THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

Open Thread 112.75

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1,125 Responses to Open Thread 112.75

  1. South Bay Meetup, November 3rd.

  2. Since this is not a CW free thread, I would like to comment on a number of points raised by the controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s DNA results. I find the controversy interesting not for what it says about Warren but for what it says about her supporters, and more generally about partisans in such situations.

    A friend of mine put up a post on FaceBook discussing the political effect of Warren’s announcement. Looking over the comments, I noticed a lot of people claiming that Trump was now obliged to donate a million dollars to a charity of Warren’s choosing. As best I recall, I was the only person to point out that Trump’s condition was not a DNA test, nor a DNA test showing some Amerind ancestry, but a DNA test showing that Warren was an Indian. The DNA result Warren reported was one Amerind ancestor six to ten generations back, which corresponds to between 1.5% and .1% Amerind ancestry. We would not normally describe someone as an Indian on that basis, so Trump had no obligation to pay out.

    Trump, being Trump, offered an unrelated and much less defensible argument, possibly because he thinks a bully is a more attractive feature than a rules lawyer. But what struck me was the near unanimous claim by the pro-Warren people that she had fulfilled his condition when, so far as I could tell, it was clear that she had not.

    Other discussions I saw on FB by Warren partisans took it for granted that the DNA results cleared Warren of the charge of having made a bogus claim of Amerind ancestry. But the basis for that claim was Warren listing herself with the AALS as a minority law professor and two universities that employed her describing her as a Native American law professor. Neither of those is justified by evidence that she may have had an Amerind great, great, great, great grandparent–or perhaps eight greats. To be fair, while it’s hard to see who other than Warren could have told the universities that she was a Native American, it’s possible that they exaggerated her claim for their own purposes, that she said she had some Native American ancestry and they expanded that to being a Native American. But that doesn’t explain the claim of minority status to the AALS.

    Another argument in defense of Warren, based on a Boston Globe article, was the claim that she got no advantage from claiming to be a minority, since everyone the paper asked at both Penn and Harvard insisted that that had not been a factor in hiring her. That may, for all I know, be true, although given that almost everyone at both law schools would have preferred Warren to her opponent in the senatorial race, I’m less confident of it than the Globe.

    But it’s also not very relevant. It’s uncontested that she listed herself with the AALS as a minority law professor, and was so recorded in their 1968-9 list. She would have done that in early 1968 or late 1967, before she got an offer from Penn, where she had visited the previous year. Whether or not the claim to be a minority ended up being responsible for her being hired, I think anyone familiar with law school academia would agree that it would be a plus in a hiring decision, which strongly suggests that that was why she listed herself that way.

    What is interesting is how little interest her partisans take in all of this. On the face of it, pretending to be a minority when you are not in a situation where being a minority is an advantage is the sort of thing that people on the left, supporters of affirmative action, should regard as a very serious offense against their principles. Yet she not only did not get ostracized, she ended up as a leading figure on the left of the Democratic party.

    One explanation, consistent with the FB commentary I saw, is that people are very good at not believing things they don’t want to believe. It reminded me of an older example of the same pattern, the fact that Ted Kennedy, by his own account, drove a car with a female passenger off a bridge, got out of it, went home, and called the police ten hours later. It was the opinion of the diver who eventually retrieved her body that she died of asphyxiation when the air in the car ran out, several hours after the accident.

    The left was outraged by the idea of appointing to the Supreme Court someone who had been accused, but not proved, of an unsuccessful rape attempt as a drunk teenager. Quite a lot of them wanted to make Ted Kennedy president.

    I haven’t paid as much attention to analogous patterns on the right. Trump would be the obvious example. I’m not sure how many of his partisans believe things about him that are demonstrably untrue, how many are just willing to take him warts and all. Can someone offer other examples of people the right takes as leaders, where doing so requires ignoring clear evidence of behavior inconsistent with the stated principles of their supporters? From time to time a fundamentalist minister or a conservative Republican turns out to have been having an affair, but my impression is that they generally confess their fault and ask for forgiveness.

    • Aapje says:

      Aren’t the error rates of these DNA tests huge? I recall someone getting multiple different tests, where the result differed substantially.

      As for the issue that you actually want to discuss, it seems rather obvious that people tend fit their arguments and how they weigh evidence to the desired conclusions, rather than vice versa. So of course those who already support Warren will focus on how she was proven to not be a liar/cheat when one interprets the evidence in a way most generous to Warren, while those who oppose her will interpret the evidence least generously to her, which then supposedly shows that she is a devious manipulator.

      The actual truth is probably somewhere in the middle (with Warren being an imperfect person who curates her self-image and the image that she presents to others, just like nearly everyone does).

      • a reader says:

        Aren’t the error rates of these DNA tests huge? I recall someone getting multiple different tests, where the result differed substantially.

        No. They are very accurate for race, but less precise for distinguishing different related populations of the same race. For example 23andme has:

        Native American: 99% precision and 93% recall
        European: 99% precision and 99% recall

        but:

        French & German: 81% precision and 20% recall
        Italian: 88% precision and 56% recall

        Precision answers the question “When the system predicts that a piece of DNA comes from population A, how often is the DNA actually from population A?” Recall answers the question “Of the pieces of DNA that actually are from population A, how often does the system correctly predict that they are from population A?”

        Source: https://www.23andme.com/ancestry-composition-guide/

        Anyway, to “identify” as “Native American” when you have less Native American ancestry than Neanderthal ancestry (whites have around 2% Neanderthal ancestry) seems ridiculous – but in the US they had that “one drop rule”.

      • J Mann says:

        Rhazib Khan says it’s unlikely to be wrong.

      • Matt M says:

        Even if this is true, it’s probably safe to assume that Warren had the time and the resources to take multiple tests – and this result, notably, was not uncovered by some right-wing spy operation, but voluntarily released to the press, by her.

        In other words, we can probably assume she did take multiple tests, and this was the best result she could find.

        Further, the whole issue of the Cherokee nation (the specific tribe Warren claims to be descended from) rejecting the use of DNA tests to claim ancestry is highly relevant here. They agree that the tests are inaccurate, which is why they have other requirements in place for someone to prove their lineage, which Warren notably has failed to meet. Even if this test would have shown that she was, say, 25% native, they still would have rejected her under these grounds, as far as I can tell.

        • They would have rejected her, which is relevant to whether she can claim any benefits from being a member of that tribe. But it isn’t relevant to whether she was lying when she told the AALS that she was a minority law school professor. As best I can tell, one could be 100% Cherokee, unable to prove it from the particular bodies of evidence they have, and not be accepted as a tribe member.

        • Aapje says:

          @Matt M

          Why do you assume that Warren would be aware that the tests can differ?

          • Matt M says:

            Uh, because that’s relatively common knowledge to anyone who spends one minute looking into this sort of thing?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Commercial ancestry tests for race have, or at least used to have, high error rates even for the coarsest racial groups. If 23andme says that someone is 0.4% Indian, I wouldn’t believe it. But Warren didn’t use such a test: instead, Bustamante looked for contiguous regions of consistent ancestry. These don’t arise by chance. Commercial tests could do this; in fact, 23andme does do this when it graphically displays how ancestry is distributed over the chromosomes, but I don’t think it does this when announcing totals.

      • I agree that this doesn’t show Warren to be an unusually dishonest person. But it shows her to have been dishonest in a way that should have deeply disturbed people with the beliefs of left Democrats, and didn’t.

        The million dollar case struck me as interesting because it hinged on a simple factual question, what Trump had said, which was pretty easy to answer, yet a lot of people were making confident claims that weren’t true. It felt much more like cheering for a football team than rational conversation.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          It reminds me of the pussy grabbing fiasco. Trump said something to the effect that when you are a bigshot like him, women will let you grab their genital area. The Left took this as an open admission that Trump had engaged in sexual assault. Even though his use of the word “let” strongly suggests consent.

          Anyway, as I mentioned in another post, I think it comes down to common knowledge. It’s easier to believe a falsehood if you first believe that other people believe it. For your typical Leftist it’s very easy to go through life without ever being exposed to arguments which go against your side.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            He also said he hung out in the Miss Universe dressing room.

            That’s an actual behavior rather than a hypothetical. It does get mentioned, but not as much as “grab them by the pussy”.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I’m not trying to debate whether Trump is a sleaze, the point is that in America leftists as a large group are able to collectively hold political beliefs which are verifiably false.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I wasn’t trying to debate whether Trump is a sleaze. I find it interesting that an unsavory hypothetical gets more attention than actual bad behavior.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I don’t think it’s quite as clear-cut as being “verifiably false”. Trump’s description of going in (“I just start kissing them… I don’t even wait”)* doesn’t seem to leave much time to get any consent, explicit or tacit. Even if the woman decides after he starts kissing that she’s fine with it, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to regard Trump as wrong,** in the same way that, e.g., borrowing your friend’s money without asking him is wrong, even if your friend is likely to be fine with it and even if he doesn’t mind when he ends up finding out.

            * For reference, the fuller quote is: “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

            ** Assuming, of course, that Trump actually is as forward as he makes out, and isn’t just exaggerating to impress his Hollywood buddies. This may not be a safe assumption.

          • Aapje says:

            @The original Mr. X

            I think that Trump has a tendency to see what he can get away with, not waiting for explicit signals of consent and/or not giving women plenty of space & time, which results in less assertive women experiencing things that they don’t want, while Trump believes that he was allowed to do that.

            However, when people shorten Trumps statement to “grab them by the pussy,” this changes the meaning of the statement to some kind of call to just randomly assault women who walk by.

            Trump doesn’t explicitly say that he first kisses women before he moves on to groping, but that seems like a good faith assumption, given what normal behavior is.

          • vV_Vv says:

            I don’t think it’s quite as clear-cut as being “verifiably false”. Trump’s description of going in (“I just start kissing them… I don’t even wait”)* doesn’t seem to leave much time to get any consent, explicit or tacit.

            It just means that he doesn’t believe according to those weird “explicit consent” rules that the SJWs made up a few years ago, long after that conversation took place.

            Trump is probably very good at reading body language and microexpressions, which is very useful when negotiating business or political deals, but also when dealing with women. If a woman is sexually open to him, he can probably tell at glance. Sure, he may not be 100% correct and he must have been rejected in some cases, but he never did anything that got him in trouble. The part about pussy grabbing is likely to be just hyperbole.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          But it shows her to have been dishonest in a way that should have deeply disturbed people with the beliefs of left Democrats, and didn’t.

          Why? Hypothetically it shows that she buys into the concepts of disenfranchised group identities (I can’t recall the actual term for this), which should be seen as a plus to liberals of that kind.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think Warren was stuck in a crappy position.

      Yes, she did an ethically questionable thing of exploiting her minimal Indian ancestry to get affirmative action. But her opponents didn’t just leave it there. They accused her of lying about having even minimal Indian ancestry. “Elizabeth Warren lied about her Indian ancestry” became an important talking point. If exploiting affirmative action when you don’t really deserve it is a venial sin, lying about your ancestry completely seems a lot worse.

      So Warren was forced to either accept false slanders about her, or to do the test proving she was right about her factual claim, even knowing it would re-open this wound and make it look like she was justifying herself. She chose the second one, I think rightly.

      I am really sympathetic to her because I think this is a kafka-trap that people use a lot against their enemies. If someone slips up, instead of just criticizing their slip-up, their enemies lie and make it sound much worse than it really was, knowing that the person will be tempted to defend themselves, and then the enemies can accuse them of trying to defend their slip-up in general, or of focusing on rescuing their own reputation rather than apologizing for their mistake.

      This is really scummy and I stand 100% behind Warren trying to stand up to these people. After everyone who said she was lying about her ancestry apologizes and admits she was right, then we can go back to the debate about whether she was wrong to seek affirmative action.

      • sentientbeings says:

        After everyone who said she was lying about her ancestry apologizes and admits she was right, then we can go back to the debate about whether she was wrong to seek affirmative action.

        Does the test show anything about whether she was right or lying? It seems to me the results are consistent with her lying or being truthful, but maybe I don’t understand enough about genetic testing.

        I think a plausible explanation, in accordance with the principle of charity, is that she believed she had American Indian ancestry, was correct in a technical sense, but misunderstood (and continues to misunderstand) the the relative significance of an ancestor many generations back.

        The first time I heard about Warren’s claim, probably via detractors about dozen years ago, it was not in the form “she lied entirely” but rather “she grossly mischaracterized the facts.” I can’t really guess at the distribution of belief among her critics, but the apology you called for seems contingent on possibly unreasonable people expressing contrition before reasonable people can have a discussion, which seems like a bad standard.

      • bean says:

        I’m really disinclined to let Warren off the hook that easily. I’ve never particularly doubted that she believed she had some Indian ancestry. But claiming to be Native American on the basis of a family legend of a long-ago ancestor with no paperwork is really dubious. First, you don’t make a claim on that much ancestry. I live in Oklahoma, and you could probably find as much or more ancestry in at least 50% of a random sample of residents here. I had a roommate who was on some tribe’s register, although he was 1/16th or 1/32nd, and that was one step below what you needed for the good scholarships, IIRC. My girlfriend, who grew up here, said that when they asked who had Indian blood/was on a register, all but about three people in her elementary school class raised their hands. For that matter, I think I have about the same amount Warren does, although it’s been a long time since I looked through the geneology stuff my mom did. But after I get proof, is it OK for me to claim that I’m a Native American?

        Second, no paperwork. If you’re going to stretch a claim like that, at least have the documents to back it up.

        Let’s try a similar case. Rachel Dolzeal got in all sorts of trouble for claiming to be black while being white. Let’s say she got a DNA test at the time of the controversy and found “between 1.5 and 0.1% African” on it. Do we reinstate her as leader of the Spokane NAACP? Or do we go “yeah, that’s not enough to be African-American, go away”.

        • quanta413 says:

          I agree with the above. It was pretty shady to claim based upon family legend significant Native ancestry.

          She got lucky that she had .4-2% Native American genetic ancestry. That’s way too close to zero for my taste.

          If people are going to game the system, we should at least expect them to have good evidence beforehand.

        • j1000000 says:

          Yes, my reaction to Warren was that I now really, really wish Dolezal would take a DNA test. Would be a delightful addition to the circus this has all become if she was more African-American than Warren was Native American.

          • bean says:

            Apparently, some genealogist did a big trace back a century or two and didn’t find any black ancestors, so that’s unlikely. But I do think the two cases are pretty directly comparable.

          • j1000000 says:

            @bean, is genealogy really that comprehensive? The 8 generation span that sits in the middle of the Warren test’s 6-10 range bring into play 256 ancestors at that level, not to mention all the other branches on the way up. Are genealogical records really so good they could track down all of those ancestors in Dolezal’s case?

            (Maybe it is, I’m honestly asking.)

          • Are genealogical records really so good they could track down all of those ancestors in Dolezal’s case?

            They can’t be. As best I can tell, rates of false paternity in the large population samples that have been looked at are a percent or two, and a genealogical record can’t catch that. How would you know if your great great grandfather had a different father than he thought he did?

          • bean says:

            No idea. It was in the wiki article on her, and I wasn’t going to make a deep dive into it.

        • Anatoly says:

          First, you don’t make a claim on that much ancestry. I live in Oklahoma, and you could probably find as much or more ancestry in at least 50% of a random sample of residents here.

          The 2014 paper that’s used as the source of the “0.18% Native American ancestry on average” also estimates that only 2.7% of European Americans have *any* native ancestry whatsoever.

          https://twitter.com/phl43/status/1052314141673717760

          • bean says:

            That’s not a rebuttal. The survey was nationwide, and Oklahoma is rather unique in the prevalence of Indian ancestry, for reasons that are obvious if you take a few seconds to think about it. This is a state where you can see Tribal license plates with a minute or two of watching at any major road. (Yes, they have those.) It is not like wherever you are from, and I chose my words very carefully.

            Edit: To expand on this, Warren was born in OKC, and looks to have a fairly typical percentage of Indian for that. My mom is from Oklahoma, and probably does, too. (There’s a family story about ancestry, but no names or dates.) This does not make either of us Indians.

          • quanta413 says:

            Oklahoma is not the whole nation though. Oklahoma has unusually high levels of Native ancestry.

            I don’t know if the median is higher than Warren in Oklahoma, but the media is higher in Oklahoma than elsewhere.

            EDIT: Ninaj’d by Oklahoman

          • J Mann says:

            I’m only interested in this as a issue in the theory of measurement, but I suspected this was a case where the difference between average and median might be relevant!

          • Anatoly says:

            @bean, I don’t know anything about Oklahoma that would let me judge your 50% estimate. Let me apologize for the way I implicitly implied that I contradicted your claim.

          • I’ve seen a variety of different figures for the average amount of Amerind ancestry in American whites, ranging from 3.2% in a (small population) study cited in Wikipedia down to the .18% figure just cited.

            I can’t find the paper based on 23andMe results at the moment, but my memory is that it showed percentages varying quite a lot by state.

            One potential problem is that it was based on 23andMe customers, who are not a random sample of the U.S. population. I don’t know whether being a customer would correlate significantly, positively or negatively, with Amerind ancestry.

          • bean says:

            @JMann

            My understanding is that a lot of the intermarriage happened 120+ years ago, back when the state was first opened to settlers, so you’ve got a lot of people with a great or great-great grandparent who was Indian. I’m sure it’s happened since, but I haven’t met as many of those people.

            @Anatoly

            No offense taken. I was pointing out that Warren’s circumstances in being an Oklahoman are somewhat unusual compared to the nation as a whole, and that by those standards, she’s very much not special.

          • liate says:

            @Anatoly
            During the mid-19th century, what is now Oklahoma less the panhandle was “Indian Territory”, basically a humongous reservation, which shrank down to smaller and smaller bits of reservation over time as settlers basically took all the good land. There were also “Sooners” who moved into it before it was reallocated from reservation to settleable territory, providing more intermarriage opportunities.

        • bean says:

          To expand on this, Warren was born in OKC, and looks to have the sort of Native ancestry that is very common among those who have long roots in this area. My mom’s family is from Oklahoma, and they have stories of Indian blood, although her genealogical investigations turned up no names or dates. By the standards Warren used to declare herself Native American to Harvard, probably half of the population of this state could do the same. Her family may have made a bigger deal of it than most, but she wasn’t one and she really should have known better.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, is it not reasonable to hold those who grew up in close proximity with natives to a slightly higher standard about this sort of thing?

        • Viliam says:

          I had black ancestors cca 70,000 years ago. How much affirmative action do I get? 🙂

      • aristides says:

        I think there was a third option Warren should have taken. With the DNA test in hand, apologize for being misled by her parents on how Native American she was, for not understanding at first that having Native American blood does not make you a Native American, and for holding herself as a Native American to institutions that may have passed over qualified women of color because they all ready had one. I think everyone on the left would have accepted an earnest apology for good faith mistakes she made over a decade ago and most of the right wouldn’t find the news story interesting enough to rally against. Now left and right news stories are spinning what happened for their own side, and if Warren wins the primary, will become a 30 minute debate topic that will just make everyone angry without touching on policies.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The fact that she couldn’t or didn’t feel inclined to get straight with Cherokee Nation before this is the only thing in all of this that feels relevant, and, presuming it continues, is most likely to kill her candidacy.

          • quanta413 says:

            I can’t imagine the Cherokee having enough political pull even among any political allies they have for this to be relevant. They may get to define membership in the Cherokee nation, but Warren isn’t claiming that and I don’t think they’ve got much leverage outside of that.

          • Matt M says:

            To the extent that anyone would be able to outline the “basic requirements for being allowed to claim Cherokee ancestry” it would seem like they have the most plausible claim to that sort of authority.

          • quanta413 says:

            Sure, the Cherokee Nation have the authority to decide who’s in the Cherokee Nation. That can affect certain benefits you may receive as a tribal member. But the number of people outside the Cherokee Nation who care what the Cherokee Nation says about this is low. Some might say they care, but they’re going to have a sudden change of heart if it would hurt their broader side.

            It’s not like any school says “Hey, you can’t count as a Native American scholar on our list if you don’t have tribal membership!” They prefer to have as broad a net as possible intead.

            They just let you put whatever in those boxes. I was confused for about a decade, and thought Portuguese counted as Hispanic (yeah, Portugal isn’t Spain but they’re on the same Peninsula and I thought that was what was being referred to; you know, like the Romans did) so I inaccurately filled out some forms. Oops. Maybe I should’ve played less ancient and medieval warfare games and kept more up to date on census categories.

            Requiring some actual evidence would be the most honest way to make sure the benefits are reserved for those who are Native American in some socially meaningful sense. But that would also making juicing the numbers for diversity metrics harder.

          • Matt M says:

            But the number of people outside the Cherokee Nation who care what the Cherokee Nation says about this is low. Some might say they care, but they’re going to have a sudden change of heart if it would hurt their broader side.

            On the specific question of “Who should be able to, even in the most general sense, claim the benefits and assume the identity of ‘Cherokee’ I think a whole lot of people would care what they have to say, actually. As I said, who else has any sort of authority to express an opinion on this topic? The US Government? Harvard? Every individual random person?

            They just let you put whatever in those boxes.

            No kidding. I suspect most people, if they found out it led to outcomes like this, would view that as a bug, and not a feature.

            But that would also making juicing the numbers for diversity metrics harder.

            If we’re all willing to admit that this is the main purpose of the entire enterprise then fine. But I suspect most Warren supporters are not quite willing to concede that. Harvard is literally in court as we speak vehemently denying it.

          • JonathanD says:

            Either way, I think she missed her moment. I expect a Klobuchar, Harris or Duckworth to come out of the primaries.

          • Lillian says:

            They just let you put whatever in those boxes. I was confused for about a decade, and thought Portuguese counted as Hispanic (yeah, Portugal isn’t Spain but they’re on the same Peninsula and I thought that was what was being referred to; you know, like the Romans did) so I inaccurately filled out some forms. Oops. Maybe I should’ve played less ancient and medieval warfare games and kept more up to date on census categories.

            It seemed obviously wrong to me that Portugese and Brazilians don’t count as hispanic, so i looked it up and apparently you’re right. The relevant legislation passed by Congress back in the 1970s does in fact define “hispanic” as people from Spanish-speaking countries, which does disqualify Portugal and Brazil. Really i shouldn’t be surprised, Congress being obviously wrong about something is pretty par for the course.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Lillian

            I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it confusing. Bonus trivia, I remember finding that for some specific government department (I think it was the Department of Transportation), Portuguese did count as Hispanic or something like that.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            FWIW, Hispanic/Latino/South American is a demographic designation that’s… pretty bad. Mestizo is probably the best word for what people mean when they say it, but it’s a Spanish word (and honestly mostly a Mexican one as far as I know – I believe pardo is also used, but I don’t like it), and a (slightly) politically charged one at that.

            As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has Iberian, Central American, or South American ancestry (literally to the degree that one of their ancestors lived in one of those countries) is welcome to claim hispanidad, though I try to avoid using most of those words when possible due to the headaches.

          • JulieK says:

            One advantage of the term “Latino” is that it includes Brazil. But then you have the question of “Latino/a” versus “Latinx.”

            By the way, my father-in-law was born in Mexico, to a family of Eastern European Jewish origin. Funny thing, my father-in-law actually looked Mexican. Maybe it was the hairstyle. What does that make my husband and our kids? I don’t know.
            p.s. My husband is adopted, no known genetic link to Mexico.

          • Lillian says:

            FWIW, Hispanic/Latino/South American is a demographic designation that’s… pretty bad. Mestizo is probably the best word for what people mean when they say it, but it’s a Spanish word (and honestly mostly a Mexican one as far as I know – I believe pardo is also used, but I don’t like it), and a (slightly) politically charged one at that

            Hispanic is a designator for a large cultural group, not a race, so Hispanics can actually be of any race: whites, blacks, asians, native americans, or mestizos. Consequently race and hispanicness are usually two separate questions, such that “asian hispanic” is a meaningful category (for example: Alberto Fujimori, former President of Peru). The problem is that mestizo doesn’t exist as an option in US government categorization, or even really in US discourse, but people can plainly see that the typical hispanic person is not white, black, asian, or native american, which results in the term “hispanic” being erroneously and confusingly used to mean “mestizo”. As far as the US government is concerned however, mestizos are all white.

            Apparently this all goes back to President Franklin Roosevelt, who as part of his new and exciting policy of maybe not being huge dicks to the Mexicans, issued an executive order that they should all be considered white. This was actually a pretty big deal, since at the time there were serious legal advantages to being considered white in the United States. Basically it was ultimately a political decision made as part of an effort to pursue friendlier policies with respect to America’s neighbours. The effects of it cause confusion to this day.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            The concept of mestizaje trandcends race as well, I’d argue – anyone who isn’t an ancestor-home-country purebred arguably qualifies, so most Asian and African Hispanics would. At least it solves the problem of cutting out Spain and Portugal while leaving in Brazil.

        • Matt M says:

          I’m now desperately hoping she wins the nomination, and Trump shows up to the first debate in a ceremonial headdress.

          The potential for trolling on this issue is off the charts, and thank God, the Republicans finally have a representative capable of harnessing it to its full effect.

          • albatross11 says:

            It’s hard to win a shame battle with a guy who has no shame.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Does he have no shame, or does he already have all the shame and can’t add to it?

          • Plumber says:

            @Matt M
            “I’m now desperately hoping she wins the nomination, and Trump shows up to the first debate in a ceremonial headdress…”

            Thaf would be pretty funny.

            On reflection I want all Federal officials to wear headdresses!

        • John Schilling says:

          I think there was a third option Warren should have taken. With the DNA test in hand, apologize for being misled by her parents on how Native American she was

          The current American political environment is not particularly conducive to apology, but sometimes it’s the right move anyway. And in this case, the DNA testing does seem to have offered an easy out, as you describe. Claiming protected-minority status with lily-white skin, on no basis other than an old family legend, was always a sleazy move that should count as an indicator of dishonesty. But with DNA test results that simply weren’t possible twenty years ago, Warren had the chance to spin this as a simple, trivial mistake of fact – she believed Granny Warren back when Granny Warren’s word was the only evidence anyone could have, and oops, now we know better.

          Not taking that easy out, makes her look persistently dishonest.

          • Matt M says:

            she believed Granny Warren back when Granny Warren’s word was the only evidence anyone could have

            #BelieveWomen

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Matt

            This is nil-value snark, and not very appreciated.

          • Atlas says:

            Well said. She could have stated that she was both genuinely mistaken about her ancestry and admitted that it was convenient for her to be mistaken. She could then have asked for forgiveness and turned the conversation to serious political issues.

            This wouldn’t leave her reputation unsullied, but I think it would minimize the damage.

          • Which raises another question I hadn’t thought much about.

            Christians believe in forgiveness, so if a preacher or a Christian conservative congressman is caught having an affair, apologizes, confesses sin, and says he has repented, it makes some sense for them to forgive him–although I don’t think enough sense to keep voting for him or believing his sermons, assuming that whether he is really a believer is important to them.

            What is the view of the current left on forgiveness, insofar as they have one? If Kavanaugh had said “I don’t actually remember it, but if I was drunk I might not–I believe what Ford said is true and hope she will forgive me for what I did,” would the opposition to his appointment from the left have gone away? Become weaker? Become stronger? If Clinton had confessed to committing rape back when he was a governor and asked for forgiveness, would feminists have continued to support him?

          • Nick says:

            What is the view of the current left on forgiveness, insofar as they have one? If Kavanaugh had said “I don’t actually remember it, but if I was drunk I might not–I believe what Ford said is true and hope she will forgive me for what I did,” would the opposition to his appointment from the left have gone away?

            I heard several folks on the left say that’s how Kavanaugh should have responded. (Including on SSC, I’m pretty sure.) It wouldn’t have made the opposition go away, of course, but that’s the wrong way to think about it, because they were opposed to him for different reasons before the allegations.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @David

            As far as I can tell, the left is currently railing against the inequities of the social structures of the past too much for forgiveness to be possible when someone’s skeletons are unearthed. However, I assume that anyone who preempted an Inquisition could be forgiven. It’s when the skeleton is dragged kicking and screaming out of the closet that they have to be made an example of, as they are seen as perpetuating previously-existing norms by keeping these things out of sight.

            Nobody appears to be trying this strategy, though, because if the media catches wind of an apology they’ll run to the corners of the earth to spread the scandal.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            so if a preacher or a Christian conservative congressman is caught having an affair, apologizes, confesses sin, and says he has repented, it makes some sense for them to forgive him

            As Nick alludes to, the Kavanaugh case wouldn’t be a great example of it, since it’s cross-partisan: a proper comparison to a Christian conservative being forgiven by Christian conservatives is a leftist being forgiven by political leftists. How leftists react to Kavanaugh is more properly compared to the willingness of Christian conservatives to forgive a leftist’s adultery.

          • Plumber says:

            @DavidFriedman
            “…..What is the view of the current left on forgiveness, insofar as they have one? If Kavanaugh had said “I don’t actually remember it, but if I was drunk I might not–I believe what Ford said is true and hope she will forgive me for what I did,” would the opposition to his appointment from the left have gone away?

            I doubt it, opposition pre-existed the accusations. 

            Become weaker? Become stronger?

            I’ve no guess.

            “If Clinton had confessed to committing rape back when he was a governor and asked for forgiveness, would feminists have continued to support him?”

            Fully admit commiting rape?

            His career would be dead, though it’s a big world so I suppose a few feminists might say “At least he admitted it”, but I’m guessing most would have cut him loose.

          • JulieK says:

            @Hoopyfreud:
            Thank you for making your rebuke more specific than “less of this,” a phrase that seems awfully popular here lately.

          • Randy M says:

            As much as I’m usually quick to point out the difference between failing to live up to a standard and repudiating the standard, I do think Christians can be too quick to forgive in cases; for example, a pastor who demonstrates an egregious and public sin should probably be forgiven only conditional on resigning and finding another line of work–and, depending on the case, answering any criminal charges associated.

            Politicians aren’t pastors, and hopefully no one believes them to be moral exemplars, although that wouldn’t be bad, it’s also not a sustainable precedent, it seems. So I think it’s reasonable for voters to overlook failure to live up to important values in politicians they vote for (and, if the incident itself does not embroil the office in lawsuits, etc., overlook sins in office); overlooking a repudiation of values (“Yeah, I had an affair, and I’ve got on scheduled for next Thursday, too.”) is harder, though ultimately on election day there’s only so many realistic choices.

      • gbdub says:

        Except that she wasn’t forced into this particular position – nobody leaked a past DNA test, she chose to take this test, and chose to tout the result that she probably had something like one Native American in her family tree eight +/- two generations back as complete vindication of her previous claims.

        Taking the test I can understand – she probably believed the stories enough to think there was a chance the test would come back showing significant Native ancestry and put the issue to bed as much as possible.

        But to get the result that she’s probably no more Native American than the average white person from Oklahoma and then go out of her way to produce a video touting that result as vindication is very baffling to me and seems like a real unforced error of hubris.

        She’s also, in a way that should have been predictable for a Harvard prof, managed to piss off the actual Cherokee nation and the “race has no biological basis” segment of the American left.

        How did she ever think that publishing these results was going to be a win?

        Does she really think this was going to be the piece of evidence that proved, once and for all, that a person who is unambiguously white by any reasonable classification of appearance and culture is in fact a Native American fully deserving of the status of “underrepresented minority” that comes along with that?

        • Matt M says:

          How did she ever think that publishing these results was going to be a win?

          She thought that every mainstream media outlet would reflexively defend her and take her side no matter what.

          And she was correct.

          • gbdub says:

            The people who support her now were going to support her anyway. But now that support necessarily has a “what lovely clothes the Emperor is wearing!” flavor.

            I just don’t see how this wins her any additional support, at the risk of turning off some people who would otherwise be allies.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m not saying that she did win, just that there was a logical basis for her thinking she might.

          • It just goes to show that there is a limit to the media defending someone. Sure, there are the partisans who believe that Warren is vindicated but even people who aren’t conservative have criticized her.

        • J Mann says:

          But to get the result that she’s probably no more Native American than the average white person from Oklahoma

          Isn’t this a case where median would be much more informative than average?

          • bean says:

            I’m pretty sure she’s also no more Native American than the median Oklahoma white. Almost certainly less, actually. There’s a lot of that blood in white families in this state.

        • How did she ever think that publishing these results was going to be a win?

          Because she believed, I suspect correctly, that her supporters would take her side on even very weak evidence and that most neutrals would be too innumerate to distinguish degrees of Amerind ancestry. How many people know what 2^-10 is?

        • mtl1882 says:

          I’ve been thinking this was a foolish decision on her part – an unforced error. But for some reason your post made me rethink it. Trump could easily keep saying “where’s the DNA test?” like he did with Obama’s birth certificate.

          I think if he constantly made Pocahontas jokes in a campaign it might damage him more than her, despite how much he’s able to “get away with.” While some large portion of Trump supporters like that sort of thing, a lot of Trump supporters aren’t with him for the bullying so much as the hope in changing conditions (the bullying was a useful signalling against the status quote). I’d say that’s true of probably most of them. If they feel they benefited from his first term, they may vote for him again, but I think there is a greater possibility for enough deflection (or staying home) to make a difference than is realized.

          More importantly, the enjoyment of his “bullying,” lay greatly in the fact that be mostly punched up (which is why I put quotes around bullying) against multiple powerful figures who had the ability to fight back. That they did so ineffectively was part of the enjoyment, but it had a point — he was exposing the status quo’s vacuity, which was highly appealing to many people. The “lock her up” crowd was, at least I’d like to believe, a relatively small section of his supporters, but Hillary was a fair target. I think most people see what Warren did as a pretty trivial issue, whether it indicates dishonesty or not – it is nothing like the dishonesty of the average politician. Bringing it up repeatedly seems petty, even for Trump, and I just don’t think it will work in his favor if he makes it a constant issue.

          The people who really care are going to stick with him. More uncertain people would enjoy more relevant jabs. I guess what I’m saying is that while Trump’s supporters are clearly not alienated by his behavior, many of them enjoy an occasional takedown of someone who really deserves it, and his blunt style, but not that the expense of promises they hope will benefit them. I could be wrong, as Trump tends to break expectations in this area and I’m sick of people prematurely declaring him ruined, but I just don’t think that attack will be to his benefit if he keeps hammering it.

          And Warren has never seemed to me to have the overwhelming arrogance and insincerity, coupled often with a spinelessness, that some of Trump’s rivals had the first time. I know people don’t like her, but I’d experience a lot less joy watching Trump go after her, and i very much enjoyed it the first time. She’s not going to be as overconfident and blown away in regard to Trump as they were.

          That being said, if that attack is made, and it will be by some, she has to figure out how to respond. I thought taking the high road was best and just ignoring it, as i don’t think any apology or explanation was likely to be effective beyond what she has given, and I don’t think it’s a major issue. But if people are going to say “where’s the DNA test?” “why are you afraid to take one?” as a rallying cry, it is probably better to preempt that now. The timing is weird because it allows the issue to be absorbed and then blow over, so that it is basically old news by the time the campaign really starts. Plus she has some ancestry and took the test, so she can show she was not just a total liar who had taken the test and hidden the results or refused to take one because she knew she was lying. The ancestry is quite small, but it neutralizes the issue in advance, for the most part. Now she can shrug it off, maybe provide some explanation, instead of appearing like she’s holding back.

          While the percentage is minimal, I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. Many families do have questionable lore that they confidently pass on. It’s just a thing in some communities, especially a few decades ago. They tend to exaggerate and build stories around it. If it is true that she thought her parents’ marriage was objected to on these grounds, she may have just believed it and never really thought much about it, because she obviously did not identify that way. But it was something she thought was cool and interesting. These type of ancestry traditions are common. Maybe a certain relative had a look that led to rumors she might be a native american, and that sort of speculation just becomes fact. People are really weird in this – I’m studying a related issue now, and some people will believe anything, especially in small communities where gossip is rife.

          Did she check off both white and native american on the form? Or really just native american? If the former, I don’t really care. If the latter, that’s cringeworthy, but it’s not something that seems major in relation to other politicians. Warren’s academic and liberal career was focused on much more substantive issues than identity politics, so the sense of hypocrisy isn’t really there for me. I agree the left has been quick to defend her, which is fine, but the small amount of people who tend to be especially loud on this issue have been weirdly quiet. But most Democrats honestly just don’t care.

          It’s hard for me to imagine how a Trump-Warren showdown will go down, but I think her vulnerabilities are different from those of his previous opponents. I like Warren a lot, but I’m not sure how well she’ll do in a general election, particularly against Trump. That being said, I also really liked Trump during his campaign (with some major exceptions). I have been disappointed by him as president, in part because his takedowns have degenerated into lazy partisanship instead of those wo deserved it. And, far beyond that, I’ve just been genuinely appalled by the way he’s handled certain situations and the way he has encouraged certain things. He’s not the devil, and other politicians do it less bluntly and get none of the hysterical scorn he receives, but I think he’s majorly abdicated on moral and constructive leadership. I really like his blunt style – this has nothing to do with being “polite” and “appropriate,” but just using his bluntness to be intellectually honest and get to the point of what we need to focus on, and also to shut down obvious BS on both sides without getting defensive. He is beginning to remind me of his spineless rivals, but I know he as a spine, so he needs to use it for good. He tends to have reasons why he acts the way he does, but while I used to understand the strategy, I don’t know. It just looks unnecessarily awful and unproductive. There are a few things he’s done that I’ve liked, but overall I’ve been turned off and concerned with how he has treated certain groups of people, and I’m not sure he’s made much progress that could offset intentionally extreme rhetoric. That said, I am also appalled by most of our other politicians. I suspect others are in my boat, and that may be an issue for Trump. The opposition of the press is so overwhelming, and from the getgo, that I think it’s been hard for him to take a less obnoxious stand that might be viewed as capitulation, but the idea of someone switching from Trump to Warren is not as bizarre as it sounds. My main interest in Trump was his drawing attention to the current “approved lanes” are not set in stone, and that one doesn’t have to fall in line either way. I think that was very much needed, although you can argue it has caused too much instability. IMO, the instability was unavoidable, but a lot of people may want to go back to some sort of superficial status quo. I’m not sure that they’ll get it.

          • Did she check off both white and native american on the form?

            Judging by the current version of the AALS form, now online rather than paper, what she did was check the box for Minority Faculty Member. That is how she was listed, not by any specific ethnicity. The Native American claim only showed up in later statements by her employers, Penn and Harvard.

      • convie says:

        She had just as much Indian ancestry as any white person born in North America. If you look at your average white American’s 23andMe report they tend to have at least as much as Warren’s test shows. Her claim was completely disingenuous and she deserves to look foolish over it.

        • According to 23andMe the average is much lower than the six generation version of her result, although I think higher than the ten generation version. But I have seen higher figures for the average amount of Amerind ancestry in Americans who consider themselves white from other sources.

          • albatross11 says:

            This article was linked by Razib Khan, a geneticist who was also a source for the fact-checking. (FWIW, he’s broadly on the right.)

            TL;DR: Warren almost certainly has a lot more Native American ancestry than the average American.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think one of the things we’re going to have rubbed in our faces over the next couple decades is the plasticity and unreliability of human memory, especially over long periods of time or when passed through the generations. There’s a rumor in the family that grandma was an Indian, which ultimately traces back to *her* grandma being half Indian, and grew in the telling. She sort of halfway remembers these rumors as saying that grandfather’s parents objected to his marrying an Indian. (Or maybe someone had a story like that she heard as a kid.)

        FWIW, there’s a rumor like this in my family, too. No idea if it’s true.

        And I’ve always had a hard time seeing why I should care about Warren’s exaggerated claims of Indian ancestry. I would spend zero time worrying about hiring a lawyer or accountant or doctor or programmer based on such concerns, so why would I care about hiring a senator or president based on such concerns? As acts that reveal a personality flaw in a professional politician go, this seems pretty mild. (Probably part of my reaction is that I think affirmative action is a force for evil in the world, and playing to its ambiguities doesn’t offend me. Next week, if I discover that some scientist whose work I admire got into an Ivy League school by pretending not to be Jewish to avoid the Jewish quota, I’m not going to be offended by that, either.)

        • Thegnskald says:

          I think the issue is the perception that she is, in your analogy, one of the people in favor of Jewish quotas, so her evasion of them has a rather different quality.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I’m in this category. Arguing for affirmative action and then flexing the defintion of “minority” enough so you can conveniently fit in is really, really skeevy.

            I should probably see what Warren is actually stating. However, my FB feed is crowded up with “see, Warren is actually Amerindian, so Trump is wrong and a racist!” It doesn’t seem there is any actual apology for exaggerating heritage.

            I supposedly have a Shawnee relative dating back to the Tecumseh wars, so I have as much basis to claim Amerindian heritage was Warren did prior to this reporting. But I’m still the whitest white person to have ever whited, and I would comfortably fit into the cast of a John Hughes movie.

          • Matt M says:

            I supposedly have a Shawnee relative dating back to the Tecumseh wars

            One of my favorite Twitter comments on this was something to the effect of “Elizabeth Warren’s native heritage is so distant, her last native ancestor might actually have been Pocahontas!”

        • Jaskologist says:

          This was more than just a rumor she heard. She claimed that her parents had to elope because her grandparents wouldn’t bless a marriage with her Cherokee/Delaware mother. That’s serious family drama.

        • cassander says:

          And I’ve always had a hard time seeing why I should care about Warren’s exaggerated claims of Indian ancestry.

          I wouldn’t either. But she’s making a big deal out of it, for some reason, and that matters.

          I would spend zero time worrying about hiring a lawyer or accountant or doctor or programmer based on such concerns, so why would I care about hiring a senator or president based on such concerns?

          The concern here is not whether or not your doctor is indian, but whether or not your doctor is willing to lie about being indian.

          • Matt M says:

            I would spend zero time worrying about hiring a lawyer or accountant or doctor or programmer based on such concerns

            What you would do is also irrelevant.

            The largest actual employers of accountants and doctors and programmers spend a great deal of time worrying about these things. They hire entire departments worth of people whose full time job is to carefully monitor the race, gender, etc. of incoming hires

            ETA: And if you want to look at Harvard, (one of Warren’s employers) they’re in court right now fighting allegations that their admissions policies favored certain races to such an extent as to comprise intentional discrimination against other races.

          • ordogaud says:

            >The largest actual employers of accountants and doctors and programmers spend a great deal of time worrying about these things. They hire entire departments worth of people whose full time job is to carefully monitor the race, gender, etc. of incoming hires

            Come on, that’s definitely a stretch. At most there might be a ‘Head of Diversity’ in the HR department that’s got a couple interns working for them.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m willing to bet the largest companies have multiple full time staffers working on diversity.

            The top/largest universities absolutely do.

        • I don’t see why I would much care about it, but my impression is that much of the Democratic left, like much of the Republican right, is pretty moralistic, so ought to be repulsed by someone caught doing the equivalent, from their standpoint, of stealing pennies from a blind man’s cup. I’m not struck by Democrats voting for Warren for senator, only by their promoting her as one of their leaders.

          • onyomi says:

            People are willing to forgive a lot, perhaps too much, in someone they see as an eloquent spokeswoman for their ideas, even if she, personally, doesn’t embody them very well.

            Related: I think a lot of conservatives have come around to the idea, if they weren’t there to begin with, that Trump is the right guy to fight for their values even if he himself doesn’t embody most of them at all. I suppose the ideal conservative president would be someone with the personal life of Mike Huckabee and the thick skin+willingness to fight back of Trump. But since such a person may not exist, they’ll take Trump.

          • My impression from what I have read about him is that Romney embodies the virtues conservatives praise considerably more than most politicians and enormously more than Trump, but he doesn’t seem to have ever gotten the sort of enthusiastic support that other and, in that sense, less attractive, candidates got.

          • John Schilling says:

            Romney conspicuously lacked the virtue, “capable of defending righteous conservatives from the reign of Barack Obama”, and was thus widely suspected of the vice, “…and wouldn’t be able to beat Hillary Clinton either”.

          • engleberg says:

            Frank Harris had a line about a British politician caught having affairs, to the affect that his ghastly failure in private life could only be redeemed if he was allowed to continue to succeed in public life. Affirmative Action gave us an Aframerican middle class for the first time in US history. Today’s middle class blacks are part of democracy in Aristotle’s sense, the rule by people with the middle goods of fortune. That’s a big plus. Expanding Affirmative Action beyond African America is a scam, and that’s a big minus for everyone but D party loyalists. For them it’s a big plus. Either way it’s a big deal. Warren’s personal scam isn’t a big deal.
            Romney wants high immigration and low wages. Trump supports high wages and low immigration. That’s a bigger deal than Romney being the sort of man most decent people would like to invite to dinner, and Trump, no.

        • JulieK says:

          I agree. If Harvard was motivated to hire her so that they could have a more diverse faculty, Harvard is more blameworthy than she is. (And I don’t think hiring her would cause some qualified woman of color to be passed over; Harvard would probably love to hire that woman also if the occasion arose.)

          • Matt M says:

            If someone (or some organization) was benefiting from perpetuating lies about you and your family background, would you not feel obligated to correct them?

            To take this to the extreme, what’s stopping a university from communicating with potential applicants (off the record of course, via face to face conversation, not email or anything that can be tracked) that oh by the way, this “race” checkbox is one where you can put in anything you want, and oh by the way certain races receive preference over others, oh and also, it really benefits the school a whole heck of a lot to be able to showcase their diversity, and oh by the way nobody is every going to check or attempt to verify or audit this in any way possible…

            Like, I once actually considered marking myself as a black, gay, female for some of my “reach” applications. I didn’t because I figured the institutions might get mad at me if they found out I wasn’t, and who needs Harvard as an enemy? But on the other hand, maybe they wouldn’t be mad. It seems like my lying about that sort of thing would bring them benefits (they get a more qualified applicant AND get to boost their diversity metrics), without any real costs (because there aren’t any race inquisitors going out there to “check” on whether the 10% of the class that marked “African-American” on the form actually possess X% African DNA Or whatever).

          • quanta413 says:

            What? No way. If she really was diverse, Harvard would be doing exactly what it claims to be doing with trying to have a diverse faculty. I’m not a fan of racial preferences, but applied in a sane manner to actual disadvantaged people I see how they could be good.

            If Warren lied (rather than being mistaken about the exact fraction, which I think is much, much more likely) in order to take advantage of Harvard’s stated preferences that would definitely be wrong.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            I think that this is one of these situations where the incentive is to fudge at the edges, but going too far has major repercussions. After all, if they report 50% blacks and a casual stroll though campus shows something more like 10%, then someone is going to investigate and trigger a huge scandal.

          • Matt M says:

            After all, if they report 50% blacks and a casual stroll though campus shows something more like 10%, then someone is going to investigate and trigger a huge scandal.

            Really though?

            How are they going to investigate? What can they do to prove this wrong other than demand DNA tests from the entire student body?

            I think the end result of this would be something like getting the admissions officers to publicly admit that their statistics are based on nothing more than self-reporting by applicants, and are not verified in any way. Which I think a lot of people already know or at least assume.

          • albatross11 says:

            It’s been pretty obvious for many years that AA was screwing Asians over. So it would be interesting to know what fraction of Asian students with Western-sounding names just indicated “white” or “prefer not to answer” in the race field of their application. “John Smith” might have a Chinese mother, but there’s no way to tell that from his application. That probably doesn’t work if your last name is Chang or Wantanabe, but it might still be worth a shot.

            Similarly, there are a lot of people who are white but have a hispanic-sounding name. One of my best friends in college has a very hispanic-sounding last name, while looking white, speaking only English, etc. I wonder what fraction of them check “hispanic” on their application to get a little boost. Again, this might not work for John Smith, but for all I know it would work fine.

            This wouldn’t work for an interview, but for an initial application, it would work fine.

          • Matt M says:

            So it would be interesting to know what fraction of Asian students with Western-sounding names just indicated “white” or “prefer not to answer” in the race field of their application.

            Well, this is why they have the interview and the “personal rating.” So the Asian-looking kid can’t get away with pretending to be anything else.

            This is why, imho, the “personal rating” is actually more insidious than racial quotas would be. Because it serves a racial quota function while ostensibly being a black box that evaluates attributes we all agree are important (and the fact that, statistically, it finds that Asians have horrible personalities and blacks have amazing ones is just a huge coincidence)

          • Matt M says:

            Similarly, there are a lot of people who are white but have a hispanic-sounding name.

            Even if you don’t have one, you can just assume one.

            Worked for Beto.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            If the widespread fudging would happen by it becoming common wisdom among Asians and whites that it helps substantially to mark the wrong box & accepted to do so, this would result in plenty of students willing to say so openly when asked. Young adults are not exactly the best at keeping secrets.

            If it is purely done by the college, one could survey students* about what they identify as and/or what box they actually signed & compare this with what the college reports.

            * College students are already the most surveyed group, because they are so conveniently available and coercible by researchers.

          • I’m not a fan of racial preferences, but applied in a sane manner to actual disadvantaged people I see how they could be good.

            That might make sense for student admissions, although it has a serious risk of getting students into the wrong schools, putting someone into MIT who would be above average at most good engineering schools but at the very bottom of the MIT distribution.

            But I think the argument offered for faculty diversity is the claim that a more diverse faculty provides a better intellectual environment. That’s an argument for favoring intellectual diversity, which I don’t think is a common policy, not racial diversity.

            If Warren lied (rather than being mistaken about the exact fraction, which I think is much, much more likely) in order to take advantage of Harvard’s stated preferences that would definitely be wrong.

            As best I can tell, what Warren believed by her account was that she had a small amount of Native American ancestry, a single great grandparent or great great grandparent. I am reasonably sure that that would not have qualified her as a minority law professor in the view of the AALS, and I doubt Harvard would have publicly described her as Native American on that basis.

            It’s possible that she gave what she believed to be an accurate account to Harvard and someone at Harvard then inflated it when the issue of diversity came up. But it’s hard to believe that the claim wouldn’t have gotten back to her, and she doesn’t seem to have done anything to deny it.

            Going back to the AALS case. If the theory of favoring minority candidates is either to make up for their past disadvantages or to provide a more diverse set of backgrounds, it is hard to see how her version of her background would qualify.

        • mtl1882 says:

          Agree with you on the memory issues (and our strange gullibility in this area). It’s a major thing, and I’m not sure if we’ll ever accept it, but it’s something I try very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt on. It’s not a rational calculation thing – it’s something that is present at the back of her mind unexamined. People think they remember all sorts of things in this way. I do historical research, and the most startling thing by far has been realizing how many people who have been used as major sources just don’t know what they’re talking about. They are not unreliable in all things or malicious, but few people are uniformly credible. It’s just the way these things work. And you can see the distorted story grow through a game of telephone. And some people are just weirdly credulous or not paying much attention. They may be incredibly smart and successful, but they believe very implausible things and don’t at least try to determine the source of the info.

      • Matt M says:

        I’m sorry but this is just BS. She wasn’t right, she did lie about her ancestry, and she continues to do so.

        Look, I don’t know what the exact percentage requirement is for one to rightfully claim a certain ethnic ancestry. I don’t think society is anywhere close to having even attempted to settle that debate. Maybe it’s 5%, maybe it’s 10%, maybe it’s 25%, maybe it’s 50%. I don’t know.

        But it sure as hell isn’t “a single drop”, which is the only possible metric under which she qualifies.

        Although if we want to come together as a society and make that the agreed upon qualification, I’m cool with that, because it would mean a quick end to all race-based programs of any kind, because almost all of us would now qualify as virtually any race we cared to claim at any particular moment.

        • rlms says:

          Would 3.1% be enough? That’s the value for the current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

          • Cariyaga says:

            Could you source that?

          • Lillian says:

            The Cherokee Nation doesn’t really care what your blood fraction is, they care more about whether someone is able to prove that that they are in fact descended from the Cherokee, and whether they are part of their continuing cultural heritage. Elizabeth Warren can claim neither of these things. She is no more a Cherokee than she is a member of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

          • rlms says:

            @Cariyaga
            Wikipedia

            @Lillian
            Sure, your first sentence is part of my point. I’m not sure how being able to prove Cherokee descent is different from having a non-zero fraction Cherokee blood, but I agree that being part of the Cherokee culturally is evidently a necessary factor and one that Warren lacks. But the other part of my point is that the people sneering at Warren for not being genetically very Cherokee are misguided since that is apparently not very relevant to whether she should be considered Cherokee.

          • cassander says:

            @RLMS

            Warren, as far as I know, has never claimed to be culturally cherokee. Her claim was based entirely on blood, and that’s why people are sneering, because someone who was never culturally cherokee now appears not to have much cherokee blood either.

          • I’m not sure how being able to prove Cherokee descent is different from having a non-zero fraction Cherokee blood

            It’s different in both directions.

            Indian tribes could adopt in members. I don’t know about the Cherokee case, but the Commanche seem to have pretty routinely adopted in white children who were captured in raids. So you could have a zero fraction of Cherokee blood and still be a full member of the tribe from their standpoint.

            In the other direction, the Cherokee, as I understand it, base tribal membership on having an ancestor listed in one of several specific past lists of Cherokee. If you don’t have that you are not part of the tribe, whatever the DNA test shows.

            Further, although a DNA test can give good evidence of Amerind descent, I don’t think it can distinguish by tribes. You could be 100% Amerind and still be zero percent Cherokee.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Her claim was based entirely on blood

            Ahem. This actually is not correct. This should be obvious anyone who is following even just the internal logic laid out here.

            Given that “Cherokee” isn’t defined by some blood quantum, then the DNA test doesn’t actually rule out that her mother or grandmother was actually considered Cherokee, which is the actual claim Warren has made…

          • mtl1882 says:

            The thing is, Warren wasn’t trying to get benefits and join the Cherokee tribe. At least in recent years, she wasn’t claiming to be Cherokee in any meaningful sense (there was the weird recipe thing, but that’s pretty tame), but acknowledging ancestry that had some impact on her family life. The issue is whether she should have identified herself on the form, and I think the answer is no, for the reasons I listed. But I feel like people are going a little far into the issue, making it seem like she was actually trying to claim she was Cherokee in any larger sense. I doubt she had any expectation of being embraced by the tribe. This wasn’t some sort of elaborate thing. It was grounded in a mistake, but she shouldn’t have labeled herself that way, if she did in fact do so and it wasn’t something Harvard blew out of proportion. This was really pushing it, but I don’t think it makes her an especially dishonest person. If that’s the worst thing she’s done, I’m ok with it.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            As is common with everyone, the Cherokee don’t agree with each other.

            “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians issued a statement largely supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent DNA test to confirm her Native American ancestry — breaking with another tribe that called the move “inappropriate and wrong.”

            “Eastern Band Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday that while they “strongly condemn” people who try to pass off distant Native ancestry as their race, they don’t believe that Warren has appropriated their culture.”

            ***

            “The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians released a more measured response, pointing out again that DNA can’t prove tribal membership but that they “appreciate Elizabeth Warren’s enthusiasm for Native America.””

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            As I understand it, it’s more than not being able to distinguish by tribes.

            Native Americans in the U.S. have been unwilling to contribute DNA to be studied so genetic markers from further south are used as a surrogate.

      • cassander says:

        I think Warren was stuck in a crappy position.

        She’s the one who chose to make a big deal out of this, not anyone else. No one was talking about it until she brought up the DNA test recently. Had she said nothing, she could have taken a position of “I’m not going to dignify these racist accusations with a response” probably could have gotten away with it. Instead, she publicized her very thin “proof” as if it were a great victory.

        This is really scummy and I stand 100% behind Warren trying to stand up to these people. After everyone who said she was lying about her ancestry apologizes and admits she was right, then we can go back to the debate about whether she was wrong to seek affirmative action.

        As I recall, virtually every American has some level of Indian ancestry. We don’t all call ourselves indian.

        • idontknow131647093 says:

          I agree most strongly with this take.

          She put it on her applications (and only a deeply dishonest person doesn’t think this was a leg up), she called herself a minority, she brought up (an obviously false) story about her parents eloping because of racial tension.

          And now most importantly to this recent controversy, she trotted out an inconclusive DNA test (that doesn’t even compare her to actual Cherokees by the way, it compares her to Mexicans and Peruvians etc) and had the Globe produce a puff piece about her as if she had just successfully planted a flag on Iwo Jima.

          • onyomi says:

            She put it on her applications (and only a deeply dishonest person doesn’t think this was a leg up)

            Agree, though I think most people who aren’t involved in academia fail to understand how big of a leg up it is there.

          • She put it on her applications

            As best I can tell, there is no evidence that she put her claim on applications to anything. What she did was to put her name on a list of minority law professors published by the AALS and available to law schools that were recruiting.

            I’ve seen the claim, possibly true, that neither Penn nor Harvard considered her minority/Native American status in the hiring decision.

            Something I haven’t seen is an objective analysis of what her qualifications were when she was hired–how many articles she had published in top law reviews, how often they were cited either in other scholarship or in court opinions. A comparison of her qualifications in that sense to those of other Harvard hires would be some evidence of whether or not she was actually benefiting by her claim.

          • mtl1882 says:

            Yeah, I need more information too. What exactly did she put down? And Warren has had a very successful, substantive academic career. It is entirely possible this wasn’t brought up in the application process, and she seems to have been well-qualified in any event. She was not some sort of token to meet the quota. I’m a little confused as to what exactly happened.

          • I’m a little confused as to what exactly happened.

            What happened, as far as we know, is that she told the AALS (American Association of Law Schools) to include her on their list of minority law faculty, and she remained on that list for a good many years. The point at which she told them that was when she already had a position at Texas, had visited at Penn, but before Penn made her an offer.

            Harvard at some point, and I think also Penn, described her as a Native American law professor–it’s possible that Penn only described her as a minority law professor. They have to have gotten that information from her, but we don’t know in what form. It’s possible that she told someone she had some Native American ancestry and the law school exaggerated it in order to show how diverse they were. She presumably would have known they were doing it and, so far as we know, didn’t object.

            Her supporters claim, on the basis of statements by various people at Penn and Harvard, that her minority/Native American status wasn’t the reason she was hired, which might well be true–but it’s hard to be sure. She worked in a different area of the law than I did, so I have no idea how prominent she was when they hired her.

        • From the study based on 23andMe participants:

          Likewise, as many as five million Americans who self-identify as European might have at least 1% Native American ancestry.

          If Warren has an Amerind ancestor 6 generations back, that makes her about 1.5%, hence way above the median or average. On the other hand, at .1% (ten generations) she may or may not be above either.

        • mtl1882 says:

          @DavidFriedman Thank you for the clarification!

      • Deiseach says:

        After everyone who said she was lying about her ancestry apologizes and admits she was right

        Complicated by the fact that her own DNA test proves she was lying about her ancestry, albeit unintentionally. That “one-quarter Delaware grandfather” was not Delaware, and the family members insisting he was white were correct (even if we take the worst possible case, that this was out of racist motives and anti-Indian bias). Warren’s family who believed or promulgated the story were fantasists, and her claims that her parents had to elope because of her paternal family’s racism/bias against her maternal Indian heritage are wrong:

        Source

        Actually, you have it wrong about what it is I believe. My mom and dad were very much in love with each other and they wanted to get married and my father’s parents said absolutely not. You can’t marry her because she’s part Cherokee and she’s part Delaware. And um, after fighting it as long as they could, my parents went off, they eloped. It was an issue in our family the whole time I grew up about these two families. It was an issue still raised at my mother’s funeral. So what I know about my parents is I know that in that little town they grew up in that my father’s parents knew enough about my mother and her family to say I have no doubts

        Source from 2012 – this is about the grandfather and granduncle brothers where Warren derives the claim of Delaware ancestry

        As a child growing up in rural Arizona, Ina Mapes remembers her mother as a highly discreet woman who rarely expressed her personal feelings except when it came to one particularly incendiary topic: Did Mapes’s father, a raven-haired lawyer, have Native American roots, or did he not? Mapes’s grandmother maintained that he had one-quarter tribal blood. But her mother wanted to hear nothing of it.

        “My mother did not approve of Indians, and she insisted that my father was not an Indian,” said Mapes, 77, of Catalina, Ariz. “In those days, it was not a plus to be an Indian, not at all. She said that Granny, my father’s mother, was just making it up and she did not believe it.”

        …Warren’s extended family has mixed opinions on the Native American question. The stories shared by Mapes, as well as Warren’s brothers and a number of her cousins, echo Warren’s assertion. But other cousins, some of whom also do not know Warren, say they know nothing of Native American blood in the family.

        …David Herring of Norman, Okla., one of Warren’s three brothers, said in an interview that even when he was a child his relatives were reluctant to talk about the family’s Native American heritage because “it was not popular in my family.” Only when he begged his grandparents, said Herring, did they finally explain to him: “Your grandfather is part Delaware, a little bitty bit, way back, and your grandmother is part Cherokee. It was not the most popular thing to do in Oklahoma. [Indians] were degraded, looked down on.”

        …Warren said she was informed by others in the family that her mother’s mother “was a little bit Delaware, and her father was more Cherokee.” Told that her brother recalled the opposite, she added, “It might have been the other way around.” Her grandmother, she added, “always talked about PawPaw being a lot more Indian.”

        Well, turns out that the DNA means grandfather was not a lot more Indian,and the family tradition that the Native ancestry was way back was more accurate. Saying she’s part Indian is like saying she’s part Irish or English or German or Swedish – sure, immigrant ancestry and a mixture, like the vast majority of all Americans, but not really enough to be meaningful. And I think Warren’s family indulged in a bit of romanticism, when the pendulum swung from it being shameful to be part-Indian to it being romantic and authentic – when the threat of the Other is no longer there, then they become exotic and can be treated as a valuable ingredient. See the wholesale invention of Authentic Scottishness in the Victorian era, once the threat of the Stuarts was long gone and it could be safely looked back on as part of the romantic past, but certainly no threat to the dominant culture of the day politically or any other way. Being a little bit Indian means you are authentically Oklahoman and have roots to the area (despite being white). More Indian you are, the better (except not to be full or even half-blood, an eighth or one-sixteenth is about the ideal proportion).

        2012 Source for a rather cringe-inducing comment about “high cheekbones” (how would you feel about someone claiming Jewish ancestry on the basis that Grandpa had the stereotypical Jewish Nose?)

        “No, as I said, these are my family stories. I have lived in a family that has talked about Native Americans, talked about tribes since I had been a little girl,” she said. “I still have a picture on my mantel and it is a picture my mother had before that – a picture of my grandfather. And my Aunt Bea has walked by that picture at least a 1,000 times remarked that he – her father, my Papaw — had high cheek bones like all of the Indians do. Because that is how she saw it and your mother got those same great cheek bones and I didn’t. She that thought was the bad deal she had gotten in life.”

        “Being Native American has been part of my story, I guess, since the day I was born,” Warren continued.

        I never took the accusations as meaning “Warren is lying about having any Native ancestry, full stop” but more “Warren is pretending to be a lot more Indian than she really is”, and a test that comes back and says your nearest Native American ancestor is six to ten generations back is pretty much saying “Not as Native as you thought you were”.

        And what is all this to me? Because we’re having a presidential election over here, and one of the candidates has gotten himself into hot water over denying separate ethnic status to Travellers. I think he’s right on this as I don’t think Travellers are sufficiently different from the settled population to be considered a sub-group or ethnic minority, whatever about the rest of his opinions being unsavoury.

        But everyone is lining up to have a go at him for being racist (yeah he did make racist remarks, but I don’t think the genetics is the hill to die on). So the point is, claims of ancestry are very touchy.

        • J Mann says:

          It’s hard to say that her mother was lying about having to elope. IIUC, the evidence suggests that Warren’s parents were in fact married by their minister outside of the church and without guests. (Except no doubt for Laertes, crying “What ceremony else?”)

          It’s possible that Grandpa Warren looked down on his in-laws because of the mistaken belief they were Delaware, or that they eloped for other reasons, but if Warren says her mother told her that story and she believed it at the time, I doubt we’ll ever know otherwise.

          • Deiseach says:

            My impression, garnered from reading what’s said online, is that it makes more sense to think of her parents’ ‘elopement’ as a Gretna Green marriage – the objection by the family seems to have been because they were so darn young (he was only just turned 21 and still in college) and they wanted him to finish his education first. And then the newlyweds went back to the small town and lived there with no apparent problems, which doesn’t make sense if they had to run off because Papa would chase him with a shotgun for trying to marry some Injun gal.

            I think there was the apparently typical Oklahoman story of “We have Indian ancestry”, that this was a family legend, that it might have got exaggerated in telling (so making out the degree of Indian heritage to be a lot more than it actually was) and Warren believed it.

            The trouble comes later – I don’t think she did necessarily use it for advantage, though it’s a bit murky – she was lower middle class trying to work her way up and may indeed have decided that if putting down she was part-Indian got her noticed above other young law students, why not? The family always said Grand-daddy was Indian! She does seem to have been hired by Harvard on merit and they wanted her badly enough to keep chasing her.

            The main problems are:

            (1) She let Harvard use her as a sop to the questions about hiring diverse faculty, by letting them claim she was their Native American faculty member. She also seems to have made some hay of this alleged ancestry in her early political career, placing herself as “champion of the poor and minorities” with the insistence on her pride in her Native American heritage. When you’re a blue-eyed blonde white woman, talking about how you’re part Native American is a bit iffy.

            (2) She’s made herself look ridiculous by going out and getting a DNA test. Instead of ignoring Trump, she went off to prove she was too Real Cherokee Princess, and while it’s understandable that she may have claimed greater/more recent heritage than turned out to be the case because she was going on family stories rather than any factual knowledge, doubling down on how much she really is Real Cherokee Princess now the results are in just makes all the Pocahontas jibes seem true. Instead of “Well, this has punctured a few cherished family stories but now we all know the truth and this need never be raised again in future”, she’s gone into full “this proves I am too Native American” mode which is protesting too much.

          • mtl1882 says:

            Yeah, I find this pretty plausible.

        • mtl1882 says:

          This seems like a stretch, but it’s possible she heard something like that story and remembered it wrong. My dad’s grandfather was legally blind, and my mom, then his fiancee, had an Italian name. His grandfather was convinced she might be Spanish or Puerto Rican (the horror!), and insisted on looking at her photo under a microscope to figure it out. I’m sure they weren’t thrilled about her being half-Italian, but that was apparently acceptable. There could have been a story like that — we eloped because his pain in the ass grandparents thought I looked dark and suspected me of having native american ancestry (common in the area). And maybe her mom did consider the possibility that she had a small amount of native american ancestry. In any event, my mom is not Puerto Rican or Spanish, but someone who heard the story could easily misremember the details and think she was. As her child, I’m likely to know the truth, but I bet my brother would be confused as to the details, because he’s just not as thoughtful about these things or what ethnicities were likely to be acceptable at the time.

          Recent DNA testing has revealed a fair amount of native American ancestry on my dad’s side, way above average, and we have no tradition of it being there. It’s just kind of a mystery. The family history gets murky quickly on that side – I don’t know what happened, but it obviously wasn’t a source of pride to them.

      • Erusian says:

        If exploiting affirmative action when you don’t really deserve it is a venial sin, lying about your ancestry completely seems a lot worse.

        My impression is exploiting affirmative action is exactly what she’s being accused of. I’ve heard a lot of “Yeah, right”s to the claim it didn’t help her career, for example. Several commentators have explicitly seen it as an attempt to boost her elite law or political career (like the Onion’s joke that it found no traces of presidential potential).

        I am really sympathetic to her because I think this is a kafka-trap that people use a lot against their enemies. If someone slips up, instead of just criticizing their slip-up, their enemies lie and make it sound much worse than it really was, knowing that the person will be tempted to defend themselves, and then the enemies can accuse them of trying to defend their slip-up in general, or of focusing on rescuing their own reputation rather than apologizing for their mistake.

        This is really scummy and I stand 100% behind Warren trying to stand up to these people. After everyone who said she was lying about her ancestry apologizes and admits she was right, then we can go back to the debate about whether she was wrong to seek affirmative action.

        Does this charity extend to people you disagree with? Because ‘standing up to people who try to kafka trap you and only agreeing to engage with them after they’ve apologized’ sounds very close to Trump’s modus operandi. Would you agree, say, that Trump should continue to stand up to the media and blast them until they apologize for their overwhelmingly hostile coverage, including criticizing him for criticizing their hostility? Would you agree we cannot discuss whether the hostility is fair until the media has collectively admitted that Trump’s claims about their overwhelmingly liberal makeup and hostility is true and apologized? (And it is true)

        That’s effectively what you’ve said with Warren: the people who kafka trapped her need to apologize and only then can we discuss whether there is an actual underlying fault.

        I think the opposite approach is more likely to be useful. We should first determine if there is likely to be an underlying fault (if it’s possible she really did exploit affirmative action, if it’s possible Trump really is that terrible a president). If there is the possibility, then forcing the person into a situation where they must engage in debate and defense is entirely fine. That said, we must weigh the evidence and understand that just as one person will try to minimize the other will try to maximize. And we must understand nothing is proven and no punishment or pardon should be done until we have a more mature understanding.

      • Atlas says:

        They accused her of lying about having even minimal Indian ancestry.

        Well…evidently she did lie about that, though? The DNA test results suggest that her previous claim of being 1/32nd Amerindian—-which I think is already such a tiny fraction that you don’t get say “I’m part x”—was itself an exaggeration. If she had a Native American ancestor somewhere 6 to 10 generations ago, she’s between 1/64th, or ~1.5%, and 1/1024th, or ~0.01%, Amerindian. I think one could fairly say that this shouldn’t count as even minimal Indian ancestry, and it makes Warren’s previous claims that her family’s Native American heritage was important to her highly suspicious.

        I personally greatly respect Senator Warren, and I think it’s unfortunate that this circus show is discrediting her, given that she seems to have been an accomplished and well-liked law professor and that her signature issue in politics has been challenging the stranglehold that the interests of the financial sector have over American politics.

        I think she should have just admitted that she made a mistake, cited her many creditable achievements, asked for forgiveness and moved on.

        • rlms says:

          You should tell the current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation that 1/32 isn’t enough to make him part Cherokee.

          • Lillian says:

            The focus on blood fractions is i think missing the point. Warren is not a Cherokee in any meaningful sense, she is not a member of the tribe, nor participates in any of their cultural traditions. She is a regular white woman with a family legend that she milked for all it was worth.

      • Suppose she had confessed to lying to the AALS about being a minority professor. Do you think that would have improved her situation?

        To me, at least, the central issue wasn’t whether she had any Amerind ancestry, which lots of American whites (and blacks) have. It was whether she had misrepresented her ancestry in order to claim benefits from universities trying to favor minorities. The DNA test doesn’t rebut that.

        Suppose all she had ever claimed was some Amerind ancestry in the distant past, based on family tradition. Further suppose the DNA test had shown zero Amerind ancestry. That wouldn’t be evidence that she was dishonest, since she could easily enough honestly believe that even if it wasn’t true—facts get blurred over long periods of time.

        My interpretation of what she was doing is that she was relying on the innumeracy of the American population, that most people, especially ones inclined to favor her, wouldn’t realize how weak the six to ten generation result was. They would treat “Native American” as if it was a binary variable, not a matter of degree. That fits what I observed in the FB discussion.

      • Jiro says:

        I don’t think this is a kafkatrap any more than “in order to prevent yourself from being guilty of the crime of fleeing from the police, you need to let yourself be arrested for robbing that bank, and then you’ll be found guilty of robbing a bank”.

        In general, “in order to avoid charge A, you need to do something that will get you convicted under charge B” is not a kafkatrap, as long as charge B is itself legitimate. That’s because the way you avoid charge B is by not committing the crime in the first place.

        Also, I think you’re modelling normal people incorrectly here. Most people will not require that she have literally zero percent Indian ancestry before they would consider her to have lied about having Indian ancestry, and the percentage she has is tiny enough that it comfortably falls within the “counts as lying” range.

      • BBA says:

        It could be a shift in values. Exploiting affirmative action when you don’t really deserve it was a venial sin in the ’80s, when college administrators implemented it to placate the radicals in their midst and everyone with power saw it as an empty gesture. Now that the true believers are running the asylums, it’s a mortal sin. Probably not enough to swing her Senate election, since the issue was already addressed 6 years ago and incumbency is a hell of a drug, but don’t doubt that it’ll be used against her in the presidential primaries should she run.

        For an example of the reverse, thirty years ago the mere suggestion of an extramarital affair was enough to sink Gary Hart’s political career. Now as long as it was consensual nobody cares.

        • albatross11 says:

          Would that be true in general? Trump can get away with it, because he’s shameless and everyone has already priced in the kind of person he is, but I’d expect it to be a big problem for most politicians to get caught in a 100% consensual extramarital affair.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I’d say it depends on the politician. A politician who’d made family values a big part of his appeal and was later discovered having an affair would probably be sunk; a politician who’d focused on other issues would take some flak, but probably be able to survive it.

          • BBA says:

            I was thinking of Mark Sanford, who after resigning in disgrace for “hiking the Appalachian Trail” reentered politics within a couple of years without incident. Almost nobody was scandalized by the affair, it was just the hilariously bizarre cover-up that caught people’s attention.

          • Does 100% consensual mean with the permission of his spouse, which I suspect most people would see more as bizarre than wicked, or only with the permission of his extramarital partner?

          • Randy M says:

            Mark Sanford is back in politics? I would have thought the absurdity of the lies would have killed his chances if not the affair itself.
            Also, wasn’t he going down to, like, Peru or something to cheat? I guess outsourcing isn’t an issue anymore, either.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            There was a socially conservative senator whose name was in the DC madam’s phone records and admitted it when confronted, but got re-elected a few years afterward and left office by retirement (his seat was filled by someone from his party).

            I think things have changed from the Gary Hart era of politics.

          • BBA says:

            @Randy M: Sanford left the governorship in 2011 (nearly two years after his “hike”, I had forgotten that he didn’t resign immediately and got to serve out his term) and was elected to Congress in 2013. He lost his primary this year for being insufficiently Trumpist. So now his political career is over but for different reasons.

        • but don’t doubt that it’ll be used against her in the presidential primaries should she run.

          That hadn’t occurred to me, and it will be interesting to see if you are right. While it’s a potential argument for her rivals it’s also one closely linked to Trump in particular and the right in general, so a candidate using it might lose more left-wing support than he got.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, I highly doubt other Democrats would have the stones to attack her over this.

            And if they did, it would certainly be framed as “this harms her electability and Trump will attack her over it” and not “this was bad behavior in and of itself”

        • onyomi says:

          It could be a shift in values.

          This is an interesting point.

          Though I’ll say anecdotally that this seems to have been a pretty important factor in academic hiring during the 80s and 90s. An older academic friend of mine recounts how, during a long academic job search before the days of Google, interviewers sometimes looked visibly disappointed to see his white face enter the interview room. His name is one that sounds like it could possibly belong to a black man, and presumably there was no practice of appending photos to applications.

          As to whether fudging back in those days would have been a more venial sin, you may be right: I did not get the impression, based on his recounting of the story, that actually having a black faculty member was important to these interviewers–only that being able to check a box was. But in the case of my friend, no box was ticked; the interviewers were likely just rolling the dice based on the name, apparently.

          • For two bits of evidence re affirmative action in faculty hiring, both fairly old and both on gender not race:

            I remember a prominent faculty member at VPI, probably in the late seventies, remarking about one well qualified female candidate that this is one we would want to hire even if her name was John instead of Jane (names invented—I’ve forgotten them).

            According to Dierdre McCloskey, when he (then Donald) informed his department chairman that he planned to change sex, the response was “Wonderful. We get one fewer man, one more woman, and we don’t have to hire or fire anyone.” That would have been about 1995.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I don’t think most people on the right believed she necessarily lied about having a NA ancestor. They believe she mischaracterized herself as a NA on the basis of a family legend, and claimed that the family of her white parent were racist against the family of her NA parent. But if we’re talking about 6 generations back, that is almost certainly false. It’s not that she lied about having a NA ancestor, it’s that she lied about it being in any way important.

        Mainly it’s just ridiculous to claim any sort of minority status on the basis of that weak a lineage. My DNA test said I’m 1% African and 2% Ashkenazi Jew, so I’m more black and Jewish than Warren is a Native American. On that standard I now consider myself a black Jew, and am thereby immune from criticism or else you’re a racist and anti-Semite.

        Oh and as for Trump, he did not make a pledge for charity. He was at a rally and laughing about how much fun it would be to propose such a wager at a debate with Warren if she were the Democratic nominee. That is not a pledge to do so.

        That said, I think the solution for Trump is obvious. If Warren is 1/1024th Indian, write a check for the charity for $1,000,000/1024 = $976.56.

        • mtl1882 says:

          Lol, that is a good solution from Trump’s viewpoint. And it wouldn’t surprise me if he did it.

          I don’t think the 6 generations back thing is necessarily indicative of a lie. If her grandparents believed her mother had native american blood, and they were the type to care about that thing (as many people were at that time), and particularly if they objected to the marriage in general, they may have used it against her. “She doesn’t come from a good family” etc. It sounds ridiculous, but it certainly happened a lot in history, especially given the one drop mindset some people had. You could well be judged on a suspicion of “impurity” a few generations back, recklessly or maliciously. Some people were proud of their ancestry; others were just bigots who were focused on class or who used it to cast suspicion on someone they didn’t like.

      • fortaleza84 says:

        It seems to me that at a minimum she was bullshitting about her ancestry. She didn’t announce in advance that she was taking a DNA test. Presumably that’s because she wanted to keep the option of remaining silent in case the test results were not to her liking. In other words, there was some doubt in her mind about what the results would show.

        Ultimately I agree that Warren is being attacked unfairly; that she is serving as a focal point for conservative disdain; that she fits the stereotype so well of the shrill sanctimonious limousine liberal who should be baking with her grandchildren not incompetently trying to be a leader.

        But still, I am pretty confident that she has engaged in similarly unfair attacks on Trump with the full backing of the mainstream media, ie exaggerating his statements so as to put him on the defensive. So I doubt that EW or her supporters are in a position to complain.

      • vV_Vv says:

        They accused her of lying about having even minimal Indian ancestry.

        Source?

        It seems to me that nobody, except Warren herself and her fans, ever cared about “one drop” ancestry. Trump, in his bet, specified that the DNA test had to show that she was an Amerind (“Indian”), not that she had maybe one Amerind or Latino ancestor 8 generations ago.

        So Warren was forced to either accept false slanders about her, or to do the test proving she was right about her factual claim, even knowing it would re-open this wound and make it look like she was justifying herself. She chose the second one, I think rightly.

        The test proved that she is no more Amerind or Latino (the test doesn’t distinguish between the two) than the average white person from her state. Which means that she is in fact lying or, at best, uncritically repeating family legends.

        The correct way for Warren to handle it would have been to apologize for the obvious ethnic impersonation that she has been doing for decades. She should have said that she had been swayed by family tales but she now realized that it was improper for her to claim a connection to a marginalized oppressed group, and [insert more leftist idpol mumbo jumbo], etc. Instead she basically said “I’m totally Injun, according to the one drop of blood rule used by old-time racists. Gotcha Trump!”

        Now the right, who dislike affirmative action and idpol, can use this to support their claim that AA is just a scheme used by people who don’t deserve it to grab benefits under false pretenses, and that the “Democrats are the real racists”, as they dug up the old one drop rule. The left, after all their noise about cultural appropriation, Halloween costumes, etc., has now to defend the 1/64 – 1/1024 “Native American” blue-eyed white woman who goes around saying she’s Cherokee. Warren most likely killed her political career with this misstep.

        • albatross11 says:

          vV_Vv:

          You’re just wrong about the claim of her being no more American Indian than the average American. See the article I linked to before.

          My prediction is that her political career will not suffer significantly from this. I base this on the idea that very few people who were ever going to vote for her care enough to support someone else. If this issue causes her problems at all, it won’t cause her problems in the general election (where she’s running against a Republican–he can call her Pocohantas and it will just piss off the wavering people on her side and harden their support for her. It’s conceivable that the left will form up into a nice circular firing squad, with internal attacks on her from within the left ultimately damaging her. But I doubt it. (And if the only way for her to run successfully is to pointedly ignore the loudest and screechiest part of the left in favor of a more traditionally left-wing economic message, that will make US politics substantially less poisonous.)

          • Matt M says:

            It’s conceivable that the left will form up into a nice circular firing squad, with internal attacks on her from within the left ultimately damaging her.

            I think this is likely, although the attacks will be quite indirect.

            Meaning, other leftists won’t say “Don’t vote for Warren because she lied about her ancestry for personal gain” but rather they will make general comments about her being “controversial” or they will talk about her “electability” or suggest that she has been scandalized, in such a way so that everyone will know exactly what is meant, but allows other leftists to avoid looking like they’re making the same argument as Donald Trump or whatever.

          • vV_Vv says:

            You’re just wrong about the claim of her being no more American Indian than the average American. See the article I linked to before.

            My understanding is that white Oklahomans have an unusally high amount of native ancestry compared to the general white American population.

            But quibbling about percentages is beside the point, the point is that she is not Native American in any meaningful sense: she doesn’t look Native, she doesn’t participate in Native culture, she didn’t even publicly self-identify as Native until her 30s. Yet she insists that she is Native, against all reason and evidence, including her own DNA test which shows that her ancestry is, indeed, overwhelmingly European.

            And she does so as a leading figure of a political faction that bases its platform around protecting the interests of ethnical minorities, including the interest of not having their preculiarities appropriated by the white majority. Warren’s behavior makes a mockery of this platform.

            My prediction is that her political career will not suffer significantly from this. I base this on the idea that very few people who were ever going to vote for her care enough to support someone else.

            Maybe she’ll keep her Senate seat, but no way she can run for president, unless the Democrats want to turn the race into a referendum on Affirmative Action. Maybe they are indeed clueless enough to do this, but the result will be a win for the right on a platform to abolish AA.

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems to me we have come to different predictions. It will be interesting to see which of us is right.

        • The test proved that she is no more Amerind or Latino (the test doesn’t distinguish between the two)

          I don’t think that’s right. As I understand it, the test doesn’t distinguish between North American Amerinds and South or Central American Amerinds. Hispanics/Latinos may have some Amerind ancestry, but need not.

          You’re just wrong about the claim of her being no more American Indian than the average American.

          His claim was “than the average white person from her state.” The state in question is Oklahoma. The population of Oklahoma is about 6% Native American. I don’t know how much Amerind ancestry the average white person from Oklahoma has, but I expect it’s more than .1% (the low end of her range), might be more than 1.5% (the high end).

    • aristides says:

      Some on partisans on the left did consider all this. The Charokee Nation is the obvious example, but Nathan Robinson wrote a scathing article on Warren’s ancestry response despite, her being his second favorite elected official. Nathan’s article has earned him a lot of my respect. I don’t know many people who would call out a member of their own tribe so vocally and harshly. I am conservative, but it’s articles like this that keep me reading Nathan’s criticism of my side and makes me trust that he is applying his values consistently.

      • baconbits9 says:

        My reading of this article is that Nathan Robinson is angry…. that Warren isn’t tactically smart enough to win a presidential election. This isn’t a brave attack on a party member, its a demand that she step aside so that someone who can beat Trump can run without regard to how competent Warren is relative to that person. This isn’t bravery, its toeing the party line of identity politics and the necessity of BEATING TRUMP over good governance.

        • Jaskologist says:

          “You don’t have to be good, but you do have to be competent” is a bipartisan realpolitik sentiment.

          • baconbits9 says:

            NJR doesn’t accuse her of being bad, he actually claims to admire her and her work. He is taking a single flaw and throwing her under the bus for it despite claims that she is one of his most admired politicians.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            No, he definitely accuses her of being bad:

            I just want to first make clear why I do think this is a significant issue, even if Republicans care about it only for completely opportunistic reasons. It is wrong to claim an oppressed identity if you do not actually have that identity. Warren has reinforced incorrect conceptions of what it means to be Native American, saying at one point that she “knew her grandfather was ‘part’ Cherokee because ‘he had high cheekbones like all of the Indians.’”

            Robinson’s problems with Warren, despite really liking what she does and stands for politically are that:

            1) She’s wrong.

            2) Doesn’t know she’s wrong.

            3) Fails at avoiding traps related to her wrongness.

          • baconbits9 says:

            No, he accuses her of being wrong, having a flaw does not in general make you bad. He starts out the piece by writing

            I like Elizabeth Warren a lot. She’s probably my second-favorite elected official. It’s only thanks to her that we have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the best agency in the U.S. federal government. She is gutsy, smart, and she cares about the economic well-being of ordinary people.

            He doesn’t say “before this scandal Warren was my 2nd favorite elected official”, he writes it in the present tense.

          • Nick says:

            Yeah, Conrad, I think Nathan has to be given real credit for the article. If he’s doing it for realpolitik reasons, it’s far from obvious.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t know what to tell you, baconbits9. He’s definitely using “wrong” in the sense of “bad,” not as in the sense of “mistaken.” He says

            It is wrong to claim an oppressed identity if you do not actually have that identity.

            This is the kind of “wrong” that is synonymous with “lying.” Which is a legit, universal sin. Ten Commandments kind of stuff. Robinson is not happy with anything about all of this.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Its the difference between

            1. Person X is bad, look at all the wrong things they did

            and

            2. Person X did something bad.

            NJR is not making the case that Warren is #1, he is making the case for #2 and then claiming that this level of bad ought to disqualify her DESPITE all of her obvious high quality characteristics. This is what purity tests look like, you are either in absolute lock step or you are not good enough.

            I personally strongly dislike Warren, she is the type of technocrat who starts every problem with the assumption that she is smart enough to solve it, but if you liked Warren prior to this issue I don’t see how you can downgrade her significantly for it unless you are going for purity tests.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Oh. Well I agree with that. Yes, he’s not calling her “bad,” he’s accusing her of doing a bad thing. But I think he would absolutely forgive her if she hadn’t doubled down on it. I would, too. I don’t really care about this.

            I don’t like Warren for the same reason you said: I do not like technocrats. The Pocahontas thing was just funny. She should have just ignored it, but if she was going to do something about it (in case it was something that might actually hurt her) she should have done what I think everyone else in this thread has said: say “whoops, looks like my family legends were blown out of proportion. I thought it was true when I said it, but I’m sorry, and have deep and abiding respect for Native Americans.” And she should have done it quietly, after midterms. Instead she just sucked up two weeks of the news cycle with this silliness instead of anything that actually matters to voters.

            I’m certainly not complaining, though, as I generally like it when my political opponents make themselves look foolish and off-message.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ CH

            I would agree with this point of view if his piece had simply criticized her, instead he proclaims that

            I do not see how she can be a serious presidential contender.

            After claiming that she is his 2nd favorite person in political office. Unfit to RUN for president, not unfit to be president, not unfit to hold high public office (he does not, after all, call for her to step down from her current position) but to be unfit to present herself as a candidate.

      • cassander says:

        “It’s only thanks to her that we have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the best agency in the U.S. federal government.”

        Anyone who says this ought to be immediately discredited about any serious discussion of policy. The CFPB has been a mess from day one. And it’s not just outsiders that think that.

    • Plumber says:

      @DavidFriedman

      “…..Can someone offer other examples of people the right takes as leaders, where doing so requires ignoring clear evidence of behavior inconsistent with the stated principles of their supporters?….”

      Off the top of my head, Newt Gingrich’s  affairs and multiple marriages would seem to go against the stated principles of the religious conservatives part of the Republican coalition, revelations of similar behavior ended John Edwards career, though Edwards initially denied it, whereas Gingrich seems mostly to have a “Yeah, so?” attitude (also Gingrich isn’t a leader anymore).

      Trump has had a similar personal life and still had the support of many evangelicals so being upfront seems to get one forgiven. 

      The Chappaquiddick incident likely stopped Kennedy from running for President in ’72, but he did try to “primary” Carter in ’80 from the left (the last time I remember such a challenge of a sitting President from their own party) and of course he had a long Senatorial career.

      On Warren’s “ancestry”, I just hope that a certain 1971 song by Paul Revere and the Raiders becomes her campaign song because that would be hilarious! 

      For what it’s worth, my wife said she had a college classmate who claimed to be black despite “looking Norwegian”, as far as the “Indian” thing my parents claimed to me that “there’s Indian blood in our family” as well, I think that’s just a common story Americans who can’t point to every immigrant ancestor tell themselves. I remember an episode of “Finding Your Roots” where the host told the guest after a DNA test “Wow, your the first person on the show to claim an ‘Indian Princess’ ancestor who might actually have one!”, which I thought was pretty funny. 

      • AlphaGamma says:

        my wife said she had a college classmate who claimed to be black despite “looking Norwegian”

        There was a President of the NAACP who had blond hair, blue eyes, and had been invited to join the Klan at least once.

        Also, both of his parents had been born into slavery.

        • gbdub says:

          You forgot the best part, which is that his last name was White.

          (Then again I doubt we’re having this conversation if Warren or her parents grew up on a reservation – the “both my parents were slaves” part kinda seals it)

        • Protagoras says:

          Genetics can do that. If both of someone’s parents are roughly half African, half European, their child is most likely to kind of look like their parents, but there is a tiny chance on each side that the random shuffle of genes will leave them with almost entirely European or almost entirely African appearance (because each parent happened to contribute almost all of their appearance genes of one type and almost none of the other).

          • bean says:

            Apparently, only 5/32 of his great-great-great-grandparents were black, mostly due to rape by various slaveowners over the years.

      • gbdub says:

        I think the trick with Gingrich and Kennedy was that they took the approaches of “who cares” and “lay low till it blows over”. Which, better or worse, can often be successful for otherwise popular figures.

        I thought Warren was doing that rather successfully. But now she has bizarrely and voluntarily flipped to “defend / deny vigorously when even your allies know you’re wrong”. Which works much less often.

        Look, Warren is white. She knows it, I know it, and Scott should really know it. I get that tribal membership isn’t the be-all, end-all, but being 1/16th or so and actually participating in the culture in some meaningful way should be the minimum for claiming to be a Native American vigorously enough that you get listed as a “person of color”. She obviously doesn’t fit any of those criteria. And I’m sorry but the idea that she had no idea she might get benefits in late 20th century American academia for her claim to minority status is laughable. She’s not an idiot.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “Who cares” seems to be precisely the example of hypocrisy Friedman was looking for. And you are correct this is the broad pattern, so much so that it seems patently ridiculous weird Friedman thinks it doesn’t happen on the right.

          • gbdub says:

            I’m not going to claim that there isn’t a lot of hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle. There’s also a lot of “drawing fine distinctions to answer charges of hypocrisy”, “being more forgiving of people you otherwise agree with”, and “accepting at face value questionably plausible denials”. Plus, basically everybody would accept a “bad” person who enacts all their preferred policies before they’d support a “better” person who opposes them, while pretending otherwise.

            This thing where Warren is openly flaunting evidence that she’s wrong while insisting that it’s evidence she’s right, and people just going along with that, seems more rare.

          • quanta413 says:

            I agree. I don’t know why David Friedman finds differently.

            “Who cares” is such a common approach, I’d probably have a harder time finding politicians who hadn’t used it than who had.

            …I exaggerate slightly. But dig a little bit? Yeah.

            Changing your mind day to day to fit whatever argument is also so common that it’s hardly notable.

          • And you are correct this is the broad pattern, so much so that it seems patently ridiculous weird Friedman thinks it doesn’t happen on the right.

            Yet another example of people seeing what they want to see instead of what’s there.

            I said nothing suggesting that I thought it didn’t happen on the right, merely that I had paid more attention to it on the left.

          • “Who cares” seems to be precisely the example of hypocrisy Friedman was looking for.

            Not exactly.

            Someone who supports Trump because he didn’t like Clinton or because he agrees with Trump’s policies and despite recognizing that what Trump says has at best a very loose connection to the truth would not be an example of what I’m describing. Someone who supports Trump in the belief that he is an honest and truthful man and that’s important would be.

            Similarly, I could understand someone saying “yes, Warren pretended to be a minority in order to take advantage of affirmative action, but she is still a skillful politician on our side so I will still support her if she runs for office.” Nathan Robinson’s position seems close to that–what he’s complaining about is not her past dishonesty, which he recognizes and disapproves of, but what he sees, I suspect mistakenly, as her current political error. But that’s not the pattern I’m seeing in the FB discussions of the DNA results.

          • Deiseach says:

            Nathan Robinson’s position seems close to that–what he’s complaining about is not her past dishonesty, which he recognizes and disapproves of, but what he sees, I suspect mistakenly, as her current political error.

            I don’t think he’s mistaken – if Warren really was/is being touted as a candidate for 2020, this was a bad misstep. It shows that she’s vulnerable to making mistakes on the campaign trail and falling for the traps her opponent sets for her. Something she thought was a clever stroke to make Trump look bad, look like a liar and a chiseller and someone who welches on a bet, turned around and made her look ridiculous instead.

            You won’t get far in a campaign if your candidate keeps walking right off the cliff edge that the opposition signposted as “cliff edge here – please walk right off”. I suspect Robinson fears that Warren would repeat Hillary’s mistakes and come across as wooden or lecturing instead of being able to sell herself as sound on policy with a great grasp of detail and with a progressive vision for everyone, including the de-industrialised parts of the country, particularly if she let herself get bogged down in “I am too Real Native American, look at my DNA results” type confrontations.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yet another example of people seeing what they want to see instead of what’s there.

            So, what Friedman is saying isn’t he doesn’t care about it when the right does it. It doesn’t matter to him. Neatly self-refuting argument there.

            This is a negligent argument. He already knew, or should have known. It’s a debate tactic. Say something unfounded that forces the other side to spend effort and resource responding to your implication.

            Very careful, very precise, and also uncharitable.

          • So, what Friedman is saying isn’t he doesn’t care about it when the right does it.

            That is not what I am saying, as should be obvious if you read what I wrote. What I was saying was that I come across it when the left does it because they are the people I am arguing with. As best I recall, I have never gotten involved in an argument over where Obama was born.

            I do occasionally see people on my side of an argument saying things I believe are untrue and correct them—I’ve even done so in this discussion.

            I do occasionally get into arguments with people on the right over immigration issues. I don’t remember any where someone was denying easily checkable facts because he didn’t want to believe them, but I won’t swear it has never happened.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            You come across it because you care to argue with left wing people and don’t care to argue with right wing people.

            As to immigration, you aren’t going after the Joe Arpiaos of the world for their flouting of law and order.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            HBC, is this actually going anywhere, or do you just have an excess of free time which you’ve decided to fill up with bad-tempered sniping?

        • Deiseach says:

          The stories she was retailing back in 2012 about her parents having to elope because his family knew enough about her mother’s family to know they were part-Indian, although I realise why she told them since it was in the context of fighting a political campaign, are now demonstrated to be false.

          Dad’s family couldn’t have been positive that Mom’s father was one-quarter Delaware Indian (and so Warren is one-sixteenth Delaware) because the genetics test Warren insisted on getting shows the most recent ancestor is farther back than that – if her grandfather was one-quarter Delaware, that makes his grandfather/mother the full-blooded Delaware, the great-great-grandparent as the Native American on that side.

          But her results push it back to, at closest, Warren is one-sixtyfourth in the sixth generation – great-great-great-great-grandmother was half-Cherokee (the O.C. Sarah Smith who passed for white) and the full-blooded Cherokee was the great-great-great-great-great-grandparent! That’s too far back to meaningfully count as anything more than “yes, there is Native American heritage in the family” and certainly not as “my mother was part-Delaware and part-Cherokee and her inlaws were prejudiced against her for that”. So they were only going on rumours like the rest of the family, not any positive knowledge. And the DNA results show they were wrong and Warren was wrong, unless you think she really wants us to swallow “well, granny Warren disliked my mother because everyone knew her great-great-great-grandmother was half-Cherokee” as being the kind of prejudice in the town.

          • Matt M says:

            Eh, at the risk of defending Warren, it’s plausible that if her mother was considered to be Cherokee, she might have suffered such discrimination, even if, in actuality, she was only 1/500th Cherokee.

            We know this is possible because Warren herself is the outcome-flipped version of this. Meaning, she enjoyed the modern benefits of being considered to be Cherokee, even while, in actuality, she was only 1/1000th Cherokee.

          • Deiseach says:

            I agree about that, Matt M, but the way Warren was telling it was sounded like “Dad’s family took against Mom because everyone knew her granny was on the reservation” and that wasn’t it at all. There may have been a perception that the Reeds – her maternal grandfather and his brother – were half-Indian, but the DNA testing seems to have blown that out of the water with the purported ancestor much further back.

            So any prejudice was down to pure prejudice with no real basis, apart from whatever rumours were going around. Maybe the Reeds (Warren’s maternal grandfather and his brother) did think they had Indian ancestry, or it was just something that was rumoured about them, but whatever ancestry was further back than parents or grandparents.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Parts of this aren’t true. First what is going on is that you are talking averages, not actual percentages. With independent genetic transfer at the chromosomal level without crossing over you could easily have someone whose great grandmother was full Cherokee but that individual only got 6% of their DNA from the ancestor rather than the 12.5% you would expect on average (with crossing over you could still get lower, but I’m not doing the math).

            Further you could easily have a person who was half, or a quarter Cherokee but looked, and was treated by the town, as full Cherokee, the two combined could easily push an actual genetic full ancestor and behaviors outside of straight averages.

          • Dad’s family couldn’t have been positive that Mom’s father was one-quarter Delaware Indian (and so Warren is one-sixteenth Delaware) because the genetics test Warren insisted on getting shows …

            They could have been positive. They just couldn’t have been correct.

          • First what is going on is that you are talking averages, not actual percentages.

            The sort of problem you are discussing (with crossover, since that’s how reproduction works) is presumably the reason why the result was “six to ten generations.” That’s allowing for the uncertainty in how many of the strings of genes they are using as markers for Amerind ancestry got passed on at each generation.

          • baconbits9 says:

            The sort of problem you are discussing (with crossover, since that’s how reproduction works) is presumably the reason why the result was “six to ten generations.” That’s allowing for the uncertainty in how many of the strings of genes they are using as markers for Amerind ancestry got passed on at each generation.

            t presumably is, but no confidence intervals are discussed that I have read (though I can’t say I have followed that carefully). If we are talking a 95% confidence interval it is still reasonably possible that 3-4 generations ago a member of the family “looked” Native American and was treated badly because of t.

      • Deiseach says:

        If we’re going for Indian-themed campaign songs, have I got the one for you!

        Since Warren claims her parents had to elope due to her father’s family’s disapproval, here is Son, Don’t Go Near The Indians.

        Yes, in 70s Ireland when I was a small child, we had a showband dressed up as and pretending to be Native Americans with fake Indian names. (Look, the 70s were just like that, okay?)

      • JulieK says:

        On Warren’s “ancestry”, I just hope that a certain 1971 song by Paul Revere and the Raiders becomes her campaign song because that would be hilarious!

        Imagine the reaction if a white singer were releasing that song currently…

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I supported Gingrich in the 2012 primaries, and I remember an interview where his affairs came up and he admitted it was wrong, he was wrong at the time, and he asked God for forgiveness. There’s not much more to say.

        Trump also doesn’t deny being a philanderer. He doesn’t seem to be asking for much forgiveness though.

        But then you’ve got Clinton where we wind up arguing over what the definition of “is” is.

        ETA: Oh, and I have a better anthem for Warren’s campaign.

    • Matt M says:

      The one thing about all of this that to me is the most egregious and probably under-covered is the whole “Pow wow chow” cookbook. I feel like this is the type of thing that under normal circumstances would outrage the left on multiple different vectors.

      1. The very name (and one could argue the entire concept) is about the crassest form of “cultural appropriation” one could imagine
      2. Even independent of all the cultural stuff though, the recipes she contributed seem to be entirely plagiarized from an existing French cookbook
      3. She literally signed her name Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee (which throws a large amount of doubt on the whole “I never said I was a POC, Harvard made that part up on their own!” defense.

      • J Mann says:

        I had thought that Pow Wow Chow was just a family cookbook, but WorldCat says there at at least 27 copies in US libraries, so it sounds more like a vanity effort.

        That said, in the mid 80s, people were definitely not as sensitive to cultural appropriation, and if anything, it's evidence that Warren honestly believed that she had significant Native heritage.

      • engleberg says:

        Re: the MOST egregious and probably under-covered –

        If there’s one thing Trump’s friends and enemies can agree on, it’s his taste for Tig Ol’ Bitties. When he thinks Pocahontas, he’s thinking of that Disney movie. His interest in DNA or a politician’s integrity could be exaggerated.

        I’d go so far as to suspect him of baiting Warren for being a little underdeveloped.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        My 23&Me says I’m 2% Askenazi Jew. I’m more Jewish than Warren is Native American. I do not think actual Jews would appreciate it much if I contributed my favorite spaghetti ala carbonara recipe to the [Offensive Sounding Jewish Cookbook] and credited myself as “Conrad Honcho, Jew.”

        (Although if anyone wants it, my grandma’s carbonara recipe is really good.)

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          If I understood a Razib Khan Twitter thread correctly, this isn’t quite right: the method 23andMe uses to estimate % ancestry is different than the method Bustamente used to estimate Warren’s ancestry, and he suggests that Warren is probably as much as ten times as Native American as the average white American.

        • MasteringTheClassics says:

          Excellent carbonara recipe? Do tell…

          • Joseph Greenwood says:

            I am also interested in this recipe.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Cook bacon in whatever way you like to cook bacon. Then chop/break into small pieces.

            Chop one large onion. Melt butter in a pan on medium high heat. Add onion and saute until brown. Add in 1/2 – 3/4 cup white wine, bacon, and reduce to simmer.

            While the alcohol is boiling off, get out a large mixing bowl. Crack three eggs and put in bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese (around 3/4 cup), generous pepper and parsley to egg mixture. Whisk the egg mixture.

            Boil water and cook spaghetti (about 1/2 box) as per the instructions on the package. When the spaghetti is done, immediately drain and while the noodles are still hot, add them to the egg mixture and mix thoroughly, coating the spaghetti and “cooking” the eggs. Mix in reduced wine/onion/bacon mixture and serve.

            There you go, my traditional Jewish…bacon…pasta recipe.

            Conrad Honcho, Totally A Legit Jew.

    • sentientbeings says:

      If there is a left-right asymmetry, it might be that instead of reflecting a difference in the typical behaviors among faction members, it is indicative of a different distribution of topic categories for which to apply selective blindness. Some categories might be more exposed to this type of thing.

      I am having trouble thinking of appropriate categories for the right. Extramarital affairs might qualify but seem to be treated about the same on left and right. Part of the issue is that the exposed hypocrisy needs to be objectionable to the opposing faction not just for hypocrisy, but in terms of the actual behavior. I can think of some right-wing actions that would be hypocritical, excused or denied outright by some on the right irrespective of evidence, but welcomed (or at least not faced with objection) by the left.

    • John Schilling says:

      Can someone offer other examples of people the right takes as leaders, where doing so requires ignoring clear evidence of behavior inconsistent with the stated principles of their supporters?

      “The Right” includes at least a large plurality and probably a majority of Evangelical Christians + Cultural Conservatives who express the belief that “family values” are an important political concern. To that extent, every divorced and/or adulterous Republican politician is an example, and I really hope you’re not going to make me provide a list.

      • albatross11 says:

        Yeah, motivated reasoning and making excuses for your own side is a human failing, not just a left-wing failing.

      • sentientbeings says:

        I think affairs are not a very interesting example, because even if they especially violate a right-wing “value,” they are not especially present or treated very differently when occurring on the right or left. Politicians routinely have affairs exposed; some resign, some keep right on going, but they generally issue some sort of apology and the topic is treated more as a news item than a battleground. Additionally, the position of the faction-aligned group tends to be dismissive rather than explicitly defensive.

        The characteristics we need seem to be something like:
        1. Action violates “value” held by in-group.
        2. “Value” is specific or especially important to in-group.
        3. Hypocrisy is pointed out by out-group.
        4. Actual action is condemned by out-group.
        5. Action is denied or defended in strong terms (i.e. not just a discussion of mitigating factors) by in-group despite substantial, clear, evidence.
        *6. (Maybe) The actor is or becomes an especially high-status person among the in-group.

        Affairs probably don’t work here. Many defenses of Donald Trump by people who are politically aligned to him do, since Trump is a remarkably prolific fabricator. He isn’t a very interesting example for this discussion though, since he’s something of a phenomena unto himself.

        I mentioned in another comment that it might be possible that, if there is an asymmetry in the observation of this sort of thing, it could be that people on the left and right face different exposure risks related to their views, rather than underlying differences in behavior of the public figures or their supports/detractors. I am interested others’ ideas for potential right-aligned topics that could present this exposure, whether or not we have examples of it happening.

        * Edited to add #6.

        • Matt M says:

          I think part of the issue is that people don’t generally model the opposing tribe’s thought process very well.

          At a superficial level, I think the logic works something like this:
          “Committing adultery is just as much of a sin as committing say, homosexual acts. And yet, tons of Republicans who would never consider voting for a gay man happily vote for and endorse adulterous candidates. Ergo, there is a huge amount of hypocrisy in play.”

          Which is plausible. But also plausible is something a lot closer to:
          “People want to vote for someone who they think is aligned with their values. For Republicans, one of the most prominent signals of red-tribe values is a public expression of commitment to Christianity (but not necessarily full adherence to its actual principles). Similarly, homosexual behavior is a strong signal of commitment to blue tribe values. The reason to oppose homosexual candidates is less “That’s a sin” and more “This behavior highly correlates with holding political views opposed to my own.””

          • Jiro says:

            I think there’s also the factor of admitting that an act is wrong. People who get caught committing adultery, or who admit committing adultery, don’t usually go around saying “so I committed adultery? Adultery isn’t wrong, and I’m proud to be an adulterer!”. And if they did, I’d expect that the religious right would oppose them as much as they oppose homosexuals.

          • The Nybbler says:

            “Committing adultery is just as much of a sin as committing say, homosexual acts. And yet, tons of Republicans who would never consider voting for a gay man happily vote for and endorse adulterous candidates. Ergo, there is a huge amount of hypocrisy in play.”

            This kind of thinking fails at the first sentence, though, and anyone who has actually observed moralists in the wild should know so. Adultery is considered to be a sin of weakness; an adulterer is one who gave in to temptation. Homosexuality is a sin of impurity; a homosexual is someone who is depraved, disgusting, degenerate, and/or some other negative words beginning with ‘d’. Of course these are thought of differently, even before bringing politics into it.

          • Joseph Greenwood says:

            Data point–I am a moralist who is frustrated by the right’s simultaneous indifference regarding divorce and adultery both, and their unemapthetic denunciation of all things LGBTQ+.

    • j1000000 says:

      I’m too late to this thread, but I still feel the need to say I agree with you. Even though I completely understand and expect “spin,” this felt like spinning in a way I’d never seen normal people do. This truly felt like “gaslighting,” a once excellent word that has now been robbed of its meaning by overuse. For people to point to a result of “a single ancestor 6-10 generations ago” and say “see, she IS a Native American. Typical Trump to lie about the donation” completely amazed me.

      Luckily, I think while the day she announced the results was dominated by support for Warren, the second day saw backlash, and now the narrative seems to be that Warren was wrong to even do it, and that she isn’t actually Native American.

    • Aftagley says:

      “What is interesting is how little interest her partisans take in all of this. On the face of it, pretending to be a minority when you are not in a situation where being a minority is an advantage is the sort of thing that people on the left, supporters of affirmative action, should regard as a very serious offense against their principles. Yet she not only did not get ostracized, she ended up as a leading figure on the left of the Democratic party.”

      I probably count as one of her partisans for this instance, let me see if I can provide a perspective. As far as I can tell, people, like me, who like her and see her potentially as a good candidate for national office have literally never cared about this topic. I’m pretty news focused, albeit from left-leaning sources, and I’d never heard about this “scandal” until Trump started calling her Pocahontas. At this point I did a little bit of research, came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter even slightly and filed the whole topic away as being an astro-turfed scandal propagated by usual right-wing talking heads blatantly aimed at tarnishing a strong potential candidate.

      Nothing since has caused me to have to go back and rethink my initial assessment. As more inane facts come out about this nothing of a story, the less I care. It’s fairly common for different things in the news to only get coverage from one spectrum of outlets, and I think you might be dramatically overestimating how much the left follows/cares about this topic.

      • gbdub says:

        Do you care about affirmative action at all? The part that confuses me is that any supporter of affirmative action would not be bothered by this at least a little bit. She lied about / exaggerated her ancestry in order to boost her career. The denials that it helped her career are pretty weak sauce (her denials that she knew it might are simply implausible) and honestly make me lose respect for Harvard, who touts the importance of diversity and their commitment to promoting it through affirmative action but then retreats to “oh no, we would NEVER favor somebody because of their race” as soon as they are challenged.

        There are completely non-social justice reasons to like Warren, that’s fine – sounds like you might be part of that group. It just seems that there is a large portion of her base that is social justice / progressive race politics sympathetic and yet gives her a complete pass on this. Not only gives her a complete pass, but insists they are confused why anyone would be bothered by it.

        • cassander says:

          Do you care about affirmative action at all? The part that confuses me is that any supporter of affirmative action would not be bothered by this at least a little bit. She lied about / exaggerated her ancestry in order to boost her career.

          They aren’t defining her action as lying, they’re claiming her 1% as vindication that she wasn’t lying and that affirmative action “works.”

          > who touts the importance of diversity and their commitment to promoting it through affirmative action but then retreats to “oh no, we would NEVER favor somebody because of their race” as soon as they are challenged.

          Anyone who supports affirmative action has already resolved any issues they have with this particular two step.

          • Matt M says:

            They aren’t defining her action as lying, they’re claiming her 1% as vindication that she wasn’t lying and that affirmative action “works.”

            But are they willing to accept this as the official standard?

            Do they recognize any mechanism that might prevent literally everyone from using it to claim some form of minority status?

          • cassander says:

            As a rule, people are very good at not recognizing things that would make them them reconsider long held beliefs. I’ve expressed that exact sentiment to people who support affirmative action, and their answer has often been “Pfff, that’s ridiculous.”

          • herbert herberson says:

            They aren’t defining her action as lying, they’re claiming her 1% as vindication that she wasn’t lying and that affirmative action “works.”

            I’ve not seen anyone say this. The mainstream opinion was that the benefit she received was negligible, even if gbdub personally finds this to be implausible

          • cassander says:

            @herbert herberson

            By “works” I don’t mean delivered an appropriate level of benefits to a deserving minority. I mean it in a much more limited fashion as “Someone claimed they had Indian blood on a form and she actually has Indian blood, the system is fine.” As gdub said, is a weird discontinuity where people can simultaneously touts the importance of diversity and their commitment to promoting it through affirmative action but then retreat to “oh no, we would NEVER favor somebody because of their race” when convenient, without apparent cognitive dissonance.

          • herbert herberson says:

            But that’s conflating two questions.

            First, there’s the question of whether she is actually Native American in any real way. She is not. If she had received benefits for it, it would be wrong, especially if her claim had been in bad faith. However, we mostly believe her claim was in good faith and that she enjoyed marginal, if any, benefits for it.

            I would dispute that this is a situation for dissonance. I feel that there are, and should be, areas where being a minority subject to historical de jure oppression should be given affirmative action (Bakke being, imo, one of the most wrongheaded and disastrous modern Supreme Court decisions–affirmative action should have been permitted as a remedial measure or not at all, this trifling “diversity” nonsense has done nothing but privilege Hispanics and other minorities who lack the historical wrongs of natives and blacks, and lead all us down wrongheaded rhetorical and ideological alleys), but that EW did not factually attempt to use these mechanisms, and instead only utilized mostly-irrelevant collateral mechanisms (which was not coincidental, but rather a natural result of her own knowledge that her heritage was mostly white)

            Second, there’s the question of whether EW the contemporary politician was lying when she talked of family stories of a distant ancestor. That’s what the test is there to prove, and it largely did.

            (My personal position is that the second question was not one that she should have bothered addressing given the satisfactory answer to the first, and that Nathan Robinson is right that whatever the moral merits of what she did, letting herself get rope-a-doped by Trump like this is disqualifying re: 2020 on the basis of political skill and not having learned critical lessons from 2016)

          • herbert herberson says:

            (also, there’s a weird corollary here that tbh I’m not sure what I think about: if EW purportedly earned an unfair advantage by claiming native ancestry, isn’t the fact that she subsequently became a notable US Senator a rebuttal of that? Like, the premise here is that she got extra points she didn’t deserve back in the 1980s and was accordingly placed ahead of individuals who were in fact more deserving, but did she not substantially prove that she in fact probably the most deserving candidate, or at least in the top 10, of her applicant class?)

          • The mainstream opinion was that the benefit she received was negligible, even if gbdub personally finds this to be implausible

            I can’t speak for gbdub, but I don’t find it implausible that she would have gotten the positions at Penn and Harvard if she hadn’t claimed to be native American. Nor do I find it implausible that she wouldn’t. It would have been a plus on considering her for hiring, but for all I know she was sufficiently well qualified not to need it.

            What I find entirely implausible is that Warren did not expect the claim to improve her chances of getting a good job, given the strong support for affirmative action at elite academic institutions. I would think that trying to steal a benefit to which real minorities were entitled would be treated as a serious offense, whether or not it succeeded.

          • Matt M says:

            herbert,

            I think the logic is that since her position at Harvard was undeserved, and that position presumably helped her obtain future positions (including Senator), everything else is undeserved too. Something of a “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.

            (Note: I’m not entirely sure I agree with this. If I’ve been a great employee for 5 years and my employer finds out I embellished my resume, I don’t necessarily think it follows that I should be fired because I don’t “deserve” my position.)

          • herbert herberson says:

            @David

            This is a factual disagreement–possibly even one where I’m wrong? My understanding of the issue is that the places wherein she claimed to be native were so collateral and unimportant that the hiring committees were unlikely to even know about them

            (I’d add that while this might not be equally true in every context, I think it is very true in the legal field as applied to nativeness–to anyone who works on anything touching native issues in the law, native ancestry means absolutely nothing, and instead tribal enrollment is entirely dispositive. It’s possible that the schools she worked at didn’t have any Indian Law practitioners and this therefore doesn’t apply, but I for one have been proceeding under the assumption that it did).

          • quanta413 says:

            It’s possible that the schools she worked at didn’t have any Indian Law practitioners and this therefore doesn’t apply, but I for one have been proceeding under the assumption that it did

            Your assumption strikes me as so hilariously unlikely that I’m not sure what to say.

            I’ve read about universities dealing with the tribes if they have to cough up to pay to use them as a mascot (like the Florida Seminoles have a deal with some university or football team or something). But I have never heard of a university organization/club/society/whatever using a legal definition of tribal membership for admissions or hiring.

            At least for me, they’ve always just taken me at my word. Which I have never intentionally lied about, but I did confuse Portuguese as part of the Hispanic category for a while.

          • but that EW did not factually attempt to use these mechanisms, and instead only utilized mostly-irrelevant collateral mechanisms

            What we know she did was to put her claim to be a minority law professor in a resource used by law schools looking for hires–I don’t see how that fits your description.

            She also did something that caused both Penn and Harvard to regard her as a Native American, but we don’t know what. It could have been that she said something about her ancestry that she believed to be true and the university, wanting to supports its diversity claims, exaggerated it. But I have seen no evidence that, prior to the controversy arising during the Massachusetts senatorial election, she denied either Harvard’s claim about her or Penn’s. Do you think it likely that she didn’t know that her universities were representing her as Native American?

            if EW purportedly earned an unfair advantage by claiming native ancestry, isn’t the fact that she subsequently became a notable US Senator a rebuttal of that? Like, the premise here is that she got extra points she didn’t deserve back in the 1980s and was accordingly placed ahead of individuals who were in fact more deserving, but did she not substantially prove that she in fact probably the most deserving candidate, or at least in the top 10, of her applicant class?)

            No. The qualifications for being elected to the Senate are quite different from the qualifications for being a Harvard law school professor. Would you want to argue that Trump’s election proves he was one of the best businessmen in America?

            Putting that aside, suppose it is the case, as it might be, that her qualifications were good enough to have gotten her the positions she got at Penn and Harvard without the Native American claim. Then she isn’t guilty of stealing a position from a minority applicant, only of trying to. Is that really an improvement, from your standpoint?

            Should Ford’s accusation of Kavanaugh have been dismissed on the basis that she didn’t say he raped her, only that he tried to rape her?

          • herbert herberson says:

            Your assumption strikes me as so hilariously unlikely that I’m not sure what to say.

            All I can say is that I work in the field of Indian Law, and that for every job and experience I’ve ever had, a claim of native ancestry that isn’t related to tribal membership means absolutely nothing. Indeed, one of my mentors is someone who has genuine native ancestry to the eastern Cherokee tribe, which is backed up by some cultural ties (e.g., he regularly dances at pow-wows, practices a sweat lodge tradition he got from a grandfather) and he actively avoids mentioning it (to the point where I didn’t discover it until I’d been working with him for several months)–within Indian country, anyone who talks about native ancestry without at least pointing to an enrolled parent is presumed to be a fake and a wannabe.

            Relatedly, the majority of the natives I know didn’t hold it against her previously for any purposes beyond a smirk and an eyeroll–the Cherokee grandmother routine is simply too unexceptional and commonplace to worry about, and the importance of enrollment is taken too much for granted to find a mere claim of ancestry important or threatening. With this recent announcement, most have turned her–even if she might have hedged it in her full statement, the many headlines of “DNA test proves she’s actually native” and the implied definition of nativeness as race and genes instead of relating to tribal politics and culture stuck in a great many craws (my own included, even though I personally am white as the driven snow)

          • herbert herberson says:

            @David Frankly, I can’t speak to any of that. The details around exactly how and why she got on that directory have never been important to me and I don’t know anything about them, mostly because I’ve assumed they weren’t important to anyone else for the reasons I outlined in the previous comment.

            It is possible that this is just a professional bias of mine, and that people who don’t work in my field don’t have the same dismissive attitude towards claims of native ancestry that don’t relate to being an enrolled member. But, for the record, they should–if schools are out there giving affirmative action to purported Native Americans who aren’t at least the child of an enrolled member, they ought to stop, immediately.

          • gbdub says:

            Anyone who supports affirmative action has already resolved any issues they have with this particular two step

            The two step (plus the fact that it was a hot issue where I lived as I was becoming politically aware) is why I find affirmative action a particularly grating topic.

            At U of M, we had people simultaneously claiming:
            1) Affirmative action is just one tiny part of a “holistic” admissions process, no individual should think they were accepted/rejected “because of” affirmative action.
            2) Affirmative action is absolutely essential to maintain diversity. African American enrollment will drop by 50% if race cannot be considered in admissions.

            It just does not seem possible to reconcile the two logically.

          • quanta413 says:

            All I can say is that I work in the field of Indian Law, and that for every job and experience I’ve ever had, a claim of native ancestry that isn’t related to tribal membership means absolutely nothing.

            Sure, but that’s clearly not how university admissions handle race. I’m part Native Hawaiian. I am just automatically considered a minority for some purposes because I check that box. Even though I also check like 3 other boxes including white. Native Hawaiians don’t have similar tribal laws that I’m aware of (although I vaguely remember blood quantum rules for some of the Hawaiian schools), but nothing I have ever seen indicates you need to show tribal membership to a university. I kind of doubt those laws affect hiring committees either since we can see Elizabeth Warren was listed as a Native American.

            Like, I agree it means nothing with respect to the law, but college admissions and hiring aren’t legally bound by that law.

          • herbert herberson says:

            @quanta413 I don’t in any way dispute that’s how it works for every other minority. As applied to Native Americans, I’d also expect that’s how it would work for undergrad and other non-legal institutions.

            But at a law school? I believe at least someone on a given hiring committee would balk at basing anything material on a claim to native ancestry not related to enrollment.

          • Matt M says:

            But at a law school? I believe at least someone on a given hiring committee would balk at basing anything material on a claim to native ancestry not related to enrollment.

            You really think they would go out of their way to have an entirely different standard for native Americans than they do for every other minority?

            IF that were the case, I would expect it to be a separate question one would have to answer. Sort of how race and ethnicity are separate questions now.

            This strikes me as not at all plausible, but this is your field, not mine…

          • herbert herberson says:

            One other point–one might be inclined to grant my defense to cognitive dissonance while not extending that to the vast majority of leftists and left-liberals who lack my experience and understanding of the importance of tribal enrollment. To that, I would only answer: don’t underestimate the degree to which the wider left is taking direction from people like me. Compare Warren to Dolezal–Dolezal was immediately and harshly condemned by genuine blacks because what she did was a threat (both materially and in terms of ego) to genuine blacks. Indian country was much more forgiving and ambivalent (up until this week, at least) because what she did simply wasn’t seen as a threat (in either sense) to genuine natives (while, in contrast, what she’s done now is that exact type of threat, especially in light of a recent court decision).

          • albatross11 says:

            Well, some of that’s just playing to the innumeracy of the audience. It’s a logical requirement that changing the admissions criteria to bring more blacks in, while keeping the number of seats the same, will decrease the number of seats given to non-blacks.

            I suspect that a huge number of politically sensitive/CW-ish policies are defended by fuzzy or untenable arguments, with the realization that the side that needs to be convinced of their rightness will *want* to be convinced.

            [1] “Minorities” here doesn’t include Asians, who are the victims rather than the beneficiaries of affirmative action overall.

          • herbert herberson says:

            You really think they would go out of their way to have an entirely different standard for native Americans than they do for every other minority?

            I mean, that’s pretty how Indian Law works. Compare Morton v. Mancari to Regents v. Bakke. It is a truly unique status for truly unique reasons (which are very jealously guarded, to boot–there are a great many people who are truly freaking out over that Mancari-discordant court decision I linked to in the previous comment).

          • cassander says:

            @herbert herberson

            I find your position on affirmative action perfectly logical and defensible, but I think it’s an extreme minority view among those who support affirmative action. IIRC Jim Webb made some noises about a similar delineation when he was running (or maybe in his book before he ran) and got criticized for it. There are too many people with too much invested in the diversity racket for that position to go mainstream without some sort of trump-esque figure emerging from the left.

          • Matt M says:

            That’s how law works, because law is derived from a tangled mess of 200 year old statutes and treaties and precedents.

            Law school admissions, I assume, works much more similarly to business school admissions, than it does to, you know, actual law.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Herbert/Matt:

            (also, there’s a weird corollary here that tbh I’m not sure what I think about: if EW purportedly earned an unfair advantage by claiming native ancestry, isn’t the fact that she subsequently became a notable US Senator a rebuttal of that? Like, the premise here is that she got extra points she didn’t deserve back in the 1980s and was accordingly placed ahead of individuals who were in fact more deserving, but did she not substantially prove that she in fact probably the most deserving candidate, or at least in the top 10, of her applicant class?)

            I think the logic is that since her position at Harvard was undeserved, and that position presumably helped her obtain future positions (including Senator), everything else is undeserved too. Something of a “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.

            Perhaps it would help to consider the analogy of someone who went to an elite private school before going on to have a successful career in whichever field he entered. Of course, the fact that he had a successful career shows that he’s clever and talented, and it would be absurd to claim that his success was due solely to going to a top school when he was young. However, it doesn’t follow that going to a top school had no effect on his career, or that he’d have been just as successful if he’d spent his teenage year fending off knife attacks in Ghetto High. The case against Warren is similar, I think: yes, she clearly has plenty of native talent (no pun intended), but at the same time, it’s reasonable to suppose that listing herself as a Native American gave her an early career boost that enabled her to progress further/faster than she otherwise would have.

          • bean says:

            It is possible that this is just a professional bias of mine, and that people who don’t work in my field don’t have the same dismissive attitude towards claims of native ancestry that don’t relate to being an enrolled member. But, for the record, they should–if schools are out there giving affirmative action to purported Native Americans who aren’t at least the child of an enrolled member, they ought to stop, immediately.

            I don’t work in Indian Law (or any kind of law, or any job dealing professionally with Native Americans at all), but I have roots in Oklahoma, and I’m very much with you on this. We have a system for deciding Native ancestry that we don’t with other races. If Warren had grown up somewhere with minimal Tribal presence, I could almost believe she thought that the standard self-identification system applied to her, too. She didn’t. She grew up in Tribe Central, and absolutely should have known that her claim was not particularly exceptional (at least a third of those on Tribal registers in Oklahoma don’t identify as Native American on surveys, and she didn’t even qualify for that) and that there were the registers.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Law school admissions, I assume, works much more similarly to business school admissions, than it does to, you know, actual law.

            You definitely could be right. It’s all a question of how far (a relevant but small subset of) legal culture percolates into law school admissions and hiring decisions, which isn’t something I know much of anything about. My guess is that in the case of hiring, you are having trained lawyers make the decisions and it would tend to be the case, while in regular admissions and PR wouldn’t; it probably varies by school.

            @cassander

            It’s definitely not a majority position–how could it be, when left-liberal academics have been forced to spend two generations pretending that everything they did was only in pursuance of diversity–but I think a better and more trusted messenger than Webb would fare far better. Just the other day I listened to it being covered not just positively, but matter-of-factly, on the popular and well regarded leftist podcast Citations Needed.

          • listing herself as a Native American

            If I have the facts right, she listed herself with the AALS as a minority law professor, not specifying what minority. Penn and Harvard described her at various points as a Native American law professor. She presumably had some responsibility for their doing so, but we don’t know how much. It’s possible that she said she had some Native American ancestry and someone at the university took it from there.

        • Aftagley says:

          Why is it inconceivable that I/we could just be taking her at her word? She grew up hearing stories about how her family had native American ancestry, lived her life as if the stuff her parents told her was accurate (to include collecting some of the benefits those would accrue) and basically had it as part of her self identify.

          Now if the story was “she clearly new the extent of her actual ancestry and deliberately lied about it in order to accrue benefits she didn’t deserve, that’d be a story. To me, at most she would be guilty of not fact-checking her family stories.

          • cassander says:

            I suspect that’s exactly what happened, and it would be a perfectly fine answer if she didn’t try to obscure what she’d done after the fact or make an issue now out of very weak tea.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, IF that were the case, then the right answer here would be for her to come out and say “I’m sorry, I honestly believed I had more Native ancestry than it turns out I do, I was wrong, and I won’t do it anymore. Here’s a token donation to Cherokee Lives Matter.”

            Not “VINDICATED! These results PROVE that I am Native and that Trump is a big fat liar!”

          • Aftagley says:

            I agree. I think Scott’s point above about how putting her in the position of either having to ignore this stuff and let it fester or address it and provoke criticism for addressing it in an unsatisfactory way is relevant, but I will agree that the way she’s released the DNA test does invite criticism.

            But that being said, all this stuff about how the Left must now abandon support for her OR admit that we never actually cared about affirmative action is just so much dust in the wind.

          • Matt M says:

            But that being said, all this stuff about how the Left must now abandon support for her OR admit that we never actually cared about affirmative action is just so much dust in the wind.

            I agree that these aren’t really the only two choices.

            But the choice that many of them seem to have gone with, which is to say “Warren just OWNED Trump by proving that she totally IS a Native American!” is certainly a stupid one, that is well worthy of criticism.

          • But that being said, all this stuff about how the Left must now abandon support for her OR admit that we never actually cared about affirmative action is just so much dust in the wind.

            “Abandon support for her” is ambiguous. It isn’t a reason why people on the left shouldn’t have voted for her for the senate, any more than the fact that Trump was pretty clearly unfaithful to his wife was a reason why people on the right shouldn’t have voted for him for president.

            But I think it is a reason why people on the left shouldn’t push her forward as a leader of their movement unless it is really the case that they have nobody else who is equally able and hasn’t acted in a way strikingly inconsistent with left wing principles.

          • gbdub says:

            To be clear, the part I find implausible is not that she heard family stories and believed them.

            The implausible part is that she didn’t understand the implications wrt affirmative action of her claiming to be a Cherokee and getting labeled a “woman of color”.

            Also, as an Oklahoman, she should have been very familiar with the difference between “white person with a bit of Native blood in the family tree” and “Native American”.

          • Deiseach says:

            The problem isn’t that she believed the family stories about grandpa being a quarter-Delaware, or even that she made a small amount of hay out of that by claiming Native American heritage on a list of law students or whatever, it’s that after the DNA test she insisted on taking her own self showed that could not be true about grandpa, she is still going “This proves I am indeed genuine part-Native American”.

            The sensible thing is to go “Well, looks like the family stories weren’t quite accurate, but now we have the truth that I do have some ancestry” and leave it at that, not insist “now you owe me a million bucks, Donald”.

          • albatross11 says:

            I get all that. And maybe I’d care more if I thought racial categories had any moral importance or should have any legal importance. But let’s suppose it’s 2020, and Warren is running for president against Trump or Cruz or someone.

            Do I give a flying f–k whether she claimed Indian ancestry to improve her chances of getting a job? Nope, not a bit.

            I care what she’s likely to do as president. What policies will she try to enact? Will she get us into another dumb war?

            Similarly, if you tell me my lawyer claimed Indian ancestry to get a job, or my accountant used to tell racist jokes, or my dentist belonged to a country club that excluded Jews in its past, or my doctor was a drunken lout who harassed women as a college student, I don’t really care very much. I care about how they’re going to do their jobs now a lot. If I’m looking for someone to fix my roof or my leaking pipes, I want to know they’re going to do good work and not rip me off, but I don’t really care about like 90% of the stuff that people bring up as *really important questions of character* among political candidates.

          • Matt M says:

            I care what she’s likely to do as president.

            Does the fact that in the past she has exhibited

            a. The propensity to lie for the sake of her own benefit
            b. The willingness to do so even when it would seem to contradict some of the deeply held principles of most of her political allies
            c. The arrogance to deny doing so, even when caught red-handed

            *Note, I fully admit these things are all also true of virtually every politician, so this would be a poor reason to vote against her if she was running against Trump specifically

          • @:albatross11

            On the whole I agree with your examples.

            But what if you are part of a political movement and you are choosing someone to be a recognized leader of that movement. Isn’t there a problem if that person has a history of acting in a way sharply inconsistent with the declared position of the movement? Not a reason not to vote for the person, since if you are part of a movement the opposition candidate is probably worse from your point of view, but a reason to choose someone else to be your spokesperson/acknowledge leader.

          • JulieK says:

            Aftagley says:

            To me, at most she would be guilty of not fact-checking her family stories.

            cassander says:

            I suspect that’s exactly what happened, and it would be a perfectly fine answer if she didn’t try to obscure what she’d done after the fact or make an issue now out of very weak tea.

            That sounds kind of like “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” Would you agree?

          • JulieK says:

            But what if you are part of a political movement and you are choosing someone to be a recognized leader of that movement. Isn’t there a problem if that person has a history of acting in a way sharply inconsistent with the declared position of the movement?

            In theory, it should be a problem, but for most people it isn’t.
            See: Donald Trump, Bill Clinton.

          • See: Donald Trump, Bill Clinton.

            When Trump was trying for the nomination, a lot of conservative Republicans strongly opposed him. Some continued to do so after he got nominated. Insofar as he has enthusiastic supporters, I think they are more the blue collar workers who switched parties to support him than the religious conservatives. The latter support him as the best available option, not as their hero.

            I don’t think Bill Clinton was ever a leader of the left of the Democratic party. More a moderately conservative Democrat who was good at getting elected. I don’t see the position of either him or Trump as very much like Warren’s or Ted Kennedy’s.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m pretty news focused, albeit from left-leaning sources, and I’d never heard about this “scandal” until Trump started calling her Pocahontas.

        I find that interesting, since it seems to have been a weak point that she got attacked on back in 2012 by her opponent in the Massachusetts Senate race. A lot of the quotes I’m mining come from back then, and it looks like the attack is not unique to Trump, he simply resurrected it and put his own spin on it with the Pocahontas/Fauxahontas jibe.

        So either it only was a big deal in Boston and/or Massachusetts at the time, or you were too young in 2012 to be aware/take interest?

        • Aftagley says:

          “So either it only was a big deal in Boston and/or Massachusetts at the time, or you were too young in 2012 to be aware/take interest?”

          I spent most of 2012 on a boat in Antarctic, so I admit that my consumption of news was limited during that time, but I don’t remember this controversy strongly breaking through on the national stage. That being said, I went back and looked at news articles being released at the time and it did get picked up by some national outlets. I don’t believe this changes my underlying point of “this was never a thing about Elizabeth Warren that people on the left cared about” hypothesis. In fact, polling data from 2012 suggest that despite her opponent making a big deal about it, voters didn’t care then either.

          I did a quick google analytics check, and it kind of supports my hypothesis, but I could be reading too much into it:

          https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=Elizabeth%20Warren%20indian

          Basically nothing until 2012, a brief, relatively small, spike that correlates to the senate election, low level noise until Trump comes around in 2016 and then a succession of massive spikes which, if I had to guess, can be tracked back to every time this gets in the news.

        • Matt M says:

          IIRC Trump didn’t even invent Pocahontas as a nickname, it had been fairly common in right-wing circles far before he ran for President.

          He was just much more likely to expropriate right-wing radio/internet memes and force them to the mainstream than any other Republican would ever dare.

          • Aftagley says:

            Hmm, interesting. I guess that explains the low-level noise on the google analytics between 2012 and 2016; it spent that time matriculating in the right wing before Trump let it really break through.

      • Plumber says:

        Storytime!

        A steamfitter colleague tells me that he used to get hired as part of San Francisco’s ‘local hire’ requirement to work jobs in the Bayview/Hunters-Point neighborhood as he lived there and was often accused of lying (which really irked him) because he was white in a neighborhood that mostly wasn’t. 

        I remember being on a construction sites and being annoyed when some stranger with a clipboard would come around asking what zip codes we live in, as apparently a R.V. within a quarter mile isn’t a proper answer.

        I also remember being similarly infuriated when classmates in an “advanced” class (so mostly kids from the hills) accused me of not “really being from Berkeley” because I’d never heard of some damn ski shop (who am I kidding, I’m still angry 35 years later).

        Anyway, on Affirmative Action at Harvard: 

        Eliminate Harvard, problem solved.

    • ben says:

      You know what is more interesting? He didn’t even offer her a bet. That should blow your mind. Check out this post on the slatestarcodex reddit subreddit:

      https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/9o9uo4/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_october_15/e7wflrr/

      The video is even captioned correctly:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxdlLDug3Os

      ‘During his rally in Great Falls, Montana, President Trump repeated his “Pocahontas” slur and said that he’d ask Senator Elizabeth Warren to take a DNA test to prove her native American heritage, should he end up debating her in 2020.’

      There is definitely enough ambiguity that if Warren wanted Trump to make good on his bet she should have asked him for terms before taking the test.

      • I think that’s the wrong quote. I’m pretty sure I found one where he offered a million dollar donation to her preferred charity if she took a DNA test and it showed her to be an Indian.

    • Atlas says:

      What is interesting is how little interest her partisans take in all of this. On the face of it, pretending to be a minority when you are not in a situation where being a minority is an advantage is the sort of thing that people on the left, supporters of affirmative action, should regard as a very serious offense against their principles. Yet she not only did not get ostracized, she ended up as a leading figure on the left of the Democratic party.

      Steve Sailer wrote a very insightful column a few months ago in which he discussed this very question.

      An interesting comparison is of course with the case of activist Rachel Dolezal, who was viciously savaged by (her fellow) leftists for boosting her career by fraudulently claiming to be African-American. Potential points of difference whose significance I leave up to the reader:

      —Dolezal claimed to be black, Warren claimed to be Native American
      —Dolezal’s career was more closely linked to her claim of minority ancestry
      —If race is a social construct of lived experience, Dolezal actually has a better claim to be black than Warren has to be Amerindian
      —Warren is a major politician, Dolezal was a relatively minor activist

      A comparison that I think is original to me is between affirmative action fraud and stolen valor fraud. (The practice of lying about serving in the military and/or lying about which capacities you served in.) The former is an attempt to exploit the sacred values of the Blue Tribe, the latter is an attempt to exploit the sacred values of the Red Tribe.

      • eric23 says:

        BTW, white high school students do not mark themselves as black because 1) this seems risky, in case they are somehow found out, 2) they are in fact likely to be found out, because high school college-admissions-counselors communicate with universities about their students who are applying.

        • acymetric says:

          Is that true? What does that communication look like? That is probably true for some students (or some schools), but I’m not sure that is generally true. Of course I could be completely wrong and I don’t know what your background is for you to know that side of things.

          *I’m not disagreeing with either of your points, just questioning your explanation at the end of 2.

      • Stolen valor is a good comparison. Are there conservative politicians who were found guilty of that and went on to be prominent political figures on the American right?

        • Matt M says:

          It’s not exactly stolen valor, but “Trump claims to love the military but dodged the draft by faking bone spurs!” is certainly a common criticism.

          As was “Bush got his daddy to get him into the air national guard so he wouldn’t have to go to Vietnam” before.

          And, as in the case of Warren, almost all of this criticism comes from the opposition, while their own party is happy to overlook it as not all that important really.

        • sentientbeings says:

          The closest example that comes to mind is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, currently on the Judiciary Committee. He was recalled to active duty during the Gulf War and was later alleged to have described himself as a Gulf War veteran.

          I’m not particularly familiar with the circumstances, but the example might be too weak to qualify. My understanding is that he was called out on a single statement, might have been misunderstood or misquoted, and he definitely did clarify in response that he was not a combat veteran, nor claimed to be. There is also the complicating factor that the armed forces (and various bureaucracies) use the word “veteran” in a somewhat different manner than common usage.

          • woah77 says:

            Yeah, strictly speaking he may qualify as a “Gulf War Veteran” because any active duty personnel who participate in a campaign (including non-combat roles) are that campaign’s veterans. For example, ever service member who served from like 2005 until 2012 (maybe later, I haven’t checked) qualifies as a “Global War on Terror” Veteran, but only those who deployed are veterans of our campaigns in Iraq or Afghanistan.

          • Matt M says:

            That was the purpose of creating separate “Service” vs “Expeditionary” medals – to make that exact distinction.

            I was in the Navy during that time, and was awarded the “Global War on Terror Service Medal” simply for being enlisted (despite the fact that I never left the US). Personnel who were actually deployed in-theater are awarded the “Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal.” There is also the “Combat Action Ribbon” awarded exclusively to those who, well, see combat.

            The VFW, notably, will not offer you membership if you have a Service medal, but not an Expeditionary one. Real veterans only. Not stateside desk-jockeys 🙂

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            My dad was in JAG in the Navy (a lawyer), and always said he “flew a desk in the Vietnam War.”

          • Atlas says:

            Relevant to Matt M’s comment:

            I just recently finished reading military historian Martin van Creveld’s book Fighting Power, which compares the US Army and the Wehrmacht in World War 2. He observes that the US Army gave out decorations of various kinds significantly more frequently than the Wehrmacht.

      • gbdub says:

        I think your last point might be the biggest one – by the time this became a big deal, Warren was already a star on her way to too-big-to-fail. Dolezal was always disposable.

    • Anatoly says:

      What I find remarkable about the Warren DNA story is how quickly, literally within hours, everyone switched to a false representation of what she was actually saying, and then proceeded to either mock or defend that false representation. The report by the Stanford geneticist is lying there all along but nobody’s reading it. The way the entire debate here is egregiously wrong on the basic facts is just mind-boggling.

      The report posted by Warren said she probably had a native ancestor in 6th to 10th generation. It did not say that she had 1/64 to 1/1024 native DNA (0.97% to 1.15%). That’s not the same thing. Because of the way DNA gets mixed in the offspring chromosome by chromosome, rather than base pair by base pair, it’s very possible to have a 10th generation ancestor from whom you inherit literally no DNA; or on the contrary, much more than 0.97%. In Warren’s case, probably much more, but it’s unknown just how much. The conclusion “6th to 10th generation ancestor” was looking at specific markers in the genome, finding a large Native American-like chunk of DNA, and running a machine learning analysis on which generation ancestor is likely to explain such a chunk.

      Maybe Warren’s DNA is 10% native, maybe 5%, maybe 1%. She doesn’t know and she’s never claimed it to be 1% or 0.1% or anything else. But everyone blithely says that’s what she claimed, even though her words are right there.

      Then somebody dug up a 2014 paper in which there’s an estimate of 0.18% average native DNA, using different methodology from Warren’s report, that didn’t, again, claim 0.097%, but no matter, everybody’s now comparing this 0.18% to 0.097%. And the basic statistical mistake, in which you mistake an average value over all Americans to what an average American is likely to have, is just painful to watch, especially with SSC commenters. In fact, even if Warren does have 0.097% native DNA, and if that paper’s estimates are true, she still has more than ~97% of European-identified Americans who have 0.

      Basically, https://twitter.com/carlzimmer/status/1052225063146143744 is required reading. This is that unlikely occasion in which a Twitter thread is x100 more illuminating than a ton of verbiage written in op-eds and news articles and discussion forums on the issue, including, unfortunately, SSC comments.

      • Deiseach says:

        People are getting the 1/64 and 1/1024 by counting down the generations from six to ten generations back, so that the original ancestor might have been half-Cherokee (since the alleged ancestress was recorded as “white”, thus couldn’t have been full-blooded) then six generations down the line, Warren is one-sixtyfourth Cherokee. Ten generations reduces that down to one-thousandth (roughly).

        So while you may be technically correct about “maybe 10% or 1% of her DNA is Native American”, in practice that is not what people use in real life (I have no idea exactly what percentage of my DNA is from my maternal grandmother, but if you asked me for an estimate I’d say I’m quarter-[family name] not “I estimate I have 21.7% [family name] DNA”), and Warren herself while she has never made any explicit claims has insinuated that a grandfather was part-Delaware and her mother’s family had Cherokee ancestry (not really defined down), so she was at least assuming she had something like one-sixteenth Native American ancestry, and certainly she was talking about it in terms more than “remote ancestor”.

        In Warren’s case, probably much more, but it’s unknown just how much.

        And where do you pull that estimation that her Native DNA is “probably much more” from? You’re making guesses just as much as the rest of us ignorami who can’t even read a plain scientific paper, and for the same reasons: this gores your ox.

        • Matt M says:

          Warren had the time and resources to take multiple tests, consult multiple geneticists, etc.

          It is reasonable to assume that she picked the result most favorable to her claims.

          Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that any “testing error” or what have you is an error in her favor, rather than the other way around.

      • quanta413 says:

        Maybe Warren’s DNA is 10% native, maybe 5%, maybe 1%.

        No. 10% native would imply an ancestor within 3 or 4 generations. 5% gets us to 5 generations. Those claims are far too high to be in line with the report. See the report. It says “This is likely an underestimate as many of the segments not classified as high-confidence are also likely to be European in origin.” In other words, the unassigned fraction of ancestry is probably European.

        Bustamente said he found .4% is almost certainly Native American DNA (not distinguishing North and South America, but given Warren is from Oklahoma probably North). He left 8% unassigned, but says it’s probably mostly European. 1/2^8 ~.4%. However complicated Bustamante’s method was for finding segments, his mean generation estimate is just inverting the repeated multiplication by 1/2.

        People should read the technical addendum to Razib Khan’s post here

        Or just read the report. It’s short. https://mk0elizabethwarh5ore.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Bustamante_Report_2018.pdf

        • Douglas Knight says:

          his mean generation estimate is just inverting the repeated multiplication by 1/2.

          I think he did something complicated there, too. He says that he took into account the sizes of the segments, not just the total length. He gives citations. If she had a lot of short segments, with the same total length, he should have produced a longer distance to the ancestor.

          • quanta413 says:

            That’s true. I was careless in my description. Inverting the repeated multiplication gets you his answer which I think was worth pointing out. The fanciness doesn’t add much in this case.

            There’s only five identifiable but short segments and plenty of time for crossover to have occurred between chromosomes from generation to generation.

            Length of segments is probably useful in telling you if someone had one European and one Native American parent or two half-European, half-Native American parents. Assuming you can’t just ask them. But in this case? Until very recently, marriage across racial groups in the U.S. was rare. If ancestry is a small fraction of the total, it’s probably safe to just do the simple thing.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Lengths of segments really are relevant to the case of just one ancestor. It’s also relevant if you want to compute error bars, but I’m not sure the widely quoted 6-10 was computed and not just guessed.

            Warren’s DNA is 1/260 Indian. It’s just a coincidence that it’s so close to a power of 2.

          • quanta413 says:

            It’s possible it’s just coincidence, but I’m suspicious that it’s actually a better approximation than it looks. If you have multiple ancestors further back, I’d expect more short segments and more variation due to more generations for recombination to have occurred.

            But just one distant ancestor? Seems like it should work ok +- a couple generations for random loss of half of each parent’s chromosomes.

            EDIT: A big issue would be total loss of all DNA from an ancestor, so maybe it’s worse than I think and/or the distribution of error from the idiot method will be very skewed. Either decently accurate or horribly off.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Recombination is very coarse. Warren’s children are unlikely to have half as much Indian DNA as her. They are about equally likely to have 1/4 as much or 3/4 as much (not a power of 2), depending on whether they get the big segment.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Douglas Knight

            Sure but that sort of process occurred many times between Elizabeth Warren’s ancestor and Elizabeth Warren.

            I’d need to get out paper and pencil, Python, some references, and blow somewhere between an hour and a couple days to estimate it, because it’s not clear to me whether repeating the process many times lowers the relative spread in # of generations to inferred ancestor or not.

            If it wasn’t for the possibility of complete loss of an ancestor’s genes and we could just alternate multiplications, I think we’d get something kind of like a lognormal distribution of inherited genes from a particular ancestor after many generations. Then you’d estimate or calculate the probability of having an ancestor so far back and combine that with probability of that fraction of your genes being from that ancestor given the ancestor being that many generations to get probability an ancestor is so many generations back.

            Seems like the sort of thing someone would have computed. Maybe I could look it up.

        • Anatoly says:

          Bustamante found a large chunk of native DNA on chromosome 10. He says this chunk has likely come from a native ancestor in 6th to 10th generation. But what’s come from this ancestor is the whole of chromosome 10, not just this chunk (ignoring for the moment DNA recombination, since it’s too rare to affect this particular chunk with high probability over just 10 generations). You get whole chromosomes from your parents, not particular sequences of interest. Chromosome 10 is ~150M base-pairs, which is ~2.5% of your entire DNA (all 46 chromosomes).

          Now if you compare chromosome 10 of that ancestor, and chromosome 10 of some other European ancestor of Warren, most of them are going to be the same. The question is, what are you calling “native DNA”? If you’re trying to determine which base-pairs in Warren’s genome give evidence of native ancestry, then the parts of chromosome 10 that don’t differ between those two are of no interest to you. But if you’re trying to estimate *how much genetic material she got from her native American ancestor*, as opposed to her other ancestors, the answer is: all of chromosome 10 (well, one of her two chromosome 10s).

          So if Warren only got this one chromosome from that ancestor, that’s already 2.5% of her DNA that’s *native DNA* in the sense that people would habitually understand this phrase (genetic material that came down to her from her native ancestors). That’s why 0.097% is not at all a reasonable number to carry around, even if one feels proud one was able to convert 1/1024 to it. Nobody gets 0.097% of some particular ancestor’s DNA because no chromosome is that small (again, pace recombination effects). Yes, most of these 2.5% are the same in her European ancestors too, but what of it? It still came from her native American ancestors. By far most DNA is the same in everyone, after all.

          But actually Bustamante identified five other chunks from other chromosomes (presumably – he doesn’t give their numbers, but if they were from 10 too he’d have mentioned that) as likely native American. Depending on how many separate chromosomes these are and their lengths, the 2.5% estimate can grow quite larger yet.

          • Douglas Knight says:
          • quanta413 says:

            Ignoring recombination in this case is a huge mistake unless I’m missing something. Recombination leaves big chunks intact so you expect recombination to leave large chunks of contiguous segments from the ancestor, not to scramble the sequences together like eggs.

            6 to 10 generations is plenty of time for crossover to have occurred. There are typically a 2 or 3 crossovers between each pair of chromosomes each generation according to this textbook. It should not be assumed that that whole chromosome came unchanged from the ancestor after so many generations.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Without recombination just passing down chromosomes will leave a lot of your ancestors totally out of the picture in not that many generations. If have no doubling of ancestors you only have to go 6 generations back before you have more great^X grandparents than chromosomes. At that point you would have 18 more direct ancestors than chromosomes and one generation before that you would have 82 more than chromosomes.

          • Anatoly says:

            @quanta413:

            OK, I’m completely going out of my depth here (edit: I commit to defer to any domain expert who’ll call me on my bullshit), and you’re probably right that recombination can’t be ignored over 10 generations. But I still think that talking of 0.097% “native DNA” due to having a 10th generation ancestor is ridiculous, and that nothing in Bustamante’s report gave any indication that this is likely to be the amount of genetic material that’s come from that particular ancestor.

            If you have 2-3 crossover events per generation on chromosome 10, that means that in the generation that had the native ancestor and their European spouse, their children probably didn’t have either 0 or 100% of the native DNA chromosome 10 of their native parent. What they had is some fraction that would depend a lot on just where along the length of the chromosome the crossover events happened. But if a child got a small fraction of the native chromosome 10 (say 10% rather than 100%), then subsequent crossover events in later generations are likely to leave it intact, as there’re only 2-3 per the entire chromosome. So maybe my 2.5% (which is based on chromosome 10 only, again, we don’t know about others) is too high, and should be divided by an unknown factor; but it’s not correct to divide it by a constant factor *each generation*, the way the naive “mixing blood” understanding goes. So even with crossover events, you’re very unlikely to end up with just ~6M pairs (0.097% of genome) from the original ~150M of native chromosome 10 in Warren’s chromosome 10; and more importantly, nothing in Bustamante’s analysis points towards such an outcome.

            In fact, the specific chunks Bustamante identifies as native American in ancestry already span 12M base-pairs which is 0.2% of the genome – twice longer than the 1/1024 number. And that’s only when you’re looking for chunks that are specifically likely to diverge!

          • quanta413 says:

            @Anatoly

            Oh, I agree that the 1/1024 number is obviously wrong. Because Bustamante found 1/250th could be confidently assigned to Native American ancestry already.

            But he also says that the unassigned segments are “probably European”. He doesn’t say any of the unassigned segments are probably Native American.

            More recombination makes reality closer to genealogical estimates like blood quantum, not farther.

            but it’s not correct to divide it by a constant factor *each generation*, the way the naive “mixing blood” understanding goes.

            Even though any individual chromosome randomly deviates from the genealogical expectation, it’s going to be true on average. If recombination occurred at a single base pair level, the mixing blood understanding would almost be exact. But recombination occurs in big chunks so rather than a normal distribution of ancestral fraction around the mean, we’ll see something with fat tails in ancestral fraction.

            In fact, the specific chunks Bustamante identifies as native American in ancestry already span 12M base-pairs which is 0.2% of the genome – twice longer than the 1/1024 number. And that’s only when you’re looking for chunks that are specifically likely to diverge!

            Let’s do some back of the envelope work.

            2 to 3 recombinations per generation will cut chromosome 10 about 16-24 times over 8 generations. Chromsome 10 is 133 million basepairs, so a 5.5 to 8.3 million long segment is naively on the order of magnitude of the sort of lengths I would expect if I was looking for a fragment from a distant ancestor. Her longest segment was 4.7 million. Score one for the hard work of molecular biologists and geneticists.

            I expect that we should see a lot of loss of DNA segments after 8 generations, but since the average ancestry has to be 1/2^N where N is the distance to the ancestor of interest we should expect that any fragments left are actually a little longer than you’d expect by a naive calculation. I’m mildly surprised that instead the longest segment is slightly shorter and there are instead a few other segments too, but only very mildly.

            I think because of the uncertainties in recombination and chromosomes being separated during meiosis, Bustamante’s method gives a 6-10 generation range for the ancestor.

            But this is very different from a claim that some much larger fraction of chromosome 10 is probably Native American. Unless I’m really, really missing something, that is highly unlikely.

            Also, I’m not an expert in human genetics, but it should be kept in mind that most of human DNA is “junk” and humans have billions of DNA basepairs. Even though humans are something like 99.9% similar by sequence, it naively would take only a small fraction of their DNA assuming we’re looking at neutral mutations to identify the ancestry component.

            IIRC Humans accumulate on the order of 20 or so mutations per individual per generation. Native Americans were separated from other continents on the order of 10,000 years ago. That’s about 500 generations across two separate genealogies so ~20,000 de novo mutations even if they had been from the same ancestral populations as Europeans before they diverged. But they weren’t.

            That implies something like 1000 de novo mutations on chromosome 10. Plus the initial variation. That’s a mutation more than every 100,000 basepairs. In other words, at the scale’s Bustamante is looking at, finding divergence should not be hard. I’ve ignored the likely significant differences in founder populations which would push the differences up in frequency, and I’ve also ignored selection effects which act in complicated ways that can both suppress divergence or enhance it.

          • You get whole chromosomes from your parents

            I do not believe that is the case.

          • albatross11 says:

            You get your whole Y chromosome from your dad if you’re male, but the other chromosomes do this cool crossing over thing and kind-of shuffle their contents between your parents’ genes.

      • Matt M says:

        She has claimed, at various times in her life, to be Cherokee. And has let others claim it on her behalf and has not corrected them.

        When most people think of someone “being” a specific ethnicity, they think of a much closer relation than “one ancestor 6-10 generations back”

        Whether the math cleanly maps into percentages or not is completely and entirely beside the point. The intricacies of how DNA works are also completely and totally beside the point. The fact of the matter is that she’s been wrong. Personally, I doubt it was a completely deliberate lie – but to the extent that she keeps doing it now, after having this information, it will be.

        • SamChevre says:

          I’m not at all sure that genetics and “being an ethnicity” match well enough to set a minimum level of genetics to “be” something.

          I’ve known several people who were “black”–that was how they identified, how their family identified, etc–who were as fair-skinned as the average Italian-American and had fair hair and blue eyes. I do not think they were lying about their ethnicity.

      • she still has more than ~97% of European-identified Americans who have 0.

        That is not correct. The relevant quote from the study is:

        “Likewise, as many as five million Americans who self-identify as European might have at least 1% Native American ancestry. ”

        That’s at least 1%, not “any.” And all of the claims are about percentage of ancestry not percentage of DNA–I don’t know what you think that means. The evidence Warren reported implies that her ancestry is between about 1.5% and about .1% Amerind.

    • skef says:

      “That skef jerk seems to be gone now, and Warren is back in the news. So let met just re-paste my ‘Pocahontas! but really I’m totally above that sort of thing and this isn’t about Warren at all!’ macro here for, what, the fourth time on these boards? Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

      David, if your motivation for posting this macro again and again really had to do with liberals rather than Warren, you would post it at least sometimes when liberals were the subject, rather than every time Warren gets in the news or comes up as a subject here. You have every ideological and personal reason to find Warren distasteful, and you do! But the pile of “I’m so above that” sophistry you have draped this point in over and over is so transparent that you should be embarrassed, and everyone here who picks similar rhetoric apart and doesn’t call you on it should also be embarrassed.

      • Since you claim that what I posted was a macro, would you like to point at the other places I have posted it in the past? Or admit that what you just said was not true?

        The issue came up due to the DNA story, I got in some interesting exchanges in FB over it, I waited until an open thread permitting CW topics came up and wrote a long post on it. I’ve certainly commented in the past on the general topic, as on many others, but I don’t think that comes close to justifying what you wrote.

        And you exaggerate the importance of your own presence or absence. There are a few commenters here who I have mentally tagged in one way or another, such as HBC, Plumber, and Deiseach, but you are not one of them and even for those I mostly don’t notice whether they have been posting lately.

        I don’t find Warren particularly distasteful–no more so than a random politician with similar views. I do find what support for her on the left of the Democratic party says about the supporters distasteful. I find it depressing to conclude that most of the people I interact with don’t really care whether beliefs are true, only which side they support. I expect that to be less true here than in most places.

        • skef says:

          Sure, David. The last time (that I remember) you started this discussion about how the Warren Native American heritage thing says this or that about the left was here. Note your comment at 10:34 p.m. about the significance of Affirmative Action at the time, and it’s implication (via the importance of a Harvard pedigree) that just maybe her whole career can be attributed to that event.

          Note my mention of your “macro” in that thread, due to your having started the same conversation in the same way here.

          You don’t find Warren distasteful, you just happen to bring up this point in the manner of an off-hand shower thought whenever she is in the news or otherwise on people’s minds.

          • Thank you for the examples. I have several times pointed out the apparent contradiction between Warren’s acts and her supporters beliefs. This time, as you may have noticed if you read my post, I also discussed relevant points raised by her recent DNA announcement and people’s response to it–about the first thirty or forty percent of my comment .

            Each time the focus of my argument has been not on Warren but on what her support by the left of the Democratic party says about them. This time I pointed out that Ted Kennedy’s popularity with roughly the same people raised another example of the same issue. That might suggest to you that my concern is not principally with Warren (or Kennedy) but with the people who support them and what that support says about those people. If I come across another good example I’ll try to add it next time I want to raise the issue.

            You have an odd definition of “macro.” It apparently covers making the same point several times with varying information, arguments, and context.

          • skef says:

            Well, alright, looking back it does seem like it was only onyomi making that implication. I thought I remembered you concurring but I don’t find such a statement now.

            I would point to this reply as the most characteristic of the last time you started conversation that your attitude towards Warren is less detached than you want to present it. (This time the best evidence is, as I said, your wandering off message with the “bet” example.)

          • I don’t see anything implying animus towards Warren in what you linked to. Insofar as my comment betrayed any animus it was towards you because I was irritated at your making implausible arguments while not bothering to notice the relevant facts, in particular that she listed herself with the AALS as a minority law professor, not as a Cherokee law professor.

            Also at your insisting that you knew more about the academic hiring process than I did, given that I have spent my entire professional life as an academic. I think I have managed to avoid ever being on a hiring committee, although I don’t swear I have, but I have been in lots of faculty meetings where candidates were discussed and have been asked to contribute to the process several times by reading a candidate’s work and reporting on it to the hiring committee.

            How many hiring committees have you been on? How many faculty meetings have you attended where candidates for hiring or promotion were discussed?

            As I keep saying, Warren’s past behavior was very bad from the point of view of people who share her beliefs. I am not one of them. I used a striking image of what Warren had done not to make a point about how evil she was but about how indefensible your position was.

          • skef says:

            David, I understand how highly you regard your own epistemic status when it comes to these questions. I just don’t agree and don’t think your anecdotal experience should give you the confidence it seems to.

            For example, when it comes to the AALS, do you know what blanks were on the form Warren filled out? Was there just an empty slot for a comment? Was there a checkbox for “minority”? Or a set of checkboxes and an optional slot? If the form is not available, what were the similar marks near other people’s names at that time? Do you see how these differences might change someone’s assessment of the significance of that mark?

            As for hiring, much of what I know comes from public and semi-public discussion of what has become a yet more fraught issue in recent years. And there is a surprising amount agreement that before five or ten years ago the primary stress was on *interviewing* candidates with diversity attributes. It was routine in Philosophy, for example, for typical female candidates to get two to three times the number of on-campus interviews than typical male candidates with little if any boost in hiring rates. That seems to be different now, but only recently. There are statistics on this. Do you have statistics? What is your impression, based on the faculty meetings you intended, of the statistical boost of a “diverse” background in academic hiring 20-30 years ago? You keep portraying the boost as “large”; approximately what number are we talking about? 10% more likely? 50%?

            You say you weren’t on a hiring committee but were present in many faculty meetings. Are you saying that you actually witnessed the *hiring* of significantly lower qualified candidates in those departments for diversity reasons, either in your assessment or in the assessment of those speaking? If you’re not saying that, then what are we talking about? What significance does diversity *talk* have beyond that question? (People talk all the time about their pieties and then mostly they do what they feel like.)

            Or as another useful thought experiment: Say that one candidate for a job is a black woman who lacks the necessary background to teach a class that another rising star in the department no longer wants to teach. Another candidate is a white man who has that background. Is it your impression that under these circumstances the black woman is *much more* likely to be hired? Say the credentials are roughly on par.

            All evidence I have encountered on this subject points to diversity being a plus perhaps on the order of undergraduate diversity admittance but much less than major sports recruiting and probably less than legacy admittance.

            So one reason the left is not up in arms about this is because *at the level of individuals* very few people give a shit about this kind of thing. No one I am aware of has said Warren wasn’t a plausible candidate for the Harvard job without the Native American angle. (Are *you* saying that?) Warren was also, of course, a woman, which was certainly not a novelty by that point but still a plus.

            So yes, I continue to think you are very overconfident in your assessment of this situation, perhaps not so much as a conservative as an academic. The stakes just aren’t that high or interesting. Every year lots of people get or lose out on academic jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their academic work. Onyomi argued that that makes the Warren situation *all the more* important, but if so *why*? If 90% is determined by clannish bullshit — and it is — just what factor makes fairness in the other 10% so vital?

            It is entirely ordinary to have *systemic* concerns about this situation while not considering any individual instance of hiring to be of much importance.

            As I pointed out before, the anger you feel liberals are committed to appears tied to a premise you have offered no argument for, which is that at the time of Warren’s appointment, diversity hiring was zero sum. You keep invoking this image of Warren taking something away from someone else. Given how little actual diversity there was in these departments at that time, and the great significance that *you* ascribe to diversity hiring, why would that be the case? In your picture Harvard hires Warren and says to itself “OK, she’s part Cherokee, so that takes care of our colored folk problem for the next year or two.”

            In short, the case you make when you bring this issue up yet again is again far from conclusive, and no less so because of your lack of interest in the many responses in the earlier threads. Most of what I’ve here has been said before. Your Authority as a tenured professor is not a magic bullet against these arguments.

          • What is your impression, based on the faculty meetings you intended, of the statistical boost of a “diverse” background in academic hiring 20-30 years ago? You keep portraying the boost as “large”; approximately what number are we talking about? 10% more likely? 50%?

            I don’t know what such percentages would mean. My perception is that if two candidates are about equally qualified, the one who is seen as contributing to faculty diversity will usually be hired.

            Are you saying that you actually witnessed the *hiring* of significantly lower qualified candidates in those departments for diversity reasons, either in your assessment or in the assessment of those speaking?

            No. Most of the time I wouldn’t have known enough to tell. I am saying that it was clear to everyone that being “diverse” was a plus. Harvard has a lot of well qualified people who want to teach there, so a plus matters.

            Or as another useful thought experiment: Say that one candidate for a job is a black woman who lacks the necessary background to teach a class that another rising star in the department no longer wants to teach. Another candidate is a white man who has that background. Is it your impression that under these circumstances the black woman is *much more* likely to be hired? Say the credentials are roughly on par.

            I think that would depend on how easy it was to get someone else to take over the class. If it was an important class, there was nobody else who could teach it and it couldn’t be taught by an adjunct, they would probably hire the white man applicant. Otherwise, probably the black woman.

            All evidence I have encountered on this subject points to diversity being a plus perhaps on the order of undergraduate diversity admittance

            I certainly hope not–that would be huge. Look at the figures for Harvard admissions that have been coming out in the current controversy.

            I haven’t been involved in undergraduate matters, aside from occasionally teaching one class for the econ department when I was a faculty member in the law school, for almost forty years. But in the law school bar passage rates for black students were substantially lower than for white students. That was an important issue because the school’s rating, which affected applications, depended on both “diversity” and bar passage. We could push bar passage up if we were willing to substantially reduce the fraction of black students admitted but we were not willing to do so, and instead attempted a variety of other tactics for the purpose.

            No one I am aware of has said Warren wasn’t a plausible candidate for the Harvard job without the Native American angle. (Are *you* saying that?)

            Of course not. She isn’t in my field, I haven’t read her work. How could I judge her quality?

            I think I suggested recently that it would be interesting if someone tried to compile an objective measure of quality for Warren and for other hires at Harvard at about the same time, something based on articles published in top law journals, cites to her work in other people’s scholarship or in court cases. But that would be a lot of work, I certainly haven’t done it and I doubt anyone else has.

          • For example, when it comes to the AALS, do you know what blanks were on the form Warren filled out?

            I don’t have any way of checking what the form was then, but I’ve just looked at my entry in the current directory. One of the categories I can edit is “Demographic Information.” It asks for gender, birth year, military veteran (check box), Race/Ethnicity, a check box for “include my name on the printed List of minority law teachers,” and check boxes for “I am a member of the LGBT community” and “include my name on the printed list of members of LGBT faculty.”

            I doubt the last two would have been there back in the eighties, and it would presumably have been a paper form rather than a web page. All of the accounts I’ve seen, on both sides, agree that she was listed with the AALS as a minority, none that she was listed as Native American or Cherokee. Do you have anything suggesting the opposite?

          • skef says:

            I doubt the last two would have been there back in the eighties, and it would presumably have been a paper form rather than a web page. All of the accounts I’ve seen, on both sides, agree that she was listed with the AALS as a minority, none that she was listed as Native American or Cherokee. Do you have anything suggesting the opposite?

            The question I was raising was how many of her contemporaries (who listed anything at all) listed a specific ethnicity versus “minority”. You seem to be implying that her saying “Native American” or “Cherokee” would have been better than saying “Minority”. I’m not quite sure why you think this if being one of the former would have been considered being the latter*. But if the only relevant option on the form was “minority” I would argue it becomes more difficult to ascribe any particular intent, malicious or not, to one label versus the other.

            * I take it your idea is something like: It may have been acceptable for Warren to reference her (understood) Cherokee heritage as long as she scrupulously avoided creating the impression that she was a member of a minority class. But I don’t see how listing “Cherokee” or “Native American” would accomplish that.

          • skef says:

            No. Most of the time I wouldn’t have known enough to tell. I am saying that it was clear to everyone that being “diverse” was a plus. Harvard has a lot of well qualified people who want to teach there, so a plus matters.

            Then this is a reasonable explanation for why high-level academics have reason to be angry with Warren. It’s not a very compelling explanation for why liberals in general should be angry with Warren.

          • It’s not a very compelling explanation for why liberals in general should be angry with Warren.

            That’s an interesting point, and might be a correct explanation.

            Suppose you believed that Warren made a false claim of minority status in the hope of getting a better position, that it resulted in her getting a better position, but that she got it at the expense of someone else, also not a minority, who would have gotten the position instead. Would you regard that as a reason to think badly of her? A significant reason?

            Or in other words, is it cheating that is relevant or only the consequences of the cheating? What if she actually didn’t get any advantage out of it, but expected to–does that significantly affect how you react?

            Take it back to the Kennedy case. It appears that Ted Kennedy’s inexcusable negligence killed a woman, that if he had reported the accident when it happened she would have been saved. If true, is that a reason to consider him unfit to be a leading figure on the left? Now change the facts by assuming that what the diver concluded was that the woman had been killed by the accident or died almost immediately of drowning, so could not have been saved even if he reported the accident immediately. His behavior is exactly the same in both cases–does that behavior become a much weaker count against him in the second case?

            This links to a more general issue I’ve thought about and written on–the relevance of moral luck, the degree to which we judge people by outcomes rather than actions.

      • JulieK says:

        @skef:
        I wouldn’t call it a macro; I think David probably thinks in complete paragraphs. For instance, he’s told some SCA stories more than once here. (Not complaining, I love SCA stories.)

    • eric23 says:

      Warren didn’t know that she had “one Native American ancestor 6-10 generations back”. She knew that she had a family tradition of Native Ancestry heritage. For all she knew, it could be 3-4 generations back. Now, the DNA test has come out and it turns it’s further back. That doesn’t mean she has lied at any stage.

      • It means that she lied when she described herself to the AALS as a minority law professor. It means that the claims by Harvard and Penn that she was a Native American were false, and if she believed that the only basis was one Native American great grandparent (3 generations back) or great great grandparent (4) she knew the claims were false but still, so far as we can tell, permitted the universities to make them.

        It doesn’t imply that various other things she said were false.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      As best I recall, I was the only person to point out that Trump’s condition was not a DNA test, nor a DNA test showing some Amerind ancestry, but a DNA test showing that Warren was an Indian. The DNA result Warren reported was one Amerind ancestor six to ten generations back, which corresponds to between 1.5% and .1% Amerind ancestry. We would not normally describe someone as an Indian on that basis, so Trump had no obligation to pay out.

      It’s a pity Trump didn’t just offer to pay between 1.5 and o.1% of a million dollars to a charity of Warren’s choice.

      • hls2003 says:

        I heard a wag today suggest that Trump could seriously troll Warren by donating $976.56 (1/1024th of $1 million) to her suggested charity, then donating the remaining $999,023.44 to the Cherokee Nation (which reacted negatively to Warren’s claim) and claiming that he was happy to help “real Native Americans.”

        • I want Trump to take a DNA test, discover at least .1% African ancestry, and run as America’s second black president.

          But it may not be true and in any case I don’t think it would be politically wise. And by that standard there have surely been more.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Trump should fabricate a DNA test showing that he’s only 1-2% Oompa Loompa.

          • S_J says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I want Trump to take a DNA test, discover at least .1% African ancestry, and run as America’s second black president.

            If that happened, I would find the results hilarious.

            I also wish that most living former-Presidents would take such a test. And children of deceased Presidents, for additional fun. I mean, we’ve already done Thomas Jefferson’s descendants, both legitimate and illegitimate. Why not try to complete that set, while looking for which ones have unknown Black ancestors in their family tree?

            In the case of Donald Trump, I expect zero Black/African links in his DNA.

            Per Wikipedia: two of Donald Trump’s grandparents were born in the city of Kallstadt, Kingdom of Bavaria (now known as the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany).

            Also from Wiki, Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. Her parents are named, but have no Wikipedia pages linked. One has a Scottish name, and the other has the surname “Smith”…which I read as either Scottish or English.

            Donald’s father was born in the U.S., but all four of his grandparents were apparently born outside the U.S. Thus, it looks like his family tree has zero-chance of containing any African DNA of American extraction.

            If any African DNA shows up in Trump’s DNA-test, it was somehow acquired in Europe…which is possible, but not very likely.

          • A real DNA test would presumably show him 1-2% Neanderthal. Which would be funny, perhaps funniest to his critics.

          • Lambert says:

            What was Bavaria even doing ruling over a city west of the Rhine?

          • A1987dM says:

            Thus, it looks like his family tree has zero-chance of containing any African DNA of American extraction.

            Same applies to Obama FWIW.

          • S_J says:

            @Lambert,

            Both the Wiki page for Kallstadt, and the Wiki page for Trump’s paternal grandfather, note that Kallstadt was controlled by Bavaria during most of the 19th Century.

            Austria apparently had control of Kallstadt in the early 19th Century, and did a land swap with Bavaria.

            It’s all part of the post-Napoleon reconfiguration of Europe, apparently… But my knowledge of that part of European history is pretty shaky.

    • mdet says:

      what struck me was the near unanimous claim by the pro-Warren people that she had fulfilled his condition when, so far as I could tell, it was clear that she had not.

      I considered Warren to have satisfied Trump’s condition.* I had tried to look up Trump’s exact wager with Warren, and couldn’t find anything with his whole statement, in context, so I didn’t think about the “proved she had >0 ancestry” vs “proved she *was* Native American” distinction. If you don’t have Trump’s exact words in front of you, it’s probably an easy mistake to make. If the people who claimed Warren had satisfied Trump’s conditions weren’t also calling her an actual Native American, they were probably just mistaken on the terms.

      *No, I don’t think she should be “considered” Native American. Yes, it’s very possible she took multiple tests until she got margin-of-error results. I think Trump could defensibly not pay out, although I doubt he was sincere in his wager to begin with.

    • S_J says:

      About right-wing politicians who act in ways that their supporters should consider inconsistent with right-wing principles…

      My memory of Newt Gingrich is that he concealed an affair during the Clinton impeachment. That affair, when exposed, led to a loss of his leadership role in the House of Representatives.

      Gingrich may have convinced his home-District voters to keep him in the House, or he may have decided not to run…I can’t recall.

      My other memory is that Gingrich never won an election at the national scale. So it’s hard to gauge whether the right-wing people of the nation accepted him afterwards or not.

      • Don P. says:

        The icing on this cake is that the woman Newt had the affair with, a staffer then named Callista Bisek, is now not only his wife, but the United States Ambassador to the Vatican. Newt himself converted to Catholicism — Callista having been already Catholic — and had his previous marriage annulled.

        So yeah, the right wing is fine with the Gingriches.

        • S_J says:

          I’m not sure whether “Mrs. Gingrich v2.0 [even if the Catholic Church says she is really v 1.0] is now ambassador to the Vatican” proves that the right wing in general now approves of the Gingrich family history.

          As I hinted at, Newt Gingrich has not won any national elections, ever.

          He was the face of the 1994 Republican attempt to take Congress, which succeeded. He was the leader of the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, which may have hurt or helped his image nationally. (My opinion is: about as much as it hurt or helped the Republican Party in general, during that time.)

          He resigned in 1999, didn’t win the Presidential primary in 2012, and his new wife has an ambassadorial position. But it is a position that is rarely in the news, and it appears to be a result of one member of the couple having lots of influence inside the political power structure.

    • skef says:

      Trump, being Trump, offered an unrelated and much less defensible argument, possibly because he thinks a bully is a more attractive feature than a rules lawyer. But what struck me was the near unanimous claim by the pro-Warren people that she had fulfilled his condition when, so far as I could tell, it was clear that she had not.

      I haven’t paid as much attention to analogous patterns on the right. … Can someone offer other examples of people the right takes as leaders, where doing so requires ignoring clear evidence of behavior inconsistent with the stated principles of their supporters?

      My general lack of charity towards your positioning in this post has many sources, some of which I have already indicated. But here is a basic structural one: If your real interest were in the phenomenon you otherwise discuss, being a smart person and experienced academic I suspect you would have noticed that your first case isn’t an example of it. Nothing about that position on “Trump’s bet”* goes against liberal pieties. Granting everything you say the people in question are claiming someone on the opposite ideological side did something nasty or foolish or both that the person didn’t actually do.

      And you’re not even saying that they’re lying about this, just that they should know better. If you’re really can’t come up with an example of that on the other side, you live under a rock. Try Birtherism for a start.

      * Scare-quotes added later for pickiness’ sake

      • Nothing about that position on “Trump’s bet”* goes against liberal pieties.

        Correct.

        I have, at various points, offered two possible explanations for the pattern I have been commenting on. One is that people on the left are hypocrites, don’t believe in their announced principles when doing so is inconvenient. The other is that they are very good at believing what they want to believe and not believing things they don’t want to believe, however strong the evidence.

        What I had just observed on FB was an example of the second pattern. A whole bunch of relatively sophisticated people saw what they wanted to see–Trump being shamed by their heroine–when it wasn’t there to be seen, when a few minutes searching online would have shown them that Trump had not made the promise that Warren was calling on him to keep. One person making that mistake is ordinary error. Everybody making it is a pattern, evidence.

        That isn’t the only case I have observed of that pattern. I made a blog post years ago demonstrating that a particular factoid popular in the climate controversy came out of work done by someone who had provably lied in print about his own work. What was interesting about that case was that all the evidence was available for anyone curious to check, conveniently webbed by the lead author and his fellows. From time to time in contexts that strike me as appropriate I point people at the post.

        There may have been as many as two or three people over the past four and a half years on his side of the controversy willing to concede the clear evidence that he had lied. That wasn’t evidence of hypocrisy, except to the extent that people who claim to be supporting science are supposed to care about such things, but it was strong evidence of people being blind to evidence for something they didn’t want to believe.

        Which I find disturbing. Perhaps you don’t, or don’t see why I do.

        On your suggestion of where to look for evidence, I mostly don’t search for evidence on such things, I come across it and respond. You may well be correct that birtherism would provide good examples of people on the right not seeing what they didn’t want to see, but I was never sufficiently interested in birtherism to follow that controversy. I expected that there would be examples on the right, which is why I asked people to provide them. Probably examples in non-political contexts as well.

        But I remain puzzled as to why you think I have something against Warren in particular. Is there another Democratic politician who would make a better example of the pattern I’m criticizing? I think it’s pretty clear that Hilary funneled a bribe to Bill from a business in the state he was governor of, using bogus investment transactions to do it, but that’s a much more complicated case so easier not to understand. The Lewinsky case is entirely clear but I’m not sure that even feminists disapprove of consensual sex between employer and employee if it’s really consensual—I take the criticism of it to be based on the idea that it usually isn’t. Bill has also been accused of forcible rape, but so far as I know there is no conclusive evidence available that he’s guilty.

        Someone else I should be looking at?

        • skef says:

          Is there another Democratic politician who would make a better example of the pattern I’m criticizing?

          There is no novel “pattern” that all of your examples fall under. Most of them fall under a plausibly novel pattern involving a certain kind of hypocrisy. The first is just motivated reasoning.

          Are you actually proposing that your question was “Hey, I noticed some examples of politically related motivated reasoning on the left, do you think that happens on the right too?”? What could be more common and mundane than motivated reasoning tied to politics? “Hey — I was out walking today and noticed this person with a hole or pit in the lower middle of their torso. Do you think anyone else has that?”

          Are we supposed to think that David Friedman has never heard of the concept of motivated reasoning? Or that there is some important distinction between that general category and the “Trump bet” example that makes it interesting?

          But if a list of examples of motivated reasoning is what you want, just indicate that in reply and I and I’m sure many other people can help you out with that.

          But I remain puzzled as to why you think I have something against Warren in particular.

          Because (among other things):

          1) You keep bringing this subject up

          2) Knowing (by know) how the conversation proceeds after that (focusing on Warren, not the point you claim to be interested in)

          3) Never mentioning or engaging with the points brought up the last go round, or even indicating that the subject has been discussed at length in the past.

          4) This time you clumsily included a completely boring and everyday circumstance that a) doesn’t fit your canned framing but b) once again concerns Elizabeth Warren.

          5) The last go-round you eventually said things about Warren and affirmative action implying that the latter might be all there is to her present prominence.

          6) You have every ideological reason to oppose what Warren hopes to accomplish, so it’s not exactly a surprise.

          7) The six months after the last thread during which you picked at my posts here at least ten times more frequently than before, even when the topic didn’t much interest you and occasionally prompting uncharacteristic comments from third parties. By itself that means nothing, but if you’re happy to plainly mischaracterize your attitude towards *me* above, then etc. etc.

          • 5) The last go-round you eventually said things about Warren and affirmative action implying that the latter might be all there is to her present prominence.

            I tried a google search on [site:SlateStarCodex.com DavidFriedman “Elizabeth Warren”] limited to the past year without finding anything that fit that claim. Perhaps you can provide a link?

            As best I can tell, Warren’s claim to be a Native American only came up publicly during the senatorial campaign, and getting nominated for senator by a major party means you are already pretty prominent. Her academic work is in a different field than mine, I haven’t read it and have no opinion on how good it is.

            I don’t think the Native American claim explains her prominence since she became a senator. Until the recent DNA story she wasn’t pushing it, so far as I can tell, her critics were. What I have been commenting on throughout is the puzzle of why it didn’t reduce her prominence, not suggesting that it increased it.

            The claim would have made her more attractive to both Penn and Harvard, but I have no way of knowing whether she would still have been hired without it.

            So I can’t figure out what statement of mine you are referring to.

            The six months after the last thread during which you picked at my posts here at least ten times more frequently than before

            It strikes me as unlikely, but my googlefu is inadequate to locate all posts by me mentioning you so I can’t tell what that claim is based on.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      “I like Republicans because they are going to do something about the deficit.”

      • quanta413 says:

        Oh, the Republicans did something alright.

        Who keeps track of whether there’s a positive or negative sign in the change? Such a small symbol in front of the digits…

        • HeelBearCub says:

          It’s really just an extra line on the negative sign. A simple mistake, not even a mistake, it probably just means “extra negative”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Ok, this is a shitpost and probably not helpful.

            On the other hand, this kind of ping ponging is quite frequent here if the left is the target.

          • quanta413 says:

            I thought it was funny.

            I mean, the Republicans haven’t made a significant effort to lower the budget deficit for what? Decades?

            And on average they make it bigger.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      “I don’t like it when Democrats support music with sexually provocative lyrics. They might as well buy their daughters stripper poles.”

      https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/huckabee-ted-nugent-cat-scratch-fever

      • BBA says:

        I’m as annoyed by right-wing shitposting as you are, but left-wing shitposting is not the answer.

        Also: Tipper Gore was not a Republican.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          This is responsive to a specific request for said examples, subsequently repeated, with umbrage, when I pointed out that request did not seem to be on the level.

          The fact that Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and others are welcome and even sought after in the Republican fold is relevant to the conversation.

          ETA: Tipper Gore is an odd example as she has not been noteworthy for 20 years, and essentially irrelevant, as I’m not making the claim that Democrats don’t ever engage in this hypocrisy. Whether Gore’s position was conservative or liberal is probably a separate conversation.

          • The fact that Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and others are welcome and even sought after in the Republican fold is relevant to the conversation.

            I gather that these are actors or musicians or similar celebrities. Wanting endorsements from popular celebrities makes sense for politicians of all sorts, providing the celebrity isn’t primarily identified with things the politician claims to strongly disapprove of. That isn’t the same thing as putting someone forward as a leading figure in your movement.

            The point of the story you linked to seems to be that Huckabee either lied about or misremembered what lyrics someone else played on his show with his guitar accompaniment. If the issue got a good deal of attention and Huckabee supporters denied what the video clearly showed that would be a right wing equivalent of the “not seeing what they don’t want to see” part of my point re Warren.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            providing the celebrity isn’t primarily identified with things the politician claims to strongly disapprove of.

            Yeah, that’s the issue, David. Ted Nugent and Kid Rock are both strongly identified as artists with things Huckabee doesn’t approve of, or claims not to approve of, or does not approve of when it is convenient. In addition, the voters who support have supported Huckabee also strongly care about these things.

            A small sample of the lyrical genius of Ted, which Huckabee was performing:

            Well I don’t know where they come from
            But they sure do come
            I hope they comin’ for me
            And I don’t know how they do it but they sure do it good
            I hope they doin’ it for free

            They give me cat scratch fever
            Cat scratch fever

            The first time that I got it
            I was just ten years old
            I got it from some kitty next door
            I went and see the Dr. and he gave me the cure
            I think I got it some more

            Of course, that is hardly the worst song Ted is famous for.

            You seem be claiming to be completely unaware of the fact that there is gambling going on at this establishment. If you are actually this blind to the current political milieu , I’d suggest you might want to stop making claims, or even observations, about politics.

          • dick says:

            The more general point is that Huckabee claimed it was unethical for Obama to let his daughters listen to Beyonce, but also shared a stage with Nugent, who is arguably a much less-savory a character.

          • BBA says:

            I mentioned Tipper Gore because she’s the political figure most closely associated with opposing “filth” in popular music. She may not be relevant today, but neither is Ted Nugent. Hell, neither is Mike Huckabee.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Huckabee had a show on Fox as recently as 2015. He left to run for President in the most recent presidential electoral cycle. He now airs on the Trinity network and regular pulls in prominent Republican politicians. He is hardly irrelevant.

            I confess, I have no idea what Tipper is doing, so I suppose it’s possible she hosts a national cable television show. I’m guessing not. Regardless, she is still a complete red-herring for the conversation.

    • I’m not convinced that this necessarily kills her presidential ambitions. Yes, it’s ridiculous and if she wins the nomination, Republicans will be sure to mock her whenever possible. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really that bad. Trump had so many more problems and yet he won the presidency.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      Suppose for the sake of argument it came out that Trump had likely bribed NYC officials during his days as a real estate developer. (Given the realities of real estate development in the 60s and 70s it seems pretty likely that he did)

      In that case, I think most of Trump’s supporters would minimize his wrongdoing and seize upon any piece of evidence no matter how flimsy to defend Trump’s misbehavior.

      The more honest of his supporters would probably say something like “look, we’re at war here against an enemy that will stop at nothing to crush us and we simply don’t have the luxury of fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.”

      So I think that’s pretty normal partisan behavior.

      The interesting question is whether this sort of self-serving hypocrisy is more common on the Left or Right. Admittedly I am a bit biased as a conservative, but I think that Leftism is the dominant ideology in most influential American institutions such as universities and the media. Therefore Leftism is a magnet for the worst kind of opportunists, sociopaths, and all around bad people. Therefore I would guess that the Left is in fact more hypocritical in the way you describe.

      • I think there is an important difference between your hypothetical and the Warren case–Trump is already president. The question is, if Republicans were out of power and Trump was trying to be recognized as one of the party leaders, would discovering such bribery disqualify him.

        I think that depends on what faction he was trying to be a leader of. If it was a faction that was strong on obedience to the law it would be a problem. People who wanted to support him would have to claim that the charges were false or greatly exaggerated. If it was a faction that was strongly opposed to regulation and saw the bribery as a way of getting around bad laws, on the other hand …

        At a considerable tangent, I was told many years ago by a woman who had been a construction engineer in New York city that no crane built anywhere in the world met the standards required by the city, which meant that any large construction project had to bribe the relevant inspector.

        • CatCube says:

          The question is, if Republicans were out of power and Trump was trying to be recognized as one of the party leaders, would discovering such bribery disqualify him.

          Well, the Republicans were out of power in 2015, and at that time everybody knew or should have known that he was surrounded by a group of hangers-on as shady as any that ol’ Hillary had around her, but he still got the nomination. I suspect that any further derogatory information would be explained away or minimized just like all this was, because “But he makes the libs mad!”

        • fortaleza84 says:

          Well one can tweak my hypothetical to ask what would happen if a Trump bribery scandal had emerged during the primaries.

          Anyway, a couple other ideas occurred to me:

          First, how much does it go against Leftist values to game the affirmative action system? Imagine if decent evidence came out tomorrow that Elizabeth Warren had complained about “[insert racial slur]” moving into her fancy neighborhood. In that case, her presidential ambitions would be shot to hell.

          Second, how much of this is about offending values and how much is about offending important coalition members? My instinct is that Warren would be in deeper trouble had she pretended to be black.

          Third, it occurs to me that there is a common knowledge issue in play. There is a difference between what I think about EW’s foibles and what I think other people think about her foibles. If we can all hold hands and pretend that there is no problem, then there is much less of a problem.

          One difference between the Left and Right in America is that the Left has much better systems of common knowledge than the Right. Which is a nice way of saying that the Left has control of most media and can set up echo chambers much more easily. So that the Left can be more cynical and machiavellian in terms of what misbehavior is ignored.

        • John Schilling says:

          I think there is an important difference between your hypothetical and the Warren case–Trump is already president. The question is, if Republicans were out of power and Trump was trying to be recognized as one of the party leaders, would discovering such bribery disqualify him.

          If he were trying to be recognized as one of the party’s leaders, it would disqualify him. If he were recognized as one of the party’s leaders, it would disqualify any damn dirty RINO making the accusation. As CatCube notes, the GOP was out of power in 2015 and early 2016, and Trump was not recognized as a GOP leader for most of that period, and sure enough, while he wasn’t known to have engaged in bribery, mainstream GOP leaders often pointed to his other personal failings as reasons why he shouldn’t be their standardbearer. Only the disaffected working-class quasi-Republicans who saw him as their leader against the corrupt party establishment, were willing to give him a pass on e.g. the pussy-grabbing comment.

          Then he won the nomination, and was accepted as the Republican party’s leader because there couldn’t be any other, and so everybody in the GOP gave him a pass and anyone who didn’t, knew to shut up about it or else. And if it were today proven that he’d bribed state officials during his time as a real estate developer, he’d still get that pass (but it might have ruined him in 2015).

          Elizabeth Warren, already is accepted as one of the Democratic Party’s leaders. She hasn’t won the 2020 primary yet, and if she never does then in 2021 you’ll hear Democrats ready to say that she probably oughtn’t have fibbed about her Cherokee ancestry. But until then, she’s not an outsider trying to break in, she’s seen as one of the top leaders the fight against the great evil of our time. She has as much status within the Democratic party and the anti-Trump resistance as anyone can have, given that the 2020 primaries haven’t happened yet, so she gets the same latitude from her party that Trump gets from his.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Basically you are making the “too big to fail” argument and I think there is a lot to it.

            It would be interesting to see an alternate universe where Franken had the same charges against him but it’s a Republican governor who gets to choose his replacement if he resigns.

            I think it’s pretty clear that people will sacrifice almost any principle for the sake of tribal survival while at the same time fool themselves into thinking they are not.

        • @fortaleza84″

          First, how much does it go against Leftist values to game the affirmative action system?

          That’s a question that occurred to me in the exchange with Skef. It’s possible that I am projecting my intuition on the nature of moral judgements on people with different intuitions on the subject, seeing it in terms of violating norms rather than causing consequences.

          Warren’s supporters argue that she would have gotten the same positions without claiming to be a minority, and they could be right. Even if they are wrong, the candidate she displaced would probably be another non-minority who was a little better qualified. So if they are judging her not by whether she took advantage of a benefit she wasn’t entitled to but by whether her doing so harmed the people who were entitled to that benefit, they might well conclude that she didn’t.

          @John Schilling:

          Elizabeth Warren, already is accepted as one of the Democratic Party’s leaders.

          The issue came up when she was running for the Senate in Massachusetts, at which point she was at most a potential future leader.

          • John Schilling says:

            As noted elsewhere, she had been a real present leader since 2008, and a fairly high-profile one.

      • Plumber says:

        @fortaleza84

        “…..I think that Leftism is the dominant ideology in most influential American institutions such as universities and the media. Therefore Leftism is a magnet for the worst kind of opportunists, sociopaths, and all around bad people….”

        The typical narrative from the left is that the right-wing is a “magnet for the worst kind of opportunists, sociopaths” because they are paid to be by wealthy donors, often the Koch brothers are cast as the villains (just as Soros is cast by the right). If the right thinks that academia snd newsrooms are leftist “magnets”, the left describes right-wing “think-tanks” and lobbying firms as “magnets” as well, with thr difference that the left doesn’t believe the right does what it does for prestige, just for cash.
        Just do a web search for “Koch brothers pay for” and “right-wing billionaires” side-by-side with web searches for “leftist academics” and “leftist press” and compare.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          Well certainly neither side has a monopoly on machiavellian types.

          My view is probably a bit biased since I am a professional in NYC who went to elite college and grad school. So I have met lots of really terrible people who are devout Leftists.

          That said, my views on this issue have changed over the last few hours. Although I do think the Left has more bad people, it occurs to me that most people are sufficiently Machiavellian and hypocritical to believe falsehoods for the sake of tribal survival.

          The more important difference is that the Left has better systems of common knowledge in place so mass self-deception is more practical.

          • This reminds me of my old post on the Rice Christian Cycle.

            The problem surely exists on both sides, but I think it’s hard to deny that the material benefits of appearing left cover more people than than those of appearing right, at least for academic/journalist/think tank types.

            I’m prett sure that total expenditures of right of center foundations are small relative to those of left of center foundations, and I would guess that total employment in universities is much larger than either.

          • Brad says:

            That’s a pretty important “at least” there in the second paragraph. What percentage of total employment is academic/journalist/think tank types?

          • fortaleza84 says:

            @Brad I don’t know but for purposes of setting up systems of common knowledge, what matters are jobs that involve transmitting ideas to an audience — journalism, the academy, and to a lesser extent entertainment.

          • Brad says:

            It’s funny that there are so many fans of Foucault on the right these days. Not something I would ever have predicted.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      A couple interesting data points: Back in the 1990s, a couple students at a top university were busted for affirmative action fraud. One had put down “native american” on the theory that he was born in America. Another had put “African American” since he was descended from Africans. The admissions office was not amused.

      Reading through the discussion thread, I have been persuaded by the “to big to fail” hyoothesis. At this point Harvard has no choice but to get behind EW.

      • Lillian says:

        This reminds me of a friend of my father’s who after moving from South Africa back to the United States, had the school call him and his wife over his daughters meltdown over not being allowed to mark herself as African-American on school forms because she is as pale as the moon. He naturally sided with his daughter, since she was objectively born in Africa, and is also an American, and therefore had the highest claim to being an African-American out of anyone in the class. The school was not amused, but ultimately conceded the point, since the relevant guidelines did specify that self-identification was up to each student.

    • Plumber says:

      @DavidFriedman

      “….On the face of it, pretending to be a minority when you are not in a situation where being a minority is an advantage is the sort of thing that people on the left, supporters of affirmative action, should regard as a very serious offense against their principles. Yet she not only did not get ostracized, she ended up as a leading figure on the left of the Democratic party…”

      Except that the Democratic Party, even the “left” of it, is a coalition of different people and their different “principles”.

      For example: Black Americans are usually considered part of the Democratic Party coalition, church going Christians are usually considered part of the Republican coalition, but “….Nearly half (47%) of black Democrats say they attend church at least weekly….” compared to “…Republicans overall (44%)…”, and you’ll find that black Democrats are less supportive of legal abortion and gay marriage on average than other Democrats.

      So why are most black Americans Democrats and not Republicans? 

      Because they’re other issues that they on average mostly agree with Democrats, among which is affirmative action (also let’s face it, the Democratic Party is mostly urbanites, and most black Americans grandparents or great-grandparants moved to Cities in the 1940’s and ’50’s, just as Catholics who live in the suburbs are now mostly Republicans unlike their grandparents).

      I’m sure you may find folks who vote for Republicans who (for example) are anti-abortion as well as anti-corporate tax cuts, as well as the reverse, as you can folks who vote for Democrats, or many other issues, because Americans who agree with every part of the platforms of the political party that they usually vote for are a minority of Americans, as most don’t.

      I’m going to give an example of someone who would probably vote for Elizabeth Warren over Donald Trump in a general election who thinks that her claiming to be a “minority” is ridiculous (and hilarious!): Me.

      Elizabeth Warren first came to my attention via a book called “The Two Income Trap” that I read years ago and thought was pretty good, and afterwards when Warren came to be a politician I knew her as the author of that book and as a public figure that bankers don’t like, both of which predispose me to support her.

      Would I vote for her in a primary? 

      Probably not, I doubt she’d win, but if she starts wearing a ceremonial headdress and carrying a tomahawk I may, because that’s just too funny not to want to see more of (especially when those aren’t Cherokee, and if she starts speaking Yiddish like the “Indians” in Blazing Saddles that’s even better, and I really want to see pasty Warren call man-with-a-tan Trump “paleface”)!

      As for the affirmative action thing?

      I really don’t care personally, as that issue isn’t why I vote for Democrats (though that she’s from Harvard, or indeed any Ivy league school is a strike against her in my book, but at least she wasn’t a ‘legacy’ [someone check that please]).

      • I’m not puzzled about why Democrats would vote for Warren over a Republican, whether for Senate or President. What puzzled me was why they would choose to make her a prominent leader of their movement.

        One possible answer, which occured to me after my exchange with Skef, is that they don’t strongly disapprove of pretending to be a minority in order to benefit from affirmative action as long as no harm is done, as long as she ended up with positions she was qualified for and, if anyone was displaced, it wasn’t a real minority. In a way it corresponds to the consequentialist vs non-consequentialist view of ethics. Is the relevant question “did you do something bad” or “did what you did have bad consequences?” Looking at it from the former point of view it seemed obvious to me that what she did should have outraged supporters of affirmative action. From the latter point of view, it’s not so obvious.

        • Plumber says:

          @DavidFriedman

          “….What puzzled me was why they would choose to make her a prominent leader of their movement..

          If you think enough Democrats are more anti-banker than are pro-affirmative action, then the reasons become clear, don’t confuse campus and internet “social justice warriors” with the Democratic Party (which is hardly s monolith) as they may often be allies, but they’re not the same and the goals don’t always align.

          Remember that as late as 2015 Democratic Presidential candidate and former Senator Jim Webb was saying that while he supports affirmative action for African Americans “…given their unique history with slavery and the Jim Crow that followed…”, afirmative action programs “that doesn’t include struggling whites…“…isn’t true to Democratic Party principle…”, but yeah he may have been a better candidate for 2004 than 2016, but I still think he could’ve won the general election.

        • Matt M says:

          What puzzled me was why they would choose to make her a prominent leader of their movement.

          I think the simple answer to this, and to every “Why do partisans continue to support flawed/scandalized leaders” is “inertia.”

          Had this scandal been a huge deal when Warren first tried to run for a major office, maybe it would have sunk her. But now, she’s already a prominent Democrat. To run from her now would be to sacrifice one of their prominent leaders and for what… to appease Trump? Maybe it’s a sunk cost fallacy if you like, but they’ve invested too much into her already to abandon her now.

        • Mr. Doolittle says:

          Do you have any idea if Democrats are more consequentialist than Republicans?

          If that were true, it would explain a large mental disconnect I have in modeling the two groups’ arguments, when confronting each other.

          A lot of the privilege rhetoric would make more sense in consequentialist terms as well.

        • John Schilling says:

          I’m not puzzled about why Democrats would vote for Warren over a Republican, whether for Senate or President. What puzzled me was why they would choose to make her a prominent leader of their movement.

          The Democrats made her a prominent leader of her movement because A: she was elected to the United States Senate, which was and is about the top of the ladder for any Democrat who hasn’t (yet) made it to the White House and B: she oversaw TARP and created the CFPB, key figurehead institutions in the Democratic campaign to defend and protect the American people from the greatest economic catastrophe of the past half-century. Arguably the greatest catastrophe period, and one that can be blamed on Greedy Capitalists under a Republican administration. And she’s got some Oppression Points, for those who care, and she speaks pretty good.

          The Democrats made her a prominent leader of their movement, for those sound and good reasons, before anyone had really noticed the dubious old “Cherokee Indian” claims. Having done so, why would they unmake a perfectly good leader over things that nobody is going to care about enough to actually shift their political allegiance?

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          The issue was widely publicized, at least in Massachusetts, during Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign. The voters evidently realized that it was good for a chuckle but without much in the way of further significance.

          • Matt M says:

            Was it widely publicized during the Democratic primary of said race?

            Because that’s the last time this might be said to have a reasonable effect on voting behavior.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            The story broke in late April 2012, about six weeks before the filing deadline for the Sept. 6 primary, in which Warren was unopposed.

          • John Schilling says:

            Warren was a high-profile champion of the Democratic party and cause by 2011, thanks to her TARP/CFPB work and associated publicity. Her Senate nomination wasn’t quite the sinecure that Hillary Clinton’s was, but neither was it a matter of the party choosing between several Generic Democratic Suits with a bit of baggage as a potential deciding factor, it was a Rising Star with minor baggage vs. an assortment of Generic Suits.

  3. Aapje says:

    There is an interesting new study about the political tribes in American politics. It seems that the extreme left (‘progressive activists’) is a bit more of an outlier than the extreme right. What is also interesting is that the progressive activists are much whiter, better educated and richer than average. So one can argue that their politics are so extreme due to an overly extreme perception of the less well off, insufficiently moderated by personal experience.

    Interestingly, a huge difference between the progressive activists on the extreme left and the ‘devoted conservatives’ on the extreme right, is a belief in locus of control, where the extreme left believes extremely strongly that people’s outcomes are outside of their control, while the devoted conservatives believe rather strongly that people do have control of their outcomes.

    So one can then theorize that this must result in very strong guilt among the mostly rather well-off progressive activists, who feel that their advantages in life are unearned, while the conservatives are much more accepting of inequality due to it being the result of choices that people made.

    Another interesting finding is that worry about political correctness is shared by everyone, but the progressive activists. So this is not so much a left vs right issue, but really much more the extreme left vs everyone else. The Atlantic wrote an article specifically about this.

    PS. Perhaps we should adopt ‘progressive activists’ as terminology here, rather than use ‘SJ’ or ‘SJW’ (to be more politically correct 😛 )

    PS. Note that the report itself is not politically neutral, but holds a certain view as true. Nevertheless, it is very much worth reading (but critically, as always).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I worry about these studies because they’re so influenced by the way you define the “tribes”.

      For example, if you define “progressive activists” so that it captures the most extreme 10% of Democrats, but you define “devoted conservatives” so that it captures a kind of random sampling of extreme and non-extreme Republicans, then you can prove that progressives are “more extreme” than conservatives.

      • Aapje says:

        Scott,

        I don’t think that this objection is fair if they did cluster analysis correctly. Of course it is possible to make debatable choices at the edges, especially if there is no hard divide between clusters, but your example assumes intentional tampering.

        Note that they didn’t actually conclude that progressive activists are a bit more extreme. It’s something that I (think I) noticed. So it doesn’t make sense to argue that they worked to a conclusion, when it’s not actually their conclusion.

        It is unfortunate that they didn’t publish the raw data so others can do their own analysis, although sadly enough this is not commonly done by researchers, so this doesn’t reflect badly on them specifically.

        • 10240 says:

          Let’s say that one objective cluster is the most extreme 10% of democrats, and another is “a kind of random sampling of extreme and non-extreme Republicans”. Then it’s not fair to say that they intentionally cooked the results to prove that progressives are “more extreme” than conservatives. But it still holds that the fact the “progressive activists” cluster is more extreme than the “devoted conservatives” cluster is expected, obvious, and doesn’t show anything non-trivial about the groups, and especially not about progressives and conservatives in general.

          • Aapje says:

            You seem to be arguing that the cluster on the right might be more diverse, while still the most obvious cluster to identify, but that is exactly the conclusion that I drew. I don’t see how this is a rebuttal.

            For example, imagine that one bar only has Hell’s Angels, while another bar has 80% lesbians and 20% bisexuals. Both are obvious clusters due to them hanging out in the same place, but the ‘lesbian and a bit bi’ cluster is much fuzzier at the edges, making them less of a bubble, while the Hell’s Angels cluster has much stricter policing of who is in and who is out.

            Arguing that you can’t draw the conclusion that the ‘lesbian and a bit bi’ cluster has more diversity, because the ‘lesbian and a bit bi’ cluster has more diversity, seems like a rather strange argument.

          • 10240 says:

            I guess my point is that for purposes like “which side is more prone to extremism”, what matters is things like how extreme the most extreme x% of each side is on average, rather than how extreme some clusters are.

          • Aapje says:

            I was thinking more about the internal policing of beliefs in the cluster, rather than the extent to which the cluster generates violent behavior or such, which is a very different question, for which the study doesn’t seem that useful.

          • 10240 says:

            I was thinking more about the internal policing of beliefs in the cluster

            For that purpose, the question is how much the clusters found by cluster analysis correlate with real world communities in which such internal policing is possible.

    • Garrett says:

      Perhaps we should adopt ‘progressive activists’ as terminology here, rather than use ‘SJ’ or ‘SJW’ (to be more politically correct

      I’m eager to find a good term to use, but I’m not certain that “progressive activist” is a good title. There already was a movement in the US called progressivism and it brought a number of important social reforms. It brought around some questionable ones, such as large-scale government works and elected judges. It also supported some which in hindsight were viewed as not good, such as prohibition and the eugenics movement.

      • Aapje says:

        True. Also, it is questionable whether this group is actually that progressive or whether they horseshoed themselves into regressiveness.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Who are you actually interested in labeling? People who believe in social justice advocacy as a goal? Or something else?

          Because SJW disappears up its own navel as being oxymoronically tautologicallly true, or simply false.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        FWIW ‘progressive’ applied in a modern context already means ‘SJW’-but-not-perjoratively to me. I’d hesitate to use the work ‘activist’ for someone who’s just writing blog comments, though.

      • I think the real point of SJW is the W. It ties in with “all’s fair in love and war.” If you think of ideological conflict as war rather than argument, there is no reason you should limit yourself to saying things that are true or making arguments that you believe are correct if doing something else works better.

        I don’t see any reason to expect progressive activists in general to act that way. On the other hand, I can think of at least one prominent figure on my side of most of these debates who, in my view, did.

    • Aapje says:

      I think that a very worrying finding is that not only are the extremes most locked into ‘the narrative’, but they are also the most engaged and willing to accept conflict. We’ve seen the effect of this on social media, where the extremes tend to dominate conversations way beyond their actual level of support.

      Take the case of a woman they quote: “we used to have our discussions about politics and then it was done and we talked about the kids or new recipes or what we are doing at work or whatever … but with those three friends it has become a big wedge because they will not leave me alone and back off it…. They are not friends anymore because we cannot find common ground anymore. They want to bring politics into everything, politics shapes their lives.”

      It seems to me that this woman is conflict averse and was able to steer conversations with her extremist friends in face-to-face meetings, where her subtle body language worked and where there aren’t other extremists to egg her friends on. Online, she is unable to do so and can no longer get others to tone down their extremism in conversations with her, causing her to ‘nope’ out of the relationship. This isolates the extremists from moderating influences.

      In general, the more that America/The West listens to and/or empowers activists, the more the moderates are ignored and the extremes dominate. So I think that we should be very wary of giving substantial power to those who volunteer to take on an activist task, without a form of democracy or another kind of check and balance to ensure that their behavior actually has support by a large group, rather than being merely favored by a small minority of extremists.

      For example, a way not to do it is to have a small subgroup make a policy and then apply this as a dictate to the entire group, where their only option is take it or leave it (or sabotage). I think that the result of that is misery all around. The small minority of extremists falsely believes that having their views elevated to policy means that the organisation has decided to implement those policies, while the reality is that the lack of initial push back was not due to the majority agreeing with them, but the majority being politically disengaged unless things impact them directly. Once that majority gets hit with the consequences of a policy, they feel oppressed and weakly resist. So then the small minority of extremists feel oppressed/angry at the response by the majority, while the majority feels oppressed/angry as well.

      The study found that the ‘exhausted majority’ actually do like a strong leader (in contrast with the common belief that desiring a strong leader is an extremist trait), which may stem from their inability to fight for their own interests as strongly as the extremists can. It is quite logical that they then favor a hero: someone who shares their concerns/beliefs, but not their passivity. Ironically, this desire, that is often seen as a threat to the ability of government to be representative, may actually be the way in which this group tries to fix their under-representation.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Look at table 1.1.3 in the appendix of the report, on page 142. Why are people with some college but no degree (yet) so conservative?

      You ask me to imagine this group and I think ‘current students and dropouts’, which I don’t expect to constitute 38% of the country, so I’m probably misinterpreting what this group is. Though I also notice that the columns don’t add to 100% even though the categories seem like they ought to be disjoint, so maybe they just botched this table?

      • Matt M says:

        Eh, I think that if we take “some college” super literally and say that it includes everyone who “does not have a degree but spent any amount of time greater than zero attempting to take at least one college course” it could easily add up to 38%.

        The “you must have college” meme is so extensive that almost every minimum wage earning service employee I know has at least tried to get some college at some point, even if it meant taking two classes as the local community college for a few weeks prior to giving up and quitting.

        • acymetric says:

          That probably contributes, but I think there is another group that probably accounts for a large amount of that percentage: people who attend school to get technical certificates or take specific classes for training. Does a person who took part in an x-month welding program at the local community college and obtained a welding certification (but no degree) count as some college/no degree? What about someone who goes to school to become an RN but does not actually get a degree (this was some time ago, but my mom did a three year full-time nursing program but did not get a bachelor’s or associate’s out of it, which seems to not fit into 2-year degree, some college/no degree, or 4 year degree categories)? And then for training, there is the guy in sales who will be working with clients in Mexico and enrolls in a couple Spanish courses (as one example of a someone taking a couple courses for training). Some of the certificate people might report as having completed a degree, but some (most?) would probably report as some college, no degree.

          I’ve always taken issue with the “some college” grouping in studies, because it is so broad as to be useless, it needs to be broken down further and the question asked more clearly in most cases.

          Also, because I am an idiot, I clicked the report button instead of reply at first, so sorry for that to both you and anyone who might be monitoring that, obviously nothing reportable in that post.

          • Matt M says:

            I don’t disagree with anything you said.

            I’d also add that “some college” isn’t just excessively broad, but it’s the only broad option in what is typically a radio-button style “check one” prompt, wherein every other selection is quite specific and easy to quantify “Do you have a high school degree or not? Do you have a bachelors degree or not? etc.”

            Therefore, anyone for whom the situation is the least bit ambiguous is going to inevitably be lumped into the “some college” bucket. It might as well just be labeled “Other”

      • ordogaud says:

        This might be a minority of that group, but it also includes people like me who didn’t finish their degree because they started working and had no need. I went back to college in my mid-20s when I was doing QA work, got hired as a programmer before finishing, and haven’t looked back since.

        I imagine there are others who go to college after they’ve already been in the workforce for a bit and then the fact that they are holding down a job and working towards a degree is enough to get them noticed and employed in whatever career path they were aiming for. Or those who drop out to become entrepreneurs or whatever.

        Edit: Not to say I’m ultra conservative myself, but I can see people in this group being more conservative than general, especially compared to those who respect academia and think having a degree is a worthy goal in itself and not just a piece of paper you need to prove you’re employable

      • Plumber says:

        #ADifferentAnonymous
        “……You ask me to imagine this group and I think ‘current students and dropouts’, which I don’t expect to constitute 38% of the country…”

        Yeah 38% seems really high to me as well, but I think more young people now see less opportunities elsewhere so they try to go to college instead of just working.

      • Nornagest says:

        You ask me to imagine this group and I think ‘current students and dropouts’, which I don’t expect to constitute 38% of the country, so I’m probably misinterpreting what this group is.

        A lot of them are probably people who’ve taken some classes at a community college, to get technical certifications for example, but didn’t pursue a degree. There are more college dropouts than I’d naively have expected, too — about a third as many as graduate — but the first group’s probably bigger.

    • quanta413 says:

      Interestingly, a huge difference between the progressive activists on the extreme left and the ‘devoted conservatives’ on the extreme right, is a belief in locus of control, where the extreme left believes extremely strongly that people’s outcomes are outside of their control, while the devoted conservatives believe rather strongly that people do have control of their outcomes.

      I think we should be careful about what this belief means exactly.

      The extreme progressives are unusually white and rich. The people I’ve met in that category don’t behave like they believe their outcomes are outside of their control.

      • Gossage Vardebedian says:

        The extreme progressives are unusually white and rich. The people I’ve met in that category don’t behave like they believe their outcomes are outside of their control.

        No, but they tend to believe that those poor, downtrodden people they’ve never met have lives beyond their control.

        • ManyCookies says:

          This is the sort of shitty, oft-unchallenged snark/lack of charity that makes me not want to participate.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Who do you expect to challenge it? Why not you?

            Well, really, this is challenging it, just in a contentless passive-aggressive sort of way. “Less of this please” is far less obnoxious than “This is what is wrong with SSC!”

            Meanwhile, most of us regard -response- as the purpose of commenting here, so a -response- to a low value comment is basically just rewarding it. Don’t feed the trolls, you know, but as a kind of feedback mechanism – if you want to talk to smart people, say smart things.

            So the next time you see unchallenged snark, consider the possibility the rest of us regard engaging with it to be rewarding it, instead of concluding that everybody agrees with it.

            (That said, “snark” as a sneer word is amusing to me, as it is basically complaining that other people are making jokes. Ayn Rand much?)

          • Nornagest says:

            That said, “snark” as a sneer word is amusing to me, as it is basically complaining that other people are making jokes.

            Specifically cheap, mean-spirited jokes aimed at enforcing ingroup norms. It’s humor, but that’s not the reason people are calling it out.

            (That said, I didn’t think Gossage’s comment was worth calling out as such.)

          • Matt M says:

            I support Gossage’s comment and consider it accurate and necessary. If he hadn’t already made it, I likely would have.

          • This is the sort of shitty, oft-unchallenged snark/lack of charity …

            Why don’t you interpret it as a possible interpretation of the evidence and comment on it on that basis, agreeing or disagreeing? If people with lots of advantages believe that people in general have little control over their lives, isn’t an obvious explanation that they are talking about other people?

            If the subject was not control over their lives but people going hungry, wouldn’t the obvious interpretation of a rich person believing that many children went to bed hungry being that he was talking about other people’s children?

          • ManyCookies says:

            @Thegnskald

            Well, really, this is challenging it, just in a contentless passive-aggressive sort of way.

            Well of course I did, that doesn’t really change the trend though (and by “challenges” I don’t mean complete call-outs like this, I mean some degree of rebuttal).

            How exactly would I respond with content, what argument is there to latch onto here? Is the onus on me to write an essay on community outreach shit defending this vague ultra-progressive group, that’ll shift to “More rich/progressive than your examples” the moment I attempt to focus it? Is “Yes they have interacted with poor people, piss off” enough content?

            And yes I could treat the post with maximum respect and try to prove that yes, we do have personal stake in this and aren’t just virtue signaling. But that feels… I dunno, like starting at the Facebook ground floor of the whole dispute, the progressive equivalent of having to respond to “If you hate government so much why do you use ROADS?” all the time. It doesn’t feel like an appealing use of time.

            There’s been speculation on why this space can feel hostile to leftists. And personally, it’s not strange opinions or “forbidden lore” that bother me, it’s this sort of nonsense that makes me feel apart from the community and tab out. I know callout posts are always obnoxious, but this was a good field example of my personal grievance.

            (Also I think I’m just being aggressive-aggressive)

            Meanwhile, most of us regard -response- as the purpose of commenting here, so a -response- to a low value comment is basically just rewarding it. Don’t feed the trolls, you know, but as a kind of feedback mechanism – if you want to talk to smart people, say smart things.

            I don’t buy this explanation, “Ignore the troll” is not at all how SJW-bait is treated. And lest I go full WhatAbout I completely support addressing that nonsense too, but you can’t then turn around and say “Well our silence here means we don’t agree with it” when yall are very much not silent in other cases.

          • albatross11 says:

            The obvious question to ask is, *which* extreme progressives believe those things? Is it someone here? Maybe point to their statements?

            It’s a bit like someone saying “The alt-right want to keep blacks down to keep their privilege for being white.” That is probably true of *someone*, but probably not everyone labeled alt-right. So pointing to a specific person and statement might be more productive.

          • Aapje says:

            @ManyCookies

            You could give a different explanation for the survey results.

            You could argue that those people (might) believe in very low social mobility, where being born poor is nearly a guarantee to end up poor, while being born rich nearly a guarantee to end up rich. Then you could argue that doesn’t conflict with them believing in a relatively small locus of control, where people can still sometimes better or worsen themselves a little at the margins.

            Or you can argue that people just round down to answer the question. So if they believe that 49% of the outcome is under people’s control, but 51% isn’t, then this gets answered and reported as them not believing that people are in control of their outcomes.

            Telling people that their explanation is uncharitable, but then not actually giving an explanation that is more charitable seems itself to be uncharitable. Why not assume that this is the best that Gossage Vardebedian can do, due to his beliefs, and try to broaden his perspective?

          • quanta413 says:

            Less meta guys. Just let ManyCookies complain about the snark.

            I thought Gossage’s comment was pretty borderline, but I have no easy answer for it. It is true of some people, and it’s not true of others and I don’t want to get down in the mud about that.

            I’m more willing to get in the mud about narrower comments.

            Ok I promise no more levels of meta by me now.

          • dick says:

            Telling people that their explanation is uncharitable, but then not actually giving an explanation that is more charitable seems itself to be uncharitable. Why not assume that this is the best that Gossage Vardebedian can do, due to his beliefs, and try to broaden his perspective?

            I think the answer to this is Brandolini’s Law. “[a large vague group i don’t like] tends to [do something bad]” is pretty common here but usually, as in this case, it’s kind of too subjective to really argue for or against.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Seems accurate to me. It’s a common theme — even has a Red Tribe equivalent, “There but for the grace of God go I”. On the progressive side it comes in the form of claiming success is due only to inherited wealth or to luck, and that therefore any scheme by which the fruits of that success are redistributed to the less fortunate is perfectly fair and reasonable.

          • John Schilling says:

            If you believe that personality traits are strongly hereditary and/or dependent on early childhood environment, then pretty much everything comes down to luck. The Horatio Alger exemplar who went from rags to riches on the basis of grit and hard work, meh, he just inherited the grit and the drive for hard work, how does that make him a better man than the one who inherited slack and laziness?

            It is nonetheless possible for people to believe, and many people do believe, either A: the moral status of “deservedness” is and ought to be inequitably hereditary in a manner coupled to hereditary grit/IQ/etc, or B: pragmatically desirable outcomes are achieved by offering greater rewards to people who use their inherited gifts in socially beneficial ways than are offered to people who don’t have such gifts to offer in the first place. Or C: both at the same time. And note that the motivating power of a reward is greatly diminished if it comes with a side order of “…but never forget, you don’t really deserve this”.

          • ManyCookies says:

            @Nybbler, John

            “Poor, downtrodden people they’ve never met” was the part that really annoyed me here and couldn’t figure a decent response to. The question of how much agency progressives assign to folk is interesting, the question of Lmao Have They Even Met a Poor Person is obnoxious.

          • Aapje says:

            @ManyCookies

            That part of the statement is expressed in a hyperbolic way, but I think that it is true that rich, well-educated people tend to have very little intimate contact with the lower classes, in a way that allows them to understand their needs and beliefs. I do think that they instead tend to ‘understand’ a partially correct stereotype.

            I also think that the same is true for the rich, well-educated people on the right, who also tend to have their partially correct stereotype.

            I also think that the left-wing stereotype tends to underestimate agency, while the right-wing stereotype tends to overestimate it.

            One strategy I use when encountering somewhat snarky statements is to unpack them and if possible, generalize them to both sides, so it becomes more about human failing in general, than ‘the outgroup be stupid.’

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the only sensible way to think about the world is to recognize both the role of choices and the role of genes and environment. Every success story involves unearned good luck and good decisions; every failure story involves unearned bad luck and bad decisions.

          • Gossage Vardebedian says:

            Well, this is all very interesting. I didn’t expect my comment would be taken as snark, though I suppose the “poor, downtrodden” bit might have been a bit thick, and for that I apologize. I was only trying to clarify the import of the comment that Quanta discussed.

            To unpack the impulse behind the “poor, downtrodden” bit, I guess what bothers me about what I occasionally get from a progressive side of this argument is the degree to which “the poor” or “minorities” are often treated as if they are indeed helpless, and require rescuing by the elites. I find this to be a very distasteful and destructive message to send to people. Obviously it isn’t a message that progressives, always and everywhere, are transmitting, and do we really need to qualify all of our statements with that sort of disclaimer?

          • Randy M says:

            Specifically cheap, mean-spirited jokes aimed at enforcing ingroup norms. It’s humor, but that’s not the reason people are calling it out.

            Are puns no longer officially the lowest form of humor?

          • The whole question of agency seems to me to blur an important distinction.

            If the reason I am poor is that I had no chance to get an education, or that I am an untouchable in India with very poor opportunities, or that I am crippled, that isn’t in any sense my fault.

            If the reason I am poor is that I am lazy and dishonest, than being poor is my fault, even though one can argue that being lazy and dishonest isn’t, that it’s the result of my genes or environment or whatever. The “I” fault is assigned to is the lazy and dishonest I who now exists, not the (metaphorically) disembodied soul who eventually became that I.

            To see why that distinction matters, push the argument a step further back. It isn’t to my credit that I am a human being rather than a mosquito, in the same sense that it isn’t to my discredit if I am lazy and dishonest—I am not responsible for either.

            It isn’t immoral to swat mosquitoes. Does that imply that there is nothing wrong with killing me? Rights, obligations, moral judgements are predicated of the actual being that now exists, not of the potential being that became that actual being.

            I’ve probably made this point here before in some context, but I think it’s an important one to make.

          • Thegnskald says:

            My quick summary of the “progressive” position:

            Rich people have all the opportunities poor people do; they are just as capable of ending up homeless, if they determinedly make poor choices. Any person ascending the wealth ladder has every opportunity to turn things around. Rich is a choice, for those who are already rich.

            Poor people often, but not universally, do not have the same opportunities. In terms of choices, a poor person can’t just decide to give away all their poverty and become rich. More, choices compound in a way for poor people they don’t for rich people. For an imaginary path, if “rich” takes exactly $5,000 of excess income per year being invested, then a person who starts off rich might have $50,000 in excess income, which means they can make a lot of decisions which reduce this excess income and still end up rich. A poor person with exactly $5,000 in excess income can make exactly zero such choices.

            In a very real sense, rich people have a lot more choice involved about being rich, than poor people have about being poor.

            (And this is without going into all the ways a poor person can have any such choice never available in the first place, such as medical issues.)

            “I have agency in a sense poor people do not” is not necessarily disrespectful of poor people.

            That all said – that is the ideal position. I see far more often a secondhand version of this idea, in which poor people need to be protected from their own poor decisions. This used to be a more right-wing position – this is the drug war, after all – but it has cropped up on the left as well. The most common version of this lately has been the attempts to regulate the diets of poor people. Social security is often supported on these grounds as well, however – as a mandatory retirement scheme – but that particular view of social security does seem somewhat more prevalent on the right.

        • albatross11 says:

          So, I’ll offer an example of someone who thinks this way. I think it’s actually true that a lot of people on the bottom have ended up there because of stuff outside their control. Not 100% out of their control, but substantially out of their control.

          A large fraction of your intelligence, personality, diligence, tendency to violence, etc., is probably genetic, and you had zero control over it. Much of the rest is probably driven by your early childhood environment (lead exposure), your culture and upbringing, and random developmental noise.

          People with 80 IQs have a really hard row to hoe in modern America. It’s not their fault, the society is just too complex and the returns to intelligence are too high. Getting through high school is a serious challenge at that intelligence level. You’re not welcome in the military. Going to college is an utter waste of your time. The smart, highly-educated people at the top of the society have built up a huge set of complex rules and procedures you have to go through to be allowed to do stuff within your abilities–for example, you need to pass a written test and go to school to be a hairdresser in a lot of places.

          Being not very smart probably works better when your culture gives you (and enforces) rules that you can follow and that will work out better for you if you follow them. Stuff like marrying before having kids, or having a strong work-ethic, or limiting your drinking and partying to sub-life-destroying levels. We’ve kind-of dismantled that structure for people at the bottom–this is basically what _Coming Apart_ is about.

          There used to be more places for people at this level to find a place in the world. Get a factory job and you can be not all that bright, but still do the work. Join the union, and there are other people who will be on your side, maybe keep you from getting shafted. But a lot of that stuff has gone away now.

          So yeah, even though I don’t spend much time around people with 80 IQs, I do think a lot of them are getting ground up in the gears by stuff they don’t have much control over. It may be that I’m not such a great fit for the “extreme progressive” category, though.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that if you get down to the details, both sides of the political spectrum would largely agree that specific disabilities can hold people back. I think that the main reason why the left and right answer so differently is that the right really dislikes moochers and wants people to do what they can, while the left dislikes it much more when people lack opportunity and wants to fix that.

            So the answers reflect people’s primary concern, not necessarily their only concern.

          • quanta413 says:

            Sure, but like you said you’re not a good example of a progressive.

            I would agree with a significant chunk of what you said. But IQ only correlates with wealth and income at such at well below .5 IIRC. I doubt the remainder of what happens is dominated by who your parents were. So I think there’s plenty of room for other sorts of things that more resemble choices (lack of conscientiousness or perseverance) to contribute to differences between people.

          • Plumber says:

            @albatross11,

            Just posting to say that I find myself agreeing with so very much of your post.

          • Baeraad says:

            I see it in a similar way, though I’m more cynical about it. It’s not that some people are “born better,” it’s that some people are born with vices that lets them get ahead and some are born with vices that hold them back.

            As in: Person A is lazy and irresponsible. Person B is a stuck-up prick who’s so hysterically determined to get more material possessions and prove that he’s better than everyone else that he’ll work 20-hour days and constantly scheme to increase his bottom line. Person B will almost certainly end up better off than Person A. And that’s morally objectionable to me, because while Person A is kind of crap, Person B is kind of crap also. Seeing either of them rewarded for their falings is unpleasant, but seeing one of them rewarded over the other is insufferable.

            Now, if you could show me a Person C who’s actually working hard at a worthy cause that doesn’t involve tearing other people down and is just generally a great guy, I’d say sure, let’s reward him over those other two jackasses. But you can’t, because he doesn’t exist. There’s hardly anything you can work hard at in this world that doesn’t involve tearing other people down, and the few who seems to have found something probably go home at night and beat their children or something. There’s always something, because all people are crap.

            So in absence of anyone who actually deserves a reward, I say let’s just reward all the undeserving people equally.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Person B will end up with more material possessions. Person A will spend more of his life doing what he wants (rather than doing what someone else wants in order to fulfill his wants). I’m not sure what the problem is.

            I’m a computer programmer. As far as I know, my work does not involve tearing anyone down. Neither does that of my managers. The salespeople might be pointing out problems with the competition’s products and services, but that’s not personal. Lots of tradespeople work in jobs that may involve tearing buildings down, but not people. Factory workers, service workers, etc… Very few jobs require that you tear someone down. Working your way up in management in a dysfunctional company covers most of it (and the worst of it). Certain kinds of lawyers, police, private detectives, etc.

            Sure, most people aren’t Fred Rogers. And most jobs may not be particularly morally praiseworthy. But neither are they morally monstrous.

          • There’s hardly anything you can work hard at in this world that doesn’t involve tearing other people down, and the few who seems to have found something probably go home at night and beat their children or something.

            That is not consistent with my observations–you have either a much grimmer world or much darker glasses.

          • So in absence of anyone who actually deserves a reward, I say let’s just reward all the undeserving people equally.

            A couple of problems with that. To begin with, if everyone is undeserving then nobody deserves anything. So there is nothing wrong with taking from the rich to give to the poor, but equally nothing wrong with taking from the poor to give to the rich or taking from everyone for yourself or taking from everyone and dumping what you take in the ocean.

            A way I have found useful to think of some of this is in terms of two different set of moral intuitions, what I think of as the God’s eye view and the human level view.

            The God’s eye view says people should get what they deserve. If I am a good person who badly needs money and you a bad person who doesn’t, and we agree to gamble a dollar on a flip of the coin, then for you to win the flip is unjust–I deserved to get the money, you didn’t.

            The human level view asks who is entitled to the money, not who deserves it, a distinction I am borrowing from Nozick. Both of us agreed on the bet, I lost, you are entitled to the dollar. Justice from this standpoint consists of getting things in legitimate ways, not of deserving to get them.

            The God’s eye view makes sense for God, for two reasons. First, he knows everything, so has the information to decide who deserves what. Humans don’t, and human judges have not only limited information but their own objectives to distort their judgement. Second, God doesn’t have a budget constraint. If something bad happens that is nobody’s fault he can simply eliminate it–wave his hand and the dead person comes alive, the burned down building reappears. We do have budget constraints. If something bad happens that nobody deserves to have happen, the cost is still there and someone has to bear it.

            I think all of us intuit both systems, but the latter is the one appropriate for designing legal rules around.

          • Guy in TN says:

            To begin with, if everyone is undeserving then nobody deserves anything. So there is nothing wrong with taking from the rich to give to the poor, but equally nothing wrong with taking from the poor to give to the rich

            Desert isn’t the deciding factor in all moral systems. You can reject desert without having to also reject all normative claims. Baeraad’s use of the words “deserving”, and especially “reward”, implies that they were objecting to a system where resources are distributed based on the merits of a person’s actions.

            But there are alternative systems, where a person can be distributed resources based on no actions they took at all. A person who supported this system (such as myself!) could object to a particular distributive institution on normative grounds, while also objecting to the general concept of distributive institutions based on deservingness.

          • Another Throw says:

            Person B will end up with more material possessions. Person A will spend more of his life doing what he wants

            OMG, so much of this! Thank you!

            Look, I am going to defect from the lazy irresponsible person tribe for a minute and let you in on a secret. I have spent my entire life systematically optimizing it to achieve my goals and to maximize my utility, with exactly the same passion and attention to detail as the hard working responsible tribe does. The fact of the matter is that my marginal utility of money falls below my marginal utility of not-money way, way before 40 hours worth of wages a week. Through systematic effort since the time I was a child, I am as close to the maximum utility per unit time as it is possible for me to get.

            The fact that I earn less income than someone with a different utility function does not matter. At all. In the slightest. Ever.

            Anyone that earns more money than I do, like, by definition, has demonstrated a higher marginal utility of money than I have.

            If you were to redistribute money from such a person to me—when our revealed preferences CLEARLY indicate our different marginal utilities—not only would you be committing the abominable sin of reducing total utility by being a freaking moron, but your shocking degree of economic illiteracy should be a categorical disqualification from even being let into the same ZIP code as the people setting public policy. I’ll be blunt: I think that advocating for public policy that ignores non-pecuniary sources of utility should be a capital crime.

            And herein lies the rub! It is impossible to distinguish, at the level of public policy, between those whose utility is unfortunately low and those with substantial non-pecuniary sources of utility. Literally impossible. And if you try anyway you run a very serious risk of burning the whole economy to the ground. Unexpected (well, maybe to you) positive feedback loops spiraling out of control are the least of your worries.

            This impossibility is compounded by fact that any such policy must rests upon the unsubstantiated assumption that we are rare and they are not. The lazy and irresponsible tribe would ordinarily never cop to any of this this because they really, really, really, really, really love morons super-maximizing their utility for them at the expense of others, even if it has the side effect of reducing total utility. Who says no to free stuff!

            It is perhaps unfortunate the rarity with which one finds someone who is lazy and irresponsible while simultaneously possessing the foresight to worry about breaking the system that allows them to be so.

            [“You” used in the general sense throughout. I don’t actually remember who I quoted, and I steered pretty far off on a tangent without necessarily disagreeing with anything they said.]

          • Guy in TN says:

            Anyone that earns more money than I do, like, by definition, has demonstrated a higher marginal utility of money than I have.

            This makes no sense at all.

            Would you say that due to a minimum wage increase, where workers unexpectedly received more income, they also simultaneously experienced a jump in their marginal utility of money?

          • Guy in TN says:

            It is impossible to distinguish, at the level of public policy, between those whose utility is unfortunately low and those with substantial non-pecuniary sources of utility. Literally impossible.

            We actually do this all the time. Its the reason why we have transfer payments to the elderly, the handicapped, and children (in some countries). Because its fairly easy to see, in broad strokes, that these people could not choose to work even if they wanted to. Difficult to quantify, sure, but such is all utility.

            No one says: “ah, maybe the disabled elderly person is just choosing to be penniless and miserable, who I am to judge?”

          • Let me try to state Another Throw’s point in a more formal way. Whether richer people have higher or low marginal utility of income than poorer people depends on why they are richer.

            If two people have the same utility function but one is better at converting leisure into income, is paid more for his work, then the higher income person has a lower marginal utility of income because he is farther out on his (identical) utility function. That’s the argument that underlies the common idea that richer people value money less.

            If two people have different utility functions for income, the same utility function for leisure and the same ability to convert leisure into income, then the higher income person has a higher marginal utility for income–that is why he chooses to work more, which is why he is richer.

            In the real world, incomes differ both because of different utility functions for income and because of different abilities to convert leisure into income, so whether the richer or poorer has a higher marginal utility of income can’t be determined on theoretical grounds. It depends on which factor is more important.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        That ties in with a recurring pattern in US opinion polling, where you tend to get a lot of people who are pretty content with their own position, but convinced that everyone else is going to the dogs.

        Also interesting that Traditional Conservatives are “wings”, but Traditional Liberals are not.

        • Civilis says:

          Also interesting that Traditional Conservatives are “wings”, but Traditional Liberals are not.

          That was a concern of mine as well. I think that the key is in the following paragraph: “Importantly, the Traditional Conservatives do not belong to the Exhausted Majority, while the Traditional Liberals do. The key difference lies in their mood towards the country’s politics. While the Exhausted Majority express disillusionment, frustration, and anger at the current state of US politics, Traditional Conservatives are far more likely to express confidence, excitement and optimism. As such, the Traditional Conservatives hold a meaningfully different emotional disposition towards the country that aligns them more with the Devoted Conservatives.

          Wouldn’t it be likely for Traditional Conservatives to be more confident, excited, and optimistic because for the moment conservatives and their allies are in power? And wouldn’t it be likely that Traditional Liberals would be less confident, less excited, and pessimistic because their side had lost the last major round of US elections?

          I’m hoping that had this research been done three years earlier, the Traditional Liberals would have shown as Wings while the Traditional Conservatives would have been viewed as Exhausted Majority. It makes sense that the Traditional Conservatives would want more compromise when they were out of power (and, likewise, that Traditional Liberals are now hopefully seeing the wisdom of compromise now that they are out of power).

          Further, looking at Figure 6.2, it looks like the Traditional Liberals in the Exhausted Majority are more likely to have Donated Money to an Advocacy Group or Political Organization, Called Congress or another Political Representative or Shared Political Content on Social Media than the Traditional Conservatives in the Wings, which contradicts the arguments in the chapter.

          • mdet says:

            Agreed. I think if there’s any evidence of ideological bias in the group labels, it’s in “Passive Liberals” vs “Moderates”. Why not “Passive Liberals” vs “Passive Conservatives”, since the Moderates “tend to be socially conservative”?

            Still, I didn’t see anything overtly biased enough for me to hold it against them.

          • Aapje says:

            As the paper argued/showed, those centrists tend to have far more diversity in their opinions, which makes it harder to cluster them. Is a person who favors a solid welfare state, but low migration a conservative, a liberal or a moderate?

      • Matt M says:

        The people I’ve met in that category don’t behave like they believe their outcomes are outside of their control.

        Isn’t the entire concept of “privilege” based around this assumption?

        Or the notion that we have to say, abolish private schools because they promote inequality?

        The general notion that equal outcomes are a positive virtue to be sought out, regardless of unequal inputs?

      • mdet says:

        This is pretty easily reconciled. I believe (and I think most people agree?) that what happens to you from moment-of-conception to your mid teens is both entirely out of your control and hugely determines how the rest of your life is going to go. By the time you’re actually old enough and autonomous enough to make your own life decisions, most of who you are is already set in place. You might better yourself with hard work, or miss opportunities through laziness, but you’re still largely a product of those initial circumstances.

        I can get better at basketball if I practice. But whether or not I’m NBA material was set in stone by age eight. Are my basketball skills “in my control” or “out of my control”?

        • quanta413 says:

          I agree that there are subtleties to it. I don’t like the NBA example much though because it’s such an outlier. Most things give you a lot more control than that. Whether you had even a slight chance at the NBA was mostly determined by conception.

          I would disagree that people have little control up through their mid teens. I’ve seen people do worse in school than they could have which undoubtedly has affected their earning potential.

          And I’ve seen or heard of lots of people making obviously terrible decisions. I’m talking really bad.

          I don’t think the attitude makes sense too broadly. You can’t control whether or not an earthquake occurs. You can only somewhat affect whether or not you die in a car crash. But you can not knock someone up or get knocked up early (mostly, control over this isn’t perfect you could be raped but it’s relatively within control), you can do or not do drugs, you can try or not in your classes.

          People fail to do a lot of very common things that would notably improve their lot in life.

          • albatross11 says:

            Every success story has some luck/outside help in it, and some boneheaded stunts/dumb decisions that didn’t go so badly as they might have.

            Every failure story has some boneheaded stunts/dumb decisions that went really badly, and some luck/outside help that didn’t quite save the day.

          • mdet says:

            Yes, getting (someone) knocked up is almost entirely based on your own decisions, but someone* might still say that it’s largely out of your control whether you are the kind of person who does reckless and irresponsible things like getting (someone) knocked up, or whether you are the kind of person with judgement and self-control. It might be that whether you’re reckless and impulsive at age 30 is mostly dependent on whether you were reckless and impulsive at 15, and whether you were reckless and impulsive at 15 is mostly dependent on genes, environment, and childhood.

            Although at this point we’re getting close to “Does free will exist (and to what extent)?”

            *On the one hand, I think I’m pretty deterministic. On the other, I don’t actually want to say “People can never change” because I still believe in forgiveness, persuasion, benefit of the doubt, etc.

          • quanta413 says:

            To be totally clear, I’m not staking out a philosophical claim. I think determinism is a reasonable framework.

            But biological-machine-me (which is all of me as far as I know) has determined that it’s probably best to tell people they can and should do their best not to make bad decisions because if enough people say that you should avoid making poor choices fewer people will probably make those poor choices.

            It’s also important to tell them they can’t choose or have everything, but these aren’t contradictory lessons. You have only a finite set of options. Then you choose some. Hopefully you choose well.

        • Garrett says:

          To the extent that genetics has any impact on this type of analysis, doesn’t it just circle back to eugenics?

    • Plumber says:

      By Crom that PDF is hard to read on my phone! 

      The most prominent essay I could find mentioning the “Hidden Tribes” typology was in  David Brooks latest New York Times column which I’ll try to copy and paste here:

      The Rich White Civil War

      A smarter look at America’s divide

      Every few years one research group or another produces a typology of the electorate. The researchers conduct thousands of interviews and identify the different clusters American voters fall into.

      More in Common has just completed a large such typology. It’s one of the best I’ve seen because it understands that American politics is no longer about what health care plan you support. It’s about identity, psychology, moral foundations and the dynamics of tribal resentment.

      The report, “Hidden Tribes,” breaks Americans into seven groups, from left to right, with names like Traditional Liberals, Moderates, Politically Disengaged and so on. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most active groups are on the extremes — Progressive Activists on the left (8 percent of Americans) and Devoted Conservatives on the right (6 percent).

      These two groups are the richest of all the groups. They are the whitest of the groups. Their members have among the highest education levels, and they report high levels of personal security.

      We sometimes think of this as a populist moment. But that’s not true. My first big takeaway from “Hidden Tribes” is that our political conflict is primarily a rich, white civil war. It’s between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives.

      You could say that tribalism is the fruit of privilege. People with more stresses in their lives necessarily pay less attention to politics. People with college degrees are more likely to describe their ideology as central to their identity. They are much more likely to derive moral meaning from their label, more likely to affiliate with a herd based on their label and more likely to vote on the party line.

      My second big takeaway from the report is that ideas really do drive history. Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives organize around coherent philosophical narratives. These narratives aren’t visions of a just society. They are narratives of menace — about who needs to be exorcised from society.

      Devoted Conservatives subscribe to a Hobbesian narrative. It’s a dangerous world. Life is nasty, brutish and short. We need strict values and strong authority to keep us safe.

      Ninety percent of Devoted Conservatives think immigration is bad, while 99 percent of Progressive Activists think it is good. Seventy-six percent of Devoted Conservatives think Islam is more violent than other religions; only 3 percent of Progressive Activists agree. Eighty-six percent of Devoted Conservatives think it’s more important for children to be well behaved than creative. Only 13 percent of Progressive Activists agree.

      Progressive Activists, on the other hand, subscribe to a darkened Rousseauian worldview. People may be inherently good, but the hierarchical structures of society are awful. The structures of inequality and oppression have to be dismantled.

      Ninety-one percent of Progressive Activists say sexual harassment is common, while only 12 percent of Devoted Conservatives agree. Ninety-two percent of Progressive Activists say people don’t take racism seriously enough, compared with 6 percent of Devoted Conservatives. Eighty-six percent of Progressive Activists say life’s outcomes are outside people’s control; only 2 percent of Devoted Conservatives agree. Progressive Activists are nearly three times as likely to say they are ashamed to be American as the average voter.

      This philosophical dispute is not new. There have always been some people who thought we need hierarchical structures to keep us safe and others who thought we need to be emancipated from oppressive structures so we can be free.

      What is new is how cultish this dispute has become. The researchers asked a wide variety of questions, on everything from child-rearing to national anthem protests. In many cases, 97 to 99 percent of Progressive Activists said one thing and 93 to 95 percent of Dedicated Conservatives said the opposite. There’s little evidence of individual thought, just cult conformity. The current situation really does begin to look like the religious wars that ripped through Europe after the invention of the printing press, except that our religions now wear pagan political garb.

      The good news is that once you get outside these two elite groups you find a lot more independent thinking and flexibility. This is not a 50-50 nation. It only appears that way when disenchanted voters are forced to choose between the two extreme cults.

      Roughly two-thirds of Americans, across four political types, fall into what the authors call “the exhausted majority.” Sixty-one percent say people they agree with need to listen and compromise more. Eighty percent say political correctness is a problem, and 82 percent say the same about hate speech.

      Unfortunately, people in the exhausted majority have no narrative. They have no coherent philosophic worldview to organize their thinking and compel action. When they get one I suspect it will look totally unlike the two dominant narratives today. These narratives are threat narratives. But the people who make positive change usually focus on gifts, not deficits. They tell stories about the assets we have and how we can use them together.

      I don’t know what the next political paradigm will look like, but I bet it will be based on abundance, not deficits; gifts, not fear; hope, not hatred.”

      so I suppose this is going to be our new labels?

      I’m pretty dubious on Brooks’ contention of a broad center in agreement against “progressives” and “conservatives”, as while on average American voters are slightly to the “right” of Democratic Party on cultural/social issues and they are a bit to the left of the Republican Party on economic issues, and while Republicans seem to understand this better than the Democrats, which is why they stopped campaigning on tax cuts, while the Democrats seemed to think that opposing Kavaugh’s nomination would get them more support instead it has created a voter backlash, that dims the probability of the predicted mid-term “blue wave”, still while Americans want a viable third party, there’s no broad agreement of what policies one would have, if there was it would exist, or Democrats or Republicans would adopt those policies.

      My favorite “political typology’ was (I think) first articulated in 1981 by the Cato Institute (sorry, another PDF!), and divedes people who favor those who are anti-statist intervention in the free market, and pro intervention on one axis, and those who are pro traditionalist culture and those pro cultural changes on another axis, and in this scheme (regardless of the dictionary meaning) a “conservative” is an economic anti-statist cultural traditionalist, who ally with “libertarians” on economics and “populist” on social issues, and are in political opposition to “liberals” (not to be confused with classical/dictionary liberals) who ally with “libertarians” on social issues and “populists” on economics. 

      A study of the voters in the 2016 election used that typology and concluded that: 

      “. ..we can break the electorate into four types, based on their position in the four quadrants 

      Liberal (44.6 percent of those who voted in 2016): ‘liberal on both economic and identity issues’

      Populist (28.9 percent): ‘liberal on economic issues, conservative on identity issues’

      Conservative (22.7 percent): ‘conservative on both economic and identity issues

      Libertarian (3.8 percent): ‘conservative on economics, liberal on identity issues….

      and that

      …We should understand that voters are not ideologically coherent, but instead have different mixes of left and right views across different issues…

      The study of 2016 voters concluded that:

      “…In both parties, the donor class is both more conservative on economic issues and more liberal on social issues, as compared to the rest of the party…”

      and it continued:

      “….although the parties are divided on economic issues, there is more overlap. Particularly in the Republican Party, there are a wide range of views on economic issues, now that the party has expanded to include more and more populists who were formerly Democrats….”

       Ezra Klien wrote in his  “No one’s less moderate than moderates” essay that:

      “….The other problem is that the term “moderate” makes it sound like there’s one kind of moderate — which is where the idea emerges that there’s some silent moderate majority out there waiting for their chance to take back politics. But someone who believes in punitively taxing the rich and criminalizing homosexuality is not going to form a coalition with someone who believes in low taxes and gay marriage, even though both of these voters would look moderate on a survey…”

    • Plumber says:

      Basically I see economic libertarian donor funding the Republican Party who pick up social conservative (disproportionately white) ‘populist’ voters (during the 2016 campaign Trump was “less likely to be considered a conservative than any other recent Republican presidential candidate…” by such voters), and the Democratic Party is funded by cultural/social liberals that pick up economic ‘populist’ voters (disproportionately non-white).

      These coalition’s can and will change, the Democratic Party “New Deal coalition” of the 1930’s had white southerners, as well as northern working-class Americans, especially union members, and were disproportionately Catholic, but today white southerners have mostly left the Democratic Party, and Catholics are only slightly more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans.

      In the 2006 David Brooks New York Times essay “Losing the Alitos Brooks had it as

      “If he’d been born a little earlier, Sam Alito would probably have been a Democrat. In the 1950’s, the middle-class and lower-middle-class whites in places like Trenton, where Alito grew up, were the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

      But by the late 1960’s, cultural politics replaced New Deal politics, and liberal Democrats did their best to repel Northern white ethnic voters. Big-city liberals launched crusades against police brutality, portraying working-class cops as thuggish storm troopers for the establishment. In the media, educated liberals portrayed urban ethnics as uncultured, uneducated Archie Bunkers.

      The liberals were doves; the ethnics were hawks. The liberals had “Question Authority” bumper stickers; the ethnics had been taught in school to respect authority.

      In 1971, Fred Dutton, an important Democratic strategist, acknowledged the rift between educated liberals and the white working class. In a short book, “Changing Sources of Power,” Dutton argued that white workers had “tended, in fact, to become a major redoubt of traditional Americanism and of the antinegro, antiyouth vote.”

      The New Deal coalition, including Catholics and white ethnics, was dying, he argued, and should be replaced by a “loose peace coalition” of young people, educated suburbanites, feminists and blacks.

      That plan wasn’t stupid, but it didn’t work. The party has been in a downward spiral ever since. John Kerry lost the white working class by 23 percentage points. He lost among his fellow Catholics. He lost the election.

      After every defeat, Democrats vow to reconnect with middle-class whites. But if there is one lesson of the Alito hearings, it is that the Democratic Party continues to repel those voters just as vigorously as ever. The Democrats have amply shown why they remain the party of gown, but not town…..”

      “….sometime between 1932 and 1968, the DNA of the Democratic Party fundamentally changed. In 1932, the Democrats had working-class DNA. Today, the Democrats have different DNA, the DNA of a minority party….”

      (by “ethnics” I assume Brooks meant urban Catholics), but 2006 is when Democrats won the House, and then in 2008 (after a financial collapse) the Presidency. 

      It’s voters who switched from Romney to Clinton, and voters that switched from Obama to Trump (about 4% of the electorate) that tell the tale.

      Those that switched to Trump from Obama were largely already culturally conservative, but economics swayed them in 2008 and ’12, as the ‘Great Recession’ receded they cared more about borders and ‘speech codes’, and the expected suburban white women switching their votes to Democrats didn’t happen in large enough numbers to cost Trump the election.  

      It used to be said that “Republicans get you into Depressions, Democrats into wars”, and I expect that Democrats will win when the economy goes south if the President is a Republican, but enough years of prosperity will bring cultural issues to the forefront and Republicans will win.

    • brmic says:

      The study is not worth paying attention to.**

      (1) I found six hits for ‘cluster’ in 160 pages, no hits for ‘k-means’, ‘hierarchical’, ‘centroid’. In other words, there is not methodology.*
      (2) Anyone familiar with cluster analysis will tell you, there are about 20-30 valid clustering solutions for each set of entry variables. You get them by a combination of method (see above or the wiki page) and target number of clusters. If the method is not prespecified, strongly assume that clustering solutions were examined until one was found that best fits preconceived notions.(This can be automated.)
      (3) Anyone familiar with cluster analysis will tell you about the garbage in, garbage out phenomenon, i.e. that the clustering is only able to represent the underlying structure of the variables you provide as input. Without getting too specific, consider two problems: (a) if you include height, weight, shoe size, length of index finger and 16 other variables you are likely to get sex-based clusters because you entered four correlated variables that all have considerable sex differences. (b) if you include IQ, party affinity and preference for cats over dogs, the clustering algorithm will treat them as equally important because it doesn’t know otherwise.
      In ‘hidden tribes’, the clusters were based on 5 measures of victimhood and 1 measure of threat perception. If you want to believe the results, you need to be able to come up with a convincing theory why it had to be those proportions and not the other way round.
      (4) Yes, I have repeatedly prayed at the altar of the clustering gods and been burned badly, why do you ask? Their promises _are_ amazing.

      (5) To get highly speculative and detailed: The authors included 10 (out of 58) measures of political activism, which (a) implies they thought that dimension was very important and (b) gave them a high chance they would get clusters along the involved-apathetic dimension. Which in turn means, them getting that result is unsurprising, they entered it.
      (6) As to the ‘bit more of an outlier’: A priori, both extreme groups had a chance to be the one that was more of an outlier. When it’s the other side, it’s easy to come up with a just-so story to justify it. When it’s your own, it’s easy to come up with reasons why the result is wrong/biased. The truth is, that the result is predetermined by the choice of clustering algorithm, number of clusters and input variables.

      (7) To expand upon the latter: It’s crucially important to realize that the study did not ‘identify’ any groups. What happened is that researchers applied a label to a set of individuals characterized by similar values on a specific number of variables. Even if they hit the jackpot and all their decisions were ‘right’ and their clusters ‘true’, the incompleteness of the process guarantees that many study participants are classified incorrectly. Depending on the unknown degree of misclassification, and the target variables, results for extremeness will vary.

      (8) It’s heuristically interesting, i.e. it can generate hypotheses. But these must always bear in mind that the clusters aren’t real, despite their alluring names.

      *Update: https://hiddentribes.us/ states that they used hierarchical clustering. That’s good to know, because it means the number of tribes was arbitrarily selected by the researchers. The chance, that they didn’t also look at 6 and 8 (and probably 5 and 9) cluster solutions and picked the one they could tell the best story with is around 1% (i.e. I expect 1 in 100 scientists would actually preregister the number of clusters and stick to it. Probably less.)

      ** The follow-up, where the results replicate out of sample, is.

      • Aapje says:

        Good points, although it seems to me that any clustering or labeling will depend on the parameters that you look at. Water and mercury belong to the same set when you look for room temperature liquids, but not when when you look for metals.

        However, clusters and labels are still limited to correlations that actually exist. You cannot really create a cluster that has both water and mercury and then claim that they have the attributes of metals.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          If you’re talking atomic metals, then no, because water is diatomic. If you’re talking about metallic, then I’ve got (really old) news for you: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061004180104.htm

          The Sandia theoretical work showed that phase boundaries for “metallic water” — water with its electrons able to migrate like a metal’s — should be lowered from 7,000 to 4,000 kelvin and from 250 to 100 gigapascals.

          As a non-mathematician with an interest in personality I’m philosophically greatly in favor of cluster analysis over factor analysis, but I seriously doubt the universality *and* importance of most categorical analyses of people such as this one.

          So I’m not just nitpicking your analogy for kicks. I’m saying that way too often overly generalized groupings take place, without groupers knowing or acknowledging the limited external parameters in which these groupings make sense.

      • Plumber says:

        @brmic

        “….*Update: https://hiddentribes.us/ states….”

        Thank you very much for providing that link!

        Much easier to read than the earlier PDF.

  4. WashedOut says:

    Over the years I have noticed that people who contribute to the SSC forums using their actual name have stated something like “I have decided to adopt a policy of expressing opinion and comment under my own true name, or not at all.” For those non-anonymous posters holding this principle, I have two questions:

    1. Including by your own standards, have you noticed any changes/improvements to the quality, clarity and/or honesty of your contributions since adopting this stance?

    2. Does your choice to forego anonymity for this reason also reflect a broader lack of concern for internet privacy? Or is it more for reasons specific to your view of SSC as e.g. an island where privacy is trumped by demand for intellectual honesty?

    • Robert Liguori says:

      1: I kind of did, but that’s probably because I decided to adopt the above policy in my mid-teen years. Mostly it was because I saw how slippery you could justify being when you could have multiple personas in multiple contexts, and like most teenagers, I hated the idea of hypocrisy.

      2: I’d say the reverse, I think; because I have no faith in Internet privacy, posting under my real name makes me undoxable. The things I want to say that I’d regret being splashed up in a giant media context, I don’t trust to stay anonymized, so I don’t start with that layer, I just don’t say them in the first place.

    • John Schilling says:

      1. There is no “since adopting this stance”. I’ve always been John Schilling, and probably always will be.

      2. Privacy in public discussions seems almost oxymoronic. The “internet privacy” I care about is whether, when I send an email to a friend or family member or private mailing list (which I do using the name “John Schilling”), someone not on the cc list can read it. I’m concerned about that, and I’m mostly but not entirely satisfied with where I stand on that level. If I’m talking in a public forum like this one, that’s not private.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I’ve pretty much posted under my own name or nearly for psychological reasons I don’t understand, though not having a cool pseudonym pop into mind may have been part of it.

      “Or nearly” because I’m nancylebov on livejournal and dreamwidth. I was hoping to have a name people could spell, remember, and pronounce. It works better than Lebovitz, but I’ve been referred to as nancylebow.

      Using my own name has made me careful about what I post where, and what I say at all. No one has been interested in checking on everything I say, and that’s just as well.

      Enough people have told me they hear my voice when they read what I write that I assume I couldn’t have good-quality anonymity anyway.

      I think people in general should have access to internet privacy. There are people who need it, and I gather that a real names policy doesn’t help to prevent trolling, or at least not enough.

    • As far as I can remember, I have always used my real name in online discussions, not just here, so I can’t answer your question 1.

      I’m not terribly worried about internet privacy. My wife, long before SSC existed, expressed concern that someone I argued with online might heave a brick through our window, but nobody ever has.

      I might feel differently if I believed that I faced serious real world costs through having my beliefs made public, but I don’t. Any university that wanted to hire me would almost certainly get enough relevant information from my published writings.

      Back when I set up my web page I did think about whether I should somehow separate my professional work from both my politics and my hobbies, since it occurred to me that a university might conclude that an economics professor who spent a lot of time and energy researching medieval cooking wasn’t what they wanted. But I decided that such a university was probably not what I wanted, and in any case there was no easy way, short of keeping my hobbies off the internet, of hiding them. And in fact, when I published my first novel, my university had me give a talk on it and put a copy in one of their display cases, which suggests that they considered serious outside interests a plus not a minus.

      On theoretical grounds, I can see anonymity leading to either more or less honesty.

    • Mitch Lindgren says:

      I’m not 100% consistent in following the principle you stated (i.e. I do sometimes post things pseudonymously), but I try to mostly stick to it.

      1. Arguable. It does lead to more self-censorship, but that’s not always a bad thing. I think it’s good to moderate your opinions and only share things you’re somewhat likely to be able to stand by in the future, rather than reflexively spewing out every response that comes to mind.

      2. Mostly a lack of concern for Internet privacy. I completely respect the decisions of people who do want to maintain anonymity and privacy, but I don’t see it as being necessary for myself. Of course, we’ve all heard horror stories about people getting fired and/or harassed for things they’ve written online, but I think for most people the odds of this happening are probably on the order of magnitude of the odds of being struck by lightning. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter, so that also reduces my odds of being targeted. I admit that I do still worry about it sometimes, though.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      Partly using my own name is just laziness in coming up with a fake name. But also there are some forums where you are supposed to use your own name (at least letters to the editor for newspapers), and it was more complicated to use more than one name in different places. I am 62 and have been doing this my whole life. What one says in a public forum is a whole lot more easily discovered than it was when I first wrote in public forums. In the old days, what was the likelihood that a potential employer would find out what you wrote in a zine or a letter to the editor? I’m not too concerned today that an employer would find out, because I’ll be retiring in a few years anyway. If I was in my twenties, I might be a little more concerned about this, because it is now so easy for a potential employer to find what one wrote just by Googling. I don’t write too many controversial opinions, but there are some that might make me lose a job at some place I applied to.

    • Randy M says:

      I use part of my real name, and part of my real picture, too. I think I’m a little slower to post conclusions I don’t have ready evidence or citations for or opinions I’m not ready to back up with argument. I don’t mind being “that oddball with weird ideas” here, but I don’t want to be “that dummy who can’t offer reasons for his positions.”
      I’m not sure this has really changed since prior fora where I used anonymity, but I used a single pseudonym across contexts and wanted to keep a decent rep attached to it, so I think I was careful then too.
      I do have a bit of skepticism about the likelihood of suffering real life consequences for posting honestly with limited anonymity in mostly obscure web forums. Very occasionally I will open twitter and more occasionally tweet something original, but I keep use of the medium pretty limited.

  5. Robert Jones says:

    Why am I not getting new post notifications? I haven’t received one since 24 September.

    • kieranpjobrien says:

      Not sure.

      Unsure if Scott is aware.

      Have ‘fixed’ by using Blogtrottr to subscribe, but it doesn’t seem to notify of Open Threads.

    • JulieK says:

      Possibly it’s the result of Scott trying prevent subscribers from receiving by email posts that were not meant to be publicly available.

  6. johan_larson says:

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to raise the life expectancy in your country by 10 years in the next 20 years.

    In the 40 years from 1975 to 2015, Canadians gained 9 years of life expectancy. That’s 45% of the rate of improvement you are being asked to reach.

    • johan_larson says:

      In goals like this, averages are what count, so we should be looking to prevent deaths that occur early, since they cause us to lose more lifespan than deaths that occur later in life. With that in mind, I notice that the three leading causes of death for Canadians ages 1-34 are unintentional injuries (probably mostly car accidents), cancer, and suicide.

      How to fight suicide? Let’s start teaching people what someone who is thinking about suicide acts like. Pay popular TV programs to include plot-lines about such people, realistically depicted. Also, show the consequences of failed suicides, people who’ve really wrecked themselves trying (and failing) to kill themselves.

      • toastengineer says:

        Pay popular TV programs to include plot-lines about such people, realistically depicted.

        It’s my understanding that that should be expected to make the problem worse.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          Yes I agree with this. If you include particular types in popular fiction, there are bound to be multitudes of copycats. This will be true whether the portrayals are flattering or not, because lots of people think of themselves of rebels and will go against the grain. I firmly believe that the increase of school shootings have occurred because of the publicity earlier such actions have received.

          Therefore, if we use popular entertainment to raise lifespans, it should be by portraying characters that have healthy lifestyles, and never portray suicides. People copy popular entertainment, and if a particular behavior isn’t on TV, half the folks in the world in the world will think that behavior isn’t a actual behavior by humans. I think if we went back to the shows of the ’50’s an ’60’s, we’d be a lot healthier. Well, excluding the Westerns, where lots of people were shot. Not that I am recommending we do go back to blander shows, but I think it would make us live longer.

      • Aapje says:

        show the consequences of failed suicides, people who’ve really wrecked themselves trying (and failing) to kill themselves.

        ‘that won’t happen to me’

      • dndnrsn says:

        Assuming this is accurate, how much would it do to make it harder to get a driver’s license, more aggressively go after dangerous traffic offences, etc?

      • CatCube says:

        As I mentioned below, I already had a spreadsheet for playing around with these kinds of numbers. It was with the data for the US in 2013. By halving the number of suicides for each sex for all age groups, it improved life expectancy for Males and Females by 0.17 years, for Males by 0.24 years, and for Females by 0.08 years.

        For example, in 2013, there were 698 male and 348 female 15-year-olds who died that year, or a total of 1046 15-year-olds. 163 male and 70 female 15-year-olds committed suicide that year, so I recalculated with 81 male and 35 female suicides(rounding down to nearest whole person). That brought the total deaths for 15-year-olds down to 929. By doing this to all years of life up to 85 (because the populations beyond then require some extrapolations in calculating then are beyond my capability), that gives you the numbers above.

        It looks like you’re going to have to do a lot more than worry about suicides; while the younger fraction of the population has as the modal cause of death (i.e., highest rate), there still just aren’t that many deaths occurring at younger ages for this to move the needle that much.

        NB: These were done without the subtle adjustments that a real actuary would do; my unadjusted life expectancy numbers are different than the CDC’s official life table by about 0.1 years. There are a bunch of subtle smoothing adjustments that are done over and above a basic life table that I didn’t bother to completely work out. When calculating the numbers above, I figured the difference by comparing to my (slightly erroneous) unadjusted numbers, rather than the official life expectancy numbers, since it’s likely that my adjusted and unadjusted will have the same subtle errors in the same direction.

        Edit: While I was thinking of it, I selected all of the suicide numbers and hit the “delete” key. That got you 0.33 years for the whole population, 0.49 years for males, and 0.16 years for females.

    • Aapje says:

      I wouldn’t accept the mission, that said:

      Life expectancy growth is slowing down everywhere in the West, so it seems like the major gains we can expect from the approaches were are currently investing in are behind us. However, the gap between the poor and rich is quite large.

      Unfortunately, many of the relevant traits of the rich are not things that we can transfer or teach to the poor. So the only plausible approach here seems to be rather authoritarian, like going after smokers extremely aggressively, banning fast food, etc.

      Banning euthanasia is also helpful to achieve the goal.

      Another thing that might work is aggressive eugenics.

      Also, I would ban motorcycles 🙂

      • Jaskologist says:

        It’s doing worse than slowing down. Life expectancy has been going down in the US for several years.

        • albatross11 says:

          I think that’s only among whites.

          • Matt M says:

            And almost 100% of it is attributable to drug abuse and/or suicide, right?

          • johan_larson says:

            No, it’s overall.

            In 2016, life expectancy at birth was 78.6 years for the U.S. population as a whole. That’s 0.1 year less than in 2015. For men, life expectancy decreased from 76.3 years in 2015 to 76.1 years in 2016, while in women it remained the same, at 81.1 years. The new data, from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, are published online December 21.

            As to cause:

            The overall drop in life expectancy is largely a result of an uptick in the age-adjusted death rates for unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and suicide, the report’s authors say.

            The 2017 numbers aren’t in yet, but they seem likely to show a third year of decline.

          • engleberg says:

            I think it’s going down for wage earners along with wages. Less money, less cushioning against life’s problems , and more tendency to spend your time blasted or just end it.

        • Aapje says:

          @Jaskologist

          Note that my proposals would be for the Netherlands. In the US you may be able to make some decent gains for the poor with better access to healthcare.

    • Robert Jones says:

      That would be a challenge. I don’t think your suggestion of preventing deaths early in life would make much impact. In 2017, 7,560 males aged 0-35 died in the UK, which is 3% of all male deaths. Even eliminating all those deaths would only slightly increase life expectancy. But in fact, accidental injury, suicide and cancer are things that we already put a lot of effort into averting. For instance, road deaths are half what they were 20 years ago and a quarter of what they were 50 years ago. The suicide rate is also down, although not so dramatically.

      In poor countries, big gains in life expectancy can be achieved by reducing infant and child mortality, but in rich countries those gains have already been banked and a further significant gain in life expectancy would require some significant increase in longevity. Reducing obesity would be good, but I suspect we’re looking at a couple of years at best.

      So to get a 10 year increase in expectation, I think we need some sort of punt. It should be something which isn’t already being done systematically, since more of the same will have an incremental impact only. But to get in the 20 year timeframe, it probably can’t be wholly novel. I’m going to say stem cells.

      • Jake says:

        I agree with you on this. I looked into how suicide rates and found an interesting paper from South Korea that showed an increase in suicide rates of almost 20 per 100k was only responsible for a life expectancy decrease of about half a year. link

        I think to hit that 10 year number, you are going to have to hit one of the big killers, like heart disease or cancer.

    • The Nybbler says:

      OK, opiods are out. None of this fiddling around; we’re banning all opoids entirely, trading pain for life. Penalty for non-violent dealing or possession of opioids is life in prison in our Fitness Camp version of Club Fed, where anti-suicide measures will be in place for those who need it.

      Immigration policy will be to accept only immigrants from high life expectancy populations.

      (Expelling all the men and non-Asians, leaving only Asian women, would be a big help, but probably not practical even in a culture war allowed thread)

      Obesity is illegal, punishable by a stay in Fitness Camp Prison. Banning specific bad foods is probably futile, but we’ll impose portion control on restaurants and such. No more all-you-can-eat anything.

      Smoking anything, is, of course, illegal.

    • mnov says:

      Dying before the age of 60 is now illegal, and the punishment is execution of all living descendants. This law will itself dramatically lower life expectancy, so it should be made to expire sometime in 2027.

    • Erusian says:

      So we need to get from 78 to 88? I can do you better. Each year is now nine months. Average life expectancy is now 104. Boom.

    • Anonymous says:

      Abolish the American-inspired food pyramid as nutritional heresy. Invite Paleomedicina from Hungary to establish new guidelines for what’s healthy to eat, especially for the middle aged and onwards.

    • CatCube says:

      A while back we had a discussion about how much life expectancy between men and women would be changed by reductions in IIRC suicides and accidents. I pulled together a life table in Excel for 2013 that enabled me to change some stuff around to see how it affected life expectancy. I’ll try to dig that up when I get home and relook at the numbers.

      Edit: The post was here: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/09/23/ot85-l-dopen-thread/#comment-549482 It turns out that merely making men’s accident, assault, and suicide risk equal to that of women increased life expectancy by 0.6 years for the whole population, and 1.14 years for men.

    • James Miller says:

      Stop trying to save the life of babies who without medical care would die soon enough so that their deaths would not count against my nation’s life expectancy statistics. Saving these babies lives results in some of them dying at a very young age which seriously reduces official life expectancy. By itself, this wouldn’t give us ten years, but it’s a start.

    • arlie says:

      My instinct is to immediately emigrate to a very small, very poor country with a hellacious life expectancy currently, and then address its problems, with the aid of all my very rich (by my new country’s standards) and technologically advanced first world friends and acquaintances. It should be a very small country, so less total money/effort would be required to get the same per capita effect.

    • Thomas Jørgensen says:

      The only way to win this one is to change countries to someplace with a really shitty current life expectancy. Politicians and charities already put in huge amounts of effort at public health, if your nation is at all functional, all the low-hanging fruit has been picked.

      So, well, you need to take over a hellhole. Non-violently, by preference, and certainly with minimal bloodshed. Uhm.

    • Plumber says:

      Most people that I”‘ve known who died young were killed because of motor vehicle accidents, so raise the driving and (especially) motorcycling age (I actually saw a statistic of how much less likely someone who started riding at 25 was to die than someone at 20, so temperament not just experience is involved).

      I also saw that a homeless individual who has died on the streets of San Francisco is most likely to have died at the age of 64, and I think I’ve read that living long enough to get on medicate and collect social security insurance greatly increases the odds of a long life so lower the age where one may get medicate and social security.

      It may wind up that to get to the target number of ten extra years of life people only have one year that they’re old enough to drive but too young to get social security insurance.

      Or we just do whatever the Japanese, Scandinavians, some Costa Ricans, Seventh Day Adventists, and some Corsicans do (ew… eating more fish and less red meat doesn’t appeal to me!).

      • baconbits9 says:

        I think you can add 4-6 years in life expectancy to the US if you reduced the death rate from car accidents and non suicide gun deaths down to the rate in other wealthy countries. So:

        1. Mandate that all cars must be self driving within 20 years.
        2. End the War on Drugs.

        Are probably the two largest gains we can get.

  7. Sui Generalist says:

    Suppose you’re persuaded by the argument that pre-agricultural societies had higher living standards than shortly after the adoption of agriculture.

    If there are so many mongongo nuts, why doesn’t the population increase to the Malthusian limit where there are only just enough mongongo nuts to go around?

    Has anyone come up with a good answer to this one?

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      What I’ve read is that hunter-gatherers tend to die of things other than starvation. Agriculture “reduced mortality and raised morbidity”, I read once, the latter term meaning chronic poor health.

    • James C says:

      Generally, the point of there being only just enough nuts is the point where every member of the society is at the brink of starvation. Hence, when agricultural societies reach the carrying capacity of their land their standard of living plummets.

    • somatochlora says:

      This is just something off the top of my head, no idea if it’s complete bogus, but perhaps seasonality of available food is an explanation. Could a few months of near starvation in the winter keep populations low enough to allow lives of leisure the rest of the year?

      • That fits the case of the plains Indians. They were rich enough, in their terms, so that giving away a horse or horses seems to have been quite common. The attitude to theft in at least some tribes seems to have been “if you had asked I would have given it to you.”

        But during the winter months they were at serious risk of starvation.

    • One thing I’ve heard is that the costs of more children are higher compared to a sedentary society, so they were less fecund.

  8. ana53294 says:

    There seems to be a very high percentage of men in Norway that will never become fathers (25 %). At the same time, the percentage of women who never become mothers is lower.

    “On the one hand we have strong demands on fathers to spend time with their children and families.”

    “On the other hand, developments in working life force a mounting number of men into project jobs. As a result people are expected to be accessible for work all the time.”

    […]As their biological clocks approach the age of infertility, women are eager to have children. But many men still entertain doubts; they procrastinate, and end up childless.When women do give birth to children, it turns out that it can often be with men who have kids from previous relationships.

    My theory on why women have kids with men who already have kids:

    When a woman’s biological clock starts ticking fast, she needs to find a good candidate for a father fast. This needs to be a man who is willing to have a kid a year or two maximum after they start dating.

    So, once we assume reasonable attractiveness and social skills, there are going to be several important things: a) willingness to have a kid; b) willingness to spend time with the kid and to help with child-related expenses; c) having a decent income.

    And in some ways, a man who has one or two kids and is a decent father signals both a and b.

    Some men are willing to be involved in all kind of legally and ethically questionable financial shenanigans in order to avoid paying child support. A man who pays child support without the mother having to get a judge to garnish wages is not a man who will do that to his new kid. At the same time, the girlfriend can observe how much time he spends with his kids, how we plays with them, and can make reasonable assumptions about his willingness to play with their kid.

    A man that already has a child that wasn’t an accident also shows he is not child-free. If he doesn’t have more than 3-4 kids, a woman can assume that he would be willing to have a second or third. He is also not a man who wants to push having a child for “later”, “when he is ready”. Because that, to a woman who is pushing her late thirties, means never. The procrastinators are running the clock on her biological clock, and the woman who now wants a child will be less willing to wait.

    If my model is true, 45+ men who want to have kids for the first time need to signal that they want a child right now, and that they are willing to have a child after dating a year or so. I can’t think of a signal that is as convincing as already having a child, though.

    • johan_larson says:

      I thought this part was interesting:

      She has recently completed a research project on fertility in Kenya, where she interviewed both men and women.

      “When I ask Kenyan men whether they want to become fathers they burst out laughing. Of course, all of them want to have children. Anything else is unthinkable. The purpose of being a man is to become a father.”

      What is it about Norwegian culture (or western cultures more generally) that makes childlessness a thinkable choice, when it isn’t one elsewhere?

      • Aapje says:

        In most societies, success as a human being is: having a money and/or a good job, having a house, being married and having children.

        Progressives in the West are much less judgmental of women who do not having partner and men & women who do not have children.

      • albatross11 says:

        I suspect you will get the same answer in most high-birth-rate communities. Try asking among Mormon men.

      • Lambert says:

        When you don’t have a pension, who will look after you in your old age?

      • 10240 says:

        Existence of various fun and creative activities that (1) make your life feel worthwhile without having children, and (2) make the time you have to spend on a child a bigger opportunity cost.

      • vV_Vv says:

        Two, non-mutually exclusive hypotheses:

        1. Generational decline of testosterone and sperm count in developed societies.

        2. Lack of paternal male role models.

        In traditional societies boys spend lots of time with their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, older brothers and cousins: families are big, most of their members live within walking distance of each other and they tend to work together in small family businesses where the kids get to “help” since they are young. Boys will naturally identify with these adult male role models.

        In developed societies families are small and fractured: fathers are estranged or spend long hours in the office getting yelled at by their bosses, relatives live in different cities if not different countries and meet up only a couple times a year, kids spend 15+ years in an educational system which, from daycare to college, is extemely feminized. Lacking successful paternal role models, a boy may not know how to be a father or even desire to be one.

        I wonder if 2. might also cause 1. to some extent.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I don’t think your theory is necessary, there’s already a perfectly good explanation for why women would prefer to have kids with a man who already had kids by other women: preselection.

      Anecdotally, it’s really easy to notice how much more attention you start getting from other women once you get into a relationship. And it’s trivial to find studies demonstrating the same principle. Women are more attracted to a man the more attractive he is to attractive women.

      Given that, it’s not a mystery why women would prefer married men to bachelors.

    • Nicholas Weininger says:

      Obvious relevant quotation from The Departed:

      https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0407887/characters/nm0000285

      “Marriage is an important part of getting ahead: lets people know you’re not a homo; married guy seems more stable; people see the ring, they think at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch; ladies see the ring, they know immediately you must have some cash or your cock must work.”

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Sorry no source, but I remember stuff from decades ago about employers preferring married men (not sure whether there was an additional preference for married men with children) because a man with obligations is less likely to leave his job.

        • andrewflicker says:

          Anecodatally, this makes perfect sense. There are definitely jobs/moments I’d have quit if not for my (self-perceived) need to provide for my partner.

    • Viliam says:

      I would have a quite different hypothesis:

      When men get the cultural message that to be a good man, your time spent at work plus your time spent with kids has to exceed 24 hours a day, they will naturally split into two groups:

      a) the responsible ones, who see that they are unable to fulfill both social expectations, and because they have bills to pay and need to keep the job, they logically give up on having kids; and

      b) the irresponsible ones, who suddenly have many fertile ladies fighting for them, so they make a few kids here and a few kids there…

      The information missing here is how old on average are the kids of the “men who have kids from previous relationships” when their fathers leave them to create a new family elsewhere. If it’s 18 or more, that would favor the hypothesis of preselection of high-quality fathers; if it’s 10 or less, that would favor the hypothesis of guys who enjoy making kids and don’t worry about their other social obligations.

      • ana53294 says:

        When men get the cultural message that to be a good man, your time spent at work plus your time spent with kids has to exceed 24 hours a day, they will naturally split into two groups:

        But women get the same message too. And the option of being a stay at home mother is becoming less and less acceptable.

        I am not saying they are selecting for the best fathers; the best fathers, as you indicate, stated with their kids until they are 18.

        The options when the clock is running are not great. You have the men who don’t want to become fathers, the ones who want one but later, the ones who do and are willing to spend a bit of their time and money but not all, and the ones who abandon their kids and very rarely visit them.

        It’s not like these women have queues of men who want kids, don’t have them but are willing to stay married for eighteen years of more. That kind of man is already married.

        • johan_larson says:

          The message I got growing up is that there are many things you should do. You should have a good job that gets you plenty of money and respect. You should be married and a devoted parent. You should keep fit. You should be engaged in civic and community life. You should help the unfortunate by donating time or money.

          But the message was very clear that among these the most important bit was to be successful at work. The twice-divorced childless VP with drinking habit gets more respect than the fifty-year old first-level supervisor who has great kids and is a pillar of his church and PTA and runs 10K races on weekends.

          • b_jonas says:

            I have some difficulty imagining the stereotype you are painting here, of a man who both has drinking habits and runs 10K races.

          • johan_larson says:

            Two separate people:
            – twice-divorced childless VP with a drinking habit
            – fifty-year old first-level supervisor who has great kids and is a pillar of his church and PTA and runs 10K races on weekends

          • acymetric says:

            @b_jonas

            As johan_larson noted, it was two separate people, but I’ll just point out that you are probably underestimating the number of people who do fit both of those categories.

          • gets more respect

            From whom? Where? In what context?

            If I am a businessman dealing with a firm, I will properly treat the VP of the firm as more important to my dealings than a low level employee. If I am a parent deciding whose children to encourage my kids to play with, on the other hand, the order would reverse.

            Ignoring the fact that in the specific example the VP had no children.

    • vV_Vv says:

      I have a simpler explanation: female hypergamy unbridled by traditional monogamous sexual norms.

      We have twice as many female ancestors than male ancestors, this means that throughout human history, many more men than women failed to reproduce. Women selected the best men available to them even if they already have children.

      Traditional monogamous or near-monogamous marriage limited hypergamy: there were some illicit relationships of course, but having a rule of a maximum of one spouse per person and formal social prohibition of pre-marital and extra-marital sex meant that if you were a man who worked hard and played by the rules, and you didn’t get killed in a war or some freak accident, you had good chances of landing a wife and fathering some children. Now these norms have faded and many people live in a state of serial, or even simultaneous, polygamy, thus it’s not uncommon to see men who have five children with three different women and men who don’t have any children at all.

  9. Thegnskald says:

    A question for those in the audience who have been sexually assaulted, and didn’t report it:

    Would you have been more or less likely to report it if the punishment, in the event of conviction, were more along the lines of “Mandatory counseling”?

    (Pet theory: A lot of sexual assault goes unreported because most people don’t think the punishments imposed by society are a reasonable reaction to what they experience.)

    My own answer:

    More likely, depending on specifics like whether or not the situation could have been private, as were it to become public knowledge, that alone would suffice to be over-punishing.

    • ana53294 says:

      When sexual assault in the sense of being touched sexually without consent happened to me, it was in public transportation.

      Transport for London made a great ad about sexual harassment/assault in public transportation. A lot of the situations seen there are unclear, especially for insecure or young people. If it is very crowded, it is confusing to know for sure whether this was intentional.

      As for whether this is not reported because of excessive punishment, I don’t think this is the case at least for sexual molesters in public transportation. My perception of them is that they are mostly repeat offenders, they target underage girls/boys, and they absolutely deserve to be banned from public transportation and maybe even a couple of years of prison (because of the minors). But they target unsecure people. And usually, it’s too much trouble to report them, and nothing happens to them, so most people don’t bother.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      This is a dumb question, but when you say sexual assault are you including rape? People are really unclear here and I can never be sure what specifically people are talking about.

      • Thegnskald says:

        Yes, for both standard and extended conceptualizations of rape.

        I would in general be interested in people’s perspective on punishment, not limited to my specific question.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Ok thanks for the clarification.

          I’m not really qualified to answer your question as stated, unless you’re willing to really stretch the definition of sexual assault to include things like women pressing themselves into my crotch on the train.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Would you classify a man pressing his crotch into a woman on the train as sexual assault?

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Yes, although I’d probably call it groping / frottage to make it clear what specifically I was talking about.

            Anyway I don’t think that there’s any meaningful symmetry there. Women who have been groped on trains generally say that they were very upset and/or afraid, whereas I was just confused at the time. Unarmed women just aren’t very frightening.

          • Aapje says:

            Groping doesn’t have to be frightening to be upsetting. Disrespect, disgust, etc can also be upsetting.

            Also, given how society now treats sexual assault, some men are afraid to scorn sexually aggressive women out of fear that they will then accuse the man and that bystanders or authorities will then believe the woman and punish the man.

            I’ve read a story by a man who let a woman rape him after waking up to find her riding him, rather than throw her off, out of fear of the consequences if he did.

          • Thegnskald says:

            I think there is a symmetry that is disguised by sexism; we wouldn’t be so accepting of the situation if the fear/upset condition was predicated on the bad actor being black and the recipient being white, but nobody blinks an eye at an equivalent situation based on sex.

            This kind of sexism is both widespread and invisible. It is hard to convince people there is even anything wrong with the fact that the asymmetric nature of the situation is self-reinforcing.

          • AG says:

            @Aapje: Do you know if we’ve ever had a case yet where “he-said-she-said” has both claiming to be the victim of sexual assault?

            Lots of sexual harassment training emphasizes that women bosses can be the harassers, but I wonder how it would play out if a woman boss and a man subordinate both tried to claim harassee status.

          • Aapje says:

            @AG

            I can’t remember something specific, but a quick google turned up a book by a lawyer who defended Nicholas Turner, Getty’s curator of drawings. The lawyer claims that Turner turned down a subordinate who wanted an affair with him, that she retaliated by accusing him & that the museum then took her side in the he said-she said, based on the assumption that only men sexually assault women, not vice versa. He got fired, sued and settled out of court.

          • JulieK says:

            fear that they will then accuse the man and that bystanders or authorities will then believe the woman and punish the man.

            The Potiphar’s Wife gambit.

    • brmic says:

      Would you have been more or less likely to report it if the punishment, in the event of conviction, were more along the lines of “Mandatory counseling”?

      Does not apply. The matter was not sufficiently grave to merit involvement of the criminal justice system and I could have physically defended myself if I felt I needed to. It was the equivalent of a (much weaker) drunk repeatedly pushing you, spoiling for a fight: One hopes his friends intervene, tries to get some distance etc. , but I wouldn’t call the cops.
      More generally speaking, I think anything for which the maximum punishment is ‘mandatory counselling’ is generally better left to community standards or other informal or private means of conflict resolution. I’m sure counterexamples exist and I expect I’m not 100% consistent on this.

      • Thegnskald says:

        I would like a little more detail on “I wouldn’t call the cops”, specifically your reasoning there.

        Is it because dealing with the cops would be a bigger hassle than dealing with the behavior, or because it would be a relative waste of their time, or because it would be an overreaction in some other sense (punishment being one possibility)?

        Or some other reason entirely?

        • brmic says:

          No, not a bigger hassle in this case, even though that is a concern in general. Waste of their time, yes, somewhat, as I could defend myself. But mostly because it would be an overreaction.
          There’s also a bit you didn’t mention, which again is not the whole picture, but it omitted so far, and that’s a sense that the criminal justice system is there for conflicts we can not resolve ourselves, that need a formal authority, use of force etc.

    • J Mann says:

      No – I have never felt threatened, and didn’t feel like the circumstances indicated a lot of risk of future activity. (One was by an ex-girlfriend, the other was a developmentally disabled woman whose parents were there and can presumably respond. I am bigger and stronger than both, and was able to stop the activity without a lot of drama).

    • Aapje says:

      @Thegnskald

      I was slapped on the butt in school by a female friend (while being bent over a table to work on something). There was no consent, flirting, etc so technically this was sexual assault, although it was not traumatizing or such. So I did not and do not desire her to be punished to ‘make her pay.’

      My current belief is that many women are unaware that they can hurt men through sexual assault and that women should be called out on this more often (individually or collectively), not just to dissuade certain behaviors, but also to reduce double standards (and make women understand the male perspective better by making them understand that their well-intentioned behaviors can be undesired, so they are then less likely to attribute malice to men).

      However, reporting individuals to authorities often has nasty (psychological or social) consequences, so I think that things in a certain gray area should often be discussed at a group level, not by addressing/punishing individuals. I think that this is true for what happened to me.

      So I would still not report it.

      PS. I assume that you mean to contrast more severe punishment with ‘mandatory reporting’ as a milder remedy. However, I expect that if I had reported what happened to me, the response would at most be a brief ‘don’t do that’ conversation between a teacher and her. I think that the chance of greater consequences to me than to her would be very high (with it becoming known to other students that I complained and them attacking me for it).

      • Matt M says:

        Re: Mandatory reporting

        Reason chronicles the suffering and tribulation of a young man who suffered multiple coordinated false sexual assault accusations by a group of girls who “just didn’t like him.”

        The school, for its part in all of this, seems to take the “We regret nothing!” position, as they are “mandatory reporters” who are obligated to take all accusations seriously, while simultaneously insisting that it can’t punish the girls for “bad behavior outside of school.”

      • Thegnskald says:

        The last paragraph is its own set of problems.

        Setting that aside, would a “Don’t do that” from a teacher be the most appropriate response?

        • Aapje says:

          I suspect it would be more of a “don’t do that because Aapje dislikes it/is weird” than a “don’t do that because it’s sexual assault.” So that would not actually teach the right lesson.

          In general, I think that it requires a lot of ground work for most people to get that men can be assaulted and raped by women. Without this ground work, brief statements will rarely ‘land.’

          PS. This was back in medieval times anyway, where teachers were more ignorant about things than now. For example, for bullying they favored the ‘fight back’ advice, while the modern approach is to get the peer group to sign up to certain values that exclude bullying and then make them collectively responsible for enforcing those.

    • Matt says:

      Some woman in a club grabbed my ass and ran off giggling. That’s sexual assault, right?

      I didn’t report it because I didn’t think it should be punished at all.

      • albatross11 says:

        Right. My impression (not at all scientific) is that this sort of thing happens quite often, more often to women than men, but to both. And that it’s bad behavior, but not such bad behavior that it’s worth engaging the machinery of the criminal justice system. Though I do think it’s reasonable for the bouncer at a bar to toss you out without any great gentleness, or the owner to tell you to get out and never come back, if you’re groping people.

        • Thegnskald says:

          I think the impression a lot of people get of the “SJW” crowd is that they -would- like the machinery of the criminal justice system to be engaged for cases like this. (Well, when men do it, anyways.)

          Fair or not, that is what rhetoric that amounts to “Society is full of unpunished sexual assault and this is a problem” ends up parsing as. Likewise rape, in which all unreported rape is quietly presumed to be unreported because the system disentivizes reporting rape, as opposed to, as in my case, thinking the legal system isn’t an appropriate response to what I experienced.

          Granted, I tend to regard our justice system as draconian and amounting, to some extent, to rape-and-violence-as-punishment. So I probably have a far greater aversion to using the justice system to punish people than average.

          • gbdub says:

            I’ve mentioned this before, but for almost all non-sexual crimes, we accept that the “proper” reporting rate (and certainly the proper conviction rate) is << 100%.

            Obviously speeding, jaywalking, and other minor infractions are enforced <<<<100%. I don't think most Americans want to live in a world where that's not true.

            We generally try to enforce laws against petty theft, but most stores generally avoid involving the cops except for egregious or repeat offenders (more likely is you get caught and banned from the store – maybe if you keep doing it they'll eventually get the cops to take you away on theft or trespass). And a lot of theft has basically zero chance of the perpetrators being caught – I might make a police report of a stolen bike for insurance purposes, but nobody is going to spend a lot of effort solving that crime and arresting the thieves. Yet "Only 10% of theft is ever reported!" is not seen as prima facie sign of a cultural crisis.

            The definition of physical assault/battery is just as broad as sexual assault. I wager a similarly small percentage of physical/nonsexual assault and battery is reported, keeping in mind that technically this would include anything as minor as getting shoved, slapped, spat at, or threatened with a fist. Again, "Only 10% of assault is reported!" is not a major area of concern.

            Now, if only 10% of forcible rape is reported (or only 10% of assault with a deadly weapon, or 10% of grand theft, etc.) that seems like it would be a legitimate issue.

            This means I have to take any report that plays fast and loose with distinguishing "rape" and "sexual assault" with a pretty heavy sodium dose.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I would expect that most assault with a deadly weapon isn’t reported either — because it occurs between criminals or at least low-lifes, in places mostly populated by same.

            I expect that even when there’s injury, if no one has to be hospitalized, there’s usually no report.

          • Matt M says:

            I suspect the vast majority of crimes are only reported if and only if the victim has

            a. Suffered obvious, quantifiable damage
            b. Expects to be compensated for this damage

            Most people won’t press charges over a minor assault just for the sake of justice or revenge or whatever. Similarly, most women won’t press charges over some dude grabbing their ass at the club. Because it’s just not worth it. If it bugs you that much, it’s far easier just to get your boyfriend to punch the guy and hope my other sentence is true.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Consider that this question, in this setting, is probably tuned to give you results from the subset of people who didn’t report their assault because they considered it unimportant. Nothing wrong with that, but it may not be a good representative sample.

      • albatross11 says:

        It seems kind-of important to know how often that’s the case, though. We might live in two worlds:

        World #1: Lots of people are subjected to sexual assault that’s annoying but not very serious, and they don’t report it because they don’t think it’s serious enough to matter.

        World #2: Lots of people are subjected to sexual assault that’s upsetting and extremely unpleasant, and they don’t report it because they don’t think anyone will do anything about it, or because they fear the stigma, or whatever.

        To the extent we’re more in World #1, more strict enforcement of rules against minor sexual assault is probably not all that important. To the extent we’re more in World #2, it probably is important.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          Right, but this isn’t likely to determine which world we live in. It provides evidence for world 1, but not evidence about the relative percentages of people who live in world 1 and world 2.

    • vV_Vv says:

      I don’t think that private mandatory counseling is a reasonable punishment for anything, at least as long we are talking about adults.

      I mean, this is a joke even with kids, what good could it possibly do to adults?

      • The Nybbler says:

        Doesn’t the military use private counseling as a punishment? Where “counseling” is a euphemism for belittling, insulting, and otherwise yelling at the offender?

        • vV_Vv says:

          Does it?

          Anyway, there is a difference between a verbal warning, which carries an implicit or explicit threat of more serious consequences and doesn’t require any belittling, insulting or yelling to be effective (in fact any of these indicate poor leadership and weak authority), and counseling.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            There is a middle category that is definitely not yelling or insulting, but is also very much seen as a punishment. Mandatory counseling probably fits that bill quite well, even without a strong implication of future punishment.

            The fact that it’s seen as a joke by those receiving the counseling is, in fact, indicative of the punishment nature of having to sit through it. The counterpoint that the person performing the counseling not thinking of it as a punishment works even better, because it’s hard to find a point to complain about it being too harsh or whatever.

            (I have to conduct various mandatory counselings on a regular basis. I realize it’s a punishment, but I have to pretend I don’t, because the situation rarely rises to the level of necessitating actual discipline. Often this takes the form of: “Someone screwed up, and now everyone has to get a recitation of the company policy about X.”)

          • vV_Vv says:

            The fact that it’s seen as a joke by those receiving the counseling is, in fact, indicative of the punishment nature of having to sit through it.

            But as a punishment is probably too mild to have a serious deterrent effect, but annoying enough to associate negative affect towards the authority administering it. Possibly it may even incite futher infractions, or generally unproductive behavior (e.g. slacking, doing as little work and with as little quality as you can get away with).

            “Someone screwed up, and now everyone has to get a recitation of the company policy about X.”

            So it’s collective punishment, even worse.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            Oh yes, it’s often a bad idea to go about it in that way. Unfortunately, it’s often the path that employers must take to be in legal compliance.

            See :
            New York Sexual Harassment

            The best I can say about it is that employees can be properly on notice that there may be a level of infraction that results in more significant punishment, and maybe some peer pressure about not getting everyone in trouble for them doing something stupid.

    • Nornagest says:

      SpaceX is in LA, though.

      • John Schilling says:

        Blue Origin and Planetary Resources are in the Seattle area, Stratolaunch and Virgin Galactic are both in Mojave, Bigelow in Las Vegas, it looks like Deep Space Industries is the biggest player with a Silicon Valley (San Jose) headquarters.

        It is true that an awful lot of the money came from Silicon Valley, but it’s patently true that anyone who plans to build spaceships has to be willing to set up shop someplace much less densely populated and development-averse than the Bay Area.

        However, it is also true that YIMBY is one commodity where outer space has a clear comparative advantage over most any terrestrial market, and one which will be of increasing importance going forward.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I dunno, I think Asimov said it pretty well.

  10. J Mann says:

    Culture war: “Key Fob Kelly” is a woman who got put on blast when she (a) tried to stop a man from entering her condo building, (b) followed him to his condo and (c) called 911. (b and c might have been in the opposite order).

    – The guy videoed her, posted it on facebook, and it went pretty much everywhere. Initially she didn’t comment, and she ended up getting fired.

    A few days later, she told her story

    My take:

    1) It’s pretty clear from the videos that this is a “piggybacking” or “tailgating” situation. She says she isn’t comfortable letting him in unless he swipes his fob, he says he already swiped it, she says she didn’t see it.

    2) If she didn’t cancel the 911 call after she saw that he had a key to an apartment, that’s pretty inexcusable. It wastes police time and there’s a (low) chance of someone getting injured.

    3) She really didn’t get her story out effectively. Once the guy started recording, she’s basically on public trial – she would have been at least a little better off if she had explained why she was doing what she was doing more clearly. (And heck, if she had said that the building board had instructed everyone not to allow tailgating and that she would do it to anyone, maybe it would have defused the situation.)

    Also, refusing to comment for the first few days was probably a mistake. (She may have thought that if she didn’t comment, she wouldn’t get named, or maybe she was keeping him out for other reasons and didn’t think of the tailgating story until a few days ago.)

    4) The press did a fairly silly job – they pretty much just reported “Hey, this Facebook video got posted.” Nobody bothered to check out whether the building door locked, to talk to other residents, or talk about tailgating.

    • albatross11 says:

      I just assume at this point that almost nobody will bother doing minimal checking on stories like these. Even the serious folks like NPR or the Washington Post don’t reliably dig deeper than the clickbait/CW story. I assume this is because they’re lazy or lack resources and it’s a quick way to get a story. (But it seems like NPR should be immune to many of the forces driving most of the other media platforms toward becoming a less-careful version of Buzzfeed.)

      • J Mann says:

        In general, it makes me a little mad to see press stories that are basically “3 idiots said something offensive on Twitter” or “somebody posted a Facebook video of somebody else being racist,” but I guess if that’s what drives clicks, that’s what people want to know about.

        • mtl1882 says:

          Yeah, and what’s worse is that some people actually believe that because it is “news” it is significant. My parents regularly say “Everyone” is doing something based on a tweet and the associated outrage, and then argue with me when I say it is basically the same small group of loud people over and over again, and not a widespread issue. All of these things, on either side if they are political, are initially cared about by a small and annoying group of people, but then other people feel like they have to react to it and actually do start caring. They end up fighting with caricatures.

          Also, clicks or not, the media’s abdication of responsibility is atrocious. People with any journalistic integrity should have walked away from their jobs when the business pressures escalated this stuff to absurd levels. I realize that is a huge demand to make, but I think it is that bad, and it’s not like you’re going to get job security out of it at that point. It is largely the fault of business owners who have no decency and a public who is way too okay with that, but I can’t just shrug it off as reality. It may be predictable, but it is too damaging to accept as the way things are. It demands pushback of some sort.

          • albatross11 says:

            Moloch is eating the respectable news media right now. They were pretty crappy overall in terms of accuracy and bias, but they’re better than what we’re likely to end up with in their place.

      • rahien.din says:

        This is the model of modern journalism.

        Due to social media, news moves (scoops move) too fast for fact-checking. So they outsource data gathering to social media. The reporters’ job is to iterate until they have the definitive take.

        Essentially, the whole world is a newsroom now.

    • Matt M says:

      Yeah, I lived in a building somewhere like for a while and the staff was constantly sending out emails and such reminding us that we must never let someone in unless they swipe their own key fob, that doing so put the entire building at risk of massive security issues, that we signed agreements agreeing not to do this, etc.

      Of course most people ignored that noise and let in anyone who said “Hey man I live here and forgot my key, will you let me in?” then acted shocked and mystified when their car ended up being broken into…

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Agreed with all your points.

      If she failed to cancel the call, that’s the most important part of the story, because at that point she’s using law enforcement as a weapon to get revenge which is obviously much worse

      But asking to see the key fob is completely reasonable. I’m white and I faced the same request the one and only time I’ve tried to tailgate into my apartment building.

      Like, I’m sure there is racial disparity in this, and if you ran a study with white and black experimenters trying to tailgate into random buildings the black ones would get stopped more often. I’d gladly bet on it if such a study were planned. But IMO the people letting white strangers in are the ones in the wrong.

      idk, I guess the video makes this the lightning rod for lifetimes of experiencing that disparity. But fuck it, this woman wasn’t wrong to block the door.

      • Nick says:

        If she failed to cancel the call, that’s the most important part of the story, because at that point she’s using law enforcement as a weapon to get revenge which is obviously much worse

        When I was a child, I was instructed not to ever call 911 unless it was a real emergency, because you can’t cancel a 911 call. This happened to my cousin, where her parents called them back immediately but they drove out anyway—a forty minute drive. I’m looking online now, though, and it looks like this isn’t true, at least not everywhere? More data needed.

        • gbdub says:

          I think it depends – you can certainly cancel if you accidentally dial and immediately tell them that.

          Still, she could have said “look, I’m sorry I bothered you, go home and I’ll talk to the cops when they get here and say it was a false alarm”.

    • Aapje says:

      It seems to me that the guy probably forgot his fob for the outside door, but did have his keys. He then expected to be let in and instead of telling the truth and proving he was a resident, he lied. When she didn’t accept his lie, he got aggressive. This was rather unreasonable of him.

      Unfortunately, due to the current racial narratives floating around, many people’s first (and last) assumption is that this must have been racism. Ironically, this extreme assumption of bad faith of white people looks a lot like racism to me.

    • The Nybbler says:

      she ended up getting fired.

      And here’s the problem, part of the reason the culture war cannot die down. Here’s a woman who gets into a dispute with a neighbor, at her home, clearly not representing her employer in any way. But she gets fired over it because “that’s racist”. Once the personal becomes political and the political becomes total, everyone has to at least be aware of the Culture War and hold a position, if only for defensive reasons.

      • Jiro says:

        Her job was being a property manager for another apartment building. Her behavior in excluding someone from an apartment building is relevant to her job.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I don’t think that merely because one’s job involves some tasks one does in one’s personal life, that one’s employer should judge those personal-life tasks. It’s not enough of a connection. My employer doesn’t care how bad any coding I do outside of work is, unless I associate with them somehow. I’ve never heard of a dishwasher being judged on the cleanliness of their home dishes.

          The exceptions are certain licensed professions — a truck driver can get fired for tickets in his car, for instance — but I consider that a problem also.

          • J Mann says:

            IMHO, it depends. If her 15 minutes of fame was for waving a swastika sign and protesting school integration, I don’t think most people would object to firing her. Or I guess if her boss called her and she said “I don’t want black people in my condo building,” I could see firing her for that as well.

            I guess the question is whether the video is beyond the pale, and what kind of process we expect before firing someone, when most people are in jobs where they can be fired for almost any reason, or for no reason.

          • acymetric says:

            It isn’t really about whether she behaved properly, from her employer’s perspective this is a liability thing. You really can’t afford to have a property manager with a “racism” scandal surrounding her managing a property. It becomes way too easy for some tenant or prospective tenant to then claim that they were discriminated against and point to this as another example of her pattern of racism (you do not have to believe that she was being racist to have this concern). The stakes are much higher for real estate than the would be in some other professions. This is kind of an “avoid all appearances of impropriety” thing.

          • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

            well thats the real problem now isn’t it.

            As long as the government maintains that they can prevent employers from descriminating based on some protected class (and allow those protected classes to sue), then employers have to fire any employee that could concievably cause or be evidence of descrimination in an investigation or lawsuit.

            And since the government enevitably gets to decide what are and aren’t protected classes this will inevitably be a highly political decision.

            A political decision that will inevitably hurt political opponents and help political allies (your opponents get fired for their oppinions of protected groups and can be decriminated against but yourallies get to sue when their decriminated against and can say what they like of their enemies)

            Thus antidecrimination laws are an end runaround the first ammendment and allows the government to punish their opponents political speech by threatening their employers into doing the punishing for them.

            Imagine if republicans declared blue lives/families a protected class and employers had to preemptively fire anyone who could possibly be contrued as supporting black lives matter. And realize what a powerful attack on free speech and the private sphere this is.

            Of course since the american government has been waging active economic warfare on disapproved conservative oppinions for over 50 years now there is no reason that conservatives are in power they shouldn’t reply in kind.

            Just declare the police, the unborn and white people areas of particular concern regarding decrimination and use it to purge academia, the government and every “ngo” (a misnomer since most do recieve federal funds) of anyone whose ever expressed a left wing oppinion.

            Of course i have no fondness for the police, the unborn, or white people.
            But if i were conservative id conclude that whats good for the goose is good for the gander

        • albatross11 says:

          I think firing someone as a result of a social media outrage mob is almost always a terrible idea.

        • Matt M says:

          But isn’t this true in the opposite direction?

          As an apartment manager, she knows that the rules are that you don’t let an unknown person in who doesn’t have their keyfob.

          She behaved this way because she was an apartment manager, not in spite of it!

          • mtl1882 says:

            I agree. I certainly understand why there is a suspicion of racism, because as someone said above, I’m sure if you did a random trial, way more people would do this to a black man than a white man doing the same thing. But she has a reason to be fastidious towards everyone, and to be particularly focused on this issue. Now that I think of it, though, if she is this fastidious and this her job, I find it hard to believe this is the first time such an incident occurred. If there is no history of 911 calls or other residents coming out to say they had a similar encounter (of any race, whether supporting her or not), it does make you wonder if she was a lot more extreme this time. Possibly the man reacted in a way that bothered her, but the fact that he was filming her tends to indicate that he wasn’t there to commit a crime or hurt her. Of course, she may not have been thinking that logically, but I think it’s reasonable to consider. In general, I consider twitter outrage mobs and mass media coverage of them generally unproductive or worse. I’m not justifying that behavior, but I do understand that this kind of discrimination is a problem to be discussed and why the man would be upset and videotape it. He may not have been out to get her in particular, but wanted to show people what he has to deal with, and I get that. It would be aggravating for most people to be treated with suspicion all the time, even if some people claim they’d be more than happy to comply and follow rules without ever caring about fairness.

            One of the many reasons I hate these mobs is because he may not have even wanted it to ruin her (I don’t know his personal views), but to start a conversation, share his experiences, get acknowledgement of the problem, or even to just laugh at the absurdity. But it becomes such a thing that, in addition to other consequences, it will often get him labeled as the troublemaker and unreasonable one as though he directed the mob, which is even worse. I don’t know if that’s true in this case, but it has been at least partially true in other cases. Someone posts a video of someone acting ridiculous more to entertain their friends than anything, and it turning into a massive issue that ends in firing. These people should realize that it is a likely consequence, but they truly don’t seem to.

    • rahien.din says:

      The root of the problem is that she’s clueless.

      The purpose of the admittance policy is to protect the condo’s owners from tenants seeking damages, should some unauthorized person cause mischief. The policy makes tenants blame each other for security breaches, rather than blaming the owner. It is not a prospective obligation on the tenants to provide unlicensed and untrained security work. It’s a legal firewall.

      Key Fob Kelly’s mistake was to interpret the policy as a prospective obligation (or, to expose herself to a situation that required that interpretation). In that situation, she had no other option than to do what she did – follow the guy, call for sanctioned backup. In doing so, she exposed herself to a whole lot of damaging nonsense.

      She’s not racist. She’s just an idiot.

      In that sense, I don’t see what’s wrong about firing her. Her employer’s only other option was to publicly retain (and be tarred alongside) a social justice lightning rod who had just proved herself to be recklessly stupid. No way.

      • Matt M says:

        It is not a prospective obligation on the tenants to provide unlicensed and untrained security work.

        As I said above, in my building, we were told that this was a requirement under our lease agreement. I never bothered to check, personally. And even if true, it’s probably not legally enforceable. But still.

        They definitely threatened to fine anyone who propped a door open – which in effect is just “holding it open for someone, but for longer and with an object.” Unsure if they ever actually tried to fine anyone though.

        • rahien.din says:

          If you weren’t asked to report on any times you prevented unauthorized entry, then it’s not a prospective obligation. It’s just a transfer of liability, from landlord to tenant.

          And fines are just prices. A price being retrospective (whether that is the fee assessed for door-propping, or the bill at the end of a meal) doesn’t make it anything other than a price.

          So in some sense, your landlord was saying “You can let any strangers in, as long as you assume the legal risk related to their entry and pay a fee. The fee will be refunded if you screen them face to face.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            A provision forbidding propping a door open and providing a fine is not necessarily JUST a monetary price; doing so may result in non-renewal of the lease as well.

      • J Mann says:

        The purpose of the admittance policy is to protect the condo’s owners from tenants seeking damages, should some unauthorized person cause mischief. The policy makes tenants blame each other for security breaches, rather than blaming the owner. It is not a prospective obligation on the tenants to provide unlicensed and untrained security work. It’s a legal firewall.

        Presumably, the residents might feel that it’s an ethical choice to try to protect one another from mischief?

        • Matt M says:

          It could also be entirely out of self-interest.

          By refusing to let an unknown person into the building, she isn’t just protecting other residents. She’s a resident, too!

          • acymetric says:

            Of course, if he were dangerous, following him around would probably be the opposite of protecting herself wouldn’t it?

            She didn’t do anything wrong, per se, but she did something stupid. Alert the authorities (police, building management, front desk person if there is one, whoever seems most appropriate) and then remove yourself from the situation. Following him around was asking for trouble one way or another, and she indeed got it (although probably more than she deserved).

            The way she carried herself makes her a “technically correct” but somewhat unsympathetic character in all this.

          • J Mann says:

            Mmm, she’s face to face with him and actually follows him around. At a minimum, she clearly doesn’t think he’s a physical danger, but I guess she could be concerned about theft.

  11. Matt M says:

    So the other day I was scrolling through Facebook and caught a story from one of the popular newer clickbaity sites (Buzzfeed, Vox, something like that) about the “parental happiness” gap which suggested it was a long-standing and non-controversial issue that parents are less happy than non-parents.

    Am I crazy, or is this the exact opposite of studies we’ve previously discussed on SSC, which suggested that parents virtually never regret having kids and report higher levels of happiness all around?

    (I tried to Google the article in question but have been unable to find it, but I have found multiple older ones that repeat essentially the same points)

    • J Mann says:

      It looks like there was a study in 2016 that got some coverage. Here’s Quartz and the NYT.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      One thing to keep in mind is that different forms of happiness measurement tend to yield different results. This comes up a lot in the money/happiness research too–IIRC getting people to log their happiness levels over the course of their days found that money only buys happiness up to a point, but asking them to rate their overall happiness on a questionnaire found diminishing but always increasing returns. (Though everything about that topic is disputed)

    • Aapje says:

      @Matt M

      Studies seem to show that parents of young children are less happy, while parents of older children are about equally happy as the childless. However, parents rarely say that they regret having kids. My assumption is that cognitive dissonance plays a large role here. Because you can’t undo having kids, regretting having kids is unfixable. People tend to change their preferences (or at least say that they have different preferences) if the outcome cannot be changed.

      It may also be possible that happiness is not actually the only thing that people seek, but that they also seek some form of fulfillment. So parents may then be more content with parenthood, despite not actually being happier.

      • JulieK says:

        I would have guessed that specifics of taking care of young children – especially sleep deprivation – play a large role.

      • Randy M says:

        It may also be possible that happiness is not actually the only thing that people seek, but that they also seek some form of fulfillment. So parents may then be more content with parenthood, despite not actually being happier.

        I think this is a lot of it. People can interpret happiness as “enjoyment” or “having a fun time” or something.
        I consider providing a good home for my children to be an accomplishment that brings me satisfaction. If I was unhappy, due sleep deprivation or financial worries or personal strife, that would be a less relevant factor in any regret than the joy I got out of it.

    • mobile says:

      A proper study must also consider the grandparental-happiness gap, which is huge and positive.

    • quanta413 says:

      Caplan’s book and graphs I’ve seen show a small dip in happiness of parents just after a child is born compared to their past selves a few years before the child is born. But then they return to baseline.

      They’ve also got a big spike in happiness for months before the birth.

      And as mobile mentions above, the grandparent gap is huge. Really, lowering your odds of dying alone is huge.

      Long run, I think it’s crazy for most people to not have kids if they want to feel happy and fulfilled.

    • Plumber says:

      As a parent your less happy most minutes-by-minutes, but you (usually) have more happy memories, and (as others have pointed out) being a grandparent is AWESOME!

      That said, be very confident in your marriage before you have kids, the lack of sleep and time pressure means tempers will rise.

  12. theredsheep says:

    A challenge: Can you name five current or recent, popular/prominent/mainstream sci-fi or fantasy authors who include organized religion in their books as something other than an unambiguous evil? I realize popular/prominent/mainstream is hard to nail down, but basically I mean not vanity presses or explicitly religious lit. Lewis and Tolkien both died decades ago, so they’re out too. Bonus points if the religion in question is, or resembles, Christianity.

    I’ve got, uh, Orson Scott Card. I hear the Dresden Files guy is big on religion in the later books of the series, but I couldn’t get past the first terribly-written page of the first one so I can’t confirm. Andy Weir gets at least partial credit for Islam’s appearance in Artemis. Anyone else?

    • RDNinja says:

      The Dresden Files doesn’t portray organized religion itself, but it does have a hardcore bad-ass modern Christian knight.

      I’m guessing you’ll see a lot of D&D/Pathfinder novelizations with churches of explicitly good-aligned gods, but I have a sneaking suspicion few of them are portrayed both prominently and sympathetically.

    • theredsheep says:

      Forgot Bujold in The Curse of Chalion and The Spirit Ring. However, that’s somewhat counteracted by Cordelia’s “geez, people with traditional values are so contemptibly backwards” attitude throughout the entire Vorkosigan series.

    • Thegnskald says:

      Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives. Dennis Taylor’s Bobiverse – religion isn’t evil, more inconvenient. Peter Brett’s whatever – Islam-equivalent starts off as evil but gets rehabilitated, I assume due to real-world political changes over the course of the series. Charles Stross’s atrocity archives or whatever; religion as it shows up is almost always evil, but that is only because it is all splinter cults worshiping Cthulu.

      Going through my books, most just lack religion in any meaningful capacity; if it exists, it exists “over there”, outside the scope of the story.

      • Nick says:

        Sanderson’s Elantris is also mostly positive when it comes to religion—with a big asterisk. One viewpoint character is a well-educated noble who debates theology, but another is, um, a proselytizer from a militant, aggressive theocracy planning to invade the setting nation.

        • Baeraad says:

          Sanderson’s Mistborn series also deals with religion in a pretty nuanced way. In fact, most things he writes touches on religion in some way, and usually treats it in a balanced-to-positive way, as something that can be an inspiration towards good or an excuse for evil depending on how people interpret it. Also, his religions are usually partly right and partly wrong in their theology.

    • J Mann says:

      The Dresden Files has (three?) religious characters presented sympathetically. Those characters are tied into the Catholic Church, but the organized part of organized religion hasn’t really shown up.

      This Tor list is a good reference.

    • albatross11 says:

      Lois McMaster Bujold: Cordelia Vorkosigan believes in God, though I don’t know how much of a formal religion is involved. I think theism is common on Beta Colony and rare on Barrayar.

      David Weber: A bunch of the characters in the Honor Harrington books are religious, and their religion matters to them. This includes both positive characters driven to do great good by their religion, and negative characters whose religion drives them to do terrible things. Also lots and lots of people who are kinda religious in some background way but it doesn’t seem to affect their day-to-day lives much.

      S M Stirling: Almost everyone in the Change books is religious, though that may be because of direct evidence. (Many of the most important characters raised in the pre-change world were atheists, but they mostly either died off or changed their minds when encountering actual evidence of divine/demonic stuff happening–from several different and mutually incompatible theologies!) He also has religious characters (mostly Christian) in the Nantucket books.

      Orson Scott Card: He has written a lot with religion as a major focus and organizing principle of societies. He also wrote a series (the Memory of Earth series) which I think recapitulated the Book of Mormon, but I haven’t read BoM, so I may be misunderstanding something. His description of the religion based on intentionally-induced OCD in (I think) Xenocide was really fascinating, as I think it illuminates the way religion and obsession can intertwine.

      Eric Flint: The 1632 series has a lot of religious characters (mostly Christian and Jewish), some quite important and positively portrayed.

      Katherine Addison: The Goblin Emperor has a bunch of religious characters (all some religion that’s part of the storyline, not close to any real-world religions), and people moved by their religious convictions to act in important ways. She also has a kind of religion that plays the role of revolutionary anarchism in her world.

      David Brin: His Uplift books include alien religions and references to human religions. Human/chimps/dolphins are sometimes religious. (A couple uplifted dolphins pray to/imagine pre-uplift gods.) ETs have their own religions which are attuned to uplift and galactic society and the progenitors.

      That’s off the top of my head.

      • albatross11 says:

        James D MacDonald and Debra Doyle wrote an urban fantasy series involving Peter Crossman, a Templar knight battling various kinds of evil with some combination of guns and crosses and prayer and blowing things up. He’s religious and serious about it and needs to be.

        C J Cherryh has all kinds of alien and human societies in the Union/Alliance universe. In the Chanur books, the mahen are kind-of religion-obsessed, with fad religions breaking out all the time, and a detailed concept of hell that’s known by other species. The hani (including most of the main characters) we see aren’t religious. They curse using their gods. At one point, the not-very-religious, hard-crusted near-pirate main character finds herself praying because of an incredibly dire situation she and her home world are in, but she recoils from the idea (with the thought that the gods bargain way too hard). You could kind-of see the resolution of the story as her having made a bargain with her gods that accomplished her goal at great personal cost. Most of the other human and alien societies in her books that I’ve read don’t h