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Open Thread 138.5

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945 Responses to Open Thread 138.5

  1. Cliff says:

    Mis-posted

  2. Edward Scizorhands says:

    Good Place spoiler for episode 4.

    I think the writers have given up on having any consistent plot. I could sort of forgive it with Mindy St Claire, before they realized they wanted to have everyone go to the Bad Place in later seasons. But now in Season 4 we have Janet being marbleized, which I seem to remember was permanent. And this also does not shut down the entire experiment, when Janet is needed to keep the whole Janet-babies occupied.

    I will stick it out, because the writing within each show is funny enough to continue to the end. But it is time to end.

    • honoredb says:

      They definitely haven’t given up, since they put in explainers in this episode like the bit about why Bad Janet can now impersonate Good Janet when she explicitly couldn’t in a previous episode. (Which might come into play later…this ultra-sophisticated Bad Janet is effectively a new character, now).

      There’s a suggestion in a previous episode ( Janet(s), I’m pretty sure) that Janet thinks marbleization might be reversible–she suggests the desperate plan that Michael marbleize her while the humans are in her void and then “find a way” to bring her back once it’s safe.

      Janet could leave the neighborhood without it shutting down as far back as Season 1; it remains unclear how exactly that works. The implication here though seems to be that Bad Janet really took over all of her responsibilities, spoofing the neighborhood grid (or whatever it’s called) as well as disguising herself. That seems like it would need to be a plot point next episode if so–does Eleanor need to make a deal with her to keep the lights on? If not, we could assume that Good Janet got all the babies working pretty well autonomously before being marbleized and Bad Janet was lying when she claimed to be micromanaging them.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        You could be right. I might need to look back over those few episodes to see if the idea of keeping the Janet-babies going was only brought up post-swap.

        Many of the things I see in the episodes just don’t seem related to ending the show. They do have 13 episodes so there are time for side-quests, but it does not feel tight.

  3. albatross11 says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this wonderful quote from the Chernobyl miniseries[1]: Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.

    If you lie to someone about an unimportant matter, and nobody ever bases a decision off it, and you don’t feel the need to keep propping up your lie with more lies, then the debt probably never comes due. But if you lie to someone on an important matter, and they make decisions based on that lie, then your lie incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, someone has to pay it–they have made decisions that were wrong because of your lie, and now they must correct their error. If you lie and then you have to defend your lie with more lies/arguments, then the debt grows ever larger.

    This calls to mind Elezier’s quote: If you once tell a lie, the truth is ever after your enemy. If you want to support your lie, then you have to tell more lies, and use specious arguments and make up evidence and throw away good information to avoid contradictions. A lot of people lie for some goal, personal or social, and then they have to keep lying to support their initial lie.

    I believe we see a lot of this in our world right now. A lot of people are lying about what they really believe or know. Some are lying because the socially acceptable view in their circle is not what they really believe, and they prefer the social consequences of professing the right doctrine to the social consequences of professing the wrong one. Some are lying because they believe their lie supports some greater truth, or pushes forward some worthwhile goal. Many are lying because it seems likely to help them win this argument or push aside this rival, and tomorow can take care of itself.

    But every lie incurs a debt to the truth, and those debts come due all the time. They come due when lots of people mouth the words they’re told to mouth to avoid trouble at work, and then go to the polls and vote for Trump. They come due when friendships built on falsehoods end abruptly. They come due when political decisions are made that don’t make any sense, but arguing against those decisions would violate all those necessary social lies you told to stay on the right side online. They come due when powerful people make really dumb decisions, based on a worldview shaped by noble, well-intentioned lies that turns out to be all they ever learned about some topic.

    And all this makes me think about Solhenitsyn’s amazing short essay “Live Not By Lies.” In that essay, he calls on people living in the USSR to rebel against the system, not by protesting or rioting, but just by refusing to take part in the lies that the powerful demand to hear as a cost of letting you make a living. He has a list of proposals:

    Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
    Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
    Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
    Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
    Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
    Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
    Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
    Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

    I have never lived in a society where very many people followed this. It would be a very unusual society, and maybe an uncomfortable one. But I think it would also be a pretty good society to live in. But I also think that in our society, which is nowhere near as repressive as the one he was writing in, that refusing to take part in lies, refusing to pretend to believe things you don’t believe, would be very hard for most people. Most of us have incurred a substantial debt to the truth in the past, and that debt would come due. But I reread this essay now and again, and try to live by it as much as I can.

    [1] I haven’t watched the miniseries, I’m just thinking about the quote.

    • Aapje says:

      An issue with your suggestion is that many people who tell falsehoods don’t think they do. With falsehoods often having more power than truth, it would ironically empower the (more) delusional, as they would have less competition from those who know the truth, but know that stating it makes them lose.

      For example, the USSR might simply have promoted the earnestly delusional even more than they already did. Perhaps these people are too few in number and without the cynical enablers, the delusional system has to reform itself. But it seems equally possible that the delusional system will turn to even less competent people, creating far worse outcomes, without the cynical around to spread truth or act on the truth, in so far that it is allowed.

      • albatross11 says:

        Sure–you can be wrong. The point is that when you don’t believe X, you don’t say X just to keep the boss/your friends/the community happy with you.

  4. Le Maistre Chat says:

    King Edward the Confessor is a weird name.
    He wasn’t a priest who heard confessions.
    He confessed the Christian faith, but by 1042, that didn’t differentiate him from other Western kings. It’s like being called Watery the Fish.
    And while Confessor of the Faith is a technical term for a saint, it implies being persecuted.

    • Evan Þ says:

      I’ve assumed it was to distinguish him from King Edward the Martyr.

    • Eric Rall says:

      The concept of sainthood originated in the veneration of Christians who stood strong in their faith despite persecution (generally Roman persecution, in the pre-Constantine era). These were divided into “Martyrs” who were executed for refusing to renounce their faith, and “Confessors” who suffered lesser punishments (usually imprisonment, hard labor, exile, or torture), with “Saint” being the collective term for both categories taken together.

      That’s why so many early saints are “St. [name] the Martyr” or “St. [name] the Confessor”. The terms carried over for some time after that, despite the concept of Sainthood evolving from “standing strong in the face of persecution” towards a more general idea of “living a life of extraordinary virtue and holiness”.

      So basically, Edward the Confessor was a saint in the more modern sense, but not a martyr, so he’s a Confessor. And as Evan pointed out, we need the disambiguator because there’s an earlier King Edward of England who was canonized after dying violently.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        +1, sounds less like King Watery the Fish with context. 🙂

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Huh, I’m not sure I was ever aware that Edward the Confessor was a saint (and never heard of Edward the Martyr).

        How many heads of state were canonized? I’m a little surprised there is not already a wikipedia list for this question.

        To my surprise, according to Wikipedia, there are only three Popes, but only because the Pope wasn’t a head of state until 1929.

        Also according to Wikipedia, the current pope is Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I; is that just because there has not yet been a Francis II?

        • Evan Þ says:

          Given the Papal States, I’m fairly dubious the Pope only became a head of state with the Lateran Treaty.

          And yes, he’s still “Pope Francis” because there isn’t any other Pope Francis yet for him to be distinguished from. In the same way, we speak of “Queen Victoria” and not “Queen Victoria I.”

    • Another Throw says:

      There were very strong political reasons involved. Edward was canonized to legitimate the Conquest, and to deflect blame from the Queen. (The issue being pressed during a question of papal succession didn’t hurt.)

      The failure of the royal couple to produce an heir directly precipitated the Conquest. The Queen had very strong personal reasons to deflect this blame away from herself and her family. So, it isn’t a very good look to go around saying that “my father and brothers were the King’s greatest political rivals and forced him to marry me, when he hated me with such an unrelenting passion that out marriage was never consummated.” That isn’t going to get you a lot of support when that William the Bastard guy is burning London to the ground.

      “He lived the life of a saint and consequently our marriage was never consummated” is much less likely to get you and your family dragged into the street and murdered by a mob. Or the new King, who is violently imposing the notion that he was Edward’s explicitly declared heir and your brother violated sacred oaths in usurping the throne.

  5. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Evidence that stressed women are much more likely to have girls than boys

    Is this plausible?

    Two things about the article: it says that there’s a slight surplus of boys born because of a higher death rate for boys and young men due to risk-taking, but I thought boy babies and small children were also more likely to die of illness/genetic problems. No?

    The article spends a surprising amount of time explaining that stress won’t cause a male fetus to turn into a female fetus.

    Mostly, though, I was struck by the Murphiness of the universe if this article is correct. A misogynistic society where women are punished for only having daughters will lead to them having more daughters..

    • Enkidum says:

      My understanding was there is a slight surplus of boys born because the X chromosome is slightly heavier than the Y, making X-carrying sperm (very) slightly slower and thus less likely to induce conception. If I recall correctly the difference was on the order of 0.01% or so.

      Can’t access the link because of paywall, but I’ve heard the claim before. The reason they talk about not switching sex is probably because that actually happens in a lot of other species.

      • Ketil says:

        …and stressed mothers probably have a harder time getting pregnant at all, making a slight disadvantage less slight. Maybe.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          That wouldn’t make sense, the trend reverses rather than strengthening in stressed mothers.

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        The article says that the leading theory for the mechanism is that male fetuses are more vulnerable to adverse prenatal environments, and thus are more likely to be miscarried by highly-stressed mothers.

        • acymetric says:

          I can’t read the article until I get home, is there any theory as to why male fetuses are more vulnerable?

    • Lambert says:

      I think so, to a certain extent.
      I’ve heard this mentioned by zoologists regarding starving badgers or something before.
      Presumably the risk of your entire extended family dying is enough to kick your selfish genes into going a bit group-selectiony.

      Or maybe it’s the elephant seal thing where the men are fewer but stronger.

      Is it stressed women or stressed men? The sex comes from the sperm, but it’s plausible that the uterus has some levers controlling which sperms are most likely to fertilise the egg and which zygotes are most likely to come to term.
      Obviously stressed mothers correlate with stressed fathers, so you’ll have to go deeper to tease these things apart.

      See: Dawkins. Can’t remember whether it’s Selfish Gene or Blind Watchmaker that goes into the details of sex ratios among humans, elephant seals etc. (Tl;Dr: your selfish genes want you to put an equal amount of resources into men and women. Even though the birth rate is only limited by the number of women.)

      • Randy M says:

        The sex comes from the sperm, but it’s plausible that the uterus has some levers controlling which sperms are most likely to fertilise the egg and which zygotes are most likely to come to term.

        It’s imaginable why such a thing might be desired, but I’d want to see a mechanism proposed. Enkidum points out the weight, but it’s a very small difference. The mechanism needs to be responsive to stress, so able to change fairly rapidly between states based on hormonal factors, and to sift sperm by their only difference, a minute fraction of weight. I’ll stop short of saying “irreducible complexity” but that stretches the bounds of of plausibility imagining how that state of affairs evolves.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          The mechanism seems to be the rate of miscarriage around the 20th-24th weeks of pregnancy, not any sort of sperm filtration.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          Actually, I did a bit more research, and it looks like there is some evidence for a role of sperm selection in the sex ratio. However, that effect is likely not the mechanism of action in this case; there’s much more evidence for sex-specific losses of embryos. For instance, the proportion of male births in New York and California decreased 3 months, but not 9 months, after the events of 9/11/2001.

          I might write a more thorough summary of the research later, there appears to be an interesting combination of factors that vary the rate gender-specific miscarriages throughout pregnancy.

      • salvorhardin says:

        Coyotes have larger litters period (not necessarily more female-skewed litters) when under stress, cf. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/08/coyote-america-dan-flores-history-science/

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I don’t think that is correct. Your source implies that, but it also implies the opposite. That the population is “pressured” or “suppressed” doesn’t mean that the individual is stressed, certainly not with a delay of months. All sources say that they respond to low population density with larger litters. Some speculate that it’s just the low density yields more calories.

    • Two McMillion says:

      Counterpoint: My mother was the most stressed person I have ever known, and 4/5 of her children were boys.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Might be mixing up cause and effect there 😉

        • Randy M says:

          Lol. On the off but not impossible chance Two McMillion is my brother, can confirm.
          (Though, by the time boys 3 & 4 came around, there was surely enough stress to test the effect)

    • Aapje says:

      @Nancy Lebovitz

      A misogynistic society where women are punished for only having daughters will lead to them having more daughters

      Who punishes women for having girls? It seems to me that societies that care or cared about having boys chastise(d) both parents.

      It’s not like women can twist their belly button, to set the dial to male or female. Historically, the solution to undesired children is infanticide.

      • broblawsky says:

        Obviously, China. Son preference is still the case there, even in a post-one child policy world.

        • albatross11 says:

          I’ve always wanted to do some kind of arbitrage here. In some countries, you’ve got widespread polygamy, which produces a surplus of males and a shortage of females. In other countries, you’ve got customs which value male children much more highly than female children. Some kind of cross-cultural adoption center could recognize big gains from trade….

          • Randy M says:

            What makes you think those aren’t the same societies?
            The mothers and fathers want sons, while the men want wives. You need arbitrage across time, not space.

        • Aapje says:

          @broblawsky

          How do they punish women for having girls?

          • Enkidum says:

            Beatings. Forcing them to get pregnant again as quickly as possible. Murdering the child, in some cases.

            This is pretty well documented in many East Asian cultures.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Cutting off their heads for treason…

          • Aapje says:

            OK, so I tried to find some information:

            [In South Korea]
            “Both men and women suffer terribly in the absence of sons, though for somewhat different reasons. Men suffer private grief at their lineage coming to an end, a sense of having let down the ancestors, and fear of being untended in one’s own afterlife. Thus it is not unusual for old men (comfortably supported in this life by their own savings and pensions) to visit clinics and ask nurses for information on how their daughter-in-law could bear a son. No amount of savings in this life can assure well-being in the next, in the absence of a son to carry out the necessary rituals. Aside from the grief and fear, there is also considerable public humiliation for men who do not have a son. It was commonly reported that other men taunt them. […] For women, the suffering involves fear of rejection and mistreatment by the husband. Moreover, they feel terribly guilty not to have borne a son.

            The paper notes that some women get beaten by their husbands, but many do not.

            Ultimately, a lot of these anecdotes seem to be abuses of power that are not societally mandated, but chosen by individuals, although society may tolerate them. Anecdotes where men are victims are far from uncommon.

            PS. Note that I’ve seen a lot of bias in academia and international organizations to see women as victims, but not men, so I don’t trust mere assertions or cherry picked anecdotes.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Are you referring to Henry VIII?

            He annulled the marriage to Catherine of Aragon, even though she bore him no sons. So the beheading of Boleyn was presumable for other reasons.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You think if she had born him a son she would have been executed?

            You think if Catherine had born a son, Henry would have caused the annulment of the marriage (and thereby created the Church of England)?

            I think you know that the ultimate cause of these things was the failure to produce an heir.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Yeah, for both his wives who were executed it’s pretty plausible that they would still have, as a large part was infidelity and political plotting, which his cracking down on would still be plausible.

            I do agree that he likely wouldn’t have divorced Catherine of Aragon, though.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yeah, for both his wives who were executed it’s pretty plausible that they would still have, as a large part was infidelity and political plotting, which his cracking down on would still be plausible.

            Potentially, but I think you are a) taking too credibly the idea that their was plotting and infidelity, when the causality can easily run the other direction, and b) forgetting that Henry wanted an heir that was legitimate, and accusations of infidelity would put that into question.

          • Protagoras says:

            Creating the Church of England was more about Henry VIII thinking he knew better than the pope than it was about producing an heir. Sufficient sucking up to the church pretty much always led to the church approving whatever annulments rulers desired, but Henry didn’t want to suck up to the church. He wanted to create a new model with the king as pope. And earn the support of the protestants; he was impressively successful at making his new church protestant enough for most of the English protestants to get on board, but still not so protestant as to make most of the Catholics rebel (he made sure to include enough orthodoxy to keep the Catholics hoping he’d eventually convert back). It definitely wasn’t all about the marriages.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Anne Boleyn was legitimately a serious political power player. Her removal was entirely political because she was amassing too much power. I agree that a different reason than infidelity would’ve been found (pretty much everyone agrees that was fabricated) if she had been the mother of Henry’s son.

            As far as I can tell, Catherine Howard was straight up cheating on him. She claimed rape, but her letters are pretty damning. She appears to be a teenage girl who was married to a disgusting old man (by that point) who was looking for release elsewhere. I strongly empathize with her, but given how short the marriage was, Henry probably executes her even if he has a son by her and maybe disinherits the son if he doesn’t look a LOT like Henry. She really was just a girl who made a very understandable mistake.

          • S_J says:

            Cutting off their heads for treason…

            @HealBearCub, @Aapje

            Are you referring to Henry VIII?

            He annulled the marriage to Catherine of Aragon, even though she bore him no sons. So the beheading of Boleyn was presumable for other reasons.

            To be pedantic, you’re not quite right about Catherine of Aragon.

            She was able to bear male children. The first male child was christened Henry, and lived for slightly less than two months. The next male child was either stillborn or died before the end of the day. The third male child was stillborn.

            Three of her other pregnancies were daughters. One daughter was still-born, the second lived to adulthood as Mary, and the third died a few hours after birth.

            There was likely another pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

            Of them all, the son Henry and daughter Mary were the only ones to survive past the first day of life. The death of young Henry was obviously a failure to raise a son to adulthood, but it is a counter-example against the claim that she could not bear a living son.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You think if she had born him a son she would have been executed?

            That is not the same question as whether she was executed for not having a son. If Alois Hitler wouldn’t have had children, the holocaust probably wouldn’t have happened. Does that mean that the holocaust was punishment for Alois having kids*?

            Fact is that Henry VIII’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon, who didn’t give him a son before she became barren, resulting in him seeking an annulment, which the pope refused to grant him, resulting in the English reformation. Thereupon Henry granted himself an annulment and banished Catherine, not killing her.

            If the sole reason for murdering a wife was the lack of sons, Henry would have had to have murdered Catherine. Note that at this time, Henry was killing a lot of dissidents who opposed the English reformation.

            Henry’s second wife, Boleyn seemed to have been far less pleasing as a wife than as a mistress, quickly making Henry displeased with her. Politically, she and her family also supported France over the Holy Roman Empire, against the wishes of Henry. So if Boleyn had had a son, it seems perfectly possible that Henry still would have executed her. It’s a question of alternative history that can merely be speculated on.

            Anyway, some wives hence, Henry married and later executed Catherine Howard for adultery, which seems to have been true. This was after Henry already had a son, so the pressure was off. So clearly, Henry would also execute wives for other reasons than not giving him a son.

            Finally, this entire example is rather ridiculous, because Henry is a huge outlier in a large variety of ways. For example, being king, his marriages were also political alliances, which wouldn’t be true for commoner marriages.

            *this is 100% rhetorical, btw

          • Aapje says:

            @S_J

            At the time of the annulment, Catherine seems to have been barren due to old age. So at that point she could no longer produce a male heir, or at least, that was what Henry believed.

            Henry could have tried to punish her for not producing that male heir by beheading her, but he didn’t nor seemed to have tried. This despite Catherine fighting the annulment.

          • Eric Rall says:

            Another factor is Henry VIII’s January 1536 jousting accident (shortly before Anne Boleyn’s miscarriage), which knocked him unconsciously for a couple hours and inflicted the leg injury that would leave him with a painful festering ulcer for the rest of his life.

            By many accounts, Henry’s personality changed significantly for the worse after the accident. I’ve seen speculation that the personality change was due to brain damage (loss of consciousness after head trauma, especially if it lasts more than a few seconds, being a major red flag for traumatic brain injury in modern clinical practice). But even if he didn’t have brain damage, chronic pain isn’t good for anyone’s disposition, and the leg injury definitely prevented Henry from engaging in the various athletic activities (jousting, hunting, dancing, tennis, etc) that had been some of his main passions in life before his accident.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            I don’t know to what extent appearances mattered for Henry VIII, but remember that he did have a notional excuse for nullifying the marriage to Catherine, the business of her being his brother’s widow. He could not use that excuse for Anne.

      • CatCube says:

        In “Nothing to Envy” a book about North Korea in the late 90s, one of the women has severe issues with her mother-in-law because of a string of girls. The mother-in-law comes around and stops needling her after she has a son.

        I mean, this doesn’t make any sense, but it certainly happens.

        • Aapje says:

          That’s just an anecdote, which fits perfectly within my model where both men and women get needled over not having a son, in certain societies during certain periods.

          The implied claim by Nancy was that only women get “punished.” I only consider this valid if the intent is to punish and the punishment is only applied to women. Your example fits the former, but I don’t believe it fits the latter. Men in such societies seem to be pressured to produce a male descendant as well.

          • Enkidum says:

            This is complicated by the fact that for the parents of the father, he is their son, and so while there is pressure, he is their little prince, while for the parents of the mother, any offspring she produces will not be part of their lineage, so they don’t have the same incentive to care. So the burden of “punishment” shifts to the wife, although there’s certainly pressure put on the husband it’s not at nearly the same level.

          • Aapje says:

            He is their prince in large part because he is supposed to produce a male grandchild, though.

            However, more importantly, women seem to face more familial violence/punishment, while men seem to face more violence/punishment outside of the family.

            Anyway, you seem to agree that both husband and wife get pressured/punished, so at that point you seem to agree with me that arguing that only the woman gets punished is false.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Who punishes women for having girls? It seems to me that societies that care or cared about having boys chastise(d) both parents.

        Note that the answer to the first question is already conceded in the second question. You repeatedly deny that woman may be punished for the sex of the children they bear, while elsewhere contending that men also are punished. Note that Nancy’s original comment in no way denied that men may suffer undesirable consequences in a misogynistic society that places less value on female children.

        It’s not like women can twist their belly button, to set the dial to male or female.

        Just because this is true doesn’t mean that people didn’t attempt to divine causation and attempt to claim that someone musty have erred in some way when they did not produce male children. Or simply express disappointment that the mother or parents “couldn’t” produce males children.

        • Aapje says:

          @HeelBearCub

          You seem to regard my first question as rhetorical, but in so far that it is, it is not in the way that you seem to think. A lot of sexism that men face consists of:
          – taking things that also happen to men (if perhaps less often) and presenting them as things that only happen to women
          – taking things that happen to men more often and presenting them as things that happen to men and women equally
          – cherry picking the bad things that happen to women and the good things that happen to men, while ignoring the opposite
          – only presenting the negative aspects of the things that happen to women and the positive aspects of things that happen to men, but not vice versa

          These tactics allow for spreading misinformation without actually making false statements. More educated people/newspapers seem to use these tactics fairly often to spread misinformation, rather than use tactics that are more obviously manipulation.

          Then there are the more active lies, like misrepresenting why things happen (men mostly get hurt because they deserve it, women mostly unfairly, because men are assigned agency where women are not). Or having a double standard where what is treated as harm to women doesn’t count as harm to men.

          For example, take this article. It describes hate and disrespect aimed at women as bullying that produces mental harm, but also described hate and disrespects aimed at men, without concluding that it is bullying and produces mental harm.

          This is so typical (I didn’t have to cherry pick at all to find this example, it was in the first search result that I looked at), that I assume sexism by default, since it seems a lot more common than its absence.

          Anyway, I would also genuinely like to know what kind of punishment Nancy (or others) are referring to, because only by looking at the details can you move past the memes.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I framed it in terms of women being punished because I hadn’t heard about men being punished, though it makes sense that husbands punish wives because the husbands are fearing loss of their own standing.

        • albatross11 says:

          Or that some husbands beat up their wives for stuff they know rationally that their wives can’t do anything about, because they can get away with it and it makes them feel better. I’m guessing the husbands of women with a couple of really big menacing brothers living in the same town are a lot less likely to get beaten up, even if they’ve given their husband only girls.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            A lot of these cultures seem to have a high level of woo. For example, in the paper I quoted from before, a husband “removed the protective string placed on the threshold to repel evil spirits,” as he didn’t care if his third, fourth and fifth daughter lived.

            I think that it is a mistake to assume that things that seem extremely obvious to us, are not at all obvious to those people.

            Furthermore, I don’t see how it is obvious that there is no impact of the mother’s behavior on the sex of the child or other characteristics. Claims like that seem extremely common (not that long ago in the West, autism was blamed on ‘cold’ parenting).

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            albatross11, that’s probably wishful thinking. A lot of honor killings are committed by the woman’s own family, not her husband or his family.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Aapje: “It’s not like women can twist their belly button, to set the dial to male or female. Historically, the solution to undesired children is infanticide.”

        Have you ever cursed at a computer? If you haven’t, you’ve probably seen other people do it.

        No amount of infanticide will get you the children you *do* want.

    • N=187, doesn’t sound plausible.

    • aphyer says:

      From the article:

      The overall sample size was 187 women.

      32 women were ‘psychologically stressed’.

      30 women were ‘physically stressed’. (Unclear if this group is separate from the 32 before).

      ‘Psychologically stressed women produced 3 girls for every 2 boys’

      So (depending on rounding and twins) the psychologically stressed women may have had e.g. 19 girls and 13 boys, or 20 girls and 12 boys.

      Even 20/32 coins flipping heads does not actually hit p=0.05.

      ‘Physically stressed women produced 9 girls for every 5 boys’. Again this doesn’t seem to round well, but the closest I can get is 19 girls and 11 boys.

      19/30 coins flipping heads also does not hit p=0.05.

      This doesn’t disprove the existence of such an effect, but it sure does raise questions about why people are writing articles about this study/why we are talking about this study.

    • tossrock says:

      This is known anecdotally among Special Forces operators, who frequently only have daughters. Among the Navy SEALs it’s called the Frogman Curse.

      • Randy M says:

        Are enough special forces operators women to establish this trend even informally? Or are you saying the wives of special forces are particularly stressed compared to other service member spouses?

        • Aapje says:

          They kissed a frog, but he didn’t turn into a prince. Might be a stressful outcome.

          Seriously though, special forces seem to be deployed much more suddenly, to deal with crises, rather than have a long deployment, with a lot of lead time. It may be quite stressful to have your partner suddenly leave in the middle of the night to go after some domestic terrorists.

          • Randy M says:

            Good point. A husband in an out a lot might be worse than a long but predictable deployment.

            This theory also implies that during a war there will be a higher percentage of girls born. We should be able to look at gender ratio by by year for evidence.

          • woah77 says:

            You wouldn’t necessarily notice it based upon merely gender ratios because most people aren’t directly related to a service member. Even assuming an armed forces of roughly 2 million men, the birth rates just won’t be sufficiently affected at the national level to be able to determine if that’s the case.

          • bean says:

            That’s easily solved by going back far enough. During WWII, the service percentage was a lot higher, and even couples where the man wasn’t in the service would have been more highly stressed than in peacetime. Compare 1943-1944 with 1947-1948.

          • woah77 says:

            That might work, Bean, but there are tons of other confounders with such an analysis. I can’t say that it would be a clean analysis which would result in a clear result, but it’d be a good place to get better data.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think we ought to be able to find plenty of European nations where virtually the entire adult female population was under prolonged high stress in the early 1940s, but functional modern bureaucracies were in place by the late 1940s to track population by age and gender. Along with culturally similar control groups with much lower stress levels.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Is the study of 187 women plausible? No. Not impossible, but I don’t believe the effect size.

      Is the general hypothesis plausible? Yes. As Lambert says, we see it an animals. But just because an effect is true, doesn’t mean we should expect to see it in a study. And just because a study is a fraud, doesn’t mean that the effect it’s trying to observe doesn’t exist.

      Are the studies of hundreds of thousands of births after earthquakes and 9/11 big enough to be plausible? Yes, but the effect where boys skyrocketed in the control group after the earthquake is pretty suspicious.

  6. Douglas Knight says:

    What would the world look like if there were a massive blackmail ring?

    Wouldn’t signs leak out? Wouldn’t the ring sometimes have to exercise its power by releasing the material? Would the fallout look distinctive? People suddenly prosecuted for decades old crimes? Would people destroyed by prosecution or gossip make accusations of blackmail?

    The most famous example is that J Edgar Hoover is said to have had private files on politicians. Did he ever deploy them? Maybe he didn’t ask for much, just to keep his office, so no one objected. If he did need to deploy them, it would be easy to get them to the FBI, but, still, if they were old, that would be suspicious. The FBI did blackmail MLK with a recording, but what was the actual threat? Surely it wouldn’t have sent the recording to the press, because that would have been too obvious. Instead it would have tipped them off about the mistress (but it is not believed to have even done that).

    Mark Felt inherited the files. Fat lot of good they did him; he didn’t even outlast Nixon. When he did want to destroy Nixon, he only used fresh information and he was very sparing.

    How about Piggate?

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      Would you ever know that “massive blackmail ring” is responsible for this particular arrest or scandal. The only evidence ever would be if some message surface up about previously disgraced person that says something like “X is being unruly. Tell everyone about rape/embezzlement/adultery he did”.

      In term of control, your blackmailed asset would need to keep performing original function in order for controlling him to make sense. Since we speak of MLK, he would be useless for FBI if they didn’t give him enough freedom to become prominent civil rights person. If they could force him to say “Fellow negroes, we should stop fighting for civil rights and get back to plantation to serve Aryan master race”, they wouldn’t, because he would lose all influence and their blackmail would become worthless. They probably would rather him keep steering his followers into non-violence.

      As for whom could they send those papers? His rivals, perhaps. Surely, he had some rivals who’d love to oust him from the movement leadership.

      • Viliam says:

        Also, you don’t have to release all secrets to punish a person. Release one, and keep the rest, so that the person knows they still have something more to lose.

        And if there are people resistant to blackmail, or people you have no material on, just tell the other important people to stop associating with them, or to sabotage them at a convenient moment. People usually can’t achieve success alone.

        (My model of politics is more like “almost everyone has some dirt on almost everyone”. Not one centralized blackmailer, but rather a distributed system of mutual blackmail. Paradoxically, as soon as you have material on someone, it is in your interest to help them get more power, because then you have more power by proxy. So if a clean person tries to enter politics, they will be spontaneously ostracized. And, indeed, sometimes parts of the blackmail network get exposed, but the members of the network will try to minimize what was published, and insist that that’s all there is.)

    • MorningGaul says:

      All it would take to get heard of is one guy proud enough to not cave in and go public with whatever secret they have (as, for instance, Bezos did recently). You don’t hear of most blackmailers because they only target very few (if not a single) person, but a “ring” would have as many failure points as they have marks.

      • albatross11 says:

        +1

        This is basically the strongest argument against widespread overt blackmail being used against political figures in the US to control their votes/decisions–if you were blackmailing a hundred politicians, a few of them would complain about it when their careers ended for some other reason. OTOH, having dirt that would wreck every political figure and then leaking it when you need to get rid of them can still work, and is entirely consistent with what we observe.

    • John Schilling says:

      What would the world look like if there were a massive blackmail ring?

      Why, it would look like nothing at all, of course. Because if it did start to look like anything, the blackmail ring’s blackmailed cops and prosecutors would lock away the leaker on trumped-up kidde porn charges and their blackmailed journalists and editors would spike the story so that nobody would ever hear of it. The whole thing would be ruthlessly covered up with absolutely perfect efficiency. Just ask your neighborhood conspiracy theorist.

      Wouldn’t signs leak out?

      Or, yeah, that. There would, for example, be a great many suicides where the suicide note says “…and I was being blackmailed by the vast and powerful international blackmail ring, details below”. Murders and murder-suicides where the “victim” was a blackmailer and the perp a blackmailee, often one or both with evidence in hand. Honest men who don’t give in to blackmail, and honest cops who would look at those anonymously-mailed photos of Senator Bob with the underage girl and put a higher priority on catching the guy who is obviously blackmailing a Senator than on nailing a Senator on statutory-rape charges. And middlemen for the blackmailers bragging to their girlfriends about how they are part of the elite all-powerful blackmail conspiracy, and all the rest of the usual conspiratorial failures.

      You can blackmail someone and get away with it. And you can probably blackmail a hundred people about little stuff that nobody much cares about. But by the time you are blackmailing a hundred people, you’re going to have enough screw-ups and enough bad luck that anyone who cares will know what you are doing and if you’re e.g. trying to meddle in politics, people are going to care.

  7. Aapje says:

    The language column in my newspaper had an interesting discussion about a Dutch sentence which semi-literally translates to:

    “You can do only one thing at the same time.”

    Which is weird, because how can you do only one thing “at the same time,” rather than two things?

    Of course, in English, you wouldn’t say this, but rather:

    “You can do only one thing at a time.”

    Yet this raises the question what “a time” is. In real life, we pretty never refer to Planck time units, which themselves are still presumably periods. So all actual times are explicitly or implicitly periods. For example, 7:30 is really a 1 minute period, from 7:30.00000000… to 7:31.00000000…

    Also, the English phrase typically refers to an activity or activities that lasts a while, not the passage of a photon.

    So the English phrase is also a bit weird, by treating a period as an instant and then being completely vague about the actual duration of the period. Yet you also can’t use it for a period generally. You can’t say: “I’ll sleep for a time,” but rather have to say something like: “I’ll sleep for some time.”

    Yet you also have “once upon a time,” but this refers to a long period, that clearly isn’t an instant. So doesn’t it make more sense to have “once upon a period?”

    • Randy M says:

      “A time” is one quantum of attention. The exact scientific length varies from person to person.

    • Fitzroy says:

      Yet you also can’t use it for a period generally. You can’t say: “I’ll sleep for a time,” but rather have to say something like: “I’ll sleep for some time.”

      You absolutely can say “I’ll sleep for a time,” in English. It’s a more uncommon, and perhaps poetic, phrasing, to indicate an unspecified period, but it’s perfectly valid. Cf Maya Angelou’s “Just for a Time” which contains the lines “You were the perfect girl. And you were mine. For a time.”

      • Aapje says:

        You absolutely can say “I’ll sleep for a time,” in English. It’s a more uncommon, and perhaps poetic, phrasing, to indicate an unspecified period, but it’s perfectly valid.

        I googled it and found no examples (although Google is not so good at exact phrases). Note that poetry commonly violates normal language rules or uses very uncommon phrasing, for effect.

        I think that English speakers would far more commonly say “I’ll sleep for a while.”

        “You were the perfect girl. And you were mine. For a time.”

        True, that seems like a ‘normal’ expression.

        • Tarpitz says:

          Just want to second that “I’ll sleep for a time” is a plausible thing for a native speaker to say. Could be poetic, could be archaic/folksy. Might be the last words of a country grandmother in a period drama.

        • gbdub says:

          “Ah’m gonna rest a spell” would fit right into dialogue in a Western. So maybe archaic or folksy but hardly “weird”

        • The Nybbler says:

          You wouldn’t say “I’ll sleep for a time”, you’d say “I slept for a time”; for whatever reason, the phrase “for a time” nearly always refers to the past, which is why your second example works. But “time” can also refer to a period not firmly in the past, e.g something can happen “from time to time”.

    • Cliff says:

      You can’t say: “I’ll sleep for a time,” but rather have to say something like: “I’ll sleep for some time.”

      Yet you also have “once upon a time,” but this refers to a long period, that clearly isn’t an instant. So doesn’t it make more sense to have “once upon a period?”

      “I’ll sleep for some time” would be more weird that “I’ll sleep for a time” I think. The latter sounds archaic/formal but the former is just odd.

      “Once upon a time” does not refer to a long period- in fact I think it does refer to an instant. Of course it is only used as the intro to fairy tales.

  8. johan_larson says:

    So there is talk in the Magic community that Field of the Dead is going to be banned. It’s just too powerful in the endgame when it combines with cards like Circuitous Route, Growth Spiral, and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, they say.

    This is a bit surprising, because it seems like players could sideboard against Field of the Dead. There are plenty of cards in standard right now that can destroy it:
    Assassin’s Trophy
    Bedazzle
    Casualties of War
    Demolish
    Rubble Reading
    Tectonic Rift

    Is that not enough? I guess blue and white decks would have problems.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      There’s a few problems here.

      Of those, only Assassin’s Trophy is really playable. Also, since the rest are sorceries, you can’t stop Golos from getting ~4 zombie tokens before you destroy it. You did miss the option of Unmoored Ego, which gets rid of them from the hand and library and exiles them to boot, but it doesn’t hit any already on the field (also it’s terrible in almost every other matchup). But there’s another issue: Golos tutors the card out of the library and the deck runs 4 Once Upon a Time. So it’s far more likely to find Fields of the Dead than you are to find your answers unless you run a lot of them. If a single card requires players to run 8+ hate cards for it, isn’t that a little much?

      Even if you do succeed in removing the Field of the Dead from the picture, Golos still has the strategy of ramping into big things. Giants and Krases can win the game just by being big creatures, so you need to answer those too. It’s slower, but if you dedicated a lot of time and cards to getting rid of the Fields of the Dead, will you still have enough to answer the fatties? What do you do when your win condition gets stolen by Agent of Treachery?

      Looking at the decklists, it’s pretty clear there’s only two decks: Golos and beatdown. I don’t see a single non-Golos control deck anywhere near the top, and all of the “midrange” decks are definitely constructed to be the beatdown in the Golos matchup. This is really centralized, and they’ve banned cards from standard for less. I’ve been playing some standard in MTGA (admittedly with a janky combo deck), and the difficulty of interacting with Field of the Dead is incredibly obnoxious. I suspect it’ll be going the way of Aetherworks Marvel.

    • Perico says:

      I would say that, in order to be an effective answer, a card needs several of the following:
      – Mana efficiency
      – Card efficiency
      – Maindeckable
      – Widely available
      – Completely shuts down opposing strategy

      Examples of cards that would be good answers to Field of the Dead include the recently rotated Alpine Moon (shuts down all copies of the card until removed for a single red mana), Blood Sun (also shuts down all Fields, for more mana but without costing you a card) and Field of the Ruin (removes a single Field at a decent mana cost, can be played in any deck and isn’t hard to fit in maindecks and sideboards).

      The cards you listed can, at best, remove a single opposing field at either a steep mana cost or card disadvantage. Like eyeballfrog said, this doesn’t really cut it when the Field deck has several efficient ways to search for the land – chances are they’ll get more copies of it than you get answers. And you still need to deal with the zombies and the rest of the deck!

      • gryffinp says:

        I would be delighted if Wizards would make some new, absolutely ruinous nonbasic land hate. Two mana modular instants that exile nonbasics in addition to Shocking or something, a planeswalker that has destroy target nonbasic on -1, that sort of thing. The tyrrany of nonbasic lands over basic lands has been allowed to go on- well, for forever, really.

        • moonfirestorm says:

          Just reprint Wasteland already!

          Of course, if we look at Legacy where Wasteland is totally legal, it’s viewed more as “Strip Mine that can’t hit all their lands” than “answer to problematic nonbasics”.

          I think that might be the reason they don’t do this: “destroy target nonbasic land” means “destroy target land but sometimes not”, and making that cheap enough to be effective against these strategies also enables the strategy where you just land-starve your opponent (provided he’s on 2+ colors, which is pretty normal). And that’s a strategy Wizards has committed pretty hard to not letting back in Standard. Heck, we haven’t seen Stone Rain or equivalent since 9th Edition, and that costs a whopping 3 mana.

          Ghost Quarter seems like a reasonable answer, but Wizards printing Field of Ruin suggests that they’re not comfortable having even that form of land destruction that cheap. I’m not sure I have a good answer to that one. It can work like a Wasteland if the opponent is running very few basics, but I thought most Standard decks were running 8+ which should be enough to make it work.

          • johan_larson says:

            A meta where nonbasic lands can sometimes be destroyed but basic lands are secure seems like it would work just fine. Just don’t run a lot of non-basics. Have four in a standard deck or maybe eight, not 24.

            Is there some larger problem with this that I’m not seeing?

          • Aftagley says:

            It’s not really a problem, but it would be a fairly massive limitation on available play space- if you need to run a majority of nonbasic lands then multicolored decks get way less consistent, especially in the opening turns. Dual color aggro decks would stop being seen, and you’d likely see way fewer three and four color decks.

            Overall, this would either constrain or limit the power of a bunch of different archetypes – aggro would be limited a single color, mid-range would be forced into 2 colors and control/combo would lose consistency.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          Wizards dislikes land hate that messes with a land’s ability to make 1 mana. They don’t want the kind of gameplay that Blood Moon (Modern) and Wasteland (Legacy) create to show up in standard.

          Field of Ruin was solid because it let both players replace their lands, but they let that one rotate. Perhaps they should make more of that effect (Path to Exile for lands?). I could see reprinting Ghost Quarter and/or Tectonic Edge, though Ghost Quarter probably has an undesirable interaction with Ashiok and perhaps Tec Edge’s 4 land requirement isn’t strict enough in their eyes.

    • Vermora says:

      I’ve been running a land destruction deck with Fires on Invention in MtG Arena recently, with 10 land destruction spells and God-Pharoah’s Statue (not because I give a damn about FotD, I’m just a spiteful asshole).

      Field decks just laugh in the face of land destruction. Every Field that they play requires a land destruction and a sweeper (every Fields deck I’ve seen will play a ton of lands on the same turn they play the field, so you don’t get a turn to destroy it before they build a decent army) . Every Golos they play requires a land destruction, a sweeper and an answer to Golos (Rakdos sweepers can’t hit Golos). And you need the answers immediately or they just win. They have so much ramp and draw that they’ll always draw their Fields faster than you can draw your land destruction. My land destruction theoretically has answers to what they play, it just can’t draw or play them fast enough.

  9. S_J says:

    Food for thought:

    In the past, a man from Italy got on a boat, led a group of similar boats to sail out over the horizon, and subsequently landed in a previously-unknown land.

    There, he met member of non-literate culture, and incidentally triggered a series of events that have reverberated down through subsequent history. The non-literature culture (power structure, language, religion, etc) from before that contact is irretrievably lost.

    I’m thinking of Julius Caesar first landing on what he called the island of Albion. Though there are lots of points of comparison with Christopher Columbus landing on what he called San Salvador.

    How were the situations of Julius Caesar and Christopher Columbus similar? How were they different?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      The biggest difference is probably that there was already a substantial amount of trade and movement between the Celtic Britons and Celts on the continent. Julius Caesar knew about the sort of things that he was likely to find in Britain and the Britons had already been exposed to Roman diseases and technology like metalworking and horses.

      So today the average native British person has a non-negligable amount of Celtic ancestry, and there’s a lot of it left in the languages and culture of the British Isles. Whereas in the Americas, native ancestry mostly exists in Latin American populations and even there the language and culture have been mostly scrubbed of native influence.

      • Eric Rall says:

        If Columbus had found China where he’d been expecting it to be, the situations would have been much more analogous. China by 1492 had already been in indirect contact with Europe through the silk road for the better part of two millennia, and Europeans had a vague idea what China was like (less clear than Caesar’s probable knowledge of Britain, but enough so that Columbus really should have known better than to mistake Cuba for China). And China had been exposed to the same diseases as Europe.

        The big difference would be that Columbus would have found the Ming dynasty pretty close to the height of their power. Once contact was established, in the short-to-medium term China would probably have had a better shot of conquering and colonizing bits of Europe than the other way around.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Columbus didn’t mistake Cuba for China; he did know better. He thought it was a previously-unknown island near China, and he died before Europeans explored enough American geography to get disabused.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            +1
            He thought he’d discovered an unknown (at least to Christians) island off the coast of China, just like Jipangu was an island or archipelago off the coast of China they did know about.

          • Eric Rall says:

            Thank you. That makes a lot more sense than my previous understanding.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Sorry for being pedantic, I know that you’re being hyperbolic but it’s a compulsion.

          The Ming dynasty probably had the best force-projection of any Chinese dynasty, given the treasure fleet, but they didn’t seem to have either the desire or ability to colonize overseas territories. Zheng He comes off as more of a pre-modern Commodore Perry, forcing foreign countries to send tribute to / trade with China, rather than a Cortez or a Pizarro.

          In terms of a military confrontation on Chinese soil, even taking inflated troop numbers into account the Ming would definitely have a huge advantage in numbers. I wouldn’t like a Ming army’s odds against a Spanish Tercio though: they seem to have been good at staying in formation and had equivalent firearms, but their relative lack of infantry armor and short spears would be absolutely fatal in a press of pike. That said, there’s no way that Spain could have afforded to send such a huge army to the other side of the world so they would be safe.

          • Eric Rall says:

            That’s pretty much accordant with my understanding. I know much less about Chinese military tactics and technology in that era than about their European counterparts, but I was pretty sure the Ming military was good enough to win decisively on their own turf against anything 1500-ish Spain would plausibly throw at them, and that the Ming had a lot more resources available to them than any given European state at the time and at least as good at mobilizing those resources.

            I was indeed being hyperbolic: a Ming China willing and able to project the amount of force needed to bite off even a few Treaty Port equivalents in Europe (even if Europe were a mere 6000 or so miles from China across an open sea) would probably have done more to Japan than the occasional punitive expedition against pirate bases.

        • bean says:

          China by 1492 had already been in indirect contact with Europe through the silk road for the better part of two millennia,

          Not to mention the maritime trade via the Indian Ocean. There was a lot of it, even if it’s pretty obscure for a bunch of reasons.

        • cassander says:

          Given the usual Chinese disinterest in overseas possessions even as near as Japan and Taiwan, I very much doubt there’d be much interest in expeditions to europe. Of course, that might change after the huge upsurge in china/european trade would have been produced by china being on the other side of the atlantic instead of the pacific.

    • cassander says:

      Caesar knew that Albion was there and wound up where he intended to go. Columbus didn’t set out for San Salvador, h was trying to go to India (broadly defined), and ended up only a couple hundred miles off of as lost as it is mathematically possible to be.

  10. AlexanderTheGrand says:

    There’s been a few threads on this site about conspiratorial priors. It got me thinking about Jeffrey Epstein’s death, which in certain circles is all but assumed to be from murder.

    Can anyone link to persuasive accounts from both sides of that pseudo-debate? I would love to see an adversarial collaboration on something like this.

    • albatross11 says:

      Eric Weinstein has made the argument several times that Epstein’s claimed wealth was not plausible because he didn’t seem to engage in the kinds of trades needed to acquire it, and he speculates that Epstein was an intelligence agency “construct”–someone put in the position of being a wealthy trader who was making contacts and gathering blackmail material (probably via pimping underage girls) on behalf of whomever was running him. If that is true, then the probability of not-suicide goes way up, because while most of his blackmail victims probably couldn’t arrange a murder in those conditions, a US intelligence agency surely could.

      I have no idea how to evaluate Weinstein’s claim, however.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        Or this without the intelligence agency aspect, it’s possible that he was running his blackmail scheme on his own behalf, and that’s where he got his money from.

        • Another Throw says:

          Or he was running the blackmail scheme on his own behalf, and that’s where he got his money from, but an intelligence agency noticed the money laundering, decided it might be useful to be able to blackmail some of the same people in the future, and waved off the people that would have normally prosecuted him for the money laundering, blackmail, and underage prostitution.

        • baconbits9 says:

          Or he wasn’t honest about his stated wealth and his attempts to run with the wealthier crowd were an impetus to commit pretty terrible acts to maintain the facade.

        • John Schilling says:

          Or he was running the blackmail scheme on his own behalf, and that’s where he got his money from, but an intelligence agency noticed the money laundering,

          The intelligence agency seems a wholly unnecessary addition to this hypothesis, and explains nothing that isn’t already explained by the things we know Epstein was doing plus the hypothesis that he was engaged in blackmail for his own reasons.

          • Another Throw says:

            Well, aside from Alexander Acosta’s widely reported claim that Epstein “belonged to intelligence” and that he should “leave it alone,” which was why he cut him such a cushy non-prosecution agreement.

            Maybe Acosta made up what he thought was a unfalsifiable lie in order to get a job with the administration. (But how keen is Trump going to be to keep you around if he finds out you lied, especially when all the intelligence agencies are about to be nominally working for him?) Maybe Epstein had well connected friends that called up Acosta and came up with an unfalsifiable lie. Maybe Acosta never said it, and newspapers are just selling sensational dross.

            But, like, this is the only reason anybody is talking about intelligence agencies in the first place. And if we’re going to be having some conspiracy porn—I was told there would be conspiracy porn!—that is about the only way you get there.

            It is highly unlikely that any intelligence agency would have Epstein in the loop on the intelligence agency part. You will also notice that I didn’t say, necessarily, that US intelligence are the ones that noticed his blackmail and thought it would be useful. It is possible that Acosta’s “they told me” was referring to US counterintelligence not wanting to spook Epstein’s shadow handlers.

          • nkurz says:

            There are various not-very-reputable news sources that are making specific claims about Epstein’s ties to intelligence services. This one — part of a multi-month series — strikes me as one of the more plausible: https://www.mintpressnews.com/ari-ben-menashe-jeffrey-epstein-ghislaine-maxwell-israel-intelligence/262162/

            I don’t have enough background to say whether the reporting is actually true, but nothing about it immediately makes me think that the reporter is insane or deceitful. Maybe it’s just superficial, but my impression is that the writer is trying to be accurate. I’d be interested in reactions from people with greater knowledge.

          • nkurz says:

            I’ve tried a few comments, but they were eaten, presumably because of the link. If you search for something like “Whitney Webb Epstein Ari Ben Menashe”, the first hit should have some specific claims that have some explanatory power. I have no idea whether one should trust these claims, but superficially the series it is part of feels to me like a reporter who is trying to uncover the truth. I’d be interested in others’ reactions.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Well, aside from Alexander Acosta’s widely reported claim that Epstein “belonged to intelligence” and that he should “leave it alone,” which was why he cut him such a cushy non-prosecution agreement.

            Which is consistent with either Acosta making it up to cover-up for whoever pressured him not to prosecute, or Acosta being indeed pressured by intelligence agencies, but not because Epstein “belonged” to them, but because Epstein had some shit on some intelligence bigwig or politician with enough clout to pressure intelligence agencies *cough*Clinton*cough*.

          • pontifex says:

            Epstein wasn’t exactly subtle about what he did. He was a repeat offender with a paper-thin alibi for where he got his money. He had a huge contact list, and surely some of those people dropped a dime on him.

            This is like Walter White putting up billboards across town advertising meth for sale at his address, and the cops sitting on their hands.

            Plus, I mean… what Acosta said. Duh.

      • Could he have gotten the money by putting investors’ money in the Monkey Dartboard Index Fund?

    • Aftagley says:

      If there is any kind of debate, I’m fairly confident (+85%) he killed himself and would find arguing that position.

    • aristides says:

      Do not forget the third possibility that I believe, he killed himself, but did so with assistance from someone who wanted him to not talk. He had already had a suicide attempt weeks before his attempt, and was placed on suicide watch. A prior suicide attempt gives me a high prior that this was a suicide. That said, he was taken off of suicide watch quickly, the cameras were malfunctioning, he had no cell mate, and the guards were negligent. These are a lot of coincidences that made it easier to commit suicide, and it wouldn’t surprise me is someone powerful had a hand in at least one of the aspects.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        He had already had a murder attempt weeks before… A prior murder attempt gives me a high prior that this was a murder.

      • pontifex says:

        That said, he was taken off of suicide watch quickly, the cameras were malfunctioning, he had no cell mate, and the guards were negligent. These are a lot of coincidences

        Come on, this is absurd. You can’t really believe this was a suicide. If he literally blew up, you guys would be spitballing about spontaneous human combustion.

        • ECD says:

          Seconding John below, I think you radically overestimate the competence/time/resources of prison guards. Now it can be very hard to tell malice from incompetence, but nothing in what you’re saying provides anything which causes me to shift my priors from incompetence is more likely and a man who has become a pariah and is looking at a lengthy jail sentence where he will be known (justly or not) as a pedophile, with all that implies in our prison system, might kill himself is hardly surprising.

          • acymetric says:

            Yeah, it would be more compelling if suicide in prison was some incredibly rare occurrence that hardly ever happened. Fairly certain that isn’t the case.

            It wouldn’t shock me if at some point in the future we learn it wasn’t actually a suicide, but currently I have no real reason to think it was anything but that.

          • nkurz says:

            @acymetric: > Yeah, it would be more compelling if suicide in prison was some incredibly rare occurrence that hardly ever happened. Fairly certain that isn’t the case.

            While there are large problems with prison suicides, all the reporting I’ve seen says that suicides at the particular facility where Epstein was held (Metropolitan Correctional Facility in NYC) actually are “incredibly rare”. There seems to be only 1 other recorded death by suicide in the last 40 years of operation, and that was over 20 years ago. I don’t know how many prisoners have been held there, and I don’t know how many other deaths there have been, but I don’t think it holds that suicides are common enough to be the default explanation. I’m not saying that one should eliminate the possibility of suicide because of the rarity, but I definitely don’t think you should consider it to be at all a “normal” or “expected” outcome at this particular facility.

          • pontifex says:

            He was already convicted of pimping underage girls in 2008. Prison wasn’t a new experience for him, nor was being known as a pedophile.

          • ECD says:

            He was already convicted of pimping underage girls in 2008. Prison wasn’t a new experience for him, nor was being known as a pedophile.

            Except:

            While most convicted sex offenders in Florida are sent to state prison, Epstein was instead housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Stockade and, according to the sheriff’s office, was after ​3 1⁄2 months allowed to leave the jail on “work release” for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

            That was not going to be an option this time.

      • John Schilling says:

        Come on, this is absurd. You can’t really believe this was a suicide

        I, for one, really do believe he committed suicide. And I’m pretty sure most of the other people saying he committed suicide, really believe he committed suicide. Your understanding of what is or is not possible, would seem to be flawed.

        Or you are posturing for effect, in which case you are not worth engaging here.

    • Suicide. Any potential murderer would have to weigh the possibility that he has some kind of dead man’s switch, and also that killing him would lead to a search for more scapegoats. See:

      https://lionoftheblogosphere.wordpress.com/2019/08/10/i-believe-epstein-committed-suicide/

      • Douglas Knight says:

        killing him would lead to a search for more scapegoats

        Thank you for a nice concrete prediction.

        But let’s make it more concrete. Yes, the American prosecutors have announced that they are turning their attention to Ghislaine Maxwell. There is a separate French investigation of Jean Luc Brunel. So far so good. But how long will this search last? What will happen to the two of them? Will they be prosecuted? Live in exile? Quietly return to the jet set with no explanation? After how many years of no news should we declare it mysterious?

        • Let’s back up here, there are two premises the theory needs to work:

          1. Someone out there had reason to fear Epstein had blackmail material that could be released.
          2. That person concluded that murdering him would decrease the probability of that happening.

          2. is conditional on 1. and I attacked it, but I don’t believe 1. either, apart from Maxwell, who had no reason to think Epstein would turn on her. I wrote about the blackmail theory:

          The theory is unbelievable for a number of reasons. I have right-wing populist sympathies and I don’t particularly like the elite, but I don’t share the common belief that they are sex perverts. Now if you define attraction by older men to younger women as “perversion” then they deserve condemnation, but that isn’t normally done outside of feminist circles. Do I believe many would risk their positions by knowingly sleeping with underage girls? No. Epstein is anomalous in that respect.

          Now what if he tricked his friends into sleeping with underage girls, then tried to blackmail them with the evidence? I don’t think that would work, because the super-rich are very unlikely to go to jail for accidental statutory rape. What about “strict liability?” That’s the kind of crap the peasants have to deal with. If a billionaire were ensnared in it, the legal system might actually start seeing that as an injustice, certainly the maximum penalty wouldn’t apply to that billionaire. And to prove the case, details would have to be provided, the who, the what, the where, and the why, which would implicate Epstein in crimes more serious than the men he was blackmailing. Furthermore, the first guy blackmailed would tell all his friends to stay away from Epstein.

          https://alexanderturok.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/i-dont-buy-the-jeffery-epstein-blackmail-theory/

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Sure, any statement about the world is complicated. When you have a statement of the form A&B, you can break it down as A and B|A or you can break it down the other way. I’d rather start with B because it is concrete and observable in the future. But they are not independent. If Maxwell and Brunel escape justice, this makes the world look more corrupt. This is valuable to know outside of Epstein but it should, I think, raise the credence of A.

            ———

            Statutory rape is strict liability offense for that very reason. I think that the federal sex trafficking offense is pretty strict, too (in the case of minors). So the testimony of prostitutes doesn’t seem like a big obstacle to me. But what if it was? If they drop the charges against Maxwell and Brunel, doesn’t that break your argument? The potential murderer should not have worried about the search for scapegoats.

        • As for Maxwell, prosecutors would have to prove their case in court. Historically, the claims of former prostitutes were considered inherently unreliable. People don’t express this view today so they won’t be cancelled, but many would silently take it into the jury box.

  11. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Which science fiction author is writing this timeline?

    • honoredb says:

      Ursula Le Guin wrote The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas after a prophetic vision of a recent day when U.S. news was equal parts Pride Month and children being imprisoned in miserable squalor for the vaguely defined greater good.

      Cyberpunk as a genre seems to describe basically everything but the relative paucity of VR.

      But it’s possible that Keith Laumer might be doing some guest writing spots; I hope so.

      • Protagoras says:

        You hope that the occasional lone hero standing up to a horribly corrupt world wins at best very temporary and often purely symbolic victories? Or do you just want giant robot tanks, regardless of the consequences?

      • We’ve got some of the social decay of Cyberpunk, but little real poverty.

        • Another Throw says:

          I am pretty sure LA feels extremely cyberpunk to the burgeoning homeless population.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Cyberpunk never mentioned the public poop of San Francisco as part of futuristic poverty.
            I hope LA is cleaner!

          • Theories explaining the increase in homelessness tend to fall into two categories:

            1. More people prefer homelessness to working.
            2. More people are unable to work and are forced into homelessness.

            Explanations in the first category tend to focus on the inherent motivation of people to work, but another factor is the cost and benefits of being homeless. If you assume the money one can get with begging grows linearly with GDP, and that the costs of food, tents, alcohol, ect. grows slower than income, being homeless should become easier. It’d be interesting to read a cyber-punk story which extrapolated this out, so that you have a society where food and certain durable goods are dirt-cheap but housing is ever more expensive due to regulations. In most cyberpunk it’s a much larger group that is impoverished, and is impoverished through no choice of their own.

          • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

            Wouldn’t it be something that’s already part of cyberpunk?

            When I’m thinking of cyberpunk aesthetic, shanty towns and squatters definitely come to mind. It stands to reason that when enough hobos come together, they’ll start building their own Kowloon and won’t live in tents in public parks any more.

          • Aapje says:

            @Alexander Turok

            Both of those only seem like valid explanations for the homeless who don’t actually live on the streets and who are thus not typically pooping on the sidewalks.

            Aren’t street dwellers primarily severe mental patients and addicts, if not both? Then their general number would depend heavily on things that produce mental patients (like war) and addicts (like doctors being irresponsible with opioids), as well as (a lack of) access to care for mental patients and addicts.

            Of course, the question why the street dwellers live where they live has other components as well.

          • Plumber says:

            …shanty towns

            …Aren’t street dwellers primarily severe mental patients and addicts, if not both?

            Maybe?
            But FWIW a couple of years ago there was a shanty town on 7th Street in San Francisco, and when it was cleared out it was found that most of the residents of the shanties were immigrants from the Philippines, not addicts or mental patients.

        • It also got suburbanization wrong. There is some cyberpunk aspects of big urban areas (http://www.unz.com/isteve/new-breakthroughs-in-san-francisco-standard-of-living/) but it’s not like the working class is flocking to those places.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ll just mention Gladiator-at-Law by Pohl and Kornbluth, which has desperate poverty in suburbs. The suburb was originally called Belle Reve, but by the time of the book it was Belly Rave. Sometimes an author comes up with the perfect detail. I remember the name of the suburb better than the bit about (a television show?) and fighting above a tank full of piranhas.

      • But it’s possible that Keith Laumer might be doing some guest writing spots; I hope so.

        I, for one, welcome our superintelligent tank overlords.

    • EchoChaos says:

      This is the cyberpunk future Neil Stephenson promised us.

      It’s just unevenly distributed.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I’d argue it’s the post-cyberpunk future he promised (Snow Crash, specifically), but otherwise, yeah.

    • Logan’s Run:

      Logan’s Run was filmed in a shopping mall. There weren’t too many shopping malls in 1976 but since then they became ubiquitous.

      Logan’s Run has a scene filmed at a health club, showing people working out. Hardly anyone ever did this in 1976, but since then working out at a health club has become commonplace.

      In Logan’s Run, people don’t get married. When they want to have sex, they go into their apartment, they use their computer to select a sex partner, and then if the other party is willing, they have casual sex. Society hasn’t gone this far yet, but we are a lot further in this direction than were in 1976. Today, the percent of people who get married is lower than it has ever been, and people do use Match.com and other online dating services to find members of the opposite sex.

      {snip}

      And regarding the plastic surgery angle, since Logan’s Run was filmed, there has been a huge increase in the amount of plastic surgery. The movie got that right also.

      In Logan’s Run, people lived in domes because of some unexplained environmental catastrophe that supposedly made the outside unlivable. There hasn’t been an environmental catastrophe, but more people than ever now believe that an environmental catastrophe is coming because of Global Warming, so I think the movie got this half right.

      https://halfsigma.typepad.com/half_sigma/2011/09/how-logans-run-predicted-the-future-now-the-present.html

      • Nick says:

        In Logan’s Run, people don’t get married. When they want to have sex, they go into their apartment, they use their computer to select a sex partner, and then if the other party is willing, they have casual sex.

        Tindr and company are probably an even better example of this than Match.com.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      If this isn’t Heinlein’s “silly season”, I’m sure I don’t know what would be.

    • albatross11 says:

      I’m pretty sure they’ve contracted George R R Martin to write the Syria, Libya, and Yemen storylines.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Facebook discussion of the question: https://www.facebook.com/nancy.lebovitz/posts/10215919448801560

      There are some answers in common, but not a lot.

    • AG says:

      Not SF, but Ryan Murphy.

    • dodrian says:

      Stephen Baxter – I read Titan recently and was struck by how similar it appears to how certain segments of the media like to paint the current landscape: super depressing.

    • Peffern says:

      I have joked with my family and friends for about five years that we are basically just living Snow Crash, so I’m gonna say Neal Stephenson.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Aldous Huxley.

      (I’m stunned this wasn’t an answer by now.)

      • The Nybbler says:

        Can’t be. I’m not all that happy to be a Beta.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          Is a Beta-Minus better or worse than a Beta-Cuck?

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Ah, but you see, you’re not a Beta. You’re a Savage. Or, perhaps, Bernard, prior to “rescuing” John. Or, perhaps, you are John.

          Or perhaps you’re partly Bernard, partly yet another happily somafied citizen. Say, did you catch the latest SF novel / MCU movie / drone model / SSC post??

    • Bamboozle says:

      I sincerely hope it’s Iain M Banks. In terms of fictional worlds I’d want to live in, he wins hands down

  12. jgr314 says:

    [insert your own preferred good-bye message, some options here]

    For Scott himself: I found the main posts useful and will still read them. Thanks for putting so much effort into this public service.

    • Aftagley says:

      Request for Clarification: Are you actually leaving, which would prompt us to say goodbye to you? or are you asking what our favorite goodbye quotes are?

  13. Aapje says:

    To what extent do Jews have a socially acceptable way to be white separatists?

    It seems that it is socially allowed for Jews to restrict their dating pool and Jewish events to ‘cultural’ Jews, which in some/many cases, seems to match about 100% with those who are racially Jewish. Black Jews seem to rarely be regarded as Jews in at least part of the Jewish community, suggesting that race/skin color is actually a important factor that many consider when judging who is a Jew.

    Of course, it is generally considered quite acceptable for non-whites to restrict their dating pool and to build their life around ethnic events/spaces, but in the case of Jews it seems much closer to white separatism.

    Also, this may be a part of the envy that drives some antisemitism.

    • broblawsky says:

      At least within the mainstream Jewish community, being racist to black Jews is still broadly despised.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Do you think that article is incorrect, or is it a minority of Jews doing that, but still having enough of an effect to drive them out?

      • Aapje says:

        @broblawsky

        My comment is not so much about Jews themselves, but rather about the leeway granted to them, where it seems that they can go extremely far (although in liberal American circles, not as far as being explicitly racist).

      • broblawsky says:

        Do you think that article is incorrect, or is it a minority of Jews doing that, but still having enough of an effect to drive them out?

        The latter. I’ve definitely seen this kind of behavior, especially in Israel, and it definitely has a negative impact on the lives of black Jews. It’s just not a behavior exhibited by the majority of Jews, AFAICT.

        My comment is not so much about Jews themselves, but rather about the leeway granted to them, where it seems that they can go extremely far (although in liberal American circles, not as far as being explicitly racist).

        I think anyone displaying this kind of behavior would be called out on it, Jewish or otherwise. There’s just very little awareness of black Jews in general, both within and outside of the Jewish community, and as a result bigotry against them goes mostly unremarked.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          The latter. I’ve definitely seen this kind of behavior, especially in Israel, and it definitely has a negative impact on the lives of black Jews. It’s just not a behavior exhibited by the majority of Jews, AFAICT.

          If there’s a cognitive bias to remember the negative over the positive…
          Let’s say the average black Jew knows 0.5 Dunbar Jews (~75).
          If only 4% of white Jews express bigotry toward black Jews, s(he) will encounter 3 Jewish racists on average. Enough to bias one’s memory if the premise of my first sentence is correct.

    • Plumber says:

      @Aapje says:

      “To what extent do Jews have a socially acceptable way to be white separatists?…”

      Only marrying co-religionists or folks only marrying within an ethnic enclave (i.e. only other Korean-Americans or Polish-Americans) is pretty common and used to be more so, as was and is only marrying one ‘race’, most don’t hassle others about wanting to insure ones kids share their religion, and these days a racial romantic preference is usually unspoken but regarded as much like only wanting to date folks of a certain height, not something to loudly broadcast but usually quietly accepted, but FWIW the best plumber the City and County of San Francisco (who’s not me) is a black man who’s four children have a (white) Jewish mother, the tenants that rented our house right after we bought it were an Asian-American and (white) Jewish couple that have since had three children, and a (white) Jewish teacher I had in the late ’70’s/early ’80’s had a black wife, so from my experience Jews in racially mixed marriages are pretty common, I’d guess on par with Americans of Irish, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese descent marrying each other, and Americans of British, German (Lutheran), and Scandinavian descent marrying each other (in thinking of common ‘mixes’).

      I only briefly skimmed the link you provided, but I’ve read similar anecdotes by black Americans feeling isolated in (non-Jewish) majority white environments, and even more anecdotes by mixed race authors feeling just plain isolated, sad but not very unusual, but I expect that will be less common as integration proceeded, I’ll also not that the author seemed to be coming from a “we should be more welcoming” perspective.

      In my childhood I knew quite a few kids that had one Jewish parent, and none practiced Judaism themselves, their kids will likely just be a sort of general Americans in the same kind of way that no one questioned Eisenhower being the choice to lead the fight against Germany despite having a German surname and ancestors.

      Israel and the U.S.A. are the two nations with the most Jews, and in the U.S.A. Jews are a pretty small minority with historically a pretty high rate of out marriage, so it’s not surprising that those left who still practice Judaism may be more insular.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    • sentientbeings says:

      Hopefully this comment doesn’t come off as antagonistic, but I think you are incorrect about basically everything in your comment (which I do think is an interesting comment nonetheless).

      First, on the general topic of what I’ll call “in-group affinity” (I don’t even want to say self-segregation, because what I’m addressing is broader and weaker than that), it doesn’t imply separatism, let alone white separatism. This point is important for several reasons, not least of which that Jews are or are not counted as “white” pretty much on the basis of making it convenient for people to discriminate against them. Also, take a look at the Israeli Jewish population. It would be downright ridiculous to describe them as white. I’m not an expert on the Israeli dating scene, but I don’t think most folks are making choices based on skin color. American Jews are “whiter” but probably have by far the highest dating/marriage percentage to non-Jews.

      Maybe you can expand on what you mean about “cultural Jews” and “racially Jewish” and the point you are making there. It seems to me you are saying there is some interesting connection between these things. If there is a connection, why should it be surprising/interesting? Of course the people who are steeped in Jewish culture, broadly defined, align with those who are born Jewish.

      On the “separate” part, there is a huge spectrum of behavior that spans very weak above-average association to actual self-segregation, but very little of it outside of nationalism/Zionism/Israel, even the self-segregation component, could accurately be characterized as “separatist.” Even characterizing that aspect as separatist would be a pretty sloppy use of language, IMO. Similarly, almost all of it would apply to any individual cultural segmentation, since those cultural segmentations reflect frequency of interaction with other in/out-group people.

      As far as restricting dating pool and Jewish events, that’s one that varies a lot across time and location even in the last 100 years. I’ll restrict my comments to saying that about 20% of my personal acquaintances around my age raised as Jews in the US have a non-Jewish parent. Among the same (my age, raised Jewish) group, basically none have any hang-ups about dating non-Jews. That doesn’t mean they might not prefer to date one, or especially marry one, but it’s not a bar. I’m not sure what you mean about Jewish events, but I don’t think that’s accurate, either. Substantially less so, in fact.

      I haven’t read your link about black Jews yet, but even if it is accurate, it’s the exception, not the rule. I think @broblawsky phrased it exactly correctly.

      It seems unlikely that mildly restricting dating pools leads to antisemitism. I think that’s bonkers. If we broaden it to other aspects of tribal affiliation, there is some weak case, but I think it would be better to describe it as an excuse or rationalization instead of a cause. One of the historical antisemitic tropes is along the lines of “Jews sticking to themselves” and thereby effecting some kind of conspiracy to the disadvantage of others – this despite that fact that they often “stuck to themselves” because of active, overt, sometimes state-enforced discrimination. Connecting that to dating seems like an enormous stretch.

      I don’t think this “leeway”, as you put it in another comment, exists. It seems to me that most of what you think you have observed is either incorrect or a selection bias. Have you tried comparing historical rates of cross-group marriages under similar circumstances?

      • albatross11 says:

        Somewhere in here is the distinction Nancy made earlier about the difference between “we like us” and “we hate you.” Group affinity is perfectly reasonable, and doesn’t imply hatred or anything.

        A strong desire for your kids to marry within your group is, for various historical CW reasons, considered highly offensive/racist when held by whites. But it’s actually extremely common–not only Jews, but many immigrant groups also have pretty explicit desires of this kind. Indian families apply a lot of pressure on their kids to marry within their jati. And so on.

        • sentientbeings says:

          Yes, well said. The additional point that I think is worth making is that in the United States, particularly the present-day United States, that desire/tendency/what-have-you among Jews is not especially strong compared to other groups, and might even be especially weak (but that’s highly dependent on which groups you select as relevant for comparison). That’s why I wouldn’t characterize it as “white separatism”, “separatism”, or having particular “leeway” even for a more apt characterization.

          Something more plausible would be to say that American whites have less leeway than other groups when selecting solely based on “whiteness,” but evidence suggests that the number of people actually doing that has plummeted in size since the mid-20th century (and since how others treat you is a factor, people can be at least partially excused for being members of that group in the past), and outside very particular contexts (e.g. safety when using race as a Schelling point for joining a prison gang), there isn’t much practical reason to select on white racial grounds in the US, so the negative opinion toward it, and probably categorization of people selecting on that basis as racist, is plausibly justified.

      • Aapje says:

        @sentientbeings

        My point was not that a high percentage of Jews in general (or in the US) is necessarily doing it (anymore), but that those who want to, can do so with a very high level of plausible deniability, openness about it and institutional support for those desires (like JDate).

        Most white people don’t see themselves as white separatists, although many more than those that identify that way do seem to self-segregate, but they can’t really openly say that today in most communities. At most, they can say that they are not attracted to non-whites, although even that is probably very shameful to say in many circles. There is no way that a WDate (White Date) would be allowed to exist.

        In contrast, I think that Jews are able to openly state that they want someone with Jewish culture and can thereby eliminate pretty much all non-whites (sorry, still not considering 9x% of Jews to be of color).

        It’s part of a more general observation, where SJ ideology seems to be one Planck length away from turning on Jews*, as the evidence and reasoning that is used to heavily criticize white people in general, is a lot more applicable to Jews, if you segregate them out, rather than lump them in with white people.

        Again, this is not so much about Jews themselves, but about the way people treat them vs white people. Asians are a bit similar to Jews, in also being more successful than white people, although they do get into the cross hairs of SJ a bit, at least in the case of affirmative action.

        * Although only if you assume that the criticism of white people is a result of weighing the evidence within the ideology, rather than the evidence being selected and the ideology being designed to blame white people, which seems far closer to the truth.

        • It’s part of a more general observation, where SJ ideology seems to be one Planck length away from turning on Jews*, as the evidence and reasoning that is used to heavily criticize white people in general, is a lot more applicable to Jews, if you segregate them out, rather than lump them in with white people.

          But if you segregate them out, they get to be people of color socially, which shields them from the attack. I know it’s adjacent to some nasty stuff, but it does look to me as though Jews dual identity as “white but sometimes not white” allows them to reap the concrete material benefits of whiteness, while also then being able to avoid the downside of being targeted by social justice, because they can appeal to the ethnic perception of what being Jewish is rather than the religious perception.

          • Ketil says:

            Cue the South Park episode Mexican Joker, where Kyle saves immigrant (El Salvadorean?) children from detention camps by converting them to Judaism.

          • Aapje says:

            @Forward Synthesis

            But that doesn’t fit in SJ ideology at all, because they are too successful to be called oppressed, which SJ ideology requires PoC to be, for the claim of white privilege to hold.

            Jews are like Asians, only much more so, because Asians are very good at being useful tools for the truly powerful, but not that great (yet) at being powerful themselves. They are also very good at not being ‘toxic.’ So they can be ignored fairly successfully, to resolve cognitive dissonance.

            This is way harder for Jews, who are more often very powerful and more often toxic (Weinstein, Epstein, Bernie Madoff, etc).

            If Social Justice people would recognize Jews as a separate group, I think that they would open themselves up to extremely obvious criticisms, that are extremely hard to debate against, so they’d have only one real tactic, calling people racist for disparaging Jews.

            It seems to me that SJ advocates are far better off defending the idea that separating out Jews is racist, because criticisms of this stance seem far less strong to most people.

          • But that doesn’t fit in SJ ideology at all, because they are too successful to be called oppressed

            I don’t think this is strictly true. We shouldn’t assume “oppression” is being used in a totally neutral way that every ideological group would treat the same.

            Because intersectional social justice operates on collective reasoning, historical oppression, and class/income tends to go to the bottom of the pile, there are plenty of “people of color” who individually are rich celebrities, but successfully use the language of the oppressed. As long as Jews have some ability to be part of the PoC coalition, they get to do the same thing. A rich Jewish executive can still leverage the long and storied history of Jews being oppressed and always awaiting the next pogrom or expulsion. If this wasn’t true, people wouldn’t even bother making the “fellow white people” tweets of which there are hundreds of examples.

            They are still very much in the firing line of class, wealth, and income based leftism, and obviously in the firing line of white nationalism, but intersectionality is something at least more amenable to the advantage of successful Jewish people in the modern West than traditional leftism. You can be a self-hating white person, giving greater emotional cred to attacks on whiteness, and then be able to fall back on Jewish identity as being a “historically oppressed” one when the consequences come home to roost.

            There’s always a risk that SJ radicals might decide that Jews are tainted with “whiteness” and go after them anyway, but you have to compare that to the inverse radicalism of the right, which wants them dead whichever way it’s spun.

            The strategy can break down and it’s obviously not all peace and rainbows. Sure. See the UK Labour Party, but then you’re importing the Arab Vs Jew conflict into a Western context, and that has more than enough historical weight to start to override intersectionality. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if more UK Jews voted for the Conservatives than Labour. In America, though, there’s no pre-existing interracial or cultural fault lines that stop Jews from falling back on a PoC identity, as long as they either don’t “support Israel” or don’t mention it they’re okay, although the conservative media will use what conflict there is here as proof of leftist antisemitism that’s going to blow the whole thing apart any day now, even if it actually isn’t.

      • “Jews are or are not counted as “white” pretty much on the basis of making it convenient for people to discriminate against them”

        Antisemites often claim that Jews identify with whiteness only when it is convenient, to appeal to their “fellow white people,” while continuing to view non-Jewish whites as an outgroup. They claim that when Jews sneer at “white people,” what they usually mean is “the goyim.”

        “Also, take a look at the Israeli Jewish population. It would be downright ridiculous to describe them as white.”

        Most Sephardi Jews would indeed be regarded as white in America, just as Middle Eastern Christians like Ralph Nader are regarded as white. In Israel, too, at least one Sephardi Jew thinks “Israel belongs to the White man:”

        https://www.haaretz.com/israel-s-new-infiltrators-law-comes-into-effect-1.5167886

        “It seems unlikely that mildly restricting dating pools leads to antisemitism. I think that’s bonkers. If we broaden it to other aspects of tribal affiliation, there is some weak case, but I think it would be better to describe it as an excuse or rationalization instead of a cause.”

        The idea is not so much that it’s the restricted dating and the tribal affiliation per se that causes antisemitism, but this in combination with the alleged Jewish push to pathologize the very same things when done by non-Jewish whites.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Most Sephardi Jews would indeed be regarded as white in America, just as Middle Eastern Christians like Ralph Nader are regarded as white.

          Conversely, I’ve seen many American leftists use the term “brown people” when they obviously mean “Muslims.”*
          Apparently theology changes your race.

          *In Britain, ruling class media is mocked by the Right for using “Asian” to mean “Muslim.”

          • Lambert says:

            Wasn’t this a thing in Crusades-era fiction?
            Saracen converts suddenly turning white.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Lambert

            I haven’t heard of this, and now am really curious. Do you have a piece that shows the example?

        • Aapje says:

          @Alexander Turok

          It seems to me that it’s a general human trait to switch identities/ingroups when convenient (in particular when it favors oneself).

          For example, when our national sportsball team wins, ‘we win.’ Yet when a politician I dislike bombs a country against my wishes, people are much more likely to attribute that to the specific politician or his party, rather than blame ‘us.’

          I’d think that Jews would be just as prone to do this as anyone else, when they can get away with it, and are probably given more leeway to do this.

          The idea is not so much that it’s the restricted dating and the tribal affiliation per se that causes antisemitism, but this in combination with the alleged Jewish push to pathologize the very same things when done by non-Jewish whites.

          Or even just the greater leeway given to Jews to do the same things that quite a few gentiles want, as well as their greater success at it.

          A study into the ‘thermometer’ ratings people give to groups suggests that people’s feelings about groups become greater (more positive or more negative), the more power they feel the group has.

          This seems rather logical. The more powerful a group is, the more they can turn their wishes into reality. If you are outside of the group and believe them to be altruistic or you believe them selfish, but belong to the group, you’d logically feel good about how they use their power. Yet if you are outside of the group and believe them to be selfish or you believe them overly altruistic, but belong to the group, you might not be so happy with how they use their power.

        • @Alexander Turok

          Antisemites often claim that Jews identify with whiteness only when it is convenient, to appeal to their “fellow white people,” while continuing to view non-Jewish whites as an outgroup.

          There’s certainly something to be leveraged there with respect to intersectionality, since you can get points for attacking white privilege while benefiting from the aspects of white privilege that genuinely exist, but I think only a minority actually are leveraging it. It’s also not a coordinated central strategy or some kind of racial trait of Jews like Antisemites think, but American Jews are left leaning enough, and there enough examples of the “white but sometimes not” phenomena on Twitter for people to reasonably entertain the idea that it’s some notable fraction of Jews within radical social justice circles.

          @Aapje

          I’d think that Jews would be just as prone to do this as anyone else, when they can get away with it, and are probably given more leeway to do this.

          The Jewish identity is widely known as an “ethno-religious” identity; it has a racial (socially constructed or otherwise) component and a religious component. Jews would be just as prone or not as people, but the identity of being Jewish allows you easier access to this strat than people who aren’t ambiguously white.

          I, for example, am totally unambiguously white in a way where I wouldn’t be able to say “White people suck” and then switch to “As a non-white, we should do X” at a later time when the first instance has been memory holed. That strat simply isn’t available to me. It’s not some circular “culture of critique” stuff, but merely that Jewish identity is categorized in a way where Jews (Ashkenazim living in the West really) are ambiguously white.

          Possibly hispanics could play this same strat since they are white or not white depending. Race as far as the categorizations go anyway, is all linguistic conventions, and obviously linguistic conventions are ripe for advantageous usage.

          • Aapje says:

            @Forward Synthesis

            The statement you quote refers more to Jews being able to act in ways that result in a very ‘white separatist’ outcome, while having reasons for it that are considered extremely legitimate, not so much a blatant and crude:
            Mask on – now I’m white.
            Mask off – now I’m a PoC.

            Let me give an example: the leader of a far-left Dutch political party switched her kids from a ‘black school*’ to a more ‘white school.’ Before the switch, she talked about wanting to do so, for reasons that seem way more right-wing than left-wing:
            – my children are not a social experiment
            – I hear a lot of awful stories from other parents
            – Islamic girlfriends of my daughter have conflicting cultural norms, not wanting to come over to play when only my boyfriend is home, making my daughter more lonely

            When she did actually switch, she suddenly refused to talk about the reasons, claiming to protect the privacy of her kids. The right had a field day with this and her earlier statements.

            If she had been Jewish and would have initially or later placed her children in a Jewish school, the end result would have been that her children would be on a school that is whiter than any gentile school in Amsterdam, yet any charge of left-wing hypocrisy would have bounced off if she had argued a desire to raise her children in the Jewish traditions.

            Yet if she had argued that she wanted to place her children in a white school to raise her children in the Dutch traditions, that would be considered nationalist and thus right-wing.

            * In the Dutch context, this is non-white, not actually black.

          • LadyJane says:

            If she had been Jewish and would have initially or later placed her children in a Jewish school, the end result would have been that her children would be on a school that is whiter than any gentile school in Amsterdam, yet any charge of left-wing hypocrisy would have bounced off if she had argued a desire to raise her children in the Jewish traditions.

            I’m genuinely confused here. In terms of the actual lightness of people’s skin, an all-Japanese school would likely also be whiter than any other school in Amsterdam. But “White” is an ethnic descriptor, it’s not literally defined by the exact shade of someone’s skin. For instance, an extremely pale European isn’t considered more White than someone from the same ethnic group with skin that’s three shades darker. And non-European Albinos aren’t considered White at all, despite having the palest skin of all.

            Ethnic Jews have Caucasian facial features and they’re not particularly dark-skinned (some are fair, while others are tan or light brown), but the same is true for plenty of other Middle Eastern and South Asian ethnic groups, to say nothing of East Asians. They’re also legally considered White for the purposes of the U.S. Census Bureau, but again, so are Turks, Arabs, Persians, Indians, and so forth. None of that means they’re considered “White” in the public eye.

          • Aapje says:

            @LadyJane

            Like I said, Dutch ‘black schools’ don’t actually have that many black people. A school with many rather pale people of Turkish and Moroccan descent is ‘black.’ It’s not literally about skin color.

            It’s just a simply way to express it, that doesn’t require complex cultural explanations that involve behaviors that make you successful and fit in, where sometimes the latter is at the expense of the first and people countersignal and etc, etc.

            And no, non-assimilated Japanese people in The Netherlands are not white in this sense, although they aren’t black either.

            PS. I bet that white supremacists aren’t going to be nice to a white person who acts like the stereotypical rapper. It’s not even purely about race for them either.

          • CatCube says:

            @Aapje

            PS. I bet that white supremacists aren’t going to be nice to a white person who acts like the stereotypical rapper.

            “Wigger” is the typical slur for this. It’s a contraction of “white” and exactly the word you think.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Aapje: Racial classifications in your country seem to be subtly different than they are in the US.

            Legally, the US Census groups people into one of five racial categories: White (which includes Jews, Slavs, Arabs, Indians, and basically anyone with Caucasian features), Black (which exclusively describes people of Sub-Saharan African descent), Asian (which refers to East and Southeast Asians, but not to people from the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia, or Russia), Native American (which exclusively describes people from indigenous American ethnic groups), and Pacific Islander. There’s also a category for people of mixed race, and an ethnic distinction between Non-Hispanics and Hispanics, regardless of their racial classification.

            Culturally, however, the definitions get a bit more blurred. Most Americans don’t consider Middle Easterners and Indians/South Asians to be White, they’ve viewed as distinct races in their own right. Likewise, most Americans consider Hispanic to be a distinct race, so even White Hispanics are not usually considered White (though Black Hispanics are usually considered Black in addition to Hispanic). More broadly, Arabs and Indians and Hispanics are all considered “brown,” as they’re neither White nor Black, nor “yellow” (East/Southeast Asian) or “red” (North American Native). There are also various racial sub-categories that people use; for instance, Caribbean immigrants are seen as racially distinct from Sub-Saharan African immigrants, who are both seen as distinct from African-Americans whose families have been in North America since antebellum times, even though they all fall under the supercategory of Black.

            As for Jews, whether they count as White depends on a variety of factors. Israelis and other Sephardic Jews who look Middle Eastern are considered “brown” just like their Arabic cousins. Ashkenazi Jews who look European are considered White in most of the country, but they’re still viewed as distinctly non-White in a few places. Furthermore, even in places where they count as White, they’re usually seen a different type of White, which is not the case for other European ethnic groups (e.g. Brits and Frenchmen and Germans and Spaniards and Italians are all seen as the same type of White). There’s a similar distinction with Russians and other Slavic peoples (i.e. those from Eastern European, Central Asian, and North Asian ethnic groups), where there’s still a small but not insignificant minority of people who consider them non-White, as well as a much larger segment of the populace that sees them as “White, but in a different way than Whites from North/West/South Europe.”

            As far as Social Justice is concerned, I’d say that the Social Justice movement doesn’t really believe that “White” exists at all. SJ advocates wouldn’t frame the question as “are Jewish people White?” because that’s a nonsensical assertion in their worldview, they’d frame it as “do Jewish people benefit from Whiteness?,” to which the answer is probably something like “the ones who look White usually do, but not always.”

          • Aapje says:

            @LadyJane

            As far as Social Justice is concerned, I’d say that the Social Justice movement doesn’t really believe that “White” exists at all.

            If white doesn’t exist, then how can there be white privilege that depends on how you look? Or how can people be said to pass or have white privilege due to a light skin color and other Caucasian features?

            If you mean to say that Social Justice people tend to argue that race doesn’t exist, then I agree, but the rejection seems to typically be of the idea that non-white people are genetically different in their abilities, desires, etc, rather than that there are no cultural differences or specific genetic differences like skin color.

            A lot of the non-SJ references to race/ethnicity are similarly focused on culture (like people who have black culture and/or a criminal culture) or skin color, rather than genetic differences in ability, desires, etc as well.

            So I think that you (and many SJ advocates) are trying to draw a sharp line between SJ advocates and others that doesn’t really exist.

            Racial classifications in your country seem to be subtly different than they are in the US.

            Our country didn’t have domestic slavery and thus more than a handful of black people, until black migrants came primarily from the ex-colonies very recently (50 years ago or so). Other non-white people were also present in negligible amounts until about the last 50 years as well. Most of the non-whites that came to my country migrated more or less concurrently during this fairly recent period, resulting in a lot of migrant neighborhoods and schools (as some of these groups were really effective at driving out (white) natives, who got upset at the large cultural differences, creating segregation).

            In contrast, the US had and has truly black neighborhoods, black schools, etc. Furthermore, the legal history is quite different, with black schools and neighborhoods being pretty much mandated by the existence of Jim Crow laws. So if you were to use “black school” for a mixed school with few whites in the US, you wouldn’t have a term for a school with mostly actual blacks.

            As the latter doesn’t exist in my country, there is no need for a term that refers to a school or neighborhood that is dominated by actual black people. So people simply used an inaccurate, but still rather clear term, referring to those mixed schools and neighborhoods as ‘black.’

            Note that this doesn’t mean that the people who make a school or neighborhood ‘black,’ are actually black themselves.

            A school with a certain percentage of first or second generation Moroccan migrants is a black school, but none of those Moroccans are black. Make those Moroccans third generation migrants and suddenly the school is no longer legally* black, even if the people of Moroccan descent look exactly the same.

            In fact, according to the definitions used by the government and semi-government, a school with many first generation Polish migrants is a black school.

            * Although as I noted in another comment, citizens tend to look a lot more at the actual level of integration/assimilation, rather than simply assume that third generation migrants are suddenly indistinguishable from natives.

            Note that my government doesn’t actually have a true concept of black. They track migrant groups, like people from Suriname and the Dutch Antilles, who are pretty much all black in reality, but they actually only look at where people or their ancestors came from.

            In general, my country looks at people much more from a migrant & integration perspective, rather than a racial one. I think this might be confusing for an American.

            Groups that didn’t migrate relatively recently and/or have an identity that is not directly linked to their country of origin, like Jews, are pretty much invisible to the government, aside from when they self-segregate in visible ways, like Jewish schools. But even then the classification is by how people choose to segregate, so the government recognizes Jewish schools, schools for specific religions, schools for a specific way of teaching, etc. So there are only fairly rough guesses how many Jews live in The Netherlands, unlike recent migrant groups, who are tracked way better.

        • LadyJane says:

          Ralph Nader is mostly just considered White because the majority of people aren’t aware that he’s Arabic.

          I’m partially Middle Eastern, and despite being non-religious and coming from a Catholic family, people still typically consider me “brown” and not White.

        • Peffern says:

          Jews are considered white when some lefty SJ type wants to make a point about white privilege and nonwhite whenever some white supremacist wants to make a point about Jews controlling finances/the media/whatever. There aren’t enough Jews for us to have our own say in the matter.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I don’t think that Jewish insularity itself is what drives present-day antisemitism, so much as the obvious hypocrisy of demanding equal access to all parts of the host society while jealously guarding their own carve-outs.

      You still see complaints about Jews having been excluded from country clubs in the first half of the 20th century today, both in print media and face-to-face, yet Jewish country clubs and similar organizations are no less exclusionary than the Anglo-Saxon elites were a century ago. You hear talk of quotas on Jews in Harvard a century ago, yet now the predominantly Jewish Harvard does the same to Asians. Likewise, it’s verboten to criticize Jewish dominance in medicine, finance, entertainment, law, etc all while the organizations decrying white privilege in hiring and promotions are predominantly run and funded by Jews.

      That said, if I was (fully) Jewish I wouldn’t worry about a backlash, at least not until white gentiles are the minority. There’s virtually no race-consciousness among whites, and we’re dying out almost as rapidly as American secular Jews are. The real threat is from newly imported populations with no feeling of blood guilt and stronger ethnic ties.

      • WarOnReasons says:

        Jewish country clubs and similar organizations are no less exclusionary than the Anglo-Saxon elites were a century ago

        How do you know this is true? Do you have some statistical data or is this based on personal experience of being rejected from any such organization? My own experience with Jewish organizations in the US is quite limited but the examples I’ve seen so far (such as the Jewish preschool in my neighborhood) point to the contrary.

        predominantly Jewish Harvard does the same to Asians

        Harvard is not a democracy where faculty votes on the policy (incidentally the Jews are the least likely among Democratic voters to support Affirmative Action). Even if all the faculty there were blonde Aryan-looking Norwegians, the university would still keep discriminating Asians (essentially for the same reasons it used to discriminate Jews).
        Speaking of Norwegians – if Jews are indeed so instrumental in promoting left-wing social agenda how did the Nordic countries managed to get so far left of the US with no significant Jewish population?

        • “incidentally the Jews are the least likely among Democratic voters to support Affirmative Action”

          What do you base this on? According to this liberal Jews are significantly more likely than liberal whites to support it:

          http://www.unz.com/anepigone/support-for-affirmative-action-by-race/

          • WarOnReasons says:

            Some years ago, I’ve seen an opinion poll claiming that slightly over 50% of American Jews oppose affirmative action, more than any other Democrat-voting group. I could not google any similar poll now but the exit poll on Proposition 209 in California suggests similar values. There Jews favored affirmative action by a margin of 58-42, but given that Californian Jews tend to be more liberal than Jews in the rest of the country ~50-50 support seems plausible.

            Regarding Unz – why would you trust data from someone who has already been caught once massaging the data on a related topic?

          • Unz is the website, not the author.

          • Aapje says:

            @WarOnReasons

            This poll shows that only 22% of whites support some AA, with most of those (18% points) wanting race to be a minor factor*.

            The poll shows that Democrats/Dem-leaning people support (some) AA at 36%.

            So if all Jews are 50% or 58% in favor of (some) AA, that makes them over twice as supportive as white people and a lot more supportive than the average Democrat.

            The only way your claim could be true then, is if there is a strong disconnect between those who identify as Democrat and those who actually vote Democrat.

            * Although this seems very subjective.

            PS. Ironically, Asians are way more supportive than whites, despite being the most disadvantaged by AA.

          • WarOnReasons says:

            @Aapje

            Pew polls are known for producing very different results depending on wording. I’m pretty sure that asking “Should disadvantaged minorities be helped by affirmative action?” would give you much higher support for AA than “Should race be a factor in college admissions?”

            Reliably comparing group attitudes on such questions requires using the data from the same polls. The proposition 209 which Jews in California supported by 58:42 margin had the support of 45% of all voters. In the same year 51% of California voters supported the democratic candidate in presidential elections (+3% for the Green party). So, unless Bob Dole and Ross Perot voters made a significant fraction of proposition 209 supporters, this implies that >~75% of California democrats voted in favor of AA.

          • Aapje says:

            Proposition 209 also has an issue: it includes gender. The topic at hand is merely ethnicity.

            Your comment about the question mattering is interesting, because I just found this 2009 poll, which asks the question in two different ways. First, the general support for continuing racial AA (question 11) and second, support for racial AA if it harms white people’s opportunities (question 13).

            The former question has Jews answering substantially lower than the average Democrat, suggesting that Jewish Democrats may be the least favorable of (illusory) non-harmful AA.

            The answer to the latter question, which to me seems more realistic* with regard to the actual trade-off that supporting AA involves, shows Jews answering the same as the average Democrat, at 44%. With Blacks, who vote for Democrats at ~90%, favoring AA that harms whites at 48%, there is presumably another group that has less than 44% support for AA that harms whites, to get to that 44% average over all Democrats. So then Jews would be in the middle.

            * Although still not so much, because a lot of AA seems to have a disproportionate impact on poor/low opportunity whites. Also AA can harm other ethnic groups, like Asians.

          • Plumber says:

            @WarOnReasons > “…I’m pretty sure that asking “Should disadvantaged minorities be helped by affirmative action?” would give you much higher support for AA than “Should race be a factor in college admissions?”

            I’m a California Democrat and that’s true for me, the wording in the first example makes me think of the entry level jobs that the City and County of San Francisco has available for youth who live in a relatively poor (and historically was majority black from the ’40’s on but no longer is).neighborhood which got one of my best co-workers his job (it’s neighborhood based afirmative action, so you don’t actually have to be from a poor or minority family, but so far no one from a “privileged” background has had parents that bothered to move and get their kids a city job that way, the jobs are low paid and entry level, and there’s college internships as an alternative route) which I strongly support.

            Race based college admission preferences I’m against, I support admissions based on one question: “Are you a Californian?”, if yes admitted, if no buzz off.

    • Well... says:

      Are the Amish the OG “acceptable white separatists”?

  14. Anyone got any ideas what to do about this?

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      That’s a short-link. Could you please provide a bit more information about what hides behind it?

    • Aapje says:

      @Forward Synthesis

      Use this or use Windows Loader by Daz (get from a torrent site, where people leave a comment that it is OK).

      If you have a legit key, there is no moral problem with using a activator tool, IMO.

    • @Faza (TCM)

      What? Can only I see it because of cookies? I used a host because I was also going to ask on twitter as well as other places and it’s too long. I’ll just post what I wrote then:

      “Step One: Don’t bother putting an optical drive in my new spare computer.
      Step Two: Buy Windows 7 for £3 because I prefer it over the more recent Windows.
      Step Three: Find out installing Windows 7 to the drive over USB is tricky with newer computers and confirm this for myself when it refuses to carry out the install.
      Step Four: Look this up and work out problem is you need the correct USB drivers in the installation file itself.
      Step Five: Alter installation file using the command line.
      Step Six: It works!
      Step Seven: After installing and accepting the product code, it suddenly decides it’s not genuine Windows after all.
      Step Eight: Look back at original Ebay message with product code, and it says something about how altering the ISO will get it rejected as ungenuine. Duh! Obvious in hindsight! But then… how would the original file include the necessary drivers to your motherboard? I still have the original unaltered file, but it won’t help.
      Step 9: Because as far as USB goes that’s a catch 22: don’t alter the file and you can’t get past the initial screen, do alter the file and you’ll be living with an ungenuine Windows copy. How do people install Windows 7 via USB then?! I could just put a cd/dvd drive in, but I have this horrible suspicion that I’ll need to alter the installation files for that too. I could give in and get – shudders – Windows 10 I guess, but I don’t want to give up on a friend like Windows 7.”

      @Aapje

      Thanks. I downloaded that and will figure it out tomorrow.

      • liate says:

        I think that Faza just didn’t want to click a link without being able to look at the url and make sure it doesn’t look shady first, and since the url to the pastebin you’re using looks like a url-shortening service, they wanted some detail about what it was going to before clicking it?

      • pontifex says:

        You typed all that, but all I saw on the screen was “I need to learn Linux” repeated over and over.

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      Ah, expecting modern computers to be compatible with old software. You’ll probably have better luck waiting until computers have progressed enough that an emulator’s feasible.

    • UPDATE: SOLVED.

      Give e-grats to Aapje.

  15. Ketil says:

    Clare Malone: So how did you come to th[e] opinion [that older people shouldn’t be allowed to vote]?

    Mikayla: If you look broadly at the spectrum of issues that are pretty important — LGBTQ rights, climate change — generally you see more conservative views and more resistance to changes in those areas among older voters. And I think that’s because their values evolved years in the past when society was quite different. And so having this block of people whose views are lagging society more broadly, can, if not be regressive, be somewhat resistant to progress in areas that are important for broader acceptance of more people.

    Jeez. Is this a common sentiment? I mean, lots of people dislike $group for various reasons, think $group’s views on the whole are suspect or immoral, and might even go as far as not really considering them a part of society. I don’t often see it expressed as blatant as this, though.

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/political-confessional-the-woman-who-thinks-older-people-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-vote/

    • EchoChaos says:

      If you rewrite this to change it to “liberal views” and “blacks” or “Hispanics” this woman would be immediately fired from her job and become unemployable.

      I am incredibly impressed that someone baldly stated such bigotry.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        Then again, if you change it to “liberal views” and “Hispanics” you get one of the most common anti-immigration arguments, and one which is widely mistaken for a respectable point of view in those circles.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          There’s a difference between not letting people join the political community and expelling people who are already members of the political community, though.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            It pales to insignificance beside the difference between doing either one for some good reason, and doing either one because the targets won’t vote the way you want.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Why isn’t “Letting in all these people would change the community for the worse” a good reason not to let them in?

          • LadyJane says:

            @The original Mr. X: Because the most objectionable part of Mikayla’s suggestion is the idea that voting rights should be restricted to certain demographic groups on the basis of how those demographic groups tend to vote, which is horrendously and disgustingly undemocratic. It translates to “I only support democracy when people are guaranteed to vote the way I’d want them to,” which is something earnest believers in democracy should oppose as a matter of principle. The distinction you brought up, between not letting certain groups join and actively kicking them out, pales in comparison.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Because the most objectionable part of Mikayla’s suggestion is the idea that voting rights should be restricted to certain demographic groups on the basis of how those demographic groups tend to vote, which is horrendously and disgustingly undemocratic.

            A penny saved is a penny earned. There is no distinction between taking away the vote of old people and bringing in newcomers for the purpose of voting against the preferred candidate of old people. Or I should say any distinction is not relevant to the effect it will have on election results.

            Any effort to alter the demographics of a country or diminish the integrity of election results (e.g., amnesty for illegal immigrants, opposing voter id laws, etc…) translates to:

            “I only support democracy when people are guaranteed to vote the way I’d want them to,”

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @The original Mr. X: Because the most objectionable part of Mikayla’s suggestion is the idea that voting rights should be restricted to certain demographic groups on the basis of how those demographic groups tend to vote, which is horrendously and disgustingly undemocratic. It translates to “I only support democracy when people are guaranteed to vote the way I’d want them to,” which is something earnest believers in democracy should oppose as a matter of principle. The distinction you brought up, between not letting certain groups join and actively kicking them out, pales in comparison.

            Not at all. Democracy only works if everybody’s fundamentally on the same (cultural, political, etc.) page, which means that bringing in a load of people from countries with different cultural and political expectations is going to undermine the democracy. So not letting certain groups join is necessary to keep enough social cohesion for democracy to function. Conversely, disenfranchising a demographic who are already present doesn’t do anything for social cohesion — they’re still present and part of society, after all. If anything, it reduces it, since there’s now a disenfranchised underclass who are presumably quite angry and bitter at having their right to vote taken away. So the difference between not letting certain groups join and actively kicking people out is a difference between an action that helps to preserve democracy and an action that helps to undermine it.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Also, “democracy” just means “rule by the demos”. There’s nothing about it that say the demos must admit anyone who wants to join.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            bringing in newcomers for the purpose of voting against the preferred candidate of old people

            (Emphasis added.)
            {Citation needed.}

          • jermo sapiens says:

            @Paul Zrimsek

            {Citation needed.}

            They dont come out and say it. Sometimes you just need to put 2 and 2 together by yourself. Like when Burisma hired Hunter Biden, did they do so for: a) his expertise, or b) his last name?

            Similarly, when Democrats vote to allow illegal immigrants to become citizens, is it a) out of the kindness of their hearts, or b) the result of a political calculation? Or, asked another way, do you think that if the voting patterns of Hispanics was reversed, the Democrats would be in favor of bringing them in in large numbers?

            I respectfully ask the court to take judicial notice of the fact that politicians (of all stripes) are self-serving hypocrites.

          • LadyJane says:

            @The original Mr. X:

            Democracy only works if everybody’s fundamentally on the same (cultural, political, etc.) page, which means that bringing in a load of people from countries with different cultural and political expectations is going to undermine the democracy.

            I disagree with your premise here. I think immigrants tend to assimilate into American/Western/Universal culture when they actually live among the general populace (i.e. when they’re not isolated in ethnic neighborhoods where they only have contact with other immigrants from the same region, as in Europe), largely because Universal culture is better.

            Polls have consistently shown that roughly 50% of Muslim Americans support gay marriage and believe that homosexuality should be socially tolerated; that’s lower than Mainline Protestants and Catholics (~65%), and considerably lower than non-religious Americans (~80%), but considerably higher than Evangelicals (~30%). That seems to indicate that Muslims have assimilated into mainstream American culture better than Evangelical Christians have.

            Of course, you could argue that my definition of “mainstream American culture” is itself biased toward Blue Tribe values. But they’re the values that the majority of the American population shares, and not just in strongly Blue Tribe areas. And even if they were purely Blue Tribe values, the Blue Tribe is still American. If immigrants were as culturally distinct as you believe, they’d have an entirely different set of values that didn’t fit with the Red or Blue Tribes; if they’re assimilating into the Blue Tribe, that’s proof that they’re assimilating into American culture, even if it’s not the subset of American culture that you prefer.

            @jermo sapiens: Except Democrats support immigration even from demographic groups that are politically mixed (European Jews, East Asians, Indians), lean conservative (Middle Easterners, Afro-Caribbeans, Sub-Saharan Africans), or even largely skew right-wing and typically vote Republican (Cubans and Venezuelans, Russians and Eastern Europeans). I’d also wager that the reason most Latino immigrants support the Democratic Party is precisely because the Republican Party is so strongly anti-immigrant, not because they have some inherent racial or cultural tendency to leftism. In other words, you’re mixing up cause and effect.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I disagree with your premise here. I think immigrants tend to assimilate into American/Western/Universal culture when they actually live among the general populace (i.e. when they’re not isolated in ethnic neighborhoods where they only have contact with other immigrants from the same region, as in Europe), largely because Universal culture is better.

            But immigrants only generally live amongst the general populace when there’s a small amount of immigration; otherwise ethnic neighbourhoods are the norm.

            Polls have consistently shown that roughly 50% of Muslim Americans support gay marriage and believe that homosexuality should be socially tolerated; that’s lower than Mainline Protestants and Catholics (~65%), and considerably lower than non-religious Americans (~80%), but considerably higher than Evangelicals (~30%). That seems to indicate that Muslims have assimilated into mainstream American culture better than Evangelical Christians have.

            I wasn’t talking about what answers people give to some cherry-picked opinion poll, I was talking about issues like “How far do people consider themselves as belonging to the country as a whole, rather than to a particular racial/ethnic/social/sexual group?” and “Do people trust the other side not to try and screw them over when they’re in power?” And on issues like these, the US at the moment doesn’t seem to be doing very well.

          • LadyJane says:

            I was talking about issues like “How far do people consider themselves as belonging to the country as a whole, rather than to a particular racial/ethnic/social/sexual group?” and “Do people trust the other side not to try and screw them over when they’re in power?” And on issues like these, the US at the moment doesn’t seem to be doing very well.

            I don’t think the decay of social trust results from immigration or ethnic diversity. And I don’t believe that preventing immigration will help, nor do I believe that allowing immigration will worsen the problem.

          • Aapje says:

            @LadyJane

            Do you think that greater cultural diversity decreases trust?

            Do you think that migration increases cultural diversity?

          • LadyJane says:

            @Aapje:

            Do you think that greater cultural diversity decreases trust?

            It could, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

            Do you think that migration increases cultural diversity?

            It could, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

          • Aapje says:

            @LadyJane

            Do you think that greater cultural diversity decreases trust in most cases?

            Do you think that migration increases cultural diversity in most cases?

            PS. I would like your answers to reflect the typical scenarios that people are presumably referring to in these kind of discussions, like South American migrants to the US and Syrian migrants to Europe, rather than what I think are very rare, if not non-existent, scenario’s that are theoretically possible.

            PS2. I would be interested in hearing one or more examples of migration that you think increased trust (in the relative short term, the first 100 years after migrating).

        • EchoChaos says:

          Seconding @The original Mr. X

          And I’ll add that “because they vote wrong” is in fact not considered acceptable in elite debate. That’s an argument you get from the Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins of the world, not Jonah Goldberg and cetera.

          • LadyJane says:

            Fair, but I’d wager that the average Red Triber has a lot more in common with Ann Coulter than Jonah Goldberg. Most of them aren’t starting with first principles and coming to their conclusions with rational analysis, they’re going by what their gut instincts tell them, i.e. following the base animal part of their brain with its primitive tribal impulses and sweeping generalizations and unreflective judgments. Or, to put it in Platonic terms, they’re driven by the appetitive soul rather than the rational soul. Most of the Red Tribe is not National Review.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @LadyJane

            Absolutely true. But those kind of Red Triber views aren’t published with this fortrightness in respectable blogs.

            If they are, I will retract this criticism.

          • quanta413 says:

            Most of them aren’t starting with first principles and coming to their conclusions with rational analysis, they’re going by what their gut instincts tell them, i.e. following the base animal part of their brain with its primitive tribal impulses and sweeping generalizations and unreflective judgments.

            “gut instinct” is a good description of the elites on all sides as well although I could do without the rest of your hyperbole. Their justifications are usually more elaborate, but I see no reason to believe the superstructure of elite political belief is worth much. It’s not even that consistent over time. Maybe for a few unusually good philosophers, but doubtful for practicing politicians.

            The fraction of people that work from first principles is low. And it’s honestly better that way. A lot of communists were pretty serious about first principles. Look where that got their countries. I don’t seriously believe that a Catholic communitarian or liberaltarian or an anarchosyndicalist or etc. would do well by first principles either. Although it’s hard to do worse than communism!

      • The Nybbler says:

        While I think that flipping “white” and “black” in arguments like these nearly always results in an argument of the same validity, and flipping “male” and “female” works often but not as much, I don’t think changing the category necessarily does. Just because discriminating agains blacks or Hispanics may be wrong doesn’t mean discriminating against older or younger people is.

        • quanta413 says:

          Agreed, the comparison may even help the “some people are too old to vote” claim in this case. People younger than 18 already can’t vote because they aren’t considered mature enough on average. And there’s no test someone younger than 18 can take to prove mature enough and vote before 18. One can imagine a cutoff on the opposite end too where people past a certain age are considered too senile to vote on average.

          That’s not the reason the original person is giving, but eh.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          Just because discriminating agains blacks or Hispanics may be wrong doesn’t mean discriminating against older or younger people is.

          Good point. We do discriminate against young people, for very valid reasons.

          I would be open to considering the idea of only allowing people to vote if they can demonstrate a basic level of responsibility and commitment to the country. For example, you can only vote if:
          -you are 18
          -you are a citizen (and not citizens of any other country)
          -you pay at least $X in taxes
          -you have children who are also citizens (and not citizens of any other country)

          Of course the Ds would get slaughtered under that proposal and they would flip out at the very notion, but at least these conditions have a rational link to the purpose of voting beyond “I dont like how these old fogeys vote”.

          • DinoNerd says:

            Wow – rule by breeders, exclusion of anyone infertile, and a somewhat contradictory set of policies depending on the value of $X – if low, mildly encourage everyone to drop out of school, enter the workforce, and produce a child – at 18 or just slightly before. Depending on how the tax rules was applied, might have the fun side effect of only allowing breadwinners to vote – not anyone rearing children full time. If $X is high, such that only the well educated will pay that much, you get a different set of dubious side effects. Fortunately it wouldn’t shift behaviour much – judging by voting rates, many people wouldn’t care enough to do anything to get the right to vote.

            And this is before I get to the part of your suggestion that your forsaw, which would specifically impact democrats.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Yeah I’m not saying this is the position I hold, just a quickly formulated proposal if we’re talking about restricting voting to certain subgroups.

            I do think that having children gives people added perspective and more of a stake in the future of their country, leading people to adopting a long view when voting. But I really dislike the idea of preventing people from voting if they dont have kids (for whatever reason). I’ve also thought of giving parents of under-age children an extra vote for each child. But this is impractical also.

            And that’s before you consider all unintended consequences.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think there are probably a lot of ways to get a working democratic system w.r.t. voting eligibility rules. But also, it seems like part of the point of voting is that elections are cheaper than revolutions. If we disenfranchise most of the population, the disfranchised will have little reason to consider our elections legitimate, and indeed may simply decide to refuse to go along. Even if we just get massive widespread noncompliance from people who think the laws / taxes passed are illegitimate and evil, that’s a bad outcome that might be prevented by *not* gaming the voting eligibility rules.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            If we disenfranchise most of the population, the disfranchised will have little reason to consider our elections legitimate, and indeed may simply decide to refuse to go along.

            Absolutely. This is one of many reasons to oppose illegal immigration and amnesty.

          • Aftagley says:

            Or a reason to expand voting rights as quickly as possible.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      Sadly, I’m gonna have to say, yes. “People who hold [political positions I disagre with] should not be allowed to vote” has been a thing since forever. You can find proponents of this idea all across the political spectrum. Awareness of the fact that exactly the same arguments are being advanced against them doesn’t appear to be their strong suit.

      The moment to start worrying is when such people start being treated as someone whose opinions we should be considering in all seriousness – and not “harmless cranks to whom you nod your head and studiously ignore” or “toxic elements that you publicly and vocally distance yourself from”.

      • DinoNerd says:

        This isn’t even that – it’s “people who are members of a group that I can stereotype as holding political positions I disagree with” (Or if you prefer, people who are members of a group which is statistically more likely to hold positions I disagree with.)

    • Two McMillion says:

      I mean, that’s part of a series that deliberately seeks out people with beliefs they’re scared to tell their friends, so there might be a bit of selection bias.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Sure, but I suspect this series will not have a person who believes that blacks/Hispanics/gays/women shouldn’t vote.

        • Enkidum says:

          It already had a woman who said she wouldn’t vote for a female presidential candidate.

          • EchoChaos says:

            That’s a relatively benign personal choice by comparison.

            “I wouldn’t vote for a woman” and “women shouldn’t vote” are dramatically different in scale.

          • Randy M says:

            I believe Ann Coulter has made a case against woman’s suffrage.

            It comes down to whether you think process or outcome is more important. Or maybe, how badly you think people will react to the changes to the process, which for almost any proposal to restrict voting is probably pretty poorly.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          To their credit, the 538 comment section is totally appalled by this one, and are questioning why 538 would run such a thing.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Thanks. +1 credit given to the 538 comment section.

          • Protagoras says:

            Because it’s the point of this series to run things like this? There’s the Millian logic that if nobody is ever allowed to state their bad ideas publicly, the ideas will never be publicly criticized and so they’ll never learn why they are bad ideas.

          • Nick says:

            To the extent 538 is trying to advance views per some kind of editorial policy, this is well worth criticism. It sounds like that’s not what this series is, though. And I think it’s worth airing these views for Millian reasons as Protagoras says.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            There’s the Millian logic that if nobody is ever allowed to state their bad ideas publicly, the ideas will never be publicly criticized and so they’ll never learn why they are bad ideas.

            I’ll go a step further and say that we’ll never learn why they are bad ideas.

            I believe I said this before, but it’s worth repeating: the reason why these open threads are great is that a lot of people with a lot of very different perspectives are able to discuss them openly and (for the most time) civilly.

            Better to jaw-jaw than war-war.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @protogoras:

            I’d argue there are no ‘bad ideas’ — there are True statements, False Statements, and opinions (or statements of value)

            Insofar as it’s purely a value judgement there’s no way to refute it, unless you’re trying to prove that the supported action will have unintended and undesired effects.

          • Protagoras says:

            @RalMirrorAd, And I would say that you’ve provided an excellent example of a bad idea, thus refuting your claim that there are none.

        • Two McMillion says:

          Sure, but I suspect this series will not have a person who believes that blacks/Hispanics/gays/women shouldn’t vote.

          You’re probably right. There won’t be. So what?

          Life’s not fair and never has been.

    • Plumber says:

      “…Jeez. Is this a common sentiment?…”

      Judging by the link itself:

      “…CM: Have you told anyone about this opinion?

      Mikayla: I’ve floated it with younger friends my age and it doesn’t tend to get a lot of traction. I don’t think I’ve gotten any acute pushback on it but no one seems to be that behind the idea either”

      evidentially not, I think 538 is just running out of heterodox opinions for its “Political Confessional” series.

      Man bites dog.

    • Aftagley says:

      So, obviously this idea is stupid. Disenfranchisement is never acceptable.

      That being said, one argument the person made does kind of resonate with me:

      CM:Does that all just come back to, well, our society is ageist and exclusionary when it comes to educating people about technology?

      Mikayla: My response to that would be that it seems that some people are reluctant to do the legwork to learn about new technology. I have a grandmother that doesn’t use email. And when presented with, ‘Oh, this would be a good way for the family to keep in touch,’ she shuts down and says “I don’t want to.” It’s certainly fair that society isn’t doing the legwork, but for some people, there is some internal recalcitrance as well.

      More than any other demographic, the older generation can kind of “drop out” of society. Most of them aren’t going out into public forums any more. They aren’t going to be exposed to new concepts or ideas, they aren’t going to be forced by a workplace to learn new technologies. Heck, even their sources of financial support (pensions, social security, retirement funds) are inoculated from any kind of incremental adjustments. I could see if as potentially damaging to society if an increasing percentage of our electorate is effectively removed from the impact of their votes. The average retiree can keep living like it’s the exact year they retired for the rest of their lives.

      Maybe if old people remained integrated in family structures this kind of detachment wouldn’t happen since they’d be forced to constantly interact with the grandkids and hopefully teach/learn from them… but, come on – it’s 2019. Grandma and grandpa moved to the retirement community in palm beach and they’re not coming back.

      Again, I don’t think this should lead to taking away their right to vote… but I do think there could be a nuanced discussion around the topic of “we are going to have more old people soon than our society is set up to comfortable handle.”

      • AG says:

        It gets into dilemmas of “should one be allowed to vote on policies that will impact other people way more than the voter?” As you say, old people can retreat into their local bubble, and so perhaps shouldn’t have as much influence on if a young person gets fired for their identity, but in the other direction, the young shouldn’t have as much influence on how an old person lives their lives (such as taking away promised retirement funds, or deregulating the elder care industry).

        But it’s logistically hard to verify who’s allowed to vote for what, and our exit rights aren’t nearly as smooth as they should be for the archipelago to actually exist. This is exemplified by the NIMBY debate.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          If you imagine a pay-go retirement scheme in terms of a social contract, the present generation of retirees essentially ‘agreed amongst themselves’ that future generations represent the store of value which they will pay themselves their retirement benefits. This doesn’t apply to defined contribution or fully funded pensions. In that regard I see more justification for a young workers to say ‘you took the low road and we’re not paying for you’.

          • John Schilling says:

            Flip side of that is, the older generation might feel justified in saying “we built a lot of cool stuff, and we’re not obligated to give it to you when we’re gone”.

            Negotiating a settlement that young and old alike can vote on, seems like a more fruitful way of resolving these points of contention than some alternatives I can imagine. And it would be nice to avoid incentivizing the currently-rich-and-productive, soon-to-be-old-and-retired generation to do things like consume it all while the consuming is good, or wiring self-destructs into everything they build to enhance their negotiating position.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The justification doesn’t matter; as long as the Boomers are around the money will flow. As soon as it is time for Gen-X to get our retirement, the dam will break and the old will be fleeced. Not just defined benefit, they’ll probably tax our 401Ks and such. It’s just a matter of numbers.

    • herbert herberson says:

      I wouldn’t actually want this, and none of the arguments she provides are anything more than viewpoint discrimination and trying to shape a more preferred electorate–but I’d be lying if I denied being irritated at the outsized political influence of the demographic that has the least investment in the future. Voting past 80 or so is sort of like queuing up the jukebox with a dozen of your favorite songs five minutes before you leave the bar.

      • AG says:

        queuing up the jukebox with a dozen of your favorite songs

        Well, it’s not unusual

      • Aapje says:

        @herbert herberson

        I’m more upset about the fact that poor & less educated people vote less and are less able to fight for their needs in many other ways. Perhaps a compromise* is to disenfranchise some old people, but also some more educated and richer people.

        This also has the advantage of more or less working against each other in that both the right and the left lose voting groups this way, although that doesn’t make it meaningless, as parties need to appeal more to those who are normally less franchised**.

        * Joke

        ** Idea for a new welfare program: give McDonalds franchises to the disenfranchised.

        • herbert herberson says:

          Agreed.

          And there is a seriously debated and immensely less civically corrosive policy to that end: make election day a holiday (and/or mandate paid time off for voting)

          • Aapje says:

            I don’t think that would make a meaningful difference. The jobless have a ‘holiday’ every day and yet their turnout is abysmal. Turnout of the lower classes and/or less educated seems low because of a fairly justified assessment that competent people are rarely willing to champion for them, any competent person that they vote for will be kept from making meaningful change by the elite and/or they lack the skills to participate in politics successfully.

            A message of hope and change can sometimes pierce this, but it is easily damaged, not in the least because their champion almost can’t but disappoint them (partly due to unreasonable expectations and partially because their champions will actually fail far more than champions of the elite or the (upper) middle class).

            So ironically, having a day off would result in them being about as equally rational, if not more so on this topic than well-educated and upper class David Friedman, who argued that the cost/benefit ratio of voting is extremely poor for the individual.

          • AG says:

            Is the jobless turnout still abysmal in countries with mandatory voting (with the accompanying accommodations as paid time off)?

      • spkaca says:

        “the demographic that has the least investment in the future”

        Perhaps you have been unlucky in the old people you know, but the ones I know care more for their grandchildren than themselves.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          Perhaps you have been unlucky in the old people you know, but the ones I know care more for their grandchildren than themselves.

          You beat me to it. The notion of old people voting against progressives as some kind of inter-generational F-you is beyond ridiculous.

          Grandma is voting for Trump for the same reason she doesnt like your tatoo and she wants you to settle down and have a family, because she loves you.

          • AG says:

            Yep, I’m sure a person is so feeling the love when their grandparent votes for their getting arrested or fired on grounds of who they got married to (whether it be the wrong gender or the wrong race). Disapproval is one thing, in this case they’re actively voting to reduce their grandchild’s standard of living.
            Or that grandparents are definitely thinking with love for how their grandchildren will lose their jobs when Brexit finally happens because the company is pulling out of the UK.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @AG

            That is just a disagreement of values. They are voting for the government to use economic/legal pressure to get them to conform. As an example, if they genuinely believed that married families were better than cohabiting families, voting for laws that benefit marriage over cohabitation to force Johnny to marry Sally IS helping him in their mind, even though it’s penalizing their current situation.

            Or that grandparents are definitely thinking with love for how their grandchildren will lose their jobs when Brexit finally happens because the company is pulling out of the UK.

            Because they believe that Brexit will actually help the UK, not because they want to screw their kids.

            They could be wrong, but they aren’t malicious.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yep, I’m sure a person is so feeling the love when their grandparent votes for their getting arrested or fired on grounds of who they got married to

            Fifteen-yard penalty for overwrought hyperbole. First, voters don’t vote for specific criminal laws, and so can’t vote for anyone being arrested for any specific thing. They can vote for candidates who promise to have people arrested for some thing or another, but there have been damn few candidates in the past few decades who have proposed to arrest people for entering into marriages they disapprove of. And none with any plausible chance of pulling it off.

          • AG says:

            @John Schilling:
            There’s still referendum, which in this age of legislative gridlock, is leading to voters having direct say on more and more policy.

            As for getting arrested, sodomy laws were still on some US states’ books until 2003, and the gay/trans panic defense is still allowable in some states. While anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional in the 60s, language in various state constitutions for them remained until as late as 2000, and even then, the amendments didn’t pass with an overwhelming majority. 8 states still require that marriage license applicants declare their race.

            There are certainly some elderly people who want laws to arrest those who marry the wrong partner.

        • herbert herberson says:

          They love their grandchildren, but they tend to hold their grandchildren’s peers in contempt. The most effective way to meet these twin goals is one that comfortably matches their voting patterns: protect their personal wealth to be passed down to their offspring, while undermining investment in society as a whole.

          Which, to be clear, is not a valid reason to restrict the franchise! Voting is a human right! But it’s valid enough to fuel a little private resentment.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            they tend to hold their grandchildren’s peers in contempt

            It’s perfectly natural for older people to think young people are idiotic. It doesnt mean that they’re voting to hurt them.

            protect their personal wealth to be passed down to their offspring, while undermining investment in society as a whole.

            Old people have a lifetime of accumulated wisdom, and they understand perfectly well that their own grandchildren will not thrive in a society that is not thriving. Or, in other words, if granny disapproves of your polyamourous non-binary lifestyle, maybe it’s not because she’s a hateful bigot.

          • herbert herberson says:

            It’s perfectly natural for older people to think young people are idiotic. It doesnt mean that they’re voting to hurt them.

            I’m not positing spite (or, at least, not as a central example), I’m positing a lack of willingness to invest in a society in which they will not live.

            Vague and unspecified wisdom is nice, but it doesn’t justify making decisions about a foreign country, and that is what the future effectively is for the elderly. Incidentally, I’m not talking about and tbh don’t much care about social issues. I’m talking about Med4All, education, and, most especially, global warming. All of this is quite rational for the elderly to oppose, as it involves short term costs for longer term benefits, and quite rational for me, a younger person, to support.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            All of this is quite rational for the elderly to oppose, as it involves short term costs for longer term benefits, and quite rational for me, a younger person, to support.

            That is your opinion. But there are valid reasons for a person of any age to oppose global warming alarmism and universal health care. Not the least of which, in the case of older people is that they heard about global warming panic for the last 40 years, without any discernible changes in their every day lives, and before that they heard about new ice age panics, and plenty of other panics.

            I also object to the idea that old people vote against global warming alarmists because they dont care what happens after they die. That is a horrible slander. Old people very much care what happens to the world in which their children will live.

            Vague and unspecified wisdom is nice, but it doesn’t justify making decisions about a foreign country, and that is what the future effectively is for the elderly.

            In no meaningful sense is the future a foreign country for old people. Even if they wont be a part of it, they will have helped to shape it and they will have learned a tremendous amount along the way.

            I’m not sure how old you are (other than “young” as you admitted), but I presume you are wiser now than you were 5 years ago, and less wise than you will be in 5 years. If you agree that is the case, maybe you should assume the same of others also.

    • Notice that a lot of arguments from the left these days are about how any institution that isn’t dominated by them is inherently illegitimate.

      • Aapje says:

        Although the right obviously also complains that institutions that are too left-wing are illegitimate.

        • Maybe, but saying that the Supreme Court is illegitimate because conservatives have a slight majority is a more incendiary statement than saying the media is illegitimate because they consistently lie.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That’s like saying Republicans issue with Booth was that he ruined the play and insulted the Union.

          • Aapje says:

            @Wrong Species

            “Everyone” thinks that their ideological opponents tell falsehoods/lies way more than their allies and that it is horrible/illegitimate if policy/law is based on those falsehoods.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Spare me your surprised, hypocritical indignation.

      At some point in the last two or three months you guys seriously debated the idea of how desirable it would be to disenfranchise vast swathes of America by going back to “only landowners”.

      No, I don’t endorse the idea, but the fainting couch spell that anyone could hold such horrible ideas … color me unimpressed.

      • Plumber says:

        @HeelBearCub

        “…the fainting couch spell…”

        That’s pretty funny!

        IIRC the “return the franchise to just property owners” thread the OP seemed to start with (paraphrasing) “I don’t like paying taxes especially towards redistribution/social safety net ends, how do we limit voting to people who agree with me?”, and the linked Let’s have old people not vote idea seems to stem from a similar impulse if not political goal.

        I will say though that young voters already are a big enough percentage of the population to swamp the numbers of the elderly who vote if they bothered to and got organized.

        I myself advocate limiting the franchise to blue-collar workers without a college diploma who married someone with a college diploma, have mixed race kids, live within a mile of a public library, drive a car made in ’91, but have a spouse who drives a Prius, are really good looking, and are filled with a stunning amount of humility!

        I’d add some more conditions but I’m afraid of who’s head would be on a pike if the non-voting majority didn’t like what was decided, ‘sides, I really have no idea of what foreign policy should be so others need to chime in anyway.

        • albatross11 says:

          The traditional way to simplify this is to simply choose the oldest male descendant of the current leader as the only one who gets a vote. I think there’s still a Hapsburg running around somewhere, so we could recruit him. (There’s been a great shortage of Romanovs since 1918, so we can’t ask them.)

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            “One man, one vote.” I like it!

          • Nick says:

            You’re thinking of Eduard Habsburg, Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See. If you have a Twitter, follow him!

          • albatross11 says:

            Though in California, I suppose we’d need to find out if Emperor Norton left any acknowledged heirs….

          • albatross11 says:

            I liked the post where Eduard Hapsburg comments on his good interactions with Mrgr Borgia. If you’d told someone 400 years ago that a Habsburg and a Borgia would be interacting in some important role in 2018, they would have nodded like you were predicting that the sun would rise in the East tomorrow….

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        The way I remember it, the criterion was “part of a household that pays a minimum threshold of taxes”, the rationale was to “extend the solvency of democracies if only taxpaying households had a say in what is done with those taxes” and the discussion could be summed up as “here’s all the reasons why this is a bad idea”.

        Were people “seriously debating” it? I suppose you could say so. It’s not an ostensibly unserious proposition. Nor is “old people shouldn’t vote because they aren’t able/willing to keep up to date with the problems of today”. It doesn’t mean that the premise is true, but if it is, it’s something worth considering if our interest is good governance.

        “Old people shouldn’t be allowed to vote because [wrong politics]” isn’t a proposition to be taken seriously, any more than “HeelBearCub shouldn’t be allowed to vote because [wrong politics]”. Basically, the moment you say that your policy is the only true and good one, to the point of suppressing dissent, you’ve disqualified yourself from democratic discourse. The term for “one and only true and good policy” is dictatorship.

        Even if you think a dictatorship doesn’t sound so bad if it implements your idea of a good policy, never, ever assume you’re gonna be the one holding the stick – and you really don’t want to be on the receiving end of the beating. Rejecting this line of thought is in everyone’s best interest.

        • Aapje says:

          Many countries used to restrict voting that way, including my own, so that would make it a historically serious proposition, at least.

        • zzzzort says:

          What if instead of complaining that old people have the ‘wrong’ position on social, I say that old people have an ‘outdated’ position on social issues. They didn’t get the memo (sometimes literally, without email) that society decided some things were ok. In that sense it isn’t viewpoint discrimination, the views are just evidence that that cohort of people has stopped updating their outlook.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            “My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.” –GKC

      • Dan L says:

        At some point in the last two or three months you guys seriously debated the idea of how desirable it would be to disenfranchise vast swathes of America by going back to “only landowners”.

        As the two who beat me to it point out, there was a similar but not-quite-that thread less than two weeks ago, might’ve been one closer to your description further back. But the answer to the root question does seem to be “Yes, shaping the outcome of American politics by tinkering with the franchise actually is a common recurring proposal – SSC very much included.”

      • quanta413 says:

        Spare me your surprised, hypocritical indignation.

        At some point in the last two or three months you guys seriously debated the idea of how desirable it would be to disenfranchise vast swathes of America by going back to “only landowners”.

        Was one of those people Ketil? The person who made the original post. Most people don’t seem surprised or indignant. I’m only counting 1 after Ketil.

      • EchoChaos says:

        I am not angry that someone holds this view.

        I am pointing out the hypocrisy of allowing a left-wing “alter the voting populace to get our results” but not a right-wing.

        If FiveThirtyEight publishes a confessional that “I don’t think women should vote” for example, I will retract my criticism.

        But all of theirs so far, with the exception of the woman who only votes for men (and her view is VERY soft on this), code Blue or Gray tribe.

        • Dan L says:

          To be clear here: are you saying that “I don’t think women should vote” is a core Red Tribe value and its exclusion shows bias, or is “I don’t think women should vote” just an extreme enough position that it serves as a useful right-wing virtue signal?

          • EchoChaos says:

            I am saying that “I don’t think women should vote” is an extreme Red Tribe position in roughly the same way that “I don’t think old people should vote” is an extreme Blue/Gray position.

            Both are not acceptable core values for the tribe, but are roughly accepted as extreme positions within the tribe, albeit controversial ones.

            By only showcasing extreme Blue Tribe positions in this series, the effect is to move the Overton window left (lots of people have controversial positions to the far left!) and shrink it to the right (nobody has controversial positions to the far right!)

            I don’t know if this is their intention or just a natural outcome of their bias.

          • Nick says:

            Isn’t showcasing extreme Blue Tribe positions as likely or more to backfire and generate ridicule? As in fact happened in the 538 comments section?

            Or from the other direction, is Breitbart moving the Overton window left by reporting on the latest stupid thing said on tumblr?

          • Aftagley says:

            It could just be that no one with your viewpoint has signed up to participate. Do you have any interest in registering to participate in their dialogue?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Nick

            Exposing to mockery and discussing seriously are different.

            When experts sit down and say “let’s have a serious discussion about X” then a natural assumption is that smart people can hold views on both sides, which makes both sides more appealing.

            This is why, for example, evolutionists refuse to debate creationists.

            @Aftagley

            That is a possible reason. Given that zero extreme right positions have been showcased, I don’t find it plausible.

            As I said, if they start showcasing extreme right positions, I will retract this criticism.

            I have no interest in personally jumping in this briar patch for many reasons.

          • Nick says:

            @EchoChaos

            Exposing to mockery and discussing seriously are different.

            When experts sit down and say “let’s have a serious discussion about X” then a natural assumption is that smart people can hold views on both sides, which makes both sides more appealing.

            This is why, for example, evolutionists refuse to debate creationists.

            I agree! But I don’t think that applies to this case. The intent and execution of the series don’t seem to lend much legitimacy to Mikayla’s views.

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos > “..I don’t know if this is their intention or just a natural outcome..”

            My wild guess based assumption is this is from a “blue bubble” effect.

            Journalist hear from those they have coffee with, and write it up (or those they have coffee with are those who hear the invite to contribute), and the scribbling class leans blue (both ‘tribe’ and Party).

            I’m reminded of a couple of months ago when The New York Times, Vox, et cetera had a bunch of pieces along the lines of “How can Biden be the Democratic nominee front runner?”
            “Well it turns out that black, old, and red state residing (often the same thing) Democrats are relatively more moderate than the people we know and went to school with.”
            “Who knew
            ?”

          • Nick says:

            @Aftagley
            I submitted to the form you linked! Let’s see if 538 wants to air my views.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Nick

            Cool! Dare I ask what the viewpoint you submitted was? or would that no longer make it a position you’re afraid to share?

            Also – side note – I was recently reading the comments below the American Conservative review of “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” and saw your familiar orange-haired avatar. I don’t have a point here, it’s just cool seeing SSCers outside the normal habitat.

          • Nick says:

            I’ll link it if 538 is interested. 🙂

            Also, they’re earmuffs! But yeah, I read Rod Dreher sometimes. I would have posted here about “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”, actually, if I could have gotten hold of a script.

          • Dan L says:

            @ EchoChaos:

            By only showcasing extreme Blue Tribe positions in this series,

            Given that zero extreme right positions have been showcased,

            These are very different things, and equivocating between them leaves you defending absurdities like the notion that “the United States should implement mandatory military service for all young men and women” is an extreme Blue Tribe position. I strongly recommend you read a few more of the articles before forcing a narrative.

            I’m having trouble getting decent popular support data on the franchise questions; they’re well within the range where Lizardman noise is a significant factor – the equivocation excludes 80% as a lower bound. I think this is an excellent example of where “Tribe” language does more to gild sterotypes than point to real phenomena. Contrast that with polls that use party affiliation in the crosstabs – “registered Republican” doesn’t necessarily give you a consistent ideological standard, but it has the advantage of being something concrete.

            the effect is to move the Overton window left (lots of people have controversial positions to the far left!) and shrink it to the right (nobody has controversial positions to the far right!)

            Way too squishy of a just-so story. If anything, I’d think it would be easier to argue that a hypothetical juxtaposition of highly unpopular “far left” views and actually pretty mainstream bipartisan ones would be an effective showcase of the opposition’s absurdity.

            More broadly, this is why I really don’t like judging news sources on signaling grounds – too many degrees of freedom to let one claim illegitimacy.

          • John Schilling says:

            These are very different things, and equivocating between them leaves you defending absurdities like the notion that “the United States should implement mandatory military service for all young men and women” is an extreme Blue Tribe position.

            It’s certainly an extreme position by modern standards.

            And the version that applies to men and women, that in the first paragraph admits that it is mandatory national service that is only going to be military for the people that chose that path, that claims a justification that is three parts social engineering and one part making the government reluctant to start wars, and has zero mention of military readiness, that’s not the extreme Red Tribe version of the draft.

            Not perfectly aligned with Blue Tribe’s normal moderat-to-extreme axis either, but I don’t think it is an “absurdity” to suggesit is coming from a generally Blue-ish space.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I tend to agree with Nick that I don’t think EchoChaos is correct about this sort of thing shifting the overton window left. If it was something that piggybacked off of “share your extreme views” to “here’s respectable thinkers steelmanning them”, that would be different, but as is I think the net effect of something like this is pretty much neutral. Also, Echo, you’re making the mistake of conflating “left wing” and “Blue Tribe” again. That said, Dan L, I think you chose a bad example, because:

            the notion that “the United States should implement mandatory military service for all young men and women” is an extreme Blue Tribe position.

            Is definitely a Left Wing position, enough so that I’m not sure it could be classified as an extreme one. Maybe you don’t remember, but “Bring Back The Draft” is something floated semi-regularly by the more left-wing Democrats in congress and the senate, for example several times from 2003-2008. Sometimes they manage to find a token Republican to make it bipartisan, but that’s been increasingly less common. The usual rationales are:

            A) Forcing the military to operate by conscription rather than voluntary service will force the US to engage in fewer and smaller military interventions abroad.

            During the 2003-2008 window, the relative strength and popularity of the anti-war movements in the Vietnam era vs. the GWOT era were often brought up and used as an argument to support A).

            B) An All-Volunteer Force disproportionately attracts volunteers from the working class and lower-middle class. This allows the rich and social elites to avoid having skin in the game when it comes to military conflicts. Forcing a draft-based military model would be more democratic and spread the burden of military service and combat deaths more evenly throughout society.

            Now, as noted, that it’s a left-wing position in modern politics does not necessarily make it a Blue Tribe one, but I’ve mostly seen it espoused by Blue Tribe politicians and writers, with the only Red Tribe supporters being those aforementioned token Republicans supporting the bills, usually on the idea that it might spark more patriotism and national pride those darn slacker kids these days.

          • Dan L says:

            @ John

            that’s not the extreme Red Tribe version of the draft.

            I don’t believe anyone said it was, which is rather my point.

            coming from a generally Blue-ish space.

            It is nearly as important with the rhetorical as with the kinetic, to distinguish between sender and receiver. The heuristic that disregards both proposals that advance Blue goals and those that are pitched to be more palatable to Blues is coming very close to selecting against competence.

            That said, Dan L, I think you chose a bad example, because:

            the notion that “the United States should implement mandatory military service for all young men and women” is an extreme Blue Tribe position.

            Is definitely a Left Wing position, enough so that I’m not sure it could be classified as an extreme one.

            You can find it on the Left, sure. Slim minority among Democrats, noticeable majority among Republicans, significant plurality overall. I think it’s a very good example in how some folks will see their opponents liking a thing, and assume it is both representative of and limited to that opposition.

      • Ant says:

        And you forgot the discussion about implementing a theocracy.

  16. johan_larson says:

    Resolved: The English language shall henceforth be known as American, after the most influential nation where the language is in regular use.

    You may present opening arguments when ready.

    • jgr314 says:

      Surely you meant to say that it should be renamed Canadian, eh?

    • eric23 says:

      And electrons shall be defined to have positive, not negative, charge.

      What’s a little temporary inconvenience compared to the OCD satisfaction of making things be the way they “should” be?

    • The Nybbler says:

      American, Fuck Yeah!

    • DinoNerd says:

      Let’s explicitly divide it into at least 3 languages:
      – American, with simplified spelling and various other (IMO as a Canadian) deficiencies
      – International English aka ESL-ese, with a different set of simplifications
      – English, aka British, aka the true language.

      If the Aussies want, we can add Australian as its own language.

      [Tongue firmly in cheek]

    • Plumber says:

      @hohan_larson says:

      “Resolved: The English language shall henceforth be known as American, after the most influential nation where the language is in regular use…”

      Or we could skip the interim period of calling the language “American” and just go straight to “Indian”.

    • Aapje says:

      Better idea: revert the great vowel shift and the other nonsense changes to English. In the resulting Babylonian confusion, where Dutch people speak English better than the English or Americans, we can conquer both Great Britain and the US, in a bigger, better version of the Glorious Revolution. It’s high time that the Dutch become a world power again.

      Both of your countries have been making a mess of things, so time for change.

      The new language will be called Dunglish, BTW.

      PS. Also, high German ought to be replaced with low German, of course.

    • S_J says:

      In support of this resolution, an observation provided by a (fictional) American visiting England.

  17. Plumber says:

    An interesting and heartwarming (to me) poll from Pew Research in 2017 on: How Americans Feel About Different Religious Groups (including atheists) in which those polled were asked to rate how warm or cold they felt about othet Americans indifferent sects (and atheists) from 0 degrees (very cold) to 100 degrees (very warm) and compared to a similar study in 2014 most groups received warmer ratings.

    The ratings were:

    Jews 67°

    Catholics 66°

    ‘Mainline’ Protestants 65° (Episcopalians, Methodists, et cetera)

    ‘Evangelical’ Protestants 61° (Baptists, Pentecostals, et cetera)

    Buddhists 60°

    Hindus 58°

    Mormons 54°

    Atheists 50°

    Muslims 48°

    Different age groups rated sects differently (18 to 29 year-olds really seem to like Buddhists, 65+ year-olds really seem to like Mainline Protestants), and they’re some partisan differences (Democrats have a narrower range of coldest to warmest feelings than Republicans), but in general most like their own religious group and they like other groups better when they know someone in that group, with the exception of atheists who most know but don’t feel that warmly too them considering how many they are, and the exception of Jews, as Americans with Jewish friends like Jews, but so do Americans who don’t personally know any. 

    I know my take-away for the poll, I’m claiming the top three: Catholic from my Dad’s side of my family, and Jewish and Lutheran from my Mom’s side (I won’t mention that I was mostly raised as an atheist)!

    • jgr314 says:

      @Plumber, well, around here, we all* like you, so you are probably helping skew the results up for 3 (or 4?) different groups.

      (*) Don’t be surprised if someone objects, that is also typical of this place.

  18. blipnickels says:

    Trigger warning: lots of bad legal and transsexual terminology that I don’t understand and definitely will misuse.

    So I listened to the Supreme Court oral arguments in Bostock (sexual orientation discrimination) and Harris Funeral Homes (gender identity discrimination) on Oyez and I’m really confused on the legal arguments because they both seem to be trying to fit cases into Title VII that either don’t fit or fit in weird ways. I’d appreciate anyone who could explain it.

    So in Harris Funeral Homes, is the prosecutor’s argument that the male->female plaintiff in question is really a man, not a woman, and being punished for acting too feminine? Because they keep making references to a Pricewaterhouse case of a woman fired for acting too masculine, which makes a lot of sense as a legal strategy building on a clear precedent but is super confusing because it sounds like the plaintiff’s lawyer is arguing their transsexual client isn’t really a woman, which is…really weird ground given what this case represents.

    As for Bostock, the argument seems to revolve around whether “sexual orientation” is part of “sex” as used in Title VII. But there’s also a lot of stuff about “but for” (I was not mature enough for that) where a woman can marry Bill and be okay but a man can’t marry Bill, “but for” the man was a woman he could marry Bill.

    Am I understanding these right and what’s the deal with Title VII and who exactly defines what “sex” in Title VII means, because there was a lot of debate about that which I followed but I’m not sure I can judge who had the better argument?

    • aristides says:

      By prosecutor, I assume you mean the respondent’s attorney, David Cole. There are no prosecutors on civil cases. I actually have taken classes taught by David Cole, and he is a genius at persuading conservatives with legal arguments. He is one of the few liberal legal scholars that really understands textualism and originalism and can argue a liberal cause with conservative liberal theory. He singlehandedly persuaded me to not be a prosecutor. He’s not arguing to the 4 liberal justices, because he knows he has their votes, he’s arguing to Neil Gorsuch. Congress wrote the law very broadly, and that works in liberals favor here. In order to persuade a Conservative Justice, he has to admit that under the Civil right act, the respondent is a man being fired for dressing himself the same way a women would, and was fired for it.

      It’s a very persuasive argument to committed textualists that completely ignores legislative intent. I’m conservative, and I tend to agree with Cole’s argument, even if I dislike the results. What’ll be interesting, is if Gorsuch does write the opinion, which seems likely, he will have to explicitly mid gender the trans woman multiple times, but will give her the victory she wants. I expect it to be a very narrow victory though.

    • mtl1882 says:

      The two replies you got before mine provide all the relevant context. Lawyers argue strategically, according to the purpose at hand. The Civil Rights Act clearly applies to discrimination based on sex, but much less clearly when it comes to sexual orientation or other issues with sexual identity–that’s an interpretation argued later. The generally safest thing to do is to try to win under the clear definition, saying he is being punished for things a woman would be allowed to do. Anti-male discrimination. The comeback to that is that he is being treated just as a woman would be, which is pretty similar to the argument that banning gay marriage is not discrimination against gay people because straight people cannot marry someone of the same sex either.

      It’s all about defining the terms of the argument so that they work in your favor under the structure in which you are arguing. A claim not brought under that Act could look very different.

  19. Nick says:

    Has anyone been following the Stackexchange Code of Conduct debacle?

    I haven’t been, though I read the original announcement when it came out, and it certainly appeared to compel speech. Here’s the controversial passage:

    By adding this update, we want to make it clear that the Code of Conduct requires people to use the correct gender pronouns when someone shares their pronouns or makes them public. It also means that respecting anyone less because of their gender identity or pronouns is off limits. This has always been true of our Code of Conduct and we are making it more explicit with this language. This isn’t a new rule or a change to our policy. We found there was confusion, and we’ve clarified the language to make things abundantly clear.

    If this leaves any ambiguity for you, here’s from the official FAQ, which I sought out tonight:

    We’re asking everyone to do two things. First, if you do know someone’s pronouns (e.g. because they told you), then use them as you normally would use any pronoun. Second, if you don’t know someone’s pronouns, use gender-neutral language rather than making an assumption.

    Q11: If I’m uncomfortable with a particular pronoun, can I just avoid using it?

    We are asking everyone to use all stated pronouns as you would naturally write. Explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns because you are uncomfortable is a way of refusing to recognize their identity and is a violation of the Code of Conduct.

    In other words: merely gender neutral language is unacceptable. You. must. affirm.

    This is reason enough for concern, but I learned this evening that Stackexchange has followed up with truly draconian moderator firings. For example, Monica Cellio of judaism.SE was thrown out, as far as can be told, based on a misunderstanding. Other sites, like workplace, have lost a ton of moderators. More have stepped down, either because they cannot in conscience follow or enforce this policy, or to protest Stackexchange’s behavior. There’s even an open letter!

    What implications do policies like this Code of Conduct change have for the ongoing conversation about trans rights, pronouns, and free speech? And what lessons should we draw from Stackexchange’s mishandling?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I really hope that nobody was surprised by this.

      It’s been obvious that this was coming since the beginning of the big trans push. Theodore Dalrymple said it best:

      In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        I wonder how long until they’ll demand all users to praise Chairman Xi.

        • LadyJane says:

          Because Chairman Xi is known for his support of LGBT rights?

          I’m honestly not sure how you can go from “company restricts speech in the name of trans rights” to “company restricts speech for the benefit of a homophobic, transphobic, socially conservative dictator,” unless you’re assuming that restricting speech is the company’s terminal value and the types of speech they’re restricting is purely incidental.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I thought that was a joke on non-binary SF fans trying to import xi/xer/xis into IRL English.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Background: #1, #2. Also related.

            Once companies start to restrict speech because it offends people with enough political clout, there is no Schelling fence to stop them from becoming proxy censors for oppressive governments.

            In the Stack Exchange issue, it’s not even just restricted speech, but compelled speech. Can you see where this is going?

            @Le Maistre Chat

            I thought that was a joke on non-binary SF fans trying to import xi/xer/xis into IRL English.

            I wasn’t thinking that, but in retrospect it’s indeed funny.

          • LadyJane says:

            @viVI_IViv: And Blizzard is facing a lot of much-deserved criticism for it, including a boycott that may significantly impact their profits in the American market.

            Demanding that employees and users refer to trans people by their preferred pronouns will upset maybe 50% of the affected population at most. It pisses off social conservatives who have an object-level objection to the very concept of transgenderism, and it also pisses off some Reddish-Gray quasi-libertarian types who have a meta-level object to restricted/compelled speech. And I don’t think the first group is all that common among Stack Exchange employees/users, so it’s probably more like 25-35% of the affected population that’s outraged over this.

            Whereas prohibiting employees and users from criticizing the Chinese government – or worse, demanding that they praise the Chinese government – pisses off almost literally everyone. It pisses off the social conservatives, largely because most of them are anti-communist. It pisses off the quasi-libertarian free speech crusaders. It pisses off center-left liberals, who generally oppose nationalistic and illiberal regimes like China’s. It pisses off the same social justice advocates who the trans policy is designed to appeal to. It probably even pisses off a lot of people who otherwise don’t care about politics one way or another. And unlike Blizzard or the NBA, I don’t think Stack Exchange is particularly dependent on Chinese customers, so they’d be alienating a large portion of their support base while gaining almost nothing in return.

      • episcience says:

        I’m not sure a quote containing the phrases “propaganda”, “obviously lies”, and “emasculated liars” is an entirely charitable engagement with the merits of trans pronoun usage.

      • LadyJane says:

        I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.

        That is incredibly wrong-headed, not to mention factually incorrect. The purpose of propaganda in authoritarian dictatorships is to portray the dictator in the best possible light, and portray the dictator’s foreign and domestic enemies in the worst possible light, in order to increase loyalty to the dictator and support for his regime. It wasn’t about humiliating people, and it wasn’t about making citizens pretend to believe things they know to be false (that may have been the actual effect, but only because the dictatorships in question were not as successful as they hoped in actually convincing the populace of the truth of their claims). It certainly wasn’t about promoting untruth for the explicit sake of opposing everything that is good and true in the world.

        • Matt C says:

          That is incredibly wrong-headed, not to mention factually incorrect.

          Maybe, but this looks to me like a case of dueling narratives, neither of which is attempting to support itself with facts or evidence.

          (I’m not sure what evidence would look like here, but whatever it might be, nobody is providing it.)

          If it is just a case of dueling narratives, the quote from Nabil seems to fit better with what I’ve read, and (loosely) with what I’ve experienced.

          (Not necessarily every lie that comes from authority, but at least some.)

        • viVI_IViv says:

          What about things that are inherently inconsistent or absurd, such as Jesus being born of a virgin, or the Holy Trinity?

          Or for a more modern and particularly cruel example, “Arbeit macht frei” written on the gates of Auschwitz.

          It seems that the purpose of these messages is at best to humble, at worst to mock and humiliate, rather than persuade.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Isn’t this a violation of legal protections against religious discrimination?

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        I doubt it. While being forced to use people’s preferred pronouns may offend some sensibilities, you’d be hard-pressed to make a case that it actively discriminates against or harasses any particular religion. And if your religious beliefs do require violating their code of conduct, then they could probably argue that accommodating you somehow would be undue hardship.

    • The Nybbler says:

      What implications do policies like this Code of Conduct change have for the ongoing conversation about trans rights, pronouns, and free speech?

      It means it is abundantly clear that no consideration need be given to arguments that the pronoun thing is not a demand for compelled speech. It’s “use the pronouns, bigot”.

      As for the moderators leaving, I imagine Stack Exchange is fine with that; saves them the trouble of purging them. Whether this will interfere with Stack Exchange’s main mission (I don’t know what it is overall, I only know about the part where they provide code samples for cargo cult coders to cut and paste), I don’t know, but the site is, to use a devil’s terms, clearly “fully converged”, and will prioritize Social Justice over any of its other nominal goals.

    • Well... says:

      If this was a state institution or a public service of some kind that’d be one thing, but it’s Stackexchange, a private website. I don’t think I see why it’s noteworthy. They’ve implemented a woke-ish policy and predictably it’s ruffled the feathers of many of their customers, who, being Stackexchange users, tend toward being rational rather than racking up wokeness points.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        It’s yet another grey tribe space compromised by woke agenda pushers. It is quite clear that the SE staff no longer responds to users, but does respond to shrieking twitter blue checkmarks.

        • Well... says:

          Yes. So that being the case, this strikes me as a dog-bites-man story. What’s the significance?

          Are we worried the market won’t correct (either by SE leadership realizing their error, or a grey[sic]-friendly competitor rising up to outcompete them)?

          Is anyone actually concerned that SE users will be so effectively compelled in their speech that they’ll be verbally lobotomized?

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Well the market definitely won’t correct, because anyone trying to make a non-woke alternative is going to find that getting payment processors, DNS and DDOS protection are very challenging. We’ve seen it happen already, alternatives are not allowed to exist.

            Although frankly I’m not worried about stack exchange as such. I worried about the next step, which is “say-the-pronoun” getting rolled into harassment law and every HR department in the country scrutinizing employee speech on their private social media or in their private conversations outside work.

          • Well... says:

            I worried about the next step, which is “say-the-pronoun” getting rolled into harassment law and every HR department in the country scrutinizing employee speech on their private social media or in their private conversations outside work.

            I’m genuinely curious about the plausibility of this. Hoping someone who knows a lot more about labor law than I do will chime in.

            Though I have to say, I am 100% not opposed to people’s speech on social media being scrutinized by HR departments if it serves as a disincentive to use social media. A mass exodus from social media might even have a chain reaction of a mass migration from smartphones back to simple phones…probably not. But a man can dream, right?

          • albatross11 says:

            Nabil:

            I think that is a very unstable equilibrium. A *lot* of people are tired of wokeness in various forms, and probably more every day have their fill. It doesn’t take very many defectors before the equilibrium shifts.

            It is obviously nuts to allow a small number of credit card companies plus Paypal to decide whom is allowed to do business/get paid on the internet. But I’ll note that alt-right, human b-odiversity, and even white nationalist sites exist on the internet as it is now, and manage to pay their bills. The world isn’t as dark as you’re imagining it is.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            A *lot* of people are tired of wokeness in various forms, and probably more every day have their fill.

            This is why I think this isn’t just dog-bites-man. StackExchange has become the Q&A site of choice for most software developers, and has been engaged in a land rush for other knowledge domains over the past several years, from physics to worldbuilding to etiquette. The CoC will hit a lot of people, and it’s likely to encounter a great deal of pushback, given the huge downvote counts I’m seeing on official posts addressing it.

          • Well... says:

            But again…won’t the market eventually correct? Software developer-types don’t usually take it sitting down, at least not for long. The Loud Victims and their PR/HR-type enablers might have the upper hand right now, but they’re less clever and less inventive, as a whole, than the developer-types. Same story for all the other tech companies/users going through this drama which is by now practically a cliche.

            So long as users have the freedom to find workarounds, I predict they will given enough time. I don’t see any risk that this kind of compelled speech will become enshrined in our actual laws (though I could be persuaded otherwise by compelling evidence).

            Thus, dog-bites-man.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I don’t see any risk that this kind of compelled speech will become enshrined in our actual laws (though I could be persuaded otherwise by compelling evidence).

            They already have in the UK.

            It’s tough to pull this off for criminal law in the US, because of the First Amendment, but you could make it essentially a law in the workplace (including for customers!) because the EEOC doesn’t really consider freedom of speech. If they rule that allowing employees to be “misgendered” is “harassment”, employers will have to fire any employee and eject any customer who does it, under penalty of law.

          • Aapje says:

            The questions and answers are under a public license, so if things explode, someone can start a competing site with the same library of questions and answers.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            I think that is a very unstable equilibrium. A *lot* of people are tired of wokeness in various forms, and probably more every day have their fill.

            A *lot* of people were tired of communism, but the Soviet Union lasted 70 years before collapsing.

        • I have become increasingly concerned by the blue tribe’s colonial project vis-a-vis the gray tribe, but am currently despairing that there’s nothing that can be done about it. The Internet allowed for the creation of new spaces that were qualitatively different from any that had existed before, and the gray tribe’s tendency to embrace new technology made up for their inferior numbers, but that was clearly unstable. VR is still appropriately inaccessible, but we haven’t seen much in the way of social spaces emerging from it. Trying to build new gray tribe areas in the current ecosystem just seems to lead to an influx of legitimately undesirable witches, who then become the public face of the gray tribe and just make the problem worse.

          • “Trying to build new gray tribe areas in the current ecosystem just seems to lead to an influx of legitimately undesirable witches”

            Are you thinking of a specific gray-tribe area where this happened and ruined it?

          • @Alexander Turok

            I was thinking of Voat, etc. I don’t have any special insight into their founders, but unfettered free speech is a core gray tribe value and is obviously not shared by the blue tribe. This attracts witches for obvious reasons.

          • Well... says:

            I have become increasingly concerned by the blue tribe’s colonial project vis-a-vis the gray tribe

            Just to clarify: is this another way of saying the Far Left is successfully exerting pressure on the Center to move dramatically Leftward?

            I have serious doubts that this is really happening anywhere but 1) on the internet, and to a lesser extent 2) in corporate marketing/PR/HR departments.

          • John Schilling says:

            I have serious doubts that this is really happening anywhere but 1) on the internet, and to a lesser extent 2) in corporate marketing/PR/HR departments.

            And universities.

            Good thing the internet, universities, and corporate HR departments are such minor and ignorable parts of modern civic and economic life.

          • Well... says:

            With universities I think it’s much less widespread than the horror stories make it seem, even at liberal arts schools. Jon Haidt has said as much, that it’s actually mostly limited to certain colleges at a few high-profile universities. And for those, how much do they really impact the lives of people who aren’t also students/faculty at those colleges? Silly papers get published once in a while, I suppose…and there’s whatever extent this initiates the domino effect on the internet and corporate HR.

            “The internet” is mostly ignorable, since by “the internet” I really meant “content on certain sites on the internet”, and most of those sites are essentially recreational. (SE might be an exception for some subset of software developers.)

            Corporate HR/PR/etc. mostly affects the ads you see as a consumer or the messages you see around the office. For the vast majority of people even a rather zealously woke HR department isn’t going to impact their work experience much. For whatever it’s worth.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think Twitter outrage mobs often have an impact because they’re convincing either to the victim (who tearfully repents and begs mercy–good luck getting that from a mob of sociopaths) or to his employer (who sees an angry mob and thinks it means widespread popular outrage rather than a couple hundred bored idiots and crazy people and another couple hundred bots. If both ignored the outrage mobs and let things die down for a week, most of the damage of the outrage mobs would go away, and probably that would decrease how fun it was for a sociopath to get involved in them.

          • Well... says:

            13 year-olds with smartphones is almost certainly a larger factor there than most people realize.

            Also journalists who use a few cherrypicked Tweets to show a major global trend in attitudes.

          • Plumber says:

            @John Schilling > “….Good thing the internet, universities, and corporate HR departments are such minor and ignorable parts of modern civic and economic life”

            The “Twitter mob” thing (referenced below) is pretty scary, the internet is fun but may be ignored, universities are trickier; most don’t have university diplomas but more do now than ever before.

            I know that at my job, despite the crew being multi-ethnic, creed, and generation we’re very un “pc” in our lunchtime talk (and the boss has told us all which large group he won’t hire “Because they’ll bring problems”), but we all know not to talk un “pc” on the third floor, or across the street.

            I imagine that if I was a lawyer or librarian instead of a plumber the chances of a lunch room “free speech zone” would be much less.

          • @Well…

            is this another way of saying the Far Left is successfully exerting pressure on the Center to move dramatically Leftward?

            In a word, no. “Blue” and “Gray” are cultures, not political affiliations. For example, the core of the “Berniebro” debacle was the accusation that Sanders supporters were actually Gray instead of Blue. Interpreting Blue and Gray as Leftists and Libertarians is missing almost everything that makes the groupings useful.

    • blipnickels says:

      Yeah, it’s sad but not super impactful.

      I mean, code is code; if I have an issue and I find something on Stack Exchange and it works, great. Maybe I’m less likely to go try and answer questions but it’s not exactly something I was doing before. There’s a lot of other “exchanges” but it’s not like I found the Econ exchange or the Sci-fi exchange super helpful before.

      It’s their community to manage and they’re deciding who they want to appeal to and it’s not me, 🙁 but no big deal.

    • mdet says:

      I don’t quite agree with this rule* or the harshness with which it sounds like it’s being enforced, but I don’t see this causing too many issues in practice. It’s an anonymous website. Most people aren’t going to provide any pronouns at all, and for those who do provide pronouns, it’ll still be ambiguous whether they’re cis or trans. They only scenario where I’d see someone being uncomfortable with another person’s pronouns would be users who request to go by non-traditional pronouns like xe or ze. While those people do exist, they’re pretty rare, even rarer than non-binary-gendered people in general. This won’t be any consolation for the people who do end up getting banned, and I understand why you’d object to the rule in principle, but in practice, 99.9% of Stack Exchange users will probably continue without noticing the change.

      *I support referring to people by their preferred pronouns, but I can see how a rule that forces me to call someone whatever they say I have to call them, with the threat of expulsion if I refuse or even just slip up, can be abused. Also I don’t think threats are a sustainable method for achieving social change.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        They only scenario where I’d see someone being uncomfortable with another person’s pronouns would be users who request to go by non-traditional pronouns like xe or ze. While those people do exist, they’re pretty rare, even rarer than non-binary-gendered people in general.

        The problem I foresee is that these are exactly the people who are gonna make a big deal about pronouns. I mean, why choose a decidedly non-standard set of pronouns, if you’re not gonna use them?

        That’s before you get the trolls, who are gonna have a field day with this. Poe’s Law for the win! Once you’ve made it policy that people get to choose their own pronouns, that you aren’t going to enforce any closed list of pronouns and that anyone who questions another person’s choice of pronouns is a filthy bigot, it’s gonna be really damn hard to punish anyone for trollish usage, unless they’re really dumb (such as: using obvious sock-puppet accounts).

        • Ketil says:

          My preferred pronouns are we/us/our. Obey, or be branded a fascist bigot.

          The really sad thing is that the actual transsexuals I know appear rather mellow and humble about this, and (I hope) wouldn’t weaponize made-up pronouns, and also forgive a slip or two.

        • mdet says:

          I agree, I’m just saying that I think I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen request to go by xe, ze, etc, and all of them were anonymous online people, not people who I’ve seen or known in real life.

          I expect the biggest practical issue with this rule will probably be the 100:1 troll-to-sincere ratio. That or people getting blasted over typos. Or maybe I’m wrong and there are a lot more sincere xes out there than I thought.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Monica Cellio was a volunteer.

      Another word for volunteers for enterprises in which the employees get compensated is “intern”.

      Is Monica Cellio (and all the other moderators) actually an employee deserving of pay and employment protections, given that her job on the site (moderating) is in support of a principle function of the Stackexchange?

      • John Schilling says:

        Another word for volunteers for enterprises in which the employees get compensated is “intern”.

        Nit: Only a minority of interns are unpaid volunteers. Most are paid professionals, called “interns” I suspect mostly because “apprentice” carries a negative working-class connotation.

        • Lambert says:

          I thought it was more of a negative ‘willing to summon esoteric powers beyond one’s control to perform menial tasks’ connotation.

          Walle! walle
          Manche Strecke,
          daß, zum Zwecke,
          Wasser fließe…

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      I’d been keeping half an eye on the matter since the beginning of October or so. I even thought about bringing it up here myself, but just never got around to it.

      There’s one thing that needs to be cleared up: Monica Cellio’s dismissal as moderator and the resignations/and suspensions of activity of other moderators, came before the revised Code and corresponding FAQ were published. By everyone’s best guess, Cellio was “thanked” for her services because she questioned the planned provisions – including the most controversial one you quote – in a closed moderator chatroom; though we cannot be certain that this is 100% the case, because the company has steadfastly refused to explain their decision to her of the rest of the community. This was followed by resignations of other moderators in protest of the decision.

      As for my personal opinion on the matter: I’d been on the edge of quitting the community for a while, given that it increasingly started to shift away from a disinterested, meritocratic knowledge exchange to a vessel for Spolsky’s political activism. This was the last straw. I’m now an ex-user, watching the matter from afar in a slow-motion-trainwreck frame of mind. It would be more amusing if I were one for schadenfreude.

      • Garrett says:

        Wait! Joel Spolsky was responsible for Stack Exchange and this mess? This drastically drops my opinion of him.

        • Faza (TCM) says:

          I don’t know for certain that Spolsky is the brainiac behind this particular trainwreck, but he still is the Chairman of the Board, so I suppose the buck stops with him at the end of the day. Moreso, given that this mess started when he was CEO, even if he was on the way out.

          Given his past record, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had him to thank. Even if not, I believe the rest of the company is just following the example from above.

          • Aapje says:

            Spolsky seems to have fallen to TDS, where he started to abuse his power, trying to turn Stack Exchange into a political tool.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I don’t know that it is TDS. A lot of techies converted to Social Justice before Trump became a thing; many techies seem to have a particular vulnerability to it.

      • Nick says:

        Right; I didn’t realize it was so recent, but the announcement I mentioned I read was only three days ago! The stuff behind the scenes has been happening since the end of September.

        • Faza (TCM) says:

          I’m not sure I’d call it “behind the scenes” exactly. I first got whiff of the whole affair reading about it on El Reg, of all places. By the time I got to SE, the natives were already in an uproar.

          The CoC was supposed to calm the waters a bit (or at least the CTO hoped so). As it turned out, it made a bad situation worse. Who’da thunk it?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Ouch. To my jaded eyes, that message from the CTO basically reads “We’ve come up with a plan to feed the utility monster”

          • Nick says:

            The CoC was supposed to calm the waters a bit (or at least the CTO hoped so). As it turned out, it made a bad situation worse. Who’da thunk it?

            First of all, we hurt members of our LGBTQ+ community when they felt they couldn’t participate authentically and we didn’t respond quickly or strongly enough in supporting them. Worse, through our handling of this situation, we made them a target for harassment as people debated their right to express themselves and be addressed according to how they identify.

            Yes, the real problem here is that the compelled speech was insufficiently enforced. What the hell.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            Yes, the real problem here is that the compelled speech was insufficiently enforced.

            The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      We are asking everyone to use all stated pronouns as you would naturally write. Explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns because you are uncomfortable is a way of refusing to recognize their identity and is a violation of the Code of Conduct.

      This seems almost unenforceable. How would a mod decide whether someone is “explicitly avoiding using someone’s pronouns” or just…not using pronouns?

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        Quoting a SE Community Manager:

        The intent of the requirement is to avoid users feeling singled-out, disrespected or invalidated. If someone’s natural writing style always pertains equitably to everyone through typical discourse or isn’t frequently interpreted as a clever means to avoid someone’s stated pronouns, then, in theory, one might conclude that would work. In practice, it may simply not, and if we received multiple complaints of deliberately avoiding someone’s pronouns, regardless of the intent, we’d need to take corrective action. – Cesar M♦

        In other words the criterion seems to be “is someone raising a stink”?

        I expect it to go just as well as we would expect it to go.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      The Stack Exchange brouhaha is a gift that keeps on giving. The latest iteration sees the Mother of All Edit Wars on a goodbye post over using the wrong sort of name. The comments are pure gold as well.

      Related discussion on SE.Meta, with bonus “this shoe totes fits me” from a CM. What was that thing about being stuck in a hole, again?

      • Aapje says:

        They are also breaking their own rules now, by allowing preferred pronouns in questions, rather than relegate it to the user’s profile page. As a bonus, they are being inconsistent, with their FAQ saying something different than what the mods will enforce.

        Note that the rule is that questions are not owned by a person and instead, a collaborative effort. They normally ruthlessly remove anything that goes beyond the question itself. So if you write:

        Hi everyone,

        I have a question. What is the square root of 4?

        Thanks in advance,

        His Royal Highness Aapje, ruler of everything on land, in the air and the sea, but you can call me Your Highness

        They would normally edit it down to:

        What is the square root of 4?

        • Faza (TCM) says:

          Normally, yes. However, pronouns are now the extra-special exception:

          Please don’t remove [personal pronouns inserted into posts]. We don’t have an official way to notate this for the time being, so if someone opts to put this in their post, please leave it there. Many users won’t be aware of these changes, so we need to assume good intentions and roll back and possibly comment to let them know. If it turns into a rollback war, please draw the attention of the mods. – Catija♦

          Confirmed as official guidance, by a SO moderator:

          Regardless of how we feel about this new rule, the guidance from the CMs is clear, and moderators are bound by the CoC and the moderator agreement to enforce the rule.

      • The Nybbler says:

        WTF kind of crappy site can someone edit your /ragequit because they’re offended that you called a fictional villain by a female name? I’m glad I never used it

  20. dark orchid says:

    The opioid crisis, UK edition:

    According to a recent bit of investigative journalism by The Times, it seems there are online pharmacies where you can order much larger quantities of opioids than a doctor in the UK would prescribe for you.

    Of course you need a diagnosis by an official doctor before they can send out prescription meds, so here’s how it goes. You visit the website and fill in a questionnaire with things like “how bad is your pain on a scale of 1-10?”. Because they’re Responsible People, they won’t give you opioids unless it’s at least 7/10. Because they also like making money, the control on the form is pre-set to 7/10. If you move it down to 6, a warning pops up along the lines of “with this information, your prescription may be denied” which goes away again when you put it back to 7. When you submit the form, the fact that you’re in 7/10 pain goes to a doctor working in eastern Europe who looks at it and writes out your prescription.

    Journalists tested this out and it seems like you can pretty much order as much of the stuff as you can pay for to the same address. You can very much ask for a specific brand or strength of painkiller.

    • Lodore says:

      You can get modafinil by this mechanism too, though perversely enough, the knock-off stuff I got from India was just as effective and didn’t have the headachey side effect of the ‘real’ thing.

      In either case, I’m not sure what the difference is supposed to be between telling a GP in person you need opioids/modafinil and telling a website. Unless of course the GP will refuse to prescribe because you look shifty, which is a pretty poor reason to refuse to prescribe.

      • dark orchid says:

        I think the problem is the GP is only supposed to prescribe a certain amount at a time (something something abuse/suicide prevention), and you need regular doctor’s visits if you’re on opioids, but you can get a “family package” of opioids all at once from the website.

  21. Have you ever met a racist who only hates one race and loves the rest? I’ve never encountered this.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Quite a lot of people hate gypsies, at least around here. Other foreigners are rare enough to be seen as exotic or just foreign.

      • ana53294 says:

        Dislike of gypsies is more xenophobia than racism.

        When you see Spanish gypsies, they are indistinguishable from Spaniards, in their skin tone and facial features. Same for the Romanian gypsies vs non gypsies I’ve seen.

        What I dislike is the gypsy lifestyle. Their underinvestment in education, especially girl’s education; early and sometimes forced marriages; their links to crime; their patriarchal society; their anti social behaviour.

        EDIT: The way I see it, once gypsies get productive jobs, start sending their kids to school, and stop practicing child/early arranged/forced marriage, they stop being gypsies and become fellow Spaniards who like to dress colourful and have strong families.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          When you see Spanish gypsies, they are indistinguishable from Spaniards, in their skin tone and facial features. Same for the Romanian gypsies vs non gypsies I’ve seen.

          This must mean there’s been a lot of exogamy since the Roma left India. As I recall, you’ve mentioned people from different Spanish regions having different facial features, ergo…

          • ana53294 says:

            There are reports of gypsies producing blonde children, for example, where after some panic DNA test reveal that they actually are the biological parents. This would indicate that there was considerable exogamy.

            Sure, a lot of Spaniards have Roma blood. Many will even proudly proclaim it. But that doesn’t make them gypsies.

            EDIT: when I say gypsies are undistinguishable from Spaniards, I mean Andalusian Spaniards. Andalusians are a bit darker and smaller than other regions of Spain. Catalans tend to be curlier, and have certain facial features. Basques are just inbred. Canary island residents may have some traits from the original aborigines. It’s hard to describe, but for people who haven’t moved or married out, sometimes you can still tell where they’re from.

            I wouldn’t confuse gypsies for Basque, Catalan or Canary islander, but I could confuse them for Andalusian, easily.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Romanian gypsies are still dark enough. One of the worst (and thankfully rarer now) slurs is “crow”.

          But anyways, this takes us into “what is racism” territory, and brings to mind Black Culture in US.

          • ana53294 says:

            I have seen really dark (as dark as you can be while still being “white” Romanians that were not gypsies). Maybe they had Roma blood.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Maybe they had Roma blood.

            Well you can’t spell Romanian without Roma… /s

        • they stop being gypsies

          You might be interested in two books by Anne Sutherland describing a gypsy community near San Francisco that she interacted with extensively in the 1970’s. The first book, written shortly after the interaction, describes a community very much cut off from the surrounding culture, with its own norms, customs, language. The second, published recently, describes the breakdown of that system, with the children she interacted with forty years earlier having largely acculturated.

          My interpretation is that what destroyed the culture was tolerance, that its stability for a thousand years or so was in part due to existing in a hostile environment where being expelled from the community for violating its norms was a devastating punishment.

          I conclude that tolerance and cultural diversity are to some degree in conflict.

          • albatross11 says:

            David:

            I assume the same phenomenon is behind the large amount of outmarriage among American Jews.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Gypsies who somehow ended up in San Francisco are probably going to statistically different on many axes than Gypsies who still live in Europe.

          • Gypsies who somehow ended up in San Francisco

            Near San Francisco, actually. The estimate of the Romany population in the U.S. is about a million.

            are probably going to statistically different on many axes than Gypsies who still live in Europe.

            Judging by the first book, American Romany c. 1970 were very much a Romany culture. Currently much less so. That looks like a breakdown due to environment, not selection.

          • I assume the same phenomenon is behind the large amount of outmarriage among American Jews.

            Quite a long time ago, I was struck by how much more strongly European Jews identified as a distinct population, compared to American Jews.

    • sfoil says:

      It’s not really uncommon for someone who’s racist in general to really have it in for some specific group.

      Steve Sailer made a comment once, and I think it’s a pretty strong case, that Mark Twain hated the Indians but was otherwise pretty scrupulously non-racist, even by present standards. No one alive has met him, though.

      • At least my theory is that most racism is pathological fear of the other, so old timey intellectual racists would be expected to buck that trend in various ways because they’ve come to that position through a different mechanism.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          At least my theory is that most racism is pathological fear of the other

          Biologically, we’ll probably find out it’s a mechanism to help with group competition, or cooperation in warfare. Typical scenario is something like Europeans and Indians – those with higher racism are more likely to survive. Very non-adaptive in a modern environment.

          (For some reason I feel like I should say something pro-racism – steelmanning by reflex? But all I can think of is “some cultures are better than others”, which is not really the same thing. Nope, in a modern environment I really can’t find anything useful about it. Ah! Yes, hating others helps bond groups. So yes, again, cooperation).

          • albatross11 says:

            I think there are evolved-in mechanisms for tribalism, and culture provides the labels that trigger them. In different places and times, the labels and the tribes were different–Serb vs Croat or Jew vs Gentile or Protestant vs Catholic or Chinese vs Filipino or black vs white, or….

            The tribalism mechanisms are probably the result of some kind of group selection, presumably including instincts for punishing group traitors. (Without such mechanisms, individual selection probably wins against group selection.)

        • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

          Racism is singling out some phenotype as a signifier of outgroup and treating them as such. “Fear” seems like a loaded term, so is “pathological”. Outgroup can inspire all sorts of sentiments that would be identified as racist.

          • In that sense, we’re all racists but then I mean hate oriented racism rather than “Oh, I made an observation” racism.

          • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

            “Hate” too is a loaded term. There are multiple possible ways to be racist indistinguisable from one another except for racists’ internal monologue.

            Starting with merely banding together based on some trait to plunder or enslave someone who doesn’t share it, for no reason but because you will it, to perceiving irreconcilable difference in different races’ ways of life, to merely being upset at differently-looking people’s existence. The latter could be called “hate”, but I don’t think it’s in itself very common, at least not consciously. It’s not like Klansmen are Klansmen because they find high melanine itself distasteful.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      Would Ghandi in relation to SA count?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Wouldn’t that depend on the definition of “race”?
      I’ve met non-black People of Color who love their own race, love white people, and hate black people.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        I’ve met black people from Africa who seem to love everyone except American blacks. It’s a complicated world.

        • Machine Interface says:

          This is something I keep hearing, that Africans in Africa are full of contempt for African Americans. Do we know the reason? Ressentment over Liberia, or something deeper?

          • John Schilling says:

            For recent African or Afro-Carribean immigrants in the United States, it looks like a fair bit of it is “dude, you’ve had all the advantages of living in the United States for six generations and look how little you’ve done with it, and don’t blame racism(*) because we’re blacker than you and we’ve made it in 1-2 generations”. See e.g. the infamous Chris Rock video re decent black people vs you-know-whos, or the equally infamous Bill Cosby lament, but the recent immigrants skew very strongly towards one side of that equation and have no culture of solidarity with the other.

            I can imagine something similar being at work among Africans looking towards the United States from Africa and imagining what they could accomplish here, but there may also be local effects that I am not aware of. I’m skeptical of Liberia being a big deal, though.

            * To be fair, the racism the recent immigrants experienced in the last 1-2 generations is not the same thing as what African-Americans experienced in the four generations before that.

          • Well... says:

            This is something I keep hearing, that Africans in Africa are full of contempt for African Americans

            Just want to point out what I hope is obvious: that this isn’t universally true and probably is not true even half the time.

    • SteveReilly says:

      I’m not sure if this counts as racism or if its xenophobia or whatever. But plenty of Irish people I’ve met are shocked by American racism against blacks or British racism against whoever, but also they think that Travellers are just terrible people. I went to Ireland a few times before I found out that “knackers” is a slur and not the actual term for these people.

      In the US I think racism tends to come as a package. But Mark Twain said he overcome most of his prejudices, but not the one against Native Americans.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      I’ve met several Koreans who really specifically hate the Japanese. Of course, there’s a good reason for that one, but it was still surprising when I first encountered it.

      • SteveReilly says:

        Interesting. What age were they?

        I lived in South Korea about 20 years ago, and the people who were young then seemed to look up to the Japanese. A lot of western fashion came to Korea from Japan so they were seen as the cooler country. Older people felt a bit differently, for obvious reasons.

        But now I think Korean popular culture might be a bit more popular worldwide than Japanese, so maybe that explains a shift. Or at least Korean stuff is recognized in a way it wasn’t a few decades ago.

        Anyway, back then there was also a good amount of low level racism against white people, and not-so-low level racism about black people (I won’t say against them. Most Korean people I knew had never seen a black person. But they made racist remarks.) So I’m just curious about the people who were prejudiced against the Japanese but no one else.

      • LesHapablap says:

        Young Japanese aren’t too fond of Koreans either, regarding them as aggressive and lower class. So that attitude would certainly feed Koreans’ feelings about the Japanese.

    • gbdub says:

      This is peak culture war of course, but I kind of feel like this thought process is being applied to Trump. He has policies and statements that could be reasonably construed as anti-Muslim or anti-Mexican, but he is accused of anti-black racism with nearly equal vehemence, and I think the evidence there is much weaker.

      Cynically, I think this is part of the increasing emphasis on using the blanket term “person of color” rather than referring to a specific race. It artificially aligns the interests of multiple identity groups and lets you label anyone who does anything that negatively impacts a person of color as a generic racist (or a black person “mentally ill” for supporting Trump).

      • EchoChaos says:

        He has policies and statements that could be reasonably construed as anti-Muslim or anti-Mexican, but he is accused of anti-black racism with nearly equal vehemence, and I think the evidence there is much weaker.

        The probable reason for this is that Trump is vehemently pro-American and views African-Americans as essentially American.

        • eric23 says:

          Trump is vehemently pro-American

          *for a certain definition of “American”, one not including Hispanics or Muslims?

          Personally I think Trump is not biased against any particular demographic group, he’s just a narcissist without a conscience, equally willing to stir up hatred against any group if he thinks it’ll aggrandize him.

          • EchoChaos says:

            for a certain definition of “American”

            Absolutely.

            one not including Hispanics or Muslims?

            Yes, clearly. He doesn’t view first or sometimes even second generation immigrants as “really American” yet.

            This is a bigoted position, but it isn’t what we would classically consider racist.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yes, clearly. He doesn’t view first or sometimes even second generation immigrants as “really American” yet.

            Is there a word for this position?

            I think Trump has in the past exhibited clearly racist tendencies/behavior but I do agree that on average his behavior more closely tracks to “there is a certain set of behavior that I qualify as being ‘American’ and if you don’t exhibit this behavior I will be bigoted against you.” Often minorities will get caught up in this net of generalized hatred, but so to will people within his race.

            So, what’s the appropriate word? Racist looses nuance. Bigoted is too inexact. Nationalistic doesn’t feel right… what’s a good term for this?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Aftagley

            Nationalist is really the right answer. He has a very civic nationalism in that anyone can be a true American if they act American.

            His view of American is a very Red Tribe version, but it’s broadly assimilationist.

          • Aftagley says:

            Maybe… I just currently mentally grok “nationalist” as being “someone who really loves their country” and don’t like it being readjusted to “someone who uses nationality as a basis for deciding who not to like” although maybe my personal definition is incorrect.

            Is nationalist just the negative-implication way of saying Patriot? IE, if you support your country in a good way, you’re a patriot, if you do it in a hateful way you’re a nationalist?

          • John Schilling says:

            Is there a word for this position?

            Nativist. As you note, “nationalist” isn’t quite right, though there is some overlap. Nativism is this explicitly.

            And no, Nativism isn’t about and doesn’t require privileging “Native Americans” uber alles, notwithstanding the common usage of the (other) N-word. Roughly speaking, it’s about people who have been part of the nation for 2+ generations vs. those who have not.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yep, that’s it. Thank you.

          • Aapje says:

            @Aftagley

            The idea that first and second generation migrants tend to be poorly integrated and (still) quite distinct from natives is a very mainstream opinion in my country. It resulted in the word ‘allochtoon,’ from the Greek ‘from another soil.’

            If making that distinction is bigoted/racist, then Dutch society and institutions are bigoted/racist. Then again, that is exactly what some people argue…

          • Aftagley says:

            @Aapje

            Yeah, but there’s a difference between pointing out that it can take immigrants a couple of generations to fully integrate and demonstrating bigoted behavior to said immigrants. Also, like I pointed out, this kind of feeling isn’t just directed at immigrants – even fully integrated people who don’t live up to a certain standard of American-ness run afoul of this perspective.

            I don’t know enough about the Allochtooon to meaningfully discuss whether or not it’s bigoted/racist, but from the English language Wikipedia on it:

            Originally proposed as a neutral term, the use of the term allochtoon has been criticized as being stigmatizing. There is a regular stream of newspaper articles reporting statistics that unfavourably distinguish allochtoon people from the rest of the Dutch.

            In 2013, the city council of Amsterdam decided to stop using the term because of its divisive effect.

            As of 2016, the term allochtoon is no longer used by the Dutch government.

            Is this term still widely used? Do people there consider it offensive?

          • March says:

            @Aftagley,

            According to the definition, an allochtoon is anyone born outside the Netherlands (presumably not those with two Dutch-nationality parents who just happened to be abroad when the baby was born) or with at least one parent born outside the Netherlands. Third-generation immigrants, so people with only one or more grandparents born outside the Netherlands, are officially not allochtoon but autochtoon (‘from this soil’).

            In practice, third- and fourth-generation Turkish or Moroccan or other visibly non-western immigrants are perpetually seen as allochtoon, while people like my friend with a white American dad and the entirety of the Dutch Royal house (including our king and crown princess and basically all previous monarchs) are allochtoon but not seen as such, mostly because they’re white.

            I believe the government and news outlets have depreciated the term in favor of ‘person with a migration background’, split into ‘western’ and ‘non-western’. Still only technically first- and second-generation immigrants – everyone else is just Dutch.

          • Aapje says:

            @Aftagley

            Yeah, but there’s a difference between pointing out that it can take immigrants a couple of generations to fully integrate and demonstrating bigoted behavior to said immigrants.

            Much of the blue tribe in my country objects to telling people of the ways in which immigrants poorly integrate (although they have no such problem with positive stigmatization or poor integration in ways that they like).

            An issue is that integration seems to go a lot slower and with regressions along the way, than seems necessary to fit a fairly strong pro-migration stance. For example, the Moroccan and Turkish first generation migrants were brought in for dirty, hard, low education labor, which is a segment of the job market that automation, Japan/China/etc and rising wages hit really hard, causing many to lose their jobs. This in turn caused many first generation migrants to lose contact with natives and spend their time in (resentful) enclaves, often radicalizing religiously as well (rarely to terrorist levels, but still very orthodox), probably to regain a sense of honor and self-respect by looking down on the pork-eaters. The second generation men seemed to be largely at a loss how to deal with the conflicting signals from their family and society, resulting in many problems, lots of crime, etc. Only with the third generation, we actually seem to be moving in the right direction again.

            So to get a somewhat decent level of integration, that may still not be acceptable to many, we basically have to wait for several generations, which in itself is a pace that very many people are not content with.

            The pro-migrant faction tends to object to demanding a level of integration/assimilation that they believe is too high and they call that bigoted, but that boils down to rejecting the preferences of very many people as fundamentally illegitimate.

            Yet of course, one can then turn this around and call the preferences of the pro-migrant faction hateful towards many natives with equal justification. Or better yet, as we are supposedly a democracy, each preference deserves equal weight.

            Also note that a increasingly popular stance among the blue tribe and the official position of the EU, is that neither assimilation or integration is needed, but that there needs to be some sort of mutual accommodation, with the customs of the natives having no more weight than those of the migrants.

            > Originally proposed as a neutral term, the use of the term allochtoon has been criticized as being stigmatizing.

            The problem with generic criticism of stigmatization is that correct stereotypes are typically both useful for the stereotyper, but are also stigmatizing to the stereotyped group. A good debate can be had about a reasonable trade-off, where both extremist positions (no stereotyping vs rash and far-reaching decisions based on stereotypes) seem unreasonable to me.

            However, such a debate can only really be had in the absence of strong hypocrisy, because ‘I get to cause certain harms to you, but you don’t get to get to cause similar harms me’ or ‘I am allowed to have weakly evidenced stereotypes, but you can’t have strongly evidenced stereotypes,’ etc, etc; is not something I or most people on the losing side will accept.

            The very same people who complain about the stigmatization of minorities at best seem to never care very much about creating negative stereotypes that stigmatize men or white people and at worst, actively spread such stereotypes (including suppressing facts that can disrupt such stereotypes) and call upon people to act on those stereotypes, while simultaneously opposing stereotyping of groups they favor (including opposing facts to be known that fit those stereotypes).

            Do people there consider it offensive?

            Mainly the rather strong hypocrites and I don’t care if they are offended.

          • Aapje says:

            @March

            What people seem to want a term for, IMO rather reasonably, is ‘person who intends to stay, is culturally different, and is not yet sufficiently integrated/assimilated.’

            This is not something objective and is considered problematic by* those who resist the idea that integration can last generations or that people can refuse to integrate/assimilate. However, if one accepts that a nation is allowed to have a culture and demand a certain level of assimilation to that culture by migrants, then I don’t see how it is bigoted.

            * as well as statisticians/researchers, who want objective definitions.

            and the entirety of the Dutch Royal house (including our king and crown princess and basically all previous monarchs) are allochtoon but not seen as such, mostly because they’re white.

            I disagree that it is so strongly racial. I know and have known many white migrants, including people who were here for a decade and barely or very poorly spoke Dutch. I didn’t see them as Dutch and others didn’t seem to either. On the other hand, I don’t see anyone calling a black person like Humberto Tan an allochtoon, even though he is a first generation migrant. He passed the bar.

            Foreigners that enter the core of the Dutch Royal Family are a bit special, in that they get intense 1-on-1 courses with professors and other elite training to integrate/assimilate quickly and are expected to adopt Dutch customs, no ifs or buts. They are forced to make complex speeches in front of the press. They can’t stick to English, as many migrants do. They can’t stick to their customs, as many migrants do. Sink or swim, adapt or die (metaphorically). They simply stop matching the aforementioned definition much more quickly than nearly all other migrants.

            However, the current Queen, then Princess Maxima, made a very serious cultural mistake when she said that the Dutch identity doesn’t exist. It caused a huge furor, as she didn’t understand that while The Netherlands is not very nationalist at all, we aren’t Belgium.

        • Plumber says:

          @EchoChaos >

          “….views African-Americans as essentially American”

          As an aside (and I hope to not offend) lots of ink and pixels have been spilled about the “cultural distinctiveness” of African-Americans, and to some extent that seem true (Jazz instead of Classical as the prestigious music, “gospel” instead of “christian rock”), but as an adult when I first met  southern white men what really struck me was how culturally similar they seemed to the older black men who my Dad and I went on fishing boat trips as a child, I can’t quite put my finger on it other than accent, but somehow both southern white men (I’ve met far too few southern white women to make any judgements) and the older black men of the ’70’s seemed to share a certain manner distinct from other whites and younger blacks (in some ways non-southern and non-black working-class men of my granparents generation also shared this style, but not ti the same extent), among the features: fishing as a hobby (obviously!), often hunting as well, deep pride in a clean car, wives who were very involved with their churches, a greater social separation of the sexes (men going on fishing trips together away from their wives, etc.), and a sort of being even less like the college diploma guys than even other non-collegiate guys (even more ‘blue’ jokes).

          Unlike previous decades (since I started working for the City & County) I don’t often encounter many of what I think of as “the southern guy” anymore (just one black carpenter, a white boiler engineer, and a couple of white welders), but both black and white guys who grew up in the south (or the “Okie” enclaves in California) seemed culturally more alike to me than they do to most other black or white Californians, the exception being college grad former southerners who just sort of seem to blend in with the other grads (similar to how my non-grad cousins from New Jersey seem distinct, but the grad tenant from New York we rented a house to didn’t, he just seemed “collegiate” not “New York”).

          IIRC you live in the south, so I’m asking you, other than probably being poorer on average (not as many generations acquiring wealth), do African-Americans who grew up in the south, and who’s parents did as well, seem all that culturally distinct from other southerners?

          Is it a greater distinction than from northerners?

          • EchoChaos says:

            IIRC you live in the south, so I’m asking you, other than probably being poorer on average (not as many generations acquiring wealth), do African-Americans who grew up in the south, and who’s parents did as well, seem all that culturally distinct from other southerners?

            Rural Southern blacks are very similar to rural Southern whites, and not even that much poorer. Urban Southern blacks much less similar to urban Southern whites, as urban whites tend to be more “urbane” and to assimilate to Northern trends, as you noted by noticing that college educated Southerners are similar to other college educated whites.

            Is it a greater distinction than from northerners?

            Rural Northern whites are still pretty distinct from rural Southerners, but they definitely appreciate each other more than the past. It’s why Confederate flags have started to find a place in rural Northern white culture as a sign of rural solidarity. It may be partially racism, but in my experience, it’s mostly “Rebel spirit” and rural solidarity more than racism.

            Edit to add: There is a great recent Saturday Night Live sketch where Tom Hanks plays a redneck Trump supporter playing “Black Jeopardy” who gets all the answers right because they think alike.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7VaXlMvAvk

          • Aftagley says:

            There’s a great Dick Gregory quote about this phenomenon:

            “Down South, white folks don’t care how close I get as long as I don’t get too big. Up North, white folks don’t care how big I get as long as I don’t get too close.”

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos & @Aftagley,
            Thanks guys.

            That fits something that I’ve been pondering; a ways back I looked at some statistics that supported a “Hooray Johnson!” and “Boo Reagan!” narrative when it comes to the advancement and decline of African-Americans, and if ypu look for that you’ll find it, but those stats are dwarfed by “Hooray Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower!” stats, as the generation of black Americans who came from the rural south during the second world war and early cold war to work in the factories and shipyards did really well for themselves, it was their kids and especially their grandkids that had the increased social ills, that plus the generally more prosperous African-Americans who’ve returned to the south starting in the ’70’s have done well to, and maybe there’s some of an “ambitious immigrant generation effect” for that, but it sure seems like fate of blacks in the miserable ’80’s can’t be layed on “the legacy of slavery” and “southern Jim Crow”, whether from ‘culture’, ‘racism’, economics, or whatever, what happened was in the cities and in the mid to late 20th century, so closer to 1979 not 1619, and California not Carolina is where to look, plus compared to say the 19th century urban Irish of the second to fourth generations in the U.S.A., those descended from the African Americans who moved from the rural south in the ’40’s and ’50’s are kinda in the same place when you think of them as like immigrants and their kids with the rural south as ‘the old country’, and crowded crime ridden urban ghettos aren’t a distinctly black problem, they’ve been Irish, Italian, Russian Jewish, Polish, et cetera ones before, I even remember that briefly in the ’80’s and early ’90’s the newspapers were crying about Vietnamese ‘boat people’ neighborhood crime.
            My best guess is that improvement is happening already, the continued increased life expectancy among African-Americans despite a recent general decline (I’d really like to see those stats broken down by region and types of neighborhoods), but if you want to kick start more improvements:
            1) Full male employment is pretty effective, good paying jobs that call for a strong back but no high school worked pretty well in the ’40’s and ’50’s for social uplift.
            2) Role-models help, having black teachers (especially when younger) helps future success, and having black male teachers helps boys future success.
            3) Moving kids under six years old and their mothers to better places has been well shown to decrease how likely the kids is to be in jail and increase how likely the kid will be middle class as an adult, even moving from one part of Seattle; Washington to another has been shown to help.
            What doesn’t help is tearing down ‘blighted’ neighborhoods and then moving those in those neighborhoods into tower block apartments, that made things worse. Tearing down the tower blocks and then passing out section 8 vouchers that are mostly used to move into the same neighborhood just moves concentrations of poverty around.

            ‘Awareness’ campaigns don’t do much at all actual affirmative actions remain: Employment, Role-models, and Moving, with the integrated U.S. Army, and mid 20th century industrial unions still the examples of effective agents that did uplift (especially during the Korean war).

            Curious what your take is.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Plumber

            My understanding of the statistics is that basically all large-scale black movements inside the USA (and I do mean physical movement) show a massive boost in the initial movers for the obvious founder effect reasons.

            Then you get regression to the mean and the result is pretty much the same as where they came from. Sometimes worse. All the race riots were in the North, after all.

            Note that the same is true of white populations. The Scots-Irish stay Scots-Irish wherever they go.

            This is why Jews, Chinese, Japanese, etc. rise economically above average Americans despite starting poorer than even blacks (Chinese coolie labor was paid worse than free black labor in the 30s), but blacks keep falling back.

            As evidence, black income as a percentage of white has remained stubbornly similar despite nearly seven decades of work on it.

            While all of those things you recommend would help both poor whites and blacks, the problem is probably unsolvable if your goal is equality.

            A better goal is “a rising tide lifts all boats” with the sidenote that blacks are heavily working class.

          • Aapje says:

            @EchoChaos

            Reducing variance would help too (making the rich less rich and the poor richer).

          • Plumber says:

            @Aapje & @EchoChaos,
            Thanks.
            My apologies, I really feel like I owe a longer and nuanced response, but my thoughts on this topic are moving faster than my thumbs.
            In any case I largely agree with both of your last statements in this sub thread, and I’ll try to revisit when I’m feeling more sharp.

    • gbdub says:

      As a more generic answer, I think it depends on if you are an “X-supremacist” or an “anti-Y”. The former pretty much requires being racist against all not-X. The latter could be specifically targeted. I’ve certainly encountered both, although the stereotypical American racist as depicted in media is a Klansman or skinhead and they are generally racist against all not-white and a lot of “wrong kind of white”.

      • These are basically the only kinds of racists I’ve encountered personally (among white people, I should add), with the possible exception that nazis are sometimes a bit more positive about asians. It may be more natural to be an “X-supremacist” by the simple extension of the ego. Whereas “anti-Y” in isolation implies some kind of reasoned comparison and experience.

    • Secretly French says:

      I regard this as a very common variety of white leftist: they hate whites, and love non-whites indiscriminately.

      • Protagoras says:

        Really? I know a lot of leftists (almost my entire social circle), and I can’t think of any who could remotely accurately be described as hating whites.

        • gbdub says:

          A significant number, maybe the majority, of my left-liberal friends and acquaintances make relatively frequent statements about Southern whites and evangelical Christians that can only be described as casually bigoted.

          None of them would speak up or be notably offended if someone made a joke that played on negative stereotypes of either group.

          Now this isn’t “hatred of all whites” but it’s pretty clearly “bigotry against a certain definable subculture of white people” that would be labeled (by the same people!) as racism if directed against any identifiable subculture “of color”.

          • Do they ever make negative comments about city dwelling coastal whites?

          • gbdub says:

            No. They will occasionally make disparaging comments about “white people” in general but I think that’s more common in the cohort after mine.

            There are certainly whites that do disparage east coast city types though, this is just red tribe vs blue tribe of course.

            But it’s honestly hard to distinguish between what we call “tribal outgrouping” here and what would get called racism if it involves different skin shades

          • John Schilling says:

            Do white racists ever make negative comments about upper-middle-class Heathcliff Huxtable blacks?

            I’m guessing the answer is “yes” in both cases, but only rarely and/or deniably. I don’t think it is a useful discriminator.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Maybe “hate” is too strong a word, but I’ve certainly seen plenty of “White people are problematic”-type articles in leftist publications, which would get slammed as racist if written about any other group.

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        Similarly to Protagaros, this describes nobody I have ever met, despite coming form a leftist background and having always had an almost entirely leftist social circle (personally and professionally). Is it based on people you’ve met or spoken to?

        • The original Mr. X says:
          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            Thanks, that’s interesting, and definitely shows there’s something unusual about [American] white liberals. It doesn’t demonstrate hatred though. It would be interesting to see the raw scores for in-group / out-group warmth rather than the difference. I.e. is the white liberal difference driven by unusual lack of warmth to in-group or unusual warmth to out-group?

          • Aapje says:

            @NostalgiaForInfinity

            What is love hate of a group? Isn’t it a strong (undeserved*) negative prejudice?

            If so, the survey seems to show that white liberals hate white people, (unless one believes that their prejudice is deserved*).

            * Optional

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @Aapje My reading of the survey was that you gave your in group and out group a warmth score, with the difference being the bias.

            Say everyone but white liberals rate their in-group as 60 and their out-group as 50, for +10 in favour of the in-group.
            If white liberals rated their in-group as 50 and the out-group as 60, you’d get -10. But you could also get -10 if they rated their in-group as 60 and their out-group as 70. Under that scenario it seems odd to describe their attitude as hatred, given they have the same warmth score to their in-group as any other group (with caveats about these being relative scores).

            Even with the former (50 for in-group, 60 for out-group), it would be odd to describe their attitude as hatred given that the scores are the same values as for everyone else but reversed. Unless your default position is that all racial groups hate the out-group.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            As I mentioned above, you get a fair number of “White people are problematic”-type articles, whereas identical articles about other racial groups would get panned as racist. Maybe this doesn’t rise to the level of hatred, but I think it does show some level of hostility (since you probably wouldn’t be interested in reading about how a group you feel warmly about is problematic, even if you feel less warmly about that group than you do about other groups).

            I guess there’s also the phenomenon of people holding white countries/figures to higher standards than non-white ones. E.g., people who think that Columbus Day is problematic because of European atrocities committed against the natives, but are fine with Indigenous Peoples Day despite all the atrocities committed by the indigenous peoples.

          • John Schilling says:

            There was that survey a while ago suggesting that white liberals, alone of all the racial/political groups, had a pro-outgroup bias.

            Rather, that white liberals had a uniquely pro-“other racial and ethnic communities” bias. This is I think a nonstandard definition of “outgroup”, and not the one we normally use here.

            White liberals’ outgroup is white conservative Americans, and I am pretty sure the attitude there is not anything remotely resembling “pro-outgroup bias”.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Rather, that white liberals had a uniquely pro-“other racial and ethnic communities” bias. This is I think a nonstandard definition of “outgroup”, and not the one we normally use here.
            White liberals’ outgroup is white conservative Americans, and I am pretty sure the attitude there is not anything remotely resembling “pro-outgroup bias”.

            Yeah, sorry, I was being sloppy in my terminology.

          • Aapje says:

            @NostalgiaForInfinity

            An issue is that in these studies, there is no instruction given on what a certain temperature means. Some people may interpret 0 degrees as complete indifference, which is not the same as hatred.

            So I think it is best to speak about differences in affection, not about hatred.

            Unless your default position is that all racial groups hate the out-group.

            White liberals are the outlier. Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and non-liberal whites all have a substantial positive racial/ethnic ingroup bias, while only liberal whites have a negative bias.

            It seems to me to be a reasonable assumption that the outlier is peculiar, rather than that everyone else is being strange.

          • E.g., people who think that Columbus Day is problematic because of European atrocities committed against the natives, but are fine with Indigenous Peoples Day despite all the atrocities committed by the indigenous peoples.

            It isn’t “European day.” Columbus was a specific person who committed atrocities. Lots of native Americans committed atrocities too, but lots of other ones didn’t.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It isn’t “European day.” Columbus was a specific person who committed atrocities. Lots of native Americans committed atrocities too, but lots of other ones didn’t.

            AIUI the extent of Columbus’ “atrocities” has been significantly exaggerated in pop culture; most, if not all, of them were committed by other people after Columbus had gone back to Spain. And I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to say that Columbus day is just about Columbus as a person: the holiday was originally instituted after lobbying from the Italian-American community as a way of recognising Italian contributions to America, and a lot of the arguments I’ve seen for Columbus Day being problematic bring in stuff committed by Europeans who weren’t Columbus.

    • Two McMillion says:

      I know some white people who dislike blacks and hispanics but are okay with asians.

      I know some Indians who hate Pakistanis specifically.

      Some Chinese and Koreans who hate the Japanese specifically.

      Brazilians seem to have an irrational dislike of Argentina, though that’s not really a race thing.

      • Juanita del Valle says:

        And not just Brazilians – dislike of Argentinians is widespread across Central and South America as far as I know.

        • Protagoras says:

          Argentinians

          An Argentine friend told me they prefer to be called Argentines. Given how some people around here react to people who are fussy about what others call them, I suppose that could be a factor in why they are unpopular.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Loves, no, but I’ve definitely seen vastly different levels of tolerance directed at different groups.

      A lot of immigrants from East and South Asia, and even many from Africa and the Caribbean, really cannot stand American blacks but are indifferent to other groups. Like they might not want their daughters to marry a white guy or someone of another background but there’s nowhere near the sense of intense dislike. This seems mostly tied to behavior: if you’re a poor immigrant, your cheap housing is going to put you in close proximity to the most dysfunctional black communities.

      I’ve also seen a lot of Jews and Americanized “PoC” (almost never blacks, although you get a few) who hate white gentiles with a fiery passion but see other non-white peoples as allies. This is fairly obviously an ideological stance.

    • albatross11 says:

      I’ve known whites who had a very low opinion of blacks and a rather high opinion of Asians and Jews. That describes a large chunk of the human b-odiversity crowd.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Can you describe the racists you have met and what their typical view on race relations is? The racists I know don’t even love their own race, and are quite happy to find social or economic grievances in addition to their racial grievances.

      They definitely dislike different groups at different amounts.

      • They definitely dislike different groups at different amounts.

        Sure, the typical racist view I’ve encountered does contain a hierarchy of races, but from my experience it’s hate or at least ambivalence and suspicion all the way down at the group level, though exceptions are made in practice for individuals.

        But I’ve never encountered anyone who say, wanted every other race to be free to immigrate to their country except blacks because they individually decided they didn’t like them from experience. Usually racists want to protect their own race which leads to them universalizing the concept.

    • Plumber says:

      @Forward Synthesis >

      “Have you ever met a racist who only hates one race and loves the rest?..”

      I’ve encountered blacks, Latinos, whites, and even fellow Pacific islanders (Filipinos) who’ve said that “Samoans are scary”, so a general fear of/prejudice against Samoans seemd common, I also had a black neighbor who said “Chinese people are evil” which since the girlfriend he lived with parents were Korean I don’t think he extended that belief to all Asians, I’ve also had co-workers who’ve told pretty vile anti-black ‘jokes’ but have become fast friends with their black co-workers.

      Also my wife has often remarked about “stupid white people” (“wasting money shopping at Whole Foods”, etc) yet she married me (though maybe I’m her prime example!), so selective bigotry is a thing, I think that there was some study of “unconscious bias” where ‘stress indicators’ (heart rate or something) go up when many white Americans (and not as many but a far number of black Americans as well) see pictures of blacks, but if the black that is pictured is a well known and well liked celebrity than usual the “stress indicators quickly fade.

      I’m not really sure what can be done about any of it, people are people, Oakland against San Francisco, Oakland+San Francisco against Los Angeles, California against the 49 lesser States, and U.S.A. against lesser nations!

    • sharper13 says:

      My response feels like it’s going to be pretty obvious in retrospect, so you may need to clarify the definition of racist you’re using. I’ll answer your question using the common dictionary definition “a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.”

      I’ve heard many examples of people who publicly proclaim they hate white people, but purport to love all the other people they classify into various races. I prefer not to link to them.

      To attempt to steel-man the view, they generally propose to use a less common (more academic?) definition of racism which excludes discrimination or prejudice against people they believe had a historical power advantage in western society.

      Personally, I don’t find race to be a useful classification and believe that the best way to stop racism is to for people to stop being racist and classifying individuals along these traditional racial delineations which don’t possess much scientific nor cultural value.

      I’m going to stop my comment here because I can feel the irritated sarcasm attempting to escape and it’s target wouldn’t be reading these comments anyway.

    • JayT says:

      My grandfather was definitely racist towards African Americans, but ranged from “didn’t think about”* to “admired”** every other minority. He grew up in the South Side of Chicago and saw his neighborhood go from a vibrant immigrant community, to, well, the South Side of Chicago. He held a lot of resentment over that, and blamed African Americans.

      * For example, I don’t remember him ever saying anything about Middle Easterners, but he died well before 9/11, and we lived in an area that didn’t have many, so it just didn’t come up.
      ** He would always talk about how hard working Hispanics were, and that if African Americans were like that, they wouldn’t have so many problems.

    • LadyJane says:

      My maternal grandmother (who was Italian and grew up under Mussolini’s fascist regime) disliked Blacks and East Asians, but was fine with just about everyone else. In her eyes, everyone who wasn’t “negroid” or “mongoloid” was White; she didn’t care about color, but she did care about whether or not someone had Caucasian facial features. I once joked that her views could be summed up as: “I have a dream that one day people will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the shape of their skull.” Weirdly enough, I’ve encountered a few people online with similar views, mostly alt-right types who broadly support White nationalism but don’t want non-White Caucasians (e.g. Persians, Indians) to be excluded from their hypothetical White ethno-state, almost always because they belong to one of those ethnic groups themselves or have a wife/girlfriend who does.

      My father (who’s a Spanish North African of Arab-Berber descent) disliked Arabs from the Levant and from the Arabian Peninsula, to the point where he would frequently emphasize that North Africans aren’t really Arabic in a racial sense, they just speak Arabic because they were colonized by the Arabs in 800 AD. I’d imagine there was some kind of “narcissism of small differences” in play there. He also greatly disliked gypsies, apparently due to some negative encounters he had in Europe, which made him come across as something of a hypocrite when he would criticize the French for their bigotry against North African immigrants but then repeat those same bigots’ talking points with regards to the Roma.

      Perhaps strangest of all, I had an ex who believed that Australian Aboriginals were genetically inferior to all other humans in terms of intelligence and general self-awareness. She’s a White/Latina American who’s never been to Australia or encountered any Aboriginals, so it’s not like she had any personal reason to feel that way. She also wasn’t the type of person to give much credence to racial IQ theories or the notion of aych-bee-dee; she completely rejected the idea that African-Americans or Native Americans were genetically predisposed to be less intelligent than Whites and Asians, to the point of finding it ridiculous and obviously false. She didn’t have any malice toward Aboriginals either. She was just really convinced that the Aboriginals were less intelligent and less self-aware than other humans, even though she was a vehement anti-racist who firmly believed that all non-Aboriginal races were equal. Once, when her cat was confused by his own reflection, she casually joked that it was okay because “most Abos can’t pass the mirror test either.”

      More broadly, I’ve talked to quite a few people who are explicitly bigoted against Black people and only Black people. I’ve also met a surprising number of people who are strongly anti-Semitic, sometimes to ridiculous extremes, but otherwise non-racist or even anti-racist. For instance, I remember quite a few Bernie Sanders supporters back in 2016 talking about how Bernie was “one of the good ones” and would save America from the evil scheming wealthy Jews on Wall Street.

      And if we’re expanding the topic to cover religious discrimination, there are a lot of Americans who are accepting towards all religious groups except Muslims.

  22. DinoNerd says:

    From late in the last open thread:

    One of the best things that I took from looking at conservatism as a philosophy was that it asked questions like: What is the value of social trust? What does it enable? What increases or decreases social trust?

    I agree that these are good questions, but don’t find that most of the options supported by modern conservative-aligned politicians would have that effect for me; rather the reverse. (But note the switch, from philosophy to politicians. That’s quite conscious – I could probably get along with e.g. a Burkean. But beyond Burkeans, I have no real concept of conservative philosophy, as compared with either conservative ideology or the behaviour of people in politics.)

    Would anyone like to discuss this farther, preferably either at a detailed level (specific policies) or tightly focussed on social trust (not as focussed on conservativism)?

    [Credit to Garrett for the comment I’m quoting.]

    • albatross11 says:

      So, what would be the core ideas of a social/political movement that sought to maximize social trust and minimize friction?

      I’d say:

      a. Strong norms against breaking the law. (Particularly the crimes-with-victims part of the law.)

      b. Strong norms for following most social conventions that aren’t actively harmful. (Wear a tie if that’s expected, even if ties are silly.)

      c. Strong norms against unwed parenthood, divorce when you have small children, and cheating on/abandoning your wife.

      d. Strong norms for keeping your promises and commitments and word.

      e. Strong norms for paying your debts.

      f. Support (legal and social) for like-minded communities to mostly associate with their own–whether that’s ethnic, religious, racial, linguistic, social class, whatever.

      g. Strong norms/push for immigrants to assimilate to American norms (or maybe local norms).

      What else?

      • Nick says:

        This is sounding pretty conservative.

        I wonder to what extent (f) encourages devolution of power, and to what level: state, municipal, neighborhood, parish….

      • DinoNerd says:

        h. How about norms for telling the truth?

        • Nick says:

          That should probably be in there. It can logically be grouped with (d).

          • DinoNerd says:

            I kind of like the idea of a norm for responsible behaviour – including cleaning up whatever mess you make, paying your debts, caring for children you sire/bear, etc. (Maybe even the outmoded idea of being a net contributor to the world – i.e. produce more than you consume in the course of your lifetime, if not literally incapable of doing so.)

            But phrased as I just did, I expect at least 50% of political conservatives would hate this, as I’d include economic “externalities” as part of the mess some firm or person makes, and is responsible for cleaning up.

          • John Schilling says:

            The trick will be to couch your discussion of “externalities” in the sort of responsibility language conservatives respond favorably to. Might help to avoid the ‘E’ word whenever possible, and to avoid opening with specific proscriptions for clean-up-your mess responsibilities that keep aligning with specific leftist or progressive policy goals. Get the conservatives on board with cleaning up messes in principle, and let them figure out the practical solutions later.

          • Randy M says:

            But phrased as I just did, I expect at least 50% of political conservatives would hate this, as I’d include economic “externalities” as part of the mess some firm or person makes, and is responsible for cleaning up.

            Like John, I think the message would resonant if you avoided liberal shibboleths.
            But the solution has to be “Go clean up your mess” or “Avoid making messes” and not “submit yourself to the state or we’re doomed” for conservatives to willingly adopt it.
            Personal responsibility is a big part of the conservative mindset.

          • I wonder how much resistance to considering economic externalities is simply baked into conservatism from previous political battles and lack of trust, much like on the gun issue where you could probably get some conservatives to support certain “common sense” reforms in a vacuum, but they’d never be accepted in practice, because of “give an inch, take a mile” logic.

            EDIT: Another example would be those polls you occasionally get showing a slight majority of conservatives in favor of the expansion of social programs. Yet, in practice they may not trust them to be implemented by their political opponents because then it’s framed as Step.1 in an expansive agenda.

            Like, Nixon going to China, I thought Trump might have possibly done some good work here, but he missed the boat on healthcare reform.

          • J Mann says:

            But phrased as I just did, I expect at least 50% of political conservatives would hate this, as I’d include economic “externalities” as part of the mess some firm or person makes, and is responsible for cleaning up.

            We wouldn’t trust you to calculate externalities fairly, whether intentionally or as a result of confirmation bias. Cf. Roads vs mass transit, or nuclear power vs wind vs natural gas.

          • @J Mann

            We wouldn’t trust you to calculate externalities fairly

            As I thought. Perhaps this is part of the same mechanism that leads right wing dictators to support more social programs than right wing democrats, and left wing dictators to support more chauvinism than left wing democrats; there’s simply room for entertaining the issue when you’re in the driver’s seat.

            I’ve often myself had the thought; “I want a welfare state, but not a leftist welfare state”.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I’ve often myself had the thought; “I want a welfare state, but not a leftist welfare state”.

            That’s not an unpopular opinion!

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Talk about externalities from left-liberals may get discounted because it’s coming from people who don’t ordinarily show that keen an interest in economic efficiency, so it tends to come off as an Isolated Demand.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            I thought Trump might have possibly done some good work here, but he missed the boat on healthcare reform.

            Huh. I was told his predecessor took care of that.

          • beleester says:

            Huh. I was told his predecessor took care of that.

            Unfortunately, what one president (and congress) can do, another can undo. The Republicans didn’t manage to agree on a replacement health care bill, but they tried their level best to kill Obamacare anyway.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @John Schilling

            The trick will be to couch your discussion of “externalities” in the sort of responsibility language conservatives respond favorably to.

            Clean up your mess works a lot better, except that I’m not sure the average political conservative in the US would apply that to anything done by a firm, or a human acting in an executive capacity, rather than a human acting in a personal capacity.

            @J. Mann

            We wouldn’t trust you to calculate externalities fairly, whether intentionally or as a result of confirmation bias.

            Fortunately we’re talking about norms here, which tend to be enforced by the consensus of everyone in the community, and contested at the margins.

            I’d certainly trust the executive class more, or individual members of it, if I expected them to follow norms like this, either out of conviction, or out of personal self interest (fear of being snubbed, ostracized, rebuked, etc.) I’d still disagree with them about specific cases, and probably be considered overly critical by my local consensus. But it would be a step forward, in terms of trust.

          • Randy M says:

            I’m not sure the average political conservative in the US would apply that to anything done by a firm

            You think a conservative (voter? activist? politician?) would be cool with a factory dumping sludge in a river just because it’s a corporation and not an individual person?

            Perhaps a conservative will argue trade-offs, for example, making this product in this way employs X people, so we should look for another way to make it before we condemn them for it, or something like that. And maybe there’s a type of conservative that mistakes backing corporations with supporting economic freedom. But I hope the average conservative will be willing to hold a corporation, and the individuals that make it up, accountable morally and legally for costs they inflict–once that conservative agrees those are costs.

            The anti-climate change point of view isn’t “They’re companies, what’re you going to do?” but “We’re actually not worse off on net because of fossil fuels”

          • The anti-climate change point of view isn’t “They’re companies, what’re you going to do?” but “We’re actually not worse off on net because of fossil fuels”

            I see that as the clear example of “we don’t trust you to calculate externalities.” The attitude of most of the left seems to be “we are sure climate change will have enormous negative externalities, so people should be forced to do lots of things, most of which we were already in favor of, to prevent it.”

            The rhetoric generally assumes with confidence consequences much worse than the scientific work they rely on, the IPCC, actually implies—and that work itself is pretty clearly biased towards negative outcomes.

            My own view, as I have said before, is that the size of both positive and negative externalities is sufficiently uncertain so that we can’t even be confident of the sign of their sum.

          • Chalid says:

            Externalities may often be difficult to understand and calculate, but that doesn’t mean the correct approach is to just assume they’re close to zero (which is just as much in need of justification as a claim they’re positive or negative for any given situation).

            I don’t see any reason for a high prior around zero for most relevant cases.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Externalities may often be difficult to understand and calculate, but that doesn’t mean the correct approach is to just assume they’re close to zero (which is just as much in need of justification as a claim they’re positive or negative for any given situation).

            It means you don’t know the theoretically correct Pigouvian tax close enough to set the rate to something you know is less damaging than no tax at all. You can argue about what you should do in this situation, but you can’t validly claim you’re instituting a tax to correct for the externality.

          • Chalid says:

            Sure, but government has to raise money from somewhere, and we *don’t* as a general rule know that raising money from a tax on something which has some difficult-to-calculate externality is going to be worse than raising money from the most likely alternative sources.

            I may not know whether say a further increase in alcohol taxes from their current levels would be beneficial or harmful, but I do know raising the income tax is harmful.

          • The Nybbler says:

            You may know that the income tax will be harmful and not know if the alcohol (or carbon or whatever) tax will be helpful or harmful, but since it is possible the alcohol tax will be more harmful than the income tax, you still don’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

          • Chalid says:

            Right, so “externalities are complicated” is not really a case for making the alcohol/pollution/whatever tax zero and the default income tax high, agreed? If you say I don’t have enough information to say that the ideal alcohol tax rate is $10/gallon, then symmetrically you don’t have enough information to say that it’s best to leave it at zero.

          • J Mann says:

            @DinoNerd:

            We wouldn’t trust you to calculate externalities fairly, whether intentionally or as a result of confirmation bias.

            Fortunately we’re talking about norms here, which tend to be enforced by the consensus of everyone in the community, and contested at the margins.

            Well, if the question is whether conservatives can be brought on board by an analysis of externalities, I think one obstacle is that they’ll bring conservative priors to the analysis.

            If you’re trying to convince some conservatives that out of wedlock marriage, easy divorce, litter on the streets, etc. should be discouraged because of their externalities, you probably won’t have a hard time.

            If you’re trying to convince them that we should get rid of guns and plastic straws because of the externalities, I think they’re going to be much harder to convince of the underlying math.

            On the edge cases, it does make a lot of sense to point out additional consequences of behavior, agreed.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If we are choosing between a tax on alcohol and an income tax, the externality provides us with no information by which to make that choice. As long as you are talking about externalities, you are attempting to use that lack of information to push your preferred tax, which is invalid.

            (My own preference is for neither tax)

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            In the absence of convincing evidence of an important externality, we’ll do less harm on average by defaulting to “broaden the base and lower the rate”. Wannabe-Pigovian taxes go against that.

          • Chalid says:

            That’s only if you accept a strong prior of zero tax. Which is the correct prior for things with no obvious significant externalities, which is of course the majority of stuff. If we’re talking about things with obvious large and perhaps difficult-to-calculate externalities, as we always are in these discussions (alcohol, pollution, carbon), then zero is not a strong prior; and that implies that calculations of externalities, even if they have very wide error bars, really should have a big impact on the assessment of the optimal tax.

          • The Nybbler says:

            You’re still trying to use your lack of information to inform your decision. It doesn’t take a zero-tax prior. If you’re trying to decide on a tax between alcohol and income, and you know the income tax produces harm of value X +/- 5% (X>0), and you know the alcohol tax produces harm of F(E), where E is the net-externality, and we know that F is a function with a single minimum that is less than 0 at some value of E, but we have no idea what E is, then the existence of this function provides us no information to choose between the two taxes.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Strong norms against breaking the law can increase social trust, but also increase friction. If you’re going to have a strong norm against breaking the law, you need to have laws that most people are comfortable following. The same applies to social conventions — you can have a very stultified high-trust society which has a lot of friction that just isn’t visible because everyone’s following the norms.

        I’m don’t think that unwed parenthood really falls into either category. Divorce with small children theoretically doesn’t have to but in practice probably does.

        The stuff about word and debts are important, but they have to apply to corporate entities and governments (at least in their dealings with natural persons), or you get a whole lot of friction and likely reduced trust as well.

        I think the big thing you’re missing is an incentive system. You need to design your society so defectors (accidental and deliberate) are consistently punished. And further, so that punishment in most cases is limited in effect, providing an opportunity for the behavior to be changed.

        • albatross11 says:

          Yeah, I remember a very entertaining and revelatory thread of discussion between Megan McArdle and her commenters, pushing back on her idea that it was immoral for an individual to file bankruptcy strategically, but a perfectly legitimate tactic for a business. It seemed to me that her MBA training and absorption of those norms was contradicting the high-trust upper-middle-class norms she grew up with….

      • Your points f and g seem inconsistent with each other. What largely happened with U.S. mass immigration was the development of immigrant communities, as per your f, but I expect that reduced the rate of assimilation. There are part of Chicago where, as best I can tell, a significant number of people still speak Polish. There are Chinatowns in various cities where essentially all the non-Chinese you see are tourists or people from nearby eating in the Chinese restaurants.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          Anecdata: Both my grandmothers were born in Wisconsin to parents who were also born in Wisconsin; both had German as their first language.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            This is entirely true, but those are great grand-parents. My wife’s grandfathers had fathers who made some money by translating Norwegian for the Norwegian-speaking farmers still there. This is entirely gone and several generations down, everyone speaks English and no one speaks Norwegian.

            Chicago, like other areas, has seen massive Eastern European immigration over the last several decades. A majority of my social group is probably 1st or 2nd generation Polish.

            I would describe them as “conservative” or perhaps “reactionary,” though. They might speak Polish, but they love America and they really love Trump.

      • Secretly French says:

        What are the constraints? If demographics isn’t constrained, then demographic homogeneity would be a massive win. If it is constrained, then how about freedom of association, which would lead readily to a lot of local homogeneity?

      • teneditica says:

        What is the government supposed to do about all of this?

        • albatross11 says:

          I’m not sure government is a great tool for accomplishing most of this. At best, it can get out of the way (not forbidding freedom of association), or enforce laws in a neutral way that helps make it a visibly bad idea to be a predator[1].

          [1] One difficulty here is that the deterrent of your legal system needs to be clear enough that an illiterate 17 year old with a 75 IQ understands that crime is a very bad idea.

      • zzzzort says:

        Ok, how about an alternative set of pro-trust policies/goals from a more leftish side

        1) More welfare/greater economic interdependence, inculcating trust in society to help you out (nordics tend to do well on social trust measures).

        2) Circumscribed, monitored police powers. Trust in police is correlated with trust in others, so it’s important to minimize police abuses.

        3) Decreased income/wealth inequality. There’s an empirical correlation, and it makes sense that all small number of people having wildly different incomes will increase distrust that the system is fair.

        4) Increased civic engagement through voting liberalization and democratic control of institutions.

        • cassander says:

          For each of those, There’s little evidence that the causation runs the way you’re claiming, and quite a bit that it runs the other.

          • zzzzort says:

            The same can be said for things such as ‘strong norms for paying debts’ and ‘strong norm for following the law’. The point being that choosing which aspects of a high trust society are upstream of high trust and which are byproducts is generally a political choice.

            Also, do you know of any evidence that high social trust is causal of civic engagement and low income inequality? I’d be genuinely interested. (here is a review paper on why inequality decreases trust, which discusses several instrumental designs which show causation.)

      • Tatterdemalion says:

        I’m not sure what effect they’d have on social trust, but far from minimising friction I think that several of them – b,c,f and g – would massively increase it, because they’re explicitly encouraging people to act like dicks towards other people.

        To minimise friction, I think that what you need is norms that emphasise tolerance and individual choice in private life (but not necessarily in economic activity) – the ideals that the brand of left-liberalism that was the dominant stream of left-wing thought through through the 20th century.

        Even that won’t eliminate friction, just produce less than anything else, I think. And it probably won’t produce as much social trust as the enforced homogeneity you’re describing eventually might.

      • LesHapablap says:

        b. Strong norms for following most social conventions that aren’t actively harmful. (Wear a tie if that’s expected, even if ties are silly.)

        This isn’t really relevant to the thread, but I reckon that the breakdown of social dress codes (which is a liberal thing) is anti-egalitarian in a big way. Once those near-universal dress codes are gone, it becomes much more difficult to assimilate into the middle class or upper middle class culture. Acquiring the knowledge to dress properly for a job interview, for example, would be hard for someone whose parents have never owned a suit.

        In Japan, there is a uniform that every young adult wears to look for their first job. If you’re in Tokyo in May, you’ll see thousands of nervous looking young men and women, all dressed exactly the same.

        It’s also one of the justifications for school uniforms: it keeps the poor kids from being so obviously poor.

        • Plumber says:

          @LesHapablap,
          That’s a pretty good insight regarding obvious vs. opaque dress codes.

          +1!

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Once those near-universal dress codes are gone

          Citation needed that the dress codes were “near universal” (anywhere near universal, in fact).

          My sense (perhaps no more justified than yours), is that the great mass of the lower classes have typically not dressed as those more well off. And that if the lower classes did succeed in adopting something that had been common in those more well off, the more well off will have moved on.

          • LesHapablap says:

            I have to appeal to all the old movies and tv shows set in the 1900s to the 1940s, where all the men and boys wear suits and hats and what not. There would have been obvious differences between rich and poor of course, but they are all following the same template.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I have to appeal to all the old movies and tv shows set in the 1900s to the 1940s, where all the men and boys wear suits and hats and what not.

            … and if you look at the professionally produced mass media landscape of today, what do you see? Well dressed, beautiful people.

            You are also failing to appreciate that the class markers of yesteryear aren’t necessarily immediately legible to you.

            But let’s go to some source material. If you look, you will see that the “trying to strike it rich” miners are, in fact, dressed in a manner that does reflect class difference. And it’s not like these are Polaroids, cheap and easy to make.

          • LesHapablap says:

            Gold miners in 1849 are hardly representative. Look at this 1890 photo essay that exposes the slums of New York: How the Other Half Lives

            There’s a group of men living in trash under a bridge and they are all wearing suits and bowler hats. Another guy sharing a filthy mattress in a tiny apartment crowded with people, wearing a collared shirt and vest.

            You are also failing to appreciate that the class markers of yesteryear aren’t necessarily immediately legible to you.

            There would have been obvious differences between rich and poor of course, but they are all following the same template.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think you are interpreting “trousers, shirt, jacket, hat” as if they are all the same.

            By that mark a cowboy and a businessman in a suit are wearing the same thing, (yes, slight hyperbole.)

            I’m not a tailor or seamstress, but I think that the type of cloth, the cut, the type of shoes, etc. would all easily mark your relative class.

            You seem to be saying that Tommy the factory worker would, if given the money, know what would be acceptable to wear to his new white collar office job, and I don’t think that you have really justified it.

            In fact, I associate stories about feeling out of place, or ashamed, not knowing what is appropriate to wear to the “fancy place” with the period in time you seem to think was “universal”. Some of those stories revolve around envy of what you can’t afford, but many others depend on being the “rube” who doesn’t understand what they are supposed to wear.

            ETA: For instance Pygmalion which was written in 1913.

          • LesHapablap says:

            This is a hard point to make looking historically because
            a) humans will always be able to differentiate themselves on status, whether by speech or clothing or tooth color, we are finely tuned for it, and we are very good at making these markers hard to fake
            b) in 1910 there wasn’t really a middle class anyway, so it isn’t really analogous to today, and even if 1910 was a more egalitarian time (by what measure?) I wouldn’t presume that it was because of the way people dressed.

            I will say that Tommy the street thug could dress appropriately for a job in a factory, and in that sense it is more egalitarian. What the analogous jobs are today, I don’t know: street thug to barista? office temp worker?

            The other examples are much more obvious: the Japanese new-grad uniform: Interview – Japan

            >The Japanese job hunting and recruiting processes is very structured. Although there are strict rules, it makes it easy to figure out what to wear since there is an expected protocol on interview attire.

            This is especially true for new grads — you may have noticed the sea of students in black suits, almost as if it was a uniform. It practically is, and in the Japanese culture that values uniformity, it would be wise to follow suit (no pun intended!). While you want to outshine from other candidates, interview attire is not the area to stand out in.

            As for school uniforms, I think it is pretty clear what the egalitarian effects are of that, but I’ll link this page anyway since it makes a lot of points that outline the whole conservative vs. liberal advantates: Pros and Cons of school uniforms

          • Aapje says:

            @LesHapablap

            There’s a group of men living in trash under a bridge and they are all wearing suits and bowler hats.

            The caption says that they are a gang who meet there, which suggests that they don’t live there, in the same way that a person who loiters during the day, but has a home to sleep in, doesn’t live in the streets.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            First off, “street thug” is needlessly biasing and does nothing but add heat to a discussion that doesn’t need it. The presumption that “lower class” = “criminal” isn’t helpful.

            Second, you now seem to be saying that there wasn’t a middle class to move into, rendering your earlier arguments that the poor could easily fit in with the middle class moot. I’m not sure what is left of your original argument.

            I actually agree with your point about school uniforms, but it’s not particularly germane to whether the common dress norms of the past were universal.

            As to the question about Tommy, if young, previously unemployed Tommy gets a job as a barista, they tell him the dress code at work and he follows it. I don’t see this as an issue.

          • LesHapablap says:

            This is really tedious. I never claimed that people in 1910 could easily move up to the middle class because of the way they dress.

            And yes, in my layman’s opinion fashion today in the USA has slightly more variety than fashion in the past. There may have been a very slight, almost imperceptible change right around the late 1960s.

            You say you don’t know what’s left of my argument, but then you say you agree with one of the bits of evidence in my argument: school uniforms. Japanese ‘recruit suits’ being the other bit of evidence.

          • Enkidum says:

            And yes, in my layman’s opinion fashion today in the USA has slightly more variety than fashion in the past. There may have been a very slight, almost imperceptible change right around the late 1960s.

            There most definitely was, until then most men owned 1-2 shirts that were laundered once a week, and had undershirts they changed every day, if they could. Part of being wealthy would simply have been the ability to wear clean clothes on a regular basis, or to care about fashion at all.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @LesHapablap:

            Uniform dress codes do remove class markers, I agree.

            Your contention was that we had universal dress standards, and this enabled the lower classes to more easily assimilate into the middle and upper classes.

            First, those aren’t the same two things. There weren’t any uniforms. Second, you are contending there wasn’t a middle class into which they could move.

            I’m trying to understand why you think today’s Tommy won’t know how to dress for the barista job or Tammy won’t know how to dress for the cashier job … or what jobs you think Tommy and Tammy don’t know how to dress for, and what the comparative job would have been from 1910.

            Dressing for a factory job in 1910 (your example), they wouldn’t have much cared what you were dressed like. What kind of mistake do you imagine Tommy was prevented from making?

          • Nick says:

            @Enkidum

            There most definitely was, until then most men owned 1-2 shirts that were laundered once a week, and had undershirts they changed every day, if they could. Part of being wealthy would simply have been the ability to wear clean clothes on a regular basis, or to care about fashion at all.

            Thanks for mentioning this—I’ve been a bit suspicious, throughout this discussion, that one of the major differences was that poor folks had a nice outfit, but one they couldn’t actually afford to clean as often as is desirable. Though it’s hard to say how serious a concern that is when you’re wearing multiple layers; one of the advantages of layered clothing is that it’s the inner most layers you really need to wash regularly. Like, nobody has a blazer cleaned once a week, even one worn daily.

          • LesHapablap says:

            HBC:

            It will be harder for someone who has only ever worn t-shirts and jean shorts to get the job that faces the public, compared to someone who knows how to buy and wear a pair of slacks and a collared shirt. It isn’t impossible, just a barrier. Any employer will weigh that as part of their calculation. They don’t want the headache of having to tell some kid to pull up his pants all the time. The family that teaches their kid these cultural things has a structural, systemic advantage over the poor family that doesn’t. And not just with dress: there are a thousand social codes that give advantages. Anyone here who lacked social skills growing up can attest to how that sort of thing can affect your opportunities in life.

            My original point was not about 1910, it was about ‘the past,’ and you claimed there weren’t near-universal dress codes and wanted evidence, so I gave as an example movies from 1910 to 1940, to which you came back with the counter example of gold miners from the 1850s, and then I came back with 1890s New York slums, so we got stuck in 1910 and I said there wasn’t even a middle class then.

            After thinking about it today I developed a counter-argument though: we went from having a relative mono-culture to having many different sub cultures. Although the change means that moving between subcultures is more difficult (and that includes class changes) it is easier to move up a status hierarchy in a small subculture than in a monoculture. So having a wide variety of subcultures is more egalitarian because it provides a lot of different (more) opportunities to gain status, even if it makes it harder to thrive across the culture as a whole. If that makes sense.

            For example, you can gain status in some subcultures by getting gauge earrings or sleeve tattoos. You couldn’t do that in the 50s, or the 1910s, but you can now, so that’s an additional way for someone to get status that didn’t exist back then. So that’s more egalitarian. But those status symbols are barriers in other subcultures, like for example being a flight attendant. So in that sense it is restricting and preventing upward mobility.

          • Aapje says:

            @LesHapablap

            I would expect multiple competitions to allow more people to compete successfully, but also to increase variance at the extremes.

            The result can be that the losers of all those competitions is worse off than the losers of the single competition, while a person who wins at multiple competitions can be better off than a winner of the single competition.

            Ultimately, which model is more egalitarian seems to depend on how you define ‘egalitarian.’

            Is it more egalitarian to have one big group at 75 and another big group at 25; or to have groups at 100, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 and 0?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Conservative philosophy and politics aren’t inherently incoherent, but there needs to be a functioning society for them to conserve. Once society has already broken down, conservatism just becomes a bizarre sort of cargo cult preserving the values of the last generation of progressives against the current one.

      Being a conservative in Salt Lake City or Lancaster PA makes sense. The system works: it might need some maintenance in spots, but generally speaking someone who lives according to the dominant culture’s values will thrive. But places like that with an intact functioning culture are the exception, not the norm, so in most places conservatives are at best a brake which slows down the decline.

      I guess that this was a long-winded way of saying that conservatism isn’t an ideology that can stand on its own. You can be a conservative Mormon, or a conservative Catholic, or a conservative Mennonite, or a conservative Jew because the conservatism is a scaffold to preserve and maintain the underlying way of life. But if you’re just a Conservative, without a way of life to preserve or maintain, you’re going to look and act like a nut because your ideology is built around an empty core.

      • J Mann says:

        I’d strawman that there’s a case to be made for what George Will once called “Me too, but slower” conservatism.

        The value is Chesteron’s Fence – I know what I’ve got in society, for better or worse.

        Progressives think that because they believe themselves to be creative, educated and well meaning, their proposed changes will turn out to be sufficiently net positive that we should do them all.

        A Me Too, But Slower conservative likes the ideas of people getting paid more, getting more health care, etc., but is concerned about the unintended consequences of those policies. She’s more likely to argue for slower change, or for local experimentation.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          I guess then my argument is “go get your own word.”

          If you share all of the same goals as progressives but want to be more careful about the pace of social change, you’re still a progressive you’re just not a totally reckless one.

          Meanwhile we need a word to describe the people who want to be left alone to practice their folkways without being experimented on in the name of achieving someone else’s idea of utopia. Conservative is a much better fit for them than it is for the non-reckless progressives.

          • Nick says:

            Right. The George Will conservative is just conserving the rate of change. He’s literally a derivative of progressivism.

          • J Mann says:

            @Nick – to be fair to Will, he was criticizing that viewpoint.

          • Tatterdemalion says:

            Meanwhile we need a word to describe the people who want to be left alone to practice their folkways without being experimented on in the name of achieving someone else’s idea of utopia. Conservative is a much better fit for them than it is for the non-reckless progressives.

            I think my response is the same as yours – “get your own word”.

            The word “Conservatives” already describes a group of people who very much don’t just want to be left alone, they also want to exercise considerable control over the lives of others and impose their preferred social norms – no same sex marriage and in many cases no homosexuality at all, no abortion, no marijuana, very little immigration, etc – on them coercively, and in virtually all cases to be able to trade with others, and dictate the tax framework in which that trade occurs.

            There probably are a few off-grid survivalists who fit your “just want to be left alone” definition, and I have much less problem with them than I do with most conservatives, but that’s not what the word “conservative” means.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Tatterdemalion,

            There’s a very simple resolution to this “paradox.”

            If you view people as atomic individuals, the way that you seem to, then someone trying to keep weed, or gay sex, or abortion, or whatever else out of their neighborhood or even their own household is “exercising control over other people.”

            If you view people as a part of a larger community, then the nosy outsiders trying to push all that crap into everyone’s neighborhoods and households aren’t leaving them alone.

            This tension can be really easily seen once you know to look for it, and it crops up nearly everywhere.

          • Tatterdemalion says:

            Three obvious responses here:

            One is that the jump from “neighborhoods” to “households” is a much bigger one than you make it out to be. No-one is challenging your right not to have marijuana in your house or invite gay people over for dinner.

            The second is that if you’re viewing people not as individuals in their own right but merely as elements of a community then what you’re defending is not a right for people to be left alone, but a right for small (I presume?) communities to be allowed to interfere in their members lives without being stopped by larger communities that want to defend people’s rights to be left alone.

            And the third is that if what you’re standing up for is not individual rights but community rights then leftwingers trying to coercively impose leftwing norms are just as consistent with that as rightwingers trying to impose rightwing norms (supporting small subcommunities against both individuals and larger supercommunites is a meaningful thing leftwingers don’t generally do, I suppose, but neither do conservatives except as a means to an end – c.f. all the support for rightwing federal laws on abortion, gay rights, marijuana, immigration etc).

          • Aapje says:

            @Tatterdemalion

            One is that the jump from “neighborhoods” to “households” is a much bigger one than you make it out to be. No-one is challenging your right not to have marijuana in your house or invite gay people over for dinner.

            I don’t really think it works that way, unless you see people as fully atomized individuals, or at least, don’t consider them harmed unless would also be harmed when living a fully isolated life.

            For example, my country is quite tolerant of using drugs, which makes it very hard to prevent your children, family or neighbors from using drugs. Of course, one could disown children that use drugs (although, not really, legally speaking), break off contact with family and neighbors, but that in itself is an atomizing act that breaks community cohesion.

            Furthermore, behavior has an impact on others, even if it doesn’t literally happen in your household.

            Now, I agree with you that “just being left alone” is nonsensical for anyone but hermits.

          • Garrett says:

            I think my response is the same as yours – “get your own word”.

            There already is a word/concept in political science for this: incrementalism, as opposed to radicalism.

      • cassander says:

        Conservative philosophy and politics aren’t inherently incoherent, but there needs to be a functioning society for them to conserve. Once society has already broken down, conservatism just becomes a bizarre sort of cargo cult preserving the values of the last generation of progressives against the current one.

        A reasonable principle in theory, but someone is always claiming that the sky is falling for some reason or another. The cause might be global warming, satanic rock and roll lyrics, demon rum, or something else, everyone advocating change sees his issues as vitally important to the core of society and believes that he can make things better. The conservative is the fellow who realizes that things can always get worse.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think one problem here is that the political ideology marketed under the label “conservative” in the US doesn’t have all that much to do with conservativism as we mean it.

      • Aapje says:

        @Nabil ad Dajjal

        Conservative philosophy and politics aren’t inherently incoherent, but there needs to be a functioning society for them to conserve.

        So when things are (or are considered to be) gravely dysfunctional, many people turn away from conservatism to…fascism?

    • Plumber says:

      @DinoNerd >

      “…either at a detailed level (specific policies) or tightly focussed on social trust (not as focussed on conservativism)?…”

      From what I’ve seen as a just over 50 years old American electing a “conservative” or “left-liberal” President does jack-diddly-squat for promoting ‘conservative’ or ‘left-liberal’ values, indeed the opposite seems common. 

      During the Presidency of “tradional family values” candidate Reagan divorce, drug-use, unwed childbirth, and murder all increased.

      During the Presidency of “left-liberal” Obama homelessness and income inequality increasesd.

      And don’t get me started on “fiscal responsibility”.

      As for correlations among voters political leanings and their ‘values’? Theres some small correlations, the Republicans I know seem slightly more likely to be divorced (that they usually have longer commutes may be a cause of that), and Republicans also seem more likely to give to beggars (my guess is that they’re just not used to ignoring them as much as they tend to be suburbanites), Democrats do tend to have lived as “shacked-up” unmarried romantic couples a lot more (which may also explain the slightly lower divorce rate), but that’s based on the small sampling of folks I know, what people are like who don’t live in or commute to Berkeley/Oakland/Palo Alto/San Francisco/San Jose I simply have no idea.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      You don’t get the impression social trust has anything to do with Cold-war oriented think tanks or foreign policy oriented think tanks. But words-as-labels get morphed/corrupted easily so no surprises here.

      If that quote is by Garret then your best bet is to ask him which philosophers or think tanks he’s talking about.

    • Drew says:

      I like public parks (/playgrounds) as an object-level example. Notable questions are: Are there clear social norms? How much do they require from people? Are they enforced? What amenities can be sustainably provided?

      In my region, there’s a custom of “playground toys”. People leave plastic truck & diggers & the like in the playground sandbox, and kids use them when they’re there. This is a nice-to-have feature, but actually requires a bunch of moving parts.

      The first requirement is a consensus that playground toys are nice to have. I can easily imagine a culture with different norms, where people would see playground toys as an imposition of some kind, or think that shared toys are dirty or unsightly or whatever. So, you need a minimum amount of homogeneity for people to agree on what rules should exist.

      Next, you have to have social norms that make it possible for newcomers to learn the custom. (AKA: “Parents talk to each other when kids are playing, and explain local practices.”) This requires a certain amount of talking-to-strangers AND a notion that there’s an existing community which ‘owns’ the space. It has to be not-too-presumptuous to say “In OUR community WE do it this way”.

      Then, there’s a question of norms around enforcement. There’s nothing that stops people from stealing the toys except for personal honor & a sense of shame. There’s also nothing that forces people to remove broken toys or garbage, it’s just seen as a nice thing to do.

      In part, the “don’t steal the toys” probably works because of a somewhat homogeneous level of resources. No one’s so desperately poor that stealing the toys seems attractive.

      And once the pieces are in place to have a notion of “community-owned space, with minimum expectations of conduct” you change the way that social-violations are treated.

      In San Francisco the bar for “minimum expected conduct” is pretty low; if people aren’t breaking the law, then they’re meeting it. This means that it would be weird / presumptuous to call the cops because some homeless person is on a bench near a playground. So SF playgrounds become homeless camps, private, or have to use hostile architecture to passively discourage camping.

      Other regions can set the bar for “minimum expected conduct” higher, so it’s not socially weird to call the cops if people are camping near a playground. Enforcing norms directly means that you don’t have to resort to hostile architecture, and can have amenities like public bathrooms in / near a park.

      —-

      Overall, this offers a choice:

      If communities “own” their spaces, then the community can enforce a high-standard for social norms, which lets the community offer amenities that the community likes. The downside is that this restricts people whose tastes don’t align with the social norms & can feel like a bunch of oppressive busy bodies judging you for using a park wrong.

      If spaces are fully “public” then you have fewer amenities. But the upside is that rights and duties are explicit & legible, and no one is going to judge you so long as you’re following some extremely basic rules. This offers more freedom.

      • salvorhardin says:

        FWIW public playgrounds in San Francisco are not actually anywhere near as bad as you’re implying. I’ve taken my kid to a bunch of different city-owned-and-managed playgrounds in pretty varied parts of the city for years now, and have never seen any with encampments or other disruptive behavior by homeless people. There is some “hostile architecture” in the form of bumpy bits that make some surfaces less comfortable to lie down on, but it is neither elaborate nor obtrusive. Moreover, most parks and playgrounds I’ve been to here do in fact have public bathrooms, and perfectly reasonable ones too.

        Now, I’m sure you can find horror stories of homeless people behaving badly at SF playgrounds; I just find it difficult to believe they’re representative. Most likely that behavior is confined to the small minority of neighborhoods where bad public behavior is concentrated generally (e.g. Tenderloin, parts of SOMA). Those neighborhoods have real and serious problems, but implying that the city as a whole is all/mostly like that is totally incorrect.

    • Ketil says:

      Be conservative in what you do, and liberal in what you accept“?

      Abusing this principle slightly, you should be honorable and dutiful, pay your debts, stay married, give to charity, and go to church – but also understand that others may not share your exact values, and be charitable towards them.

      I think social trust comes to a large degree from predictability, so shared norms and a shared and justified expectation of everybody upholding these norms are important. Probably there is a shared minimum standard, most cultures and religions tend to frown upon things like theft, dishonesty, fraud, unprovoked or unjustified violence.

      People who are very skeptical of foreign¹ cultures often don’t seem to know them well, and familiarity helps to breed trust. So integration of immigrants is not strictly necessary, but familiarity with the culture is important – or at least the perception that the Others won’t steal our car, rape our women, or secretly control our government, or otherwise engage in antisocial behavior.

      ¹ From different countries, but also from different social strata or otherwise strange…. isn’t it telling that words like “strange” or “foreign” have double meanings like this?

      • Nick says:

        When we’re talking about society and not software, that’s the sort of principle that completely fails to prevent defectors. And I admit I’m not convinced it should even be (ETA: generally) applied in software:

        From 2015 to 2018, in a series of Internet-Drafts, Martin Thomson argues that Postel’s robustness principle actually leads to a lack of robustness, including security:[5]
        A flaw can become entrenched as a de facto standard. Any implementation of the protocol is required to replicate the aberrant behavior, or it is not interoperable. This is both a consequence of applying the robustness principle, and a product of a natural reluctance to avoid fatal error conditions. Ensuring interoperability in this environment is often referred to as aiming to be “bug for bug compatible”.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        So integration of immigrants is not strictly necessary, but familiarity with the culture is important – or at least the perception that the Others won’t steal our car, rape our women, or secretly control our government, or otherwise engage in antisocial behavior.

        And when people are immigrating from a culture that will rape our women and control our government, don’t let them in.

        • Tatterdemalion says:

          “If” and “were”, not “when” and “are”.

          Or, to be more precise:

          Every culture has rapists, but there is no culture where they make up a large enough fraction of the population for trying to suggest that they should be an important part of the immigration debate is anything more than bigotted fearmongering.

          And while there are countries that are trying to influence the US’s politics, they don’t do so through immigration.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Every culture has rapists, but there is no culture where they make up a large enough fraction of the population for trying to suggest that they should be an important part of the immigration debate is anything more than bigotted fearmongering.

            Your premise is correct, but unfortunately your conclusion is exaggerated. In the UK, grooming gangs were allowed to operate with impunity BECAUSE the guilty parties were of immigrant background, and everybody was afraid of being called racist.

            The question therefore becomes not “will immigrants commit rape? answer: yes, a tiny proportion will”, but “are we able to deal with immigrants committing rape? answer: no, we are too politically correct and our most vulnerable will suffer tremendously”.

          • Aftagley says:

            In the UK, grooming gangs were allowed to operate with impunity BECAUSE the guilty parties were of immigrant background, and everybody was afraid of being called racist.

            Evidence please. I’ve seen this presented as fact a bunch on this site, and haven’t seen any conclusive proof. The closest thing I’ve seen to an objective source on this story was independent review of the police department, and it highlighted failures of priorities and difficulties in trusting victims as the primary stumbling blocks in these investigations, not some kind of force-wide fear of appearing racist.

      • Clutzy says:

        People who are very skeptical of foreign¹ cultures often don’t seem to know them well, and familiarity helps to breed trust.

        This doesn’t seem accurate to me in the least. People are often most skeptical of the cultures nearest to them. See, Scott’s “I can tolerate anyone but the outgroup.”

        A great example is white flight from cities in the 50s, 60s, & 70s. This was because those people had a very salient understanding of the minority culture that was adjacent to them.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I am very much not a conservative, but as an observer of them from the outside I try to steelman their thinking on trust into something reasonable for me thusly:

      People are in general more trusting of those who follow similar social norms to them. Reasons for that are not always rational, but it is a fact of life that is very hard to change. And people of course like to feel that they are sorrounded by other people they can trust. Ergo having a whole country following same set of social norms has clear benefits.

      • albatross11 says:

        The more familiar you are, the easier it is for me to predict your behavior. That often (though not always) tracks with shared beliefs/customs/etc.

    • DinoNerd says:

      It’s interesting that the idea of a common religion hasn’t come up yet, unless it’s implicit for some people in one of these

      b. Strong norms for following most social conventions that aren’t actively harmful. (Wear a tie if that’s expected, even if ties are silly.)

      g. Strong norms/push for immigrants to assimilate to American norms (or maybe local norms).

      I’m used to encountering people who suggest things like “no one would have any moral rules without religion”, and (less commonly) people who class whole swathes of people as irreligious, regardless of those people’s own claims.

      I can’t see those people entirely trusting anyone not a member of some sect acceptable to them. OTOH, I’m also unclear how the hypocritical performance of religious rituals – which is what I would suspect of everyone, if religion were being enforced, even by social nroms – would actually produce trust.

    • Garrett says:

      I’m not certain that I’ve found any good answers to questions like this. Attempting to find measures of social trust is difficult enough. And if there aren’t good answers, it’s hard to enact them as policies. So instead, many politicians in the US who refer to themselves as conservative attempt to enact policies which get the same results.

      Consider, as a hypothetical measure/proxy of social trust the amount of litter found in an area. Areas with high trust might be seen as having community ownership and thus take on both not littering as well as spontaneously picking up the occasional bits which crop up. But there isn’t a good way to engender community ownership. So instead a politician might put in place a severe penalty for littering. Or put in place lots of city trash cans. Or pay for more sanitation workers. The closest practical model might be “broken windows” policing. But those are merely working to manipulate the measures of social trust, not actual social trust.

  23. albatross11 says:

    Someone above linked to Scott’s review of _On The Road_.

    One thing I noticed from the discussion there was that a lot of people (perhaps including many of the fans of the book) seemed to have two categories in their heads for behavior: call them “square” and “other.” To be square is to follow the expected life path–get married and stick with your wife and raise your kids, hold down a job, pay your debts, don’t steal or exploit anyone, stay out of trouble with the law, etc. I think in some peoples’ minds, this has more constraints–maybe you also go to Church every Sunday and vote in every election and keep your lawn nice, too. And some people feel very much obliged to live that life, and also feel suffocated by it.

    Now, from Scott’s description, _On The Road_ was basically a travelogue of a couple of guys who left a trail of destruction and misery in their wake. And one thing that strikes me is that this may have felt like the alternative to a square life. I imagine some readers found the whole travelogue fascinating but not something to be copied, others saw it as an excuse to go copy the sociopathic behavior in the book, and still others saw it as license to ease up on the lawn-care and maybe skip voting in the off-year elections.

    This also makes me think of Rand’s quote about offering people poison as food and poison as antidote–either side you choose is deadly. On one side, you’re supposed to live an extremely constrained and unrewarding life, on the other, you’re supposed to live by exploiting those around you until your evil choices catch up with you and you die in a ditch somewhere. These are both horrible options, but if you offer one as food and the other as antidote, lots of people will poison themselves, convinced they’re saving themselves.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      get married and stick with your wife and raise your kids, hold down a job, pay your debts, don’t steal or exploit anyone, stay out of trouble with the law

      unrewarding life

      Huh.

      • Tarpitz says:

        I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people who feel oppressed and trapped rather than rewarded by their jobs, marriages and even sometimes children. Paying off debts – especially debts to faceless corporations – is probably not many people’s idea of a good time.

        And I know at least one person who has been a model husband and father, worked his hands to the bone to reach the point where he owns his home and a modestly successful small business, is scrupulously honest and decent – and hates the police with a fiery passion, even though I’m pretty sure he’s never committed any offense more serious than speeding. I think he basically sees them as a continuation of the teachers he couldn’t stand at school.

        None of which, of course, implies that there aren’t also people who like all those things and do in fact find that life rewarding. Some of that disparity will be down to differences in people’s circumstances, and some to differences in their characters.

        • EchoChaos says:

          And I know at least one person who has been a model husband and father, worked his hands to the bone to reach the point where he owns his home and a modestly successful small business, is scrupulously honest and decent – and hates the police with a fiery passion, even though I’m pretty sure he’s never committed any offense more serious than speeding. I think he basically sees them as a continuation of the teachers he couldn’t stand at school.

          Is he American? American police are noticeably worse in a lot of axes than others. e.g. https://www.foxnews.com/us/fort-worth-police-officer-in-shooting-investigation

          • Tarpitz says:

            Nope, he’s English and the primary object of his dislike is presumably Northumbria Police. They do appear to have been guilty of a hilarious failed cover-up of a fight at a barbecue between the Chief Constable and the husband of the Assistant Chief Constable, with whom he was was having an affair, but I don’t think they kill a lot of civilians.

    • Randy M says:

      I’m in favor of square being normal, being put forth as the default life path–with the caveat that of course this can be taken too far, in a sort of pharisaical way of adding a multitude of requirements that aren’t needed but match the aesthetics of the opinion setters.

      But by and large, get some education, get married, work, raise kids, try and avoid large debts or breaking the law, make friends, etc. is a pretty good strategy for satisfying most of our desires without impinging on others or society generally.

      But people vary greatly, and some people will feel other desires more or less. Some people might most want more freedom, or a stronger spiritual component, or to be important, or to avoid others, etc. Generally we don’t want everyone being a hermit or vagabond or explorer, but having alternate non-destructive life paths is important. So long as it’s clear one can’t have it all, and one can’t push the costs of their choices onto others.

      I wonder if modern life has a more or less space for non-conforming? Obviously some forms of self-expression are being actively protected, but others may be more discouraged. So it goes, a 3D pendulum trying to find rest on the local maximum of human idiosyncrasy.

      • I wonder if modern life has a more or less space for non-conforming?

        Modern societies are a lot rich than past societies. In the past, it was possible for a rich aristocrat to put his time and energy into some enthusiasm, but an ordinary person who did that was likely to starve to death. In modern societies lots of people, probably a majority, have the option of doing something to support themselves and something else, whether World of Warcraft, or researching naval history, or SCA, or political activism, that they find more satisfying.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          In modern societies lots of people, probably a majority, have the option of doing something to support themselves and something else, whether World of Warcraft, or researching naval history, or SCA, or political activism, that they find more satisfying.

          This reminds me of how Karl Marx was a doting German family man who memorized long sections of poetry to recite to his daughters on walks to picnics and had revolutionary political activism as a hobby with his guy friends.
          The world probably would have been better if Babbage and Lovelace had invented something like World of Warcraft.

        • Randy M says:

          Definitely, good point.

    • John Schilling says:

      And one thing that strikes me is that this may have felt like the alternative to a square life.

      The alternative? Singular?

      I think if you are going to characterize the dichotomy as “square” vs “other”, that second word should be a pretty big hint that it isn’t a prescription for one very specific lifestyle. And I disagree that the only alternative to “squareness” is sociopathic hedonism. So if someone’s apology for sociopathic hedonism is “hey, at least I’m not square“, then take your stupid pathetic rationalization and be off with you.

      Preferably to a nice long prison sentence, as soon as we add up all the theft and rape and whatnot. Because hey, you know what prison inmates aren’t? They aren’t “square”. There’s lots of ways to not be square, and if someone cares that much about not being square while the rest of us care about not having innocent bystanders getting hurt, seems like everybody should be happy when the un-square are safely locked away. Or we can look at all the other “others”, the ones who weren’t “square” but also didn’t go driving around in stolen cars impregnating and abandoning teenaged girls, and suggest looking to them as role models.

      • I agree that the sociopathic hedonism of “On the Road” is not the only alternative to a “square” life, but the baffling celebration of “One the Road” by English departments everywhere seems like they are trying very strongly to suggest that it is…perhaps because nominally “lefty” English professors are actually secretly much more conservative than we realize and they want to discredit any alternative to “squareness”? I don’t know, it’s weird.

        I still remember how pumped I was, as an anarchist at the time, to read “On the Road” during my freshmen year at Harvard for expository writing (their general “English” class), as if I was finally about to taste some forbidden counter-cultural fruit I’d been hearing rumors about…only to find the characters completely unadmirable and unrelatable.

        The theme of that expository writing class was “journeys and how they change people” or something like that. If my professor really wanted to expose us to something exciting and counter-cultural, yet still relatable and something that could potentially be emulated without wreaking havoc all around oneself, he should have assigned George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” instead.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          I agree that the sociopathic hedonism of “On the Road” is not the only alternative to a “square” life, but the baffling celebration of “One the Road” by English departments everywhere seems like they are trying very strongly to suggest that it is…perhaps because nominally “lefty” English professors are actually secretly much more conservative than we realize and they want to discredit any alternative to “squareness”?

          Lefty English lit professors don’t present it as a cautionary tale, rather as an inspiring work. I think they fantasize about being/sleeping with the protagonists: good looking rebels who play by their own rules.

      • albatross11 says:

        My whole point is that I suspect this dichotomy drove a lot of the popularity of _On The Road_. I thought I was pretty clear that I disagreed with that dichotomy, what with the “poison as food, poison as antidote” line.

        FWIW, I think:

        a. Most people are probably going to have a better, more rewarding life by pursuing a more-or-less traditional lifestyle (get married and stick with your wife and raise your kids, do good work, stay out of trouble with the law) than by trying to roll their own path to happiness.

        b. Some people will find that lifestyle pretty unrewarding. I suspect most of the best writers and actors and artists we have are the kind of person who finds it most restrictive, and that this has led to a world where so much of popular / media culture is arrayed against that kind of lifestyle.

        c. Most people who are living that lifestyle sometimes feel the pinch of its restrictions, and wish they had a bit more freedom. I imagine nearly every adult with kids sometimes imagines doing stuff that isn’t really workable now that they’ve got kids, for example.

        d. A lifestyle of being a small-time predator on your fellow humans and undermining your high-trust society thereby is a pretty awful alternative to the “square” lifestyle, even if you personally are very badly suited to the square lifestyle.

        ETA:

        e. There are people for whom the message “relax the constraints you impose on yourself in your square lifestyle” is a useful and important one. They’re people who aren’t ever going to wander the country stealing cars and impregnating teenagers, but who could maybe stand to lose the tie every now and then.

        f. The trick is that there are also people who really could use the opposite message–buckle down and show up to class/work every single day, stop hitting on your female coworkers and be faithful to your wife, etc. Probably more of them.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          My very cynical take is that many people (ok, many men) would happily trade their square lifestyle for Kerouac’s kind of sociopathic journey, if they could pull it off. But most of them still prefer square lifestyle compared to ending in prison or homeless.

          • John Schilling says:

            Equally cynically, many women might well trade a decade or so of their square lifestyle for that of Kerouac’s female protagonists, if they could pull it off without being abandoned and either pregnant (1950s version) or permanently derailed from the career-and-family track (modern version).

    • I think part of the adulation for books like that is counter-signalling. If your loser cousin expresses adulation for a book like that, you’d worry he’d try to copy the behavior. If an English professor expressed adulation for a book like that, you are certain it’s not ’cause he’s thinking of doing it, it must be because he sees some supreme literary value there.(Whether there is any, I don’t know, never read the book.) Others really do have an an attitude of “the Tsar is bad, thus, whatever comes next must be better.”

      I don’t like the whole attitude of “the squares are trying to force me into their mold, the anti-squares will let me be who I want to be.” For every puritanical urge of the squares, you can find an equal or greater puritanical urge of the anti-squares. The squares have their dining etiquette, the anti-squares have their non-GMO food. The squares yell at you to mow your lawn, the anti-squares won’t let you have a lawn because of “suburban sprawl.”

      My attitude is that the best way to rebel against society is to selectively follow some of its rules so you can break others. See: https://www.overcomingbias.com/2012/01/dear-young-eccentric.html

    • Baeraad says:

      Yes. This divide has messed with my head a lot in my life, because it doesn’t leave any room for what I actually want and value. It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I don’t want either of those things.

      I agree that square life looks like living death. From what I can see – and this is from listening to people who enthusiastically recommend it – it’s about working endlessly to earn as much money as possible and pumping out as many babies as you have money to support, all while avoiding having any sort of emotion beyond a constant sense of exhausted smugness about what a good biological specimen you are, how you are a better soulless gene-spreading machine than many other soulless gene-spreading machines. I am strongly considering whether I would really rather die.

      On the other hand, the not-square life seems to be one of constant yelling and screaming and running. How are you supposed to have a feeling under those conditions? It seems like just constant animal exertion, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. I know I would really rather die.

      I want to sit around with my mates and play games and talk about books. That’s what I want. And I want to have feelings about things, and I want to slowly examine them and then carefully express them to people who agree that feelings are important. There is a vague sort of stereotype for the sort of person I want to be – “artistic slacker,” perhaps? – but it rarely if ever gets brought up as an option, even as a bad option.

      • eric23 says:

        There’s no reason for the square life to be like that.

        Work enough to provide a reasonable living for yourself, not to earn as much money as you possibly can. (Push back against the social pressures encouraging you to work more than this.)

        Have 1 or 2 kids – or more or less if you and your spouse really want.

        That should leave a reasonable amount of time for sitting around with your mates…

      • it’s about working endlessly to earn as much money as possible and pumping out as many babies as you have money to support, all while avoiding having any sort of emotion beyond a constant sense of exhausted smugness about what a good biological specimen you are, how you are a better soulless gene-spreading machine than many other soulless gene-spreading machines.

        I don’t think I have ever heard anyone argue for that. The usual picture of the square life involves two, possibly three, children, a nine to five job with weekends free for BBQ, attending football games or taking your kids to play soccer.

        What country’s norms are you describing?

      • albatross11 says:

        Baered:

        That seems like a really weird version of the square life, not much like what I’d think of.

        Try to find someone you’d like to make a life with, and pair off permanently with them. Raise a couple kids. Find a rewarding job that pays the bills and that makes you feel like you’re carrying your weight. Get involved in your community because it’s rewarding and worthwhile. And so on.

        Now, maybe this isn’t a path that will work for you–some people just aren’t a good fit for it. But I suspect most people are a good fit for something like this.

      • LesHapablap says:

        On the other hand, the not-square life seems to be one of constant yelling and screaming and running. How are you supposed to have a feeling under those conditions? It seems like just constant animal exertion, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. I know I would really rather die.

        I don’t know what you mean by this, is this like the hunger games?

        I want to sit around with my mates and play games and talk about books. That’s what I want. And I want to have feelings about things, and I want to slowly examine them and then carefully express them to people who agree that feelings are important.

        Do you want to do this all day every day? For the rest of your life?

        I don’t know how old you are, but for myself my priorities have changed dramatically as I’ve gotten older. I have lived a non-square life and I’m in my mid-thirties, first playing poker for a living and travelling and then moving to the far side of the world to be a pilot. My life looks like an instagram dream on paper.

        I have friends who live square lives back home, with a wife and kids, going golfing on the weekends with friends they’ve known for 10+ years and will probably be there 10 years from now, having extended family around them like a genuine, honest to god “team,” that they can rely on for anything. I wish I could trade places.

        Though, I may have never been cut out for a non-square life. I sort of fell into it because I was immature and insecure, afraid of failure and responsibility. Which is a common thing from what I can see: I live in an adventure tourism town, a city of lost children, full of twenty-something immigrants on working holiday visas partying and working menial jobs. When they first arrive you hear a lot of unironic “living the dream” talk, but it doesn’t take long before that phrase becomes a thoroughly ironic and cynical.

        The things I value in life now are the responsibility at my job and the things I have built there, through creativity and conscientiousness, and as an expression of my values. Those are all things I could do at a ‘square’ job. The fun and passion for flying airplanes has been gone for years.

  24. ana53294 says:

    Which books have you been unable to finish, not because they’re just bad (poorly written, bad grammar, etc.), or boring, but because they offended your sense of right and wrong, or you found really scary?

    For me, it was Lord of the Flies. It was a class assignment, but I found it really unlikeable (I didn’t like any of the kids in the book; I found them all so horrible). I’ve read books with serial killers’ POV that were more likeable. So I cheated, and wrote an essay based on a synopsis.

    I never read any Stephen King novels, because I’ve heard they are genuinely horryfying for many people, and I get scared easily.

    I also hated the Batman returns* so much I didn’t finish the movie, and left the movie theater with my family there. Had nightmares about the Joker for weeks.

    *EDIT: It was actually The Dark Knight movie.

    • onyomi says:

      I recall in high school I ragequit The Catcher in the Rye very early on because for whatever reason I really, really hated Holden Caulfield’s perspective. It just made teenage me very angry, maybe because I was supposed to find it relatable but did not, maybe because he reminded me too much of other teenage boys I didn’t like, or something like that. Haven’t attempted to read it since then so I might have a very different reaction now. Then again, I don’t know if I’d entirely trust my current judgment either; after all, if late 30s me finds Caulfield a well-wrought character but the me who was Caulfield’s age could not, I feel like that’s a failure in its own right, on some level? Of course, many of all ages would likely disagree.

      • acymetric says:

        It has been a really long time since I read Catcher in the Rye (roughly the same timeline as you I would guess, plus or minus a year or two) so I can’t really recall any specifics. I think I more or less agree with your take (although I did finish the book): I enjoyed the general story but found Caulfield’s point of view really annoying.

        Paraphrased: Something, something, something…phonies. Rinse rather repeat.

        In the non-fiction sector: I went through a period where I was reading a lot of music artist biographies and autobiographies. Slash (autobiogrophy of Slash from Guns N Roses), Clapton (autobiography of Eric Clapton), and a very good Jimi Hendrix biography that I highly recommend to anyone interested in such things, along with a handful of others. My next two stops were BB King’s autobiography and Keith Richard’s autobiography. I don’t think I made it more than 20 or 30 pages into either…just horribly bland books about people I had a high degree of interest in.

      • March says:

        I read Catcher for the first time when I was 28. I got the book from a friend who also lent me Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar at about the same time. She loathed Caulfield and found the Plath protagonist extremely sympathetic and relatable. I loathed The Bell Jar and found Caulfield endearing and striving to express something valuable, if obviously very young.

        (Since then, I’ve been put off The Bell Jar even more by people who tell me I couldn’t possibly understand, didn’t I know the protagonist was depressed? But then again, I don’t relate to many ‘depressed’ characters in literature all that well, even with having it myself.)

        Right now, a book I’m too scared to finish is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. The first act sets up the story masterfully to be a complete disaster in the second, so I’m scared to start the second.

        • Fingerspitzengefuehl says:

          I want to send Holden Caulfield to a concentration camp. This is justifiable because he is less than human (i.e. the book fails to realize him as a character).

          Also agree Bell Jar’s protag was more sympathetic (though clearly I’ve forgotten her name).

      • sfoil says:

        I read The Catcher in the Rye after I was out of high school.

        Apparently an older generation found Holden a “relatable” character; I thought he was an obnoxious brat with some admittedly legitimate problems. I appreciated the artistry involved in the creation of Holden’s character, and of the story and setting, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking they should emulate Holden; I’m almost certain my teenage self wouldn’t have.

        Some Salinger fans claim that Catcher is intentionally written “in character” by another one of Salinger’s fictional characters, Buddy Glass, who is a sort of authorial alter ego. I haven’t read enough of Salinger’s other works to comment on it, but if true it is a pretty cool literary trick.

        • March says:

          I found Holden relatable in the sense that teen-me had some of the same character flaws and was contending with the same lack of belonging coupled with similar nebulous dreams of being a good person. I can’t imagine anyone thinking he should be emulated (since he never actually did much except play hooky and talk to a couple of people), just cheered on. He always seemed to me like someone on the verge of ‘getting it’, so I kept reading it like ‘yes yes, just a liiitttle further and just a little to the left and then to the right and there, you see?’

          Could be a case of ‘you see the world not as it is, but as you are.’

        • Urstoff says:

          He’s certainly relatable, but it’s that part of our (male, young teenage) selves that we don’t want to relate to anymore: simultaneously up our own butts and terrified of the larger adult world. The latter is especially extreme for Holden given his social context, and I assume many of us were more oblivious to the larger world than terrified of it.

          • March says:

            Interesting. I always find oblivious characters much more annoying to read about than terrified ones. If you have the perspective to be terrified you at least have one eye open.

            And perhaps it’s because I’m a woman liking a story that’s definitely pretty boyish, but I don’t really feel the need to disown the fact that I ever was a wrong-headed teen. I’m just happy I got over it. 🙂

    • Fitzroy says:

      Grunts! by Mary Gentle.

      I just found the whole thing so utterly tedious. It was an amusing premise for a short story, but dragged out over a whole book was terribly wearing. The realization that “I don’t have to finish this” and feeling as I deleted it was quite uplifting.

    • johan_larson says:

      I refused to finish Lolita because I found the scenario revolting.

      • Nick says:

        I set this one down eight or nine months ago and haven’t been able to bring myself to pick it back up.

      • ana53294 says:

        I don’t want to read that either. I don’t want to get into the mind of a pedophile. I find the whole thing deeply offensive.

        Books I haven’t even started because I find them offensive includes a very, very long list. I don’t necessarily want a happy ending in a book (although I do need some kind of resolution), but I do want to have characters I like or could feel sympathy for.

      • sfoil says:

        I mean, it’s not like the book makes any attempt to hide its conceit.

        • johan_larson says:

          Sure, but it’s one thing to know about something in the abstract and quite another to see it played out before you, even just in print.

    • John Schilling says:

      In high school, I was absolutely unable to finish either “A Separate Peace” or “A Tale of Two Cities”. Pretentious twaddle about stupid people who only cared about things I couldn’t bring myself to care about, solidly in Eight Deadly Words territory. Fortunately I was able to fake it from context well enough to get through class discussion and the subsequent tests. Still not sure why English teachers think I was supposed to learn from those. Is there anyone here who did learn something from either of those?

      “Catcher in the Rye” I did manage to finish, but only because Holden Caulfield was always just one or two steps away from turning into someone interesting and worth caring about. Never quite did it, though, and in hindsight I should have quit early.

      Since then, I’ve only ever read books by my own choice, and I’ve pretty much always finished those. A few of them I’ve regretted finishing, but that’s done more to make me careful which books I start than to develop a habit of quitting halfway through.

      • Two McMillion says:

        I’ve reread A Separate Peace several times. I find it haunting and oddly moving for reasons I can’t quite express. It has a feeling of grasping at something important but being unable to express it completely.

      • FrankistGeorgist says:

        I took A Separate Peace to be a meditation on the sadistic impulse – both inward and outward. The narrator’s dogged by guilt and is trying to live with it. He doesn’t understand why he felt compelled to hurt someone he loved. He doesn’t understand why he tortured himself being envious and comparing himself to others which led to the terrible act in the first place. I felt it was a pretty good book for teens to read because it seemed to occupy that confused mindset of a teenager without necessarily judging it.

        It shows the fruitlessness and even danger of lashing out, but also that lashing out is itself a symptom of an internal conflict. It felt like a nice introduction to metacognition because it’s pleasingly unresolved and readers have to take on the role of guilty party to try and reconcile it themselves. I also happened to like the style. And frankly I think the boarding school aspect gave it a bit of a Harry Potter crunch that kids like because it’s so fucking foreign to me to think that any Americans actually send their kids away to a for school.

      • zzzzort says:

        I really enjoyed a separate piece as a work of historical fiction. It both illustrated a world over shadowed by WWII, but also had characters whose problems seemed bigger to them at the time than the war. That perspective of “everyone I know is going to die fighting the Nazis but I’m really concerned with winning this made up game” was interesting.

      • S_J says:

        Alright.

        I haven’t read A Separate Peace, but I did read Tale of Two Cities, and enjoyed it immensely.

        Maybe it’s because I was already primed to like Charles Dickens (by the several film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, or the fact that it linked into the history lesson about the French Revolution…)

        It may be the kind of story that most people either love or hate. Dickens wrote many stories that introduce a rascal (or scoundrel, or a penny-pinching money lender), then turn that person into a good and noble person. That’s the main point of this particular story–but it has a sadder ending than usual, as the rascal-turned-hero dies at the guillotine.

        In my guess, most English teachers either have that taste for that kind of story, or appreciate Dickens as a story-teller…so they pick one of his stories, and try to force people to read it.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I couldn’t force myself to read Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby for school. I was a voracious reader back then and typically would finish whatever books we had been assigned the day that I got them, but those two were so tedious that I couldn’t make myself keep reading. I ended up just reading the SparkNotes instead.

      More recently I gave up halfway through Wolfram’s book on cellular automata, A New Kind of Science. It was fascinating but incredibly dense, so I found that every time I put it down I would need to pick it up fifty to a hundred pages back from where my bookmark was in order to get context for what I was reading. If I were to pick it back up now I would probably have to restart the book entirely, which is a powerful deterrent. That said, it would probably be worth it: even just the first third was useful in recognizing the sort of patterns you see often in the developmental biology literature.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        I think A New Kind of Science is one I actually read cover-to-cover. But you’re right, it’s very dense for such a large book.

      • Enkidum says:

        Wolfram’s book is very interesting, in that with a very rudimentary understanding of the field before I started it, I was able to see that he was rewriting scientific and mathematical history to make himself appear as a sole warrior for truth, leaving out the massive contributions of virtually every living researcher in the fields he discusses. A lot of reviews point this out, basically he’s an intolerable jackass who thinks he’s the modern Newton, but at the same time even though this is tedious and there won’t be a modern Newton, he is very, very smart and worth paying serious attention to.

        I also got about 2/3 of the way through shortly after it came out, and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for the past 15 years.

        • zzzzort says:

          His commentary on the discovery of the Higgs is hilarious. Essentially “well, I still don’t think the mechanism is very elegant, but I guess it’s good enough for the universe.” He has some interesting ideas, and mathematica is a useful tool, but then so is Stephen Wolfram :).

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Atlas Shrugged. I don’t even remember how far I got into it. It was recommended to me for a scholarship opportunity by a teacher. I couldn’t empathize or sympathize with any of the characters.

      Various Heinlein novels I actually did finish despite finding the antagonists and protagonists morally strange, or even morally corrupt, but it would take a lot for me to reread any of them, or start a new Heinlein novel.

      As a 6 going on 7 year old child I walked out of The Black Cauldron due to fear.

      —–
      The unabridged version of King’s The Stand was so boring I stopped reading halfway through.

      Various songs and a SciFi channel advertisement/intermission have been permanently tainted by particular horrifying books I was reading at the time.

    • rubberduck says:

      “On The Road”, which I disliked for basically the same reasons as Scott.

      Also, “Invisible Monsters” by Chuck Pahlanuik. Re-reading the wikipedia summary I don’t even remember why I thought it was a good idea to pick it up in the first place.

    • albatross11 says:

      I’m a pretty big fan of Vernor Vinge’s writing, but I found myself saying the eight deadly words while reading Rainbows End. At some point, I set it down and never picked it up again–I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters or what happened to them.

      • georgeherold says:

        Huh, ditto, it’s still on my bedside table.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I did finish Rainbow’s End, but I don’t know what happened to cause Vinge to write such a dull book. I liked a lot of Vinge’s earlier work. Also, I suspect he was trolling people who like books.

    • Nick says:

      I rarely have this experience with books, more often with movies. The Dark Knight is definitely an example; I know objectively it’s a good movie, but I just don’t want to sit through it. Another one for me was Wolf Creek.

    • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

      I temporarily stopped reading American Psycho, but recovered enough after a few days to go back and finish it. Reason: Vg jnf gur eng fprar.

      The Wasp Factory was fairly unpleasant in places but didn’t distress me as much. And the Ring was scary and disturbing, but again never so bad that I felt I had to stop.

    • cassander says:

      Faulkner’s sound and fury. Another high school assignment. Large segments of the book are the stream of consciousness ramblings of people who are crazy or mentally disabled, with no chronology or punctuation. It was awful.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      I had sort of the opposite reaction once (this story doesn’t reflect well on me).

      In high school we had to read Cormac McCarthy’s the Road, and I hated it so much after reading it the first time that I went back and close read it so that when everyone started gushing about it I would have detailed notes to draw on for why they were wrong.

      I was a teenager, so of course my feelings were all objective facts, but I’m sure its universal acclaim is probably deserved. I’ve since read other McCarthy stuff and it’s brilliant but also to me so starkly different they hardly connect in my mind. The Road felt like it was emotionally manipulative in the basest way – basically pornography for sadness/misery/shock.

      If I ever get the impulse to have a child as I’ve heard sometimes happens, I’ll perhaps read it again since the father-son thing is apparently so transcendently beautiful but until then I suspect I’ll leave it with the vermiculate trout humming of mystery.

      • Gossage Vardebedian says:

        Hmm. The “major” book I’ve come closest to not finishing was Blood Meridian. I only finished it because I couldn’t believe that it was so ridiculous, and it had to get better, and it didn’t. I have since spoken to a couple other people who I respect who have the same feelings about McCarthy that I do: that’s he’s a second-rate intellect who stumbled into the niche of serving up highbrow-sounding violence porn to the elites.

        Come at me, bro.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I stopped reading The Road because it was incoherent, and that incoherence was needed to to justify what amounted to, in my eyes, emotional and physical torture porn.

        Haven’t felt any need to pick it back up.

    • As a kid I’ve had this experience. Weirdly, it was never anything conventionally considered scary. The book example eludes me slightly, but I think it was one of the YA His Dark Materials novels in which the corpse of someone who died of extreme frost bite is described, or it’s some scene to do with a corpse and the ominous implications of what killed him. I’m not sure if it’s from that novel series, but my memory is placing it adjacent to daemons and polar bears and expeditions to icy places.

      For movies, despite watching Alien 3 beforehand, of all things it was Jaws: The Revenge. The sequence at the start where the guy gets his arm ripped off while carol singers softly recite “silent night” really disturbed me in a way that the other Jaws movies didn’t. As an adult there’s nothing frightening about it except that it’s one of the worst movies ever made.

      Other things I wanted to finish but my mum didn’t let me. I was scared by the smoking skeleton in the Tim Burton Batman movie, but I’d rather have finished watching it, but my mum saw that I was frightened by it and turned it off.

      A slight segue is that nowadays I think it’s scarier to not know. If I heard demons whispering in a cave, I’d be intensely scared but also feel a strong hesitation about leaving, because I would never sleep another night in my life if I left doubt that supernatural things could exist. I’d probably be the guy who dies first in horror movies.

      EDIT: I’ve never had this experience relating to offense rather than fear.

      • Lambert says:

        The Northern Lights, from HDM.
        And it wasn’t frostbite, it was having his soul torn from his body.

        I get that it’s flawed edgy atheist Narnia, but it will always hold a place in my heart as the first real Sci-Fi I read.

      • I might have actually finished the series later, but I don’t know.

    • I stopped reading two of Vernor Vinge’s novels because they were getting too dark for me. I told the author that, and his response was that he could write darker than he could read.

      • Evan Þ says:

        I’m curious; which novels? I’ve read a lot of Vinge; the darkest he got IMO was some of the passages about Focus in Deepness in the Sky, but I don’t know what I’d consider second-darkest.

        • One of them was the novel with wolflike aliens who were intelligent as a group but not as individuals, which was a neat idea–but it started with the human parents being killed (as I remember) and only the children surviving. The other was the one where the alien race were spiders who hibernated during the winter and were involved in a continual war with each other–but it was the humans, not the spiders, that made it too dark for me.

          • Evan Þ says:

            The second one’s Deepness in the Sky; I agree the humans were the darkest part.

            The first one’s Fire Upon the Deep. I’m surprised you thought that scene was too dark! It was violent, but IIRC it was over quickly, and it didn’t seem to me to major on the darkness beyond showing “survivors can be traumatized.”

            And yes, the Tines are a very good idea. If you like them, you might like Vinge’s short story “The Blabber”?

          • albatross11 says:

            David:

            Just FWIW, I think _A Fire upon the Deep_ and _A Deepness in the Sky_ are the two best SF novels I have ever read. Both have some dark and horrible parts, but they’re also really amazing works.

            There’s also a sequel to _A Fire upon the Deep_ called _Children of the Sky_ which is interesting and well-written (but not quite in the same league as Fire or Deepness), and which heavily involves the Tines and their group consciousness. (In particular, the possibilities that raises for the very fast rise of industry, since you can get Tines working in structures other than conscious groups for a time.) You might like that one–it has some drama, but nothing as horrible as the worst of what happens in those two books.

          • Aftagley says:

            And yes, the Tines are a very good idea.

            They are, but I’d argue that Vernor Fringe’s tines were heavily influenced by an alien race Poul Anderson thought up for a Flandry novel back in the 1960s. While the organisms in this case were made up from 3 different species linking together, not a pack of the same species mixing, it had the same basic idea of symbiotic consciousness.

      • Silverlock says:

        Oddly, that anecdote increases my respect for him.

    • FLWAB says:

      I managed to finish it, but I loathed Stephen King’s The Gunslinger and it was as struggle to finish. I only sat it out because I kept hearing how good the Dark Tower series was, and so I thought I would give it a try. The book was just too dark, depressing, and morally disgusting. I didn’t like any of the characters, and when I thought something positive or redemptive might happen things just got worse. I remember that the only thing I liked is when he finally caught up with the man in black they just had a conversation instead of a gunfight. That was the only highlight. I kept waiting for the story to get good, and it never did. By the end I didn’t care about the world, and I didn’t care whether any of the charac