Open Thread 118.75

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863 Responses to Open Thread 118.75

  1. robirahman says:

    Are we keeping the new comment order?

  2. johan_larson says:

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to determine which year of the twentieth century had the very best popular music. You may restrict the problem to your own nation, if you wish.

    • meh says:

      this has the potential to be more divisive than typical culture war topics.

    • Plumber says:

      Going by the List of Billboard Year-End number-one singles and albums I’d judge 1968 with

      Are You Experienced by the The Jimi Hendrix Experience for the “pop” album,

      Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown for “R&B” single,

      Lady Soul  by Aretha Franklin for ‘R&B’ album
      and,
      “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash for ‘country’ single.

      Seems the most good tunes for any of the listed years (but I’m mostly ignorant of the 1940’s and 21st century stuff)

      • johan_larson says:

        I’d be interested to hear someone make the case for some year in the early twentieth century, before rock’n’roll took over. Between Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and jazz as a popular music form, there must have been some good stuff produced.

      • acymetric says:

        This gets tricky, I think you have to look a little deeper than just the top single/album from a given year. You also need to decide what gets attributed to what year (Are You Experienced was released in 67, for example). I’ll need some time to do my own research, but it seems clear it will need to be a year between 1965 and 1979 (at the absolute latest, could probably set the cut-off there at 75 and be safe).

        For me, this will involve both quantity (how much good music is coming out), quality (how good was it), and popularity (there is some really good music in the 90s, but it wasn’t nearly as popular as good music from previous decades as bad/cheap/less artistic pop took over).

        • johan_larson says:

          Could we find a year in which The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis all had hit albums? That might do it.

          • Nornagest says:

            1969 is about as close as you’ll get; Elvis put out three platinum singles that year after a long dry spell, the Beatles produced Abbey Road and Yellow Submarine, and the Rolling Stones did Let it Bleed.

            1968 was also a good year for the Stones and the Beatles (Beggars Banquet, the White Album), but Elvis put out nothing notable.

          • johan_larson says:

            The year of Woodstock! I’ll take it.

            Folks, the year to beat is 1969.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            If you believe they put a man on the Moon.

          • theredsheep says:

            Also, uh, Led Zeppelin II, per Wiki. It’s not IV, but it it’s not Presence either.

          • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

            All tiresome Boomer anthem albums. Bored now.

            The stuff my nieces kids listen to on soundcloud is better.

    • Well... says:

      Hard to choose between 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. But it’s one of those.

      • acymetric says:

        I could certainly hazard a pretty good guess, but what bands/albums/genre takes you to those years?

        • Well... says:

          Helmet (Meantime, Betty), Soundgarden (Badmotorfinger, Superunknown), Nirvana (Nevermind, In Utero), Meat Puppets (Forbidden Places, Too High to Die), Smashing Pumpkings (Siamese Dream), Living Colour (Stain), Pearl Jam (Ten, Vs.), Stone Temple Pilots (Core, Purple), Alice in Chains (Dirt, Jar of Flies), Melvins (Bullhead, Houdini, Stoner Witch), Temple of the Dog (eponymous), and so on.

    • Dack says:

      Going by album sales, I’d say either 1977 (Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Saturday Night Fever mostly by Bee Gees) or 1991 (Nevermind by Nirvana, Metallica by Metallica, Dangerous by Michael Jackson)

    • Machine Interface says:

      1958.

      On this year Ahmad Jamal released “At the Pershing: But Not for Me”, the Jazz Messengers released “Moanin'”, Count Basie released “The Atomic Mr. Basie”, and in general jazz was exploding, between hard bop and swing revival.

      And it’s also the year this photo was taken.

      • johan_larson says:

        Isn’t 1958 a bit late for jazz? Particularly for jazz as pop music? Rock has already burst into the mainstream. A new world is coming.

        • Kyle A Johansen says:

          Wouldn’t one hope that Jazz’s last years as the popular had a better than average chance of being the best, if you loved jzz. Particularly, since it ain’t dead yet.

        • Machine Interface says:

          From what I perceive, the late 50s-early 60s actually constitute the height of jazz popularity.

          The 30s were the era of swing which saw reasonable popularity and is often remembered fondly as part of the pre-war era nostalgia.

          After that, the late 40s and early 50s were a period of decline. The great swing bands lost the favor of the public and the new generation of bebop musicians had great trouble finding a public in the US, many of them going into “exile” in western Europe (where jazz was more popular at the time) — the popular music in the US at the time was rythm and blues (which would soon morph into rock and roll).

          By contrast, the late 50s-early 60s saw both the blooming of the career of many new-generation musicians that had started in the 40s (Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Milt Jackson) and the spectacular revival of the career of older musicians (Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins…), and opened the way for a period of creativity and relative popularity that lasted well into the late 70s-early 80s.

          My impression is that the reason you rarely hear about this is that history is written by the victors — in that case, rock fans, to whom jazz is the 30s and in the 50s-60s rock n roll was all there was to see.

        • Uribe says:

          My case for the mid-to-late 60’s being the best for American music is that you not only had great rock bands, but also jazz greats, blues greats, country greats, R&B, soul and a young folksy Bob Dylan all at the same time. All of that music was made before I was born, but it seems better by an order of magnitude than the music made after.

          I realize the question is pop music, but I’m not sure where you draw the line on what counts as pop. Isn’t anything played on commercial radio pop? If so, this would include all of the above. If you restrict pop to mean “hit singles”, then Led Zeppelin wouldn’t count as pop.

          • acymetric says:

            Depends on what you mean by “hit single”. Does a hit single have to chart #1? They had four songs chart in the top 20.

            I would suggest to be “pop” at least for the purposes of this discussion it would need chart on a non-genre specific chart to indicate mainstream appeal.

          • Uribe says:

            Perhaps Anglo-American pop music in the 60s was so good because American non-pop music was also so good?

    • Kyle A Johansen says:

      Using UK data, my first thought was 1988, Heaven is A Place on Earth came out in the UK I think in 1988, also Kylie the album came out, there are also super hits like ‘I think we’re alone now’ or ‘tell it to my heart’. (In early 1988, ITWAN, ISBSL and HIAPOE were number 1s right next to each other). I’m comfortable in calling it the best year outside the 60s.

      The best year in the 60s looks to be 1961, some big Elvis songs, lots of people’s big hits, some Shirelles and a lot of Shapiro.

    • rlms says:

      After looking at the alleged top 10,000 songs of all time, I think 1965 takes it:

      Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
      Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
      Help! – The Beatles
      The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
      My Generation – The Who
      Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds
      California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
      I Feel Good and Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown
      Feeling Good – Nina Simone
      Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
      California Girls – The Beach Boys
      It also has It’s Not Unusual and What’s New Pussycat?, These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, Sinatra’s recording of It Was A Very Good Year; the original, less famous versions of Respect, Tainted Love and I Fought The Law; and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme if you stretch the definition of popular music to breaking point.

      Other contenders are the following:
      1967, with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Aretha Franklin’s Respect; Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze; Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower; Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World; Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; The Moody Blues’ Nights In White Satin; and the original version of I Heard It On The Grapevine,

      1968, as mentioned by other people, also featuring Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful Of Secrets; Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson; Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man; and Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild,

      1970: James Brown’s Sex Machine; Bridge over Troubled Water; Let It Be; Led Zeppelin III,

      1971: Sticky Fingers; Led Zeppelin IV; What’s Going On; Imagine; Hunky Dory; Who’s Next; There’s a Riot Goin’ On,

      1975: Born To Run; A Night At The Opera; Physical Graffiti; Wish You Were Here,

      1984: When Doves Cry; Born in the U.S.A.; The Smiths and Hatful Of Hollow; The Works; Ride the Lightning; Like A Virgin; Welcome to the Pleasuredome and singles including Take On Me, Hallelujah, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Summer of ’69, You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) and Careless Whisper,

      1972, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1991.

  3. MrApophenia says:

    Has anyone seen any reasonable, non-tinfoil hat speculation about what the heck is going on with the super-secret Mueller thing that just went to the Supreme Court? We know they subpoenaed information from some unnamed company, that this company is owned by an unnamed country, that the company is refusing to comply and being held in contempt. My understanding is they appealed the contempt charge to the Supreme Court and lost, but it’s hard to tell because everything is being played so ultra-secret.

    I know the details are obviously still secret, but I would assume someone knowledgeable is doing some informed speculation on it?

    • Aapje says:

      Gazprom
      Owner: Russian Government (50.23%)

    • broblawsky says:

      It’s probably Russian-owned, but I doubt it’s Gazprom – the FSB wouldn’t be dumb enough to expose Putin’s cash cow. Also, the Post seems to think it’s a financial institution, which would rule out Gazprom. The SC refused to put the contempt of court ruling from the lower courts on hold, so the unnamed company is now facing a $50k/day fine until it ponies up the information the grand jury wants.

    • dick says:

      Got a link? I’ve heard nothing about this and don’t see any stories obviously pertaining to it.

  4. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Feldenkrais for Reducing Noise in the Brains

    This is an excellent procedure for calming your system one– it’s about half an hour, and I felt remarkably good afterwards. It’s framed as being about chronic physical pain, but I found it works for emotional pain.

    The hypothesis is that a lot of chronic pain is actually the result of pain causing more pain– it’s not pain indicating an actual problem.

  5. Nick says:

    Sarah Constantin over at Otium has an interesting post about membership norms. She gives a typology, but cautions it’s not exhaustive: civic, guest, kaizen, coalition, and tribal norms. Each one has different norms about membership status, openness of membership, criticizing fellow members, etc. Is she missing any?

    What interests me is 1) how an organization can slide (intentionally or unintentionally) between these, and 2) the tension between being nominally “for” everyone vs. actually serving everyone’s needs. I was in a gaming group at college, which as far as explicit norms is probably closest to civic. We never had to kick anybody out or even ask anyone to leave, and shows of authority/”force” were generally of the “please keep it down, guys” level. But there was a sort of inner circle that regularly hosted RPGs there, more or less just for us, and that goes rather against the spirit of the thing. And sometimes the people attending gaming club are the people really into gaming, and are there to socialize with other people really into gaming, and three hours of Munchkin and Exploding Kittens does not really interest them. You can’t be inclusive just by being “inclusive.”

    Religions—so far as they even are voluntary organizations—are difficult to categorize. Kaizen rightly emphasizes broad commitment to high standards, but a proselytizing religion is “for” everyone. Tribal rightly emphasizes the stickiness of a lot of religion, especially when it is tied up in ethnic identity (whether that’s a good thing is up to you), to say nothing of the sometimes eternal obligations from a thing like baptism. But tribal seems to require a lot more latitude for reward/punishment and all than religions generally have, especially today.

    Coalition norms sound evil. Can someone convince me otherwise? Is Sarah strawmanning? I mean, it doesn’t sound so far from reality as far as sex abuse coverups in Catholicism goes, but if that’s the case then how do, say, political campaigns or political action organizations keep from having constant neverending revelations of coverups that taint everyone involved? (If I am being naive in that regard, do tell.)

    • S_J says:

      I don’t know if each of these fit as the description of coalition norm, but I think we should compare these behaviors to the coverup surrounding abuse by Catholic priests:

      –the behavior of many in-the-movie-business people with respect to Harvey Weinstein’s misdeeds
      –the behavior of those in the BBC with respect to the misdeeds of Jimmy Savile
      –the behavior of the University of Pennsylvania athletic department staff relating to the actions of Jerry Sandusky
      –the behavior of Michigan State University school-of-medicine (and the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team) relating to the actions of Dr. Larry Nassar

      Like the situation with Catholic priests in the U.S., each of these had a circle of people who helped bury the evidence of misdeeds, downplay any stories that pointed towards a scandal (even if the story was not obviously scandalous), and used social pressure to keep complaints from being reported or investigated.

      • Nick says:

        Coalition norms aren’t the only things that contribute to coverups, and aren’t remotely the only thing going on with the Catholic coverups (something that to be clear I don’t really want to get into here, as it’s a huge topic of its own), but I dunno, the overlap struck me. Especially immunity to genuine criticism, emphasis on gaining new members and resources, and making membership a matter of loyalty and mutual esteem. The conjunction of those three things sounds absolutely toxic when it comes to discovering a scandalous crime internally.

      • albatross11 says:

        Consider the blue wall of silence as a different instance of the same thing.

  6. Aapje says:

    I came upon this very interesting study (full text) of the life expectancy of nuns and monks in Bavarian communities who have nearly identical behaviors and experiences. The life expectancy gap is less than a year and was nearly constant for a 60 year period (after WW II).

    So, assuming that there is no significant selection effect where more healthy men and/or less healthy women enter cloisters, it seems that the gender differences in general society are most likely mostly due to environmental factors.

    For example, the US has a 4.7 year gender gap, where at least 3.7 years seems due to the environment.

    • rlms says:

      The environmental factors in your conclusion presumably include likelihood of death to homicide, traffic accidents, drug overdoses etc., but it seems probable that differences in those rates are affected by genetic differences between genders.

      I also think it’s likely that convent inhabitants aren’t representative of the general population in health.

      • Mr. Doolittle says:

        I did some searching for life expectancy once a person reaches a certain age, and the male/female gap seems to shrink once milestones are reached (though they don’t zero out). For instance, once a man hits 65 years old, his average life expectancy is 83, compared to a woman’s 85. That’s half of the difference in deaths solely before 65, more or less. That does seem to support the idea Aapje is expressing goes beyond nuns and monks. I would expect that most environmental factors are similar to what you mentioned, traffic accidents, murders, etc. Since they tend to happen more often to men (for various reasons), men should have an overall shorter life when averaged out. That is, more very short lives, even if there is no health reason for this to be true. Death in wars falls heavily on the men, for instance.

        For the remainder, we know that men more often work in physically demanding positions that tend to damage long term health. Nuns and monks seem to have duties that are much closer to each other, rather than the starker differences in wider culture. Far from conclusive, of course. The next step would be to review occupations and try to somehow not get bogged down in confounders.

        • Aapje says:

          Also smoking. The monks seemed to smoke more than the nuns, which can explain part of their remaining gap.

          Nuns and monks did have different duties before WW II and this is reflected in the study actually, especially since some of those differences were dangerous tasks.

          Death in wars falls heavily on the men, for instance.

          Interestingly, the monks actually had to serve just like the non-monk Germans, so the war did impact the monks heavily. Afterwards neither the monks or the other Germans fought in war to a significant degree, so I expect that factor to be close to zero.

          The next step would be to review occupations and try to somehow not get bogged down in confounders.

          I think that this study of cloisters is the best you will find in that respect, since any other occupations will have far, far, far, far more confounders.

          PS. I should of course have given the gender gap for Germany as well, given that this is a study of Germans. It turns out to also be 4.7 years, exactly the same as the US.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            I think that this study of cloisters is the best you will find in that respect, since any other occupations will have far, far, far, far more confounders.

            Quite likely true, since cloisters also help limit non-work-related differences. I would be curious at a high level review that only evaluated on two metrics – male/female and occupation. Even if there are still differences, knowing if having the same or similar occupations reduces the gap would be quite helpful in supporting the thesis. If occupation somehow made no meaningful difference, we could probably determine that even at such a high level.

      • Aapje says:

        Sure, let’s attribute that to a confluence between environmental and genetic factors. Even for the genetic component, it seems that environment influences how that is expressed.

    • Dack says:

      I’m not surprised. If you look up the top ten most dangerous professions (measured by on the job fatality) they are all male dominated.

      • rlms says:

        That’s unlikely to make much of a difference, since fatal workplace accidents are very rare. When I analysed the data on this subject a while ago, I found that heart disease (specifically different rates in middle age) was the largest factor (responsible for around 30% of the gap); followed by suicide (15%); then various kinds of cancer (mostly tobacco/alcohol related ones), accidental poisoning (i.e. drug overdose), and traffic accidents with individual rates between 3% and 8%. Surprisingly, homicide was only responsible for around 1%, presumably because it’s rare.

        • Dack says:

          Those few thousand deaths per year in and of themselves do not make a significant statistic. What they show instead are the same behavioral antecedents that affect all of the factors you list (and more) are the same ones causing that self-segregated gender gap. Men seem to be inherently more risk tolerant/less risk averse.

    • WarOnReasons says:

      the gender differences in general society are most likely mostly due to environmental factors

      Males have much mortality rate while they are still in their mother’s uterus. How can environmental factors affect them differently there?

      • albatross11 says:

        There are clearly biological differences that drive some of the male/female differences in outcomes. The case is way, way clearer for sex differences than for racial differences, for example. But in both cases, there’s a difficulty in interpreting what we see–everything is modulated through cultural and environmental differences, which must account for *some* of the differences in outcomes we see, and might account for *most* of them.

        Men being a lot stronger than women on average, that’s clearly biological. I strongly suspect mens’ higher aggression and willingness to take more dangerous jobs is mostly biological. It may be that a preference for jobs dealing with things (engineer, programmer, radiologist) over jobs dealing with people (psychologist, HR person, pediatrician) is biologically based. Perhaps the tendency for women to care more about their appearance than men is biological in origin. But as you go down that list, it becomes increasingly plausible that the differences are driven mostly by cultural forces. It’s very hard to untangle that when you’re looking at a single culture, or even a bunch of closely-related cultures (say, in Western European countries).

        • everything is modulated through cultural and environmental differences, which must account for *some* of the differences in outcomes we see, and might account for *most* of them.

          You seem to be saying that the biological difference has to be less than the observed outcome difference. That is not the case. There is no reason why the environmental effects have to add to the biological ones–they could work in the opposite direction.

          Thus, for example, it could be that in a society where men and women faced the same environment women would on average make 90% as much as men but in a society with environmental features favoring women, they make 95% as much. Then the observed difference understates the biological difference.

      • Aapje says:

        @WarOnReasons

        I said ‘mostly,’ not ‘entirely’. So your statement doesn’t conflict with mine, especially since prebirth mortality does not affect life expectancy.

    • b_jonas says:

      Do we happen to know at what age the people studied usually become monks or nuns? If so, how much is the gender gap of life expectancies among the general population at that age?

      Update: the article tries to answer this on page 656. It says that monks and nuns usually enter around age 23 or 24, and they restrict their study to monks and nuns alive at 25 years of age. The gender gap of life expectancies among general population in Germany at age 25 years is shown on page 660, and for people born between 1974 and 1976, this gender gap is expected to be 5.7 years.

    • The Nybbler says:

      In the US, as age increases, the gender ratio becomes quite extreme in favor of women, despite being 1:1 at 35-39. But that’s not inconsistent with a small (1 year) gap in average life expectancy.

      The biggest confounder I can see is children. Nuns don’t have them and I vaguely remember that now that childbirth is so much less dangerous, women who have had children actually live longer than women who don’t (sorry no references).

  7. nkurz says:

    In the last Open Thread, there was a discussion of how journalists cover science stories involving race and IQ. Rather than trying to figure out the scientific truth of the matter, I’d like to focus on a different question: in general, is it possible to know whether the author of such a story believes what they are saying, or whether they are saying what they do because it is socially unacceptable to say anything else? Are there any reliable techniques for distinguishing the two cases? Or does it always just reduce to “it’s obvious”, with the different factions disagreeing on which answer is the obvious one?

    • Mr. Doolittle says:

      I think one important consideration would be whether the author chose to write on the subject. Unless forced by their editor, I would tend to think that most journalists would avoid topics that require them to write in favor or against something where they feel the opposite. They might write on a story where they are conflicted also, I suppose, especially if they want to convince themselves. Otherwise, I think the base point would be to assume that they do in fact believe that what they are saying is true, unless we knew otherwise.

      Not a perfect predictor, but the more often a person writes about a subject, and the more often they take the same side, the more likely it would be that what they express is their true feelings.

      All of this assumes enough freedom to write what they want, so maybe it should be taken with a bigger grain of salt when talking about a new or newly-hired writer.

    • albatross11 says:

      One heuristic that seems useful: What statements would the writer likely face high costs for making? Absence of the writer making those statements doesn’t tell you much about whether they believe them or not.

      If announcing that you believe the government is run by lizard people guarantees that you’ll lose your job, be publicly ridiculed, and end up institutionalized, then you probably won’t say that, even if you believe it. Note, though, that this doesn’t mean that silence=believing those things–nearly everyone doesn’t talk about the secret conspiracy of lizard people ruling the world because they don’t believe any such thing.

      Instead of making this a 0/1 question, think of a cost function that applies to each statement you might make. The higher the cost, the less likely you are to make it even if you believe it. Alternatively, the higher the cost, the more you need to believe it and the more important you need to think it is, in order to be willing to say it.

      The other thing I think is true is that most journalists don’t want to lie, but are much more willing to omit or de-emphasize arguably-relevant facts, select sources to make sure they dont have trouble with their editor[1]. I see stories that do this pretty regularly, though it’s not always clear if the omitted facts[2] are omitted because the writer didn’t think about them/know about them, or because he decided he didn’t want the heartache.

      [1] Who cares about the publication’s owner, the advertisers, the other writers working there, sources for future stories, and the readers, and may limit what gets into the story based on concerns about how any of them may react.

      [2] Many publications also have formal policies about what information will and won’t be published. For example, not publishing identifying information about alleged crime victims, especially alleged rape victims, or not disclosing the race of criminal suspects. There are also guidelines on reporting on suicide which are followed by most newspapers/TV news, intended to avoid “social contagion.” Those omissions are going to happen by default, and may be changed if the story really needs them not to be omitted.

      • melolontha says:

        Instead of making this a 0/1 question, think of a cost function that applies to each statement you might make. The higher the cost, the less likely you are to make it even if you believe it. Alternatively, the higher the cost, the more you need to believe it and the more important you need to think it is, in order to be willing to say it.

        I think there’s an important nuance here: the same statement that will destroy you in the eyes of one group might make your reputation with another group. So when calculating the cost of a statement, it’s important to take into account all possible audiences, not just the most obvious ones. (Sometimes people say ‘brave’ things because they know that the condemnation from one side, or even from the whole mainstream, will make them a hero of the other side, or a martyr to a small but lucrative niche.)

        • albatross11 says:

          True. Jordan Peterson faces a different cost function than David Brooks, who faces a different cost function than Ta-Nahisi Coates, and we should assess their comments accordingly.

          But if I know that you will get fired for saying “The communists have a point about the unfairness of the income distribution,” then the fact that you never make that statement doesn’t really tell me much about whether or not you believe it.

          • Walter says:

            “But if I know that you will get fired for saying “The communists have a point about the unfairness of the income distribution,” then the fact that you never make that statement doesn’t really tell me much about whether or not you believe it.”

            This is clutch, and it gets ignored a lot.

            Like, this is roughly a discussion I see a lot.
            A: “The entire scientific/economic mainstream disagrees with your point!”
            B: “They have to, or they will lose their clout!”
            A: “Show me a single case of that happening!”
            B: “How would I do that? No one chops off their head, because it would be hard to breathe! Show me a single case of that happening!”
            A: “Fine, I’ll do it, look, here is a guy who agreed with you, didn’t lose anything!”
            B: “I thought the entire scientific/economic mainstream didn’t agree with me!”
            A: “This guy is outside of the mainstream!”
            B: “That’s what losing your clout means! You are defining agreement with me as disreputable, then hitting me on the head because everyone who agrees with me is disreputable! It’s a circle!”
            A: “You aren’t being reasonable, everyone, independently, comes to the conclusion I agree with.”
            B: “We also, indepedently, both didn’t rob anyone on the way here. Maybe there is some X factor, that explains both of our ‘independent’ decisions? We could call it a law, where we’d suffer consequences if we made the ‘wrong’ choice?”
            A: “And we’re back to everyone else being in a giant conspiracy, don’t you think someone would have leaked the notes by this point? Are you in the Truman show?”
            B: “I’m not arguing a literal conspiracy, I’m pointing out that these ostensibly independent actors sound very similar in their conclusions.”
            A: “Because they are all observing the same reality!”
            B: “Or because they are all singing from the same hymnal!”

            They can go back and forth forever, and B has been, at times, an anti vaxxer, a socialist, someone who denied global warming, someone who wanted to do something about income disparity. Any time you find yourself in one of these discussions, make sure you understand the unpopularity thing, because otherwise it will eat your object level discussion.

    • in general, is it possible to know whether the author of such a story believes what they are saying, or whether they are saying what they do because it is socially unacceptable to say anything else?

      In general I think not. In the specific case where you can actually talk with the author, very possibly, by his response to arguments.

      I’m thinking of a real case, having nothing to do with IQ or race. A friend of mine told a purportedly factual story that strongly supported political views he and I shared. After investigating the evidence, I concluded that the most telling part of the story was not true. I pointed this out to him, he pointed me at an acquaintance, with similar political views, he had gotten it from. I raised the question with the acquaintance, and his response rapidly shifted from claiming it was true to attacking me for something he claimed I had once said on an unrelated matter.

      I took that as pretty strong evidence that he knew his story was bogus and that he could not defend it.

      Details here.

    • 10240 says:

      The views different from those expressed are socially unacceptable (in many circles) because most liberal intellectuals consider them reprehensible. As such, there is no reason whatsoever to think that a NYT journalist (a likely liberal intellectual) doesn’t wholeheartedly endorse the expressed views.

    • I don’t know about journalists but I got the impression from reading Hivemind by Garret Jones. He basically made all these arguments that supported one position but also cateogoricslly denied he was doing so. But his arguments were too sophisticated for me to believe that he didn’t see the connection and more likely was trying to advance his argument without getting censored by the Thought Police. So maybe check to see if something you’re reading has all these premises that imply a conclusion but with them denying the conclusion, or better yet, they downplay the conclusion without saying much on it.

  8. Aapje says:

    The Nashville Statement was recently translated to Dutch and signed by a bunch of conservative Christians. Shit hit the fan as the statement states the conservative Christian opposition to gay marriage and gay sex & the mainstream suddenly realized that conservative Christians still exist. Boring CW stuff, in short.

    What is interesting is that the Dutch DA is investigation whether this is a hate crime. It’s expected that this won’t go anywhere, but it still seems fairly threatening and extreme that it is even investigated as such.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      it still seems fairly threatening and extreme that it is even investigated as such.

      Yeah, no kidding. Even if a hate crime charge isn’t brought, it’s a threat to enemies of the state, i.e. conservative Christians.
      Note that the law contains no exemption for Muslims, yet the Dutch state wouldn’t dream of bringing charges against Muslims for saying gay sex is a crime in Islam. Thus we see that the Netherlands lacks rule of law.

      EDIT: Besides hate crime laws, are there other types of laws in the First World where the language is neutral but enforcement is only against enemy groups, showing the state as having Rule of Tribe rather than Rule of Law?

      • DeWitt says:

        Thus we see that the Netherlands lacks rule of law.

        Why would you lie to people like that?

        Really, why?

        When the OM investigates whether or not something is a crime is them very literally doing their job. Multiple people have filed charges with them; the moment such charges get filed, they can’t not figure out whether or not this is a crime.

        The state is doing its job; people better at law than I seem to believe this will not lead to a single conviction.

        People press charges, the state investigates them, and ends up informing them they don’t have a case. Where in this is your threat? That the legal system is making sure nobody is convicted in a proper manner, rather than tribal grounds.

        You know, exactly the thing you claim to be in favor of.

        Note that the law contains no exemption for Muslims, yet the Dutch state wouldn’t dream of bringing charges against Muslims for saying gay sex is a crime in Islam.

        Note that the law contains no exemption for Muslims, yet the Dutch state wouldn’t dream of bringing charges against Muslims for saying gay sex is a crime in Islam.

        You should really, really stop lying to people. Muslims have been charged and convicted for such in here. I don’t think you should be making posts like these; you’re very wrong about what you’re writing, and you don’t have an excuse to be this wrong when five minutes of reading is all you need to see such.

        • LadyJane says:

          @DeWitt: To be honest, I’d be surprised if you got a reply. This is what always happens: Someone brings up “proof” that Political Correctness Has Gone Too Far, that the PC brigade is ignoring rule of law and persecuting heretics… and then when someone else points out how the news story in question has been taken wildly out of context, there’s usually just conspicuous silence, or occasionally denial in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

          • DeWitt says:

            It’s really rather silly, yeah. Hearing Americans go on that the place where my lily white self buys fruits and vegetables apparently is a no-go zone was hilarious enough, but I’ve gotten fed up with it by now.

          • quanta413 says:

            @LadyJane

            And when any accurate example gets brought up, the “PC Brigade” is conspicuously silent or answers “Those were just the actions of an extreme fringe and don’t count.” So what?

            If you only pay attention to the unreasonable people on the “other side” and ignore the unreasonable people on “your side”, the results of your perception will be unsurprising.

          • DeWitt says:

            The PC brigade here is some three or four people. The people annoyed by such sorts can be summarised as ‘the SSC commentariat.’

            Edit to note: where political correctness does go off the rails I’m perfectly miffed myself, mind. This thread’s subject is very definitely not such a case.

          • quanta413 says:

            The PC brigade here is some three or four people. The people annoyed by such sorts can be summarised as ‘the SSC commentariat.’

            I suspect a significant number of the commentariat auto-filter comments like Le Maistre Chat’s as “histrionics”. I know I do. These people tend to be also libertarian but not of the bleeding heart variety and thus are confused with the prolific more culturally right wing commenters (Conrad, Deiseach, etc.)

            Thanks for your original response btw. I should have said that before I tried to kick off meta-level arguing fun.

          • albatross11 says:

            DeWitt:

            This is pretty much how most US media reporting on countries outside the US always works–our media is comically insular and gets everything wrong about foreign countries.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I believe I brought up a case where a person had their contract terminated due to the controversy resulting from the utterance of a certain racial slur — said racial slur having been uttered by that person’s father, some years before the birth of the affected person. What was the response? Just-worlding.

        • Muslims have been charged and convicted for such in here.

          Muslims have been charged and convicted in the Netherlands for saying that gay sex is against Islamic law? Can you link to a source?

          • DeWitt says:

            ‘Such’ there means the insulting of homosexuals in general; there was a case last year where a muslim rapper’s fine for the insulting of gays and jews was upheld even after appealing, yes.

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            @DeWitt, but that isn’t the claim you called Aapje a lie over.

            “‘Such’ here being used to mean ‘something very dissimilar'” is the sort of thing you’d expect from Humpty Dumpty or as an ironic comment from a Lemony Snickett production rather than a serious comment.

          • DeWitt says:

            I wasn’t talking to him, I was talking to Maistre Chat.

            English also isn’t my first language, as you might’ve guessed. Apologies.

          • nkurz says:

            @DeWitt:

            > English also isn’t my first language, as you might’ve guessed. Apologies.

            In case you were wondering, no! Your written English is indistinguishable from a native speaker. In fact, after reading many of your posts, before you mentioned your nationality I had suspected you might be a native English speaking American friend who shares the same name: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=dewitt.

            Which is also to say that you probably aren’t going to get much sympathy from this crowd by claiming that you are suddenly suffering from language translation issues (although you probably do, and you are right that we native speakers should remember to be more forgiving). Still, if you are going to tell people to “stop lying”, you have a responsibility to be as accurate as you can be, even if you are working in a foreign language.

          • A commenter wrote:

            Note that the law contains no exemption for Muslims, yet the Dutch state wouldn’t dream of bringing charges against Muslims for saying gay sex is a crime in Islam.

            You responded, after quoting him:

            You should really, really stop lying to people. Muslims have been charged and convicted for such in here.

            When I asked for an example, you wrote:

            ‘Such’ there means the insulting of homosexuals in general; there was a case last year where a muslim rapper’s fine for the insulting of gays and jews was upheld even after appealing, yes.

            The claim, as you knew since you had just quoted it, was about Muslims saying gay sex is a crime in Islam—which, as it happens, is a true description of Islamic religious law. That isn’t the same thing as a rapper insulting gays and jews.

            The discussion started with

            The Nashville Statement was recently translated to Dutch and signed by a bunch of conservative Christians

            Here is the Nashville statement

            It doesn’t look to me as though it insults anyone. It is a statement about what the Christian signers believe God wants. That parallels Muslim claims about what God wants.

            So you accused someone of lying for making a statement that, so far as you know, was true.

        • Kyle A Johansen says:

          The state is doing its job; people better at law than I seem to believe this will not lead to a single conviction.

          The idea that so long as the state is not lawfully convicting people for their speech in front of jury of their peers, then there’s nothing to worry about with free speech is simply risible.

          The police should not be investigating people to determine if they’ve committed a crime. They should be investigating events* to determine who committed them; in this case we know who so investigation necessary**.

          *I don’t use ‘crimes’ because suicide or people breaking into their own homes etc..

          **Al Capone was definitely persecuted by the state. Maybe he deserved it.

          • DeWitt says:

            Don’t be ridiculous. The state is investigating an event; an investigation where some legal sorts figure out whether putting together or signing a declaration such as the Nashville one is illegal. None of this involves investigating any people, not until such a time that it A) gets out people should be prosecuted and B) the legal system decides to in fact go after them.

            Which, again, emeritus professors in law say isn’t going to happen, so the signatories seem to be just fine.

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            If the legal system includes the police that they are already involved and suggesting the possibility that these Christians are criminals. If it does not, then I simply disagree as the police going after people that the state dislikes is an injustice even if it does not end up involving a jury trial.

            Even if the investigation does simply involve asking some law experts to debate whether a criminal offence has occurred then, although it may be harmless for the people involved in this case, it is still evidence of something rotten in the state of Denmark if even the law experts don’t know the law on professing public Christianity.

            What about the event requires investigating? What about the event is currently unknown.

          • DeWitt says:

            Even if the investigation does simply involve asking some law experts to debate whether a criminal offence has occurred then, although it may be harmless for the people involved in this case, it is still evidence of something rotten in the state of Denmark if even the law experts don’t know the law on professing public Christianity.

            You seem to be suggesting that this shouldn’t even be taken under investigation and therefor tossed right out. Is that your actual position, or am I misrepresenting it?

            If it is, it’s a position that’ll lead to danger much, much, much quicker than some people spending a couple weeks waiting for the media circus to die down before deciding nothing is going on. You go on about things the state should and shouldn’t do a lot, a whole lot, and my preferred norm is ‘the state shouldn’t arbitrarily decline to investigate cases of legality just because they happen to like the defendant.’

            Let alone because some random foreigner thinks so.

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            I’m actually happy to say that ‘if the law experts do not know if a crime has been committed*, then the answer is no’.

            ‘Ignorance is no excuse’ is a reasonable, but not when ignorance is the only possible state. For when it is so ambiguous then whether a crime has been committed, then the decision of whether it is a crime comes to whether they like the defendant.

            *Despite having all the relevant facts of the event.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          You should really, really stop lying to people. Muslims have been charged and convicted for such in here. I don’t think you should be making posts like these; you’re very wrong about what you’re writing, and you don’t have an excuse to be this wrong when five minutes of reading is all you need to see such.

          Five minutes of reading what? I tried several Google searches about hate speech in the Netherlands and couldn’t find an example of a Muslim being convicted. I did find this, which suggests that at least as of December 2016 there was much more of a double standard for Muslim speech than you’re admitting.

          • DeWitt says:

            Five minutes, of which you’ll need two, to google ‘moslim berecht beledigen homos’ (muslim prosecuted insulting gays) and end up with this article over here where a muslim was fined for insulting gays and jews.

            I’ll look into the link you posted to see what came of that story. Regardless, this Nashville thing hasn’t yet lead to anything, and I doubt it will, which isn’t a double standard as much as it is freedom of religion being very strong.

            Edit: looked into the incident; it definitely happened, and so:

            ‘Minister Ard van der Steur has ‘raised his eyebrows firmly’ about the statements from the MiND. He called them unacceptable this thursday. […] Cardinal Simonis was once acquitted of insulting when he called homosexuality ‘the evil’.

            As best I can tell, some people in a subsidised organisation fucked up, a number of people in parliament and the minister told them to knock it off, and they did knock it off. I can’t tell whether anyone lost their jobs here, but if there’s any systematic islamophilia going on, the minister responsible doesn’t seem to approve.

          • Randy M says:

            ‘Minister Ard van der Steur has ‘raised his eyebrows firmly’

            Can I just jump in and say I admire such an emotionally understated culture?

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          The point that you seem to be missing here is that people aren’t upset that Danish officials are going through the official procedure to enforce hate speech laws so much as they are upset at the fact that such ridiculous laws exist in Denmark. There’s also a suspicion that the law is being applied one-sidedly but the law itself is extremely suspect.

          Even if all of they dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s it’s still a hilarious injustice that religious people are being investigated for the crime of publicly affirming their beliefs.

          • acymetric says:

            They aren’t investigating the people who signed it, they are just reviewing the document to determine if it violates any hate speech laws.

            IFF they decide that it does violate hate speech laws (which sounds unlikely) then they might investigate the individuals who endorsed it if they choose to. Much ado about nothing, accurate framing matters.

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            @acymetric

            If it takes experts time to review the document to determine if it is hate speech and thus whether the people who signed it should be charged. Then is that not to have a chilling effect, and one beyond the letter of the law?

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @acymetric,

            They aren’t investigating the people who signed it, they are just reviewing the document to determine if it violates any hate speech laws.

            IFF they decide that it does violate hate speech laws (which sounds unlikely) then they might investigate the individuals who endorsed it if they choose to.

            That doesn’t sound any better.

            Again, you’re defending an unjust restriction of speech and religious practice with “well they’re just following procedure and probably won’t choose to exercise their unjust powers this time.” So what?

            If I point a gun at someone’s head, cock it, and then shrug and walk away that’s still a really big deal. It would be better than if I had fired, sure, but it would still be a felony and rightly so. There are very few circumstances which would justify that action.

          • albatross11 says:

            Hate speech laws are explicitly intended to have a chilling effect on some speech–their whole premise is that some things aren’t allowed to be said, and if you say them, you’re breaking the law and may get fined or sent to jail.

        • The Nybbler says:

          People press charges, the state investigates them, and ends up informing them they don’t have a case. Where in this is your threat?

          Because investigation is punishment. Not only is the investigation itself intrusive (and require the hiring of a lawyer), but the very fact that you have been investigated will be used against you in all but the most formal of settings both privately and publicly in the future. Maybe this isn’t true in the Netherlands, but it is in the US

        • John Schilling says:

          When the OM investigates whether or not something is a crime is them very literally doing their job.

          Investigating whether or not something is a crime may be part of their job, depending on the alleged crime and on whether “investigating” allows for reading the complaint, laughing, and moving on to serious business.

          Issuing a press release about how you are investigating whether some named person is a criminal, I’m not seeing how that is necessarily part of their job. There are circumstances where it is appropriate, but given the chilling and defamatory effect intrinsic to police investigations, I have a hard time believing it is the procedural default in any rule-of-law state and I’m not seeing the special circumstances calling for it here. Particularly if, as has been indicated below, the investigation is in advance of any formal complaint being filed.

          Here in the United States, at least, issuing a press release of the form “We’re not saying Richard Jewell / Steven Hatfill / whomever is a ‘suspect’, but boy howdy are we investigating them” is the sort of thing that ends with the government paying millions of dollars to settle defamation lawsuits if they didn’t have good reason for it, and rightly so.

          • acymetric says:

            It is not my understanding that any specific people are under investigation right now, and that “the document is under review” might be more accurate. I am tempted to think there is a language/translation issue with regards to how the word “invesigation” is being used but the fact that Aapje used it makes that seem at least a little less likely.

            I guess if the people who signed the Nasheville Statement did so publicly then their names are connected to it, and hence the investigation, but they were connected to the document before the investigation. It isn’t as though the OM has said “We are investigating Richard Jewell / Steven Hatfill in relation to this document” as best I can tell.

          • John Schilling says:

            It is not my understanding that any specific people are under investigation right now, and that “the document is under review” might be more accurate.

            The document is old news; it is being investigated in the Netherlands now because specific named people in the Netherlands just signed it. Saying “we’re investigating the document, not the people” is a distinction without a difference.

            And again, how is it the OM’s job to issue press releases regarding which documents they are investigating?

          • Aapje says:

            The most literal translation of the statement by the DA is that they “will assess the Nashville declaration for possible punishability.”

          • John Schilling says:

            The most literal translation of the statement by the DA is that they “will assess the Nashville declaration for possible punishability.”

            How does a DA in the Netherlands “punish” an inanimate object in Nashville, and/or an immaterial concept?

            This is a legal threat against specific people, very poorly camouflaged by weasel-wording.

    • EchoChaos says:

      That is incredibly worrisome and threatening.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I can’t find the context for this investigation; this https://nos.nl/artikel/2266464-om-onderzoekt-mogelijke-strafbaarheid-van-nashville-verklaring.html appears to be the only context, and apparently a police complaint was filed against an MP accusing him of a hate crime for signing. It’s possible that the “considering investigating” is an obligatory response to the accusation of hate crime, rather than discretionary on the DA’s part; I know that’s happened before in the US, and it’s been a mess of a media circus.

      If it is discretionary, fuck those guys.

      • DeWitt says:

        People have filed charges. ‘I filed charges and they sent me packing without consideration’ is a staple of places with poor rule of law, so they really are doing their jobs.

      • Aapje says:

        According to ANP, the DA started the investigation because multiple people said that they would file a complaint and the general consternation, not because of an actual complaint already being made (although they seem to have been filed in the meantime).

        If a citizen wants to file a complaint, the police is not required to allow it or the DA to investigate it. So it is discretionary.

        One can also argue that the decision can exercise power by choosing to say that they are investigating. It can have a chilling effect, can feel like vindication for one group and an attack by another group.

        Anyway, I’m a bit worried because there is precedent for the suppression of speech. In the 80’s, we had a low-charisma politician who was against migration. He got prosecuted and convicted for these statements: “full=full,” “we will abolish the multicultural society, as soon as we get the chance and power” and “our people first.”

        The judge actually said that these statements were worse as (supposed) dog whistles than if it had been explicit hate speech. So based on that reasoning, you can be convicted for what the judge thinks you meant, which means that you can be held responsible for a strawman, rather than what you literally said.

        After the revolt against neoliberalism and the murder of a anti-migration politician by a left-wing extremist, blamed by a substantial minority (in part) on vilification by the media and mainstream politicians, these kind of statements entered the Overton Window and suddenly became legal again. However, this was in response to riots in the street and a voter revolt by a large minority. If that it what it takes to restore civil liberties, smaller minorities (like conservative Christians) are probably screwed if they are targeted by the majority.

        Note that the mainstream politicians tried to torture the wife of the aforementioned low-charisma politician, who also worked for the party. She lost a leg when antifa smoke bombs caused a fire and she fell badly while escaping out of a window. The mainstream politicians had already situated her party in an attic office, only accessible by a steep staircase and thus not very suitable for someone with one leg. Yet they refused to give her a more accessible office, forcing her to painfully drag herself up a steep staircase with one leg or to leave politics.

        So if the Dutch elite deems you sufficiently noxious, neither civil liberties* or basic human decency can apparently be expected. It seems quite plausible for gay-critical conservatives to experience this fate, especially as Dutch judges are considerably more liberal and neoliberal than the population at large.

        * One of the tricks used to deny people their right to protest is to arrest people when they demonstrate inconveniently and then to let them go in the evening without charges being filed. The police can do this with no repercussions. In this way, the police can prevent people from protesting at a specific event, because by the time the protester is released, the event is over. Yet when rural citizens prevented a demonstration by ‘anti-racists’ at a children’s event, the media, politicians and legal system came down hard on them. Apparently, the right to protest depends on approval by those in charge. Amusingly, even in my center-left newspaper they were called out for their hypocrisy.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          One of the tricks used to deny people their right to protest is to arrest people when they demonstrate inconveniently and then to let them go in the evening without charges being filed. The police can do this with no repercussions. In this way, the police can prevent people from protesting at a specific event, because by the time the protester is released, the event is over. Yet when rural citizens prevented a demonstration by ‘anti-racists’ at a children’s event, the media, politicians and legal system came down hard on them. Apparently, the right to protest depends on approval by those in charge. Amusingly, even in my center-left newspaper they were called out for their hypocrisy.

          That sounds like another example of Rule of Tribe replacing Rule of Law, and good on the journalists at that newspaper for covering it.

    • dick says:

      Had never heard of the Nashville Statement. Is there a reason that we’re supposed to all know it’s obviously legal under Dutch law?

      • theredsheep says:

        Not in particular, if you don’t follow Evangelical Christian news and the like. But what these people did was sign a statement. They said “we agree with these statements.” There aren’t many statements I can think of such that should clearly be illegal to endorse, beyond maybe acting as an accessory to fraud.

        • 10240 says:

          Assuming one accepts hate speech laws (I don’t), shouldn’t it be hate speech to endorse any statement that would be hate speech itself? It’s basically equivalent to repeating the same statement.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Well I learned in school that the Netherlands was in the set of states called “liberal democracies.” So I expect Dutch citizens to have the liberty to sign statements of belief. When they don’t, “liberal democracy” looks like a bald-faced lie.

      • DeWitt says:

        This article has a legal expert state he doesn’t think the statement is or should be illegal. Regardless, it is the OM’s job to see whether or not it is, so they’re doing their actual jobs here.

        • Aapje says:

          The Dutch DA / OM is tasked by law to investigate and prosecute violations of the law. So in a holistic sense they theoretically have to investigate everything that happens on Dutch soil for possible crime.

          However, in actuality they are only obliged to follow the guidelines set by the Secretary of State of Justice and Safety; or prosecute if a citizen files an article 12 complaint and a judge forces the DA to prosecute.

          I’m not aware of any guideline that requires an investigation in this case and no article 12 complaint can have been judged on.

          If I tell the police or Dutch DA that someone said something mean against me, both can refuse to start a formal investigation or to let me file a complaint (note that complaints commonly result in no investigation, because the police and DA are quite busy).

      • Drew says:

        There are really two possibilities.

        One is that a Dutch DA read the statement and decided that it was close enough to a violation to merit some serious research. That’s chilling because it means the Dutch law is so restrictive that the statement is in a solid grey area, if not outright illegal.

        Alternately, the DA read the thing, realized it obviously didn’t qualify, but opened a nominal investigation and released a press release anyway. That’s chilling because it means Dutch DAs are playing political games to frighten Christians.

        Neither option is particularly good

        • That’s chilling because it means Dutch DAs are playing political games to frighten Christians.

          Or to cover themselves against criticism by people hostile to conservative Christianity.

    • LadyJane says:

      What would this investigation even consist of? It seems like simply reading the statement should be enough to form a conclusion, unless there’s more to this case than meets the eye. Is there any reason to suspect that the statement carries any implication of violent intentions, or that the group in question has a history of endorsing violent actions?

      • theredsheep says:

        I think in this context “investigation” means “weigh the politics of the situation plus existing precedent to find out if I’ll be sued or sacked for prosecuting, or not prosecuting, these people.” Or possibly “people are yelling at me about hate crimes, so I’ll tell them I’m investigating the matter, then go hide under my desk with a small keg of Dutch beer and some cheese until it blows over.”

        • DeWitt says:

          “people are yelling at me about hate crimes, so I’ll tell them I’m investigating the matter, then go hide under my desk with a small keg of Dutch beer and some cheese until it blows over.”

          Pretty much.

          People file charges; the state investigates to see whether there is a case or not. The people doing the investigating don’t want something already in the papers to blow up some more, so they’re taking their time in the process of letting some angry people down.

          Truly a grand threat to democracy everywhere. Truly.

          • sfoil says:

            Being able to “file charges” against someone who hurt your feelings (“hate”) is in fact a threat to democracy, insofar as democracy requires informed public discussion of policy.

      • Aapje says:

        @LadyJane

        Is there any reason to suspect that the statement carries any implication of violent intentions, or that the group in question has a history of endorsing violent actions?

        Keep in mind that this is Dutch law, not American law. These are the two relevant articles:

        Section 137c

        1. Any person who in public, either verbally or in writing or through images, intentionally makes an insulting statement about a group of persons because of their race, religion or beliefs, their hetero or homosexual orientation or their physical, mental or intellectual disability, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of the third category.

        2. If the offence is committed by a person who makes a profession or habit of it or by two or more persons in concert, a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine of the fourth category shall be imposed.

        Section 137d

        1. Any person who publicly, either verbally or in writing or through images, incites hatred of or discrimination against persons or violence against their person or property because of their race, religion or beliefs, their sex, their hetero- or homosexual orientation or their physical, mental or intellectual disability, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of the third category.

        2. If the offence is committed by a person who makes a profession or habit of it or by two or more persons in concert, a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine of the fourth category shall be imposed

        Section 137e

        Any person who, for any reason other than the provision of factual information:
        1. makes public a statement which he knows or should reasonably suspect to be insulting to a group of persons because of their race, religion or beliefs, their hetero- or homosexual orientation or their physical, mental or intellectual disability, or incites hatred of or discrimination against persons or violence against their person or property because of their race, religion or beliefs, their sex, their hetero- or homosexual orientation or their physical, mental or intellectual disability; 2°. sends or distributes, without request, an object which he knows or should reasonably suspect to contain such a statement to another person, or has such object in store for public disclosure or distribution; shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of the third category.

        2. If the offence is committed by a person who makes a profession or habit of it or by two or more persons in concert, a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of the fourth category shall be imposed.

        So a conviction in theory merely requires the judge to agree that calling gay people sinners is (generally considered to be) insulting or that protesting gay marriage is inciting discrimination against gays.

        Note that these laws are strongly opposed by the ‘populist’ parties who believe that these are selectively applied to them and/or used to suppress them.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          Wow, these are extremely broad laws. Technically it sounds like if I say that less intelligent people shouldn’t be rocket scientists that could be considered an insult and send you to jail for a year. Hopefully a judge wouldn’t do that, but would be following the law. This definitely is a threat to democracy because it would be very easy for an ideologically motivated judiciary to prosecute political opponents.

          • johan_larson says:

            Yes, I don’t get it either. Insulting people, even people from vulnerable and historically mistreated groups, shouldn’t be illegal. It’s a shitty thing to do, but no harm no foul should be the general rule. And insult isn’t harm.

            Basically, these laws seem like some well-intentioned kindergarten teacher was handed the reins and put the force of law behind Everyone Must Be Nice.

          • wk says:

            @johan: Those laws are pretty much the standard as far as Western European law goes. The Dutch law seems to be a little broader than some (e.g. in Germany, the “victim” of an insult usually has to press charges for it be prosecutable, unless the insult is of a particular kind), but from the top of my head I’m not aware of any European country in which insults in general are legally protected. I’m positive that at least Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy have broadly similar laws on the books.

            Also, from the point of view of European civil law systems, it is not assumed that an insult causes no harm. The key principle is personal honour – basically, you have a right to be treated respectfully, such that your honour is kept intact, both privately and in public, and insults are understood as damaging your honour, and can therefore be prosecuted.

        • LadyJane says:

          @Aapje: Those are completely insane laws.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          Aapje — is this an official English version of the law, or is it an unofficial translation from the Dutch? Maybe what is considered an “insult” in English is something different in the original Dutch?

          • Aapje says:

            There are no official translations of the law in any language, including in the minority Frisian language (that can be used in the courts (in the Frisian region)).

            Warning: this is not an official translation. Under all circumstances the original text in Dutch language of the Criminal Code (Wetboek van Strafrecht) prevails. The State accepts no liability for damage of any kind resulting from the use of this translation.

            The translation seems quite accurate though. In particular, the Dutch ‘belediging’ is very close if not identical to ‘insult.’

          • CatCube says:

            Of course, you also have to consider that the definition of “insult” (or “belediging”) might mean something different to the legal system than the man on the street.

  9. AlesZiegler says:

    I´d like to continue with “how to reboot Star Wars” topic from previous open thread, suggested by johan_larson, since it is to good to let go and I have ideas. Hope it isn´t against the rules or something, I am relatively new around here.

    So:

    First, get rid of Ewoks. Replace them with Wookies (this was original, rejected, idea for script of Return of the Jedi) with basic awareness of normal galactic technology. Don´t do stone age natives defeating Imperial stormtroopers.

    Thus, make Emperor´s defeat at Endor much more about his own hubris than about absurd coincidences.

    Make workings of energy shields more consistent thorough movies. Make design of imperial weapons less idiotic.

    Rewrite plot to get Han Solo from Jabba´s palace so that rescuers plan is actually comprehensible. But do not change Jabba´s entourage – they are awesome. In fact, dwell more on them.

    Otherwise, no more changes to original trilogy, which is great.

    Make sequels about struggle between fledgling, divided Empire and rising, divided New Republic.

    Ok, now on to prequels. Fix obvious things – glaring continuity errors, most urgently Luke and Obi-wan “hiding” on Anakin´s planet of birth. Get rid of Jar Jar. Also, don´t make major plot point about unsafe pregnancy that is apparently unsolvable by normal medical technology of pangalactic society.

    Unfortunately, even with obvious fixes, prequels are still quite flawed and dissapointing movies, although there is lot in them which is great. So more thorough rewrite could be in order.

    Clone war will be about clone armies attacking the Republic. No droid army, and Republic army will be made of its citizens. Militarization of previously peaceful Republic society will be a backround theme (but let´s not make it sociology class).

    Separatists will declare themselves only after War starts. When Republic is attacked by Clone army, huge number of Republic members, nonhuman planets on the periphery (called Outer Rim), will betray it. Maybe the biggest flaw of entire Lucas prequels is that it is never explained why Separatists want to leave Republic nor why Senate doesn´t want to allow it.

    Central political conflict in rebooted prequels will be explained. Clone army will by procured by loose coalition of various non-Republic powers from Outer Rim. Some of those powers could be taken from non-canon SW material erased from continuity by Disney. Pehaps Hutts will be among them, perhaps Kaminoans, perhaps Mandalorians and so on. Chiss Ascendancy will definitely be among them, because it is awesome. Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn, character from Timothy Zahn´s non-canon sequel books, will command the Clone army. There will be no Dooku. Anti-Republic alliance will be hostile against Force users, both Light and Dark side.

    Ok, this still doesn´t explain central political conflict. So: Republic will be expanding into Outer Rim. Joining it will be voluntary, but there will be commercial pressure to do so. Powers of the Outer Rim will be fearful of its encroachment, because things like prohibition on slavery, but also concentration of mercantile power and wealth flowing to Core worlds, which are mostly human, from Outer Rim, which is not.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      If you’re re-writing the Clone Wars to remove the droids and make the Clones evil, why not have the Mandalorians as the external threat to the Republic?

      In the Clone Wars cartoons, which are still in the Disney Canon, Mandalore had rejected its warrior ideology under the leadership of Obi-wan’s old flame the Duchess Satine. This new pacifist ideology helped them to rebuild after their many ruinous wars with the Republic, but a sizable minority of the population was still nostalgic for their glorious warrior past and supported the terrorist group Death Watch. The majority of the Mandalorian people, regardless of their politics, still bitterly hated the Republic and the Jedi.

      Cloning, possibly using Sith Alchemy, would allow for a small group like Death Watch to become a galactic threat practically overnight. And the logical answer to the threat, dispatching Jedi Knights to Mandalore to see what’s going on there, would provide Death Watch with a wave of popular support and give them a pretext to seize control from the duchess while “liberating” the planet. Now a wealthy, pissed off Mandalore with a clone army is sitting on the Republic’s doorstep.

      Mandalorians are one of the few enemies in Star Wars who can credibily pose a threat to Jedi without using the Force. It plays into the lore without being completely inaccessible. And, if we’re using the Clone Wars as a source material, provides an interesting counterpoint to Anakin and Padme with Obi-wan and Satine that can show how Jedi are supposed to handle romantic feelings.

    • johan_larson says:

      If I’m just going to redo the third trilogy, I’d take this approach, which I may have mentioned here before:

      I thought The Force Awakens had some strong parts, like the attack on Death Star III and the engaging trio Rey/Poe/Finn. But it wasn’t the story I wanted to be told. I didn’t need to see A New Hope again. I would much rather have seen the original characters age and grow, and face new challenges.

      Don’t show me Leia leading a rag-tag rebellion. Show me an ageing professional politician wrestling with the impossible demands of a thousand worlds.

      Don’t show me Han working as a smuggler. Show me an old warrior bored out of his skull serving as Minister of Whatever, yearning for something else, anything else.

      And throw in a Luke who after decades of devotion to the Force sees everything from every perspective all the time, to the point that he is barely even human any more.

      Then have the New Republic face some hammer-blow of a challenge, where things go so badly wrong that these senior figures are inadvertently on the front lines, letting them have one last big adventure before the fight is taken up by younger hands.

      That would have been a film worth watching.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        I don’t see why the original cast should be pushed back into the starring roles.

        Han Solo didn’t die in Episode VII, he died in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when Harrison Ford proved that he was now too old to play a leading man in an action movie. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have Han, Luke, and Leia in the movie. But they should be mentors or authority figures like Obi-wan was in Episode IV rather than hogging the spotlight.

        A new cast of heroes was exactly what Star Wars needed. The problem is that they’re boring interchangeable idiots, not that they’re young.

        • acymetric says:

          Given that we’re rebooting this in the future, we can avoid the mistake of waiting until the original leads are too old to act before we make the sequel trilogy if we want them to have more important roles. I like Johann’s suggestion, which is more or less what happens in the EU (it doesn’t need to follow the exact EU storylines, but that kind of framework would work well).

          Alternatively, and maybe more in line with mirroring the time lapse between the prequel trilogy and the OT, it could still be set 20+ years in the future and focused on a new generation, but make them much better movies more in line with Star Wars themes/atmosphere and with less retreading (the fanservice retreading is less necessary if it hasn’t been 40 years since the original releases).

          Then the intermediate years between the OT and sequels can be filled in with standalone movies, TV series or whatever showing Luke journeying the reaches of the galaxy in search of deep mysteries of the Force and having grand, dark adventures in the process (like the Solo movie, Rogue One, some of the prequel-related cartoons).

        • johan_larson says:

          I’d be OK with putting the spotlight on the new gang in a rebooted episode VII. But I think the original IV-VI gang should be there to pass the torch. Maybe have two parallel plots, with the older folks handling the political and logistical matters related to the new challenge, while the young folks do the fighting and investigating.

          • albatross11 says:

            That’s the normal situation you’d expect, right? Leia is the prime minister of the shaky and fractious Second Republic, Luke is the great jedi master who is rebuilding the jedi order, Han is a general or minister of the government or something, Lando’s a general, etc. Probably none of them should be going off on any adventures–they’ve got minions for that. Even Luke, who presumably can still kick ass and take names as needed, is probably sending one of his jedi out to check out problems, rather than going and handling them himself. (After 40 years, Luke should have a couple generations of jedi plus some apprentices in the works.)

            One way to get them mixed up in an interesting adventure might be to have some kind of high-level betrayal. Leia, Han, and Chewie are on a diplomatic mission to a world they’re trying to get to join the Republic, surrounded by their own bodyguards, when they’re betrayed in an assassination attempt that’s coordinated with the start of a war against the Republic from some outside force. Fortunately, one of their bodyguards is a newly-minted jedi named Rey, who senses the oncoming disaster and warns them just in time to escape, taking down a dozen or so would-be assassins with her lightsaber. Chewie, Han, and Leia all still remember how to use a blaster, and do–but their main job is to survive. Of their bodyguards, only three survive–Rey, a soldier named Finn, and their pilot, Poe. They flee into a network of underground passages and caves, guided by BB8’s scanners and memorized maps, and Rey’s intuition, while the hostile planet’s forces start a manhunt for them.

            Back home, Luke senses that something horrible has happened, but not what. His strongest jedi is a guy named Kylo Renn, who wants to go rescue his parents, as well as his close friend and sometimes-lover, Rey. Luke forbids it, fearing that the strong emotions this will elicit might tempt Kylo toward the dark side. Luke dispatches another jedi (let’s call him Victor Hu) to find them, instead. After a stormy argument, Renn violates Luke’s orders and takes off to rescue his loved ones anyway, leaving a message reminding Luke of his choice to rescue his friends many years earlier.

            Meanwhile, the Second Republic’s space navy is at war. A couple SR planets get bombed, with massive loss of life, as their local defense forces are overwhelmed. General Calerissian and Admiral Akbaar win a decisive battle defending the SR’s capital planet. Mon Mothma wins a vote in parliament and becomes acting prime minister while Leia is out of contact. (Though everyone assumes she’s dead.)

            Renn’s ship is captured and boarded by the outsider space navy, but he uses a combination of cleverness and jedi tricks to slip onto the ship unseen. He discovers that Hu is being held in a detention cell. He breaks Hu out, and together they sabotage the ship and escape in a long-range two-seat fighter.

            At the end of episode VII, we see Renn and Hu landing on the planet that betrayed Han, Leia, and Chewie. As they begin their search, we see Hu send a coded signal to his true master, Snoke, who is the leader of the outsider force.

            We cut to a scene of Han, Leia, and the gang. Rey uses the force to remove a bunch of heavy stones blocking an opening, and they walk out to a dense forest, apparently empty. Finn turns on his emergency radio receiver, gets a message from Kylo, and plans a meeting point. They start walking through the forest toward their meeting point. In the background we see a silent floating droid following them.

            Finally, we cut to the Second Republic’s parliament. They’ve received a formal declaration of war from the outsiders, along with demands for surrender of several worlds. Debate rages about how to respond.

            Finally, we see Snoke on board a ship, amidst a huge fleet, giving the order to jump to hyperspace. Destination: the Second Republic’s capital planet.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’d retain the idea that Han couldn’t handle the boring tasks of government. So he’s a smuggler… as the cover for being the spymaster of the New Republic.

    • theredsheep says:

      Well, to continue my extended musing from the previous thread: remnants of Empire coalesce as roving, world-devouring death fleet haunted by Palpatine’s malicious ghost, ostensibly with goals of reviving Empire but for all practical purposes tending to cause pure chaos due to Palpatine’s influence. Its admiral has been in communion with the ghost for some time, gaining increased control over his latent Force powers as a result but also slowly going insane.

      Among its first targets was Luke’s new Jedi school, where his nephew and niece were training along with several others. Many of the students die, including one of the Solo kids. The other (the girl) blames Uncle Luke first for failing to foresee the attack and second for not planning retaliation; she steals a lightsaber and talks several of her classmates into coming with her to hunt down and destroy the fleet. Luke pursues them, but they have a head start. I’m thinking the film begins in media res, with the rogue padawans infiltrating a star destroyer as the fleet launches its most recent attack and tearing the ship apart from the inside.

      Meanwhile Han and Leia have to deal with the increasing chaos generated by the fleet’s swath of destruction. Here I’m stuck, because the one thing I feel the need to be firm on is to avoid getting bogged down in the damn space politics. Star Wars is mythic; it deals with heroic archetypes, not mundane realities. There should be no overt politics or sociology or economics or anything else like that on screen. I don’t know how to show a New Republic falling apart without getting bogged down.

      And then there’s the need to pass the torch without shoving the old hands out of the way, into their graves, and throwing dirt on top. Like, uh, certain sequels did.

      • johan_larson says:

        I don’t know how to show a New Republic falling apart without getting bogged down.

        Introduce the element of a ticking clock. The remnants of the Imperial fleet are racing toward Planet Macguffin. If they get there first, and have time to seize it, they will become much stronger. The older heroes need to assemble a united fleet to intercept the Imperials. They use a combination of threats and favor-calling to get the squabbling governments of a dozen worlds in line. Have this happen on Coruscant, with master politician Leia leading the charge, assisted by a team of underlings.

        • theredsheep says:

          Yeeeeaaaaahhhh that’s still way too political, sorry. The Imperial Senate getting dissolved offscreen in ANH is about the limit of acceptable wonkiness. The chairman simply cannot look heroic while referring the matter to the subcommittee. Even with a red power tie or a very assertive Alderaanian updo.

    • Walter says:

      In terms of ‘getting rid of star wars stuff’, let me just vote for no lightspeed ramming. Like, it is a mad cool scene, but 5 seconds after you see it you realize that the rest of space combat wouldn’t look like it does if that was a thing. Lightspeed missiles put pad to the Death Star right quick, etc.

      • fion says:

        Yeah, I thought that too. I might forgive them if it becomes a big thing in Episode IX, though, with all sides rapidly starting to invest in lightspeed missiles. Then we could pretend that somehow nobody thought about it for hundreds of years. But I suspect this won’t happen.

        Having said that, “the rest of space combat wouldn’t look like it does if that was a thing” isn’t necessarily a knock-down argument. The whole dog-fights in space wouldn’t happen in a universe that had access to compressed air technology*, but it still happens in Star Wars, and it’s one of the more iconic parts of Star Wars at that.

        *or any other mechanism for rotating a space ship without changing its trajectory

    • Plumber says:

      @AlesZiegler

      “I´d like to continue with “how to reboot Star Wars” topic from previous open thread…”

      Leave Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back mostly as they are, as for The Return of the Jedi?

      Ho boy, unlike Star Wars and Empire I only saw it once (which was too much!) so how to redeem that?

      Well the Ewoks have to go (stupid freaking Teddy bears!) otherwise?

      Kill Luke.

      For the first scene he’s in with that stupid smirk when he banters with Jaba to the end where he goes to visit his Dad instead of helping his comrades-in-arms, Lucas ruined the character. Maybe have Landowners rescue Han and Leia instead, just have Luke lose his life in a heroic sacrifice somehow, it would be better then that mess.

      The sky cycles scene through the forest was cool, keep that, otherwise Return is hard to redeem, it almost retroactively ruined Empire for me, Star Wars itself was pretty self contained, maybe no sequels would have been better.

      I never watched any of the subsequent films in the series after Return (which I remember was supposed to have been called Revenge of the Jedi when we were waiting for it).

      Maybe strike some of the Yoda scenes from Empire as well.

      I know, have Luke kill Vader and then tackle Palpatine down to where Vader threw him into the core of the new Death Star, Han and Leia shed a tear on when they realize Luke isn’t around anymore, really almost anything would’ve been better, I waited four years for Empire and wasn’t disappointed, but (while Empire was a cliffhanger that made the waiting harder) the two years for Return apparently wasn’t enough.

      • theredsheep says:

        By going to chat with his Dad, he’s tying up Darth Vader and the Emperor, which is a lot more than he could have accomplished by staying with the commandos. Otherwise Vader would in all likelihood have been either down on Endor guarding the garrison or chasing Lando and Wedge down the Death Star and killing both before they could do any damage. Or so it seems to me. Anyway, he was effectively under orders from his master to face down his father–it wasn’t his idea–and the point of it was to add a mystical aspect to the conflict, the battle for Luke and Vader’s souls in parallel with the battles for Endor, the Death Star, and the galaxy. That part was handled beautifully IMO.

        Now, Luke’s “plan” to save Han at the beginning was perfectly asinine, and the Ewoks were atrociously stupid. Few SW fans will argue either of those points, or that ROTJ is the weakest of the original trilogy because of them.

    • Dan Hornsby says:

      If we’re rebooting entirely, we’re not just re-doing the whole series film-by-film. Instead, we’re starting afresh.

      If we’re starting afresh, we can start at the beginning, with the Republic.

      STAR WARS I: REPUBLIC introduces the Republic it as the setting’s status quo, skips TPM entirely and cuts straight in to Anakin and Obi Wan as mentor and student Jedi. The plot unfolds as they discover evidence that a massive war machine is being set up on the republic’s outer rim, with huge shipbuilding efforts and mass cloning of soldiers and crew. They bring it to the attention of the Jedi Council and the Senate, survive an assassination attempt that reveals Palpatine as the sponsor of the clones, and unmask him, starting off the Clone Wars as the main conflict. Climax of the film is a Jedi attempt to liberate the Senate, whom Palpatine is holding hostage and threatening to kill unless they legally confirm him as Emperor, which is defeated and the Jedi wiped out by clones and Palpatine himself, revealed to be a powerful Sith. Anakin rescues Obi Wan and Padme (who remains as his love interest, but we lose the angsty forbidden romance angle) at the cost of getting captured himself, and the movie closes with them fleeing to a desert planet as Anakin is taken into Palpatine’s power.

      We open STAR WARS II: EMPIRE after a twenty year timeskip – the Empire is established and Palpatine rules with an iron fist, alongside a mysterious black-clad enforcer with force powers known only as Vader. We reintroduce Obi Wan, and the action kicks off as he’s sent word from anti-imperial rebels that Palpatine has tracked down Anakin and Padme’s two children, and Vader is coming for them. The two were fostered away, and Obi Wan rescues them, bringing them to “safety” with the nascent rebellion. The movie proceeds with the Empire moving to crush the rebels with the aid of a new superweapon, and the main action is a desperate rebel mission to co-opt the Death Star, which is ultimately successful and results in the superlaser destroying Coruscant entirely and Palpatine along with it, though Obi Wan dies in the attempt. Denouement sees Leia take leadership of the rebellion after the old leaders were deposed for going through with firing the Death Star, and Luke leaving to seek out remnants of the Jedi.

      STAR WARS III: LEGACY follows another timeskip, this time introducing Luke as a newly minted Jedi in Obi Wan’s footsteps and training his nephew Kylo. The destruction of Coruscant fractured the galaxy into two power groups – the fledgling New Republic under Leia’s leadership and the First Order under the (now aged) Vader. Kylo is the protagonist and the story kicks off with him and Luke on a training mission, where they discover evidence that the First Order is rebuilding the Death Star. The Republic leadership vote to wait and see, hesitant with their “for the people” credibility already tarnished by “using” the weapon to destroy Coruscant and kill billions, and Kylo leaves in frustration, finding his way into Vader’s clutches – learning that Vader is Anakin and his grandfather tips Kylo over, and he aids Vader in restoring the Death Star with the intention of crippling the “old guard” New Republic and starting afresh with the First Order in charge. This culminates with Luke and Leia tracking him down and the Skywalker family finally being reunited, and Kylo rejecting Vader and aiding Luke and Leia to cast him down. Without Vader, the First Order crumbles, and the New Republic’s peace begins to spread.

    • AG says:

      Strange, a common criticism of the prequels is that they get too far away from the space-mythology purview of Stars Wars (as space fantasy as opposed to Sci-Fi), and yet most “fixes” of the sequels are that they aren’t about down-to-earth politicking enough.

      So if we assume that “Star Wars must be space myth” is the correct way to go, then we should look to either classic fantasy longform/sequels. I…burned out of Sword&Sorcery books early on, so I don’t have nearly enough experience.

      However, we can also look to the flawless JRPG model for ideas.
      That is, the prequels should be more confined in scope, and the sequels opened up to more abstract foes.
      Original trilogy is in the middle, which is usually overthrowing the kingdom, but also starting to collect MacGuffins. This is pretty close to the original trilogy’s scope.

      The first arc of a JRPG, though, is about the local warlord, which then opens up into kingdom-wide rot for the second arc. So the prequels should be about Anakin’s struggle against local foes in a single star system within the galaxy, eventually falling and becoming the Evil Local Warlord, which then gets him noticed by Evil Kingdom ruler, promoting him to Darth Vader, setting up the original trilogy.

      But for the sequels, it’s about ramping up to defeat God, as always. So it should be about opening up the influence of The Force, eventually taking on The Dark Side Personified (or we can play with subversions, how the Big Bad promoted Dark Side/Light Side propaganda to prevent them from accessing the true power of The Force, and keeping it all to himself). Our heroes peaking with Palpatine is a mistake, they should be becoming pantheonic figures, communing with unfathomable Force entities as they take responsibility for the entire land. Their victory should make it possible to make mystical pareto improvements to everyone in the galaxy, and open up the possiblity of exploring even further out, to other universes or something.

      The Last Jedi wanted to be Star Wars: Deep Space Nine, for better or for worse.

      • bullseye says:

        I for one actually do like the politicking. And I like Palpatine as the clever bad guy controlling the brute force bad guy, which feels mythic to me though I can’t name a myth that features it.

  10. Argos says:

    A month ago in Berlin, a public initiative started to collect the required signatures to conduct a referendum to expatriate (edit: sadly its just expropriate) the large landlord companies of the city (those possessing more than 3000 apartements), in response to rising rents. Initial response was to roll the eyes at a certain subset of our very diverse and uh very idiosyncratic capital, but recently polls show that a majority of Berlin residents support the idea.

    Legally, it could maybe actually work, as German law allows for nationalization, however only under certain conditions, including a fair compensation which would be determined by the court. Current estimates by the activists are costs of 30 billion euro, which the chronically broke Berlin will struggle to pay. Initial response by the left leaning parties is supportive, praising the idea of reigning in the greed of the real estate market. (Berlin has been governed by those left leaning parties for decades.)

    I’ve come around to, somewhat incredulously, welcome this development. Actually implementing the proposal would be a disaster probably, but I doubt that will happen as the parties hopefully do not actually want to expatriate (edit : still only expropriate) the real estate companies and are just paying lip service. On the other hand, politicians have proven to be incompetent at solving the rising rent problems in large cities, probably the prime concern of German city dwellers. I hope that citizens are so fed up now that politicians will be forced to find ways to increase construction of new homes, which as the existing rent control policies did not work is probably the only way to reliably slow rent increase.

    Unfortunately, this could also lead to a big dumpster fire. Berlin residents stand extremely firm in the NIMBY camp, a lot of them are sceptical of capitalism and oppose changes to their environment, which have been progressing at a rapid speed in recent years. Google actually wanted to form a startup incubator in Berlin, but later withdrew the plans after protest from Berlin residents. Parties might not dare to risk losing their support by forcing construction around them, and so they might, in an act of collective insanity, opt in for the nationalization.

    Either way, I think this is a sign of things to come for other large metropolises.

    https://m.dw.com/en/berlin-citizens-initiative-proposes-radical-approach-to-skyrocketing-rents/a-46495849

    • Nornagest says:

      …should that have been “expropriate”, not “expatriate”?

    • 10240 says:

      There is no obvious problem to solve. From the numbers I’ve seen, Berlin rents are pretty low by Western European standards, especially Western European capital standards.

      Though if there are rent controls, that’s likely to cause a problem in the form of scarcity. Ludicrously, I’ve seen articles wailing about how one can’t find apartments for less than €[pretty low amount], and even for that price, there is a sort of “face control” where the owner chooses from many prospective tenants, which may make it difficult for some people to rent — and use this as an argument for stricter rent controls. Obviously, such selectiveness is a result of rent controls itself or, in the absence of rent controls, of someone trying to rent below the prevailing market rate.

  11. LadyJane says:

    Shame is, in every way, a libertarian solution to a problem. It involves no force, or censorship – and yet, the people who are subject to it often feel as if their rights have been violated, because they misinterpret those rights to include not only freedom of speech, but freedom from criticism, from response, and from consequences.

    That’s how you can tell a right-wing culture warrior from a libertarian. They ALWAYS believe in a concept of “freedom” that somehow ends up being practically realized as “I get to say whatever the fuck I want, but if you respond or deny me access to a private platform, I’m going to call that infringement”.

    I just saw this comment in a libertarian Facebook group, and I completely agree with every part of it. Can anyone provide a good (or even just internally consistent) counter-argument?

    I know that a lot of “cultural libertarian” types are vehemently opposed to the “free speech is not freedom from consequences” line of thinking, but I honestly don’t get the basis for their opposition and I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument for their position. Specifically, it seems like “free speech culture” is inherently self-contradictory, because it prioritizes the free speech of the first person to comment on a particular issue, while socially discouraging the free speech of responders. (Baeraad was willing to bite the bullet and say that he cares about “free argument” more than free speech per se, but I haven’t seen anyone else willing to openly take such a position, and it seems incredible bizarre to me.)

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I think the “consequences” bit is very hard to define; I think it’s fairly common for weaker libertarian-ish people such as myself to argue that the state has a legitimate role in ensuring that people have access to basic goods (and that you therefore shouldn’t, for example, be able to buy a water treatment center and demand that everyone give you their firstborn child or die of thirst, or charge hurricane victims $500 for a meal). In the US, the Civil Rights Act defines what I’ve called “basic goods” as “all goods,” and strictly defining basic goods is probably a losing battle anyway; is PayPal a basic good if that’s where all your income comes from? So solving the problem of reconciliation between “protection from arbitrary and exploitative discrimination” and “freedom to do business without interference” is actually pretty hard. I come down on the side of You Can’t Make People Be Good But You Sure Can Hope For It most of the time, but then I never had to live through desegregation…

      My point is that I don’t think there’s a legitimate rationale for people claiming immunity from criticism, but I do think there can be some rationale for somebody kicked off Patreon, especially if it’s done without warning in a way that jeopardizes their livelihood. Maybe. Depending.

    • Nornagest says:

      Let’s be clear: if freedom of speech doesn’t imply some level of freedom from consequences, then there is no such thing as freedom of speech. Censors don’t have time-travel powers; they can only control things retrospectively. What’s that if not a consequence?

      So, granting that “first speaker wins” is obviously stupid, it must be the type or the scope of valid consequences that we’re concerned with. I’m not much of a libertarian, certainly not an NAP libertarian, but there’s a few different self-consistent ways to think about that. One is to grant an unqualified right to hold and voice your beliefs, but qualify the ways you can promote them outside bare statements of belief. Another, not necessarily incompatible, one is to think of free speech issues less in terms of force per se and more in terms of escalation: if I say the sky is green and you call me an asshole, and if you call me an asshole and I punch you in the face, then those are both escalations, even though the NAP forbids only the latter.

      Also, given that a lot of this debate centers around the behavior of actors like Google and Facebook, one could also suggest that those actions aren’t necessarily purely private by libertarian standards just by virtue of the fact that they have CEOs and shareholders and issue stock. I’m personally starting to think that they’ve arrogated some state-like roles to themselves and should be judged on that basis (see: not much of a libertarian), but even if you don’t believe that, they’ve often got tacit or explicit government force somewhere in the background, or are driven by worries over lawsuits rooted in less-than-perfectly-libertarian standards.

      • albatross11 says:

        There are a lot of problems the government can’t reasonably solve, and this is probably one of them. The first amendment seems like about as much as the government should do toward ensuring free speech–nobody gets arrested for saying the wrong thing, nobody loses police protection for saying the wrong thing, etc.

        It’s a better world when we have more tolerance for weird and even offensive beliefs–tolerance in the sense of being willing to interact with people whose beliefs we think are weird or silly or wrong or even offensive, or at least leaving them alone. If we find ourselves in a world where expressing the wrong ideas is likely to turn you into an unemployable pariah whose friends no longer recognize you on the street, then even if the police never arrest anyone for saying the wrong things, that’s not a world where there’s going to be a lot of vigorous free discussion of ideas.

        But the solution here is cultural, not legal, as far as I’m concerned.

        • EchoChaos says:

          But a corporation is a legal entity, and if the principle is “you can’t cut anyone off from your services for expressed political beliefs, no matter how odious” then the corporation can’t be reasonably blamed for people with odious beliefs using their service.

          In my view, the government has a choice between allowing businesses total freedom of association or total accessibility, but the current regime where certain reasons for denying service are illegal and cause the crushing weight of the state to destroy you and some are totally fine is the worst of all possible worlds.

          • albatross11 says:

            That’s easy to say and hard to implement. Is it okay if Twitter blocks spammers and malware links? Can Tumblr block pornbots[1]?

            [1] Empirically, the answer is probably no, but morally….

          • EchoChaos says:

            We already have legal mechanisms for what speech is permissible and what speech isn’t. It’s not even particularly a gray area. Anti-obscenity and anti-harassment laws have been upheld constantly, which should easily cover spamming, malware and porn.

            If the speech cannot be banned by the government, it can’t be banned by private businesses is a good rule if you are going to force businesses to not have freedom of association.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I don’t see the contradiction. Neither do most of the libertarians I know IRL. You should be able to have a discussion with someone with different beliefs without immediate invective or threatening to ruin their life. If someone has truly abhorrent beliefs, just don’t associate with them. If they are in your workplace, put on your Adult Pants, and do your job even if you don’t like the person.

      When it comes to “association” and large private companies like news channels or Facebook or whatever, they clearly have the RIGHT to deny a platform, but they generally have an ethical responsibility to host a broader spectrum of debate than an unrelated private company or a private household. It’s not like they even deny this, they present themselves as serving this function. None of the libertarians BELIEVE them, but they see Twitter et al as Catholic Priests professing belief in God but are really just in the indulgences game. No salvation for you unless you pay.

      The specific act of internet brigading is ethically beyond the pale. Why would libertarians have to support it, just because the government isn’t involved? I mean, I don’t support you yelling at your kids at the top of your lungs, even if I think it should be legal. “It’s a libertarian solution for me to scream at my kids! There’s no government force involved!” No, you’re a jerk, you’re not making a “solution” at all, you’re just being a jerk.

      • LadyJane says:

        The contradiction is that I have just as much right to criticize someone for expressing their racist opinions as they have to express their racist opinions in the first place. Even if we’re purely talking about what should be considered socially acceptable, rather than what should be legally permissible, I don’t see any argument for why we should consider “[white/black/purple] people are worthless and I don’t want to be around them” to be a perfectly fine expression of free speech/association, while also considering “no, dumbass racists like you are worthless and I don’t want to be around you” to be a form of social censorship. The cultural libertarians seem to want some kind of weirdly selective social norm where it’s okay to express any idea, but not okay for others to criticize that idea.

        And yes, you could make an argument that large companies like Google and Facebook are close to monopolies and should reasonably be expected to accommodate people of all political viewpoints, no matter how reprehensible. If cultural libertarianism was just about expanding “the government shouldn’t discourage specific viewpoints” to “the government and monopolistic tech corporations shouldn’t discourage specific viewpoints” then I’d be a little more sympathetic to it. The problem is that they want to extend “don’t discourage specific viewpoints” all the way down to the realm of individual-scale interpersonal interactions, which itself seems like a form of social censorship for people who are responding to arguments rather than starting them.

        • I think a right to free speech only comes up in the context of government censorship, or violent attacks by private people on speakers. But the desirability of free speech also applies to attempts by private actors to suppress the speech of others, even if done by acts they have a right to take.

          If the reason I call you a racist is to convey my view of you, that’s free speech. If the reason is to get lots of people mad at you in order to punish you not for your views but for expressing them, that’s an attempt to suppress speech. The former is reasonable behavior. The latter is within your rights but undesirable behavior–I will think worse of you for doing it.

          The consequentialist argument for that position is that the proper response to bad speech is good speech–if someone makes a bad argument you should rebut it. If you can’t rebut it, that’s some evidence that it isn’t a bad argument.

          Making it costly to make certain arguments suppresses true arguments as well as false, so makes it harder for people to discover truth. Which is a bad thing to do.

          • LadyJane says:

            If the reason I call you a racist is to convey my view of you, that’s free speech. If the reason is to get lots of people mad at you in order to punish you not for your views but for expressing them, that’s an attempt to suppress speech. The former is reasonable behavior. The latter is within your rights but undesirable behavior–I will think worse of you for doing it.

            That’s a fair distinction to be make, but it’s also an incredibly subtle one. For instance, what if I tell my black friends that someone is racist not to punish him for having offensive views, but out of a genuine desire to warn them of a potential threat? Someone with extremely racist views may be willing to commit acts of violence against black people. Even if he’s not, he might be willing to screw them over in various other ways (e.g. sabotaging their projects, revealing their secrets, spreading lies and exaggerated rumors about them, or simply insulting them). Wouldn’t it be fair to inform them? Yet from an outside view, doing so could look indistinguishable from an attempt to simply stir up hostility against someone for having the wrong views.

          • acymetric says:

            To piggy back off of LadyJane, the problem here is that now we have to discern intent (which is awfully difficult to do), because the same action can be acceptable or unacceptable purely depending on the intent behind it. When talking about an ideal of how we would like things to be I think that is a fine one, but I’m not sure how you could actually put that into practice or even move things in that direction (because determining true intent borders on the impossible).

          • 10240 says:

            The motive is often obvious, and we are talking about cultural norms so we don’t have to be quite as precise as in the court of law.

            Furthermore, some of this discussion is not even about determining the intent of other people and socially punishing them for their behavior depending on their intent, but about whether we, personally, should engage in shaming and push companies to suppress certain views, or do the opposite and encourage people not to engage in shaming. Two conflicting desires exist in many people: an object-level one to shame certain opinions, and a meta-level one to uphold some sort of free speech norm if that seems beneficial. (Much like a constitution is useful to keep in check various temporary popular desires to violate certain rights that would be seen as a bad idea on the long run.) If we agreed that there should be no cultural free speech norm (because we can’t determine other people’s intent), people would take that as to mean that they should let their object-level desire to shame and suppress run free. Whereas IMO if we agree that a cultural norm of free speech is desirable, it’s a good idea not to engage in such shaming and suppression, and to encourage others to do the same, even if we have no way to enforce the norm.

          • but I’m not sure how you could actually put that into practice or even move things in that direction

            That would be a problem if I was proposing legal rules, but I’m not. I am saying how people ought to act. I think in most situations, someone knows whether he is trying to answer someone or to punish him, and most of the time, in judging other people’s behavior, it is pretty clear which they are doing. So I can do my best not to suppress speech, and I can lower my opinion of people (or organizations) that I think are trying to do so.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          The contradiction is that I have just as much right to criticize someone for expressing their racist opinions as they have to express their racist opinions in the first place. Even if we’re purely talking about what should be considered socially acceptable, rather than what should be legally permissible, I don’t see any argument for why we should consider “[white/black/purple] people are worthless and I don’t want to be around them” to be a perfectly fine expression of free speech/association, while also considering “no, dumbass racists like you are worthless and I don’t want to be around you” to be a form of social censorship. The cultural libertarians seem to want some kind of weirdly selective social norm where it’s okay to express any idea, but not okay for others to criticize that idea.

          I really don’t understand what kind of situation you are imagining. Based on your examples, it sounds like the “racist” view you’re picturing is someone shouting loud expletives about how much they hate minorities. My suggestion would be not to interact with that person, but few would suggest that you are required to sit down and listen to what amounts to a raving lunatic. Maybe you want to respond with your own profanity-laden insult, and I’m pretty sure most free speech warriors wouldn’t be TOO upset about that: after all, that person is the one who decided to start throwing f-bombs left and right and phrased their argument in a way to as offend as many people as possible.

          Is that really the category of views and specific speech you feel should be encompassed? Honestly, it seems to me that the views people want to cast out as unacceptable are QUITE broader than that. I mean, I see plenty of people saying they can’t be friends with Republicans (they don’t know I’m Republican because I don’t talk politics with these people).

      • LadyJane says:

        You should be able to have a discussion with someone with different beliefs without immediate invective or threatening to ruin their life. If someone has truly abhorrent beliefs, just don’t associate with them.

        Well, generally speaking, threatening or taking action to ruin anyone’s life seems unethical (although if someone is worried that their life might be ruined if their views became public knowledge, that’s on them). But why should I be obligated to have a discussion with someone who’s beliefs I find abhorrent without either insulting or ignoring them? “Just don’t associate with them” is a perfectly valid solution, but there are some defenders of free speech culture who consider even that to be a form of social censorship.

        • But why should I be obligated to have a discussion with someone who’s beliefs I find abhorrent without either insulting or ignoring them?

          I don’t think you are obligated to. But, in my experience, people are unreasonably certain their beliefs are true, hence unreasonably confident that those who disagree with them are either evil or stupid.

          If so, there is something to be said for biasing your decisions of who to converse with away from the tendency to avoid those you disagree with.

        • LadyJane says:

          @DavidFriedman: Generally speaking, I agree, but at the same time, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people to avoid contact with (for instance) those who are actively bigoted against them. I wouldn’t blame a Jewish person for refusing to engage in a perfectly calm, rational, polite debate with a Nazi about whether he had the right to exist.

          I also feel like there’s a certain failure among the cultural libertarian crowd to notice how offensive generalizations can be taken as personal insults regardless of how politely they’re stated. If someone says “Charlie is a worthless dumbass with a double-digit IQ,” then most people wouldn’t find it unreasonable for Charlie to respond by insulting that person or refusing to talk to them. But if someone says “99.9% of black people have sub-100 IQs and no value to society,” and Charlie (who happens to be black) treats that as exactly the same kind of personal insult* and responds in kind, then a lot of people will argue that Charlie is being too emotional and overreacting. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with Charlie’s reaction there, even if the perceived insult was technically a general statement that wasn’t directed at him personally.

          *Which it basically is, even if it’s technically an assertion that Charlie is ‘only’ 99.9% likely to be a worthless dumbass with a double-digit IQ.

          • Except that the real claim that gets made, and objected to, is usually something like “the average IQ of black people is five points lower than that of white people.”

          • secondcityscientist says:

            Except that the real claim that gets made, and objected to, is usually something like “the average IQ of black people is five points lower than that of white people.”

            The number of people capable of thinking in terms of populations, probabilities and distributions is very small. If I heard someone say what you said, I would assume that they were not in fact capable of thinking in such a manner (because it is statistically unlikely they are) and were instead trying to insult someone else.

          • Randy M says:

            If I heard someone say what you said, I would assume that they were not in fact capable of thinking in such a manner

            Wait, are we supposed to reason about individuals from group statistics anecdote or not?

          • Jiro says:

            The number of people capable of thinking in terms of populations, probabilities and distributions is very small.

            But failure to think in terms of populations and distributions affects who is to blame. If a statement is a perceived insult to a logical thinker, the speaker is to blame. If the statement is a perceived insult only to people who lack understanding, it’s the fault of those people for lacking understanding, not the fault of the speaker.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            If the statement is a perceived insult only to people who lack understanding, it’s the fault of those people for lacking understanding

            This is the kind of statement I expect to be made mostly by idiots or white people.

            (This is to illustrate a point, and I don’t believe it – my point is that different people tend to different rational inferences, and that I don’t think that “everyone should make the inferences I do” is a reasonable basis for your moral culpability distribution function. I think the above statement demonstrates this point well; it’s a colloquial statement of “I think whiteness and stupidity are positively correlated with the likelihood of holding this belief.” It’s not a counterargument; it’s a tangential comment. But I think both that it’s possible for a rational individual to interpret this as lacking ill intent – there’s nothing explicitly denigrating about it – and for another one, like me, to suppose it’s absolutely dripping with self-righteous scorn and react accordingly.)

          • quanta413 says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            The difference is that one statement is your random opinion from anecdote and the other statement comes from decades of research and keeps getting roughly reproduced. With some variance in the exact value of X and the exact groupings of “white” and “black”

            That said, the context of a conversation matters. You can use something as an insult even if it doesn’t have to be. “the average IQ of black people is X points lower than that of white people” can be in the context of a scholarly work or debate on public policy (it is not much different than talking about “the gap” which is socially acceptable except that we’ve specified a more narrow type of test) or it can be someone being an asshole and intentionally making a false implication to piss someone off. If George who is black says “I’m having trouble learning differential equations” and Bob says “Well the average IQ of black people is X points lower than that of white people” then Bob is almost certainly just being an asshole.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Quanta

            I agree. My point was that the criterion as stated was bad because it’s hard (in the sense of “the hard problem”), not because it’s philosophically unjustified.

    • quanta413 says:

      This comment is too vague. What does “shame” consist of exactly? Who is being shamed and why? And what is your actual dispute with some vaguely defined group of “cultural libertarians”?

      Specifically, it seems like “free speech culture” is inherently self-contradictory, because it prioritizes the free speech of the first person to comment on a particular issue, while socially discouraging the free speech of responders.

      What mechanism are you talking about that would cause this?

      • LadyJane says:

        Shaming someone consists of insulting and/or ostracizing someone for having offensive views.

        “Cultural libertarianism” refers to the belief that free speech should be defended against not just government censorship and extralegal violence, but against all forms of suppression, from firing and boycotts and deplatforming all the way down to insulting people and refusing to associate with them on the basis of their beliefs. Cultural libertarians don’t want to legally prohibit insulting or excluding people for their beliefs, but they strongly discourage such actions (and some of them actually do want to make it illegal for institutions to fire or deplatform people for their opinions). The idea is that they’re protecting not just free speech as defined by law, but “the spirit of free speech” or “free speech culture” or some spook like that.

        As for the first speaker contradiction, see my response to A Definite Beta Guy above.

        • from firing and boycotts and deplatforming all the way down to insulting people and refusing to associate with them on the basis of their beliefs.

          I think the critical question here is whether you are doing those things in order to prevent arguments being made for those beliefs. If so, you are trying to make it harder for other people to discover whether those beliefs are true, which is a bad thing to do.

          If the reason I don’t associate with someone who expresses certain beliefs is that I find doing so uncomfortable, or the reason I don’t hire someone who is (say) a creationist is that I take that as evidence that he isn’t very smart, that isn’t a suppression of speech. If the reason is to keep those beliefs from being expressed, it is.

        • quanta413 says:

          Shaming someone consists of insulting and/or ostracizing someone for having offensive views.

          This is once again, still too vague. Insulting people is rude and not very productive but typically not very harmful in and of itself. Ostracism can vary from not very harmful to extremely harmful. If someone can’t get any job for example, they’re usually in pretty big trouble. If everyone refuses to sell or give them food, they’ll probably starve to death. If they don’t get invited to birthday parties, then no big deal. In between these sort of extremes are questions like “Is it ok or a good idea to ostracize them from entire industries as long as they could sell their labor to or buy a needed product from another industry more friendly to their views?”

          “Cultural libertarianism” refers to the belief that free speech should be defended against not just government censorship and extralegal violence, but against all forms of suppression, from firing and boycotts and deplatforming all the way down to insulting people and refusing to associate with them on the basis of their beliefs. Cultural libertarians don’t want to legally prohibit insulting or excluding people for their beliefs, but they strongly discourage such actions (and some of them actually do want to make it illegal for institutions to fire or deplatform people for their opinions). The idea is that they’re protecting not just free speech as defined by law, but “the spirit of free speech” or “free speech culture” or some spook like that.

          This starts out as an ok description but then veers into a weird strawman of cultural libertarianism. I’ve read people with vaguely that belief set and haven’t seen anyone endorse the idea that you should invite people to your birthday or engage with them in your personal life if you don’t like them. You can probably find a few crazies who will endorse the most ridiculous possibility, but I can find people saying the most ridiculous possibility for most things.

          It’s more the idea that norms of free speech do not end with the government. It’s hardly a new observation, J.S. Mill worried about the effect of the masses on speech.

          Personally I don’t think it makes any sense to discuss in a vacuum what sort of ostracism is justified for some hypothetical speech. Some ostracism is not very harmful and other ostracism may be extremely so. Some speech such as credible violent threats doesn’t fall under any free speech norms, and some speech does. Some organizations need their employees to have certain beliefs (like a Catholic priest needs to be a Catholic), but many beliefs are irrelevant to many organizations.

          As for the first speaker contradiction, see my response to A Definite Beta Guy above.

          The only contradiction I see is due to you having an idea of what your supposed opponents think that is basically the weakest possible version of their views. This isn’t particularly interesting, it’s like me saying that if someone believes that free speech only relates to government then they must be endorsing the idea that it’s morally acceptable for the rest of society to ostracize someone for saying anything so severely that they can’t find anywhere to live or obtain anything to eat (even by dumpster diving because everyone chases them away from dumpsters). And then the ostracized person dies in the gutter and obviously they deserved it.

          But that would be a completely ridiculous characterization of the actually held views of the typical person who believes free speech norms only relate to government. Even if I could get them to claim that’s what they believe just to signal their dedication to their point of view.

          • 10240 says:

            One source of confusion might be that on SSC there is a big overlap between those who think that a cultural free speech norm is desirable, and those who think that it’s generally a good idea to be willing to talk with people with very different or fringe views, evaluate their views charitably and not shame them (including Scott). However, for most of us wouldn’t consider this expected or morally obligatory.

    • 10240 says:

      I’ve argued about this before. My opinion is
      (1) From a libertarian point of view, it’s inappropriate to prohibit companies from restricting the freedom of speech by the force of law.*
      (2) Private suppression of speech, on platforms that are not inherently political and allow most sorts of speech, is wrong for much of the same reasons as legal prohibitions on speech are wrong, though not quote as wrong.
      (3) It’s appropriate to use private pressure to make companies maintain a freedom of speech. Just as freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from (non-legal) consequences, freedom to assign consequences to speech also doesn’t mean freedom from (non-legal) consequences for doing so.

      *At least it would be inappropriate in an otherwise libertarian society. In a society that already has extensive regulation that’s not going away, some of which impacts speech, some regulation promoting free speech at companies might make things less bad. E.g. some commentators argued that Google could’ve exposed itself to sexual harassment lawsuits if it hadn’t fire Damore; the fact that California also forbids discrimination on the basis of political views could have been used as a defense. C.f. Theory of the second best.

      Specifically, it seems like “free speech culture” is inherently self-contradictory, because it prioritizes the free speech of the first person to comment on a particular issue, while socially discouraging the free speech of responders. (Baeraad was willing to bite the bullet and say that he cares about “free argument” more than free speech per se, but I haven’t seen anyone else willing to openly take such a position, and it seems incredible bizarre to me.)

      Another counter-argument I made in the comment I’ve linked is that, IMO, only significant material repercussions count as a non-governmental restriction on the freedom speech, criticism or even shaming don’t.

      While I don’t quite agree with Baeraad’s view, it doesn’t seem that bad to me. In the situation you talk about, it would say that shaming is not OK, a cool-headed counter-argument or criticism is OK. The primary problem with suppression of speech is the suppression of ideas, and shaming people for their opinion doesn’t hold much value. My opinion is that shaming should be discouraged, but I wouldn’t want to enforce a cultural norm against it, and it would be unfeasible anyway because the boundaries are too vague.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Of course free speech is freedom from consequences. “You can say whatever you like, but if you say something unacceptable we’ll cut off your head as a consequence” is not free speech.

      As for private platforms, as a libertarian I agree that private platforms should be able to deny speakers access based on content, but you start getting into murky areas when those platforms are heavily government-regulated or influenced. If platforms deny you services because of what you say because the government will revoke their licenses or launch an expensive investigation if they don’t, that’s government action. If private companies fire the Archie Bunker types because the government will punish them if they do not, it’s the government suppressing their speech.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      There’s something fundamentally sneaky about portraying one’s own decision to punish someone as a “consequence”, as if it were the burn you get from touching a hot stove. People who try to cover up their own moral agency are rarely up to any good.

      • Walter says:

        +1 to this. Whenever anyone wants to do something shady they immediately offload the agency to the victim.

      • wk says:

        Lets say some guy calls his girlfriend ugly. Would you also consider it unethical to say “there will likely be consequences” in this setting, just because she has moral agency and freedom of choice, and doesn’t have to kick him out of her appartment?

        Moreover, I doubt people in either setting have any interest in covering up their moral agency. They are, if anything, proud of their choices, and their morality.

        • woah77 says:

          I think it’s disingenuous to suggest that kicking your now ex-boyfriend out of your apartment is in anyway equivalent to mobs of social media participants threatening to boycott your employer because of some political view you hold. Sure, every single member of that mob had freedom of choice and used that choice to tell an employer that they would boycott their products because of their employee. But it’s a categorically different kind of action.

          • wk says:

            I’m not claiming that the two situations are the same, not at all. Pauls argument, if I understand it correctly, is that the mere use of the word “consequence” is a tell-tale sign of ill intent, of sneaky behaviour, just because the people involved have choice, have moral agency. What I’m getting at is, how strict is this position supposed to be? Can the word “consequence” be used at all in the face of human action? If it’s ok to use the word “consequence” for the girlfriends action, why is not ok to use “consequences” in the other setting? And if it’s not ok for the girlfriend either, then I’m saying that most people simply don’t use the word “consequence” that way, and you can’t logically infer anything from them using the word.

            And second of all, I don’t think the people involved in putting pressure on companies to shut down speech they don’t like are trying in any sense to hide their moral agency. They’re not trying to be sneaky, or hiding behind passive language. They’re loud and proud.

          • woah77 says:

            To the first one: I wouldn’t call it a “consequence” since as you correctly point out, using the word “consequence” could be used to expand a justification for anything. I’d probably argue that as an offended part, she is free to revoke her association and remove her now ex from the premises of her residence. It might be an effect of what he said, but it’s not the same as a consequence, in that she was making her own choice. If she, somehow, broke the law in throwing him out, she would be liable for charges from her behavior.

            To your second point: They aren’t trying to hide their moral agency because they aren’t under any threat for performing that activity. There is no anti-outrage mob that goes after outrage mobs and targets their livelihood. When such behavior is criticized, the defense of outrage mobs is “Well maybe the target shouldn’t have said [whatever it was] and then they wouldn’t have had a reason to target him” and “Freedom of speech isn’t freedom from consequences.” Both are victim blaming and not conducive to a free society.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            “Consequences” becomes weaselly when it’s used in place of justification. “Freedom of speech isn’t freedom from consequences” is a thing people say after their punitive actions have been criticized; the forthright answer in this situation is “here’s why we’re right to punish this speaker”. Kicking the boyfriend out for an insult isn’t really an act whose justification is in question, at least not if the insult was sincere; if it was a playful tease to which she was overreacting, calling it a “consequence” would indeed be a dodge.

          • woah77 says:

            That’s very fair, Paul. It seems to me that when we’re talking about angry mob depriving person of livelihood the justification goes “He said this [terrible thing]” when then questioned about free speech it goes “Well, freedom from speech isn’t freedom from consequences, he shouldn’t have said that if he didn’t want to lose his livelihood.” Which smacks of extra-judiciary punishment, victim blaming, and weaseling to me. It basically boils down to “We don’t like him so he shouldn’t have a job” which sounds very oppressive to me.

          • wk says:

            @woah, Paul:
            Lets phrase this differently. Say the activists claim instead that “freedom of speech is not the same as freedom from retaliatory action from private parties, not the government, that stays within legal boundaries”. The word consequences is not used at all, so the question about correct terminology does not arise, and the statement appears to be perfectly correct from a legal point of view, at least to my IANAL-eyes. You might prefer that they have a different opinion, and find their actions supressing speech morally questionable, but would you still consider that statement a sign of sneaky behaviour?

            If you can convince me that activists would be fine with using the “consequences”-line, but not the second one for reasons other than it being not particularly short and snappy, I’m willing to grant you that they might be sneaky.

          • woah77 says:

            You might be right that they wouldn’t have an issue with it. I still do. Mob justice isn’t justice. If someone didn’t break any laws or compacts with you, then you have no right to punish them. Being “racist” or any other out-tribe signifier is not justification to punish someone. Attacking someone’s livelihood is punishing them.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            I’ve seen activists actually using wk’s second argument, and I have a problem with it, but not quite the same problem I have with the “consequences” line. The second argument, with its crabbed definition of freedom of speech, has the effect of answering a question that hasn’t been asked (is it legally permissible for us to punish this speaker?) instead of the one that has (is it right for us to punish this speaker?) This could be done with underhanded intent, but I think it more likely to come from a failure to grasp the distinction between the two questions. I’ll consider the possibility that the “consequences” language could come from an honest error of the same sort, but it still doesn’t seem likely to me.

          • wk says:

            There is a decent chance that our argument is at least partially due to living in a different environment. My guess is that Paul is so used to the idea of free speech as a fundamental virtue and to people around him agreeing with that point of view, that any action by anyone that shuts down any speech in any way is immediately judged relative to that standard. Since the people shutting down speech are acting against a fundamental virtue, they are therefore most likely trying to hide their own lack of virtue, similar to how an adulterer knows they’re acting immorally, and might try to blame the victim for their own lack of morality (“he’s not paying enough attention to me”, “she’s never willing to have sex”, whatever). Meanwhile, I can safely say that virtually nobody around me has or would defend free speech in the abstract sense. In simply does not occur to people that there is value in allowing certain kinds of speech to be free. I have literally, in the full old sense of the word, heard the argument “but that isn’t speech, it’s a crime”, as a defense of speech-restricting laws. As a good illustration of that point of view, read the Durch speech restriction laws posted below. In other words, I’m used to people around me considering the act of shutting down opposing views of a certain nature to be perfectly fine and even morally necessary. Therefore, when I hear the above arguments from activists, I don’t immediately think of them as sneaky; to me, they’re just people who follow their own sense of virtue and don’t see anything immoral at all in their actions, so they’re not acting sneaky or hiding behind passive language. I also think it likely we’re both right about some of the people, and wrong about others.

          • woah77 says:

            That’s the difference between arguing with the speaker and targeting their livelihood though. I have no problem with nine million people telling someone that he’s a dirty racist. I have a huge issue with nine million people telling ComEd that employee #8472 is a filthy racist and they need to fire him.

        • John Schilling says:

          Would you also consider it unethical to say “there will likely be consequences” in this setting?

          It is at minimum disingenuous weasel-wording for the girlfriend to say “there will be consequences” rather than “I will throw you out”. The passive formulation implies a neutral observer offering dispassionate advice.

        • quanta413 says:

          If this was a pattern of negative behavior (not teasing or something) I’d tell him “Your girlfriend should dump your sorry ass” and if I knew his girlfriend I’d tell her to do so.

          It would be really weird to phrase it as “There will likely be consequences.”

          • acymetric says:

            I don’t think it is weird at all. “Face the consequences” is used all the time when the consequences are somebody being upset/retaliating in response to someone else’s words/actions.

            Not only is this a silly semantic debate, I’m not even sure the semantic argument is a sound one.

          • quanta413 says:

            Who am I talking to in the more precise context? Because like I said, I’d encourage the outcome.

            I’d find it somewhere between weird to weaselly to warn or threaten a person with unspecified “consequences”. It would be different if I was engaging in gossip with yet another third party I guess. Although I’m having trouble imagining speaking that way even then.

      • Randy M says:

        Your freedom of speech doesn’t restrict my right to organize legal harassment of you!

      • JonathanD says:

        So, I’d like to connect this to a concrete example from the last open thread. If the head of an institute, commenting on social policy in an interview, said that while people hope that all groups are equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”, what, if anything, should happen? If the answer is nothing, then how are his black employees supposed to feel? Should they just shrug their shoulders and move on? Trust that, while he may have said that, he didn’t really mean me? Take it as justified criticism and do better? Leave? And, if your director, in an interview, gave such statement, what should you do as a member of the board? What do you do if all your black staff start leaving? If you get a reputation as a place minorities (Asians excluded) shouldn’t work because they can’t get a fair shake? If the head of a national lab made such a comment and nothing happened, do I, as a member of the public, have a right to comment? If I do am I opposed to free speech?

        When you’re talking about people making controversial statements and not facing any consequences, I feel like that’s the sort of thing that’s easier to say in the abstract than in specific. For another: Take a person working in an office and then have them say something racially inappropriate. Maybe send this joke around on company wide email: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”

        In both these cases, the person was fired. I think that was appropriate. For those with the view that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences, what do you think? Do you really think that no consequences was the right answer here, and an injustice was done when these people lost their positions?

        I know I’m asking these questions in a pretty confrontational way, but if someone thinks that, I would really like to hear about that, and hear about why. It’s a position I have trouble getting my head around.

        • Jiro says:

          Two people gave basically the same answer above: “Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequences” is weaselly because it is being used as an excuse to punish someone without having to justify the punishment. If you fire someone for making a horribly racist joke, you can justify the punishment directly, and have no need for such an excuse.

        • quanta413 says:

          Sending mass e-mails around the company for non-work purposes is bordering on reason to be fired in and of itself. So that’s easy. Way over the edge. Fire. I would think differently if the statement was not in company e-mail.

          The totality of Watson’s comments is different from the isolated quote. I think Watson was rude (and he has a reputation for this), but what he said was still within the bounds of a forced retirement being too much.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          @ Jonathan.

          Thank you very much for making a more specific argument. LadyJane is being far too vague to really figure out what she means.

          I agree that those two employees should “have consequences” for their bad behavior, perhaps being fired. They are causing bad feelings in the workplace, and the employer should not stand for it.

          You may be surprised that I also agree that Watson should have faced consequences for his comment insulting his Black employees. Even though this was my posting I put there to complain about how Watson was treated, I was referring to his comment about Africa and the implication of lower IQs of Blacks. I didn’t realize he had also directly insulted his employees. The institute certainly should have censured him, and maybe fired him. Although I don’t see how that one comment should have put him in the doghouse in the academic community. I do think much of that treatment was because of his totally reasonable concern about Africa.

          • albatross11 says:

            I suspect Watson’s widespread reputation for being a jerk also didn’t help him any, either in terms of getting people to believe that his comment was not intended to offend, or in terms of gaining him defenders among the many people he’d pissed off over the years.

    • Erusian says:

      Simplest counterargument: Are you really comfortable with the consequences of this? Or is it just because you expect your ideological allies to have more cultural power? A Christian organization once collected the names of every woman who’d had an abortion in a rather conservative county and published them in a newspaper. Many of the women were shunned or lost their jobs. One was assaulted, though the man had no ties to the people who published the list. Are you alright with that?

      Because every weapon you use will be turned on you. That’s really why rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion exist. Every person, deep down, their belief system is right. If they don’t agree to respect others, though, all the groups end up trying to eliminate each other. Live and let live is a way to get around that, which everyone wants because religious civil wars are not fun times. If you start shaming people for their speech, people will organize to do so. Others will then counterorganize and you end up with wide social conflict. One that will generally disadvantage small, weak groups relative to large.

      Also, obviously freedom means freedom from consequences. If you can ‘have’ a freedom despite it having negative consequences, then you are always free to do almost anything. It’s a totally vacuous definition. It doesn’t mean freedom from being debated but that’s not really controversial. When people talk about weaponized shaming, they are generally not talking about someone suffering disagreement.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        All of this. “You’re absolutely free to do/be/say X! However, if you do, are, or say X the government and/or others will swiftly murder you.” That doesn’t sound much like freedom.

        • LadyJane says:

          This seems to be a bad-faith strawman, I think it’s fairly obvious from context that the libertarian in question did not support summary execution as one of the potential consequences of free speech.

          Would “freedom of speech is not freedom from [social and cultural repercussions by non-state actors that do not involve the use of violence or theft/destruction of property, nor the threat thereof]” be a statement that you agreed with?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Before I could agree with that statement I would have to know what the acceptable repercussions are.

          • LadyJane says:

            Here’s a list, you tell me what you consider socially acceptable. I’m sure you’ll probably agree that at least a few of them are okay, but I’m curious where people draw the line.

            1. Boycotts
            A. A company gets boycotted because it took an offensive stance as an institution (e.g. demanding that black people sit on the back of the bus, refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay couples); the intent of the boycott is to make the company change their policy or go out of business
            B. A company gets boycotted because a high-ranking figure (the CEO, one of the board members, the Head of Marketing and Public Relations) made an offensive public statement, albeit while clarifying that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the company; the intent of the boycott is to make the company remove that figure, or at least force him to make a public apology
            C. A company gets boycotted as a result of a high-ranking figure making an offensive statement in private which was then publicly exposed (something like the Donald Sterling scandal); the intent of the boycott is to make the company remove that figure, or at least force him to make a public apology
            D. A company gets boycotted as a result of a random employee of no particular importance making an offensive statement on social media; the intent of the boycott is to make the company remove that employee, or at least force him to make a public apology

            2. Termination of employment
            A. An employer fires a worker for refusing to bake wedding cakes for interracial couples
            B. An employer fires a worker for refusing to address trans co-workers and customers by their preferred names and pronouns
            C. An employer fires a worker for talking on the job about how black people have innately lower IQs than other races, much to the chagrin of his black co-workers
            D. An employer fires a worker for making the same assertion to co-workers at a bar after work
            E. An employer fires a worker for making the same assertion in a private Facebook group, unaware that one of his co-workers was in the same group

            3. Social ostracization
            A. A Jewish activist refuses to debate a Nazi on the subject of whether or not Jews should have the right to exist
            B. A trans activist refuses to debate a political pundit who insists on deadnaming and misgendering trans people
            C. An Asian woman breaks up with her boyfriend after finding out that he’s a white nationalist, despite his claims that he “just wants white people to have their own homeland too” and “doesn’t have a problem with Asians, since they have high IQs like white people”
            D. A white man refuses to be friends with a black co-worker who’s expressed anti-white views, despite the co-worker’s claim that “he’s one of the good ones”
            E. LGBT people refuse to associate with a neighbor who expresses openly homophobic views
            F. Straight cisgendered people refuse to associate with a neighbor who expresses openly homophobic views
            G. People refuse to associate with a neighbor after discovering that he’s expressed openly homophobic views online, despite the fact that he’s never made statements like that in person and he’s always been polite to LGBT people in the neighborhood
            H. People refuse to associate with a neighbor after discovering that he supports a political candidate who supports anti-LGBT legislation, despite his claims that he doesn’t agree with the candidate on that particular issue

            4. Insults
            A. Some random vagabond on a street corner starts shouting about how the Illuminati and Reptilians are keeping all the sheeple enslaved with their TV mind-control rays; people simply laugh at him and continue walking instead of stopping to debate him and refute his arguments
            B. A famous conspiracy theorist has a TV show where he makes the exact same kinds of arguments, but more coherently and in greater detail, using misleading charts and cherry-picked statistics and out-of-context news stories to “prove” his claims; an even more famous journalist simply calls him a crackpot and summarily dismisses all of his ideas as abject nonsense
            C. A radio show host gets a call from a Klansman who starts going on a long rambling screed about the evils of blacks, Jews, and Catholics; after half a minute, the host just disconnects the call and says “Jesus, what a jackass, it’s 2019, how do people still believe racist garbage like that?”
            D. An anti-trans blogger posts an argument that’s politely worded but firmly dismissive of trans identities; a famous trans YouTube star makes a video where she responds by repeatedly calling him a transphobic asshole and arguing that his points aren’t even worthy of being addressed

          • albatross11 says:

            LadyJane:

            Insults are speech, and if you accept that free speech is important, that includes speech that involves telling you that you’re an idiot or an asshole for your beliefs, as well as for meatier comments where someone tells you in depth, point by point, why only an idiot would believe what you just said.

            I don’t think any of the things you described there should be illegal, assuming they’re not done by the state or somehow using state power to back them. (That is, if the Justice Department threatens legal action against companies that don’t punish some off-the-job speech by employees, that’s a first amendment issue.) Some states have laws against private discrimination w.r.t. political beliefs–I’m not sure that’s a good policy, but it’s no more unreasonable than a lot of other antidiscrimination laws.

            I personally strongly oppose using boycotts to try to force companies to police the off-the-job speech and political activities of their employees. This isn’t about libertarianism, it’s about thinking that this kind of action makes the world a duller and dumber and generally worse place. Explicit political actions or positions taken by companies are fair grounds for boycotts, though honestly I think that’s usually a bad idea, too–the world works better when I can do business with people who disagree with me about important values.

            Similarly, I think employers firing people for off-the-job political activities or speech is a really terrible idea, and I strongly oppose it. If that norm becomes commonplace, then most people lose the freedom to be politically active in ways their employer opposes. When you’re on the job, the boss can limit what you can say to the public while representing him, for very good reasons. He can also limit what you can say at work in general, but it would be a shitty thing for him to do to impose rules that only permitted some political views to be expressed, and not others. (Every workplace I’ve ever seen has only cared about employees not causing trouble with their speech, whether that’s politics or general bitching or propositioning coworkers. Also, I think most workplaces would give the offending employee a talking-to about toning down the “we’re the master race” or “you’re not really a girl, I’m gonna call you Fred” nonsense before firing them.)

            Deciding whom to talk to or hang around with or date seems entirely personal, and people can use whatever criteria they like for those decisions. Ostracizing a neighbor for their political views is something people can do, but I think a widespread norm of doing it, especially with fairly narrow limits of tolerance for different views, will make the world a much worse place. Trying to organize ostricization of people for their political views or actions seems deeply nasty to me.

            Again, none of this is about the law (except maybe anti-discrimination law w.r.t. political activity). Instead, it’s about what kind of norms I hope to see, in order to keep a society where people can be different and weird and disagree in public, without being crushed for it or bullied into pretending to believe whatever the neighbors all say they believe.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @LadyJane

            This is a good list that everyone should think carefully about; thanks.

          • quanta413 says:

            @LadyJane

            Thank you for being specific. None should be illegal. I’m going to split things into “socially acceptable” (SA) and “socially unacceptable” (SU).

            1A. SA.
            1B. SU but not by much. Although the totality of circumstances could flip this.
            1C. SU. Everyone fucks up in private sometimes or has some disagreeable beliefs. This is a bad road to go down.
            1D. SU. This has very little benefit but a whole lot of negative effects. This is the worst of 1A-1D by far.

            2A-C. SA as long as expectations were made clear either before or just after the first infringement.
            2D. Depends. Who is telling the employer and why? Why are the coworkers at a bar after work? etc. etc.
            2E. SU.

            3A-G. SA. But I think 3B may be a tactical mistake. Homophobic is rather vague w.r.t. (3G). (3G) is borderline in that I can easily imagine cases going either way depending on specifics.

            3H. SU. Anyone who agrees with everything their country/candidate/religion does is probably a mindless partisan. I don’t want to encourage everyone to be mindless partisans.

            4A. Openly laughing at is SU. Walking past is SA.
            4B. Slightly SU. The higher road is to not engage at all.
            4C. Meh.
            4D. Same as 4B but tactically it may be a stupider decision.

            Even most of the things I find socially acceptable I would typically find less so if someone exercised them a lot or if they were exercised in a coordinated manner.

          • acymetric says:

            @quanta413

            For 1B and 1C (which are both essentially a high ranking official saying something offensive in an unofficial capacity), does it change if the pressure is coming from within the orginization, such as that official’s employees threatening to quit en masse rather than work for such a person? Certainly removing the person would at least be the wise business decision, but (such as with the Donald Sterling case) is making the decision because the employees threaten not to work more acceptable than doing the same because of outside pressure?

            I think I pretty much agree with you on everything, except that I would lean socially acceptable on 1B and 1C would be a push highly dependent on what exactly happened.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            @LadyJane.

            Okay this is more like it! A great list for discussion. The problem is you have so much there I could spend 10-20 pages discusses all the pro’s and cons of responses. I hope you save that whole list and periodically put pieces of it on future initial posts (or in response to others). But too much by itself to respond to. Altho quanta made a good summary.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @LadyJane comment of the week. That is useful and specific.

            1. Boycotts. I think if people were logically consistent (ha!) boycotts would be socially unacceptable. The same people who were super mad ~2 weeks ago about the Texas law banning boycotts of Israel would be apoplectic about anyone who boycotted businesses owned by blacks or gays or women or the transgendered. There is no freedom of association in this country, and commerce is highly regulated. You simply are not free to choose with whom you will and will not do business. If you want to argue that you should have this freedom as a general principle, great, but then I’d like to hear your defense of “no blacks/gays/trans allowed” signs in store windows. What people all seem to want is “other people should be forced to do business with people I like and I should never be forced to do business with people I don’t like.” Naw.

            2. Termination of employment.

            A is a violation of the law (no freedom of association, definitely not in commerce, remember).

            B I assume is a violation of company policy and generally bad business. Should be fired.

            C and D should be met with a talking-to about what’s appropriate and not appropriate to discuss at work or work-related events. E should be ignored and is no business of the company’s. I’m pretty sure you would be mad about a company that fired an employee for taking part in a gay pride parade on his own time.

            3. None of these have anything to do with commerce or public-facing entities, so they’re “okay” but I think almost all either dickish or counter-productive. I definitely agree with quanta wrt the last one. Who in their right mind agrees with every part of a politician’s platform? If you’re disassociating with people over politics, including politics they don’t even agree with, you’re the one with the problem.

            4. Is all just speech. It’s fine, but I think insults are mostly pointless.

          • theredsheep says:

            My general rule is that boycotts are morally acceptable IFF I believe the principle at stake should be legally enforced; if they’re merely being obnoxious, I don’t have the right to punish their employees for working for obnoxious people, but I do have the right to stop conduct so bad that it really ought to be prevented by cops wielding firearms.

            As for the legal permissibility of boycotts, well, good luck stopping them. For the record, I’m not really a libertarian.

          • albatross11 says:

            Boycotts for off-the-job political activities are a bit like someone refusing to associate with anyone outside their race. There’s no law against it, but it’s still perfectly reasonable to think it’s lousy and socially destructive behavior.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Generally speaking my personal view is that all of these things should be allowed, but are in my personal view:

            1) A and B, fine, C borderline (once someone who represents a company/organization is damaging that organization/company they have to take action and I can’t find fault with that, but I tend to see this as the tactic of bad actors), D unacceptable

            2) 2 A-C fine insofar as the employer is responding within the workplace, D-E unacceptable. If you have a personal problem with someone outside of work, you settle it outside of work, you don’t attack their livelihood in an attempt to get the employer to fight your fights for you.

            3) A-D are not examples of social ostracism. You’re making the same mistake that HBC did in another thread, conflating uncoordinated and unenforced individual choice with coordinated and enforced collective action. That said, I judge A and B as acceptable, but it also downgrades my assessment of the person and my assessment of their cause. You’re not much of an “activist” if you’re only going to engage with moderate to sympathetic audiences, and it makes me think they lack the courage of their convictions.

            C-D are perfectly fine.

            E-F acceptable to the extent that it is individuals making a choice to avoid people because they are hostile/unpleasant, but note that this is also not an example of the sort of social ostracism that has been debated here, which is not simply “we the group X do not want to associate with person Y” but “We the group X announce that people in general should not associate with person Y and if you do, group X will judge/shame/ostracize you too.”.

            G – Borderline, depends on context.

            H – No, because of the “people” in general as opposed to an individual. This is essentially defecting from underlying civic principles. The whole point of the combination of free speech laws, marketplace of ideas social norms, and democratic institutions is to keep ideological and philosophical conflict restrained to arguing with each other and voting against one another in elections.

            4) You don’t seem to be actually talking about -insults- here. You’re talking about when it’s ok or not ok to simply insult someone instead of engaging with an argument. I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. See 2A-B. It’s always acceptable for you to refuse to engage with someone, but my expectation is that if you claim to be championing truth/justice/etc and care about facts that you will engage with types B & D if you expect anyone to take you seriously on the topic. By your own description, A and C are not making arguments, B and D are. Finding a line of argumentation so offensive you can only respond with insults or you can’t respond with a better argument is a pretty serious failing in someone who wants to be able to convince other people of the rightness of their views by persuasion and argument.

          • Plumber says:

            @LadyJane

            Here’s a list, you tell me what you consider socially acceptable. I’m sure you’ll probably agree that at least a few of them are okay, but I’m curious where people draw the line.

            1. Boycotts
            A. A company gets boycotted because it took an offensive stance as an institution (e.g. demanding that black people sit on the back of the bus, refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay couples); the intent of the boycott is to make the company change their policy or go out of business

            Acceptable

            B. A company gets boycotted because a high-ranking figure (the CEO, one of the board members, the Head of Marketing and Public Relations) made an offensive public statement, albeit while clarifying that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the company; the intent of the boycott is to make the company remove that figure, or at least force him to make a public apology

            Acceptable

            C. A company gets boycotted as a result of a high-ranking figure making an offensive statement in private which was then publicly exposed (something like the Donald Sterling scandal); the intent of the boycott is to make the company remove that figure, or at least force him to make a public apology

            Acceptable D. A company gets boycotted as a result of a random employee of no particular importance making an offensive statement on social media; the intent of the boycott is to make the company remove that employee, or at least force him to make a public apology Borderline, but mostly acceptable ’cause people can buy or not buy for whatever damn fool reason they think of.

            2. Termination of employment
            A. An employer fires a worker for refusing to bake wedding cakes for interracial couples

            Acceptable B. An employer fires a worker for refusing to address trans co-workers and customers by their preferred names and pronouns Acceptable unless that employee has a very strong union that protects them, but they should still be assigned a job that doesn’t interact with the public.

            C. An employer fires a worker for talking on the job about how black people have innately lower IQs than other races, much to the chagrin of his black co-workers

            Unacceptable

             D. An employer fires a worker for making the same assertion to co-workers at a bar after work

            Borderline, I’d say a dope slap would be the most appropriate response, but the slapper would have to have roughly the same status at work, not a supervisor.

            E. An employer fires a worker for making the same assertion in a private Facebook group, unaware that one of his co-workers was in the same group

            Unacceptable.

            3. Social ostracization
            A. A Jewish activist refuses to debate a Nazi on the subject of whether or not Jews should have the right to exist

            Acceptable

            B. A trans activist refuses to debate a political pundit who insists on deadnaming and misgendering trans people

            Acceptable

            C. An Asian woman breaks up with her boyfriend after finding out that he’s a white nationalist, despite his claims that he “just wants white people to have their own homeland too” and “doesn’t have a problem with Asians, since they have high IQs like white people”

            Acceptable, unless they have kids together, in which case unacceptable, and if they had kids without being legally married they should be forced to have common law married status, maybe with electronic handcuffs and location monitors, the boyfriend should also be subject to electroshock “therapy” until he stops talking to the mother of his children like that. Social service monitoring should be implemented.

            D. A white man refuses to be friends with a black co-worker who’s expressed anti-white views, despite the co-worker’s claim that “he’s one of the good ones”

            Acceptable

            E. LGBT people refuse to associate with a neighbor who expresses openly homophobic views

            Acceptable

            F. Straight cisgendered people refuse to associate with a neighbor who expresses openly homophobic views

            Acceptable

            G. People refuse to associate with a neighbor after discovering that he’s expressed openly homophobic views online, despite the fact that he’s never made statements like that in person and he’s always been polite to LGBT people in the neighborhood

            Borderline

            H. People refuse to associate with a neighbor after discovering that he supports a political candidate who supports anti-LGBT legislation, despite his claims that he doesn’t agree with the candidate on that particular issue

            Borderline, rude but no one should be forced to interact with neighbors they don’t want to, unless they have kids together.

            4. Insults
            A. Some random vagabond on a street corner starts shouting about how the Illuminati and Reptilians are keeping all the sheeple enslaved with their TV mind-control rays;

            Unacceptable, but unfortunately common

            people simply laugh at him and continue walking instead of stopping to debate him and refute his arguments

            Acceptable to keep walking

            B. A famous conspiracy theorist has a TV show where he makes the exact same kinds of arguments, but more coherently and in greater detail, using misleading charts and cherry-picked statistics and out-of-context news stories to “prove” his claims;

            Organizing boycotting is the appropriate response

            an even more famous journalist simply calls him a crackpot and summarily dismisses all of his ideas as abject nonsense

            Acceptable

            C. A radio show host gets a call from a Klansman who starts going on a long rambling screed about the evils of blacks, Jews, and Catholics; after half a minute,

            Unacceptable, the host should shut it down immediately.  

            the host just disconnects the call and says “Jesus, what a jackass, it’s 2019, how do people still believe racist garbage like that?”

            Acceptable

            D. An anti-trans blogger posts an argument that’s politely worded but firmly dismissive of trans identities;

            I need way more context, d dismissive how?

            a famous trans YouTube star makes a video where she responds by repeatedly calling him a transphobic asshole and arguing that his points aren’t even worthy of being addressed

            Polite language would be better but still acceptable.

          • acymetric says:

            @Plumber

            Did you maybe misunderstand 2C and 2D? I’m not sure why it would be unacceptable to fire someone for saying something while on the job, but then borderline to fire them for saying the same thing outside the workplace?

          • quanta413 says:

            @acymetric

            It’s likely not acceptable from a business perspective to let the business get damaged much just to discourage socially unacceptable behavior. And employee revolt is more likely to hurt a lot than the typical boycott threats which have trouble materializing or reaching a big scale.

            But I think a lot of businesses probably cave too fast even from a business perspective. Nobody wants to be blamed for employee dissatisfaction and foot dragging or for a boycott of the company even if the odds it would be significant are low and caving encourages more pressure in the future.

          • Plumber says:

            @acymetric 

            “Did you maybe misunderstand 2C and 2D? I’m not sure why it would be unacceptable to fire someone for saying something while on the job, but then borderline to fire them for saying the same thing outside the workplace?”

            Oh, good catch @acymetric, For “C” I meant the derogatory comments towards their co-workers is unacceptable (unless, like many of my jobs, such comments are constant banter back-and-forth all-around among the crew, though you don’t make them in public areas, and supervisor to underling should do it less), so firing is probably acceptable (especially if it’s a supervisor slinging comments to an underling).

            For “D” it’s still borderline, instead of firing a slight slap to their head combined with telling them “Shut up, fool” seems appropriate, though if they persist or fight back a gut punch is order if the derogatory talker is a man, if the derogotory talker is a woman than everyone else in the crew leaves the bar at once and anyone present doesn’t talk to them until they apologize.

    • Hoopdawg says:

      Freedom of speech necessitates the freedom to respond and criticize, and it’s only when responses are not limited to speech that people (rightly) start crying foul. And let’s be frank here, we’re not talking about “X said something racist, got called out on it and now some people refuse to speak to him” we’re talking about “X said something racist, got all his social media accounts deleted, lost his job and can’t receive money transfers”, as demonstrated by:

      >deny me access to a private platform

      Now, I am aware that certain libertarians think that everything can and should be privately owned and that business companies are a valid vehicle for that. Personally, I think that a business company with unimpeded control over its property is indistinguishable from a state, and if anything is self-contradictory here, it’s the kind of libertarianism that supports mono/oligopolistic entities as they gatekeep information, ban money transfer, and in general deny people the ability to earn (and by extension not starve to death).

    • Reasoner says:

      Couldn’t you turn that logic back on the person making the comment, and say that the right winger is responding to the bad speech of the left wing shame wielder with their own right wing speech? I don’t think I’m seeing right wing free speech proponents requesting government intervention to protect them from left wing shamers. If it’s OK for left-wingers to shame right-wingers for saying things they don’t like, why shouldn’t it be OK for right-wingers to shame left-wingers for using shame in a way they see as improper? (And no, this isn’t a contradiction in terms: it’s OK to use violence against criminals (i.e. people who use violence in improper ways).)

      BTW, a recent release from Heterodox Academy that might be worth a read:

      https://heterodoxacademy.org/mill/

      From the book:

      [John Stuart] Mill’s main concern was not government censorship. It was the stultifying consequences of social conformity, of a culture where deviation from a prescribed set of opinions is punished through peer pressure and the fear of ostracism.

      In what sense is it self-contradictory for me to speak up against “stultifying consequences of social conformity” where “deviation from a prescribed set of opinions is punished through peer pressure and the fear of ostracism”? Because that does seem to exist on the left:

      https://quillette.com/2018/07/14/i-was-the-mob-until-the-mob-came-for-me/

      BTW, I’m not a free speech absolutist… but I’m also not a fan of the left wing’s mob mentality take on speech suppression. If there was a way for us to appoint a wise and disinterested government “speech czar” who carefully considered what should & should not be OK to say, and this person’s opinions were implemented by law and weren’t vulnerable to outside pleading, I could see myself being in favor of that. (I recognize this is unrealistic, I’m just using it as an illustration. I also recognize this is not a very libertarian proposal.)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I know that a lot of “cultural libertarian” types are vehemently opposed to the “free speech is not freedom from consequences” line of thinking, but I honestly don’t get the basis for their opposition and I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument for their position.

      In a previous OT you and I discussed the phenomenon of “social contagion transgenderism.” Media and institutions are giving positive attention towards transgendered individuals, and as a result some confused young people are “coming out” as transgendered, when they’re probably not actually trans. Trans activism is therefore harmful to some people, and may even be net harmful overall if the non-trans people confused by trans activism outnumber the transgendered individuals comforted by trans activism. An employer agrees with this, and fires an employee who engages in trans activism on their own time in ways unrelated to their job.

      This is all fine, correct? The person is entirely free to be a trans activist, but not from the consequences of being a trans activist, after all.

      Perhaps a more desirable social norm would be “speech is responded to with speech rather than actions unrelated to the speech.”

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        Perhaps a more desirable social norm would be “speech is responded to with speech rather than actions unrelated to the speech.”

        I would simplify to “reciprocality is good.”

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Correlated question:

      Is it a violation of the spirit of libertarian values to argue that people should choose to self segregate, to argue that blacks and whites should not mix?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        “Should choose” or “should be allowed to choose?”

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “should choose” – I am talking about the persuasive argument for segregating. See my response to quanta.

        • I don’t think it is either a violation of libertarian values or an implication of libertarian values. There are advantages (and disadvantages) to associating mostly with people similar to yourself.

          My main objection would be that I don’t think race is a very good proxy for the relevant sorts of similarities.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            So, your position is that arguing for, and attempting to persuade people to engage in, segregation based on race is not a violation of libertarian principles, correct?

          • albatross11 says:

            I don’t see how voluntary segregation contradicts libertarianism at all. I’d say libertarianism is about what the powers and laws and policies of the government should be, and private decisions about whom to associate with are outside the scope of that kind of concern. It’s like asking whether being vegan contradicts being a socialist–presumably you can be a perfectly good socialist whether or not you’re a vegan–they’re just entirely separate concerns.

            OTOH, I think that most US libertarians would say you were a bad person and might not want to associate with you if you used your freedom to do some kinds of voluntary segregation–say, putting a “whites only” sign on your restaurant.

            It’s worth digging down a bit on what we mean by segregation, here. For example, from internet dating sites, we know that a large number of people prefer to date within their own race, and even more have some hierarchy of racial preferences in potential dates. This kind of behavior doesn’t violate US antidiscrimination law, but it’s an instance of voluntary segregation. I doubt most Americans (libertarian or not) find this particularly wicked, though there certainly are people who argue that this kind of preference is morally wrong to act on.

            To use another example, many religious people feel very strongly that they should only date/marry within their religion. Catholics, Mormons, and Jews all commonly feel like they should marry within their faith, even though there’s plenty of intermarriage. Again, this is private discrimination, but most people (libertarian or not) don’t think it’s particularly wicked.

            Many immigrants prefer to live in a neighborhood where lots of other immigrants from the same country (and often same region) live. Private schools tend to put people from the same religion and/or social class together. All kinds of voluntary segregation, but mostly not condemned by many peiople.

            When I hear “segregation,” I think of specific kinds of segregation which are mostly forbidden by US law–say, refusing to serve blacks in your restaurant, or writing a restrictive covenant for houses in a certain neighborhood promising to sell your house only to other whites, or putting “No Irish Need Apply” in your employment ads. And it strikes me that the evil of this stuff wasn’t in individual preferences, it was in coordinated preferences that served to screw over blacks, and often included a lot of social pressure to maintain the voluntary segregation.

            If Alice isn’t interested in dating blacks, I’m not especially interested in condemning her–there’s no accounting for taste, after all. But if she breaks off friendships with anyone who marries a black person, then I’m going to think she’s a pretty lousy person. And if she tries to coordinate such actions, I’m going to think she’s part of a movement of pretty lousy people who need to be opposed.

          • quanta413 says:

            It’s worth digging down a bit on what we mean by segregation, here. For example, from internet dating sites, we know that a large number of people prefer to date within their own race, and even more have some hierarchy of racial preferences in potential dates.

            Tangent, but I’m willing to say that if someone is only willing to date (or marry) within race, that’s wrong. Not super wrong, but wrong. It’s the sort of personal flaw that ideally you should work on. Although fixing other flaws may take precedence. Like I said, not super wrong.

            Some leeway is given if it’s solely because your parents are racist about who you marry. In which case they are the ones in the wrong.

            I’m not going to shame someone for it even if I can somehow confirm other than by the fact that someone always dates people of the same race. But I would try to encourage someone who was otherwise not racist to try modifying their own preferences. Racists should fix the bigger issue first. A bigger dating pool has its own benefits.

          • albatross11 says:

            Quanta:

            How do you feel about Orthodox Jews refusing to marry outside their faith? How about Amish?

            I knew a white girl in college who almost exclusively dated black men–she just found them more attractive than anyone else. I’m not clear on why that was bad.

          • LadyJane says:

            For what it’s worth, I don’t think having an aesthetic preference for certain races is bad, as long as it’s purely aesthetic. It’s also worth considering whether they’re willing to make exceptions; if someone just happens to mostly date Asian women, that doesn’t seem like a problem, but if someone is never willing to date non-Asians, that raises some red flags in my eyes.

            I think a good litmus test is the mixed-race partner hypothetical: Let’s say you prefer to date Caucasian women, not because it’s racist, but just because you like the way that Caucasian facial features look. If you started dating an attractive Caucasian-looking woman, but found out a few weeks later that she was half-black, would that make you think twice about dating her? If not, then it’s just an aesthetic preference and you’re fine. If so, then you’ve probably got some deep-seated racial biases that you should work on adjusting.

          • quanta413 says:

            @albatross11

            How do you feel about Orthodox Jews refusing to marry outside their faith? How about Amish?

            I knew a white girl in college who almost exclusively dated black men–she just found them more attractive than anyone else. I’m not clear on why that was bad.

            I am not a fan of those facets of Orthodox Judaism or the Amish, but I find it acceptable. Assuming conversion is allowed and not significantly more stringent than being born into the religion. If it’s not then I find it wrong.

            In a hypothetical vacuum, I’d say only dating out of race is wrong too, but the bias of the world towards dating within race is so immense that I doubt I’d encourage someone who had a specific preference for dating out of race to broaden their choices. Plenty of people are willing to give them undeserved shit for their preferences already. Miscegenation tends to act as a social mixer or at least soften some boundaries more than anything else can. I think this is a great good. I might be biased by my own background though.

            I’m almost on the same page as LadyJane in terms of what raises red flags etc. Except being unwilling to date anyone outside of your own race even for purely aesthetic preferences still seems wrong to me. Although other personal issues could easily take precedence like I said. It’s low priority in my mind. More important than not being 5 minutes late to everything, but less important than doing what you say you’ll do or being charitable etc.

          • Aapje says:

            Race tends to correlate with culture as well. What if you have strong cultural preferences?

            For example, what about people who refuse to date African Americans, but are willing to date (certain) Africans (whose culture tends to be different)?

          • quanta413 says:

            @Aapje

            I think that’s fine. I think having cultural preferences is not only fine but it’s probably impossible not to have those.

            I think it’s preferable to not to be super strict about cultural preferences, but probably more for one own’s benefit.

          • I am not a fan of those facets of Orthodox Judaism or the Amish, but I find it acceptable.

            In the case of the Amish, it’s usually not dating anyone outside of your affiliation–the collection of congregations that have roughly similar Ordnungen (rules).

            It makes a good deal of sense. The Amish rules constrain what people can do in a variety of ways. If I am in favor of one set of constraints and you of a noticeably different set, getting married and creating a joint household raises serious problems.

            Similarly for an orthodox Jew dating someone not orthodox.

            I don’t think it should be an absolute bar in either case, but it seems like a pretty reasonable way to behave.

      • quanta413 says:

        I’d say probably not if they only stick to arguing and doing so themselves, but it’s bad for unrelated reasons. But I think libertarianism as morality rather than political philosophy is crazy enough that I can’t really model the response someone committed to it would give.

        Some fleshed out libertarian-ish philosophers like Rand would have said that it’s obviously against their values.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          if they only stick to arguing and doing so themselves

          What does the word “themselves” mean?

          I am talking about someone making a persuasive argument that, for example, other black people should not intermingle with the white devils, as they are evil, as (again, an example) Malcolm X did. That is not an argument that Malcolm limited to himself. He made it persuasively to others.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I guess I don’t know why “should choose” is a libertarian argument. I could see them making a “should be allowed to choose” argument, but whether or not you choose to self-segregate seems orthogonal to libertarian thought.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You are saying that persuading people as to correct course of action is antithetical to libertarian thought?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m saying I don’t know why promoting segregation would be a libertarian thing. You might as well ask if it’s a violation of the libertarian spirit to advocate eating pudding. I’m sure there are libertarians who are strongly in favor of pudding, and vocal about it, but I don’t think their preference for pudding has anything to do with them being a libertarian. Are there a lot of libertarians who argue for segregation?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Conrad Honcho:
            You are side-stepping my question (and I think you know it).

          • acymetric says:

            I don’t think the point is that persuading people to self-segregate is inherently libertarian, I think the question is would advocating self-segregation be anti-libertarian.

            Related, would there be an appropriate libertarian response to oppose the segregators on some grounds or would any opposition be anti-libertarian on the basis of infringing their right to choose?

          • Walter says:

            “I think the question is would advocating self-segregation be anti-libertarian.”

            I don’t think it would be. Libertarianism smiles benevolently on changing people’s behavior by communicating with them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Please don’t accuse me of bad faith.

            I don’t understand what you’re getting at.

            I’m not a libertarian, but I think I vaguely understand their positions. They would probably defend one’s right to freedom of association, so there’s nothing wrong with voluntarily choosing to associate or not associate with a person or groups of people. If someone who believes in freedom of association chooses not to associate with those of a given race, that seems consistent to me, but it does not necessarily follow from the belief in freedom of association.

            I think where a libertarian segregationist would run into a dilemma would be the enforcement mechanism. If you found the town of Purplesvile, no Green people allowed, and a stinking Greenie comes in anyway, what do you do? I guess Purplesvilians could found the town as a joint stock company or something? With contractual agreements to only sell shares to Purples. Then the town itself is private property and they can decide who is and is not allowed to enter.

            What’s your answer to your question? Is it un-libertarian to advocate voluntary self-segregation?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Conrad Honcho:
            Acymetric seems to have grokked the argument. Walter is providing a counterpoint to your statement (and IIRC he self identifies as libertarian, but I am definitely not sure of that).

            I think where a libertarian segregationist would run into a dilemma would be the enforcement mechanism.

            That is not part of my hpothetical. The question is about persuading others to engage in actions.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Okay, well if the question is as acymetric says:

            I think the question is would advocating self-segregation be anti-libertarian.

            then I stand by my previous answer. No, advocating for self-segregation is not anti-libertarian, nor is it pro-libertarian, nor informed by nor a consequence of libertarianism. It’s orthogonal to libertarianism, and advocating voluntary self-segregation is no more anti-libertarian than advocating voluntary pudding consumption or voluntary pudding abstinence.

            Do you think it’s anti-libertarian? Why?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Is X libertarian or anti-libertarian is mostly a null op “in my opinion”. I don’t find it to be consistent enough to form that kind of opinion. As many libertarians as there you are likely to find as many opinions on what constitutes “libertarian”. To a certain extent this is just a human problem, but I find it to be specifically relevant to libertarian thought or ideology.

            I am trying to explore some of what I perceive to be the endemic logical inconsistency and incoherence in following this line of questioning.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What’s the logically inconsistent part?

            Libertarian: “People should be free to choose with whom they will or will not associate.”

            Segregationist Libertarian: “People should be free to choose with whom they will or will not associate. I choose not to associate with green people, and I encourage other purple people to make the same choice, although they are also free not to.”

            Now, given there are very few segregationists, and few libertarians, I don’t know how many such people exist in the wild. Most people think segregationists are dicks, so I think the more common expression would be something like “People should be free to choose with whom they will or will not associate, but if you’re making that choice based on certain reasons like race you’re probably a dick, so I encourage you not to do that.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Non-Segregationist: “I choose not to associate with segregationists and encourage others not to associate with them.”

            Libertarian: “You are violating the NAP by punishing people for their beliefs”

          • quanta413 says:

            @heelbearcub

            I am talking about someone making a persuasive argument that, for example, other black people should not intermingle with the white devils, as they are evil, as (again, an example) Malcolm X did. That is not an argument that Malcolm limited to himself. He made it persuasively to others.

            You misinterpret me. “arguing” and “doing so themselves” are separate actions in my sentence. I mean it would be acceptable from a libertarian point of view to argue and acceptable from a libertarian point of view for Malcolm X to not associate with white people.

            It ceases being acceptable from a libertarian point of view if you somehow force someone else (edit: say violently, remember convincing is ok!) to not associate with white/black people. That’s what I’m saying/implying crosses the line.

            Libertarian: “You are violating the NAP by punishing people for their beliefs”

            You shouldn’t just make up what your opponents say. I don’t pretend that all center-left democrats are secretly closet Maoists.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Non-Segregationist: “I choose not to associate with segregationists and encourage others not to associate with them.”

            Libertarian: “You are violating the NAP by punishing people for their beliefs”

            I don’t think libertarians say that. If we’re talking about firing people for their non-work related opinions, I think libertarians think that is allowed, but a dick move.

            I also don’t think non-segregationists say what you said, either. If they did, there would be no problem with segregation. There are extremely few white nationalists or segregationists. Let them all move to Idaho and be white together, all like 10,000 of them. Everyone should be happy then. The segregationists get to segregate, and everyone else gets to rest easy knowing there are no racists around them. Your quote should be:

            Non-segregationist: “I choose to force everyone to associate with segregationists.”

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Ok, but elsewhere you’re talking about shunning and ostracism. To my mind there’s a lot of daylight between self-segregation as practiced by, say, The Amish, and “let’s coordinate and use social pressure and threats of ostracism and economic leverage to force the people with Evil View X out of civil society!”, which seems to be what you’re setting up for.

        • sentientbeings says:

          But I think libertarianism as morality rather than political philosophy is crazy enough that I can’t really model the response someone committed to it would give.

          What do you think of as “libertarianism as morality?” What I think of is something very specific, that if I were to bring up with a random person I’d expect prompt agreement, and only disagreement after following through the implications.

          That makes me very curious as to your conception of it (and why it’s crazy).

          • quanta413 says:

            I think that libertarianism is utterly lacking as complete moral foundation because it’s basically silent on having positive preferences for things like charity, generosity, etc. Moral foundations should influence what you do as well as what you don’t do.

            I’ve seen people try to mush it into something more than a political philosophy, and I find it very unsatisfying. And I really like the political philosophy of libertarianism and classical liberalism.

          • sentientbeings says:

            @quanta413

            because it’s basically silent on having positive preferences for things like charity, generosity, etc.

            What is the problem with that? It doesn’t mean libertarians can’t have views about them – just that they originate from a different framework. Perhaps having those things as part of the same framework necessarily implies contradictions that libertarians find unacceptable. Some libertarians have tried to add those on and they tend to face opposition for it. It seems to me that a complex system is more likely to result in incoherence or “crazy” aspects than a simple system.

            Libertarianism as a moral foundation basically consists of the Non-Aggression Principal.* It isn’t a perfect system, but there’s a reasonably extensive body of literature about it, including the “hard” cases. For the overwhelming majority of cases, it’s pretty simple, and something that even most non-libertarians ostensibly support. If you went out on the street and asked ten people, “is it right to attack or steal from another person?”, most would say “no” (and yes, I’ve tried it). It’s when you point out the implications that people don’t support it.

            * The other part, which is potentially very complicated, but not unusual or crazy, is property rights.

          • quanta413 says:

            @sentientbeings

            I’m not saying libertarians are crazy and can’t be moral. Far from it.

            I agree you can add orthogonal not libertarian things. My claim is that you pretty much have to add orthogonal things from some other framework to get a full moral system. I don’t think a moral system is much of a system if it doesn’t give you some idea of how to live your life. The NAP on its own just doesn’t get you to a coherent moral worldview like Catholicism or something. There’s not enough there. I also agree that you can take the NAP as part of a moral system if you like. I think it’s way too little to get anywhere with though.

            What I’m calling “crazy” is cases where people try to derive a full system of morality from the NAP or methodological individualism or whatever. That’s what I mean by utterly lacking as a complete moral foundation.

            I actually think trying to derive a complete moral system from liberalism or libertarianism is a mistake because what makes liberalism and libertarianism good is how they let people with different moral systems live together. Deriving a moral system undermines the primary benefit of libertarianism in my mind.

          • The NAP on its own just doesn’t get you to a coherent moral worldview like Catholicism or something.

            Correct. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a religion.

            What libertarians deny that?

          • John Schilling says:

            I think that libertarianism is utterly lacking as complete moral foundation

            I find that all the political systems that aren’t libertarian are utterly lacking as moral foundations, because they do not allow humans to engage in moral behavior(*). “Donating” money to feed the hungry when the tax collector will take it and throw you in jail if you don’t, is not morally righteous, it is merely submission. And voting or legislating that other people should pay taxes to feed the hungry isn’t moral behavior either, because it isn’t your money and it isn’t even your life on the line as a gun-toting enforcer and it is at best infinitesimally moral to want good things to happen as long as it doesn’t cost you anything. Maybe you would have been willing to donate your own money to feed the hungry, but that possibility for moral action was taken away from you – unless there are hungry people that your welfare state hasn’t yet fed, and you are willing to donate still more money to that cause.

            If non-libertarians want to believe themselves to be more than infinitesimally moral, they are going to have to look entirely to their actions outside the political sphere. The same is true for the libertarians, but A: we admit it and B: we leave a lot more scope for action outside the political sphere.

            * OK, the Monarchists might allow for kings to engage in moral behavior

          • quanta413 says:

            @David Friedman

            I don’t think I’ve seen a significant philosopher claim libertarianism is a moral philosophy. But I’ve seen people who I believe are confused about the distinction. Both opponents and proponents of libertarianism. I also have a disagreement with moral philosophies that are sort of vaguely similar at a glance. Like Objectivism.

            @John Schilling

            I fully agree. I’m not saying other political philosophies are a good moral foundation. I agree they are even worse. I’m saying I don’t like the confusion of one thing for the other thing. Especially with respect to libertarianism which I think best accomplishes the thing I most want out of government which is discouraging people stabbing each other or forcing each other to do things.

            I see there was now an ambiguity in my response when I said “But I think libertarianism as morality rather than political philosophy is crazy enough that I can’t really model the response someone committed to it would give.”

            When I said that I mean I’ve read writings from people who as far as I can tell are committed to something they call libertarianism as morality. I find this crazy because it’s a political philosophy that I believe should not extend farther. I am mostly happy with the political philosophy itself.

          • I think that libertarianism is utterly lacking as complete moral foundation

            That’s pretty close to Ayn Rand’s criticism of it–although in her case it’s the lack of her particular moral foundation.

          • 10240 says:

            Many moral systems have a distinction between obligatory (in-)actions (which you are immoral if you don’t do) and supererogatory ones (you are a better person if you do them, but you’re not outright immoral even if you don’t). Libertarianism (or something based on it) can work as the obligatory part of a moral system.

      • LadyJane says:

        I’d say it’s a violation of the spirit of libertarian values to judge people on the basis of their race, rather than as individuals. So yes, in the absence of some extreme mitigating factors, I would consider choosing to self-segregate along racial lines to be un-libertarian, especially if one is also arguing that everyone else should do the same.

        That said, it’s perfectly in keeping with the spirit of libertarian values to say that people should be allowed to self-segregate along racial lines and to express pro-segregation opinions… in the exact same way that it’s perfectly in keeping with the spirit of libertarian values to say that people should be allowed to promote communism or fascism, even though promoting communism or fascism is a very un-libertarian action.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          What does the word individual mean here but a collection of their traits and properties? What properties “count” as part of an individual and which ones don’t? Some people are naturally extroverted, and others introverted. This is largely genetic. Is it antithetical to libertarian thought that I prefer those who are introverts?

          • LadyJane says:

            That’s a tricky question, but I’m going to do my best to channel the spirit of Ayn Rand here.

            According to individualist philosophy, it’s acceptable to judge people on the basis of their actions (which are freely chosen rather than intrinsic) and their capabilities (some of which may be intrinsic, but have an actual effect on the ways in which a person interacts with the world), but unacceptable to judge people on the basis of intrinsic traits that don’t directly affect a person’s capabilities (e.g. skin color, gender, sexual orientation).

            It would be reasonable and ethical for you to prefer introverts because introversion is a capability. It would be unreasonable and unethical for you to prefer green-skinned people to purple-skinned people because you falsely believed that greens were more introverted and purples were more extroverted. Even if there was a real correlation there, and greens actually were 10% more introverted than purples on average, it would still be an irrational for you to seek out greens and stay away from purples, because you’d have no way of knowing in advance where any individual green or purple fell along the introversion/extroversion spectrum.

          • Nick says:

            Even if there was a real correlation there, and greens actually were 10% more introverted than purples on average, it would still be an irrational for you to seek out greens and stay away from purples, because you’d have no way of knowing in advance where any individual green or purple fell along the introversion/extroversion spectrum.

            This is a nitpick, but this seems backwards to me. If it’s hard to tell whether someone is introverted or extroverted, you definitely should rely on the correlation, because how else will you eke out a difference. But if it’s easy to tell whether someone is introverted or extroverted, by contrast, you don’t have to rely on the correlation, because you can measure the real thing per individual.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            What about what people advocate for? Can I judge people on that? Can I judge people for their advocated beliefs, and their actions in service of those beliefs? (That would seem to obviously be yes).

            And can I make statements about my judgments? Is that antithetical to libertarian ideals? Stating your opinion about others? Again, I would assume that it is acceptable, and not antithetical

          • but I’m going to do my best to channel the spirit of Ayn Rand here.

            Rand insisted that she was not a libertarian. I think she was mistaken–but certainly she was not only a libertarian. One can be a libertarian and not an Objectivist, so what behavior follows from Objectivism doesn’t tell us what follows from libertarianism.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        If the word “spirit” in that question is doing any work at all, the answer to it has to be yes. I at least can’t conceive of a “spirit of libertarian values” that would sanction not associating with people on the basis of their race rather than what they’re like as individuals.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          What does “what they are like as individuals” mean?

          Their actions? Their statements? Their beliefs?

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Yes.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            So, I have a hard time squaring this then with your previous statements on this matter.

            Surely those who choose not to associate with, to shame, people based on their speech are doing so based on individual characteristics.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            “All the valid reasons for refusing to associate with someone are individual characteristics” ~= “All individual characteristics are valid reasons for refusing to associate with someone”.

            Most of my family and friends hold, and sometimes argue, opinions which violate the spirit of libertarian values. For me to cut them off based on such a mere difference of opinion would be goofy.

      • 10240 says:

        I’d say no, but e.g. ostracizing people who choose to live in mixed-race neighborhoods, or picketing mixed-race companies would be, as would be ostracizing people who sell homes to persons of another race in a neighborhood that hasn’t been expressly founded as a single-race neighborhood.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          So it’s OK to shun and ostracize people for simply being, say, black (regardless of their actions in terms of where they live and associate with), but it is not OK to ostracize white people based on their actions?

          How bizarre.

          ETA: I just reported myself for this comment. How humorous.

          • 10240 says:

            OK, we are getting into the finer distinctions between something being wrong and something violating the spirit of libertarian values. I’m not sure how much sense a cultural version of libertarian values makes; I do like the idea of a cultural version of free speech as I can see non-state suppression of speech as causing problems. But if I wanted to define a cultural version of libertarian values, I’d say they are violated by actions whose primary purpose is to police other people’s behavior (by harming them if they engage in a certain behavior), rather than to satisfy a personal preference; except when the behavior you are trying to eliminate violates libertarian values (e.g. violates the NAP for those who prefer that formulation), or it violates the values of a voluntary community.

            Also, arguing for something (e.g. segregation) is not the same as doing it. A lot of things are wrong (or a violation of libertarian values); that doesn’t mean that arguing for them is wrong in a moral sense.

          • I’m not sure I would put it as a version of libertarian values, but one can ask what implications beyond libertarianism the values or beliefs that led one to be a libertarian have.

            For example, one possible reason to be a libertarian is recognition of the incentive problems in large hierarchical organizations, since they imply that the governments of large societies are likely to work poorly. But they also imply things about firm size. Quite aside from values, they imply that one should not expect the existence of economies of scale in production to automatically lead to monopoly.

            One could certainly imagine similar lines of argument leading to value conclusions not implied by libertarianism but likely to be held by libertarians.

          • arlie says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’m not sure what you are responding to there, but I think you are onto something.

            To me, coming from a smallish country, American who are preoccupied with _government_ as problematic _for reasons related to size_ (bureaucracy, perverse incentives, etc.) without having similar worries about _business_ seem peculiar if not outright disingenouous.

            But they are probably comparing Joe’s corner store (the last one in the county that’s not at least a franchise, if not part of a chain :-() with the US federal government, while I’m comparing Enron with e.g. the Colorado DMV. (15 years ago, it took me 10 minutes to get my liccense transferred from New Jersey to Colorado.)

          • John Schilling says:

            while I’m comparing Enron with e.g. the Colorado DMV. (15 years ago, it took me 10 minutes to get my liccense transferred from New Jersey to Colorado.)

            You are “comparing”, but giving only one side of the equation. When did you do business with Enron, and how did that turn out?

      • sentientbeings says:

        Is it a violation of the spirit of libertarian values to argue that people should choose to self segregate, to argue that blacks and whites should not mix?

        Improved questions:

        Q1. Is it a violation of libertarian values, qua libertarianism, to argue that people should choose to self-segregate….?

        Q2. Is it a violation of the values that libertarians hold to argue that people should choose to self-segregate….?

        Q3. Is it a violation of the underlying principles, broadly defined, that motivate or result in libertarian thought and values, to argue that people should choose to self-segregate…?

        (I think your original question is most closely related to number 3, but it really can’t be answered fairly without explicitly separating out the others)

        Answers:

        A1. No, because libertarian values qua libertarianism do not intersect with such an argument. They have no bearing on it.

        A2. This question is an empirical one, and the simple answer is “yes.”

        A3. Yes, because it is (presumably) a collectivist argument in conflict with methodological individualism.

        • albatross11 says:

          I think it would be contradictory to Objectivism, which is strongly opposed to every kind of collectivism, and which tries to build up a whole moral system. I think an Objectivist would tell you that self-segregating by race is wrong because it raises a collective (and a very diffuse one) above individual attributes and choices.

          But libertarianism is a political philosophy, and I think of it as being about politics–what powers and structure and role and policies a government should have, what rights should be enforced, etc. I don’t see it as being so much about telling you what you should or shouldn’t want to do–instead, it’s about what means are acceptable for doing it. If you tried to follow the NAP, you could start a whites-only club or neighborhood, as long as you didn’t violate anyone else’s person or property to do so.

          I think the values that lead to condemning segregation (in some, not all, cases) are orthogonal to the ones that libertarianism is concerned with.

          • sentientbeings says:

            I think all that is in accord with what I wrote, but I also really think it’s worth noting that methodological individualism plays a part in libertarian thinking and is therefore likely to place libertarians in conflict with collectivist arguments even when they do not intersect with libertarian thought per se.

        • nweining says:

          This all depends on whether you prefer “thick” or “thin” libertarianism. There is (as with everything else in libertarianism) a long, long argument going back many decades over which variant is better; searching Google for “thick vs thin libertarianism” will yield plenty of interesting takes from both sides.

          • sentientbeings says:

            I suppose it’s worth mentioning that for the sake of completeness, but…I was really hoping that had died out again, since I haven’t seen that phrasing in a year or two. I actually think that particular phrasing is recent (though I could be wrong) as I first remember seeing it only a handful of years ago. I don’t find the so-called “thick” stuff convincing; it seems like an obvious attempt to arbitrarily and incoherently attach certain things to libertarianism because some people who come to libertarianism from the left, and are surrounded by people on the left, want to feel better about themselves and be accepted in social circles. (I have also noted a version of it among some traditionalists from the right, but they don’t have a name for it as far as I know)

            You might say, “Well, that sounds uncharitable. You are basically saying that people are coming up with rationalizations to incorporate convenient views into their ideology.” But the fact is that I have never read anything arguing for that perspective that I found convincing even in its general form, let alone the particulars – and I’ve ready plenty of other material I endorse by self-described libertarians who are affiliated with that approach. There are also plenty of arguments that I think can be categorized as libertarian with which I disagree, so it’s not as if I’m writing it off because I reject subsequent conclusions following from the approach. I can deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, but I don’t like motivated, dishonest reasoning.

            The BHL crowd are pretty bad on this subject, IMO.

          • LadyJane says:

            @sentientbeings: I mean, Ayn Rand was effectively a thick libertarian, and she wasn’t exactly a bleeding heart liberal, nor a conservative traditionalist. But she supported a libertarian political ideology (broadly speaking, the non-aggression principle, even if she didn’t use that term) as a result of an underlying value system (methodological individualism, as you yourself mentioned), not as an end in itself. Thus she was able to condemn racism for going against methodological individualism, even though it didn’t go against the non-aggression principle itself.

            Here’s a statement that virtually all libertarians, thin or thick, can agree with: “Libertarianism allows people to be communists, but those communists can’t be libertarians themselves, since their own political philosophy is incompatible with libertarianism.” Yet swap out the word “communist” for the word “racist,” and suddenly the thin libertarians are saying that we’re trying to force new values into libertarianism? Why? What’s the difference there?

          • Yet swap out the word “communist” for the word “racist,” and suddenly the thin libertarians are saying that we’re trying to force new values into libertarianism? Why? What’s the difference there?

            Depends on what you mean by “communist” and “racist.”

            If a communist is someone who thinks people ought to organize themselves into voluntary communes, then his position is consistent with libertarianism, although most libertarians don’t share it.

            The same is true of the racist if his “racism” consists of believing that people should choose to live with members of their own race.

            If “communist” means someone in favor of forcing other people to live under communism, then the communist is not consistent with libertarianism. Similarly if “racist” means somebody who wants to kill members of another race, or force members of each race to live apart from the other.

            So you only have a puzzle if you define communist the second way but racist the first, and the libertarian position is then a consistent one.

    • uau says:

      I think you should be willing to compare the consequences someone can face for holding opinions and the consequences someone can face for being black, gay, or generally belonging to whatever “protected” minority group. Of course there are some differences, but if you think the former should be open season and anything negative toward the latter is a horrible travesty toward human rights, you’re being hypocritical.

      The foremost attempted counterargument I expect to this is that some groups are more “intrinsic”, and so it’s more justified to hurt people who could be forced to change that way, while hurting blacks has no chance of making them change their skin color. But this is a far from universal difference in what people actually argue for in these cases. Adversity does not necessarily change opinions. And if you argue that people should at least stay quiet about their undesirable opinions, the same can equally well be applied to things like gayness. Being gay may be intrinsic or at least very hard to change even with conscious desire on the part of the person; being openly gay and participating in gay pride parades certainly isn’t. And cases like prejudice against gypsies are primarily based on their culture, not anything truly intrinsic. Participating in gypsy culture, and continuing to do so, is certainly a choice.

      So if you think it’s OK for people to face consequences such as be fired for their opinions or expression of them in general, and you generally hold leftist views, ask yourself whether it’s OK for them to be fired for participating in a gay parade? If you believe the former but not the latter, I doubt you have any particularly consistent moral principles.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think the usual line of argument there is that there are or should be specific protected categories of speech/action which are treated in a special way. As I understand it, if your boss fires you for being a Republican, there’s probably not a legal issue there (depending on the state, I guess), but if he fires you for being a Catholic, there is a legal issue and you can probably win a discrimination lawsuit. How you feel about that probably has to do with how you feel about antidiscrimination law.

        There’s also a moral argument which turns on the idea that since some groups are currently or historically “on the bottom,” they should be given more protections than anyone else. That would lead to the idea that, say, employment discrimination against whites is morally acceptable, but employment discrimination against blacks is not. (I may not be explaining the idea well, since I disagree strongly with it.).

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          they should be given more protections than anyone else. That would lead to the idea that, say, employment discrimination against whites is morally acceptable, but employment discrimination against blacks is not. (I may not be explaining the idea well, since I disagree strongly with it.).

          I don’t think the idea is that discrimination against whites is morally acceptable (though I’m sure there are those who believe it); it’s that discrimination against whites is less requiring of legal remedies to guard against it happening.

    • dodrian says:

      I think the issue is when the consequences affect a different sphere than the sphere where the speech was made, particularly speech that is political in nature.

      I don’t have any problem with an employer firing an employee for political speech on the job – they make their speech in private, it can have consequences to their private life. it’s when the political speech is made in the public sphere (eg: someone goes on a political march/protest, or posts on the internet) the consequences should similarly be limited to the public sphere (a countermarch, counterspeech, etc). Doxxing, calling for someone to be fired is moving the response to the private sphere and is using intimidation to suppress public political speech.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I was hesitant to post because it seemed like a lot of people were having the same thought I was, but there’s something very important that nobody has brought up yet: totalitarianism.

      When I say totalitarianism, I mean it in the original Italian Fascist sense of the “total state” where the Fascist political party must control not just the government but also civil society, including organized religion and business. In modern terms, the all-encompassing demands of totalitarian ideologies mean that for them “the personal is political.”

      What business does an employer or a professional organization have in scrutinizing the political views their employees or fellow professionals express outside of the workplace? Or how about a school and its students? A church and its congregants? A club or an amateur sports team and its members or players? These ostensibly apolitical organizations behave as though they’re part of a political party or mass movement.

      This radical reorganization of civil society along partisan political lines is fundamentally totalitarian and doesn’t bode well for the future.

      • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

        So much yes.

        The joke for the longest time was “When Fascism comes to America, it will call itself Americanism”. What has actually happened is it called itself “Justice”.

        And also thus demonstrating that the sneer “Fascist!” is merely just Yet Another example of accusing one’s foes of the crime that the accuser themselves are actually guilty of.

      • dick says:

        I get where you’re coming from, I can see how boycott-the-racists social culture and totalitarian governments are similar in this particular way, but they’re also totally dissimilar in a lot of other ways and if you want to start calling this “totalitarianism” then I think you need to propose a word to refer to the things we used to use that word for.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Can you elaborate on the salient ways they’re dissimilar?

          The big dissimilarity I see is centralization. Fascist parties had a single leader and communist parties were very tightly organized around governing committees. While there’s certainly a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination going on here (e.g. JournoList) the normal party structure isn’t there.

          I personally don’t see that as disqualifying, especially given modern information technology. But that’s debatable.

          • dick says:

            Besides the obvious, it’s the difference between an army who’s all marching East because they’ve been ordered to and a million people who are all walking east because that’s where they want to go. It’s reasonable to talk about changing the behavior of the former in ways that are not reasonable for the latter, and confusing the latter for the former leads to magical thinking of the “people should stop moving to SF, then the rents would go down!” variety.

          • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

            Besides the obvious

            Not obvious to me. Spell it out, please.

          • albatross11 says:

            There’s a totalitarianism to mobbing (which is some of what we’re talking about here, albeit mostly online mobbing), but it’s really different from Big Brother/Little Kim type totalitarianism, because there’s nobody in charge.

            There are thousands of people who say and do things, every day, that could easily bring an angry internet mob into their lives, complete with demands for their firing, death threats, hit pieces on Buzzfeed and defenses on Quillette. (To say nothing of articles on Vox explaining how the defenses were problematic in some way.). But there’s nobody in charge. Even the most involved leaders of the angry Twitter mobs could fall victim to them, and there’s nobody who can grant immunity from the angry mobs. Sooner or later, even Robespierre meets the guillotine.

          • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

            That matches a bit to closely to Scott’s quip about “Yes, that boot stamping on your face is uncomfortable, but it’s not a structural oppression kind of boot”.

          • Randy M says:

            Not obvious to me. Spell it out, please.

            Bullets, I’d say.

          • dick says:

            Not obvious to me. Spell it out, please.

            One is a government that controls corporations and churches and sports clubs totally and directly by telling their leaders what to do and arresting them if they refuse, and the other is a million random people who control corporations and churches and sports clubs occasionally and indirectly by complaining loudly.

            In other words, what I was saying to Nabil is, yes, I see your point – the Italian WW2 government made the personal political, and people who Twitter-brigaded whatever football team employed that Kapernick guy also made the personal political – and it’s an interesting observation, but it absolutely does not justify talk like “This radical reorganization of civil society along partisan political lines is fundamentally totalitarian.” That’s nuts. Our society is not totalitarian because you can point to a thing about it that is similar to fascist Italy. That thing is still the exception and our society is still predominantly not-totalitarian.

  12. onyomi says:

    What are your odds on Trump plausibly being able to claim, in 2020, that he’s fulfilled his promise to “build the wall” (either because something wall-like, including, possibly, a big steel fence, has been built, or is well underway)?

    I guess I would rate it at 50-50 and/or “no clue.” What I think makes it difficult is that both sides must realize they have a lot to gain or lose by the outcome of this standoff. For example, I have a hard time imagining Trump wins 2020 if he can’t plausibly claim he built, or is building, the wall. Of course, he can say he did his best but the Dems were just too intransigent and/or the courts unfairly struck down his “state of emergency” allocation of funds, but that sounds pretty lame/weak. I think he has a hard time winning with that.

    Related, the Dems must know their chances improve in 2020 if they can stymie the wall. It’s obviously not just about the money; though I think it’s also not just about the actual immigrants and/or the optics of the wall per se. I think it’s also that, if they can deny Trump this victory, they know it will be hard for him to energize his base. Which is not to say that Trump wins for sure if he builds the wall, only that he probably loses if he doesn’t.

    With every government shutdown there is also the issue of who suffers the blame, though it kind of makes everyone look bad. It’s also not obvious to me who suffers more blame here, as it feels like both sides can very plausibly blame the other: Trump is clearly the one forcing a particular issue; at the same time, Dems are clearly being intransigent about providing, for the federal government, a paltry amount of money to allow Trump to fulfill his major campaign promise, so Trump can claim they are the ones being political. I guess independents (do they still exist?) will blame Trump more than Democrats for e.g. unpaid federal workers, but not sure how significant that is relative to the fact that I don’t think Trump can win 2020 without the wall.

    My uncertainty is also higher due to my uncertainty about Trump’s own priorities/thinking. I assume his ego makes him want to win in 2020, but I’m not sure how badly he wants that. Being POTUS probably sucks compared to the life he previously led, and I don’t think Melania likes being first lady. I’m also not sure whether he thinks actually having the wall is what counts, or simply being able to claim he did his utmost but those damn political judges messed it up so vote for me again so I can appoint better judges. I assume he’s the type who knows results matter, but am also not that convinced he actually cares about the wall per se. It seems more like a metaphorical 20 dollar political bill he noticed no one picking up on the sidewalk and he grabbed it.

    Also highly likely in my current probability space is that both sides find some way to declare victory with the likely final result of the wall not getting built in any meaningful way: for example, Dems agree to some small sum for “increased border security,” which Trump promises means “wall” and Dems promise doesn’t mean “wall,” and the Dems slow-walk the actual construction so much that little has actually been done by 2020, after which, they hope, they can just scrap it under President O’Rourke.

    • BBA says:

      To me the most likely scenarios are (a) no wall gets built, but Trump claims he built the wall and the crooked lying media is crooked and lying (sad!); (b) no wall gets built, Trump screams it’s Pelosi’s fault, lock her up, etc., which rallies the base; or (c) this “emergency powers” gambit ends up working well enough to get at least some wall built.

      In any of these cases, the base doesn’t get discouraged, and Trump has a clear path to a 2020 victory that looks a lot like his 2016 victory.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        What crime did Pelosi commit..?

        • BBA says:

          I was wondering the same thing last fall when Trump rally crowds started chanting “lock her up” about Dianne Feinstein. I take it that the chant is transferable to any woman in the Democratic Party.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Oh for fuck’s sake… Feinstein is probably the person in Washington I despise the most but that’s just asinine.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Well, parts of the wall are already being built. And Trump appears to be doing everything he can to get the rest of it. I don’t think any part of Trump’s base would blame Trump if the wall is not built when it’s clearly the fault of congress (both the Republicans and Democrats). If that happens, the rallying cry will be “vote for Trump and vote out the bums who won’t protect our borders.”

      This may or may not work. The malice of the left and the elites towards the working class appears boundless. You would think to protect citizens from having their neighborhoods overrun, from the unnecessary risk of crime, from the drugs, from the depressed wages and destroyed communities, a measly $5B to perform the most basic duty of government towards its citizens would not be a problem, but here we are. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez expressed the idea pretty well the other day, that the immigrants are more American than Trump (who’s trying to protect citizens from foreigners). When it comes to choosing between Americans and foreigners, the Democrats and their voters will always choose foreigners, and expecting them to do otherwise is fantasy. Schumer will not fold, because the working class American citizens he hates are suffering, and he likes it.

      • Trump did have an opportunity to make a deal that included the border wall and amnesty for some illegal immigrants brought to the US as kids but turned it down. I don’t know if his base either knows, remembers or even cares about it.

        • Kyle A Johansen says:

          Did the deal involve Amnesty today for a wall tomorrow? Or something else. If it is the first, then that’s just the makers of a disingenuous offer getting annoyed when others aren’t gullible enough.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          We were supposed to get a wall after Reagan’s amnesty. Instead we got blue California.

          Also, I don’t know who to blame for the previous “DACA for wall” negotiations. Lots of people didn’t like it on both sides.

          I don’t ideologically or practically have a problem with DACA for the wall. Politically, though, I’d feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football again.

      • acymetric says:

        Well that’s a tacky looking wall…if you’re going to build a wall go for broke and look to the Great Wall of China (or heck, even the more recent Berlin wall) for inspiration. Not just some sheet metal (a glorified fence).

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          WE CAN’T LET CHINA BEAT US ON WALLS!

          That said, as much as I would like a 60 foot concrete wall with spikes and lasers and flamethrowers and a moat and nuclear landmines (wall is impervious to nuclear landmines), Border Patrol said they want a wall they can see through, so we’re basically calling a steel fence a wall.

          • acymetric says:

            I would have to very seriously consider switching sides if such a wall were proposed, I don’t even care where it is built.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Border Patrol said they want a wall they can see through, so we’re basically calling a steel fence a wall.

            Glass block? Transparent aluminum?

          • Nick says:

            Transparent aluminum?

            Ahh, so saving the whales is our concession to Democrats!

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            And why can Wakanda afford an energy wall when we can’t? Make America Great as Wakanda!

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Ahh, so saving the whales is our concession to Democrats!

            As of now, the idea of a wall built out of (transparent) landfill material amuses me.

      • nweining says:

        This is an uncharitable view of those who disagree, to put it mildly. Most wall opponents bear no such malice. They (we) just believe that the wall would not, in fact, do anything to protect citizens from “having their neighborhoods overrun, from the unnecessary risk of crime, from the drugs, from the depressed wages and destroyed communities”; that the claim that it would is a ludicrous racist lie, unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, which Trump is using, as he uses so many other lies, to snooker his loyal, fear-driven base; and that it sets a bad precedent to give in to Trump’s racist-lie-driven plans. You may well disagree with those beliefs, but they do not constitute “malice toward the working class.”

        • nweining says:

          I should add, too, that even the more radical position (which I am confident is a minority one among wall opponents) that the interests and liberties of American citizens deserve no special preference over the interests and liberties of noncitizens, because the distinction is arbitrary and ethically indefensible, cannot reasonably be construed to constitute “malice toward the working class.” Not believing that subgroup A of group G deserves special consideration or loyalty, and believing instead that all members of group G should enjoy uniform treatment, is not malice against members of A.

          • EchoChaos says:

            That is an honest position, but not one the Democrats can admit holding, because it would get killed electorally.

          • nweining says:

            @EchoChaos, where is the evidence that most of them actually hold it? Genuine cosmopolitanism is rarer than most anti-cosmopolitans think, and I say that as someone who tries hard to be a genuine cosmopolitan and wishes more people were.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            That looks like malice. The government exists to serve the needs of the citizens, not foreigners.

            Take a hobo off the street and board him in your daughter’s room. She says “dad, please no, this is a strange person who is at best indifferent to me, and at worst malicious. All things considered I would prefer not to have to room with this hobo. Please do your duty to your daughter and eject the hobo.” When you say “no, you’re evil for not wanting to room with a stabby hobo” even after various rapes and stabbings, it looks less and less like you super love hobos and more like you hate your daughter.

          • dick says:

            Two report buttons doesn’t seem like enough…

          • onyomi says:

            @nweining

            the interests and liberties of American citizens deserve no special preference over the interests and liberties of noncitizens, because the distinction is arbitrary and ethically indefensible

            Is the fact that US citizens pay US taxes while foreigners do not not a relevant distinction?

        • The Nybbler says:

          It seems to me inconsistent to complain about lack of charity while claiming your opponents are motivated by racism.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      0%. Even if the Democrats allowed for the building of the wall, I’m sure there are going to be enough lawsuits associated with typical construction that the Wall could not be built in time for the 2020 election.

      The best Trump can hope for is to build some small stretches of barrier in certain areas and say he is working on it, and those damn Dems won’t let him build faster. I don’t know how strict legislative language is, but can he funnel some DHS funds for “border security” into something that resembles a wall, over at least a portion of the border?

    • If the Democrats really cared about policy, they could get some significant concessions in exchange for the wall, which isn’t even a threat to their professed values. I don’t see it happening though.

      • Winja says:

        If Trump was a complete jerk, he’d offer the Dems blanket student loan forgiveness in exchange for the wall.

        The result of watching the Dems backpedal and attack student loan forgiveness would be hilarious.

        • acymetric says:

          He wouldn’t be able to do that because there would never be true support from Republicans for the student loan forgiveness.

          That said, Dems wouldn’t attack student loan forgiveness (except for those who already oppose it, that student loan forgiveness is not a universal Dem stance). There would be a group who says “we stand on principle and won’t give in on the wall even to get the student loan forgiveness we want” and another who says “yeah we’ll take that deal” (the latter would probably want some concessions on existing illegal immigrant protections). This would mirror Republicans, some of whom would say “yeah, good deal” and some who would say “hell no we aren’t giving them student loan forgiveness”.

      • Plumber says:

        Trump doesn’t seem to have enough influence in his own Party in Congress that he can make a deal, if he did have that influence he’d have the funding a year ago instead of having to now ask Democrats.

        • EchoChaos says:

          He had to ask the Democrats either way because spending bills need 60 votes to pass the Senate.

          He didn’t want the egg on his face of having the government shut down for a wall while his party controlled everything.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            spending bills

            You have this backwards.

            The bills considered under reconciliation, which are specific budget and spending bills, do not require cloture and cannot be filibustered.

            Their are a limited number of these bills in each congress, and the previous congress had used all of them to try and kill the ACA.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Can you source that?

            These are appropriations bills, not reconciliation bills, which is a different process.

            Here is an article specifically discussing the fact that they have a filibuster on appropriations.

            https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/373706-filibuster-change-wont-fix-flawed-appropriations-process

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:
            Reconciliation.

            Additional funding for more of the same kind of existing barriers along the border probably wouldn’t run afoul of the Byrd rule (extraneous changes in policy), but that is just my opinion. It would be up to parliamentarian if a wall across the entire southern border was a change in policy, but I doubt it.

            If you need sourcing on the limit on the number of reconciliation bills being met last year, I can come up with it.

            ETA: The basic thing we are arguing over is not whether Democrats can filibuster appropriations bills, but whether a) this would have prevented Wall funding if Republicans had chosen to attempt it, and b) whether “spending bills” need 60 votes in the senate.

            All bills requires 60 (procedural) votes in the Senate to proceed, except for reconciliation bills.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I am not sure what you’re disagreeing with me on. Trump needs new budget allocated for his wall and wants that laid into government appropriations.

            New outlays require 60 votes, and therefore the Democrats had the ability to filibuster the new outlays required for the wall.

            There was a brief government shutdown in 2018 over this issue, but the Republicans (probably wisely) decided not to press too hard on it because “the government is shut down while Republicans control everything” was bad press.

            Now that the Democrats are in charge of the House, despite the fact the Republicans still need 60 votes in the Senate, the Democrats are seen by the public as “part of the problem” to a greater degree.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:

            The ability of the Democrats to filibuster really doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that it’s a spending bill. That is one disagreement with your original statement.

            The other is that, if they had wanted to, the Republicans could likely have done much of this under reconciliation last year. The parts of this that involve spending can potentially avoid the filibuster.

            So,your original statement linking spending and the filibuster is misleading.

          • John Schilling says:

            New outlays require 60 votes, and therefore the Democrats had the ability to filibuster the new outlays required for the wall.

            Right. In order to build a wall, or do anything at all controversial, you have to negotiate some sort of deal with your opponents in which you let them have something they want and can’t otherwise obtain, in exchange for their letting you have what you want and cannot otherwise obtain.

            A shockingly revolutionary notion for a democratic government, to be sure. But given that reality, it seems like the first step towards building a wall would be to obtain at least marginal control over all three branches of government, so that the opposition cannot obtain much of anything on their own and they are negotiating from a position of relative desperation and weakness. Step two, of course, would be to for the wall-wishers to elect a like-minded President who is renowned for his supreme artistry in deal-making.

    • JPNunez says:

      Maybe Trump can successfully turn around a no-wall situation, and use it to incense voters against democrats, and the deep state or whatever.

      That said, the full Wall building would probably not be done for several years, even if it was approved today. But then even I wouldn’t fault Trump for saying he delivered the Wall if the damn thing is in the process of being built in 2020.

  13. onyomi says:

    Recently listened to an interesting academic presentation on what one might call “the upsides of hypocrisy.” Citing such ideas as “hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue” (La Rochefoucauld), the presenter pointed out that hypocrisy may be unavoidable, even desirable in a democracy where, by definition, people who disagree with one another have to arrive at some sort of consensus (or, at least, outcome everyone can live with, because maybe my guy can win next go round).

    This got me thinking that maybe one should view deepening public hypocrisy as a warning sign, not of some kind of general moral decay, but rather of widening divisions: the greater the values gap between different parts of a unified polity, the more hypocrisy is necessary to maintain the (for democracy, salutary) illusion that we have “shared values.” This may eventually give way to something that should probably scare us more than hypocrisy (assuming we don’t want rebellion, secession, balkanization, etc.), which is people just explicitly saying “f those guys; we don’t need their votes anyway.”

    At least in my lifetime, in the US, there is a convention of saying, after an election “yes, a lot of people didn’t vote for me, but I’m going to represent the best interests of everyone.” Even if that is a lie, I wonder if the really scary inflection point is when people no longer feel it’s necessary to tell that lie (though as someone who thinks the US is too big and would rather it break up into at least a few smaller nations, it could also be a long-term promising sign for someone like me?)?

    How much more cognitive dissonance can your leaders maintain before a polity falls apart?

    • DeWitt says:

      I don’t really know about that, but I think the focus on hypocrisy is a symptom of having fewer shared values around for sure.

      Consider a society where a couple central values are shared; it becomes very easy to debate people with these values in mind, because you can reasonably assume people will agree on first principles. Simple. As a contrast with that, if you don’t share many such values, there’s only so many things you can do to debate. Hypocrisy becomes a weapon then: there’s extremely few people that’ll ever view it as a good thing, and if your opponent and you can’t agree on values, the best you can do instead is point to where their arguments conflict with one another.

    • Winja says:

      The biggest upside to hypocrisy is the ability to do whatever gets you the best advantage in any given situation without it bothering you.

      My personal opinion is that this sort of behavior is straight up psychotic.

    • AG says:

      At least in my lifetime, in the US, there is a convention of saying, after an election “yes, a lot of people didn’t vote for me, but I’m going to represent the best interests of everyone.” Even if that is a lie, I wonder if the really scary inflection point is when people no longer feel it’s necessary to tell that lie

      Aren’t we seeing that happening now, where Trump is holding firm to fulfilling campaign promises to a minority-populace voting base?

      • Randy M says:

        I don’t think so. For two reasons. First, Trump honestly believes… wait, let me start over. It’s a reasonable position that the wall would actually be a benefit to most people–it might be ignorant or involve a selective focus on facts, but it isn’t a move to specifically spite one faction.
        Secondly, if a politician is elected partially on a promise to do something, they have an obligation to try and do that, or at least explain their change of heart. Governing in the best interest of the whole country doesn’t mean ignore what the majority (… of electoral college) voters demonstrably wanted, unless that thing is particularly damaging to some group of citizens, otherwise elections can only be referendum on competence and not a choice of direction.

  14. BBA says:

    Frontier Airlines flight attendants now ask for tips

    This seems obvious in retrospect as a way for airlines to pay their staff less, I bet Spirit and Ryanair are kicking themselves for not thinking of this first. But I don’t know that it’ll catch on. Flight attendants see themselves as crucial safety personnel, not glorified wait staff, are they really going to put up with this?

    (This is setting aside my personal opposition both to the spread of tipping culture and to the nickel-and-diming of airline passengers through ancillary fees. I fully recognize I’m being irrational and these are both economically efficient practices, so save it.)

    • imoimo says:

      I could use somebody telling me why tipping is efficient/a good idea, cause I’ve been feeling fed up with tipping recently, but also doubt it’s any worse than alternatives, from some reasonable perspective.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        If staff are tipped extra for good service and less for bad service, it allows them to be paid based on their performance rather than a flat rate or requiring extensive monitoring by management to measure their performance. Incentivizing employees to do good work is in everyone’s interests.

        People are irrational so $20 and also you’re expected to tip 15% looks like a better deal than $23 (this is also why airlines love selling $300 tickets plus $100 in extra fees rather than $400 tickets). Furthermore, it allows price discrimination: charging $20 plus tips allows you to get cheap people who wouldn’t pay the full $23, and allows you to get more than $23 from the rich people who like to give big tips.

    • Statismagician says:

      No, you’re not; just because the human condition is such that almost nobody realizes that total expenditure is what matters, not plurality expenditure, does not mean you’re wrong for noticing how silly this is. Also, thanks to [market friction], this will very probably* end up costing the consumer more than if Frontier &etc. had simply paid their flight attendants [new median yearly wage + new median yearly tips] and charged customers accordingly.

      *Controlling for lowered service quality + nobody who’s going to give an extravagant tip was flying Frontier in the first place (with the possible exception of especially cheap high-level Federal government employees; I think Frontier is still the preferred Federal carrier, but not willing to swear on it].

      • bean says:

        I think Frontier is still the preferred Federal carrier, but not willing to swear on it

        Huh? Frontier’s a budget airline, and not set up for business travel. Also, from DCA, they fly only to Denver, and from IAD, it’s only Orlando, Austin, Denver, and Vegas. Also, doesn’t the government have contracts depending on route, to make sure the federal travel dollars are spread roughly evenly? I’m pretty sure they don’t just have AN airline, because all of the other airlines would complain to their Congresscritters.

        • Statismagician says:

          Yeah, I’m clearly wrong; I was speaking from a half-remembered conversation from several years ago. Possibly my friend got a travel voucher and Frontier happened to actually be convenient, plus very cheap, who knows?

          • bean says:

            It’s also possible that Frontier did have the preferred travel contract on a certain route, which is the one he told you about. (The GSA does some complicated contract where they negotiate preferred fares between city pairs with the airlines. I don’t know many details, but there are special fare classes and it’s all very complicated.) If you’re flying to or from Denver, it may not be a bad option, and I’d guess that those travel contracts are sort of pork-like, so Frontier got a few to keep their Congresscritters happy.

    • quanta413 says:

      How many people order drinks on an airline flight? Especially a budget airline? Like huh?

      This is an incredibly minor opportunity for price discrimination, and it’s not clear to me the airline can capture much of it in the former of lower wages to the employee because I think tips will be far too low to affect someone’s decision to work at Frontier.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        I fairly frequently see people ordering alcoholic drinks on Easyjet and Ryanair flights (and asking for wine or beer on flights on more traditional airlines).

        This may be a US/Europe cultural difference.

        • quanta413 says:

          You may be right. I rarely see people order alcohol on flights in the U.S.

          • Plumber says:

            @quanta413

            “You may be right. I rarely see people order alcohol on flights in the U.S.”

            I haven’t flown in a long time but that’s seldom been an option, unlike the one flight I took on Air Canada in the late 1980’s when the stewardess offered me vodka while speaking a very pleasant accent that I assume was Quebecois.

            Best flight ever!

          • acymetric says:

            It seems like it is typically only available on larger planes for longer flights, but I could be mistaken.

          • Randy M says:

            Really? I’ve been offered in every flight with a beverage service, iirc. Usually with credit card readers handy for travelers without cash.

          • I often observe fellow passengers ordering alcoholic drinks, and offering them seems to be standard practice on U.S. airlines.

          • Plumber says:

            The longest flight I ever took was to Washington D.C. when I was 15, and the second longest was to Toronto, Canada (where I was offered alcohol) all my other flights have been inside California or up to Seattle and I don’t remember alcohol being available on those.

      • BBA says:

        Budget airlines like Frontier charge for soft drinks as well as alcohol. Within a decade I expect this “innovation” to make its way to every other US-based airline except Southwest.

        Water is still free, for now.

        • acymetric says:

          Heads up to airlines…nobody is going to tip for soft drinks on a flight. They might tip for alcohol (I might have done it already…I can’t honestly remember because it has been a long time since I ordered a drink on a flight).

        • quanta413 says:

          I understand that, but why would I get on the budget airline and the buy soda on the flight? I’m trying to be cheap. I don’t need soda and if they were going to make me pay for water I’d get it from a vending machine before the flight. I often buy a water bottle from a vending machine anyways because even on regular flights the plastic cups are too damn small.

          • BBA says:

            In-flight beverages on Frontier are $3 a can – expensive by normal standards, but about the same as they cost at an airport gift shop or vending machine. And since you can’t bring liquids through security (thanks TSA!) those are your only options.

            It also depends on the length of the flight. I live in New York but I have family in California, and I can really use some nice refreshing beverages on those 6-hour cross-country flights. If it’s a 2-hour short hop, then whatever.

          • quanta413 says:

            If they start charging for water on those 6 hour flights, then maybe they’ll get enough money from this price discrimination for it to be relevant.

            That’d really piss people off though. Just imagine if someone goes from mild to severe dehydration on the plane but is too cheap to pay for water or their card breaks or something. It’d be a fiasco up there with having passengers on the runway half a day or the police dragging doctors off the flight.

          • A1987dM says:

            @BBA:

            You can take an empty bottle through security and fill it from the tap in the restroom sink.

          • Airports frequently have a device next to the water fountain designed to fill up your water bottle.

            Norwegian charges for drinks, including water. But their base fare is absurdly low, so low that I worry they may go out of business, so it seems fair enough to me. Mostly I bring water, but on one flight I bought several soft drinks, at something like three dollars each–which seems very expensive but isn’t that far above what they cost in the airport.

    • John Schilling says:

      Flight attendants are crucial safety personnel and glorified wait staff; it’s not inherently unreasonable for them to receive tips in the latter role. It’s just that the idea never caught on (or, if it was a thing in the early days of air travel, thoroughly died out).

      Which is probably a deal-breaker. Where a well-established tipping culture exists, it can be an effective way of providing feedback on customer-service jobs while providing the better servants with more $$$ than they would likely get directly from management. But trying to create one by fiat, and especially by unilateral corporate fiat, is likely just going to breed confusion and resentment on both sides.

      • bean says:

        or, if it was a thing in the early days of air travel, thoroughly died out

        I have some knowledge of those days, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. The first stewardesses were nurses, although that requirement didn’t last long. That might have had something to do with it.

    • The Nybbler says:

      (This is setting aside my personal opposition both to the spread of tipping culture and to the nickel-and-diming of airline passengers through ancillary fees. I fully recognize I’m being irrational and these are both economically efficient practices, so save it.)

      Why is it irrational to oppose tipping culture? For restaurants it ends up being a ~20% extra fee to avoid shame, along with some potlatch-style competition among people to demonstrate how generous they are to waitstaff. For other things (valets, doorman) it ends up being an indeterminate extra fee you must pay either to get service you already paid an agreed-on rate for, or to avoid having the poorly tipped or untipped people deliberately damage your stuff.

      I generally treat anything where tipping is expected to be something I simply should not do at all (thus I do not get valet parking, for instance, or “redcap” service at airports, or take cabs — restaurants are an exception where I pay the standard ~20% tip). If Frontier wants me to tip flight attendants for drinks, I’ll either not be ordering drinks or not taking Frontier.

      • sfoil says:

        I still want to know how the “standard” tip went from 15% to 20%. It seems to have happened sometime around 2010.

        • acymetric says:

          Disagree, it happened in the early-mid 2000s at the latest. Kind of makes sense, as that is the only real way to see a “cost of living” increase for waitstaff pay (and by that standard, one could even question whether it has gone up enough). I suppose the other way is that increased menu prices would increase the tip amounts, but it would seem that would barely keep up with inflation if it even did at all.

          15% is still fine (only the most unreasonable people would call someone who tipped 15% “cheap”) but 20% is definitely the norm now for service that was at least decent/good.

          • Winja says:

            That doesn’t make sense. Assuming that the cost of a restaurant meal keeps pace with inflation over time, then tipping the same percent should include a built-in cost of living increase because the tip amount is based on the cost of something that has a cost that will generally keep pace with inflation.

            In other words, if I pay $10 for a meal and tip 15%, the tip is $1.50.

            If the same meal a year later costs $20, a 15% tip is going to be $3.00. The very structure of tipping has a built in cost of living increase.

            Note that the above cost of the meals and the implied inflation rate therein are made up for the purposes of illustration.

          • acymetric says:

            Well, sort of. Cost of living can outpace inflation, and restaurant prices may or may not adequately reflect that (they might not even adequately reflect inflation). The economics are complicated enough that I can’t really do a thorough analysis (it is going to vary year to year, by location, and probably by restaurant, and I am not an economist), but my intuition says that compensation would need to increase by more than what you would see from increased food prices alone.

            Edit: My intuition is at least partly informed by the fact that tip-based workers are not significantly more well off despite the large-ish increase in tip % (and what I suspect is a general increase in dining out). In fact, I would guess that the median waiter now is worse off than the median waiter 20-30 years ago, which is why it is so much less common to see adults working as waitstaff.

          • Nick says:

            I always worry that I’m a cheap customer, so I make sure my minimum tip is at least a few dollars. So I would never give only a $1.50 tip. This means my tips tend to look really generous when it’s only $8-10 but much closer to 15% as the price increases.

          • acymetric says:

            @Nick

            That is generally my pattern as well. It also depends a little on how long I occupy a table (I will probably tip more generously for a meal and 2 beers if I sit there and watch an entire football game than if I get the same meal/drinks but only stay for 30 minutes).

        • The Nybbler says:

          I suspect the “how” is that the sort of columnists who write about this kind of thing are the kind who are waitstaff when the job market has a downturn.

        • Lillian says:

          You know what one of my favourite things about travelling in Europe and South America is? The standard tip is 10% and is included in the bill. If you want to leave a bit of extra cash, that’s appreciated but not expected. It’s so much simpler and easier in every respect.

          • Plumber says:

            IIRC, in the 1980’s we paid 10% for standard service, 15% was for very good service and none was for bad, and a few pennies was for really bad.

      • acymetric says:

        It would probably be more appropriate to call it “tipping economy” rather than “tipping culture” (because if pay isn’t based on tips, base pay and cost of service will increase to compensate).

        I can understand why someone might feel that the tipping system is not optimal, preferring a system with no tips and higher base pay, and who thus argue that point, but given it is the system in place I don’t understand why people get so upset about it. It isn’t like signing up for cable at $50 per month, getting your first bill and seeing it is $50 plus another $45 in previously undisclosed fees. You know the tip is part of the cost when you go to a sit down restaurant. It isn’t some surprise that gets thrown at you at the end of a nice meal.

        If waitstaff pay increased to $15-30 per hour that cost would certainly result in increased restaurant prices. Again, I can understand why someone might think this is preferable, but I don’t understand why people get angry about being expected to tip given that is not the case.

        That said, trying to make flight attendants tip-based is an awful idea, I am not really in favor of expanding tip-based pay to other industries.

        • RobJ says:

          Judging by personal experience, I would guess that the anger about it comes from feeling like you’re being made to feel guilty about something you don’t think you should have to feel guilty about or didn’t even know about. I remember being really annoyed when I discovered that people tipped barbers/stylists. I don’t know if my parents hadn’t done it or I just never noticed, but the concept had never occurred to me until a discussion with friends in my 20’s revealed that everyone else tipped them. Then I felt guilty and assumed all my previous barbers thought I was a cheapskate. Same thing for when I found out that 20% was the new norm instead of 15% for tipping wait staff. My initial response in both cases was “How was I supposed to know this! The whole system is stupid! I’m going to stop tipping on principle.” But then, of course, I got used to it and just did it.

      • Protagoras says:

        Unguarded comments from people in tipped work suggest that a lot of people don’t actually tip 20%, and a significant minority just don’t tip. But many of those involved have some incentive to exaggerate. tipped workers want people to think higher tips are normal so they’ll offer them, and people don’t want to admit to others that they’re cheap, so they no doubt often claim to tip more than they actually do or just don’t talk about tipping if they don’t tip very much. And if the trend is to exaggerate tipping, that is also going to produce some ratchet effect over time as a result of people who actually believe the claims and try to follow the implied norms, which will tend to bring them closer to reality, and thus lead to those who exaggerate needing to go higher.

        • Randy M says:

          Good point. I probably tip on the low side, 10-15%, but try to make up for it by being pleasant and not wasting the server’s time or leaving large messes.

      • A1987dM says:

        I generally treat anything where tipping is expected to be something I simply should not do at all (thus I do not get valet parking, for instance, or “redcap” service at airports, or take cabs — restaurants are an exception where I pay the standard ~20% tip). If Frontier wants me to tip flight attendants for drinks, I’ll either not be ordering drinks or not taking Frontier.

        Same here. Not living in the US I don’t even have to make an exception for restaurants.

  15. Elliot says:

    Has there been any update on the anxiety sampler kits from October?

  16. fion says:

    Odd question, but I want to know if others experience the same.

    After shaving, my upper lip feels very smooth but my chin feels slightly bristly. Even if I try quite hard to get every spot on my chin and even if I don’t really bother trying with my upper lip, it always happens. Anybody get the same? Any ideas why?

    My best guesses are (a) the chin is a more awkward shape, so it’s hard not to miss bits and (b) the upper lip is soft, whereas the chin is bony. The softness means that if you press in just a little bit you can get a good contact everywhere, but this isn’t possible on the bony bit. Do fat people find it just as easy to shave closely on their chin? Does it depend on the type of razor? (I use one of those plastic ones with two small razor blades wedged in at an angle; don’t know what you call them.)

    • Well... says:

      I’d guess it has more to do with different follicle shapes or something like that; your mustache hair is probably somewhat finer than your beard hair, so the shorn-off ends right at skin level yield to your fingertips more readily so you don’t feel them.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Other way around for me; my cheeks shave fairly easily (which I expect is common), my chin less so but still pretty smooth, and my upper lip tends to be more bristly. I use an electric.

      (I use one of those plastic ones with two small razor blades wedged in at an angle; don’t know what you call them.)

      Sounds like a twin-blade disposable razor. I keep some around in case my electric breaks, but the ones I have (Bic) are pretty poor; a Gilette Atra (twin blade cartridge razor) works better. I haven’t used the ones with more blades in many years.

    • sentientbeings says:

      I think your guesses are good, but a large part of it is probably the convergence of different growth patterns at that location. The best direction to shave varies based on the growth pattern and different people have different facial hair patterns, but usually at least two different patterns converge in that area, which makes it harder to get a smooth shave.

    • Statismagician says:

      Also yes. Possibly try a proper safety razor; I find it helps.

  17. eric23 says:

    Any thoughts on this research, which tries to condense a large variety of moral judgments into a single model that derives from our childhood experiences?

    • Statismagician says:

      Barring extraordinary evidence, my very strong prior is that all pop-psych books are essentially garbage. This has not got extraordinary evidence.

  18. sandoratthezoo says:

    So there was a bit of recent uproar at the idea that ibuprofen may cause hypogonadism.

    I’m not at all a medical professional, but when I try to read the paper (https://www.pnas.org/content/115/4/E715), the results look relatively robust for a small RCT — the dosage they gave the men was not unreasonable (600mg/day) and the effects were supposedly strong after 14 days. Lots of people take more than 600mg of ibuprofen in a single day, and while probably most people don’t take 600mg a day continuously for 14 days, it doesn’t seem impossible that taking ibuprofen 50x per year or something (which is not unreasonable, and I think there might be years in which I took ibuprofen more than 50x per year) could have an effect.

    But also I don’t really understand for example the LH/Testosterone ratio or, you know, most of the paper.

    So: Can anyone with more experience in this give me some layman’s advice about how to take this study? Should it make me noticeably more reluctant to take ibuprofen? Is a tempest in a teapot? If the only plausible substitute for ibuprofen is acetaminophen/paracetamol, is it like, “Oh, but that’s worse?” Is there any reason to believe that if ibuprofen does produce compensated hypogonadism, that naproxen will not do the same?

    My priors: Lots of people have taken lots of ibuprofen for a very long time. Clearly it doesn’t have dramatic effects. On the other hand, we aren’t necessarily good at noticing gradual but material long-term shifts in health when they phase in over a broad population over decades, and this seems like there’s a chance it’s something like that.

    (Edit: For anyone less enthused about generic drug names than I am: ibuprofen = Advil, acetaminophen/paracetamol = Tylenol, naproxen = Aleve).

    • The Nybbler says:

      It appears that what they showed is that ibuprofen resulted in the testes producing less testosterone in response to the stimulus of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary. In their trial, the pituitary produced more LH to compensate for this, resulting in no change in testosterone levels. It doesn’t appear that they examined whether or not this continued after the ibuprofen administration ended. This doesn’t seem all that worrisome on its own, but it’s easy to postulate situations where your body was already on the margin and the ibuprofen could cause uncompensated effects.

      If the only plausible substitute for ibuprofen is acetaminophen/paracetamol, is it like, “Oh, but that’s worse?”

      The discussion suggests that acetaminophen and aspirin might also have problems (based on previous studies), so maybe you can’t win.

  19. Winja says:

    I know there’s a number of people here interested in nootropics. One thing that is kind of annoying about the nootropic community is the inability to really quantify the effectiveness of a given supplement.

    I had a thought the other day, and one that I don’t know how to take further, but would it be useful to match nootropic effects against the Big Five personalilty traits; e.g. Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism?

    After all, we’re unlikely to find something that just straight up adds, say, 10 IQ points on top of what you’ve got, but if a supplement can be ranked along whether it raises your ability to, say, be conscientious at your job*, then you might have something.

    I think the OCEAN traits might still be more wishy washy than what you’d really want when evaluating something, but it seems like it would be much better than the fairly subjective criteria most people use.

    There’s some really smart people here, so I’d be curious to know what you think.

    *and not screwing around on the internet

    • twicetwice says:

      If you haven’t already, you should also definitely check out gwern’s work on nootropics. He does a lot of self-experimentation, with a really impressive amount of rigor, and produces some pretty interesting data.

      But it sounds to me like the example you chose might just be ADHD medication? I guess this is a boundary I’m not clear on — what’s the difference between a medication/drug and a nootropic?

      On a related note, marijuana plausibly could raise your openness to experience, and quite probably agreeableness, alcohol for many people increases extroversion/agreeableness, and so on. Could you count those as nootropics on those grounds?

      Also, re: your original annoyance, I feel like with anything cognitive it’s going to be difficult to quantify the impact. (See: Scott’s writing on SSRIs and other psychopharmaceuticals.) Personally, I’m currently talking to my psychiatrist to find an ADHD medication that works for me, and one thing that’s frustrating to me is trying to evaluate just how effective a given medication is. Especially when it’s deeply confounded by life, variables like environment changes, the amount of sleep I’m getting, stress, exercise, etc. How much of the effect is due to me exercising more vs the medication? And how much has the medication raised the probability that I do exercise, if at all? And so forth. (I’m currently using exist.io to try to correlate data as much as I can; it’s moderately useful. If anyone has advice, I’d welcome it!)

      note: this got marked as spam when i tried to link to gwern + exist.io. didn’t know two links would trigger the filter! hopefully double-posting with the links removed is okay

      • Winja says:

        Don’t hang too much significance on my use of supplement. As you rightly point out, alcohol certainly can move the sliders around for openness and extroversion.

        For ADHD, I’ve found myself wondering if it’s a combination of high neuroticism and low conscientiousness.

        Gwern’s name is familiar, but I don’t know that I’ve ever looked very specifically at what they are doing, I’ll have to check it out!

    • Björn says:

      Isn’t it a good idea anyhow to focus on raising your conscientiousness and lowering your neuroticism, since they are much less stable across life then IQ, from which we know that it basically never increases in adulthood. Conscientiousness and neuroticism can be influenced by forming good habits and learning to recognize when your neuroticism is talking to you, you don’t even need magic chemicals. Learning to live out your other traits productively also helps you in life, even though the relationship to “good performance” isn’t so linear.

    • Plumber says:

      @Winja  

      “…if a supplement can be ranked along whether it raises your ability to, say, be conscientious at your job*, then you might have something…:

      A few threads ago @DavidFriedman recommended vitamin D supplements, and I’ve been taking them and since then I’ve found it easier to will myself to get out of a chair (thanks David)

      • Your thanks are really due to Bruce Ames, whose advice I was passing on. A pleasant old man who, according to Wikipedia, “is among the few hundred most-cited scientists in all fields.”

  20. Le Maistre Chat says:

    You’ve seen it dozens of times. An SF movie set in present-day America: when sympathetic characters discover the SFnal thing, a government agency swoops in to silence them. The US is basically treated as a totalitarian state with secret agencies empowered to disappear people.
    Hollywood started making these movies in the 1970s: did they ever stop? The trope obviously grows out of real-world conspiracy theories, but I find it interesting that Hollywood would signal boost the belief that the US is a totalitarian state regardless of which Party is in power.
    Any thoughts?

    • Plumber says:

      Science Fiction author David Brin put it this way:

      “…..While individuals get our empathy and sympathy, institutions seldom do. The “we’re in this together” spirit of films from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s later gave way to a reflex shared by left and right, that villainy is associated with organization. Even when they aren’t portrayed as evil, bureaucrats are stupid and public officials short-sighted. Only the clever bravado of a solitary hero (or at most a small team) will make a difference in resolving the grand crisis at hand.

      This rule of contemporary storytelling is so nearly universal that it has escaped much comment — because you never notice propaganda that you already agree with. In other words, the reflex is self-reinforcing. A left-leaning director may portray villainous oligarchs or corporations while another film-maker rails against government cabals. But while screaming at each other over which direction Big Brother may be coming from, they never seem to notice their common heritage and instinct — Suspicion of Authority (SOA) — much in the way fish seldom comment on the existence of water.

      Indeed, one of the great ironies is that we all suckled SOA from every film and comic book and novel that we loved… and yet, we tend to assume that we invented it. That only we and a few others share this deep-seated worry about authority. That our neighbors got their opinions from reflexive, sheeplike obedience to propaganda — but we attained ours through logical appraisal of the evidence.

      No, you did not invent Suspicion of Authority. You were raised by it….”

      It’s sick and harmful.

      I’m weary of “rebels”.

      • Randy M says:

        An extra g snuck into the authors name there. I was about to say, “hmm, that sounds like what David Brin would say too”, and that seemed a bit too much of a coincidence. 😉

        • Plumber says:

          Thank you @Randy M!

          Auro-correct continues it’s war on me.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I like David Brin’s writing about writing more than I like David Brin’s writing.

          • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

            I liked Brin back when he was brand new.

            He lost my interest with the Uplift books, and the only thing he’s done since that was even minorly interesting was Kiln People. And his ex cathra editorials have never been better than tiresome at best.

          • meh says:

            Yes. In some ways he is proving his own points.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            I liked Brin back when he was brand new.

            Earth was the first depiction i had seen of people who thought the Enlightenment was a terrible mistake. Before even Moldbug. Of course, since it was Brin, those people were terrible human beings.

          • I don’t have strong views of Brin’s fiction and I think his nonfiction The Transparent Society made some important points. But I’ve interacted with him online and come away with a pretty negative impression.

      • The Nybbler says:

        If the real world authorities would stop justifying the suspicion, Brin might have a better point.

        If you like SF with reasonable authority figures, there’s Charlie Stross.

      • LadyJane says:

        Are you only sick of stories that portray the modern U.S. (or other modern liberal democracies) as being totalitarian, or are you weary of “rebels against tyranny” stories in general? Do you also dislike dystopian stories like The Hunger Games, or fantasy settings with an evil empire like Star Wars? What about historical tales featuring largely accurate portrayals of tyranny in medieval or ancient times?

        “The modern U.S. is a totalitarian secret police state” is a fairly extreme stance (although there are certainly authoritarian trends within the modern U.S. that deserve to be criticized, particularly the War on Terror and the War on Drugs, and I definitely understand why some stories would portray the military-industrial complex in a negative light). But I see a lot of value in the premise of “in a century from now, the U.S. or its successor state will be a totalitarian secret police state if we allow these trends to continue to their logical conclusion.” David Brin himself talked about how good dystopian SF can serve as a “self-preventing prophecy.”

        • Plumber says:

          @Lady Jane

          “Are you only sick of stories that portray the modern U.S. (or other modern liberal democracies) as being totalitarian, or are you weary of “rebels against tyranny” stories in general? Do you also dislike dystopian stories like The Hunger Games, or fantasy settings with an evil empire like Star Wars? What about historical tales featuring largely accurate portrayals of tyranny in medieval or ancient times?…”

          Hunger Games grew tiresome, I liked Star Wars in ’77 (I saw it nine times!) but Return of the Jedi really bugged me.

          The Grapes of Wrath (film and novel), In Dubious Battle (novel), On The Waterfront (film), and F.I
          S.T.
          (film) were “rebels against the system” stories that appealed to me, but I want to see stories where the system is defended against chaos for a change, and not defended by ‘Lone Heroes”.

          Something like the 1950’s science fiction film Them again is what I crave, the U.S. Army and scientist against giant ants, and no I don’t want a “deconstruction” like Starship Troopers, and no damn “secret agents”, out in the open, please!

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Men In Black? The quasi-government conspiracy secret agents are good guys? How about James Bond? MI6 are your friends, pal.

          • AG says:

            Independence Day would be ideal, no? And maybe BSG.

            Dark Matter and Killjoys are recent pulp scifi TV shows that had somewhat interesting interactions with a Space-Corporatism premise. Both had storylines building towards their protagonists fighting against said corporations, but were then waylaid by Alien Invasion. (Dark Matter got cancelled as their invasion began.)
            I liked them as low-effort comfort watches, as their character relationships and dialogue tended towards the Whedon/Buffy school.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Have you read the Starship Troopers novel? The film is every bit as bad as you make it sound, but the novel isn’t a deconstruction at all.

          • Another Throw says:

            How about James Bond? MI6 are your friends, pal.

            First of all, no, no they’re not.

            But more importantly, and at a considerable tangent, the thing that irritates me the most about modern movies is that, even if you grant that deconstruction is an interesting thing to do in the first place, they’re deconstructing the parody not the authentic article. Taking Star Trek as an example (because watching Daniel Craig gives me eye cancer) (and because it is a sure bet to fire Deiseach up) the parody of Captain Kirk as a superhuman sex-machine has so completely captured the zeitgeist that, even when people watch the original series, their response is not that perhaps the description in the zeitgeist might be wrong, but that, man! Those old folks were so terrible at making superhuman sex-machines! We could do it so much better! Plus deconstruction, because fuck `em! And then you end up with weird things like The Orvilles deconstructing a parodying of the deconstruction of the parody. This, naturally, takes it full circle and you accidentally end up with something that is, I hear, sort of watchable again.

            While Captain Kirk was neither superhuman nor sex machine, James Bond was definitely a sex-machine (with provisos). But there is no possible universe in which he is superhuman. Have you seen Goldfinger? He spends the whole move (and book) doing nothing but getting people killed and bumbling into being captured. Repeatedly. The entire plot plays out without any involvement from him whatsoever. And even his sex-mania (with the exception of a couple steady girlfriends and a wife) is a cool and calculating ploy to advance the interests of Queen and Country rather than an insatiable lust as a purpose unto itself. But no. Those old geezers couldn’t make a half way decent film about a sex-crazed maniac smashing cop cars in the streets of Manhattan Prague by swinging around his priapic member to save their lives, so we’re going to have to do it for them, and then deconstruct it, because fuck `em.

            I don’t know, maybe you missed the point?

            End rant.

          • acymetric says:

            @Another Throw

            But more importantly, and at a considerable tangent, the thing that irritates me the most about modern movies is that, even if you grant that deconstruction is an interesting thing to do in the first place, they’re deconstructing the parody not the authentic article. Taking Star Trek as an example (because watching Daniel Craig gives me eye cancer) (and because it is a sure bet to fire Deiseach up) the parody of Captain Kirk as a superhuman sex-machine has so completely captured the zeitgeist that, even when people watch the original series, their response is not that perhaps the description in the zeitgeist might be wrong, but that, man! Those old folks were so terrible at making superhuman sex-machines! We could do it so much better! Plus deconstruction, because fuck `em! And then you end up with weird things like The Orvilles deconstructing a parodying of the deconstruction of the parody. This, naturally, takes it full circle and you accidentally end up with something that is, I hear, sort of watchable again.

            I know you were (by admission) ranting, but I have a simpler explanation. The shows/films you’re talking about are dated. People look at them and say “this is dated, we can do it in a more modern way” rather than misunderstanding what was happening and then saying “we could do that better”.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Another Throw

            Yes, I definitely missed your point.

            The topic was media that presents the government or authorities and the secretive parts of them as not evil. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not James Bond is competent or a successful sex maniac. The point is James Bond and the British government are portrayed as serving the public, protecting them from madmen who want to commit mass murder and/or rule the world. They’re not trying to oppress the populace to stifle dissent or anything.

          • Plumber says:

            Evan Þ

            “Have you read the Starship Troopers novel?…”

            No, I never read it, I had a friend in elementary school to young adulthood (who actually moved into my mom’s house while I stayed at my dad’s when we were in high school to escape his junkie mom) and he raved about it, but he was a reader of Soldier of Fortune and I wasn’t so I assumed it wouldn’t be for me.

          • Starship Troopers is a pretty good book. Part of it is a prose expansion of Kipling poem. Part of it is the interesting idea of deciding who can vote by who is most likely to put the welfare of the society ahead of his own–as demonstrated by volunteering for a service (not necessarily military, although that’s the one you see) that protects the society at considerable risk to himself.

            And part is just a good story of future warfare.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Interesting as a child of Boomers (but so early a child that I hesitate to say I am Gen X), I’ve frequently looked back on the 60s as the time when the current issues of (un)governance were hatched. In attempting to argue that the “current” exercise of authority was incorrect, the left and the right both began attacking the exercise or existence of authority itself.

        That said, I think the trope itself is much older. “Shadowy controlling organization” has a much longer history than 70s forward. As far back as there has been populism, there have been those arguing against the supposed cabal of the powerful and tiny minority.

        • Plumber says:

          @HeelBearCub

          “Interesting as a child of Boomers (but so early a child that I hesitate to say I am Gen X)….”

          We’re about the same age then, I’m an early “X’er” (born in ’68) who’s married to a late “Boomer”

        • acymetric says:

          Well, if you go too far back you leave the realm of “shadowy controlling organization” and enter the realm of powerful tiny minority overtly controls everything and everyone knows it, right? Just a couple hundred years really.

          It certainly didn’t start in the 70s though. When did rumors about things like Masons and Illuminati first start making the rounds? I know they got lots of popular attention in fiction in recent years but it seems the actual conspiracy theories are much, much older.

          • sentientbeings says:

            Well, if you go too far back you leave the realm of “shadowy controlling organization” and enter the realm of powerful tiny minority overtly controls everything and everyone knows it, right? Just a couple hundred years really.

            I assume you mean something like monarchs? “Powerful tiny minority” probably applies there. “Overtly control everything” probably doesn’t. I think that you might be conflating political participation and formal authority with the rest of human activity.

          • rlms says:

            Wikipedia has the first known anti-Masonic (and anti-Jesuit) being published in 1786.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’m not sure of my history, but I think you have populism as known approach even back into Roman times?

            I’m not sure exactly what the requirements are for it to be viable as a movement or approach, but I would think that to the extent you have large number of people with relatively diffuse power in some form of organization, you will see these kinds of tactics employed.

            Even palace intrigues in a theoretically divine monarchy may take on this form, I think.

      • eightieshair says:

        It’s often been pointed out that Ripley in the first Alien movie is exactly the sort of character who is usually singled out for ridicule in SF and action films: a martinet who keeps quoting the rules chapter and verse and insists that things be done by the book.

        And if the crew had just listened to her and followed protocol they might have survived (some of them, anyway).

        • Machine Interface says:

          Yeah, in fact the movie was, at the time, playing on those expectations — the filmmakers counted on the audience rooting for Tom Skeritt’s character (who at the time was the biggest name actor in that movie, Sigourney Weather wasn’t really famous), against Ripley-the-stuck-up-bureaucrat.

          Which of course becomes a major twist when Skeritt is killed mid-movie, Ian Holm turns out to be a corporate mole, and Weaver ends up being the last survivor who was right all along.

          Of course nowadays everyone already knows the plot and Sigourney Weaver is a lot more famous than Tom Skeritt, so this subtext is completely lost.

          • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

            Jeez, no kidding.

            I precisely remember the first time I watched Alien (in the original theater run), and Dallas dies, and I was all “WAIT, WHAT?!”.

            The subversion of expected plot armor, and the presentation of “no really, everyone could die” was astounding. I spent the next couple of days telling everyone I knew “You have got to go see this movie, tonight, no I can’t tell you why”.

          • wk says:

            @Name: I have always regretted that I wasn’t able to watch Alien without spoilers. It must have been quite an experience. It also has one of the greatest trailers I have ever seen – it gives virtually nothing away about the story line and is highly effective at the same time.

            While we’re talking about the subject of subversive elements in movies, I wonder, have you ever watched “Il grande silencio” by Corbucci? Or “The Long Goodbye” by Robert Altman? As somebody who grew up with both Western movies and Detective stories, I found both of these to have rather interesting subversive elements I didn’t expect before I watched them.

    • sentientbeings says:

      “Powerful secret agencies” in the movies haven’t always been totalitarian agencies – sometimes they are portrayed positively, so it’s not as simple as a non-partisan boosting of the belief that the US is totalitarian. It could be interpreted as a form of state worship instead. In fact, that could be true for positive or negative portrayals, depending on the details.

    • dick says:

      I think you’re overstating the case somewhat. Yes, it’s a trope that the US government is waaay better at espionage in movies than in real life, with CIA spies that can check a satellite to see what you ate for breakfast last Thursday, but it’s also true that such agencies are not generally the Bad Guy. At most, they’re mixed, where some people in the spy agency are the villain and others are good guys and there’s confusion about who’s who. That’s the plot of the last couple Bond movies, most Mission Impossibles, one or two Avengers, every Bourne movie, etc. The hero always manages to unmask and kill the ringleader, but generally without killing the rank-and-file soldiers who are assumed to be unwitting dupes.

      I notice this recently because it was not the case in the latest “Predator” movie recently, which seemed off-putting to me. The Big Bad in it (other than predators) is essentially a US government/military program called “Operation Stargazer”, and the protagonist and his allies kill quite a few Stargazer grunts (who are treated as disposable mooks whose deaths we’re not supposed to care about, like a Bond villain’s henchmen) despite them being apparently US soldiers whose only crime is having been assigned to a department run by the villain.

      (But I’m loathe to attach any ideological/political significance to this because it was a very silly movie, kind of a send-up of action movies. I don’t think this will start being the case in non-parody action flicks.)

      • woah77 says:

        Admittedly, with regards to “Predator,” most of the mooks who die are killed by the predator, and the few who are directly killed by the heroes are generally engaged in pretty despicable behavior (such as the barn grenade scene). Yes, there is a big fire fight between the heroes and the mooks, but I don’t recall the heroes just gunning them down.

        • dick says:

          It wasn’t as gratuitous as Rambo slaughtering Russkies, but when they’re assaulting the ship at the end the hero’s allies ambush and kill some guys who were just standing guarding stuff. Those allies do get killed shortly thereafter, which does temper it a bit.

          But my main point was that this was an exception, and the general rule is that American super-spies in American movies are either good guys or good guys that have been infiltrated by bad guys.

    • MrApophenia says:

      It’s probably not a coincidence this trope blew up in the 1970s, since that’s when a bunch of information became public showing that, yeah, the US government had a bunch of secret agencies that had been empowered to disappear people (and conduct experiments on civilians, and spy on whoever they felt like, etc. etc.)

      And given that we know for a fact that in the 2000s the government arrested civilians (including American citizens) and held them without charges and tortured them, and none of the people involved actually faced any legal consequences for it, and then we found out the NSA really was spying on everyone in exactly the way the tinfoil-hat contingent always said they were, I can’t say I’m super bothered by the trope still showing up.

      • albatross11 says:

        MrAppohenia:

        Some military personnel did face consequences for mistreating prisoners. Not the spies, though, and certainly not the high-level bureaucrats or politicians who ordered the torture. Laws are like market discipline–good enough for the little people, but too harsh and unyielding for the really important people.

    • BBA says:

      This is one thing I liked about the second season of Stranger Things. The new head scientist at the secret government research facility is a decent, reasonable guy who just has his own agenda and doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with our heroes. That’s a bit more interesting than just continuing the evil government conspiracy angle from season 1.

  21. DragonMilk says:

    Alliances

    As much as there is to disagree with the current president about, beyond messaging, I’m not sure why there’s so much emphasis on “traditional” allies (NATO)

    There’s a bit of irony to me that France and Germany would like to form a European army together given the actual historical “traditions”, and what strings together traditional American allies to me seems to be the legacy of the British Empire + France who helped fund the American cause of independence from the British.

    But Japan? South Korea? Saudi Arabia? Taiwan? Other than the obvious diplomatic benefit of asserting verbally that the US is allied to them, a lot of it seems to be a matter of lingering favoritism after communism has fallen/resource protection and not that relevant today.

    This is all to say that I’m not that opposed to re-assessing strategic worth of maintaining certain alliances. Whether to question them publicly in order to get governments to cough up more money for their own national defense is a different matter.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      But Japan? South Korea? Saudi Arabia? Taiwan?

      Three of those four countries you mentioned are very important in containing / encircling China. And two of those three owe their continued existence largely to American support: how long would an independent Taiwan or South Korea last if China and North Korea had free reign?

      Now there’s definitely room to debate whether or not maintaining the balance of power there is something that the US needs to be doing. A nuclear Japan with a real army and/or a nuclear South Korea might be able to handle themselves, and if Taiwan went the way of Hong Kong it might not be the end of the world for them. But that would be a huge change in American foreign policy and implementing it without starting World War 3 might be tricky.

      I share your intuition that America should dial down our overseas involvement, but I’m increasingly thinking that the best way to do that is to wean our allies off of total dependence on the US military by encouraging them to match our troop presence / spending. If Japan et al can provide more of their own defense, America can provide less of it while maintaining the same level. The alliances themselves are important because they provide a framework for that to happen.

      • DragonMilk says:

        Yes, as a practical matter, I don’t see why asking allies to spend more so the 2019 DoD budget of $686 billion can be reduced in future years is a bad thing.

        That’s over 3.5% of US GDP and since the government is only estimated to be bringing in $3.4trn of revenue, that means a fifth of that is evaporating each year.

        Would be nice to get back to roaring 20s level of 1-2% GDP

    • bullseye says:

      It’s not actually tradition. Tradition is a buzzword that makes alliances sound more reliable.

    • ajakaja says:

      I feel like far and away the top reasons all rhyme with ‘stability’ and any discussion of the merits of alliances that doesn’t start with ‘look how nice not having wars between major powers is’ is just going to completely not cover anything useful.

  22. Paul Brinkley says:

    Last year, a poker player bet a fellow player $100,000 he couldn’t stay isolated in a pitch black bathroom for 30 days. He took the bet, after they worked out the details.

    20 days later, he agreed to come out in exchange for only $62,400.

    What your price, SSCers?

    • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

      Interrupting him at 15 days in with a parole offer was a dick move. But then, they are poker players, where rattling each other’s calm with dick moves is part of the game.

      I’d take the bet, and spend the time working on stretching, bodyweight workout, and meditation.

      • acymetric says:

        I’m not sure I would have taken the buyout, but I would probably be a lot more sympathetic to it after 20 days in pitch black.

      • fion says:

        I’d take the bet, and spend the time working on stretching, bodyweight workout, and meditation.

        I feel like you’ll have a lot of time left over. I don’t think I’d feel like doing more than about two hours of bodyweight exercise a day, and maybe an hour of stretching. Adding in nine hours of sleep still leaves you twelve hours of every day. Can you really meditate that much?

        • johan_larson says:

          Yes, I don’t know what anyone would do with that much time on their hands either.

          If the room was lit and I had pens and paper I would write a story. Thirty days with nothing but time on my hands? That’s the first draft of at least a novella, maybe a novel.

          But with nothing? I think I would be really miserable. Given the experience of others, I’m not sure I would make it through a month.

          • You could compose a novel in your head, planning to write it down when you got out. My first novel was composed in my head as a way of falling asleep, then told to my daughter at bedtime (each evening when I finished I wrote an outline of what I had told so as to keep track of it), then written down.

            It would be hard to keep oneself interested in that for a month, but perhaps not impossible.

          • Name hidden for obvious reasons says:

            Maybe first spend a year or two learning how to read and write Braille…

          • ana53294 says:

            You can touch type or write on paper without light, also (although the handwriting would be terrible).

            When I was at uni and took notes in lectures, I barely looked while I was writing. Muscle memory is quite strong.

    • Randy M says:

      It’s definitely not something I would bet any serious money on, since I’m not certain enough that I have the determination to voluntarily stay in solitary, sensory deprivation that long. And I wouldn’t do it for unserious money, since I don’t have a month to waste, either.
      Hypothetically, if someone else had the key and I was getting the money for certain… I’d probably do it for $100,000. That’s a down payment on a house, and I could probably arrange the unpaid time off work. I think I would recover. But the time in between… it would not be enjoyable, and I expect at points I’d beg to be released.
      I consider myself an introvert, but that’s pretty serious isolation.

    • Another Throw says:

      As long as this bathroom includes something to sleep on that isn’t a piss covered tile floor, I would take the bet for a sufficient sum. Solitary confinement is pretty rough, though, so even though I don’t have substantial opportunity costs and I am very introverted $100,000 probably isn’t enough. A half million (after tax) would be enough for me to seriously consider it. But then, I don’t have a half million to pay if I lose. So….

      • fion says:

        You can always say you’d do it for a particular amount at particular odds, like “If I win I get $500,000 and if I lose I pay $50,000”. If your friend/adversary/fellow poker player believed the chances of you succeeding were less than one in ten* then they’d still agree to the bet.

        *or is it one in eleven? Odds confuse me, but the point still stands

    • acymetric says:

      I have a pretty standard threshold for crazy “would you do this” bets: enough to pay off all debt (student loans and such) and have some fun money left over (and I don’t just mean weekend at the beach money). $100,000 is about the minimum, but it would take some major haggling to get there. I would be pushing for more like $250,000.

      One key thing though, is that a)I have control of the house thermostat and b)if the bathroom doesn’t have a built-in fan I want a small electric fan. Reason being, I have tinnitus and while it generally doesn’t bother me 30 days in the pitch dark would probably draw a lot of attention to it. I think I could do it without the background noise, but I would push for that as one of the accommodations. I probably wouldn’t have thought about that bit most days, but I have a terrible cold and it has cranked the tinnitus up to 11 the last few days.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Assuming my experience is like the one from the article, with great restaurant delivered meals, a bed, normal temperature, and the ability to take nice baths, etc.? If it wouldn’t hurt my career or reduce my ordinary yearly salary, I’d do it for $10k.

      I was almost tempted to say “for free”, as I think the experience and meditative aspects would be worthwhile, but I also think that I can’t get a month of my life back, and I’d rather have reading / human contact / etc for a month than I would silent meditation… so $10k seems about right.

    • sty_silver says:

      Assuming decent meals and the ability to get fresh air in and such things…

      … that’s like a 30 day silent retreat to practice meditation…

      I think I’d do it for 50 000. Maybe less. I think there’s a somewhat decent chance that I’d think it was time well spent afterward.

      Well, that is if it’s gain-or-nothing. If it’s actually a bet where I can lose, probably only for a much larger sum. Which I couldn’t pay if I lost, so it’s not clear how it would work.

    • Odovacer says:

      Similar to Chekhov’s The Bet. At least the player had the money to pay the other.

      • acymetric says:

        Seems like real cheating to have all the reading materials, wine, and a piano.

        • Aapje says:

          I think that it’s quite common for poker players to find loop holes in the agreement and socially acceptable if not taken too far.

          • acymetric says:

            I was referring to the charachter in Chekhov’s The Bet, who was a Lawyer, not a poker player.

            The poker player’s amenities were substantially less accommodating, what with the total darkness and all.

    • fion says:

      I think the darkness would be a very big factor for me. Starting to experience hallucinations due to sensory deprivation is something I feel very uncomfortable about.

      If I could have some light then I would attempt this under a win-or-quits arrangement for £10,000. I would never do it for a bet (unless the odds were so ridiculously in my favour that it’s essentially win-or-quits) because the idea of putting myself through a very unpleasant experience, indeed an experience so unpleasant I can’t continue with it even for large financial reward and then have to pay out is adding insult to injury in a big way.

    • Kyle A Johansen says:

      Assuming bed, good food, sufficient drink and access to facilities. I’d do it for free if I were unemployed.

      Considering the inconvenience, I wouldn’t be willing to bet any amount high enough that made it worth it.

      If it was a straight up payment, then probably the same sort of money that would convince me to take a month’s holiday on a tropical island; I’m not sure how much that actually is though.

      After all this poker player probably could have gone the thirty days, so why not me. It’d be a very novel experience.(Unlike fion, the visual hallucinations are what I’d be relying on for thirty days)

    • DragonMilk says:

      Depends on scaling. I’m confident I could last 30 days, but I’m often overconfident on things I’ve never done before!

      So rationally, I’d have to have the following threshold steps:
      0-5: Nothing
      6-10: 9k
      11-15: 21k
      16-20: 36k
      21-25: 55k
      26-30: 76k
      30: 100k

    • RavenclawPrefect says:

      $10,000, and most of that just to balance lost productivity. If you paused time and let me get all the room-time for free with no physical aging or time passing in the outside world, I’d probably take up to a year for free.

      I’m an extrovert, but people’s concern about solitary confinement has always confused me. I like my brain, and it makes for decent company by itself – other people are a bonus, but the default experience of existence is net-positive even if I don’t have someone else around to talk to and I rarely get bored. Are there things I might be neglecting here? Having inadvertently spent 48 hours or so without interacting with other people before, I didn’t notice any particular desire to do otherwise, but maybe going crazy after a week is a human universal and I’m just bad at introspection.

      If I were prepping for this situation, I’d probably just memorize a long list of interesting questions and puzzles to think over during my stay – 100 really tough math problems probably suffice. (If I run out, I’ll spend my time trying to come up with new ones.)

      • albatross11 says:

        It’s quite possible that your idea of what solitary confinement would be like is very different from how you would actually experience it.

    • Matt C says:

      A lot of money. I think this would be harder than a lot of people here seem to think. I bet most people could not do it, and the guy who did was unusually well suited for the bet. Even so he was willing to give up almost 40K to get out 10 days early.

      I would have concerns about injuring my mental (and possibly physical) health. The guy talked about trying to prevent his thoughts from going to “a bad place”. Well, that already happens to me sometimes without an isolation chamber. It’s easy to imagine having a freakout attempting this.

      If the prize is big enough, and I am allowed to rehearse, at some point it becomes worth experimenting and trying to skill up for the challenge. I bet with practice one could learn tricks for dealing with the isolation and boredom, especially in an environment with as much freedom of action as this guy had. If allowed, I might make a lot of origami animals from burrito wrappers or build a lot of bridges out of Q-tips.

  23. EchoChaos says:

    I had a nice conversation with Hoopyfreud and a couple of others about stereotypes and hiring in the last thread and I’d like to expand on it a bit, and I think it bears on IQ and a couple of the other things being discussed here.

    One of the dynamics that Hoopyfreud pointed out that he/she was upset by people who used race as a heuristic.

    I will suggest that race is used as a direct heuristic in America substantially less than most people think it is and that when it is used that way it tends to benefit minorities rather than disadvantage them.

    And I think that the reason that so many minorities get upset is because they experience race being used as an indirect heuristic in daily life a lot.

    To use an example, let’s say that surgeons are usually male and that nurses are usually female (both true in America). If a regular person walks into a surgeon’s office and sees a pretty young woman in scrubs and says “good morning nurse” then an acceptably high percentage of the time he will be correct, the nurse will say hello back and both will feel good about the encounter.

    But for a female surgeon, 100% of such encounters will be awkward and feel bigoted, because she is always on the receiving end.

    And on the degree of accuracy, surgeon is actually a really GOOD heuristic for male. 81% of surgeons in the United States are male, and someone who makes an assumption that is 80% right is doing a pretty good job. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/number-of-women-surgeons-in-the-us-3972900

    Well, I can hear people saying, you should just always check before you make any assumption. But that doesn’t pass the sniff test. Even in a perfect world people will always use heuristics, because we don’t have infinite time. Heuristics are time saving measures that are important.

    But in a lot of cases they’re a lot weaker than “surgeon = male” and they’re related to race and people do them anyway because they’re bad at statistics. Which means that even though direct use of race as a heuristic in hiring/renting/etc. is both culturally and legally unacceptable, minorities feel that their race is being used as a heuristic far more often than it is.

    • Plumber says:

      Some members of racial miniorities feel that they face more negative discrimination than they do because most nurses are women and most surgeons are men?

      Sorry @EchoChaos, my reading comprehension fails me, please restate the idea.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Racial minorities feel they face more negative discrimination than they do because every time someone makes a mistaken assumption on a heuristic they notice it (while they don’t notice all the correct assumptions because they aren’t part of those conversations).

        These are small and not particularly discriminatory, and in the big stuff (jobs, rentals, etc) they are in fact not discriminated against. However, it feels bad because it is constant, and the people who are constantly “microaggressing” are not particularly incentivized to fix the heuristics because they’re almost always right.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          Racial minorities feel they face more negative discrimination than they do because every time someone makes a mistaken assumption on a heuristic they notice it

          I assume that you’re talking about people making inferences about the heuristics other people use when making big decisions and saying that those heuristics actually apply to small-scale decisions more than they apply to big ones. This is possible but not particularly convincing, particularly since IME people are more conservative (small c) when making big decisions.

          The idea that external social mores exert more pressure on those making the big decisions is more convincing, and I’ll grant that I’d be willing to believe that hiring and other institutional decisions are fairly constrained by that social pressure; that said, I think these institutions are therefore constrained by the strength of that pressure, that this is a bad way to make decisions, and that non-institutions make big decisions that aren’t subject to such pressure.

          • EchoChaos says:

            No, I am saying that they miscalculate how many people make adjustments based on the heuristic of race because they notice all the people who do.

          • 10240 says:

            If I’m a hiring manager and a woman applies to a job as a surgeon, I have another very important piece of information about her besides that she is a woman: the fact that she is applying to a job as a surgeon. That probably overrides any vague stereotype I have about surgeons being mostly men; I perhaps note to myself that it’s a bit unusual that a surgeon is a woman, but I have no reason to treat her differently from any other surgeon. However, if I see a person in scrubs, and I only know that she is a woman and a medical professional, it is relatively unlikely that she is a surgeon.

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        … Simpler: Assume, oh, 1 percent of US “whites” are racist enough, and socially inept enough, that they will be noticeably a racially motivated asshole to any person of color they interact with.
        How many incidents of people being a racist asshole at them will Trevor, the apple store clerk experience in a week?

        • Plumber says:

          In the Apple store on Fourth Street?

          Assuming 1% are noticeably racist jerks?

          Hundreds every week.

          When I worked at a motorcycle shop parts counter I developed a “heuristic” that motorcyclists were ruder and stupider than average, switching to construction work changed my mind about this.

          So if you’re not a member of a racial minority you’ll notice discrimination against racial minorities less?

          That makes sense.

          And from that idea we should….?

      • Deiseach says:

        I think the idea is that, say, you are a patient and when you go into the hospital and see ten women in green scrubs, every time you say “Hello, Nurse Joan!” and eight times out of ten you’ll be right. The two times you’re wrong and it’s “Surgeon Joan” don’t stand out to you because they’re so rare.

        On the other hand, for Surgeon Joan, eight times out of ten she’s mistaken for a nurse and only two times out of ten is she correctly identified. For her, the wrong times are the common experience. So after a while, she’ll be less likely to think “innocent mistake” and more likely to think “deliberate sexism”, even if that’s not the case (unconscious sexism is another thing, but for simplicity’s sake we’re assuming active malice).

        So Patient Bob gets accused by Surgeon Joan of being a misogynist sexist monster for saying “Hello Nurse Joan!” to her, and she’s angry about that, while Patient Bob is angry that his simple act of civility is being presented as a deliberate insult (for him, this is the rare time he’s been wrong, but for Joan this is the eighth time today it happened and she has had it).

        For Joan, she’s going to assume that every patient – even if they never say anything – is presuming she’s only a nurse because she can’t be ‘smart enough to be a surgeon’ or ‘that’s a man’s job’ and she sees things in terms of deliberate discrimination.

        For Bob, he’s assuming Joan is oversensitive special snowflake or deliberately out to cause trouble and blame men, because he knows he wasn’t being a sexist misogynist, it was a real mistake.

        And the kicker is, both of them are right from their viewpoint: for Joan, she does face sexism every day; for Bob, he was innocent of any malicious intent. But put them arguing the case and instead of getting a compromise “Joan is right that patients assume she’s a nurse but Bob is right that this is not sexism it’s based on the ratios”, they’ll both accuse each other of bad intent and denying the other person’s lived experience.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Exactly. And Surgeon Joan is not being treated with sexism in the relevant ways (she’s been hired as a surgeon, after all), but she still feels exceptionally discriminated against.

          And this means if Surgeon Joe is promoted over her, even if for pure merit, she is more likely to assume sexism than the boring “Surgeon Joe is just really good”.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          My read is that the presumption of deliberate discrimination isn’t necessarily there; Surgeon Joan is tired and frustrated and sad and angry, and writes thinkpieces on medium and rants on Facebook about how the heuristic is bad, and her friends and readers agree and don’t do (that) thing, and it never gets back to Bob because Joan is screaming into the audient void.

          I can forgive Joan because all the good, nice people in her life except for the people she interacts with professionally and maybe some asshole she met on a dating website get it. I can forgive Bob because he’s never met a female surgeon before and he probably hasn’t thought too hard about Surgeon Joan’s hypothetical existence ever in his life. But I think Bob’s share of the blame is the greater one, because at some point in his life he ought to have learned that to assume is to make an ass out of u and me, and I can’t divine what compelling reason he might have to make the assumption in the first place. Joan, for her part, should find better ways of dealing with stress, but I have more sympathy for the difficulty of that problem than Bob’s.

          Also I think that assuming active malice “for simplicity’s sake” is really uncharitable, and smuggles some very important subtleties into the argument. It makes Joan propositionally wrong instead of merely bad, and wrong and bad is almost always worse than just bad, so Joan is disadvantaged from the beginning. It would seem prudent to me to assume ignorance or malice on both their behaves, rather than introduce an asymmetry. Bob might equally believe that surgery is a man’s job.

          • Aapje says:

            But I think Bob’s share of the blame is the greater one, because at some point in his life he ought to have learned that to assume is to make an ass out of u and me, and I can’t divine what compelling reason he might have to make the assumption in the first place.

            Nonsense. If he and all other Bobs would always ask, many doctors would feel disrespected and get angry for having to explain over and over again that they truly are doctors. They would often take this anger out on Bob.

            It also lowers people’s opinion of Bob if he asks, so doing this makes people treat him as less smart/lower status than if he would have guessed right. Note that research suggests that many things that are mistaken for racism are actually class-based discrimination that thus also can happen to white people who are thought to be lower class.

            Categorical, extremist claims that things that people actually do are always harmful to everyone don’t pass the smell test and thus suggest a huge blind spot on the part of the person who makes that claim. Why would people do things that harm themselves and others?

            A better solution is to make doctors clearly distinguishable from nurses, so people don’t offend doctors one way or the other. Of course, uniforms have their own disadvantages…

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            If he and all other Bobs would always ask, many doctors would feel disrespected and get angry for having to explain over and over again that they truly are doctors.

            For the last… several years? (I dunno, I haven’t kept count) I have greeted nurses and doctors I wasn’t sure (as in, sure) were nurses or doctors with, “Hello. Are you the doctor?”

            Not one of them has, as far as I can tell, felt at all chuffed, and the couple nurses who I asked seemed either flattered or amused.

            Note that research suggests that many things that are mistaken for racism are actually class-based discrimination that thus also can happen to white people who are thought to be lower class.

            My entire point has consistently been that making decisions this way is Bad. Not that it’s racist or sexist. I agree with you, and I disapprove just as much there.

            Also, I am not saying it’s universally harmful, or that it’s a great moral evil – I just want a strong norm against it, because I think it’s fundamentally unpleasant. I find it much, much more unpleasant than when people ask the question. If you disagree, I feel I should ask – do you greet all women in scrubs in hospitals with, “Hello nurse?”

          • theredsheep says:

            Not sure this is relevant, but at the hospital I used to work at, they all clearly indicated their profession on their nametags (and many doctors wore non-scrub clothing). Also nurses were generally officious and somewhat overbearing, but genial; doctors tended more towards “my bowel movements are solid platinum and I will write you up if you question it.”

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            This is exactly why doctor v. nurse scrubs and name badges have become more clearly distinct in recent years.

          • Garrett says:

            As for nametags, I foresee this being another problem.

            When I’m volunteering in EMS and take someone into the hospital, I’m required (by law) to give a report to someone of equal-or-higher qualifications than myself. In-practice, this means the nurse. However, new patients usually involve a flurry of people showing up to deal with things like registration, getting the patient into a gown, if needed. So it’s pretty typical to have 3-4 staff in the room at the same time. So the ID cards are great!

            Except that they are worn on lanyards around the neck and on the same ring usually include not just the ID card with position/title, but some access card, as well as the “5 Core Values of the Hospital” or whatever crazy mantra the higher-ups have decided everybody needs to think about by providing them yet another card to ignore. Not to mention additional keys for carts, drug lockups, etc. So the cards are frequently flopping around and covered by other things.

            So I find myself staring at the chests of a lot of women trying to figure out what their role is so I can provide a report. At some point I’ll probably get yelled at for ogling the female staff.

        • Plumber says:

          Thanks @Deiseach I understand the idea much better now!

          • Deiseach says:

            You’re welcome, Plumber; I often have to talk things through with myself to make sure I got the gist of it, and writing them down helps, as in the famous “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?” 😉

            And Googling to see who said the original – I thought it might be the celebrated Sir Boyle Roche but it turns out to be attributed to E.M. Forster – I see that there is such a thing as discovery writing.

            I am henceforward going to claim that I don’t make it up as I go along, it’s discovery writing, you probably wouldn’t have heard of it 😀

        • Fitzroy says:

          Thanks, Deiseach. You’ve very well articulated something that I’ve tried to argue before – that something can be simultaneously both an honest mistake and an example of ~ism.

          • EchoChaos says:

            You can certainly think of it as sexism (to use the nurse/doctor example), but Bob really isn’t being sexist.

            He’s just saving time and generally making himself and most people he interacts with socially happier. He occasionally mildly inconveniences a female surgeon, but he isn’t preventing her from being a surgeon or impeding her career in any way.

            If this is “sexism” then a large percentage of people aren’t going to support getting rid of it.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @EchoChaos

            He’s just saving time and generally making himself and most people he interacts with socially happier.

            If you really believe this, is the best possible world the one in which every single person Surgeon Joan meets calls her a nurse? Because I much prefer the world we live in today, after decades of women spiling ink to get people to not apply the heuristic.

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            Do you agree that, although your opinion is different, that a lot of people did prefer the world where people were more pleasant and less sensitive? (Before we had a ‘victim culture’)

            Although, I can easily understand how society can go the way to benefit upper-middle class people at the expense of the great mass of people, I think its shame when that happens.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Kyle

            Yes, and I agree that pleasantness is generally good and sensitivity often causes more unpleasantness. I just also think that this sort of behavior is and has always been unpleasant, and that the rate at which people encounter this unpleasant behavior has increased with the velocity of population, urbanization, and the increasing ability of people to break stereotypes. The previous social dynamic may well have been more pleasant overall, but I don’t think we can get it back without replicating the social context, and I think trying to do so is both ridiculous and bad for reasons not related to pleasantness.

          • is the best possible world the one in which every single person Surgeon Joan meets calls her a nurse?

            That isn’t the world. Lots of people Surgeon Joan meets–practically everyone she encounters who works in the hospital–knows who she is and what she is.

            It’s a world where strangers she meets often call her a nurse.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @David

            “Meet” in the sense of “to meet for the first time,” not “to interact with.”

          • Aapje says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            It used to be that people mostly intimately knew those they interacted with. The issue is that you can’t replicate this by expecting people to ask, especially when only the ‘right’ things may be asked and in the ‘right’ way.

            Perhaps we are in an intermediate situation where in the future augmented reality will allow us to secretly get information on anyone we meet. Then again, I foresee a fight over who gets to edit your profile that others see.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Aapje

            I agree that old norms are dead. I am trying to establish new ones. I’d suggest that asking is only as impractical as you think it is.

        • JPNunez says:

          The thing is the issue is not symmetrical; it’s Bob who first hurt Joan, and it’s up to him to apologize for his -unaware- first stone thrown.

          Whenever you insult someone, even if by mistake, the correct action is to apologize and try to do better in the future, not pull out statistics tables and try to explain priors.

          • EchoChaos says:

            He probably would apologize, and depending on how strongly Joan reacted he might never greet someone as nurse again, instead always asking profession.

            That won’t change the fact that the next patient Bob is going to do the same thing.

          • brad says:

            What if we teach all the Bobs not to be jerks while they are growing up?

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            @brad

            What if the doctor looks incredibly similar to a nurse that used to work there. Is it still a jerk-move to say ‘hello, nurse’? What if he normally goes to a hospital that has different scrub colours for nurse and doctor, and at this hospital they do not and the doctor is wearing the other hospital’s nurse colour? Is he a jerk in both those cases justifying Joan’s reaction?

            I think “don’t get angry at people making mistakes that don’t actually affect you”, seems the most sensible rule to try to teach. Wrath is a deadly sin, making an incorrect inference is not.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Because there is no conceivable way to go through all of life without making heuristic judgments (most of them less accurate than the example).

            Don’t get caught in the specifics of the example, think on the concept. And what you should learn from it is “unless you have hard evidence of malice, it’s probably just someone following a reasonable heuristic”.

          • albatross11 says:

            We can teach the Bobs to make fewer mistakes like this specific one, but it’s probably impossible (and not even a good idea) to prevent them making all such mistakes.

            Stereotypes are applied statistics (sometimes wrong statistics, but often pretty accurate). Using those to make quick decisions (which person in this room should I ask my question, how should I greet this stranger who’s just walked up to me, is this person walking down the street likely to be a threat, is this woman likely to appreciate being hit on, etc.) is necessary, and refusing to use any group statistics for fear of making errors or offending someone just means making *different* errors.

            In this specific kind of case, I think it’s better to make the most accurate guesses you can about who’s who, and then modulate your interactions with them based on whether or not they’re likely to take offense. (So if you see a hispanic-looking guy walk into the room in work clothes, you’re unlikely to offend them by greeting them in Spanish (even if you’re wrong, it’s probably not insulting), but if you start talking to them like they’re the gardener, you may insult them unintentionally.)

          • albatross11 says:

            JPNunez:

            Whenever you insult someone, even if by mistake, the correct action is to apologize and try to do better in the future, not pull out statistics tables and try to explain priors.

            At a personal level, this is true. If I realize I’ve inadvertently offended someone, I’m mainly interested in smoothing things over, not deciding whether or not they should have been offended. But if I know that someone is very easy to inadvertently offend, so that an innocent interaction or joke or friendly comment is likely to end up with them angrily demanding an apology, I’m going to decide they’re extremely touchy and try to avoid them when I can. On a personal level, it’s probably a better policy for Joan to find ways to signal that she’s a surgeon instead of a nurse, rather than to get mad at her clueless patients.

            At a social level, the logic you’re suggesting creates a superweapon. Once I claim to be offended, you must give in and apologize, no matter what. When applied to internet arguments or political debates, it’s unworkable because you’re guaranteed to find bad actors who will exploit this to silence opponents and win arguments.

            This all makes me think of a noise complaint where either the drumming school or the migraine clinic could move, and it’s not clear which one should do so. Should Bob call all scrubs-wearing people doctor and let the nurses correct him? Should Joan get a monogrammed lab coat that says “Joan Jones, MD, FACS”? Either one works.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @JPNunez

            I think it depends on the nature of the insult and offense takens. Sometimes that’s the correct course of action, sometimes the correct course of action is for the offended party to correct themselves. A good example of the latter would be someone who takes offense at the use of the word “niggardly”, has its meaning explained to them, then says “Well it sounds too close to the other offensive word therefore I still find it offensive and demand an apology.”

          • acymetric says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            One confounding issue: there are definitely people who use that word who use it because they think it has the same origin as your hypothetical offended person (in which case the person would be correct to be offended because the intent was to offend with a slur). In the context of reading somewhat dated literature, I agree with you that correcting a mistake to understand the intent of the author. In the context of modern writing and discourse, that word is probably best left in the “find another way to say that” pile.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Albatross11

            On a personal level, it’s probably a better policy for Joan to find ways to signal that she’s a surgeon instead of a nurse, rather than to get mad at her clueless patients.

            I don’t see how you can so strenuously argue that Bob did nothing wrong while also slipping this in. At a similar degree of exaggeration of this rule as your social superweapon, you’re demanding that if people don’t want to be treated stereotypically, it’s on them to find ways to signal their nonconformance with the stereotype in a way that’s legible, or else all stereotypes with statistical correlates are justified.

            Do you not see why this argument is repulsive?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            I genuinely don’t see why that is a repulsive conclusion. It’s exactly what most hospitals are doing (nametags/scrubs that make it clear who is a doctor v. nurse, etc.)

            It’s exactly what I was taught as a kid for job interviews, dates, etc.

            Act/dress in a way that conforms to heuristics you want people to associate with you and avoids negative ones.

            You dress up well for an interview because humans know that the kind of a person who takes the time to present himself well will also be a good employee, so you’re more likely to get hired.

            You don’t rant at the person giving the interview that they should look beyond your ragged clothes, noxious breath and see that you’d be a great employee.

          • Randy M says:

            Do you not see why this argument is repulsive?

            I don’t, can you spell it out? We’re assuming the stereotypes are valid, etc.

          • brad says:

            What I’m seeing is your trivially beneficial cognitive shortcut is more important than someone else’s feelings. There’s a name for that and it’s jerk.

          • uau says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            At a similar degree of exaggeration of this rule as your social superweapon, you’re demanding that if people don’t want to be treated stereotypically,

            No, that’s a dishonest twisting of what albatross11 said. The comparable thing he suggested, in the same “personal level” paragraph, was that it may be easiest just to apologize if someone gets offended, regardless of whether an apology is at all deserved.

            But saying that you owe an apology, or that it’s wrong to not apologize, having a rule that you must apologize, that’s wrong and creates the “superweapon” issue. Having a strict rule that you must always signal nonconformance to a stereotype, or all bad consequences are strictly your own fault and no one else has any responsibility whatsoever, would similarly create bad consequences.

            So, albatross11 neither demanded that people apologize just because someone gets offended nor that they conspicuously signal if they differ from a stereotype. He said both may be a practical thing to get through social interaction with the minimum amount of trouble. He explicitly said that a rule always demanding the former would be a bad idea, and likely would say the same for the second. You dishonestly compare “does demanding this make sense as a rule” for one to “does doing this commonly help smooth social interaction” for the other.

          • Randy M says:

            What I’m seeing is your trivially beneficial cognitive shortcut is more important than someone else’s feelings. There’s a name for that and it’s jerk.

            There are non-trivial cases. I’m assuming it isn’t just the doctor nurse thing, but even then, saving time while asking for medication or something could matter.
            And, it’s up to someone else not to be offended over trivial mistakes. There’s a word for someone who takes offense at honest mistakes. Jerk fits here as well.
            And I’m not sure “occasional jerk” really rises to the level of “repulsive” but perhaps you and Hoopyfreud spend your time around a superior strain of humanity.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Right, we should remove all information content from our addresses and just use “hey you” for everything.

            My go-to has actually been “hey you, with the face” but I’d better cut out my trivial humor in case they happen to have had their face eaten by badgers.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @EchoChaos

            “Rule” is ambiguous between “strict rule” and norm, and I think Albatross was defending a norm by criticizing the opposite strict rule. I think that’s bad argumentation, told him so (note the conditional) and demonstrated that it could be turned around. I think the strict rule corresponding to the norm he proposed is just as bad, and that the merits of the norms did be debated without reference to a terminal extension of those norms.

          • albatross11 says:

            Hoopyfreud: I don’t think I made any argument about whether Bob did something wrong or not.

            I think that as a practical matter, it’s going to be easier for Joan to find some way to stop the annoyance of being mistaken for a nurse by her own actions than by getting all the patients or the whole society to change. And that snapping at every patient who mistakes her for a nurse will not lead anywhere good for either her or her patients.

          • Kyle A Johansen says:

            I think the ‘heurestics bad’ position, also seems to forget that Joan with her white coat and stethoscope may be offended if you ask if she is a doctor, and although that may suggest that one ought to just assume everyone is a doctor, it is possible that Pedro the janitor would be offended if you assumed he were a doctor, or at least Time the social justice nurse. (And that’s without getting into areas where different status hierarchies exist in the mind of different people).

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            I think that as a practical matter, it’s going to be easier for Joan to find some way to stop the annoyance of being mistaken for a nurse by her own actions than by getting all the patients or the whole society to change.

            My mistake, I read your “better” as “more desirable, generally” rather than “better suited to solving the issue of misidentification” based on your later statements about “social superweapons” – which, I assume, you think should be avoided generally (at least that’s what I think). I agree that this is likely to be more successful and that it would be useful for Joan to do. I just also think that Joan ought to advocate for people not to use the heuristic (or at least that there’s nothing wrong with her doing so), because the heuristic is bad even though it’s relatively successful, and I think that telling people to not use bad heuristics is a good thing.

          • Whenever you insult someone, even if by mistake

            Insult: speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse.

            I don’t think that addressing a doctor as a nurse when you have no way of knowing which she is fits that definition.

            Suppose we take it out of the sexual context. You are an assistant professor who is relatively young for the position and looks younger than you are. A student who doesn’t know you addresses you on the assumption that you are a fellow student. Has he insulted you? If not, why is the surgeon/nurse case different?

          • dick says:

            I think the degree of offense equals the degree of stigma attached to the assumption. Is it offensive to ask a black coworker if he was ever in the army? No, I don’t think so. Now imagine we lived in a world where there was a common stereotype that blacks are so poor that the only way they can get college degrees is the GI Bill. Would it be offensive to ask the same question then? Sure, maybe.

            The point being, the degree to which a female doctor takes offense when you assume she’s a nurse is proportional to the degree to which people (or this woman in particular) still feel the sting of the sexism that largely kept women from being doctors until fairly recently. And in your example, that youthful professor would probably take offense if he felt that his youth had kept him down in academia, and would not otherwise. (thought that’s confounded by the fact that being perceived as young as is generally appreciated for reasons unrelated to this)

          • Plumber says:

            @DavidFriedman

            “…Suppose we take it out of the sexual context. You are an assistant professor who is relatively young for the position and looks younger than you are. A student who doesn’t know you addresses you on the assumption that you are a fellow student….”

            When I was an apprentice plumber most of us were in their 20’s or 30’s, but we had one apprentice in class who was in his late 50’s.

            A new “Director of Training” was appointed and he came through and shook our 50-something classmates hand and asked him “How long have you been teaching?”.

            Most of the class found that hilarious.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            because the heuristic is bad even though it’s relatively successful

            So the heuristic is factually fine – often right but sometimes wrong (yaknow, the definition of a heuristic) – but morally bad?

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            Morally bad is a stronger statement than I want to make – let’s say I consider it aesthetically bad. Note that I am not a utilitarian.

          • brad says:

            Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.

            —Emily Post

            Sure, the person that jumps down the throat of someone that made an innocent, albeit thoughtless, mistake is also a bit of a jerk. But that doesn’t make the thoughtless person any less of a jerk. And the person that consciously decided he was going to use heuristic knowing he might offend because of some twisted logic of convenience doesn’t even have the innocent part going for him.

            To preempt an objection, there isn’t and shouldn’t be any law against being a jerk. But don’t come crying to me about freeze peach if you act like a jerk and people treat you like a jerk. That’s exactly as it ought to be. That’s how we maintain civilization.

          • albatross11 says:

            Gobblegobble:

            What heuristics make sense depends on their false positive/false negative rate, and also on the consequences of each one. You can think of this in terms of an externality, I think–false positives and false negatives have consequences for other people as well a for you, and it would be morally good if you would try to take that into account.

            The actual harm done by incorrectly referring to a surgeon as a nurse is pretty limited, though the description above gave a nice sense of how it might still get pretty annoying for Joan to have 30 people a day think she’s a nurse instead of a surgeon.

        • arlie says:

          Dumb question department:
          – How does Bob know the woman’s name is Joan? Why didn’t he get her professional status from the same source?
          – Why does Bob feel the need to add information he’s not sure about? I can address people without including their profession, even in their workplace.
          – In general, it’s almost always more polite to over-estimate someone’s status, rather than under-estimate it. If you address everyone in this setting as “Doctor”, you’ll be wrong more often, but the people you are wrong about will tend to feel flattered. Why don’t more people do this? (Is it cultural? One of my British friends uses “gentleman” to refer to any male stranger, including men obviously “living rough” [i.e. homeless]. Is that something completely unAmerican?)

          I suspect the problem is that “Bob” tends not to realize that he doesn’t actually *know* Joan’s professional designation, he just jumps to stereotypical conclusions. And that can certainly be a workplace problem for her, far beyond being addressed as “nurse”.

          • Randy M says:

            I feel like people are imagining radically different scenarios here. In one, Bob wanders into the Surgeon’s private office, glancing down and the nameplate that says “Dr. Susan Jones” and, seeing a woman seated behind the desk asks, “Excuse me, nurse, where’s the doctor?”
            In another, Bob steps out of a hospital room, and, trying to get the attention of a passing woman in a lab coat, calls out “Excuse me nurse, my wife’s in a lot of pain, can we get medicine, please?”
            Perhaps the more refined Robert would inquire, “Excuse me, ma’am, I’m looking for a nurse, do you happen to be one, or have you achieved an educational and professional status beyond that?” Or even something slightly less snarky–but I’m really just seeing an honest mistake that merits little offense and isn’t likely to be worth much social pressure to eliminate.

            And that can certainly be a workplace problem for her, far beyond being addressed as “nurse”.

            Can you expand on this?

          • Statismagician says:

            Surprisingly devious answer: Bob got Joan’s name from her scrub embroidery or badge, and for several decades up until very recently, both of these were deliberately difficult to use to determine someone’s professional status if you weren’t a medical professional. This is a evolution of the technicolor scrubs trend, and both moves were framed as ‘personal expression’ or ‘inclusive work culture’ by large hospitals but were actually promoted so that nobody would be quite sure what level of attention they were getting – if the medical assistant and the attending physician dress exactly alike except for some cues you, the patient, are not looking for, who knew, confusion follows.

            Recently hospitals (in my area, at least) have begun moving back towards specialty-specific scrub colors, very large and easily-identifiable professional lettering on ID badges, lab coat length as a marker of professional level, etc., but I have no idea how broadly true that is – the sneakiness explanation is anecdata, but from multiple nurses with careers spanning decades across several states, so I think there’s likely something to it. Probably part of America’s broader problem with how to deal with questions of explicit hierarchy, to which I don’t have a great answer.

          • arlie says:

            @Randy M – I don’t work in medicine. I do work in tech, where there’s a combination of “let’s all dress down” and let’s do away with titles.

            Within (software) tech, there’s a rough hierarchy starting (at the bottom) with customer support, then QA (testing), then people doing mostly maintenance, then developers, then tech leads, and then various types of manager. (Exact details vary somewhat with the specific office.)

            When someone from a different team has a problem, who do they ask for help? Well, they probably want someone at a particular level within your team. But you aren’t labelled. And if theywant to keep neighbouring teams informed of what their group is doing, who do they CC on the email/invite to the meeting? Again, you often aren’t clearly labelled, though your managers can probably be identified from the org chart. Too often, they pick the person who “seems to be” a team lead, or at least a developer.

            Net result – if you get seen as “probably customer support/QA” no one tells you anything, unless they want some help in your supposed area. That tends to leave you out of the loop and clueless – and less able to come up with the great solution to someone’s important problem they didn’t even bother to mention to you. So all things being equal, your acheivements for the year are less (or less important) than someone of equal status to you whose commonly seen as “probably manager or team lead”. So you get a worse review, slower promotions, etc.

            This is a chronic PITA for people who are miscategorized low for any reason, and requires focussed effort to work around – effort that someone who tends to be miscategorized high doesn’t have to make. So while the “obvious support person” is working on getting people to realize they can help with major technical issues, the “obvious tech lead” is actually working on those issues.

            FWIW, it was somewhat worse when I was younger – in those days, tech offices still had **typists**, which could be presumed to know nothing at all – but also somewhat better, because an easy workaround was to wear clothes no typist/janitor/etc. could possibly afford. (Of course that cost money you might need for something else…)

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Can you explain better the difference between direct and indirect heuristics as you’ve defined them? I think I substantially agree with your point but don’t understand the distinction. If you’re talking about affirmative-action-esque “I will W because X is a Y” versus inferential “X is likely to be a Z because they are a Y,” I think I agree with that too, but I think the distinction is pretty academic because “I will W because X is likely to be a Z” often follows.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Direct heuristic: I am adjusting my behavior towards this person because of his race.

        Indirect heuristic: I am adjusting my behavior towards this person because of a factor that is moderately correlated with race.

        So if I hired someone because he was white, that would be a direct heuristic (and get me fired).

        If I hired someone because he was college educated, high IQ and interested in a career in petroleum engineering, that would be an indirect heuristic that would still end up hiring a white in most cases.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          Is your nurse example a direct or indirect heuristic, then? I don’t see that as falling neatly into your categories.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Indirect.

            Being a female and in scrubs is strongly anti-correlated with being a surgeon. You are adjusting your behavior towards a doctor in a way you wouldn’t otherwise because of factors that are correlated.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            But you’re also behaving differently towards a person in scrubs because they’re female.

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos

            “…If I hired someone because he was college educated, high IQ and interested in a career in petroleum engineering, that would be an indirect heuristic that would still end up hiring a white in most cases”

            Okay, you just successfully convinced me to strongly support affirmative-action policies to benefit those without the privilege of a college diploma a high IQ, and don’t have much of an interest in being a petroleum engine beyond the pay (admittedly I already felt education and IQ are too rewarding).

            So what?

            I was already in favor of extra support for those who grew up poor, and in favor or redistribution without regarding complexion!

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Plumber

            That would be an interesting set of affirmative action laws.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think a decent social safety net is the best way to help out people who got a bad intelligence roll. I don’t think affirmative action in hiring for intellectually demanding jobs would work out especially well. “We let Joe into the neurosurgery program, not because he was brilliant, had done well in medical school, or had great hand-eye coordination, but because he was kinda dumb, had flunked out of medical school, and could barely tie his own shoes.”

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Hooyfreud

            Sorry, I missed this one. The patient is being rude in this case, but he’s not being rude because he’s sexist (direct), but because he genuinely thinks she’s a nurse (indirect).

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            I seems like “direct heuristic” is just “racism/sexism” then – can you explain how this differs from the definition I offered?

    • pjs says:

      But male isn’t a good heuristic for surgeon! The 80% statistic you have only works the other way around.

      There are over 100x as many nurses as surgeons in the US (and about 20x as many male nurses), so if you defend “good morning nurse” for a women, why isn’t it just as justified/useful aimed at anyone in scrubs? (Ignoring the existence of other medical staff than nurses and surgeons this gets it 95% right, even for men, whereas you praise even 80% correctness.) I know you said this was in a surgeons’s office, so the relevant numbers aren’t going to be remotely so tilted, but still if you are going to defend the practical need for heuristics it would be more convincing to an example where the heuristic is both useful and correctly applied.

    • Most women who look pregnant are pregnant but I don’t tell them that. Why not? Because there is no pressing need for me to say anything while there is a risk of severely offending the anomalous women. When you are talking to someone, you should say the least offensive things you can because that’s common courtesy. Unless you have a compelling reason, don’t say anything about those assumptions to their face. The risk/reward ratio isn’t worth it.

      • Aapje says:

        Sure, but if you take that logic to its extreme, you never talk to someone unless absolutely necessary, resulting in a heavily atomized society where interactions are bare quid-pro-quo’s. So people then feel very isolated, get depressed, have problems finding partners, etc.

        You know, the things we fortunately don’t see happening already.

        • woah77 says:

          Wait, you talk to people when it isn’t necessary? When I’m not at home or work I explicitly avoid talking to people as much as possible. On the rare event where I go to a social event or gathering, then I talk to people, but most of the time I ignore everyone around me. All my normal social behavior is through screens.

          • Wait, you talk to people when it isn’t necessary?

            Routinely. Often when I’m in an airplane I try to start a conversation with the person next to me, and it sometimes turns out to be very interesting. One of the more interesting conversations of my life was flying from Bombay to Sydney next to a woman from southern India (the conversation actually started in the airport waiting room). She was flying out to join her husband, the marriage having been originally arranged by their parents. She found our marriage institutions as strange as I found hers. And this wasn’t a figure in a book from centuries ago but an intelligent, educated contemporary.

            More recently, I got into a conversation with someone who turned out to be an expert on a subject relevant to my medical history, who told me, probably correctly, that my conjecture about an odd symptom I had had a few years back was inconsistent with the evidence I had.

            And lots of other interesting conversations with random strangers.

          • woah77 says:

            I guess that can be my habit when I’m traveling, but I don’t do that very often anymore. During college and since I started working I haven’t had much opportunity for maintaining a social life and not traveling much means the only strangers I see are at the grocery store. As I’m there to exchange currency for good and get home as soon as possible, I don’t socialize much.

            As a side note, my comment was rather flippant and not entirely serious. It is a serious comment that 90%+ of my socialization at present is done through one of a number of digital mediums and not face to face.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I talk to people regularly. In the office break room, at a ballgame, anywhere.

            I like people, and most people who don’t want to engage signal that very quickly and I stop.

            But I find the vast majority of people are happy to have the ice broken and gotten into a conversation with someone else taking the social risk.

        • The Nybbler says:

          It’s not quite that bad. You can still talk to people who aren’t given social sanction to be angry, punish you, and call on other people to punish you for making minor errors or in general being “insensitive” in their sole judgement. So, white (and sometimes Asian) men, basically.

        • I didn’t say avoid any conversation, just don’t say anything about the offensive topic. You can talk to pregnant women about things unrelated to their pregnancy.

      • Randy M says:

        How willing you are to go out on a limb depends on both the strength of the limb, and the distance to the ground.

        Accidentally calling a doctor a nurse isn’t that bad. Nurse is an honorable profession that isn’t visually distinct from a doctor in many cases. It might get irritating after awhile, but it isn’t saying anything bad about a person to say they look kind of like a nurse, especially given both are wearing hospital clothes.

        Looking like you are pregnant when you are not does imply negative things about your health and willpower–certainly not uncommon things, but not complimentary, either. So it makes more sense to try to be more certain in that case than the nurse example. Although I don’t think it’s too terrible to discreetly inquire of a third party about a plumper than normal acquaintance if you have suspicion.

        Similarly, it’s pretty insulting to assume a man is a child molester because he is at the playground or a black man is a thief because he is wearing baggy clothing in your store, and anyone will reasonably take offense at your assuming such. But given the stakes, it probably isn’t unreasonably to glance their way now and again.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          But given the stakes, it probably isn’t unreasonably to glance their way now and again.

          What’s the threshold likelihood of a person being a child molester such that it’s reasonable to factor the idea that they might be into your behavior? Because I’m pretty fucking certain a random man at the park doesn’t hit that threshold when it’s explicitly articulated, and that this is an almost perfect example of making unwarranted inferences based on clear statistical trends with little individual predictive power.

          • Randy M says:

            I’d guess pretty damn low, but then, the stakes are pretty high, so I wouldn’t be offended by someone keeping the idea in the back of their (probably media-addled) mind if it didn’t actually effect any of our interactions.

          • I actually have a very recent real world example. I’m a Harvard alumnus, and volunteered to interview local applicants. Harvard gave me contact information on four of them, so I emailed them, including where I was.

            One of them responded, suggesting meeting at my house. I then looked at the page of instructions Harvard had linked to, and discovered that they disapproved of meeting an applicant at your house unless the applicant was accompanied by a parent. So I changed it to a nearby Starbucks.

            Pretty clearly, what Harvard was telling me was that they suspected me of being a rapist, child molester, or something similar, or at least that they thought other people would suspect such things of me. I thought that was foolish and made what I had volunteered to do a little less convenient, but I took it not as an insult from Harvard but evidence of things wrong with the culture both I and the author of those instructions are embedded in.

          • acymetric says:

            @DavidFriedman

            It was probably a combination of those two possibilities along with the possibility that someone might accuse you of being those things (especially if the person you interviewed did not get admitted, perhaps). More a sign of CYA legal culture than anything else to me.

          • CatCube says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I think that part of this is that child molestation is literally (and I’m using “literally” literally) the worst thing that somebody can be accused of in our society, and the stigma is so total for both the accused and the institution they represent that it’s worth going to absurd lengths to avoid even the possibility of the appearance of impropriety.

            As others have detailed above, this isn’t fair, but it’s hard to argue with the rationality of an HR department advising people of this. If the HR rep advises otherwise and the (unlikely) worst does happen, everybody will solemnly agree that they were a raging idiot who deserves to be fired. It’s similar to “nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM” from yesteryear.

          • Deiseach says:

            I then looked at the page of instructions Harvard had linked to, and discovered that they disapproved of meeting an applicant at your house unless the applicant was accompanied by a parent.

            That’s everything and everywhere now, though. Nobody will seriously think that you are going to assault a young adult applicant or that they will accuse you of the same, but just in case… It’s covering Harvard from any potential accusations, it’s covering you, it’s covering the student. Sure it’s excessive, but given that in the Recent Dispute a bit too much fondness for drinking beer when a young man was taken as proof positive that one was a rapist, it is the way society has gone. Careworkers/teachers/anyone who comes in contact with children and/or vulnerable adults is not supposed to be alone with them at all. That’s why you need a minimum of two people all times in daycare centres and the like, and if you only have one person to deal with little Susie or Baby Mike, you can’t do whatever you were going to do, you have to find someone or cancel it.

            It is an over-reaction, but it was over-reacting to the extreme of the kinds of (alas, unhappily) cases coming out of the Catholic Church and elsewhere, where former pillars of society who had been considered so respectable the merest whisper of accusation would be unthinkable turned out to indeed be doing terrible things. And I suppose there always is the remote possibility that if someone gets turned down for a place, they might try the gambit of “that’s because the interviewer made a pass at me and I turned them down” and if it’s in the interviewer’s private house well oops how do we show that’s not so?

            (And I think the Satanic Daycare Panic had a part to play in this, as well; it is surprising how the belief in large-scale ritual abuse has lingered on in sociology, social work and childcare, psychology and police departments where single ‘true believer’ individuals have more influence – see pages 84 onwards of this linked PDF).

        • The Nybbler says:

          This list is a pretty good demonstration that it’s not universal principles in effect here, it’s pure object-level stuff depending on the identity of the people involved. A universal principle would make it equally unacceptable to assume the man at the playground is a molester, the female doctor a nurse, the black man a thief, or the fat woman pregnant. But in fact it’s acceptable to assume the man at the playground is a molester, unacceptable to assume the female doctor is nurse, just as unacceptable to assume a woman is pregnant, and most unacceptable of all to assume a black man is a thief.

          • Randy M says:

            I feel like you are entirely ignoring the explication of the principle given in the post you are responding to– namely, how offensive is the assumption?
            And also ignoring that I said assuming the man was a pedophile is offensive, likewise assuming the black man a thief.

            I mean, do you all even do Bayes anymore? It’s not all or nothing. Since there’s no offense given in noting that a doctor looks like a nurse, you can act on that probability more readily than if a man looks like a thief or a woman looks pregnant. “Give a second glance” does not mean call the police because you see a sex offender. Maybe, given the actual low occurrence of stranger danger, I should have used another example. Sorry for the confusion, though.

    • fion says:

      Well, I can hear people saying, you should just always check before you make any assumption. But that doesn’t pass the sniff test. Even in a perfect world people will always use heuristics, because we don’t have infinite time. Heuristics are time saving measures that are important.

      Also, people will often find it offensive/awkward if you *don’t* make certain assumptions about them.

    • A1987dM says:

      You do realize that “81% of surgeons in the US are male” does not imply “81% of women wearing scrubs in surgeons’ offices are not surgeons”?

      • EchoChaos says:

        You’re absolutely right. It’s almost certainly higher than that.

        In a surgeon’s office you will have 1 surgeon to many nurses. Surgeons are 81% male and nurses are 91% female.

        So the relevant odds of a specific woman in scrubs in a surgeon’s office being a surgeon is substantially below 19% but people are bad at math.

        • pjs says:

          The fact that people are ‘bad at math’ is a compelling reason why these heuristics should be strongly discouraged. Note that ‘bad at math’ needs to
          include the important sub-case of ‘the math per se is completely correct, but the question being correctly solved is not the relevant one’.

          I’m not sure what you think the right question here is. I would have
          guessed it’s ‘Should I assume this person is a nurse, so that I can jump
          quickly to the right greeting’ (which is somehow a useful time-saver – ?), but
          you might disagree and if so it would be helpful to hear otherwise. (Surely
          it’s not: ‘give this person is a surgeon, what’s the chance he’s male’ !?!)

          In this case and (perhaps a bit unfairly) assuming the nurse-to-surgeon ratio is as in the industry as a whole, you are extremely unlikely (‘substantially below’ 19%) to make a mistake by assuming everyone in scrubs is a nurse. By the math.

          In inconsequential, basically toy, examples, like this lots of people get the math wrong – as you concede (even while I am not sure you yourself
          have it ‘right’ (as in: are addressing the relevant question)). And in consequential examples (hiring someone, serving on a jury) it’s next to impossible, almost inconceivably hard, to apply broad demographic statistics at all correctly. I’d go so far as to say that no one
          can. So I think the wisest course is a discourage the entire idea.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Discouraging the entire idea of heuristics is both terrible AND tilting at windmills at the same time.

      • Deiseach says:

        You do realize that “81% of surgeons in the US are male” does not imply “81% of women wearing scrubs in surgeons’ offices are not surgeons”?

        (A) As I have said often before on here, ME NO NUMBERS GOOD

        (B) Given that at my last hospital appointment there were no males involved at all, I think it’s probably not unlikely that a patient might – after going through female receptionist, female nurse, different female nurse, another female receptionist, female technician, different female technician, yet a third female nurse – respond to the next female medical personnel they encounter as possibly “oh another nurse?” instead of “this time it must be the doctor!”

        • Plumber says:

          @Deiseach

          “…at my last hospital appointment there were no males involved at all…”

          If you don’t count patients (including me) that’s been my experience the last few times I’ve gone to the hospital as well.

          There was a male optometrist a few years ago, and a radiologist after that, but most all medical workers I see are women now, nurse, pharmacist, or physician.

    • Plumber says:

      This whole “Who’s a Doctor and who’s a Nurse” thing has got my thinking about how I actually do tell:

      20 and more years ago the physicians were usually older men and the nurses were usually women, plus they were younger men called “orderlies” who’d help do such things as lift patients from beds to wheelchairs, today the orderlies are gone (and now nurses back pain problems have increased compared to decades past), as are most of the older male physicians, what I mostly see now is that the usually Asian or white, tall, thin, young looking women are the physicians, and the older looking, stockier women of all races are usually the nurses, the few men I see working at the hospital are mostly radiologists and custodians.

      Sometimes there’s also “Nurse Practitioners” who act in place of physicians, they tend to be older white women, but taller and less stocky than the other nurses, but not as thin as the physicians, but they are usually even taller than the physicians.

      The few times that I go to hospitals in San Francisco or San Mateo County instead of my usual hospital in Oakland, the medical staff seems a bit more male, and a whole lot more Asian and slightly more white, both the physicians and the nurses, and the nurses aren’t usually as noticeably stockier than the physicians (though still somewhat) but the age divide is still obvious, with nurses looking noticeably older, which is the reverse of decades past when it was the physicians who were usually more grey haired.

      I’ve had surgery twice, the first time the surgeon was an older white women with grey hair, the second time the surgeon was an older white man who may have dyed his hair.

      Come to think of it, there’s similar patterns at work, with a few tall older white male DA’s but most of the rest of the DA’s and almost all the public defenders being tall, thin, young Asians and whites, while the cops and deputies are older, stockier, darker, and more male (on average), and the inmates are very much more male, darker, and mostly younger than the cops and deputies, but not as young looking on average as the attorneys.

      • today the orderlies are gone

        Not my experience in a Bay Area hospital a few years back.

        The nurses are most likely to be women from the Philippines.

        Judging by my experience, female doctors are common, usually foreign, and probably better, on average, than male doctors. Surgeons, on the other hand, are male (both of mine were) and seem very able.

        • Plumber says:

          @DavidFriedman,

          Different for different hospitals I suppose.

          What you notice seems more like the few times I’ve gone to hospitals in San Francisco and San Mateo County.

          My usual hospital in Oakland may be an outlier than.

      • Deiseach says:

        Given all the divagations we’ve wandered into over nurses and doctors, I’m going to quote from a rather funny short story from 1894 by Arthur Conan Doyle called “The Doctors of Hoyland” (from this collection of stories):

        “How do you do, Dr. Ripley?” said she.

        “How do you do, madam?” returned the visitor. “Your husband is perhaps out?”

        “I am not married,” said she simply.

        “Oh, I beg your pardon! I meant the doctor — Dr. Verrinder Smith.”

        “I am Dr. Verrinder Smith.”

        Dr. Ripley was so surprised that he dropped his hat and forgot to pick it up again.

        “What!” he gasped, “the Lee Hopkins prizeman! You!”

        He had never seen a woman doctor before, and his whole conservative soul rose up in revolt at the idea. He could not recall any Biblical injunction that the man should remain ever the doctor and the woman the nurse, and yet he felt as if a blasphemy had been committed. His face betrayed his feelings only too clearly.

        “I am sorry to disappoint you,” said the lady drily.

        “You certainly have surprised me,” he answered, picking up his hat.

        Confusing the doctor for the nurse has been going on a long time 🙂

        • The Nybbler says:

          Many things have been going on for a long time. The conversation continues:

          Ripley: “I should much prefer not to discuss it.”

          Verrinder: “But I am sure you will answer a lady’s question.”

          Ripley: “Ladies are in danger of losing their privileges when they usurp the
          place of the other sex. They cannot claim both.”

    • DragonMilk says:

      I for one, admit that I failed the “this is my son” question

    • Statismagician says:

      I think this example is a bad one for addressing politeness vs .heuristics generally, because it’s dealing with a situation where there’s a strict legal and procedural hierarchy (or at least delineation of responsibilities) at work. The real fault lies not with Bob or Joan, but with the Exampleburg Hospital Board for having gotten rid of all the previously-standard obvious visual cues which indicate whose who in a medical setting as a shabby trick to hide how many things which used to be done by physicians or nurses were now being done by medical assistants.

      Analogously, if I’m trying to find the commander of a military base, discover that the Army has switched to a new insignia system without telling anybody, and assume it’s the older fellow coming out of the headquarters building only to learn he’s actually a sergeant and the real CO is the amused lady right behind me, there were procedural steps not taken that could have prevented this entire situation.

    • EchoChaos says:

      Thank you all for fascinating discussions and long digressions. I really enjoyed it and people on both sides make points I hadn’t expected.

      The net result, which in retrospect I should have seen coming, was that the more conservative (small c) people were in favor of people who are on the wrong side of heuristics shrugging off mistakes and more loudly signalling that the heuristic didn’t apply to them.

      The more progressive people were strongly in favor of fixing society so that people didn’t have wrong heuristics applied to them.

      I suspect (without malice) that this goes to the ingroup/outgroup identification. Having a heuristic misapplied to you is a Blue Tribe thing, which makes you more sympathetic to one side or the other.

      • Plumber says:

        @EchoChaos,

        Which side was I on?

        • EchoChaos says:

          I read you as being with on the socially conservative “get over it, we all get incorrectly identified sometimes, it isn’t malicious” side based on your story about the 50 year old plumbing apprentice.

      • Having a heuristic misapplied to you is a Blue Tribe thing

        Do you mean it is a thing that mostly happens to Blue Tribe members, or a thing Blue Tribe members are more concerned about?

        My guess is that it would be common for someone who expresses an opinion associated with the Red Tribe such as skepticism of the dangers of global warming to be assumed by the Blue Tribe to hold a variety of other views that he may not hold. For an extreme version, consider the view of Charles Murray or the Koch Brothers held by people who know almost nothing about them.

  24. sunnydestroy says:

    Fun, convincing blog post prognosticating the macro outlook for the US economy in 2019, plus what it might mean for the stock market: https://fat-pitch.blogspot.com/2019/01/january-macro-update-2018-employment.html

    Essentially, expect a slowdown in growth though recession isn’t really in the cards yet. Weakest indicator is housing, but everything else looks to be trending positive. One wild card is trade war concerns. The equity market will have its typical volatile swings, but the overall trend should generally mirror continued economic growth.

    So far it’s matching my thoughts that there likely won’t be recession in 2019, but growth won’t be record setting either.

    • Dan L says:

      It’s a good article, but it bears updating that the first bond market inversions have already started appearing. The takeaway that the most leading indicators are the most pessimistic is increasingly well supported.

  25. (I posted this on the previous OT, should have posted it here)

    My new book, Legal Systems very Different from Ours, appears to be available on Amazon now as a paperback (meaning that I haven’t actually gotten a copy), and I’m in the process of using Calibre to turn it into a Kindle. One tricky bit is the index.

    Which raises a question–should a Kindle have an index? I can, with some work, produce an index where each entry is linked to the corresponding point in the text. On the other hand, since it’s an ebook someone looking for a word can always search for it, so perhaps an index is superfluous.

    Opinions?

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Depends on the content of the index IMO. If you identify passages in which the concept is treated, I think it’d still be useful.

      • For what it is worth, here is a sample of the book’s index:
        A
        Aitire, hostage surety, Irish, 189
        Akhnai, oven of, 305
        Al-Mansur (caliph), 105
        Althing, 157
        Amish
        affiliations, 43
        bishop, selection of, 44
        communion, 45
        compared to Romani, 50
        law, 309
        meidung (shunning), 46
        strong and weak, 139–40
        ministers and deacons, selection of, 43
        National Steering Committee, 51, 142–43
        Ordnung, 42, 44–45
        only binding on baptized adults, 47
        origin of, 42
        relations with U.S. governments, 50–53
        Rumspringa, 48
        schooling, 51–52
        Annie Lee Turner et al. v. Big Lake Oil Company et al, 308
        appeal of felony, 256
        appeal of murder, 316
        Articles of pirate ships, 116–20
        Associations for the prosecution of felons, 236–37
        Athenian law, 298
        Assembly (Ekklesia), 259
        incentive to prosecute, 263
        juries, 260–61
        kyrios, 265
        liturgies, 266–68
        marriage, 265
        metics, 259
        miasma, 264–65
        murder cases, 263
        private case, 263
        public case, 262–63
        public good production, 266–68
        slaves, 259–60
        testimony of under torture, 262
        theft, 264
        Athenian Rule
        and patent trolls, 326–27

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          At a glance, the multi-word and multi-page ones seem good to keep; similarly, any bits of jargon like “metics” that people might know they know, but not remember. I don’t think I would keep things like “communion” or “affiliations” unless these are the equivalent of section headings on their respective pages.

          Also, Athenian rule and patent trolls is a fantastic entry.

          • For some reason, the commenting software eliminated my indents. The next 16 entries after “Amish” should be indented, since they are subtopics of Amish. “strong and weak, 139–40” should be doubly indented, because it is a subtopic of “Shunning.” Similarly for some other things.

        • Watchman says:

          As a sometimes academic user of indexes, there’s two things I search for. One is names and name-phrases, which can be better done using a search function. An index might be necessary here if you were say writing on Warwick Castle, located in Warwick, Warwickshire and a seat of the Earls of Warwick. If my interest is only in the castle, town or peers a search here would be less informative so indexing might be valuable. I would suggest a rule of thumb that if in a conventional book your index for Warwick would require three or more indented entries, it is worth indenting.

          The second thing I might look up are concepts or non-time-limited events: judicial supremacy or the building of the castle for example. As discussion of these may not involve the key words being used in a basic-searchable fashion, then indexing relevant accounts or discussions makes the text usable.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      What would be nice is if you could get a bunch of people to read your book in PDF or some online form, see which words get searched most often, and make that the basis of your index.

    • Nornagest says:

      I think a book that is at least partly a reference work would benefit from an index, even on Kindle. Legal Systems… happens to be the only book of yours I’ve read, and it does seem to be such a book.

      • My son Patri, who works at Google, suggested that what I thought would be a lot of work done by hand could probably be done easily by someone who actually understood HTML and CSS—I think I learned to use HTML before CSS was invented. He was correct. Someone on FB offered to look at the problem, found a simple solution to a large part of it in fifteen minutes or so. All I have to do is add about five lines of code to the HTML defining the index and each subentry magically gets its own line and is indented.

        Rearranging the entries to make more sense, which I did for the print version, still has to be done by hand, but I think I’ll try it.

  26. Uribe says:

    One thing I’ve noticed about politics is that it tends to lag interwebz discussion by about 5 years.

    Trump probably didn’t read Moldbug, but Moldbug anticipated Trumpism. Granted, Moldbug dreamed of a more brilliant philosopher king, but we got Trump. And many of Trump’s stated goals read like a Steve Sailor wet dream.

    This leads me to believe the interblogs are a leading indicator of political direction.

    Recently. that Fox guy who used to wear the bow tie on CNN says it’s a problem that so many women make as much or money as men that it has caused marriage rates to decline substantially. This isn’t news, unless, apparently, you work for a news channel.

    I think Tucker Fucker makes a good point. Marriage really is a problem. Most people are happier if they are married and the decline of marriage has resulted in a decline in happiness.

    This is a situation Hegel anticipates: We have 2 big value contradictions: The value of marriage; the value of women’s rights. Women’s rights lead to women making more money and it turns out that this is hostile to the institution of marriage, because women want husband who provide more financially than they and men want the same.

    I’m just kinda drunk and spewing thoughts. Have no conclusion.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      The dialectical synthesis would seem to involve the reconciliation of the two via the reformation of marriage. But Hegel is a right blockhead, so who knows if it’ll end up going that way. I hope it does.

    • theredsheep says:

      Bear in mind that people say an absolutely enormous variety of things on the internet, and many of them are just fantastically wrong. Or, to put it another way, the internet is an army of blindfolded guys with rifles blundering around a field firing at random. The future is a single paper target hung up at one corner of the field. As it turns out, the internet is extremely good at hitting the target.

      Also, I’m not convinced about the women-marrying-up thing, though this may be because my wife married in a decidedly downwards direction. But I think there are other cultural factors at work; among others, marriage has stopped being a prerequisite for sex and drifted over time from “thing you do at the start of adulthood” to “thing that you do, y’know, whenever.” A married couple is, from some perspectives, indistinguishable from a long-term cohabiting couple anyway, and in some states they get called common-law married after a while whether they want it or not (happened to a brother of mine). But since the expectation that you’ll get married or otherwise “settle down” as soon as you grow up has gone away, and we place a high value on the superficially pleasing freedoms of the single state, household formation is getting delayed, leaving us in limbo during peak child-rearing years and causing many of us to delay the formation of other adult habits as well. The long-term results are probably not going to be very nice.

    • arlie says:

      Wasn’t there some research – decades ago now – which showed men either happier, or living longer, or both, if married – and the reverse for women?

      • Eponymous says:

        I have a vague memory of hearing this also, but I’m skeptical: I would have expected married people to do better (in both cases) due to selection effects alone. I could try to explain the differential result by sex (several explanations immediately come to mind), but that would be rationalizing a result I wouldn’t have predicted, so I won’t.

        Now is the fact true? This article suggests the research isn’t clear on the question (though it seems to be written from an anti-marriage and pro-woman perspective, to the extent of containing obvious flaws). Further googling yields inconsistent results, which supports no clear conclusions.

    • meh says:

      Most people are happier if they are married and the decline of marriage has resulted in a decline in happiness.

      I’m not an expert on the research, but I thought it was that married people are happier, not that people are happier if they are married. Any references for above?

      I would also think a decline in marriage and having children would lead to increased happiness.

      • Eponymous says:

        I’m not an expert on the research, but I thought it was that married people are happier, not that people are happier if they are married. Any references for above?

        See my comment just above yours. I did a bit of googling which seemed to support the view that there aren’t clear answers on this. (Incidentally, I’m very suspicious of “happiness research” in general, but that’s another matter.)

        I would also think a decline in marriage and having children would lead to increased happiness.

        I’m curious why you think this. Personally, I strongly believe that, to the extent “happiness” is a thing that exists, marriage and children generally increase it.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      There’s a lot of non-mainstream content out there, some of it is a more extreme version of the mainstream narratives and some of it is a total contradiction of said narratives. Not all of that stuff which was present on the internet 5+ Years ago was vindicated or is deemed relevant today.

      E.G. the people who from 2008-2011 were predicting a hyperinflationary economic SHTF scenario, and buying lots of precious metals, were proven wrong, and fewer and fewer people listened to these individuals

      People who explicitly predicted or insinuated there would be a day-after-tomorrow style enviromental collapse from a failure to adequately respond to climate change in the mid-late 2000s are not taken as seriously now as they would have been during the days of hurricane Katrina. (obviously you still have an elite consensus that favors carbon reduction but the public interest is weaker and the claims of climate advocates are less severe then they used to be)

      The people who sounded the alarm on demographics, immigration, and social-cultural-identity issues grew in popularity because the effects of the aforementioned things [demographics,immigration, etc.] became more visible, and the more people that noticed them the more people there are to signal boost immigration and cultural related issues.

      As far as marriage goes it seems plausible to me that at a deep psychological level a majority of women;
      1. Don’t like the idea of women generally having lesser payed job prospects then males generally
      2. Don’t like the idea of marrying a man who is less financially independent/secure then they are.

      Even though at a gross or collective level these desires are mutually rivalrous, at the individual level it’s not ostensibly irrational since #1 concerns other people and #2 concerns what’s immediately in front of you. From the individual woman’s perspective in a world of gender equality, the problem of dealing with men who earn less than you can always be thought of as some other woman’s problem.

      However on the general topic of marriage i think an SSC-quality-level investigation is needed to comb through the relevant research and see just how correct people like Tucker Carlson are.

      • One could have equal pay for equal work by gender and still have women marrying up–all they have to do is to consistently marry older men, farther along their career path.

        • acymetric says:

          Interestingly, that would seem to lead to some kind of crunch initially where a lot of people stay unmarried (because the older men are, as a group, already married).

          Also, doesn’t that already tend to happen? I think it is much more likely for a woman to marry an older man than vice-versa although certainly both happen (for these purposes I would say someone within a year or two, maybe even three would essentially be considered the same age).

          • quanta413 says:

            Yeah, but the crunch is only for one generation if the transition between marriage systems is drastic. On its own, the system doesn’t cause a crunch.

          • acymetric says:

            Right, that’s why I specified “initially”. I think we’re on the same page.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          Well ‘equal pay for equal work’ is already a thing in a legal sense. I was thinking about it more in terms of the silly but much cared about earnings differential. But never the less the success of what you’re describing depends on how many unmarried young men are created by this arrangement.

        • 10240 says:

          One could have equal pay for equal work by gender and still have women marrying up–all they have to do is to consistently marry older men, farther along their career path.

          Or just work less than men (at a workplace). Which they by-and-large do (at least on average), but typically only after marriage and children.

      • Tenacious D says:

        E.G. the people who from 2008-2011 were predicting a hyperinflationary economic SHTF scenario, and buying lots of precious metals, were proven wrong, and fewer and fewer people listened to these individuals

        People who explicitly predicted or insinuated there would be a day-after-tomorrow style enviromental collapse from a failure to adequately respond to climate change in the mid-late 2000s are not taken as seriously now as they would have been during the days of hurricane Katrina. (obviously you still have an elite consensus that favors carbon reduction but the public interest is weaker and the claims of climate advocates are less severe then they used to be)

        Good examples.

  27. theredsheep says:

    To what extent do you believe our sexual tastes are culturally formed? I know that some things–general regularity of features, for example–are supposed to be universal. But I went to Peru in 2011, and at first the local women just weren’t pretty to me; they have very strong features compared to American women due to their heritage. But after I’d been there a couple of months, they started looking way more attractive. It wasn’t sheer randiness doing it, either; I had my wife with me, and we continued having sex (though she was pregnant, which might have been a complicating factor somehow, I guess). It was like my brain, after ages of being surrounded by people who looked alike in an unaccustomed way, adjusted its settings. Anyway, anybody else have a similar experience, or experiences?

    • woah77 says:

      I can’t say I’ve had that experience, but I can say that phenomena is well understood in the military. “She’s a deployment 10” is a well understood phrase to mean that said woman isn’t especially attractive when choices are available, but if you were deployed in the middle of Afghanistan for eight months, she’d start looking very attractive by the end. I’m not aware of any formal studies, but it may have a something to do with familiarity and diversity of options.

      • theredsheep says:

        My question would be whether, in Afghanistan, one develops a keen sense of the beauty of female eyes due to having nothing else to judge by.

        • woah77 says:

          This sounds like the xkcd about eating sandwichs. https://xkcd.com/915/
          Randal Monroe’s claim: Humans have just one scale and resize all experiences to fit it. From that postulate, I suppose it’s likely that in Afghanistan you develop a niche appreciation for eyes.

          • theredsheep says:

            I forgot about that comic. To be clear, though, I’m not thinking that there’s a clear, universal scale of beauty everyone agrees on, and we just shrink or expand it based on what’s available (“okay, nobody that close to the platonic form of beauty, better lower my standards”). I think it’s more that the monkey-part of your brain resets itself according to what it’s surrounded by, and selects between variants of those based on unknown rules, possibly including regularity of features or hip-to-waist ratio, etc.

            So whatshisface from Avatar gets uploaded into this weird alien tribe, and after a while his brain resets to think, “oh, yeah, people are really big and blue with huge eyes, and have tails for some reason. All this is completely normal. Hey, that particular tailed gigasmurf is rather sexy! Wonder if she wants to bind hair USBs?”

          • woah77 says:

            That’s what I mean. You re-acclimate to your surroundings and everyone has a scale from unattractive to really attractive. The scale doesn’t change, we just fit our surroundings into it.

    • A1987dM says:

      To what extent do you believe our sexual tastes are culturally formed?

      Well, there’s no way the early-21st-century Anglospheric preferences for cleanly-shaven men or very thin women can date back to the environment of evolutionary adaptedness…

      • Kyle A Johansen says:

        Is there that much preference for ‘very thin women’, I suppose in one looks at porn one might find a lot of very fun women with disproportionately large breasts which might seem as evidence of your claim, even though it feels to make like ‘very thin’ is a preference of women rather then men, but that could really just be an environmental failure state since the thin+bolt-ones was not found in the evolutionary environment.

      • vV_Vv says:

        the early-21st-century Anglospheric preferences for cleanly-shaven men or very thin women

        Like these two?

      • Well... says:

        I remember hearing about a study that found women tend to prefer men with heavy stubble to men with full beards or clean shaven.