      • engleberg says:

        I doubt St Francis of Assisi could spend half a century in New York real estate without enormous obvious crimes. Two years into Trump’s presidency, his D party media enemies have come up with some stuff about his dad’s estate tax minimization strategies. Clearly Trump is one hell of a morally superior fellow.

        • ana53294 says:

          I always thought the lack of dirt on Trump’s real estate deals is because it implicates too many prominent Democrats in NY (since NY is ruled by Democrats).

          The thing is, in most corruption scandals, you can’t strategically give a piece of dirt and then stop. So any dirt on Trump will be dirt on prominent Democrats, and once you have one corrupt Trump and a 100 prominent Democrats in jail, Republicans get to be the clean party (they were against Trump all along, and look at all the shady deals Democrats did).

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          It’s not a matter of his crimes. Trump is less qualified than practically any other conservative option and that has serious risks for the nation. He is also a personal scoundrel and seems to take pleasure in his ignorance. He might very well go down in history as the worst President ever. He is also loathed by the other side in a way that’s really difficult to describe. Democrats will crawl over broken glass to vote against this guy, which is going to lead to some serious electoral complications at a time the GOP needs to expand its base.

          Seriously a GOP with a 53 or 54% of the vote should be achievable with someone like Rubio, and that’s going to lead to near super-majorities. You’d undo all of Obama’s crap and likely be able to make serious headway on the budget. Instead you’re going to get a rough 2020 election and GOP candidates suffering downballot, along with bare majorities and a radicalized Dem party that’s going to be one step removed from Socialists, trying to pack the Court the second they have the opportunity (which might very well be 2021).

          • The Nybbler says:

            Rubio, had he managed to win the primary, would have lost to Hillary Clinton.

          • engleberg says:

            Trump is less qualified that practically any conservative option-

            He ran a big business and built stuff. He was in infotainment long enough to have media connections. I don’t say that’s more than a start. I say name anyone now in public life who has done radically more? I don’t have a high opinion of bloviating on TV or in the legislature. I’d be perfectly willing to respect some lawmaker who got Hoover Dam built or made something like Obamacare work. Name one. Either party.

            Or keep blaming him for the D party’s behavior. Come now. Really, if Trump had won in 2000 as a D party president you’d be justified. Naked pictures of Al Gore and a goat on 1999 Trump-owned infotainment, Trump beats George like he beat Jeb!, America unites behind Trump after 9/11, American culture gets all vulgar and stuff and it’s Trump’s fault: I could see it then.

          • Lillian says:

            Way i see it, if you reran the full 2016 election multiple times, the Democratic candidate wins the popular vote nearly every time, pretty much irrespective of who the candidates are. The only way for the Republican to win is to pull off an electoral college victory. This is basically impossible to do on purpose, it’s happened all of five times and every time it’s basically been an unforeseen event. Nobody really angles for an EC-only win. This means that realistically speaking the only viable way to pull it off in the 2016 election is to do it the way it actually happened: get working class white voters in Midwestern states to break Republican by addressing their demographic and economic anxieties. Donald Trump was the only Republican candidate doing this, so Donald Trump was the only potential nominee who could have defeated Hillary Clinton.

          • albatross11 says:

            My understanding is that both parties spend a lot of time thinking about how to get an EC victory–not that they want to get a popular vote defeat, but they know that the EC is what determines the winner.

            Further, the way the states line up, I think the Democrats have a tendency to have big popular votes that don’t help them in the EC, because they get a very one-sided victory in California and New York. All those votes past 51% count zero for actually winning the election, but they do count for the popular vote totals.

          • Matt M says:

            You are living in a bubble. Trump is far more popular than you think. He has energized the conservative base more than any Republican since Reagan, and it’s not even close.

            Literally nobody likes Rubio and his ilk, except committed Democrats like you who like him because you know he will lead the GOP to continual failure.

          • albatross11 says:

            How popular is Trump compared to other presidents?

            The interesting thing about this link is when you scroll down to the bottom. Trump is very popular among Republicans, and very unpopular among Democrats. (I wish the link showed how this compares to other presidents.) Another Gallup poll report I read pointed out that this is useful for his negotiations with Congress–he’s more popular among Republicans than the Republican Congressional leadership.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Way i see it, if you reran the full 2016 election multiple times, the Democratic candidate wins the popular vote nearly every time, pretty much irrespective of who the candidates are. The only way for the Republican to win is to pull off an electoral college victory. This is basically impossible to do on purpose, it’s happened all of five times and every time it’s basically been an unforeseen event. Nobody really angles for an EC-only win. This means that realistically speaking the only viable way to pull it off in the 2016 election is to do it the way it actually happened: get working class white voters in Midwestern states to break Republican by addressing their demographic and economic anxieties. Donald Trump was the only Republican candidate doing this, so Donald Trump was the only potential nominee who could have defeated Hillary Clinton

            We can’t say with certainty, but, no, this isn’t likely. Actual polls done prior to the nomination process closing up showed all of the major GOP candidates (Cruz, Bush, Rubio, Kasich) faring better against Clinton than Trump. Which isn’t surprising, because Trump has massive unfavorability, and even today is horrifically unpopular despite the incredible economic performance.

            We don’t know how those polls would have changed if there were an actual general election campaign between HRC and the other candidates. However, simply conceding that the Democrats are going to win the popular vote is really, really odd, because the polling clearly indicated that several specific GOP candidates were outpolling Hillary. In actual elections, Dubya won a solid majority of the vote in 2004, barely “lost” the popular vote in 2000, and Romney lost by 4 points against a President who came in with favorability ratings only exceeded by Eisenhower and JFK.

            It’s also worth noting the following totals from Ohio:
            Obama: 2.8 million
            Romney: 2.6 million

            Trump: 2.8 million
            Hillary: 2.4 million

            Here’s Michigan:
            Obama: 2.564 million
            Romney: 2.111 million

            Trump: 2.279 million
            Hillary: 2.268 million

            So, no, Romney (IE generic GOP candidate) would have been competitive and within victory in practically every state that Trump “flipped.” This has nothing to do with Trump, and everything to do with Hillary being insanely unpopular.

            As for “energy,” Democrats are raising an incredible amount of money. They might lost a single seat in the Senate, despite the fact that they are defending 27 seats, and the GOP is defending eight. All of these places were the “Trump train” is supposed to deliver ungodly momentum like PA and WI are going to be retained by Dems. Maybe the GOP might pick up FL or MO, but what’s the likelihood they will pick up WV or MT? Single digits?
            I think the people living in a bubble are the commenters who are not seeing how incredibly pissed off Trump makes Democrats, and how that makes them much more likely to organize and vote, and vote party-line, and how that will screw-up the downballot for other candidates.

            Literally nobody likes Rubio and his ilk, except committed Democrats like you who like him because you know he will lead the GOP to continual failure.

            Yes, yes, I know, I live in a bubble, etc. etc. I hear it from my in-laws and my conservative friends who also hate John McCain for being a RINO, and how Flake is a Democrat, and also do you remember Seth Rich?
            Those people already tend to vote in most elections, it’s my liberal friends who aren’t as interested in politics who are more likely to vote because the guy in office is practically a caricature of everything wrong with the world.

          • Chalid says:

            “Trump is very popular among Republicans”

            it will always be true that a president will be very popular among members of his party, for the simple reason that if people don’t like him, they stop identifying with his party. (Which is why that “unskewed polls” nonsense always falls flat on its face.)

          • Lillian says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy: The reason why i am certain of a Democratic popular vote victory irrespective of the candidates is that i believe in the Allan Lichtman’s Keys to the White House model. It views the Presidential election as being fundamentally a referendum on the ruling party, so the individual candidates usually don’t matter. According to the Keys, the Obama Presidency was successful enough to secure the people’s support for another Democratic term.

            The only way the Republicans could have won the popular vote is if they had nominated someone as charismatic as Reagan, or if there was a third party candidate who could serve as a spoiler by managing at least 5% of the vote. The first one could not happen as no such person was available as a candidate. The second is harder to predict, but i expect without Trump third parties will do worse rather than better. That is why i believe that an Electoral College victory was the only way the Republicans could win the election. And as i can tell, only Trump had was appealing to the demographics necessary to pull this off.

            Oh also, if things continue as they have been, the Keys predict a 2020 popular vote victory for Trump. They’ve been predicting Presidential elections since 1984 and they haven’t been wrong yet. At least not for the popular vote, unfortunately the model just doesn’t work at all for modelling the EC. Frankly, i don’t think there’s any model that could predict how the EC goes, since i think that it diverging from the popular vote mostly amounts to random noise. In my view, Trump still loses most runs of the 2016 election, we’re just in one of the realities where he didn’t. Still, if don’t want eight years of Trump, you’d best pray for a recession in 2020.

        • beleester says:

          That, or maybe not committing crimes in the real estate business is a lot easier than you think it is?

          Like, maybe we should try the simple explanations before proposing that there are tons of “enormous obvious crimes” that simply aren’t getting prosecuted for whatever reason?

          • engleberg says:

            Yes, New York real estate’s crappy reputation is probably overblown in flyover states, like where I’m from.

          • ana53294 says:

            Why is NYC train so disfunctional then, and why can’t they fix it? I always thought the answer was corruption.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @ana53294

            Why is NYC train so disfunctional then, and why can’t they fix it? I always thought the answer was corruption.

            Which one? The subway is only mildly dysfunctional, and the answer is a combination of ancient infrastructure, state/city animosity (the subway is run by the state), and corruption. Metro North (serving the NY suburbs north of the city east of the Hudson) is apparently not all that dysfunctional. I don’t know about the Long Island Railroad. NJ Transit (serves New Jersey suburbs and a few NY suburbs west of the Hudson) is an absolute disaster due to a combination of incompetence and corruption, and it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other ends.

            Both the MTA (runs the subways, LIRR, and Metro North) and NJ Transit claim the problem is a lack of funding. But somehow if any additional funding becomes available, it just vanishes with no observable improvements. That’s corruption. It’s possible the agencies actually do need more money, but adding more money with all the corruption is like pouring water into a bucket with no bottom.

      • cassander says:

        I feel the same way about the anti-trump crowd. I don’t like the guy. I dislike a lot of things that he does, but dammit his opponents make it hard for me to support them.

    • Matt M says:

      I did not vote for Trump last time around, but since the election I have become entirely and unabashedly a supporter of his and will likely vote for him next time.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Do we have a any out and out trump supporters that are regular commenters? Not “I held my nose and voted for him” Not “well he was better than hillary”, but a straight up supporters?

      I started supporting Trump in July of 2015 when I read his immigration whitepaper, and I own MAGA hats in red and camo.

      Anyone against gay marriage?

      Eh. I’m basically on the fence. I have no problem with gay people, but gay politics has burned a lot of social capital with me. In years past I voted in favor of gay marriage. Today if it were made illegal I would probably shrug.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Anyone against gay marriage?

      I’m against issuing homosexual marriage licenses, yes. Now if supporting happy, swashbuckling marriages became a Culture War issue, I’d be all in.

      • Nick says:

        I’m more for grim marriages.

        Wedding, what’s a wedding? It’s a prehistorical ritual where everybody promises fidelity forever, which is maybe the more horrifying word I’ve ever heard of, which is followed by a honeymoon where suddenly he’ll realize he’s been saddled with a nut and wanna kill me, which he should!

    • rlms says:

      We’ve definitely got Trump supporters, including some very prolific commenters. I agree they aren’t red tribe though; given that SSC is a high IQ place and red tribers on average have below average IQ that’s not too surprising.

      • Mark Atwood says:

        “red tribers on average have below average IQ”

        [*] citation needed

        • fion says:

          A study found a related result. Here it is reported in a… uh… not very left-wing British newspaper: link.

          • nkurz says:

            Thanks for posting a source. I’m still not sure if you actually believe that there are few red-tribers on SSC because not enough of them are smart enough, or whether you are posting sarcastically. Further, even if there was an substantial IQ difference between political supporters in the US, it would have to be enormous for there not to be significant overlap between the individuals in the groups. If sarcasm, please stop, it’s unhelpful.

            But if this is something you believe, could you point to the specific part of the linked article that you think supports your case? I thought it was a good article, but as it was mostly about rural/urban IQ in Europe, and mostly about how that gap has closed in recent years, I don’t really see the relevance to SSC participation rates by Trump supporters (which is what I presume is close to what is meant by red-tribers). It does mention that the “data would indicate that a non-trivial slice of the white farmboys of the 1970s suffered from clinical mental retardation”, but follows to say that this is implausible.

          • I can see why people found Unz interesting.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @rlms:
        No.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I crown myself “King of the Retards.”

      • quanta413 says:

        This was a little stronger than your other attempt. I’d give it a 4.5/10.

  37. Hoopyfreud says:

    Reasons why certain individuals are tiring to engage with, as someone who is liberal but not progressive:

    Willingness to tie social discussion in the comments back to homogeneity arguments – see people who took the NIMBY post and blamed BART stations being bad on the US not having the racial homogeneity of Japan here. This has the tendency to derail comment chains, which is exacerbated by maximum comment depth and the accompanying inability to hide side-conversations. This is incredibly tiresome to repeat ad nausaem, and there’s more than enough information available that anyone can claim that anyone else is ignorant on the topic. That’s not a problem on its own though – the problem is people who treat any related discussion as a chance to discuss their pet issues, and who take any opportunity to do so. In a dream world, there would be a “rabbit hole” comment chain that I could hide at the top level, but instead these sorts of discussions, *while not making up even a plurality of posts*, are nonetheless ubiquitous, and therefore more frustrating than their frequency should warrant, at least to me.

    Machiavellianism – I complained about this last OT, but there are a lot of people here (not just right-wingers either) who deny that anyone including themselves is actually in favor of liberalism. This usually accompanies arguments that privilege incentive-based arguments over endorsed values; as someone who has a history of voting for endorsed values over incentives, this is frustrating to run into, and often leads to people assuming bad faith and terminal values that are not only mismatched, but actively opposed, since as far as I can tell the assumption goes that endorsing opposed terminal values raises your social status over the outgroup. The practical upshot is the ability to assume that anyone arguing for things you don’t like is doing so to attack you, and to respond in kind. See: here. I don’t know how to respond to this, and from previous interactions it seems not worth doing; in turn, when this happens, I have no response to make, other than to note that gulag jokes aren’t common here, and that while I could “less of this please,” I perceive there being enough of a norm in place that I’m actually the one who’d be wrong to do so.

    I don’t want to be seen as attacking particular users here, and I genuinely believe that I’m not – I think that there’s a norm of behaviors that have made discussion here moderately more unpleasant for me, and I’m attempting to explain why. To that end, please refrain from discussing individual users’ comment patterns unless it’s salient to your point. I don’t think that these behaviors warrant official censure, but I do find them frustrating, and request that anyone who wants me in the comments more take these points into consideration when formulating theirs. Maybe that’s pretentious, but really that’s the only reason why moderation is likely to be appealing – and I’ll remind people that “SSC is the best place to discuss CW topics because of the good-faith discussion” is a opinion that, if you hold it, should encourage you to promote more good-faith discussion in turn.

    • quanta413 says:

      I don’t want to be seen as attacking particular users here, and I genuinely believe that I’m not

      You probably shouldn’t link examples containing the same person twice then. It’s not hard to find two different commenters here behaving rudely. It’s not even hard to find left wing commenters behaving rudely.

      FWIW, I think the NIMBY threads were the worst topics I’ve seen here in years though.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        You probably shouldn’t link examples containing the same person twice then.

        I admit that laziness won out over willingness to look for more examples, but I’ll note that what I consider to be the most egregious comments came from 3 different people. And I think I made it clear that the problem as I see it is not rudeness.

        • quanta413 says:

          I was using rudeness as shorthand for your long description. Any word you like suits me.

          I suppose Machiavellianism is the one you chose.

      • rlms says:

        Perhaps some people are just genetically predisposed to a tendency to make low quality comments, and therefore there’s no problem if they show up disproportionately frequently in lists of low quality comments.

    • ilikekittycat says:

      “America is too diverse to have nice things” is rapidly becoming a thought-terminating-cliche around here. It’s like ad-libbed evo-psych on a certain part of the internet 10 years ago, it just shuts down discussion and further thinking without ever being an interesting argument. It’s a form of just-so story easy enough to grasp in an intellectual way that it gets applied to 10x the number of situations where its relevant

      • idontknow131647093 says:

        I don’t really understand what you are saying here?

        What I have generally thought about the “diversity is a cause of XXX” discussion is that it is generally used as an Occam’s Razor type of thing. If you want to say there is a different line of causation isn’t the burden to disprove the obvious ones (IQ, Income, Personality) first?

        • quanta413 says:

          I don’t think that’s it.

          I think ilikekittycat is talking about the gloom and doom of some people. It’s not all people here, but definitely some.

          Personally, I think it’s pretty good here, and the U.S. already has most of the nice things you could want. Not distributed evenly but even the bottom fifth of the U.S. has a high standard of consumption. It’s relatively way below the top fifth, which has a crazy standard of consumption. But it’s still a lot in an absolute sense compared to the not so distant past.

          The doom and gloom is overwrought. The near future will probably be a lot like the recent past. Which is pretty good.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I was saying that “diversity is why we can’t have nice things” is a parody of the argument people make against people arguing for huge and complicated solutions to social problems, like homelessness, high gini coefficients, criminality, etc.

            If you are arguing for complex social solutions (or at the very least discussing what you think are the causes of social problems, I.E. institutional racism) its not unfair to force you to rebut obvious causes for the problem before accepting your causes and solutions.

          • Matt M says:

            “Diversity is why we can’t have nice things” is not a scientifically valid explanation for every ailment in society, no.

            But it does strike me as a very plausible first response to people who spend all their time demanding to know why we don’t have things like they do in Japan or Finland.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @idontknow

            its not unfair to force you to rebut obvious causes for the problem before accepting your causes and solutions.

            The problem here is that people believe that “black people live there” is an “obvious cause” of the BART being unpleasant that can be definitively rebutted. From the discussions I’ve had here, it’s actually a pretty complex argument without enough data to support (or squash) it, and the implications of it on policy are more complex than its use seems to suggest.

            Being asked to do so is a lot like being asked to argue against the “obvious” case for hard determinism when discussing philosophy, or evo-psych alpha bullshit when discussing whether you should interrupt people. And it often seems to be the case that the guardians of the racial argument are ready and willing to jump in with the same shit that we’ve already agreed a week ago is, in fact, complicated.

            In practice, almost any thread can be sidetracked into this discussion, and going through the comments can become an exercise in having discussions that aren’t about whether black people inherently make San Francisco a worse place to live. I don’t really care. I have engaged with the evidence being presented in these discussions already and have formed an opinion; the same is probably true for most people here. I reject the idea that the explanation is both simple and worth defaulting to (not the same as rejecting it outright) and I therefore don’t want to spend time in every tangentially related thread explaining why for the umpteenth time to the same people.

            This isn’t helped by comments like Matt’s in this thread which put the burden of explaining why ANYTHING from Japan, China, Finland, or Kenya would work in the US given the racial makeup of the country on me. I’m beginning to suspect that if I argued for employing wardens to watch over the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, someone would suggest that it wouldn’t work in America because 97% of the Kenyan population is from the same region of Africa (this is a joke).

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I am not familiar enough with BART to comment, but when it comes to public transit in general a huge problem with it (in cities I am familiar with like Chicago and Boston) is the ingrained corruption from old Big City Machines. Those machines used to prey on/rely on the Irish/Italian immigrants of the 1880s-1920s.

            I don’t know what to do with this information for you other than to present it as, IMO, the most plausible reason for BART’s failures until you show me another reason.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Matt M

            The problem then becomes that you can look across the border to Canada, and see a generally lower homicide rate, lower incarceration rates, probably nicer public transit, less polarized politics… in a country that isn’t ethnically homogenous like Japan or Finland or wherever. The difference between Canada and the US clearly can’t be diversity, right?

          • Matt M says:

            dndrsn,

            I’ve already made this point elsewhere in this thread, but I believe Canada has a merit-based points system that regulates its own immigration and diversity, the likes of which were loudly shouted down as racist and fascist when Donald Trump suggested we try and implement something like that.

            It results in a very different form of “diversity” than the “anyone from the third world who can manage to sneak across our largely unguarded border is allowed to stay and use public services” kind. And it’s probably worth keeping in mind that Canada doesn’t have a border with the third world.

            All that said, if someone wants to say “Why can’t we have X like they do in Canada” then my first response wouldn’t be to point to diversity as a reason. I only use that claim when people point specifically to ethnically homogeneous nations, not when they point to any non-US nation. That said, I recall reading somewhere that if you go state-by-state, there are many US states that compare well to Canadian numbers in terms of mass shootings, and they’re mostly the ones you’d expect…

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Matt M

            I’ve already made this point elsewhere in this thread, but I believe Canada has a merit-based points system that regulates its own immigration and diversity, the likes of which were loudly shouted down as racist and fascist when Donald Trump suggested we try and implement something like that.

            The US immigration system is a mess compared to Canada’s, but I think your presentation of the Trump proposed system is a little disingenuous. It didn’t just bring in a points system, it also cut legal immigration really heavily. When Canada has higher per-capita legal immigration than the US.

            It results in a very different form of “diversity” than the “anyone from the third world who can manage to sneak across our largely unguarded border is allowed to stay and use public services” kind. And it’s probably worth keeping in mind that Canada doesn’t have a border with the third world.

            That “anyone” is limited, because the undefended land border is only with one third world country. The statistics I’ve seen for crimes and other such badness done by illegal immigrants and their descendants are that they are kinda a wash compared to the US average. So clearly they can’t be the problem.

            All that said, if someone wants to say “Why can’t we have X like they do in Canada” then my first response wouldn’t be to point to diversity as a reason. I only use that claim when people point specifically to ethnically homogeneous nations, not when they point to any non-US nation. That said, I recall reading somewhere that if you go state-by-state, there are many US states that compare well to Canadian numbers in terms of mass shootings, and they’re mostly the ones you’d expect…

            Look, first, if this is darkly hinting, it’s not even good darkly hinting. My mental model of how to stay safe in the US is basically “avoid Borderer type stuff and be suspicious of those Cavaliers too” to be honest, which includes a lot of old-stock Anglo-Americans. And who said it’s about mass shootings, either? (I can’t remember if, relative to the Canada-US homicide gap, there’s a narrower gap for mass shootings, or a wider gap)

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’ve already made this point elsewhere in this thread, but I believe Canada has a merit-based points system that regulates its own immigration and diversity, the likes of which were loudly shouted down as racist and fascist when Donald Trump suggested we try and implement something like that.

            A merit-based points system was also attempted by a Democratic White House and Senate, but failed in the (Republican) House not because it was racist and fascist, but because “Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First”–if you’ll click on the link to the bill, you’ll see that Title I was Border Security, and Title III Interior Enforcement. So, it’s not just lefties who have opposed attempts to move the US to a points system.

            I’ll also note that while Canada’s points-based system certainly controls its own immigration, I’m not sure it controls its own diversity: other than for speaking French or English, there are no points I know of that are awarded for any criteria that I think have much to do with diversity (i.e., there are no cultural or religious points, or anything like that). And Canada does in fact take immigrants from countries likely to increase its diversity: over 10% of immigrants in 2016 were from Syria, 3.8% from Pakistan (5th place overall), and Eritrea took 10th place with 1.6%.

          • quanta413 says:

            Japan and Finland are overrated anyways. Mean crime in the U.S. is higher, but many people can avoid that outcome by just not living in the high crime parts of the U.S. It’s not like it’s evenly distributed. Also, we’re significantly richer than Japan or Finland.

            And I agree with comments above that diversity is not necessarily a long term problem. Diversity causes friction but is often resolvable even when immigrants are some large (but less than 1) fraction of the population. Like .1-.2 or so. Like in the U.S. in the early 1900s. On the other hand, Yugoslavia didn’t resolve terribly well.

            Even though the Southern border is porous, having to get past the border patrol is a brutal screening of its own. It’d be a lot kinder and better to have a rational system rather than “see if you can get past the armed guards and keep hiding from them”, but we’re not going to get that.

            I think the main complaint that could accurately be levied against U.S. immigration policy is that it’s great for you if you’re rich but sucks if you’re poor. Because of the cheap labor supply it creates.

          • albatross11 says:

            The US has a really good track record of bringing in immigrants from very different cultures and getting their grandkids to all basically be Americans who all work together pretty well. That doesn’t mean that absolutely any immigration policy will work, but it sure does seem like a strong data point against “we can’t have nice things because diversity.”

          • Matt M says:

            I mean look, I agree that overall, we’re doing pretty well compared to Finland and Japan. If I thought otherwise, I’d move to one of those places.

            My point is that when someone says “The subways in Japan are very clean, why aren’t our subways clean?” then the obvious first step is to look at ways in which the US and Japan differ, and ethnic diversity is one of the most glaring and obvious. Surely it’s not the only one, but it’s a decent place to start.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            They also have life time employment and a strong social safety net. They also were forced to completely rebuild their governance 80 years ago and received a massive influx of outside development The fact that ethnic diversity is the first and only thing you think of …

          • ana53294 says:

            Finland and Japan also have higher tax revenue, a lower use of guns and higher PISA scores.

            I can make a very good argument why better education leads to less people shitting on the train. You focus on diversity whenever anything is nicer in other countries than in the US, without trying to look at other explanations.

            Anyway, the US seems to be lower in diversity than Canada, Latvia, Switzerland, Estonia, Belgium and Spain. I do find this quite surprising, but there you go.

          • Plumber says:

            “….BART being unpleasant…”

            @Hoopyfreud,

            The problems with BART are the same problem with the roads and public libraries.

            First, people don’t live where they work and it’s really crowded (in both directions, you see a traffic jam of people leaving San Francisco to go to their jobs in the suburbs, and on the other side of the bridge there’s a traffic jam of people leaving their jobs in the suburbs to go back to their apartments in The City), and the other problem with BART is the same as the problem with public libraries, too many “street people”.

            The West MacArthur BART station in Oakland has less muggings than it did in the 1980’s when there was a giant open air parking lot next to it and it was notorious, now that there’s new expensive apartments and many cafes nearby it’s not like it was.

            The main problem with BART is the other side of the turnstiles on Market Street in San Francisco where you have a great mass that sleeps on the streets and uses the non-paid part of the station and on the street near BART as a latrine, and as a place to throw used needles, and there’s also (just as with the libraries) stinky people who use BART all day so they can have a warm place to sleep.

      • Guy in TN says:

        Yep. It’s interesting to see how certain just-so narratives crystallize. People tell themselves a story like “x leads to y, which incentivizes people to do z…”, without recognizing how arbitrary the variables they choose to focus on. And how many counter “just-so” stories could an opponent theoretically dream up, if he was equally as sloppy?

        The actual reality, of course, is that US states which are most like social democracies (i.e., highest taxes and highest welfare) are also the most racially diverse. So I could come up with some counter just-so stories for explaining why that is, but for some reason I don’t think they’d gain as much traction as the mainstream ones, which say that this shouldn’t be.

        • Nornagest says:

          The actual reality, of course, is that US states which are most like social democracies (i.e., highest taxes and highest welfare) are also the most racially diverse.

          This isn’t clearly true; see here. The most diverse state by any reasonable measure is Hawaii, and it’s fairly liberal policy-wise, but Texas and Georgia are also in the top 10 if you sort inversely by % non-Hispanic white. Also Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, which are swing states but definitely aren’t the most social democracy-like.

          The racial classification that correlates best with Democratic politics at a state level is Asian, with nine of the top ten most Asian states going Democratic in the last election. The classification that correlates best with Republican politics at a state level is black, with seven of the corresponding top ten going Republican, or eight if you ignore DC. Obviously this doesn’t mean those populations are voting Democratic and Republican respectively, but it’s still interesting to note.

          • Guy in TN says:

            They are outliers, but I think the trend is pretty clear. If we take the Cook Partisan Voting Index as a proxy:

            The top 10 most racially diverse states (as measured by % white population)
            HI: D+18
            NM:D+3
            CA:D+12
            TX:R+8
            GA:R+5
            NV:D+1
            MD:D+12
            AZ:R+5
            FL:R+2
            NY:D+12
            Average:D+3.8

            Top 10 least racially diverse states
            VT:D+15
            WV:R+19
            NH:0
            ME:D+3
            MT:R+11
            WY:R+25
            IO:R+3
            ND:R+17
            KY:R+15
            SD:R+14
            Average:R+8.6

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t see a trend. I see a bunch of regional tendencies that look sorta like a trend if you turn your head and squint, but which don’t get you to the quote in the ancestor.

            Note for example that the least diverse states there are mostly in the mountain West, in Appalachia, or in New England, which are culturally very different and skew in opposite directions politically. You can’t make sense of that with a general trend saying more diversity->more Democratic, but you can by talking about their regional cultures.

            Some states, of course, have more than one regional culture. If anything I think that’s what’s reflected in the high-diversity states you show above — you can describe NM, TX, GA pretty readily as multicultural states, and they all show notably weak political trends. It’s HI, CA, MD, NY there that’re the outliers, and those are unified not by being similarly diverse but by being similarly urban.

          • quanta413 says:

            Hawaii is really different in a lot of ways even from the other left wing states on the list. It’s an island chain. It hasn’t been majority white ever. It’s way more beautiful…

            Like yeah, most people live near Honolulu, so that’s kind of like New York but otherwise…

          • Guy in TN says:

            Its weak evidence, sure. But its a superior counter-argument to an evidence-free assertion that diversity causes people to vote for more capitalist economic institutions.

            A flimsy correlation confounded by a thousand variables is still better than nothing at all.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Guy

            Is it really? I’d think that’d lead to the creation of just-so stories held with higher confidence than is warranted. In such a case it seems better to try to identify all reasonably strong correlations than to pick one and run with it.

          • Guy in TN says:

            A “just so story” is another way of saying an “untested hypothesis”. Logical hypotheses are good to formulate, and its good to investigate them. What is not good, is to come up with a hypothesis, and then rely on the hypothesis itself as your argument.

            My argument isn’t intended to serve as an actual explanation of reality. But rather, its a means to discredit a particular ideological meme, by showing that since a cursory first-glance doesn’t support their claims, Occam’s razor does not apply.

            This meme is the untested hypothesis we routinely hear is formulated as “diversity leads to social anxiety, which reduces cohesion, and thus causing people to vote for non-social democratic policies”.

  38. theodidactus says:

    Hey everyone,
    This is a post from that guy that wrote Synchronicity (the semi-rationalist urban-fantasy/mystery story) and Tingalan (the horror text-based adventure game). Both seemed to get pretty good reviews around these parts, so I thought I’d tell you about my next project, which is up for an interactive fiction competition:
    It’s called “Six Silver Bullets” and it’s basically a spy/noir text-based adventure game with…some extraneous elements I’m not going to tell you about.
    https://ifcomp.org/ballot/#entry-1856

    More broadly, you can play (and rate!) any game on that list, many of which are VERY VERY good. If you like interactive fiction, take a look around.

  39. Scott Alexander says:

    Should I make the visible thread into the no-culture-war one? It might have better optics, it might encourage people to hunt down the hidden ones, and I wouldn’t have to explain what “off-weekend” meant after two weeks.

    • cassander says:

      I’d just be happy with a strictly sequential numbering scheme.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      It might be easier to just put “no CW” or “no culture war” in the title. It would be impossible to miss that way. You have to engineer for the LCD on the internet.

      Alternatively you could have a no CW and a CW thread at the same time. The way some forums have General Discussion and something like The Cesspit, where divisive issues are allowed.

      • Evan Þ says:

        Alternatively you could have a no CW and a CW thread at the same time.

        I oppose that idea. It’s good to have a half-week where we just don’t discuss the Culture War, and it’s good not to have the CW-allowed threads degenerate into “all culture war all the time.”

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I like CW-free threads, but I think that it’s not likely to solve problems with underlying norms; CW content has, I think, reached a sufficiently critical mass that OTs don’t have much of a chance of steering the ship. I’d expect a CW jubilee (with the *exception* of OTs, possibly only the hidden ones) to do better at steering, but have no sense of the appropriate duration.

    • Personally, I’d like to see you get experimental and do things like ban CW topics in all threads for months at a time so we can see what would happen.

      • That’s not going to work. The CW-free thread is mostly self-enforcing. That’s a lot less likely to work if all of them are.

        • Matt M says:

          Agreed. I tend to respect the no-CW rules because really, it’s not so much a “no CW” rule as it is a “no CW for four days” rule, and I have the patience and self-control to abide by that.

          Make it over a week and eh….

      • Nornagest says:

        I hardly ever read the subreddit, but I read it enough to know that it has a rule against waging, as opposed to discussing, the culture war.

        Considering that it always seems to be exploding with some kind of culture-war drama, I think that worked about as well as you’d probably expect.

    • johan_larson says:

      Two OTs per week, one CW-permitted and one CW-forbidden, would be my preference. I’m seeing a lot more CW stuff than I’m interested in.

      Or maybe stick a cork in some specific topics that just go on and on and on.

    • SamChevre says:

      I think making the visible Open Thread the/a no-culture-war one would be a good idea.

      I like the idea of one CW, one no-CW open thread per week.

    • quanta413 says:

      Definitely. I think that will do more to improve the optics than anything else you could do short of mass banning right wing commenters until you’ve managed to tilt things the other way.

      • Matt M says:

        Can I just say that I find the idea that there’s some sort of imperative on Scott to “improve the optics” by hiding/squelching/silencing right wing opinion a little insulting?

        Do sites that are known for being mostly left-wing feel any sort of imperative to “improve the optics” of their spaces by rejecting leftism and making the environment more welcoming for conservatives?

        • Brad says:

          If there was a site run by someone that considered himself on the right he might well feel uncomfortable if his site was known for mostly being left-wing.

        • quanta413 says:

          Just to be clear, I wasn’t saying Scott should engage in mass banning. I think he shouldn’t. I was saying that it would solve the problem he feels he has.

          Improving the optics is also good for all of us because it’s preferable we aren’t considered nothing but a coven of witches. To reduce the motivation for someone or some group to take a random crack at ruining the comment threads here by flooding them with spam.

          • Matt M says:

            Improving the optics is also good for all of us because it’s preferable we aren’t considered nothing but a coven of witches.

            Maybe it’s worth trying to make the argument that being a right-winger does not make someone inherently evil?

            And maybe the people best positioned to make such an argument aren’t right-wingers themselves, but people who have some credibility with the leftist establishment?

          • quanta413 says:

            I think the left-coded people would just go down with the ship even if they tried. Doesn’t sound very likely to work.

            A significant chunk of Scott’s writing is along the lines that right-wingers, Trump voters, etc. aren’t witches though so I think that ground has been tread. Although not so much recently as a while ago.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            He also has devoted a significant amount if time claiming the left wing is composed of lots of witches.

            Call me crazy, it might be part of the problem that he is much less inclined/willing to be charitable to the left.

          • Matt M says:

            Call me crazy, it might be part of the problem that he is much less inclined/willing to be charitable to the left.

            If true, why would he view the issue of having “too many” right-wing people on his site as some sort of “problem” that must somehow be “solved.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            Uncharitably, because his main interest is in seeing those he thinks are left wing witches burn….

            Less uncharitably, he has said in the past his intended audience is/was the left.

          • Matt M says:

            OK, I think I get it now.

            Your claim is that Scott’s main goal is to convince the moderate left to reject the heresy of the SJW-left, and that in order to have any credibility with the moderate left, he must first ensure he isn’t viewed as a rightist (or as an enabler of rightism?)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            He has to have a left wing audience to convince them of anything….

          • Matt M says:

            Well, you’re still here…

          • Brad says:

            Maybe it’s worth trying to make the argument that being a right-winger does not make someone inherently evil?

            And maybe the people best positioned to make such an argument aren’t right-wingers themselves, but people who have some credibility with the leftist establishment?

            Scott is no doubt a very talented writer, but given material like this,

            Given Scott’s description of BART stations, it sounds to me like SF could probably use a great deal more police brutality…

            what exactly do you expect him to be able to do. Even plenty of people on the right are going to see a pro-police-brutality post as cartoonishly evil.

    • liate says:

      I thought that it already was no-culture-war, and that was part of the reasons for the non-visible ones; would be fine with the visible thread being culture-war-free (and switching one of the hidden non-visible culture-war-free threads to culture-war allowed)

    • pontifex says:

      Making the visible OT non-culture war would be good, I think.

    • idontknow131647093 says:

      I made a similar comment on the subreddit when they locked the discussion of the Hoaxing of Gender Studies as culture war:

      If that is culture war, it is immoral to have culture war-free threads because you are just banning incredibly important discussion of an incredibly important (and growing) part of academia because??? Because it might offend the NYT op ed page?

    • CarlosRamirez says:

      It might have better optics

      Who do you want to impress?

      It would definitely encourage me to hunt down the hidden thread, I never bother to do so.

    • Plumber says:

      “Should I make the visible thread into the no-culture-war one? It might have better optics, it might encourage people to hunt down the hidden ones, and I wouldn’t have to explain what “off-weekend” meant after two weeks”

      @Scott Alexander,

      Sure, that’s fine. We can talk Dungeons & Dragons and Tudor guilds for a while instead.

      As far as recent threads go, the “NIMBY”/”YIMBY” threads seemed the most “culture war” to me (old vs. young) and I found them very interesting and I was grateful for the topic change away from the Kavaugh stuff.

    • dodrian says:

      I think it’s worth trying, but you might want to explain what you mean by culture war a bit better.

      In the hidden culture-war-free threads we regularly get people asking what is meant by culture war. I think the regulars get the idea, but if the open thread becomes culture-war-free I would bet this conversation would be rehashed every OT.

      Maybe you could link ‘culture war free’ to a comment or page where you explain what you mean, or what your goal is in asking for these topics to not be discussed on the OT.

    • bean says:

      This doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me, although I’d leave the .5 thread as CW-free too. And write up something explaining a bit more clearly what the policy is, because that question comes up a lot.

      Another thing which might help is temporary topic bans. The Kavanaugh nomination took over all but the .5 OTs for the last few weeks, and it wasn’t particularly fun wading through. Next time, maybe we just say “right, going forward, this topic is banned from future OTs until further notice”, with such notice happening when things have calmed down. I’m not sure this is a good idea/would work, but it might be worth trying.

      • albatross11 says:

        +1

      • AG says:

        Shitpost proposal: How about extending the tragedy-talk stays to all CW topics? We can’t talk about anything CW that didn’t happen over a week ago.

        • bean says:

          A part of me very much likes that. Another part thinks it would be somewhere between confusing and impossible to enforce. The advantage of the “no politicizing tragedies” rule is that it’s usually fairly obvious when a tragedy has happened, and the tragedy stops happening fast enough that it doesn’t raise tricky questions for this policy. But how would that rule apply to the recent hearings? Do we have to talk about it on a three-day (or week) delay? That seems impossible to enforce if we allow any discussion at all. Are we forbidden from discussing it at all until three days after it’s over? That seems unnecessarily limiting. Do we have to stop talking about it after Ford comes forward, and it shifts to high-CW? That’s hard to determine. Saying “please don’t talk about the nomination in this thread, talk about it in OT 111.25” is pretty easy to understand/enforce.

          • Nick says:

            Saying “please don’t talk about the nomination in this thread, talk about it in OT 111.25” is pretty easy to understand/enforce.

            I think bespoke delays like that would work pretty well, yeah.

          • Nornagest says:

            Shitpost-but-also-kinda-serious answer: anything you think is a tragedy is a tragedy for purposes of the politicization rule.

          • AG says:

            To continue with the more absurd track, it would be rolling. You can only talk about Kavanaugh events that happened over a week ago, any HOT NEW DEVELOPMENTS are off limits.

            Theoretically, this would incentivize people to wait until things play out more, anyways, since it becomes less satisfying to talking about things that are still playing out and being unable to talk about the way they’re currently playing out.
            In practice, people write their HOT TAKES at the time, and just post them unedited a week later. But again, theoretically, the week delay would introduce sufficient back-and-forth elements that such HOT TAKES look silly, which we currently can’t know because there’s no hindsight to contrast them with.

          • Nornagest says:

            In practice, people write their HOT TAKES at the time, and just post them unedited a week later.

            I don’t think people are that deliberate with their outrage. Not on a board like this, at least. I can see this pattern happening for full-length blog posts.

    • John Schilling says:

      Probably only a minor improvement, but certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    • rlms says:

      Would be quite nice.

      Related semi-serious proposal: sporadic interminable argument open threads, for discussion of classic topics like “is libertarianism right-wing?”, “who’s worse, Nazis or commies?” etc.

  40. imoimo says:

    Can someone argue for Ted Cruz over Beto O’Rourke for me? I dislike that I’ve heard zero actual comparison of their policies (even after googling) other than “make Texas blue!”

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Ted Cruz is a fiscally conservative evangelical, as least publicly, with a history of successfully arguing the cause of the right before the Supreme Court and he is also ostensibly a strict constitutionalist.

      Beto vs Ted can’t really be argued. Its an issue of preference. Which do you prefer?

    • Deiseach says:

      While you’re at it, can anyone tell me is it true Beto O’Rourke is fond of bending his elbow? Given all the discussion about Kavanaugh’s drinking habits, I saw some kind of reference to O’Rourke being in a car accident due to drunkenness, and naturally the pro-O’Rourke people were defending him staunchly against all the false accusations and mistaken details (that these were much the same people who were excoriating Kavanaugh for lying about his drinking only made the gloriousness richer).

      Plainly with a name like O’Rourke he’s keeping up my nation’s tradition of liking a pint or two, but is he a drunken danger to society who should be kept out of public life as we’ve been told recently persons seeking high office should be, if ever they drank to excess?

    • Ted Cruz is a Princess Bride fan, enough of one to have memorized chunks of dialog. That surely should count for something.

    • Matt M says:

      Beto is in favor of much stricter gun control.

      Which is a bad idea in general, but is an especially bad idea if your goal is to win an election in Texas.

      I tend to believe the conspiracy theories that he doesn’t intend to win this election – he’s just trying to get himself famous to take a run at some sort of federal appointment or something down the road. If you’re trying to win an election in Texas, you simply don’t make the sorts of comments or take the sorts of positions he has been taking, “blue wave” or no.

    • rlms says:

      Only one of them is the Zodiac killer.

  41. dndnrsn says:

    The announcement of greater tolerance for “leftists” reveals part of the problem, just in the way it’s formulated. “Leftist” is used here a lot as a synonym for “left-wing.” Of the two people listed, one is a self-identified socialist or something, the other as far as I can tell is a fairly normal mainstream American left-winger (“liberal” in American political parlance). These aren’t the same thing. The standards of charity and clarity drop remarkably when “leftists” or “the left” are discussed, and it’s not uncommon to see attitudes in which mainstream left-of-centre types and leftists are seen as merely different tendencies within a unified team (this is not the case).

    The target audience here includes a lot of people for whom a particular sort of left-winger (shouty critical theory lefty activist types) is the outgroup, and perceive them as not merely annoying, but extremely threatening. You could argue these people are leftists, or not leftists. They carry that over to thinking about the left in general, sometimes. Interestingly, though, leftists with an economic focus do just fine here: Freddie, for example. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen mild Stalin apologism once or twice (and I suspect if someone showed up and started posting about how eggs must be broken to make an omelette, etc etc, they’d do better than if someone showed up and started posting standard-issue Intro to Gender Studies stuff; the last time I brought up this hunch on my part, I was told that unlike Stalinists, the campus shouty types were dangerous). It’s not that the opinions here are, median, right-wing overall; I suspect that if most people here were shown the platform of the Canadian Liberals (the most boring soulless slightly-left-of-centre centrists there are) they’d approve for everything except the SJ-flavoured stuff. It’s that the people here tend to find a particular sort of person on the left threatening, and this colours their view of politics in ways that I think are profoundly distorting.

    I would encourage people to solve this problem by remembering that outgroup homogeneity bias is not, in fact, just something the outgroup does.

    EDIT: This is something different from a general right-wing drift, too. If I had to guess based on archive binging and posting here, there’s considerably fewer right-wingers of the, shall we say, Very Edgy variety, than there once were. On the other hand, maybe the percentage of people who can roughly be considered “right wing” has increased. So, it’s not a uniform thing. I think this backs up what I think I have perceived: that there’s just a real sloppiness where left-wing stuff is concerned.

    • CarlosRamirez says:

      unlike Stalinists, the campus shouty types were dangerous

      But that’s obviously true, Stalinists are basically lunatics rambling in street corners, they have no chance at all of realizing their vision, unlike campus shouty types, who could realistically achieve all their anti-free-speech and anti-presumption-of-innocence ideology.

      • dndnrsn says:

        1. Past behaviour does count for something. And who knows, maybe there will be another revolution somewhere and it can come back in style.

        2. On university campuses? Sure, the hypothetical median campus shouter might get everything they want, although I think that a total win is less likely (there’s already a backlash, you’ve got guys suing universities for unfair treatment where Title IX is involved and having some success, etc). In society in general? Unlikely.

        • CarlosRamirez says:

          The Kavanaugh affair was almost a victory for throwing out presumption of innocence in society in general, and they do get other victories in that arena, such as James Damore being fired, and that thing with the physicist at CERN.

          • Brad says:

            Was there ever a presumption of innocence for society at large? I don’t recall anyone being particularly hesitant to label OJ a killer both before and after his acquittal.

          • Was there ever a presumption of innocence for society at large?

            I don’t think so. If I believe someone has a fifty percent chance of being a rapist that’s not a sufficient basis to lock him up but it’s more than sufficient to try to keep my daughter from dating him. A twenty percent chance that someone has stolen from his previous employer is a good reason not to hire him for a job that would make it easy for him to steal from me.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @David Friedman

            What chance of guilt does a bare accusation with no evidence, and an equally bare denial, reach?

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            Nybbler, it probably depends on the demonstrated credibility of the two parties.

            I, for one, am disinclined to question anyone who has achieved the distinction of Renate Alumnus, which carries with it the guarantee of a high level of personal integrity.

            Still less would I impugn the honor of someone selected only after an unprecedented level of consultation with people from every walks of life.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            … Very high. Guilty people will, in the absence of hard evidence more or less always deny, as will the innocent, so a bare protestation contains no information whatsoever and false accusations are very rare, so the probability estimate goes well north of ninety in most cases, depending mostly on the odds of honest mis-identification, at which point we are into the weeds of general eyewitness reliability.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            … Very high. […] false accusations are very rare, so the probability estimate goes well north of ninety in most cases

            Isn’t the relevant reference class false accusations against famous people? As somebody becomes more and more famous, the odds that a sufficiently determined search can find somebody accusing them of some nefarious behavior approaches one, and that certainly extends to accusations of nefarious sexual behavior.

            David Letterman had the woman who thought she was married to him and kept breaking into his house. Cartoonist Scott Adams has his Canadian stalker who thinks he sends her secret messages via his comic strip. Would you assign their stories “well north of 90%” likelihood of being true?

            The toxoplasma selection mechanism ensures that if you have heard of an unproven accusation, it’s probably not nearly as solid as a charge that wasn’t selected for by an outrage-driven media hunting to support salacious stories. The more famous and high-status the person being accused, the more likely they will accumulate false charges you have heard about. This is due partly to salience – people can only have weird fantasies or false memories naming others they’ve heard of so the more people have heard of you, the more likely your name will come up in their dreams/fantasies/hallucinations/false memories. But it’s also due to media bias – charges involving people we’ve already heard of are considered more newsworthy by reporters.

            So a priori I would tend to assume extremely low odds of guilt given an uncorroborated charge against a famous high-status person which I have heard about in the news. It’s certainly not fair that already-famous people deserve extra benefit-of-the-doubt with regard to accusations. But mathematically speaking, they do.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            How much does Dr. Ford resemble the false accusers in those cases?
            Tbh, this form of argument makes her seem more credible to me: false accusers of high-profile men (to be clear, going only by your examples, I’m not pretending to accurately summarize the actual facts here) exhibit delusional behaviour, and have clear mental health issues.

            Since Ford does not share those characteristics, I update away from her being a false accuser of a high-profile man.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            I read the question was not about this case, but about how I viewed “naked” sexual assault allegations in the general case. Which, just by the numbers is “Either guilty, or unfortunate physical resemblance to rapist”. – Because looking at the cases of people cleared of false rape charges, it was essentially never the case that the charge was made up, but instead cases of the police arresting the wrong guy.

            That is, of course, terrifying, and why just one witness is not really enough for a court case, but there is no real risk of ending up in jail because someone lies about these things. Your risk of ending up in jail for a rape you did not commit is essentially the same as your risk of ending up there for a burglary or robbery you did not do. – It can happen if your local law enforcement sucks donkey balls, but it is not generally a thing to worry about.

            … In fact, rapists get away clean far too damn often, especially since it is typically a serial crime. We are not very good, as a society, at catching rapists.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Very high. Guilty people will, in the absence of hard evidence more or less always deny, as will the innocent, so a bare protestation contains no information whatsoever and false accusations are very rare, so the probability estimate goes well north of ninety in most cases

            To me, this is just plain insanity. People make up crap about other people all the time; this is much of what we call “gossip”. Known false accusations of sexual assault _made to the police_ are not “very rare” — that’s your 2-8% estimate, which I would call “rare’ but not “very rare”. But so are convictions; most sexual assault cases fall in neither bucket. For a simple accusation to be >>90% the way to certainty is a Salem Witch Trial level of error.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Is gossip generally supposed to be false? I think it’s often unconfirmed, or exaggerated, but most of the gossip that gets passed around in my circles is mostly true, if maybe exaggerated to highlight the salacious details.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            The statement of the accused is a null-data point, because it does not depend on underlying reality at all.
            Odds of the accuser maliciously lying or being out and out insane, sub five percent in the general case according to the numbers. That gets you north of ninety percent.

            Its possible I should assign higher odds for “Rape victims misidentifying the perp due to eye-witness testimony not being all that great”. Do you have good research on how often people finger the entirely wrong person out of lineups in general criminal cases, because that would interest me.
            But I do not see how “Overwhelmingly likely to be true, even if not beyond reasonable doubt” is a crazy statement.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Odds of the accuser maliciously lying or being out and out insane, sub five percent in the general case according to the numbers.

            That is _not_ what the data says. The usual range is 2-8%, for accusations of sexual assault _reported to the police_ that are _conclusively determined to be false_.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            Yhea, I do not give a shit about accusations made to your exs new boyfriend or whatever, the relevant stat is the police reports.

            National average of 4.3 percent of the police finding a charge of rape groundless. And that does not prove it is false.

            https://www.propublica.org/article/false-rape-accusations-an-unbelievable-story

            Look, reporting a rape is a horrific experience. Nobody sane does it for funsies. Crazy happens, but is not common.

            Most rape victims do not report because they would rather let the perpetrator get away with the shit they did to them than go through the experience of reporting, it is that bad.

            This even goes beyond just misogyny – Male rape victims are possibly even more reluctant to report.

            There just is not any epidemic of false reporting of rape. That is not a social or justice problem that exists.

            Here is a major problem we do have: Rape, and shitty, shitty enforcement of the law as regards rape.

            The victim surveys and the surveys of perpetrators line up, and say the same thing – Rape is terrifyingly common, rapists are rare, but also most rapists are serial offenders who victimize terrifyingly large numbers of victims each. Because we are just shit at catching them.

            This is a major enforcement problem, it is very hard to enforce laws without reporting.

            Which is the whole point of “believe women”. Nobody is saying the accusation should suffice to convict. Because eyewitnesses suck.

            The point is that you should believe and investigate to find some actual evidence.

          • ana53294 says:

            From what I have heard about rape cases, in order to get physical evidence of rape, a woman who was raped needs to do the following:

            Immediately report to the police.

            Don’t shower or change.

            Be subjected to a medical examination. A rape kit will be used. That means somebody putting their hands the parts of your body that were just now violated.

            After they get the evidence:

            The police will interview you.

            The prosecutor will interview you.

            Months after that, you will need to relieve your experience, and do it in front of a judge, with an unfriendly lawyer being allowed to ask all kinds of ridiculous questions about your life.

            The defense may hire a PI to dig up dirt on you.

            Evidence that is incriminatory (such as other ongoing cases for the accused rapist), will be discarded, while evidence of the victim going on with her life will be used in court.

            After having physical evidence, videos of the incidence, and a case anybody would see was rape, the rapists may still not be accused of rape. And the judge may state in his opinion that he thinks the incident was to the joy an pleasure of all involved.

            At least this is what happened in Spain, with the gang rape victim who was raped in all kinds of ways by five men during the San Fermines.

            After seeing that happen, the last thing I would want to do would be to report something like that.

          • The Nybbler says:

            National average of 4.3 percent of the police finding a charge of rape groundless. And that does not prove it is false.

            I don’t know where that data comes from. The number I’ve seen for “unfounded” (which means the report was determined through investigation to be false or baseless) is 8%. But that does not mean the other 92% are true, either.

            Most rape victims do not report because they would rather let the perpetrator get away with the shit they did to them than go through the experience of reporting, it is that bad.

            As with any factor that preferentially discourages true reports, this raises, not lowers, the probability that a given report is false.

          • cassander says:

            @Thomas Jørgensen says:

            Yhea, I do not give a shit about accusations made to your exs new boyfriend or whatever, the relevant stat is the police reports.

            Can I assume, then, that you don’t care about the kavanaugh accusations and think they aren’t worth discussing because they were never the police? Because that seems like a bold stance.

          • What chance of guilt does a bare accusation with no evidence, and an equally bare denial, reach?

            Depends on the people and the incentives.

          • albatross11 says:

            Thomas Jorgensen:

            The known-false accusations (the ones the authorities decide are false) have both kinds of errors–sometimes, the police are discarding a real accusation because it looks fake, but also sometimes the police are accepting a false accusation because it looks real. We don’t know the fractions in either of those cases.

            We know that a lot of women who are raped or sexually assaulted don’t report it, typically because they expect that there’s not enough evidence for the police to do anything about it, sometimes because they don’t think it’s worth the hassle to them. (Kavenaugh’s alleged assault on Dr Ford might very well have fallen into that category.) We get that from victim surveys. Some of those people are probably wrong/lying in some direction, too, but at least there’s not much incentive for them to lie.

          • albatross11 says:

            I know a number of women whose word I trust who have told me that they have been sexually assaulted or raped. Every one who went to the authorities with the accusation felt like it was a worse experience than the assault/rape, including the woman I know where her attacker got prison time. Lots didn’t bother reporting it.

            This makes me want to know: Are there other countries where rape/sexual assault cases are handled better? Where it’s not a horrible ordeal to accuse someone of rape or sexual assault? Are there ways we could make our justice system work better that would improve this?

            Putting more rapists in prison for long enough to keep them from committing more rapes is a win, but the way we do it still puts the victim of the crime through the wringer.

          • ana53294 says:

            Are there other countries where rape/sexual assault cases are handled better? Where it’s not a horrible ordeal to accuse someone of rape or sexual assault?

            IIRC, Sweden has one of the highest rates of rape reports*. They also are one of the countries that defines rape by the lack of consent, without a requirement for violence or intimidation that we have in Spain.

            *I have seen plenty of right wingers interpreting this as Sweden having a higher rape rate. I don’t think it’s that, but that more rape victims report it.

          • Baeraad says:

            *I have seen plenty of right wingers interpreting this as Sweden having a higher rape rate. I don’t think it’s that, but that more rape victims report it.

            That, and, as you alluded to, more things are legally classed as “rape” here than elsewhere.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          1. Past behaviour does count for something. And who knows, maybe there will be another revolution somewhere and it can come back in style.

          eh, as Frederik De Boer himself pointed out, today’s governments are much more stable and well-armed than Russia was back then. A revolution is unlikely to succeed. Compare it to supposed campus revolutionaries; Obama wasn’t as bad on identity politics as some make him out to be, but he had a good amount of intersectionality stuff going on (buying into the wage gap, Title XI changes, probably some stuff I can’t remember).

          Point is, the revolution necessary for Stalinists to succeed is something along the lines of a successful mass armed revolt; campus radicals can win a pretty big victory just by having Kamala Harris or someone win in 2020. Maybe not as big as I think, but still, Stalinists are nowhere near that type of victory, and I think campus radicals can win outright without needing anything like a mass revolt.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @AnonYEmous

            I don’t know if that’s “intersectionality” in the technical meaning of the term. The wage gap and the Title IX stuff are both pretty “single-axis” along the line of gender; there’s no intersection going on.

            EDIT: And with regard to the “revolution” comment, sure, the developed world is unlikely to see that. There are plenty of unstable places, though.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            yeah, sorry, there aren’t a lot of good / accurate terms to describe this sort of thing

            well except “SJW” which is both good and accurate, but somehow people seem to object to it…

            anyways, the developed world is unlikely to see revolution and Stalinists aren’t close to seizing power any other way. “SJW”s? Kind of closer to the throne there.

      • John Schilling says:

        1. Past behaviour does count for something. And who knows, maybe there will be another revolution somewhere and it can come back in style.

        But that’s what it would take; an actual revolution. And one in which a dark horse faction with minimal support won an astounding victory. This is possible, yes, maybe it could happen. But the path to victory for “campus shouty types” is vastly more likely to actually happen.

        And the same is true on the other side of the political spectrum. Nazis are dead and gone, and they’re not coming back except as a joke. Trumpists, have won real and substantial victories and gone about doing some dangerous and harmful things. And neither focusing on the Nazis in hope that this would stop the Trumpists, nor calling the Trumpists “Nazis” in the hope that this would motivate the opposition, worked.

        Stalinists and Nazis both should be mostly ignored, with an occasional reminder that they are nasty, spiteful jokes. This frees people up to focus on the actual dangers.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @John Schilling

          So, I’m not saying that Stalinism in the US is remotely likely. Or even somewhere else (eg, the hot new Bordurian rebels are Stalinists, and they successfully storm the capital). I just think it’s strange that the emotional reaction here to Stalinists is so much less dramatic than the emotional reaction to campus shouters. I think there is a miscalibration; the amount of worry and the emotional reaction are both excessive.

          Also: what does “victory” for the campus shouters look like? I would argue that they are both incapable of getting something others would see as victory (so, in practical terms), in society in general and perhaps even on campuses or wherever. They are certainly incapable of getting something they would see as acoomplete victory (because their 100% win-all-the-trophies full-completionist victory condition is probably impossible).

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I think there is a miscalibration; the amount of worry and the emotional reaction are both excessive.

            i think so too but my emotional reaction is such that I don’t want to fix this at all

            you’re not wrong that there’s something off about it, possibly even beyond Scott’s conception of fargroup vs. outgroup, which could otherwise explain it pretty cleanly

            anyways, campus shouters are unlikely to win total victory, but winning partial victory is, uh, something they already did. No, seriously, it is. So could that victory become more partial? Currently it’s becoming less partial, but that’s really down to people emotionally overreacting to them in my eyes, so there’s that.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            See, I think the opposite, that the reaction to Nazis is completely overblown, and the reaction to Stalinists is about right. They can both be safely ignored because they both have zero chance of coming to power. I think the people who take to the streets whenever Richard Spencer shows up somewhere are the crazy ones, because no one cares what Richard Spencer has to say, he has no path to power, and all the activists are doing is drawing more attention to him. Tankies can have their gatherings too, but without protest, because they are correctly perceived by the right as irrelevant.

            On the other hand, the Kavanaugh hearings are an example of the campus Title IX sex assault courts manifesting themselves in the highest halls of power in the US. And as an example of the seriousness of Trumpism, I’d point to, well, Trump.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @AnonYEmous

            What do you mean by “more” and “less partial”? It’s a bit unclear. Are you saying that the backlash against them is effective in reducing their victory?

            EDIT: @Conrad Honcho

            I would argue that the Kavanaugh hearings are a clear example of the opposite. Had Kavanaugh been a guy (hell, even a girl, women are getting hit by Title IX-type stuff occasionally, and it’s happening to grownups on campus too) at university accused by another student (let alone with other complainants showing up) he would have been out on his ass. The standard of proof that would be needed to stop a confirmation is clearly higher than the standard that would be needed to get a guy in serious trouble on campus; the evidence for this is that he got confirmed.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The standard of proof that would be needed to stop a confirmation is clearly higher than the standard that would be needed to get a guy in serious trouble on campus;

            Not for lack of trying.

            the evidence for this is that he got confirmed.

            By the skin of his teeth.

            I’m not saying the Kavanaugh hearing is proof the campus shouters have won. I’m saying it’s proof they have a big impact at levels of national importance.

            You’ll notice we did not have to have weeks of discussion to examine Kavanaugh’s commitment to the dictatorship of the proletariat or the purity of the Aryan race. This is because the concerns of the Stalinists and the Nazis are not relevant, while the concerns of the campus shouters ground the political and media apparatus to a halt.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            First, he was probably gonna get confirmed by the skin of his teeth, without the allegations. He was not cruising towards a landslide confirmation until the accusations showed up.

            Second, I think you’re misidentifying the source of a lot of the anti-Kavanaugh hate. Sexual assault in general is quite common, rape specifically is less common but still pretty common, and these are crimes which are far more male-on-female than the reverse (even if one counts “made to penetrate” or whatever the term is as rape as opposed to general sexual assault). “Bundled” with this is the fact that the sexual ecosystem in universities is pretty bad for young women, which I think adds to the (in many ways legitimate) generalized sense of grievance that women have today (especially younger women, and especially for university-educated women: the Republicans may lose married university-educated white women, whereas up until now married white women regardless of education vote 50% or more Republican).

            The campus shouters are a minority, and would probably be happy with nothing less than a less-than-the-balance-of-probabilities standard. There’s a lot of women who think that’s nuts, but who nevertheless share those grievances above. The fairly hardline “believe female accusers formally and automatically” position gets used as rhetoric, when the actual ask is much smaller; this is fairly typical in politics.

            Even on campuses, anonymous accusations circulating don’t bring guys down unless everybody disliked that guy anyway for other reasons: I went to a majority-female, left-wing school, and there were guys who were known (in a gossip sense) to be sexual predators of one sort or another (most, but not all, predating women). Whether or not a guy actually got in any trouble (even just people-don’t-like-him social sanctions) depended far more on whether he was popular in general than the seriousness or veracity of what he was accused of. Heck, the shouters themselves have internal harassment, abuse, and assault problems, to the point that there’s a book about it and how to deal with it (I read it, and it didn’t make me confident their proposals would work to deal with the problem – for example, the solutions to abusers are accountability-based processes that would be very easy for a manipulator to bluff their way through).

            (As an aside, related to that last point, I think there’s an interesting pattern of cases where someone who is an asshole, harasser, power-abuser, etc, but not in a sexual fashion necessarily, or generally rather than specifically sexually, getting taken down by fairly thin harassment or whatever claims. See the Ronell case, the Kimmel accusations, the Weir case in the NDP, probably the sexual harassment allegations against Tambor: “this professor treats grad students like shit” or “this politician is an asshole” or “this actor regularly berates people in an extremely abusive fashion” all merit three quarters of a shrug; sex-related allegations get more attention.)

          • Gazeboist says:

            these are crimes which are far more male-on-female than the reverse (even if one counts “made to penetrate” or whatever the term is as rape as opposed to general sexual assault)

            No.

          • Plumber says:

            “….I would argue that the Kavanaugh hearings are a clear example of the opposite. Had Kavanaugh been a guy (hell, even a girl, women are getting hit by Title IX-type stuff occasionally, and it’s happening to grownups on campus too) at university accused by another student (let alone with other complainants showing up) he would have been out on his ass. The standard of proof that would be needed to stop a confirmation is clearly higher than the standard that would be needed to get a guy in serious trouble on campus; the evidence for this is that he got confirmed”

            @dndnrsn,

            Yes, those colleges sound like “hostile environments” for the boys who go to them, so here’s a solution: stop attending those colleges and just leave them as a “safe space” for girls.

            Let women have the “professions” and come into the “trades” along with your brethren. 

            Problem solved. 

            Or you know, re-establish some all male colleges, that could work too (women only colleges still exist so why not?).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Gazeboist

            It seems fair to me to use “far more” to describe a 2 or 3 to 1 disparity. How would you describe such a disparity?

            @Plumber

            The thing is, it seems like the campus sexual environment is hostile to everyone. On mixed-sex campuses, the sexual culture isn’t very friendly to women; the combination of binge drinking and casual sex sold as the key to enlightenment, the increasingly lopsided sex ratio (giving men a market advantage of sorts; I think this lets guys get away with bad behaviour they might not otherwise), the number of men who seem to have only number of sexual partners by which to measure their masculinity (which does not inculcate a habit of consideration for those sexual partners). Meanwhile, the supposed solution to this is to make it easier to get people in trouble for sex-related misconduct (which seems to nail people who are often dubiously guilty, and which might not actually make sexual offences less likely).

            Single-sex schools might not be a solution either; it’s not like all-male schools don’t have a long history of sexual abuse of boys and young men both by other students and by faculty, and there’s stories about female-on-female sexual assault at women’s colleges too.

          • Matt M says:

            women only colleges still exist so why not?

            Are you seriously this naieve?

            I am becoming increasingly convinced that this is a troll account.

          • Jacobethan says:

            Are you seriously this naieve?

            Which part do you find naive? That college-aged men would want to attend a single-sex school, or that such a school would actually be any better in terms of improving the environment around sex on campus?

          • Matt M says:

            That such a school would be allowed to exist in today’s political environment.

          • Jacobethan says:

            There are three remaining all-men’s colleges: Wabash (Ind.), Hampden-Sydney (Va.), and St. John’s (Minn.). So far as I know all three are basically flourishing institutions in the broad mainstream of higher ed.

            Of course, that doesn’t tell us much about what the optics would be of trying to start an all-male institution de novo in the current climate. Then again, the country is full of all-boys private high schools, which so far as I can tell contemporary progressivism has shown surprisingly little interest in trying to make coed. (I could be wrong about that, but if there is a push I haven’t really heard about it.)

            Given that there isn’t really a coherent norm against single-sex education, but rather a muddle of seemingly inconsistent assumptions for different ages and contexts, I’ve sometimes wondered if one outcome of the current blowup might be some kind of movement back toward the idea of single-sex colleges. My guess is it’s unlikely, but not inconceivable we’d see something like that.

          • ana53294 says:

            My understanding is that you cannot have a high status male-only college.

            So, schools like Harvard, Yale and Stanford are gatekeepers into certain well-paying jobs.

            I don’t think feminists will give a damn about Low-Status 4 Year All Male Community College. But as soon a LS4YAMCC gets into the top #100 in rankings, then there will be a demand for co-ed.

          • Jacobethan says:

            Yes and no.

            Wabash is ranked #56 liberal arts college; near peers in the rankings include Trinity, Bard, and Sarah Lawrence. The other two are lower (#95 and #113), but still respectably mid-tier.

            So we’re definitely not talking Harvard, Princeton, Stanford-level gatekeeper status, and I’m sure being small and in flyover country helps keep them under the radar, but Wabash at least could be vaguely described as an elite institution.

          • Gazeboist says:

            CN: heavy discussion of rape, etc

            Note: everything below is discussing the US. I don’t know what the stats look like elsewhere, and wouldn’t be too surprised if they were quite different in, say, Japan.

            It seems fair to me to use “far more” to describe a 2 or 3 to 1 disparity. How would you describe such a disparity?

            I’ve got multiple objections to this, because you’re conflating victimization rates and perpetrator ratios while also minimizing both. Your apparent dismissal of the preferred method of female-on-male rape does you no credit either.

            Most basically, “far more”, especially the way you are using it, implies that the minority is essentially negligible. I read your statement as one that almost all rapes have a male perpetrator and a female victim. That does not seem like a fair description of the 20-25% of rape victims who are men, according to the report in question (which has since been superseded, but I’m going to start by focusing on it).

            The ToT post says, “Except for rape by penetration, non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, and stalking, the majority of perpetrators of every type of sexual and intimate partner violence against males are female.” This is noteworthy but not particularly specific.

            Taking a look at the actual report (the link in the blog post only goes to the executive summary) discussed in the ToT post, I find the following noteworthy data points (from page 24 of the report, which is page 34 of the pdf):

            – 98.1% and 92.5% of female victims report exclusively male perpetrators of rape and “other sexual violence” respectively. This is essentially as expected.
            – 93.3% of male rape by penis or penis substitute victims report exclusively male perpetrators. Again, pretty much as expected.
            – For “unwanted sexual contact” and “non-contact unwanted sexual experiences”, a slim majority (53.1%) and substantial minority (37.7%), respectively, of male victims report exclusively female perpetrators. A bit more than half of the male non-contact victims report at least some female perpetrators; the CDC doesn’t give enough data to figure out the at-least-some numbers for the other items.
            – 79.2% of male victims of rape by envelopment report only female perpetrators. Similarly, 83.6% of male victims of sexual coercion report exclusively female perpetrators. Again, the percentage reporting at least some female perpetrators is a mystery.

            Looking at the definitions on page 17/27, the following things jump out to me:

            – “Made to penetrate” for female victims is defined exclusively as being forced to perform oral sex on another woman. For male victims, it includes rape by envelopment, forced performance of oral sex on a woman, and unwanted receipt of oral sex. Female victims who receive unwanted oral sex seem to be binned as unwanted sexual contact victims rather than rape victims, but it’s hard to tell. In any case, they don’t appear to be counted as rape victims.
            – The “made to penetrate” and “rape” definitions track each other exactly except where describing the sex act the victim is forced to perform or participate in.
            – Victims forced to manually stimulate the perpetrator aren’t counted as rape victims at all, in either definition.
            – These definitions are going to count essentially every gay rapist, but could plausibly miss a fair number of lesbian rapists, especially given the emphasis placed on male rapists penetrating other people with their penises.

            With those caveats in mind, here’s a simple back-of-the-envelope estimate of the ratio of male-on-female rapes vs female-on-male rapes. We’ll round penis-or-penis-substitute rapists up to 100% male. This is basically accurate for female victims and a bit of an undercount for male victims, but it simplifies things by getting rid of the overlap problem. Rape by envelopment perpetrators we’ll round off as 80% female. Assuming roughly equal male and female populations, 18.3% of women and 4.8% of men being rape victims means that a bit less than 21% of rape victims are men. Multiplying this by 80% and we have a lowball estimate that a bit less than 1/6 of all rapes are female on male.

            1/6 is a minority, but it’s a substantial one. For reference, the 2015 ACS has african americans at about 1/8 of the US population. If you don’t think it’s reasonable to say there are “far fewer” black americans than non-blacks (and I don’t), then I don’t think you can say that rape is “far more” male-on-female than it is female-on-male.

            The 2017 report, which covers 2011 and 2012 in addition to 2010, says 1.2% of women and 1.5% of men were raped in the 12 months prior to the survey (and comes quite close to admitting that the men in question were in fact raped, surprisingly). It also has 2.1% of women and 1.7% of men experiencing “unwanted sexual contact” in the same period. Given the caveats above about counting the victims of lesbian rapists, I’d bet that the actual current (as opposed to lifetime) rate of rape victimization is about the same for men and women, as is the case with intimate partner harassment and violence.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Gazeboist

            1. I’m not dismissing female-on-male rape; I think that envelopment-without-consent or whatever we should call it should be counted as rape, legally speaking.

            2. If I’m doing the math right (which I easily might not be) about 7/10 rapes are male perpetrator, female victim (.75 female victims x ~.95 male perpetrators). If 1/6 rapes are female-on-male, and 7/10 rapes are male-on-female, then male-on-female rape is about 4x more common than female-on-male (10/60 vs 42/60). I would say that is “far more common.”

            3. I think you’re misidentifying my position. I already had as my prior that about 1/4 of victims of rape are male (including, as I do, envelopment as rape). I think it’s wrongheaded to conceive of rape and sexual assault as “women’s problems” (for one thing, some men might conclude they’re not in that corner; for another, it limits useful discussions of how consent works) just as one would not look at the statistic that around 4/5 of homicide victims are men, and conclude that getting murdered is a “man’s problem.” However, would it be fair to say that “far more” men are murdered than women? I think it would be.

            EDIT: I would say that there are far fewer members of a group that is 1/8 of the population than the other 7/8. I would also say there are far more people living in Vietnam (just under 93 million) than in Belgium (just under 11.5 million).

          • Matt M says:

            Eh, I went to grad school in Indiana and Wabash is just barely known and respected in-state. I can’t imagine it carries much cache outside the midwest at all.

            (That said, I should have remembered it was all-male, that’s my mistake and I was wrong to say that such institutions are not “allowed to exist.”)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:

            You may be thinking of some prominent cases that required all male public (military) schools to start admitting women.

          • I am becoming increasingly convinced that this is a troll account.

            And I am confident it is not.

            Plumber does not fit into any of the patterns we are used to here which makes his views seem at first glance odd but also makes him interesting.

          • Nick says:

            Didn’t he say he stopped by one of the SSC meetups? I’m sure the people there can verify he’s real.

          • Plumber says:

            “…The thing is, it seems like the campus sexual environment is hostile to everyone…”

            @dndnrsn,

            From what I’m reading it seems like that, but my “college” was mostly spent in a welding booth, and my wife dropped out of Boalt in the very early 1990’s after she met me, so I don’t know anything about it first-hand. 

            Are you seriously this naieve?…:

            @Matt M,

            I was sincere about “…stop attending those colleges…” and “…come into the “trades” along with your brethren. Problem solved…”, and while “…re-establish some all male colleges” was an after thought that others are focusing on, I was sincere there as well.

            In my unions apprenticeship classes I had a couple of women classmates in a couple of classes but they were outnumbered more than 20 to 1 and they didn’t complain about any harassment from other apprentices (just the same job stuff I did), at Mills College in Oakland all the undergraduates are women but they’re a few graduate student men, but I know of no he-said-she-said tales from there, instead where I hear about such stuff is U.C. Berkeley which is majority women, but not overwhelmingly so like Mills.

            Notice a pattern? 

            “My understanding is that you cannot have a high status male-only college.

            So, schools like Harvard, Yale and Stanford are gatekeepers into certain well-paying jobs.

            I don’t think feminists will give a damn about Low-Status 4 Year All Male Community College. But as soon a LS4YAMCC gets into the top #100 in rankings, then there will be a demand for co-ed”

            @ana53294,

            You’re probably right, but I don’t want those elite institution “gatekeepers” and “certain well-paying jobs” to exist anyway, so the idea of an all-male-boycott of them pleases me.

            EDIT:

            “….Plumber does not fit into any of the patterns we are used to here which makes his views seem at first glance odd but also makes him interesting”

            Thanks @DavidFriedman, I also find your views interesting, and I also find them educational.

            “Didn’t he say he stopped by one of the SSC meetups? I’m sure the people there can verify he’s real”

            @Nick,

            I was very briefly at a Less Wrong/SSC meetup on Brannan Street in San Francisco a month or three ago, but my nights and weekends are spent with family so it’s not likely I’ll find time to do that anytime soon, but if someone wants to meet (beer or coffee is on me) near the San Francisco Hall of Justice, or Berkeley, California e-mail me: HOJ [dot] plumber [at] gmail [dot] com (no spaces), and I’ll give you my phone number and we can meet somewhere “during rush hour” (Mondays are best for me, but another weekday could probably work).

            I don’t know much about coffee, but I’m not cheap when it comes to beer.

          • ana53294 says:

            Instead where I hear about such stuff is U.C. Berkeley which is majority women, but not overwhelmingly so like Mills.

            This is a well-known statistical trend. IIRC, in colleges with more than 60 % of women, a hook-up culture is established, with loose sexual morals and plenty of alcohol. This is slightly less in overwhelmingly female colleges located in big cities, with plenty of other options. Colleges with more men than women have a culture of long-term dating (I saw statistics where the higher the percentage of men, the more stable the relationships).

            If a place is almost fully female, I guess women will not bother lowering their standards and getting involved in hook-up culture and easy sex if there is no chance of getting a relationship out of it.

    • Plumber says:

      @dndnrsn,

      I’ve known some folks who actually were Stalinists when Stalin was alive (one of whom, the former Vice President of my union local when I asked about it told me with a smile “I will neither confirm or deny..” and when I said “if not you’d have to be the fellow travelist of fellow travels” which got a laugh out of him), and by their tales some of then were very “shouty” in their youths.

      To your larger point, what little I know of current “campus leftists”, and their lectures on pronoun usage and the like, make them sound so very anti-working-class people and culture that just like “liberal” and “conservative” the meaning of “left” seems unrecognizable to say a 1948 definition of “leftist” or “progressive” (do they even know who Henry Wallace was?).

      As for thr right-wing?

      You tell me.

      • dndnrsn says:

        You find very few working-class students on campus, of any political persuasion. The interests of the working class on campus are not really represented (at least in part because their interests would be served by “raise the tuition and spend all the extra money on wages for the support staff, administrators not included.”)

        • ana53294 says:

          I thought that would be “fire most of admins, increase support staff salaries”. You can keep the professor’s salaries stable.

          My understanding was that most of the price increases are administrative bloat.

          • dndnrsn says:

            That would be good too, but it’s harder to cut down on bureaucracy of any kind, than it is to raise the price of things.

    • Deiseach says:

      In my (limited) experience, there’s a large overlap between the Stalinists and the campus shouty types; the Marxist-Leninists are out in positions of (trying to have) influence in the Real World and the Maoists are only slowly making a comeback.

      I’ve had the pleasure of watching a minor Tumblr spat between one of the American “Communism is what we need” types fighting with real Eastern Europeans who grew up in post-Communist countries, whose families had lived under Real Communism, and who while not enthusiasts for Full-On Capitalism were certainly a lot better informed about the failure modes of Real Communism. Needless to say, American Student Communist was all (a) That wasn’t Real Communism (b) America is different and it would be different here! (c) You guys know nothing about how Real Communism works!

      That’s the kind of ‘shouty campus type’ I’m thinking of, though as ever YMMV.

      • Aapje says:

        @Deiseach

        In my (limited) experience, there’s a large overlap between the Stalinists and the campus shouty types

        And yet colleges discriminate against Asians, but not against the bourgeoisie. Is it surprising that these middle-class-or-above students don’t actually want to discriminate against all their friends and family?

    • Uncorrelated says:

      I’m one of those people who, at least emotionally, find the “shouty critical theory lefty activist types” to be “not merely annoying, but extremely threatening”. But I don’t think any of the reasons that other posters have given for that feeling, mostly in contrast to Stalinists, described what causes me to feel that way. (Or I missed them.)

      I’m not quite a Rationalist, but certainly adjacent, and the threat that I feel is to standards of rationality, evidence, and such. So while I’m troubled by them getting some particular policy decisions made, which on their own may lead to what I would consider bad outcomes, I’m much more concerned about damage being done to decision making processes and making all of our future decisions worse. Actually, even where I agree on specific policies, and there are some I agree with, I’d rather we get the specific policies wrong than risk letting our collective thinking skills get any worse than they already are. And given the prevalence of critical theory and related thinking in academia this happening does feel more plausible than Stalinists getting their way.

      I want to emphasize the use of “emotionally” and “feel” above. I’m not sure how real the threat is and more than one reasonable/knowledgeable sounding poster here has pointed out that a lot of us aren’t properly understanding post modernism or critical theory. But I think this is the right explanation for my immediate, gut reaction to the people in question. And, given the Rationalist connections of SSC, I’d guess that applies to some other people here.

      I’d like to mention that something in this area has change recently. I’m some variant of Libertarian, and have never felt comfortable with either Democrats or Republicans (I’m in the U.S.) but in the past was less uncomfortable with Republicans and part of this was the above mentioned shouty types. But recently I’m feeling pretty similar about Trumpy types.

      • albatross11 says: